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Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume V, Issue 1, January 5, 2015
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú") 

Teru's Trash Talk

Everybody's been standing around waist deep in - uh - waste, just smiling and enjoying the Holidaze, sipping 'Nog - then ol' Reality steps through the door and says, "OK, break's over - back on your heads!"


It's a corny old joke, but you get the point: time to gear up, pay attention, and get back to work. This is a time when the Rules get published, the roadmaps lay out the up-coming grants and support programs, and New and Improved policies guess at proper governance. Year-end reports spell out the good, bad, and just plain horrifying economics we've all been struggling through - well, at least it hasn't been ALL bad. Societies are catching on to the fact that they can turn the crud that cost them plenty, back into goods that makes them money.


One broad shift in global policy has been spot-lighting waste conversion: the advent of carbon trading, and low carbon fuel standards. The western states seem to be leading, yet many regions' agencies are following suit, implementing the complex regulatory mess handed to them by their legislators over the last few years. The primary metric for assessing "lower carbon footprints" is the Life Cycle Assessment, where you dissect feedstock-to-commodity pathways and assign pluses and minuses for the various component impacts. It seems so clear: if you convert a waste to fuel instead of using virgin materials, there isn't going to be as big an impact. If carbon & hydrogen laden stuff already circulating in the environment is used instead of adding freshly dug-up fossil hydrocarbons, the total environmental cost is going to be less. And if you want to be able to repeat that stuff-to-fuel cycle over and over while keeping the impact as low as possible, waste conversion is the single most sustainable way to make Low Carbon Fuels.


There is a more subtle shift associated with carbon / climate wrangling that has begun to actually make a difference in developing garbage-to-goods projects. With full agency program implementation, the private developer's spreadsheets are starting to include bankable financial support derived from off-setting the carbon impacts of the Big Polluters - certification of a low carbon ranking is beginning to generate actual, dependable sources of Money. Not too long ago, nobody dared to include financial perks for low carbon intensity efforts: if funds came along, great, but you certainly couldn't put that on the project balance sheet. Going into 2015, we believe that this single change may prove to be one of the more dependable financial support mechanisms available for the clean conversion of waste-sourced feedstock into electrical power, transport fuels, foundation chemicals, and other key commodities.


Still, a project has to pencil; there has to be sufficient feedstock locked down, the site and its environmental allowances must be secure, and whatever the products, there must be contingent off-take agreements. Financial tidbits such as those that might come from off-set protocols and tariffs just improve the balance sheet. Yet right now, clean waste conversion project development can use all the help it can get.

Hey Rube!

One rather common way agencies try to "help" waste conversion development is to prohibit one management practice in preference for another, such as banning food waste landfill disposal. That's a two edged sword: you need the alternative conversion infrastructure well established to not end up with mounds of moldering muck along the curb.

This Week's Extra Reading

See our new TERU Focus Report on Plastic-Aluminum Packaging Conversion that talks about how University spin-off Enval untangles this tough packaging challenge.

This Week's Top Story

Carbon Cycle Power Locks Down Spokane Site for Waste-to-Value Demo Unit

MPM Technologies, Inc subsidiary Carbon Cycle Power (CCP) has signed a lease agreement with an affiliate of Spokane Valley manufacturer Wheeler Industries, Inc to house the demonstration unit of CCP’s waste-to-value demonstration unit. 12/29/2014

The Week's News

Metro Vancouver Now Requires Food Waste to Be Separated from Garbage

As of January 1, new rules are in place requiring residents and businesses in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to separate food waste from regular garbage. Initial enforcement will focus on large generators of food waste like supermarkets, major restaurants, and hotels. 01/04/2015

CIGR Issues Report on Global Biomethanation Potential From Food Waste

The International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (CIGR, Commission Internationale du Génie Rural) has published "Global Biomethanation Potential from Food Waste - A Review". 01/03/2015

USDA Publishes Final Rule for Rural Energy for America Program

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published the final rule for its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in the Federal Register. 01/03/2015

Oregon DEQ Documents Energy Savings, GHG Benefits from Waste Recovery

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has tracked the state’s waste generation and recovery of materials since 1992. 01/02/2015

CARB Schedules Hearings on Re-Adoption of LCFS, Alternative Diesel Regs

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced public hearings before the Board for the proposed adoption of an updated Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and the proposed adoption of a regulation governing the commercialization of motor vehicle alternative diesel fuels (ADF). 12/31/2014

The Week's Action Items

Due 02/06/2015: Proposals to DOE START for Strategic Energy Plans in Alaska

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy is currently accepting applications for the third round of the Alaska Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program to assist Alaska Native corporations and federally recognized Alaska Native governments with accelerating clean energy projects. 12/31/2014

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Waste to energy conversion technology (Woodhead Publishing Series in Energy 2013)


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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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