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Author Topic: Plant Based Products for a Sustainable civilization  (Read 2315 times)

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AGelbert

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Plant Based Products for a Sustainable civilization
« on: November 06, 2013, 03:30:24 pm »
New Recyclable & Biodegradable Building Material
Based On Plant Starches Developed 



A novel new form of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) that’s both biodegradable and recyclable can be created by substituting a resin derived from common plant starches, such as those in potatoes, for the urea and formaldehyde that are typically used in MDF.

The new creation is thanks to research from the University of Leicester. The researchers behind the new resin think that the development of the new recyclable MDF will help to reduce the enormous waste that typically accompanies the use of MDF — as it stands now, most of the huge quantities of MDF produced annually in the UK ends up in the incinerator or the landfill within a year or two, as it cannot be recycled.

Given that most MDF in the UK is used primarily for short-term applications in the retail sector, the development of an MDF-substitute that can actually be recycled could do a great deal to help reduce the quantity of waste produced by the retail sector, according to the researchers.
The University of Leicester provides more info:

MDF is made by breaking down bits of wood into wood fibres, which are then pressurized and stuck together with resin and wax. The resin is currently composed of urea and formaldehyde (UF), the use of which is restricted due to health concerns. Professor Abbott’s new resin means that the use of UF is avoided and therefore so too are the associated concerns.

With the aid of colleagues at the Biocomposites Centre, Bangor University and the Leicestershire-based retail design company Sheridan and Co, his team have produced starch-based boards which have been made into retail display units. Professor Abbott’s new material is easier to manufacture and easier to work with than current MDF boards.


The experimental part of the research was led by Dr Will Wise, who stated: “It has been a technological challenge to develop material with the correct properties, but it is a great thrill to see the finished boards which look identical to the MDF which is so commonly used.”

The new material is easier to manufacture than existing MDF as the components are easily pre-mixed and only set on the application of heat and pressure; end user feedback suggests it is also easier to work with than currently available MDF boards.

The researchers recently won the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation for the new recyclable MDF, after receiving the award, Professor Abbott stated: “The Brian Mercer Award is fundamental in enabling us to take this project forward to the next stage; it means we can now scale up our process from laboratory to the full scale manufacture of a product that I hope will revolutionize industries dependent on MDF and provide them with a more environmentally-friendly alternative.”
In total, the award will provide the researchers with about £172,347 — nearly all of which will be used “to create a supply chain to create prototypes for the point-of-sale market.”

The research team is also currently in the process of developing new fillers for plastics based on orange and banana peels and eggshells.


Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/11/06/new-recyclable-biodegradable-building-material-based-plant-starches-developed/#4bi3ceUeBVFX3RQM.99
« Last Edit: April 28, 2014, 08:56:10 pm by AGelbert »
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AGelbert

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Dandelions Into Rubber — Making Rubber From Dandelion Juice


The first-ever modern pilot system for the extraction of large quantities of tire rubber from dandelions is currently in the process of being built by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, in cooperation with Continental. The pilot project is possible thanks to a number of important improvements to cultivation and production engineering over the past few years.

It’s been known for quite a long time that dandelions, in addition to being an excellent source of nutrition, and to possessing notable medicinal qualities, are an excellent source of latex rubber. The researchers think that the new pilot project is an important step towards the goal of a rubber-independent Europe — potentially, in the future, no longer having to rely on imports from tropical countries for the important resource.


Scientists from Fraunhofer have transformed the ordinary dandelion from a weed into an agricultural crop that produces an abundance of natural rubber.  Image Credit: © Fraunhofer IME
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft provides more:

The joint project officially started at the beginning of October. The goal is to develop the production process over the next five years so that Continental can manufacture tires made from dandelion rubber. This is why molecular biologists at IME and the research department of the automotive supplier built a pilot facility in Münster that is capable of producing natural rubber by the ton.

At the same time, they cultivate several hectares of a dandelion variety which is particularly rich in rubber. To optimize the raw material content and the properties of the blossom, the researchers concurrently grew new varieties with a higher proportion of rubber and biomass yield.

The first prototype test tires made with blends from dandelion-rubber are scheduled to be tested on public roads over the next few years. The natural product obtained in this manner exhibited the same quality as the conventional rubber from rubber trees that has been imported from subtropical countries and used in tire production. However unlike the conventional rubber, it could be harvested more cost-effectively, better cultivated and grown in Germany as a sustainable raw material — even on land areas not previously suited for agricultural crops.

“Through the most modern cultivation methods and optimization of systems technology, we have succeeded in manufacturing high-grade natural rubber from dandelions — in the laboratory. The time is now right to move this technology from the pilot project-scale to the industrial scale. We have found an expert partner in Continental, with whom we now want to create tires that are ready for production,” states Professor Dr Rainer Fischer, head of institute at IME in Aachen.

“We are investing in this highly promising materials development and production project because we are certain that in this way we can further improve our tire production over the long term,” explains Nikolai Setzer, the Continental managing director who is responsible for the tires division. “It’s because the rubber extraction from the dandelion root is markedly less affected by weather than the rubber obtained from the rubber tree  :o.

Based on its agricultural modesty, it holds entirely new potential — especially for cropland that is lying fallow today. Since we can grow it in much closer proximity to our production sites, we can further reduce both the environmental impact as well as our logistics costs by a substantial margin. This development project impressively demonstrates that, with regard to material development, we have not reached the end of our potential.”

“With this new technology, we can achieve a sustainable edge for the German automotive market. On the one hand, it makes the domestic economy less dependent on the importing of raw materials.

On the other hand, it reduces the transportation routes, and thus improves the CO2 balance,” notes Dr Ing Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/11/06/dandelions-rubber-making-rubber-dandelion-juice/#Z6DGAvC8BzG1SSJy.99

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AGelbert

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BIOPLASTICS are REPLACING PETROCHEMICAL-BASED PLASTICS
In the years 2000 to 2008, worldwide consumption of biodegradable plastics based on starch, sugar, and cellulose – so far the three most important raw materials – has increased by 600%.[32] The NNFCC predicted global annual capacity would grow more than six-fold to 2.1 million tonnes by 2013.[30] BCC Research forecasts the global market for biodegradable polymers to grow at a compound average growth rate of more than 17 percent through 2012. Even so, bioplastics will encompass a small niche of the overall plastic market, which is forecast to reach 500 billion pounds (220 million tonnes) globally by 2010.[33]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic

Agelbert NOTE:The "NICHE" that bioplastics are occupying will grow to destroy the fossil fuel based plastics plastic poisons simply because bioplastics are sustainable AND cheaper now.


Cost

At one time bioplastics were too expensive for consideration as a replacement for petroleum-based plastics.The lower temperatures needed to process bioplastics and the more stable supply of biomass combined with the increasing cost of crude oil make bioplastics price [34] more competitive with regular plastics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic


ApplicationsBiodegradable bioplastics are used for disposable items, such as packaging and catering items (crockery, cutlery, pots, bowls, straws). They are also often used for bags, trays, containers for fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat, bottles for soft drinks and dairy products, and blister foils for fruit and vegetables.

Nondisposable applications include mobile phone casings, carpet fibres, and car interiors, fuel line and plastic pipe applications, and new electroactive bioplastics are being developed that can be used to carry electrical current.[5] In these areas, the goal is not biodegradability, but to create items from sustainable resources.

Medical implants made of PLA, which dissolve in the body, save patients a second operation. Compostable mulch films for agriculture, already often produced from starch polymers, do not have to be collected after use and can be left on the fields.[6]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic


Bioplastic Car Parts

In constructing the Prius, Toyota used a new range of plant-derived ecological bioplastics, made out of cellulose derived from wood or grass instead of petroleum. The two principal crops used are kenaf and ramie. Kenaf is a member of the hibiscus family, a relative to cotton and okra; ramie, commonly known as China grass, is a member of the nettle family and one of the strongest natural fibres, with a density and absorbency comparable to flax.
Toyota says this is a particularly timely breakthrough for plant-based eco-plastics because 2009 is the United Nations’ International Year of Natural Fibres, which spotlights kenaf and ramie among others.[56]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius


Prius bioplastic parts



Mercedes hemp bioplastic parts





Polylactic acid (PLA) plastics can replace petrochemical-based mass plastics (e.g. PET, PS or PE)


Mulch film made of polylactic acid (PLA)-blend bio-flex

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a transparent plastic produced from corn[12] or dextrose. It not only resembles conventional petrochemical-based mass plastics (like PET, PS or PE) in its characteristics, but it can also be processed on standard equipment that already exists for the production of some conventional plastics. PLA and PLA blends generally come in the form of granulates with various properties, and are used in the plastic processing industry for the production of films, fibers, plastic containers, cups and bottles.


A pen made with bioplastics (Polylactide, PLA)   


Tea bags made from PLA


Packaging air pillow made of PLA-blend bio-flex



A bioplastic shampoo bottle made of PLA-blend bio-flex

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic


Biopolymer BHP can replace petroplastic polypropylene

Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB)

The biopolymer poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a polyester produced by certain bacteria processing glucose, corn starch[13] or wastewater.[14] Its characteristics are similar to those of the petroplastic polypropylene. The South American sugar industry, for example, has decided to expand PHB production to an industrial scale. PHB is distinguished primarily by its physical characteristics. It produces transparent film at a melting point higher than 130 degrees Celsius, and is biodegradable without residue.


Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are linear polyesters produced in nature by bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids. They are produced by the bacteria to store carbon and energy. In industrial production, the polyester is extracted and purified from the bacteria by optimizing the conditions for the fermentation of sugar. More than 150 different monomers can be combined within this family to give materials with extremely different properties. PHA is more ductile and less elastic than other plastics, and it is also biodegradable. These plastics are being widely used in the medical industry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic


How to tell if plastic was made from fossil fuels or plants: Fossil fuel derived plastic has NO cabon-14!

Biobased – ASTM D6866

The ASTM D6866 method has been developed to certify the biologically derived content of bioplastics. Cosmic rays colliding with the atmosphere mean that some of the carbon is the radioactive isotope carbon-14. CO2 from the atmosphere is used by plants in photosynthesis, so new plant material will contain both carbon-14 and carbon-12. Under the right conditions, and over geological timescales, the remains of living organisms can be transformed into fossil fuels. After ~100,000 years all the carbon-14 present in the original organic material will have undergone radioactive decay leaving only carbon-12. A product made from biomass will have a relatively high level of carbon-14, while a product made from petrochemicals will have no carbon-14. The percentage of renewable carbon in a material (solid or liquid) can be measured with an accelerator mass spectrometer.[41][42]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic

Plastic made from plants is NOT a guarantee of biodegradability
There is an important difference between biodegradability and biobased content. A bioplastic such as high density polyethylene (HDPE)[43] can be 100% biobased (i.e. contain 100% renewable carbon), yet be non-biodegradable. These bioplastics such as HDPE nonetheless play an important role in greenhouse gas abatement, particularly when they are combusted for energy production. The biobased component of these bioplastics is considered carbon-neutral since their origin is from biomass.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic

Agelbert NOTE:As I've said before, products from corn for plastics or biofuel are a bad deal. At the end of the wikipeda bioplastics article, a "study" from scientists in 2010 cautions against corn based bioplastics because they are so polluting from the pesticide and CO2 releasing properties 
(as if petrochemical fuels and plastics weren't measurably MORE polluting... ??? ).

Sure. That's why BIG OIL wants us to keep using that corn for ethanol and bioplastics!  ;) It's never going to be competitive! Corn uses pesticides and plowing. The plastics made from the corn starch will have pesticide residue. Growing corn is an excellent way to ruin top soil and is second only to fossil fuels (because it uses so much of them) in biosphere damage. :P  >:(

This is stupid when, duckweed, hemp, sugar cane, switchgrass, Kenaf , a member of the hibiscus family, a relative to cotton and okra and  Ramie, commonly known as China grass, a member of the nettle family and one of the strongest natural fibres, with a density and absorbency comparable to flax are all available, easier to grow WITHOUT PESTICIDES and provide a much higher EROEI. 

 
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AGelbert

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The first diesel engine was designed to run on vegetable oils, one of which was hemp oil. In the 1930s Henry Ford produced an automobile composed of 70 percent hemp plastic which also ran on hemp based fuel and oil.



In 2001 the "Hempcar" circled the North American continent powered by hemp oil.


The paintings of Rembrandt (1606- 1669), Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and Thomas Gainsborough (1727- 1788) were painted primarily on hemp canvas, often with hemp oil based paint.


I sold Rembrandt his Hemp canvas and paint oils! 



Hmmm.. That canvas looks like it might not be Hemp. I'd better check with my supplier. 





Handsome masterpiece on Hemp!


Over 50 percent of all chemical pesticides sprayed are used in the cultivation of cotton. 

Hemp is eight times stronger than cotton and more air-permeable. 



Hemp can grow vigorously (up to 16 feet) in 100 days without the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides... healthier for your skin and the environment. 

One acre of hemp can produce as much raw fiber as 4.1 acres of trees. Pulping hemp for paper would produce a strong paper that lasts incredibly long and doesn't yellow with age.
Also, using hemp as a raw source for paper would eliminate the need to cut down our dwindling old-growth forests which contribute to climate control and clean the air we breathe.


Source: the Hempola Trivia Trail http://www.coolhemp.com/HempSeeDee/hempfacts.shtml

Now you know why William Randolph Hearst, DuPont and Rockefeller FEARED HEMP so much they conspired to make it illegal!
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AGelbert

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This Delicate Flower Is A Stepping Stone To Energy Independence



Yulex from Guayole is a SUPERIOR product for making rubber than Latex!  Yulex.com

Quote
Why is Yulex's bioprocessing technology unique?

Guayule is a natural source of elastomeric materials which are free of antigenic proteins. Yulex’s biorubbers meet the critical performance standards necessary for many medical, industrial and consumer applications and exceeds performance standards of many synthetic lattices.

Yulex’s bioprocessing technology includes aqueous methods for emulsion extraction and product refinement. Our scientists have developed proprietary methods for extracting this emulsion to consistently achieve extremely low protein concentrations. In addition, our proprietary proven commercial farming, harvesting and biotech programs increase the plant’s emulsion yields with faster growing cycles to produce more product for the medical, building, rubber and energy industries.
- See more at: http://www.yulex.com/index.php?id=59#sthash.lvI284Yn.dpuf





http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/26/us-could-grow-sustainable-rubber-from-guayule/#KDccIluUJDHQzgxL.99
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AGelbert

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Older Trees Grow Faster
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2014, 03:57:11 pm »
Older Trees Grow Faster


Mature trees soak up more CO2 than younger ones, a study shows, overturning a bit of botanical dogma.  :o

By Bob Grant | January 20, 2014

It turns out that as a slew of tree species age, they grow faster and gobble up more carbon dioxide than when they were younger, according to a study published last week (January 15) in Nature.

The findings, which involved decades of data taken from 673,046 trees in more than 400 tropical and temperate tree species around the globe, contradict a long-standing assumption that tree growth slows as the plants age. “The trees that are adding the most mass are the biggest ones, and that holds pretty much everywhere on Earth that we looked,” Nathan Stephenson, a US Geological Survey ecologist and first author of the study, told Nature. “Trees have the equivalent of an adolescent growth spurt, but it just keeps going.”


The results have important implications for conservation and forestry practices. “Not only do [older trees] hold a lot of carbon, but they’re adding carbon at a tremendous rate," Stephenson told NPR. “And that’s going to be really important to understand when we’re trying to predict how the forests are going to change in the future—in the face of a changing climate or other environmental changes.”


http://www.the-scientist.com//?articles.view/articleNo/38914/title/Older-Trees-Grow-Faster/

Agelbert NOTE: This is another reason why old growth trees should NOT be used for firewood or any other kind of biomass. Grasses like Hemp and angiosperms like duckweed and Azolla can provide all the textiles and woody furnace pellets we need. Leave the forests alone!





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AGelbert

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Sugarcane Into Diesel — Cold-Tolerant, Highly Productive, Oil-Producing Crop Developed For US




Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/26/sugarcane-diesel-cold-tolerant-highly-productive-oil-producing-crop-developed-us/#Z2Fl4U3hSAelAgxX.99
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AGelbert

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AGelbert

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US Navy Says Biofuels Are New Normal  ;D

SustainableBusiness.com News

After experimenting with biofuels for several years, the US Navy announced its use will now be standard practice, incorporated into all solicitations for jet engine and marine diesel fuels.

"The Navy has a long history of energy innovation. From sail to coal, coal to oil, and then to nuclear, the Navy's led the way. We see biofuel as that next energy innovation, and we're taking action," says Tom Hicks, acting undersecretary of the Navy."

 Under "Farm-to-Fleet," biofuel blends - such as waste oils from cooking grease and algae - will be purchased in all Department of Defense (DOD) domestic solicitations.

 "This effort marks the start of the ‘new normal,' where drop-in biofuels will be fully integrated with our regular fuel operations, says Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

Navy

The initiative began in 2010, when President Obama challenged the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy to collaborate on speeding development of domestic, competitively-priced "drop-in" diesel and jet fuel substitutes.

You may remember that Republicans were up in arms when they heard the Navy used $15 per gallon biofuels for its Great Green Fleet demonstration. Just a few years later, DOD expects to buy the fuels at competitive prices - less than $4 per gallon by 2016. The program starts with a bulk fuels solicitation this year, with deliveries in mid-2015.

"We absolutely have to have - particularly in this constrained budget environment - a stably priced, domestically produced alternative to fossil fuels that do spike just on world crises," explains Mabus.  "Every time the price of oil goes up $1 per barrel, it costs the Navy Department an extra $30 million."


They are starting with blends of 10% and growing to 50% with conventional fuels over the next few years. Starting small will help biofuel companies get to the volumes and price points they need. 

To meet its goal of cutting petroleum use 50% by 2020, the Navy also plans to have its own biorefineries, at no cost to taxpayers. Its also leading on microgrids and, of course, solar.

 Another promising technology converts seawater into liquid fuel ( http://renewablerevolution.createaforum.com/renewables/hydcrocarbons-from-seawater-(carbon-neutral)-for-less-than-$3-a-gallon!/msg904/#msg904 ) , while removing carbon at the same time. The Navy recently invested $30 million in Hawaii's Energy Accelerator to speed technologies to market.

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25679
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AGelbert

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I LOVE DUCKWEED!
https://youtu.be/_i_2h2CoQII
https://youtu.be/AVogwEYXGLo
http://renewablerevolution.createaforum.com/renewables/ethanol/msg217/#msg217


Pond-dwelling powerhouse’s genome points to its biofuel potential



Duckweed is a tiny floating plant that’s been known to drive people daffy. It’s one of the smallest and fastest-growing flowering plants   ;D that often becomes a hard-to-control weed in ponds and small lakes. But it’s also been exploited to clean contaminated water and as a source to produce pharmaceuticals. Now, the genome of Greater Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza) has given this miniscule plant’s potential as a biofuel source a big boost. In a paper published February 19, 2014 in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Rutgers University, the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute and several other facilities detailed the complete genome of S. polyrhiza and analyzed it in comparison to several other plants, including rice and tomatoes.

Duckweed, a small, common plant that grows in ponds and stagnant waters, is an ideal candidate as a biofuel raw material.  ;D Photo (at link) by Texx Smith, via flickr

 
Simple and primitive, a duckweed plant consists of a single small kidney-shaped leaf about the size of a pencil-top eraser that floats on the surface of the water with a few thin roots underwater. It grows in almost all geographic areas, at nearly any altitude. Although it’s a flowering plant, it only rarely forms small indistinct flowers on the underside of its floating leaves. Most of the time, it reproduces by budding off small leaves that are clones of the parent leaf. It often forms thick mats on the edges of ponds, quiet inlets of lakes and in marshes. It’s among the fastest growing plants, able to double its population in a couple of days under ideal conditions.

These and other properties make it an ideal candidate as a biofuel feedstock – a raw source for biofuel production. For example, unlike plants on land, duckweeds don’t need to hold themselves upright or transport water from distant roots to their leaves, so they’re a relatively soft and pliable plant, containing tiny amounts of woody material such as lignin and cellulose. Removing these woody materials from feedstock has been a major challenge in biofuel production. Also, although they are small enough to grow in many environments, unlike biofuel-producing microbes, duckweed plants are large enough to harvest easily. ;D

S. polyrhiza turns out to have one of the smallest known plant genomes, at about 158 million base pairs and fewer than 20,000 protein-encoding genes. That’s 27 percent fewer than Arabidopsis thaliana – which, until recently, was believed to be the smallest plant genome – and nearly half as many as rice plants.

Spirodela is one of the smallest plants in the world. Here (at the link)it is displayed with other comparable plants.

 
“The most surprising find was insight into the molecular basis for genes involved in maturation – a forever-young lifestyle,” said senior author Joachim Messing, director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University.

S. polyrhiza leaves resemble cotyledons, embryonic leaves inside plant seeds that become the first leaves after germination. But where other plants develop other kinds of leaves as they mature, S. polyrhiza’s never progresses and continuously produces cotyledon leaves. This prolonging of juvenile traits is called “neoteny.” S. polyrhiza had fewer genes to promote and more genes to repress the switch from juvenile to mature growth.

“Because of the reduction in neoteny, there is an arrest in development and differentiation of organs. So this arrest allowed us to uncover regulatory networks that are required for differentiation and development,” Messing said.

Also intriguing to the research team were which genes were preserved over time and which were not. Many of the genes responsible for cellulose and lignin production in land dwelling plants were missing,   and there were fewer copies of those that were present. Genes for another compound related to cell walls called “expansins” which are involved with cell wall and root growth were also reduced.

Genes for starch production, on the other hand, were retained and are probably used for creating starch-filled turions, specialized buds produced by aquatic plants for overwintering, enabling them sink to the bottom of ponds and revive in warmer weather. Moreover, despite the reduced number of total genes, S. polyrhiza has more copies of genes for enzymes involved in nitrogen absorption and metabolism than in other plants. This is probably linked to the plant’s ability to utilize excess nitrogen in contaminated waters.


A thorough understanding of the genome and cellular mechanisms of S. polyrhiza could greatly enhance current efforts to recruit duckweed as a biofuel source. Messing estimates that duckweed will be a viable biofuel source within the next five years and points to Ceres Energy Group in New Jersey, which is already producing electricity from duckweed. Understanding which genes produce which traits will allow researchers to create new varieties of duckweed with enhanced biofuel traits, such as increased reduction of cellulose or increased starch or even higher lipid production. Starch can be directly used as a biofuel source and it can be converted to ethanol, the way corn is currently converted to ethanol fuel, but oils would have greater energy than ethanol.

Duckweed is a relatively simple plant with fronds that float on the surface of the water and roots that extend into the water. In the flask on the left, you can see the dormant phase, turions, that have dropped to the bottom. Photo (at link) by Wenquin Wang
 
“Classical breeding or genetics does not apply here because of its clonal propagation and rare flowering, but these organisms can be transformed with DNA,” Messing said. “Therefore, new variants can be created with modified pathways for industrial applications. These variants would be an enhancement over what can be done now.”

This genome was sequenced as part of a DOE Office of Science JGI Community Science Program (CSP) project (formerly the Community Sequencing Program). It exemplifies the collaborative approach and innovative projects that the CSP enables among researchers. Messing pointed to the study’s advances over previous research.

“The sequencing of this genome opens new frontiers in the molecular biology of aquatic plants,” said Messing. “This publication represents the single largest advance in this field and a new milestone in plant molecular biology and evolution, as previous studies were either classical botany or biochemistry of photosynthesis. The placement of the Spirodela genome as a basal monocot species will serve as a new reference for all flowering plants.”

A video interview with Messing on the promise of duckweed can be found here:

https://youtu.be/PLVPfoKw2rs

The authors on the publication also include researchers from MIPS/IBIS, Helmholtz Center Munich, Germany; University of California, Davis; Georgia Institute of Technology; Brookhaven National Laboratory; Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; University of Jena, Germany, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology; and the Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Germany.

The DOE Joint Genome Institute has announced a new call for letters of intent for the 2015 Community Science Program, due April 10, 2014. Details of the 2015 CSP call can be found at: http://bit.ly/CSP-15.

The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, supported by the DOE Office of Science, is committed to advancing genomics in support of DOE missions related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and cleanup. DOE JGI, headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., provides integrated high-throughput sequencing and computational analysis that enable systems-based scientific approaches to these challenges. Follow @doe_jgi on Twitter.

DOE’s Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

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http://jgi.doe.gov/pond-dwelling-powerhouses-genome-points-biofuel-potential/
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 03:00:47 pm by AGelbert »
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Barnacle-Repellant Paint Developed To Reduce Shipping Costs


A new type of barnacle-repellant paint — based around compounds derived from the Maytenus tree — has been devised by an international group of researchers.


While that, at first, may not sound like something that is that important, the reality is that the drag created by barnacles (or many other types of hitch hikers) on ship hulls contributes relatively significantly to the operating costs of shipping companies. Eliminating this issue could help to improve shipping speeds (to a degree) as well as — as previously stated — reducing costs.

The press release explains the issue and the new work:

By increasing water resistance, they can bump a ship’s fuel use by as much as 40%, which costs money, adds to pollution and depletes resources. These marine hitchhikers also can cause environmental problems by invading new parts of the globe and competing with native animals and plants. To keep hulls clean, some shipping companies have turned to special coatings. The problem is these coatings can permanently harm sea life. So the team sought an ocean-friendlier option from a sustainable source.

They turned to Maytenus trees, which are found worldwide. The plants’ root bark contains compounds that are similar to defensive agents produced by bottom-dwelling ocean creatures. In the lab, the scientists found that the compounds repel barnacles, but generally don’t cause long-term damage. They also added the compounds to paint, which they applied to tiles and field-tested in the sea. The new coatings effectively stopped algae, tube worms and other creatures from latching on. 



A. Maytenus boaria 'Green Showers' (Mayten) - full view. Full view

Interesting work. Of course there are certainly other ways to improve the energy efficiency of cargo ships, such as through the use of simple, good energy-efficient design, or through the use of rather more exotic seeming solutions, such as the those utilized by the Vindskip.

Or you could also always largely circumvent the issue of shipping fuel costs/pollution simply by tapping the power of the wind, or of the sun. While it’s easy to scoff at the notion of returning to wind-driven cargo shipping, the reality is that it is extremely energy efficient, and not even necessarily slower. 


The new research was detailed in a paper just published in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/05/02/barnacle-repellant-paint-developed-reduce-shipping-costs/#XzZKOLlPvc9qmKvv.99
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Hemp is having its moment. Meet the miracle plant’s biggest champion

By Amber Cortes


We’ve heard about the promise of hemp before: Its fibers are stronger than steel. Its seeds make for antioxidant-loaded superfood for you and your chickens. It can compete with fossil fuel as a viable alternative energy source. But ever since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the U.S. has skunked hemp’s potential.  >:(

Now, Mary Jane’s younger cousin  ;D is having a moment.
Included in the recent farm bill is an amendment that allows research of the plant at colleges and universities. And more states have taken up the charge recently. Hawaii just passed an industrial hemp bill for research purposes. Both New York and Illinois are introducing similar legislation, and Missouri just passed a bill (now heading to the governor’s desk) allowing hemp extract to be used to treat epileptic seizures. And of the two states where cannabis is legalized, it’s already growing in Colorado.

Enter Doug Fine, author of the new book Hemp Bound and one of the miracle plant’s biggest cheerleaders. He’s met hemp farmers and researchers, checked out a hemp house in Canada, and even rode in a hemp-powered limo, all to prove that the plant is the next big thing for a sustainable future. He sat down with Grist to talk about why he believes hemp holds the key to “a food and energy revolution” that will also become a vital part of climate change mitigation.

Q. It seems like a very promising time for hemp! Now that research is allowed, what hemp possibilities are you most excited about?


A. It’s all coming together so rapidly. It’s such a magical time. When I went to research Hemp Bound I had no idea that the farm bill was going to include a hemp provision. I just knew that hemp was really important for the future of energy. That’s what I think is the most exciting thing about hemp – its potential for energy, its massive biomass that can be used to replace fossil fuels. While researching the book I found some very forward-thinking, sustainable farmers who said the cellulose stalks of hemp have big energy potential. So I wanted to connect the dots and see if there really was potential for hemp as a fossil fuel application. And it turns out there is.

Q. How does hemp work as an alternative energy source? And is it truly a feasible replacement for fossil fuels?


A. Individual farms can produce energy from their biomass waste and sell it to their regional grid. There are basically small power plants that use biomass, and the carbon exchange is all on the sustainability side of the ledger. The town of Feldheim in Germany turned one of Europe’s highest unemployment rates into zero unemployment by building a regional utility that put people to work collecting and using their farm waste in this kind of process. We can do this with hemp.
Santa Fe, N.M., actually had a similar plan for their whole utility system. It was scalable in size, affordable, carbon friendly, and community-owned, and the only reason it didn’t happen is that fracking kind of took the wind out of the sails of this project. So there are plans in place about how to do this in the U.S. But it’s not like old-school utilities are going to be happy to just lay down and say, “Sure, hemp farmers and communities, create your own utilities, bye, thanks, it was nice serving you.”

Q. You claim that hemp can potentially bring in “even more taxable revenue into the economy than its smokable relative.” How would that work?


A. Hemp-minded communities can do three things: invest in profitable seed oil presses, create textiles or fiber of some kind from it, and use products like hempcrete for building – and still have this biomass left over, this cellulose that we can use to create regional energy grids out of hemp.
The element that’s still coming together that we couldn’t really have predicted are these incredibly high prices that Canadian farmers are getting for their hemp-seed oil. They are making $300 per acre on it, 10 times what they make on GMO corn. And that is why hemp is going to end up being planted here. The demand curve for hemp as a super food is just happening now. Mainstream society is realizing how beneficial this is.

Q. So now that hemp is going mainstream, what would stop the cotton, synthetics, and paper industries from trying to oppose it?

A. I think it’s too late to fight it. The bipartisan cooperation on this issue almost makes you understand why the Rastafarians call the cannabis plant the “healing of the nation.” It’s getting unbelievably strange bedfellows together. There are Kentucky Republicans on the horn with the DEA saying let our farmers plant this, unbelievable stuff. The concern that some people have is not so much opposition from Big Ag but co-option. As long as there’s non-GMO hemp, I’m fine with there being millions of acres of hemp cultivated by everyone.

Q. You also mention in your book that hemp has some very practical uses for farmers. Can you talk about some of them?


A. An old-timer Nebraska rancher lady told me that her daddy used to plant hemp along the irrigation ditches in the spring. No matter how much flooding there was, it built this incredible root system that culled water and was erosion control and flood control. And then of course it’s also a high-protein snack for the cows and the fowl.

Hemp also filters toxins; it’s been used around Chernobyl to release radiation from the soil. The water demands are relatively low: One of Colorado’s first commercial hemp farmers, a very conservative farmer in Eastern Colorado struggling with drought and monoculture-damaged soil, found that planting hemp is using half the water than the previous wheat crop was.

Q. What about some industrial uses of hemp?

A. I saw an entire body of a tractor made out of a bio-composite of hemp fiber.  It’s stronger than petroleum-based plastic and lighter, not to mention easily replicable – all the dangers and the horrors of plastic potentially removed. I mean, you know, thanks petroleum, it was a great century,  ;) you guys made a lot of things happen with plastics. But now we’re going to take what we know and go back to using biomaterials like hemp so that we have a future as a species. 
 


Amber Cortes is a Grist fellow, radio producer, and a digital media grad student at the University of Washington . Follow her on Twitter.

http://grist.org/business-technology/hemp-wonderplant/
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The US South’s New Clean Energy Hub 


 Sam Boykin,  June 17, 2014 

While Charlotte, N.C., is perhaps best known as a financial center, with big institutions like Bank of America and Wells Fargo dominating the skyline, the area is also a major energy hub. The region is home to more than 260 companies and nearly 28,000 workers that are tied directly to the energy sector, including Charlotte-based Duke Energy. Moreover, the region is developing a growing number of clean energy initiatives, and the state has implemented legislature that requires investor-owned utilities to generate 12.5 percent of their retail sales from renewable energy by 2021.


That’s the message that the Charlotte Regional Partnership (CRP), a nonprofit economic development organization, brings with it on mission trips, including one earlier this year to Tokyo. In its efforts to tap into Japan’s growing clean energy industry, the CRP highlighted several local programs during a presentation at the U.S. Embassy.

One such program is the Catawba County Regional EcoComplex and Resource Recovery Facility. The 805-acre site has multiple components that are designed to convert byproducts and waste materials into renewable sources of energy, which are then fed to the power grid.

About 500 tons of county waste is trucked daily into the facility’s landfill. The garbage is burned inside internal combustible engines, which turn three 1-MW generators. This electricity is then sold to the power company, and the profits are used to fund other EcoComplex projects.

This includes the Biodiesel Research Facility, which harnesses heat emitted from the landfill generators. The heat breaks down seeds from locally grown feedstock crops like sunflowers and canola, converting them to biodiesel. The facility produces about 100,000 gallons of biodiesel a year, which is used in county vehicles such as dump trucks, bulldozers and excavators.

Barry Edwards, director of Catawba County’s Utilities and Engineering, says the ultimate goal is to recover all useable products and by-products from local private and public partners and use these waste products either as a source of energy or as a raw material for the production of products such as pallets or lumber. “The EcoComplex makes one industry’s output stream another industry’s input stream,” Edwards says. “It brings to life the old saying that ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’"

While the EcoComplex strives to convert waste materials into renewable energy sources, the nonprofit Envision Charlotte has implemented a program designed to reduce energy usage in the city’s urban core.

Amy Aussieker, Envision Charlotte’s executive director, explains that Smart Energy Now is a first-of-its-kind public-private initiative that uses technology to change the way people think about and use energy. The project, which is a collaborative effort between Charlotte Center City Partners, the city, county, Duke Energy, and some of the largest companies in uptown Charlotte, was announced during the Clinton initiative in Oct. 2010. About a year later special interactive kiosks and monitors were installed in 61 participating uptown buildings — totaling about 21 million square feet — that provide real-time data and graphic displays about each building’s energy consumption. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” says Aussieker.

The kiosks, which are sort of like giant iPads, also provide simple changes people can make to conserve energy, such as using more natural daylight in the office, setting back the thermostat when a building is unoccupied, and regularly maintaining a building’s equipment to ensure it is functioning efficiently.

Envision Charlotte announced in May its project reduced the use of electricity by 8.4 percent over its first three years. The hope is that the program will spur sustainable behaviors in order to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent over five years at an estimated savings of $16 million.

E4 Carolinas is another clean energy initiative. A consortium of energy and engineering firms, government agencies, economic development groups and educators created E4 in response to the region’s growing energy consumption. The nonprofit’s mission is to nurture workforce development and technology innovations in order to foster efficient and environmentally sensitive energy clusters. 

The collaborative effort includes a variety of companies, including Charlotte-based Calor Energy Consulting, which helps everyone from property developers to nonprofits select the best renewable energy options. Through a technical analysis, Calor determines if it’s economically feasible for a company to install a system, such as solar and wind. If so, it also assists clients with issues like seeking tax and equity investors as well as selecting the best EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) for the project.

The consultant has spearheaded many projects, such as helping Charlotte’s Levine Museum of the New South obtain a key grant from Duke Energy—using key metrics like energy use, recycling programs and employee commuting—to upgrade its lighting and HVAC to meet sustainability goals. The changes have reduced the history museum’s consumption of power and gas by as much as 30 percent annually. The consultant also helped create an innovative financing plan to attract private investment in order to install a 10 KW PV solar system on the roof of Friendship Trays. The project helped the “meals-on-wheels” program save on utility bills and establish cash flow though renewable energy credit sales and tax credits. 

Another E4 Carolina partner, 02energies, develops large-scale, ground-mounted solar power plants in the Southeast, creating work and educational opportunities while enhancing sustainability. Some notable projects include Avery Solar, in which a 1 megawatt, six-acre solar farm was built at Henderson Farms, a Christmas tree farm in North Carolina. Each year, the solar farm generates 1,161 MWh of electricity during times of peak demand. The company also installed a 1.2-MW solar power plant at Mount Airy, the childhood home of actor Andy Griffith and a popular tourist attraction. The six-acre site generates electricity into the Duke Energy grid and provides power to hundreds of homes and small businesses.

The Charlotte region is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country. Its population increased 1.8 percent, climbing to 2.3 million, between July 2012 and July 2013. Moreover, the region is expected to see an influx of more than 1.8 million people over the next 40 years — increasing the current population by more than half. This makes CRP’s economic development efforts and initiatives like EcoComplex, Envision Charlotte and E4 Carolinas all the more important as a way to both safeguard the environment and strengthen the region’s position in the global marketplace.

 


http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/06/the-us-souths-new-clean-energy-hub#comment-132528
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Does Recycling Paper Save Energy?
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2014, 11:54:53 pm »
Does Recycling Paper Save Energy?

Recycling paper saves energy because it uses about 65% less energy    than it would take to process virgin wood pulp and produce new paper, even after accounting for the energy used to sort and process recycled paper. When paper is recycled, its fibers become weakened, and virgin wood pulp must be added to strengthen it. Recycled paper can be used as many as six times, so it saves on the amount of virgin wood pulp that must be processed. Recycled paper production also saves 80% on water and generates about 95% less air pollution.

More about recycling:   

•Recycling cardboard saves about 25% of the energy it would require to create new cardboard.  ;D

•The amount of energy saved from recycling one aluminum can could power a television for three hours  ::), because processing recycled aluminum takes just 5% of the energy that it takes to produce new aluminum.   


•Producing recycled glass decreases pollution by 50% and uses 50% less energy than producing new glass.   

http://www.wisegeek.com/does-recycling-paper-save-energy.htm
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