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|Articles - April 2010|
|Wednesday, March 24, 2010|
Landfills have never been popular, and with recycling rates rising it’s no surprise that the U.S. waste industry is pouring dollars into the development of alternative disposal technologies. But the prospect of a green waste industry may be a little scary for communities whose livelihoods depend on burying trash. A new waste-to-energy pilot plant in Arlington shows that there may still be jobs in waste, no matter how fancy the technology gets.
S4 Energy Solutions plans to start construction in May on a cutting-edge waste-to-energy plant at the Columbia Ridge Landfill in Arlington, the company announced last month. S4 Energy Solutions, based in Houston, is a 50-50 joint venture between trash giant Waste Management and InEnTec, a Bend company that has developed a plasma gasification process that zaps household waste into a synthetic gas (syngas) that can be used to produce electricity or — hopefully — liquid fuels. S4 won’t disclose the cost of the plant, set to open at year’s end. It will create up to 28 construction jobs and 16 permanent jobs, which CEO Jeff Surma hopes to fill locally.
The plant is expected to process 25 tons of municipal solid waste a day, capable of producing between 10 million and 15 million BTUs an hour. If the technology proves functional and commercially viable, the Arlington plant will be the first of its kind in the country. There’s just one snag: What to do with the syngas. It theoretically can be converted into ethanol or even diesel, but that technology is still not fully developed. “We don’t know what we want to do with it,” says Jackie Lang, a local spokeswoman for Waste Management.
The company could convert syngas into electricity using combustion engines it owns. But Surma says it wouldn’t make sense to do that in Eastern Oregon, which already produces a lot of electricity from windmills. Whether S4 chooses to scale up will depend on whether it can generate the kind of energy that’s needed in the Northwest, he says.
Gilliam county commissioner Dennis Gronquist says he’s happy to have S4 in town. The project was a pleasant surprise for the county. S4 originally had considered building the plant in Texas.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY MIKE GREEN
An old profession is new again.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
BY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER
Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex fast changing business environment.
Update: We checked in with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who offers his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Friday, June 06, 2014
BY KATIE AUSBURGER | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How to build a hipster-friendly work environment.
Friday, June 13, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST BLOGGER
This article summarizes the key considerations a building owner must keep in mind when thinking about leasing to a medical marijuana dispensary.
Friday, May 30, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Since 1970 the performance of our public education system has steadily deteriorated.
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