Archive for December 12th, 2009

Biogas from Cows Could Help Save New York City Water Supply

New York State dairy farmers launch ambitious plan to produce methane from manure.New York City is fighting to save its drinking water supply from potential contamination by new natural gas drilling operations, and some unlikely heroes may be ambling to the rescue.  Dairy cows are being recruited to provide sustainable manure-derived methane biogas to power homes in New York State.  Along with other alternative energies, renewable methane could reduce the demand for natural gas, and forestall the potential danger to water supplies posed by unsafe natural gas drilling operations.

The statewide methane biogas project was kick-started this fall at New York State’s Dairy Power Summit.  The initial goal is somewhat modest: by 2020, the state’s dairy farmers hope to produce enough methane to power about 32,000 homes.  The real punch is in the involvement of future thinking GE Energy with other innovative dairy industry partners in the effort, which promises to transform the humble dairy farm into the central feature of hundreds of bioenergy communities across the state and elsewhere in the U.S.

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Green christmas trees

Green christmas trees
What type of Christmas tree is more environmentally friendly, fake or fir? What about some other alternatives?

Visit the original post at: Green living tips

Public Electric Car Trials in UK West Midlands Begins with 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs

i-MiEVs for the CABLED trials. Click to enlarge.

The first stage of a Government-supported UK-wide project to trial electric and ultra low emission vehicles began Saturday in the West Midlands with the keys to 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) (earlier post) being handed over to independent drivers. The project, managed by the CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrators) consortium, is worth £15 million (US$24 million) and will trial 110 vehicles on the roads of Birmingham and Coventry.

UK-wide, 340 vehicles are being tested using funding from the Technology Strategy Board. (Earlier post.) As well as being the largest, CABLED is the first consortium to begin vehicle trials and has recently gained further public backing thanks to £2.5 million (US$4 million) funding awarded by Advantage West Midlands (one of nine Regional Development Agencies in the UK).

i-MiEV Quick Specs
  • 300V, 16 kWh Li-ion pack
  • 47 kW/180N·m max motor
  • Single-speed reduction gear transmission
  • Power consumption (10-15 cycle) = 125 Wh/km
  • Range (10-15 cycle) = 160 km (99 mi)
  • 200V, 15A charge = 7 hours
  • 200V, 3-phase (50 kW) charge = 30 min. for 80%
  • The CABLED consortium was confirmed in June as one of eight successful teams in the £25 million Technology Strategy Board Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrator Competition. The consortium brings together the expertise of 13 West Midlands-based organizations within the engineering, automotive manufacturing, academic, public and infrastructure sectors, and is led by global engineering consultancy Arup.

    Less than 1% of the vehicles registered every year in the UK are electric and most of these are currently used in London. We think that by 2020, low carbon cars will be commercially viable, and it’s important that we start to understand the public’s reaction and provide the necessary infrastructure to prepare for this.

    Today’s launch is a landmark occasion for the UK automotive industry, and this project will begin to examine the points where the vehicles meet the built environment—energy generation, battery charging and driver behavior. This is an important first step on our roads to a low-carbon future.

    —Neil Butcher, Arup’s project leader of the CABLED consortium

    Drivers selected for the trials of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and 85 other vehicles in the Midlands trials were chosen through an application process led by Coventry University. The other five manufacturers that will roll out vehicles in 2010, include:

    • smart ed (40 battery electric cars)
    • Tata Indica (25 electric cars)
    • Microcab (10 hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles)
    • Land Rover Range_e (5 plug in hybrid vehicles)
    • LTI (5 electric taxis)

    All six automakers contributing vehicles are members of the CABLED consortium. Electricity providers E.ON are delivering charging points for the trial with assistance from the city councils of Birmingham and Coventry.

    Three of the Midland’s leading universities play a major role in the scheme with Coventry University undertaking the selection process of drivers, Aston University analysing vehicle usage data and the University of Birmingham contributing access and expertise gained from its hydrogen fuelling station, which is currently one of the very few of its kind in UK. A new hydrogen station is planned for Coventry University.

    The West Midlands has the largest of the UK’s regional automotive clusters, delivering 28% of output in the UK. It represents just more than 1,500 companies, employs around 115,000 people and generates an annual turnover of £13 billion (US$21 billion).

    Visit the original post at: Transportation News

    Researchers Synthesize Tin Oxide Nanosheets with High Lithium Storage Capacity and Cyclability

    (a) SEM image and (b) TEM image of the as-prepared SnO2
    nanosheets. Source: Wang et al./ACS. Click to enlarge.

    A team of researchers from Zhejiang University (China) and the Austrian Academy of Sciences has successfully synthesized a new SnO2 nanoarchitecture: extremely thin sheets, with minimum thicknesses of 1.5-3.0 nm. The assemblies of these sheets have a high BET surface area of 180.3 m2/g and extraordinarily large pore volume of 1.028 cm3/g.

    The sheets exhibit a high lithium storage capacity and excellent cyclability due to the nanometer-sized frame and breathable characteristic, making them a promising candidate for a higher capacity lithium-ion anode material. A paper on their work appeared online 9 December in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

    With a high theoretical gravimetric lithium storage capacity of 782 mAh g-1—more than twice that of the currently commercialized graphite (372 mAh g-1)—and low potential of lithium ion intercalation, SnO2 is regarded as a promising anode material for lithium-ion batteries.

    Tin oxides, however, can suffer from severe capacity loss, first due to a formation of electrochemically inactive Li2O during the first few cycles and then due to pulverization stemming from drastic volume changes.

    To enhance the cyclability of the electrode, hybridizing SnO2 with carbon is effective, but this approach sacrifices the capacity itself due to the introduction of carbon and is usually complicated in fabrication. It is suggested
    that if single SnO2 was used as an active material, it should be in
    a nanometer-sized frame to shorten the pathway lengths of the lithium ion and should possess interior hollow spaces to accommodate large volume change. Herein, we report highly porous SnO2 nanometer-sized sheets synthesized from a hydrothermal reaction.

    —Wang et al.

    Performance tests of the material as a lithium-ion anode material found that it exhibited a high discharge capacity of 559 mAh g-1 after 20 cycles with the retention of 57%. The Coulombic efficiency kept steadily at more than 95%.

    Recently, Park et al. reported a SnO2/graphene hybridization, which also exhibited enhanced cyclic performance. The introduction of graphene plays
    dual roles; i.e., it increases the electrode conductivity and acts as
    a buffer layer to contain stresses induced by volume change. In
    comparison, the charge capacity of SnO2/graphene remains ~593
    mAh g-1 after 20 cycles which is slightly higher than our results of
    559 mAh/g. Nevertheless, considering we applied a wider cutoff
    window and larger constant current which are prone to create
    relatively harsher destruction and resistance of the electrode, the
    material reported here is very attractive due to its facile, economical,
    and high purity synthesis. Its performance via hybridization will
    be further studied.

    —Wang et al.


    • Cen Wang, Yun Zhou, Mingyuan Ge, Xiaobin Xu, Zaoli Zhang and J. Z. Jiang (2009) Large-Scale Synthesis of SnO2 Nanosheets with High Lithium Storage Capacity. J. Am. Chem. Soc., Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/ja909321d

    Visit the original post at: Transportation News

    Former Chrysler Execs Join Board of Extended Range Electric Vehicle Conversion Company ALTe

    Tom LaSorda, former Chrysler Group President and CEO, and Steven Landry, former Chrysler EVP of North American Sales and Marketing and Global Service and Parts have joined the Board of Directors of ALTe LLC, the Michigan-based engineering and technology company developing a Range Extended Electric Vehicle (REEV) powertrain

    system for vehicle conversions. (Earlier post.)

    ALTe’a electric drive system, designed to replace a base V-8 internal combustion engine powertrain, improves fuel economy from 80% to 200%. The system’s “plug-and-play” modularity enables the powertrain to expand or contract depending on the vehicle type, and can be applied to vehicles using any type of fuel.

    ALTe’s initial focus is on vehicles of light-to-medium duty fleets (such as taxis), which will obtain the greatest benefit of converting older, out-of-warranty vehicles from gasoline-powered engines to the REEV powertrain platform.

    LaSorda joined the ALTe Board as ALTe’s Lead Director and investor. Landry joined the board to assist in dealer and business development for ALTe.

    When I reviewed the business plan and conducted the due diligence personally it was obvious ALTe had tremendous potential. The idea of converting existing vehicles that had very low fuel economy with Range Extended Electric Powertrains is an advanced idea especially considering the patents that come with it. Based on this I made a personal investment in ALTe and further backed up my support by joining the Board as lead director. We will dedicate the time to help make this a big success.

    —Tom LaSorda

    ALTe aggregates battery chemistry, electronic modules and engine controls to convert normal internal combustion powertrain systems to range extended electric, without the fixed cost burden of manufacturing. This ultimately reduces emissions and operating costs for fleet vehicle users. When I sat with the ALTe team, it felt like the perfect but unique timing of having the right people, process and technology come together to provide a product that is increasing in demand.

    —Steven Landry

    Visit the original post at: Transportation News

    Russias Irkut Selects PW Geared Turbofan for MC-21 Aircraft; Third Airframe Application for New Engine

    Russia’s Irkut Corporation has selected the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan PurePower PW1000G engine (earlier post) to power the Irkut MC-21 aircraft. The selection represents the third airframe application win for the PurePower engine, which provides customers a significant reduction in fuel burn and noise with lower environmental emissions and operating costs than today’s engines. Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp.

    The Irkut MC-21 is a family of 150 to 210 passenger aircraft with first flight planned for 2014 and entry into service in 2016.

    The MC-21 program will allow Pratt & Whitney an opportunity to extend its PW1000G engine models to the 30,000 pound thrust class. (The current range for the two announced applications is 14-17K and 17-23K.) In addition, Pratt & Whitney will contract with Irkut and with Russia’s United Engine-Building Corporation (UEC) on the PW1000G engine for the MC-21 application.

    Cross-section of the PW1000G Geared Turbofan. Inset shows the gear system. Click to enlarge.

    The PurePower PW1000G engine features an advanced gear system that allows the engine’s fan to operate at a slower, optimum speed while freeing the low-pressure compressor and turbine to operate at their optimized higher speed, increasing engine efficiency and delivering significantly lower fuel consumption, emissions and noise.

    In addition, the engine incorporates advances in aerodynamics, lightweight materials and other major technology improvements in the high-pressure spool, low-pressure turbine, combustor, controls, engine health monitoring and more. The combination of the gear system and all-new advanced core delivers double-digit (approximately 12%) improvements in fuel efficiency and environmental emissions and a 50% reduction in noise as well as reduced maintenance costs.

    With core testing scheduled to continue through January 2010 and full engine testing planned for summer 2010, the PurePower engine program supports the Irkut MC-21 development timeline.

    Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has selected the PurePower PW1000G engine as the exclusive power for the next-generation Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ). The PurePower PW1000G engine has also been named as the sole propulsion system for the Bombardier CSeries mainline aircraft.

    Visit the original post at: Transportation News

    Pew: US Public Has Incorrect Perception of Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

    An overwhelming number of scientists (84%) say the earth is warming because of human activity, while just 4% of scientists say there is no solid evidence the earth is warming. Yet only 56% of Americans say that scientists agree that global warming is real and man-made, according to Pew Research survey data.

    Although only 11% of the American public see no evidence the earth is warming, only 49% attribute the warming they see to human activity; the other 36% ascribe it to natural causes, according to Pew Research data. The public’s perception of where the scientific community stands on climate change is tied to their own opinions on the issue, according to Pew.

    In a July Pew Research survey, about half the public (49%) said human activity is creating global warming. (An October Pew Research survey found far fewer Americans seeing solid evidence that humans are causing global warming.) Among this group, three-quarters (76%) said that scientists have reached a consensus on climate change and its cause. Among the 36% of Americans who said global warming is real but due to natural causes just 41% said there was a scientific consensus on the issue. And among those who said there is no evidence of climate change (11% of the public) a strong majority (68%) said there is no agreement among scientists on global warming.

    About one-in-five global warming skeptics (22%) say there is scientific agreement that human activity is causing climate change.

    Visit the original post at: Transportation News

    New EPA Rules Further Reduce HCFCs to Protect Ozone Layer

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced two final rules that will further reduce the availability and use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are primarily used as refrigerants and harm the ozone layer.

    A diminished ozone layer allows more radiation to reach the Earth’s surface, leading to serious health effects, such as skin cancer, cataracts, and weakened immune systems.

    The first rule prohibits the use of specific HCFCs to manufacture new air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment beginning in 2010, while allowing limited HCFC use to service existing equipment.

    The second rule prohibits the sale, distribution, and import of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances and their components containing certain HCFCs that are manufactured or imported after 1 January 2010.

    The rulemakings protect the ozone layer by decreasing the availability of these compounds as well as the demand for newly-produced equipment containing HCFCs. These rules advance US compliance under the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.


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    TVMOB hate speech shocker: Lord Monckton repeats and expands on his charge that those who embrace climate science are “Hitler youth” and fascists.

    Lord Monckton, 2The long-time anti-science disinformer and self-parody, The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, has now moved far beyond the mainstream, beyond even Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

    First, TVMOB was caught on tape calling activists who crashed a polluter-funded anti-science global warming event in Copenhagen “Hitler Youth.” You know you’ve left the mainstream when even “One of the most notorious climate change denial groups is Americans for Prosperity (AFP),” a pro-tobacco group, anti-climate, anti-clean-energy group “which is largely funded by fossil-fuel industry interests,” immediately runs away from your language.  Phil Kerpen, the policy director of Americans for Prosperity, distanced himself from Monckton’s comments as fast as he could — writing on Twitter, “DO NOT approve.”

    But TVMOB has now posted on the Science & Public Policy Institute website where he is Chief Policy Adviser a piece filled with unbridled hate speech:

    He calls America’s top climatologist, NASA’s James Hansen, “a fully-paid-up member of the new regime,” who has “one of the unfailing hallmarks of Nazism and Fascism everywhere.”  And he says far worse things about the younger climate science activists in Copenhagen fighting to preserve a livable climate for billions around the planet — their generation and subsequent ones.

    I can’t bring myself to quote any more of this shockingly inappropriate piece than the title:

    Hitler Youth in Denmark – again

    It’s one thing to blurt out something in temperate in the heat of the moment, or in a private e-mail for that matter, but to proudly embrace and expand upon extremist hate speech after taking time to think and reconsider one’s words, well, that is unconscionable.

    Monckton should be condemned widely for this, including by the anti-science websites who regularly reprint his work, like WattsUpWithThat.

    He should be condemned by the Congressional conservatives who embraced him and have had him testify, like Barton who said (see Rep. Barton: Climate change is ‘natural,’ humans should just ‘get shade’ — invites ‘expert’ TVMOB (!) to testify):

    “I especially want to thank Lord Monckton for testifying. He is generally acknowledged as one of the most knowledgeable, if not the most knowledgeable, expert from a skeptical point of view on this issue of climate change. I’m very glad he could stay over this week in the United States and testify at the hearing.”

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    Visit the original post at: Environment News

    Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a Global Marketplace
    The Wallace Center, a program at Winrock International, has just released a compelling report on the business of local food. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in A Global Marketplace is a global survey on the economic, social, and environmental impact of local [...]

    Visit the original post at: Environment News

    Select Committee Staff Analysis debunks stolen climate email myths

    “Global warming has been proven real beyond any reasonable doubt,” said Chairman Markey. “Unless, of course, that last remaining doubt is completely manufactured by the defenders of the fossil fuel status quo. That is the case with these stolen climate emails.”

    That is from a news release on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming website.

    A new analysis debunks two of the principal myths generated by the manufactured scandal surrounding stolen climate science emails from the University of East Anglia. The staff analysis, written by the majority staff to Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, explains how two of the key phrases used by climate deniers to trumpet their views have previously been explained in publicly-available, peer-reviewed scientific literature.

    One email has received the lion’s share of the attention, written by Phil Jones of UEA to several other climate scientists, where he refers to using a “trick” to “hide the decline.”

    Critics have alleged that these references indicated a conscious attempt to alter data. In fact the two phrases refer to two distinct issues that were openly discussed in the peer-reviewed scientific literature of the time and are readily available now.

    The “trick” was not a trick at all, but rather a technique to combine direct thermometer readings with non-thermometer data, in this case from tree rings, to complete a full picture of temperature history. The technique was openly discussed in a 1998 Nature journal article authored by Michael Mann. The staff report explains the methodology used by the scientists in detail.

    “When witnesses aren’t available, crime scene investigators reconstruct events from other information,” said Chairman Markey. “The Earth’s ‘CSI’s,’ our climate science investigators — and in total there are thousands of them — are doing the same thing by reconstructing past temperatures when there were no thermometers. And now that we are in the middle of exacting a crime against nature through climate change, the manufactured doubt machine is trying to sully a tiny piece of the mountainous evidence.”

    The second phrase in question — “hide the decline” — refers to a challenge with the use of anomalous tree-ring data, mostly from Siberian forests, after 1960—and the need to use direct measurements to supplement. In another 1998 article in Nature, Dr. Keith Briffa and his co-authors clearly state that their tree ring data set cannot be used to reconstruct temperatures after 1960. In fact, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes the challenges with the data set.

    “This responsible, public scientific discussion was not an attempt to hide anything, or trick anyone. In fact, it happened in plain sight,” said Chairman Markey.

    CLICK HERE to read the Select Committee Staff Analysis

    Related Post:

    Visit the original post at: Environment News

    Study: Potent Warming Gases Being Underestimated

    During the discussion of greenhouse gas emissions, the gas most often discussed is carbon dioxide. While scientists pinpoint carbon dioxide as the main contributor to global warming, there are gases which are much more potent in our atmosphere. These potent gases, however, are said to only be approximately one percent of global warming.

    However, scientists are now debating whether or not these conclusions are accurate. The data suggesting one percent was collected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Researchers in the United States, including Ray Weiss from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, have determined that this figure is substantially low.

    According to the researchers, the data being used to determine the contribution to global warming is inaccurate. In many cases, the level of various potent gases are five times greater than reported by some companies and even countries. Weiss stated: “When we compare what’s reported with what we see in the atmosphere, it’s easy to see discrepancies.”

    Some of the gases in question are hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), carbon tetra fluoride (CF4) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). CF4 exists in the atmosphere for at least 50,000 years, making the impact extremely long-lasting. CF4 is created by the manufacturing of aluminum and electronics.

    SF6 is also used in the electrical industry. SF6 actually has a 23,000 times greater impact on global warming than does carbon dioxide. However, it is at much lower levels than carbon dioxide. Although according to Weiss and other researchers, the true impact on global warming today by these gases is thus far unknown.

    The complete research was presented at the UN climate convention currently occurring in Copenhagen.

    Visit the original post at: Environment News

    Owning the Weather

    Owning the Weather

    Owning the Weather

    The following is a guest post by Hillary Berkowitz of 4th Row Films about “Owning the Weather,” which is being screened in Copenhagen, tomorrow, Sunday the 13th.

    The desire to modify the weather has been around forever; but with the threat of catastrophic climate change, water wars, and intensifying hurricanes, a new breed of weather control has emerged.

    OWNING THE WEATHER tells the story of weather modification in the United States, from Charles Hatfield’s infamous rainmaking days to modern plans to engineer the climate.

    There are more than fifty active weather modification programs in the United States alone. Through the eyes of key individuals on the front lines of a crucial but largely unknown debate, the film introduces the cloud seeders struggling for mainstream recognition, the “legitimate” scientists who doubt them, and the activists who decry any attempts to mess with Mother Nature.

    Will the scientific renegades in the weather modification community ever shed the label of “snake-oil salesman”?  Will they succeed in securing government funding for the first time in decades?  What does it mean to our society if there are no more “Acts of God”?

    The film premiered in April 2009 at the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, had a length festival run and will now be available on cable Video-on-Demand, iTunes, Amazon VOD and a host of other places beginning on December 6th, 2009

    Recently the film received the great honor of being asked to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP15) taking place this December in Copenhagen, Denmark.  COP15 will draw leaders and renowned scientists from all over the world to discuss the most pressing environmental issues of our time.

    To coincide with this historic conference, the city of Copenhagen is organizing a series of cultural programs and events.  They have invited OWNING THE WEATHER to screen on Sunday, December 13, to an audience of hundreds near City Hall Square.  In addition, a panel discussion about climate change and geoengineering will follow the screening, featuring some of the more notable scientists and thinkers in the field. Being a part of the annual mega-meeting about global environmental issues will be a real highlight for the film, especially considering the fact that only seven films were invited.

    Using this international forum, we hope to start a real debate about one of the most controversial scientific and ethical dilemmas of the new millennium.  We’ve always wanted to control the weather.  Now we might have to.

    Visit the original post at: Environment News

    2C or not 2C

    2C or not 2C

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