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...
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...
CPH Post: Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered a natural process they are calling ‘reverse photosynthesis’. They have observed how the energy in solar rays breaks down rather than builds up plant material, as happens in photosynthesis.
Sunlight is collected by chlorophyll, and when combined with a specific enzyme the energy breaks down plant biomass. The resulting product can then be used as a biofuel.
By increasing production speed while reducing pollution, the discovery has the potential to revolutionise industrial production.
“This is a game-changer, one that could transform the industrial production of fuels and chemicals, thus serving to reduce pollution significantly,” said Claus Felby, the University of Copenhagen professor who headed up the research.
“It has always been right under our noses,” he said. “Photosynthesis by way of the sun doesn’t just allow things to grow – the same principles can be applied to break plant matter down, so that the immense energy in solar light can be used so that processes can take place without additional energy inputs.” Cont'd...
Tina Casey for CleanTechnica: The algae biofuel market is still in play even though the global petroleum market shows no real signs of lifting itself out of the doldrums, as two examples from different ends of the Earth illustrate. Over in Australia, researchers have come up with a new, low cost way to raise algae for biofuel, and here in the US the Department of Energy is moving forward with a new grant program to fund commercially viable algae production. Cont'd...
Anmar Frangoul for CNBC: A common sight in the British countryside, bracken -- a type of fern -- is now being hailed as the next big source of biofuel.
Based in the south west of England, Brackenburn produces "brackettes" – biomass pellets made from bracken that they shred and compress into briquettes which produce much more heat when burnt than oak.
"In our estimation there's 2.5 million acres of bracken in the UK… it's a huge area," Barry Smith, Brackenburn's marketing and sales director, told CNBC in a phone interview.
"Left unchecked, bracken encroaches by three percent a year… at the end of the day there's no use for it whatsoever," Smith added. "It's a nuisance and to call it a crop is kind of giving it a status it doesn't deserve." Cont'd...
By Teresa Meng for The Chronicle: A Duke University professor has been awarded a $5.2 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore ways of making algae a cost efficient fuel source.
The Duke-led Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium, comprised of both universities and energy companies, aims to lower the cost of algae oil, which can be used in place of fossil fuels. The team is working to identify algae proteins that can be used in protein-based nutritional products in order to make the entire algae farming process more cost-efficient. Zackary Johnson, Arthur P. Kaupe assistant professor of molecular biology in marine science, is the principal investigator of MAGIC and has been researching algae biofuels for eight years.
“The goal of the research is to drive down the cost of algae biofuel by increasing the value of proteins within algae,” Johnson explained.
Johnson and his team at MAGIC are trying to use multiple ways so that algae grown for biofuel extraction can also be sold after oil is extracted from the algae. Proteins in algae could be used for nutritional products such as poultry feed, fish feed or even food for humans. Extracting and selling these proteins would lower the overall production cost of extracting oil from the algae. In the future, algae proteins as food sources might even be a sustainable approach to feed the world.
Algae biofuel has the potential to become a major source of sustainable energy because it can be produced quickly, easily and in high quality, Johnson said. Cont'd...
One of The Largest Biodiesel Transactions in the US: Ocean Park Advises Imperium Renewables on Sale to Renewable Energy Group
Alliance BioEnergy Plus, Inc. Completes FEL 1 Engineering Stage For Construction of First Commercial Plant
Alliance BioEnergy Plus, Inc. Enters Into 56 Plant Development Agreement With Renewable Resources Development of America, LLC.
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