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Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume IV, Issue 48, December 1, 2014 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú") 

Teru's Trash Talk

What's a "smart technology" or a smart city for that matter? It seems these days there's often reference to the smartness of inanimate objects as if there was actually a brain inside the box. Can we really tell a smart system from a dumb system?

Yes, yes - a double-triple-quadruple computer processor now fits inside eye-wear. Shoes can tell us which way to turn at the corner, thanks to smart systems enabling wearable technology. Everybody everywhere is collecting more and more information from everything else. Big Data has become something to be warehoused and mined. Analyzing the behavioral patterns of toothbrush selection in Burbank in November is as accessible as on-line grocery shopping.

It was only a matter of time until this trend of deeply sensored and computerized widgets and wonders would enter the domain of waste management and resource recovery. So, we have to ask ourselves: is this a good thing? Teru Talk answers this crucial question with a qualified Yes. Here are a few "smart" Garbage to Goods, Waste to Wealth instances and examples to ponder.

First, you can't manage what you don't measure. All these integrated sensors and computer brains let us measure things in near-real-time. It becomes particularly important when we are turning food scraps into highly explosive biogas, or adjusting minute amounts of oxygen and catalyst in a thermal retort processing train. Everything is recyclable with the right tools, yes, but you had better know how to use those tools so you know when and just how much to tweak the controls.

Even before you start a Waste Conversion process, you need to know all about what you're going to feed that smart technology. OK, so how much food waste IS coming from the region's restaurants and supermarkets? How can you tell with a "bankable" margin of error? You put those little sensors in the containers behind the stores, and see exactly how much of what goes where, and when. Cities can use Smart Technology to collect Big Data with far more sources of feedstock and fewer staff. A Smart City needs to keep close track of all its waste-sourced resources in order to integrate smartened-up waste conversion modules.

Finally, we should remind ourselves that there must be both smart technology and smart operators. All the cool tools in the world won't make up for lazy, uninformed or even intentionally biased operation. All the incoming data we can gather doesn't mean a thing unless we actually know how to LOOK at that detail, turn data into information, add experience to make knowledge, and then carefully implement what we've learned. The two must progress together: we need smart systems and smart technologies, and we need smart policies that include training for managers and systems operators. Having one without the other is just … dumb.

Hey Rube!

Teru recently accepted a seat on the Advisory Board of the international Smart Cities Council to assist in bringing Smart Waste Management within their wheelhouse. The real trick however is with the overall, City-wide integration of smart energy, water, and waste and resource management services into the day-to-day workings of our public systems. Check out this week's news item on how international giants Veolia and IBM are tackling that task.

This Week's Top Story

Poll Shows Canadians Overwhelmingly Support Energy-From-Waste

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association commissioned a poll in April 2014 to determine the public's impression of energy-from-waste (EFW). 11/24/2014

The Week's News

Lincolnshire County Celebrates Launch of New Energy from Waste Facility

Lincolnshire County, England’s new Energy from Waste (EfW) facility in North Hykeham was officially launched by Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, during an opening ceremony last Thursday. 11/30/2014

Polystyrene Recovery Program at LaSalle Ecocenter Gets Five Year Extension

The City of Montreal and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) have announced a five-year extension of the polystyrene recovery and recycling program at the LaSalle Ecocenter. 11/30/2014

ATS Crowdfunds to Commercialize Cellulose Mining from Wastewater

California based Applied CleanTech (ACT) has begun an EquityNet crowdfunding campaign to attract investment in their patented Sewage Recycling System (SRS), joining a growing number of companies turning to crowdfunding to raise capital . 11/26/2014

Alternative Environmental Systems Applies for Tire Pyrolysis AQ Permit

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has circulated notice that Nevada based Alternative Environmental Systems, LLC (AES) has filed an application for an Air Quality Permit to replace an existing pyrolysis pilot plant with a small commercial scale dual retort batch processing train. 11/26/2014

Vega Biofuels to Test Vencor's Torrefied Wood to Augment Its Own Supply

Norcross, Georgia based Vega Biofuels, Inc has announced that demand for Bio-Coal has outstripped its current production capacity, and it is exploring options to increase both capacity and supply. 11/25/2014

Vitruvian Energy Crowdfunds for Sewage-to-Biofuel Commercialization

Seattle, Washington based Vitruvian Energy, SPC has launched an IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $200,000 for "Community Sourced Biofuel". 11/25/2014

Chempolis and i3L Team to Develop Biorefinery Projects in Indonesia

Finland based company Chempolis Ltd has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Indonesia International Institute for Life-Sciences (i3L) to promote and develop commercial biorefinery projects. 11/24/2014

DOE Releases November Update to Multi-Year Bioenergy Program Plan

The US Department of Energy's (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has released a major update to its Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP), clarifying goals and structure and identifying the research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) activities the BETO will focus on over the next five years. 11/24/2014

IBM and Veolia Partner for Smarter City Water, Energy, and Waste Services

The international Smart Cities Council (SCC) has highlighted news that SCC member IBM has announced a partnership with Paris-based Veolia to transform City energy, water, and waste management services. 11/24/2014

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Teru Talk is an online publication of JDMT, Inc with the goal of opening the dialogue and providing current news and commentary on issues and successes associated with waste conversion to renewable energy, biofuels and other bio-based products for resource recovery.

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