In November of 2014, Gus Simmons and Steve Cavanaugh participated in the 5th International Symposium on Energy from Biomass and Waste in Venice, Italy. This Symposium was attended by approximately 400 researchers, scientists, engineers and renewable energy system developers from around the globe. Over 200 presentations encompassed the latest research and development in bioenergy from the 60+ different countries that were represented. Cavanaugh provided two presentations and two posters at the symposium, highlighting some of the innovations in organic waste to energy development in the U.S.

1 Steve Cavanaugh & Gus Simmons at Venice Symposium

The focus of the Symposium is to elevate the global understanding of innovations and cutting-edge research in the process of deriving energy from waste organic materials. Technologies and approaches such as anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, and gasification were discussed, with the scientific research and development that is being conducted around the world to advance the efficiency and productivity of these processes highlighted and debated. The results and research presented ranged from the very complex to the very simple, as around our planet we find waste organic materials being utilized for such simple purposes as generating heat for cooking in developing countries, to the development of biopharmaceuticals and petrochemicals that amplify the revenue potential from the waste-to-energy processes in advanced economies.

2 Waste Management Hierarchy

Some of the most exciting and advanced research is occurring in Europe where the conversion of waste organic products into various types of energy is most common. Steve and Gus were among only a few attendees from the United States, which they found to be disappointing given the vast organic waste resources available in the U.S. Gus presented the concept and some results from the Loyd Ray Farms swine waste-to-energy project in Yadkinville, N.C. entitled, “Next Generation Manure Technology,” and also gave a presentation, entitled “Farms of the Future: Seeking Agricultural Energy Independence” on ways in which we can become better stewards to manages the challenges that future food production, water development and use, and energy generation will place upon each other, commonly referred to as the Food-Water-Energy Nexus. A copy of the abstracts for these presentations may be accessed here.

There were many poster presentations provided in the Symposium facilities that supplemented and supported the presentations that were given. Cavanaugh’s posters were: “Waste to Worth: How a Pig Farm Generates Environmental Revenues” and “Money to Burn: How to Capitalize on BioCNG at Your Wastewater Plant.” Around our globe, many are beginning to realize the importance of recycling organic waste into energy and other useful products. These acts of resource stewardship are not only beneficial to the environment, but will likely become necessary to support our modern, intensive urbanization practices that support our growing population. Hopefully, these concepts will elevate in importance in the U.S. and other countries.

A recent example of how these concepts may manifest may be observed from the growing number of states that have now banned commercial food waste from landfills. While these bans and imposed restrictions will result in a driver to recycle organic wastes rather than burial, the hope is that the research and reporting of innovators from around the globe, such as those participating and presenting at this Symposium, will illustrate incentives – financial and otherwise – that compel us to be better stewards of our earthly resources. More information about the symposium, the presenters, and the research reported may be found at: http://www.venicesymposium.it

For more information about the presentations and posters provided by Cavanaugh & Associates, P.A., please feel free to email us your request.