Energy Independence

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What‘‘s Your Contribution To Energy Independence?

Composting, organics recycling and renewable energy from biomass can move the world toward independence from fossil fuels. The first step to Energy Independence is calculating your barrel of oil equivalent…

What is a “Barrel of Oil Equivalent?”

“Barrel of oil equivalents” apply not only to direct energy production, e.g. from anaerobic digestion, landfill gas recovery and ethanol, but also from substituting petroleum-based products like chemical fertilizers and erosion control silt fence with recycled organic residuals and compost.

Chuck Henry from the University of Washington, provides this example:

Canola can yield about 115 gallons of oil/acre. But, you have to grow the crop

and make the biodiesel, so let’s say 60% efficiency, then the net yield is

69 gallons/acre.

One truck of biosolids can fertilize 2 acres. Roundtrip for that truck from

Seattle to Yakima (380 mi) uses about 76 gallons of diesel. So if you

fertilize 2 acres (producing a net of 138 gallons), then what you have left

after getting the biosolids there is 62 gallons per truck load

of biosolids (and transportation is nearly CO2 neutral).

If all the biosolids in Seattle went to this energy production, there is the

potential for producing nearly 1,000,000 gallons of biodiesel; after using

some for production and transportation, there would be an excess of 250,000

gallons of biodiesel/year.

(This data is based on a research project in Washington State, intiated by the University of Washington, that quantifies canola plant yields using municipal biosolids as a fertilizer.)

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Biocycle Journal
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Rodrigo Imbelloni
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