Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fighting Entropy: Garbage Into Useful Energy

Technology Review has a brief overview of the "garbage to fuel" industry in North America.

"Garbage" can be thought of as household waste (cardboard, paper, plastic, wood etc), as agricultural or forestry waste, as industrial waste, or as byproducts of food processing -- such as animal fat wastes from meat processors.

In the US alone, over 5000 USDA certified meat processing plants are in need of an economical use for waste animal fats. Each of these plants produces thousands of waste animal fat per week, which must be hauled away at significant expense. US Freedom Biofuels has developed a small fat-to-biodiesel converter that can convert 2,000 pounds of animal fat to 200 gallons of biodiesel each day.

On a larger scale, Finland's Neste Oil can convert any type of biolipid -- including animal fat -- to biodiesel using high pressure hydrogenation. Neste's new Rotterdam plant is scheduled to produce 245 million gallons of biodiesel per year -- a biodiesel which will be superior to petro-diesel in virtually every way.

Blue Fire Ethanol is converting cellulosic waste, sorted from municipal waste, into fermentable sugars for conversion into ethanol. Blue Fire Ethanol is also working with Solazyme to produce cellulosic sugars for algal fuel production without sunlight.

A more comprehensive look at garbage-to-energy



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