Sunday, June 3, 2007

5. Garbage/Garbage disposal

(compost, wastewater treatment (graywater, other kinds of waste water), ruminant foraging, etc.)

Eben Bayer: Are mushrooms the new plastic?
9:05 min

"Product designer Eben Bayer reveals his recipe for a new, fungus-based packaging material that protects fragile stuff like furniture, plasma screens -- and the environment. Eben Bayer is co-inventor of MycoBond, an organic (really -- it's based on mycelium, a living, growing organism) adhesive that turns agriwaste into a foam-like material for packaging and insulation."

Get rid of garbage the old fashioned way. Very old. About 3 billion years old. Turn it to mycelium and then watch everything grow sustainable from the novel pristine base. Like the runners of mycelium, the use of mycelium for garbage removal has many 'organic factory' aspects for other connects to the commodity ecology of a local area.

Ideally, this entire category of garbage would disappear when commodity ecology was working properly in smooth pass-offs from one area to another--without wastes or iteratively mounting ecological damages in the locations where humans live, grow things, mine, or whatever.

The below video however is a brilliant cross-over example mixing several consumptive use categories at once: waste remediation, energy generation, and water purification all in one! The application is mentioned near the close of the video though the whole video is interesting. Imagine a 'wastewater treatment plant' that was the local energy plant as well. This does it.

Given that human waste streams like fecal coliform pollution will always exist, some form of remediation will likely always be there. This one is modular, localizable to a watershed, and thus an ingenious application of sustainable technology. It makes use of an energy technology's by-product effects (clean water and energy) to conduct waste water treatment. Talk about solving many issues at once!

Oxy Hydrogen Process (Water Fuel Cell)
8:25 min

Another major idea that has localization capacities for garbage 'REmoval' (stress on 're' and moving) is mycelium. Mycelium is an excellent base for starting the commodity ecology, because literally it was the basis for all land base life: the first land dwellers that prepared everything chemically for soil formation that other creatures that was utilized as the base of life. See this short stunning video, below. Just put in some local mycelium at a garbage dump, and you have a novel factory floor for later commodity ecology. Then take the water and purify it with the oxyhydration process, creating energy as a byproduct.

Paul Stamets: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world (17 minutes)

"Entrepreneurial mycologist Paul Stamets seeks to rescue the study of mushrooms from forest gourmets and psychedelic warlords. The focus of Stamets' research is the Northwest's native fungal genome, mycelium, but along the way he has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas. There are cosmic implications as well. Stamets believes we could terraform other worlds in our galaxy by sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds to create an ecological footprint on a new planet."

Re-basing commodity ecology, the ecologizing of human commodification, on mycelium seems the sounded basis to start. Moreover, it is probably to be expected because mycelium was the first arriving "'life organ' of ecology" that these species would be an integral start for life--and for other commodity ecology paths. It has THE MOST cross-connects or overlaps SO FAR with leads into other categories. It connects very well with:

58. Remediation
16. Herbicides/Pesticides
6. Soils/Dirt/Hydroponics
5. Garbage/Garbage disposal
7. Drugs/Medicines
11. Mycelium based food
72. Packing Materials (for seeding forests, mycelium and seeds embedded)

THAT means mycelium's many local multiple consumptive positional uses makes it a good place to start upon the commodity ecology for branching in multiple directions from this locus. He says 6 ideas. I count seven. Really, all the difficulties with sustainability are already solved. It merely means putting all the pieces together combined with challenging the corrupt developmentalism with the bioregional state institutional arrangements, challenging the arrangements that keep sustainability, sustainable politics, and territorial states from happening.

Note: in practice, remediation of the garbage in human bodies is different materially than this type of garbage remediation. Information on that location of remediation is under drugs/medicines.

Learning about mycelium is the excellent basis of a commodity ecology. And Paul Stamets is an excellent introduction.


ericswan said...

I suppose landfills will always be part of the centralized globalized world economy. If that is the root that is taken, consideration for the water table has to be a main concern. Again, zeolite is the best solution to the problem of landfills polluting the watertable. If landfills were lined with bentonite, all liquids would be contained. This is not a permanent solution to most landfills as liquid waste would soon find it's way through the solids and out into the environment. Much better to "filter" out the reactive parts of polution, the active, reactive agents could be rendered harmless by using a zeolite liner in all landfills. Since zeolite is ubiquitous and found worldwide at a nominal cost, it is well worth the effort to protect the watershed. Zeolite is an aluminum silicate similar to sand and has a capacity to capture all contaminants for up to 10,000 years before the structure breaks down. Zeolite will even hold radioactive isotopes until they break down. Since the half life of lead, mercury, nickel etc. is less than or equal to 10,000 years, zeolites would be an excellent solution to the long term problems of industrial polution. Animal waste treated with zeolite retains the ammonia quotient for use by plants and can be spread on fields. Even when the nitrogen is taken up by the plants, the zeolites will continue to take up water in it's porous membranes and increases water retention better than any other soil conditioner in the world. It's better because it will retain 19% more water than any other soil and because it takes thousands of years for the zeolite structure to break down. The greatest advantage to zeolite is that it can be incorporated into the feed of livestock. In experiments that I have conducted on huge hog farm operations, the hogs are in installations which are not fetid with ammonia stink and the animals which are caged in pens that are not big enough for them to turn around in the pen, suffer less from disease as the ammonia in their bodies is carried out in their feces and contained within the crystal structure of the zeolite. The animals require far less treatment by antibiotics. Runoff from farm fields into the watershed does not include the nitrogen component which remains in and on the fields and is contained by the solid structure of the zeolite.

Mark said...

[composting and energy; a lot of fruit goes to waste worldwide in shipment and lost sales and simply because once it gets there no one buys it...]

Aussie scientists go bananas over energy idea

Scientists in Australia have found that rotten bananas could provide enough energy for 500 homes.

A government-funded study is investigating the possibility of using the rotten fruit, says The Guardian.

The idea would see the bananas combined with bacteria to produce methane. Pipes would then take the gas to a turbine which could be plugged into the electric grid.

Tony Heidrich, chief executive of the Australian Banana Growers' Council, said: "It's not a hoax."

He added: "Essentially it's just like a big composting bin. It's a waste product and currently we're not doing anything else with it. This would harness the electrical capacity that it can bring."

However, he said, homes powered by other fruit, like apricots or pineapples, were some way off. "Initially, I think they will stick to bananas, but potentially you could use other fruit," he said.


Bananas Could Power
Aussie Homes
BBC News

Australian engineers have created an electricity generator fuelled by decomposing bananas, and hope to build a full size fruit-fired power station.

At present, much of Australia's annual banana crop goes to waste, because the fruit are too bruised or small.

But rather than just letting them rot, the researchers would like to put the rejects to good commercial use.

If all goes according to plan, a banana-fuelled power plant capable of powering 500 homes could be built.

Mountains of waste

Engineering lecturer Bill Clarke, from the University of Queensland, said he hit upon the unusual idea when the Australian Banana Growers' Council approached him, looking for ways to use a mountain of waste fruit.

"In North Queensland, bananas are abundantly available and could be a great source of renewable energy," Dr Clarke said.

About one third of tropical Queensland's banana crop - which is more than 20,000 tonnes a year - never makes it into the shops.
Normally they are just left to rot on the ground, but Dr Clarke says this damages the soil - and wastes a potentially useful resource.
He has successfully used bananas to generate electricity in the laboratory, and is assessing whether a power plant could be commercially viable.
Dr Clarke lets the bananas decompose in sealed vats and uses the methane from the rotting fruit to power an electricity turbine.
So far so good, but the real test is whether this idea can be a commercial winner.

"We don't know yet whether bananas are a cost-effective energy source," said Dr Clarke. "So my research parameters are designed to discover how long it will take to convert the bananas to methane, and how much methane is produced."
His work involves mashing, pulping and shredding waste bananas to find the most efficient way to make them decompose - as well as adding enzymes to speed things up.

Viable energy

Dr Clarke says he will know by February of next year whether bananas are a viable energy source.
If they are, the banana industry will consider building a banana-fuelled power plant that could bring power to 500 homes.
Electricity generated at the plant would be sold to the national grid, providing banana growers with an additional source of income.
However Dr Clarke admits this technology has a flaw: it takes an awful lot of bananas to generate a small amount of power.
He said: "60kg of bananas are needed to power a household appliance such as a fan heater for 30 hours."

Mark said...

I think it's an awful waste of resources to simply raise things to burn them. Far more appropriate to use waste for biomass energy.

Biomass Could Displace 30% of Petroleum Use

April 25, 2005
Oak Ridge, Tennessee [] Relief from soaring prices at the gas pump could come in the form of corncobs, cornstalks, switchgrass and other types of biomass, according to a joint feasibility study from the departments of Agriculture and Energy.

Global Resource Options

"We wanted to know how large a role biomass could play, whether the United States has the land resources and whether such a plan would be economically viable."

- Bob Perlack, Co-author of ORNL's biomass report.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) report outlines a national strategy in which 1 billion dry tons of biomass would displace 30 percent of the nation's petroleum consumption for transportation. The scenario could supply more than 3 percent of the nation's energy, according to the report, and biomass has already surpassed hydropower as the largest domestic source of renewable energy. Researchers who worked on the study believe much potential remains.

The report, titled "Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply," was sponsored by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renwable Energy, Office of Biomass Program.

"Our report answers several key questions," said Bob Perlack, a member of ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division and a co-author of the report. "We wanted to know how large a role biomass could play, whether the United States has the land resources and whether such a plan would be economically viable."

Nearly half of the 2,263 million acres that comprise the land base of the U.S. has potential for growing biomass. About 33 percent of the land area is classified as forest, 26 percent as grassland, 20 percent as cropland, 13 percent as urban areas, swamps and deserts, and 8 percent as special uses such as public facilities.

Looking at just forestland and agricultural land, which are the two largest potential biomass sources, the study found potential exceeding 1.3 billion dry tons per year. That amount is enough to produce biofuels to meet more than one-third of the current demand for transportation fuels, according to the report.

Such an amount would represent a six-fold increase in production from the amount of biomass produced today, and the increase could be achieved with only relatively modest changes in land use and agricultural and forestry practices, the report states.

"One of the main points of the report is that the United States can produce nearly 1 billion dry tons of biomass annually from agricultural lands and still continue to meet food, feed and export demands," said Robin Graham, leader for Ecosystem and Plant Sciences in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division.

The benefits of an increased focus on biomass include increased energy security, as the U.S. would become less dependent on foreign oil, a potential 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an improved rural economic picture.

Current production of ethanol is about 3.4 billion gallons per year, but that total could reach 80 billion gallons or more under the scenario outlined in the report. Such an increase in ethanol production would see transportation fuels from biomass increase from 0.5 percent of U.S. consumption in 2001 to 4 percent in 2010, up to 10 percent in 2020 and 20 percent in 2030. In fact, depending on several factors, biomass could supply 15 percent of the nation's energy by 2030.

Biomass consumption in the industrial sector could increase at an annual rate of 2 percent through 2030, while biomass consumption by electric utilities would double every 10 years through 2030. During the same time, production of chemicals and materials from bio-based products would increase from about 12.5 billion pounds, or 5 percent of the current production of target U.S. chemical commodities in 2001, to 12 percent in 2010, 18 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2030.
For further Information

* Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry (.PDF)

Please Note: does not endorse the sites behind these links. We offer them for your additional research. Following these links will open a new browser window.

reader comments on this story
post a new comment

-- Guest User, April 25, 2005
"biomass would displace 30 percent of the nation's petroleum consumption"

Someone tell what is the dollar value of "30 percent of the nation's petroleum consumption"
It's never going to happen as long as the Bush League Oilmen control this country

-- Guest User, April 26, 2005
You can lead a Texan to a dry oil well but you can only expect him to pump two fluids,
alcohol and more oil...

-- Bill Yerkes, April 27, 2005
Hybrid cars using E85 ethanol from cellulose is already happening. This combination of non-government planned events (Japanese auto makers and US farmers) is already happening. This government report simply points out how clever people are using solar energy falling on the US land mass.

Add Your Comment;jsessionid=ams4HQgHFRrh

Mark said...

This unfortunately cycles back into a bio-oil use, though I'll post it here anyway. That what else are you gonna do with the 'gunk' that he talks about? An interesting use of current internal combustion engines off sheer waste can thus be accomplished, though still I think for the energy category, there are other more etherially nice options.


"This is tremendous," Baskis said in the Kansas City Star. "From the tests we've run in our pilot, we know that if we took all the agricultural wastes (in America) and converted them into oil we could make 12 billion barrels per year."

With the U.S. using, on average, 19.4 million barrels a day, such a full-scale conversion could take a big chunk out of the need to import our oil.

Though for the pragmatic point that simply burying all this biological stuff would go to waste (the toxic computer parts I think we could leave out of their mix!), this is an interesting cycle they are starting to create.


newswire article reposts oregon & cascadia 09.Jun.2003 07:00
energy & nuclear | environment | sustainability

Oil from Garbage?

A company claims its process can mimic the Earth's geothermal activity and turn any type of waste into oil, with no harmful pollutants

This was reposted from, a website that compiles coverage of environmental issues of concern in the Pacific Northwest.


Turkey guts, old tires, medical waste, obsolete computers [?! that would be highly toxic!], sewage, plastic bottles, cornstalks, household garbage, paper-pulp effluent, and livestock refuse.

What does all this stuff have in common? Stick any of it into one of Changing World Technologies' machines and -- through a process that the company claims is 85 percent energy efficient and produces zero harmful pollutants -- out comes oil.

"This is a solution to three of the biggest problems facing mankind," said Brian Appel, CEO of Changing World Technologies, to Discover Magazine. "This process can deal with the world's waste. It can supplement our dwindling supplies of oil. And it can slow down global warming."

Through what's known as a "thermal depolymerization process," or TDP for short, Changing World says it can turn just about anything -- even biological weapons waste such as anthrax spores -- into a golden-brown liquid that closely resembles crude oil, which can then be refined into heating oil, diesel fuel or gasoline. And the only byproduct of the entire process is water, which the company says can be discharged to a municipal sewer system in compliance with laws.

Imagine: no more Middle East oil, toxic waste, hog farm manure run-off, or massive piles of used tires. Instead, feed the detritus into one of a number of TDP plants scattered across the country and the results are three commodity-valued materials: oil, clean-burning gas, and purified minerals that can be used as fuels, fertilizers or manufacturing chemicals.

Sound too good to be true? Many doubters thought so, until the company's Philadelphia pilot plant started converting up to seven tons of various waste into oil, the first large-scale demonstration of the technology's potential. That success soon drew the interest of private investors, who have added $40 million to help move the process along. The federal government has also put $12 million into the venture.

"We will be able to make oil for $8 to $12 a barrel," said Paul Baskis, the inventor of Changing World's patented process, in Discover. "We are going to be able to switch to a carbohydrate economy."

The next phase of the company's test of the technology will be in Missouri, a football field away from one of ConAgra Foods' Butterball turkey processing plants, where Changing World is building a larger version of its Philadelphia test plant.

[see, this is just going to institutionalize all that nasty scale issue that has its own externalities in other areas though..., ideally of course the entire CATEGOERY HERE would disppear, similar to William McDonough's design ideas.]

Funded in part by a $5 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, the two companies anticipate the $20 million facility will process more than 200 tons of turkey fats, bones, and feathers every day.

"This plant will make 10 tons of gas per day, which will go back into the system to make heat to power the system," said Changing World's Appel in Discover. "It will make 21,000 gallons of water, which will be clean enough to discharge into a municipal sewage system.

Pathological vectors will be completely gone.

It will make 11 tons of minerals and 600 barrels of oil, high-quality stuff, the same specs as a number two heating oil. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't even consider us waste handlers. We are actually manufacturers -- that's what our permit says. This process changes the whole industrial equation. Waste goes from a cost to a profit."

As Discover Magazine's story notes, the ConAgra facility represents a key opportunity for the livestock industry, which typically sends its waste to rendering plants that make animal feed and fertilizer from the waste -- essentially making food for animals from other animals.

But with the onset of mad cow disease and other livestock pathogens, the practice is coming under heightened scrutiny.

Europe has already completely banned the practice, and the United States may be close behind with its own increased restrictions, which could be a big boon for Changing World's TDP concept.

"This is tremendous," Baskis said in the Kansas City Star. "From the tests we've run in our pilot, we know that if we took all the agricultural wastes (in America) and converted them into oil we could make 12 billion barrels per year."

With the U.S. using, on average, 19.4 million barrels a day, such a full-scale conversion could take a big chunk out of the need to import our oil.


The thermal depolymerization process essentially mimics and speeds up what the earth already does over millions of years -- convert hydrocarbon-based waste into oil. Fossil fuels as we know them were produced when the long, complex molecular chains of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon found in long-dead animal and plant life was pressure-cooked by the earth's geothermal activity, yielding shorter-chain petroleum hydrocarbons. Changing World's TDP concept does the same thing, but faster. Plus, it claims it has improved on previous efforts by being able to handle wet waste, which is troublesome because producing enough energy to dry out the biological waste that's used often exceeds the energy value of the oil that's produced.

"The chief difference in our process is that we make water a friend rather than an enemy," said CEO Appel in Discover. "The other processes all tried to drive out water. We drive it in, inside this tank, with heat and pressure. We super-hydrate the material."

Robert Brown, an engineering professor at the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies at Iowa State University, told the Associated Press that he'd be surprised if Changing World Technologies could make their fuel at an affordable price, due to the wet waste problem.

Appel acknowledged his company's process isn't competitive with crude oil just yet, but envisions the price dropping as the TDP technology shows more promise. The ConAgra plant in Missouri will need to spend $15 a barrel turning turkey waste into oil, compared with about $13 a barrel for small exploration and production companies and $5 for a major oil company.

An interesting angle on the new technology, however, is its potential impact on the global warming front.

Detractors of the TDP idea argue that it only furthers our dependence on a hydrocarbon-based economy, rather than helping achieve a shift to a hydrogen economy that leaves carbon entirely out of the picture. But the company argues that with a major move toward adopting TDP technologies, oil that's already underground will be allowed to stay there. Keeping that oil below the earth's surface would help realign a balance in the global carbon cycle, which has been thrown out of whack by our extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

With TDP, all the "accouterments of the civilized world -- domestic animals and plants, buildings, artificial objects of all kinds -- would then be regarded as temporary carbon sinks," reports Discover. We wouldn't be overdrawing our carbon bank account, so to speak. Instead, "the only carbon used would that which already existed above the surface," which would help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that's already accumulated in the atmosphere.

But as with any other new technology, there'll be trade-offs and most likely unforeseen consequences that are tough to ferret out when initially flush with the potential promise of a world-altering idea.

For instance, in one point brought up in an online discussion on, if TDP is adopted widely, there'll no doubt be a drop in waste entering the environment. But if waste is no longer considered a "problem" thanks to TDP plants, it could possibly lead to an explosion of "throwaway" consumer items, producing an environmental strain on the production, not disposal, side of the equation.

Regardless of the potential impacts -- beneficial or otherwise -- Changing World's technology, if it proves successful, indeed has the potential to change the world. In conjunction with other advances in alternative energy technologies, the TDP concept will take its place among a new set of ideas that may someday help us get our power from somewhere besides underground.

homepage: homepage:

add a comment on this article
If only it were true .... 09.Jun.2003 08:24

No doubt they've also got the patent on the secret 200 MPG carburetor we've all heard about ... unless that's still in GMC's secret vaults.

... 09.Jun.2003 09:00
this thing here

i appreciate the fact that this process turns waste into something useful.

but at the same time, more hydrocarbons creating more little explosions inside 100 year old fuel-air-valve engines, releasing quantites of soot, smog, carbon dioxide and all the rest, doesn't exactly seem like much of major step forward. as long as car and truck engines keep spewing exhaust, there's going to be a negative impact on the environment. regardless of where the hydrocarbon fuels come from.

and i think to say that dwindling supplies of oil is a catastrophe waiting to happen (and therefore we must find more oil) is only true if we think we should keep using oil forever and ever and ever, because we stubbornly believe there is absolutely no other way to make cars move from point a to point b and create energy. i find this desperate clinging to oil to be sad and utterly regressive, and totally contrary to the idea of progress, human ingenuity, and new technology.

there will never be an economy and a society anywhere on the face of the earth that will be totally hydrocarbon free. hydrocarbons will always have their uses. so perhaps this idea of converting waste into oil would best be put to use in creating such a "non-car engine" supply, let's say for plastics, for jet fuel, for industrial uses and the like. RATHER THAN just being another source (and another excuse) for hydrocarbon car engines, because somehow we mistakenly and regressively think there is absolutely no other way to get cars from point a to point b.

As long as we're on the subject 09.Jun.2003 09:47

I tend to agree with what you've said and it brings up a point that's always puzzled me. Forgive me if I don't state this well, but ...

It seems that one of the most often stated arguments here against SUV's is that they are contributing to the depletion of the worlds oil supplies. At the same time, our dependence upon those supplies is decried as a bad thing. So, why be upset with SUV's on the grounds that they consume too much oil ... Isn't that particular argument self-contradictory?

Yes, yes 09.Jun.2003 15:48

SUV's consume loads of oil. But remember, in Soviet Russia, SUV's consume you!

Hydrocarbon Economy 29.Jun.2003 16:07
Paul T. Baskis

I would like to make this point to those who spout off how wonderful the world would be if we just used hydrogen. If you take a sample of the air outside the building you are in, you will not find even one molecule of hydrogen. The amount of hydrogen is below detection levels. This is due to the fact that the earths gravitational field is not strong enough to hold hydrogen in molecular form. It is boyed up to the top of the atmosphere and blown away by the solar wind. Or, it may possibly find an ozone molecule and combine to form water again. this would cause rapid destruction of the ozone layer. Carbon is the natural energy currency of the earth and it is this way due to the fact that all form carbon can exist in are retained by the earths gravity. Therefore, when energy from the sun is introduced into he earth geological system it drives all elements in a cycle from high density to low density and back again, unless the compound is so light that it is lost due to the lack of gravitational attraction.

There is no hydrogen cycle on the earth and it will be tragic if man tries to start one. Mankind will turn the earth into another Mars due to the lack of hydrogen to form water. Many times people misunderstand that which seems aesthetically pleasing with that that is ecologically pleasing.

Thank you for this oportunity to enlighten you



Don't dis the truth! 02.Aug.2003 16:21
Mr. "Dont' hate the energy solutions, when they come."

The guy who made this process was on Fox News, just the other day, on their financial show, with Neil Cavuto. They have a poultry processing plant that is nearly all hooked up for the first plant- and keep in mind, it is the first plant, so it will get more effecient, and better, over time. Just remember, no human being will ever fly, only birds and insects can fly. If God had wanted man to fly, he would have given man wings, right?

Wrong. We will see the end of oil taken from the ground, and that's the first step to us finding other, more advanced and green-friendly sources of energy. Of course, for many of the supposed environmentalists today, there is nothing to do but complain, all the time. What a sad state we've reached, when someone makes an improvement (turning trash into something that at LEAST is useful- 1)energy source 2) disposes of trash 3) can stop oil exploration) and nobody wants to believe it, or do anything but insult it. It's time for the Greens to learn to be something, anything, besides simply bitter protesters.

Unfortunately, this can't be the whole story 24.Aug.2003 11:37
Ima Sori

Without wishing to distract from all the benefits this technology might have, the authors do not mention what happens to the non-carboniferous waste that's dumped in the process. The author mentions old tires and even computers being turned into oil. I doubt it. There are a lot of metals in our waste, and they can't simply disappear in the process. The chemistry doesn't add up. So there must be side products that still must be disposed of. I don't doubt that turkey wastes can be transformed, but not the steel in steel radial tires, or the cadmium in batteris, or the numerous other metals in old computers.
Still, getting rid of turkey bones is a great step forward :-)

You are sorry Sori 17.Sep.2003 18:49

Dear sori,

You would have failed the Organic I I teach for sure. Plastics, like those in PC's which you think can not be turned into oil, are made out of hydrocarbons (which come from petroleum). Basically the difference between oil and plastics is the length of the hydrocarbon chain. (Note there usually are some things added to the end of the chain in plastics)

You simply need to apply heat and those long chains start breaking into little ones. Refine the process enough and making oil should be easy. The metals will no doubt drop out of the solution and be recycled and sold. Again pulling metals out of solution is easy. (You can even pull gold out of ocean water with the right equipment.)

I hope they succeed for one reason to help reduce the size of landfills, which in turn would also reduce the amount of methane that floats out of every landfill in the world and really hurts the Ozone layer. Additionally did you know the highest point in Florida is a landfill? Please tell me again why we don’t need this technology? Oh and to tell the Saudis to go pack sand would be nice too!

Mark said...


metal/iron waste solutions--turn them into methane

high pressured iron/limestone mixes into methane hydrocarbons

Hydrocarbon Heresy
Rocks into Gas

Geologists have long believed that the world's supply of oil and natural gas came from the decay of primordial plant and animal matter, which, over the course of millions of years, turned into petroleum.

Two diamond anvils, each about 3 millimeters high, in a diamond anvil cell. They compress a small metal plate that holds the sample.
The device can generate pressures greater than those in the center of the earth (3.6 million atmospheres) The methane generation experiments use pressures in the 50-100,000 atmosphere range, corresponding to the earth's upper mantle.
--Photograph courtesy of Dudley Herschbach

But new research coauthored by Dudley Herschbach, Baird research professor of science and recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry, questions that thinking.

Published last fall in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study describes how investigators combined three abiotic (non-living) materials -- water (H2O), limestone (CaCO3), and iron oxide (FeO) -- and crushed the mixture together with the same intense pressure found deep below the earth's surface.

This process created methane (CH4), the major component of natural gas.

Herschbach says this offers evidence, although as yet far from proof, for a maverick theory that much of the world's supply of so-called fossil fuels may not derive from the decay of dinosaur-era organisms after all.

Herschbach became interested in the origins of petroleum hydrocarbons while reading A Well-Ordered Thing, a book about the nineteenth-century Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, who developed the periodic table.

Written by Michael Gordin '96, Ph.D. '01, a current Junior Fellow, the book mentions a theory long held by Russian and Ukrainian geologists: that petroleum comes from reactions of water with other abiotic materials, and then bubbles up toward the earth's surface. Intrigued, Herschbach read further, including The Deep, Hot Bio-sphere by the late Cornell astrophysicist Thomas Gold.

An iconoclast, Gold saw merit in the Russian and Ukrainian view that petroleum has nonliving origins.

He theorized that organic materials found in oil -- which most scientists took as a sign that petroleum comes from living things -- may simply be waste matter from microbial organisms that feed on the hydrocarbons generated deep in the earth as these flow upward.

Another of Gold's assertions about methane and oil really caught Herschbach's attention.

"He said there wasn't much chance that you could do a laboratory experiment to test this," Herschbach reports. "And I thought, 'Holy smoke! We could do this with the diamond anvil cell.'"

Long interested in how molecules behave under high-pressure conditions, he contacted Russell Hemley, Ph.D. '83, a former student now at the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, to suggest the methane experiment. Together with Henry Scott of Indiana University and other researchers, Herschbach sought to create the same conditions found 140 miles below the earth's surface, where temperatures are scorching and pressures mount to more than 50,000 times those at sea level. "It's a great pressure cooker," he explains.

The diamond anvil cell, developed at the Carnegie Institution, can create the same pressures found as far as 4,000 miles beneath the earth's surface.

The cell employs two diamonds, each about three millimeters (roughly one-eighth-inch) high, which sit with their tips facing each other in hardened precision frames that are forced together, creating intense pressure in the small space between the tips. Diamonds are an ideal material for such experiments, Herschbach explains.

As one of the hardest substances on earth, they can withstand the tremendous force, and because they're transparent, scientists can use beams of light and X-rays to identify what's inside the cell without pulling the diamonds apart.

He notes that previous experiments by Russian scientists arrived at different conclusions because they used an old-fashioned press that had to be opened before any products inside could be analyzed, potentially changing the results.

"The experiment showed it's easy to make methane," Herschbach says.

The new findings may serve to corroborate other evidence, cited by Gold, that some of the earth's reservoirs of oil appear to refill as they're pumped out, suggesting that petroleum may be continually generated. This could have broad implications for petroleum production and consumption, and for our planet's ecology and economy.

But before we begin to think of petroleum as a renewable resource, Herschbach urges caution. "We don't know if a globally significant or commercially significant portion of methane might be formed abiotically from this pressure-cooker business," he says. "Even if we did convince ourselves that a lot of hydrocarbons are formed that way, we don't yet know how long it takes for it to percolate up and refill the reservoirs."

For Herschbach, these exciting research questions have "given me a second scientific childhood." He and his colleagues are eager to return to the lab and find out if even higher pressures will create more complex hydrocarbons, such as butane or propane. The research raises fundamental questions about how scientists determine if a material has living or nonliving origins. It also validates the work of previous scientists. "The fair conclusion," Herschbach says, "is that the views of Thomas Gold and Russian scientists all the way back to Mendeleev need to be taken more seriously than they have been in the Western world."

~Erin O'Donnell

Dudley Herschbach e-mail address:

Harvard magazine

Mark said...

Rock dust mining waste, if appropriate could...

Rock Dust Grows Extra-Big Vegetables
By Paul Kelbie Scotland

The Independent - UK

For years scientists have been warning of an apocalyptic future facing the world. With the prospect of an earth made infertile from over-production and mass reliance on chemicals, coupled with an atmosphere polluted by greenhouse gases there seems little to celebrate. But belief is growing that an answer to some of the earth's problems are not only at hand, but under our feet.

Specialists have just met in Perth to discuss the secrets of rock dust, a quarrying by-product that is at the heart of government-sponsored scientific trials and which, it is claimed, could revitalise barren soil and reverse climate change.

The recognition of the healing powers of rock dust comes after a 20-year campaign by two former schoolteachers, Cameron and Moira Thomson. They have been battling to prove that rock dust can replace the minerals that have been lost to the earth over the past 10,000 years and, as a result, rejuvenate the land and halt climate change.

To prove their point, the couple have converted six acres of open, infertile land in the Grampian foothills near Pitlochry into a modern Eden. Using little more than rock dust mixed with compost, they have created rich, deep soils capable of producing cabbages the size of footballs, onions bigger than coconuts and gooseberries as big as plums.

"This is a simple answer which doesn't involve drastic life changes by anyone," Ms Thomson said. "People don't have to stop driving cars to do this, just spread some rock dust on their gardens. We could cover the earth with rock dust and start to absorb carbon in a more natural fashion which, along with reducing emissions and using a combination of other initiatives, will have a better and faster response."

Before the Thomsons began their "good life" experiment, erosion and leaching were so severe in the glen where they set up home that nothing had been grown there for almost 50 years. The basis of their theory is simple. By spreading a thin layer of the dust over the land, they are able to mimic the earth's glacial cycles which naturally fertilise the land.

Since the last ice age three million years ago, the earth has gone through 25 similar glaciations, each lasting about 90,000 years. "We are 10,000 years into an interglacial - a hiatus between ice ages - meaning modern soils are relatively barren and artificial fertilisers are needed," Mr Thomson said.

"By spreading the dust we are doing in minutes what the earth takes thousands of years to do - putting essential minerals in the rocks back into the earth."

Over the years the couple, who established the Sustainable Ecological Earth Regeneration (Seer) Centre charitable trust in 1997 to test their ideas, have slowly convinced others of their theory. They recently won a grant of almost £100,000 from the Scottish Executive to conduct Britain's first official rock dust trials.

The couple claim the technique may also play a significant role in the fight against climate change as calcium and magnesium in the dust converts carbon in the air into carbonates. Such is the interest in the theory that Nasa in the US is examining it in preparation for growing plants on other planets.

The couple say that the rock dust means that crops don't need water to produce harvests of magnificent vegetables. "It would be perfect for Third World countries that are usually unable to grow crops because the land is so dry," Ms Thomson said. "This could hold the solution for them."

"There is no doubt that, when rock dust is mixed with compost, it has a dramatic effect on crop yields," said Alistair Lamont, president of the Chartered Institution of Waste Management, who is impressed by the Seer experiment. "Future waste strategy is going to rely heavily on the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill, and one of the treatments involved is composting so we need to find a home for that compost.

"Agricultural land is something we need to work on and the benefits of rock dust in combination with compost can be seen at the Seer Centre at harvest time. We need to get farming to take on board the value of remineralisation and re-fertilisation.

Mr Lamont added that evidence showed that, since 1940, the mineral content of vegetables had fallen dramatically in this country. "We might be encouraged to eat a lot of vegetables but many don't contain the quantities of minerals that we need," he said.

2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.

Mark said...

[Gee, next is to make something really useful instead of pollutive out of gasoline...; may be more useful in waste reduction/remediation]

fuel Japanese Make Gasoline From Cattle Dung

Japanese Make Gasoline From Cattle Dung

By KOZO MIZOGUCHI, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 3, 8:37 PM ET

TOKYO - Scientists in energy-poor Japan said Friday they have found a new source of gasoline — cattle dung.

Sakae Shibusawa, an agriculture engineering professor at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, said his team has successfully extracted .042 ounces of gasoline from every 3.5 ounces of cow dung by applying high pressure and heat.

"The new technology will be a boon for livestock breeders" to reduce the burden of disposing of large amounts of waste, Shibusawa said.

About 551,155 tons of cattle dung are produced each year in Japan, he said.

Gasoline extracted from cow dung is unheard of, said Tomiaki Tamura, an official of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency. Japan relies almost totally on imports for its oil and gasoline needs.

The team, helped by staff from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology near Tokyo, produced gasoline by adding several unspecified metal catalysts to the dung inside a container and applying a 30-atmosphere pressure and heat of up to 300 degrees Celsius (572 Fahrenheit), Shibusawa said. Details of the catalysts could not be disclosed, he added.

The team hopes to improve the technology so that it can be used commercially within five years, Shibusawa said.

In a separate experiment revealing another unusual business potential for cow dung, another group of researchers has successfully extracted an aromatic ingredient of vanilla from cattle dung, said Miki Tsuruta, a Sekisui Chemical Co. spokeswoman. The extracted ingredient, vanillin, can be used as fragrance in shampoo and candles, she said.

Tsuruta said the vanillin was extracted from a dung solution in a pressurized cooker in a project co-organized by a Japanese medical research institute.;_ylt=A9FJqaeYog5E1u0A8gxxieAA;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-

Mark said...

Wastewater Energy Of The Future

Wastewater: Energy Of The Future?

Professor Keller and Mr Freguia turn water into watts. Photo credit: University of Queensland.
Brisbane, Australia (UPI) Nov 14, 2005

Professor Jurg Keller at Australia's University of Queensland said he and his colleagues have discovered how to turn wastewater into electricity.

"We're very excited about it," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It has never been achieved before and there is really massive potential in this application."

Keller said the complex process involves extracting the chemical energy from pollutants in wastewater and converting it to electricity using microbial fuel cells.

"It's all happening in a thin biofilm, a sort of slime layer on the electrode where bacteria are growing and directly producing an electrical current," Keller told the newspaper, saying electricity was generated from the slime in much the same way energy is released when wood is burned.

Keller said it is unlikely wastewater will provide power on a large scale. He said the most obvious application is powering wastewater treatment plants, particularly in developing countries or areas with an unreliable power supply.

"This is not a solution to any energy crisis," he added. "It is primarily a wastewater treatment operation, but we're doing it in a way that generates energy, as opposed to using a lot of energy."

All rights reserved. © 2005 United Press International. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by United Press International.. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of United Press International.

Related Links
University of Queensland

Mark said...

[of course all this does is keep unrequired oil institutionalized...though interesting.]

Forget the tiger - put sheep urine in your tank

David Adam, science correspondent
Friday June 10, 2005
The Guardian

A British bus company is testing a new secret weapon that it hopes will help forward its push to cut its polluting emissions - sheep urine.

Stagecoach has fitted a bus in Winchester with a tank containing the animal waste, which is sprayed into exhaust fumes to reduce emissions of harmful nitrous oxides.

Andrew Dyer, managing director of Stagecoach South, said: "It is a novel way of reducing pollution but we believe it will work. There is nothing to worry about - we won't be asking passengers to leave a sample and we won't be carrying a resident sheep at the back of the bus."

The scheme is backed by Hampshire county council as part of an effort to reduce pollution. The bus carried its first passengers last month.

The urine is collected by the fertiliser industry from farmyard waste and refined into pure urea, which is then sold on to be used in the green engine technology. Ammonia from the urea reacts with nitrous oxides in the exhaust fumes and converts them to nitrogen gas and water, which is released as steam.

Mr Dyer said the idea was no laughing matter. "I got some laughs when I told a transport conference in Birmingham that sheep urine could be the key to cleaner vehicles but it is becoming a reality. This is the latest in green technology and we believe it will help make our cities better places to be for the public."

New EU regulations to be introduced in October next year will bring tighter restrictions on emissions, he said.

The urea-injection system was developed by Darlington-based engine manufacturer Cummins.

Andy Wren of Hampshire county council said: "We are running many anti-pollution initiatives, but the sheep urine idea gets the attention."

Mark said...

yet another carbon based fuel Fairchild International Corp. Announces Discovery of Almost Unlimited Inexpensive Natural Gas Substitute
You are here: > News > May 16, 2005

Fairchild International Corp. Announces Discovery of Almost Unlimited Inexpensive Natural Gas Substitute

No airborne emissions from inexpensive process that creates gas from biomass, waste wood, and low-grade coal.

Adapted by Pure Energy Systems News

SynGas Generator

VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA -- SynGas has completed development of its synthetic, low-cost, natural gas production technology. Fairchild International Corporation (OTCBB:FCHL), the holding company for SynGas, is encouraged by the preliminary test results.

The prototype model has already been successfully tested using a number of inputs including low-grade coal, wood waste and other biomass, yielding superior results with lower costs and emissions than currently available technology. The SynGas technology produces electricity and/or pipeline quality synthetic gas, as a replacement for quickly depleting natural gas and oil, at low costs, with the additional benefit of zero airborne emissions.

Anish Somani, Fairchild President said, "Synthetic natural gas "SynGas" has the potential to replace natural gas in powering our communities, homes and industrial plants in the future. Our technology allows us to produce SynGas cheaper than the current costs of processing gas. Our new approach allows us to take the guess work out of exploration activities in an era when traditional fossil fuels have become expensive....."

The prototype unit Model 2 (M-2) has garnered interest from various levels of government and industry worldwide.

Somani stated, "Our technology should propel Fairchild to the forefront of the emergence of a new multi-billion dollar market for Alternative Energy. SynGas' Model 2 gas and synthetic natural gas technology provide a low-cost solution to the supply of gas to America, without discharging harmful pollutants into the environment."

SynGas Energy's technology and products purport several distinct competitive advantages:

* Produce pipeline quality synthetic natural gas using readily available fuels (biomass, waste wood, coal etc.)

* "Waste" heat recycled

* Lower production costs than currently available technologies.

* Less expensive to operate.

* Environmentally friendly. Low or negligible airborne emissions or other pollutants.

* Less than 1/2 the CO2 production per gJ

* Portability: Factory order and move from state to state or country-to-country as and when needed due to the ability to use a variety of fuel sources. For example, an M-2 using wood waste could easily be moved to a coal rich area to produce gas.

* Compact, Scalable Power: M-2's can be constructed on a small scale and expanded as the need arises. This saves money upfront and eliminates the need to order large permanent units until the need arises. SynGas' M-2's can scale from a small town to an entire city.

* Flexible: The M-2 can use almost any carbon based material as an input such as wood waste, coal sludge, low grade coal, and bio waste to name a few. Other technology's can generally only use inputs for which they are purpose built.

* Efficient: The M-2 operates economically for a low cost advantage.

Fairchild International Corp. acquired SynGas Energy Corp. on March 08, 2005. According to its home page, it disposed of all its assets and associated liabilities in order to do so, to seize this alternative energy opportunity.

# # #


* BusinessWire press release (May 16, 2005)
* - Official website


Fairchild International Corporation
Investor Relations
See also

* Biofuels (index at
* PESN (Pure Energy Systems News) - feature stories
* This Week in Free Energy™ - Weekly five minute blurb.

Page posted by Sterling D. Allan May 16, 2005
Last updated May 17, 2005
PES Network, Inc.

Mark said...

Microbe-inspired mining:

Dr. Irving DeVoe spent years studying how microbes capture essential elements such as iron, magnesium, chromium, selenium, copper, and even gold from water.

He then realized that this same process could help humans mine in non-destructive ways.

He learned how to make analogues of the molecules by mimicking the active sites that have the high affinity for various metals.

Now, instead of digging into the earth’s crust and heap-leaching metals with harsh chemicals, his company, MR3 Systems (USA), mines wastewater streams, gathering and purifying the metals that are traditionally seen as pollution.

Mark said...

Soil community-inspired residential wastewater treatment:

The Biolytix Filter is a compact septic system that mimics the structure and function of decomposer organisms along a river’s edge.

In the Biolytix system, worms, beetles, and microscopic organisms convert solid sewage and food waste into structured humus, which then acts as the filter that polishes the remaining water to irrigation grade. The treated water is then distributed through shallow tubes to irrigate lawn and landscape.

The system uses 1/10 the energy of conventional sewage treatment systems, needs no chemicals, and produces irrigation water that is safe for the environment.

Mark said...

Mushroom growing can make (profitable and nutritious) use of agricultural and forest wastes that have little other human use. Some, like morels or truffles, can be so profitable it may make forest preservation lucrative in certain areas.

Mark said...

[Title: Another "Green tech" of recycling waste materials into oil. There is another version of this above that utilizes high pressure cooking to do the same. This version is microwave based.

This is of course hardly optimal because it still relies on thermodynamics based pollution and burning afterwards. However, for a form of recycling of wastes it is useful. Oils can be utilized for more than fuel (which requires bad burning and pollution. They can be lubricants as well. So it's rather "green tech" though only on one side, and with still burning things it is hardly green on the other. It leads to something that is burned and creates pollution though is called green?

For lubricants though it is interesting and more sustainable a solution.

The other interesting point is that it is already commercial.

The other interesting point is that it homes in on particular frequencies of specific materials to do its job of recycling into oil. The microwaving based technologies are similar to the microwaving of steel (far cheaper for energy use to do that than to burn things in steel or metals production). However, with ideas mentioned by Benyus that mining could be conducted without the 'heat, beat, and treat' frameworks using microorganisms that extract metal ions from water (that would make extraction and manufacturing of metals possible without burning or mining), even the microwaving of steel may be superfluous. The other wavelength based tecchnologies are mentioned in electromedicine areas of the medical/drugs category. Look for more there as well.]

Green Tech

Frank Pringle has found a way to [REMEDIATE WASTES AND] squeeze oil and gas from just about anything

I'm not sure if I'm watching a magic trick, or an invention that will make the cigar-chomping 64-year-old next to me the richest man on the planet. Everything that goes into Frank Pringle's recycling machine—a piece of tire, a rock, a plastic cup—turns to oil and natural gas seconds later. "I've been told the oil companies might try to
assassinate me," Pringle says without sarcasm.

The machine is a microwave emitter that extracts the petroleum and gas hidden inside everyday objects—or at least anything made with hydrocarbons, which, it turns out, is most of what's around you. Every hour, the first commercial version will turn 10 tons of auto waste—tires, plastic, vinyl—into enough natural gas to produce 17
million BTUs of energy (it will use 956,000 of those BTUs to keep itself running).

Pringle created the machine about 10 years ago after he drove by a massive tire fire and thought about the energy being released. He went home and threw bits of a tire in a microwave emitter he'd been working with for another project. It turned to what looked like ash, but a few hours later, he returned and found a black puddle on the floor of the
unheated workshop. Somehow, he'd struck oil.

Or rather, he had extracted it. Petroleum is composed of strings of hydrocarbon molecules. When microwaves hit the tire, they crack the molecular chains and break it into its component parts: carbon black (an ash-like raw material) and hydrocarbon gases, which can be burned or condensed into liquid fuel. Pringle figured that some gases from his microwaved tire had lingered, and the cold air in the shop had
condensed them into diesel. If the process worked on tires, he thought, it should work on anything with hydrocarbons. The trick was in finding the optimum microwave frequency for each material—out of 10 million possibilities.

Pringle has spent 10 years and $1 million homing in on frequencies for hundreds of materials. In 2004 he teamed up with engineer pal Hawk Hogan to take the machine commercial.

Their first order is under construction in Rockford, Illinois. It's a 5.1-million microwave machine the size of small bus called the Hawk, bound for an auto-recycler in Long Island, New York. More deals loom:

The U.S. military may use Hawks in Iraq on waste such as water bottles and food containers. Oil companies are looking to the machines to gasify petroleum trapped in shale. [Talk about using an interesting technology for a bad unsustainable idea! We are without a requirement for mining for oil here, though the oil companies want to use the technology that puts them out of business for further extractions of the oil from the ground! Talk about hubris and brazenness.]

Back at the shop, Pringle is still zapping new materials. A sample labeled "bituminous coal" goes in and, 15 seconds later, Pringle ignites the resulting gas. "You see," he says, "why they might want to kill me."

Mark said...

Eric posted in the first comment, "I guess landfills will always be [with us]..." Well, there are examples where landfills are separated out, and then actually turn out a product because they create mulch. This mulch is then purchased by the local community. There are examples in Florida of 'the town dump' owned by the local government actually being just another business in the sales of mulch and fertilizer back to the community.

Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting said...

I really do hope that there would really be more alternatives to landfills. With this growing economy and technology, it would surely be a problem in the future where to put all of the crapped technology we humans have produced.

Anonymous said...

Have you given any consideration at all with translating your current site in to French? I know a several of translaters right here that will would help you do it for no cost if you wanna get in touch with me.

Mark said...

Hello and Bonjour,

If you want to translate the website, I think that would be great. The point is to provide inspiration to the world that sustainability is hardly something "in the future", it is now in many ways. And spreading this word to more languages than English is a great idea.

What do you propose? I guess we can set up another separate website, with multiple editors?

Post here in reply. I get the messages in in my email as well.

Anonymous said...

brinkka2011 says: Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the write-up. It proved to become Pretty useful to me and I am positive to all the commenters here Its always great when you can not only be informed, but also entertained Im certain you had fun writing this write-up.