Laura A. Shepard for Popular Science: Picture a giant toilet bowl looming larger than life outside the UN headquarters in New York. It sounds like an absurd scene, but the stunt from three years ago was not a childish prank. It was a serious statement to mark the first World Toilet Day and raise awareness of the fact that one third of the world’s population lacks access to toilets.
Addressing the global sanitation crisis is a top priority among the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and it now has an exciting solution.
In fact, science may soon make your toilet bowl a viable alternative energy source. Your flushes can produce two or three gallons of biofuel per year when the wastewater is treated using a process, developed scientists and engineers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, called hydro-thermal liquefaction (HTL).
HTL emulates the way crude oil forms naturally, when biomass decays under high pressure and heat for millions of years — but it only takes 45 minutes. Cont'd...
Joshua S Hill for CleanTechnica: A new study has concluded that transitioning to wind and solar power would be a cheaper option for the United Kingdom to replace its coal fleet than using biomass electricity generation.
According to a new study published this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and conducted by London-based Vivid Economics, which examined the full system costs of renewable energy technologies like wind and solar in comparison to biomass as a replacement for the UK’s coal fleet, wind and solar came out as the cheaper option.
The UK already uses a lot of biomass for electricity generation, with the report concluding that “biomass supplies the lion’s share” of the country’s renewable electricity generation. However, as the authors of the report note:
“…recent science shows that many forms of biomass produce more carbon emissions than fossil fuels like coal and natural gas—especially biomass from forests—increasing carbon pollution precisely when the United Kingdom aims to rapidly decarbonise its electricity sector.” Cont'd...
Umair Irfan for ClimateWire: On schedule, on budget. It’s a tall order for any new technology, but for a commercial carbon capture and storage (CCS) system, it might be the start of a revolution.
The Petra Nova carbon capture system under construction at the W.A. Parish Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant southwest of Houston, is slated to go online before the end of the year. The billion-dollar facility will become the largest post-combustion carbon capture system installed on an existing power plant in the world.
Systems like Petra Nova that keep carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere may become a necessary means to mitigate climate change, and for some utilities, they could offer a lifeline to beleaguered fossil fuel plants. Cont'd...
Chris Jennewein for Times of San Diego: A Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel has demonstrated the viability of renewable fuel by traveling 14,400 nautical miles over a 16-month period on renewable diesel.
The R/V Robert Gordon Sproul used a hydrogenation-derived renewable fuel called NEXBTL Renewable Diesel developed by Neste Oil in Finland. The experiment began in September 2014 and ran through December 2015, during which time the vessel used a total of 52,500 gallons.
“Part of the Scripps mission is to protect the environment, and one of the most significant changes that we could make in our ship operations involved moving toward the use of cleaner, renewable fuels,” said Scripps Associate Director Bruce Appelgate. “As scientists, we know we need to develop sustainable means of powering our ships to address pollution concerns as well as to mitigate future increases in fossil fuel costs.”
Renewable biofuel is nearly carbon-neutral and produces cleaner emissions, thus decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality relative to fuels derived from petroleum. Cont'd...
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