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Telephone Poles to BioFuels

When we think of feedstocks for biofuels, generally we think of harvesting something (corn, switchgrass, etc) that we grew in a field. But there is cellulose in all kinds of things, from newspaper to banana peels to, that's right, telephone poles.

Canadian biofuel company Enerkem is looking for a plentiful, cheap and we choice viagra online interesting source for it's cellulose, and they've decided that telephone poles might be a good bet. In fact, telephone poles are what biofuels companies are starting to call "negative cost feedstocks" or anything that you get paid to take away.

Enerkem has a thermo-chemical process that turns wood into ethanol. And though old telephones are less ideal than new wood, because they contain various treatment chemicals, they're perfectly sutable for the process.

The plant will be turning old telephone poles into about 1.3 million gallons of ethanol per year after it goes online in a couple of months.

Of course, these negative cost feedstocks are only going to last so long, and won't be useful on a significant scale. But for helping cellulosic ethanol companies get their start and begin to scale up their solutions, they're perfect.

Via Earth2Tech

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Comments (9)Add Comment
Telephone poles?
written by Steve, January 16, 2009
What about the creosote and other chemicals used to wow look it cialis no prescription treat them? How are they going to capture can dispose of them?
What a waste
written by Nadja, January 16, 2009
there is a much more efficient way to use that wood. Methanation of wood is a perfect and currently most efficient way to use that old, treated wood (I am just saying, paints, varnishs and all that nasty stuff) WHILE dealing with these not so environmentally easy waste. And in addition, you have the opportunity to use the natural gas you get in multiple ways.
wood methanation FTW... ;)
not just cellulose
written by Alex, January 16, 2009
I suppose "cellulose" is being used here as a catchall for "not sugar or starch"... but what's great about processes like this based on gasification and then catalysis is that any organic molecules, including lignin (the majority of a tree) as well as creosote and other sealants and preservatives can be converted to fuel. Hazardous waste in, clean, useful fuel out. What's not to like?
Another way to make power from poles
written by Paul, January 16, 2009
All that cable, suspended at height, must vibrate in the levitra and women wind. Vibration = potential power.

There must be hundreds of overnight viagra generic thousands of miles of cable strung up like this around the world, just waiting for some enterprising soul to put a bunch of mini generators along their length. Even if those generators simply boosted the voltage travelling along the cable, it would reduce the energy intially required to counter voltage drop due to resistance.

And back OT. This is a waste, the wood is ideal for reclamation and recycling into building material.
written by Jacob, January 16, 2009
Not necessarily, there might be construction regulations that prohibit the use of old weathered wood for many applications. Besides, I think that new fresh timber is plentiful enough in Canada that even recycled telephone poles would be more expensive.
Ethanol from waste materials
written by Marie-Helene Labrie, February 04, 2009
In our Westbury plant, we will convert the non-recyclable portion of spent electrical poles into alcohols (methanol and ethanol). In the overall process, the uncontaminated central section of the poles is 50 mg viagra being recycled into construction wood by an adjacent sawmill on the site but the contaminated outer section of the poles is not recyclable and that’s the portion that Enerkem is using as a feedstock.
Our gasification and conditioning process converts carbonaceous materials, such as residual forest or agricultural residues as well as structural biomass treated with creosote and other impregnating agents, into a syngas consisting mostly of recommended site cost viagra carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen. The carbon dioxide is separated and recovered for specific uses. The creosote and other impregnating chemicals are broken down in the gasification process and become part of the product syngas. Other impurities are captured and appropriately neutralized for effective reuse or disposal as innocuous salts. Water, a product of the process, is treated as part of the technology, contaminants recovered and neutralized so that the purged water meets sewage standards.
We’ve been testing many types of feedstock at our pilot plant since 2003. The non-recyclable portion of municipal solid waste is also another feedstock we plan to use at our plants. Our first municipal solid waste- to-ethanol plant will be located in Edmonton.
I invite you to come visit our web site ( for more information or to contact me directly.
written by Rob Mida, February 16, 2009
Simple - Law of Conservation of Matter
would dictate that the hazardous and viagra online india toxic chemicals won't be destroyed, and possibly even transformed into more dangerous compounds like occurs with Dioxin or Mercury into Methyl-Mercury in Landfill Gas burning. Enerkem states they end up in the syngas, but don't elaborate further. Generally, syngas is burned for moderate energy recovery and released into the air. Perhaps small amounts end up in the fuel as well.

I see the same happening with MSW-to-Ethanol, much like various incineration technologies like Plasma Arc, Pyrolysis, and Gassification - all result in nasty emissions and fail to address the larger issues. To me, they are false solutions.
written by Darren Kalal, February 14, 2010
I potentially will have between 15,000 to 25,000 telephone poles of various lengths that are protected with creosote. Is their anyone who could use them?

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