I’ve written about algae biofuel a number of times before (see links at the end) and it is definitely a topic that really interests me. I’ll be honest, the idea of growing crops – that could be used for something else – on prime agricultural land for the purpose of making fuel just seems a little out of whack to me.
Ideas like cellulosic and algae biofuel on the other hand just seem to make sense. I think the algae technology in particular holds a special appeal for me due to my background in aquatic biology. I have spent a great many hours with my eyes glued to a microscope, staring at all sorts of algal species, and have always found them to be fascinating organisms – but I certainly never imagined that they could offer so much potential!
Just some of the advantages of using algal biofuel technology include: 1) incredible space-efficiency (far more fuel can be produced per unit area), 2) no soil requirements 3) no fresh water requirements 4) certain algal technologies have even been designed to absorb CO2 from smokestacks!
As exciting as the possibility of harnessing algae’s potential has been, it still seemed like one of those technologies that everyone talks about, and looks great in the lab and on paper – but something nobody is brave enough to actually try commercially. Well, it looks as though that is no longer the case! I caught a post over at EcoGeek that gave me reason to feel optimistic.
Here is an exerpt (link to follow):
Green Fuel Technologies just announced they had begun construction of their commercial scale algae plant while PetroSun announced they’d be taking their pilot algae farm commercial on April 1st.
Now, this obviously isn’t ethanol, with millions of gallons of production…or even cellulosic ethanol, with a wood-waste to fuel plant ready to go online this year, but it is a big deal.
It’s a big deal because algae don’t just create energy from the sun…they create energy from the sun more effectively than anything else save photovoltaic panels. And, as you may have guessed, they’re a heck of a lot cheaper than photovoltaic panels. Green Fuel Technologies is adding another environmental advantage, planning to hook their algae bioreactors up to the smoke stacks from power plants.
The following press release was passed along to us by Elizabeth Aguillera, from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.
Amy Heart, Programs Director
Midwest Renewable Energy Association
Nation’s Premier Energy Education Event Set for June 20-22, 2008
Custer, WI – The Midwest Renewable Energy Association announced the dates for their annual Energy Fair. The MREA is gearing up for their 19th annual Energy Fair, June 20-22, 2008.
Each summer the Energy Fair transforms rural central Wisconsin into the global hot spot for renewable energy education, with about 20,000 fair attendees each year. The Fair is the nation’s largest and longest running energy education event of its kind.
Features of the 2008 Energy Fair:
Over 250 exhibitors – featuring sustainable living and energy products
Over 200 workshops – from introductory level to hands-on education
4th Annual Clean Energy Car Show – featuring demonstration vehicles and workshops
New features for 2008 include the Green Home Pavilion and Sustainable Tables area
2008 Keynote Speakers include Jim Hightower and Torbjorn Lahti
Fun family atmosphere!
The MREA’s Energy Fair is the premier energy event in the nation. “Since 1990, attendees from around the world attend our Fair to learn about sustainable living and clean energy and connect with others,” said Amy Heart, MREA Programs Director. “Fair attendees go home with the tools they need to change the world.”
The Energy Fair is held in Custer, WI just seven miles east of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. For more information about the Fair, contact the Midwest Renewable Energy Association at 715-592-6595 or visit the website: www.the-mrea.org.
We received an email from Marque Cornblatt the other day encouraging us to check out his website, Gomi Style. I decided to pop over for a look and it seemed quite interesting (and fun) so I made sure to earmark it for further investigation.
Cornblatt himself seems to be a colourful (literally – check out his bio page) and interesting individual. According to his bio, he is an artist in San Francisco currently working on his Masters of Fine Arts at SFSU. Here is a bit more from the bio page in case you are curious:
Cornblatt’s robots, machine art and video scuptures have been exhibited at the SF MoMA, San Jose Museum of Art, Downey Museum of Art, and at galleries throughout California and New York. A self described “Promosexual”, Marque has appeared on numerous TV programs and is currently developing a pilot for cable TV called “Gomi Style”, a DIY lifestyle and design show.
Gomi Style seems to center around the idea of building useful and/or aesthetically pleasing creations using ‘waste’ materials – but there seems to be an actual culture built up around the idea. As they point out, Gomi is “more than dumpster diving, it’s a way of life”.
There are some fun YouTube videos posted on the site showing how they’ve put together some of their Gomi goods (such as the cardboard furniture created in the video posted above).
Being keenly interested in waste management myself, I certainly appreciate the idea behind Gomi Style. The fun & entertaining approach they have taken with the videos likely helps to draw in a larger mainstream audience as well.
We received an email from ‘Emma’, who is trying to spread the word about an upcoming presentation (in Toronto) by Geoff Green and Ray Zahab.
Here is the info:
Royal St. George’s College Parent’s Guild Speaker Series presents
Geoff Green and Ray Zahab
“Icebergs to Sand Dunes – Our Changing Planet”
January 28th, 2008
Doors open at 6:30pm ~ Lecture begins at 7:00pm
Tickets are $25 ~ General Admission
At the Bloor Cinema ~ 506 Bloor Street West
“From Icebergs to Sand Dunes” explores the effects of Climate
Change on two desert biomes. Together Canadian adventurers Geoff
Green and Ray Zahab take the audience on a fascinating and inspiring
journey from the Earth’s Polar Regions to the Sahara Desert.
Proceeds “From Icebergs to Sand Dunes” will be given to The
Students on Ice Polar Education Foundation and ONE X ONE.
When we first received an email from Chad Pescod, owner of Enviroresponsible Inc, I was a tad skeptical to be totally honest. We get a lot of e-mails requesting links or suggesting we write an article about this and that (and the other thing), so I figured his email was no different.
My skepticism probably tripled when I tried to access Chad’s site and I found it completely inaccessible – all I saw was a message from the hosting company saying “account suspended”. If I had been in a bad mood, I might have simply left it at that and not bothered to reply to Chad’s email at all, but I at least wanted him to know that I had made an effort. I’m glad I did! Once his website (and presumably email) issues were resolved, he got back in touch to let us know – and of course the rest is history.
I definitely have a soft spot for green entrepreneurs, especially when they are fellow Canadians (and ok, perhaps I’m even more biased towards those located in Ontario – haha), so Chad lucked out across the board. Once I saw that he owned a small green business in Whitby (just outside of Toronto) I definitely wanted to learn more – and of course that has led to writing this post on the blog!
Enviroresponsible is in the business of selling used building supplies, salvaged architectural materials and rain barrels (made from previously-used food-grade barrels). Aside from offering quality recycled goods, the company is providing a valuable service – acting as a community used-goods drop off facility, thus helping to prevent a lot of material from ending up in the landfill.
This is certainly not the first business of its kind to spring up in Ontario, but I suspect that with Chad’s energy and enthusiasm he’ll have no trouble setting himself apart from the rest. Aside from that, there really should be businesses like this in EVERY community (apparently Enviroresponsible is the first of its kind in Durham Region). Just take a look around on garbage day or drive down to your local dump drop-off area and you’ll see exactly how much usable stuff gets chucked in the landfill every week.
Online services like FreeCycle and Gigoit are certainly useful in their own right, but not everyone wants to deal with the hassles of posting listings and dealing with other people etc.
Anyway, we definitely wish Chad the best of luck with his endeavour, and look forward to seeing how Enviroresponsible develops in coming months and years.
I just caught a post on the AIDG blog (from yesterday) re: Google.org’s recently released philanthropic plans for the next 5-10 years. People love to slam Google more and more as they (big “G”) continue to spread their influence FAR beyond the cool search engine that started it all. In a sense I can understand people being wary (what is that saying about “absolute power?”).
Nevertheless, I’ve been pretty impressed with their apparent desire to make the world a better place (as they rapidly take it over – haha!). This new plan is certainly no exception.
Here is the first chunk of the press release on the Google.org site:
In its continuing effort to use the power of information and technology to help people better their lives, Google.org today rolled out five core initiatives that will be the focus of its philanthropic efforts over the next five to ten years. Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), will collaborate with experienced partners working in each of these fields, investing its resources and tapping the strengths of Google’s employees and global operations to advance its core initiatives.
Today’s announcement includes more than $25 million in new grants and investments to initial partners. The resources come from a commitment by Google’s founders to devote approximately 1 percent of the company’s equity plus 1 percent of annual profits to philanthropy, as well as employee time.
“In their first Letter from the Founders (2004), Larry Page and Sergey Brin said that we wanted to ‘make Google an institution that makes the world a better place.’ The work of Google.org will help us do that by applying Google’s strengths in organizing information and scaling technology to these complex issues,” said Sheryl Sandberg, VP Global Online Sales & Operations, and Google.org Board member.
Added Dr. Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org, “These five initiatives are our attempt to address some of the hard problems we as a world need to face in the coming decade. We have chosen them both because we think solving them will make a better, fairer, safer world for our children and grandchildren – and the children and grandchildren of people all over the world – but also because we feel that these core initiatives fit well with Google’s core strengths, especially its innovative technologies and its talented engineers and other Googlers, who are really our most valuable assets.”
This past Monday (January 14th), Chlorox released its ‘Green Works’ line of green cleaning products. I’ve been pretty impressed with the new green products that seem to be appearing everywhere these days, and this is yet another example of green going mainstream.
I guess the major question is whether or not these products are truly green (apart from the colour and the name) – are they produced sustainably, for example? Really, the same question applies to the Methods and Shaklees of the world as well. I have no idea myself.
Whatever the case may be, I’m at least glad to see big businesses moving towards providing a lot more eco-friendly products! I guess we can thank Al and Oprah, among others, for really helping to get the ball rolling!
Anyway, here is some more info about the Green Works line:
Green Works are as effective as conventional cleaners but made from plant-based ingredients. Derived from coconuts and lemon oil, Green Works are a practical way for consumers to live a greener lifestyle without compromising performance. The products are biodegradable, non-allergenic, packaged in bottles that can be recycled and not tested on animals.
The Green Works product line includes products for use in the home, including the kitchen and bathroom that range in price from $2.99 to $3.39:
Green Works Natural All-Purpose Cleaner works on grease, grime, dirt, soils and messes, and is safe on multiple surfaces throughout the kitchen and bathroom including counters, appliances, stainless steel, sealed granite, chrome, cooktop hoods, sinks and toilets.
Green Works Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner cuts through filmy residue, and is safe on multiple surfaces throughout the kitchen and bathroom including glass, mirrors, appliances and stainless steel.
Green Works Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner removes rust, mineral deposits, and hard water, and is safe for plumbing and septic systems.
Green Works Natural Dilutable Cleaner works on grease, grime, and dirt, and is safe on multiple surfaces throughout the kitchen and bathroom including non-wood floors, counters, sinks, stoves, garbage cans and toilets.
Green Works Natural Bathroom Cleaner works on tough stains like soap scum, hard water, and rust, and is safe on multiple bathroom surfaces, including counters, sinks, tubs, tiles, and shower doors.
Just so you know, Steve and I will be testing Green Works out at some point, and we’ll be sure to write about it on the blog!
The most recent edition of the Springwise e-newsletter just arrived in my e-mail inbox, and as per usual I gave it a quick glance to see if there were any interesting ‘eco & sustainability’ entries. Also as per usual, they did not disappoint.
The article that caught my attention this week is entitled: “Sustainable Living, Miniaturized“, and describes a very cool educational model kit that allows children (a ‘big kids’ alike) to build their own mini sustainable home! The kit is made by Thames & Kosmos.
Man oh man do I ever wish they had stuff like this when I was a kid!
Here is a blurb from the Springwise article:
One day, many new full-sized homes may resemble the Power House. The USD 149.95 miniature model from science-kit distributor Thames & Kosmos comes with a working green house, solar panels, a wind mill and a desalinization system. The kit’s aim: teach children what it’s like to live off the grid, and get them (and their parents) to “consider a life without fossil fuel.” To make the experience more realistic, the user manual incorporates a storyline about high-tech pioneers inhabiting a small island who must make use of limited resources to survive. The 70 experiments and 20 building projects that form part of the kit mimic the tasks the kit’s fictional pioneers must perform.
(be sure to check out the original article via the link provided earlier)
Thames & Kosmos also offer a couple interesting looking fuel cell vehicle kits as well – again, very cool stuff!
If your kids have any sort of leaning towards the sciences or technology, be sure to keep Thames & Kosmos in mind for next years Christmas shopping!
Happy New Year everyone!
As mentioned previously, despite moving the Winter Composting Extravaganza to the Compost Guy blog this year, I still want to keep everyone updated on my progress over here (for the benefit of anyone who might be interested, but has not been keeping tabs on happenings over at the other site).
I’m happy to report that everything has been going very smoothly thus far! I learned a lot from my mistakes last year, and feel quite confident that I’ll be able to compost all winter long, thanks to my new insulation system and improved techniques. We have had a LOT of snow and many days below the freezing mark. If you followed along last year, you may recall the fact that we barely had winter weather at all until January.
The coldest days are still ahead I’m sure, but the performance of the system has been very impressive! For example – during the last 24 hours our air temperatures have been very cold (we were down below -20C / -4F last night for sure), yet when I took temperature readings inside the bin this morning I found many zones in the + 20C / + 68F range! Not too shabby at all.
Anyway, I’ll definitely provide at least a couple more updates here between now and spring, but if you want to stay completely up-to-date with my progress be sure to check out the Winter Composting page over at CompostGuy.com.