Monday, July 11, 2005

BRC 2: Not Everything's Wrong with Kansas

Treehugger points us to a really innovative investment in sustainability in Goodland, KS:
A group of investors in Goodland Kansas (where sunflowers are big), has decided to bundle three energy efficient technologies, linking mass and energy flows from a co-generation plant for electricity, an ethanol fermentation/distillation plant, and a biodiesel plant, all on a single site. Making electricity co-gen is the X2 gain. Using the co-gen plant's waste heat (steam) as an input for making ethanol makes it X3. Using the ethanol plant waste sludge as an input to the biodiesel plant makes it X4. Now all they have to do to achieve X5 status is adopt some of the new cellulosic enzymes, recently reported in TreeHugger, to up their ethanol prouction efficiency. The upshot is an environmental footprint far and away better than previously reported life cycle studies have indicated for biodiesel. TreeHuggers can certainly forgive the use of coal if mercury emissions curbed with best available technology(fingers crossed for X6).
I've read about these kinds of industrial ecosystems in Europe -- it's great to see the concept being put into practice in the US. I'd love to hear what some of you more business-minded folks think about the possibilities for cooperation like this among different companies.

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