Carbon dioxide

Landfill Garbage Methane Gas Counterpoint

One of the biomass fuels that have been given little attention is methane gas generated from garbage in Waste Management dumps. Waste Management is converting methane gas from rotting trash into electricity power. The gas powers turbines that turn generators, producing electricity for a power grid. In the U.S. the number of methane gas projects has grown to 510 and generate more than 1.563 megawatts per year, or supply energy to power 1.6 million homes. A landfill will produce gas for 20 to 30 years, and is a reliable consistent source. Economics, energy legislation mandates, and technology advancements are the reason for the fuels development. At the present, landfill gas power cost is about the same as from wind, but is still more expensive than from coal-generated power (Cents per kilowatt-hour: Coal=3 to 8, Landfill gas=7 to 10, Wind=5 to 11).

Methane is the second most important green house gas after carbon dioxide. Reducing its emissions in the atmosphere, and using it for energy power generation and a component of natural gas are good reasons landfill methane-electricity projects made up 10.8% of the country’s renewable energy output. The EPA says, landfill methane becomes a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the principle greenhouse gas, when it rises in the atmosphere.

The 1.6 billion tons of garbage, 550 lbs per person, is a growing potential source for clean energy. The methane generated in the landfills should be used for energy power instead of being released to the atmosphere.

Other Reference info:

EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP)

A look at Waste Management and landfill gas energy resources

Sources of Energy-the fossil fuels

FEC harnesses methane gas to create energy

Garbage to gas

Fun Facts about Fungi

California garbage trucks fueled by…

Biomass Fuel, Energy, Power Counterpoint

Biomass is a term being more frequently used for renewable fuel, energy and power made from any organic material from plants or animals. Sources are organic crops, plants, and trees, agricultural food and feed crops, and residues from plants, crops, wood, and animals-in other words what is left over or scraps. The usable by-products are gas additives (ethanol and biodiesel), methane gas (burned as fuel), and organic fibers and wood (for heat and generating electricity).

I became more interested in biomass after previously covering the following topics:

Solar Power/ Energy

Wind Turbine Power

Natural Gas Car Fuel

U.S. Oil Reserves

Price of Oil

Corn Food Fuel

Car Fuel Efficiency

Global Warming and Energy Reserves

Electrical Utilities are facing new rules requiring them to generate 20% of their power from renewable resources by 2020. Solar and wind power has been considered by most utilities and many don’t have the resources, or have run into legislative roadblocks. With all Utilities being required to meet quotas, they are now considering, and building, “Biomass” Power Plants, since they can get significant federal tax credits.

Most studies are based on data such as that from “The Engineering Toolbox”.  The data shows that the biomass energy is free, since the process is considered nearly carbon neutral, because the plants only emit the carbon they absorbed while they were growing. The time and volume of usage is neglected-it is not explained that more is used than grown, and in between there are fewer trees to absorb the carbon dioxide. The real world is more like Fig. 3 Plot “Pounds of CO2 per KWH” of the article “How to measure fuel efficiency, energy costs, and carbon emissions for home heating”.  Both coal and wood have the same high-level carbon footprint.

An interesting article, “Biomass Energy Facts”, is a good comprehensive worthwhile list. It is not mentioned that renewable energy in 2007 was 7% of the US energy supply, and of this 3% is biomass. In 2020 20% of US energy is to be by renewable, with a good part of the increase by biomass, meaning a much-increased usage of wood from trees that takes time to replace and is now a big source of CO2 absorption.

Of major concern is that states (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Missouri, etc.) are now proceeding with biomass energy projects based on the process being considered nearly carbon neutral because the plants only emit the carbon they absorbed while they were growing. Is this a fact-based conclusion? And will the increased biomass usage have any effect on the natural cycling of CO2 because it takes time for volume replacement?

Other biomass information of interest:

Biomass Emissions-Air Emissions from Modern Wood Energy Systems

Massachusetts Forest and Environment Threatened

Global Warming Facts Update

This is in addition to the previous article on “Global Warming Facts”. Select “Carbon Dioxide” in the Categories list to see both articles.

The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine has put together a fact summary titled “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” concerning the effects of increased atmospheric CO2 gas. The average temperature of the Earth has varied within a range of about 3 Deg C during the pat 3000 years. It is currently increasing as the Earth recovers from a period known as the Little Ice Age.

The Wall Street Journal published an article in January 2000 titled “Global Warming Is 300-year-Old News”.

Look over these facts to consider your own conclusion.

Of interest are the candidate’s views on technological issues: Energy, Climate change, Space program, skilled worker shortage, and technology.

Global Warming Facts

These are some known documented scientific facts concerning “Global Warming”:

  1. The “Greenhouse Effect” is real and it helps to moderate the earth’s temperatures (15 degree C or 59 degree F average)-without the effect the earths temperature would be approximately –18 degree C or 0 degree F. Greenhouse gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane) allow sunlight to pass through the earth’s atmosphere and strike the earth and retain the radiant heat from escaping back into space.
  2. Global warming has been happening for a long time as the temperature of the earth has been increasing continuously since the ice age. The earth’s temperature has risen approximately 16 degrees F and the sea level raised approximately 300 ft. From a geological perspective global warming is a natural state.
  3. Global warming is caused primarily by the earth’s orbital eccentricities and variations in the Sun’s heat output to earth (sunspot activity, earths tilt and elliptical orbit around the sun, the earths wobble orbit). It is also due to heat retention from the “Greenhouse Effect” and solar reflectivity, and shifting of the land masses (continental drift).
  4. Over 90% of the greenhouse effect is the result of the water in the earth’s atmosphere (water vapor and clouds). The remaining portion comes from carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and ozone.
  5. Temperatures have gone through two cycles of warming and cooling in the last 100 years. During 1900 to 1940 the temperatures were increasing and from 1940 to 1975 the temperatures were decreasing. Presently the temperatures are increasing.
  6. El Nino is caused primarily by differential warming of ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean relative to surrounding waters due to solar heating in equatorial regions-not general global solar heating.
  7. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the principal gas that trees and plants need to survive. Life (plant and animal) on earth requires carbon dioxide to survive.
  8. Orbiting weather satellites are able to record the most accurate measures of global warming. In the last 20 years of satellite measurements the recorded global temperatures have slightly decreased in average temperatures (carbon dioxide has increased 20% to 30%).
  9. UV absorption by ozone causes warming in the stratosphere.
  10. Greenhouse gases do not trap heat, but act as delaying the transfer of energy from Earth to space.
  11. Humans are responsible for about 3.4% of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere annually.
  12. Humans have been trying to measure the earth’s temperature since about 1880, and during this time the temperature has changed about 1.1 degrees F.
  13. A “National Journal Poll” shows consistent results of US Congressional members concerning global warming when asked, “Do you think it’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of manmade problems?”- 95% Democrats agree, 84% Republicans disagree.
  14. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita leave surprising disaster of 320 million trees devastated. It will add significantly to the greenhouse gas buildup-ultimately putting as much carbon from drying vegetation into the air as the rest of the American forest takes out in a year of photosynthesis.