Waste as Resource

Milan World Expo 2015: Feeding the Planet, energy for Life

September 23, 2009 - 11:37:14 PM

Via: Abitare - international design magazine 

by Herzog & de Meuron, Jacques Herzog
London School of Ecomics, Ricky Burdett
Stefano Boeri Architetti, Stefano Boeri
William McDonough + Partners, William McDonough

1.
Over the past few months we have worked with EXPO SpA, the local institutions and the BIE (Bureau International des Expositions) to create a revolutionary new concept of the world exposition. We are convinced that a visionary and successful EXPO has to abandon the outmoded idea of an exposition built around complex systems of representation and gigantic architectural monuments which often have no real purpose after the event. Instead EXPO 2015 will be remembered for giving visitors a direct and immediate experience of all aspects of the question of food. It will be an EXPO that embodies its theme-Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life-directly within its own space, with none of the usual simulations and documentation that can easily be found today on any computer. Secondly, it will be an EXPO that overturns the whole concept of monumentality: in place of giant structures (like the Eiffel Tower of Paris 1898), Milan will build a new landscape of monumental lightness and natural beauty. An environment that reflects the environmental sustainability, technical precision and haunting beauty of Venice’s winding alleys, Leonardo’s canals and the open countryside of rice fields and vineyards. The EXPO we envisage will be a Planetary Botanical Garden open to the citizens of Milan and the world. A place for a fresh encounter between farming and the city that will feed Milan literally, spiritually and intellectually. A vast agrofood park built on an orthogonal grid, surrounded by water ways and punctuated by striking landscape architecture.  READ MORE »


Hudson River Science Barge: Hyrdoponic Urban Farming

January 06, 2009 - 08:03:44 PM

Via the website of New York Sun Works - Sustainable Engineering

See the Video 

What is the Science Barge?

The Science Barge is a prototype, sustainable urban farm and environmental education center. It is the only fully functioning demonstration of renewable energy supporting sustainable food production in New York City. The Science Barge grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce with zero net carbon emissions, zero chemical pesticides, and zero runoff. It is powered by solar, wind, and biofuels, and irrigated by rainwater and purified river water.  READ MORE »


Breakthrough in Generating Electricity from Low Temperature Waste Heat

November 26, 2008 - 08:47:52 AM

 

Factories, data centers, power plants--even your clothes dryer--throw off waste heat that could be a useful source of energy. But most existing heat-harvesting technologies are efficient only at temperatures above 150 °C, and much waste heat just isn't that hot. Now Ener-G-Rotors, based in Schenectady, NY, is developing technology that can use heat between 65 and 150 °C.

The company replaces the turbine in a typical electrical generator with a device called a gerotor, which it claims to have made "near frictionless." "If this works, it's so huge," says Bob Bechtold, president of Harbec Plastics, one of Ener-G-Rotors' potential customers. "I've been dreaming about the concept of using [low-temperature waste heat] ever since I first knew what it was about . . . It's all about using what we have more completely."

Ener-G-Rotors' technology is based on the Rankine cycle, in which heated fluid flowing through a tube heats a pressurized fluid in a second tube via a heat exchanger. The second tube is a closed loop; the so-called working fluid flowing through it (a refrigerant with a low boiling point, in the case of Ener-G-Rotors) vaporizes and travels into a larger space called an expander. There, as the name would imply, it expands, exerting a mechanical force that can be converted into electricity.

Instead of turning a turbine, the expanding vapor in Ener-G-Rotors' system turns the gerotor, which is really two concentric rotors. The inner rotor attaches to an axle, and the outer rotor is a kind of collar around it. The rotors have mismatched gear teeth, and when vapor passing between them forces them apart, the gears mesh, turning the rotor.

The company claims that the rotor design is far simpler than that of a turbine, making it potentially easier and cheaper to manufacture, as well as more durable. And the company says that it has invented a proprietary way of mounting the rotor on rolling bearings that makes its movement nearly frictionless.

Reducing the friction means that the rotor turns more easily, so the gas doesn't need to exert as much force to generate electricity. That's why the system can work at lower temperatures, which impart less energy to the gas.  READ MORE »


A Generational Challenge to Repower America

July 23, 2008 - 06:34:23 PM


Al Gore speaks at DAR Constitution Hall on 7/17/08

Ladies and Gentleman:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more - if more should be required - the future of human civilization is at stake.

I don't remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse - much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland's largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an "energy tsunami" that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn't it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that's been worrying me.

I'm convinced that one reason we've seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately - without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective - they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges - the economic, environmental and national security crises.

We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we're holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.
The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis, I have held a series of "solutions summits" with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices. Moreover, they are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses.

But to make this exciting potential a reality, and truly solve our nation's problems, we need a new start.

That's why I'm proposing today a strategic initiative designed to free us from the crises that are holding us down and to regain control of our own destiny. It's not the only thing we need to do. But this strategic challenge is the lynchpin of a bold new strategy needed to re-power America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans - in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge.  READ MORE »


Plasma Gasification turns trash into clean energy

June 07, 2007 - 01:43:55 PM

From the Star Tech Environmental Corp. website:


Startech Environmental is an environment and energy industry company engaged in the production and sale of its innovative, proprietary plasma processing equipment known as the Plasma Converter System(TM). The Plasma Converter System safely and economically destroys wastes, no matter how hazardous or lethal, and turns most into useful and valuable products. In doing so, the System protects the environment and helps to improve the public health and safety. The System achieves closed-loop elemental recycling to safely and irreversibly destroy Municipal Solid Waste, organics and inorganics, solids, liquids and gases, hazardous and non-hazardous waste, industrial by-products and also items such as "e-waste," medical waste, chemical industry waste and other specialty wastes while converting many of them into useful commodity products that can include metals and a synthesis-gas called Plasma Converted Gas (PCG)(TM).

Among the many commercial uses for PCG, is its use to produce "green electrical power," Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) fuels such as ethanol, synthetic diesel fuel and other higher alcohol "alternative" fuels. Hydrogen, for use and sale, can also be separated and recovered from the PCG synthesis gas mixture.

The Startech Plasma Converter is essentially a manufacturing system producing commodity products from feedstocks that were previously regarded as wastes. Startech regards all wastes, hazardous and non-hazardous, as valuable renewable resources. Popular Science Magazine, in its March '07 produced a 9-page, well-illustrated feature article on the Startech Plasma Converter as the "Miracle Energy Machine -- How to Turn Toxic Waste into Clean Power."