The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Phase Two: Food Waste

Taking the focus back down to the subdivision level, what might be possible to achieve once an algae biodiesel plant has been set up. The central location in the subdivision where the plant and gas station can be set up would also be the site of several other pocket industries. In most of the next developmental phases, these industries are waste management related. This development can happen either within or outside of the waste management concept I've already talked about. The reason for this is simple: throwing away garbage creates no revenue. Processing it creates revenue. We are simply foolish to let the opportunity to generate revenue get buried in a landfill instead of exploiting it. It also happens to be more environmentally friendly. Funny that, eh? Both making money and saving the environment! I love it.

Right, the first waste stream to begin work on is the one it seems most people don't have any time for: organics. Food waste. A two-tier system would be highly useful in this phase. Black Soldier Fly (BSF) could compost the organics received first, and vermiculture could be used in the second tier. I've already talked a lot about BSF and vermicomposting is a reasonably well-worn technique. One thing to note: the two systems are complimentary. BSF digest food very rapidly, on the order of kilograms a day. Worms are slower to digest whole foods. When the worms process BSF waste, however, they process it much faster. What's more, items high in cellulose, which BSF find hard to digest, are easily digested by worms. BSF reduce the total volume of waste by 10 or 20 times each day so long as there is adequate surface area. Worms can then take those castings and turn them into superb humus. In the process, the byproduct of loads of BSF larvae and worms are produced, along with compost tea and vermicompost. These things are eminently marketable.

In the case of the worms and BSF larvae, the nutritional profile of the little beasties just happens to be rather good for fish feed. This, with a little algae residue left over from the biodiesel, would combine into a protein-and -fat rich fish pellet if properly processed. BSF and worms also produce chitin, which is oddly enough a useful flocculant in helping algae settle out of solutions. If the BSF and vermiculture operation was paired with a fish feed company that also harvested chitin, it could feed back into the algae biodiesel processor to increase efficiency in algae recovery! The system would then feed back into upsteam products as well as take leftover algal biomass (typically equal to the weight of oil extracted) and put it into a nutritious dry fish feed.

The nice thing about this arrangement is that all the byproducts of the biodiesel process are now spoken for (except the trace glycol, but I have heard of systems that feed the glycol back into the process). We are now handling food waste - which could be collected on a daily basis, feeding in from restaurants as well as homes - and producing a nutritious dry fish feed for profit. We also have leftover vermicompost and compost tea to sell into the next phase of the program.

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