A blog from University of Borås

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The secret of success: To feel good!

There are companies, products, services, religions, societies, organisation that are quite successful in marketing and selling their products to people and some not. What is the ultimate secret of success?

-We love money and we want to have a better income. Why? Because we feel good with more money!
-We love having power (e.g. become president or company manager). Why? Because we feel good with having the power!
-We love our religions, regardless what it is, or even it is secularism. Why? Because we feel good with the religion!
-We love to buy things (cars, telephones, houses, clothes, etc.). Why? Because we feel good to have them!
-We get married, or stay alone. Why? Because we feel good with it.
-We see some successful people. What is the secret of their success? Because they had good feeling with what they did and kept working without giving up!
-We sometimes have war and kill each other. Why? Because, the decision makers feel good with having more power and perhaps killing the enemies.
-and so on....

Think about whatever we do and what we believe into! The ultimate reason is that we feel good with it. It is a major secret of success that some companies, religions etc. apply. You should feel good with their products and services, so you invest in it!

Can we apply this concept to improve our environment? The tricky point is that we should provide a reason that people and decision makers feel good with our suggestions. They should feel better with it comparing to what they do to damage it. Let see if we succeed!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sweden, the European champion in biomethane

Sweden with less than 10 million inhabitants has more than 36,000 cars, 1500 buses and 500 heavy duty trucks running on biogas or biomethane. This country has an old gas grid in the western part of the country for natural gas from North Sea, but it is now connected to many biogas plants to deliver the gas to the pump stations in this region. However, the biogas is not just in this part, as we have local networks in e.g. Stockholm region, Borås, Linköping etc. The gas is compressed and then delivered to the cars (by quick filling), buses and trucks (long filling e.g. over night).

As the gas delivery to the stations should be secured, natural gas is used as the back up. It can be delivered via the grid e.g. in the west and south of the country, or from the stored liquified natural gas (LNG) for the other parts of the country. 

The biogas production in this country is still developing. The government has recently decided to contribute to the biogas production by the farmers, while a big project on biogas production via gasification in Göteborg (GoBiGas) is going to produce biogas in 2014. Let's wait for more exciting news about biogas in Sweden!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Waste Gasification Plants: A myth or future reality?

Wastes is now burnt in many countries in processes called incineration or combustion. If a little oxygen is provided, the process will be called gasification, producing a dirty syngas (mainly hydrogen and carbon monoxide with many other impurities).

There are a lot of efforts to gasify wastes. However, in many of the gasifiers, the gas is further burnt with more air to produce electricity (and probably heat). In this case, it is not a gasification, but a 2-steps combustion. It makes a question on why we make it in a two-steps and not just a normal combustion as it is commercially running today. On the other hand, if we clean the syngas, it can be converted into many products using e.g. Fischer-Tropsch process. However, it is an expensive process and very difficult to run on a non-homogenious material as e.g. household wastes.

The process of "2-step combustion" via gasification is still developing, which a good news that might lead to commercial processes and more technical developments in the future. The Tees Valley process in the North East of UK is to be the biggest gasifier (if I call 2-step combustion) with a kick-off in 2014. I believe we still need further development for a "real gasification", but let's hope for more good news in the future!!!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Waste management and art

In textile industry, they usually show the beauty of the products in fashion shows. However, when we look at the process of making these beautiful clothes, we see the dirty processes of e.g. bleaching in chemicals or the buildings of sewing companies that collapsed in Bangladesh a few months ago.

On the other hand, when we talk about waste and waste management, the picture that is usually pop up is the dump sites and dirty environment, and no beauty. However, in a recent attempt to change this picture, a Danish waste combustion plant in Copenhagen is making a beautiful site as a hill to ski (remember that Denmark in a flat country with no hills and mountains) and also the smokes come out as a big vortex. See the film here!

(The new waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen, Denmark)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Swedish TV: electricity from rotten fruits in Indonesia

A few years ago, we have installed a biogas plant at a fruit market in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to take care of  their wastes and produce biogas for electricity production. Now, a reporter from Swedish Television (SVT) visited the plant and made a report. You can see the report here!

(A report by Niklas Sjögren, Swedish TV-SVT on electricity and biogas production from fruit wastes)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Is Palm Oil a sustainable product?

As we heard in the news, it is difficult to breath in Singapore now. It is because of people burn forests in Sumatra (an Indonesian island) and wind takes the smoke to Singapore and Malaysia. But why?

It is now decades that Palm oil industries has grown and is still growing well in Malaysia and Indonesia in several islands such as Borneo (Kalimantan) and Sumatra that were covered by forest before. The oil is used as food, and in industries and also to produce biodiesel. The market is well established and it has created a great job markets for the people who live in those areas.

The companies look for new plantation areas, which goes sometimes illegal and jeopardize the forests and its wild lives, and creates environmental problems such as this one now in Singapore and Malaysia. However, we should remember that most of the owners of the palm oil companies are from Singapore and Malaysia!!
I think the best solution to these problems are to create a strong public debates and monitoring by independent media. People in those area and also the rest of the world should promote long-term sustainable plantations and palm oil production, in which all the aspects should be considered.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

New textile digesters for biogas from households wastes

Organic or biological or compostable wastes (food, vegetables, etc.) is a major fraction of household wastes. On the other hand, households need energy or fuel for cooking, which is usually gas (LPG or natural gas), kerosene, electricity or charcoal. Biogas (that is similar to natural gas) is also used for cooking and lightening at households. The biogas is produced in reactors or digesters that is usually made of concrete, bricks, or stainless steels, and for the small ones, also plastics or fiberglass. However, these digesters are usually expensive and demand financial subsidiary to be economically feasible for households.

A Swedish company (FOV) has recently developed biogas reactors from specific textile materials that is resistant to the digestion condition. Our PhD students (Karthik and Solmaz) have tested a textile reactor of such materials at the lab for more than a year and it works quite well. It is strong, gas tight, portable and resistance to the chemicals and bacteria present in the digesting media. The reactors have a lifetime of at least 10 years according to the company. These reactors can be used at households to produce biogas for cooking from their kitchen wastes. Read more about these reactors and their economical feasibility here!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Parliamentary Assembly - Union for Mediterranean (PA-UfM) and Waste Recovery

The Euro-Mediterranean parliamentary Assembly is active since 2004 with 47 countries from Europe, Middle East and North Africa, where parliamentarians share their knowledge and help each other on:
  • Political Affairs, Security, and Human Rights;
  • Economic and Financial Affairs, Social Affairs, and Education;
  • Improving Quality of Life, Exchanges between Civil Societies, and Culture;
  • Women's Rights in Euromed countries;
  • Energy, Environment, and Water.
In the last week, Swedish Parliament was the host for the meeting of "Energy, Environment, and Water" committee in Stockholm, where about 20-30 countries were participated. I and my colleague Hans Björk were invited to talk about Waste Recovery and our international partnership on improving waste management and resource recovery in the world. Considering the challenging waste manegement in many European countries, our intertion for this year and next year is to invest more time and efforts on sharing knowledge and technology on improving waste management in Europe and this meeting was a good opportunity to initiate this collaborations!
(The share of landfilling of municipal wastes in Europe in 2001- Data from Eurostat)
(A photo of the meeting PA-UfM in Stockholm 27 May 2013)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

United Nation conference in Borås on waste management

United Nation Center for Regional Development (UNCRD) was established in 1971 to promote sustainable regional development in developing countries. One of the aspects in this development is waste management, where sustainability is a great challenge in most of the developing countries and even many industrial counties. Therefore, IPLA (International Partnership for expanding waste management services of Local Authorities) has the mission to promote sustainability in waste management. 

Borås has been a pioneer in waste management and also promoting sustainable waste management in the world. Therefore, IPLA decided to have their next IPLA conference will be in Borås 9-11 September 2013. Let's hope this 911 (Nineeleven) conference will also promote peace and closing the cultures, where waste management is a global problem and need a global solution!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Eurovision 2013 and waste recycling in Sweden

Eurovision Song Contest is the largest TV program in the world. This year, Sweden was the host, thanks to Loreen who van last year. The program had its 57th year, and 39 countries were participated. One of the interesting performances (in addition to the beautiful songs from all these countries) was by the host Petra Mede about different traditions, behaviours and culture in Sweden.

The interesting part of this performance was addition of the tradition of waste recycling in Sweden. In this country, the landfilling of the municipal wastes is less than 1%, while 33% of the whole MSW is recycled. Enjoy the whole performance here!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Biogas from lignocellulosic materials: A PhD thesis

Lignocelluloses are the most important energy and materials source for human being, as they save the solar energy in form of carbohydrates, lignin etc. for us. We have used it for thousands of years as energy source, as it is still used by burning. However, the modern societies nowadays need the energy also in form of biofuels, as we use in e.g. cars. Biogas is one of the major biofuels that is used globally for heating, cooking, lightening, electricity and car fuel.

Now, the question is if we can convert lignocelluloses to biogas. For this purpose, there are two principal technologies under development, where biogas is produced fro lignocelluloses via gasification and fischer-tropsch process, or via bacterial fermentation (digestion). However, the biomass is hard to digest because of lignin and hard crystallinity. As we know, it took about 50 million years that the nature found a way to degrade lignin by the fungi. So, it is a hard work to do...

Our PhD student Anna Teghammar has worked several years to do a pretreatment and ferment the lignocelluloses to biogas. She will defend her thesis next week, so we wish her good luck!

Her thesis is about "Biogas Production from Lignocelluloses: Pretreatment, Substrate Characterization, Co-digestion and Economic Evaluation".

The published papers so far are:
1- Pretreatment of paper tube residuals for improved biogas production.
2- Enhanced biogas production from rice straw, triticale straw and softwood spruce by NMMO pretreatment.
3- Substrate characteristic analysis for anaerobic digestion: A study on rice and triticale straw.
4- Improved Anaerobic Digestion by the Addition of Paper Tube Residuals: Pretreatment, Stabilizing, and Synergetic Effects.