green and sustainable business

Posts Tagged ‘energy

WSU researchers sticking it to lithium batteries

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Battery+ZhongHere’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 »


Written by William DiBenedetto

3 March, 2014 at 7:00 am

Save big bucks: close Hanford Nuclear Plant

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CGS_NRCGovRatepayers in Washington State could save $1.7 billion over 17 years if the Columbia Generating Station (CGS) nuclear power plant at Hanford is closed.

A recent 212-page economic analysis from McCullough Research of Portland, OR notes that the CGS on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is the only nuclear facility that was actually completed out of the five plants begun there during the long and tangled history of Hanford. In addition, it contains a General Electric boiling water reactor that’s similar to those that were destroyed during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

17 January, 2014 at 4:00 am

Maersk Triple-E Ships Get “E’s” for Effort, Expense and Extravagance

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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 »

Written by William DiBenedetto

3 March, 2011 at 2:09 am

Eco-rate for the new energy economy

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eco_houseIt’s a Consumer Reports-type comparison shopping service for the eco-set.

Eco-rate is labor of environmental love and activism founded by a Seattle couple, Brycelaine Self and Colby Self.

“The Eco-rate idea is to allow people to compare common household products, based not only on their green attributes, but also on their affordability,” says Brycelaine Self, co-founder of Eco-rate and principal of a related green building, green marketing and energy consulting company, Eco-innovations.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

3 November, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Lighten the load, save the planet

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ANAHere’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.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

15 October, 2009 at 11:47 am

Europe leads the way on waste-to-energy plants

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energy_from_wasteContinuing 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.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

2 September, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Unilever works on ambient ice cream? Maybe not

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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.

Written by William DiBenedetto

28 August, 2009 at 9:37 am

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