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A new patented process has promise in helping solve the global energy and pollution problems caused by fossil fuel use with a clean form of biomass fuel. This new process makes the collection and processing of biomass and solid waste into a useful fuel practical to provide clean electric power. We in the USA, at only 5% of the world’s population, can reduce Use, Conserve, Recycle, Change Processes, & Develop new Technologies. However, with developing nations demanding more energy to grow their economies, it will be very difficult to keep up with the growing energy demands with resultant pollution no matter what we do here in the USA. Some nations are using very dirty coal and oil and we receive the pollution. Some nations are adding one coal fired power plant every week. Not only do we need to find clean energy solutions we need to educate and export this technology to other countries, and we need to do it soon with near term solutions.

What is fuel made from? Fossil fuel natural gas and oil have much in common with all forms of biomass including plants, wood, solid waste paper & cardboard, animals and people. The common elements are carbon & hydrogen. They are all referred to as hydrocarbons with different combinations of C & H. The main products of complete combustion of hydrocarbons are Energy, Water and Carbon Dioxide. However, complete combustion rarely occurs when biomass is burned, due to the contained moisture and volatile gases that result in considerable pollution. That is why it is not used extensively. Wood in a fireplace may appear dry but may contain 26% moisture.

Problem:
Energy & Pollution The equivalent level of carbon mass taken out to the ground each year, for energy production, and put into our ecosystem is enormous. Over 8 billion tons of fossil fuel carbon is used each year. If the carbon mass were stacked on a football field it would extent over 400 miles high. These 8 billion tons of carbon, when burned, generates over 22 billion tons of carbon dioxide gas or 400 trillion cubic feet in volume, plus other GHG’s and heavy metals, radioactive material and other toxic substances. The bulk of this pollution remains in our atmosphere for many years. This is something we should be concerned about. Most discussions on global warming and climate change refer to carbon dioxide concentrations. The atmosphere near earth’s surface is mainly Nitrogen 78%, Oxygen 21%, Argon 1%. These three add up to 99.96%. All other gases are less than 0.04%. Carbon Dioxide is now at 0.0387%. The carbon dioxide concentration has increased from 265 ppm to over 387 ppm due to fossil fuel use. We need to address this as a global energy and environmental pollution problem. California generates hundreds of millions of tons of solid waste each year. This includes municipal trash like paper and cardboard, waste wood, forest residue, agricultural waste including prunings and animal waste. When left to decay or decompose in landfills the stored suns energy is lost and we gain the pollution in the form of methane, carbon dioxide and many other GHGs. Most biomass and solid waste to energy conversion methods are very energy inefficient and only a very small percentage of solid waste is used for energy.

Solution:
Up until now the only practical near term solution to our global energy problem is the sun. We need to look at available biomass and solid waste as a natural resource and turn it into a solution instead of a problem. Trees absorb carbon dioxide - the main greenhouse gas. One acre of trees can absorb as much as 4 tons of carbon dioxide a year, the same amount as a car driven 26,000 miles. Energy crops such as Switchgrass may produce over 10 tons of useful biomass per acre. What is needed is a clean burning form of biomass that can replace fossil fuels, mainly coal, which is the dirtiest and cheapest fossil fuel. Here in California, the gasification of biomass can have many benefits because almost half of the electric power we use is produced by natural gas. Wood contains moisture and VOC’s and absorbs water from the air. Moisture leads to incomplete combustion when burned and generates many undesirable GHG’s. All types of biomass have not been in a clean burning form. Biomass from energy crops, forests residue, agricultural waste, waste wood and solid waste has a bulk density of 10 to 15 pounds per cubic foot. This bulkiness makes handling, transport and use impractical. Wood pellet mills can now quickly densify and efficiently produce pellets at 40 to 70 pounds per cubic foot and that greatly reduces transporting costs. However, all wood biomass is still hydroscopic and when supplied to power plants is non uniform and high in moisture and results in poor performance. Paper, cardboard and waste wood account for most of the recoverable solid waste and may be converted into a useful carbon neutral fuel instead of being a disposable waste product.