Archive for June 14th, 2009

U.S. Military Looks to Bio-Based Batteries and Fuel Cells

The U.S. military is moving away from conventional batteries, looking at bio-based battery technology.Could the next war be powered by potatoes?  The U.S. military is exploring bio-batteries and fuel cells as part of its overall commitment to transformational energy, particularly portable power.  To help kick-start the effort, the Department of Defense is soliciting bids for cutting edge bio-battery and fuel cell development through its Small Business Innovation Research grant program.  That could mean just about anything for a fuel source, from sugar to potatoes, vodka or beer.  Stay tuned for more: the deadline for submitting SBIR proposals is June 17.

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Flexible Solar Powered Rooftop Shingles
Flexible Solar Powered Rooftop Shingles

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland have developed flexible solar panels that could be installed on roofs like shingles. This technology was originally used to protect flat panel televisions from dampness. They used to cover television screen with transparent, thin films that acted as barriers. These transparent thin film barriers are [...]
Posted in: Inventions, PhotoVoltaics, Solar Power



Visit the original post at: Energy News

UK Company to Introduce Hydrogen Fuel Cell Urban Car; Open Source Approach

Hyrban
Cutaway of the Hyrban. Ultracapacitor bank is beneath the seat. Click to enlarge.

UK-based Riversimple will unveil on Tuesday (16 June) its first production-intent car: a two seater hydrogen fuel cell urban car with composite bodyshell. Riversimple designed the Hyrban (earier post) to achieve 300 mpg (energy equivalent); the company calculates that the fuel cell car will have well-to-wheel CO2 emissions of 31 g/km when fueled with hydrogen produced via steam methane reforming of natural gas.

The Hyrban has a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), can accelerate from 0 – 30 mph in 5.5 seconds, and has a range of more than 200 miles (320 km). Riversimple, founded by Hugo Spowers, a former motorsport engineer and racing driver, earlier initiated the hydrogen LIFECar project through its subsidiary OSCar Automotive Ltd. (earlier post).

Hyrban2
Network electric powertrain. Click to enlarge.

Riversimple is establishing an open source foundation (The 40 Fires Foundation) to help advance the development of the vehicle.

The Hyrban implements what Riversimple calls a network electric powertrain—the different components of the car’s electrical system allow electricity to pass in multiple directions (eg. from the fuel cell to the motors or to the ultracapacitors, from the motors to and from the ultracapacitors, and so on). The powertrain includes

  • 6 kW fuel cell (developed with Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies of Singapore).
  • 21 kg of ultracapacitors, capable of absorbing more than 30 kW of power from regenerative braking, and of delivering 15 kW for bursts of acceleration of up to ten seconds, enough time to reach maximum cruising speed.
  • Four in-wheel motors

Almost all braking is done by the electric motors. This energy is then stored in the ultracapacitors bank which can provide 80% of the power required for acceleration. This, combined with the lightweighting, enables Riversimple to use a fuel cell with a fifth the power required in a conventional car.

Riversimple worked with Oxford and Cranfield University on the power electronics, motors and control system.

We don’t believe any one technology, whether batteries or fuel cells, can be as amazingly versatile as the internal combustion engine has been. We believe different types of vehicle will fill different niches, and it makes abundant sense to choose different power trains for different environments. Battery power will be more efficient over short distances but batteries are very heavy and we believe hydrogen fuel cell power will be superior over long ranges (150 miles+) and will emerge as the most efficient and flexible choice for inter-urban vehicles.

—Riversimple

Open source approach. Riversimple says it is licensing its designs to the independent open source foundation 40 Fires Foundation for two reasons:

  • Human society urgently needs more fuel efficient vehicles, and by sharing its ideas and designs, Riversimple hopes to encourage others to adopt the technology.
  • Riversimple thinks it is a sound business strategy for a small company trying to complete the major OEMs in one of the world’s largest industries.

Commercialization and manufacturing. Riversimple plans to lease its cars, not sell them; fueling will be included in the lease cost. The economies of scale of carbon composites frames are very different from those of steel-bodied vehicles, the company says, and anticipates that its vehicles are likely to be produced in small factories producing 5,000-10,000 vehicles per year, allowing for considerable local variation in the car.

Resources


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

Toyota Seeks to Boost NiMH Battery Production Capacity 10%

Nikkei. Toyota Motor Corp. wants to expand the production capacity for the NiMH battery packs it uses in hybrids by 10%.

The automaker is now seeking access to enough NiMH batteries to equip 1.1 million hybrid cars in 2010, or 10% more than was initially called for in its existing expansion plans.

Panasonic EV Energy is capable of churning out roughly 700,000 NiMH battery packs a year. Its plans for 2010 include installing an additional line designed to produce 100,000 packs at its Omori Factory and building a plant in Miyagi Prefecture that can make 200,000 packs.

The joint venture will work to provide the added 100,000 pack capability without making further plant and equipment investments by boosting productivity and lowering the defect rate.


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

Michelin Says New Energy Saver Tire 8% More Fuel Efficient Than Comparable Tires

The new Michelin Energy Saver A/S tire, which went on-sale this past week, is one of the first all-season tires to combine low levels of rolling resistance with superior levels of wet braking and all-season performance.

Michelin Energy Saver Construction technology keeps the tire cooler, helping the engine to improve its fuel-efficiency. It is up to 8% more fuel-efficient than other tires in its class.

Michelin Comfort Control Technology, engineered into the tire uses computer-optimized design and precision manufacturing to offer greatly reduced vibrations and road noise to keep the vehicle quiet, while a silica-based rubber compound provides all-season traction. An energy saving contact patch provides leading wear life.

The Michelin Energy Saver A/S tire is now available in four sizes that include popular mainstream and hybrid vehicles: P215/60R16; P195/65R15; P195/60R15 and P185/65R15.


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

Michelin Says New Energy Saver Tire 8% More Fuel Efficient Than Comparable Tires

The new Michelin Energy Saver A/S tire, which went on-sale this past week, is one of the first all-season tires to combine low levels of rolling resistance with superior levels of wet braking and all-season performance.

Michelin Energy Saver Construction technology keeps the tire cooler, helping the engine to improve its fuel-efficiency. It is up to 8% more fuel-efficient than other tires in its class.

Michelin Comfort Control Technology, engineered into the tire uses computer-optimized design and precision manufacturing to offer greatly reduced vibrations and road noise to keep the vehicle quiet, while a silica-based rubber compound provides all-season traction. An energy saving contact patch provides leading wear life.

The Michelin Energy Saver A/S tire is now available in four sizes that include popular mainstream and hybrid vehicles: P215/60R16; P195/65R15; P195/60R15 and P185/65R15.


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

Government-Industry Consortium Drilling Expedition Confirms Gas Hydrates at High Saturations in GOM

Wr
Gas hydrate accumulations at one of the drill sites (Walker Ridge). Source: JIP. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), US Geological Service (USGS), and US Minerals Management Service (MMS), in collaboration with an industry research consortium led by Chevron, on 6 May completed a landmark gas hydrates drilling expedition that demonstrated the occurrence of gas hydrates at high saturations in reservoir-quality sands in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The Gulf of Mexico is thus the first offshore area in the United States with enough information to identify gas hydrate energy resource targets with potential for gas production.

Gas hydrates are a unique substance comprising natural gas (almost exclusively methane) in combination with water. Gas hydrates are known to exist in great abundance in nature and have significant implications as a potential energy source. However, prior to this expedition, there was little documentation that gas hydrates occurred in resource-quality accumulations in the marine environment, according to NETL.

Q4000
The research consortium used the Helix drilling vessel Q4000. Click to enlarge.

The expedition conducted logging-while-drilling (LWD) operations at multiple sites to test a variety of geologic/geophysical models for the occurrence of gas hydrate in sand reservoirs in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The target formations were 3,000 feet below the mud line in 7,000-8,000 feet of water.

The LWD tool combination was designed to provide unprecedented information on the nature of the sediments and their pore fill constituents. The program featured full research-level LWD data on formation lithology and porosity, and included Schlumberger’s MP3 (quadrapole sonic tool) and PeriScope (3-D high-resolution resistivity) tools. These tools will provide full 3-D information on the both acoustic (both compressional and shear wave) and electrical properties of the sediment enabling the improved evaluation of gas hydrate in both pore filling and fracture-filling modes.

Given the different (smaller) diameter of the MP3 tool compared to the rest of the tool string, the JIP Leg II bottom hole assembly featured a second “hole opener” located above the MP-3 tool. This innovation will enlarge the hole to allow logging with the other tools after the passage of the MP3.

Lwd
The JIP bottom-hole assembly with full suite of LWD tools, including the 6.5” MP3 sonic tool just above the bit, followed by an 8.5” hole opener, and then

the GeoVision, EcoScope, TeleScope, PeriScope, and SonicVision

tools. The SonicVision tool is ~160 feet above the drill bit. Click to enlarge.

Select LWD data was analyzed by the onboard science team in real time, and that information was used to evaluate the hole being drilled as well as decision-making regarding the location and drilling parameters for the next hole. Once the first well was drilled, the drill string was raised to clear the seafloor, and the ship moved a short distance to the next hole location. After completion of two or three holes at a site, the full drill string was retrieved and laid down on deck, and the ship steamed to the next site.

Other participants in the field program included the US Geological Survey, the Minerals Management Service, the borehole research group at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Schlumberger, and AOA geophysics.

The objective of the 21-day expedition was to confirm that gas hydrates occur at high saturations within reservoir quality sands in the Gulf of Mexico. This objective was fully met, with highly-saturated gas hydrate-bearing sands discovered in at least in two of three sites drilled.

The Gulf of Mexico Gas Hydrate Joint Industry Project (JIP) Leg II expedition follows a 2005 JIP Leg I drilling program that focused on possible drilling hazards related to gas hydrate in fine-grained sediments. Leg II was designed to expand the understanding of gas hydrate in the Gulf of Mexico by specifically targeting systems thought to include high-quality (thick, porous, and permeable) sands.

The field program was led by NETL’s Dr. Ray Boswell and the USGS’s Dr. Timothy Collett. It was managed by Chevron’s Rana Roy and Dr. Emrys Jones. The program was completed on time, with zero safety incidents, and below the planned $11.2 million budget.

The results from this effort confirm the ideas that lay at the foundation of the DOE’s efforts to assess the resource potential of gas hydrates. Gas hydrates were found at saturations ranging from 50% to more than 90% in high quality sands near the base of the gas hydrate stability zone. The deposits were also found in close accordance with the projects pre-drill predictions, providing increased confidence in our gas hydrate exploration and appraisal technologies.

—Ray Boswell

We have also found gas hydrate in a range of settings, including sand reservoirs, thick sequences of fracture-filling gas hydrates in shales, and potential partially saturated gas hydrates in younger systems. These sites should provide a wealth of opportunities for further study and data collection that should provide significant advances in understanding the nature and development of gas hydrate systems.

—Timothy Collett

Resources


Visit the original post at: Transportation News

Report: Volkswagen To Offer Car Sharing In Japan

The Nikkei reports that Volkswagen will offer car sharing in Japan in partnership with Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. The cars will be models from Audi Japan KK.

As the first step, the unit will by the end of the summer begin recruiting car sharing members in Tokyo at Izumi Garden, an office and residential complex owned by Sumitomo Realty & Development. The vehicles will be made available at parking spaces there.

Given that owning cars in the center of the capital is expensive given such factors as lofty parking rates, Volkswagen apparently decided that demand for a car sharing program would be high, especially among foreigners living here for short periods of time.


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The Daily Dose: Your Guide to the World Today – 14 June 09

There is an exceptional article by Alexander Panetta in the Nova Scotian which shows, in gripping detail, some of the real time effects of climate change being felt by the residents of a village in the Canadian Arctic. An absolute must read.

Protesters took to the streets in Central Sydney on their way to PM Kevin Rudd’s office. At issue is the Australian government’s climate change policy proposals, which critics dismiss as woefully inadequate and a sellout to polluting industries.

There was also a demonstration yesterday in Dublin, Ireland. A group of more than 1,000 formed a …


Visit the original post at: Environment News

San Francisco Makes Composting Mandatory

The city of San Francisco recently passed a law requiring composting. The law, passed by a 9-2 margin by the Board of Supervisors, is the strictest such law in the nation. Seattle also requires composting but unlike Seattle, those who do not compost in San Francisco will be fined.


The city will have a moratorium on fines until 2010 and from then on repeat offenders will face fines. Households and small businesses which produce less than one cubic yard of refuse will be fined upwards of $100. However, other businesses will be fined upwards of $500. Trash collectors will not be rummaging through trash, however if some compost is noticed, notices will be left.


Citizens will be required to have a trash bin for recycling, a bin for regular trash and a bin for compost. San Francisco is hoping this new law will aid in the city eliminating all waste in landfills by 2020. Proponents of the law are hoping that composting becomes just as everyday as recycling newspapers has become.



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Why We Disagree About Climate Change

Why We Disagree About Climate Change

Whywedisagree Ultimately there’s an opacity in Mike Hulme’s recently published book Why We Disagree About Climate Change.  We are too much engaged with the idea of fighting climate change as a physical reality, he concludes. We are science-saturated but spiritually impoverished. We need to engage with climate change in ways which focus on what we want to achieve for ourselves and humanity.  Climate change is not an environmental problem to be solved so much as an idea which we can use to examine our cultural values and renegotiate our wider social goals about how and why we live on …


Visit the original post at: Environment News

1 tonne of co2 equals 0.0000000000015 °C of global warming
From my unscientific understanding, if the latest findings of Damon Matthews, a professor in Concordia University’s Department of Geography, Planning and the Environment bear out, then the public understanding of AGW will have it’s smoking gun. Matthews and his colleagues claim to have found a direct relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.The latest edition of Nature,


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Australia’s climate bill may be scuttled
The ETS circus plays on:Australian Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne said the Government would also have no alternative but to reverse its plan to link passage of the emissions bill to renewable energy measures.”The [emissions trading] bill will be defeated. There is no question about that,” she told ABC Television.”The Government hasn’t been able to reach a compromise with the


Visit the original post at: Environment News

Attack of the Reused Traffic Barrel Monsters
barrel monster photo

In some circles it is known as repurposing, or even reusing. Taking a material or product and giving it new form to fulfil a different function. But apparently police in North Carolina also consider it larceny. And technically they are correct. For they allege that Joseph Carnevale misappropriated safety traffic barrels by cutting them up an turning them into the so-called Traffic Barrel Monster. Given that he describes the act of subversive art on his website, No Promise of Safety, the police might be on to something.

But it’s hard to deny the sheer creative ingenuity of his work. Particularly when he also made up …
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

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