A 2011 Chevrolet Volt under the hood. Right side: the power inverter on top of the electric drive unit (electric motor) used for traction. Left side: the 1.4-liter gasoline-powered engine used as generator to provide power to the electric motor or to engage mechanically to assist propulsion when the battery is depleted. Taken at the 2011 Washington Auto Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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Once they've finished powering electric vehicles for hundreds of thousands of miles, it may not be the end of the road for automotive batteries, which researchers believe can provide continued benefits for consumers, automakers and the environment.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are studying five used Chevrolet Volt batteries to determine the feasibility of a community energy storage system that would put electricity onto the grid. Over the next year, researchers from ORNL, General Motors and the ABB Group will conduct studies and compile data using a first-of-its-kind test platform.
"With about one million lithium-ion batteries per year coming available from various automakers for the secondary market beginning in 2020, we see vast potential to supplement power for homes and businesses," said Dr. Imre Gyuk, manager of the Energy Storage Research Program in DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability in a press release. "Since these batteries could still have up to 80 percent of their capacity, they present a great opportunity for use in stationary storage devices before sending them to be recycled."
Last year in San Francisco, a GM/ABB energy storage system provided 100 percent of the electricity needed to power a temporary structure for several hours. A similar application could one day power a group of homes or small commercial buildings during a power outage or help make up for gaps in solar, wind or other renewable power generation.
The ORNL platform provides 25 kilowatts of power and 50 kilowatt-hours of energy that could potentially provide cost-effective backup energy, said Michael Starke of ORNL's Energy and Transportation Science Division.
The city of Knoxville's recycling program continues to grow.
Recycling in Knoxville has nearly doubled since the city started its curbside program in 2011, according to city statistics.
"Before we did the curbside program we averaged 4,500 to 5,000 tons a year; now we are doing close to 9,000," said David Brace, director of public service for the city of Knoxville in a story by the News Sentinel's Mal Alder.
Officials say they see more people who are interested in recycling and want to do more.
Brace says the city hopes to expand the single stream recycling program to cover the 1,900 households now on the waiting list.
When it was launched in 2011 the program took less than three months to reach it's full number of participating households.
Local nonprofit ZeroLandfill East Tennessee invites area architects, contractors and similar businesses to donate supplies that would otherwise be thrown away.
The program, in its second year, encourages businesses to donate leftover, expired and unwanted samples to be "upcycled," or repurposed by the community.
Architecture and interior design-related businesses are asked to donate items such as expired samples, fabric, magazines, paint chips, tile, old marketing materials, flooring and more. Building retailers like Lowes and Home Depot that utilize product samples are also welcome to participate.
The organization cannot process paint, demolition material from construction sites or items from residential homeowners.
Businesses may drop off material at Office Furniture Outfitters, 1817 Grand Ave. SW in Knoxville:
2-4 p.m. April 22-25; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.April 26; 2 p.m.-4 p.m. April 29-30 and May 1-2; and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 3.
Volunteers sort material donated
at a previous ZeroLandfill event
All photos submitted
by ZeroLandfill East Tennessee
Greater Growth, founded by Joel Townsend and his wife Linda in 2009, is combining traditional aquaculture with hydroponics to create a system in which the two sustainably support each other.
Their 12,000-square-foot aquaponics greenhouse holds rows of lettuce, greens, bok choi and herbs suspended in an insulated concrete tank through which flows a steady supply of the water and nutrients the plants need for life, reports Larisa Brass in this month's Business Journal.
The nutrients come from tanks of fish at the other end of the greenhouse, part of a symbiotic horticultural process that is 100 percent organic, says owner Joel Townsend.
"Because we have fish and plants together it keeps us entirely honest," Townsend says. "There's nothing harmful to humans that I could put in here and not kill my fish."
The Lenoir City startup is currently selling produce at local farmers markets and will soon launch a sales effort targeting area grocers and restaurants. It will begin selling fish, likely through local fish markets, in August.
Continue reading at about Greater Growth at knoxvillebiz.com
The city of Knoxville, Knox County, and the town of Farragut have joined with the Water Quality Forum to offer rainbarrels and compost bins to area residents.
Fifty-gallon rain barrels will be sold for $58 and 85-gallon compost bins will be $55. Officials hope the discounted pricing will encourage residents to protect water quality and help reduce the waste stream to area landfills.
Saved water can be used to water vegetables, flowers and lawns or used for outdoor washing of decks and vehicles among other uses. "During a one-inch rain, more than 700 gallons of water will run off the average roof. That's enough water to take 17 baths or 58 showers," said Melinda Watson, a water quality specialist with TVA in a press release.
The rain barrel is made of 50 percent recycled plastic and is manufactured in the United States.
Pre-ordered rain barrels and compost bins will be available for pickup 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, June 16 at the West Town Mall parking lot by Morrell Road. A few rainbarrels and compost bins will be available for sale at the event, but preordering is encouraged.
"This program is an important step in offering an inexpensive option to help our residents save money and understand the significance of water conservation and waste reduction," said Parci Gibson with the Water Quality Forum.
Originally published in the Greater Knoxville Business Journal May 2012 issue and knoxvillebiz.com, were feature stories from the essays provided by several of our Green Achiever applicants
Green doesn't have to be red or blue.
As Mayor Madeline Rogero points out in the Business Journal cover story, her recent predecessors -- Republican and Democrat alike -- made Knoxville a greener place, whether that meant creating more parks, renovating city facilities to make them energy efficient or launching a curbside recycling service.
In her inaugural budget address, Rogero outlined "living green and working green" as a top priority for her administration. She defines that broadly, as do the dozens of organizations that participated in our GoGreenET Business Recognition program. Each of them downloaded a survey that includes 100-plus ways to reduce their carbon footprint. By checking at least one item in each category and scoring at least 30 points, participating businesses become Green Achievers.
Several businesses and their accomplishments are highlighted in the stories below in the areas of community outreach, recycling/waste reduction and energy efficiency. Their stories illuminate how many shades of green exist, and I hope they'll inspire you to find a shade that works for your organization.
Join us at a Business After Hours from 5 to 7 p.m. May 15 to celebrate their achievements and learn more about making your own workplace greener. The event will be held at the University of Tennessee Gardens, just off Neyland Drive next to the UT Veterinary School. RSVP by calling the Knoxville Chamber at 865-246-2622 or visit www.knoxvillechamber.com and click Chamber Events.
Education around East Tennessee is getting a little greener on both the inside -- through student programs -- and on the outside -- including upgrades to campus buildings and equipment.
Maryville College received a STARS Bronze Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements in January of this year.
In February, several area high schools and elementary schools were recognized by the East Tennessee chapter of the US Green Building Council at the High Performance + Healthy Schools Symposium.
The recipients included the Knox County Schools in the Outstanding School District category; Oak Ridge High School and White Pine Elementary School for Outstanding School; E.L. Ross Elementary School for Outstanding School Group; and Johnson City Power Board for Community Outreach.
EnerNex, Knoxville-based electric power research company, will test, evaluate and demonstrate smart grid technology at its new Smart Grid Labs facility. It will also be used for education and training.
The company will be able to model the connection and disconnection of equipment and demonstrate how it will affect its local grid.
"EnerNex's commitment to innovation, grid modernization, and interoperability is woven throughout the Lab's design. We plan to continue to invest in the Lab's testing infrastructure to meet the evolving Smart Grid architecture and technologies," said Brad Singletary, Deputy Director.
The independent facility simulates a utility substation, control center, residential or light commercial service entrance, residential utility room (washer, dryer, water heater), kitchen, and a living space. These will be used to help vendors, utilities and regulatory elements to evaluate and understand technology readiness for Smart Grid in ongoing and emerging technology efforts.
EnerNex is the administrator for the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel. In August 2009, the company was awarded an $8.5 million contract by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to sustain the accelerated development of the standards that will be required to build a secure, interoperable smart electric power grid.
An electronics recycling event will be held 9 a.m.-4 p.m. February 17 at Pellissippi State Community College's Magnolia Avenue campus at 1610 E. Magnolia Ave..
Scott Recycling of Knoxville will accept electronics for disposal in the rear parking lot of the campus.
Items accepted include all types of equipment that contains electronic parts like copiers, fax machines, printers, computer and telephone equipment, power backups, servers and small appliances.
Recycled electronics will count toward Pellissippi State's total for Recyclemania, a national competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Recyclemania started February 15 and continues through March 31.
For more information call (865) 694-6400
The city of Knoxville reports it reached the goal, and current limit, of 20,000 signups for its new curbside recycling program in December.
The program has been active for less than a year.
"We are very pleased with the response of our citizens to this program," says David Brace, the city's director of public service. "With 20,000 sign-ups, that means that one-third of the City's households are participating."
Since the first of October, initial participating households hvae recycled more than 1,200 tons of waste, said John Homa, city solid waste manager.
Several thousand more carts will be delivered in February to those who signed up after the initial August 14 deadline.