Renewable Energy Workshop is Nov. 4

PSEG solar farmA solar installer whose headquarters has its own sun-powered system and the largest solar farm in Ohio, which covers an area equal to some 80 football fields, are two of the highlights of the 2015 Renewable Energy Workshop. The event, which CFAES is sponsoring, is Nov. 4 in Carey in northwest Ohio. Read more here. Download the flier and registration form here. (Photo: PSEG solar farm in Wyandot County by Ken Chamberlain, CFAES Marketing and Communications.)

Nov. 12 forecast: Sunny. Windy. Anaerobic digestively

solar panels for GBExperts from industry and academia will share their expertise on emerging green energy opportunities during a daylong workshop to be held Nov. 12 at CFAES’s research arm in Wooster, OARDC. Press release here. Event flier with agenda and registration form here. There’s a discount for early registration (by Nov. 4) and for students. (Photo: iStock.)

EcoSummit preview: ‘None meet ASTM standards for biodegradability’

More from Eddie Gomez on his EcoSummit presentation:

“The amount of carbon in various commercially available bioplastics and natural fibers converted to CO2 (and methane) was determined during soil incubation, composting, and anaerobic digestion.” (The materials included biopolymers made from corn starch and polylactic acid; natural fibers such as coconut coir; and conventional plastics amended with additives claiming to confer biodegradability.)

“Although certain biopolymers and natural fibers appear to biodegrade to an appreciable extent, none meet ASTM standards for biodegradability or compostability.

“Conventional plastics containing additives did not biodegrade differently than non-additive-containing plastics.”

EcoSummit preview: Alternatives to conventional plastics?

From Eddie Gomez on his EcoSummit presentation:

“Plastics are increasingly causing pollution problems in natural environments due to their recalcitrant nature. Various new materials have recently begun to be marketed that claim to biodegrade or compost during waste treatment. These materials include conventional plastics amended with additives that are meant to confer biodegradability or compostability as well as plastics made from biopolymers, and natural-fiber-based materials.

“Different industries are particularly interested in these materials as alternatives to conventional plastics that are neither compostable nor biodegradable.”

View this Washington Post photo gallery as one example of plastics’ “recalcitrant nature.”

EcoSummit preview: Do bioplastics biodegrade?

A look at some of the presentations by CFAES scientists at EcoSummit 2012, which starts Sept. 30:

“Biodegradation of Bioplastics and Natural Fibers During Composting, Anaerobic Digestion, and in Soil” by Eddie Gomez and Fred Michel, both of the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering. Part of the seminar titled “Ecological Engineering: Designing and Restoring Ecosystem Services,” Oct. 4, session 2, 4-5:45 p.m.

Read an article by Michel on bioplastics and global warming here.


EcoSummit preview: What goes into (and comes out of) a biodigester in winter?

From Abby Tamkin on her EcoSummit presentation:

“We looked at the effect of loading rate on performance in lab-scale anaerobic digesters that were modeled after a temperate climate (like Ohio’s). We used the temperatures experienced by our pilot-scale digester at (CFAES’s) Waterman dairy farm to create a simplified temperature schedule for the lab-scale study […]

“The digester with the lowest loading rate — longest retention time, the bacteria had a long time to decompose the material — was able to recover from the simulated winter and produce biogas again, while the digesters with the higher organic loading rates ‘soured’ as the temperature decreased — the pH dropped and they stopped producing biogas.”

EcoSummit preview: Toward small-farm, on-farm, energy-making power plants

A look at some of the presentations by CFAES scientists at EcoSummit 2012, which starts Sept. 30:

“Comparing Recovery in Psychrophilic Lab-scale Biodigesters of Differing Organic Loading Rates” by Abby Tamkin and Jay Martin of the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering and James Rosenblum of Ohio State’s College of Public Health. Part of the symposium titled “Ecological Engineering: Designing and Restoring Ecosystem Services.” Oct. 4, session 1, 10:15 a.m.-12:35 p.m. Martin and Bill Mitsch, School of Environment and Natural Resources, are chairing the symposium.

See Martin and Tamkin talk about their work: Click here, hit play, and jump to 2:58.

Anaerobic digestion: Check out this first-ever training course

In September, the research arm of our college, OARDC, will hold a first-of-its-kind training course on anaerobic digestion, which is a waste-management process that livestock farms and wastewater plants are increasingly using to produce biogas, a type of renewable fuel. Here’s the brochure (pdf).