Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ocean Power

The power of our oceans cycles nutrients across the planet and carves out the landscapes around us, however the full potential of water to supply our energy needs is yet to be fully utilized. 70% of the earth is covered by the masses of water around us, and accessing only 0.1% of this energy Could supply the entire world’s energy demand five times over. Capturing the power of the ocean is manifested in a variety of ways, from harnessing tidal energy to wave power to acquiring the energy released in the sea’s abundance of chemical reactions. The gravitational and magnetic force exerted on our planet is perhaps the greatest source of energy that we can pull from in our movement towards exploiting sustainable energies.

Estuary Energy

When fresh and salt water meet, energy is released into the surrounding environment, which has renewable energy developers seeking methods to access this source. One avenue of exploration is offered by the release of heat that accompanies the chemical balancing that occurs when fresh water mixes with salt water. Another opportunity is presented when fresh water rushes into salt water, increasing the pressure within the water and opening a source of kinetic energy for consumption. The original environment afforded by estuaries holds great potential as a reliable electrical and thermal supplier of energy.

Estuaries are home to an abundance of chemical reactions, as ions are shipped from one source to another in an effort to balance the polyatomic shells. By placing a device into estuaries, scientists have engineered a system of tapping into the moving electrons and establishing an electrical network. Through this method, bodies of water function like a battery medium by offering a highway for electrons to flow from the estuaries around us into our homes.

Vortex Energy

Like a fish that swims by riding on the currents that flow around it, scientists at the University of Michigan have uncovered a system that captures the energy emanating from all types of water flow. Historically, renewable hydroelectricity has been limited in its applicability because of its demand for relatively high speed currents. The flow of water over a cylinder, even from slow currents, generates enough kinetic energy to move the cylinder and propel a hydroelectric generator. In turn, this pushes the hydroelectric industry over the obstacles that have hindered its development in the past by broadening the scope of marine environments that can support our energy needs. Supplying energy through these vortex induced vibrations helped the University of Michigan to develop its VIVACE energy system which, despite being in its infancy, is already competitively priced with other sustainable energy technologies like wind and nuclear.

Solar Transport

Absorbing the energy that pours out of the sun is nothing new, but using it to such efficiency that it could power our transportation systems is making waves in sustainable energy. Boats rely on remote sources of energy to propel themselves through the environment, which makes the utilization of the sun a logical avenue to explore. The Planetsolar boat is the poster child of solar transport offering 470 square metres of solar panels that can charge the boat’s battery enough to let it cruise at 13 kilometres per hour for three straight days without needing to be recharged. Furthermore, plans of combining solar with other types of built in renewable energy sources have experts predicting the dominance of self-sustaining transportation systems in the near future.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! If there is something else you'd like to know write to us at info@endeavorscorp.com and we'll do our best to address it for you! For more information go to http://www.endeavorscorp.com/ or contact us if you want to get involved. Have a green day

Sources Used:

Monday, 17 October 2011

Profiling Biofuel Feedstocks

Throughout human history the consumption of biological material for its stored energy has been counted on to provide us our energetic needs. As teams of modern scientists race to uncover the most efficient way to tap into biological matter for its electricity, gasoline, heat and other forms of energy, biomass is in the spotlight of sustainable energy initiatives. Various sources of biomass fuel have been called upon over the past decade and the different attributes of some are examined below. 


The most commonly used cellulosic biofuel is switchgrass, a prolific perennial stalk that provides a low-maintenance energy source. Since these grasses require little supplemental support from their farmers and can flourish in such a diversity of climates, the environmental impact of growing them is minimal. The simple process of deriving ethanol from the sugar found within these plants through their combination with yeast makes a minimal imposition on the use of land and capital resources. Furthermore, once the sugar has been removed from the grass, the remaining substance known as lignin, is capable of providing enough energy to power the refinery facility. The potential of a fully self-sustaining renewable energy source illustrates the incredible capability of grasses as a solution to our energy demands.                                                             

The future for cellulosic biofuels is bright as an increase in the number of farmers turning to the crop in favour of its strong returns and dependable harvests has put it in the spotlight. Advancing research in biochemistry and genomics promises to further expand the applicability of cellulosic biofuels and disperse it across the world’s different geographies. Current research projects have found that grasses that were once considered pests like the invasive pennycress weed are some of the highest yielding sources of cellulosic biofuel.


Timber operations throughout the world’s forests leave behind masses of discarded wood that until only recently was seen as a pile of a waste. Revolutions in the biomass industry have turned waste wood into valuable sources of electricity and heat, putting a bounty on the waste of the logging industry. In addition, taking away the threat of wood stacks left behind by logging and tree parasites reduces forest fire risk in a way that reduces our carbon footprint. Wood that is grown for the intended purpose of biomass opens the possibility of farming fast maturing trees like willows and poplars on relatively fast cycles to provide a consistent flow of biomass energy.

Wood propelled power plants and energy compact torrefied wood pellets give distinguish wood as a biomass source for its ability to satiate both the short & long-term energy needs of society. Though concerns have been raised about the possibility of wood biomass causing further deforestation, responsible and organized systems of wood farming offer a huge contribution to the biomass arm of renewable energy. Less wasteful practices of wood consumption like pyrolsis & torrefaction are becoming more widely implemented, which use high temperatures and oxygen deprivation to emit less greenhouse gasses. The abundance of wood energy is being utilized in the regions that already profit off of forests, where cities are partnering with logging industries to provide sustainable, local energy.

Algae & Seaweed

The most advantageous aspect of using algae as a biomass fuel source is that it propagates in bodies of water, eliminating the need for farming space to grow it. Algae grow by sucking out the CO2 in its environment and combining it with sunlight in the process of photosynthesis which enables it to survive. Algae’s life cycle naturally removes greenhouse gasses from our atmosphere and some scientists are utilizing animal wastes as a fertilizer to increase its productivity. While much research needs to be done to find the ideal environment and method of harvesting algae, the latent benefits of this biomass source place it at the forefront of biomass energy.

In the first refinement stage of algae, oil is squeezed from the algae’s intercellular flesh, with the resulting mass being converted into ethanol. The final substance can be stored as pellets or consumed to produce thermal and electrical energy with the emitted gas being recycled to power the plant. The diversity of energy forms that algae can produce has enticed various industries like aviation to investigate its potential to power their air crafts. Currently, much of algal biomass is grown inland in lakes or bodies of water that can be more easily controlled. However, genetic engineers are manipulating algae strains to harvest it in tropical ocean climates while ensuring that algae make no imposition on the pre-established ecosystems. To process algae is a timely and expensive process, even though the biomass used and the things it produces are greatly efficient. Researchers are searching to find a way to catalyze the drying and refining process so that the full potential of algae can provide us with oceans of energy for decades to come.


Through its widespread use as a food source, corn has been a logical choice as one of the earliest sources of feedstock for biofuel. Employing unused plots of land for the growth of corn as a biofuel supplements farmers’ incomes and makes full use of their real estate. Corn produces ethanol through the breakdown of its sugars with yeast, resulting in an alcoholic compound that is used as a substitute for traditional petroleum.

Despite its initial flash of hope as the solution to our energy needs, corn has fallen out of favour as a sustainable energy source. Critics of corn point to the infringement it has on the supply of other food crops and its low energy production rate as major challenges for it must overcome if it is to remain a supplier of biofuel. Researchers are discovering ways to employ cows and genetically engineered bacteria that speed up the breakdown process of corn. Even animal waste has been sought as an ally to corn as it produces methane which in turn powers the refinery that turns corn into fuel biofuel corn refineries. While unused corn stocks will continue to be valued for their ethanol potential, it remains to be seen whether corn specifically grown as a biofuel will survive the test of time.    

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! If there is something else you'd like to know write to us at info@endeavorscorp.com and we'll do our best to address it for you! For more information go to http://www.endeavorscorp.com/ or contact us if you want to get involved. Have a green day!

Gartner, John. Biomass Adds to the Ethanol Debate. http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2005/06/67691
Rowe, Aaron. DOE Invests $125 million in Synthetic Life to Develop Biofuels. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/07/tons-of-funding/
Kholsa, Vinad. My Big Biofuels Bet. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.10/ethanol.html
Plummer, Robert. The Rise, Fall & Rise of Brazil’s Biofuel. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4581955.stm
Gray, Louise. Compost Heaps Could Produce Biofuel
Vidal, John. US Corn Production and Use for Fuel Ethanol
Johnson, Keith. Biofuels Bill: Federal Subsidies Will Top $400 Billion, Enviros Say http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/05/07/biofuels-bill-federal-subsidies-will-top-400-billion-enviros-say/
Mick, Jason. Switchgrass’ Dirty Little Secret May Make Seaweed Biofuel of Chioce http://www.dailytech.com/Switchgrasss+Dirty+Secret+May+Make+Seaweed+Biofuel+Crop+of+Choice/article22578.htm
Brass, Larissa. Sold on Switchgrass: Farmers Finding Gamble on Biofuel Crop Paying Off
Oak Ridge National Laboratory. New Lingin ‘Lite’ Switchgrass Boosts Biofuel Yield by More Than a Third http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-lignin-lite-switchgrass-boosts-biofuel.html
Bipoact Team. Mascoma to Build First Switchgrass Cellulosic Ethanol Plant http://news.mongabay.com/bioenergy/2007/09/mascoma-to-build-first-switchgrass.html
Keim, Brandon. Tiny Flower Turns Pig Poop Into Fuel http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/doubleduckweed/
Demerjian, Dave. Boeing Throws Its Weight Behind Algae
Santhanam, Narasimhan. Algae Oil Extraction
Lacey, Stephen. Are Genetically Modified Algae a Threat?
National Energy Foundation. Biomass http://www.nef.org.uk/renewableenergy/biomass.htm
Ravilious, Kate. How Can Burning Wood Help Reduce Global Warming? http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/oct/15/thisweekssciencequestions.uknews

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Highlights from the 2011 RETECH Conference & Expo!

September 20-22, 2011 marked this year’s annual RETECH Conference and Exhibition, which brought together over 3,000 representatives from all of the renewable energy technologies, industries, and applications in one place. RETECH provides financial leaders, government officials, industry executives, utilities, and other professionals an annual update on renewable energy. The event is divided into two parts; the first is the Business Conference, which includes 250 industry-leading speakers, covering all of the key technologies, as well as cross-sections on markets, finance, and policy. The second is a large scale Trade Show Exhibition, which features hundreds of companies and organizations displaying the industries newest technologies and products.

Highlights from the Business Conference:

The conference was divided into several ‘tracks’ that attendees chose to focus on. They covered a variety of important issues and challenges facing renewable energy.

The keynote speakers at this year’s conference covered a number of interests and backgrounds and offered their unique insights on the future of renewable energy. The 2011 keynote speakers were:

Senator Murkowski, the ranking Republican of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and is a key leader on U.S. energy and renewable energy policy.

The Honourable James L. Connaughton, as Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Public and Environmental Policy, directs Constellation Energy’s environmental and energy policy matters, as well as public and government affairs.

Gina F. Adams is Corporate Vice President for Government Affairs at FedEx Corporation. As a lawyer and the company’s lobbyist, she works with Administration officials, members of Congress, and industry associations on domestic and international commerce and transportation issues.

Johannes Remmel, Minister for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Affairs of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia since July, 2010.

Highlights from the Trade Show Exposition:

Exhibitors at this year’s trade show ranged from: engineers, architects, NGO’s, financial services, geothermal power, insurance companies, R & D companies, government, educational institutions, wind components, and solar heating to name a few.

The following list of exhibitors may not be familiar to everyone, but you will see more of them in the future. They represent a slice of the innovative thinkers and change-agents that were present at the Trade Show.

25x'25 - A rallying cry for renewable energy in America – to get 25% of our energy from renewable resources like bioenergy, wind and solar by 2025.

New South Equipment Mats- Their motto is MINIMUM IMPACT. MAXIMUM ACCESS. Customers can buy or rent affordable, eco-friendly composite or hardwood laminate mats from New South Equipment Mats. Earthsafe, a division of New South, specializes in environmentally critical sites.

Standard Solar- They excels in turn key engineering, procurement, installation and financing of solar energy systems for residential, commercial, educational, municipal, federal government, and utility customers.

International Self-Powered Building Council (ISPBC)- Dedicated to the deployment of power-generating buildings leading to new economy and jobs. ISPBC provides consultation, certification and training services to worldwide members.

Stoel Rives, LLP- As a pioneer among U.S. law firms serving the renewable energy industry, Stoel Rives has been involved in offshore renewable energy initiatives since the beginning. From wave, tidal, and other hydrokinetic projects to offshore wind development, they are committed to every facet of this emerging market.

With the success of the 3rd RETECH Conference and Expo, organizers are already planning the next RETECH, to be held October 17-19, 2012. All information for interested attendees and exhibitors can be found at RETECH 2012.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! If there is something else you'd like to know write to us at info@endeavorscorp.com and we'll do our best to address it for you! For more information go to http://www.endeavorscorp.com/ or write to us if you want to get involved. Have a green day!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Composting for a Greener Future

Like our friends at 505-Junk, we believe in finding solutions to problems. By using waste for other needs, we can not only help remove the waste (problem/solution #1) but also put it to good use (problem/solution #2). Composting is a great way to reduce your garbage output and environmental footprint! Compost is a form of biomass and is directly related to going green.
By composting you can help the environment by naturally recycling a large majority of your household waste into nutrient-rich soil. Your trash contribution that ends up in landfills is reduced, and using compost instead of chemical fertilizers will also reduce pollution! By composting you can also help your plants by feeding them nutrients.  Compost is great for your garden’s soil, improving its fertility and ability to hold moisture.  A richer soil means healthier and more productive plants. If you are able to grow some of your own fruits and vegetables this is a great way to support their nutritious value!
How does it work?
The science behind composting is fairly simple, the process actually occurs frequently in nature! When a plant dies, it is consumed by animals of all sizes. The result is a combination of digested and undigested food that is left on the forest floor. This mixture, in turn, becomes a rich, soft and sweet-smelling soil. Compost does not leave a foul smell unlike most fertilizers. Similarly, when your kitchen scraps are exposed to air and bacteria, fungi will go to work on it and break down the organic material into simpler substances. It only takes two to three months before it is completely transformed into a dark, earthy soil-like substance!
Easy composting guide
1) Assemble your composting area
You will need a clear space of about three square feet where the composter will be placed. A composter can be purchased (available at most hardware / home and garden stores) or home-made.
There are two types of composters available: open bins and enclosed containers.
Open bins are made out of wood, chicken wire or recycled plastic. The advantages to using an open bin are that it is convenient for adding materials and it easily collects rain water. However, they can often attract rodents and pests, become too wet if not covered, become more difficult to mix and are usually an eyesore. Large scale municipal composting usually operates using the open bin method, but without using a bin. Bulldozers are frequently used to mix the compost heaps so container walls are not practical.
Enclosed containers are more aesthetically pleasing and they do not attract pests; but they do require you to add water.  Enclosed containers are available in two different designs: upright box-like containers and rotating drums. It is difficult to mix the compost in an upright container while rotating drums are easier to mix and unload. Make sure to choose a composter that is right for you.
You will also need a tool to stir the compost with (a pitchfork works well) and a sealable container to collect kitchen scraps that will be added to the compost.
Open Bin Composter
Enclosed Upright Container

Enclosed Rotating Drums Container
2) Collect the right composting materials
It is important to collect the right materials to add to your compost. The materials that you collect are categorized into either “greens” or “browns”.
Greens are materials are fresh, moist and contain a high amount of nitrogen. Examples of greens include grass clippings, green leaves, weeds, fruit and vegetable peelings and scraps, tea bags, pasta, coffee grounds, stale bread and eggshells.
Browns are materials that are dry and contain a high amount of carbon. Examples of browns include dry leaves, dried grass, straw/hay, wood chips, sawdust, napkins, dryer lint and vacuum cleanings.
It is usually not a problem to have too much of the brown category materials (it will just take longer to compost), but too much of the green category can be a problem. Greens alone will decompose quickly at first, but then will just stall leaving a smelly pile of garbage instead of compost. Generally, it is good to have a mixture containing approximately four parts of browns and one part greens.

3) Keep the compost healthy
You must also add oxygen (air) and maintain the right level of moisture in your compost. The compost must be moist like a wrung out sponge, but not soggy. Remember to turn the contents of the heap to work air into the pile. It is good to do this at least twice a month to help break down the contents and prevent odor.

Composting Tips
The composting process works best when the materials are small. Shred weeds and trimmings.
Don't add thick layers of any one kind of waste. Grass should not be more than 6 cm deep and leaves up to 15 cm deep (cut or chop or dry and crumble them). If you can, let grass dry first or mix it with dry, coarse material such as leaves to prevent compacting.
You can add materials to your composter all winter long. The breakdown process slows down or stops when the pile is frozen, but it will start up again in the spring. Thorough turning in the spring will reactivate the pile.  Empty the composter in the fall to make plenty of room.
If you’re short on space, try vermicomposting indoors. Or ask if you can contribute to a neighbour’s compost heap. In exchange, you agree to turn the contents on alternate weekends and share in the proceeds.
If you don't have a garden, donate your finished compost to schools and other community groups for use in their landscaping.
Vermicomposting (Worm Composting)
For those that do not have the space available for composting (i.e. people who live in apartments), vermicomposting is a great alternative. Instead of creating a compost pile outdoors, you can collect kitchen vegetable scraps in a container and use worms to digest it. The worms turn your scraps into a very rich fertilizer.
Many communities also offer composting programs to help you get started. Check out the following for links for information on programs in your community:
Sources:The Garden of Oz

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! If there is something else you'd like to know write to us at info@endeavorscorp.com and we'll do our best to address it for you! For more information go to http://www.endeavorscorp.com/ or write to us if you want to get involved. Have a green day!