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Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume V, Issue 2, January 12, 2015
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú") 

Teru's Trash Talk

I'd say about now that most of the northern and eastern parts of the US are about ready for some sorta climate change, maybe like up a hundred degrees or so. Whether or not our illustrious global leaders can actually do something positive about this planet's climate fluctuations remains to be seen. One thing is certain: the fear of climate change is prompting some of the most pervasive and far-reaching regulatory changes imposed upon society. If we are all very lucky, these changes will end up on the balance, for the better.

So let's look at the basics, and think about the science behind the global jitters. If we consider just one important slice of that science, the process by which you, me, and the stuff we throw away breaks down and rejoins the environment occurs at the molecular level. The smallest stuff is the lightest, and as things begin to fall apart, a lot of those light-weight molecules are returned to the resource cycle as gas. Unfortunately, many of those gases raise heck in the atmosphere where they are mixed with oxygen, sunlight, and the myriad other goodies flowing through the air.

When enough matter gets changed in the atmosphere, sunlight can't get through as easily, and once it does, the heat it brings can't get back out as easily. Besides creating air that is harder to breathe, this process can upset the patterns of air flow - like heating a big pot of water all on one side - and the air doesn't swirl around the planet like it used to. One area gets a lot hotter; another area gets a lot colder. Those patterns of global air movement bring about what we call "climate", and messing with the flow on a global scale causes climate change.

The "organic" molecules in plants and animals are not nearly as well glued together as, say, the non-organic molecules that make up plastic, metal, rock or glass. Organics break down faster and more thoroughly, mainly because other plants and/or animals (sometimes it is hard to tell the difference) eat those organics. In so doing, these natural processes release components such as gases and fine particulates that mix it up with the air we are all breathing. The more people we add, the more organics we break down, and the more gases and fine particulate crud gets released into the air. Yes, you guessed it: a considerable amount of climate change can be traced right back to the natural process of plant and animal flatulence.

We may not be able to plug volcanoes and the enormous amount of spewing they accomplish. Given global political and economic realities, we probably can't really do too much about the continued massive use of fossil fuels, or stem the flow of non-organic pollutants constantly flooding upward. But we humans have one target we can actually do something about: we can manage the breakdown of organic waste. We can control that breakdown, and we can displace other pollutants by using what we garner from that control. Controlled conversion of food waste and sewage to biogas is one clear, achievable goal, and communities around the world are taking the steps necessary to implement that conversion at regional scale. Will that warm up Wisconsin this winter? Well, it can help, and biogas sure is cleaner to burn than bunker oil.

Hey Rube!

Sometime back, the leaders along the western fringe of North America agreed to Do Something about climate change in a concerted fashion. Lots of that action has been focused on advanced beneficial conversion of organics, especially food waste. Last week it was Vancouver; this week, we spotlight Seattle. Compare their smart, integrated and community-wide approaches.

This Week's Top Story

Viridor's Energy Recovery Facility in Oxfordshire County Is Fully Operational

Viridor has announced that its Ardley Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) has been granted an Acceptance Certificate by Oxfordshire County, United Kingdom (UK), marking completion of the construction phase and acceptance of the facility by Viridor from the contractor. 01/06/2015

The Week's News

US DOE Releases Notice of Upcoming ARPA-E 2015 Solicitation

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that its Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) 2015 Solicitation will be released later this month. 01/09/2015


SFI Releases 2015-2019 Sustainable Forestry Standards and Rules

The international non-profit organization Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) has announced the release of its 2015-2019 Standards and Rules (Standards) to promote sustainable forest management by supporting better decision making along the entire supply chain. 01/08/2015

GPC Will Host Webinar on Biomass Power Opportunities

In advance of this year's World Biomass Power Markets conference in Amsterdam, Green Power Conferences (GPC) is hosting a free webinar focused on "Biomass Power: Unearthing the Next Opportunity..." 01/08/2015

Seattle Bans Food Waste and Compostable Paper in the Garbage

The City of Seattle's Ordinance #124582 went into effect the beginning of this year banning food waste and compostable paper, including pizza boxes, paper napkins, and paper towels, in the garbage. 01/07/2015

Clean Energy Sells Interest in McCommas Bluff Landfill Gas to Energy Plant

California based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has divested its majority interest in the biomethane production facility located at the McCommas Bluff Landfill that serves the City of Dallas, Texas, to minority interest owner Cambrian Energy Development LLC. 01/05/2015

The Week's Action Items

Due 02/12/2015: Proposals to Develop Annapolis Renewable Energy Park

The City of Annapolis, Maryland is requesting proposals (RFP 15-12 AREP) for the development and operation of the Annapolis Renewable Energy Park (AREP) to convert the property containing the closed City of Annapolis landfill into a renewable energy facility. 01/07/2015

Due 03/04/2015: 1st Stage Applications to Innovate UK for Energy Projects

The United Kingdom's (UK) Innovate UK has announced planned investments of up to £9.5 million in innovations that will address the need for a diverse mix of energy sources and systems over the next three decades and beyond. 01/10/2015

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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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