Monthly Archives: October 2013

Some Thoughts About Management of Organic Waste 1

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Some thoughts about the Management of Organic Waste – Liquid and Solid.

Abstract

This article will express the worry about increased levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and the effect on Global Warming.  The main GHG’s are Water Vapor, Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Hydrofluorides, Hydro Sulfide, Nitro Dioxide and some minor gases. The emissions of Methane, with the chemical formula CH4, is especially worrysome and therefore some thoughts were put in writing to promote technics to capture this gas and make further use of it.

Introduction

The Globe consists of various eco systems mostly referred to as Biomes or Spheres. So we can distinguish the

  • Lithosphere or inner part of the earth, consisting of rocks
  • Pedosphere or soils or land mass
  • Hydrosphere or oceans, seas, rivers and all other bodies of water, ice or snow, the constant frozen part is also referred to as Cryosphere.
  • Atmosphere or air above the soils and oceans up to 4000m, where natural breathing is still possible.
  • Biosphere or habitats of all living organisms on earth, in the oceans and in the air.

The Globe keeps showing a steady increasing trend in temperatures, despite some small pauses on the way. The emissions of gases in the atmosphere, as prime source of this rise in temperature, are every time much higher and show no sign of relieve. The gases causing the greenhouse effect, shortly called GHG’s are, apart from the most common Water Vapor:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous Oxide or NOx (N2O)
  • Hydro Fluorocarbons
  • Per Fluorocarbons
  • Sulphur Hexafluoride and Hidrogen Sulfide(H2S)

The first three occur naturally in nature and are keeping our climate at a reasonable temperature level. These gases are also precursors of building blocks for life.

Global_CO2EmissionCO2 is normally absorbed by plants and exhaled by animals, including humans, but in the use of fossil fuels of all kind, and excessive deforestation and agricultural practices, humans are causing every time higher emissions of this gas. CO2 now causes some 60 – 70% of global warming. The concentration level in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm) in 2013.

Global_CH4_emissionCH4, is also a building block of life and is found naturally in marsh lands and other areas with trapped organic material, such as under the melting ice caps, but excessively produced by:

  • Fossil fuel production, distribution, storage and use (33%).
  • Landfills, biomass mishandling and sewage (30%)
  • Agriculture (incl. rice paddies) and animal husbandry (36%)

Although the emission level is much less than CO2, the global warming potential (GWP) of this gas is 23 times higher and therefor an important contributor of capturing more heat, up to 30%. The concentration level in the atmosphere is about 1,800 parts per billion (ppb)

Warnings are coming out, to watch the Shale Gas production process, as it seems that substantial leaks of methane occur. I have no figures as most of the information is from private sources. There is a new methane detector on the market from a Californian firm, which can be installed in a car. I sure would suggest, giving it a try in those projects This new equipment, developed by the Silicon Valley firm Picarro, seems to be very sensitive and picks up levels of 1 ppb. Mounted in a car, the complete distribution network can be surveyed at smaller intervals.

N2O also occurs naturally, but is also produced by human activity in agriculture, animal husbandry and the industry. The GWP of this gas is 250 to 310 compared to CO2, 1.

Sulphur Hexafluoride, although non toxic is a 100% manmade gas and comes in small quantities in the atmosphere, but it has a GWP of 23,000 times that of CO2.
Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) on the otherhand is highly toxic, flammable and explosive, with a GWP of 72. This gas is frequently found in fossil fuels and all efforts are made to remove it, as it is very corrosive to various metals.

Notes:
The other gases are byproducts of industrial processes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), confirms that Methane (CH4) leakages from industrial installations are much stronger than formerly thought (9%) and that lowering this leakages need to be addressed simultaneously with Carbon (CO2) leakages.

Concentration in the atmosphere, of principle gases in 1000 years

Climate Change

Rajenda Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said in his organization’s latest report provided: “unequivocal” evidence that since 1950 the atmosphere and oceans had warmed, and that scientists were now “95 per cent certain”, that humans were the “dominant cause”. In 2007 it was 90% and in 2001 66%. So if you want to know where Climate Change is coming from, look in the mirror.

This is not to give one a sense of guilt, but a hint to contribute more to mitigate the causes of Climate Change, reduce emissions of Greenhouse Gases, wherever you have a handle of it. Mind you that the effects of some gases, e.g. CO2 are globally, while others have more regional effects. Ultimately the warming of the planet and its disastrous results will in general be felt all over the world.

Global Temperature GraphThe higher temperatures caused by the rise of GHG emissions, are the cause of more severe weather patterns, larger and more severe storms, more frequent inundations and long drought periods and melting of ice and snow in areas of permanent ice caps (Cryosphere) .

The monster storms we have seen in the last years are, in my opinion, causing short term pauses in temperature rise, due to the huge masses of air moved over the large areas they cover.  The IPCC also mentions in this respect that in those periods solar activity was reduced and volcanic action blocked sunlight.

We can already notice the results from higher temperatures and melting Cryosphere, as the ocean levels are rising, resulting in more inundations of lower coastal areas. Also, higher temperatures increase the volumes of water bodies. There is a new NASA report out, based on observations(May2014), that the glaciers from the Western part of Antarctica’s  Cryosphere, are melting beyond point of return, which will raise the predicted Ocean levels to four feet or 1.20m at the end of this century. Many coastal areas will be permanently inundated. Mind you these are observations and not computer simulations.

Higher temperatures have also effect on living creatures in the oceans (Hydrosphere), moving conditions for the marine live and depleting their natural food, with negative consequences for coral reefs, salmon and other fish used frequently by humans and other predators.

It is clear that with all live on earth being tremendously intertwined, the climate change has far reaching negative impact on all live. Still there are some people, who for whatever reason, do not believe that the change is for the worst. Reasons I have heard are pointing in the direction of narrow-mindedness, let’s face it. Sure, some people like more prolonged warm seasons, but not at the risk of the increased suffering by the rest of the world population, human and other living beings alike. See also the documentary “Years of Living Dangerously” 

Continued

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