Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume V, Issue 20, May 18, 2015 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "TerĂº")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Some time ago, California's Governor directed the state waste management agency toward a "feedstock driven, technology neutral" approach to turning wastes back into goods. That directive seemed pretty clear, but many folks need a better explanation as to how it's all supposed to work. It is a complex task: what we call "trash" contains bits and clumps of everything we ever made anywhere, and that's one diverse flow of feedstock to separate.

Now, as to those Technologies we're supposed to be so neutral about. There's a whole world of technical processing systems available out there, and more very day, capable of converting one kind of waste or another into useful resources. There are three main approaches; you can tell them apart by the primary hat-trick each uses to accomplish that take-apart work.

First there are techy platforms that employ Kinetic Energy. They crush, smash, grind, chip, and otherwise mangle detritus to break it down into the foundation raw materials needed to make back into commodities. We can do that with wood: we turn trees to logs, into firewood or lumber, or into wood chips and fuel pellets. Kinetic energy is the physical motive force generated due to motion, the force of one mass used against another to create friction. Mind thy thumbs though: when you beat on something enough, it breaks into fragments. When you push something hard enough, it will fall over.

Next, we can lump together a whole range technologies into biological processing tools. Ever made beer? Those microbial yeasty beasties can really rip into sugary organics, and Man has been figuring out how to harness the myriad living creatures of the microbial and macro-biotic (think worms) world for good or bad since, well, since man began. By now, we really know how to beat those bugs into submission. We can make them eat just about anything we might pick out of the trash heap. We can then "culture" them to digest and spit out almost any sort of bio-material or bio-fuel we might need. Just remember: we too are simply future feedstock for the bugs and worms.

Feel that warm sunshine? That's Thermal Energy. Used right, thermal conversion can take apart anything, all the way to down to and beyond the very atoms of which things were constructed in the first place. Appropriately, it is with the degree of thermal energy application one must be most concerned. You must manage the temperature, control the time in the cooker (called "retention time") and meter the oxygen available, whether you are cooking dinner over a pit fire or using plasma to turn sewage sludge into a fuel gas replacement for acetylene in a metal cutting torch. Yes, fire is both wonderful and dangerous, as are most useful tools.

First we do the dirty work of collecting and separating the trash. Then we select a waste type as feedstock, let's say "food waste". Finally, we use the best waste conversion tool-set available, more often a combination of platforms. But no matter how well built the system, it's just a wreck waiting to happen in the wrong hands. It takes both the proper tool and competent operation to be effective at accomplishing clean, sane, economical waste-sourced resource recovery.

Hey Rube!

As the concepts of Zero Waste and the Circular Economy become part of our global mind-set, this business of matching feedstock to the proper tools and their trained operators becomes all the more critical. These are the examples Teru hunts: they become the subjects of our news.

This Week's Extra Reading

TERU's new Focus Report on European Waste Management and the Circular Economy presents an EU Op Ed identifying private sector investment as the key.

This Week's Top Story

Joule’s CO2-Recycled Ethanol Meets US and European Specifications

Massachusetts company Joule Unlimited, Inc has announced the successful results from third-party testing of its ethanol fuel, setting the stage to obtain certification for commercial use. 05/11/2015

The Week's News

Energy Recovery Technology Ships for Mirfa Power Plant in Abu Dhabi

Recovering the energy from wasted pressure isn't something often included in our news, but is an important factor in overall system efficiency. 05/15/2015

Dyadic Receives Funding for Role in New Advanced Biofuels Project

Florida based Dyadic International, Inc has announced that its subsidiary Dyadic Netherlands B.V. (Dyadic Netherlands) will work in collaboration with Compagnie Industrielle de Matiere Vegetale ("CIMV") and five other industry partners on the 2G BIOPIC projecf. 05/15/2015

EPA Recognizes Chumash Casino Resort for Zero Waste and Food Recovery

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the Chumash Casino Resort were recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the 2014 Food Recovery Challenge certificate of achievement for its zero waste efforts. 05/15/2015

BioNitrogen Contracts with Air Liquide for Plant Air and Gas Requirements

BioNitrogen Holdings Corp has announced that it has reached a multi-plant agreement with Air Liquide Industrial US starting with collaboration on all the air and gas requirements for the Hendry County plant. 05/14/2015

New Funding Available for MRF Quality Testing Infrastructure Reporting

Zero Waste Scotland has announced a new fund available to Material Recovery Facility (MRF) operators located in Scotland to meet new reporting requirements. 05/14/2015

VTT Gasifies Lignocellulosic Biomass for Pure Industrial Chemicals

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd has demonstrated that lignocellulosic biomass can be successfully converted into pure BTX chemicals: benzene, toluene and xylene. 05/13/2015

BDI BioEnergy Successfully Completes RetroFit of Biodiesel Plant in Spain

BDI – BioEnergy International AG has announced the successful completion of the expansion of a BioDiesel plant in Spain. 05/13/2015

Major Waste to Energy Company Will Formally Test MagneGas® Fuel

MagneGas Corporation has announced that a major waste to energy (WtE) company with 51 existing operating facilities processing solid waste into renewable energy has requested formal testing of MagneGas® as an immediate replacement to acetylene. 05/11/2015

The Week's Action Items

Due 06/30/2015: Comments to CEC for Emerging Opportunities Solicitation

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to determine if there are areas in need of funding which have not been previously addressed by the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP). 05/13/2015

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Recommended Reading:

Waste to energy conversion technology
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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