Posts tagged ‘Waste’

July 27, 2011

Carbon capture and utilisation could contribute in green economy

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Investing in techniques of utilising CO2 is nothing new and converting CO2 into commercially viable products such as bio-oils, chemicals, fertilisers and fuels could offer economic sense and possibility for reducing carbon emissions.

Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) includes using waste CO2 as a chemical feedstock for the synthetics of other chemicals, as a chemical source of carbon for mineral carbonisation reactions to produce construction materials, and as a nutrient and CO2 source to make algae grow and supply fuels and chemicals.

Unlike US which is spending $1bn on CCU research, including a project at Sandia Laboratories to make synthetic diesel from carbon dioxide, and the German government is putting €118m into a project with Bayer to research the use of carbon dioxide as a raw material; Australia is seeking to manufacture cement using the carbon dioxide from power plants, and in several places around the world, algae is being cultivated that would absorb the gas and used as biofuels, UK currently has no plans for investment in demonstration scale of CCU technologies.

According to a report published by Centre for Low Carbon Futures, Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the Green Economy , CCU can be profitable with short payback times on investment, but UK is lagging behind most developed countries in terms of investment and focus on the technology with the majority of the research funding directed to towards Carbon Capture and storage (CCS).

Peter Styring, a professor at the University of Sheffield, one of the authors of the report said: “The UK government needs to invest in R&D for carbon capture and utilisation and investors need to be made aware of the potential benefits of the technology so that barriers can be brought down. Our report shows that all CCU options could be relevant to the UK and given its business-oriented academic community, the UK could benefit from the commercialisation of the technologies involved.”

He believes that there are real possibilities in CCU, although some of the technology has been developed, some is in the early stage and there are cases where a new chemistry needs to be developed.

In most conversion processes predicted for CCU is expected a high energy input but the report says that this could be provided by renewable energy, especially when wind or solar plants are producing energy at times of low demand.

However, the re-use of  CO2 will probably take years to adopt and suitable cost efficient technology to be developed, knowing that CO2 could be other than waste is worth to be investigated.

February 5, 2011

Solar industry raises concerns of potential e-waste

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Reducing the use of fossil fuel, cutting greenhouse gases and other air pollution emissions have become recognised necessities; the recent explosive growth of solar technology is a welcomed occurrence because of the expected energy crisis.

Thankfully, the Sun is most widely available energy resource.

However, solar modules contain some of the potentially dangerous substances found in electronic waste, including silicon tetrachloride, cadmium, selenium and sulphur hexafluoride, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that e-waste is growing at two to three times the rate of any other source of waste; furthermore, only 15 to 20 per cent of e-waste is recycled.

The crystalline photovoltaic cell is the oldest and most widespread solar technology in the United States, holding a 57 per cent market share in 2009, according to Greentech Media. A thin film technology called cadmium telluride holds about 21 per cent, while copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) currently has a market share of just 6 per cent. Amorphous silicon, which also has an indium tin oxide layer, takes 16 per cent.

Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition (SCTC) issued a report in 2009 warning that solar panels provide clean energy while in use, but a variety of factors during their manufacturing and disposal has the potential to greatly damage the environment.

Now is the right time to recognise the necessary measures for the solar industry to remain sustainable and retain it green credibility. Although solar panels have a life expectancy of approximately 25 years, and it is not expected for large amounts of modules to be returned for another 10 to 15 years for recycling or disposal, there is a big e-waste potential.

It is important to build proper infrastructure and address the issues of producer responsibility, recycling in an attempt to avoid the danger of electronic waste and future plans for the disposal of solar panels that are no longer needed.

Still, most companies that are beginning recycling programmes today are proceeding under the assumption that recycling will be costly. They are preparing for that expense by creating a variety of funding mechanisms based on the principle of producer responsibility, The Guardian wrote on 3 September 2010.

Currently there is nothing much to recycle except…..

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