Monthly Archives: October 2015
As a testament to the growing popularity of biomass and bioenergy, October 21st marked the 3rd annual National Bioenergy Day. Over 60 organizations across 24 states, spanning from the west coast to east coast all the way up to Canada, held events focused on environmental and economic benefits of bioenergy on the local, state and national level. The WES team attended the National Bioenergy Day conference in Baton Rouge, LA at Louisiana State University’s Agricultural Center
The top keynote speakers, Dr. Charles Reith, Professor of Natural and Environmental Sciences and Sustainability Director at the American University of Nigeria and Dr. Dan Len, Regional Biomass Coordinator for the Southern Region Forest Service, left the attendees with a positive message on the endless possibilities that biomass and bioenergy present. Their message was supported by other industry speakers such as pellet companies, area business development leaders and local energy companies.
Events like National Bioenergy Day will continue to increase awareness among the general population of the alternative energy applications that are available, including processes like downdraft gasification systems, and build confidence in biomass as a fuel source.
Our CEO, Richard Woods was featured in the Entrepreneurship Issue of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report Magazine. The article highlights his R&D efforts for our system and his future goals for both of his companies, Albany Woodworks and Waste to Energy Systems. The complete article is found below.
Louisiana entrepreneur: Richard Woods
(Photography by Collin Richie: Richard Woods)
Position: Owner and CEO
Companies: Albany Woodworks and Waste to Energy Systems
What they do: Convert waste from communities, businesses, farms or resorts into energy
Address: 30380 Payne Alley, Suite 2 in Tickfaw
Next goals: Use the success of the gasification system to propel oil reclaiming from plastics
A WELL-BUILT BASE
When Richard Woods noticed a barn being torn down in his Louisiana hometown of Albany 40 years ago, he had no idea the event would inspire him to open not just one, but eventually two unique businesses. He constructed his entire home with antique heart pine and cypress that he carefully salvaged from 100-year-old buildings like the barn, along with as much recyclable material as possible. “I’ve been an environmentalist my whole life,” Woods says. He found the reclaimed wood to be much better than anything people could buy new. “It naturally grew from that desire to use waste in a positive way for a business,” he explains. The home he built for his family is where Albany Woodworks got its start. Today the family business works to reclaim original well-seasoned beams, using state-of-the-art machinery, to be used in new construction or remodeling projects.
TRASH TO TREASURE
In the process of growing his lumber company, Woods had to find ways to deal with the waste his operations produced. In search of a sustainable use for byproducts like wood chips, sawdust and shavings, he began researching methods of converting these into a viable energy source in 2009. After five years of intense research and development, he invented the bioHearth, which uses gasification, a method of converting any kind of carbon-based waste into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. These combustible fuels can then run a generator, kiln or any other energy consumption system. “So it is not a limited market,” Woods explains. “It can go anywhere.” Now successfully running the Albany Woodworks generator from the plant’s waste, Woods is ready to take his bioHearth technology to market as part of his second startup, Waste to Energy Systems.
While gasification is being exploited in Europe and India to turn industrial waste into usable energy, Woods explains what makes his system more practical and more energy efficient is its ability to be installed on-site rather than the company having to haul its waste to a gigantic plant. “So you build a system that would fit right into their system; that is our unique concept,” he says. It might be surprising to discover Woods has no formal degree. “What I do is I know how to learn and I know who to apply what I’ve learned, and that is how I’ve built two businesses,” he says. “I think that is the key ingredient to entrepreneurship.” He is now using that same process to pursue patents for his technology. At age 65, Woods says he wanted to dedicate his last efforts to something that would make a difference in the world.
GREEN FOR GREEN
Juggling two businesses is no easy task for Woods, who will often pull an 18-hour day working to bring his bioHearth to market. Five months ago he put up a webpage to start marketing it and has since been inundated with contact from people wanting to know how it can help their industry. “People just started showing up, just like they showed up wanting my wood,” Woods say. He sees the bioHearth as a viable tool for emerging markets and counties—particularly in the Caribbean and anywhere with an electricity shortage, as well as anyone who is paying money to haul away waste. Woods has funded 75% of the venture himself, with aid from angel investors along the way. While his invention undoubtedly has many environmental benefits, the real key is economic viability, which he has achieved, calculating a return on investment on the system in just under five years.
Article written by Gabrielle Braud and published on October 14, 2015
Homesteading and foraging are very popular sustainable trends these days. Ideal for those that live in rural areas and the time to dedicate to growing their own food. The idea is wonderful but not realistic for everyone’s living situation. So how do those that live in more urban areas with only a backyard available to them have the opportunity to live off the land? The answer could be as simple as what naturally grows in your backyard. Here is a list of edible plants that most people have easy access too!
- Violets- This lovely purple flower often grows wild and most consider it a weed. However, the leaves and blooms are actually edible! They contain vitamins A and C. They can be used in salads or cooked as greens. The flowers can be made into jellies, candied, or tossed into a salad.
- Evening Primrose- Native Americans have been using this plant as food and medicine for thousands of years. The entire plant is edible. The seeds are used to make an oil that have medicinal properties. The blossoms are sweet and can be mixed in salads or as garnish for desserts. The roots and seedpods can be cooked. This plant is a great source of gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is not found in many plant sources.
- Creeping Charlie- Known as an invasive weed to most, the Creeping Charlie is very edible. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves have a mild bitter flavour and can be tossed into salads to add a slight aromatic tang. They can also be cooked like spinach, added to soups, stews, or omelet. Tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. It is often used mixed with verbena leaves or lovage. This wild edible has been added to beer in much the same way as hops in order to clear it and also to improve its flavor and keeping qualities.
- Goldenrod- Often blamed for allergies in most, this low pollen plant is a plentiful source of nutrition and medicinal benefits. Research has shown that Goldenrod reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and helps with muscle spasm and infections. All aerial parts of the plant can be used. The flowers are edible and make attractive garnishes on salads. Flowers and leaves (fresh or dried) are used to make tea. Leaves can be cooked like spinach or added to soups, stews or casseroles. Leaves can be blanched and frozen for later use in soups, stews, or stir fry throughout the winter or spring.
- Dandelion- Probably one of the most common weeds, Dandelions are completely edible. Leaves, root, and flower can all be eaten. Dandelion leaves can be added to a salad or cooked. They can also be dried and stored for the winter or blanched and frozen. Flowers can be made into juice, or added into many recipes. The root can be made into a coffee substitute. The root and leaves can be dried, stored and made into tea. Dandelions are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and it even has antioxidants. For example, one cup of raw dandelion greens contains 112% of your daily required intake of vitamin A and 535% of vitamin K.