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April, 2012:

Warm air down and cold air up: wind farms may affect weather

Esther Han

April 30, 2012 – 7:37am

As Australia turns towards renewable sources such as wind power in a bid to reduce carbon emissions, a study from the United States has found wind farms themselves may be affecting local weather and land surface temperatures.

An analysis of land surface temperatures of regions around large wind farms in Texas from 2003 to last year shows wind turbines can produce a night-time warming trend of up to 0.72 degrees per decade, researchers from the University of Albany in New York have found.

The researchers explained in the journal Nature Cli-mate Change that wind turbines acted like fans, pulling warmer “near surface air” from higher altitudes at night.

Liming Zhou, lead author of the study, said: “Typically at night there’s a stable atmosphere with a warm layer overlying a cool layer.

“Enhanced vertical mixing brings warm air down and cold air up, leading to a warming near the surface at night.”

NASA satellite data revealed a persistent upward trend of land surface temperatures, consistent with the growth in number of local wind turbines over the same time period. Mr Zhou concedes the warming effect could reach a stable level if no wind farms are built.

Wind power is Australia’s fastest-growing renewable energy source. Late last year, there were 1188 wind turbines in 57 wind farms in Australia.

Mr Zhou described the research as “small and local”, adding therefore the results should not be applied on a global scale or over longer time frames.

“We are now expanding this approach to other wind farms and building models to understand the physical processes and mechanisms driving the interaction of wind turbines and the atmosphere boundary layer near the surface,” he said.

He acknowledges wind power is part of the solution to climate change, pollution and energy security problems.

“Generating wind power creates no emissions, uses no water and is likely green,” he said.

“The research is critical for developing efficient adapting and management strategies to ensure long-term sustainability of wind power.” Professor Steven Sherwood, the co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW, said the study was solid and made sense.

“Since at night the ground becomes much cooler than the air just a few hundred metres above the surface, and the wind farms generate gentle turbulence near the ground that causes these to mix together, thus the ground doesn’t get quite as cool,” he said.

“This same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers who fly helicopters over the orchards rather than windmills to combat early morning frosts.”

The University of Albany and the National Science Foundation in the US funded the Zhou study.

Earlier this year the NSW government announced a six-month noise audit at three wind farms, despite protests from the industry.

NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard announced the audit of Capital, Cullerin Range and Woodlawn wind farms, all in southern NSW, because of complaints from residents. The audit will also involve a questionnaire, meetings and a public information line, and will also consider other impacts such as “visual amenity, flora and fauna impacts, blade flicker, community contributions and electromagnetic interference”.

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Covanta to Offer 300 TPD Commercial Gasification System

25 April 2012

Morristown, New Jersey based waste to energy developer, Covanta Energy (NYSE: CVA), has completed commercial testing of the ‘first-of-its-kind’ modular gasification technology that it plans to offer to its clients.

The company said that the technology has demonstrated the ability to gasify unprocessed post-recycled municipal solid waste (MSW) in a commercial environment, while reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency.

According to Covanta its gasification unit has been processing 350 tons (317 tonnes) per day of post-recycled MSW and has demonstrated reliability of over 95% availability.

To gasify the MSW – which does not require pre-treatment – the system subjects it to high temperatures and reduced air in the gasification platform, where it undergoes a chemical reaction that creates a synthesis gas, or syngas.

The syngas is then combusted and processed through an established energy recovery system, followed by a state-of-the-art emissions control system.

The company said that the commercial demonstration paves the way for the company to offer a new 300 ton (272 tonne) per day modular system, called CLEERGASTM (Covanta Low Emissions Energy Recovery Gasification), to its clients.

“This new gasification technology is truly exciting. Communities interested in emerging technologies can now partner with Covanta’s industry leading team to assure successful project execution,” explained Anthony J. Orlando, Covanta’s president and chief executive officer.

“Completing this commercial demonstration was a major step in developing new facilities capable of gasifying unprocessed post-recycled municipal waste,” added John Klett, executive vice president and chief technology officer.

The company said that its research and development efforts will focus on continuing to improve the syngas quality created in the gasification process.

“One day, we anticipate this syngas will be utilised as a fuel in a combined cycle facility and potentially, in the production of liquid fuel,” Klett concluded.

Battery-powered plasma flashlight makes short work of bacteria

The handheld plasma flashlight that can rid the skin of bacteria in an instant (Image: X. ...

The handheld plasma flashlight that can rid the skin of bacteria in an instant (Image: X. Pei et al., Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics)

An international team of scientists has created a handheld, battery powered device that has been shown to effectively rid skin of bacteria in an instant by blasting it with plasma. The plasma flashlight, which shouldn’t be confused with a plasma torch that will damage much more than bacteria if used on the skin, could provide a convenient way for paramedics and military personnel to deal with harmful bacteria in the field.

The self-contained device is powered by a 12 V battery and doesn’t require any external gas feed or handling system. The plume of plasma it generates is between 20-23°C (68-73.4°F), so it won’t damage the skin. It is also fitted with resistors to stop it heating up and becoming too hot to touch. Its creators say it can also be easily manufactured at a cost of less than US$100 per unit.

In an experiment carried out by the scientists, the plasma flashlight effectively inactivated thick biofilms of Enterococcus faecalis, a bacterium that often infects the root canals in dental treatments and is highly antibiotic- and heat-resistant. Created by incubating the bacteria for seven days, the biofilms consisted of 17 different layers of bacteria. After treating each biofilm with the plasma flashlight for five minutes, the plasma was found to penetrate deep into the very bottom layer and inactivate the bacteria.

“In this study we chose an extreme example to demonstrate that the plasma flashlight can be very effective even at room temperature,” said co-author of the study, Professor Kostya (Ken) Ostrikov, from the Plasma Nanoscience Centre Australia, CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering. “For individual bacteria, the inactivation time could be just tens of seconds.”

While plasma has previously been shown to effectively kill bacteria and viruses on the surface of the skin and water, the exact mechanism behind this is still not understood. Ultraviolet radiation has been theorized as a reason, but the jet created by the plasma flashlight is low in UV radiation, which adds to the safety of using the device on a person’s skin. The reactions between the plasma and the surrounding air has also been suggested as another possibility.

The international team behind the plasma flashlight consists of scientists from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Sydney and the City University of Hong Kong. Their work is detailed in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.

Source: Institute of Physics

Gasification & Pyrolysis the Answer for U.S. Waste Plastics?

25 April 2012
Fuel & Energy the Answer for U.S. Waste Plastics?
A new study showing has shown that emerging new technologies designed to convert waste into fuels or raw materials offer environmental benefits and cost savings over landfill disposal.

The study – Environmental and Economic Analysis of Emerging Plastics Conversion Technologies – has been The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Plastics Division and conducted by RTI International – an independent, nonprofit institute that provides research, development, and technical services to government and commercial clients.

The research examined two types of advanced conversion technologies: gasification and pyrolysis.

According to the ACC, although both technologies are capable of processing a wide range of wastes, the study looked specifically at gasification technology that accepts all municipal solid waste (MSW), including non-recycledplastics; and pyrolysis that handles non-recycled plastics only.

In performing the study, RTI said that it conducted a search of the published literature on waste conversion technologies coupled with a survey of companies known and identified to be developing, or having deployed, waste conversion technologies.

When compared to landfill disposal, RTI found that gasification of MSW saves 6.5 to 13 million Btu per ton and 0.3 to 0.6 tons of carbon equivalent emissions per ton (1 ton = 907 kg).

Similarly, pyrolysis, which converts plastics to oil or gas, saves 1.8 to 3.6 million Btu per ton and 0.15 to 0.25 tons of carbon equivalent per ton over landfill disposal.

RTI identified 41 advanced conversion technology facilities that are under development or undergoing demonstration in North America that that will accept MSW or non-recycled plastics as feedstocks.

According to the study, due to their benefits – such as the potential to produce a range of energy, fuel, feedstocks, and chemicals, as well as waste diversion benefits – these waste conversion technologies are expected to become much more attractive in North America in the next five to ten years.

However, the study also found that plastics-to-oil pyrolysis technologies are generally closer to full scale commercialisation than MSW based technologies (typically gasification), in part because of the more consistent feedstock composition and supply for the former.

Key findings

The key drivers for conversion technologies identified by the research include the alternate costs for disposition of the waste (generally landfill costs), meeting waste diversion goals and targets, and developing alternative energy sources.

Significantly, the study showed that that in some regions waste conversion technologies are already able to produce fuel outputs at lower costs than landfill.

According to RTS, survey data indicates that the cost to process the waste is approximately $50 per ton (for pyrolysis and gasification technologies), and is generally related to the cost of electricity or fuel required to run the process. For comparison average U.S. costs for landfill disposal and recycling range from $30 to $75/ton depending on region.

“This study is the latest in a growing body of information showing that many of the things we’ve viewed as waste actually have tremendous potential as energy resources,” commented Steve Russell, vice president of Plastics for ACC.

“As a complement to a robust recycling infrastructure, conversion technologies offer environmental benefits and cost savings over traditional waste disposal processes,” he added.

However, the authors do also point direct comparisons of the costs and environmental benefits of gasification and pyrolysis technologies are not recommended due to differences in the energy value of the different feedstocks they use and differences in beneficial offsets.

These beneficial offsets are explained in further detail in the study.

Thermal Technologies – overcoming the variability of waste by Dr Tim Johnson

28th February 2012 in What’s been happening

One of the most difficult aspects of waste treatment is that ‘waste’ is
a highly variable thing.  By its very nature, waste comes from an almost
unlimited number of sources and in a huge range of compositions and
forms.  Unfortunately, this inherent variability makes it harder to
select the right waste treatment process for each pile of waste.
Thankfully, many wastes can be kept separate as they are being produced
and this makes finding the right treatment option much easier.  For
example, catalytic converters, old tyres and used engine oil all come
from cars that end up in scrap yards, but they are pretty easy to keep
separate from each other during the dismantling process.  This general
principle of keeping wastes separate, or ‘segregation’ as it is known in
technical-speak, can be seen spreading to most areas of waste
management, as anyone will testify who (like me) has the weekly
excitement of feeding multiple green bins, brown bins, black boxes and
blue sacks with the correct parts of their household waste.  Not
bothering to segregate your waste certainly makes throwing things away
much easier, but since all the goods we use are produced in separate
industrial processes it is not very surprising that recycling those
things at the end of their useful lives works best when the waste is
also separated into piles of similar objects.

In several of my previous blogs I have explained how Tetronics’ plasma
technology can be used to treat specific waste streams and often to
extract valuable materials or energy from them, so that ‘disposal of
waste’ becomes ‘recovery from waste’.  Naturally, each of these
processes depends on someone making sure those waste streams are kept
nicely segregated from other things.  The good news is that the list of
wastes suitable for a ‘recovery’ process is growing all the time, as
Tetronics and other waste treatment innovators roll out new
technologies.  However, it is clear that eventually, after all materials
suitable for recycling and recovery have been picked out, there will
still be a motley collection of unwanted wastes with no elegant and
economic treatment solution.  For these wastes a more generic treatment
solution is required, one that can accept everything from liquids to
solids, flammable or non-flammable, hazardous or benign.

There are very few such treatment processes available and historically
the choices have tended to be restricted to landfilling and
high-temperature incineration, both of which have their drawbacks.  In
the case of landfilling of generalised hazardous and industrial wastes
this was often preceded by mixing various different types of waste
together in an attempt to create a mixture that was less hazardous than
the sum of its starting materials.  For some years now regulators have
frowned on such practices because in many cases the ‘treatment’ amounted
to little more than dilution of hazardous materials rather than
rendering the waste non-hazardous in any true sense of the word.  Even
when materials are encased in concrete (a process known as
‘cementation’) the hazardous aspects of the material often still remain
for future generations, it is just that the materials are contained more
effectively in the short term.

Happily, Tetronics plasma technology offers the sort of generic waste
treatment solution that many local authorities, waste operators and
communities are looking for.  Plasma furnaces are very ‘omnivorous’
animals and will eat more or less anything, since using plasma to heat
waste up to 1600°C results in almost everything melting or being
vaporised.  Plasma’s combination of high temperatures and high
ultra-violent light leads to efficient destruction of organic pollutants
and the capturing of heavy metals in a glassy non-leaching material
suitable for inert disposal or reuse as aggregate.  The fact is, all
materials look fairly similar at plasma furnace temperatures, which
means that although treating a mixed bag of very different wastes in a
single process will never be easy, the enormous versatility and
effectiveness of Tetronics’ plasma technology looks certain to make it
an increasingly obvious choice for the treatment of hazardous and
industrial wastes around the World.

Jet Fuel

From: James Middleton []
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 8:14 PM‘;
Subject: Gasification news

Dear CY Leung,

please find the attached self explanatory information on what the world is doing with its waste – – – – making jet fuel.

It seems this freely available information somehow eluded our current HK Environment Minister’s decision making.

Kind regards,

James Middleton


Download PDF : Gasificationews

Putting innovation into practice

Dr Tim Johnson, technical director at high temperature plasma arc technology manufacturer Tetronics, argues that plasma technology can be seen as a viable option for waste management.

We are often told by politicians and think-tank consultants that it is innovation that drives growth in jobs and in the economy. It is of course very easy to talk about such things and rather more difficult to implement them practically in the ‘real world’ but despite this you often hear the same commentators criticising sectors of UK business for not adopting this innovation culture.

Description: Dr Tim Johnson, technical director, Tetronics

Dr Tim Johnson, technical director, Tetronics

Now I am sure there are plenty of organisations across UK industry who struggle to put innovation into practice but you don’t have to read very far through the many magazines and publications of the environmental industry to see innovation in every nook and cranny. Maybe it’s because the environmental sector is growing strongly or perhaps it is the type of people it attracts but you certainly can’t accuse the waste management industry of lacking imagination or innovation.


Literally, ‘innovation’ means ‘making into new’ and naturally, innovation takes many forms. You have one group of people innovating new and exciting equipment with which to treat waste and others who are developing innovative ways of measuring, monitoring and analysing waste.

Meanwhile, there are whole groups of people finding innovative ways to cut corners on existing legislation and still more developing innovative new forms of legislation to try to close those loop holes and drive up standards of operating practice.

All this innovation is surely a sign of a vibrant and healthy industry and it’s certainly an exciting business to be involved with at the moment. However, all this ‘making into new’ does make for a constantly moving landscape with all its attendant uncertainties and if there a downside to innovation perhaps this is it. For the waste producer this means a lack of certainty about his future waste management requirements and these uncertainties are reflected in how well waste management companies can forecast the costs and the best methods for treating wastes both now and in the future.


In this context the challenge for companies that provide waste treatment equipment must surely be to help others to manage and reduce these uncertainties by developing technologies which combine the reassurance of a historical track record with a degree of future-proofing about them. Plasma technology is emerging as one such technology.

Plasma technologies have been used for many decades in a bewildering variety of industrial settings both inside and outside the environmental industry. It has its roots in welding, which is hardly space-craft technology, and combines intense heat and intense light in a highly directional and controllable arc that can be used to vaporise or melt virtually everything.

Having tried it myself I can say with confidence there are very few materials that do not respond well to this kind of formidable treatment and the ultimate outputs from plasma processes nearly always consist overwhelmingly of materials suitable for resale or reuse; i.e. it is a recovery based solution as opposed to just simple disposal. It seems highly unlikely that such a process will ever provide anything other than a top-quality solution to many of the key waste management challenges that face industry and society today and in the future.

Tetronics Shortlisted for National Recycling Award

Download PDF : Tetronics-NRA-Shortlisting-Press-Release-FINAL_10042012

Lakeside Energy and American Securities Take Equity Stake in InEnTec Inc.

press release

April 3, 2012, 8:33 a.m. EDT

Action Follows Recent Move By Waste Management, Inc. To Become Major Investor

BEND, Ore., Apr 03, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — InEnTec Inc., the developer of proprietary technology to produce renewable fuels and other valuable products from household, industrial, and chemical wastes, today announced that Lakeside Energy has made a strategic investment in the company. Headquartered in Chicago, Lakeside Energy is a portfolio company of American Securities, specializing in power generation and renewable energy technologies.

InEnTec Chemical LLC was formed as a joint venture between InEnTec and Lakeside Energy. In this transaction announced today, InEnTec Chemical LLC becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of InEnTec and Lakeside Energy becomes a significant shareholder in InEnTec.

InEnTec previously announced a similar deal in which Waste Management, Inc. /quotes/zigman/227597/quotes/nls/wm WM +0.62% took a significant equity position in InEnTec, and InEnTec became the sole owner of S4 Energy Solutions LLC. Formed in February 2009 to convert solid waste, such as household garbage, into clean fuels for electricity production and transportation, S4 Energy Solutions recently started up a commercial scale Plasma Enhanced Melter® (PEM®) at Waste Management’s Columbia Ridge site in Oregon. That project has already demonstrated the ability to create useable fuels out of the trash from the western part of the state.

“We are very pleased that Lakeside Energy has chosen to take an equity stake in our future,” said Karl A. Schoene, President and CEO of InEnTec Inc. “With full ownership of InEnTec Chemical and S4 Energy Solutions, InEnTec Inc. now has 100 percent ownership of all InEnTec operating subsidiaries and operating plants. This puts us in the position to expedite the financing and deployment of new PEM projects, improve operational efficiency, and accelerate our strategic plan for corporate growth.”

InEnTec Chemical LLC, located in Fleming Island, FL, was formed as a joint venture company by InEnTec and Lakeside Energy in October 2008 to finance, build and operate PEM facilities at chemical manufacturing sites. The company currently owns and operates a PEM at Dow Corning’s silicon-based materials manufacturing facility in Midland, Michigan. The Midland PEM began start-up in late 2009, and recycles hazardous chemical residuals into reusable process chemicals and clean syngas used as fuel for steam.

“We believe the PEM technology has the potential to shape the future of how the world transforms waste into valuable resources,” said Matthew LeBaron, a managing director of American Securities. “We continue to be impressed by the progress the InEnTec management team is making in commercializing and deploying this technology.”

“We are proud to have been a partner in the startup of the first PEM at a U.S. chemical manufacturing site,” added Christopher Fanella, Executive Vice President at Lakeside Energy and now a member of InEnTec’s Board of Directors. “We are confident that InEnTec will achieve its goals at Midland and replicate that success at many more sites in the future.”

Based in Bend, Oregon, InEnTec Inc. is a privately-held corporation and the developer of the PEM® (Plasma Enhanced Melter®), a proprietary gasification system that transforms municipal, commercial, medical, and most industrial and hazardous wastes into clean, renewable syngas This clean syngas can be converted to transportation fuels such as ethanol or diesel, industrial products like hydrogen and methanol or used as a substitute for natural gas for heating or electricity generation.

About InEnTec Inc.

Based in Bend, Oregon, InEnTec was formed by scientists and engineers from MIT and Battelle. Through its proprietary gasification system, the Plasma Enhanced Melter, InEnTec can transform municipal (household), commercial, medical, and most industrial and hazardous wastes into clean renewable syngas that can be used to produce products, such as electric energy, diesel fuel, ethanol, methanol and hydrogen, with minimal environmental impact. InEnTec’s systems meet all environmental standards and come closer to 100% recycling of waste than any other commercially available technology. InEnTec is the winner of The Wall Street Journal 2010 Technology Innovation Award in Energy. For more information please visit .

About Lakeside Energy LLC

Lakeside invests in power generation and related renewable energy businesses in North America requiring individual equity investments of $10 million to $100 million. The company is backed with equity from American Securities, a New York-based private equity firm. Lakeside looks for companies with sustainable market positions, predictable cash flows, growth opportunities and reasonable risk management of fuel cost. Its business model is to create additional value in companies and assets through the implementation of operational, financial, and commercial improvements and support of the associated management teams. More information on Lakeside Energy LLC can be found .

About American Securities LLC

American Securities is a leading U.S. private equity firm that invests in market-leading companies in North America with annual revenues generally ranging between $200 million to $2 billion. Headquartered in New York with an office in Shanghai, American Securities has approximately $9 billion under management and is currently investing from its sixth fund. The firm traces its roots to the family office founded in 1947 by William Rosenwald to invest and manage his share of his family’s Sears, Roebuck & Co. fortune. More information on American Securities can be found at .



Feds pressured by coal industry to weaken regulations, records reveal

Description: Environment Canada weakens a draft version of regulations to crack down on pollution from coal-fired power plants following pressure from the industry, newly-released federal records reveal.

21 April 2012

Environment Canada weakens a draft version of regulations to crack down on pollution from coal-fired power plants following pressure from the industry, newly-released federal records reveal.

Photograph by: Wayne Sawchuk , Vancouver Sun files

OTTAWA – Environment Canada weakened a draft version of regulations to crack down on pollution from coal-fired power plants following pressure from the industry, newly-released federal records have revealed.

Briefing notes prepared by the department in September said the proposed regulations offered the equivalent of an 18-month deferral on enforcement of the regulations “because of the interventions made by ATCO,” an Alberta-based energy company.

The regulations, if finalized, are slated to come into force by July 1, 2015, but ATCO was seeking the deferral “to the end of 2016,” to protect its existing “Battle River 3″ generating unit.

“ATCO’s views had an influence on the proposed regulations as published,” said the briefing note, produced a few weeks after Environment Minister Peter Kent unveiled his plan.

Previously released federal records have also revealed that Kent was pressured by the Alberta-based Pembina Institute, an environmental group, to close potential loopholes, allowing companies to avoid the regulations for any unit built before 2015.

Kent said in September that the regulations were not intended to allow a new plant to launch operations before the rules came into force in order to avoid compliance. But at the same time, his department noted its concessions to the industry while describing the importance of the regulations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change as well as improving “air quality for Canadians for generations to come.”

The briefing notes also suggest that ATCO was pushing for Environment Canada to extend a grace period of existing plants from 45 to 50 years, which was already more than a proposal of 40 years made previously by an industry lobby group, the Canadian Electricity Association.

ATCO officials could not immediately be reached for comment. But another company, Maxim Power, indicated that it had put plans on hold for a new plant because of uncertainty surrounding the government’s regulations that are expected to be finalized before the summer.

“It’s been characterized quite unfairly as a race to beat regs,” said John Bobenic, president and CEO of Maxim Power, which is also based in Alberta. “Our investment in this is significant. You would strand some of our investment by implementing the regs as they’ve been proposed.”

He added that the industry is also pushing for a longer recognized lifespan because of the government’s “abrupt change” in policy away from a market-based solution and toward a regulatory approach that could force plants to shut down if their emissions are too high.

Under a market-based climate change plan, previously endorsed by the federal government, companies could achieve their goals by either reducing emissions, investing in other activities that reduce emissions, or buying certified credits from companies that are reducing emissions.

The current approach would not offer companies the same options for compliance apart from achieving absolute reductions in their emissions, and could translate into up to $40 million in stranded investments for a company like Maxim Power.

“It seems to be punitive to one industry in this (regulatory) sector by sector approach,” said Bobenic, who said his company was previously prepared to take other actions, including the purchase of offset credits on a market to reach emissions reduction goals.

A spokesman for Kent said the government is still reviewing comments submitted during a consultation period and cannot speculate on elements to be included in the finalized regulations.

Tim Weis, director of renewable energy and efficiency at the Pembina Institute, said any further efforts to weaken the regulations would be favouring profits over public health.

“It’s frustrating,” Weis said. “At 40 years, we know these plants (have) been amortized. They’ve been paid for and beyond that, you’re into almost windfall profits at that stage in the game and there’s no reason we can’t be moving to something else that’s way less polluting.”


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