On the radio this morning there was a great little story on the Algae to biofuels project over in Bromley, Christchurch. SIFT funded the early stage proof of concept mini trials at the Bromley Sewage Treatment plant (run by CCC) over the past three years plus the business case for algae and financial due diligence.
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Here is a guest blog post from MiniMonos – all about our favourite environmentalist Melissa Clark-Reynolds and her new project MiniMonos.
An Inconvenient Truth for Canterbury kids.
Watching Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in a Christchurch movie theatre changed the course of Melissa Clark-Reynolds’ life and led to the creation of MiniMonos, a virtual world for good green kids.
Prior to this, Melissa already had a string of entrepreneurial successes. She established Fusion, a health and safety and ACC consultancy which became New Zealand’s largest private accident compensation insurer. Melissa was the General Manager of Fusion and sold her interest in the Alliance to Southern Cross Healthcare. She had also successfully turned around and scaled previously struggling technology companies.
Deeply moved while watching An Inconvenient Truth, Melissa decided to contact ex-US Vice President Al Gore to offer her help. Having absolutely no idea how she was going to get his attention, she contacted everyone she knew, trusting that somehow six degrees of separation would prevail. After a huge amount of persistence, she remembered that her friend’s husband worked for Mr Gore. Incredibly, when she reached out for an introduction to husband, she found out that her friend was actually Executive Director of The Climate Project, a network of 2,500 climate awareness ambassadors, all personally trained by Mr Gore. In 2007, Melissa became one of only two New Zealanders to be trained to present The Inconvenient Truth, and paved the way for more Kiwi presenters to be trained earlier this year.
To date, Melissa’s favourite presentations have been in Geraldine and Lawrence – both organised by the rural communities there. One Geraldine farmer, David Musgrave, approached Melissa after her presentation and was inspired to become a Climate Project Ambassador himself, being selected and trained by Al Gore in Melbourne in July this year.
Melissa’s environmental activism is reflected in her virtual world, MiniMonos (”Little Monkeys” in Spanish). Says Melissa: “We wanted to create a world so that children could have a place of their own, a place that allows them to explore and grow without constant pressure to buy stuff. We also wanted them to have a place that embodies core values like sustainability and generosity, without turning those values into a boring lecture.”
Melissa foresees that global warming will create big issues for Canterbury – especially for its water supply. NIWA predicts that the effects on Canterbury will cause our region to become hotter and drier, which has implications for our dairy industry here. “We have to get really serious about energy use. What if the snow and rainfall doesn’t keep coming to Central and Eastern sides of South Island and mostly falls on the West Coast? This will have a huge impact on energy generation from the hydro lakes. Long term predictions for continued snowfall at Mt Hutt don’t look so good.”
Melissa praises Christchurch initiatives like investigating liquid fuels production and their by-products from the Bromley sewage ponds. “I think ECan (Environment Canterbury) is one of the best Regional Councils in the country, with one of the toughest jobs. They invited me, last month, to talk about implications for Canterbury of climate change – way cool! – the first Regional Council in the country to do so!”
Christchurch City has a Climate Change Change Coordinator, and a real commitment to public transport. Says Melissa: “People need to help their elected officials (i.e. at CCC and ECan) to keep climate change front of mind. If we don’t act sustainably, all the cool stuff we take for granted will be damaged beyond belief. I love the Southern Alps, the lakes and rivers, swimming at Corsair Bay, skiing at Mt Hutt, paddling at Lake Hood. Do we want them there for future generations or do we want to tell our children how Canterbury use to be?”
We’d love you to become part of the MiniMonos community and exlpore MiniMonos Island as it’s being developed – it’s free. Each person who gives MiniMonos feedback in October will give back to a child in need.
SIFT is about finding and funding initiatives that protect our natural environment.
One of the projects that we are involved in is the conversion of waste into a wanted valuable resource. We have great examples of these but one I’d like to share today is the conversion of algae into sustainable biofuel.
SIFT funded the early stage mini-trials in 2007 at the Christchurch City Council Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). We are quite pleased to note that our decision to providing funding to the algae to biofuel project’s early stage led to the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) providing a $6 million grant for NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) to conduct scaled-up pre-commercial trials over 3 years.
We are quite excited about it as represents a huge leap forward in the Research and Development behind finding sustainable biofuel from a simple micro-organism like algae.
The video below is a simple explanation of how algae is turned into biofuel. It could’ve done with funky music but is still quite entertaining to watch:
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