Baxter Black: Biomass
August 13, 2011
At a time when self-righteous environmental groups are trying to block solar power, and self-described green politicians are preventing "Not in my Backyard" wind power, our much maligned real power utilities continue to search for greener fuel options.
It is not unusual that the bluster of the often government-subsidized non-profit anti's impede progress through frivolous litigation. Yet the workers in the trenches who furnish us with light, fuel, heat and electricity soldier on with these parasitic envirosites clinging to them like ticks under a donkey's tail.
For 20 years, coal-burning plants have been experimenting with biomass as a fuel or co-fuel with coal. Biomass, by definition, is also a fossil fuel, only much "fresher," geologically speaking. In most cases it is wood-waste, the byproduct of lumber mills.
After Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina, one of their national parks was devastated. All the trees were down. The Forest Service chipped the trees and the local power plants burned the product with coal, up to 15 percent. Today the envirosites would stop them in their tracks.
Feedlots and dairies have always been interested in ways to recycle cow manure as energy or as cud-pleasing condiments. Though it might sound queasy to the squeamish, even humans develop a taste for Brie cheese, goose liver and fungi.
I'm thinking if southern power plants really wanted to recycle, how about kudzu? My gosh, it's hanging on every power pole from Macon to Memphis. They could compost it, ensile it or lay it out on Interstates 10 and 20 to be dried and flattened. Then cut it in chunks like peat and burn it along with the loblolly stumps and chitlins.
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If you're looking for abundant biomass trash, think about Christmas trees in January, flowers after Mother's Day, Easter eggs in May and pumpkin heads after Halloween. Consider the waste in discarded Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, wooden matches, and even give-away yardsticks. And speaking of flammable, paper of all kinds, including Charmin, well, maybe not Charmin, but Kleenex, losing lotto tickets, receipts from a Wendy's square meal and Circle K 16-oz. cups of coffee. How many of those receipts do you wad up every year and toss?
Newspapers could be classed as organic biomass, especially if you have been using it to train the puppy.
We all should remain vigilant to the items in life that could be considered recyclable. There could come a day when every home, apartment complex, restaurant and chicken farm will have its own self-producing power source. Which means as long as I keep writing this column on my Big Chief tablet, I should generate enough paper to heat my home. So keep on subscribing, friends, it gets cold here in Arizona in January.