New Scientist Enviorment had interesting information on a US company that is taking plastics recycling to another level â€“ turning them back into the oil they were made from, and gas.
All that is needed, claims Global Resource Corporation (GRC), is a finely tuned microwave and â€“ hey presto! â€“ a mix of materials that were made from oil can be reduced back to oil and combustible gas (and a few leftovers).
Key to GRCâ€™s process is a machine that uses 1200 different frequencies within the microwave range, which act on specific hydrocarbon materials. As the material is zapped at the appropriate wavelength, part of the hydrocarbons that make up the plastic and rubber in the material are broken down into diesel oil and combustible gas.
GRC’s machine is called the Hawk-10. Its smaller incarnations look just like an industrial microwave with bits of machinery attached to it. Larger versions resemble a concrete mixer.
Anything that has a hydrocarbon base will be affected by our process,” says Jerry Meddick, director of business development at GRC, based in New Jersey. “We release those hydrocarbon molecules from the material and it then becomes gas and oil.”
Whatever does not have a hydrocarbon base is left behind, minus any water it contained as this gets evaporated in the microwave.
“Take a piece of copper wiring,” says Meddick. “It is encased in plastic â€“ a kind of hydrocarbon material. We release all the hydrocarbons, which strips the casing off the wire.” Not only does the process produce fuel in the form of oil and gas, it also makes it easier to extract the copper wire for recycling.
Similarly, running 9.1 kilograms of ground-up tyres through the Hawk-10 produces 4.54 litres of diesel oil, 1.42 cubic metres of combustible gas, 1 kg of steel and 3.40 kg of carbon black, Meddick says.
If you have dog then you already know how much crap those animals can produce. Imagine if that poop was worth something more than putting in a brown bag and lighting it on fire, like kids do. The guys over at inhabitat had a cool write up on some new initiative in San Francisco. Anyone whoâ€™s ever spent time in San Francisco (and perhaps stepped in a stinky patch in Duboce park) knows that this is a city that loves its dogs. So much so that dog poop is a real issue in terms of urban cleanliness â€” pet feces currently makes up nearly 4 percent of San Franciscoâ€™s residential waste! So its about time then, that someone came up with the brilliant idea to put San Franciscoâ€™s dog poop to work and find a better use for it than simply filling up garbage cans (and getting stuck on peopleâ€™s shoes). The forward-thinking environmentally-friendly city will be the first in the nation to use dog feces as a renewable energy source through the production and combustion of methane gas.
6,500 tons of dog poop is produced in the San Francisco Bay Area every year. Rather than view this waste as a problem, San Franciscoâ€™s waste management contractor, Norcal Waste, saw this as an opportunity for the already environmental city to go a bit greener. Since January 2006, Norcal has been collecting dog feces throughout the city and now has dog-waste collection carts with biodegradable bags set up in Duboce Park, one of cityâ€™s most popular dog parks.
The poo-to-energy scheme works like this: the pet poop is first put into an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to convert organic waste into methane gas. Burning that gas produces energy in the form of electricity, natural gas, and liquefied natural gas. This gas is then captured and used to power equipment that normally runs on natural gas, such as a kitchen stove or a heater. The 2 week long â€œdigestion processâ€ also produces valuable compost for agriculture.
Despite the chuckles this project may elicit â€” it will provide a very tangible benefit to San Francisco by helping the city reach its goal of diverting 75 percent of its waste from landfills by 2010, also providing a clean new energy source! The city piloted another innovative bio-recycling program in 1996, collecting food scraps from houses and restaurants and turning them into fertilizer for local farms and vineyards. This project was very successful and still continues to this day.
I got this information from Green Options. Search for “Largest corporate solar installation in the U.S.” and you’ll see Google pop up in the results. As of yesterday, the search engine giant became a lot less dependent on the grid by flipping the switch on nearly 9,212 solar panels. The output of more than 1.6 megawatts will serve up enough energy to power almost 1/3 of the campus. For some perspective, that’s enough energy to power more than 1,000 homes!
Michael dEstries at Green Options points out that Google not content, however, to simply let a few thousand solar panels represent their green values, Google also unveiled a new parking garage specifically designed for plug-in-electric vehicles and hybrid cars. Employees can now charge while at work and hit the road freshly juiced afterwards. “Wait a minute,” you say. “There aren’t any commercial plug-in cars available yet!” And you’re right. So, to address this issue, Google is also taking hybrid vehicles and converting them to plug-ins so that they can cruise along on only electricity for longer periods of time and at greater speeds. According to the article, they’ve so far converted four Toyota Prius and two Ford Escapes. Almost 100 such conversions are planned for employees to use as a car-share program while at work. Who are these guys?
Monday also marked the launch of Google’s new philanthropic division, RechargeIT. The group has earmarked $10 million for investments in companies and projects that support alternative transportation that reduces the use of fossil fuels and emissions. You can also visit the site to see how the plug-in cars that Google has converted are performing.
To say this is encouraging would be a bit of an understatement. Would the rest of the corporate U.S. please pay attention? The future of business sustainability lies in example at Google HQ. We applaud their efforts and hope such green initiative become contagious nationwide.
If the Government could completely have it their way, they would lock you up for using anything other than their heavily taxed gasoline or diesel. If you don’t believe take a look at this story from the Charlotte Observer.
Bob Teixeira decided it was time to take a stand against U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
"So last fall the Charlotte musician and guitar instructor spent $1,200 to convert his 1981 diesel Mercedes to run on vegetable oil. He bought soybean oil in 5-gallon jugs at Costco, spending about 30 percent more than diesel would cost.
His reward, from a state that heavily promotes alternative fuels: a $1,000 fine last month for not paying motor fuel taxes
He’s been told to expect another $1,000 fine from the federal government.
And to legally use veggie oil, state officials told him, he would have to first post a $2,500 bond.
Teixeira is one of a growing number of fuel-it-yourselfers — backyard brewers who recycle restaurant grease or make moonshine for their car tanks. They do it to save money, reduce pollution or thumb their noses at oil sheiks."
This story is too ridiculous to believe. the truth is we should be exempting people like this from oil taxes, not punishing them! Unfortunately, most state laws have strict penalties for those that do not partake from the traditional pump, and follow their strict LAWS. Itâ€™s almost like the Spanish Inquisition has come to the fuel industry. States understandably receive an immense amount of money from taxing fuel to help pay for road repair costs. Still, a $2,500 bond, $1,000 fine, and another $1K from the federal government? Itâ€™s enough to make any American think twice about making the switch. Then again, thatâ€™s probably the entire point.
Common Threads Garment Recycling
Way too much of what is made these days ends up in the trash at the end of its useful life.
At Patagonia, they’re working to change that. In 2005 they launched their Common Threads Garment Recycling Program, through which customers could return their worn out CapileneÂ® Performance Baselayers to them for recycling. They’ve now added Patagonia fleece, PolartecÂ® fleece from other manufacturers and Patagonia organic cotton T-shirts to their list of recyclables.
Their long-term goal is to take environmental responsibility for everything they make.
Please help them by changing your clothes for good.
Find out how you can participate in our garment-recycling program; see how they turn worn-out clothes into new Patagonia garments; and read the Frequently Asked Questions. Patagonia