Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume V, Issue 28, July 13, 2015 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "TerĂº")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Input, Process, Output: those are the Big Three parts of any biorefinery, including for the sake of argument, our own bodies. And like our bodies, it really isn’t a good idea to eat only one kind of Input. Biorefineries need a rounded diet, too. But look around any community: the waste and biomass residuals that are available as Input, the “opportunity feedstock” others are currently paying to throw away, more than likely are not already in a form that is easily consumed, converted, and remanufactured into new goods. The tendency has been to site a facility based on availability of one easy cheap abundant Input. Logic says we’ll eventually run out of Cheap and Easy.

If you have no teeth, you can't effectively chew meat or raw vegetables, even if that is the cheap food abundantly available. If an anaerobic digestion based biorefinery lacks front-end grinders and cell wall splitting systems, the chunks are bigger than the bugs that do the work and everything, uh, backs up. Not to belabor the point, but both  ends of a biorefinery (human or otherwise) have to be functional, not just the parts in the middle. For biorefineries, that back-end functionality needs Market Draw, economical off-takes for the diverse products. That means the Biorefinery Output needs to match regional Market specifications, and that takes “post-processing” – some sort of reforming and refining. Find a new market for your output, then acquire and integrate the back-end subsystems that can complete the processing to meet those specifications.

We have entered a stage of waste conversion and biorefinery development where the commercialization and resulting broader availability of front and back end bolt-on subsystems are on the rise. If we are to make the most of a region’s diverse opportunity feedstock, and if we are to meet the diverse needs of the region’s many market draws, we need a whole suite of tightly integrated pre-, core and post-conversion processes: we need a multi-technology Process Train  specifically designed to convert the Input into Output well suited to the region.

Plan your Input-Process-Output to fit the community, and adjust as the community changes. In comes a new food processing plant, and you can take food waste their process puts out. If you’ve got extra goo your own Process Train can’t turn back into gold, another operation might need your waste as their feedstock. We call that Industrial Synergy, where your output is my input. Sounds rather "circular", doesn't it?

"But there are too many moving parts!" Yeah, well – communities themselves are inherently complex and constantly in a state of flux. We find a way to live within them, or we move on. It only stands to reason that the waste conversion and resource recovery tool sets that fit and function within them will need to follow that same principal of complex, flexible integration. 

Hey Rube!

This week's news covers just about every aspect of waste conversion for resource recovery. We’ve got commercial scale examples of waste heat to power, biomass heating, plastic waste conversion for hydrogen recovery. Financial companies, agencies, and international organizations have stepped up, providing support for even the earliest stages of development, and releasing Think Tank tools and deep-dive reports to help plan, build and maintain that crucial complex, flexible integration. What we are running out of are Excuses.

This Week's Extra Reading

Over 15% of NYSERDA's recent NY Prize awards went to waste and biomass sourced energy projects. That may not seem like much, but only a few years ago they would not have even been considered. Read Teru's new Focus Report and see what you think.

This Week's Top Story

ElectraTherm Commissions First 'Radiator with a Payback'

Nevada based ElectraTherm has partnered with the US Department of Defense (DoD) to commission the first fully-integrated stationary engine and waste heat to power generator. 07/08/2015

The Week's News

Industry Groups Fund Study to Improve Efficiencies in Recycling Facilities

Five US trade associations representing a wide range of packaging types joined together to commission a study to find ways to optimize the recycling of their packaging after it goes into the bin or cart. 07/11/2015

IEA Releases Bioenergy Task 34 Newsletter on Fast Pyrolysis

Aston University's European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) has announced the publication of International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy Task 34 biennial newsletter. 07/10/2015

Energy from Waste Plant in China will Use Hitachi Zosen Inova’s Technology

Hitachi Zosen Cooperation has been awarded a contract by Human Junxin Environmental Protection Group for Changsha City’s first Energy from Waste (EfW) plant based on technology of Zurich based Hitachi Zosen Inova. 07/10/2015

New Energy Capital Invests in Natural Systems Utilities for Value from Waste

The New Energy Capital Cleantech Infrastructure Fund has announced its investment in Natural Systems Utilities (NSU) to expand opportunities to build, own, and operate wastewater treatment, water reuse, organics reclamation. and energy recovery systems in North America. 07/10/2015

Pennsylvania Funds Biomass Heating System for School Buildings

Pennsylvania's Governor Wolf has announced that the Commonwealth Financing Authority approved funding to support a new Alternative and Clean Energy (ACE) project with an investment of $500,000 in Clearfield County. 07/10/2015

Showa Denko Completes Waste Plastic Gasification Facility Expansion

Japanese company Showa Denko (SDK) has announced completion of the expansion of its used-plastic gasification facility at the Kawasaki Plant for production of ammonia from waste plastic. 07/08/2015

2015 BCAP Webinar Scheduled for Biomass Material Project Owners

The University of California (UC) Berkeley Wood Resources Group in collaboration with the US Forest Service Region 5, the California State Farm Services Agency Office, and California office of the Bureau of Land Management will host a webinar overview of the USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). 07/08/2015

UK Environment Agency Releases Report on Growth of Refuse Derived Fuels

The United Kingdom (UK) has released a new report that discusses the factors behind the sudden emergence and growth of exports of refuse derived fuel (RDF) from England. 07/07/2015

IRENA Launches INSPIRE Platform to Support Renewable Energy

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has announced the launch of the International Standards and Patents in Renewable Energy (INSPIRE), a new online platform to help users access 400 international standards and more than 2 million patents for renewable energy technologies. 07/07/2015

The Week's Action Items

Due 08/07/2015: Applications for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Funding

The Minnesota Department of Commerce (MnDOC) is soliciting proposals from local government agencies in Minnesota that are seeking low-cost, long-term capital to finance community energy efficiency and renewable energy system projects. 07/11/2015

Due 10/01/2015: USDA Loan Apps for Biorefineries/Bio-Product Manufacturing

The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service is requesting applications for funds that are available under the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (Program), formerly the Biorefinery Assistance Program. 07/10/2015

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Recommended Reading:

Out of the Wasteland: Stories from the Environmental Frontier by Paul Relis  
Out of the Wasteland: Stories from the Environmental Frontier by Paul Relis


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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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