Tags: renewable energy

Japanese inventor turns plastics into fuel


Japanese inventor Akinori Ito has devised a way to revert post-consumer plastics, including the ubiquitous plastic bag, into petroleum-based fuel.  By heating up material in a small machine, capturing and cooling the vapors, and collecting the resulting liquid, Ito is able to turn two pounds of plastic into about a quart of oil, using a single kilowatt of power. 


Low level landfill methane capture now possible

The U.S. Army plans to install a new landfill gas-to-electricity facility at its base in Fort Benning, Georgia.  Capturing landfill gas to generate electrical power is a fairly well-established practice at this point, but what will distinguish the Flex Powerstation is its ability to oxidize gases with levels of methane as low as 1.5%. 


First commercial biofuel plant in U.S. underway

Inhabitat reports that construction has begun on the nation’s first commercial biofuel plant, in Vero Beach, Florida.  Formerly the site of a citrus processing factory, the Indian River BioEnergy Center, a $130 million joint venture of Ineos Bio and New Plant Energy, is expected to annually produce 8 million gallons of bio-ethanol and six megawatts of renewable power, two of which will be allocated to the local community.


Harvesting energy from road vibrations

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D) has proposed a bill that would create two pilot sites to test technology harnessesing vibrational energy from cars driving on roadways.  The project would place vibration sensors under the asphalt surface along a stretch of road; intermittent strain applied from vibration to the sensors builds up electric charge, which would flow to a battery on the side of the road for storage and use in electrical applications like lighting or feeding the grid. 


NYC’s wastewater to become new source of energy

The New York Times outlines ways that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection hopes to generate energy from the 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater that enters the city’s sewage treatment plants daily.

Heating fuel can be extracted from sludge and butanol, an alternative fuel to gasoline, from the algae generated by wastewater.


Wind energy without the turbines

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/18956998 w=500&h=400]

Among the features in the New York Times 2010 Year in Ideas was a short animated video illustrating vibro-wind technology, which harvests wind energy without the use of traditionally large, bladed turbines.  Instead, wind causes an array of lightweight members in a vibro-wind installation to oscillate; connection to a piezoelectric transducer converts the mechanical energy of that oscillation into electricity. 


Department of Energy wind energy webinars

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently held the first 2011 webinar in their series Wind Powering America, through which energy experts present and discuss current issues relating to wind power.  These online conferences are free to the public and take place on the third Wednesday of every month.


Danish waste-to-energy plant will feature ski slope

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has won an international competition to design a new waste-to-energy plant for Copenhagen, Denmark.  BIG’s winning entry—which will actually be built and will replace the existing Amagerforbraending plant—improbably caps the huge new facility with a public ski slope. 


Waste Management’s waste education resources

Waste services provider Waste Management‘s Think Green site is loaded with educational resources covering all kinds of garbage-related topics, from recycling basics to lesser-known protocols like mail-in recycling programs for batteries and light bulbs and proper disposal of e-waste


Atlanta landfill to become solar farm

A 48-acre landfill owned by Republic Services in DeKalb County, Georgia is soon to become a solar farm.  Following Republic’s own successes with solar-capped landfills like the Tessman Road Landfill in San Antonio, the Hickory Ridge site in Georgia will be capped with a heavy duty impermeable liner, atop which pliable solar panels (the thickness of two nickels) will sit. 


Competition to design NYC’s “sixth borough”

This year’s ONE PRIZE—an annual design and science award to promote green design in cities—is being awarded through a design competition centered around the development of New York City’s “sixth borough,” its bodies of water.  Organized by Terreform 1 and Planetary One, the competition aims to advance the City’s potential to develop the world’s largest urban clean technology corridor along its waterways and water bodies, as well its capacity to host a clean tech world expo in 2014. 


On the Wind Turbine Syndrome debate

Over the past several years, a debate has played out among scientists about potential health impacts of wind turbines on the people who live near them.  Some neighbors of wind farms have claimed that low-frequency sounds produced by the rotor blades of the turbines are causing them to become physically ill—a condition being called “Wind Turbine Syndrome.” 


New Italian solar farm is largest in Europe

The small town of Rovigo, Italy is now home to the largest single-site solar photovoltaic plant in Europe, developed by US-based SunEdison. The 210-acre facility is capable of generating 70 Megawatts of energy—enough to power over 17,000 homes—which is tantamount to preventing over 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere annually. 


Trash into gas into energy

Private UK company Advanced Plasma Power (APP) plans to excavate 16.5 million tons of solid waste from a landfill in eastern Belgium in order to harvest hydrogen-rich gas from its thermal decomposition using Gasplasma, a plasma arc gasification technology:

1) all recyclable materials are removed in a front-end fuel preparation and Materials Recycling Facility (“MRF”), separating glass, metals, hard plastics and oversized objects – all things which have a recyclable value and market

2) the pre-treated waste feedstock is gasified in a fluidised bed gasifier, producing solid chars and ash in addition to a synthesis gas (“syngas”), which at this stage still contains tars and soot

3) a plasma converter is used to crack the impurities in the syngas and ‘polish’ it whilst simultaneously vitrifying the ash and inorganic fraction from the gasifier to form Plasmarok®

4) the resulting clean syngas is used to power gas engines generating secure, clean, local heat and power

The synthetic gas produced will be used power a 60 MW generator estimated to supply electricity to 60,000 homes.  


Hybrid ferry to debut next year in New York Harbor

A new ferry equipped with emission-reducing technologies will soon make its appearance in New York Harbor, transporting visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The 600-passenger New York Hornblower Hybrid will be powered by a combination of hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels, wind turbines and diesel engines that meet EPA Tier II emissions standards


From pavement barrens to solar groves

Parking lots typically conjure up images of vast plains of asphalt half-full with vehicles baking in the sun.  But a handful of energy companies have begun to capitalize on these sun-drenched spaces without compromising their base utility.  Modular installations like EEPro’s Solar Carport and Envision Solar’s Solar Grove turn barren lots into solar farms via photovoltaic shade structures, generating energy while keeping cars cool and, in some cases, providing charging stations for electric vehicles


World’s largest solar field now operating in Canada

The Sarnia Solar Project, an 80-megawatt (MW), 950-acre solar field operated by Enbridge, Inc. in Ontario, Canada, is the largest operating photovoltaic facility in the world.  A 20 MW section of the site, formerly farmland, has been commercially operating since last year, with the additional 60 MW, $300 million addition having come online at the beginning of October. 


Google buys waste-to-energy carbon offsets

Taking a step toward carbon neutrality, Google has purchased a large share of the 200,000 to 300,000 metric tons of carbon offsets that will be created through landfill waste-to-energy operations in Berkeley, South Carolina.  The Berkeley Green Power Project, a joint venture with the Berkeley County Water & Sanitation, Blue Source and Santee Cooper, will capture and flare landfill gas to produce about 3 MW of electricity—enough to power 15,000 homes in the Southeast. 


College campus commissions solar field/land art

The University of Buffalo has commissioned landscape architect Walter Hood to design a 5,000-panel solar array to be sited on 6.5 acres of its campus and to function as a signature piece of land art.  The Oakland, CA-based Hood won out over proposals by Vito Acconci and Diana Balmori with his proposal for a fragmented grid, meant to recall DNA, supported on posts and suspended over low-maintenance grasses, crab-apple shrubs, ornamental lindens, trees and an existing creek, all of which will be publicly accessible. 


Time for a new NYC waste management strategy?

Piggybacking on last week’s front-page story on comparative waste management strategies in Denmark and the US, the New York Times runs an op-ed by former Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Norman Steisel and former DSNY director of policy planning Benjamin Miller on the need for a new set of policy actions and built facilities to manage New York City’s waste more sustainably, locally and cheaply.


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