Thursday, July 25, 2024

Top 5 This Week

Financing a Unique Waste Management Technique to Flip the Page on Fertilizers

Simonpietri Enterprises LLC has officially earned a grant worth $206,500 from the US Department of Energy to conduct research on producing organic fertilizer with locally-sourced green waste and wildfire-prone invasive plant biomass. Building upon the company’s earlier bid to manufacture fertilizer in Hawaii from invasive and fast-growing plants like guinea grass and koa haole, the stated development will see Simonpietri Enterprises working alongside the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture (CTAHR), native Hawaiian plant nursery, landscape restoration organization called Hui Ku Maoli Ola, and the Energy and Environmental Research Center of North Dakota (EERC). Apart from the stated objective, the DOE grant will likely facilitate physical testing for Simonpietri Enterprises’ Aloha Sustainable Materials Recycling and Fertilizer Facility (SMRFF). which the company has built to divert construction and demolition debris and other organic wastes from landfilling and burning. Instead, it uses that waste to make renewable energy, organic fertilizer, recycled-material building products, and other circular economy products.

“We are thrilled to win this competitive award from the Department of Energy to test out our idea to solve multiple problems at once: support the invasive species removal part of landscape restoration, make organic fertilizer and renewable energy that displaces imported fossil fuel inputs, and provide quality products to local farms and nurseries,” said Joelle Simonpietri, owner of Simonpietri Enterprises.

According to certain reports, the phase 1 of this research has already taken invasive guinea grass from a wildfire prevention project, done on O’ahu by Hui Ku Maoli Ola, and converted it to biochar and syngas for energy and fertilizer production at the U.S. DOE’s National Center for Hydrogen Technology™ gasification pilot laboratory in the North Dakota EERC. The next steps involve testing nutrient products in crop trials at CTAHR’s Waimanalo and Pearl City research stations as a soil amendment and slow-release fertilizer ingredient.

“We are super excited to participate in this project. We all need a way to bring more resources to landscape restoration and fire prevention in Hawai’i” said Matt Kapaliku Schirman, co-owner of Hui Ku Maoli.

Interestingly enough, Hui Ku Maoli has also been enlisted to host a test of Simonpietri’s organic fertilizer product at its native Hawaiian plant nursery in Waimanalo for the latter’s seedlings.

Operating out of Hawaii, Simonpietri Enterprises’ rise stems from developing innovative project solutions to recycle waste into sustainable products, products that reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for a range of industries. The list of industries impacted by the company, at present, includes agriculture, aviation, defense, fleet management, and more.

“Our SMRFF project is small but would be an important first step in Hawaii to build capability to convert wood and green wastes into renewable power, biochar, and value-added products like organic fertilizer,” said Naomi Kukac, Communications and Community Engagement lead at Simonpietri Enterprises. “We are moving closer to breaking ground on this innovative local circular economy solution.”