Cleveland-based Quasar Energy Group

Quasar: From Waste to Energy

Student Activity based on the article “From Waste to Energy” from the March/April 2013 Our Ohio magazine.

CONSERVATION OF MASS AND ENERGY

Ohio New Learning Standards in Science
(Grade 7: Physical Science: Conservation of Mass and Energy) In this student activity, students will explore the concept that “energy can be transformed or transferred but is never lost. When energy is transferred from one system to another, the quantity of energy before transfer equals the quantity of energy after transfer. When energy is transformed from one form to another, the total amount of energy remains the same.” Open and closed systems of energy will be explored by studying the energy transfer in the use of an anaerobic digester.

(Explanation and key terms are from the Ohio Department of Education, March 2011, Grade 7 Model Curriculum)

From Waste to Energy
• Ask students to read the article titled “From Waste to Energy” found in Our Ohio magazine or online.
• As students read, encourage them to take note of energy concepts and the processes associated with conversion of waste food to energy.

Discussion points

  1. What company is taking the lead in the United States to convert food waste and other organic material into energy?
  2. Using context clues from the article, what does an anaerobic digester do?
  3. Define the word organic.
  4. List four products that are placed into, or input for the energy conversion process.
  5. List four energy products that result from the conversion process.
  6. What is so exciting about this technology?
  7. Is this process renewable?

From brownfield to greenfield

  1. Define “brownfield.” Why would a company want to develop this type of building site? What type of business previously occupied the location of Cleveland’s newest digester?
  2. The author gives the reader an example of a food company that now disposes of its organic waste with the help of a digester. Name the company and describe the process of converting waste to other forms of energy.
  3. What are the benefits for Pierre’s Ice Cream to send its organic waste to the Quasar facility?

Technology tweaks

  1. What country has been successfully using this technology for many years? Do the number of digesters in this European country provide positive evidence that the technology of energy conversion is worth the investment? Explain.
  2. Explain how and why Alex Ringer uses this energy conversion technology with his hog operation.
  3. What other technology improvements are stated in the article? What organization is doing research in the field of energy conversion?
  4. Describe how locating a digester next to a greenhouse would be beneficial?

How does it work?

  1. Energy in the form of________________________ is placed into the digester.
  2. Draw a flow chart of the process that transfers energy from one product to another energy source as described in the article.
  3. How much time does the transfer/conversion process take?
  4. Is this process a closed system or an open system of energy transfer?
  5. The article provides statistics supporting the digestion process and the technology behind the process. Ex. Production of enough power for 582 homes. Are you convinced that this is a sustainable process? Are there any negative aspects to this technology?
  6. Energy output from the digestion process can be in the form of compressed natural gas that is used to fuel cars. What are the pros and cons of using natural gas to power cars? Describe the availability of natural gas for cars for the consumer.

Hands on at Home or School
• Visit the Quasar Energy Group website.

  1. Click the “locations” tab. How many locations are listed? Where is the location closest to you?
  2. Where is the engineering office and laboratory located? Why?
  3. Watch the Quasar video “Cleveland AD System.” What city leaders lend their support to this endeavor.
  4. Explain the benefits of this “renewable energy from waste” effort as described by the leaders in this video.
  5. Where is the anaerobic digester located in Columbus, Ohio? Find the Columbus location on the web site. According to the web site, what energy benefits are provided by using the anaerobic digester?

Geography:
• Using a map of Ohio located at the Ohio Department of Transportation, or your own map

  1. Identify the 10 locations of Quasar digesters on a map.
  2. Why do you think these building sites for the digesters were chosen?

This student activity was prepared by Camille Kopczewski, who is coordinator of religious education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Grove City. She is a former sixth grade social studies teacher for South-Western City Schools. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in education.