Monday, April 5, 2010

How Municipalities Create Revenue from Waste to Energy Technology

Here’s a technology form N-Viro International Corp. that few people know about but is already changing the way municipalities are dealing with the problem of organic waste disposal. The reason is that it creates renewable energy from bio-solid waste products from municipalities; solving a perennial problem and generating income at the same time. It makes use of a waste to energy process that produces sustainable opportunity fuels and pasteurized fertilizer—products that are of great market value in this age. When municipalities used to reek with unwanted sludge in their drains and sewers, now there’s money and opportunities for the communities. By using this waste to energy technology, it would be like municipalities have struck gold or oil.

There are different sources of alternative energy and fertilizer, but perhaps the most practical sources are waste products. That’s what companies like N-Viro does. It’s a company that’s been moving for two decades already to make beneficial products from wastes a standard in soil-enrichment and power generation in the United States and elsewhere.  Its patented processes are able to turn organic and other wastes into useful products for agriculture and power generation—two industries that are affected by climate change and fossil fuel shortage.

N-Viro has developed and tested its products in places where the technology is already licensed to municipalities. To make N-Viro Soil, its soil enrichment product, the company combines bio-solid organic wastes with alkaline byproducts from the cement and electricity-generation industries. The materials go through a defined disinfection and pasteurization process to ensure it is safe for agricultural use. On the other hand, its N-Viro Fuel is a compound of coal from Eastern Ohio and either bio-solids or manure. The resulting waste to energy product, now called “clean coal,” promises to give new life to former coal-burning power plants. Tests at the Michigan State University plant resulted in passing environmental scores.

The green renewable energy technologies used by N-Viro have been around for a while and when N-Viro was just starting a couple of decades ago, it was already ahead of its time, according to CEO Timothy Kasmoch (top; left). Now that there are global warming- and fossil fuel- problems, N-Viro takes the lead in educating and offering municipalities in the US and other parts of the world to use its technology to help solve bio-solid waste disposal problems and generate much-needed revenue at the same time.

The people behind N-Viro are excited because there are bigger opportunity now for municipalities because of the greater volume of wastes produced by various industries. Let’s not forget the sewage from households that only rots in the drains of cities, polluting soil and waterways. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) upholds strict laws like the Clean Water Act which regulates new pollutants in sewage sludge. Regulations require that such wastes be dumped in landfills, composted, or incinerated. But with the use of N-Viro green technology, there will be less need for a regulatory approach in the management of wastes. Any program concerning it will also become an incentive for waste-collection. The more recyclable waste material accumulated, the more money will be generated for municipalities. The only thing they have to do to make this happen is to be a licensee of N-Viro.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Braille Internet Pages for the Blind

Those who are visually-impaired may now be able to surf the Internet just like normal seeing people with a new technology based on the one-liner Braille system used to translate text from the computer into raised Braille dots. Lead inventor Dr. Peichun Yang is perfecting the system at the Carolina State University. He says the while the current one line refreshable Braille device (left) is already useful, improving it and enabling it to display a whole page brings in another world from the Internet to blind people.

Yang, who is blind himself, said the new Braille technology will allow whole pages of from the Internet to be displayed using raised dots to form text and even images. The system is fast and can refresh in just milliseconds. It's able to be so fast because it uses a hydraulic and latching mechanism combined. This is what raises the thousands of dots which serve as the "pixels" of the display. In a way, they create a form of bas relief to represent visual images that can be touched by the visually-impaired.

Each dot (represented above in the graphics) is like a small bag than can shift its shape. Each bag is filled with a liquid. With the application of an electric current, each bag is compressed and the liquid inside is pushed up, creating a bump that "registers" as a pixel or dot. The technology has been used before but it had limitations. The problem that Yang solved involved creating a "latch" for the raised container which kept it in place as the blind reader moves his or her fingers over them and until the pressure needs to be released. The tiny mechanism has a pin that is connected to a support block. The pin keeps the dot raised until the page is refreshed.

Yang hopes to the the technology out for the blind to use soon but it may be best to have materials that will last long enough for the device to be used for a long time until breaking down from too much touching. This is a common problem with polymer-based materials. Yang and colleagues presented the new technology at the International Conference on Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices in San Diego, California.

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