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Posts Tagged ‘Nonthermal Drying’

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 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.

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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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While this isn’t the most thrilling way to kick off a new blog (sorry, we were out of dynamite), people do get curious about what the SpiroFlo Holdings set of companies sell. With that in mind, here’s a brief rundown:

SpiroFlo, LLC (SpiroFlo) has a patented device for residential hot water savings and industrial water purification/filtration. In 2010, SpiroFlo was the recipient of the Innovative Funding for Energy Efficiency (IFEE) grant from the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office (GEO). This SpiroFlo device is often called “a tornado in a pipe.” With no moving parts, it is virtually maintenance free.

The SpiroFlo device releasing water to atmosphere

In industrial applications, the SpiroFlo device sets up a stable spiraling flow that scrapes biofilm (and other bacteria) from the boundary layer of the pipeline wall — an area that is consistently missed by chemical treatments alone. With that said, the SpiroFlo device can also work in conjunction with these chemical treatments (including Sterilex). The stable flow created by the SpiroFlo device helps keep chemicals suspended, thereby increasing their effectiveness throughout the pipe and reducing their required frequency, use and associated costs. Independent testing and adoption from a large, multi-national has proven that the SpiroFlo device alone drastically reduces biofilm concentration from “too many to count” down to less than 100 parts per million (a number that basically means: might as well be zero).

In residential applications, the SpiroFlo device delivers hot water an average of nearly 35% faster to hot water outlets (in 4 out of 5 households) while providing up to a 5% volume savings at every hot water outlet in the home. Installed at the outset of a hot water tank, one SpiroFlo device is a whole house system. Although the SpiroFlo device can work with tankless and recirculating water systems, it does not require any of the associated costly modifications. One SpiroFlo device saves a household thousands of gallons of water a year.

Vortex Tools, LLC (Vortex) has a patented series of surface and downhole tools to help extend the flowing life, efficiency and productivity of oil and gas wells. As of this date, nearly 1,500 tools have been sold into markets worldwide.

The surface vapor elimination (SX-VRU) tool

The Vortex surface (SX) tools set up a stable, spiraling flow that keeps liquids from dropping out, prevents freezing, reduces pressures and mitigates paraffin build-up. Key applications include increased natural gas liquid (NGL) recovery, replacing pigging/drip systems, paraffin mitigation, replacing vapor recovery units (VRUs) and reducing the time to get oil and gas to sales (instead of flare) on new well flowbacks. The effects of one Vortex tool have lasted over six miles.

The Vortex downhole (DX) tools enable wells to flow below the critical rate (often down to 75% of critical) as well as lowering the bottom hole pressures and reducing surfactant use by up to 50%. Key applications include wireline retrievable intervention on marginal and declining wells, keeping coal bed methane wells free-flowing, and clearing out liquids from horizontal and vertical installations. With no moving parts, all Vortex tools are virtually maintenance free.

Ecotechnology, Ltd. (Ecotech) 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.

Using the patented EcoVeyor, the Ecotech system has the ability to convey 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.

All three of these companies are under the parent company, SpiroFlo Holdings, Inc. These products are the result of over a decade and millions of dollars in research, development and testing. Nine patents have been granted to these beneficial technologies and several more are in development. Testing partners include: Texas A&M University, Texas Tech, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center (RMOTC), the Stripper Well Consortium (SWC—Penn State), the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office (GEO), and several multi-national companies.

Don’t know what some of the above terms mean? Don’t worry; we’ll be covering a number of them as the blog goes on. Or, you know, you can Google it.

Got comments or applications? Feel free to chat with us at blog (at) spiroflo (dot) com

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