Posts Tagged ‘energy’
Here’s a new twist on “gumming up the works:” regarding the safety issues confronting lithium ion batteries, maybe some gum them will help.
Washington State University researchers have developed a chewing gum-like battery material that could dramatically improve the safety of lithium ion batteries.
The WSU group, led by Katie Zhong, Westinghouse Distinguished Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, recently reported on their work in the journal, Advanced Energy Materials. They have filed a patent on the substance. Read the rest of this entry »
Maersk Line, the world’s largest container ship operator, is building a fleet of the world’s largest container vessels—in a deal that includes 10 firm orders and another 20 on option for a total potential cost of $5.7 billion—to transport freight in the Asia-Europe trade.
The Danish company is calling these mega-ships—each capable of carrying the equivalent of 18,000 twenty-foot containers—the Triple-E. Maersk says that is for economy of scale, energy efficiency and environmentally improved.
The latter item is a major marketing point, especially for shippers with sustainability and environmental commitments for their products and supply chains. Maersk contends that the ships will bring significant environmental improvements in terms of reduced emissions to the shipping table. Think of it as a more is less approach. The company claims the vessels will produce “the lowest possible amount of CO2 emissions — an astonishing 50 percent less CO2 per container moved than the industry average on the Asia–Europe trade.” Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s my offering for Blog Action Day:
There’s All Nippon Airways’ bizarre initiative urging passengers to visit the terminal restroom and “lighten the load” before boarding their planes. These pre-flight emissions apparently will help reduce fuel and carbon emissions, according to a recent report in the UK’s Daily Mail.
Seriously, the Japanese airline says lighter passengers mean lighter aircraft, which means less fuel consumption. It has a kind of Fox News logic to it maybe, but then … never mind.
Nippon hopes the one-month trial, which started Oct. 1, will reduce carbon emissions by five tons in 30 days. It might be interesting to delve into how ANA came up with that number and the science and measurement techniques used, but then… never mind.
It’s just another dumb thing that passengers are subjected to the minute we enter the airport. I know – let’s require all passengers to disrobe entirely before boarding and carry-on a maximum of 10 pounds of stuff and no baggage. (That would also make going through security much more fun and a breeze, so to speak.)
How about requiring that we go on a diet and lose at least five pounds before every flight? That would lighten the load considerably and contribute to the general health of the populace.
Then once aboard, instead of pretzels during the flight airlines could serve beans because after all, they need the gas.
Continuing evidence that Europe is advancing more rapidly than other regions on the environmental front: It is the largest waste-to-energy plants market in the world, with well-developed infrastructure and more than 429 such incinerator facilities, according the London research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
A new analysis from Frost, European Waste to Energy Plants Market, also finds that this market earned revenue of 3.1 billion euros ($4.4 billion) last year.
The European Union’s push to shift away from landfills through its Landfill Directive “has indirectly helped the waste-to-energy business,” the report says. It has resulted in the planning and commissioning of many waste-to-energy plants over the last five years.
“The most important driver for the waste-to-energy plants market in Europe has been the Landfill Directive and its waste diversion targets,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Associate Karthikeyan Ravikumar, who wrote the analysis. “This has resulted in the diversion of waste from landfills to waste-to-energy plants.”
But in spite of the growth potential that this market offers, the number of players involved “is quite restricted,” Ravikumar says.
For one thing, delays in obtaining environmental and other permits have restrained the growth of the market. This is due in part at least to the high level of technical expertise required, especially in the design phase of the plant.
Also pricing, references, finance, local knowledge and the ability to offer complete turnkey solutions “have been other key features that separate the key players from the rest.”
“The process of obtaining an environmental permit for the construction of a waste to energy plant is quite tedious and a substantial amount of time is spent on it,” says Ravikumar. “The delay affects the price of raw materials and, thereby, the overall revenues.”
The recession and the resulting decline in investment in this business will influence the prospects for market expansion, and is also affecting plants currently in the planning stage and looking for financing.
France and Germany have the largest number of waste-to-energy plants. Those plants have facilitated the effective treatment of waste diverted from landfills, enabling these countries to reach landfill diversion targets.
In addition to the Landfill Directive, the growing demand for power, paralleled by volatile oil prices, has made waste to energy plants a viable alternative for the disposal of waste, the F&L report says.
It’s also a highly competitive business that has seen players come and go and extensive consolidation since 2002.
A major development on that front was the emergence of the Austrian Energy & Environment Group as the dominant waste-to-energy participant through acquisitions in 2003, 2005 and 2007, including the Swiss-based Vo Roll Inova, Alstrom’s industrial boilers and plants division in Germany and the Czech Republic, and the German plant engineering company Lenties.
Mergers and acquisitions have decreased the number of players involved in the waste-to-energy plants market and have led to market consolidation. F&L found that the top three operators control about 71 percent of the market.
That high level of consolidation indicates a mature market and the likelihood of even further market concentration among the major players.
An unidentified Unilever spokesperson says the company has no plans to develop to ambient or room temperature ice cream.
It’s possible that the glare of publicity about this caused the company to back off, or maybe the timing isn’t right. Perhaps it wants to mislead the competition. Anyway it’s an interesting development.
Chances are you’re an ice cream fan and perhaps you consider yourself an expert on the subject. But did you know that the huge multinational corporation Unilever is the world’s largest ice cream producer?
It makes most of the world’s favorite ice cream brands. Brands like Klondike, Good Humor, Breyers and Popsicle. Even Ben & Jerry’s resides in the Unilever stable.
So when its company scientists poetically pursue the concept of warm ice cream as a way to address global warming, we should pay attnetion because dessert could suddenly become more guilt-free on several levels for everyone, especially environemntally speaking. They are developing a low-carbon product that would be sold at room temperature and then frozen at home.
It’s not clear how far along they are with this, but it seems like an excellent idea, one that would take the added cost of storing, handling and shipping ice cream in its traditional frozen state out of the equation at the manufacturer’s end of the supply chain. If it’s produced, sold and shipped at room temperature then some costly and energy-intensive factors, including CO2 emissions, will melt away.
Warm, or ambient, ice cream is an idea that seems ready for prime time but it poses a rocky road for Unilever researchers worrying about the correct product “microstructure” that enables the consumer’s dish of Rocky Road to be, well, the same delicious dish of Rocky Road they have come to expect.
A research program to minimize the environmental impact of company products is underway in Unilever laboratories, aided by researchers at Great Britain’s Cambridge University.
“We have to look at a really radical solution,” says Gavin Neath, Unilever’s senior vice-president for sustainability.
Meanwhile Unilever is trying to reduce emissions resulting from its massive ice cream operations by improving the energy efficiency of its factories in Gloucester, Heppenheim in Germany, Caivano in Italy and Saint-Dizier in France.
It is upgrading two million refrigerators that it supplies to retailers in 40 countries. The company for several years has been shifting to “climate-friendly” refrigerators that use propane rather than hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, which are a powerful greenhouse gas. The shift to propane as a refrigerant began in 2004. Propane is a hydrocarbon, or natural gas that does not harm the ozone layer and has a low global warming potential, according to the company.
Hydrocarbon refrigerators are also more energy efficient, using up to 15 percent less energy compared to other models. Neath says that to date about 400,000 refrigerators have been replaced with the propane-powered units.
While health care reform stalls and environmental initiatives struggle to take a firm hold, at least the vital ice cream supply chain could have an eco-friendly future.
The transformation to a globally green and sustainable mindset eventually will happen if enough small steps are taken.
With that perspective in mind the agreement between United States and China to establish a jointly owned clean energy research center fits, or let’s hope so. The agreement between the planet’s two most prolific polluters involves an investment of only $30 million, but maybe it’s a precursor of more to come.
Under the memorandum of understanding signed recently by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science Wan Gang, and Administrator of National Energy Administration Zhang Guo Bao, each nation will contribute $15 million to set up the research facility, which will have headquarter sites in each country.
According to the DOE the center will “facilitate joint research and development on clean energy by teams of scientists and engineers from the U.S. and China, as well as serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country.” The “priority topics” will initially include energy efficiency, clean-coal including carbon capture and storage, and clean vehicles.
“Working together, we can accomplish more than acting alone,” Chu said.
Facility locations haven’t been determined. The department says the objective is for initial operations to begin by year-end.
A fact sheet distributed by DOE says collaboration “on science and technology (S&T) has long been a cornerstone of overall U.S.-China cooperation.” The first agreement between the two countries after relations were normalized in 1979 was on S&T cooperation.
DOE currently manages 12 agreements with China under that S&T framework on a variety of energy, sciences and technologies including: building and industrial energy efficiency, clean vehicles, renewable energy, nuclear energy and science, and biological and environmental research.
Opportunities abound for U.S.-China cooperation on clean-energy technologies. It makes sense, and maybe eventually cents, to start somewhere.
In the world of diplomacy just getting to this point qualifies as significant. But in the real-world climate-change battle the follow-through is what we should watch, and especially whether the research center is sidetrtacked by the ‘clean-coal’ delusion.
As long as we still have to use rubber on the road to propel our gasoline-powered vehicles – likely for a long time – we should try to make the process as efficient as possible from the ground up.
Cooper Tire and Rubber Company last week rolled out a new line of low-resistance, fuel-saving tires, the Cooper GFE.
The GFE stands for Greater Fuel Efficiency and the company says it is available now at tire dealerships nationwide.
It is Cooper’s first tire to focus on lower rolling resistance by using “advanced design and materials technology to maximize fuel economy.” This will save money at the pump, the company maintains, while providing “excellent” tread wear and traction.
It is designed as an all-season touring tire and is offered in eight sizes that are targeted for fuel-efficient vehicles. The line also includes popular broadline sizes. The GFE will fit Toyota’s Hybrid Prius, Corolla, Yaris and Echo; key Honda fitments include the Hybrid Civic and Fit.
The size range also covers “several vehicles” from GM, Ford, Chrysler and Nissan, the Findlay, OH-based Cooper says.
The tire showcases the Cooper Energy Return Technology, a new tread stock that features a “unique silica technology married with a specialized polymer to provide very low-rolling resistance, while maintaining outstanding wet grip and long tread life,” the company says.
It also features a new mold technology that uses traction compensating sipes that actually increase in length as the tire wears. The interlocking action of the sipes helps provide more stable handling when the tire is new, and adds length to the biting edges throughout the life of the tire, Cooper says.
Cooper says the all-season design employs a computer-enhanced, sound-quality system that “optimizes the tread pattern to produce a quiet ride.”
The GFE features a 60,000-mile tread wear protection warranty, is covered under Copper’s standard warranty and includes a free 45-day road test.
But the price to pick up a set was not disclosed.
Believe it or not, about one-half of U.S. employees who use a personal computer at work don’t shut down their computers at day’s end, wasting nearly $3 billion every year powering 108 million unused PCs.
This is according to the 2009 PC Energy Report, commissioned by 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy. The study, done by Harris Interactive says that a company with 10,000 PCs could save more than $165,000 a year in energy costs by powering down their computers each night.
In the U.S. that tab comes to $1.7 billion and about 15 million tons of CO2 emissions.
Data collected between September and October 2008 revealed that more than one-third of employees in the U.K. (38 percent), 32 percent of U.S. employees and 17 percent of German employees who use a PC at work said they either have no idea what power scheme settings are, or how to change the power settings on their PCs.
We’ve probably all worked for companies – you know who you are – that as a matter of policy don’t want employers to turn off their PCs or workstation units.
Hasn’t anyone heard of the hibernate function?