By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaIf you know how to do it, you can turn a handful of wood into enough fuel to power a small car about 1.5 miles, says a University of Georgia researcher.Wood chips, sawdust or agricultural waste are examples of biomass. Hydrocarbons, such as coal and oil, and carbohydrates, found in biomass, are about the same chemically, said K.C. Das, an engineering professor with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.The biorefinery process is similar to refining crude oil. It’s a way of turning biomass into products like fuel, char and chemicals that can be used to make a product like plastic.”What we’re doing is looking at various sorts of biomass available and how to use it in the most optimum manner,” said Das, who also coordinates the UGA Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program.Energy is all around, Das says. There’s solar, hydro and wind energy, for example. Energy is also in biomass.If you’ve ever thrown a stick onto a fire to keep it burning, you’ve seen biomass energy at work. But there’s more inside waiting to be unlocked.”By taking a biorefinery approach,” Das said, “we’re looking at making systems that are sustainable and utilizing as much of the biomass as possible.”One way to do this is through pyrolysis, which uses high heat. Simply put, if you took a handful of wood pellets and heated them to 800 degrees Fahrenheit in the absence of oxygen, you’d get oil, gas and carbon char, the remains of the wood.You could stop there. But you could go further and get more from the wood. Ratchet up the heat to the oil and gas to 1,475 degrees and throw in steam and a catalyst like nickel and you can capture hydrogen for fuel cells.The common way to make hydrogen now is to use natural gas, which isn’t renewable. The natural gas way also releases greenhouse gases, believed to cause global warming. Pyrolysis doesn’t create any new greenhouse gases.There are some hitches, Das said. The oil it produces is very reactive, making it hard to store and handle. But it can be modified to run in an engine with a few extra steps. CAES scientists are working on that, too.From recovering chicken fat from poultry plants to finding the right feedstocks for industrial use, 25 faculty and staff members are working on 15 projects under the Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program umbrella, which started about two years ago.Just as gasoline prices have spiked in recent years, so has U.S. interest in biorefining technology. But it’s not really new. “A lot of this technology has been sitting on the shelf in the United States for decades because crude oil was cheap,” he said.Countries such as Russia and South Africa have used biorefining techniques and products since the 1950s, he said. Brazilians have run their automobiles on ethanol refined from sugarcane since the 1970s.”I think the average person would be surprised at what could be available through conversion technology,” Das said. “It’s competitive today because fossil fuel prices are going up.”Last year, CAES biorefining and hydrogen-production projects received $1.8 million in federal and state grants. The same amount is expected in 2007.”What we’re doing and what we’ll continue to do is improve the technology in an effort to make it more widely available and sustainable,” Das said.It’s tough to predict when products from biomass will replace those made from crude oil.”Some of it has already begun, like bioplastics,” he said. “I think within the next five to 10 years, the technology and the products will be more widely available and accepted. … There’s a lot happening now.”
Thousands of people from various labor groups and farmer unions as well as university students staged a rally in front of the House of Representatives complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Thursday to protest the ongoing deliberation of the controversial omnibus bill on job creation as well as the Pancasila Ideology Guidelines (HIP) bill.The protesters were joined in a coalition named the Labor with the People Movement (GEBRAK), comprising members of the Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI), the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA) and the Indonesia Youth Movement (AKMI), among other groups.KASBI chairwoman Nining Elitos said the protesters demanded lawmakers stop the deliberation of the job creation omnibus bill and prioritize other bills that would ensure the well-being and safety of citizens, such as the sexual violence eradication (RUU PKS) and domestic workers protection bills. The draft bill, which seeks to amend 79 prevailing laws and more than 1,200 articles, has been opposed by labor unions, who claimed the bill would undermine labor rights and only benefit employers and corporations.Read also: Most Indonesians who are aware of job creation bill support it: SurveySeveral labor groups withdrew from a Manpower Ministry technical team tasked with discussing the labor section of the omnibus bill after their demands to play a greater role in the bill’s deliberations were rejected. The technical team also includes representatives of business associations, such as the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said he hoped lawmakers could finish deliberating the omnibus bill by the end of this month, as he claimed they had finished “half of the [bill’s] chapters”. In a 34-page statement, GEBRAK said the bill would hurt workers who were already suffering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”[Workers] have received no protections or safety nets [during the pandemic], while the government has not strictly punished employers who have violated our rights. This bill only sells Indonesian citizens as cheap labor for investors,” the statement read. A coalition of customary forest communities have also objected to the omnibus bill, claiming it would make it easier for corporations to seize indigenous lands and forests and would cause economic disparities to increase, especially for people who live in forest areas.On the same day, the Anti-Communist National Alliance (ANAK), comprising members of 174 mass organizations, also staged a protest against the deliberations of the HIP bill.The bill, supported by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), aims to regulate the values of the state ideology Pancasila as well as the Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP). The party’s chairwoman and former president Megawati Sukarnoputri is currently serving as the BPIP steering committee head.Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) chairwoman Asfinawati previously expressed concerns that the bill could harm the country’s freedom of expression, claiming there was an effort to monopolize the interpretation of the state ideology as stipulated in Article 45 of the bill. She also highlighted that Article 48 of the draft bill allows for positions in the BPIP steering committee to be filled by active military and police personnel.Topics : “We also urge the House to revoke the recently-passed Mining Law revision and focus on mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation,” Nining said on Thursday.Jakarta Police traffic division chief Sr. Comr. Sambodo Purnomo Yogo said around 3,600 officers were deployed to secure the rally.”[We] deployed between 3,400 to 3,600 personnel in two shifts to secure the rally as well as manage traffic around the area,” he said on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.Labor groups, activists and members of the general public have repeatedly criticized the House and the government of trying to push through controversial bills. Opposition to the omnibus bill on job creation has only grown as the country faces mass layoffs because of the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.