Woody Harrelson is a co-counder of a company producing high quality paper from left over wheat straw.
With the proliferation of e-readers, tablets and smartphones it certainly feels like the world is printing less but are we?
The paper industry will tell you that, despite downward trends in certain categories, the global consumption of paper products is actually rising. Whether it is growing or not, our global appetite for paper products is still massive with over 400 million metric tonnes (3 billion trees worth) of paper consumed annually.
The numbers are staggering and with 1.6 billion people around the planet depending directly on natural rainforests food, clothing and shelter, can we continue to cut down 3 billion trees per year for paper?
Actor and activist, Woody Harrelson is the co-founder of a company that hopes to reduce this impact on the planet by producing high quality paper from straw left over from the production of wheat. Step Forward Paper, made with 80 per cent wheat straw, is the first paper of its kind to hit shelves in North America.
Two boxes saves one tree:
“Almost half the world’s forests have been cut for paper products,” said Harrelson, “Step Forward Paper is great for our forests, our farmers and our future.”
Harrelson is partners with entrepreneur, Jeff Golfman and former Manitoba finance minister, Clayton Manness in this project that after 15 years of research and development was made available through Staples stores (and online) across Canada and the United States last summer.
Step Forward Paper buys wheat waste from farmers after it is harvested for food, providing the farmers with an extra diversified income.
The paper is currently made in India from straw sourced nearby but the long-term goal for the team is to build a "state-of-the-art, off-the-grid, eco pulp and paper mill" in North America.
Step Forward Paper is an 8.5" X 11", 80% tree-free paper sheet made from wheat straw waste and bleached using an Elemental Chlorine-Free sequence (ECF). The paper is FSC certified by the Rainforest Alliance. It is currently available in North America exclusively from Staples.
DISCLOSURE: Octaform President, David Richardson is a member of the board of directors for Prairie Paper, manufacturers of Step Forward Paper.
We dropped by Paragon Farms this week to check out the progress they've made on their newly rennovated poultry operation. They lined the walls and ceiling of their egg production facility with our Quick Liner wall & ceiling panels.
Here are some photos:
Quick Liner wall & ceiling panels fasten to your structure and instantly transform dark and dingy walls into a clean and bright environment that is resistant to corrosion, fade and dirt.
Extruded from food-grade PVC, Quick Liner can be used in food processing facilities, clean rooms and anywhere that biosecurity is important.
PVC is easy to clean and will not support the growth of mold so you can stop being concerned about the health of your walls and think only about the health of your livestock.
Quick Liner meets all FDA requirements for food safety and is listed as an approved construction material by the CFIA.
Paragon lined their halls and offices with Quick Liner as well. The panels are easy to clean but also help to create a bright and welcoming work environment.
The egg conveyer and sorting system mounted easily through the PVC panels.
The crew also utilized the full array of Quick Liner trim components. These finishing pieces look great but more importantly, they ensure that there are no corners for moisture or contaminants to accumulate in.
Quick Liner comes in a time-saving 18" width and is stocked and ready to ship from locations across North America.
To get a quote, click here:
| Facility rendering of an Impact Bioenergy anaerobic digestion system.
JAN ALLEN, Impact Bioenergy
Jan Allen has been involved in design, construction, and operation of organics facilities since 1989, at Cedar Grove Composting, CH2M HILL, Concept Kinetics, and Harvest Power.
Jan is president of IMPACT BIOENERGY. Formed this year, they intend to empower communities with the best bio-conversion technologies and services available to recycle organic materials into renewable energy and soil products.
He sat down with Octaform this week to talk anaerobic digestion and some of the hurdles it faces in North America.
How did you get into biogas?
My first experience was at Purdue University – we were allowed to do an undergraduate thesis – I chose methane potential via pig waste biogas. My second experience was designing mechanical piping for wastewater digesters. The concept has always been at the forefront of my engineering ideas but it has not always been economically feasible.
The economics have shifted into a much more favorable position. This is partly due to rising costs for alternatives like long distance disposal or recycling at distant composting facilities. It is also partly due to more domestic technology choices that don’t have to be imported from Europe.
A growing number of organizations and cities are aiming for zero waste as a goal. How does anaerobic digestion help accomplish this?
Anaerobic digestion is ideally suited to wet, high-calorie food wastes. These are precisely the same feedstocks that cause operational challenges for composting operations – too much water, not enough pore space, and too much oxygen demand at the beginning of the process. So for multifamily organics and commercial organics especially anaerobic digestion can extract energy and reduce the odour potential of the remaining digestate that goes to composting. College campuses are a great case study in both zero waste and self-generation of energy.
Many campuses and communities have taken the bolder step to both move past 50% diversion and to develop micro-grid power stations on-campus. Even if recycling goals are achieved they don’t account for the environmental impact of exporting waste. Today there are opportunities to avoid the fuel use for hauling and offsite disposal of these materials by creating energy locally from waste streams that would otherwise be wasted.
Converting organic materials into energy and soil on-campus is not only possible, it is more cost-effective and sustainable. With much of the district power and heating infrastructure built into their initial construction, college campuses across North America are moving to micro grid power systems.
For example UC San Diego's 42-megawatt micro grid has a master controller and optimization system and uses different generator sources - photovoltaic solar panels, fuel cells, and natural gas generators - that enable it to cover more than 90 percent of the power requirement at the 1,200-acre campus. The micro grid saves the university some $800,000 a month in energy costs.
Compared to Europe, North America has been slow to adopt biogas as a means of energy generation. What factors are holding back growth in North America?
In North America we generally operate on a market-driven system where lowest cost is overwhelmingly the decision criteria. In Europe the decision criteria was more about EU directives to reduce landfilling and produce renewable energy. These were policies adopted by counties and the European Union.
Renewable energy is tariff-driven in Europe where biomethane power is worth three times as much per kWh ($0.20/kWh in EU vs. $0.07/kWh in US). There are a number of variations on this concept including low-technology need for cooking and lighting fuel - used mainly Asia, India, and Africa; and environmental-control used mainly in North America for wastewater facilities.
The good news is that the supply chain and design/build industry for biogas is starting to grow in North America. That will drive down capital cost. We are still struggling with weak central policy and low energy tariffs but those may be the next barriers to address.
What areas of North America do you foresee growing in AD?
Those areas where there are high waste disposal costs or high electricity prices.
Over the last decade, Cow Power programs in Vermont and BC have attempted to help biogas become economically feasible. Do you believe that AD in North America can be feasible without subsidies or programs?
Yes if the current economics show high waste disposal costs or high electricity prices. It is really site-specific so each project has a unique economic situation. We created two self-evaluation models to help customers evaluate their specific economics (see here). In these tools there is a ‘project specifics’ tab to help collect the data to make a wise decision.
What services does Impact Bioenergy provide? How is Impact Bioenergy different from other firms involved in biogas?
IMPACT BIOENERGY was launched in Seattle in July 2013. We have created a unique business model focused on selling small-scale organic waste energy waste solutions to communities of 5,000 to 50,000 people for the production of renewable energy and valuable, carbon-rich by-products. Our products are pre-fabricated, modular, quickly deployed, and here in Pacific Northwest.
The centerpiece of our game-changing business model is the IMPACT BIOENERGY TECHNOLOGY SUITE: three separate but complementary organics recycling technology modules designed to operate independently or together.
IMPACT BIOENERGY TECHNOLOGY SUITE
• Biomethane production via anaerobic digestion (AD)
• Soil and heat production via composting
• Charcoal, biochar, syngas, and heat production via gasification
The trends and convergence of the global issues we can address underscores the relevancy and timeliness of this offering. Every day, each resident in campus and urban area sends two pounds of valuable organic material to disposal.
IMPACT BIOENERGY is different than other technology providers because it focuses on small scale, standardized, simple, pre-fabricated assemblies to drive down the capital cost of renewable energy systems. Delivery and installation can be accomplished in about 6 months vs. typical concept-to-startup development cycles that require 2-4 years in the industry today. Operating costs are low with near zero inputs of chemicals and consumable materials.
The ultimate success of Impact Bioenergy’s plan lies in our ability to deliver systems that will create “communities” from our customers who enjoy information sharing in the areas of purchasing, operations, and marketing.
IMPACT BIOENERGY have professionals located on the West Coast and East Coast, and in the United States and Canada. The corporate home town is Seattle, Washington
photocredit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors
Where Canada's Farmers Meet
We are heading Woodstock, Ontario for Canada's Outdoor Farmshow.
Celebrating its 20th year in existence, Canada's Outdoor Farm Show is the largest outdoor agricultural show in the country. It offers "one stop shopping" for farmers and highlights the most innovative and technologically advanced agricultural products and services available.
Are you going to be there? Drop by and say hi to Robert in booth AB-7.
Science, without question, has helped farmers to dramatically increase their crop yields over the last century. Some argue, however, that this has come with significant decline in quality. California-based Water Right Technologies (WRT) is hoping to change this.
Photocredit: Alternative Energy
With a few process improvements, Water Right Technologies aims to enhance crop yield and quality.
As mentioned in a recent article by the Worldwatch Institute, today's farmer can grow two to three times as much food as they could on the same plot of land 50 years ago. While crop yields have increased, nutritional quality doesn't appear to have followed suit.
In Still No Free Lunch, a report by Washington State University, researchers found that wheat cultivars grown between 1842 and 2003 had an "11% decline in iron content, a 16 percent decline in copper, a 25 percent decline in zinc and a 50 percent decline in selenium." Chemical inputs have drastically increased the yield of farming over the past 5 decades, while at the same time, robbing produce of its essential nutrients.
With an ever-increasing demand for food, producing the highest possible yields has become central to conventional agriculture. Many farmers, struggling to keep up, have not been eager to change their crop management practices. This is where WRT hopes to come in.
Water Right Technology aids farmers in rebuilding the quality of their soil. As the fundamental aspect of healthy crop growth, soil quality is most negatively affected by regimented chemical inputs. WRT's process begins with a full-spectrum analysis of the current state of soil conducted on the farm in question. The process goes even further by including samples of the water that is being used for irrigation, which is then mixed with collected soil samples. Without realizing, a farmer may conduct their own soil testing but not account for salts or bicarbonates that are present in the irrigation water being used. Crop management programs are then customized based off of the acquired results, and are fitted to improve upon preexisting practices. WRT utilizes the best natural soil amendment products on the market to restore nutrients and microbial communities into the earth.
Backed by more than 40 years of applied agriculture experience WRT has tested many natural soil amendment products, and the two companies they distribute for deliver the most impressive and consistent results when used together. Baicor and Bio S.I. Technology manufacture an extensive line of organic soil amendments to meet the needs of any farmer, and WRT will educate their clients specifically on how each should be used. There have even been cases where farmers have experienced considerably better yields after the complete replacement of chemical inputs with these two brands, and proper implementation. WRT is working to change the way farmers think about producing quality over quantity.
A new funding package will contribute 417 million to Ontario's agri-food industry.
The governments of Canada and Ontario are working to help Ontario’s agri-food industry grow profits, expand markets and manage risk with the launch of a series of funding campaigns. The program, titled “Growing Forward 2”, is comprised of three separate funding initiates; Agriinnovation, AgriMarketing and AgriCompetitiveness.
The Agriinovation program is aimed at supporting new ideas, technology and transfer of knowledge within the food sector, with the goal of increasing the successful commercialization or adoption of agriculture, agri-food and agri-based innovations. Both the AgriCompetitiveness and AgriMarketing programs aim to increase the competitiveness of Canada’s agri-food sector by helping companies adapt to the volatile markets and emerging global and domestic opportunities. In total, the three separate campaigns under the Growing Forward Campaign will provide 417 million dollars in funding to the agriculture and food industry.
“Agriculture is a major contributor to a healthy economy in Ontario and across Canada. These Growing 2 Forward programs will ensure that Ontario farmers and food processors have the tools they need to remain competitive and innovative in new existing markets” said Gerry Ritz, Minister, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Launched on June 26th, funding is now available that will aid Ontario farmers and food processors in identifying strategic priorities, expanding markets, and managing risks.
The program is expected to significantly benefit the food and beverage industry in Ontario. “This is exactly what’s needed for food and beverage processors to push ahead on innovative projects, new product development, .. workforce training and productivity advances,” said Steve Peters, director of the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors.
The support will help small-to-medium sized processors that comprise more than 90 per cent of the 3,000 processor businesses in Ontario.
Ontario’s agri-food industry contributes more than $34 billion to the Ontario’s gross domestic product and provides more than 710,000 jobs.
A local poultry processor recently selected Quick Liner for its facility upgrade. They chose our 18" wide panel (a full 6" wider than most in the industry) to cut installation times.
Here are a few photos of the install in progress; we will post more as we get them!
To learn more about Quick Liner go here.
Welcome to a new segment titled "Onsite with Octaform". This segment will highlight the ability of Octaform to solve its customer’s most difficult problems.
Bringing biogas technology to Canada: CCS-agriKomp
Octaform worked with CCS-Agrikomp, a joint venture between a Canadian based Carbon Control Systems and German based AgriKomp, to supply the forming system to build an Anaerobic Digester in Millbrook, Ontario.
Traditional construction methods for biogas rely on an unprotected concrete tank with an epoxy coating to cover the gasline. CCS-Agrikomp knew this construction method was insufficient for the long term, as A.D. chemicals degrade the structural integrity of concrete overtime. CCS-Agrikomp approached Octaform because they wanted to build a concrete based digester and needed a protective lining that would stand the test of time.
The watertight forms provided the protective barrier between the concrete and the feedstock. This eliminated the ongoing need to epoxy coat a steel or concrete tank.
In addition, CCS-AgriKomp chose to build with the Octaform System because of the ease of assembly.
“The Octaform panels don’t require special trades to assemble and that was a huge cost savings to us.” - Chris Ferguson.
The monolithic design of the Octaform system significantly reduces construction timeframes.
The digester and generator house were built within 4 weeks by the staff of CCS-agriKomp under the direction of Octaform’s Field Services Technician. Today CCS-agriKomp offers farmers plant tours, and turnkey services that include the consulting, planning, construction and commissioning services.
Photo credit: newagecrap
British based Harper Adams University has received a grant to study a made-in-Canada manure treatment technology.
Recently, Livestock Water Recycling Inc. (LWR) announced that its innovative, patent-pending manure management technology, will be studied by British based Harper Adams University. The project will evaluate the technical and economic benefits of LWR's system and its ability to successfully treat digestate from anaerobic digestion.
Harper Adams received funding under the UK WRAP- Driving Innovation in Anaerobic Digestion (DIAD) project. The DIAD project is aimed at identifying and developing technologies and solutions for the improvement of the anaerobic digestion process. The approved project, titled Re-cycling Nutrients and Water from Digestate (ReNWD), will be completed in June.
In the process of anaerobic digestion, the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen produces heat, electricity and a byproduct known as digestate. Digestate is a mixture of nutrients and water which can be used as fertilizer. LWR's technology helps produce more valuable digestate through recycling water and concentrating nutrients.
Scott Kirby, who is responsible for commercial farming operations at Harper Adams, is the project lead for ReNWD. Scott has toured LWR's headquarters in Calgary, AB and operating system sites in Manitoba and New York. Ross Thurston, President of LWR is confident that this study will, "create awareness of this new innovative technology and how it can aid livestock operations in effectively treating their effluent in an environmentally sustainable way".
In operation since 2011, Harper Adams 5 million dollar anaerobic digestion facility, utilizes dairy slurry, pig slurry and food waste to save approximately 13,000 tones of C02 per year, while using digestate for the University's farm and ground operations.
The collaboration between LWR and Harper Adams is part of a growing trend towards innovative technology creating an efficient biogas process. Such technology has recently been featured on this blog including Solutions4C02's Integrated Biogas Refinery technology. Technological innovations by Solutions4C02 and LWR are key to making biogas a mainstay in North America.
LWR is a Canadian-based environmental company which provides sustainable manure treatment technology for the livestock industry. The technology has been awarded a Canadian patent and is patent-pending in seven other countries around the world. LWR currently has operations throughout Canada and the US. The company’s manure treatment system can be placed at hog, dairy, and AD operations. For more information, please visit www.livestockwaterrecycling.com
About Harper Adams University
Harper Adams University is located in Newport Shropshire, UK and it is the UK’s largest center of higher education for rural, land, animal, and food based studies. The University is renowned internationally for the quality of its education, applied research professional short courses and conferences. Over 640 hectares of land is owned by the University and is used to study large-scale commercial farming. For more information, please visit www.harper-adams.ac.uk
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Green Mountain Power's Cow Power Program creates cost incentives for farmers to turn livestock waste into renewable energy through anaerobic digestion. A new ruling by the Vermont Public Service Board will expand this program from a limited territory to Green Mountain's entire service territory.
Green Mountain Power customers across Vermont can now support a pure Vermont form of renewable energy produced by over 10,000 Vermont dairy cows, thanks to a new ruling by the Vermont Public Service Board approving the expansion of the GMP Cow Power Program from the limited territory previously served by CVPS to the entire GMP service territory.
Cow Power was first offered to customers in 2004, as a way to offer new, local renewable energy choices. The GMP Cow Power program currently includes 12 farms, and generates 16 million kilowatthours per year -- enough to completely power 2,200 average Vermont homes.
"We are so excited to be able to offer GMP Cow Power to 90,000 additional Green Mountain Power customers," said Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power. "This program has so many benefits for farms, for the environment, and for Vermont as a whole. The expansion of this program is one more way that we can increase renewable power in Vermont."
To produce Cow Power, farmers feed cow manure into an on-site anaerobic digester. Naturally occurring microbes in the digester convert the waste into several useful byproducts, one of which is methane gas. The methane fuels an engine which drives an electric generator. Heat generated from this process is repurposed to keep the digester warm, and can offset fuel purchases on the farm for hot water and space heating. The energy generated is fed into the GMP electrical system for distribution to customers.
The coarse plant fibers left over are processed through a mechanical separator. These odorless solids can be used to replace sawdust or sand as bedding for the animals. Solids not used for bedding may be further processed and sold as a garden soil. The liquid portion is an enhanced fertilizer used to grow crops to feed the cows.
Matt Maxwell is a farmer at Maxwell's Neighborhood Farm in Coventry, VT, which has been producing Cow Power since 2008. "We joined the program because milk prices were so low, and we were looking for a separate, steady income stream," he said. "It's been great for us. There's the income from the sale of electricity. We're using the dry by-product as bedding for our 750 dairy cows, and we have excess to sell to other farmers and landscapers. With excess heat from the engine we've been able to heat a 2,600 square foot greenhouse where we raise broccoli and greens for the wholesale market all winter, and tomatoes and peppers in the summer. We also heat our machine shop with the excess heat, which means we buy way less heating oil. When people pay a little extra to buy GMP Cow Power, they are helping the environment, and they are helping Vermont farmers stay in business."
Green Mountain Power customers can choose to buy 25%, 50%, or 100% of their energy from Cow Power, and pay an extra four cents per kilowatt hour premium. If an average Vermont household using 600 kwh a month decided to get 25% of their energy from GMP Cow Power, they would pay an extra $6 per month.
A similar program has been launched in British Columiba, Canada. The B.C. Agricultural Research and Development Coproration (ADRCorp) has created a program under which B.C.'s electricity consumers have the option to buy thier electricty from on-farm A.D. systems. The program, inspired by the Vermont initaitive, provides local renewable energy to B.C., while lowering carbon footprints.
The programs in Vermont and British Columbia are postive signs for biogas in North America. However, the industry faces signficant challenges. One such challenge is finacial risk. For example, under Cowpower Vermont, after grants, the farm still has to pay for more than half the cost of an average $2 million dollar digester project, which would usually be amortized over a 10-year period. Gross income from biogas energy for a 1000-head farm averages only $300,000 a year, about 7.5 percent of a dairy’s total gross revenue. Given that the life expectancy of a given system runs roughly only 20 years, invesment in Biogas is still a risky proposition.
While current North American industry is largely dependant on subsidies, innovation aims to change this. New technology including the growth and sale of biogas byproducts, increases profitability by adding additional revenue streams. Also, new and innovative tank building methods help expand the lifecyle of each project, bolsterring profitability. Governemnt and not-for-profit subsidies combined with technological advancements could hold the key to creating a more viable biogas market in North America.
Interested in learning more about Anaerobic Digestion? Download "AD-101":