Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ethanol from household waste and old tyres?

Seems like a good day for interesting developments so far. This one from motortorque.com reports how general motors and Coskata have signed an agreement to utilise Coskata's technology to "derive cellulosic ethanol from household waste, wood, plastic bottles and old tyres using bacteria."

They "believe the process is cleaner than using crops - with one study claiming that study cellulosic ethanol up to 90% less greenhouse gas than petrol and 30% cheaper to produce." "The company says it can turn four tyres into seven gallons of ethanol and two bales of hay into five gallons for under $1 per gallon."

Sounds a lot better than turning corn into ethanol to me. There are an awful lot of used tyres lying around our planet and anything that can turn household waste into a potentially useful fuel has surely got to be better than dumping it into landfill?

Another new technology ......

.... that just might be a major breakthrough. Introducing the LETG (Light Electric & Thermal Generator), which appears to be a combined hybrid PV (Photovoltaic cell) and thermal energy capture (much like Solar Water Heating arrays) device. See Global Warming Solutions.

"The LETG captures and stores sunlight using a hybrid module design that differs from previous combination module devices, making possible the year-round production of thermal and electric energy. Its spectral-selective thermal liquid circulates on the reception surface of a photoelectric circuit, which makes it possible to increase the quantity and to change the quality of incident solar radiation spectral distribution as well as carry out the thermal energy recovery with minimum loss. To put its potential power in perspective, the LETG can increase electric power 250% and thermal output by 170%."

Their press release (via Fox Business News) claims - "Global Warming Solutions, Inc. ....... today announced successful testing of novel, hybrid (heat and electricity generation) solar modules created for the LETG (Light Electric Thermal Generator) project. The combined energy efficiency of the modules reached values of 85%, even exceeding energy harvesting efficiency of green plants."

Considering that most current photovoltaics are considered to be outstanding when achieving anything approaching 20% efficiency, that's one hell of a set of claims. I will await with interest to see what commercialisation of this technology brings.

UK facing stringent renewables targets

This from the Financial Times (you need to register [free] to read the entire article) suggests that the EU targets that the UK will receive next week are going to be pretty tough to meet.

"officials in Brussels and Whitehall have told the Financial Times that Britain will have to increase its use of renewables as a share of all energy use from about 2 per cent to 13-14 per cent by the end of the next decade."

"Britain has the lowest renewables share of any major EU country: only Malta and Luxembourg have less."

Given that Tony Blair was warned that his agreement to the overall 20% target by 2020 was unachievable, this could get very interesting. "Mr Blair was warned by the former Department of Trade and Industry that the scheme was unachievable and costly, but he overruled ministers."

I wonder what the level of fines the UK is going to have to pay for failing to meet the targets will be?

Seen, but heard enough? And by the right people?

Further to my last post, it's telling that I almost skimmed over this: Founder of bottled water company honoured for work in Third World

I wouldn't call it 'tucked away', but considering what it was/is it will be interesting to see how much coverage this gets elsewhere.

I know a bit about it because I entered myself. Junkk.com and RE:tie. I think we qualified: Its model and eco-friendly bottle technology are highly replicable – one of the key criteria for the judging panel.

Obviously not even close and no cigar here (I am still looking for 'wealthy benefactors'... who may also help with the business side I am so woeful at, plus perhaps knowing a few more of the 'right' folk), but the winner is deserving. Not so sure about some of the other, usual suspects. No probelm with something good that does the job getting lauded, and often, but often it seesm that nominees and winners are more on the basis of familiarity than seeking new possibilities.... who may need and deserve the profile and/or money to get going more.

I am also intrigued as to who constitutes 'the community of 120 social entrepreneurship winners, who will meet before the World Economic forum at Davos next week', and how they were deemed to be so.

ps: On another topic, note this: '...or commercially composted back to soil in just eight weeks.' Which means popping it in your back garden ain't going to do it. Who the heck knows this, and hence does whatever is necessary with whoever can help to actually make it work properly? Surely the disposal system should be addressed to a satisfactory degree before getting too excited by the thing that may be disposed. Or not. Otherwise it's useless.

Stretch to fit

I am all for positives, but some do stretch things a tad: Defra hails 'positive green' readers

The up side is that one in five of the population are 'positive greens', though the definition requires an eyebrow cock between self-perception, research definition and actual enviROI+ behaviour.

Where I am a little intrigued is the the leap from the Indy's readership that I believe numbers a few hundred thousand.

Sounds an interesting report and I'd like to see it. Odd that I have never heard of it 'til now, and it is not linked to.

Actually, many of the subsequent insights were/are very telling, and frankly deserve greater consideration.

I leave you with this: 'Some people in the greenest categories have higher carbon footprints than others because of their high incomes'. Mainly Indy readers and BBC employees and supporters, I'd hazard all now planning their next skiing trips along with the next ban-it campaign for some minor enviro-nuisance.

It all rather smacks of being happier with looking good rather than doing it to me.