Waste To Energy Systems

Monthly Archives: January 2016

Solar Powered Classrooms Offer Rural African Children a Chance

Blogger’s Note: What better way to use alternative energy technology than to brighten the future of a child. That is exactly what a collaboration of organizations is doing. They developed the Digi-Truck. Not only is it recycling old shipping containers but it is offering children in rural Africa an opportunity to peer into a world of technology that they might have never been exposed to. A recent article from offgridquest.com discusses how this technology is bringing a much brighter future to these rural communities. 

Shipping container-turned-digital-classroom, this vehicle helps to educate African children in impoverished areas. The exclusively solar-powered, mobile and completely independent classroom is geared towards increasing accessibility to education and connectivity across Africa,” said Shin. “It is designed specifically for use in remote areas with limited or no access to electricity.

In this digital day and age, one can only sigh in disbelief that digital literacy is inaccessible to children in Africa, particularly the remote areas where infrastructure is lacking. Close the Gap, in partnership with Arrow Electronics and Hoops for Hope, made the Digi-Truck, a solar-powered truck that serves as a digital classroom to teach students about digital literacy.

The Digi-Truck aims to combat two issues. The first is the absence of electricity and communication lines in the remote areas. The solution? Putting solar panels on top of the truck that will provide several days of power for the classroom. The other issue is being able to teach the kids how to use digital technology. Hence, the truck is equipped with 20 laptops, a LED screen, two routers and a printer that will give the kids hands-on experience. Eighteen students can be accommodated at a time.

Moreover, the beauty of the Digi-Truck is its mobility. In fact, the Digi-Truck is actually made of a 40 ft. shipping container put on top of a trailer. This way, the truck can go from one remote area to another without transferring the parts of the digital classroom piece-by-piece. It is designed with insulation, bolted window shutters, LED lighting and steel doors. Additionally, if there’s no school that day, the truck can also double as a health center or a cyber café.

The Digi-Truck project was launched in January 2014 and has served different rural communities in Africa. It is currently in the Village of Rau in the Kilimanjaro Region where it provides a digital learning environment for 80 orphans from the Neema International-supported Tuleeni orphanage. By 2016, the Digi-Truck will move to a new location. However, all current equipment will be donated to the Tuleeni orphanage and the truck will be supplied anew.

Oliver Vanden Eynde, Founder of Close the Gap said:

“More than 75 percent of the population in Africa live in rural communities where infrastructure presents a huge barrier. Modern information and communication technologies, coupled with solar-powered solutions like the DigiTruck, are able to help bridge this digital divide and to bring quality training and education to remote communities.”

It’s hard not to admire the efforts of these organizations to bridge the gap and still deliver education to children who need it.


Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy

Blogger’s Note: Scientists are quickly discovering that with all the technological advances in the world are leaving people in a deficit of nature exposure. Recent studies have shown that dirt contains microbes that act as an antidepressant. A recent article from Gardening Know How discussed this topic and how dirt scientifically acts as an antidepressant. So next time you are feeling down, the best remedy could be going out, channeling your inner child and playing in the dirt. 


Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues. Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain and are without side effects and chemical dependency potential. Learn how to harness the natural antidepressant in soil and make yourself happier and healthier. Read on to see how dirt makes you happy.

Natural remedies have been around for untold centuries. These natural remedies included cures for almost any physical ailment as well as mental and emotional afflictions. Ancient healers may not have known why something worked but simply that it did. Modern scientists have unraveled the why of many medicinal plants and practices but only recently are they finding remedies that were previously unknown and yet, still a part of the natural life cycle. Soil microbes and human health now have a positive link which has been studied and found to be verifiable.

Soil Microbes and Human Health

Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier. Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress.

Lack of serotonin has been linked to depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar problems. The bacterium appears to be a natural antidepressant in soil and has no adverse health effects. These antidepressant microbes in soil may be as easy to use as just playing in the dirt.

Most avid gardeners will tell you that their landscape is their “happy place” and the actual physical act of gardening is a stress reducer and mood lifter. The fact that there is some science behind it adds additional credibility to these garden addicts’ claims. The presence of a soil bacteria antidepressant is not a surprise to many of us who have experienced the phenomenon ourselves. Backing it up with science is fascinating, but not shocking, to the happy gardener. Mycobacterium antidepressant microbes in soil are also being investigated for improving cognitive function, Crohn’s disease and even rheumatoid arthritis.

How Dirt Makes You Happy

Antidepressant microbes in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which results in the production of higher levels of serotonin. The bacterium was tested both by injection and ingestion on rats and the results were increased cognitive ability, lower stress and better concentration to tasks than a control group.

Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection. The natural effects of the soil bacteria antidepressant can be felt for up to 3 weeks if the experiments with rats are any indication. So get out and play in the dirt and improve your mood and your life.

EPA Addresses Potential of Biomass

Blogger’s Note: The Clean Power Plan was implemented on August 3, 2015 by the EPA. The Clean Power Plan finalized new rules, or standards, that will reduce carbon emissions from power plants for the first time. As a result, new focus is being placed on biomass as a fuel source for renewable energy systems like biomass gasification . Recently, the EPA addressed the potential of biomass and is planning a workshop on land and forest management for responsible biomass production. Biomass Magazine recently published an article on this attention and workshop in their article “EPA addresses biomass in Clean Power Plan, plans workshop”.

Janet McCabe, U.S. EPA acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, has published a blog that addresses the potential role of biomass in the Clean Power Plan, and announced that the EPA will hold a workshop on the topic early next year.

Since the Clean Power Plan was issued, states and stakeholders have shown a strong interest in the role of biomass to help hit targets, McCabe said, and many states are seeking to understand how to craft plans that will be federally approvable under the final CPP guidelines. “To respond to this interest and to support state and stakeholder efforts to incorporate bioenergy in their CPP plans, we will be holding a public workshop in early 2016 for stakeholders to share their successes, experiences and approaches to deploying biomass in ways that have been, and can be, carbon beneficial,” McCabe wrote. “Biomass derived from land that is managed under programs that ensure the long-term maintenance of healthy forests can serve as an integral part of a broader forestry-based climate strategy, so the CPP expressly includes bioenergy as an option for states and utilities in CPP compliance.  It reflects the fact that, in many cases, biomass and bioenergy products in the power system can be an integral part of state programs and foster responsible land management and renewable energy.”

In the blog, McCabe emphasizes state flexibility as being a key component of the CPP, and points out that many already have expertise in sound carbon- and GHG-beneficial forestry and land management practices. “The CPP’s flexibility will give states the ability to build in approaches to biomass and bioenergy unique to their forests and land management programs and policies.  It recognizes the importance of forests and other lands for climate resilience—in addition to the carbon benefits of biomass—fostered by a variety of land use policies, renewable energy incentives and standards, and GHG strategies.”

The final CPP creates a pathway for states to use biomass as part of their plans to meet their emission reduction guidelines, according to McCabe. She said EPA expects many states to include biomass as a component in their state plans. “We look forward to reviewing plans that incorporate well-developed forestry and other land management programs producing biomass that can qualify under the guidelines laid out in the CPP, and we are confident that the CPP offers sufficient lead time and flexibility for states to develop approvable programs.”

Key goals of the workshop, the date of which was not announced, will be to provide an opportunity for states with well-developed forestry and land management practices to share their experiences, and to “foster a constructive dialogue about how states can best include biomass in their compliance plans if that is a path they choose to follow.”

McCabe added that the workshop will showcase the constructive compliance approaches many states are already implementing or developing, and as the first step to prepare for the event, EPA will be reaching out to key stakeholders to get ideas on the agenda.