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Green Gasoline: Fuel made from cellulose

April 16, 2008

Green Gasoline
Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) have made an exciting breakthrough in developing “Green Gasoline”, a substance with very similar properties to ordinary Gasoline, except it is derived from plant cellulose.

The steps involved to produce the Green Gasoline involve rapidly heating the cellulose in the presence of solid catalysts and then quickly cooling the products to obtain a liquid that has many of the compounds found in ordinary gasoline. The entire process takes less than 2 minutes and uses only a small amount of heat. This liquid can be treated further or used as is for a high octane blend.

This Green Gasoline could be obtained from crops such as Poplar trees and Switchgrass, both of which could be grown on marginal land, thereby saving the better soils for food crops.

Other advantages with the Green Gasoline is that it can be used in existing engines, requires much less energy to make than ethanol and the excess heat can be used to produce electricity. The carbon footprint for producing this fuel could well be zero if the excess heat is used to produce power.

So when will we see Green Gasoline in our service stations and fuel tanks, maybe not for 5 – 10 years

Website: Green Gasoline via Ecofuss

The Rick Simpson Story (Part 1 of 7)

March 24, 2008

I’m going to do another one of my serials here, this time on Medical Marijuana… but first a little personal story.

When I was 22 whilst riding my bike; which I’d ridden for three years without incident, I had a head on collision with a drunk driving a car; a drunk who was so drunk he could not stand. This drunk had apparently turned across a main road without indicating a turn. The collision was at a combined speed of about 100mph or 160kph.

Now it was an open speed limit road, there was a mile vision either side of the collision site, the sun was shining and I had my headlight and helmet on. Had it not been for an eyewitness I would have been charged, despite the fact that the driver was turning across the road and back into the golf club he was manager of.

My bike impacted the car with such force that it drove the car’s motor and gearbox into the front seat, and the car back into his lane… yet the officer attempted to blame me. Had it not been for the eyewitness and curious bystanders pointing out that the broken glass, mud from the cars guards etc were on my side of the road, I would have been blamed… I found out later that the driver was not booked for drunken diving, apparently because he and the police officer were Lodge mates.

Believe it or not I walked, well hobbled away from that accident, and although I remember nothing of the actual accident, I was told by the eyewitness when I contacted him to thank him, that I’d apparently flown over the car and landed on my back some 50 or 60 meters down the road.

Needless to say, after the accident I was pretty sore for quite awhile, however, months later my back was still killing me. The initial apparently disinterested doctors who treated, me basically just gave me some pills (Indocid at first then Bufferin), but they failed to inform me about the correct use of them, and they kept me on them for way too long.

It wasn’t until a a few years later that I got a reference from a friend to a good doctor; prior to my head-on I rarely visited a doctor. Anyway, eventually I got to see a very good specialist as well, he was one of those great old school doctors, and he actually rang; whilst I was in his surgery, one of the disinterested doctors and abused him regarding the ignorance and indifference he’d shown in the drugs he’d given me and which had destroyed my stomach lining all to no avail!

The end result was I was sent to a very good chiropractor and advised by my new doctors that I should ask some of my mates who smoked Pot and to “Give it a try”. I’ll point out that at the time, and despite the fact that I had gotten drunk only a couple of times in earlier years; mainly through peer pressure, I had become quite anti alcohol, tobacco and drugs. I was a serious competition Skydiver and considered such things antithetical to peek performance.

To say that Pot helped would be an understatement, it had non of the side effects of the other pharmaceutical drugs I’d been given. Pot would allow me a full nights sleep, it gave me back most of my mobility and the only side effect that was noticed was, I was perhaps more social and apparently more tolerant; I must admit I was a bit of a tyrannical captain. Though I did not lose my competitive spirit; I went on to win a further 3 state, 2 East Coast and a National championship, it was ironically the over use of alcohol amongst my team members that finally caused me to move from competitions to filming.

As for de-motivating people. Pot has I admit toned down my aggressively domineering and determined Attitude… slightly, and regarding the memory thing, well in Metallurgy I was 1 of 6 out of 123 that started Metallurgy with me, that finished in the minimum period, in fact 1 of the other 5, by his own admission only got through because I helped him.

I guess some might say, “Well it hasn’t seemed to have effected your ego.” Oh contraire, before I started smoking Pot I considered myself as one of the world’s worst winners, man if you were competing against me, or if you were on my team and screwed up you had me in your face till you either gave up or stopped screwing up.


And now finally:- The Rick Simpson Story (Part 1 of 7)

Video: YouTube

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Geothermal power generation

March 1, 2008

Geothermal system
Photo: Geothermal Resources Limited

Basically geothermal energy relies on the fact that Earth has a molten core. In some places about 3-6 km below the surface of the Earth, there is a layer of super hot granite that can be as hot as 250c. It is said that one cubic kilometer of hot granite at 250c has as much energy in it as 40 million barrels of oil and Australia has a lot of hot granite that’s within 3-5 km of the surface of the earth.

Geothermal energy offers a number of advantages over traditional fossil fuel based sources. From an environmental standpoint, the energy harnessed is clean and safe for the surrounding environment unlike coal, petroleum and atomic power. It is also sustainable because the hot water used in the geothermal process can be re-injected into the ground to produce more steam.

Geothermal power plants work continually, day and night, making them base load power plants. From an economic view, geothermal energy is extremely price competitive in some areas and reduces reliance on fossil fuels and their inherent price unpredictability. These plants also emit low levels of carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, and sulfur, although at roughly 5% of the levels emitted by fossil fuel power plants. However, geothermal plants can be built with emissions-controlling systems that can inject these gases back into the earth, thereby reducing carbon emissions to less than 0.1% of those from fossil fuel power plants.

Geothermal sites are capable of providing heat for many decades, eventually specific locations may cool down if the system designed was too large for the site… so short term greed could be a problem. However, if left alone, these sites will recover since the mantle has vast heat reserves.

If heat recovered by ground source heat pumps is included, the non-electric generating capacity of geothermal energy is estimated at more than 100 GW (gigawatts of thermal power) and is used commercially in over 70 countries.

A 2006 report by MIT, that took into account the use of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), concluded that it would be affordable to generate 100 GW (gigawatts of electricity) or more by 2050 in the United States alone, for a maximum investment of 1 billion US dollars in research and development over 15 years.

The MIT report calculated the world’s total EGS resources to be over 13,000 ZJ (zettajoule – a number which makes my brain hurt). Of these, over 200 ZJ would be extractable, with the potential to increase this to over 2,000 ZJ with technology improvements – sufficient to provide all the world’s energy needs for several millennia.

The key characteristic of an EGS (also called a Hot Dry Rock system), is that it reaches at least 10 km down into hard rock. At a typical site two holes would be bored and the deep rock between them fractured. Water would be pumped down one and steam would come up the other. The MIT report estimated that there was enough energy in hard rocks 10 km below the United States to supply all the world’s current needs for 30,000 years.

South Australia has been described as “Australia’s hot rock haven” and this emissions free and renewable energy form could provide an estimated 6.8% of Australia’s base load power needs by 2030. According to an estimate by the Center for International Economics, Australia has enough geothermal energy to contribute electricity for 450 years and at present one megawatt of electricity costs about $45 an hour, compared with a coal power cost of about $35.

South Australia’s Cooper Basin apparently has an energy output equal to 15 Snowy Mountain hydroelectricity power schemes. The resource contains more than 400,000 petajoules and could support the generation of in excess of 10,000 megawatts of electricity.

Website: Wikipedia

Wong is Wrong

February 24, 2008

Well I just couldn’t resist and whilst in the moment I’ll add, two Wrongs wont make a right either Ms Wong.

This post is regarding Australia’s minister for Climate Change and Water (Penny Wong) and her relative inaction regarding Professor Ross Garnaut’s interim greenhouse review.

The story so far. Australia is dominated by the Banks, the Resource industry and the Industrial Farming sector… they are the ones, who at present with more than a little help of the Rice & Cotton mob in the not so deep north, who justify their greed with the defense of ‘export growth’ & ‘jobs’, whilst the mob in the not so deep north go on butchering our most important Murray Darling waterway.

The Garnaut Climate Change Report is handed in and it tells us what most thinking people already know… like it’s not that hard to realize that to freeze the World’s pollution at sort of 1990’s levels, when there were already signs of climatic arrhythmia, is not unlike closing the barn door after the horse has bolted… to the power of a number just sightly south of infinity.

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Why nuclear power is not the answer to climate change

February 20, 2008

TOO MANY REACTORS AND NOT ENOUGH CARBON REDUCTION

Studies performed by MIT, Commission on Energy, and International Atomic Energy Agency all agree that approximately 1500 to 2000 new atomic reactors would have to be built to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enough to make a meaningful difference.

There are currently 449 nuclear power stations (approx), If we were running around 2000 reactors in total we would exhaust our main uranium reserves in a few decades. We would then need to mine lower grade uranium, this would itself cause more greenhouse emissions. If the potential 2000 reactors were used to replace the coal stations, we would have a 20% reduction in greenhouse emissions. If used as a new capacity to replace true renewable sources, then our emissions would actually increase.

TOO MUCH MONEY

1500 more reactors would cost trillions of dollars. New reactors going online in the US in the 1980s and 90s cost on average 4 billion dollars each. Reactors to recently come online in Japan in the last few years were in the order of $2000 / KW.

Taking an average larger power plant of 1200MW and an average conservative cost of $1250 / KW, this gives a construction cost of 1.5 billion.

Yearly costs per 1000kg of avoided CO2 emmisions are $68.9 for wind and $132.5 for nuclear power.

TOO MUCH TIME

Construction of 1500 new reactors means that we will need to open a new reactor every 2 weeks beginning today, for the next 60 years. This is impossible as the current nuclear manufacturers are only capable of doing half this amount if they are pushed to their absolute capacity. Climate change cannot wait for Nukes.

TOO MUCH WASTE

Operating another 1500 or more new reactors would create the need for a new Yucca Mountain sized radioactive dump site somewhere in the world every 3 to 4 years. Yucca Mountain has been in progress for almost 20 years and still is at least 10 years from being finished. The state of Nevada has also vigorously opposed the construction of the Yucca facility.

Due to the opposition to radioactive dump sites many countries including the US are attempting to reprocess the nuclear waste, as a means of managing the waste. This is a dangerous technology, linked with increased Leukemia rates amongst children living nearby reprocessing plants as a result of increased radiation being released into the surrounding environment.

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Why the tycoons fear hemp: From drugs to oil

February 17, 2008

G’day again,
Before I continue with this post I’d like to recommend a few products and no I’m not being paid and at the time of me composing this post there were no adds pertaining to my suggestion as far as I know (gee I sound like a politician – “I have no knowledge of that” or “I did not have sex with that woman” or “Evil doers” or “The tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.”). 😉

Anyway the products to which I refer are:-

1. ReadPlease, a free text to speech software, it’s quite good but you should not click on their faces… which of course guarantees that you will, which is exactly what I want you to do… see how easy it is to manipulate people? I might say at this point this is, and the subsequent piece of software are very handy software to own, that will help dyslectics, people with poor eyesight or perhaps blind and and it’s an excellent product to help your kids with their studies. Now is a good time to try out this software since it is a longish post.

2. Verbose, another bit of software, not free but a bargain at about $20 and it has several advantages over ReadPlease in that you can highlight text such as this, tap an allocated key and it will read out the text to you whilst you go on surfing or whatever… it’s a truly great piece of software.

3. The third item is a book by Jack Herer called “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” It’s a very informative book on the Hemp industry and the politics of Pot.

OK now on to the real meat in this post.

I have copied the following post written by Seth Michaels from Helium.

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First cargo vessel worldwide to use the innovative Skysails auxiliary propulsion system

January 25, 2008

SkySails
Photo: WINTECC Project

As unlikely as this seems if this system can generate the equivalent towing power of 6,800 hp it’s got to be worth investigating… 6,800 hp uses a lot of fuel.

To think that these SkySails genesis was in the late 60’s as a Spaceship recovery system, first built and tested in Cape Canaveral, Florida; later to be known as The Kennedy Space Center. But it took Skydivers to sort out the opening problems and to develop both the materials and the designs… but wait there’s more, I was one of those early test Jumpers who jumped those first not so reliable nor safe parachutes; a problem largely solved by Greg Yarbenet ’74ish, but I had a whole lot of fun jumping those first ‘square’ parachutes in 1970 in Australia, now you know I got a smile on my dial. 🙂

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Plasma process converts garbage into clean energy

January 24, 2008

Startech process
Photo: Startech

At present waste is either buried or incinerated, neither method is environmentally sound nor does it make effective use of the potential energy from the waste.

The Startech process is another system similar to the W2Energy biomass plasma reactor in a previous post, in that it uses Plasma to convert matter; often waste products whether it be solid, liquid or gaseous, in to a more suitable form for energy extraction.

The Startech process starts with shredding solid matter prior to it being fed in to the plasma vessel. Again high voltage is used to create the plasma, and the matter to be converted is subjected to this plasma. It’s then broken down to synthetic gas composed mostly of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, that in turn is converted into a clean fuel. The byproducts include valuable metals and vitrified silica which can be used in various types of construction such as buildings and roadworks depending on toxins present.

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AVA to mass produce low cost solar panels

January 24, 2008

AVA low cost solar panels
Photo: AVA Solar

Colorado based, AVA Solar inc has developed a system of mass producing low cost, high efficiency solar panels. The panels are expected to retail for approximately $2 per watt, bringing the cost of producing solar electricity down to approximately equivelent to grid power.

The panels are expected to begin production at the beginning of 2009. The current factory is expected to produce enough panels per year to produce 200 Megawatts of electricity. This is equivalent to 40,000 new US homes every year that could be supplied with clean green power.

The technology has been developed by W. S. Sampath, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University.

Prof. Sampath has developed an efficient automated manufacturing process using thin cadmium telluride film instead of the more expensive standard crystalline silicon. The production can also be performed at a much higher rate, further reducing the overall cost of the panels.

See all the technical details at the AVA website link below.

Website: AVA Solar

W2 Energy Inc. Biomass & Coal to Clean Energy

January 20, 2008

W2 Energy Inc. Biomass to Energy Plant
Graphic: investorshub.com

W2Energy has patented a biomass plasma reactor to convert biomass or coal to syngas as well as either diesel or gasoline, at a fraction of the cost of fossil-based fuels.

The process involves a relatively low temperature plasma reaction (700 to 1000 degrees F) heating the biomass or coal, in an enclosed system as shown above. Other fuels which may be used could include dried sewage, peat or algae, which with heat acting as a catalyst in the conversion, would create Syngas (H2, CO).

Their claim, a 10,000 barrel per day synthetic diesel plant as well as a 100 Megawatt steam turbine with a mere 4 MW input and the excess CO2 produced converted into Carbon suboxides in the form of humic acid which would then be mixed with the ash to produce high grade organic fertilizer.

Website: W2 Energy Inc

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