July 25, 2007 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle July 2007, Vol. 48, No. 7, p. 16

Athens, Ohio: Solar Panels To Power In-Vessel Composter
The June 2007 issue of BioCycle reported how Ohio University in Athens plans to procure an in-vessel composting system to process source separated cafeteria food waste (see “Laying Groundwork For Campus Composting”). Last month, the university announced it was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention to help purchase a 6.15-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array expected to generate 35 percent of the electricity needed for the composting site. Additional funds from this grant will be directed toward site preparation, including water and drainage lines, and Ohio University’s first compost toilet. This award supplements a $250,000 grant announced in April to establish a full-scale composting system at the university by spring 2008. “This latest grant targeted college and university programs, so we are especially proud to be recognized among our peer institutions in the state as a leader in the area of waste minimization and recycling,” says Resource Conservation Coordinator Sonia Marcus.
Using a solar array to power the composting system will offset 9,000 pounds of carbon emissions each year, resulting in roughly 270,000 pounds of carbon avoided over an operational period of 30 years, Marcus adds. “Combining a ‘green’ power source with our in-vessel composting unit is a great way to address numerous environmental concerns in an integrated, systematic way. This is how we need to be thinking about all our operations here at Ohio University, now and into the future.” This initiative also will qualify for assistance from the Ohio Department of Development’s Energy Loan Fund Grant Program. The solar compost project will have access to an incentive of $3.50/kW, for a total of $21,525 based on the 6.15-kilowatt array.
Jefferson City, Missouri: How Energy And Prices Affect The Economy Of Missouri
Since nearly 94 percent of Missouri’s primary energy sources are imported from outside the state at a cost of more than $13 billion annually, there is much interest in finding ways to keep this money in-state. According to the report, ethanol production in the state expanded from approximately 50 million gallons in 2003 to approximately 118 million gallons in 2005. More proposed ethanol production facilities are being readied.
Besides looking at ways to protect soil and water quality, the latest environmental report evaluates the economic impact of preservation efforts addressed by such challenges as ground-level ozone in St. Louis and Kansas City. For a copy of Environment 2007, call DNR at 1-800-361-4827.
St. Paul, Minnesota: University Moves Forward With Anaerobic Digester Plans
The University of Minnesota’s (UMN) St. Paul campus is well on its way to taking organics diversion to the next level. The university has been composting yard trimmings since 1986, when the UMN Recycling Program received a $10,000 Incentive Grant from the Metropolitan Council government to develop a collection system for the yard trimmings. Now researchers at the university are making plans to purchase an anaerobic digester. “The first phase of this project was to develop a feasibility study,” says Richard Huelskamp, a scientist at the Univeristy’s Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering department. “It determined the amount of liquid and solid organic wastes generated on the St. Paul Campus. Through surveys, meetings, and data gatherings, we determined how organic waste is collected, temporarily stored and either used on campus or moved off campus.” A total of 2,400 tons annually of organics were identified. Specific materials (and how they are currently managed) are: 1,000 tons of animal digester effluent (discharged to the sewer); 300-400 tons of animal bedding (composted); 600-800 tons of food waste (landfilled); 200 tons of nonwoody yard trimmings (composted); and 15,000 cubic yards of solid manure and 700,000 gallons of liquid manure (composted). Initial calculations assessing energy savings and the feasibility of a digester were completed. The second phase will be to develop a 5-year research plan to study anaerobic digestion and identify how the methane digester/biogas refinery would be used and funded. Currently, the project is entering the “design and bidding phase.”
Huelskamp hopes to secure a grant worth around $500,000 to fund the planning and design of two digesters. One will be used for yard, food, and animal wastes generated by the St. Paul campus, while a second, smaller digester will be used by university scientists for research. Part of the $500,000 grant would go towards setting up a food waste collection system in campus cafeterias and other food service locations. The final phase and long-term goal of the project is the construction and implementation of a Biogas Education Center. Huelskamp plans to submit a proposal for a Renewable Development Fund grant, which would supply the estimated $1 million necessary for the construction of the center.
It currently costs $45 a ton for trash hauling services. The natural gas produced can be pumped into the University’s natural gas piping system. This gas will either be used to reduce the University’s gas purchases or for new natural gas needs such as the Equine Center, or save on electricity costs and offset periods of peak electrical demand.
Madison, Wisconsin: Recycled Vegetable Oil Provides Fuel For City Engineering Department’s Truck
PrairieFire BioFuels Cooperative – in association with a German company called Elsbett – installed a fuel system to power the city of Madison Engineering Department’s F450 diesel truck on recycled vegetable oil. The two-tank system allows the city to reduce emissions significantly with locally produced fuel. The technology helps Wisconsin’s agricultural industry while promoting energy independence. For more details, visit
Raleigh, North Carolina: State Sees Active Year For Proposed Recycling, Solid Waste Laws
This year looks to be an active one for recycling and solid waste legislation, predicts Scott Mouw, North Carolina’s Community & Business Assistance Section Chief. Activity is being accelerated by the state’s moratorium on new landfill permits that is driven by concern over out-of-state waste into proposed large landfills. Legislators also hope to implement statewide recycling solutions for discarded electronics.
Chief among the new bills, according to Mouw, are proposals Senate Bill 1492 and House Bill 1233 which would dramatically modify the state’s landfill permitting process. As introduced, the bills include a solid waste tipping fee surcharge to generate revenues to clean up old landfills. Recycling advocates hope the tipping fee surcharge can be expanded to include funding for recycling. Another bill would provide relief to businesses wanting to receive fewer phone books – while encouraging companies to support local directory recycling programs.
The North Carolina Assistance Center has also issued Made in North Carolina: Recycled Content Products Help Fuel the State’s Economy, which highlights its thriving recycling sector. Between 1994 and 2004, recycling jobs increased from 8,700 to 14,000. In contrast, manufacturing jobs declined from 817,300 to 577,400 during the same 10-year period. “Our state’s recycled product companies are doing their part to retain manufacturing jobs,” adds Mouw. “They are operating profitable businesses, giving people the products they want, and are in step with a global trend to use recovered materials that exceed quality standards.” For more information, contact Mouw at:
Richmond, Virginia: General Assembly Okays $250 Milion To Upgrade Sewage Treatment Plants
In a major victory for water quality, the 2007 Virginia General Assembly authorized $250 million in state bonds to help localities upgrade sewage treatment plants. The Bay Bonds legislation – Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) top priority during this session – was originally proposed by Governor Tim Kaine. “This is a giant step to achieving Virginia’s regional Bay cleanup goals and will mean cleaner rivers and a healthier Chesapeake Bay,” said CBF Virginia executive director Ann Jennings. The bonds will supplement past and future appropriations to the state’s Water Quality Improvement Fund and allow progress to continue in reducing excess nitrogen pollution.
Turner, Oregon: Vineyard Is First Winery To Use Cork Stoppers From Managed Forestlands
Cork stoppers that come from responsibly managed forestlands are the only choice for wineries that want to have a positive environmental impact,” says a spokesperson for Rainforest Alliance. Willamette Valley Vineyards has become the first winery in the world to use stoppers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Use of cork protects the environment as wineries increasingly use plastic stoppers and aluminum screw caps. Cork is renewable and biodegradable, and not a single tree is cut down to harvest cork. The bark of the cork oak tree renews itself and can be stripped off every decade to extract cork without damaging the trees.
Cork oak landscapes cover about 2.7 million hectares of land in Portugal, Spain and France in the Iberian Peninsula which produces more than half the cork consumed worldwide. They are a “biodiversity hot spot,” providing income for tens of thousands.
Willamette Valley Vineyards produces 100,000 cases of principally Pinot Noir annually distributed throughout the U.S. Canada and Pacific Rim. Beginning in July 2007, the winery will use FSC-certified cork stoppers with certification seals. The stoppers will come from one of four FSC-certified forests, three of which are certified by the Rainforest Alliance.
Montpelier, Vermont: State Seeks Engineering Firms To Settle In Region
Vermont officials have launched a program to get environmental engineering firms into the state and provide assistance to them to expand. As per Governor Jim Douglas, the goal is to transform Vermont into a state where growth is driven by green business. “Environmental engineering and sustainable technology is our niche. Vermont has a strong environmental ethic,” emphasizes Douglas. The state is focusing on firms with 20 to 100 employees. Officials are again trying to use clean air, open space and connection to the earth which brought “early environmentalists here in the 1970s. The values of Vermonters are so environmentally conscious, and globally this is what we’re known for. It’s a natural fit,” says the president of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation.
Right now, about 1,000 people are employee in the 69 engineering firms that work in environmental areas, with 27 of them dealing exclusively with alternative energy.
Golden, Colorado: Cellulosic Biorefinery Firm Scales Up Reactor
Ed and Carl Lehrburger founded PureVision Technology, Inc. in 1992, initially focusing on converting waste paper into sugar and ethanol. In 1996, PureVision was awarded a contract to conduct a feasibility study on converting discarded mail and other paper wastes generated by the U.S. Postal Service. In 1999, Richard Wingerson, a retired Air Force scientist, joined PureVision as Chief Scientist and developed and patented the company’s biomass fractionation technology that essentially removes and recovers hemicellulose and lignin from biomass, leaving a relatively pure cellulose. Once fractionated by the PureVision reactor, the cellulose fiber can then be enzymatically hydrolyzed into sugars or it can be baled and sold as a raw material for making paper, rayon, and other materials.
With over $3 million in government grants since 2002 from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the State of Colorado, and industrial collaborators, the company’s single batch fractionation reactor evolved to a continuous fractionation reactor. The demonstration unit processes 200 pounds/day of biomass and is operating at the company’s Golden, Colorado research facility. Construction of a much larger pilot plant at its Fort Lupton, Colorado facility, with a design capacity of 3 tons/day, is planned. The first component to be constructed is a biomass feeder system designed to meter corn stover, sugar cane residues, and wood into the new reactor. “We are in a transition period,” says PureVision president and CEO Ed Lehrburger. “While we continue to use our smaller reactor vessel, the pilot plant now under construction will allow us to develop the designs and costing for larger, commercial-scale equipment.”
Using the 200 lb/day processing unit, PureVision has evaluated corn stover, wheat straw, sugarcane bagasse and woody biomass. One new feedstock being tested is triticale straw, a hybrid wheat and rye crop grown in Alberta, Canada. The company has been contracted by Alberta’s Agriculture and Foods Bio-Industrial Technology Division to investigate the conversion of triticale into useful products. In terms of MSW processing, Carl Lehrburger notes recent federal legislation including paper and the organic fractions of municipal solid waste in the definition of acceptable cellulosic feedstocks “provides a huge incentive for the MSW industry to look at biofuels production alternatives to just landfilling solid waste.”
Fort Lewis, Washington: Zero Waste At Military Base
The pollution prevention team at Fort Lewis, Washington diverted more than 725 tons of organic material and 1,400 tons of waste wood from its solid waste stream and avoided $174,000 in disposal costs by reusing lumber and other resources from building deconstruction. These gains in Fort Lewis’ model sustainable waste management program have been realized as the result of its first phase (13 buildings) of the north Fort Lewis military construction redevelopment, part of which required removing 100 to 200 World War II-era wood-framed buildings. Before a single building was touched, Fort Lewis and its partner, the Seattle District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, held an “alternatives to demolition” workshop to facilitate communication between contractors and promote reuse of building materials. This, combined with other aggressive material recovery initiatives, resulted in 100 percent diversion of all nonhazardous solid waste for the inaugural project. “‘Landfill’ is one of our least favorite words around here,” says Ken Smith, Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) Program Manager. “It has been since we first committed ourselves to environmental sustainability practices in 2002. We’re determined to meet zero net waste by 2025.”
Even lead-based-paint coated building materials are able to be recycled. The installation pollution prevention team was the first to test and demonstrate a new technology to salvage wood coated with lead-based paint. With successful removal of the lead from the wood, the team was able to make the wood available to local markets for reuse and avoid depositing the debris in a hazardous waste landfill. Building materials that can’t be reused or recovered at Fort Lewis are recycled to the greatest extent possible. In fiscal year 2006, more than 9,000 tons of asphalt and concrete from construction and demolition projects were recycled through a natural aggregate replacement project that ground the materials up and used them in other ways across the installation. Fort Lewis also used 5,000 tons of recycled concrete for projects such as road restoration and access to maintenance. In FY 2006 alone, recycling efforts avoided more than $80,000 in disposal costs and $70,000 in procurement costs for new materials.

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