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Archive for the ‘biosolids’ Category

Ecotechnology, Ltd. (Ecotech Systems) reports on a generator that can convert urine to electricity.

By Turbotorque (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsWhile I don’t mean to make a lot of Ecotech posts about bodily functions (see here, here and here), as the non-thermal drying of biosolids is one of our key markets, that type of green slant gets placed in this area.

Also, while I still hope that one day I’ll be able to pee out a valuable fuel—minus the unfortunate side effects of a burning sensation and the likelihood of setting a toilet on fire once every three months—someone’s out there bridging the gap:

Today’s step of progress: Four African high school girls have developed a generator that turns a liter of urine into six hours of electricity.

Technology journalist Emil Protalinski broke down the process (source):

  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which cracks the urea into nitrogen, water, and hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.

When asked for comment by NBC News, Gerardine Botte, the chemical engineer who invented the process, stated, “What these kids are doing is taking urea electrolysis and making hydrogen and then using that hydrogen to make electricity.” Although Botte said that the project is “empowering” for the students, she also swatted down some of the fanaticism over the project, stating, “It is a high school project, so don’t take it (so seriously).”

That’s the thing: Often times the green community is willing to excessively root for something before it’s had any real mass implementation. Throw in a couple of underdog factors like youth and it coming from a third world country—or really from anyone save big bad corporations in the western world—and some will cheer it more. Additionally, the details are a little slim as to what exactly gets fueled for six hours.

Here’s what we do know: Like biosolids, this human waste is a worldwide problem. Unlike biosolids, it gets somewhat of a free pass on the yuck factor. Regardless, this is a creative solution that—barring the impending doom of the apocalypse—will have raw material available. The biggest gimme is the wastewater treatment plants themselves. They’re already getting too much fuel delivered to them already; they should convert it to power their own facility.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Ecotech Systems shares an infographic from the Blood:Water Mission.

Although SpiroFlo has covered the Blood:Water Mission before (and their goal to provide clean water, sanitation and clean blood to sub-Saharan Africa), they recently featured an infographic on how the lack of sanitation affects those around the world. For all the complaints about biosolids, many have it far, far worse:

http://www.onlinenursingprograms.com/lack-of-sanitation/

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Ecotech Systems looks at the Denver Zoo’s new waste-powered rickshaw.

While I’ve said before that you can fuel a car with just about anything (regardless of how inefficient and unsustainable it is), the Denver Zoo is now running a motorized rickshaw on zoo waste. This zoo waste includes patron trash and yes, the monstrous amounts of animal feces they’ve got lying around. Now, instead of getting slung as ammunition from monkeys you dared showed your teeth to, this 20-year-old, three-wheeled ride was reconfigured with a $50,000 complex propulsion system to go a blazing 10 mph. It may not be American made (the rickshaw was imported from Thailand), but it’s American fueled.

tuk-tuk: the version that costs $50,000 less

Not impressed? What if I told you that despite its low speed, the tuk-tuk (a slang name for the rickshaw based on the noise it makes) went on a zoo tour, even to zoos out of state? No? What if I told you the patented propulsion system converts the waste into syngas — a fuel made mostly of carbon monoxide and hydrogen — which then generates electricity to fuel a battery to power the tuk-tuk? Nah, didn’t think so.

The thing is, even the Denver Zoo is aware that this crappy novelty doesn’t shine so bright as is. This poo-powered mobile is a merely a gimmick to promote the end goal of the technology: fuel for the 10-acre Toyota Elephant Passage that opens June 1st, 2012. According to their press release:

Denver Zoo is seeking LEED® certification for Toyota Elephant Passage at the platinum level, the highest level, from the U.S. Green Building Council. The program recognizes sustainable and green building practices. This includes the use of biomass gasification technology, which will convert more than 90 percent of the zoo’s waste into usable energy to power the exhibit, eliminating 1.5 million pounds of trash currently going to landfills annually. Other methods include recycling most of the 1.1 million gallons of water running through the exhibit, utilizing natural daylight to provide natural, clean light and retaining heat at lower elevations through the use of radiant heating floor systems.

Well, they’re not the first ones to believe that elephant dung is good business. That said, I still don’t see human waste alternate energy projects catching on any time soon. For whatever reason, animal waste still has less of a yuck factor. We’ve been trained to pick up dog poop and clean out cat litter boxes, but no one wants to take care of what some drunk guy just left in a potted plant of a bank lobby.

Anyway, according to the Denver Post, this process could wind up saving as much as $150,000 per year on hauling costs. However, as usual, the italicized part of that last sentence leads me to believe that the savings will be much lower, although as landfills become less of an option (due to less space and higher costs) these numbers might not be that far off.

In the mean time, enjoy this teeny Denver Post video.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Ecotech Systems looks at Mr. Ellie Pooh — a company that makes paper products from elephant dung.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m not going to give my wife anything made of feces for our anniversary.

I’m guessing this isn’t a surprise to most of you, but maybe this fancy, heart-shaped note box from Mr. Ellie Pooh will sway your stance. You see, Mr. Ellie Pooh — a Sri Lankan, fair trade company — makes premium paper products using 50% post-consumer waste and 50% fiber from elephant dung. After a process is used to extract the fiber (and ditch that whole crap factor), Mr. Ellie Pooh creates hand-crafted items like greeting cards and photo albums.

Immediate thoughts:

  • The name Mr. Ellie Pooh, while cutesy, just draws attention to the fact that the product is made from elephant poo.
  • The phrase “hand-crafted” probably shouldn’t be anywhere near a product made from what an animal just dropped out.
  • Regardless of the process, like biosolids, I see people having a hard time getting past the yuck factor. No matter how fancy the products are, I still can’t see sticking my wedding photo in a frame made from elephant crap. Maybe in another 10 years I’ll feel differently.

That'll make a nice sticky note.

The intent behind this company is actually quite admirable: Since elephants are often despised in Sri Lanka for eating crops, the founder of Mr. Ellie Pooh, veterinarian Dr. Karl Wald, saw the need to give these animals financial value in the eyes of the farmers losing their crops to these large beasts. With fair trade jobs helping the community, Dr. Karl hopes to “educate the villagers into living, working and respecting the elephant,” rather than shooting them when they come looking for food.

Dr. Karl explains the process:

While I wish Mr. Ellie Pooh the best in their business, like many other Eco-friendly businesses, I don’t think being green is enough.

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Ecotech Systems analyzes the terms that make up the environmental world—the cliché, the misunderstood, and the “don’t tell your mama” variety—and how they play in today’s society. Today’s buzzword didn’t mean much when Ecotech Systems first went in to business, yet it’s now left their name in a crowd all touting some term: ecotechnology.

“Back in 1990, no one knew what Ecotech meant. We got called Ekka-tech all the time.”

This is Alan Miller, President of Ecotechnology, Ltd. talking. He first joined Ecotech (short for ecological technologies) in 1990. “You know who the biggest, public green supporter was at the time? McDonald’s. They about changed the packaging industry overnight when they went with non-CFC cups and boxes.”

Granted, he admits, McDonald’s were forced into the change, as the grassroots McToxics campaign pressured them to move away from chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) styrofoam packaging to what they use today. Back when the ozone layer was a common buzzword, CFCs were criticized for ozone depletion, so  when a national powerhouse like McDonald’s made the switch, other fast food companies soon followed.

“We believed that green was going to be huge. For the longest time, it seemed that green small businesses had no chance, but we thought this was changing — that ecological and economical did not have to be opposed anymore. So we went with Ecotechnology.”

Little did Ecotechnology, Ltd. know that the ecotech term was about to become popular in the 5-10 years following. “Ecotech didn’t mean anything to most people back then; same as green.” These days, Ecotech is tied to institutions and a number of green technologies. The terms “ecotech” and “green” still have little meaning today, although this is more due to the fact that businesses can shape them to mean whatever they want.

An Ecotech System on site

“Systems” was later added to the name to set Ecotechnology, Ltd. apart from all the other Ecotechs. Swimming against the tide in Google searches, the Ecotech system specializes in the cost-effective, nonthermal drying of biosolids (and a myriad of granular materials) by adding a low-grade heat (150 degrees F). These Ecotech systems can also move  and sort materials — soda ash, potash, crumb rubber, copper fines, sugar beets, etc. — with minimal degradation and pipe wear. The applications for moving potash are the number one selling application for the Ecotech system.

Using the patented EcoVeyor, the Ecotech system conveys over long-distances and through significant (even vertical) changes in elevation, no moving parts for minimal maintenance, positive environmental effects through its closed-loop design, and boosted value from lower product attrition and lower line wear for longer pipe life.

Maybe in another twenty years, the ecotech term will be unpopular again. Ecotechnology, Ltd. hopes to still sell systems then.

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Ecotech Systems discusses how their patented EcoVeyor non-thermally dries materials—including food products, copper fines and biosolids—all for about $1 a ton.

Last time we spoke about the patented Ecotech system, we talked about biosolids—a polarizing treatment process that blew up the comments section. This time, we’re addressing how the Ecotech system non-thermally dries material—yes, including biosolids (sorry, comments section, you’re going to get mauled by search term responses again)—at a rate the fraction of the cost of alternate methods.

That non-thermal drying part is pretty important, as thermal drying (basically adding a lot of heat along with a lot of associated energy costs) is incredibly expensive. For you engineering types, look at the latent heat of vaporization to see just how much energy is needed to dry water — we’re talking $250 a dry ton expensive. The standard non-thermal drying techniques include belt presses or centrifuges (basically big tanks with turbines to spin the material), co-composting and chemicals. Although they are often cheaper than thermal drying techniques—$85 to $180 a dry ton—they are often slower, leaving options that are either too expensive or too slow to be viable.

With this is mind, Ecotech brought the patented EcoVeyor drying system to market, combining just enough heat and motion to be highly efficient and cost-effective. Put it this way: Combining heat and motion works in your household (i.e. your clothes dryer)—it makes sense that the basic principle applies in larger, industrial applications. However, instead of spinning a whole chamber with moving parts that wear out, the EcoVeyor chamber sets up a stable, spiraling flow that moves and sorts materials—soda ash, potash, crumb rubber, copper fines, sugar beets, etc.—with minimal degradation and pipe wear. Since this type of spiraling flow is found all throughout nature, it’s no surprise that material continues to travel stably in this tornado-like flow.

Here’s the layout of a typical Ecotech system (click for a larger picture of those teeny labels):

Using the patented EcoVeyor, the Ecotech system has no moving parts for minimal maintenance, positive environmental effects through its closed-loop design, the ability to convey over long-distances and through significant (even vertical) changes in elevation, and boosted value from lower product attrition and lower line wear for longer pipe life.

Combining the EcoVeyor’s flow with a low-grade heat—150-degrees F: the type of heat usually easily available on-site of industrial applications—sheers off large amounts of moisture that atomizes in the pipe. Due to the combination of efficient flow and just enough heat, surface moisture is removed at a rapid rate for about $1 a ton. Although this EcoVeyor isn’t a complete drying solution, in removing up to 30 points of moisture (when starting with 25% solids), it’s a cost-effective intermediary step to any industrial drying application.

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).


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Ecotechnology, Ltd. (Ecotech Systems) analyzes the terms that make up the world—the cliché, the misunderstood, and the “don’t tell your mama” variety—and how they play in today’s society. Today’s word is the product of an image makeover, but when you find out the truth, you may wish you’d not eaten already.

What comes to mind when you think of biosolids?

If you’re like most people, the answer is nothing, and that blank slate is exactly what proponents of biosolids want you to have in mind, because the last name brought up all kinds of negative connotations. That term? Sewage sludge.

http://www.city-data.com/forum/members/bs13690-83559-albums-animated-gifs-pic43435-green-sick-face.htmlThat’s right, biosolids are human fecal matter mixed with everything else that goes from a household water line to the wastewater treatment plant. Granted, biosolids are treated to varying degrees (and therefore changed), but sometimes you can’t shake the yuck factor. Thus far, it seems biosolids can’t get away from their origin to become the great sustainable energy resource some think they should be.

As long as wastewater plants treat water, biosolids are an inevitable byproduct. After much of the water is separated, you’re still left with a semi-solid material (containing fats, oil and greases [FOG] — matter that is difficult to treat and the number one source of drain/pipe clogs). The main solutions for biosolids disposal are landfill (which is getting less prevalent and more expensive as they get full), heat treatment (which goes up to $250/dry ton for incineration), non-heat treatment (lime, aerobic and anaerobic digesters — $85/dry ton and up, though drying biosolids at a rate much slower than heat) and land application. Regardless of what you do with the biosolids, however, some level of drying (and therefore some level of energy expenditure) is required.

Amusingly enough, although green supporters love recycling, even they often oppose biosolids use. Thing is though, biosolids are readily available, and unless something radically evolves in the human gastrointestinal tract, they’re going to continue to be around (everyone poops indeed). Fear not; biosolids are not allowed for use with food growth applications (wouldn’t that be creepy?* might actually be — see the comments), but huge, multi-year papers have concluded that biosolids are sustainable and can improve soil and crops. That said, for every 20-year pro-biosolids study I find, there are just as many touting the harmful effects.

In 2006, a U.S. E. coli outbreak from spinach spread over 26 states, causing 206 illnesses and three deaths. Though the incident didn’t involve biosolids — the outbreak was attributed to irrigation water contaminated by (untreated) cattle feces — the damaging effects gave critics a close example of what could happen with improper use.

(I’m still waiting for the news story of the angry hippie defecating on a wastewater treatment plant’s lawn, pouring chemicals on the lot and screaming, “Here’s your biosolids!” before getting hauled off in cuffs. Thus far, my Google searches have come up empty… What I did hear of, however, is when my boss visited a local biosolids plant and was warned that if he fell off the narrow plank high above the large, aerobic digester and into the muck, no one would come get him out.

Death by biosolids — not the way you want to go.)

http://designyourclothesnotyourbabies.blogspot.com/2010/06/one-mans-waste-is-another-mans-treasure.html

These bare-hands-holding-biosolids pics are common, but not enough to overcome the yuck factor

Here are the main regulations involving biosolids: In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced the Clean Water Act. Part 503 of this regulation authorized the continued use of biosolids on land while addressing the public’s concerns with the reuse of human waste. The greatest potential health risk is pathogens—a disease-producing agent linked to E. coli, hepatitis A, salmonella, Giardia and parasitic worms—carried in untreated sewage. That said, pathogens are also an issue with other organic fertilizers.

Part 503 defined different types of treated biosolids: Class A biosolids contain no detectable levels of pathogens and can be applied to land the same way as fertilizers. Class B biosolids are treated, but still have detectable levels of pathogens. (There are restrictions on their use and availability to the public.) The main reason for these different standards is the efficiency of the treatment process versus the amount of time available. As wastewater volumes increase, there is not enough time to treat to class A standards. Since the Clean Water Act, an even higher standard of biosolids has come about — class A EQ (exceptional quality) — requiring lower metal counts.

Despite what you think of biosolid use, with FOG still an issue that needs to be dealt with at any stage, drying biosolids is an essential part of the process, regardless of where they end up. As a result of that, Ecotechnology Ltd. (Ecotech Systems) launched its patented drying system into the biosolids market. With a low-grade heat (~150 F) and a patented air flow, Ecotech is able to non-thermally dry biosolids for less than $1/ton. Considering the above ranges of $85-$250/ton, this is the value savings the biosolids industry is looking for.

More on that another time. Enjoy your dinner.

*EDIT: Corrections, chatter and linked-up responses (oh my!) in the comments.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).


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