Great articles, Ted. Right on! I believe in the Power of the Increment! Jerry McAllister, P.E. City of Corona, California
The 500 residents of Reynolds, Indiana have begun an experiment to test a new form of energy independence. If successful, Reynolds will be the nation's first community to use renewable resources to meet the electric, gas, and gasoline needs of all their homes, businesses, and vehicles.
In 2005, the town had an “Extreme Energy Makeover” day that featured tours of a showcase demonstration, workshops, and that ended with a community hog roast. This farming hamlet plans to generate its own electricity and gas using everything from municipal trash to farm waste, hog manure and town sewage.
Dubbed Biotown USA, the project is the brainchild of Indiana's Department of Agriculture. Officials hope to break ground in November on a $10 million center that will house the core equipment needed to turn manure and other biomass material into useful forms of energy, generating biogas and electricity by July 2007. From there, officials hope to raise another $10 million from private investors to upgrade the system so that it can also produce natural gas.
Proponents say the project will help the environment and lower local utility costs. Organizers estimate a barrel of biomass fuel will cost about $40; crude oil topped $80 a barrel this week. "Our goal, and what we're going to continue to work on, is for it to cost less," said Ryan West, who is leading the Biotown project for the Agriculture Department. "We said we'd call it a failure if energy bills went up."
In addition to electricity use, Biotown is focused on transportation, and has already achieved some remarkable results. So far, residents have bought more than 100 new cars and trucks under the program. A $400,000 renovation project of the town's single gas station will add a pump for E-85 fuel – 85% ethanol / 15% gasoline – by the end of summer. Town fire chief Rick Buschman’s half-dozen new flex- fuel vehicles run on various fuels including ethanol- gasoline blends as part of a deal offered by General Motors. For more information, visit the Biotown website.
Member Feedback: Foerd Ames on Carbon Sequestration
I am glad that you’re discussing carbon sequestration. There are several proposals but no easy answers to decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. I feel that ENN Issue 8 lightly passed through the topic and hope that your readers are not led to believe all carbon sequestration methods are tenable. It would seem irresponsible to put CO2 and wastes in underground and subductive plate venues. Bhopal-like burps inevitably issue at some surprising moment. We may be wasting time working on many expensive sequestration techniques when we need to be very specific and strategically deliberate with our energy future.
Another “climate friendly” option, the resurgence of nuclear energy, brings with it notions of shooting waste into space. Launch days would certainly be nerve-wracking and future fall-out is unknown.
Back to sequestration for a moment: One potentially tolerable approach to CO2 removal involves repeating polimonene carbonate polymers comprising a carbon dioxide catalyst and limonene oxides produced from orange peel oils. Having characteristics of polystyrene, the material may be formed into elegant carbon storage applications such as closed cell foam where required in buoyant vessels that support large offshore and deep ocean grids of energy conversion devices. See www.owec.com
Let’s rise above specific sequestration techniques and take a macro view: Ultimately, aerosolized hydrocarbon dispensation [the combustion of fossil fuels] and nuclear manipulations must give way to the emerging water-based hydrogen infrastructure. Industrial scale water de/resalination, separation into gases, combustion for useful purposes, and renewed joinery to water can be synchronized with hydrologic processes of the air/ocean world. Take sea level rising due to global climate change: Let's regard the increased sea water as abundant hydrogen fuel and oxygen! In this regard, ice melt contribution to sea level might be offset by the water’s conversion to useful gases.
Ames is owner of Ocean Wave Energy Company in Bristol, Rhode Island.
First Solar Costco
Collaboration was bright in Lancaster, California where Costco installed its first photovoltaic installation. The 600 kW installation of 1,800, 310-watt Schott solar panels was supported by Southern California Edison and managed by Permacity Solar. Costco’s first installation covers 45,000 square feet, neatly tucked between the store’s skylights, generating power and reducing cooling costs as the panels shade the roof from direct sunlight.
George Reis and Plastic Redemption
George Reis and his wife, of Santa Ana, California, have been collecting and recycling plastic bottles for years to help pay their daughter’s college expenses. Recycling is one of their passions. (In California, citizens have to get their bottles to a “redemption center” to get their deposit back; in 2005, over 12 billion containers -- about 60% of the total -- were returned for deposit by individuals and curbside programs. However, this means another 8 billion ended up in landfills.)
EcoMotion has heard reports that people returning plastic water and drink bottle aren’t getting their full redemption value. Is it a case of deceptive labeling? The following experiment was prompted by our questioning George: “How much do you get for every plastic bottle you redeem?” He said that he didn’t know, but he’d find out!
“I put together three trash bags of plastic bottles (94 bottles in each bag; 282 total) and took them to the EarthWize recycling center. They pay $0.04 per bottle for up to 24 bottles and $0.69 per pound for quantities of more than 24 bottles. My bottles weighed 13 pounds, so I received $8.97 total. If I had gotten the per bottle price, it would have come to $11.28 Since my primary reason for recycling these isn't financially based, this difference isn't significant. However, it is 30 percent. My guess is that many people bring bottles that still have some liquid, so their price per pound takes this into consideration. I, however, open each bottle, shake out any liquid, and then crush each bottle. I drilled holes in the bottom of the trash can so that any liquid that may have remained in the bottles can drain. Then I empty the trash can into plastic trash bags to bring to the center. I reuse the trash bags until they get holes in them.”
Small-Scale Wind: China and the UK
Featured at the Third Asian Wind Energy Exhibition in Beijing in June was a new type of wind power generator that can operate in low winds. A breeze of just over 5 kilometers per hour is sufficient to start the machine, which means it can operate for many more hours than traditional wind turbines. Li Guokun, the chief scientist for the turbine project, said government tests show the new technology can produce 20% more electricity than traditional wind turbines. Zhongke Hengyuan is currently planning to manufacture the small wind turbines from 300 watts - 20 kW in size.
Meanwhile, British homeowners will be given free rein to erect wind turbines and solar panels under proposed changes to the planning laws. At the moment, many local authorities insist homeowners apply for planning permission for such equipment. Planning Minister Yvette Cooper commented that, “It is patently absurd that you should be able to put a satellite dish on your house but have to wrestle with the planning process for small-scale micro-generation, which is no more obtrusive and can have a real impact on tackling climate change.”
If approved, homeowners will not need special permits for equipment to help the environment. Critics fear the proposals “will be a charter for millions to blight Britain with architectural acne, as eyesore devices mushroom across rooftops.” But the Government points out that it is legal to put up a satellite dish and the same rules should apply to micro-generators.