International Green Week

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As it should be for us renewable energy students, we went with Mr. Roland Schnell to the Grüne Woche, or International Green Week, in January this year. We just had to go try all the different free food samples from different countries. Wait, I mean we wanted to go see the bioenergy section and wood pellet heaters. But all jokes aside, the bioenergy section was very interesting. We managed to get so much information that we could write a whole essay worth 20 pages, which turned out to be our class project in the end. Either way, we learned so many new things we didn’t even know were possible that we went home a little less dumb.

By Vanda Friedrichs

For those who don’t know what the Grüne Woche is, it is an “international exhibition for the food, agricultural and horticultural industries”, according to the website. There they exhibit organic agricultural products, regional products, renewable energies based on agricultural residue, gardening and test market foods and luxury items. To make it more imaginable, you need more than a day to look through less than half of the place. It is amazingly large, with sections about international foods, wine and other alcohols, mushrooms, bioplastic, vegan foods and medicinal plants. There was so much free sample food, that you didn’t need a wallet to feel full.

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We IBARE 14 students split up at the exhibition to cover more ground. Some of us went to go look at the wood pellet heaters and vegan charcoal ice cream. While others went to see the bioethanol section and try zebra steak. In the end we all met at the Bioökonomierat stand (Bioeconomy council). There we found out that you can do a lot more with agricultural and food residue than to produce biogas, biodiesel or run a boiler with wood chips to heat the house.

At the Bioökonomierat stand we found an espresso cup, saucer and spoon that were made 40% out of coffee grounds (about six cups of espresso) and 60% of plant fiber and resin. The cup even smelled like grounded coffee! The best thing that went hand in hand with the cup was the coffee capsules for coffee machines. That’s because the capsules were made of plant fibers from corn and are 100% biodegradable. They are even commercially available as it is a Berlin start-up that produces the cups from coffee grounds in Berlin. You can’t get any more Berliner than that.

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Instead of coffee saving your life in other ways than getting you through the day, your goldfish Albert and his friends can also help you, by growing vegetables like tomatoes, to support you in your diet plan. It works like this. You have a 35 L aquarium with a mini garden on top. After you feed your fish, their feces, which contain nitrogen compounds, are pumped along with fish tank water onto the mini garden at the top. The water is then filtered through the soil and returns to the fish tank. It’s like a mini ecosystem in your living room.

There a lot more really innovative products, such as bamboo plates and kids toys that are biodegradable and car tires made from dandelion latex. There is a large potential for the recycling and reusing industry, not just for bio energy but also for bio products.

If you are interested in reading more about these things, check out their website (available in English and German):

http://biooekonomierat.de/en/bioeconomy/

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