About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the CEO of BioEnergy Consult, and an international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. Salman has participated in numerous national and international conferences all over the world. He is a prolific environmental journalist, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. In addition, he is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability through his blogs and portals. Salman can be reached at salman@bioenergyconsult.com or salman@cleantechloops.com.

Growing Cannabis In An Energy Efficient Way

The medical and recreational cannabis industries are continuously growing and with more and more countries deciding to legalise, many are turning to growing their own cannabis.

However, one downside can be the energy it takes to power the lighting, heating, pumps and ventilation needed to successfully grow a cannabis plant. In fact, did you know that on average, producing one pound of cannabis requires about 2,000 kWh; the same amount of which the average household will use in two and a half months!

Luckily, in the article below, we have put together a range of methods you can use to save energy, money while growing cannabis. This has been written in collaboration with 2 Fast 4 Buds, leading providers of autoflowering cannabis seeds.

cannabis

Use LED Lights

LED lights are a much more energy efficient option, compared to other types of lighting. Therefore, if you are looking to cut down on your energy usage and therefore costs, they’re a great choice to make!

They won’t produce as much heat as other lights and will also cool down much quicker, which goes even further in reducing your energy costs. What’s more, more often than not LEDs will have a light spectrum which is perfect for your plants needs.

Overall, choosing LED grow lights means higher efficiency because less power is converted into heat and into a light spectrum of which your plant doesn’t fully appreciate.

Adjust the Size of your Grow to Your Needs

By adjusting how many cannabis plants you are growing to how much you actually need, you can make a big impact on your energy costs. In fact, this is by far one of the most effective ways to reduce your energy consumption.

For example, if you are using around 30g of cannabis a month, one single autoflower plant can produce this amount in its life cycle of 8 weeks. Therefore, by having four plants, you can ensure that you’re well stocked.

Try to perfectly match how much energy you use on your plants with the amount you need. You can also adjust lighting without having to move plants by looking for light movers. This allows you to setup lighting that can be adjusted without having to adjust the plants making lighting more portable.

Improve Your Insulation

If the space in which you are growing your cannabis isn’t properly insulated, then you will be wasting a huge amount of energy. This especially applies if you are using a heater or an air conditioner to help keep the space at the right temperature.

To ensure that your space is properly insulated, you want to use styrofoam wall panelling to insulate doors and windows and ensure that any piping in the room is properly insulated. This will help to ensure that you aren’t unnecessarily running your air conditioner or heater.

Optimise Your Climate Control

It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to constantly run your heaters, coolers and (de)humidifiers on full blast. In fact, many professional greenhouse growers will choose to measure a value known vapour pressure deficit or VPD. VPD will indicate the difference between the amount of moisture in the air and how much moisture the air can hold when it is saturated. This will then allow you to achieve the optimal climate for your plants, benefiting their health and also your energy usage.

You could also consider an integrated climate control system. Whilst this involves much more than just having a heater or air conditioner, an ICCS will intelligently control all of your growing equipment. For example, the system could temporarily switch off your exhausts to ensure that you aren’t wasting CO2 unnecessarily.

Sometimes, however simple methods prevail when optimising the climate for your plants. You could just run an ordinary standing fan or open a window or door to let fresh air in, and this could be enough for you to save on additional cooling methods.

Monitor Your Energy Consumption

If you are looking to cut down on the amount of energy you are using to grow cannabis, it is important to keep track of exactly how much energy you are using. From this you will be able to formulate a plan to control consumption and actually make adequate changes.

Establishing energy-spending targets of which you plan to achieve are a great starting point. However before you do this, make sure you know how much your energy costs per KW/h and how much energy each individual piece of equipment uses. Not knowing this will mean that the whole process will essentially be a guessing game, making saving energy much more difficult.

Take a look at your energy consumption in previous months and see whether you can improve on this. Even if you are making small changes, these can go a long way.

Once you understand how much energy you are using and how much is essentially going to waste, then you can make appropriate changes. This can include switching your grow lights for LEDs, reducing your light hours, installing climate control and so on.

indoor-gardening-grow-lights

After making these changes, make sure to check as to whether you’re actually hitting your previously set goals and therefore whether your energy-saving tactics are actually working. IF you find that improvements are small, think of it as an opportunity to make more changes, whether that’s making more tweaks or consulting an expert.

Saving More Water

Being energy efficient isn’t just about cutting down how much electricity you use, it’s also about lowering your overall environmental footprint. Another great way to do this is by saving water.

Make sure to water your plants only when they need it. Lifting up your pots can help you to determine how much water is in there. Make sure to only water the plants when the pots are light. Even better, set up specialised sensors to do this for you!

Whilst hand watering may not seem hard, overwatering is an incredibly easy mistake to make. Using an irrigation system can ensure that water waste is greatly reduced and benefit the overall health of your cannabis plants.

Another great way to save water is by stopping ‘drain-to-water’ watering and choosing to grow your plants hydroponically. Hydroponic systems use tanks to recirculate water and therefore nutrients, resulting in significant water savings. These systems are also much more environmentally friendly as they don’t waste large quantities of water and nutrients.

Regular Maintenance

When growing cannabis, you want to ensure that all of your equipment is working at its best and the only way to ensure this is by performing regular maintenance.

If you own either an irrigation or hydroponic system, you want to ensure that you are cleaning it and replacing filters and valves regularly. Your system will also require a cleaning ‘flush’ once in a while.

Likewise, you will want to keep a grow room as clean as possible, to reduce the likelihood of equipment failures.

Grow Outside

If it is available to you, moving your plants outdoors could effectively remove the costs of operating an indoor growing system.

If you want to go a step further, investing in a greenhouse could be well worth it. A greenhouse will provide both you and your plants with all of the benefits of growing indoors, along with those of growing outdoors!

No matter how you do it, it is actually fairly easy to make your cannabis growing system more energy efficient. By no means will you have to sacrifice on the quality of your plant and you’ll benefit from a lower energy bill at the end of the day!

5 Solar Panel Facts You Might Not Know

Over the last decade, it seems that the cost of electricity has risen in most areas. This is one of the reasons why so many people are getting solar energy systems installed in their homes. Due to its rise in popularity, we have seen prices for solar panels and other equipment needed to make your home more eco-friendly decrease.

Because solar energy is still fairly new technology, many people still know very little about the industry. To help you out, we have compiled a few interesting facts about solar panels which you might find interesting.

As the industry grows, you will probably be hearing much more about solar panels and the benefits of using this eco-friendly method to provide energy for your home. Below are solar panel FAQs to remember:

solar-energy-diy

 

1. The First Solar Panel Cell was Discovered in 1941

Although it seems like solar panels have only been around for the last few decades, the world’s first solar panel cell was invented by Russell Ohl in 1941. Shortly after the invention of the first solar panel cell was invented, Bell Laboratories came up with the world’s first commercial panel in 1954.

Although it seems we are still at the stone age of solar power, photovoltaic (the conversion of light into electricity) was discovered by French scientist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel in 1839.

2. In the Long Run, Solar Power can help Save you Money

Although the initial cost of installing a solar system in your home might be frightening, the overall running cost of the system can save you a lot of money. Although prices of installation and equipment are becoming more affordable, it still is expensive for the average household.

However, try to keep in mind that you won’t ever have to pay to heat or cool down your house again (assuming your solar panels power system can provide enough energy throughout the year for your home). The average household spends $1,300 annually on their electricity bill.

Throughout the world, it seems more and more governments are trying to encourage homeowners and business owners to invest in solar panels. Lots of governments have offered people incentives and tax breaks in the hope that the number of households using this eco-friendly method will increase. In some states in America, people who purchase solar panels are eligible for a 30% tax break. Also, some states allow those who own solar power to sell their excess energy, so they can make some profit from their system.

3. A Communal Effort

Community solar systems are becoming more common these days. Instead of just having an individual solar system in your home, more communities are investing in community solar systems instead.

Over the last 15 years or so, instead of each household having individual systems installed, whole communities are getting together and investing in a system that will provide energy for the entire community. If you are considering making your home more eco-friendly, why not speak to others in your community to see if everybody on the block is interested in getting a communal solar system installed instead?

what-is-community-solar

4. The Industry is Growing Extremely Fast

Between 2018 and 2010, the number of households and businesses having solar power installed in their buildings grew 23 times in the United States. Solar power is not only becoming more appealing to homeowners in the United States, but it seems like people all over the world are deciding to go green and install solar power systems into their homes.

China uses more solar power than any other country on the planet. The Chinese government has been offering the residents of the country plenty of incentives that has resulted in many people installing a solar power system in their home.

If you are thinking about installing a solar power system inside your home, check out Solar Panels Network USA for more information. If you are still on the fence about joining the solar power movement, ask them for advice.

5. Maintaining a Solar Power System

Maintaining your solar power system tends to be fairly cheap too. In fact, once the system is fully installed there is actually very little maintenance needed. Apart from cleaning the panels now and again, and making sure that it’s getting sunlight and not shaded, it should work smoothly. You may have to trim some trees at times but that’s about it.

solar-panels-pigeon-issue

Most solar panels have been installed on a tilted roof, so when the rain hits it will clean any dust and dirt from the panel so you won’t have to clean it too often.

Most solar power system suppliers offer 25 year warranty, but it is not too uncommon to see a quality solar power system last for 40 years. If your system does manage to last for that length of time, you can imagine how much money you will save on electricity.

6 Easiest Ways to Save Money on Your Utility Bills

As the climate warms, it’s more important than ever to consider how you can lower your carbon footprint as a homeowner.And lowering your carbon footprint has another huge benefit: you can often save money as a result of green upgrades to your home. For example, solar energy can save you around $600 a year in energy costs. Of course, there are many other reasons why you should use solar energy, but the primary reason to use it is that it is a renewable source, i.e., it will last for billions of years.

Besides making structural changes—like adding solar panels, for example, to your home, there are other ways to save on your utility bills such as turning off lights you’re not using. Below, we’ve gathered our tops tips for saving money on utility bills – and helping out the planet, too!

1. Take advantage of sunshine during the winter

The sun is basically free heat for your home. Homeowners can take advantage of what’s called passive solar design. During the day, open the curtains on south-facing windows to let the sunshine inside so it can warm up your house. This will keep your home considerably hotter during the colder months.

Don’t forget to close the curtains when the sun sets so you can keep as much of that trapped solar heat as possible. Consider investing in thick, insulated curtains, which will help keep heat inside your living spaces.

2. Pay attention to your ceiling fan’s rotation in winter and summer

As you may know, warm air rises. Instead of letting that warm air go up, up and away, you can leverage your ceiling fan to keep that warm air close to you and your family. Reverse your ceiling fan’s rotation so that it turns clockwise instead of counterclockwise. This will keep the hot air in your living spaces. And during the hotter months, make sure the fan is spinning counterclockwise to pull hot air away from you. It is also advisable to hire reputed electricians like ADC Electric who provide quality service and safety to electrical systems in residential properties.

3. Get a new roof

A new roof can make a huge difference in your energy savings. Best of all? Energy-efficient roofing helps you save money in both the colder and warmer months. Many new types of roofing are “cool roofs” which reflect more of the sun’s rays instead of allowing solar heat to permeate into the home. This means that you don’t have to run the AC as low or as often. In the winter, a new roof helps prevent warm air from escaping.

Plus, in many areas, you might be eligible for a government tax incentive for replacing an old roof with an energy-efficient version.

4. Seal drafts around windows, doors, and other areas of your home

One of the best methods for determining what areas of your home can be more energy-efficient is by conducting a DIY energy audit. To do an energy audit, light an incense stick and watch to see if smoke is pulled to cracks in the windows or under the doors. You can also sometimes feel drafts by simply putting your palm up around the edges of windows and doors. Once you find drafty areas, it’s important to seal up those holes with weather stripping or caulking.

Fixing air leaks will benefit you both in the summer and the winter because it helps keep your HVAC system from working overtime.

5. Invest in a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat is a prudent investment, especially if you regularly forget to turn off the A/C or heat when you leave for work or errands. That wasted energy can add up to a big utility bill at the end of the month. A smart thermostat regulates the temperature and automatically programs a specific range to keep you comfortable but turns off in unoccupied rooms.

6. Schedule regular maintenance

Routine maintenance is essential to promote the longevity of your HVAC system and to ensure that your home isn’t wasting energy. Make sure to replace filters at least once a month and keep tabs on how old your HVAC system is, most systems need to be replaced every 15-20 years.

Takeaways

There are a variety of reasons as to why it’s in your best interest to find ways to make your home greener. Not only do green upgrades ultimately save you money, they also help the planet during a time when a climate emergency is threatening our very existence. If you want to see a smaller utility bill and live a more eco-friendly life, utilize some of the tips mentioned in this article. You’ll save money and help save earth, too.

Biochemical Method for Ethanol Production

Ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass is produced mainly via biochemical route. The three major steps involved in the biochemical method for ethanol production are pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and fermentation. Biomass is pretreated to improve the accessibility of enzymes. After pretreatment, biomass undergoes enzymatic hydrolysis for conversion of polysaccharides into monomer sugars, such as glucose and xylose. Subsequently, sugars are fermented to ethanol by the use of different microorganisms.

Bioethanol-production-process

Pretreated biomass can directly be converted to ethanol by using the process called simultaneous saccharification and cofermentation (SSCF). Pretreatment is a critical step which enhances the enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass.

Basically, it alters the physical and chemical properties of biomass and improves the enzyme access and effectiveness which may also lead to a change in crystallinity and degree of polymerization of cellulose. The internal surface area and pore volume of pretreated biomass are increased which facilitates substantial improvement in accessibility of enzymes. The process also helps in enhancing the rate and yield of monomeric sugars during enzymatic hydrolysis steps.

Pretreatment methods can be broadly classified into four groups – physical, chemical, physio-chemical and biological. Physical pretreatment processes employ the mechanical comminution or irradiation processes to change only the physical characteristics of biomass. The physio-chemical process utilizes steam or steam and gases, like SO2 and CO2. The chemical processes employs acids (H2SO4, HCl, organic acids etc) or alkalis (NaOH, Na2CO3, Ca(OH)2, NH3 etc).

The acid treatment typically shows the selectivity towards hydrolyzing the hemicelluloses components, whereas alkalis have better selectivity for the lignin. The fractionation of biomass components after such processes help in improving the enzymes accessibility which is also important to the efficient utilization of enzymes.

The pretreated biomass is subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis using cellulase enzymes to convert the cellulose to fermentable sugars. Cellulase refers to a class of enzymes produced chiefly by fungi and bacteria which catalyzes the hydrolysis of cellulose by attacking the glycosidic linkages. Cellulase is mixture of mainly three different functional protein groups: exo-glucanase (Exo-G), endo-glucanase(Endo-G) and ?-glucosidase (?-G).

The functional proteins work synergistically in hydrolyzing the cellulose into the glucose. These sugars are further fermented using microorganism and are converted to ethanol. The microorganisms are selected based on their efficiency for ethanol productivity and higher product and inhibitors tolerance. Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used commercially to produce the ethanol from starch and sucrose.

Escherichia coli strain has also been developed recently for ethanol production by the first successful application of metabolic engineering. E. coli can consume variety of sugars and does not require the complex growth media but has very narrow operable range of pH. E. coli has higher optimal temperature than other known strains of bacteria.

Lower GHG emissions and empowerment of rural economy are major benefits associated with bioethanol

The major cost components in bioethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass are the pretreatment and the enzymatic hydrolysis steps. In fact, these two process are someway interrelated too where an efficient pretreatment strategy can save substantial enzyme consumption.

Pretreatment step can also affect the cost of other operations such as size reduction prior to pretreatment. Therefore, optimization of these two important steps, which collectively contributes about 70% of the total processing cost, are the major challenges in the commercialization of bioethanol from 2nd generation feedstock.

Enzyme cost is the prime concern in full scale commercialization. The trend in enzyme cost is encouraging because of enormous research focus in this area and the cost is expected to go downward in future, which will make bioethanol an attractive option considering the benefits derived its lower greenhouse gas emissions and the empowerment of rural economy.

Breaking Down the Process of Biofuel Production

Biofuels are renewable and sustainable forms of energy. They can reduce greenhouse emissions by almost 30%, which means that although they do release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, they do so in a very limited manner.

With the aim of building a green new world, and eliminating the need for fossil fuel and other traditional energy sources, people are now turning towards biofuel to meet their daily needs. Thus, we see biofuel being used for transportation in many countries. It’s also being used to generate electricity. The rural areas in many underdeveloped and developing countries will use biofuel for their cooking purposes as well. All in all, this particular fuel has diverse uses.

Biofuel is produced from biomass, which itself is treated as a clean energy source. We can produce biofuel from biomass through a series of steps. These steps can be performed even in our houses if we have the right materials. A quick overview of the whole biofuel production process is described below.

biofuel-production

1. Filtration

The purpose of the filtration process is to get rid of the unnecessary particles from the biomass. In this step, we take the waste vegetable oil and then heat it to a certain degree. Once the liquid has been heated, the waste particles will automatically separate themselves from the main mixture. Afterward, we just have to filter it with a regular filter paper.

2. Water removal

Next, we need to remove water from the residual gangue. If the water is allowed to stay in the mixture, it’ll end up delaying the overall process. By removing all the water, we can make the reaction move a lot faster. The easiest way to remove water from the mixture is by heating it steady at 212 degrees F for some time.

3. Titration

Titration is conducted on the mixture to determine the amount of chemical catalyst (like lye) that will be needed. The catalyst is a key component in any chemical reaction. It pretty much determines how fast and how much of a product we’re going to receive. Thus, this step is very important in the biofuel manufacturing process.

4. Sodium methoxide preparation

In this step, we take methanol (18-20% of the waste vegetable oil) and mix it with sodium hydroxide. This gives us sodium methoxide, which is also used as a catalyst in the reaction. It helps perform synthesis reactions on the reagents and facilitates the overall reaction process. Sodium methoxide is a key ingredient in this manufacturing process. It’s considered to be a standard substance used to accelerate the reaction, and yield better results.

5. Mixing and heating

Next, we heat the residue between 120-130 degrees F. Afterward, we mix it properly. This process aims to evenly distribute the mixture. This will help the mixture to settle down later on, and cool off, after which we can begin the extraction process. In a way, the mixing and heating stage can be seen as the final preparation before extraction.

biofuel-production

6. Setting

Once the mixing is completed, the liquid is allowed to cool and settle down, after which we can extract the final product, i.e. the biofuel.

7. Separation

After the liquid has cooled, the biofuel can be extracted from the top of the mixture. It’ll be found floating on top, like oil in water. To get the biofuel, we’ll have to remove the glycerin underneath it. This can be done by simply draining it out from the bottom, and keeping the fuel afloat. The biofuel is finally ready.

The whole process described above is for a small-scale operation. However, it can be scaled up as needed, given that you have the right tools, ingredients, and setup.

It should also be noted that chemical catalysts (such as lye) are used in the manufacturing process as well. Recently, however, scientists and researchers are looking into the use of ultrasonics as additional catalysts. According to recent observations, a combination of chemicals and ultrasonics can lead to a higher yield of fuel, and reduce the overall processing time. This also leads to better utilization of biomass.

Companies such as Coltraco (https://coltraco.com/) are now using ultrasonic systems and technology in a wide variety of fields, one of which is the renewable energy industry. And while the technology’s use in other fields has gained more traction in recent times, it shouldn’t be long before it’s used in biofuel manufacturing, as well as in other renewable energy sectors, in full swing.

Palm Kernel Shells as Biomass Resource

Biomass residue from palm oil industry are attractive renewable energy fuel in Southeast Asia. The abundance of these biomass resources is increasing with the fast development of palm oil industry in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. In the Palm Oil value chain there is an overall surplus of by-products and the utilisation rate of these by-products is low.

Palm kernel shells (or PKS) are the shell fractions left after the nut has been removed after crushing in the palm oil mill. Palm kernel shells are a fibrous material and can be easily handled in bulk directly from the product line to the end use. Large and small shell fractions are mixed with dust-like fractions and small fibres.

Moisture content in kernel shells is low compared to other biomass residues with different sources suggesting values between 11% and 13%. Palm kernel shells contain residues of Palm Oil, which accounts for its slightly higher heating value than average lignocellulosic biomass. Compared to other residues from the industry, palm kernel shells are a good quality biomass fuel with uniform size distribution, easy handling, easy crushing, and limited biological activity due to low moisture content.

Press fibre and kernel shell generated by the palm oil mills are traditionally used as solid fuels for steam boilers. The steam generated is used to run turbines for electricity production. These two solid fuels alone are able to generate more than enough energy to meet the energy demands of a palm oil mill.

Most palm oil mills in the region are self-sufficient in terms of energy by making use of kernel shells and mesocarp fibers in cogeneration. The demand for palm kernel shells has increased considerably in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand resulting in price close to that of coal. Nowadays, cement industries are using palm kernel shells to replace coal mainly because of CDM benefits.

PKS has also emerged as a hot biomass commodity in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in South Korea and Japan, where PKS is being used to power huge biomass power plants. PKS is also getting traction in Europe as an attractive alternative fuel.

The problems associated with the burning of these solid fuels are the emissions of dark smoke and the carry-over of partially carbonized fibrous particulates due to incomplete combustion of the fuels can be tackled by commercially-proven technologies in the form of high-pressure boilers.

Dual-fired boilers capable of burning either diesel oil or natural gas are the most suitable for burning palm Oil waste since they could also facilitate the use of POME-derived biogas as a supplementary fuel. However, there is a great scope for introduction of high-efficiency CHP systems in the industry which will result in substantial supply of excess power to the public grid.

Energy Potential of Coconut Biomass

Coconuts are produced in 92 countries worldwide on about more than 10 million hectares. Indonesia, Philippines and India account for almost 75% of world coconut production with Indonesia being the world’s largest coconut producer. A coconut plantation is analogous to energy crop plantations, however coconut plantations are a source of wide variety of products, in addition to energy. The current world production of coconuts has the potential to produce electricity, heat, fiberboards, organic fertilizer, animal feeds, fuel additives for cleaner emissions, eco-friendly cutlery, health drinks, etc.

coconut-shell-biomass

The coconut fruit yields 40 % coconut husks containing 30 % fiber, with dust making up the rest. The chemical composition of coconut husks consists of cellulose, lignin, pyroligneous acid, gas, charcoal, tar, tannin, and potassium. Coconut dust has high lignin and cellulose content. The materials contained in the casing of coco dusts and coconut fibers are resistant to bacteria and fungi.

Coconut biomass is available in the form of coconut husk and coconut shells. Coconut husk and shells are an attractive biomass fuel and are also a good source of charcoal. The major advantage of using coconut biomass as a fuel is that coconut is a permanent crop and available round the year so there is constant whole year supply. Activated carbon manufactured from coconut shell is considered extremely effective for the removal of impurities in wastewater treatment processes.

Coconut Shell

Coconut shell is an agricultural waste and is available in plentiful quantities throughout tropical countries worldwide. In many countries, coconut shell is subjected to open burning which contributes significantly to CO2 and methane emissions.

Coconut shell is widely used for making charcoal. The traditional pit method of production has a charcoal yield of 25–30% of the dry weight of shells used. The charcoal produced by this method is of variable quality, and often contaminated with extraneous matter and soil. The smoke evolved from pit method is not only a nuisance but also a health hazard.

The coconut shell has a high calorific value of 20.8MJ/kg and can be used to produce steam, energy-rich gases, bio-oil, biochar etc. It is to be noted that coconut shell and coconut husk are solid fuels and have the peculiarities and problems inherent in this kind of fuel.

Coconut shell is more suitable for pyrolysis process as it contain lower ash content, high volatile matter content and available at a cheap cost. The higher fixed carbon content leads to the production to a high-quality solid residue which can be used as activated carbon in wastewater treatment. Coconut shell can be easily collected in places where coconut meat is traditionally used in food processing.

Coconut Husk

Coconut husk has high amount of lignin and cellulose, and that is why it has a high calorific value of 18.62MJ/kg. The chemical composition of coconut husks consists of cellulose, lignin, pyroligneous acid, gas, charcoal, tar, tannin, and potassium.

The predominant use of coconut husks is in direct combustion in order to make charcoal, otherwise husks are simply thrown away. Coconut husk can be transformed into a value-added fuel source which can replace wood and other traditional fuel sources. In terms of the availability and costs of coconut husks, they have good potential for use in power plants.

How to Incorporate Sustainability into Your Business?

Since catapulting to the frontlines of news headlines and global consciousness, climate change is one of the most talked about and concerning topics of the modern age. Fortunately with this shift in cognition, manufacturers all across the globe have banded together to create green products in hopes of a more eco-friendly future. It’s these very products that can transform any business from a wasteful guzzler to a green success. With this guide, we’ll walk you through how you can incorporate sustainability into your daily business practice.

1. LED bulbs

Switch out the incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs for a longer-lasting and more energy-efficient brilliance. Compact-fluorescent (CFL) and LED light bulbs tend to carry higher price tags than the average fluorescent bulb, however they offer a far more attractive projected lifespan than typical fluorescent bulbs which tend to offer 1,200 hours of  light.

LED bulbs, on average, cost around $5 and offer 25,000 hours of light, while CFL light bulbs cost about $2 and offer 10,000 hours of projected lifespan. Not only are CFL and LED lights more practical from a sustainability standpoint, but they will also save you thousands on your business’s electric bill.

2. Biodegradable Kitchen Supplies

Using biodegradable kitchen supplies to save on plastic waste. Unless your office is the type of place where employees keep personal dishes in the kitchen cupboard, you will likely need to keep a stash of utensils, cups, and plates on deck for any catered lunches or work parties.

Instead of giving into the cheap prices of eco-unfriendly plastic ware, invest in biodegradable kitchen packaging for a greener feast. With fewer resource requirements, these biodegradable forks, spoons, and knives will leave your business with a reduced carbon footprint.

Green SMEs

3. Ink cartridge recycling

Recycling ink cartridges is a great practice to put in place for businesses equipped with a number of printers. Believe it or not, the vast majority of discarded ink cartridges end up in harmful, toxic landfills that eventually end up in our oceans. Ink cartridge recycling is the most eco-friendly solution to this preventable problem. There are a number of simple ways to take those empty cartridges off your hands and into the hands of a trusted recycler:

  • Find a local recycling facility: You may not even know where your local recycle center is located. Luckily Earth911 can guide you to the nearest location for easy cartridge recycling.
  • Find a local office supply store: Did you know most office supply stores offer recycle programs? Check online or call in to see if they accept ink cartridges.
  • Consider refilling original cartridges: Do a bit of research on the brand of your empty ink cartridge. You may find that they are able to refill your cartridge and you won’t ever have to worry about tossing them!

4. Opening windows

Opening up windows is an easy solution to a stuffy, warm office. When people are packed like sardines into their tiny cubicles, the air can quickly become stale and stifling. Instead of wasting money and energy on air conditioning, open a few windows to let fresh air flow in.

Air conditioners put hydrofluorocarbons, a type of greenhouse gas emission, into the environment—so while you may feel refreshed, the earth is further harmed. Reduce your business’ contribution by saving the AC for the more-unbearable summer days.

5. Adopt renewable energy

Invest in renewable energy sources for a long-term, energy-efficient, and eco-friendly power solution. Every year, we see more and more solar panels sitting atop rooftops, which means the time to invest in solar panels is now. By converting sunlight into a sustainable power source, solar panels are the greenest source of energy on the planet today. Solar energy can be used heat buildings and provide energy to power lights on.

what-is-community-solar

6. Make use of post-consumer waste

Turning to post-consumer waste (PCW) to escape the cycle of high-volume paper waste is an exceptional solution for any company that uses a lot of paper. PCW paper is paper re-made at recycling facilities. According to the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator, PCW paper saves on

  • 5,610 gallons of water
  • 5,000,000 BTU of energy
  • 376 pounds of solid waste
  • 1,035 pounds of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions

Bottom Line

In 2021, there are no more excuses for why a business is stuck in the past. The future can be a bright one if we all put our best foot forward and make the effort to make our spaces greener!

5 Things You Can Do About Pigeons Under Your Solar Panels

Solar paneling has changed the way we look at renewable energy sources today. In addition to the increasing power charges, solar paneling provides a workable solution with a one-time investment. Like everything, there are pros and cons attached with solar panels. Birds are attracted to solar panels that act as a source of shade and protection. Being a bird lover, I would have been happy about it. However, that is not the case here. Bird droppings can cause a lot of damage to solar panels over extended periods of time.

We list some of these damages below:

  • Bird dropping deposits eat on the solar panels’ surface.
  • The accumulation of bird droppings over time can cause a lot of damage.
  • It blocks sunlight and reduces the overall efficiency of panels.
  • Nesting materials deposited under panels can hinder airflow, causing it to overheat and cause more damage.

How to Keep Solar Panels Safe from Pigeons?

So how do we deal with this problem? There are several ways to take care of this. We list 5 things you can do about pigeons under your solar panels below:

solar-panels-pigeon-issue

1. Meshing or netting

Meshing or netting is a very convenient way of keeping the solar panel safe from pigeons. All you need to do is first have the area under the solar panels cleaned. After that, it’s as simple as putting the mesh clips onto the solar panels. The meshing runs over the edges and seals off the way for the pigeons to enter.

The meshing or the netting serves precisely the desired  purpose–it keeps the pigeons out of the area below the solar panel. Also, it provides enough ventilation for the solar panels to dissipate heat.

However, one essential thing that you need to keep in mind is not damaging the panels during the mesh installation. In case the panels get damaged, the warranty would be void.

2. Roof spikes

Installing roof spikes around the solar panel is another way to keep the pigeons at bay. The logic is to make the birds so uncomfortable so that they do not dare to sit long enough to make nests on the solar panel.

3. Plastic predators

The birds cannot distinguish between an actual bird or an artificial one. Setting decoys on your rooftop is like having scarecrows in the field. Set up a bird of prey on the rooftop, preferably like a weathervane, so that it moves. The movement of the bird gives an impression of another bird being present. Plastic predators is a very traditional, however, effective method to keep pigeons and other birds away.

4. Cleanliness

We always talk about cleanliness and how important it is to maintain hygiene. Here is a perfect example of the same. Most of the time, the primary reason for the attraction of birds is if they find food. Hence, keeping away all sources of food makes the place inhabitable. Keep the rubbish bins covered with lids.

If there are pets in the house, ensure that all the pet food is being cleaned. Use tightly sealed plastic bags wherever possible. The cleaner your yard and roof is, the lesser is the chance of bird inhabiting the place. Also, with regards to the a flat roof, ensure that you don’t have any edible garbage lying around.

5. Solar panel maintenance

And finally, let’s come to the last part, which is the maintenance of your solar panels. Cleaning up the panels regularly and taking care of any cracks or any mountings issues is extremely important. Ensure that you get the solar panels cleaned and serviced correctly at regular intervals. Clean solar panels don’t attract a lot of birds.

Conclusion

It is extremely crucial to maintain clean conditions around the panels and even around your house. Cleanliness ensures that pigeons or other birds are not attracted to your home. Along with cleanliness, regular maintenance of the solar panels will ensure that fewer birds inhabit your home. Also, it ensures that the efficiency of your solar panels does not dip. There are various companies that offer solar panel pigeon proofing. It is advisable to get a professional maintenance of the solar panels done once a year, if you don’t live in a highly polluted area.

Water Conservation: 8 Easy Ways to Save Water at Your Home

The importance of saving water cannot be understated, especially as many countries around the world are facing drought conditions. Of course, there is an endless list of small changes you can make as a homeowner to improve the water-saving efficiency of your home, and they add up to a potentially significant difference in the long-term.

1. Repurpose Water

A staggering amount of water literally goes down the drain each day, when there are plenty of smart, safe ways to conserve as much of it as possible. Your bathroom is a key contributor to single-use wastage, and by keeping a container on the floor of your shower you can collect liters with each use. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, even seemingly small things like using a container to catch the water used in washing fresh produce can make a difference over time.

2. Get Smart About Lawn Care

It’s a common misconception that maintaining a healthy lawn requires a plentiful supply of water. Even during water-restricted periods, keeping your grass green is possible – you just have to get clever about your lawn care practices. Depending on the severity of restrictions, you may only be allowed to water your garden and lawn on certain days and at set times of day, and this will probably be enough, as long as you follow a few guidelines.

If possible, it’s best to water your plants and grass in the evening so that the water has plenty of time to soak into the soil and roots without the threat of evaporation. In case you’re unsure whether to water or not, feeling the topsoil for dryness will give you the best indication. Another interesting option for a smart and healthy lawn is to go for artificial grass or drought-tolerant landscape.

3. Use the Half-flush

The second button on the toilet is more than just an aesthetic feature. In fact, the half-flush button can save as much as 70% of the water used in a full flush, owing to the difference in flushing design. A wash-down design and a large trap way make it easier for waste to flow down the drain, meaning less water is required. If you can afford to replace an old, inefficient system, you stand to save a lot of water (and by extension, money) in the long-term.

4. Use Dual Sinks

Washing dishes by hand gets a bad rap in terms of water efficiency, and it often uses more water than a dishwasher, but it’s possible to prevent a great deal of wastage by using your sink effectively. If you have a double-barreled sink, using one side for washing and the other for rinsing will allow you to wash an unlimited load without needing to refresh the water.

5. Check the Ratings

Every water-using device has an efficiency rating, and choosing a well-rated model will help you prevent unnecessary wastage at the source. In some countries, large devices like dishwashers and washing machines come with a star rating to give an indication of their efficiency, and even if they don’t, you can still do your own comparative checks.

In the US, the toilet is typically the biggest source of water wastage, followed by the shower and faucets, but with modern water-efficient designs like water-saving vacuum toilets and low-flow showerheads, much of that water could be preserved.

6. Install Water-Saving Faucets

The only thing more efficient than collecting and re-using run-off from the shower is using less water at the source, and the right faucet can help with that. You can use touchless faucets in your kitchen as well as it can save a lot of water. According to myhomeneedz, a touchless kitchen faucet can save up to 20% water compared to normal faucets.

Just like dishwashers and washing machines, faucets often come with a water-efficiency rating, but they can also be made more eco-friendly through simple add-ons like aerators. An aerator installation is a perfect project for eco-conscious lovers of DIY – once it’s done, the difference will be practically undetectable, and you’ll be saving liters without even trying.

7. Buy Smaller Machines

Devices like dishwashers and washing machines are becoming more water-efficient with each passing year, but the fact remains that large machines tend to use much more water than their smaller counterparts. A smaller device will also make it easier to commit to only running full loads, since it will take less time to fill.

You might even consider investing in a double-gallon dishwashers, designed to run smaller loads with half the amount of water – there’s plenty of technology available to help in your quest to use less.

8. Install a Water Tank

If you have the money and the space available on your property, a water tank is one of the best long-term water-saving investments you can make. Even the average backyard water tank allows for the collection of several hundred liters, which is more than enough to keep your yard in good condition or fill your bathtub many times over. Tanks can be expensive to buy, but the savings you stand to make on your water bills will make it all worthwhile.

Fresh drinking water is a precious resource, and developing efficient usage habits and adopting eco-friendly plumbing has never been more important. The bottom line is that saving water isn’t difficult, and with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you’re fully-equipped to start doing your bit for the environment and the world as a whole.