Sunday, December 13, 2009

Which Stove to Choose?

Selecting the type of stove for your home can also be a difficult task especially if you have never had one before.
The stoves differ on the type of fuel they use: wood, wood pellets, natural gas, propane gas, coal, fuel oil or electricity.

On stoves-only.com website I found very good comparison of different types of stoves based on fuel type and cost of fuel used to produce 1,000,000 BTU. This information can help any homeowner to make the best decision while choosing the best cost-effective or environmentally friendly stove.

I will give you only part of information which is posted on their website so you can see which type of stove is the best for your home and your needs.

Fuel Type~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cost to Produce
______________________________ 1,000,000 Btu

Electricity................................... $29.31

Propane Gas................................ $27.00

Natural Gas................................. $18.75

Fuel Oil...................................... $18.00

Wood Pellets............................... $17.60

Wood........................................ $14.40

Coal......................................... $10.00

From this table you can easily see that the cheapest fuel is coal. Still, the coal makes the biggest impact on environment, and requires most maintenance.

The next least expensive fuel is wood and wood pellets. This website is recommending the wood pellets as the most optimal type of fuel because they are affordable enough and very efficient.

The most expensive fuel types are propane, natural gas and electricity. The electric stove is the most convenient one that is clean and doesn't require buying fuel and delivering it home. Whether electric stove is environmentally friendly or not depends on how that electricity is produced: using coal, hydro dam, nuclear reactor, solar panels or wind turbines.

In case of emergency, wood, wood pellets or coal stoves would be the best choice.
My friend has natural gas stove down in his basement and he used it during two day power outage last winter.

To read the whole article about different stoves comparison you can go to:

http://www.stoves-only.com/fuel-comparison-table

-Peter Y.

Gas, Electric, Oil or Solar Water Heater?

Often homeowners need to choose between water heaters based on fuel type and costs.
In order to make a wise dicision we need to look at several factors, such as:

1. Availability of fuel: gas, electric, oil or solar
2. Installation Cost
3. Annual Operational and Energy Cost
4. Efficiency

Here is the table where all of these costs are added over 13 years of life:


Water Heater Type ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Installed Cost~~~~~Total Cost
___________________________________________(Over 13 Years)

Demand gas (tankless)................. $1,600 .............$5,008

Condensing gas storage................. 2,000 ...............5,170

High-efficiency gas storage ............ 1,025 .............. 5,220

Conventional gas storage ................. 850 .............. 5,394

Electric heat pump water heater ....... 1,660 ............. 4,125

High-eff. electric storage ................. 820 ............. 6,528

Minimum eff. electric storage ............ 750 ............. 6,769

Solar with electric back-up .............. 4,800 ............. 7,072

Conventional oil-fired storage .......... 1,400 ........... 11,299


If you look at all of the gas water heaters you can see that they are the cheapest ones based on total cost including installation. Only electric heat pump water heater is cheaper that gas ones, but usually gas water heaters are more efficient and cheaper. It usually takes less time to heat the water using gas fuel than electricity.

Solar water heaters have the cheapest yearly energy costs but also - the highest installation costs.
Solar water heaters are usually installed where there is a lot of sun available and gas lines are far away.

Oil-fired water heaters are the most expensive ones and if possible, should be replaced with gas or electric water heater.


To read more about different water heaters and to see the whole table with all of the information such as annual costs and efficiency, please go to the following website:

http://www.aceee.org/Consumerguide/waterheating.htm

-Peter Y.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hydrokinetic Power Turbine is Successfully Installed


I read a Reuters article about the first Hydrokinetic Power Turbine, that was successfully installed in January of 2009 at the existing hydropower plant on the Mississippi River in Hastings, Minnesota.
It was the nation's first-ever commercial hydrokinetic power project.

The City of Hastings, MN now owns and operates a 4.4 MW hydropower project at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Lock & Dam No.2.

Hydrokinetic Power Turbine is a special turbine that is submerged or partially submerged into the river and is connected to a floating barge. This turbine is generating electricity by using river currents without the harmful impacts associated with dams.

The article says that the hydrokinetic turbine will send clean, environmentally-friendly, renewable electricity to the Minnesota electric power grid.

"With the successful installation of our first turbine, Hydro Green Energy has taken another historic step and has strengthened its status as the industry leader," said Wayne F. Krouse, Chairman and CEO of Hydro Green Energy.

Once the project is operational, extensive water quality and fish survival studies and monitoring will be performed by Hydro Green Energy.

To read more about the project you can go to:
http://hgenergy.com/hastings.html

To read the Reuters article:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS142130+05-Jan-2009+PRN20090105

-Peter Y.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Earth friendly plastic on the way

Plastic water bottles. One of the biggest problems that we are facing today is the lack of recycling of these bottles. We see them as quick and easy for on the go travel but the planet see's them as toxic. Our land fills are filling up with these bottles just because most are too lazy to recycle them at the proper facility.

I recently found an article that directly relates to this problem and has a solution to it! This article (Koreans make plastics without fossil fuel chemicals) was posted on the front of cnn's website and caught my attention.

It seems that these Korean scientists have found a way to produce the polymer that is used in everyday plastic products like water bottles without using fossil fuel chemicals. This means that these plastic polymers are planet friendly and biodegradable! Currently, these types of polymers are being made from fossil fuel chemicals which of course are hurting the planet.

Although the article did not mention when these new polymers will start to be mass produced, it will be a huge defeat over the traditional plastics we are using today. I can't wait for the day when water bottles are actually not hurting the environment!

Are Americans ready to downsize their vehicles?

When pulling into the parking lot at the local grocery store the other day, I looked around and realized I was in a sea of SUV's. These 'sport utility vehicles' are massive! I thought to myself, who needs a car with three rows of seats and a huge trunk?

After getting into the store I answered my question, simply put American families. We have become so reliant on these oversized cars to support our growing families. With the average family having 2 or 3 children, I began to realize why these cars have become such a necessary thing in our lives.

On that note, the Detroit automakers are banking on the idea that Americans will start to buy small to mid size cars in order to save on fuel. In a recent article in Newsweek, General Motors has been using the tag line of "Compact cars are the sweet spot" when refering to their decision to make much smaller vehicles than in the past.

What is in it for us Americans? Soon we will be able to buy these micro cars and save on fuel. These cars will not be able to transport a family and will most likely be used as a commuter car instead of the main family vehicle. Either way, we all win by saving money on fuel and helping the environment.

A Simple Guide to Alternative Fuels

In some of my previous posts I have blogged about alternative fuels and the growing need for viable options. I have come to realize that a simple list of different alternative fuels would be helpful and informative. Alternative fuels come in several different forms from ethanol to natural gas. The goal in using alternative fuel is to become less dependent on foreign petroleum and to be better stewards of our environment.


Go to www.fueleconomy.gov for more specific information.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Zero Energy Home GE project


While doing some research on Internet, I came across a very interesting article written by Martin LaMonica "GE: Smart grid yields net-zero energy home". In his article LaMonica was saying that on July 14, 2009, General Electric unveiled a project at its research labs that will let homeowners cut annual energy consumption to zero by 2015!
I have heard about a Zero Energy Home projects before, but never heard about such a big project planned to be implemented around the country!

A Zero Energy Home or (ZEH) is a new or specially remodeled home that is very energy efficient, and also can produce its own power. Zero Energy Home is called this way because it can produce enough energy during the year to offset the amount purchased from the utility, and as a result the electricity bill will equal zero or almost zero at the end of the year.

Net-zero of Zero Energy Home is producing electricity using solar panels and wind turbines. It also saving a lot of energy by great weatherization and by using energy efficient appliances. On cloudy days or at night, it uses energy from the electric utility. During sunny or windy days when a lot of electricity is produced from renewable resources, an excess power is then sent back into the utility grid. Electric utility company can install the smart electric meter which can be reversed when power is going back into the grid and as a result the homeowner will get zero or very small energy bill.

For this project, GE will be using a special Home Energy Manager, or a device with which consumers will get detailed energy data and would be able to control appliances. This device is expected to cost between $200 and $250. This control unit could evaluate electricity rates and see, for example, that running a dishwasher when the solar panels are producing is cheaper than running the load at off-peak times. Or a clothes drier can go into "conservation" mode during peak times where it will operate at a lower temperature and take longer to run.

To read more about this project go to website:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10286278-54.html

To read about seven steps to ZEH, go to: http://www.toolbase.org/ToolbaseResources/level4CaseStudies.aspx?ContentDetailID=2472&BucketID=2&CategoryID=58

-Peter Y.

5 really cost-effective fule savers.

CNNMoney.com asked analysts at Intellichoice.com, a Website that specializes in tracking auto ownership costs, to find the the most fuel-efficient vehicles in various classes, then figure out which of those are really the most cost-effective once total value and ownership costs are factored in.

Only cars that delivered at least 10% better fuel economy than the average vehicle in their class were considered. In some categories, only one vehicle delivered that kind of fuel economy advantage. (For instance, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid among mid-sized SUVs and the Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon Hybrid among full-sized SUVS.) The five vehicles featured here represent categories where there was a choice of fuel-efficiency stand-outs.

Instead of just comparing ownership costs directly, which would always favor the cheapest car, IntelliChoice.com scores vehicles based on computed "expected ownership costs" for a given type of vehicle at that price, then compares those scores. That keeps the playing field even since, to be fair, someone who pays $50,000 for a new car instead of $20,000 is getting something -- features, quality,comfort and performance, for instance -- for that money. Any measure of "cost effectiveness" has to take that added value into account

In the end, the most fuel-efficient car isn't always the most cost effective to own. But in many cases, it actually is, as rising gas prices have made fuel costs a bigger factor in auto ownership.

What makes a city green?

by Paul McRandle and Sara Smiley Smith

.
Photograph Courtesy Shutterstock Images

When looking at the strengths of environmental programs across the country for our green cities survey, we settled on twelve criteria that affect all cities regardless of geography or age. Below is our list.

Air Quality: Exposure to polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from fuel exhaust and cigarette smoke has been reported to increase the risk of breast cancer by 50 percent, as noted in the 2002 Long Island Breast Cancer Study. In order to measure air quality, we based our score on the EPA's Air Quality Index (AQI) and smoking bans noted on the Smoke Free World website. About 60 percent of cities surveyed have passed a smoking ban. AQI values are broken into five different ranges with lower values indicating less polluted air (Good 0-50, Moderate 51-100, Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals 101-150, Unhealthy 151-200, Very Unhealthy 201-300 and Hazardous 301-500). Anchorage, Alaska, had the best median AQI at 19 while the worst was a 79 in Saint Louis. The average value was 43.5 for cities participating in this study.

Electricity Use and Production: Close to 40 percent of U.S. emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) comes from electric utilities. Since coal accounts for over 90 percent of these emissions, we asked survey respondents to note each city's energy mix from resources including coal, oil, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear, oil, solar and wind. Also included were incentives for the home use of solar or wind power, such as rebates or property tax exemptions.

Environmental Perspective: City administrators were asked to rank from 1 (highest) to 9 (lowest) nine issues in order of importance to city residents—education, employment, environmental concerns, health care, housing costs, public safety, reliable electricity and water service, property taxes and traffic congestion. Scores were assigned depending on the ranking given to environmental concerns. Out of a total of nine, the average ranking for the importance of environmental concerns was 5.4.

Environmental Policy: In our survey, we asked city officials whether the city has an environmental policy, a specific indication of concerted effort at the municipal level to better the environment. Thirty-six cities, or 58 percent of respondents, had such statements.

Green Design: The resource-conserving, non-toxic standards of USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program have become the basis for many cities' green building projects. Recognizing this, we based scores not only on survey responses about policies and incentives for green design but also on LEED projects listed on the USGBC's website. While we collected data on the degree of LEED certification (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum) buildings achieved, this did not affect scoring. Additional points were given to cities reducing sprawl. A total of 29 cities, or 46.8 percent of participants, reported having a policy to encourage green design. Forty cities, or 64.5 percent of respondents, reported having a city policy to help prevent sprawl.

Green Space: Survey respondents were asked to identify the variety of green spaces, including athletic fields, city parks, public gardens, trail systems and waterfronts, along with any additional spaces. This question was designed to elicit the variety of outdoor amenities available and was scored on the total number of different types of green spaces present. Scoring also considered the percentage of overall city area occupied by green space.

Public Health: Scores were based on Robert Weinhold's rankings of the 125 healthiest U.S. cities as published in the March 2004 Organic Style.

Recycling: Survey respondents were asked to indicate which items their city recycles from a list that included aluminum, cardboard, glass, hazardous materials, paper, plastic, tin and other. Cities that had more then seven categories of recyclable items were given the highest scores.

Socioeconomic Factors: Cities scored well for having less than the national average of families and individuals earning below the poverty rate. Participants also gained points for having a city minimum wage and for the availability of housing affordable to families earning the area's median income according to the National Association of Home Owners' Housing Opportunity Index.

Transportation: Wishing to recognize efforts to get people out of their cars (reducing greenhouse gases, traffic congestion and smog), we asked survey respondents about the transportation options available, including bicycle paths, bus systems, carpool lanes, dedicated bicycle lanes, light rail, sidewalks/trails and subways. As a follow up to this, we also asked about the percentages of residents who used public transportation, rode bicycles to work and carpooled.

Water Quality: In order to assess this complicated factor, we drew on data from the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) and noting violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act, with the greatest weight given to health violations.

Each of these factors was equally weighted, with a maximum score of 1 point per criterion, to create an overall maximum possible score of 11 points, though only one city we looked at, Eugene, Oregon, scored 9 or better.

Alternative Fulels

Transportation is the major source of U.S. dependence on imported oil and the sector that has had the fastest growth in greenhouse gas emissions over the past two decades. Yet the efficiency of our light duty vehicle fleet is at a 20-year low and efforts to promote alternative fuel vehicles in the marketplace have largely failed. Nonetheless, the urgent need to reverse the business-as-usual growth path in greenhouse gas emissions in the next two decades to avoid serious if not catastrophic climate change necessitates action to make our vehicles cleaner.

The pathways most widely discussed for reducing or replacing oil while significantly reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions are efficiency (such as hybrid vehicles), hydrogen, grid-connectable or plug-in hybrid-gasoline vehicles, ethanol from cellulosic biomass, and synthetic diesel fuel (with carbon sequestration). Most alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) pathways, however, are unlikely to be cost-effective strategies for reducing gasoline consumption and emissions for the foreseeable future, according to most studies.

In the near- and medium-term, by far the most cost-effective strategy for reducing emissions and fuel use is efficiency. Hybrid vehicles in particular offer the possibility of breaking the political logjam on higher fuel efficiency standards because they can reduce gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions 40% to 50% with no change in vehicle class and hence no loss of jobs or compromise on safety or performance. If we are to achieve significant fleet-wide efficiency gains by 2025, some form of marketplace intervention by the federal government is virtually inevitable.

All of the AFV pathways will require technology advances and strong government action to succeed.1 Hydrogen is the most challenging of all alternative fuels, particularly because of the enormous challenge required to change our existing gasoline infrastructure. It is the least likely to be a cost-effective solution to climate change by 2035. Cellulosic ethanol has significantly less infrastructure challenges since it can be blended into gasoline. It is a very promising strategy if costs can be reduced and productivity increased. If carbon sequestration on a large scale proves practical, synthetic diesel fuel from coal and biomass gasification (such as Fischer-Tropsch or dimethyl ether) may also become a viable strategy.

Plug-in or grid-connectable hybrids may be the most promising AFV pathway. These hybrids can be plugged into the electric grid and run in an all-electric mode for a limited range between recharging. Plug-in hybrids will likely travel three to four times as far on a kilowatt-hour of renewable electricity as fuel cell vehicles. Unlike most AFVs, plug-ins hold the potential of being cost-competitive at current gasoline prices. They deserve at least as much attention from policymakers and car companies as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have received. We believe that the most plausible vehicle of the future is a plug-in hybrid running on a combination of low-carbon electricity and a low-carbon biomass-derived fuel. 1

One of the few recent studies to compare different alternative fuels including plug-in hybrids is the August 2003 joint report of the California Energy commission and the California Air Resources Board, Reducing California's Petroleum Dependence.2 The two agencies looked at the direct economic benefit of various AFVs and alternative fuels, including Fischer-Tropsch diesel made from natural gas, a mixture of 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline (E85) for flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), a future low-cost FFV fuel, a hybrid zero emission vehicle with a 20-mile all electric range (Hybrid-ZEV 0), and a direct hydrogen fuel cell.

The results can be seen in the following figure. FIGURE ONE -4-3-2-1012345Cumulative (2002-2030) Direct Net Benefit Billion 2001 $Direct H2 FuelCellHybrid-ZEV 20Low-cost FFVfuelE85 for FFVsFischer-TropschDieselDirect Net Benefit of Fuel Substitution Options

The results are very dependent on the assumptions. Gasoline prices were assumed to be from $1.47 a gallon to $1.81 a gallon, for instance, and they are currently higher than that and could be even higher in the future. No environmental benefits were calculated, although they could be significant in some cases. No economic value was assigned for the possibility of using the plug-in hybrids to provide grid services (such as spinning reserve) when the vehicles were not being driven, even though this is a plausible scenario. The incremental cost of fuel cell vehicles ranged from $1800 to $5000 although current incremental costs are several hundred thousand dollars.

Nonetheless, the results show that in a detailed apples-to-apples analysis comparing a wide variety of alternative fuel vehicles, plug-in hybrids hold the potential for significant direct net economic benefits. They also make clear that alternative fuels can be attractive when they approach the price of gasoline and underscore the need for some way to value the environmental benefits of alternative fuels. The same study also showed that most of the pure fuel-efficiency options, including hybrids, had a positive direct net benefit.

Synthetic diesel fuel from coal

Any U.S. energy and environmental policy effort must come to grips with transportation. Some two-thirds of U.S. oil consumption is in the transportation sector, the only sector of the U.S. economy wholly reliant on oil. The energy price shocks of the 1970s helped spur growth in natural gas use for home heating, and drove the electric utility sector and the industrial sector to reduce their dependence on petroleum. But roughly 97% of all energy consumed by our cars, sport utility vehicles, vans, trucks, and airplanes is still petroleum-based.

The transportation sector remains one of the largest sources of urban air pollution, especially the oxides of nitrogen that are a precursor to ozone smog and particulates that do so much damage to our hearts and lungs. Vehicle emissions of such pollutants, however, have been declining steadily, and by 2010, federal and state standards will make new U.S. cars exceedingly clean.

Yet, even as new internal combustion engine vehicles dramatically cut the emissions of noxious urban air pollutants by automobiles, their contribution to global warming has begun to rise. In the 1990s, the transportation sector saw the fastest growth in carbon dioxide emissions of any major sector of the U.S. economy. And the transportation sector is projected to generate nearly half of the 40% rise in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions forecast for 2025.3

Internationally, the situation is equally problematic. As Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said in May 2004, “In the absence of strong government policies, we project that the worldwide use of oil in transport will nearly double between 2000 and 2030, leading to a similar increase in greenhouse gas emissions.”4 If by 2050 the per capita energy consumption of China and India were to approach that of South Korea, and if the Chinese and Indian populations increase at currently projected rates, those two supergiant countries by themselves would consume more oil than the entire world used in 2003.5 It is being acknowledged that a global problem is arising and will affect all countries if something is not done. Next year, a convention is being held in London with all major countries attending to discuss the problems that we are all facing.

Since oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, analysts have attempted to predict when production will peak and start declining. Some believe this will occur by 2010. In his 2001 book, Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, Princeton geophysicist Kenneth Deffeyes, writes “There is nothing plausible that could postpone the peak until 2009. Get used to it.”6 Royal Dutch/Shell, a company itself downgrading reserve estimates, adds only a few years to this forecast. According to Shell, “A scarcity of oil supplies—including unconventional sources and natural gas liquids—is very unlikely before 2025. This could be extended to 2040 by adopting known measures to increase vehicle efficiency and focusing oil demand on this sector.

Whether we will adopt these known measures or not remains to be seen. The purpose of this paper is to discuss and compare the various measures. Shell’s other hedge, “including unconventional sources and natural gas liquids,” is environmentally problematic. Making liquid fuels out of unconventional sources of oil (such as Canadian oil sands) is relatively energy-intensive, and relying on these sources will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, Canada's increasing use of natural gas to extract its heavy oils is one reason that its exports of natural gas to United States are projected to shrink in coming years.

Both the U. S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the National Petroleum Council (NPC) project a sharp decline in net imports of Canadian natural gas by 2025.8 Making conventional liquid fuels out of natural gas is also a questionable use of natural gas from an environmental perspective. In particular, for those who are concerned about global warming, it is critical that whatever strategy the United States adopts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the vehicle sector does not undermine Two-Thirds of World Coal Capacity in 2030 is NOT Yet Built our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector.

The nation has been sprinting to build new natural gas power plants. As of 2003, the U.S. had more than 800 gigawatts (GW) of central station electric power generation. “Of the 144 gigawatts added between 1999 and 2002, 138 gigawatts is natural-gas-fired,” as EIA noted in 2002.9 Rising demand coupled with supply constraints has led to soaring natural gas prices. Remarkably, in its most recent Annual Energy Outlook 2004, EIA concludes that in the electricity sector, "the share from coal is projected to increase from 50 percent in 2002 to 52 percent in 2025 as rising in natural gas prices improved the cost competitiveness of coal-fired technologies.

AEO2004 projects that 112 gigawatts of new goal-fired generating capacity will be constructed between 2003 in 2025." At the same time, utilization of existing coal plants is projected to rise, so that by 2025, coal consumption by electric generators will be 50% higher than today.10 EIA projections are made assuming no change in U.S. policies, such as a cap on carbon emissions, and as such are often wrong. Yet, they underscore the critical need for a different energy policy and for using any incremental natural gas production/imports or renewable energy for

Displacing new coal fired generation, rather than for making alternative fuels for at least the next two decades. Both the EIA and NPC project that far more of this country’s growing demand for natural gas will be met from imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) than from increases in production. Thus, we should start thinking of the natural gas resource base as a global one when we contemplate using natural gas for purposes other than displacing increased coal generation. That’s especially true because projected growth in global coal consumption is an even bigger greenhouse gas problem than projected US growth in coal consumption.

By 1999, the world had just over 1000 gigawatts of coal-fired electric generating capacity, of which about one third was in United States. Between 2000 and 2030, over 1400 GW of new coal capacity will be built according to the International Energy Agency, of which 400 GW will replace old plants (see Figure). 105664814420500100015002000250019992030GW CoalNew CapacityBuilt After1999Pre-1999CapacitySource: IEA, WEO 2002

These plants would commit the planet to total carbon dioxide emissions of some 500 billion metric tons over their lifetime, unless “they are backfit with carbon capture equipment at some time during their life,” as David Hawkins, Director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center told 4 the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce in June 2003.11 Hawkins continued: “To put this number in context, it amounts to half the estimated total cumulative carbon emissions from all fossil fuel use globally over the past 250 years!”

So again, it is critical that whatever strategy the world adopts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the vehicle sector does not undermine our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector. With this caveat in mind, we will explore the five pathways most widely discussed for reducing or replacing oil while significantly reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions: efficiency, electricity (particularly plug-in hybrid-gasoline vehicles); ethanol from cellulosic biomass; synthetic diesel fuel; and hydrogen. To achieve greenhouse gas reductions, one or more of these pathways may require permanently sequestering carbon dioxide underground.

Storing Hydrogen Fuel using Chicken Feather

I read this intersting post about storing Hydrogen Fuel using tanks made of carbonized chicken feathers. As much as it was interesting, it is sad. We are going to great extent to push the idea of protecting the planet just to find out that we are kiling animals for the same purpose. read the article and share your insights.

Article : http://cleantechnica.com/2009/06/24/hydrogen-fuel-tanks-made-from-chicken-feathers-could-save-55-million/


Mohammed Al Saif

Coffe for your Car...!

"It's a very simple two-step process," said Susanta Mohapatra, a chemical engineer at the University of Nevada, Reno. "We can definitely make a big impact on our environment with fuel made out of nature." The idea of using another "Crop" to fuel our cars might not be a bad idea, but would it be efficient and effective?

It is a known fact among scientist that Coffe beans contain oil but Mohapatra and her colleagues are the first to analyze Coffe grounds to pursue the idea of harnessing energy out of Coffe. the idea is not very different then the biodiesel idea but at least it is considered thinking outside the box.

The experiment carried by Mohapatra and her colleagues started with drying Coffe grounds in an oven. They mixed the resulting powder with a combination of solvents that caused the oil to separate from the solution. They extracted the oil, saving the solvents for the next round of processing. The remains could still be used as compost, ethanol feedstock, and fuel pellets.

The idea sounds interesting, if this goes through, most people might fuel their morning and their cars at Starbucks!

Source: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/01/20/coffee-biofuel.html

Mohammed Al Saif

Mrine Energy...!

Marine energy is another name for Ocean energy. Oceans contain vast amount of energy that can be utilized and used to harness today's world. Ocean energy comes from the movements within (tides and waves). It is very ineresting how much energy exist within 70% of the face of the planet! An interesting video from Oregon State University researches to harness this energy shows the principles on how this energy can be extracted: http://www.livescience.com/common/media/video/player.php?videoRef=LS_091120_Wave-Energy

Mohammed Al Saif

Simulating "Green" for a Greener Planet

Green lifeforms on our planet are able to create energy utilizing sunlight and CO2 in order to survive and thrive. Scientists are researching the ability to create an artificial Photosynthesis that can be used to produce liquid fuel from CO2 and water. The goal has become closer when the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory made a discovery that nano-sized crystals of cobalt oxide can effectively carry out the crucial Photosynthesis reaction of splitting water molecules.

The following video shows an aqueous solution contains silica particles that have been embedded with photooxidizing cobalt oxide nanocrystals plus a sensitizer to allow the water-splitting reaction to be driven by visible light. When laser light hits the solution it turns from gold to blue as the sensitizer absorbs light. Bubbles soon begin to form as oxygen gas is released from the spilt water molecules.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei4mwyjG3Vg&feature=player_embedded

To read more about the Subject, check the link: The Berkeley Lab Views

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Infrared Scanning helps reduce heating costs



We all want to reduce our home energy costs. But sometimes, we don't know that one of the best ways to do it is to check our house for missing and damaged insulation in walls and ceilings.

Today I watched on TV about interesting way to save the energy costs in your house.
Northwest Infrared LLC company located in Olympia, WA, uses infrared scanning to take a thermal picture of your walls and ceilings to show exactly where insulation is damaged and where air is coming through the walls. They say that it is good to have a scan done even before purchasing a house because even new houses can have defects in their thermal envelopes. So, before buying a house you may wish to include a clause in the contract requiring a thermographic scan of the house.

Thermography measures surface temperatures by using infrared video and still cameras. These tools see light that is in the heat spectrum. Images on the video or film record the temperature variations of the building's walls, ranging from white for warm regions to black for cooler areas. These images help the auditor determine whether insulation is needed. They also serve as a quality control tool, to ensure that insulation has been installed correctly.

If you wish to do the thermal imaging of your house you can call this company and they will send out one of their Thermographers or inspectors directly to your home. They will do the thermal scanning, prepare the thermography report and give recommendations for needed repairs. Using the completed report of your houses' thermal picture you can hire contractors or do the needed repairs yourself to save even more money on heating or cooling costs.
(If you live in a different state, you can find similar infrared company in your area).

Fees include the thermography report, all thermograms, the inspection and recommendations for repair start at $299.00. But I think that these money will be worth spent because in a few years you will be able to save even more each year on your heating and cooling bills.

To read more about this money saving procedure and to watch film how the infrared scanning is performed you can go to: http://www.northwestinfrared.com/

- Peter Y.

Keeping up with the news

So I have been looking around at different sites on alternative energy and found a nice news site that has articles, news and environmental tips for those who want to stay up to date in environmental and energy alternatives.

http://www.energyrefuge.com/

This is a great site with a lot of really interesting articles.

-Jared J.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More about Air-Powered Cars

A small French company Moteur Development International produced an air-powered car which will be driven by compressed air stored in carbon-fibre tanks. These tanks are built into the chassis and are filled with air from a compressor in only 3 minutes - quicker than a battery car. These air compressors can be installed at each gas station.

When the car reaches 35 miles per hour its internal air compressor will start working to add more speed. The motor for compressor will run on small amount of fuel (eco-friendly or fossil fuel).
The driver would be able to choose between fossil or biofuels.
The designers say that on long journeys the air car will do about 120 m.p.g. And in town, it will be even cheaper.
One tank of gas will be enough to travel from Los Angeles to New York.
Of course, it sounds great - to have such a little fuel expense for your car.

And it is only a matter of time when first cars will be available for sale for about $5,000 to $15,000 which is an important consideration during our volatile gas prices.

These cars will also be good for the environment - they will produce almost zero emissions.

Air cars are designed to be much more lighter than conventional cars which will make them fuel efficient and help them go faster for longer periods of time.

You can watch very interesting YouTube movie about the air-powered car.



Guy Negre, an engineer and inventor of the first compressed-air engine has been working on it for the last decade. Still, the problem is in finding individual entrepreneurs to set up factories and to find investors to produce more air-powered cars. With just a few alterations, inventor Negre claims a hybrid version of his new engine could even be used to power aircraft.

To read more about air-powered cars go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/14/air-powered-car-hybrid-france.

-Peter Y.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

NASA's sustainable energy source

NASA has developed a clean energy alternative by creating an algae-photo bioreactor, which grows algae in wastewater to produce biofuel.

read more here
http://www.physorg.com/news177780192.html

-Jared J

Wave Power!



Wave energy is produced when electricity generators are placed on the surface of the ocean. The energy provided is most often used in desalination plants, power plants and water pumps. Energy output is determined by wave height, wave speed, wavelength, and water density. To date there are only a handful of experimental wave generator plants in operation around the world. Oregon State University is in on the experimental technology.

In 2007/2008, Oregon State University, in collaboration with Columbia Power Technologies (CPT) and the U.S. Navy, evaluated 18 different direct-drive technologies, and down-selected to five promising designs. OSU and CPT built each of those prototypes at the 200W peak level and tested them on OSU's new wave energy linear test bed. OSU and CPT also comprehensively simulated each of the designs, and scaled the simulations up to 100kW, including full 100kW designs with costs, maintenance, operations etc., to give estimates for total costs of energy for each. This has been a tremendous collaboration enabling the zeroing in on optimum designs, and based on this work, in September 2008, OSU and CPT completed a series of very successful bay and ocean testing. CPT is now driving these efforts to commercialization, and OSU will continue to partner with them in a supporting/research role.

Visit the site http://eecs.oregonstate.edu/wesrf/ for more information about Oregon State University research of wave energy. There are also some cool posters about wave energy that can be accessed full size for print on this site.

For more information about wave energy, see the Alternative Energy News site.

Shelley H

Clean Coal Technology



According to the U.S.Department of Energy, coal is likely to remain one of the nation's lowest-cost electric power sources for the foreseeable future, and the United States has pledged a new commitment to even more advanced clean coal technologies.

Building on the successes of the original program, the new clean coal initiative encompasses a broad spectrum of research and large-scale projects that target today's most pressing environmental challenges.

The Clean Coal Power Initiative is providing government co-financing for new coal technologies that can help utilities cut sulfur, nitrogen and mercury pollutants from power plants. Also, some of the early projects are showing ways to reduce greenhouse emissions by boosting the efficiency by which coal plants convert coal to electricity or other energy forms. Information from U.S. Department of Energy at: http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/cleancoal/

There is no "perfect" solution for energy sources. Sometimes we must use current technology and perfect it as much as we can.

"Coal is an abundant resource in the world...It is imperative that we figure out a way to use coal as cleanly as possible. "

Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy
Senate Confirmation Hearing
January 13, 2009

Shelley H

Animal Waste to Valuable Power


Beef, dairy cattle, hogs and poultry manure, also known as feedlot biomass, can be put to practical use as a renewable energy source, with dry manure and liquid manure producing different types of energy. Manure can be used for gas, electricity and fuel for a boiler, or it can be burned directly for cooking or lighting.

The best approach to using animal wastes for power depends on the amount of moisture and non-biodegradable solid materials that are contained in the manure. Both methods solve a manure disposal problem while mitigating odors and negative environmental effects.

Dry manure has long provided heating and cooking fuel for rural societies. If the water content of manure is low enough (less than 20%), dry manure can be burnt directly. Solid, dry manure includes manure from beef feedlots and dairy dry lots. Burning dry manure can also release energy for the production of biogas. While supplying its own energy needs, a cattle feedlot operation could also solve its manure disposal problem, reduce odors, provide jobs, and increase the local tax base - all by installing a manure-to-energy generator on site.

The environmental benefits to processing manure into fuel include cleaner air and water. Tillamook, Oregon, the land of Cheese, Trees and Ocean Breeze is in on the cutting edge of the biogas to electricity technology with their MEAD Project.

In 2003, the Port of Tillamook Bay in Tillamook, Oregon constructed a centralized methane digester to biologically process the manure from 4000 of the county's 30,000 dairy cows. The project was 14 years in development as MEAD (Methane Energy and Agricultural Development). The facility, owned and managed by the Port, utilizes simple, proven cost-effective digester, solids separation and biogas-to-electricity technology currently being employed at over a dozen sites nationally.

Manure is picked up by facility personnel, treated, and a portion returned to participating farms. Transportation costs are offset by sale of electricity as "green power" and by sale of fiber recovered for use by a potting soil manufacturer. System benefits to the Tillamook community include: reductions in odors, pathogenic organisms, weedseeds, manure quantities and nutrients to be land-applied.

For more information on the Tillamook MEAD Project, visit http://www.potb.org/methane-energy.htm

Shelley H

Friday, December 4, 2009

Air Car

New and expected to be in US by 2010 is the Air Car. What is it, well a company named Zero Pollution Motors is designing a car that will run on air. Yes, that is right air. Using air to manipulate the pistons instead of traditional gasoline combustion the car will create zero emissions. While at high speeds with the combined use of air and gasoline to create heat to meet the required pressure to move the pistons, the car still has a greatly reduced emission than the typical gas powered automobile, topping out at 96 mph. This new technology allows the car to travel an estimated 848 miles on a meagerly eight gallons of gas. Guy Negre, an F1 racecar engineer first originated the idea. The MDI Group developed the Air Car, receiving funding from Tata Motors, based in India.

The Air Car body is made of fiberglass and foam, seats six, and uses an in dash computer to display speed and RPM. An on board compressor allows the air tank to be filled by plugging it into an electrical outlet. To learn more
http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-9876428-48.html

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good Clean Tech

Goodcleantech.com is a really cool site to view the latest breakthroughs in green technology. This site puts an emphasis on news on alternative fuels/energy--from solar energy to new kinds of batteries to the the most efficient Christmas lights--it covers all technological advances that would improve the environment and make the world a better place.
-Eric M.

Energy Saving Tips


Heating water in your home is a big expense, and typically accounts for 12% of your utility bill. Here are a few ways to cut your water heating bill. One way is to simply use less hot water-either by installing a low flow shower head or taking shorter showers. You can make sure you don't have any leaky faucets-a little drip can add up to gallons of water wasted. Also, don't leave hot water running when brushing your teeth or washing dishes.You can lower the temperature on your hot water heater, wrap it in insulation or replace it with an Energy Star water heater. The US Department of Energy( estimates you can save 3-5% of energy costs for every ten degree reduction of your water heater temperature.http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13090

Rock Port, Missouri

Rock Port Missouri in 2008 announced that it was the first city in the United States to become a 100% wind powered city. Rock Port is a small city in Atchison County. It has a small population of 1,300 people.

The entire city is receives its electricity from just 4 wind turbines. These 4 turbines produce 16 million kilowatt hours of electricity, which is just over the 13 million the city uses each year.

Northwest Missouri is being looked into for more turbines, as it is a great place to capture this wind energy. Landowners also profit from leasing their land for wind power. They say its easier then growing crops, both ways they profit from it.

Please check out Science Daily for more info.

Carbon footprint of household appliances

I found an interesting site that compares various different household appliances and shows the energy usage, cost of usage, and the CO2 output.


-Jared J

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

LCD vs Plasma T.V. Power Consumption


If you are considering a new television, you are probably wondering whether to get an LCD or plasma set. You may have personal reasons for choosing one over the other, but in terms of energy consumption LCD uses less electricity than a plasma. An average plasma uses 338 watts compared with 176 watts for the average LCD. Of course, size does matter when it comes to power consumption-the larger the television, the more it costs financially and environmentally. CNET Reviews has a power consumption comparison chart to help you decided between brands and styles at http://reviews.cnet.com/green-tech/tv-consumption-chart/?tag=contentMain;contentAux.

Rejected Watermelons: The Newest Renewable Energy Source

Science Daily (August 27, 2009). "Watermelon juice can be a valuable source of bio-fuel, researchers have shown that the juice of reject-watermelons can be efficiently fermented into ethanol". This is a pretty cool source of energy. It works in a lot of ways for us the people. It creates a natural source of energy and cuts back on waste. "About 20% of each annual watermelon crop is left in the field because of surface blemishes or because they are misshaped". Wow, this is pretty cool. It seems to me that this is something that occurs every year and with that we will not run out of this source, and not to mention is is earth friendly. If you want to find more information on this subject you can go to www.sciencedaily.com. C.Kempton......

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dryer Savings

To complete my two-part series on the cheapest way to clean clothes we’ll again look at Michael Bluejay’s recommendations.

It’s clear that gas prices are a few cents cheaper than electric (on average) but the cost of putting in a pipe and switching over to natural gas is so expensive, you probably wouldn’t see savings for about 20 years.  That being said, if using gas is an option, as I've stated, gas is generally cheaper and for this purpose it might be good to switch.

That being said there are if we continue to use our 11 cents per kWh (again in with PGE it’s about 9 cents), dryers for the most part use about 3.3 kWh bringing us to about 36 cents for a dry time of 45 minutes. One doesn’t see the true cost until it’s added up throughout the year.  At the average of eight loads a week the yearly costs comes out to around 150 bucks.  If we add in our previous figure for washing clothes our number comes to $400 a year just for cleaning clothes.  Not buying, not mending, not ironing, not dry cleaning, just a standard wash and dry.

In order to keep the drying costs down there are a few ideas that we can incorporate (either fully or even just partially).  First is the purchase of a spin dryer.  This machine spins clothes extremely fast to “suck” out the remaining water before the clothes are put into your regular dryer.  They run about $130 but save about $97 and would pay for themselves in less than a year and a half. 

Next is line drying.  Line drying used to be the only way to dry clothes and again I’ll reference foreign countries where to this day clothes hanging from lines that span across buildings adds to the character of the place.  Line drying is free and although it may take a little longer in wetter climates can still be accomplished with relative ease.  Also, Michael notes that you don’t have to dry the clothes all the way if you plan on ironing them.  Electricity costs for the iron go up a little, but not much.

I’ll conclude by saying that even in your home there are simple ways to change energy dependency.  This is just one example and there are a host of others that can drastically reduce your energy bills and help you live a more green existence.  

Read more about this and other cost cutting techniques a michaelbluejay.com

Clean Savings

The washing of clothes is a time-honored tradition stretching back to ancient agrarian societies.  If you go to Italy today there are still remnants of communal clothes washing areas.  And placed above these areas are inscriptions that strike our modern sensibilities as comical if not misogynistic as they warn passersby that if “they distract the washing women they will be fined.”

Today in America even a child of 13 washes his or her clothes and sometimes it’s difficult to think of it as an energy waster.  But if you’re not careful, the bill can add up quickly.  Michael Bluejay a writer and an activist has informed my research regarding the prices associated with washing our clothes and for a later blog about drying them.

To begin, according to his research the modern American top-loading washing machine uses about .256 kWh per load while the national average cost of electricity runs at about 11 cents per kWh.  This means that for electricity one may pay about 3 cents a load plus the price of water, which is generally around 11 cents per load, bringing the grand total to 14 cents. (*Note* PGE charges about 9 cents per kWh) 

Although this may not seem like much, one needs to understand that this is the base operation cost and that costs such as heating up the water can exponentially increase the amount you’ll pay in your energy bill.  For example, if you use Hot/Hot for every load, then according to these figures you’re paying about 70 cents a load.  If you then multiple this number by eight (the number of loads done per week by a typical American family) then multiply that number by 52 (for the number of weeks in a year) you’re looking at a difference of about 250 dollars a year!

Front loading washers are much better savers.  They use less water and less energy.  Unlike top loading washers they generally have an energy star rating and even leave clothes dryer when they’re finished which saves on drying costs.

The take home message?  If you want to save money (and the earth) scrap the old top-loader, buy a front-loading washing machine and wash your clothes on Cold/Cold.  In the long run it will save you hundreds of dollars in water and electricity.

 For more information on this subject and many others go to michaelbluejay.com

Amazon Sludge the Secret to Success

Sludge. Slime. Goop. Whatever you call it, it is not pretty. While the Amazon dark soil might not win a beauty contest, it could be our ticket to solving some of Earth's biggest problems. Known as Terra Preta, this dark soil is on the cutting edge of technology to stop and even correct our massive carbon footprint.

In a story I found on CleanTechnica.com, A German company is the first to create a facility on a large scale to produce this soil. It is a man-made soil that was developed thousands of years ago in the Amazon that we have just recently seen the benefits of. Being called the 'Carbon Sink' of soil, this ancient marvel can remove carbon from our atmosphere and trapping it.

While this strange soil might not be the full answer to our planet's rising problems, it has the potential to make a huge dent. This about this, using this soil in something as simple as a backyard garden could remove an individuals daily carbon footprint.

If this soil sparks your interest, you can check out the manufacture PalaterraGmbH&Co.

Veterans for change

When you think of our United States Veterans, what comes to mind? I think of war, battles and older men telling stories of their time of duty. The last thing I expected to read about was veterans pushing for a greener tomorrow.

On this past Veteran's Day, certain veteran groups were calling for change in the way in which our miltary approaches the green movement. Sustainable fuels was the hot topic. We are a nation that is reliant on fossil fuels including the military. In order to run the fleet of millions of military vehicles, our government is dependent on foreign oil. Currently, our military is looking at alternative forms like solar and wind.

It is nice to see our government making some positive changes in the battle over sustainable fuels. Just taking small steps will lessen the carbon footprint of our military.