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Posted Thu Feb 21 2013: from E&E Publishing:
Rural China tries to break its coal addiction by using straw
This is not the equivalent of Silicon Valley. There isn't a lab in sight or a high-tech industrial park in the area. What attracts most of the attention is a two-floor factory building with a signboard that reads "Shangqiu Sanli New Energy Demonstration." Still, this is a noteworthy place. It is healing one of China's long-standing headaches. That headache is straw, basically an agricultural waste collected from nearby farms. Workers here chop it, compress it, then heat it slowly in sophisticated, oxygen-free ovens to produce biochar, a sort of charcoal that can be used as soil amendments. What remains -- two types of liquids called wood tar and wood vinegar -- are removed to sealed vessels and are sold as eco-friendly pesticides and soil conditioners. Through this, the factory produces industrial goods worth nearly $10 million per year. The process also produces a combustible gas that it converts into electricity -- to run the machinery.
[Read more stories about: climate impacts, efficiency increase]

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'Doc Michael says:
Still, you gotta expect there are going to be a lot of camels with broken backs.

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