Converting Waste Heat to Electricity

September 24, 2012  |  Comments Off on Converting Waste Heat to Electricity  |  by admin  |  News

With rapid industrialization, the world has seen the development of a number of items or units, which generate heat. Until now this heat has often been treated as a waste, making people wonder if this enormous heat being generated can be transformed into a source of electric power. Now, with the physicists at the University of Arizona finding new ways to harvest energy through heat, this dream is actually going to become a reality.

University of Arizona Research Team: The research team is headed by Charles Staffor. He is the associate professor of physics, and he along with his team worked on harvesting energy from waste. The team’s findings were published in the September 2010 issue of the scientific journal, ACS Nano.

Justin Bergfield who is an author and a doctoral candidate in the UA College of Optical Sciences shares his opinion, “Thermoelectricity can convert heat directly into electric energy in a device with no moving parts. Our colleagues in the field tell us that they are confident that the device we have designed on the computer can be built with the characteristics that we see in our simulations.”

Advantages: Elimination of Ozone Depleting materials: Using the waste heat as a form of electric power has multiple advantages. Whereas on one hand, using the theoretical model of molecular thermoelectric helps in increasing the efficiency of cars, power plants factories and solar panels, on the other hand efficient thermoelectric materials make ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, outdated.

More Efficient Design: The head of the research team Charles Stafford is hopeful about positive results because he expects that the thermoelectric voltage using their design will be 100 times more than what others have achieved. If the design of the team, which they have made on a computer does work, it will be a dream come true for all those engineers, who wanted to catch and make use of energy lost through waste but do not have the required efficient and economical devices to do so.

No need for Mechanics: The heat-conversion device invented by Bergfield and Stafford do not require any kind of machines or ozone-depleting chemicals, as was the case with refrigerators and steam turbines, which were earlier used to convert waste into electric energy. Now, the same work is done by sandwiching a rubber-like polymer between two metals, which acts like an electrode. The thermoelectric devices are self-contained, need no moving parts and are easy to manufacture and maintain.

Utilization Of Waste Energy: Energy is harvested in many ways using the car and factory waste. Car and factory waste can be used for generating electricity by coating exhaust pipes with a thin material, which is a millionth time of an inch. Physicists also take advantage of the law of quantum physics, which though not used often enough, gives great results when it comes to generating power from the waste.

Advantage Over Solar Energy: Molecular thermoelectric devices may help in harvesting energy from the sun and reduce the dependence on photovoltic cells, whose efficiency in harvesting solar energy is going down.
How It Works

Though having worked on the molecule and thinking about using them for a thermoelectric device, Bergfield and Stafford had not found anything special till an undergraduate discovered that these molecules had special features. A large number of molecules were then sandwiched between electrodes and exposed to a stimulated heat source. The flow of electrons along the molecule was split in two once it encounters a benzene ring, with one flow of electrons following along each arm of the ring.

The benzene ring circuit was designed in such a way that the electron travels longer distance round the rings in one path, which causes the two electrons to be out of phase when they reach the other side of the benzene ring. The waves cancel out each-other on meeting. The interruption caused in the flow of electric charge due to varied temperature builds up voltage between electrodes.

The effects seen on molecules are not unique because any quantum scale device having cancellation of electric charge will show a similar effect if there is a temperature difference. With the increase in temperature difference, energy generated also increases.

Thermoelectric devices designed by Bergfield and Stafford can generate power that can lit a 100 Watt bulb or increase car’s efficiency by 25%.

Costs for Thermo-photovoltaic Cells Significantly Reduced

September 1, 2012  |  Comments Off on Costs for Thermo-photovoltaic Cells Significantly Reduced  |  by admin  |  News

Thermo-photovoltaic (TPV) cells are great for converting radiation from any heat source to power. These cells can generate power from the wasted heat which gets released when glass or steel is produced. Adding these TPV cells to domestic power systems can help generate power along with heating water. TPV systems are also too complex for everyday use. Both of these reasons have made the TPV systems beyond industrial and domestic consumer routine set-up.

Prohibitive cost:
Though TPV cells can be utilized to enhance the domestic heating system efficiency, the cost is a daunting factor in deploying cated on epi-ready substrates, these cells were marketed for III-V layered epitaxial growth.

Unique new processing technique:
But IMEC has been researching newer and better techniques. IMEC has used amorphous Si by diffusion and passivation to form the emitter. Ge substrates specially designed were created and tested. Ge substrates defined (germanium-based) TPV cells had better quantum efficiency as compared to epi-ready started traditional TPV cells.

Benefits of new method:
The increased efficiency of the germanium-based TPV cells can means more electricity generation from waste heat. An increase in cell performance and reduction in cost are the direct outcome of the surface passivation techniques and the new contacting technologies that had been uniquely developed by IMEC. The new TPV cells will be crafted up on the special germanium substrate designed and created just for this.

IMEC’s contribution:
Jef Poortmans, Director Photovoltaics, IMEC, claimed, “IMEC’s research into photovoltaics aims at finding techniques to fabricate cost-efficient and more efficient solar cells.” IMEC has had a long innings in making silicon solar cells and this has been instrumental in the success of their TPV research.

Better future:
As band-gap of the germanium is very near the emission peak of the TPV system emitters, germanium-based photovoltaic devices can be found as the suitable receivers for these kinds of systems. Now with the decreased cell cost because of the better processing techniques, the future of the market for thermo-photovoltaic applications looks brighter.

Water into Hydrogen Fuel with Waste Energy

August 30, 2012  |  Comments Off on Water into Hydrogen Fuel with Waste Energy  |  by admin  |  News

With each passing day, scientists are coming out with unique solutions to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. They are now thinking of turning stray forms of energy such as noise or random vibrations from the environment into useful form of energy. They want to use piezoelectric effect for such purposes. Some materials produce electricity while undergoing mechanical stress. This is known as piezoelectric effect. Small piezoelectric crystals can come up with enough voltage to create a spark which can be utilized to ignite gas.

Piezoelectric crystals act as igniters. They are helpful in many gas-powered appliances like ovens, grillers, room heaters, and hot water heaters. These piezoelectric crystals are quite tiny and can be easily fitted into lighters too. Piezoelectric crystals are also fitted into electronic clocks and watches for time alarm noise.

Materials scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have taken the help of piezoelectric effect to harness random energy available in the atmosphere to turn water into usable hydrogen fuel. It might prove a simple, efficient method to recycle waste energy. The research team is led by Huifang Xu, who is a UW-Madison geologist and crystal specialist. They took nanocrystals of zinc oxide and barium titanate. These two nanocrystals were put in water. When these crystals received ultrasonic vibrations, the nanofibers flexed and catalyzed a chemical reaction. This whole process resulted in splitting the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

Huifang Xu along with his team has published their work in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. They wrote in the journal, “This study provides a simple and cost-effective technology for direct water splitting that may generate hydrogen fuels by scavenging energy wastes such as noise or stray vibrations from the environment. This new discovery may have potential implications in solving the challenging energy and environmental issues that we are facing today and in the future.”

Xu and his colleagues applied the piezoelectric effect to the nanocrystal fibers successfully. Xu says, “The bulk materials are brittle, but at the nanoscale they are flexible.” It is akin to the difference between fiberglass and a pane of glass.

It has been noted that smaller fibers exhibit more flexibility than larger crystals. Therefore smaller fibers can generate electric charges without difficulty. The project team has extracted an impressive 18 percent efficiency with the nanocrystals, higher than most experimental energy sources. Xu shares his views, “because we can tune the fiber and plate sizes, we can use even small amounts of [mechanical] noise — like a vibration or water flowing — to bend the fibers and plates. With this kind of technology, we can scavenge energy waste and convert it into useful chemical energy.” What a fantastic idea.

But scientists didn’t utilize this electrical energy straightaway. They use this energy in breaking the chemical bonds in water to split oxygen and hydrogen. Xu explains, “This is a new phenomenon, converting mechanical energy directly to chemical energy.” Xu calls it a piezoelectrochemical (PZEC) effect. Why it seems that scientists are beating around the bush? Because chemical energy of hydrogen fuel is more stable than the electric charge. Storage of hydrogen fuel is easy and would not lose potency over time.

With the right technology, Xu foresees this method to be utilized where small amount of power is needed. Now we can imagine charging a cell phone while taking our morning walk or we can enjoy cool breeze that can power street lights. Xu says, “We have limited areas to collect large energy differences, like a waterfall or a big dam. But we have lots of places with small energies. If we can harvest that energy, it would be tremendous.”

Pyromex Waste to Energy Technology

August 13, 2012  |  Comments Off on Pyromex Waste to Energy Technology  |  by admin  |  News

Swiss Company Pyromex has been developing waste management technologies for almost twenty years. Their goal is to lower emissions and reduce landfill waste with their patented ultra-high temperature gasification system. In 1999 the first industrial plant was built in Germany. According to the company, the Pyromex gasification system can treat all types of waste, with the single exception of heavily contaminated nuclear residues! The Pyromex technology just may be the ultimate waste energy solution – to treat all types of waste without waste residues and without harmful emissions to the atmosphere – while recovering all valuable constituent of the waste at highly economic conditions.


Waste Recycling

  • No dangerous residues, nothing to dispose of after treatment
  • No harmful emissions to the atmosphere
  • Treating of all kinds of waste, including hazardous and toxic material
  • Meeting the highest and most severe environmental rules and regulations

Pyromex Reactor

  • Modular, upgradeable system, starting at 10 tons per day upward
  • A fraction of the size of common waste treatment plants
  • Fitting into a small, compact, two level construction
  • No smoke stack necessary
  • Accelerated waste treatment processing
  • All valuable contents of the waste are recoverable
  • Different energy recovery technologies possible
  • Various energy utilization possible

Waste Energy Plant

  • Lower investment costs compared to common waste treatment plant
  • Fewer costs for treatment and maintenance
  • Low energy requirements
  • Greater power output per ton than that of common waste treatment plants
  • Profitable business, not just a break-even operation

Waste Tires-to-Energy

Tire RecyclingThe United States alone generates over 280 million waste tires a year. Although numerous recycling programs and methods have been deployed over the years, a large percentage of these tires still end up in landfills. Converting these waste tires into usable energy through environmentally responsible technology provides a significant opportunity.

The PYROMEX Waste-To-Energy technology consists of an induction heated, ultra-high temperature gasification process. The PYROMEX conversion process converts all the organic content of the waste stream into a high-energy synthetic gas “pyrogas” while the inorganic content is converted to an inert, non-leachable basalt-like material.

Although the system utilizes temperatures as high as 3000 F, it is not an incineration or simple pyrolysis process. Using energy-efficient induction heating, the process generates heat in an oxygen-free environment causing a series of chemical reactions to occur through pyrolysis and hydrolysis. This process converts all components of the waste stream, including non-toxic, toxic, and hazardous materials, into usable forms of energy and inert residue. In addition, the system exceeds all current environmental and emission standards.

Due to the fact that the rubber in tires has a high energy value (and through peeling, shredding, and crumbing) it becomes a very valuable feed material in the generation of “pyrogas” and electricity. On an average, a waste rubber processing facility can totally offset their energy costs, reduce or eliminate their tipping fees, and have a significant excess of saleable energy to create an additional revenue source.

The PYROMEX process represents the next generation of technology in the tire recycling business. Through the installation of a system, an organization can not only measure profits by what they save in tipping and disposal fees, but they can now offset operational costs while generating a new revenue stream based on the sale of energy (either gas or electricity) from the material that previously cost them disposal fees.

Fuel from Chicken Feathers?

June 20, 2012  |  Comments Off on Fuel from Chicken Feathers?  |  by admin  |  News

If we go by the stats, every year 11 billion pounds of poultry industry waste accumulates annually, because we have gigantic appetite for poultry products. They can’t be stuffed into pillows. Mostly they are utilized as low-grade animal feed. Scientists in Nevada have created a new and environmentally friendly process for developing biodiesel fuel from ‘chicken feather meal’. Professor Manoranjan ‘Mano’ Misra and his team members at the University of Nevada discovered that chicken feather meal consists of processed chicken feathers, blood, and innards. Prof. Misra has been honored as the 2010 Regents’ Researcher by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents.

Chicken feather meal is processed at high temperatures with steam. This feather meal is used as animal feed and also as fertilizer. Chicken feather meal has high percentage of protein and nitrogen. The researchers have paid attention to the 12% fat content of the chicken feather meal. They have arrived at the conclusion that feather meal has potential as an alternative, non-food feedstock for the production of biofuel. They have extracted fat from chicken feather meal using boiling water and processing it into biodiesel. Another advantage of extracting fat from feather meal is it provides both a higher-grade animal feed and a better nitrogen source for fertilizer applications.

Stats tell us that if we take into account the amount of feather meal generated by the poultry industry each year, researchers could produce 153 million gallons of biodiesel annually in the U.S. and 593 million gallons worldwide.

Prof. Misra is the director of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Renewable Energy Centre. He has published 183 technical papers in the areas of materials, nanotechnology and environmental and mineral process engineering until now. He also has 10 patents published and another 12 are pending. He has secured over $25 million dollars in grant funding.

Other research is going on regarding chicken feather meal. It contains stronger and more absorbent keratin fiber than wood. Professor Richard P. Wool of the chemical engineering department of the University of Delaware, is trying to carbonized chicken feathers. This type of chicken feather bears a resemblance to highly versatile (and tiny) carbon nanotubes. This chicken feather can be utilized to store hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles. If we visualize carefully we can see that very tiny natural sponges of chicken feathers have a big weight advantage over metal hydride storage.

Wool’s graduate student Erman Senöz in the project explained that they applied the pyrolysis process. During this process a very high heat without combustion in the absence of oxygen is applied. This yields fibers “that are micro-porous, very thin and hollow inside like carbon nanotubes. They start forming at 350 degrees Centigrade, and above 500 C they collapse. We’re trying to find the perfect temperature.”

Another advantage of this process is there won’t be lack of chicken-feed, because the fiber is taken from the central quill part. It leaves the fluffy feathers available to force-feed livestock. Feather fiber is quite cheap, and the “gas tank” equivalent would cost around $200.


Waste to Energy Continues to Gain Steam

June 12, 2012  |  Comments Off on Waste to Energy Continues to Gain Steam  |  by admin  |  News

While new energy solutions are being discovered, refined and brought further and further into the public light, something that does not get a lot of headlines iswaste to energy. How something like this continues to not be used in the United States is incredible as countries like Japan have been using it for quite some time and dramatically improving their waste disposal problems in highly populated areas.

A faction of American Foods Group is looking to change this as they are undertaking a multi-million dollar project that will make use of waste in several different ways and hopefully give waste to energy some positive growth in the energy sector. From start to finish, they will be able to feed their new machine with about 100 tons of waste that will take about three weeks to run though the process to create a variety of products.

Waste is and always has been a significant problem for the food industry, especially for companies such as American Foods. The sheer volume of waste that can be created in the processing of meats and other food is rather staggering and unfortunately for the business, very expensive.

When possible, much of this waste is used in land applications. This is far and away the cheapest route to go, but there is just too much waste to be able to do this with everything. The new biodigester will turn waste into other usable products such as methane gas, heat, electricity and of course, some of the same applications that it is being used in currently.

This may seem obscure or “dirty” to some people, but the reality of it is that this will actually clean up the environment. Anyone that has ever been around these types of plants is more than aware of the fly population and the horrible odors that are associated with this. Much of that will be eliminated by using this process. Of course, there is also the added benefit of not actually having to find a home for all of this waste.

It has take the United States quite some time to get on board with waste to energy, but there are now several projects that are in the works and a couple of them are going to come to fruition in the very near future. If these early waste to energy plants have success, large cities will more than likely be investing more funding to a real solution to the waste disposal problems that many of them face.

Converting Water and CO2 into Fuel

May 24, 2012  |  Comments Off on Converting Water and CO2 into Fuel  |  by admin  |  News

Researchers are trying to duplicate the natural process of photosynthesis. If successful, we can use the “evil” carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and industrial units to good use. This way, industrial units don’t have to establish new subsidiary units for the treatment of carbon dioxide. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a prototype machine that utilizes the sun’s energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into the molecular building blocks that can be utilized as transportation fuels. If researchers can make this device produce twice the energy generated by the natural process of photosynthesis, it will do great service to environment. It will pave the way to recycle CO2.

Till now devices imitating the photosynthesis process are not a great success. But a hand-built demonstration machine was successfully tested this fall. Researcher Rich Diver, inventor of the device, affirms, “This is a first-of-its-kind prototype we’re evaluating.”

James Miller who is a chemical engineer with Sandia’s advanced materials laboratory, says, “In the short term we see this as an alternative to sequestration.” Miller is of the opinion that if we think beyond just pumping CO2 underground for permanent storage and utilize the sun’s abundant energy for “reverse combustion” that will help in converting carbon dioxide back into a fuel. Miller explains, “It’s a productive utilization of CO2 that you might capture from a coal plant, a brewery, and similar concentrated sources.”

The machine resembles a cylinder and is christened as Counter-Rotating-Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (CR5). It is dependent on concentrated solar heat to activate a thermo-chemical reaction in an iron-rich composite material. The material is designed in such a way that when exposed to extreme heat, it gives up an oxygen molecule and then retrieves an oxygen molecule once it cools down.

The machine has two chambers, one on each side. One side is hot, the other cool. In the center is a set of 14 Frisbee-like rings rotating at one revolution per minute. The outer edge of each ring carries an iron oxide composite supported by a zirconium matrix. Scientists also installed a solar concentrator to heat the inside of one chamber to 1,500 º C. This results in giving up of oxygen molecules by the iron oxide on one side of the ring. Now the affected side of the ring rotates to the opposite chamber. Slowly it looses its heat and carbon dioxide is pumped in. This cooling helps the iron oxide to get back oxygen molecules from the CO?, leaving behind carbon monoxide. The process is repeated continuously using up an incoming supply of CO2 and giving out stream of carbon monoxide.

Miller is of the opinion that hydrogen can be produced by using the same process. The only difference will be that water, instead of carbon dioxide, is pumped into the second chamber. The two gases namely hydrogen and carbon monoxide can be then mixed together to make syngas. This syngas can be used to make a “drop-in replacement” for traditional fuels.

Diver had hydrogen economy in mind when he originally designed the machine. He wanted to bypass the inefficiency of electrolysis and utilize a solar heat engine that could produce hydrogen and oxygen directly. This will cut down electricity as the middleman. The same approach is being adopted by researchers in Japan, France, and Germany. But the Sandia team soon realized the drawback of the process as it was converting CO2 into carbon monoxide. They are paving the way to lessen the ill effects of the fossil fuels we consume. Their device will limit the impact of burning coal and natural gas for electricity and other industrial processes.

Diver feels that if he wants his device to benefit the common man he has to improve the efficiency of the system. If the Sandia team can show higher efficiency, “it could be a significant step forward,” said Vladimir Krstic. Vladimir Krstic is the director of the Center for Manufacturing of Advanced Ceramics and Nanomaterials at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Scientists are of the view that people have to wait for at least 15 to 20 years before the technology is ready for market. They are planning to develop a new-generation prototype every three years with the aim of showing an increase in solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency and a decrease in cost. They want to attain the above-stated goal by developing new ceramic composites that release oxygen molecules at lower temperatures. This will help in converting more of the sun’s energy into hydrogen or carbon monoxide.

Miller states, “Our short-term goal is to get this to a few percent efficiency. It might seem like a low number, but we like to compare that to photosynthesis, which is actually a very inefficient way to use sunlight.” He also points out the drawback of the process that the theoretical maximum efficiency for photosynthesis is around 5 percent, but in the actual world it tends to fall to around 1 percent. He defines his goals clearly, “So we may be starting very low, but we’d like to keep it in the context of what we have to beat. Ultimately, we believe we have to get in the range of 10 percent sunlight-to-fuels, and we’re a long way from doing that.”

Waste Heat Could Double Battery Life on Laptops, Cell Phones

April 29, 2012  |  Comments Off on Waste Heat Could Double Battery Life on Laptops, Cell Phones  |  by admin  |  News

When we utilize any gadget or means of comfort we know that these devices consume energy. But the energy is not utilized by devices. Some of the energy is lost in the form of friction or heat. For example when we are exploiting the power of computer processor chips, car engines or electric power plants there is a necessity of getting rid of excess heat otherwise the equipments will not perform at their optimal level. Now researchers are thinking about using this waste energy. Peter Hagelstein is the co-writer of this concept and an associate professor of electrical engineering at MIT. His paper was published in the November 2009 issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

If this wasted energy is cleverly harnessed we might double the use of cell phones talk time without plugging them again and again for recharging. The same could be the case with our laptops; we don’t have to recharge them frequently and their wear and tear could be reduced too. The overworked and overloaded poor power plants can shell out more power if their wasted heat energy can be utilized.

Hagelstein is of the view that current solid-state devices that utilize excessive heat and convert it into electricity are not very efficient. He is working with his graduate student Dennis Wu as part of his doctoral thesis to find out a practically dependable heat energy converter that doesn’t carry forward its predecessor’s disadvantages. They are gunning for a realistic technology that could come to achieving the theoretical limits for the efficiency of such conversion.

Theory postulates that such energy conversion can never go over a precise value called the Carnot Limit. Carnot Limit was established in 19th-century. It is a formula for determining the utmost efficiency that any machine can achieve in converting heat into work. But the fact is in practice we have only achieved about one-tenth of that limit. Hagelstein working in close association with Yan Kucherov carried out experiments by going for a different technology. They have achieved the enviable efficiency as high as 40 percent of the Carnot Limit. Moreover, their statistics exhibit that this new kind of system could ultimately reach as much as 90 percent of that ceiling.

Hagelstein, Wu and others didn’t try to improve upon existing devices. They started afresh without any past baggage. They make use of a very simple system in which power was generated by a single quantum-dot device. That device is a type of semiconductor in which the electrons and holes are very securely restricted in all three dimensions. So they tried to understand all the features of the device. This helped them in understanding better all the aspect of such machine.

Hagelstein says that he doesn’t merely want to convert heat into energy but he wants to achieve this by getting lots of energy in return. He also admits that current technology is available to harness heat power, but with a catch. It is known as high-throughput power. It converts heat from a less efficient system and you get more energy. But this is larger and more expensive system. According to Hagelstein “It’s a tradeoff. You either get high efficiency or high throughput.” But the team found that using their new system, it would be possible to get both at once.

Hagelstein and his team studied a recent paper published by MIT professor Gang Chen carefully. They talked about lessening the gaps between hot surface and the conversion device. They suggested this arrangement as very crucial for improving the output. Gang Chen claimed that heat transfer could take place between very closely spaced surfaces at a rate that is orders of magnitude higher than predicted by theory. The new report admits going a step further that heat can not only be transferred, but converted into electricity so that it can be harnessed.

Robert DiMatteo heads a company, MTPV Corp. (for Micron-gap Thermal Photo-Voltaics). DiMatteo is willing to commercialize Hagelstein’s new idea. He is quite hopeful that the technology developed by his company could yield a tenfold improvement in output power over existing photovoltaic devices. He plans to market this technology next year. At the same time Hagelstein’s work would give the required push and an additional tenfold or greater improvement is possible.

DiMatteo presents his stats and says that worldwide, when we consume fuel or a powerhouse generates electricity nearly 60 percent of all the energy is wasted. This waste is generally in the form of heat. 60% is substantial amount. DiMatteo is now hopeful that this technology could “make it possible to reclaim a significant fraction of that wasted energy.”

Hagelstein is of the opinion, “There’s a gold mine in waste heat, if you could convert it. A lot of heat is generated to go places, and a lot is lost. If you could recover that, your transportation technology is going to work better.”

Turning Wastewater into Ethanol

March 24, 2012  |  Comments Off on Turning Wastewater into Ethanol  |  by admin  |  News

As the world continues to search for alternative fuels to fuel our cars and heat our homes, many different opportunities are being explored and there has finally been a significant breakthrough in turning wastewater into ethanol as an automobile fuel source. Qteros andApplied Clean Tech have teamed up to create abiofuel that will get us that much closer to having another true “green” energy source. Water treatment systems are expensive to run and have presented communities where they are located with some significant challenges. Most notably, what they can do with the sludge that is left over once the wastewater has been treated. Plant managers may no longer faced with the difficult task of figuring out this problem.

Jeff Hausthor, Senior Project Manager and Qteros Co-founder, is extremely optimistic about the opportunities that turning wastewater into ethanol will present in the very near future. He projects that the future customer base will be “every municipality that has a wastewater treatment plant.” Not only that, but turning wastewater into ethanol will severely cut down on operating costs for each and every water treatment plant that is involved.

This joint venture is a perfect example of what our energy companies need to do to continue advancements in alternative fuels. While it is unlikely that either of these companies could have achieved this task on their own, by combining their technologies and working together, they were able to create a “high yield process” that is technically advanced and will eventually prove to be profitable.

The United States government continues to push for alternative fuels and wants the usage tripled over the next two decades. With more and more research being done on things like turning wastewater into ethanol, the country moves ever closer to being able to achieve that goal.

Getting Biofuel from the World’s Garbage

February 24, 2012  |  Comments Off on Getting Biofuel from the World’s Garbage  |  by admin  |  News

There is plenty of garbage on this planet; in fact there is so much garbage that many developed countries are trying to dump their garbage on the lands of lesser developed countries, at a fee of course. But does dumping garbage on other places solve the problem? On the contrary it spreads pollutions and diseases. In fact it is more dangerous to dump garbage in the less developed countries (because there are neither technologies available to process it nor enough awareness). Even creating landfills wastes precious resources.

Rather than having to dump, what if garbage can be used to generate power?

Global Change Biology has published new research that claims replacing gasoline withbiofuel from processed garbage could cut global carbon emissions by 80%. A dream come true, isn’t it?

Great strides are being made in the field of creating biofuels but a galling problem is that the biofuel production causes food shortage. Additionally, farmers are adopting controversial techniques and methods to increase their production and rather than helping the climate, it is harming it.

But garbage is abundantly available, fortunately or unfortunately. Second-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol obtained from processed urban waste may the sort of solution that kills two birds with one stone (just an expression, throwing stones at birds and killing them is bad): take care of the garbage and produce fuel.

According to the study author Associate Professor Hugh Tan of the National University of Singapore, “Our results suggest that fuel from processed waste biomass, such as paper and cardboard, is a promising clean energy solution.”

He further says, “If developed fully this biofuel could simultaneously meet part of the world’s energy needs, while also combating carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependency.”

Data from the United Nation’s Human Development Index and the Earth Trendsdatabase was used to arrive at an estimate of how much waste is produced in 173 countries and how much fuel the same countries annually require.

The research team has calculated that 82.93 billion liters of cellulosic ethanol can be produced by the available landfill waste in the world and the resulting biofuel can reduce global carbon emissions in the range of 29.2% to 86.1% for every unit of energy produced.

“If this technology continues to improve and mature these numbers are certain to increase,” concluded co-author Dr. Lian Pin Koh from ETH Zürich. “This could make cellulosic ethanol an important component of our renewable energy future.”