Human Waste to Biodiesel Project in Ghana A Go

Joanna Schroeder

A pilot facility has gone online in Ghana to convert human waste, or fecal sludge (FS), into biodiesel. The event was celebrated on World Toilet Day where researchers at Columbia University’s Engineering School in conjunction with Ghana with Waste Enterprises, Ltd., the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, are working together to take research developed in the lab to the community. The goal is to prove out a much needed new sanitation model for people in emerging countries.

“The FS to biodiesel pilot project could potentially address sustainable sanitation and introduce a new dimension into the sanitation value chain not only in Kumasi but globally, thus helping to ‘kill two birds with one stone,” said Anthony Mensah, Waste Management Director for the city of Kumasi. “The Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly is therefore delighted to be part of this novel partnership.”

Entering its second year, the project is led by Kartik Chandran, an associate professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University’s school of engineering and applied science and Ashley Murray, Founder and CEO of Waste Enterprisers Ltd, a Ghanaian company that is working to reinvent the economics of sanitation in the developing world.

As part of this project, Chandran is developing an innovative technology to transform fecal sludge into biodiesel fuel and is working on converting a waste-processing facility into a biorefinery.

“This is a very exciting project for us,” said Chandran. “We are aiming to create a next-generation urban sanitation facility that will set new standards and serve as a model around the world. With the capacity to receive and treat 10,000 liters, or 2,500 gallons—a full sanitation truck carrying concentrated fecal matter from at least 5,000 people—of fecal sludge per day, this facility reaches way beyond the lab scale.”Read More

advance biofuels, Alternative energy, Biodiesel, International, Renewable Energy, Waste-to-Energy

This Season Let’s Do a Bit of Green Gift Giving

Joanna Schroeder

This past weekend marked the holiday shopping season with “Black Friday”. Hopefully you survived the lines and the crowd and are reading my blog post about my “E2 Gift Giving Guide”  (E2 = energy and environment). Modeled after the “12 Days of Christmas” (yes, I’m even drafting a song in my head as I write), I’m looking for ideas from you readers, on what should be included in my guide.

I’m looking for book ideas, solar ideas, cool products that would help others (for example through the National Arbor Day Foundation you can donate trees for planting) and more.

So bust out your Zen of Pitching guide and pitch me some unique ideas by November 30, 2012. You can contact me via email, Twitter, LinkedIn or via a comment to this post. And who knows, maybe Santa will donate some of the E2 gifts so several of our readers can have an extra present in his or her stocking this year.

Just in case you forgot the lyrics to “12 Days of Christmas” here is a brief summation:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords-a-Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids-a-Milking
7 Swans-a-Swimming
6 Geese-a-Laying
5 Gold Rings
4 Colly Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Oh, and just in case you would like to get me a holiday present, I would quite enjoy a Chevy Volt, named the Greenest Car in the World by Motor Trend in 2012.


Plug-In Vehicle Owners Group Launches in St. Paul

Joanna Schroeder

A new Plug-In Vehicle Owners Group has come together geared towards Minnesota owners of electric vehicles and plug-in electric hybrids. During the first meeting, owners came together at the American Lung Association in Minnesota headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota to share experiences, ideas and learn more about electric-technology transportation.

More than two dozen plug-in pioneers shared their experiences and heard an overview on the latest developments in plug-in vehicles. The meeting, which included a look at the new Telsa Model S all-electric sedan (Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year) was recognized as a National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey. Odyssey is supported in part by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, through a grant for the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program.

The Minnesota Plug-in Vehicle Owners Circle, will meet every other month and EV enthusiasts are encouraged to join. Visit their website for information.

Alternative energy, Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Renewable Energy

Sweet Thanksgiving Wishes to All

Cindy Zimmerman

Of the many foods we have to be thankful for in this nation, I’ll bet there are lots of people who are thankful every day for the gift of chocolate! Oh yeah!

This is an image of our sweet Thanksgiving greetings sent this year to some of our clients. Hopefully most received them before leaving for the holiday, but if not, it will be waiting for you at your desk on Monday. Some other clients will be receiving a sweet bag of Florida citrus next week. We want you to know how much we appreciate not only your business, but your friendship as well.

We also are very grateful for the hundreds of other business associates and Domestic Fuel readers that we count as our friends. Wish we could send everyone a whole bushel of Florida citrus and sweet chocolate to let you know how much we appreciate you! You are all in our prayers of gratitude this holiday and we wish you the sweetest joys of the season!

Company Announcement

Gadget Wish List

Chuck Zimmerman

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, ” What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?” We know there are more choices but those included in our last ZimmPoll included the basics.

Our poll results: Thirty-three percent said turkey; twenty-five percent said other; twenty-one percent said pumpkin pie; fifteen percent said sweet potatoes/yams; and six percent said Cranberry sauce/relish.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What gadget is on your Christmas wish list?” Are you hoping for a new smartphone? A new tablet? An upgraded item or nothing at all? Let us know!

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.


Thankful for Ethanol at the Pump

Cindy Zimmerman

As motorists head over the roads to visit friends and family for the holiday, they can be thankful for ethanol helping to lower gas prices and make our nation less dependent on foreign oil.

The Renewable Fuels Association notes that ethanol is actually helping reduce the cost of the Thanksgiving holiday for the average American family. More than 39 million Americans will take to the road for their Thanksgiving holiday, traveling an average distance of 588 miles, according to AAA. That means the average American family traveling by automobile this holiday will save $29.13 on gasoline purchases because of ethanol. That deduction is based on recent economic analysis from Louisiana State University, the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University

“Thanks to ethanol, hardworking American families will get a break as they drive to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “The average American family will save $29.13 because ethanol helps lower the price of each and every gallon of gasoline. Ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are also helping to reduce this country’s dependence on foreign oil, thus creating a stronger country and a stronger economy. Ethanol is a product made by Americans for Americans and we are proud that on this most American of holidays that we can offer a solution to sky-high gas prices,”

In addition, Dinneen notes that while some livestock and poultry producers are claiming that ethanol is driving up the price of food, meat in particular, turkey prices overall are lower this year than the last two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – and the cost of the Thanksgiving day turkey this year is up less than four cents a pound compared to last year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. In fact, AFBF reports that this year’s Thanksgiving dinner feast – including a 16-pound turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, relish tray, and pumpkin pie – is $49.48 – up only one percent, or 28 cents, compared to last year.

Farm Bureau has been doing the Thanksgiving dinner survey since 1986, when the cost of the meal was $28.74. That’s an increase of 42% in 26 years. To put that in perspective, the average price for a new car in 1986 was $9255 – this year it was $30,274 – an increase of a whopping 227%. A great reason to be thankful for our food and our farmers this Thanksgiving!

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Food prices

EC: Save Carbon Trading System; Need Key Actions

Joanna Schroeder

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has been busy promoting wind energy throughout the European Union (EU). Last week, the European Commission identified key actions to develop the internal energy market by 2014 that included the phasing-out of regulated electricity prices and the Commission was also critical of capacity payments. In addition, the proposal lacks further development of the internal energy market after 2014.

But EWEA says these actions do not go far enough as both regulated prices and capacity payments are major obstacles to a properly functioning EU energy market. “Regulated prices, fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies, market concentration and lack of market transparency are the main problems that need to be tackled urgently. The communication focuses too much on renewable energy support mechanisms and not enough on the most critical distortions,” explained Paul Wilczek, EWEA Senior Regulatory Affairs Advisor.

Wilczek says the European Commission is right to be critical of capacity payments, which are a disincentive to invest in urgently needed grid infrastructure and create another distortion to the energy market, and also adds that the European wind industry is very strongly in favour of a single market in electricity and has been critical of the slow progress towards it.

Last week the European Commission also published “structural measures” that called for “backloading” of emission allowances. EWEA says this is needed to stop the massive oversupply of emission allowances and to re-establish confidence in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Stéphane Bourgeois, Head of Regulatory Affairs for EWEA added that while it is a necessary first step, it will only delay and not solve the structural problem of oversupply in the ETS and a structural solution must be agreed or the carbon price will not recover.Read More

Alternative energy, Carbon Dioxide, International, Renewable Energy, Wind

2012 State-by-State Resource for Renewable Energy

Joanna Schroeder

The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) has released its 2012 Renewable Energy in the 50 States, an online, interactive resource. The report compiles updated financial data, resource potentials, market, and policy information for the renewable energy sector for all 50 U.S. states.

In 2011, the total installed base of renewable electricity exceeded 145 GW in the United States, with more than 67 GW from non-hydropower sources, according to the report. Every region in the country experienced growth in the 2011-2012 period, from new wind farms in the Midwest, advanced biofuel facilities in the Southeast, solar farms in the West, to hydropower facility improvements in the Northeast. Washington, California and Texas led the way in cumulative renewable power capacity, while Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois were the leaders in renewable fuels capacity.

According to the report, several market drivers of renewable energy included renewable energy targets in 29 states plus Washington, D.C., and several state production incentives. Legislation, along with incentives, have encourage manufactures, developers and end users to invest in and use renewable energy.

However, even as some states are passing new and expanded support structures, others face the scaling back of important incentives. Such actions, coupled with reduced federal support (the Production Tax Credit for wind energy is set to expire on December 31, 2012), could stifle once booming state markets. As a result, ACORE is calling on renewable energy proponents throughout the country to increase renewable energy education with a focus on economic, environmental and health benefits.

advance biofuels, Alternative energy, biofuels, Geothermal, Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind

Energy Research Centre Blesses ZephIR 300

Joanna Schroeder

The Energy Research Centre for the Netherlands (ECN) has completed a 12 month offshore measurement campaign with the ZephIR 300 system as part of a four year campaign within the Dutch project “Meteorological Research Wind at Sea” where the ZephIR has been compared against the 108 metre Met Mast Ijmuiden (MMIJM) at the ECN Wind Turbine test facility EWTW. During a 60 week continuous period, the ZephIR was measured at over 98 percent, with the only period of unavailability being attributed to a mast power supply failure from which the ZephIR was being powered.

The data from the tests has been delivered to the wind energy industry on behalf of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. ECN’s initial conclusion is that ZephIR can be considered as a valid stand-alone system for wind resource assessments, especially given the industry’s tendency towards higher hub heights.

ECN’s Wind Energy Coordinator of Experiments & Measurements, Henk Oostrum noted, “ZephIR is very capable of providing high quality, 10 minute average wind speed and direction data at all heights well above traditional tall mast heights. Correlation is excellent to our IEC compliant mast and site. ZephIR can therefore be considered, in our initial opinion, to be used in a stand-alone application for wind resource measurements.”

Measurements at the EWTW and MMIJM are in accordance with IEC 61400-12. All masts are equipped with Thies class 1 cup anemometers and wind vanes as well as WindSensor p2456a cup anemometers. All calibrations are performed in a MEASNET approved wind tunnel and are covered by ISO 17025 ILAC accreditation.

“This is an exciting development in the ZephIR program – we never imagined that we would actually be operating within a met mast structure,” said Ian Locker, MD at Zephir Ltd. “The work that ECN has done independently, and now publicly, verifies not only the excellent core performance of ZephIR compared to a mast but also the ability to be deployed in this unique way. In both onshore and offshore applications, ZephIR has been proven to operate in a stand-alone manner providing finance-grade wind measurements for the progression of wind farm development and on-going performance analysis and optimisation.”

Alternative energy, Electricity, offshore wind, Renewable Energy, Wind

FuelCell Plant in the Works in Cheyenne, WY

Joanna Schroeder

A stationary fuel cell power plant to support Microsoft’s data center research project in Cheyenne, Wyoming is in the works. The power plant will use renewable biogas generated by a wastewater treatment facility as the fuel source to generate clean, carbon-neutral electricity. The project will be used by Microsoft to evaluate the effectiveness of using FuelCell Energy power plants to convert biogas to power.

“With the demand for renewable energy resources outstripping available power supplies today, Microsoft is researching new methods to help our operations become more efficient and environmentally sustainable,” said Gregg McKnight, general manager, Data Center Advanced Development at Microsoft. “We’re excited by the potential for using stationary fuel cells to capture and recycle natural byproducts like biogas. This project will study methods to provide an economical and reliable power supply for data centers that is also scalable and economical for use by other industries.”

By Spring 2013, the sub-megawatt Direct FuelCell power plant will be installed at the Dry Creek Water Reclamation Facility in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The fuel cell plant will provide 200 kilowatts of power for Microsoft’s Data Plant which will be housed in a modular IT pre-assembled component (ITPAC) that will house servers to recreate a data center environment. Excess power not used by the data center will be provided to the water reclamation facility to offset their electric costs. In the event of a grid outage, the Data Plant project and fuel cell plant will be configured to operate independently to provide continuous power.Read More

biogas, Electricity, Waste-to-Energy