Monday, October 01, 2007

Industrial Ecology

When I first heard the term industrial ecology I didn't think much of it. But this story has perked my interest:
    At the center of the Kalundborg industrial park is a large, coal-fired electrical power-generating station. Waste steam from the power plant runs a pharmaceutical plant and an oil refinery. Waste heat is piped to houses in the nearby town, replacing 3,500 household oil heaters. Waste water from the oil refinery goes back to the power plant, in place of fresh water that had previously been pumped from nearby Lake Tisso. Waste gas from the refinery runs a factory making gypsum wallboard, which also uses gypsum extracted from the power plant's wastes. Sulfur, a byproduct of the oil refinery, becomes sulfuric acid at yet another plant. Fly ash, left over from the power plant, is made into cement. The sludge from the pharmaceutical plant's yeast-based processes fertilizes farmers' fields. Like symbiosis between plants or animals, what one partner excretes the other needs. One industry's trash is another's treasure.

It seems that there's huge potential to be had in connecting the industrial dots. This also reminds me a book I've always wanted to read, Cradle to Cradle.

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