2009 - [Sustainable Concepts] Waste to Energy and the State of
2009, vol. 72
Welcome to the March 2009 newsletter from Design Forward.
Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.
Quote of the Month: "People who dare to build a utopia
use the same materials available to anyone, but they find
surprising ways to combine them."
Lisa A. Swan
The enormous increase in the quantum and diversity
of waste materials generated by human activity and their
potentially harmful effects on the general environment
and public health, have led to an increasing awareness
about an urgent need to adopt scientific methods for
safe disposal of wastes. While there is an obvious need
to minimize the generation of wastes and to reuse and
recycle them, the technologies for recovery of energy
from wastes can play a vital role in mitigating the
problems. Besides recovery of substantial energy, these
technologies can lead to a substantial reduction in
the overall waste quantities requiring final disposal,
which can be better managed for safe disposal in a controlled
manner while meeting the pollution control standards.
Waste generation rates are affected by socio-economic
development, degree of industrialization, and climate.
Generally, the greater the economic prosperity and the
higher percentage of urban population, the greater the
amount of solid waste produced. Reduction in the volume
and mass of solid waste is a crucial issue especially
in the light of limited availability of final disposal
sites in many parts of the world. Although numerous
waste and byproduct recovery processes have been introduced,
anaerobic digestion has unique and integrative potential,
simultaneously acting as a waste treatment and recovery
Waste-to-Energy Conversion Pathways
A host of technologies are available for realizing the
potential of waste as an energy source, ranging from
very simple systems for disposing of dry waste to more
complex technologies capable of dealing with large amounts
of industrial waste. There are three main pathways for
conversion of organic waste material to energy - thermochemical,
biochemical and physicochemical.
Combustion of waste has been used for many years as
a way of reducing waste volume and neutralizing many
of the potentially harmful elements within it. Combustion
can only be used to create an energy source when heat
recovery is included. Heat recovered from the combustion
process can then be used to either power turbines for
electricity generation or to provide direct space and
water heating. Some waste streams are also suitable
for fueling a combined heat and power system, although
quality and reliability of supply are important factors
Thermochemical conversion, characterized by higher temperature
and conversion rates, is best suited for lower moisture
feedstock and is generally less selective for products.
Thermochemical conversion includes incineration, pyrolysis
and gasification. The incineration technology is the
controlled combustion of waste with the recovery of
heat to produce steam which in turn produces power through
steam turbines. Pyrolysis and gasification represent
refined thermal treatment methods as alternatives to
incineration and are characterized by the transformation
of the waste into product gas as energy carrier for
later combustion in, for example, a boiler or a gas
The bio-chemical conversion processes, which include
anaerobic digestion and fermentation, are preferred
for wastes having high percentage of organic biodegradable
(putrescible) matter and high moisture content. Anaerobic
digestion is a reliable technology for the treatment
of wet, organic waste. Organic waste from various sources
is composted in highly controlled, oxygen-free conditions
circumstances resulting in the production of biogas
which can be used to produce both electricity and heat.
Anaerobic digestion also results in a dry residue called
digestate which can be used as a soil conditioner.
Alcohol fermentation is the transformation of organic
fraction of biomass to ethanol by a series of biochemical
reactions using specialized microorganisms. It finds
good deal of application in the transformation of woody
biomass into cellulosic ethanol.
The physico-chemical technology involves various processes
to improve physical and chemical properties of solid
waste. The combustible fraction of the waste is converted
into high-energy fuel pellets which may be used in steam
generation. Fuel pellets have several distinct advantages
over coal and wood because it is cleaner, free from
incombustibles, has lower ash and moisture contents,
is of uniform size, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.
Article © www.alternative-energy-news.info
Picture © The
on "Waste to Energy" on Lisa's Blog.
Gather to Discuss the State of Green Business
More than 500 people gathered Monday for the State
of Green Business Forum in San Francisco, an all-day
event that marked the release of the State of Green
Business 2009 report from the editors of GreenBiz.com.
The report attempts to measure the adoption of green
business practices in the U.S.
The Forum featured more than a dozen industry leaders
to bring various aspects of the report to life: water
management, green jobs, innovation and energy efficiency.
GreenBiz.com Executive Editor Joel Makower also assembled
a panel of advisors of President Barack Obama to discuss
the new administration and its efforts to jumpstart
a green economy.
In opening up the forum, Makower presented an overview
of the finding of this year's report: in a nutshell,
companies are doing OK, but there's plenty of room for
"Is all of this green activity we read about actually
moving the needle?" Makower asked. "The answer, in aggregate,
is not so much."
In running down a list of latest news stories, Makower
offered examples of corporate environmental successes,
all occurring since Nov. 4, 2008. Among them are beverage
companies committing to grow their sales without using
more water to make products, an apparel company incorporating
green design principles into all its products, an IT
company that developed energy management tools to dramatically
cut companywide energy use, and a consumer products
company selling $20 billion in greener products.
Despite the green success stories, the details of the
State of Green Business Report are a mixed bag, but
that progress is much slower than what we need. Makower
outlined eight of the 20 indicators in the report that
highlighted the good, the bad and the neutral in green
Among the sinking indicators Makower discussed were
electronic waste and carbon intensity; in both cases
companies in the U.S. are making slight improvements
-- in total electronics taken back for recycling and
the amount of CO2 equivalent generated per dollar of
economic activity, respectively -- but that those improvements
are failing to outpace the growth of the problems at
On the more promising side, energy efficiency and paper
use are areas in which U.S. businesses are swimming
along well: "Energy efficiency is back on the table,"
Makower explained in looking at the long and steady
decline in the amount of energy needed to power the
economy year after year. In looking over the trends
of the last few years, Makower said he expects that
improved energy efficiency is something he expects to
see as part of the discussion in businesses nationwide
for years to come.
Article © GreenBiz
on the article "Experts Gather to Discuss the State
of Green Business" on Lisa's Blog
on May 30: Building Green
Building Green: Making Your Home More Energy Efficient
Join Design Forward's Lisa Swan in Glendale on May 30,
2009 for a Building Green seminar for home owners.
Class Description: Whether you are interested in a new
house, remodeling your existing home, or just adding
a few sustainable features, this innovative class will
give you an in depth review of green building and sustainable
architecture. Learn about solar and wind energy, wall
systems such as straw bale, insulated concrete forms
and foam insulation, natural and recycled materials,
efficient windows and appliances, and more. Also learn
how you can save money through State and local rebates.
Reference Class: SI011
Instructor: Lisa Swan is the owner of Design Forward,
a residential design firm, specializing in sustainable
and green projects. She is an Honors' graduate of the
Illinois Institute of Technology, with a Bachelor of
Architecture and has an MBA from Norwich University.
Date & Time: May 30, 2009 9:30am - 12:30am
Cost: $35, plus $10 materials fee is payable to the
instructor in class.
Location: Glendale, CA - Garfield Campus of the Glendale
Register Begins March 1, 2009: http://www.glendale.edu/cse
on this article on Lisa's Blog
Birthday, Design Forward
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