Algae to Diesel

…Algae growing in large tubes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs have been trying for years to get something valuable out of algae.

It has not been easy, and not just because algae are an unsightly nuisance (and sometimes dangerous, as is the Lake Erie bloom that has endangered drinking water this month).

Although algae grow prodigiously and contain potentially useful molecules — especially lipids, which can be turned into high-energy fuel and other products — extracting those molecules has proved complicated and expensive. So far, virtually the only marketable products based on algae have been high-end skin creams.

But a Nevada company, Algae Systems, has a pilot plant in Alabama that, it says, can turn a profit making diesel fuel from algae by simultaneously performing three other tasks: making clean water from municipal sewage (which it uses to fertilize the algae), using the carbon-heavy residue as fertilizer and generating valuable credits for advanced biofuels.

If it works, the company says, the process will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than is added when the fuel is burned.

Photo

At the pilot plant, Algae Systems converts the waste and algae into clean water and biocrude oil.CreditTad Denson

“We think it is a really elegant solution,” said Matt Atwood, the chief executive. At its heart is a “hydrothermal liquefaction” system that heats the algae and other solids in the sewage to more than 550 degrees Fahrenheit, at 3,000 pounds per square inch, turning out a liquid that resembles crude oil from a well.

The company sent the liquid to Auburn University, where scientists added hydrogen (a common step in oil refining) to produce diesel fuel. An independent laboratory, Intertek, confirmed that the diesel fuel met industry specifications. The thermal processing has caught the attention of independent scientists. The Department of Energy recently awarded a $4 million grant to a partnership led by SRI International for further work on Algae Systems’ hydrothermal processing system.

Engineers hope the system could dispose of a variety of unwanted or hazardous materials. It also destroys pathogens in sewage.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Halil Berberoglu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering who is conducting research in the area and is not affiliated with Algae Systems, said the process had the potential to eliminate a key bottleneck in working with algae.

Earlier processes for extracting lipids have been “very energy-intensive,” he said, adding, “You have to dewater the algae, poke holes in cell walls and do all kinds of separation technologies.”

But with high-temperature processing, he said, a factory could get useful products out of not only the lipids but also the proteins and the carbohydrates.

“It is a great way to break those molecules up,” he said, and the presence of extra water in the reactor helps reassemble the elements into long-chain hydrocarbons, which are basically crude oil.

Challenges remain, because such crude oil sometimes incorporates heavy metals, nitrogen and sulfur. But “it is by far the most promising approach,” Dr. Berberoglu said.

And it has attracted a wide variety of employees. John Perry Barlow, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet civil liberties group, is a vice president; he was in charge of finding a site for the pilot plant — in Daphne, Ala., on Mobile Bay — and is looking for a spot for the commercial plant that the company hopes will follow.

The general manager of the Daphne municipal water and sewage utility, Rob McElroy, announced this month that he had been so impressed with the pilot plant that he was quitting his job to work for Algae Systems.

Company executives say their pilot plant consumes pollutants like phosphorus and nitrogen, which are blamed for the algae bloom in Lake Erie and the “dead zone” near the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico.

The installation in Mobile Bay takes clever advantage of natural characteristics. It uses giant plastic bags made by Nike that are filled with sewage and algae. The bags float on the water, moored at each end like a sailboat. The bay water keeps the algae at the right temperature, and the waves stir the mix.

Some companies have tried gene-altered algae, but Algae Systems uses naturally occurring forms drawn from the bay. Whichever strain flourishes in the bags is what the company uses. “We call it the Hunger Games,” Mr. Atwood said.

The early results were promising enough for IHI, a Japanese conglomerate, to invest $15 million.

Biofuel plants, like hope, spring eternal but have mostly ended in grief. KiOR, which spent more than $200 million to produce a synthetic fuel from wood, recently shut down; Ineos Bio, the offspring of a major Swiss chemical company, produced commercial quantities of ethanol from wood waste a year ago, but now says it has “unexpected start-up problems.” In many high-tech start-ups, the problem is to get from the pilot stage to the commercial stage, but even some biofuel companies that have lined up the financing to build a commercial-scale factory have been unable to make the process work.

Algae Systems says it hopes it can make a profit by producing potable water as well as fuel, and by charging fees to municipalities for treating their wastewater.

Another potential source of income is the generous renewable fuel credits that the Environmental Protection Agency offers for companies producing “advanced” biofuel, those with small carbon footprints. The credits are purchased by oil companies that are obligated by law to blend in renewable fuels — or, more practically, to complete a paper transaction showing that they have supported such fuels.

Still, Algae Systems estimates that it will cost $80 million to $100 million to move from the pilot plant to commercial-scale production. So far it has not made that leap.

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Farewell Concrete

Here are some great ideas for getting free of our reliance on concrete-an industrial process which creates a great deal of CO2 pollution. Fly ash from gassification is one of these ideas.

Would you live in a house made of sand and bacteria? It’s a surprisingly good idea

<strong>Had enough of concrete blocks?</strong> The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Had enough of concrete blocks? The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. <strong><a href='http://petertrimble.co.uk/microbial-manufacture' target='_blank'>Dupe</a></strong> is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble's system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders...

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. Dupe is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble’s system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders…

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower -- the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles' tallest building -- <a href='http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140217005645/en/Headwaters-Fly-Ash-Record-Setting-Los-Angeles#.UyhZevl_uDl' target='_blank'>substituted a quarter of the cement </a>with
Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower — the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles’ tallest building — substituted a quarter of the cement with “Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Japanese firm TIS & Partners have created a new building material called “CO2 Structure,” dreamed-up in the aftermath of the March 2011 Japanese Tsunami as an emergency rebuilding material than can be put in place quicker than slow-drying concrete. By injecting carbon dioxide into a silica (sand and quartz), they managed to developed a carbon-negative building material with twice the tensile strength of brick.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while <strong><a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/hempcrete-hemp-house_n_1506662.html' target='_blank'>Hempcrete</a></strong> (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while Hempcrete (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

<strong><a href='http://www.ecovativedesign.com/' target='_blank'>Ecovative</a></strong><strong> </strong>already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom

Ecovative is already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom “mycelium” — and their next project is building materials. Founder Eben Bayer describes mycelium as “essentially the ‘roots’ of mushrooms” and says it is very good at binding together organic materials, which could one day make building blocks.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America's
Straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America’s “Nebraska Method” homes, straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Traditional building materials such as mud and <strong><a href='http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513154/Farmer-builds-house-just-150-using-materials-skips--current-tenant-pays-rent-MILK.html' target='_blank'>cob</a></strong> -- a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth -- have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One <a href='http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenerliving/10478442/Michael-Bucks-cob-house-Does-the-answer-to-the-housing-crisis-lie-within-a-150-cottage.html' target='_blank'>man from Oxford</a>, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Traditional building materials such as mud and cob — a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth — have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One man from Oxford, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks. <strong><a href='http://www.aggregate.com/products-and-services/blocks/enviroblock/' target='_blank'>Enviroblocks</a></strong> are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while <strong><a href='http://www.durisol.net/pdfs/Durisol%20Flyer.pdf' target='_blank'>Durisol</a></strong> units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks.Enviroblocks are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while Durisol units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Clay blocks with

Clay blocks with “honeycomb” structured cross-sections — often known asZiegel Blocks — have been common in some parts of Europe for decades, but are now spreading far beyond. Manufacturing blocks from clay rather than concrete means less CO2 emissions from production, while the blocks insulating characteristics can cut a building’s energy costs.

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled <strong><a href='http://www.gizmag.com/infiniski-shipping-container-architecture/22365/' target='_blank'>shipping containers</a></strong> has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled shipping containers has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

— Peter Trimble found his formula through trial and error. A design student at the University of Edinburgh, he was aiming to produce an artistic exhibition for a module on sustainability, when he stumbled on “Dupe,” a living alternative to concrete.

A lab technician introduced Trimble to Sporosarcina pasteurii, a bacterium with binding qualities, sometimes used to solidify soil to hold road signs in place. The student tested it with one of the world’s most abundant resources – sand. Pumping bacterial solution into a sand-filled mould, he added nutrients, urea derived from urine as fertilizer and calcium. After a year, and hundreds of failed experiments, this process manufactured a stool around 70% the compression strength of concrete.

The process requires less than one-sixth of the energy used in concrete production, and is completely biodegradable. Crucially, Trimble believes his mechanism has the added benefit that it could be employed by anyone, anywhere.

“Once you have the basic framework it should be transferable. Imagine a Tsunami-hit farm in Indonesia that is not getting supplies. You could use sand and bacteria on site, practically free, and have shelter housing that is far more permanent.”

Trimble is working with NGOs to apply Dupe to Aboriginal settlements and insecure regions of Morocco. But while the applications are new and experimental, the concept of growing the material for our built environment is increasingly regarded as not merely interesting, but essential.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the construction industry accounts for 40% of the world’s C02 emissions, 40% of U.S. landfill and has been uniquely resistant to change. Concrete, bricks and cement have remained the dominant materials since the industrial revolution in the early 19th century, and as pressure mounts on resources and climate, scientists and architects are looking to the natural world for solutions.

Buildingbacteria

Bacteria have been at the center of alternative methods. North Carolina start-upBiomason is growing bricks on an industrial scale, cultivated from sand by microorganisms. The company has won major prizes and funding for the bricks, which will be used in a structure for the first time this year in a pedestrian walkway, ahead of building projects across the world.

Similar processes are being developed to build in the most challenging environments. British architects see an opportunity to cultivate new life in deserts, while NASA believe bacteria could allow the construction of bases on other planets without the headache of ferrying the material there.

While bacterial processes save heavily on carbon, there are concerns that by-products could be poisonous. But another living brick — made from mushrooms — has no such problems.

Functional fungus

New York firm Ecovative are producing materials that combine agricultural waste products such as corn stock with mushroom mycelium — the roots of the vegetable. Over five days the mycelium binds the waste to create a block with a stronger compressive strength than concrete, with none of the heat or energy required by regular bricks.

The product is in commercial use for packaging, producing thousands of units a month, and the company is expanding into construction. Ecovative believe that in addition to being renewable and decomposable, natural properties give them a performance advantage.

“It has great insulation properties”, says Sam Harrington, Ecovative Director of Sustainability. “A key benefit is flame resistance — without adding any chemicals we were able to achieve a Class A fire rating”.

There is scope for development. Mycelium effectively dies once its growth is complete, but Harrington is looking ahead to material that does not. “We are exploring ideas of living materials, perhaps that are self-healing or respond to leaks with indicators.”

Ecovative are in dialogue with major construction companies, and the material will soon be tested on a historic scale. A collaboration with architects The Living won the prestigious MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) PS-1 competition, and their creation will be installed in the museum courtyard this summer.

Growing for gold

“Hy-Fi” will be the largest ever grown structure, and first large building to claim zero carbon emissions. It will be formed of three 40-foot spiral towers constructed from the mushroom material, with varying properties of brick to maximise light and ventilation.

The material’s versatility offers unique design opportunities, says David Benjamin, lead architect of the project.

“You can dial in almost any performance you want. You can mix and match a variety of properties such as water resistance or UV resistance, lightness or durability. You can grow the bricks in almost any shape”

Benjamin says the bio-bricks could be made to last as long as traditional materials, but believes architecture must embrace temporary structures.

“It’s essential to recognize that not all materials should last for centuries. A lot of the steel in our buildings will last longer than we need. Our idea is a building that be made locally and quickly, and then have a plan for when the life of the building is over.”

Future applications would include pop-up stores, festival “tents” and emergency shelters, says Benjamin, but there are greater hopes for the material within the industry.

Stronger than concrete

“I could imagine every structure you would built out of bricks”, says Dirk Hebel, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Construction at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore. “No high-rises, but smaller scale structures and houses. The material is stronger than concrete, with better insulation capacities”.

The challenge will come in commercializing the products, Hebel feels. “There is huge demand for alternative materials. The question is how easy it is to penetrate the existing market. This needs time and a couple of buildings to show the possibilities”.

Stealing from nature

Another, more radical approach takes the material from nature but also allows it to build the structure. Michael Pawlyn, director of Exploration Architecture, is a leading figure in biomimicry, having previously applied natural processes to create man-made forests in England and the Sahara Desert. His latest project to grow a “small venue for spoken word performances” from undersea biorock was recently unveiled at the Architecture Foundation in London.

“In biology, complex structures achieve resource efficiency by putting things in exactly the right place, which is very difficult with made materials”, says Pawlyn. “Our ways should deliver significant resource savings.”

Drawing on the natural accumulation of coral reefs, his team would install a steel frame in the deep ocean and leave it to attract material. Growth would be focused on specific areas of need using an electrical current.

“We’re interested in looking at its structural growth patterns. We have stress gauges on the structure to measure force in particular areas. If one is highly stressed, we can input more current so the rate of deposition matches the force.”

Pawlyn believes the structure could be built within two years, for consideration at scale. As with Ecovative, a key challenge ahead is to integrate still-living material to allow intelligent biosensors that respond to the building occupants.

Innovators in this space acknowledge the ongoing barriers presented in an industry that has resisted modernization. But from rock to fungus, sand to space dust, the use of materials and processes designed by nature herself offer both a solution to the sustainability crisis, and a glimpse of our new built environment: clean, efficient, and alive.

Time to Remake your Soil

Current soil tests are designed by fertilizer sales groups who want you to buy more potash. We need real tests that demonstrate how good (or not) your soil is. Especially if we’re going to add sewer sludge to farms.

Microbes Will Feed the World, or Why Real Farmers Grow Soil, Not Crops

By Brian Barth on April 22, 2014

Out on the horizon of agriculture’s future, an army 40,000 strong is marching towards a shimmering goal. They see the potential for a global food system where pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are but relics of a faded age.

They are not farmers, but they are working in the name of farmers everywhere. Under their white lab coats their hearts beat with a mission to unlock the secrets of the soil — making the work of farmers a little lighter, increasing the productivity of every field and reducing the costly inputs that stretch farmers’ profits as thin as a wire.

The American Society of Microbiologists (ASM) recently released a treasure trove of their latest research and is eager to get it into the hands of farmers. Acknowledging that farmers will need to produce 70 to 100 percent more food to feed the projected 9 billion humans that will inhabit the earth by 2050, they remain refreshingly optimistic in their work. The introduction to their latest report states:

“Producing more food with fewer resources may seem too good to be true, but the world’s farmers have trillions of potential partners that can help achieve that ambitious goal. Those partners are microbes.”

Mingling with Microbes

Linda Kinkel of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Plant Pathology was one of the delegates at ASM’s colloquium in December 2012, where innovators from science, agribusiness and the USDA spent two days sharing their research and discussing solutions to the most pressing problems in agriculture.

“We understand only a fraction of what microbes do to aid in plant growth,” she says. “But the technical capacity to categorize the vast unknown community [of microorganisms] has improved rapidly in the last couple of years.”

Microbiologists have thoroughly documented instances where bacteriafungi, nematodes — even viruses — have formed mutually beneficial associations with food plants, improving their ability to absorb nutrients and resist drought, disease and pests. Microbes can enable plants to better tolerate extreme temperature fluctuations, saline soils and other challenges of a changing climate. There is even evidence that microbes contribute to the finely-tuned flavors of top-quality produce, a phenomenon observed in strawberries in particular.

“But we’re only at the tip of the iceberg,” says Kinkel.

In the Field

Statements such as, “There are 10 to the 6th fungal organisms in a gram of soil!” and, “This bacterial biofilm has tremendous communication properties!” are breakroom banter among microbiologists, but what does it all mean for farmers? The answers reach back into the millennial past of agriculture, back to the dawn of life on earth.

Whenever a seed germinates in the wild or a crop is planted by a farmer, the microbial community that helps that species to grow and thrive is mobilized. Chemical signals enter the soil via the exudates of the plant and a symphony of underground activity commences. Genetic information is exchanged; the various microbial players assume their positions on the tissues of the plant; often, one microbe colonizes another, providing a service that helps the first microbe to assist the plant whose roots it is embedded in.

Though this elaborate dance takes place without any input from humans, we have been tinkering with it for a long time.

For example, the process of nitrogen fixation in plants of the legume family (which includes beans, peas, peanuts and many other crop plants) is one of the little bacterial miracles that makes our planet habitable. Anyone who has ever observed the roots of a legume knows that they are covered in strange white or pinkish growths, about the size of ants, which appear to be an infection of some sort. Undoubtedly, ancient farmers had an intuitive understanding that these warty protuberances had something to do with the noticeable ability of legumes to improve the soil, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the mystery began to unfold.

While Louis Pasteur was discovering how to preserve milk and becoming famous as the father of microbiology, a relatively unknown colleague of his with a penchant for plants was making another discovery, of perhaps even greater historical importance. In 1888, Martinus Beijerinck, discovered that tiny bacteria called Rhizobia infect the roots of legumes, causing the swollen nodules. Rather than an infection that weakens the plant, the nodules are the fertilizer factories of the plant kingdom, disassembling atmospheric nitrogen — which plants are unable to use — and refashioning it in a soluble, plant-friendly form.

Rhizobia are key ingredients of the earth’s verdancy and harnessing the bacteria to improve soil fertility has long been one of the cornerstones of sustainable agriculture. Yet, modern day microbiologists are now aware of scores of other equally profound plant-microbe interactions, discoveries they believe will have a big impact as human populations continue to soar on a planet of finite resources.

Making the Translation

In her lab at the university, Kinkel experiments with antibiotic bacteria that suppress plant pathogens and tests various soil management strategies to see their effects on microbial communities. In Colombia, microbiologists have learned to propagate a fungus that colonizes cassava plants and increases yields up to 20 percent. Its hyphae — the tiny tentacles of fungi — extend far beyond the roots of the cassava to unlock phosphorus, nitrogen and sulfur in the soil and siphon it back to their host, like an IV of liquid fertilizer.

Though microbiologists can coerce soil to produce extraordinary plant growth in their labs and test plots, transferring the results to everyday agricultural practices is not a straightforward process.

“Connections to farmers are a weak link,” Kinkel laments, alluding to a “snake oil effect” where farmers have become leery of salesmen hawking microbial growth enhancers that don’t pan out in the field. “The challenge of [these] inoculants,” she says, “is they may not translate in all environments.”

Though researchers continue to develop promising new microbial cocktails, there is an increased focus on guiding farmers to better steward the populations that already exist in their soil. Kinkel is working on an approach she believes will help farmers sustain optimal microbial communities by ensuring they have the food they need — carbon — at all times. She calls it ‘slow release carbon’, but it’s not something farmers will see in supply catalogs anytime soon. Kinkel says she has access to resources for her academic research, but lacks a “deliberate pipeline for product development.”

It Takes a Global Village

The 26 experts from around the world convened at the ASM colloquium concluded their discussions with a bold goal for the future of agriculture: They’ve challenged themselves to bring about a 20 percent increase in global food production and a 20 percent decrease in fertilizer and pesticide use over the next 20 years.

With an indomitable belief that science will do its part to make this dream a reality, the scientists are looking to their corporate and regulatory counterparts to build a pipeline of information to farmers. They’re hoping that top-down investments in research and technology will meet directly with grassroots changes in the culture of farming — without all the snake oil-vending agribusiness interests in the middle. Ultimately, they envision a future where farmers again trust in the unseen forces of the soil — instead of the fertilizer shed — for answers to their challenges.

RelatedPlants and AnimalsmicrobesSoil

 

 

Juan de Fuca Scale

FIRST DRAFT

This measuring system has a lot of unknowns, but it covers some of the main factors in evaluating a town’s process for dealing with waste. Nature has no waste and many ways of turning one entity’s waste into another’s food.

Willis-porkers

As a society, the industrial world has been characterized by an extraordinary human plunder of stored “assets” and a parallel destruction of the possiblity of growth or even survival for other forms of life.

Juan de Fuca, who is certainly not an invented character, was one of the first European visitor to the Salish Sea. He was Greek, however, from a displaced family of earlier upheavals and the Spanish never rewarded him for his explorations.

The goal of this scale is to show what an ideal, truly sustainable system for “waste” would accomplish. There are models all along the scale, but many systems (old, new and planned) fail utterly when using this scale.

1. CAPITAL COST:

Norm. $1,500 per capita. 10 points. Lose points down to $3,000 which is zero.

2. OPERATING COST.

Norm. 5% of capital costs per year.

5 points if less than 5% of capital costs.

Lose 1 point for each 1% increase above that.

3. WATER DISCHARGE QUALITY.

Norm: Better than average the population now drinks.

35 points for norm.

Some scale that takes it down down to zero for water than can only be used for irrigation.

Irrigation needs to be defined. Irrigation for human food crops? Or for pasture for cows that produce milk?

4. HEAT CAPTURE.

Norm: capture some percetage of potential available heat.

10 points for capture and reuse of at least 70% of potential available heat.

Zero if all heat wasted.

5. METHANE CAPTURE.

Same as above.

20 points for capture and reuse of at least 70% of potential available methane.

Zero if no methane captured. Although this may. Up to negative ten points if methane created and flared or allowed into atmopsphere.
6. BIOSOLIDS.

Norm: everything back into the natural world.

20 points for recyling of all biosolids in a fashion that does no damage to health or the environment.

Down to zero for landfill that generates leachate.

No Limits to the Power of an Educated Public

Township of Esquimalt rejects rezoning for sewage plant, aims to block construction at seashore location

Bill Cleverley / Times Colonist April 7, 2014 08:51 PM. With edits. Since this article fails utterly to note WHY the Township turned down the plant, for a large variety of sound reasons and because their citizens were adamantly and intelligently opposed to its construction at this location.

VKA-sewage-020.jpg

Esquimalt councillors didn’t just turn down the Capital Regional District’s requested rezoning for a sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point Monday, they rubbed the CRD’s nose in it.

Not only did councillors unanimously reject height and buffer zone encroachments necessary to build the plant, they asked township staff to prepare a zoning amendment that would prohibit a sewage treatment plant from being built at McLoughlin.

“We have faced Goliath before. We are doing it again,” Mayor Barb Desjardins told a chamber filled with about 50 people.

“For me the answer is: ‘No.’ One more time just so it is very clear, because the CRD has trouble accepting answers from this community. The answer is: ‘No,’ ” said Coun. Tim Morrison.

Councillors received a standing ovation when they officially rejected the CRD’s application.

The decisions leave the CRD in a tough spot said Victoria Coun. Geoff Young, who chairs the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee. “We’re caught between the requirement that we carry out sewage treatment — a requirement imposed by both the federal and provincial government — and the unwillingness of Esquimalt to host a treatment plant,” said Young.

Of course, he slept through every public hearing, so he was probably the only individual surprised by the outcome.

young asleep-1982233_256381764542696_2048798598_n

Asked whether the CRD would ask the province to intervene, Young said that will be up to CRD directors who will discuss the decision this week. IF ENOUGH OF THEM ARE AWAKE!!

Young conceded McLoughlin would be a tight fit for the plant but said: “Our engineers and advisers have suggested this is the best site we have. We’ve done enough looking and I really don’t think we’re going to find a better one.”

The CRD has been seeking to locate a $230-million sewage treatment plant at the site of a former oil tank farm at McLoughlin Point for more than a year. The site is zoned to allow wastewater treatment, but the CRD is seeking encroachments — a maximum of four per cent — into a 7.5-metre shoreline buffer and to increase the allowable height.

After public hearings in July, the municipality passed an alternative rezoning bylaw and began working with CRD staff to develop an amenity package to compensate for hosting the plant. Esquimalt was offered about $13 million in amenities, including oceanfront walkways, a million-dollar bike and path system on Lyall Street, public art, bike lanes, road improvements and $55,000 a year for at least five years.

But several councillors dismissed the suggestion that the amenities total $13 million.

Coun. Meagan Brame said Esquimalt shouldn’t be held ransom for mistakes make by the CRD. “They asked for these setbacks so they could fit the project into the site. Is it Esquimalt’s fault that the CRD bought a piece of property that does not suit its needs?”

An Esquimalt staff report noted that selection of any option other than approval means the province could be asked to intervene and there would be no guarantee the amenity package survives.

FOR THE FULLER STORY, see:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/theriteplan/permalink/646493178755387/?comment_id=646542362083802&offset=0&total_comments=6&notif_t=group_activity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US EPA & Sludge Gassification. Some good news for 2014.

EPA Ruling on Sludge Gasification Process

Opens Door to Environmentally

Beneficial Waste Treatment Technology

 REF: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/02/6042023/epa-ruling-on-sludge-gasification.html

 

 

VERY USEFUL FOR VICTORIA
ALL THIS INFORMATION IS Public domain BY NATURE.

A version of this was release by the law firm that acts for MaxWest, who can be found here, but not on any stock exchanges. http://maxwestenergy.com/about-maxwest/biosolidsdisposal/

 A recent US Environmental Protection Agency ruling that sewage sludge gasification technology patented by MaxWest Environmental Systems Inc., is not an incinerator heralds a major victory not only for clean air and water but also for taxpayers in municipalities looking for a sustainable alternative to costly incineration.

The US EPA, in a letter dated Dec. 19, determined that federal emissions guidelines and compliance rules for sewage sludge incinerators do not apply to a MaxWest sludge gasifier near Sanford, Fla.

In its findings, the EPA held that MaxWest’s pioneering technology that breaks down sewage sludge through heating in an oxygen-starved environment prevents combustion, and thus will not be regulated as an incinerator.

The agency further exempted from incinerator regulations the second energy-saving step in the process – a “thermal oxidizer process heater” in which gases released from thermochemical reactions are scrubbed and then burned to create heat needed to dry incoming sludge.

The result of the process is a self-sufficient closed-loop system that requires little or no fossil fuel after start-up, drastically reducing costs of and emissions from using natural gas

The  process carries other environmental, commercial and economic benefits. Gasification produces a more valuable fertilizer for farmers since some of the carbon that incineration destroys remains in the solid byproduct.

And, as space in landfills becomes scarce and motor fuel costs climb, the costs of hauling and disposing of sludge in them have skyrocketed. MaxWest’s gasification technology also eliminates air and groundwater pollution risks that landfill disposal of sludge poses.

In a June 2012 report, the EPA extolled the benefits of its gasification process for its emissions control and green energy benefits and singled out MaxWest as the only domestic gasification technology ready for prime time.