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Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume VI, Issue 7, February 15, 2016
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Here’s a horror story we’ve all experienced: you put a plastic container too close to a pan on the stove. It heats, it melts, it permanently becomes part of that metal pan. Or worse yet, it catches fire, sending up clouds of toxic smoke and it is almost impossible to quench.

Now, imagine trying to melt down thousands of tons of waste plastic and do anything with that goo, without gluing it to the insides of every metal part in the system. Wow. You’ve just mentally shared the anguish that a great many techy folks have been struggling with for the last decade or so, attempting to un-make waste plastic. The normal way waste plastic has always been recycled is to grind it into little tiny beads and pellets, and melt that plastic feedstock to form more bottles. Or maybe squeeze that melted plastic mess through a hole and remake it into fence slats, parking lot bumpers. Or mix it with wood and make decking. Now, that’s pretty cool, so what’s the problem?

With all of today’s recycling added up, we still have only been recovering five to ten percent of the tsunami of waste plastic constantly making its way toward disposal. Plastic burns hot, really hot, so incinerators eat it up just fine. But industry works very hard to make many kinds of plastic, and hey, all those different plastics are chock-full of Resources. Plastic does such marvelous things, like allowing us to carry wet stuff in our pocket without leakage, or conveying water for miles, buried under our feet. A plastic is a ‘polymer’, a long string of complex molecules that have been manufactured for their ability to resist falling apart, resist letting moisture through, resist everything . It makes sense that taking it apart to its constituent chemicals wouldn’t be easy: it never is easy to un-bake a cake.

It is bad enough to end up with gazillion tons of plastic in landfills. It is quite another magnitude of bad for that ever-lasting plastic crud to end up in the world’s oceans. Wonderful image: seals with plastic beer can holders stretched around their necks. Sharks eating water bottles. Dinner fish, with enough of those tiny plastic micro-beads in their flesh to cause problems for kids fed fish for dinner. Great bobbing mats of floating plastic waste are circling in the globe’s five mid-ocean gyres, some the size of Texas.

Fortunately there are bright people who see those mountains of waste plastic as a challenging business opportunity and have stubbornly pushed new technical approaches forward for conversion of plastic for resource recovery. Yes, you can heat up plastic, very carefully, and separate those myriad vapors as they emerge. Recondensed, the vapor can be turned into fuels or lubricants. They’ll turn back into gas, or ‘syngas’, with more heat and syngas makes lots of good things. There are even microbes that eat plastic and spew out valuable chemicals. And like magic, bright folks have figured out how to unmake plastic and turn plastic waste back into useful stuff, and back into Business.

Hey Rube!

Grantsmanship is seldom a good way to make money, and if making money is the sole objective, application usually isn’t worth the resource burn. What grantsmanship can be, is focused advertising to the agencies and institutions that dole out the dough. Oh yes, and attending to grantsmanship might result in money. Lots of grants opening up right now, folks.

Sponsored Link:  
  Solar Cooker Balloon Energy System by California Sunlight

Solar Cooker Balloon Energy System by California Sunlight

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This Week's Extra Reading

IEA Renewable Energy Tech Development Releases RES-T-BIOPLANT Report

The International Energy Agency Renewable Energy Technology Development program (IEA-RETD) has released a detailed assessment of opportunities for integration of second generation biofuels operations within 1st generation facilities, and of biodiesel production operations for conversion of fossil fuel refineries. 02/09/2016

This Week's Top Story

Construction Progresses on ENVIA's Oklahoma Landfill Gas-to-Liquid Project

Velocys plc announced that it has contracted for installation of process modules, related piping, and ancillary equipment, for ENVIA Energy's Oklahoma City gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant to be located adjacent to Waste Management's East Oak landfill site. 02/08/2016

The Week's News

CEC Releases 2015 Integrated Energy Policy Report

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released the 2015 Integrated Energy Policy Report (2015 IEPR) to provide the results of the CEC’s assessments of a variety of energy issues facing California. 02/12/2016

Global Change Awards of €1M Distributed to Close the Loop of Fashion

The Global Change Awards 2015 winners have been announced and the public decided how to distribute the  €1 million prize among the five finalist start-up companies. 02/11/2016

Blume Adds Patented Vapor Generator Equipment to Tech Portfolio

California company Blume Distillation LLC has entered into an exclusive Strategic Development Agreement (SDA) with Nevada based National Vapor Industries, Inc (NVI). 02/11/2016

Enval Technology Identified in Ellen MacArthur Report to Recycle Waste Plastic

United Kingdom based Enval Ltd’s patented pyrolysis process has been named among a number of measures aimed at addressing the world’s looming plastic crisis. 02/10/2016

Gevo Partners With Porta to Construct Bio-Isobutanol Plants in Argentina

Colorado company Gevo, Inc has announced that it has entered into a license agreement and a joint development agreement with Porta Hnos S.A. (Porta) to construct multiple isobutanol plants in Argentina using corn as a feedstock. 02/10/2016

Ensyn's Renewable Fuel Oil Qualifies under California's LCFS

Delaware based Ensyn Corporation (Ensyn) has announced that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved its Renewable Fuel Oil (RFO™) as a renewable feedstock under California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). 02/09/2016

Altranex Establishes Research Links with Queen’s University

Canadian biofuels company Altranex has announced a key agreement with Queen's University to extend the firm’s research and development of their novel plant oil conversion platform. 02/08/2016

SHL and GPA Win Design Competition for World's Largest WTE Plant in China

The team of Danish firms Gottlieb Paludan Architects (GPA) and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects (SHL) have won an international competition to design the world's largest waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, planned for construction in Shenzhen, China. 02/08/2016

New interactive Features at Lincolnshire Energy from Waste Education Centre

FCC Environment has introduced a range of new interactive features at the Lincolnshire Energy from Waste education centre, and visitors are now able to learn more about recycling and green energy. 02/08/2016

The Week's Action Items

Due 02/26/2016: Concept to DOE for Mega-Bio: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $11.3 million in funding to develop flexible biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can be modified to produce advanced fuels and/or products based on external factors, such as market demand. 02/08/2016

Due 03/01/2016: Comments to CEAA on Woodfibre LNG Project

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) is inviting the public to comment on an analysis of the anticipated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the proposed Woodfibre LNG Project. 02/10/2016

Due 03/04/2016: Seed Capital Proposals for Waste Plastic Film Recycling

The Closed Loop Fund is ​accepting proposals for below market loans for cities and companies to improve recycling​ infrastructure on a rolling basis. 02/11/2016

Due 05/04/2016: Applications to EREF for Scholarships in Solid Waste Research

The Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) has announced that graduate level scholarship applications are now being accepted for solid waste management research for the 2016-2017 academic year. 02/09/2016  

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Recommended Reading:

 CHAGALL: The Recycling Dragon
CHAGALL: The Recycling Dragon
by Marty Strauss

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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