New ways to produce biofuels rely on the materials from back closets, office storage rooms and garages everywhere. Industrial students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are in the process of creating an ‘algae bioreactor’ called the Bio-Grow, a device which can cultivate high outputs of algae intended for biofuel production built from old computer parts.
The students considered what makes algae grow and realized the spectrums of light and temperature could be emulated using an Apple G4 CPU tower for the incubating tank, PVC pipes for structural reinforcement and high density foam for insulation and stability.
An Apple iMac CRT gives the light needed for photosynthesis, while a modified Dell Latitude CPX laptop controls and adjusts the temperature and required light spectrums generated by the iMac CRT. The device also features a water pump to aerate the algae and a faucet that allows the user to harvest the algae at any time.
The algae can then be transported to a refinery, which would extract the lipids from the algae to create biodiesel, while its byproducts could be used for livestock feed, fertilizer and even pharmaceuticals. The students state that the algae from Bio-Grow devices installed in only 6.5 percent of American homes would be sufficient enough to replace petroleum with algae biodiesel.
Strides like electronic waste being recycled to make homegrown algae byproducts while using natural processes are an interesting, innovative way to think differently. At Elevance, we’re happy to see development like this happening in our home state.
In a recent USA Today article, a new program called FreeWays to Fuel (freewaystofuel.org) gives unused state and municipal land new life.
FreeWays to Fuel encourages the use of highway rights of way and other unused open spaces to grow oilseed crops for biodiesel fuel. This idea originated at Utah State University and is making its way across universities in the U.S.
Currently, there is an estimated 10 million acres of highway rights of way throughout the nation that could be used to produce biofuels. Currently, local and state governments must spend taxpayer money to maintain those lands by mowing or spraying for weeds.
At Elevance, we support innovation in finding new areas where plant and food production make sense and are beneficial to our communities. Right now, a 20-acre crop of safflower plants is growing on previously unused municipal land in Utah. Once harvested, oil from the plants will be processed into biodiesel fuel to operate Salt Lake County vehicles. Using existing highway land beautifies our communities and uses untapped resources to make our cars, transportation vehicles and even farm equipment more environmentally friendly.
Guest Blogger Andy Shafer, Executive VP Sales and Market Development, Discusses Natural Candles For Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is this weekend and at Elevance, we develop unique ingredients used to make a popular gift for moms all over the world — candles.
The $2.3 billion candle market has traditionally been sourced with paraffin wax, a by-product of petroleum processing. In recent years, the supply of paraffin waxes has declined, leading to higher prices. Retailers and candle manufacturers have begun looking to renewable waxes to control costs and for innovative product ideas to attract new customers and expand sales.
At Elevance, our NatureWax product line offers one of the best selections of premium natural waxes available to the candle industry, including high-performance votive, container and pillar blends. NatureWax allows for the same performance and often even better fragrance compared to paraffin candles, but uses natural oils instead of petroleum as our feedstock.
Elevance modifies the structure of natural oils such as soybean and palm to provide new functionality and enable new performance options for candles. Our key ingredients — soybeans and vegetable oils — are grown by farmers in the U.S. and around the world. Both are renewable resources that can be replenished, posing less of a threat to the environment than petroleum based paraffin alternatives.
With paraffin wax prices becoming seemingly unpredictable, agriculturally produced vegetable and soy waxes are attractive alternatives. Soy wax also tends to have a more opaque appearance than paraffin, allowing some colors to appear more bold and vibrant.
Elevance encourages consumers to be environmentally conscious and shop for candles that contain natural ingredients such as soy and vegetables waxes. Your mom and Mother Earth will appreciate the thoughtfulness!
On the heels of last week’s blog about Green Technology Pioneers, Elevance’s EVP of Market Development and Sales – Andy Shafer, attended the annual conference of The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council. The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) is a project of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and involves leading companies across sectors to focus on problems and solutions involving chemistry. The group has active participation from companies not generally associated with chemistry: Nike, Steelcase, Sysco (who hosted the conference) and Staples.
The group believes in innovation thru collaboration, two principles that Elevance is committed to as we work to transform the chemical industry.
There is an excellent video about the GC3, their passion for sustainable chemistry and how they are working to achieve it at http://www.greenchemistryandcommerce.org/about.whatisGC3.php Take a look and applaud the companies and people involved in this effort for being another example of Green Technology Pioneers.