By Harry Babad, © Copyrigght 2010, All right Reserved. 

——— The most interesting & eclectic of what I read.

Introduction

Read about my paradigms views, prejudices and snarky attitudes at:

https://mhreviews.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/the-greening-continues-a-column-intro-may-23-2010/

Paraphrasing: The Paradigm I’ve Live By, a quote from Dr. Isaac Asimov writer, thinker and scientist. 

  • “I believe in evidence.
  • I believe in observation, in measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers.
  • I’ll believe any thing, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.

Let me reemphasize on more bias. Research does not create sustainable jobs despite politician claims, neither does piloting (scale-up testing} of new technology. Going commercial, without subsidies, and making a profit does. More customers, the more jobs, and making a profit for their creators are the only sustainable path.

Remember, governments have an almost perfect record of picking failure relative to commercialization and new technology based job creation. It does and should support R&T, Scaleup efforts and guaranties for capital-intensive projects and the higher cost/risk to keep the NIMBY wolves eating projects by legal tactics in the courts. Alternatively, if the messiah comes soon, let the challengers and their lawyers pay the undiscounted out of pockets costs for any delays they cause.

Since my tid-bits are only a partial look at the original article, click on through the provided link if you want more details, as well as <often> other references on the same topic(s).

Doc.

Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Order, The New Snippets

  • The Greener Energy World Has a New Class of Refuseniks — The UltraNIMBY
  • The Water Costs of Fossil Fuel Production
  • The Return of the Automotive Steam Engine
  • New Zealand Sheep Farmers Harvest Carbon Credits — Growing trees can be more profitable than raising sheep
  • Gulf Oil Disaster: Looking Beyond the Spill, Obama Highlights Long-Term Restoration
  • Climate Change: Critics Are Far Less Prominent Than Supporters /// US National Academy of Sciences Clears Climatologists of Wrong Doing.
  • Nuclear Micro-reactors Could Supply Jobs, Energy to South Dakota
  • Algae Might Be a Viable Source of Clean, Renewable Diesel Fuel
  • Which Senators Refuse to Let Coal Ash Be Regulated as Hazardous Waste?

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The Greener Energy World Has a New Class of Refuseniks — The UltraNIMBY

“For the past 25 years, virtually anyone who opposed the construction of some kind of major energy facility, such as an oil or gas storage tank, electrical transmission line, power plant, or wind farm in his or her area has been labeled, derisively, as a “NIMBY,” an acronym standing for “Not In My Back Yard.”

I do in principal agree with Glenn Scheede that “it’s time to shed light on the NIMBY issue, identify provable NIMBYs associated fears, and challenge those who use the epithet in an attempt to avoid dealing with real, substantive issues raised by energy projects. Those fears – concerns, as described by their author, are found later in this article.

“Citizens have long been concerned about adverse health, safety, noise, environmental, and ecological impacts of energy and other facilities located near them, including projects that impair scenic, property, and other values they consider important. Federal, state and local governments have enacted a variety of measures to protect private property rights and to limit adverse impacts extending beyond property lines. Governments have also exercised powers of eminent domain to permit construction of facilities that government authorities believe have public benefits that should override private property rights.

“Objections to the location of energy facilities is not a phenomenon that begins with people living in rural areas or those who wish to protect scenic areas or the value of privately owned property. Instead, objections to the location of energy facilities really begin with people living in urban and suburban (“metropolitan”) areas and organizations located in those areas.

“People and organizations in these areas account for a majority of the nation’s energy demand. These people and organizations want the convenience of having reliable energy supplies — electricity, gas or oil — immediately available for their homes, offices, shopping centers, and cars.

“However, they don’t want storage tanks, electric generating units (whether powered by coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear energy, or wind) located anywhere near their homes and offices or impairing their parks or scenic areas or impairing their views or life styles. Also, they want the pipelines and electric transmission and distribution lines needed to bring the energy to their homes and offices to be as nearly invisible as possible – preferably buried underground.”

However I also believe many of those whose hue and cry stop energy related projects are fueled by either misinformation, selfish self interests and/or at time the dupes of the circulation seeking media and vested interest naysayers. On a case-by case basis, just keep reading and dissecting the protests against energy projects, and see who gains at general societies loss. Then make up your own mind

I also strongly believe that in a democratic society, the common good must prevail, and that those who cause delay or actually stop well conceived, technically defensible and commercial viable energy project need to be forced to pay the piper for cost they cause to be run up.

“So, while they want the convenience of immediately available energy, they also want any adverse environmental, health or safety impacts kept away and out of their sight! They insist that adverse impacts associated with the facilities should be borne by someone else — as far away as possible.

“For example —

  • People in California object to power plants in their area, but are quite willing to import electricity generated in Utah or Arizona using coal or nuclear energy. They also want oil and gasoline for their vehicles (even from insecure or hostile nations!) and natural gas for generating plants but do not want any production from oil and gas reserves located off California’s coast.
  • People in the New York City metropolitan area demand electricity but also want necessary generating plants and transmission lines that serve their needs to be built in upstate or western New York – or even in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia or West Virginia.
  • People in New England want adequate and reliable electricity but prefer that it be generated elsewhere, perhaps in Canada, and moved to them over long transmission lines.
  • Political leaders are eager to override citizen and local government opposition to electric generating plants, wind farms, and transmission lines but would be aghast if a 400+ foot wind turbine with blades covering an area larger than the length and wingspan of a 747 aircraft was placed on the front lawn of a capitol building or executive mansion in Washington DC or a state capital, or if a transmission line with 125 foot towers were to be placed near their private residences.”

How should people who object to energy or other facilities respond when developers or others seek to dismiss their objections by labeling them “NIMBYs”? Glenn Scheede suggest the following five steps to factually substantiate you claims and concerns.

  • First, learn the details of the proposed project and its true costs and benefits, both for the owner, the area, and the nation.
  • Second, those objecting to a proposed facility should have a sound, substantive case for objecting to the facility.
  • Third, identify and understand the motives of those promoting construction of the facility, particularly those people using the “NIMBY” label in a derisive way.
  • Fourth, those who are labeled “NIMBYs” should not be embarrassed and should not “back off” when they are pressured.
  • Fifth, citizens should not be intimidated by government pronouncements concerning the energy technologies and facilities that should be constructed.

The article concludes with the question — What should be done about necessary energy facilities < emphasis added>?

“Are some of these facilities clearly necessary and in the national and public interest? Certainly they are, but that doesn’t diminish the critical questions: (a) where should they be located, (b) who should bear the adverse environmental, scenic and property value impacts, and the health and safety risks, (c) how should those who are adversely affected be compensated, (d) should eminent domain laws be changed to give greater protection and/or compensation to those adversely affected, (e) how should people in rural areas be protected, particularly if they are not protected by zoning laws, and/or they have inadequate political representation because legislatures are dominated by representatives from urban areas?

Alternatives should be evaluated. Perhaps, more facilities such as electric generating plants should be located near or IN the heart of metropolitan areas that are being served so that long transmission lines with attendant losses of electricity are not needed. Many cities have blighted areas that could be restored with properly constructed generating plants – perhaps not as large as those plants would be if located at a distance, but still large enough to supply a significant amount of electricity for people in the urban area.” Read further to find out about a nuclear alternative that proposes the use of micro scale nuclear reactors so you can get only the amount of power you want/need at lower cost and risk.

There’s more detail in Glenn’s fine analysis – please check out the link and read on!

I found this article written by Glenn R. Schleede, and posted on March 2, 2009 by accident. This one speaks for itself. Although the UltraNIMBY, as an individual or grouped in protest may have valid reasons for their concern, they must prove them and let the review process determine whether their individual good, out weight that of their regional neighbors, the country and the world.

I have in this and other articles and books shared how things like nuclearphobia or radiophobia cause cost in siting and building a nuclear energy generation plant to be 3 to 5 time that in other no-less safety conscious countries. How many of our children will die of small pox, once eradicated, because of fears, which are scientifically demonstrated and peer supported, of unproven dangers of vaccination?

http://www.nimbyexperts.com/uploads/1/7/3/9/1739724/schleede-ultranimby.pdf

“Schleede is semi-retired after spending more than 35 years dealing with energy related matters in the federal government and private sector. He writes frequently about wind and other energy issues, particularly government policies that have adverse impacts on taxpayers and consumers.”

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The Water Costs of Fossil Fuel Production

— Burning Water: A Comparative Analysis of the Energy Return on Water Invested

A short tidbit… In comparing competing sources of energy, many recent analyses have focused on relative conversion efficiencies and associated greenhouse gas emissions. However, other potentially limiting factors also contribute to the value of a given approach. Based on the prediction that fresh water will become one of the most limited resources in the future, Mulder et al. [http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1007/s13280-009-0003-x] estimated the energy return on fresh water input (for production and processing) across a range of energy technologies.

Mulder and the team found “while various energy-producing technologies have been analyzed to assess the amount of energy returned per unit of energy invested, this type of comprehensive and comparative approach has rarely been applied to other potentially limiting inputs such as water, land, and time. We assess the connection between water and energy production and conduct a comparative analysis for estimating the energy return on water invested (EROWI) for several renewable and non-renewable energy technologies using various Life Cycle Analyses. Our results suggest that the most water-efficient, fossil-based technologies have an EROWI one to two orders of magnitude greater than the most water-efficient biomass technologies, implying that the development of biomass energy technologies in scale sufficient to be a significant source of energy may produce or exacerbate water shortages around the globe and be limited by the availability of fresh water.”

One of the more striking outcomes of the analysis is that the most efficient petroleum-based energy source (diesel fuel) yields over two orders of magnitude more energy per volume of fresh water used than does biomass. Such a vast difference in return on water invested suggests that policies striving to replace fossil fuels with biomass resources—their many other appealing characteristics notwithstanding—may exacerbate the increased burden on a global fresh water supply already stressed from the higher agricultural demands of a more populated world (though feedstock shifts may relieve some of this pressure). Solar and wind technologies show potential advantages in this context. — NW

By Nicholas S. Wigginton, Science Magazine VOL 327,        26 MARCH 2010

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/327/5973/1555-a.pdf

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The Return of the Automotive Steam Engine?

Startup Cyclone Power thinks it has a way to replace internal combustion engines.

The gasoline-powered, internal combustion engine dominated transportation during the 20th century, but during the early years of the automobile it wasn’t obvious that it would beat out two alternatives: batteries and steam

The Cyclone Engine is a Rankine Cycle heat regenerative external combustion, otherwise known as a “Schoell Cycle” engine. In short, the Cyclone is a 21st century, high efficiency, compact and powerful steam engine.  It is capable of running on virtually any fuel (or combination of fuels) including today’s promising new bio fuels, while emitting far fewer pollutants than traditional gas or diesel powered internal combustion engines. To date, Cyclone has over 1,000 hours of running and testing our engines, has achieved verified thermal efficiencies above 30%, and is very close to putting the first of these engine models into small-scale commercial production.

The movement to cut carbon emissions and petroleum consumption has of course renewed interest in electric vehicles. But there’s also an effort to revive the steam engine.

Today I got a letter (speaking of antiquated technologies) from the president of the Steam Automobile Club of America, Tom Kimmel, directing my attention to Cyclone Power Technologies, a startup based in Pompano Beach, FL. A few days ago, the company demonstrated its new steam engine, which generates 100 horsepower. The company has also posted some videos of the engine here. It can run on just about any source of heat: the sun, wood pellets, biofuels, diesel, or waste heat from other engines. Basically anything that can be used to produce a head of steam. The first application would be generating power from waste heat, the company says, but the engine could also be used to power vehicles.

Kimmel writes that steam engines can run directly on biomass, without the need to convert it into biofuels, with the energy losses that this entails. But there’s a reason why liquid fuels beat out the alternatives before–they store more energy. It’s hard to imagine this being a real alternative–outside of some nice applications. Anyone think otherwise?

In reading the feedback on this hard science based blog, I was again made aware of how both uninformed and scientifically unknowledgeable most readers are about even simple scientific concepts. Many of the feedback items noted that water can’t burn and therefore the idea was absurd. Of course water can’t burn and obviously it contains NO carbon…duh! , But any carbon based fuel from pelletized wood to the oil from MacDonald’s potato fryers makes a great source of energy of a boiler converting water to steam with less energy overall need to concert it to a biodiesel. No I’m not going to hang a list references to life cycle costs for the conversion of used oil to biodiesel for burning in an internal combustion engine.  Perhaps burning such ‘waste’ efficiently in a diesel engine, to burning that fuel directly in a modern steam engine to run the boiler.

Google it your self to get the input pieces and do the calculation for yourself. But just maybe as ‘dancrisso’ noted in the blog feedback, steam engines can do away with gearboxes. It is a great idea to work on steam engines and find a way to power generators & cars. We can perhaps directly convert all combustible our waste and reduce consumption of imported oil. [Emphasis provided by doc.] Ah the sweet <???> smell of success.

Another set of feedback to Kevin Bull’s blog stated, “Steam is a significant source of CO2. Water vapor of any kind produces a lot of carbon dioxide. Oceans, for instance, are the number one cause of CO2 emissions. Goodness knows, if we were trying to cut back on CO2, steam would be counter- productive. We should be more like Mars- though desolate, it has halted its CO2 production by drying up all its water and consolidating all its carbon dioxide in the form of dry ice at its polar caps. Have you seen any steam cars on Mars? No, because they know its bad for the environment. It would take a page or two to point out the incorrect assumptions in this puppy — you count the ways.

Information for the rebuttal argument can be found at: [http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Bi-Ca/Carbon-Dioxide-in-the-Ocean-and-Atmosphere.html], or in the Wikipedia Articles on Carbon Dioxide

By Kevin Bullis

Technology Review, December 15, 2009

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/energy/24534/

Will Your Next Car Be Steam Powered? RideLust  Blog,
http://www.ridelust.com/will-your-next-car-be-steam-powered/

Cyclone Power Web Site See a video and read bout how the engine works  — http://www.cyclonepower.com/index.html

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New Zealand Sheep Farmers Harvest Carbon CreditsGrowing trees can be more profitable than raising sheep

…Is this another potential case of unintended consequences related to short-term gains tied to long-term losses?

In New Zealand, where the sheep outnumber humans 9 to 1 and National Lamb Day is celebrated every Feb. 15, a carbon emission trading system that kicked off in July is upending the economics of sheep farming, a once crucial sector of the economy. Sheep farmers are walking away from the business of selling wool and lamb chops and are converting their grazing lands into tree farms that could prove valuable when the country’s agricultural sector is forced to pay for greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2015.

Home to alpine glaciers, massive mountain ranges, and rolling green farmland, New Zealand would seem the last place on earth with a greenhouse gas problem. (The country actually ranks 51st in such emissions with only 0.2 percent of the world total, according to the U.N.) Yet sheep and other livestock do have carbon foot (or hoof) prints. Sheep emit methane when they belch and nitrous oxide through their waste.

Prime Minister John Key’s government in Wellington has said a carbon trading regime probably won’t have a big impact on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, yet will boost the country’s green credentials and clout in global climate talks. The government’s carbon program is also a welcome opportunity for some sheep farmers, struggling against slumping wool prices, drought, and competition for land from the dairy and lumber industries, to diversify, says Neil Walker, a forester in the Taranaki region of New Zealand’s North Island.

Farmers who convert their land from sheep grazing to planting trees could add $172 per acre in value each year to their land holdings, says David Evison, a senior lecturer at the University of Canterbury’s New Zealand School of Forestry. Forests planted for carbon credits may increase to 74,000 acres, or about 0.27 percent of all pasture and grass land a year, compared with about 8,650 acres in 2009, the government estimates. “It turns forestry into a cash-flow business,” says Evison.

Some New Zealanders aren’t convinced carbon farming is a wise move. Communities that rely on the farm economy are losing jobs once held by shearers, mechanics, and veterinarians. Farmers may not understand the risks involved in forestry, says Don Nicolson, president of Federated Farmers of New Zealand. And while the loss of sheep farms is likely permanent, the carbon-trading program may only be temporary, and its benefits illusory, Nicolson says.

Nicolson estimates carbon forests could replace 20 percent, or 2,800, sheep and beef farms and put the economy in danger. He says farmers are being sold on carbon trading without understanding that they could lose trees to fire or disease or that the government might cancel the program at any time. “The trouble is, it comes with massive risk, and that’s not what’s being talked about,” says Nicolson.

The bottom line: New Zealand sheep farmers are converting pastureland to forests, driven by a carbon-trading plan whose benefits some doubt.

By Stuart Biggs, Bloomberg Businessweek, August 26, 2010

http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/10_36/b4193027868842.htm

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Gulf Oil Disaster: Looking Beyond the Spill, Obama Highlights Long-Term Restoration

As disastrous as the oil spill has been, the Deepwater Horizon tragedy is just the latest affliction for wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico. For decades this productive coastline has been sliced apart by navigation channels and chewed through by invasive rodents. Worse, engineering of the Mississippi River has starved the delta of the sediment needed to keep it above sea level. All told, nearly 6000 square kilometers of wetlands have disappeared underwater in the past 100 years. Even though about $1.2 billion has been committed over the past 2 decades by the state of Louisiana and the federal government, efforts to restore the ecosystem are dwarfed by the scope of the problem.

 

Tough choices. Louisiana’s coastal plan includes a proposal (left), recommended by scientists, to divert river water and maximize new land. Another concept (right) would disrupt fisheries less and better protect downstream infrastructure.

All told, nearly 6000 square kilometers of wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico have disappeared underwater in the past 100 years. Even though more than $2 billion has been committed over the past 2 decades by the state of Louisiana and the federal government, efforts to restore the ecosystem are dwarfed by the scope of the problem. But now advocates have hopes for new momentum. In a primetime speech about the oil spill, President Barack Obama last week called for long-term restoration and put the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, who was governor of Mississippi from 1988 to 1992, in charge of developing a plan.

By Erik Stokstad, Science 25 June 2010: 
 Vol. 328. No. 5986, pp. 1618 – 1619

Full story at http://www.info-aaas.org/l.jsp?d=5148.573996.654.4vN0mfC5_

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Climate Change: Critics Are Far Less Prominent Than Supporters

A new analysis of 1372 climate scientists who have participated in major climate science reviews or taken public positions on their main conclusions confirms what many researchers have said for years: Those who believe in anthropogenic climate change rank, on average, much higher in the scientific pecking order than do those who take issue with the idea.

The co-authors examined lists of scientists who have signed statements in support or opposition to the main findings over the years of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, namely that the planet is warming and humans are largely responsible. They categorized the scientists as either “convinced” or “unconvinced” and then analyzed how many papers involving climate they had published. “Unconvinced” scientists comprised only 2% of the top 50 researchers ranked by number of climate publications and 3% of the top 100. Among scientists with 20 or more papers on climate, the so-called convinced group had an average of 172 citations for their top paper compared with 105 for the unconvinced.

But the paper, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, faces several criticisms. The first is that the grouping of researchers into “unconvinced” and “convinced” fails to capture the nuances of scientific views on the subject. That makes the paper a “pathological politicization of climate science,” says Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado, Boulder. Pielke also objects to applying the “unconvinced” label to anyone who signed a paper opposing immediate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. “So you are a ‘climate skeptic’ if you have a certain view on climate policy?” he asks. “Bizarre.”

Critics say the results reflect the cliquishness or biases inherent in peer-reviewed science. “We are being “black-listed,” as best I can tell, by our colleagues,” says John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, who was in the “unconvinced” group.

On a generally similar climate studies related subject, a pat of the infamous email blame game, US Panel(s) Faults IPCC Leadership But Praises Its Conclusions.

The world’s most authoritative climate science bodies, the U. S. National Academies of Science and Engineering, noted that based on it’s studies and has performed well enough so far, says a new independent review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This is also supported by scores of individual papers in recent months have confirmed the bottom line of the IPCC assessments: The world is warming due to release of greenhouse gases from human activities, and the emerging consequences are severe.

But the report, from a panel convened by a coalition of national science academies, says the increased public scrutiny IPCC is facing and the growing importance of its work means that it must do better than that.

“Overall, IPCC’s assessment process has been a success and served society well,” says Harold Shapiro, president emeritus of Princeton University and head of the review carried out by the Inter-Academy Council (IAC). But “it’s not as agile and responsive as it needs to be,” the report says.

Both by Eli Kintisch, Science 25 June 2010: 
 Vol. 328. No. 5986, p. 1622 http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/328/5986/1622-b?sa_campaign=Email/sntw/25-June-2010/10.1126/science.328.5986.1622-b

Also:

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/329/5996/1135?sa_campaign=Email/sntw/3-September-2010/10.1126/science.329.5996.1135

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Nuclear micro-reactors could supply jobs, energy to South Dakota — An Op-Ed Piece

A new generation of small, low-cost nuclear plants soon might be producing climate-friendly energy. Known as micro-reactors, they could be built at factories in the United States for a fraction of the cost of conventional nuclear plants.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently said that micro-reactors could be licensed, built and generating electricity by 2020. Some utilities might prefer micro-reactors instead of a large nuclear plant. Others might see a need for both.

Artist’s Rendering — Toshiba 4S Reactor Design Hyperion Power Generation’s Mini Nuclear Reactor

If micro-reactors no larger than semitrailers can be deployed within a decade, a significant reduction in global greenhouse-gas emissions could occur. Small modular reactors capable of producing 45 megawatts to 140 megawatts of electricity could be manufactured quickly at a factory and transported by rail or barge to a nuclear site for one-tenth the cost of 1,200-megawatt designs being planned. Utilities could use them to replace coal-fired power plants that face future restrictions and penalties for carbon.

The article continues with (1) discussions of barriers to introducing micro reactors, (2) general descriptions of such reactors, (3) Potential benefits to South Dakota by using this form of nuclear power generation, and finally described the industrial players who are leading the micro reactor efforts.

Most micro-reactor designs are simplified versions of large reactors, requiring fewer pumps, valves and moving parts but using the same conventional light water technology. But unlike traditional plants, micro-reactors would be small enough to be located underground for added safety.  Moreover, many micro-reactors are being designed to refuel every five years instead of every 18 to 24 months as nuclear plants are today. Since they also could either be cooled by water or air, there is no need to locate them near lakes, rivers or the ocean. States in the arid West and the semi-arid Great Plains might find this appealing.

I agree, but with the proviso that the licensed reactors be installed and refueled in a mode that protects them from proliferation risks and potential terrorist attacks. — Doc.

Robert McTaggart • September 1, 2010, The Aurgus Leader Website (Sioux Falls)

http://www.argusleader.com/article/20100901/VOICES05/9010317/1052/OPINION01 {Robert McTaggart, 41, of Brookings is associate professor of physics at South Dakota State University.}

More Reading

Micro Nuclear Reactor and references/links therein, Wikipedia – 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_nuclear_reactor

Mini Nuclear Plants to Power 20,000 Homes, by John Vidal and Nick Rosen, The Observer (UK, Sunday 9 November 2008 http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/09/miniature-nuclear-reactors-los-alamos

Traveling Wave Reactors, Wikipedia, 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling_wave_reactor

Traveling-Wave Reactor, Technology Review, March/April 2009 http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22114/

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Algae Might Be a Source of Clean, Renewable Diesel Fuel

“At the beginning we’d tell people, ‘I know this sounds crazy,’” says Bryan Willson, a Colorado State University engineer and cofounder of Solix Biofuels.

When researchers conceived of turning algae into diesel fuel three decades ago, the idea sounded like something out of the old sci-fi movie Soylent Green. But in July, ExxonMobil teamed up with biologist Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics to take algaebiofuel to the marketplace. ExxonMobil has invested $600 million to design better strains of algae and to convert them into fuel. Meanwhile, several start-up companies—including Aurora Biofuels and Solix Biofuels —have built pilot plants that prove it is possible to brew algae-derived diesel fuel in large quantities. “At the beginning we’d tell people, ‘I know this sounds crazy,’” says Bryan Willson, a Colorado State University engineer and cofounder of Solix Biofuels. “But with the Exxon Mobil investment, algae is entering the mainstream.”

Traditional biofuel crops such as soybeans yield 50 to 150 gallons of fuel per planted acre per year, but Solix’s facility near Durango, Colorado, is producing more than 2,000. The centerpiece is a sealed growth chamber, or photo-bioreactor, made from a clear polymer to let sunlight through; inside is a strain of algae selected for its high rate of oil production. (Closed reactors are less susceptible to contamination by out side algae than are open-pond systems.) After the algae are harvested, their oils are extracted and refined into renewable diesel. Besides sunlight, the algae require little more than carbon dioxide from nearby power plants, so operating expenses should be low.

Willson predicts his company’s algae fuel (and its co-products, which are to be sold for animal feed) will be cost-competitive with petroleum diesel within five years. “It represents a large-scale solution to a global problem,” he says.

Doc Sez, this area is becoming more interesting as a possible achievable technology since it has move d from laboratory, to pilot plant and soon to scaled up further. At that point we’ll, as will ExxonMobil, whether the whole effort will be cost effective. An issue I’d like to learn more abut is how such a product will be distributed into the normal fuel (e.g., gas station, heating oil supply chain) and whether it is will need to be dispensed separately or can be mixed with petroleum diesel fuel.

This is an area worth following closely, but always being reminded that diesel, like any alternative fuel such as biodiesel, must be compatible with the existing distribution-user devices systems chain or will need to sustain the costs of modifying it in a cost effective manner. I’ve not had the time to check out the general chemistry of such algal oils to see how they compare with the hydrocarbons used in diesel engines. Feedback of course is welcome.

By Elizabeth Svoboda, Discover Magazine, January-February 2010 Special Issue; http://discovermagazine.com/2010/jan-feb/37

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Which Senators Refuse to Let Coal Ash Be Regulated as Hazardous Waste?

— Despite numerous studies on the potential health risks of using coal ash in products many members of the public are exposed to daily.

We know that the EPA {was?} is considering classifying coal ash as hazardous waste, and we’ve heard that the process is a bit lacking in transparency. The EPA wrote initially “maintaining a [nonhazardous] approach would not be protective of human and the environment.” Now, here’s at least one clue into what’s holding the EPA back on taking the leap to recognizing coal ash, the waste produced at coal-fired power plants, as hazardous waste.

First, 31 members of the House energy committee, nine of them Democrat and 22 Republican, sent a letter to the EPA denouncing such a classification. Fine, mostly Republicans and all members on the energy committee — to be expected. But Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, both Democrats, sent a separate letter (coauthored by Sam Brownback—definitely not a Democrat) to the EPA pressing the agency to continue to treat coal ash as a non-hazardous material. . Read more from the Center for Public Integrity.

From their letter, which Conrad posted online and which the Center for Public Integrity points out echoes “almost word for word the utility industry’s letters to the EPA opposing its coal ash waste plan”: “Regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste is simply not warranted. Doing so would fly in the face of years of research and force unworkable requirements on our state’s utilities, resulting in serious economic consequences.”

The letter also says, “Federal policies should encourage greater recycling of CCRs by facilities that use coal,” despite numerous stories from around the country illustrating the potential health risks of using coal ash (CCR is “coal combustion residue”), which contains and leaches toxic metals like arsenic, in products that people use in their daily lives, including roofing shingles, fertilizers, even kitchen countertops. It is also used in highway de-icing and can be mixed into resurfacing compounds.

By Rachel Cernansky, Green Planet.com Blog, Aug 16, 2010

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/work-connect/which-senators-refuse-coal-ash-regulated-hazardous-waste.html/ Also See —the Center for Public Integrity web site.

http://www.publicintegrity.org/blog/entry/2299/

References

EPA Proposed Rule: RIN – 2050-AE81; Hazardous And Solid Waste Management System; Identification And Listing Of Special Wastes; Disposal Of Coal Combustion Residuals From Electric Utilities

http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/industrial/special/fossil/ccr-rule/ccr-rule-prop.pdf

Opens Public Comment Period on Coal Ash. What Happens If It’s Not Regulated as Hazardous Waste? By Rachel Cernansky, Green Planet.com, Jun 30, 2010

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/travel-outdoors/epa-opens-public-comment-period-coal-ash-what-happens-if-not-regulated-hazardous-waste.html

EPA Backed Off ‘Hazardous’ Label for Coal Ash After White House Review

By PATRICK REIS (of Greenwire) to the New York Times Published: May 7, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/05/07/07greenwire-epa-backed-off-hazardous-label-for-coal-ash-af-10431.html

As an aside I wonder whether is rulemaking will move to the same inaction that in the past lead to classify radioactive coal clinkers (furnace bottoms) as non-regulated from a radwaste perspective while treating less highly radio- active nuclear waste materials as if one exposure, however slight will possibly cause you cancer.  Yes I know I’m mixing cats and dogs here, but it’s my column. In addition, I have no idea how well ground water regulation pertain to such burned coal bottom hills which are also loaded with toxic materials.

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ATTRIBUTIONS

Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles listed in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledge and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

Sources & Credits: — Many of these items were found by way of the links in the newsletter NewsBridge of ‘articles of interest’ to the national labs library technical and regulatory agency users. NewsBridge is electronically published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, in Richland WA.  If using NewsBridge as a starting point, I follow the provided link to the source of the information and edit its content (mostly by shortening the details) for information for our readers. I also both follow any contained links, where appropriate, in the actual article, and provide you those references as well as those gleaned from a short trip to Google-land. Obviously if my source is a magazine or blog that the material I work with.

In addition, when duplicating materials that I cite, I do not fill the duplicated material with quotation marks, the only place I keep quotes intact is where the original article ‘quotes’ another source.  Remember, when Doc sticks his two bits in, its in italics and usually indented.

AFTER THOUGHTS

I’ll continue posting articles for attract your interest and at times anger you in the next few months. I never respond to flaming, but will take time to provide evidence in the form of both primary technical and secondary {magazine articles} references for those who ask. However, most of you can reach out and Google such information for your selves.

Thanks for Reading – Feedback is welcome.

Readers Please Note — Many of the technologies I share still have to prove that they are reliable, durable, scalable, and make an unsubsidized profit for their investors, including the taxpayer.

If you Google new technologies in detail, you will find studies saying they are capable of being commercialized and often, as many studies that are skeptical — Beware, think out of the box, and search for unintended consequences.

What I now know, and truly hold to be true about energy and climate change — For green energy related items, if we put a simple price (tax) on carbon (greenhouse gases), these new technologies would have a better chance to blossom. With American ingenuity, thousands more ideas would come out of innovators’ garages. America still has the best innovation culture in the world. But we need better policies to nurture it, better infrastructure to enable it and more open doors to bring others here to try it.

…Remember, conditions, both technical and geopolitical continuously change – So if you’ve made up your mind about either the best way to go, or about things {climate change} are all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequence. However, facing that possibility is better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember, that “G_d Does Not Play Dice With the Universe” (Einstein) – and mankind is far from perfect. Remember, there’s no free lunch — as a taxpayer and consumer you must always end up paying the piper. The most recent example is corn based ethanol… for which you twice {as noted above} both as a taxpayer and as a driver.

May your world get greener and all creatures on G_d’s green Earth become healthier and more able to fulfill their destinies
in this Gaia’s world.

Harry, aka doc_Babad

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Previous Greening Columns

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Comments
  1. MikeB says:

    There is a new ultra NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) in town – gas execs who don’t want hydraulic fracturing wells near their homes, but near someone else’s home.

    I have begun to ask gas execs whether they have such gas operations on their own property, near their home. So far, I haven’t had any affirmative replies, but I continue to contact gas companies and industry associations.

    After all, computer, auto, and soft drink executives take their products home for their families to enjoy. If the hydraulic fracturing process is as benign as the gas industry claims — why not live the dream on your own property? Show it off with pride. Build solidarity with property owners by demonstrating leadership by example.

    It is time to shine a light on the new ultra NIMBY gas execs. For more information, refer to this Spectra Energy

    Or here: http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/?p=720

    • I am concerned that the commenter mistook the intent of this article. Where a person lives is irrelevant to the question of whether there is demonstrable evidence that completing the project would cause undesirable environmental consequences. If there is a solid evidence of risk, and a good science, technology design and operations control basis can assure that those who would be exposed to the risks, will indeed be safeguarded so be it. I believe that the courts use a beyond a reasonable doubt legal standard to determine to enjoin such a NIMBY challenged project.

      This standard is difficult for concerned citizens to recognize because our teaching of science and math is below that of some third world countries, and we’re not making much progress toward general science literacy..

      See: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2009/analysis/

      As an example, over 10% of Americans still believe the earth is flat, the moon landings were a Hollywood fake, and that you can get AIDS from a toilet seat.

      Alternatively, if any substantive peer study supported degree of uncertainty exists, [e.g., a potential release of noxious materials in amounts that are normally not accepted by our society even though they meet current regulatory requirements.] Then they must be compensated for the POTENTIAL of being exposed to them. This reflects the past practices of locating under designed hazardous facilities in poor neighborhood, environmental discrimination. If folks like the respondent to my NIMBY article doesn’t want facilities near their homes of business, then they must bear the direct costs of their actions, work out added protection or at last resort accept compensation.

      This has, is and likely always be a part of a trade-off between individual good and that of societies needs. I also strongly believe that in a democratic society, the common good must prevail, and that those who cause delay or actually stop well conceived, technically defensible, environmentally sound and commercially viable energy project need to be forced to pay the piper for costs they cause to be run up.

      My advice to those who object to a project – A person’s beliefs don’t count; science, albeit wrong at times inexact, is not a belief system. It is based on measurable demonstrated facts,

      Do your homework before you mouth off in court. Unfortunately, the amount of ‘proof’ and technical analysis in the cited website [http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/?p=720] is entirely based on emotion appeal, makes for headline for the media, not evidence for a court or peer review group to consider. The question why, is not ever answered in considerable traceable evidentiary detail.

      Doc.

      PS: There is no relations ship between magnitude possible environmental risk (toxic gas releases or water pollution) compared to {taking home} computer, auto, and soft drink production take their products home for their families to enjoy. The comparison is apples and oranges and has nothing to do with production or manufacturing risk.

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