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BioMass: Waste Not – Want Not

19/06/2011 Leave a comment

Biomass feedstock silos at Nanticoke GSOntario is well ontrack to be one of the first industrialized jurisdictions in the world to eliminate coal-fired electrical generation. The original plan was for Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to transition to a lower carbon future by phasing out the use of coal at its four remaining coal-fuelled stations by the end of 2014, but things are proceeding ahead of schedule already! This possibility is due to wide a variety of contributing factors, with one of the most compelling ones being a clear option to convert these plants to burning BioWaste – if indeed the cost of natural gas proves to be too volatile or costly by comparison.

Of course, there’s a whole range of other considerations to factor into this decision, and alot of due-diligence still to be performed. But the considerable economic and ecological benefits to converting bio mass and waste into usable fuel has everyone at OPG considering the very real possibilities of a BioWaste fueled future.

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BioChar: Locking in the Heat

03/11/2010 3 comments

Charcoal Farm BBQ BioCharFor most people, the only thing that farming and barbecuing might have in common is where the supply produced by one, meets the market demands of the other on the supermarket shelf. In a day and age where instant gratification trumps tradition, Farmers long ago turned their fields into sterile sponges that they must now constantly fertilize with man-made nitrogen and phosphates. Meanwhile back on the homestead, the fast-firing convenience of gas powered BBQ grills have largely displaced charcoal as the heat of choice for backyard barbecue. Yet charcoal might soon make an enormous comeback in ways that propane and petrochemical fertilizers could never touch, and which will have an enormous impact on farming practices that once relied on the natural biodiversity of soil to sustain healthy crops. This renaissance of ancient agricultural methods will not only enrich our largely depleted farm fields, but also serve to use currently wasted BioMass to sequester carbon and thus combat global warming….by turning it into BioChar.

The trick to this ecologically brilliant shortcut is to simply prepare charcoal at a higher temperature to produce BioChar in an environmentally beneficial process that will far surpass it’s popular role as the perfect heat for traditional barbecue. This old-fashioned soil enrichment method might not only break the petrochemical fertilizer addictions of industrial farming methods, but also serve to naturally capture and store carbon in a stable state that could benefit our environment for centuries to come. If you think that there are still lessons to be learned from the Past, here’s a peek at a Future that can be carbon fixed by BioChar

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Recycling Power From Old Industries

02/11/2010 2 comments

As a world supplier of primary resources like lumber and oil, Canadians were once stereotyped a “hewers of wood” working in a pristine green wilderness of fresh water and never-ending forests. Nowadays, thanks to the Eco-PR efforts of organizations like Greenpeace, Canada has gained more notoriety for oilsands that are widely regarded as a filthy and enormously wasteful source of fossil-fuel energy. A source of fuel who’s extraction is made economically feasible only by high price of crude oil yet without factoring in the environmental impact and future cleanup costs down the line. So much for “Green” stereotypes.

Forestry and Agriculture, on the other hand, are still a clearly green and renewable resources that are poised to turn into major sources of power production via the alluring prospects of widespread BioMass generation methods. No longer will we simply see crops and trees as a source of food for cities, construction materials and wooden poles for transmitting power along roadways, but rather as sources of feedstock for secondary green industries that can use otherwise wasted bio-mass to actually generate power for those very same hydro lines.

Big Oil

The question is, what stands in the way of displacing coal and natural gas from our current power supply, and how will bio-mass be different than burning any other fuel for electricity?

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Algae Fuels Hopes for Life Without Big Oil!

26/08/2010 1 comment
Let’s cover off what you what you might already know…. Algae are a rather simple life-form that come in well over 65,000 different varieties (with possibly 100’s of thousands more to be identified still!), and they remain on the bleeding edge of Renewable Energy research, and represent a Holy Grail for many of the Disciples of BioFuels since they can also convert light and CO2 into oils and sugars like nothing else on Earth! The trouble with this ‘soon to bloom’ solution, is that most of the large PetroChemical Giants are also already well up to speed in their efforts to squeeze oil out of algae, and they are even starting to be awarded Patents on both processes, and even certain breeds (or mutations) of Algae in order to keep someone else from getting a competetive edge in this newly developing industry.
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Of course, this is a familiar story about how progress gets held back by powerful interests that seek to monopolize new ideas, and effectively kill growth prospects for everyone else…But in the case of algae, there might actually be enough biodiversity to go around for everyone, and we might all soon be singing the praises of this smelly, slimy deterant for swimmers, as we thumb our noses at the oil giants who are still trying to get the most from their well-heads.
That is of course, if there’s enough desire for cooperation between Bankers, Researchers, and the independent Industrialists who can move these ideas forward , rather than holding all their cards too close to their chest… Surely we don’t need another reason to wonder what companies like BP, Shell, and Exxon-Mobile have hidden in their sleeves, when it comes to assimilating good energy ideas, and then sitting on them until the oil runs dry!
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DIY BioDiesel ?

24/08/2010 2 comments

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to NewsvinePraise Be!

Now that clean-diesel technology, and low-sulfur fuel formulations are widely available, Diesel power seems to be enjoying a surge in popular interest in NorthAmerica. One of the main attractions is the versatility that this engine design has for using alternative bio-fuel sources, which are reviving a century old vision of BioFuels that can lead us away from our reliance on fossil fuels…But there’s only one biofuel that won’t displace food crops, and offers other positive ecological side effects.

Bio-Diesel might certainly not be the final solution, but at least its a good low-carbon bet to hedge on while awaiting the developments that will enable electric cars to overcome their expensive, heavy, and toxic battery technologies, and of course find new energy sources to satisfy their raw and enormous thirst for more coal-fired electricity. While we await these cleaner primary sources of electricity to come online, the resulting interest in BioFuel continues to spawn a huge grass-roots interest in Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Diesel. The question arises though, is the hype and promise of BioDiesel turning into a bigger “product” than the actual end-product itself!?!

During this interim phase between the “World as we know it, “, and the “World we wish it to be”, we’re starting to hear alot more about the DIY methods of making BioFuels which all promise to provide an organically sourced energy for transportation that ‘consumes’ as much greenhouse gas in it’s growth phase as it releases during combustion. It’s also a The trouble is that alot of these sales programs and consumer messages have the production value of late night informercials or Get-Rich-Quick schemes – where the purported “know-how” is the product being sold, rather than the actual end result. Even the more well packaged and produced offerings seem heavy on the sauce, and pretty light on actual substance.

So how do we tell the SnakeOil Salesmen from the ones who actually have a solid plan that improves things beyond their own bottom line? Take for example this promo piece (above) that so easily glosses over the details, but which we’re all so much more prone to accepting since it doesn’t end with a logo of an Oil Giant…

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A Diesel Powered Future?

19/05/2010 1 comment

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Diesel Power was a revolution that still inspires new innovations even today.
Bridging the gap for Industry and Transportation as they seek out a sustainable Future.
Check the Green History of Diesel!

Rudolf Diesel's first Engine, 1897 - deutsches-museum.deUpon operating his first successful engine design back in 1897  Rudolph Diesel changed the world in ways that most people still don’t fully appreciate today. Especially now, as we begin the long process of moving out of the petroleum-powered era, we should pause to take lessons from visionaries like Tesla and Diesel, and consider how they harnessed natural forces and physical phenomena to revolutionize existing technologies, and enabled enormous leaps into the Future by allowing others to build upon the solid foundations that they laid. The venerable diesel engine was an innovation of the internal combustion engine that continues to be improved upon even today, with the new methods and materials that are offered by modern science.

Many of us associate diesel power with loud smelly trucks and buses, so it might come as a great surprise that Diesel technology is actually still being improved upon after all this time. In fact, in just the past few years we’re seeing a level of improvement to efficiency and emissions that are actually positioning diesel as a sustainable interim solution for our transportation needs…While other options continue to be researched for that quantum leap in technology that will slingshot both Industry and Society towards the next century. So If you’re ready to see how diesel power still holds a few tricks up it’s sleeve, then let’s start exploring, by looking at railway locomotives as our prime motivator!

BTW: If you’re curious about Rudolf Diesel’s sense of environmental and social responsibility, as it was well over a century ago…Just pop-open another window by clicking HERE for further insights.

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Diesel’s Vision

18/05/2010 2 comments

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At one time, Diesel power was poised as an alternative to big Coal and Oil…
Today it could once again bridge the sustainability gap, offering Industry and Transportation the time to find its renewable power for the Future.
Learn More Here

Paris World Exhibition 1900At the World’s Fair of 1900 in Paris France, Rudolph Diesel demonstrated the virtues of his new pressure-ignited “rational heat motor”  which came to bear his name to the world then, and has done so to the present day. We’ve come to also know Rudolf Diesel as an eminent mechanical and thermal engineer, a multi-lingual and knowledgeable patron of the Arts, and not least of all a highly progressive Social Theorist. Although his legacy is inestimable, his rise to fame was as quick as it was brief…and leaves us with some unanswered questions about how Diesel’s vision may have offered us a different world than the one ruled by Oil and Big Banks.

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