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August 2015 Archives

Vonore-based biomass supply company Genera Energy has created a mobile crop planning and learning tool for the biomass industry.

"Often times it's very difficult to help technology users to understand the intricacies of the different biomass crops that are available for their use," said Sam Jackson, vice president of business development for Genera.

The app should help both growers of feedstock and users of the resulting biomass product -- whether that's actually as fuel or as an ingredient in plastics, polymers or other things -- understand their needs and scale, he said.

The Biomass app offers features such as a biomass crop library complete with detailed information, photos and range maps for the most utilized biomass crops in the U.S., along with the ability to overlap crop ranges in a live, interactive map function.

Another key function is a multi-function biomass calculator that helps the user determine how much biomass they'll need for their specific situation, including conversion technology, conversion rate, and location. For those wishing to convert biomass to biofuels, biochemical, bioproducts, or biopower, this app will provide realistic projections and crop suggestions based on actual, in-the-field studies and crop outcomes.

The app is currently free and available for both Apple and Android products.

Sustainability news roundup

The last few weeks have been a buzz of good news for Tennessee and the Knoxville area in general when it comes to sustainability and envrironmental awareness.  

1. More clean energy jobs

About 2,600 jobs were created last year by employers operating in the energy-efficiency, renewable-energy, clean-transportation, and greenhouse-gas management and accounting sectors -- an increase of 6.3 percent, according to the Clean Jobs Tennessee report. That's nearly triple the state's overall employment growth. Businesses told the report's authors they expect to fill an additional 2,500 positions by 2016.

2. TVA gets behind the Clean Power Plan

TVA is reviewing the more than 1,000 pages of new regulations released this month to regulate CO2 from existing power plants and a second rule that regulates emissions from new fossil plants, all part of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which calls for a 32 percent cut in greenhouse gases by American power plants by 2030, compared with 2005 emissions.  

"For our coal and gas fleet, this plan really won't have much impact at all," Brooks said. "Most of our decisions on which coal units to retire, etc., are already in place and being driven by a 2011 agreement between TVA and EPA. We have already reduced our carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels. It remains to be seen what the other impacts will be."

3. A new hotel is leading its brand, and possibly the state, in sustainability

The Knoxville location of Home2 Suites is unique among hotels in the Hilton chain and a sustainability leader in the Tennessee hospitality industry due to the investment in a full-roof solar array by property owner and Oak Ridge native Chandler Bhateja. Some other measures include recycling bins in every room and throughout the hotel's public areas, the use of recycled paper products whenever possible, low-flow faucets and energy-saving LED lighting with timers.

4. Sevier County is one step closer to zero waste in landfills

Sixty percent of all trash gathered in Sevier County, as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is recycled into compost. That's the highest recycle rate in Tennessee, and one of the highest nationwide, but two multimillion dollar projects on the horizon aim to get the county to 100 percent: new sorting equipment to remove recyclables from waste and a gasification system to convert waste into fuel.

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