Some ideas that are in the works.
Do you remember the last time you filled your tank for 50 cents per liter? A recycling facility in Whitehorse is getting heating oil at that bargain price, all the while reducing carbon emissions and cleaning up landfills!
The secret is the first municipal sized plastic-to-oil machine in North America. It was installed at P&M Recycling facility in the fall of 2012.
By shredding waste plastic and then heating it inside a set of pipes and vessels, the Blest machine produces one liter of fuel for every kilogram of plastic fed into it, and produces nearly zero emissions (mostly CO2 - it's so clean that in Whitehorse, it exhausts indoors!).
The machine specializes in plastics with very low recycling value, such as plastic bags, coffee lids, and Styrofoam food containers. Most people don't realize it, but from the north, all plastics intended for recycling are trucked to Vancouver at great expense. While certain plastics like pop bottles are then shipped to China and readily recycled, many of the lower-grade plastics end up in the landfill before ever leaving Vancouver. By turning these plastics into oil, the facility is eliminating the trucking costs and the carbon emissions from shipping the plastic south and shipping new fuel north!
The machine creates a mixture of diesel, gasoline, kerosene and heavier oils, which can be burned together for heating, or separated in an attachment and used individually as fuels in vehicles.
The machine is about the size of a pool table, and cost about $200 000. It can produce 220 liters of oil a day, enough to heat about 70 northern homes. Market price of that amount of oil is at least $100 000 per year.
We have started community conversations about bringing a plastic-to-oil machine to NW BC. Interested? Contact us.
For more info, see Rising Sun Innovations, the North American Distributor for the systems.
Biomelier compost heating systems are inexpensive, easy to make, and can produce enough heat to keep a northern house warm all year round.
The system consists of a large compost pile (maybe 10 ft deep and 20 ft around) that has plastic pipe spiraling throughout it. Water is pumped through the pipe to pick up heat as the microbes break down the compost. This heated water is used to keep a nearby building warm. These systems keep water between 30 and 50 degrees C year round! And as a bonus, you get a huge pile of grade-A compost after 2 years.
A biomelier was built at Smithers Secondary School in the summer of 2013, under the direction of German expert Heiner Cuhls, and organized by Egenolf Alternative Energy. Contact the school if you'd like to go see it.
We are planning to build more of these systems in the north.
Know Your Power
Most people who drive a car know the gas mileage their vehicle gets, but few know how much electricity their home uses. Knowing how much energy we use is the first step to saving it. As a rule of thumb, every $1 spent on energy conservation is equal spending to at least $5 on alternative energy generation.
We are working on a project to enable community members to become energy literate in an easy and practical way.
We have partnered with a company that makes an inexpensive device that enables you to view your home electricity consumption in real-time, on either your cell phone or an in-home display. It alerts you when you are using more than you want to be. Based on third-party studies, this system has proven to reduce power consumption by up to 20% solely through people learning to adjust their consumption habits (turning heat down when not home, using clothes line instead of dryer, etc.). As a comparison, for the average household in our region, an electricity bill savings of 20% is about how much would be achieved with a $7000 grid-tie solar panel system!
Using this technology, we aim to hold a competitive conservation challenge amongst community households and businesses. A special aim of this project is to support economically marginalized renters and owners who desire more tools and knowledge to save money and energy.