A blog from University of Borås

Monday, August 22, 2011

Waste Recovery: From Indonesian scavengers to Swedish Royal family

In Feb. 2006, I traveled to Indonesia to consider starting a research collaboration on ethanol with Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. However, the huge difference in waste treatment in Sweden and Indonesia, changed our minds and we put waste treatment in focus. It was starting a long jurnery that I and my friend Olle Engström (politition and member of city council in Borås) started together since Nov. 2006.

Today, there are several organization involved in waste recovery, including our university, City of Borås and its political instrument, the research institute SP, the municipal company Borås Energy and Environment, the local authorities in Sjuhärad (several municipalites) and about 15 companies. Our work started in Indonesia and is now extended to Vietnam, China, Nigeria, Brazil, USA, in addition to several other countries that we are now discussing to start collaboration.

There are almost continuous visitors from other countries to Borås and even the model of collaboration (double triple helix) is now extending to develop into other areas.

We are very happy to see this work is even interesting to our royal family. They will visit us next week and will listen to our rector Björn Brorström about waste recovery.

It is great moment for us, who see one day scavengers, one day polititions, one day company managers and one day his magesty Carl XVI Gustav and the Queen Silvia.

(Walking on top of a hill of closed landfill in Sao Paulo, Brazil)

(An scavenger in a gargage sea in Lagos, Nigeria)

(An scavenger in Pontianak, Indonesia)

Friday, August 19, 2011

District heat: A major advantage of Swedish energy system

District heat (or fjärrvärme in Swedish) is a costly investment, but with many advantages. In many countries in the world there is a network of electricity, but not district heat or chill as we have in Sweden. When you burn coal, oil, nuclear energy, biomass etc. to produce electricity, the efficiency is generally about 40%. It means just 40% of the original energy is recovered in form of electricity, while the rest of the energy (about 60%) will be lost in form of heat. Therefore, we see big cooling towers as part of the power plants.

There is similar problem in industries. When the industries consume energy (electricity, oil etc.) to run their equipment, a major part of this energy is converted to heat, and in many cases, they have to get rid of this energy (heat).

Sweden is a cold country with the average temperature of 4.8 C for the whole country through the year. Many cities in Sweden have district heat system to heat up the houses. The energy companies burn waste, biomass etc. and produce electricity and the rest of the energy is fed to this distric heat system and transported to the households. It creates a good income by:
1) getting paid via collecting the wastes,
2) selling electricity
3) selling district heat
In addition, the companies (such as refineries) with waste heat are connected to this network of district heat. It means an extra income for these companies, while their competitors in other countries have to pay to get rid of this energy.

In Sweden, 69 TWh district heat was produced in 2010, where 9 TWh was lost through the system and 60 TWh was delivered to the households. The energy source was dominated by hosehold wastes and biomass (figure below). The complete report can be found here!

(Distric heat production in Sweden in 2010 from different energy sources)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Energy use in Sweden 2030

There was a recent report from The Swedish Energy Agency showing the total energy use in Sweden will increase to 662 TWh, which is 5% more than its level in 2007 which was 629 TWh. The prognosis shows 30 TWh increase in electrity production, in which the wind turbines will produce 10 TWh more electricity. When it comes to the market, the industry will incease their energy consumption, while the household and services will reduce their consumptions.

The total consumption of transportation fuels in Sweden will reduce from 126 TWh to 125 TWh. However, the development of different fuels will be different. While the consumption of gasoline will be drastically reduced, the consumption of the biofuels and diesel will be increased. As shown in this fugure, the biggest jump will be the biogas. You can read the whole report here (in Swedish)!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How was the weather?

Good weather here in Europe means sunny, while bad weather usually corresponds to rainy weather. There are similar definitions among people in many countries. However, in several parts of the world, people are suffering from the shortage or lack of "rain". I was in my home town in Isfahan, which is a beautiful city in Iran, and a turist attract of the country. However, the big river of the city was dry this summer, because of the lack of rain. It resulted for 300,000 of the farmers in the eastern part of the city to lose their job!

We see also on the news that people in African horn are starving to death. These are not the only regions that suffer from the too "good" weather (sunny and no rain). North of Africa, Middle East, Spain, Iran, Pakistan, India, USA, Mexico, Australia, etc. (that are located around 30 degree in latitude) are partly or totally suffered from the dryness. These climate changes are partly affected by global warming and increasing the level of greenhouse gases such as CO2. The capacity of our earth is not enough to absorb our emissions. So, we should continue suffering from these disasters!

(An old bridge in Isfahan over a river that was once full of water)