Team Gemini

Drought Presents Immediate and Future Issues, Highlighting Need For and Benefits of Water Conservation

Drought Presents Immediate and Future Issues, Highlighting Need For and Benefits of Water Conservation

Long-term forecasts and present-day circumstances around the country and world demonstrate economic and environmental issues caused by drought, with water conservation solutions pivotal to averting significant problems.

By Mathias Haugner

Populous and economically-sizeable states like California are no strangers to the impacts of drought. Affecting valuable agriculture commodities on which communities around the world depend, to impacting regulations that govern use of water for households and municipalities, drought influences the very issue of survival.

Future forecasts aren’t needed to demonstrate the impacts that lack of water has on the livelihood of communities. In the Central Valley region of California alone, one 2014 UC Davis study estimates the range of economic impacts on agriculture alone:

  • The resulting net water shortage of 1.5 million acre-feet will cause losses of $810 million in crop revenue and $203 million in dairy and other livestock value, plus additional groundwater pumping costs of $454 million.
  • These direct costs to agriculture total $1.5 billion.
  • The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is $2.2 billion, with a total loss of 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs.

This does not include other impacts, like decrease in tourism, costs of water treatment, and other, more indirect loss of economic activity like people leaving affected areas and more.

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As forecasts assess widespread conditions of debilitating drought, and some models forecasting the likelihood of decades-long events of this nature, the present time becomes critical in alleviating the strain on water resources.

Technologies exist that can readily reclaim, store, recycle, and treat a variety of water sources so they may be reused. From turning wastewater into potable water, to creating closed-loop water systems that minimize the need to replenish water in agricultural operations, solutions exist that can improve the economic and environmental bottom lines for businesses and communities. Team Gemini and its team members present solutions to address these needs. But it requires concerted efforts to implement them, including collaboration with water utilities, local governments, and financial models that make the solutions more accessible.

To learn more about Team Gemini’s water conservation solutions, visit http://teamgemini.us/a3-usa/.

For more information on drought-related issues, visit http://go.usa.gov/hHTe.

Team Gemini

Team Gemini Recognizes Viscon Group for their Valuable Hydroponic and Other Produce-Handling Applications

Team Gemini Recognizes Viscon Group for their Valuable Hydroponic and Other Produce-Handling Applications

With large-scale, organic food production playing an increasingly critical role in sustainably feeding the world, Team Gemini works with Viscon Group and others to offer relevant solutions.

Team Gemini works closely with Viscon Group and others to offer technology resources and project design solutions that allow for uniquely-sustainable, large-scale food production. Since 1927, Viscon has been involved in automation in the agro/horticultural sector. In the last two decades the family company grew from approximately 40 employees, to over 200 employees active in different sectors all over the world. As for today, several business units, each dedicated to a specific industry, form the Viscon Group.

Most recently, Viscon has designed and engineered a special system for the safe production of leafy vegetables. The system is a closed growing system floating on deep water and can be fully automated. Viscon Hydroponics focuses on short-cycle crops that can be grown on deep water channels, i.e. lettuce, herbs, cabbage, spinach, and others. Viscon is able to integrate and supply all the automatic handling for the pots, boxes, trays, floats and end-packaging if desired. The system provides automation and growing concepts for the important phases in the plant-production process.

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In combination with Team Gemini, these technologies are enhanced through the generation of renewable energy (through integrated applications of Anaerobic Digesters and Combined Heat and Power Units), wastewater treatment and recycling, and implementation of aquaponic and aquaculture systems that are an economically-strengthening combination compared to hydroponics alone.

In terms of sustainability and quality, some of the benefits of these technologies include:

  • Water efficiency: The system is very water efficient. The water doesn’t flush out. The water will be consumed by the crop, and water conservation technologies allow for optimal use of this precious resource.
  • Savings in fertilizer: Fertilizer stays in the system and isn’t being drained out in the field as occurs with traditional growing methods.
  • Efficiency: during winter you can still grow product because the water can be heated and artificial lighting can be added. The floats have an isolating effect on the water, which enables you to grow in cold periods as well.
  • Uniformity: each product has the same water intake, which creates uniform result.
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Learn more about Viscon Group at http://www.viscongroup.eu/, and visit http://teamgemini.us/sustainable-agricultural-technology/ to learn more about Team Gemini’s sustainable agriculture offerings.

Team Gemini

Fish Feed and Other Components Become Important Assets in Organic, Sustainable Aquaculture

Fish Feed and Other Components Become Important Assets in Organic, Sustainable Aquaculture

As industries assess quality and standards of fish feed in the production of fish, factors concerning health, the environment, and economics come together.

By Mathias Haugner

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” This quote by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin illustrates the point of how the chain of nutrition and food ultimately affects us. As fish becomes an increasingly vital source of protein in the world, the quality of fish will increasingly matter as well.

Organic food certification and labeling is a hot-button topic, and one with major monetary implications. Currently worth about $35 billion a year, many fish farmers and retailers want in. But health and other issues play an important role in the process and quality standards.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. Several consumer groups, though, say the recommended rules don’t go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods. The feed that the fish eat is at the center of the debate.” The USDA organic standard proposal for farmed fish is currently scheduled to be published by summer.

With many fish feed sources being unsustainable—whether through overfishing or impurities like chemical additives, growth hormones or antibiotics—concern for the standards of organic labeling are justified. After all, if the fish we farm is being fed low-quality materials, and raised under poor water and other conditions, the quality of the output will also be low compared to healthier alternatives.

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Organic feed is therefore a key topic of interest, and many research institutions and individual fish farming operations are testing ways to combine organic ingredients for fish feed. Experiments have ranged from using soybeans and animal byproducts, to barley-protein mixes. Getting the fish to accept and eat organic fish feed is one of the critical elements to success. Further considerations include economics, as alternative fish feed can result in significantly lower cost of goods.

Along with its partners like OBIC and technology providers like AKVA group and A3-USA, Team Gemini continues exploring and implementing integrated and unique options for all facets of sustainable and profitable aquaculture. Whether it includes research and innovations in fish feed, or applying fish life support systems and resource maximization (through renewable energy and water conservation), a large range of details is taken into consideration to ultimately arrive at organic, sustainable fish farming.

To learn more about Team Gemini’s innovative agriculture solutions, visit http://teamgemini.us/sustainable-agricultural-technology/.

For the full article on organic food certification, visit http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/02/03/383360748/how-fish-could-change-what-it-means-for-food-to-be-organic.

Team Gemini

Trash and Recycling Infographic Highlights Prevalence of Issue, Potential for Resources

Trash and Recycling Infographic Highlights Prevalence of Issue, Potential for Resources

Amidst billions of pounds of trash that is discarded annually in the U.S., initiatives for sustainability may turn the prevailing problems into high-value resource solutions.

By Mathias Haugner

“The USA produces more trash than any other country in the world, with each person throwing away 4.4 pounds of trash per day — that’s a collective total of more than 500 billion pounds of trash per year! From paper products, plastic, food scraps, and more, landfills are overflowing and threatening our health and environment.”

Trash that is merely discarded and heaped into landfills is a detrimental reality in many places around the world. But shifting mindsets and approaches to treating trash—empowered by advances in technologies and other factors—allows us to turn a detriment into a benefit.

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Trash can be turned from a problem into a resource.

From Anaerobic Digesters that can take food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic waste (accounting for almost 30% of discarded waste) and turn it into usable biogas (for electricity and heat) and byproducts like compost and fertilizer; Materials Recovery Facilities that churn out papers, plastics, and metals for reuse on the market; and even more advanced applications of technologies like pelletizing tire waste to use as high-value fuel—demand for maximizing revenue has contributed to the existence of many technologies that make this waste-to-resource production possible.

The question is no longer if we can control and sustainably use our trash; the question becomes how and when. Team Gemini and its team members continue to explore these issues, and present solutions for a variety of needs.

To learn more about Team Gemini’s resource recovery solutions, visit http://teamgemini.us/resource-recovery/.

For the original infographic article, visit http://inhabitat.com/10-reasons-why-youll-be-buried-alive-by-trash/.

Team Gemini

Team Gemini Recognizes Julius Montz GmbH for its Chemical Engineering and Refinery Applications

Team Gemini Recognizes Julius Montz GmbH for its Chemical Engineering and Refinery Applications

With advanced technologies for biofuel production and other chemical processing and refining, Team Gemini works with Montz and others to offer sustainable solutions for the industry.

Team Gemini works closely with Julius Montz GmbH and others to offer technology resources and project design solutions that allow for uniquely-sustainable biofuel production, with one of Team Gemini’s flagship projects focusing on bioethanol.

Julius Montz GmbH, based in Hilden/Hanau, Germany, was founded in 1911. The company provides structured packings, liquid distributors, separation technology, column layouts, and other components for the oil-and-gas, food, and other industries. Montz also offers engineering, revamping, testing, and apparatus engineering services. The Montz Bioethanol production technology, based on wheat, is considered the world-leading and most efficient technology in the industry.

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In recent years, Montz has designed, engineered and/or constructed over 34 operational ethanol plants in Europe, Asia and South America, accounting for a significant portion of the market share for new construction. Montz plants are known to have high efficiencies, with up to over 60% water savings, and low operating costs when compared to other ethanol plant technologies currently in today’s market.

In combination with Team Gemini’s design work, these technologies are enhanced through the generation of renewable energy (through integrated applications of Anaerobic Digesters and Combined Heat and Power Units), in addition to wastewater treatment and recycling. These components are just a few that contribute to maximizing commodity production, operating cost savings, and significantly minimizing any environmental impacts.

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Learn more about Julius Montz GmbH at http://montz.de/en/montz/, and visit http://teamgemini.us/bio-refinery/ to learn more about Team Gemini’s bio refinery technologies.

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Sustainability for U.S. Farmers through Anaerobic Digestion

Sustainability for U.S. Farmers through Anaerobic Digestion

By Arno Tschunke | Founder and Business Manager at enCO2, LLC & Team Gemini Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Advisor

Valuable resources like fertilizer, compost, electricity, and thermal energy can be created using organic waste, and the potential for doing this at various scales in the U.S. is significant.

What should be done with manure, sludge, and other seemingly unusable leftovers from farming operations? Whether it’s with cattle, chickens, or pigs, farmers will always have a need to remove the waste their animals produce. Unfortunately, in many cases this waste gets dumped in lagoons, spread on the ground (resulting in bad odor), or hauled away (at high cost) to another location to decay, away from the farm. Aside from the environmental damage this causes, it is also a lost opportunity to generate valuable resources. As an example: if only going by confined animal (CAFO) dairy operations of 500 cows or larger, one 2013 report by Informa Economics noted the availability of 2,647 dairy operations nationwide. The value of production for 2,647 Dairy Anaerobic Digesters producing electricity is estimated between 1.3 and 4.6 billion USD, based on different scenarios. So much can be gained from waste!

As an increasing number of regions become concerned about their sustainability and the costs of ineffective waste treatment, enCO2 helps deliver innovative solutions through Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facilities from 64 kWel up to 12 MWel and even more. enCO2, LLC—with its office in Grand Rapids, Michigan—is one of America’s most innovative renewable energy companies. Their engineers have been designing and developing processing plants to meet the demands of clients for the past 20 years. The goal from enCO2 is to provide integrated solutions that offer a unique balance between technology, functionality, efficiency and profitability. This involves focusing on the latest scientific findings, as well as state-of-the art technologies. The enCO2 in-house quality control department works to ensure that their services continue to meet the highest of standards. The work with their partner Team Gemini offers the following power plant services:

  • Feasibility Reports
  • Feedstock Pre-treatment and Post-Treatment Processing
  • Plant Design
  • Authorization Process
  • Plant Construction and Installation
  • Plant Commissioning
  • Plant Services and Enhancements
UDR MonoTube

UDR MonoTube Systems are ideal for small farming operations.

For small farmers, enCO2 new compact 64 -120 kW systems have been designed specifically for the use on smaller farms. Thanks to their patented UDR MonoTube and MonoTube Plus technology, their biogas plants offer a range of unique benefits, from a small footprint to the ability to install it within just six weeks because of containerized modular components, with the option to extend if your business grows. Using patented technologies, you always benefit from a maximum rate of return, whether you use the electricity and heat generated by the plant’s CHP (Combined Heat and Power) for your own use, or choose to sell this energy to a grid. Additional revenue streams from processing side products are also an option.

As the need to address waste handling becomes more pressing and impactful to communities’ bottom line, Team Gemini and enCO2 are combining their efforts and industry experience to establish proven technologies for small- and large-scale challenges of those communities. How we handle increasing waste stream is one of the chief components of doing that.

Arno Tschunke

Arno Tschunke is founder and business manager at enCO2, LLC, and serves as Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Advisor to Team Gemini. He has been actively engaged as a manager in the Biogas industry since early 2007, and has been responsible for business development and project engagements in various international markets, including Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, and France.

Arno TschunkeFounder and Business ManagerenCO2

 

Team Gemini

OBIC Releases 2014 Annual Report

OBIC Releases 2014 Annual Report

Report highlights success of OBIC Bioproduct Network, Strategic Relationships, Project Updates, and More.

Team Gemini has been collaborating with the Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center (OBIC) for several years now to provide for the development of bio-related products, services, and initiatives. This ongoing relationship has seen participation at the 2014 Bioproducts World Showcase and Conference and visits with Team Gemini in Germany to learn more about and exchange research initiatives, opportunities, and industry experience.

In its report, OBIC Director Dennis Hall summarizes several key facts about the 2014 Bioproducts Showcase and Conference; reviews noteworthy project initiatives of 2014 and comments on expanding opportunities and new projects for 2015; and highlights the need for cost-competitive, industrial-scale feedstock. “The acquisition of biobased feedstocks at competitive prices and industrial scale remains a hurdle for many bioproduct manufacturers. OBIC is helping to address this issue through programs like BRDI, PENRA, and ongoing support of the Gemini Synergy Center.”

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Team Gemini proudly continues its collaboration with OBIC and its partners at OSU and elsewhere.

To learn more about OBIC’s affiliation with Team Gemini visit http://teamgemini.us/obic/.

Team Gemini

Team Gemini Recognizes Artigianfer S.r.l. for its Valuable Greenhouse Technology Applications

Team Gemini Recognizes Artigianfer S.r.l. for its Valuable Greenhouse Technology Applications

Offering climate-controlled, automated greenhouses with a range of customization options, Artigianfer and Team Gemini provide infrastructure for sustainable agriculture.

Whether it involves hydroponics, aquaponics, or other setup needs, Team Gemini works closely with Artigianfer and others to offer project design, engineering, manufacturing, and construction solutions for sustainable agriculture production. Artigianfer—which avails itself of solid know-how gained in over 60 years of experience—is a leader in the Italian market and boasts significant international presence. Today, Artigianfer manufactures from 90 to 150 hectares of different types of greenhouses a year, and many of them are equipped with technological systems and installations supplied and directly installed by the company. Project locations include Germany, France, Japan, the former CIS, Saudi Arabia and Eritrea, just to name a few.

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Drawing on collaboration with other Team Gemini members, these greenhouse technologies make full use of enhanced renewable energy (through integrated applications of Anaerobic Digesters and Combined Heat and Power Units), wastewater treatment and recycling, and more. This allows agriculture production to function in almost any climate zone, year-round. Greenhouses can be sized according to different needs, though Team Gemini focuses primarily on large-scale production most suited for communities. Options for different wind-load ratings, integration of varying solar-panel technologies, and more can be determined and applied based on project need.

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Learn more about Artigianfer S.r.l. at http://teamgemini.us/artigianfer/, and visit http://teamgemini.us/sustainable-agricultural-technology/ to learn more about Team Gemini’s sustainable agriculture offerings.

Team Gemini

Team Gemini Recognizes AKVA group for its Valuable Aquaculture Technology Applications

Team Gemini Recognizes AKVA group for its Valuable Aquaculture Technology Applications

With sustainable fish production becoming increasingly relevant throughout the world, Team Gemini works with AKVA group and others to offer relevant solutions.

Team Gemini works closely with AKVA group and others to offer technology resources and project design solutions that allow for uniquely-sustainable, land-based fish production. AKVA group holds strong, well-known brand names and their product offering ranges from feed systems, underwater lights, feed cameras, environmental sensors, production and process control software, recirculation systems, to PE piping and more. The company has more than 30 years of aquaculture engineering experience, and their team of experts is renowned for designing sustainable recirculation systems that are second to none. Having delivered systems globally for more than 15 different species, AKVA group provides optimal water quality conditions for both fresh- and seawater operations.

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In combination with Team Gemini, these technologies are enhanced through the generation of renewable energy (through integrated applications of Anaerobic Digesters and Combined Heat and Power Units), wastewater treatment and recycling, and implementation of aquaponic systems that are an economically-strengthening supplement to aquaculture.

“Sustainable food production is an increasingly important component of maintaining a healthy environment, community, and industry,” states Richard Haugner, Chief Technical Officer at Team Gemini. “We work with technology providers, researchers, and others to identify many challenges in traditional aquaculture operations, like insufficient application of monitoring technologies, lack of safeguards against human error, and other shortcomings.” As system failures and losing entire fish populations can be critical to successful aquaculture operations, Team Gemini continually looks for the best possible solutions to ensure a well-designed system with minimum risk for failures.

Learn more about AKVA group at http://akvagroup.com/, and visit http://teamgemini.us/sustainable-agricultural-technology/ to learn more about Team Gemini’s sustainable agriculture offerings.

Team Gemini

Aquaculture and Protein—How Effective Fish-Farming Can Provide Invaluable Sustenance in Sustainable Ways

Aquaculture and Protein—How Effective Fish-Farming Can Provide Invaluable Sustenance in Sustainable Ways

Providing support to endangered aquatic species and offering a resource-efficient method to create protein, aquaculture plays an increasingly vital role in feeding the human population.

By Mathias Haugner

A growing human population cannot be sustainably supported by critical resources that are on a decline. Added to this is the dilemma that attempts to mass-produce needed resources—like food and energy—often cause new problems (environmental pollution; pesticides and chemicals that contaminate foods and cause systemic health problems; and more) that don’t advance solutions in the healthiest ways. Aquaculture is one tool with which to tackle the topic of feeding the human population, but whether it’s sustainable is a matter of how it’s done.

“The broad term ‘aquaculture’ refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments […] Aquaculture is used for producing seafood for human consumption; enhancing wild fish, shellfish, and plant stocks for harvest; restoring threatened and endangered aquatic species; rebuilding ecologically-important shellfish habitat; producing nutritional and industrial compounds; and providing fish for aquariums.”

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2014 Aquaculture Infographic

It becomes clear that aquaculture is an incredibly versatile way of producing food and other resources for human use and consumption. Added to this is the fact that generating protein through fish requires fewer resources in comparison to other food sources like beef, pork, or chicken—it takes 1.2 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of salmon, for instance, compared to 8.7 for beef or 5.9 for pork.

A lot of fish will be needed in the coming decades as well! According the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization, “With capture fisheries production stagnating, major increases in fish food production are forecast to come from aquaculture. Taking into account the population forecast, an additional 27 million tonnes of production will be needed to maintain the present level of per capita consumption in 2030.”

Maintaining a sufficient food supply is just one puzzle piece of a sustainable planet. This can become a more far-reaching topic and include issues of energy generation and consumption that is required to raise fish, to methods of feeding and growing fish that may put a strain not only on water and other resources, but also cause fish to become contaminated with diseases that cause illness or other issues. Animal welfare is another important and relevant topic.

Along with researchers and innovators devising new ways of solving these issues, Team Gemini keeps engaged in the topic and, along with its partner companies, offers continually-innovating ways of implementing sustainable solutions. These include maximizing resource conservation (like water treatment and recycling, and creating renewable energy) and combining human oversight with technological support to minimize problems such as fish stress, water pollution, and others from occurring.

To learn more about Team Gemini’s innovative agriculture solutions, visit http://teamgemini.us/sustainable-agricultural-technology/.

To obtain more info about aquaculture from the NOAA Office of Aquaculture and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/aquaculture/faqs/faq_aq_101.html and http://www.fao.org/fishery/en.