Posts Tagged ‘Harry {doc} Babad’

By Harry {doc} Babad,  © Copyright 2011, All rights Reserved.

Introduction

Note, many of the technologies I share are in various stage of first, development, and are often far from being a commercial success. Their inventors and supporters still have to prove that they are reliable, durable and scalable, Remember There Ain’t No free Lunch and silver bullets too often turn to lead.

When and if you Google them in depth, you will find studies saying they are capable of being commercialized and often as many other studies that are more skeptical because there is no easy way to for them into our systems.

I always, as 75 year old cynic, find it appropriate, to step back as I read and WIIFT – No it’s not something new to smoke; just the compulsion to ask what’s in it for them. It’s okay to have a hidden agenda, but agenda’s too hidden discomfort me. In addition, most have no relationship to solving the problem that is being bragged about.

I know, perhaps even truly believe, that for green energy related items, if we put a simple price (tax) on carbon (greenhouse gases) and gave out no subsidies, these new technologies would have a better chance to blossom. With American ingenuity, Indian and Chinese too, 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 control climate or its effects, or about that your sure its all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. By the way, I do agree, it’s all a conspiracy — Gaia and the Good Lord!

Stay tuned; today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequence. However, that’s better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember TAMIFLU; there’s no free lunch; as a taxpayer and consumer you must and will always end up paying the piper!

Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Order, for the New Snippets and Topics

  • China Reportedly Plans Strict Goals to Save Energy —The Yin and Yang of US and Chinese Energy Polices.
  • Solar Energy Faces Tests On Greenness — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
  • Energy Payoffs —In search of Radical Solutions by Vinod Khosla
  • Are You Ready for More Baaad Weather? —In a world of climate change, freak storms are the new normal. Why we’re unprepared for the harrowing future.
  • Solid-State Batteries – The Power Of The Printing Press.

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China Reportedly Plans Strict Goals to Save Energy

The Yin and Yang of US and Chinese Energy Polices.

Inertia, one of the few serious limitations of our Western Democratic systems, let’s hope it does kill us all.

 

As the title of this topic and the reference contain therein implies:

  1. The Chinese believe there is a global warming problem
  2. The governments realized that hurting their people lead to Social Unrest
  3. Smoggy cities, drastic unexpected and larger than predictable weather patterns, durations and incidents. Then there’s the increase of temperature/humidity related diseases we’ve begun to document in both the government and it’s policies for a Greater China at risk.

So, according to this article and others I’ve studied they are willing to put their resources where the mouths and platitudes of western politicians now are. You know the three wise monkeys.

HONG KONG — With oil prices at their highest level in more than two years because of unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, the Chinese government plans to announce strict five-year goals for energy conservation in the next two weeks, China energy specialists said Friday.

Beijing’s emphasis on saving energy reflects concerns about national security and the effects of high fuel costs on inflation, China’s export competitiveness and the country’s pollution problems.

Any energy policy moves by Beijing hold global implications, given that China is the world’s biggest consumer of energy and largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And even the new efficiency goals assume that China’s overall energy consumption will grow, to meet the needs of the nation’s 1.3 billion people and its rapidly expanding economy.

As a net importer of oil, China tends to view its energy needs as a matter of national security. And so, even as Beijing tries to quell any signs of the Arab world’s social unrest striking a political chord with Chinese citizens, the government is also intent on not letting similar upheaval impinge on its energy needs.

Although, China, as part of the new five-year plan, has placed a big bet on renewable energy, emerging as the world’s biggest and lowest-cost manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels. But the country remains heavily reliant on coal and nuclear for its electricity. And its oil imports are surging after auto sales have surpassed the American market in each of the last two years.

An important feature of the five-year plan is its call to double the share of natural gas in Chinese energy consumption, to 8 percent in 2015 from 4 percent last year, according to Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the multilateral International Energy Agency in Paris. This will make China a natural buyer of large quantities of Russian gas, making it a competitor to Europe, which already relies heavily on gas from Russia.

The goals in China’s new five-year plan are consistent with the International Energy Agency’s “new policies” plan for climate change, a middle course that represents an improvement from current policies, Mr. Birol said. But he noted that the Chinese goals did not go far enough to meet what the agency considers necessary to prevent world temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius, an increase that many scientists fear as potentially leading to very broad environmental changes.

There’s more, promoting electric cars, building 20 new state of the art Generation III+ nuclear reactors, localizing local energy use by setting enforceable consumption and pollution targets. Click though and read the rest of the details.

Keith Bradsher Article References and Notes

Article by Keith Bradsher for the New York Times, Published: March 4, 2011

How does China’s 12th Five-Year Plan address energy and the environment? By the World Resources Institute, 7 Mar 2011.

China’s Five-year Plan & Renewable Energy – A Detailed Explanation, by DeBlock Consulting Ltd, March 2011.

While China Cuts Energy Waste, the U.S. Just Wastes, Posted by Bryan Walsh for Time Magazine, March 4, 2011.

As a Serious Sidebar – for the Chinese, Nuclear Power is both renewable and environmentally protective.

Nuclear Plans in China, the Japanese accident hasn’t stopped the planning and building, and taken a time out for doing enhanced safety analysis factoring in the lessons being learned from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. “When compared with the 11th Five-year Plan, the 12th Five-year Plan will continue the fast paced development stage; It is estimated that between 2011 and 2015 the rate of increase in China’s installed nuclear capacity will be over 30%, from 2010 levels of 10.8GW to 43GW in 2015. Third generation AP1000 nuclear technology will be an important direction in China’s nuclear development. Currently second generation CPR1000 technology is the most common among completed nuclear projects and nuclear projects under construction, but in planned nuclear projects the third generation AP1000 technology is used much more than CPR1000. Geographical development of nuclear projects will build on the fast paced development in coastal regions such as Liaoning, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian and gradually move into central regions such as Jiangxi, Hunan and Anhui, forming the “central/eastern nuclear belt”.

Nuclear power in the People’s Republic of China, Wikipedia 2011.

Nuclear Power in China, World Nuclear Association, June 2011.

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 Solar Energy Faces Tests and Challenges on Greenness

— It’s a total life cycle cost thing and crossing all the “t’s” and dotting the “I’s” thing, as I’ve been preaching

KISS Me Once, Kiss Me Twice And Kiss Me Once Again:

  • Fragile Desert Environment adversely affected by large plant footprint.
  • Unsubstantiated and waving of the hand environmental documentation
  • Unsubsidized production costs, even without life cycle costs included, are uncompetitive in most areas
  • Grid Connection and maintenance costs are not reliably factored into the baseline costs
  • Inadequate analyses of the costs of pollution control from toxic conditions and chemicals used for photovoltaic solar cell manufacture; not a factor when assessing solar thermal generation.
  • Unusable for base load production, without major breakthrough, so far under costed, for storage when the sun is not shining.

What follows is an excepts from the latest report by folks assessing the total cost of solar photo voltaic energy as a green alternative to nuclear, off shore other coastal based wind power, and perhaps appropriate located geothermal power generation.

SAN FRANCISCO — Just weeks after regulators approved the last of nine multibillion-dollar solar thermal power plants to be built in the Southern California desert, a storm of lawsuits and the resurgence of an older solar technology are clouding the future of the nascent industry.

The litigation, which seeks to block construction of five of the solar thermal projects, underscores the growing risks of building large-scale renewable energy plants in environmentally delicate areas. On Jan. 25, for instance, Solar Millennium withdrew its 16-month-old license application for a 250-megawatt solar station called Ridgecrest, citing regulators’ concerns over the project’s impact on the Mohave ground squirrel.

At peak output, the five licensed solar thermal projects being challenged would power more than two million homes, create thousands of construction jobs and help the state meet aggressive renewable energy mandates. The projects are backed by California’s biggest utilities, top state officials and the Obama administration.  But conservation, labor and American Indian groups are challenging the projects on environmental grounds. The lawsuits, coupled with a broad plunge in prices for energy from competing power sources, threaten the ability of developers to secure expiring federal loan guarantees and private financing to establish the projects. Only one developer so far, BrightSource Energy, has obtained a loan guarantee and begun construction.

Like so many of this state’s troubles, the industry’s problems are rooted in real estate. However, it grew much broader when apparent flaws in both environmental analyses, a potential for actual public fraud, and lots of what the kind at heart would call misrepresentation of liabilities and gains. This makes an interesting read. When added to the references I’ve listed below make a compelling statement of narrow vision, based on gluttons’ visions of a full trough at the public expense. …And there’s also, all the knock on your door solar home system sales people.

After all we know the courts will decide, but regular readers know my opinions of courts and juries to get science related issue right. Again I plead for a science literacy tests, say the ones they use Europe and Asia for 8th grade students, for all who would serve as juries in science and engineering court cases. That should include the judges too, but I’m being too utopian.

By Todd Woody, for the New York Times, Published: February 23, 2011.

References

Pros And Cons Of Solar Energy, Clean Energy Ideas Blog, Undated.

Environmentalists Weigh Solar Power’s Pros, Cons, SolarPower.Org Blog, Posted June 2, 2006.

Solar Power: The Pros and Cons of Solar Power, About.Com Blog, By Larry West, About.com Guide, 2011.

Solar Power, <and> Solar Energy, “Wikipedia”, 2011 – two articles.

The Solar Power Scam, by Brian Schwarz and Thomas Lifson for the “American Thinker” <a conservative blog>, April 19, 2011.

10-Year Sentence In Solar Energy Scam, “The Healdsburg Patch blog”, May 3, 2100.

Are We Really Going To Let Ourselves Be Duped Into This Solar Panel Rip-Off? By

George Monbiot for the Guardian.co.uk, March 1, 2010

Solar Power Scams, “Energy Matters” an Australian Renewable Energy News Blog, March 26, 2009.

How to Detect a Solar Scam – Here’s a deal for you! “Solar Kismet”, March 2007.

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Energy Payoffs

In search of Radical Solutions by Vinod Khosla, Venture Capitalist

Unusual for me, I’m just providing this topic as a reference link and ultra short SciAm synopsis, enjoy. It was published in Scientific American in January 2011, and due to their access restrictions, the full article may be hard to access outside of a library. But the abstract posted a link is well worth reading.

In Brief,

Radical innovation, not incremental improvement, is needed to make dean, efficient energy technologies that can compete, unsubsidized, in big markets.

Mainstream technologies such as air conditioning and automobile engines may be the best targets for breakthroughs that change the energy game.

More people with  Ph.D.’s in technical disciplines are needed to create true breakthroughs.

Students are beginning to flock to these areas. A low-carbon-electricity standard, not renewable energy standards or cap and trade would most encourage cleaner technologies, including for fossil fuels.

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Are You Ready for More Baaad Weather?

—In a world of climate change, freak storms are the new normal. Why we’re unprepared for the harrowing future.

Not only did I find the article detailed and factual, I was also amazed by the amount of Ostrich Heads in the Sand Flaming it produced. It matters not whether this is global warming, or just out turn in the weather cycle, the damage is real and the incidence of more aggressive and destructive weather incidents, worldwide is increasing. We’ve tow choices. The first is to rescue those victimized by bad weather until governments run out of money. Alternative, start slowing and globally to take a chance that climate change theory is good, if incomplete science, caused by green house gasses and other aggressive environmental damage caused by man (e.g., deforestation) and start to do something about it.

 An Excerpt

Joplin, Mo., was prepared. The tornado warning system gave residents 24 minutes’ notice that a twister was bearing down on them. Doctors and nurses at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, who had practiced tornado drills for years, moved fast, getting patients away from windows, closing blinds, and activating emergency generators. And yet more than 130 people died in Joplin, including four people at St. John’s, where the tornado sucked up the roof and left the building in ruins, like much of the shattered city.

Even those who deny the existence of global climate change are having trouble dismissing the evidence of the last year. In the U.S. alone, nearly 1,000 tornadoes have ripped across the heartland, killing more than 500 people and inflicting $9 billion in damage. The Midwest suffered the wettest April in 116 years, forcing the Mississippi to flood thousands of square miles, even as drought-plagued Texas suffered the driest month in a century. Worldwide, the litany of weather’s extremes has reached biblical proportions. The 2010 heat wave in Russia killed an estimated 15,000 people. Floods in Australia and Pakistan killed 2,000 and left large swaths of each country under water. A months-long drought in China has devastated millions of acres of farmland. And the temperature keeps rising: 2010 was the hottest year on earth since weather records began.

From these and other extreme-weather events, one lesson is sinking in with terrifying certainty. The stable climate of the last 12,000 years is gone. Which means you haven’t seen anything yet. And we are not prepared.

Picture California a few decades from now, a place so hot and arid the state’s trademark orange and lemon trees have been replaced with olive trees that can handle the new climate. Alternating floods and droughts have made it impossible for the reservoirs to capture enough drinking water. The picturesque Highway 1, sections of which are already periodically being washed out by storm surges and mudslides, will have to be rerouted inland, possibly through a mountain. These aren’t scenes from another deadly-weather thriller like The Day After Tomorrow. They’re all changes that California officials believe they need to brace for within the next decade or two. And they aren’t alone. Across the U.S., it’s just beginning to dawn on civic leaders that they’ll need to help their communities brave coming dangers brought by climate change, from disappearing islands in Chesapeake Bay to dust bowls in the Plains and horrific hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Yet only 14 states are even planning, let alone implementing, climate-change adaptation plans, says Terri Cruce, a climate consultant in California. The other 36 apparently are hoping for a miracle.

The game of catch-up will have to happen quickly because so much time was lost to inaction. “The Bush administration was a disaster, but the Obama administration has accomplished next to nothing either, in part because a significant part of the Democratic Party is inclined to balk on this issue as well,” says economist Jeffrey Sachs, head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “We [are] past the tipping point.” The idea of adapting to climate change was once a taboo subject. Scientists and activists feared that focusing on coping would diminish efforts to reduce carbon emissions. On the opposite side of the divide, climate-change deniers argued that since global warming is a “hoax,” there was no need to figure out how to adapt. “Climate-change adaptation was a nonstarter,” says Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center. “If you wanted to talk about that, you would have had to talk about climate change itself, which the Bush administration didn’t want to do.” In fact, President Bush killed what author Mark Hertsgaard in his 2011 book, Hot, calls “a key adaptation tool,” the National Climate Assessment, an analysis of the vulnerabilities in regions of the U.S. and ideas for coping with them. The legacy of that: state efforts are spotty and local action is practically nonexistent. “There are no true adaptation experts in the federal government, let alone states or cities,” says Arroyo. “They’ve just been commandeered from other departments.”

The rookies (functionally science illiterate) will struggle to comprehend the complex impacts of climate change. The burning of fossil fuels has raised atmospheric levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide by 40 percent above what they were before the Industrial Revolution. The added heat in the atmosphere retains more moisture, ratchets up the energy in the system, and incites more violent and extreme weather. Scientists disagree about whether climate change will bring more intense or frequent tornadoes, but there is wide consensus that the 2 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming of the last century is behind the rise in sea levels, more intense hurricanes, more heat waves, and more droughts and deluges. Even if the world went carbon-neutral tomorrow, we’d be in for more: because of the CO2 that has already been emitted, we’re on track for another 5 degrees of warming. Batten down the hatches. “You can no longer say that the climate of the future is going to be like the climate of today, let alone yesterday,” says Judi Greenwald, vice president of innovative solutions at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “In all of the plausible climate scenarios, we are going to have to change the way we do things in ways we can’t even predict.”

So what lies behind America’s resistance to action? Economist Sachs points to the lobbying power of industries that resist acknowledgment of climate change’s impact. “The country is two decades behind in taking action because both parties are in thrall to Big Oil and Big Coal,” says Sachs. “The airwaves are filled with corporate-financed climate misinformation.” But the vanguard of action isn’t waiting any longer. This week, representatives from an estimated 100 cities are meeting in Bonn, Germany, for the 2nd World Congress on Cities and Adaptation to Climate Change. The theme is “Resilient Cities.” As Joplin, Mo., learned in the most tragic way possible, against some impacts of climate change, man’s puny efforts are futile. But time is getting short, and the stakes are high. Says Daniel Sarewitz, a professor of science and society at Arizona State University: “Not to adapt is to consign millions of people to death and disruption.”

Check it out, there’s lots more facts, links to disaster TV footage, it’s real… will likely get worse… who cares the cause.

 

By Sharon Begley for Newsweek, May 29, 2011.

References On a comparable Theme

Piecemeal Possibilities and Climate Change – Paying attention to alternative ways of cooling the planet is a good idea; ignoring carbon emissions isn’t, The Economist, February 17, 2011.

A Fistful Of Dust and Climate Science — The true effect of windblown material is only now coming to be appreciated, The Economist, Jan 6th 2011.

Acute Climate Change in the Arctic: Fighting Air Pollution May Slow Warming, Stockholm Environmental Institute, June 9, 2011.

Carbon Flows, The Omitted Emissions — The usual figures ignore the role of trade in the world’s carbon economy, The Economist, Apr 28th 2011.

References — Samples of Denial and Flaming

Newsweek’s Global Warming Fear-Mongering Isn’t Science; It’s Science Fiction, The Ace of Spades HQ Blog, May 31, 2011.

Cooler Heads Prevail Against Climate Panic, June 01, 2011|By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Columnist

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Solid-State Batteries – The Power of the Printing Press

The power of the press; a new process will make solid-state rechargeable batteries that should greatly outperform existing ones. Electronics made a huge leap forward when the delicate and temperamental vacuum tube was replaced by the robust, reliable transistor. That change led to the now ubiquitous silicon chip. As a consequence, electronic devices have become vastly more powerful and, at the same time, have shrunk in both size and cost. Some people believe that a similar change would happen if rechargeable batteries could likewise be made into thin, solid devices. Researchers are working, and succeeding on, various ways to do this and now one of these efforts is coming to large-scale fruition. That promises smaller, cheaper, more powerful batteries for consumer electronics and, eventually, for electric cars.

The new development is the work of Planar Energy of Orlando, Florida—a company spun out of America’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2007. The firm is about to complete a pilot production line that will print lithium-ion batteries onto sheets of metal or plastic, like printing a newspaper. “Thin-film” printing methods of this sort are already used to make solar cells and display screens, but no one has yet been able to pull off the trick on anything like an industrial scale with batteries. Paradoxically, though thin-film printing needs liquid precursor chemicals to act as the “ink” which is sprayed onto the metal or plastic substrate, it works well only when those precursors react to form a solid final product. Most batteries include liquid or semi-liquid electrolytes—so printing them has been thought to be out of the question. Planar, however, has discovered a solid electrolyte it believes is suitable for thin-film printing.

Lack of range is reckoned one of the main obstacles to the widespread use of electric cars. If solid-state batteries could overcome such range anxiety that would, indeed, be a revolution on a par with the silicon chip.

Okay, this is a teaser, so click though and enjoy the rest of the article.

Published in the Economist, Jan 27th 2011.

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Endnotes

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 copying materials that I cite, I do not fill the sourced ‘quoted’ words with quotation marks, the only place I keep quotes intact is where the original article ‘quotes’ another secondary source external to itself.  Remember, when Doc sticks his two bits in, its in italics and usually indented.

In Closing

The materials I share in the topical snippets that follow come from the various weekly science and environmental magazines and newsletters, both pro or anti any given subject’s focus or technologies; as well as excerpts from blogs and ‘lists’ to which I subscribe. Since my topic segments are only a partial look at the original materials, click on-through the provided link if you want more details, as well as <often> to check out other background references on the topic(s).          Doc.

Article selection (my article – my choice} are obviously and admittedly biased by my training, experience and at rare times my emotional and philosophical intuitive views of what works and what will not… But if you have a topic I neglect, send me feedback and I’ll give it a shot ˆThe name of my game!”

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

Doc’s Eclectic Views — A doc_Babad EDU-Torial Article for MHReports

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2011, All right Reserved

Introduction

Over the years I have both given and attended a variety of presentations made by colleagues, fellow volunteers, and subject mater experts. Alas, most of the ‘seminars and presentations by any other name, I attended as a profession, volunteer, or just pain working stiff (aka scientist and teacher) were just plain awful. They wasted my time, insulted my intellect, and inflicted pain and suffering on my fragile mind already weak from living in a world of linear {cause effect} logic.  Unfortunately, the later exceed my own then feeble pitches by a factor of at least 100; didn’t someone somewhere say that it was better to give than to receive?

Folks of all ranks, experience and pedigrees gave these poor presentations. I also must admit to have dished out more, at least early in my career, of lousy presentations. Not on purpose — Just plain Ignorance <no video monitor> or a bit later in my career not caring enough to do better … If the shoe fits, you name your excuses, lack of time is always a good excuse.

DISCLOSURE: On the subject of Persuasive (e.g., Effective) presentation, I am an impassioned and outspoken demagogue. My colleagues always think such a compulsion strange – – needing to be treated – so what! Me strange, why? …I’d rather read even a relatively poor, by a non-English speaking author than hear the pitch.

Day glow colors, and wiz-bang media props not withstanding,  I remain convinced after being a 55 year part of tortured audiences, that the presenters, at least 99.0% of them, are their own worst enemy. Images with a punchy message that don’t detract from your presentations are not, hard to find or create.

This article is about you making peace with your audiences so they not only listen to you but also give real attention to the information you share.

It’s strange or perhaps even amazing how effective a person scheduled to make a presentation can be when we sit around, sharing their ideas. The props are usually napkins or a scratch pad and now an iPad/Stylus combo. However, make it a PRESENTATION, they become hills of Lethe, the forgetfulness inducing spirit. Amazing, how awful the same information becomes, when you hand that person a microphone and a projector and even worse turn out the lights. As a minor sidelight, the best presentation by a newbie I mentored, was rehearsed by the speaker and a few of us, friends all, in a swimming pool.

A Definition of Presentations, One Man’s View — What you may ask is a presentation? Usually it is a semi-formal, nominallyorganized and mostly a one-way exchange of information – a sales pitch made by you or a co-worker aimed at convincing others of the wisdom and rightness of your views and expertise.That’s different from either listening to or passively watching a speech, or sitting at a coffee house actively table trading of ideas (brainstorming) with colleagues. You can pursue these subjects – Google search about them. It’s also alas different from how most classrooms work – oh my preference the coffee table or booth in a bar with lots of napkins, beverages optional or perhaps optimal.

 Thank you for listening!

A Presentation is More than a Sum of Its Parts — There are main two aspects to a presentation, whether at a convention, or made internally to your management and co-workers. There’s you, the presenter (salesperson), and there’s the visuals – props you use.  The later serve, hopefully, to catch and maintain audience attention interest on YOU! – You’re the key to a grrreat presentation.

Note that I’ve liberally adapted materials from those who’ve written the books I’ve studies, Garr Reynolds for example. Many of the illustrations, not quite randomly selected, were gleaned from the many fine examples on the Slide Share site; those items that seem to fit the themes/points/rules/guidelines in my article.

For most of us today, our visual tool is a PowerPoint (Microsoft) or Keynote (Apple’s iWork) presentation. However, presenters should use be any combination of hard or soft props of which they remain in control! Watch Steve Job’s at a recent TED presentation or at various product release events. [E.g., the Macworld Conferences and Expo) or the WWDC developer’s conferences.] Bill Gates, just to drop names, is no slouch at presentation based out reach. All of these folks have been TED presenters. Okay, in a less technical vein, but presentation professionals all, there’s Bill Cosby, the late Daniel Schurr, Conan O’Brien, and of course Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen note.

Okay, neither you or I are likely the naturally talented, much polished and practiced ‘orator’ heroes types that are part my FAVS list. I’d actually pay to hear my heroes speak, rather than watch them on HD TV for free. The KISS rule suggests also keeping in short so I’ll pick only of few whose last names start with the letter ‘B’.  [E.g., Jeff Bezos <Amazon.com>, Mark Bittman <NY Times Cooking>, Richard Branson <CEO Virgin Galactic>] who share their views on the great, and at times not so great ideas of the world

Focusing The Sales Pitch

  • Selling Me (e.g., my knowledge, trustworthiness, or capabilities.)
  • Selling My Project (e.g., funding, change in in organizational direction, focus.)
  • Selling Negative Findings (Don’t let them kill the Messenger, put you in control instead.)

In the material that follows I’ll first share my views on creating presentation graphics and tools. It’s the easiest element to deal with and initially avoid likely personal confrontation like you talk to the podium. There’s lots of available guides, books and examples to use to train yourself, a few of which I’ll reference below. Some of this you know and practice already great… skim it as a refresher. However if I left the material out, I’d be cheating by the rest of you and insulting the gods of pedagogy.

The section that follows the one on creating the visuals will be all about the human element in a presentation.  The me and you making the presentation – the part that is associated with the forever-moving target of know thyself and know your audience.

How often in my early days of presenting, did I wish I could leave both a copy of my slides and paper on each seat? Let me count the times. Then with a cup of espresso in my hand, likely laced with a bit of rum, go to the microphone… sit and sip or a while. After 15 minutes, I’d turn down the background music, and ask “ANY QUESTIONS?”

Do you remember the first — second —third time you looked at video of yourself
making a presentation? … For it was a pure YUCK moment!

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VISUAL AIDES and PROPS — The 13 Commandments of PowerPoint/Overhead Slide Preparation

Presentation Graphics Do’s and Don’t – Death by PowerPoint creates a lose-Lose for both you and your audience.

1.  Practical Attributes of Better PowerPoint Presentations [Paraphrased from Garr Reynolds]

  • Presentations must be both verbal & visual.
  • Too much slide information overloads people’s cognitive systems.
  • Can your visuals be understood in 3 seconds? If not, redesign them to support your talk.
  • Both your slide design & delivery must help your audience organize, and integrate information. Thinking well of you never hurts.

2. Include only one concept, point or idea per slide. If you have a complicated slide with lots of different data, it may be better to break it up into 2-3 different slides (assuming no side-by-side comparisons are needed). If necessary split your slides horizontally into before and after columns. However, you must then then cut down the bulleted items from phases to single of double word descriptors. You won’t have time to get nervous, you’ll be busy sharing what only you, you only know.

  • Capture the major point of the presentation on the title of a slide.
  • A slide one PowerPoint page or one overhead (transparency)

3. Use key words, phrases and or concepts rather than whole sentences and paragraphs. The slides serve as a crib card to you as well as an anchor to your audience.  After all, you will, hopefully, briefly be explaining — discussing many of these individual key points in your oral presentation. AVOID exposing your audience, to death by PowerPoint.

4. Words and Space Use — Follow doc_Babad’s 8 x 10 rule (I do try…)

  • Use no more than 8 lines per slide
  • Use no more that 10 words per line
  • There is no free lunch here; a blank line counts as a line!

5. Minimize Theme DistractionsE.g., Useless) space consuming, repeated information that serves only to clutter your graphic with redundancies. What that?

  • The 40+ point presentation title of the talk on each slide
  • Too large ≥ 2 x 2 organizational logos in the lower right hand corner of every slide.

The tile page, with your firms logo highly visible is okay… sort of a requirements, but after that it should get only minimal expose, except for you conclusions or acknowledgements slide. You have one, don’t you?

Notice that most Canned PowerPoint Templates are just plain wrong for creating an effective outreach to your audience. The most important items on a slide must be limited to your main points and sub-points using simple graphics that highlight the individual ideas. Most templates I’ve checked, and initially used, do the opposite, they because the focus, you the afterthought.

  • Most Data Tables, complex graphs and curves,  cluttered photographs with an unreadable legend just plain suck.
  • Do you want the reader to listen and learn from you or read your slides?

Too often, when trying to hurry the design of a presentation, the temptation is to use materials directly excerpted (cut/pasted) from your paper. Such selections are likely to be cluttered, (likely) disconnected, and semi-organized Think about it. Every time I work first from my paper, rather than crating a story board from scratch, I triple the work it take to create an acceptable set of visuals for my presentation.

6.  Font Selection Suggestions

  • Sans Serif fonts are more appropriate and legible than other fonts
  • Comic Sans MS is an example of a “fun” Sans Serif font
  • Arial is a more “serious” Sans Serif font, but appears too compressed for easy reading
  • Times New Roman is an example of a Serif font, easy to read in a book, harder to read on a slide. Occasionally at a larger than line size [e.g., 12 ==> 16 points makes a great highlight, but use it sparingly.

To avoid visual clutter limit your fonts to two (2) typefaces. I get too uncontrolled when I try to use three font families. I like the Helvetica Neue Family, at times coupled with the more ‘airy” Verdana or better yet an item or two accented with a bit of Comic Sans MS.

This is the different from what I do when writing articles, like this one.  There, I add emphasis by switching between Helvetica and Times New Roman and making extensive use of indented sometimes framed space.

7.  Use a Consistent Combination Of Font Sizes And Character Enhancements for organization and emphasis:

  • Character enhancements include bold, italics, and underline
  • Use character enhancements sparingly
  • Avoid the use of italics and underline if possible; they are hard to see so lose their purpose.
  • Text should be large enough to be read from any location in the room
    • 40 point is appropriate for SLIDE titles/main headings
    • 24-36 point is appropriate for sub topics. Nothing Smaller Will Be Visible.
Experiment by projecting your slides before the actual presentation. Better yet print them out on 8.5 x 11 transparencies. Then tape the transparency aka viewgraph, to a window. Get at least six feet away from the window and see if anything on the slide is either legible to eye catching. Ask yourself, right after lunch, could you stay awake, attentive, interested if these were flashed in front to you?

8. Other Style Suggestions

  • Use all UPPERCASE for acronyms only. If you explain them, they need not be spelled out!
  • The first letter of a header or phrase should be capitalized.
  • Use bullets to list items. It is acceptable to use alternate symbols in place of the traditional dot variant for a bullet, but don’t get cutsey or change the bullets at random.

9. Maintain Consistent Backgrounds For All Slides

  • Eliminate razzle-dazzle effects and unless your audience are rockers and punkers.
  • No clashing backgrounds or distracting colors between slides, background means exactly that – they’re unobtrusive. They also can serve to effectively frame a slides content.
  • Bad background colors make the words hard to reading distracting the audience away from YOU.
  • Photos make lousy backgrounds, the text which overlays them is both hard to read, and the effort of reading them irritates the listener.

10. Bar graphs, pie charts but NOT line graphs are effective tools to show trends and statistics.

  • Use contrasting, bright colors to delineate between categories.
  • Keep graphs simple and use more of them to make your point.
    – I’ve occasionally used a slide show element, for segwaying evolving data;
    – Namely 2-3 evolving graphs, all formatted identically. Typically, I make a simple introduction before using a related compare sequence. …So things went to hell, having first identified the parameters of interest when addressing the first chart.  
  • Actual data collection based curves are seldom legible, and add too much audience distractions as they squint at your figure.

11. Choose a color combination that is pleasing  to the eye as well as fostering the legible.

  • Use a color for the wording that has a very high contrast to the background
  • I use a white or very light pastel backgrounds with dark lettering rather than dark with light lettering. I prefer dark letters, because I find white print hard to read.
  • Use no more than four (4) colors max, preferably three. If you need more to make the point, redesign the slide!

12. Use high-quality graphics including photographs.  — You can take your own high-quality photographs with your digital camera, purchase professional stock photography, or use the plethora of high-quality images available on line (be cautious of copyright issues, however). Use such graphics and photographs only when emphasizing or illustrating a point.

13. I do not use either Audio Clips and Video clips. They may work for Steve Jobs or other widgeteers, but for me, they only distract from my pitch and chew up time!

Additional Slide Related Transitional Thoughts

  • Visual aids should support and enhance the presentation; they should not replace it or repeat it. The most disastrous visual aids traditionally have been visuals made from typed copy. Although perhaps permissible in a classroom, with handouts, these are useless beyond 20 feet.
  • Keep the lights on. If you are speaking in a meeting room or a classroom, the temptation is to turn the lights off so that the slides look better. But go for a compromise between a bright screen image and ambient room lighting. Turning the lights off, besides inducing sleep, puts all the focus on the screen. The audience should be looking at you more than the screen. Today’s projectors are bright enough to allow you to keep many of the lights on. [Paraphrased from Garr Reynolds].

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The Presenter – It’s all about you and your message

  1. Try To Move Away From The Podium —  Connect with your audience. If at all possible get closer to your audience by moving away from or in front of the podium. Use a remote control to advance you slides. This minimizes your dancing around the stage or having to call out next slide, as we all did in the days of viewgraph transparencies.
  2. Memorizing Your Talk — Memorizing can limit spontaneity and detract from your enthusiasm. However, some speakers memorize their opening and closing remarks to allow them to look directly at their audience with undivided attention. Try to avoid memorizing your entire presentation.
  3. Skip the Pomp and Circumstance — You are not a dinner speaker for Rotary or the American Association of Barstool Professionals. As you present, be respectful toward those you are addressing. Be cautious. I avoid, about using words or phrases such as “obviously” and “as you can clearly see from the figure.” This approach projects a pretentiousness that you don’t want to convey. Don’t be afraid to answer questions, with an I don’t know … leave me your card and I’ll find out for you. But do follow-up or the word will get around.
  4. Body English – Avoid distracting movement and unintentional body language: Be aware of your body’s nervous gestures. Some body language to steer clear of:
    • Checking the microphone con tenuously, if it fail’s you’ll know it – It’s the time for a short break of carry on, pretend your hog calling.
    • Jangling keys or change in your pocket or using a Napoléon pose.
    • Practice using appropriate gestures but only for emphasis. Moving your arms excessively is a sure giveaway – you’re spotlighted as uptight.
    • Watch the introductory ‘poises’ of taken show aspirant, before and often during their performances.
  5. Checkout a TED Presentation or Three [http://www.ted.com/] — Better yet just watch one of Steve Jobs keynote address. Ignore the fancy media effects; just watch him hook you and the rest of their intended audience. Slide share is great for presentation graphics but there’s no audio stream.
  6. Speak Slowly And Clearly enough that people at the back of the room can hear you. My machine-gun New York-ese, actually Bron-nix, although I can do Boston as well but am lousy at Brooklyn.) This is my Achilles heel, which to often I drop into when giving a talk when somewhat unprepared. But don’t speak to your self!
  7. If you have a Quiet Voice, Use a Microphone even in an intimate setting. This is especially true if you are a plenary speaker giving your talk in a large theater. If you’ve not used a microphone enough for comfort, talk to an organizer or secretary, if at work, I’m sure they’ll find you a place to practice.
  8. Start your presentation with a brief outline of your talk. Its helps orient the audience to why information is being given. There’s wisdom on the “tell them thrice” adage.
  9. For Technical Talks, give only:
    • An overview of research undertaken, the reason for doing it,
    • A few examples of tools used and/or chemical/technical pathways involved,
    • The important key results, and
    • Possible implications of your work.
  10. Limit Your Content — You or I, no not even Steve Jobs, can coherently present more that an overview in 20 minutes. The “emphasis should be on significance, rather than detail” The people can always read the paper or you can provide them with more detailed information if needed.
  11. Be Prepared — Go over your talk prior to the conference to determine whether it fits into the time available. If it does not, cut it down — Remember to leave some time for questions.
  12. QA — Check the quality of your slides and overheads well in advance of the conference. If they cannot be seen easily from the back of an average-sized lecture room, do something about it! ASAP. I also do a mike check in the seminar room and use my own laser pointer
  13. DON’T move the laser pointer arrow all over the slide while you are talking. Use the arrow or bright spot to highlight a point or value on a slide and then switch it off. [Resting your arm against the podium avoids the Darth Vader effect.]

Most importantly, starting with PowerPoint of Keynote or even large poster boards, use the KISS approach—“Keep It Simple, Speaker

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After Thoughts  — 13 items (commandments) are too few, but the next prime number 17, were way too many!

Some speakers outline their presentations, and then determine the best way to illustrate their ideas. Others sketch their ideas first, and then build their talk around these. However you proceed, be sure your figures and text support each other.

  • As you write the paper, think just a bit about creating a storyboard for your required presentation. Some folks use a large whiteboard; if you’re lucky it’ll have Xerox capability. I prefer cheap copy paper, which I recycle.
  • It is easy to play with ideas to create good concept slides. I use a text editor to minimize distraction of wanting to format and make pretty.
  • Wait until you have written your paper to have your final figures drafted –
  • Legends on figures and table headings must be self-contained.
  • Think about the presentation of the variables that must be identified. For example, use “Heat Transfer Coefficient, “w/m2” –not “h”; “Flow Rate, m3 /s” –not “f.”
  • You usually use more complex figures for the proceedings than would be appropriate for your presentation. Otherwise the figures will get the attention, illegible or not, not you.

Not only will your figures be consistent, but also you might throw out many too rough to use figures in the process.

Don’t Argue!   EVER — As you receive questions from the audience, always be cordial and courteous. The question may be from a novice. Patience will encourage questions and audience participation. and you’ll look all the better for it.

If you must, punch the person out, after the meeting, preferably in the ally. Your career will be dead anyway, but fewer folks will know about it right away.

Microphone Technique – The best position for the microphone is 6 inches from your mouth. This will keep the static down. I like lapel mikes, on my eclectic hand picked custom Bolo Ties, they work fine and give me room to walk around a bit.

Transitions In Your Presentation — Share the main headings and subheadings in your notes with your audience so you don’t falter. Pauses aide the listener–so if you do falter, just consider it a pause.

Presentation Room Size Considerations — Due to the size of the rooms at the conferences, (100-500 people) and the necessary use of a microphone, your presentation will often appear quite formal. Strive for directness and eye contact that you would use in a smaller setting.

An Extra — Read all about it!!

Although I am in the process of preparing presenters instructions, alas only 2 pages long, for a conference I support, I was delighted by the Techniques for Spoiling Your Own Scientific Talk by Joseph Burnett that I reference below. This is material I cannot use because of my sponsor’s concern over offending their audiences. Since Burnett’s audience were mere graduate students…

Due to copyright limitation I’ll only provide you with the list of John’s 10 commandments. These are a mix of graphics and presenter related goodies, you get to figure out which is which.

   

Notice How The Data Trends Change

It’s Simple, Let Me Walk You Though My Data

  1. Spend a lot of time saying things unrelated to your research.
  2. Don’t waste time on introducing your topic.
  3. Fill your slides with detail.
  4. If possible, represent trends by tables of numbers, rather than graphically.
  5. If you do present material graphically, {e.g., a spectrum) omit from the slide identification of the compound or system represented.
  6. Organize your talk so as to involve many slides as possible
  7. Noting that the rectangular open space on a slide is longer in one dimension than the’ other, arrange your material such that the lone dimension runs from top to bottom.
  8. Create your slides with a few apparently random mistakes that require correction as you discuss them.
  9. Present every detail of your experimental or theoretical results.
  10. If your work involves theoretical principles not frequently discussed, assume that your audience is fully familiar with them and proceed directly with their application to your work

Dr. Burnett closes with… “In summary, to spoil  your talk effectively, you can utilize a number of techniques. Which ones you can use depend on the nature of the work you have done. The general thrust of these techniques is to mystify your audience, to block its efforts to grasp what you have done, and above all to keep it from perceiving the Big Picture. This short article may not provide sufficient guidance on how to spoil your talks. You will however have opportunities to observe practical application of the practices presented in these guidelines, at meetings you attend, at seminars in your department, and the like.”

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References

Slide Share Internet Site — a great place to look at slide presentations, many of which, done by folks like you and I, are great. There are even a section of talks on Persuasive Presentation and Effective Presentation.

The Presentation Zen Books (…and Presentations) by Garr Reynolds. [Disclosure, I reviewed the books for macCompanion]

Don McMillan: Life After Death by PowerPoint, a YouTube Presentation, September 15th 2008.

Techniques for Spoiling Your Own Scientific Talk by Joseph F. Bunnett of the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 J. Chem. Educ., 1995, 72 (12). I found, on Google, a copy of his Illustrative PowerPoint  presentation is posted, but the article itself was harder to find.

Presentation Zen: The Sound Of One Room Napping by Garr Reynolds

Death by PowerPoint in Wikipedia, 2011.

PowerPoint Hell: Don’t Let This Happen to Your Next Presentation (An off day for Bill Gates?), March 25, 2009. [Subtitled: In the “so bad it’s good” category, we honor eight PowerPoint slides that will make you say, “Holy $#@%, What were they thinking? Did Bill make these work?]

 

Story Board Related

Multimedia Or Just Plain Storytelling By Jane Stevens for the Knight Digital Media Center, Updated May 17, 2011.

Story Board for Pre-Production Videos – This works fro presentation, I done learned it before I had a care for creating more complex media presentations; it was all about viewgraphs then. Google PowerPoint Storyboards for other views on this process.

Other Highly Praised Mostly Book Based Resources

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences [Paperback] by Nancy Duarte.

Multimedia Learning [a Paperback] by Richard E. Mayer

The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type [Paperback] by Alexander W. White.

Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire [Paperback] by Cliff Atkinson

The Short Road to Great Presentations: How to Reach Any Audience Through Focused Preparation, Inspired Delivery, and Smart Use of Technology [Paperback] by Peter & Cheryl Reimold

Presentations That Get Results: 14 Reasons Yours May Not [Paperback] by Marian K. Woodall

Non-Designer’s Design Book, The (3rd Edition) [Paperback] by Robin Williams. [Disclosure: reviewed by me for macCompanion]

Robin Williams Design Workshop, The Second Edition [Paperback]. [Disclosure: reviewed by me for macCompanion]

The Non-Designer’s Design and Type Books, Deluxe Edition [Paperback] by Robin Williams. [Disclosure: first edition reviewed by me for macCompanion]

The Ten Commandments of Effective Visuals by Deborah Kendell on August 23, 2009 for the Effective Leadership Community Blog.

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PS:

Remember it’s all about getting, keeping the audience’s attention and making you look credible!

Sidebar

You will have noticed, quickly I hope, that I violate some of the graphics concepts I espouse, in my illustrations. However, splitting hairs, this is an article, not a presentation.

I also didn’t always document from which set of slides I grabbed an example, mia culpa – authors-presenters may you all forgive me; it’s not a copyright violation, just my getting absent minded and being to lazy to recheck four or five dozen files for the samples I extracted.

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

Note, many of the technologies I share are in various stage of first, development, and are often far from being a commercial success. Their inventors and supporters still have to prove that they are reliable, durable and scalable, Remember There Ain’t No free Lunch and silver bullets too often turn to lead.

When and if you Google them in depth, you will find studies saying they are capable of being commercialized and often as many other studies that are more skeptical because there is no easy way to for them into our systems.

I always, as 75 year old cynic, find it appropriate, to step back as I read and WIIFT aggressively – No it’s not something new to smoke; just the compulsion to ask what’s in it for them. It’s okay to have a hidden agenda, but agenda’s too hidden discomfort me. In addition, most have no relationship to solving the problem that is being bragged about.

I know, perhaps even truly believe, is this. For green energy related items, if we put a simple price (tax) on carbon (greenhouse gases) and gave out no subsidies, these new technologies would have a better chance to blossom. With American ingenuity, Indian and Chinese too, 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 its all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequence. However, that’s better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember, there’s no free lunch and as a taxpayer and consumer you must always end up paying the piper!

So now back to catching up on articles collected and not yet passed on.

First, check out my Op-Ed article on the Status of the Japanese Reactors written for MHReports on 05-06-11

Sources of ‘BIAS-Neutral” Information on the Japanese Reactors at Fukushima Daiichi and DaniIt’s time to get away from the headlines and nucleophobic hysteria and look at long and short term realities; both good and bad and the ugly!

Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Order, for the New Snippets and Topics

  • A Bleak View For Curbing CO2 — Environment: Breaking the world’s fossil-fuel addiction will be difficult at best, study suggests.
  • A Step Toward Car Fuel From Wood Waste
  • Summary of IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources
  • Food Fight: The Case for Genetically Modified Food – Genetically modified crops, receive an unjustified shellacking from environmentalists
  • A Fistful Of Dust — The true effect of windblown material is only now coming to be appreciated.
  • Ocean acidification—The other carbon-dioxide problem.
  • All Tomorrow’s Taxis

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A Bleak View For Curbing CO2

Environment: Breaking the world’s fossil-fuel addiction will be difficult at best, study suggests.

If no new CO2-emitting power plants, cars, and other energy and transportation infrastructure were built starting today, Earth might narrowly avoid the worst effects of anticipated global climate change, according to a study.

But that scenario is improbable, say Steven J. Davis of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and colleagues, who prepared the study, because the world is in no position to make the immediate transition to carbon neutral energy technologies it would require.

Davis and coworkers compiled data on power plant emissions, motor vehicle emissions, and emissions produced directly from industry, households, businesses, and transportation. They then used a climate model to project the effect of future CO2 on Earth’s climate (Science 2010, 329, 1330).

What the team found surprised them: Even if no new CO2-emitting sources were built, the world’s existing energy infrastructure would emit 500 gigatons of CO2 until current sources go out of service over the next 50 years. That amount would stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels below 430 ppm and level off the average global temperature at 1.3 °C above the preindustrial mean. The researchers had expected those figures to be above the threshold values of 450 ppm and 2 °C that climate scientists believe will trigger major climate disruption.

But there’s still a catch, Davis says. Although existing infrastructure doesn’t appear to be a threat to climate, much of future energy demand will be met by traditional CO2-emitting sources. “The devices whose emissions will cause the worst impacts have yet to be built,” he adds. It will require “truly extraordinary development” of new infrastructure and take decades to distance ourselves from CO2-emitting technologies.  “Efforts to curb emissions through regulation and international agreement haven’t worked, emissions are rising faster than ever, and programs to scale up carbon-neutral energy sources are moving slowly at best,” global environmental change expert Martin I. Hoffert of New York University says in a commentary about the study. “Davis and coworkers offer new insights into just how difficult it will be to say farewell to fossil fuels.”

By Steve Ritter, September 13, 2010, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN),

http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i37/html/8837notw7.html

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A Step Toward Car Fuel From Wood Waste

Almost everybody likes the idea of cellulosic ethanol, or ethanol made from the nonfood portion of crops and from waste like wood scraps or paper. But so far nobody, in the USA, is producing bulk amounts. A federal law requires companies that produce gasoline to blend in 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol this year, but the Environmental Protection Agency reduced that quota to a more realistic six million gallons.

On Thursday, however, one of the many companies working toward commercial production, the Mascoma Corporation of Lebanon, NH, said it had reached an agreement with Valero, the nation’s largest independent oil refiner, under which Valero would take the entire output of a commercial plant that Mascoma was to break ground on this year in Kinross, MI. It is the first such “off-take” agreement in the industry. The company said the plant is supposed to be running by 2013. Valero will invest up to $50 million in the Kinross plant, said William J. Brady, Mascoma’s chief executive. The entire plant would cost $350 million, and not all of that is in hand yet, Mr. Brady said, but “getting the Valero investment has made the rest a lot easier.’’

Other investors in Mascoma include General Motors. The company is seeking loan guarantees from the Energy Department.

The company, which planned to use wood waste, could turn out to have the first commercial-scale plant. Mr. Brady said that three other companies could also produce ethanol from cellulose, as is being done commercially and without subsidies in Brazil, in the near future: BlueFire Ethanol, which uses grasses; POET, which is turning to cobs and other nonfood portions of the corn plant; and Abengoa, which is turning to parts of the corn plant beyond the kernel. There’s more, so click on.

By Matthew L. Wald, January 13, 2011, For The New York Times

Other Related Articles

Google Invests in a Chips-to-Biofuels Venture

Ethanol Plant Is Switching to Butanol By Matthew L. Wald

Biofuel (diesel from wood), Wikipedia, 2011.

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Summary of IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources

The summary (6 pages) of the summary (25 pages) for policy makers of renewable Energy Sources makes uneasy, jargon filled and ultimately uncomfortable reading. The questions this report addresses are important: how much electricity and other energy can be supplied by renewables? At what cost? This report (more so the full report and technical summary) will help us make sense of conflicting claims today. All policy experts agree that renewables are needed, along with other low-carbon forms of energy, but what is their potential in the coming decades?

The graphs are a little confusing; energy sources are placed on different graphs because there is so much more of some than others. Recent gains in solar are impressive—photovoltaics, solar panels are up by almost a factor of10 in 4 years, but the absolutely increase in energy pales compared to increases in other forms of renewables, from hydro to municipal solid waste, Also, information is often given in capacity, or GW—capacity tells us how much power is produced, at a maximum—rather than in GWh, total energy produced.

As was noted by Geoffrey Styles “Once I got beyond the introductory paragraphs it seemed to degenerate into jargon and bureaucratese that was very hard to parse into plain meaning. The report’s genesis as the product of pure consensus is readily apparent.” Indeed, “it doesn’t take readers much beyond what is already well established.”

No I’m neither going to further summarize the findings [e.g., a summarized summary of the summary policy report] not attempt to analyzed, in the absence of the final report share my thoughts on the accuracy and clarity of technical arguments vs political cover too often a part of such International reports provided by the approved reports authors. Needless to say in the policy maker summary level, is worth reading. There is much to discomfort one about the hopes – and economic and political realities of basing our hopes on averting the worst effects of climate change on renewable energy. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new report, Special Report Renewable Energy Sources (SRREN), and the Energy Collective summery does highlight some interesting specifics that I list as bullets in the paragraph that follows.

  • The definition of Renewable Energy, a political not a technical term, depends on where you live. In the USA, nuclear energy is perceived as neither renewable but also not green.
  • Most subsidized Governmental projects, the picking of favorites, is based not on economic (e.g., life cycle cost versus green house gas reduction) but on political factors including the desire to be seen by the voters doing something even if it both wastes money and is only minimally effective. But pleasing lobbyist is also of political benefit.
  • The characteristics of different RE sources can influence the scale of the integration challenge. Some RE resources are widely distributed geographically. Others, such as large-scale hydropower, can be more centralized but have integration options constrained by geographic location. Some RE resources are variable with limited predictability. From the information available, the report policy leaves the systems integration and analysis to someone else, not even attempting to provide a framework for comparisons of alternative viability, politic aside, as a function of location.
Check out:Justifying $15 Trillion for Renewablesby Geoffrey Styles, for the Energy Collective, May 11, 2011.The Nuclear and the Renewable Energy Standard, by Jim Hopf for the Energy Collective, October 18, 2010.Nuclear, gas, and the Clean Energy Standard by Jim Hopf for the Energy Collective, January 18, 201l.

You want more, read either the shorter Energy Collective version of the policy report itself.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new report, Special Report

Renewable Energy Sources (SRREN), – A Summary for Policy Makers, by Karen Street, for The Energy Collective Site, May 12, 2011.

FD Summary Policy Makers of the IPCC not yet released Special Report Renewable Energy Sources (SRREN), _IPCC May 2011, final.

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Food Fight: The Case for Genetically Modified Food

Genetically modified crops, receive an unjustified shellacking from environmentalists.

Roger Beachy grew up in a traditional Amish family on a small farm in Ohio that produced food “in the old ways,” he says, with few insecticides, herbicides or other agrochemicals. He went on to become a renowned expert in plant viruses and sowed the world’s first genetically modified food crop—a tomato plant with a gene that conferred resistance to the devastating tomato mosaic virus. Beachy sees no irony between his rustic, low-tech boyhood and a career spent developing new types of agricultural technologies. For him, genetic manipulation of food plants is a way of helping preserve the traditions of small farms by reducing the amount of chemicals farmers have to apply to their crops. Without GM crops, He contends that farmers would need to return to older practices that would produce lower crop yields, higher prices and an increase in the use of agrochemicals inimical to health. 

In 2009 Beachy took the helm of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture where continues to advocate for a prominent place for genetic engineering of crops, which he claims provides a basis for chemical-free, sustainable agriculture that will prove more of a boon for the environment than have conventional weed and pest control. Detractors of GM foods, meanwhile, have expressed their chagrin at Beachy’s appointment. His work helped to kick-start the $11-billion global agricultural biotechnology industry

Themes included in this article include:

How did your Amish background shape your interest in agriculture?

Can technical advances in sustainable agriculture be transferred to the developing world?

Is there a one-size-fits-all strategy for fostering agricultural technology?

Were you surprised by how effective the virus-resistance gene in tomato plants was?

That effectiveness does not last forever, of course. Today we are seeing the resistance these technologies provide against pests and disease being overcome. Do you think the industry has relied too much on GM as a “silver bullet”?

Critics of the agricultural biotechnology industry complain that it has focused on providing benefits to farmers rather than improving foods for consumers. What do you say to them?

Today consumers are willing to pay more for crops that are labeled “organic” or even “GM-free” because they view them as more sustainable. How do you think GM crops can help make agriculture more sustainable?

Environmentalists have been reluctant to embrace GM crops because of concerns about genes flowing to non-GM crops and also to wild native plants. That’s one reason a federal judge in California recently ordered genetically modified sugar beets to be destroyed.

It may be a positive thing for agriculture, but not necessarily for wild ecosystems. What are the consequences if you create a vitamin A–rich rice and that gene spreads into an environment where vitamin A is scarce?

Some scientists have complained that biotech companies have stymied research on GM crops. Aren’t these studies needed to get accurate answers about the risks of these crops?

What would be the consequence if GM crops were suddenly removed from the market?

Doc Sez:

In a world where Karma really applies my the detractors who block advances rather then working to assure that there are minimal unintended consequence be condemned to life at the average living standards who hunger they help assure.

By Brendan Borrell for Scientific American, April 11, 2011 

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A Fistful Of DustThe true effect of windblown material is only now coming to be appreciated

ON MAY 26th 2008 Germany turned red. The winds of change, though, were meteorological, not political. Unusual weather brought iron-rich dust from Africa to Europe, not only altering the colour of roofs and cars on the continent but also, according to recent calculations by Max Bangert, a graduate student at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, making the place about a quarter of a degree colder for as long as the dust stayed in the air. This is unusual for Germany, commonplace for the planet as a whole. The Sahara and other bone-dry places continually send dust up into the atmosphere, where it may travel thousands of kilometers and influence regional weather, the global climate and even the growth of forests halfway around the planet.

Earlier in 2008, for instance, Ilan Koren and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel, detected a particularly voluminous burst of dust from the Bodélé Depression. This low-lying bed of silt in Chad, across which powerful jets of wind are wont to blow, constitutes less than 1% of the Sahara’s area but is reckoned the world’s dustiest place. It is thought to be responsible for a quarter or more of the Sahara’s output of airborne dust.  The importance of this long-distance logistical chain has become apparent only in the past few years, and researchers are still working out its many repercussions—for the more you look at dust, the more effects it seems to have. African dust is thought, for example, to stimulate plant growth in the Amazon by bringing in phosphorus (which is in short supply there). This may put a check on global warming by removing what would otherwise be a long-term constraint on the forest’s ability to suck up carbon dioxide as it grows.

Dust, which does not reach land, may do something similar to the sea. Some parts of the ocean are short of iron, which red desert dust has in abundance. Dust from the Gobi desert seems to stimulate plankton blooms in the nutrient-poor waters of the North Pacific, though it is not clear whether this results in a net reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide, since that would require some of the plankton to sink to the seabed, never to return.

Dust aloft cools the land below, as Europe’s meteorologists found out in May 2008. It does this directly, by reflecting sunlight back into space, and indirectly, by helping clouds to form. The effect is significant. The carbon dioxide, which has been added to the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began, has a greenhouse effect equivalent to the arrival of about 1.6 watts of extra solar power per square meter of the Earth’s surface. The direct effects of dust are estimated to provide a countervailing cooling of about 0.14 watts per square meter. Add the indirect effect on clouds and this could increase markedly, though there are great uncertainties. This dust-driven cooling, though, is patchy—and in some places it may not even be helpful. Dust that cools a desert can change local airflow patterns and lessen the amount of rain that falls in surrounding areas. This causes plants to die, and provides more opportunities for wildfires, increasing the atmospheric carbon-dioxide level.

To get a better sense of the net effects brought about by the ups and downs of dust check on the link.

A worry some thought — In a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jasper Kok of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado, writes that the amount of coarse dust driven into the atmosphere by wind is at least double and may be eight times as much as previously thought. Watch his You Tube Video.

Note:

Dust effect potential Fukushima Daiichi Reactor are apparently solely related to a possible radioactivity spread, fallout, rather than climate change. Although I’ve read somewhere recently that as a result of fires like those caused on the gulf, the after effects of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of this summer’s forest fires near Moscow, the smoke and soot created will cause temperatures to fall. Alas I could not re-find that reference.

Climate Science, Jan 6th 2011 in The Economist

Also Check Out

Volcanoes and Climate

Dust Effect Potential from Eyjafjallajökull Eruption

Do Volcano’s Cause Climate Change

Dust Effect Potential of A Pakistani Indian War – A Potential for Nuclear Winter

Nuclear war between India, Pak could spell climate disaster, January 26, 2002 – Times of India

Pollution in the Himalayas — Time to call the sweep? Soot gets everywhere. Even into the world’s highest mountains, The Economist, November 18, 2010.

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Ocean Acidification—The other carbon-dioxide problem

Acidification threatens the world’s oceans, but quantifying the risks is hard. In the waters of Kongsfjord, an inlet on the coast of Spitsbergen, sit nine contraptions that bring nothing to mind as much as monster condoms. Each is a transparent sheath of plastic 17-metres long, mostly underwater, held in place by a floating collar. The seawater sealed within them is being mixed with different levels of carbon dioxide to see what will happen to the ecology of the Arctic waters.  As carbon dioxide levels go up, pH levels come down. Acidity depends on the presence of hydrogen ions (the pH in pH) and more hydrogen ions mean, counter intuitively, a lower pH. Expose the surface of the ocean to an atmosphere with ever more carbon dioxide, and the gas and waters will produce carbonic acid, lowering pH on a planetary scale. The declining pH does not actually make the waters acidic (they started off mildly alkaline).

But it makes them more acidic, just as turning up the light makes a dark room brighter. Ocean acidification has further chemical implications: more hydrogen ions mean more bicarbonate ions, and fewer carbonate ions. Carbonate is what corals; the shells of shellfish and the outer layers of many photosynthesizing plankton and other microbes are made of. If the level of carbonate ions falls too low the shells can dissolve or might never be made at all. There is evidence that the amount of carbonate in the shells of foraminifera, micro-plankton that are crucial to ocean ecology, has recently dropped by as much as a third. Since becoming a topic of widespread worry about five years ago, the changing pH of the oceans has been added to the litany of environmental woes. Richard Feely, a researcher at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, provided a gift to headline writers when he dubbed acidification “global warming’s evil twin”. Nowadays Dr. Feely prefers to call it “the other carbon-dioxide problem”.

There’s more, click through for more information.

Singling out the role of acidification will be hard. Ocean ecosystems are beset by changes in nutrient levels due to run off near the coasts and by overfishing, which plays havoc with food webs nearly everywhere. And the effects of global warming need to be included, too. Surface waters are expected to form more stable layers as the oceans warm, which will affect the availability of nutrients and, it is increasingly feared, of oxygen. Some, including Dr. Riebesell, suspect that these physical and chemical effects of warming may prove a greater driver of productivity change in the ocean than altered pH. Wherever you look, there is always another other problem.

The Economist, July 1, 2010.

ALSO:  Ocean acidification, Wikipedia, 2011.

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All Tomorrow’s Taxis

Sometime early this year, New York City’s taxi and limousine commission will announce the winner of its “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition. Or it won’t. The project was begun in 2007, and in December 2009 a “request for proposals” went out to automotive manufacturers and designers. The bar wasn’t set all that high: the Taxi of Tomorrow was meant to be “safe, fuel-efficient, accessible, durable, and comfortable.” A look at the three finalists announced in November 2010 confirms they are perhaps all of those things. They are also, well, dull. Boxy. Lacking in imagination. (Not that New York’s current cab, the Ford Crown Victoria, was one to inspire much.)

The winner stands to supply more than 13,000 medallion taxis for at least a decade, a deal that could be worth up to $1 billion. Imagine if, in turn, the yellow spots monopolizing New York’s streets could help transform the urban landscape, perhaps by being smaller and more streamlined, having less environmental impact, or providing more comfort, convenience and aesthetics to passengers. What if the “tomorrow” part manifested itself not just in the object (the car) but also in new initiatives inspired by the broad national movement toward collaborative consumption, like a taxi-sharing app that could help facilitate carpooling from JFK airport into the city? The perfect solution for these recessionary times, this cab, re-envisioned as a compact bus, allows passengers to pay on a sliding scale.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that “if [the taxi] doesn’t meet our needs, then we can start the process all over again, or say we just can’t find what we want and come back and visit this at another time in the future.” Well, only one of the three is wheelchair accessible, only one offers an electric option. So with the door still open, as it were, I had several conversations with the artist/inventor (and former R&D guy for Honda) Steven M. Johnson, a self-described conjurer of “ludicrous” ideas for decades. But sometimes the wildest ideas result in the best solutions. We discussed the taxi-related issues that seemed to have been inadequately addressed in the Taxi of Tomorrow competition.

There is traffic, as in the inability to do anything about it. Should there be a taxi lane? …An elevated one, straight out of Rem Koolhaas’s “Delirious New York”? There’s availability — how to improve the odds of getting a cab when you need one — and also affordability: a cab-sharing program has been tried in the city already, but is there a way to improve it, or create a vehicle that allows for ride-sharing? And there’s reliability — how can you better the odds that your driver knows how to get where you want to go?

In addition, there are different and specific issues of comfort that need to be addressed for a car that hosts many passengers in the course of a day. The average taxi seems too hot, or too cold, or too loud; the upholstery sags, and cleanliness is relative. This affects the relationship between passenger and driver, and the corresponding civility (or lack thereof). Is the environment safe and secure? Are the temperature, noise level and air quality satisfactory? Should there be an enforceable dress code for drivers, as has been proposed by the city’s taxi and limousine commission?

After we talked, Johnson came up with nearly 60 different concepts, some pragmatic, some dystrophic, others clearly silly. We winnowed it down to nine, tongues firmly in our cheeks. Click here to see a slide show of his ideas.  I commend the city for soliciting comments on the finalists, and the media, design and innovation firm Human Condition for creating the Taxi of Tomorrow crowd-sourcing site, which has been offering a forum for ideas and commentary since October. I hope the commission pays attention.

By Allison Arieff, An Opinionator for the New York Times, Jan 13, 2011.

Click though to see more photos of Mr. Johnson’s ideas.

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Endnotes

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 copying materials that I cite, I do not fill the sourced ‘quoted’ words with quotation marks, the only place I keep quotes intact is where the original article ‘quotes’ another secondary source external to itself.  Remember, when Doc sticks his two bits in, its in italics and usually indented.

In Closing

Readers please checkout my paradigms views, prejudices and snarky attitudes form my approach to this and my other writings.

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

The materials I share in the topical snippets that follow come from the various weekly science and environmental magazines and newsletters, both pro or anti any given subject’s focus or technologies; as well as excerpts from blogs and ‘lists’ to which I subscribe.

Article selection (my article – my choice} are obviously and admittedly biased by my training, experience and at rare times my emotional and philosophical intuitive views of what works and what will not… But if you have a topic I neglect, send me feedback and I’ll give it a shot.

Since my topic segments are only a partial look at the original materials, click on-through the provided link if you want more details, as well as <often> to check out other background references on the topic(s).          Doc.

… And yes I trust Wikipedia, but only if I’ve checkout most of an articles references for bias and accuracy!

QUOTE de Mois — “I Believe In Evidence.”

“I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, 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.”

Isaac Asimov – On Evidence and Belief

By Harry Babad, © Copyright 2010, All rights Reserved.

Introduction

This edition of my greening article departs a little from the traditional style I’ve established in earlier posts.

I’ll be starting out with ad-libs (e.g., opinions) on five items that reflect my observations of energy and general greening technology and its associated swings but NOT provide you with a rationale or other justifications for my thoughts. Accuse me of venting — blowing off steam — Fine, if you don’t do this occasional, also your mind has died, or at least turned into a prune. – Call this a case of I Believe!.

Call them doc_Babad’s five-jaundiced weltanschauungs — the darker side of the 2010 vision.

  • Let Keeping Studying things Until We Die — More experts then ever refused to make decisions on dealing with the forthcoming and near future from climate change. Rising sea levels, doubts, hurricanes and tornadoes and of course floods and forest fires.Their rationale — they need to do more research to reduce their uncertainty. As my philosophy professors and even my father noted, not taking action is a decision. Check out Naomi Oreskes’ new book called “Merchants of Doubt” listed I the reference section.A typical risk analysis, not the guys who figure the worst oil rig blowout, or the worst likely flooding of New Orleans, add defenses, in depth — likely expensive – to counter uncertainty. However, that is politically incorrect.
  • Bearing False Witness — A new class of experts continues to dominate the public debate about energy, climate change and/or any other science based issue such as public health including vaccine safety, caused of cancer, tobacco based disease and our newest daemon, cell phone radiation risks. These folk, who have jumped outside of the technical the areas of their science and engineering training and hove spouted fear, uncertainty, and doubt. This reminds me an old IBM technique called FUD, to an every hungry media and a mostly scientifically illiterate public.Most of these folks have never had a paper on their new avocational expertise published in a peer reviewed journal and feast on traded mutually supporting reference that have no basis in measured truth. Although stretching the point it reminds me of the ultra orthodox rabbis in Israeli cling to their truth that that anyone who doubts their ‘given’ truth’ must not be Jewish.My I suggest this new year that they and theirs opt for having an auto mechanic perform any needed surgery on them when needed, its cheaper — all the mechanics need to do is suggest that they’ve read the manual and so are obviously then qualified.
  • The nuclear renaissance in the western world seems almost stillborn. Why inexpensive natural gas, poor or false lifecycle accounting for costs of wind and solar energy, depression lowered energy demand, and the lack of any desire to take risk on behalf of western governments and the local banking system.Even France a long tome advocate, efforts are slowing down because of the mismanagement of the construction of Areva’s {Nuclear} new generation reactors and the Germans still say Nein. …and of course the Brits are moving cautiously and Australians are still thinking about it despite having the free worlds larges supply if uranium.The good news is that China, India, and the Koreans are not stopping their efforts, albeit they start from a small installed reactor base. Did you know America has the largest installed base of installed operating reactors 104 accounting for 20.2% of our baseline power) with France coming in only second at 58 but accounting for 75.2% of the grid load. More interesting, the wealthy countries in the middle-eastern countries are getting on board, as perhaps are the Brazilians.
  • A Unworldly Solution to Climate Change — Politicians around the world have balked in working together, internationally, con dealing with climate change. Some small individual nations are taking the lead but only within their boundaries or regions. Alas the later are victims of the ‘pimple’ effect when compared to the greenhouse emissions fro the USA, Russia, China and other off shore manufacturers.It is always comically surrealistic, if not fully tragic, that the USA is making some measured progress is lowering industrially produced green house gases by outsourcing the work. That gives us a two-stage benefit. We look greening the too often looked down upon dirty manufacturing capability… e.g. Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, that blight our nations — the heartland that made us great and strong after World War II.
  • Turn Off the Sun — This option, tongue in cheek of course, is an observation of the effects of the almost universal American nuclearphobia about radiation, be it sunshine, radio frequency for cell, phones, medical diagnostic procedures, and of course nuclear electricity in decision making and risk adversity. Of course, except when there is a case of food bacterial based poisoning, then there’s a hue and cry… and the search for a scape-goat. As a society, we almost totally ignore the toxic material in our mass produced foods, potential mutagens in our cosmetics, polluted water systems, and the gas chamber effects of urban air pollution. As far as last item goes, if the concentrations were higher, the agents might have been put to use by the Nazi’s during the Holocaust – alas they were too slow to meet the Third Reich’s goals.

No, I’m not giving up on either American ingenuity and ability to decisively act in a crisis, nor of the creative energies of mankind to overcome political and belief structure based paralysis, as usual; but years end finds me a bit maudlin and introspective. Could it be because I turn 75 in a few months? Or is there a deeper root cause?

Perhaps we need to rearrange our democracy, add criteria for being the franchised, along the lines of Heinlein’s Star Ship Trooper? I am of course aware that Winston Churchill remarked: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (Nov. 11, 1947)

Folks, the 5-fold path to enlightenment on these issues seems to elude me — I just don’t get it. So I’d better get on with this months greening related tid-bits.

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WARNING: This issue is more focused on Nuclear than usual. I’ve never claimed to be either unbiased or to provide a balanced treatment of energy and environmental options. I only state that I will do, to the best of my ability, read all relevant references documents in my considerable references collection. Look for added and more current information by preceding each citation’s use with web searches. I shall give the option, where I deem comments and ad-bibs are appropriate, a fair shot based on those references.

The New Snippet Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Orde,

  • Did You Know – The Word is out! Call it a dump even if its state of the art technology
  • With Every Passing Year a New Miracle — Green Now, perhaps for Duke Energy, Includes Nuclear Power Too, some day soon, Congress
  • With Every Passing Year a New Miracle — Green Now, perhaps for Duke Energy, Includes Nuclear Power Too
  • America’s Oil Crude Oil Habit — Hey folks be fair, everyone has the right to their choice of a ‘Fix’
  • When the Assembly Line Moves Online — It’s all beyond Charlie Chaplin’s Imagination
  • Clean Energy Entrepreneurs Face More Obstacles in U.S. — Were back to  the 2010-2012 version of the China Syndrome, with a whimper not a bang this time.
  • How To Stop Global Warming – Even If You Don’t Believe In It

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Did You Know – The Word is out!

Yup, according to Gwyneth Cravens. One of my favorite born again ‘nuclear related authors’ who is a long time-well respected environmentally focused author.

— “A memo went out long ago from Greenpeace and other anti-nuclear organizations: “Always say ‘dump’! Never say ‘repository’ or ‘storage site’!”  “Dump” conjures up a vision of dump trucks backing up to a hole in the ground and letting loose their nasty cargo in a helter skelter fashion. If only city dumps were as tidy as those strictly regulated nuclear waste repositories!

“Words with negative connotations that are repeated over and over have a powerful effect on public.”

Folks, I’m sure if I asked, Gwyneth would send me several examples, … but that a trivial game. Her articles and books are always exceptionally well documented and referenced.

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With Every Passing Year a New Miracle — Green Now, perhaps for Duke Energy, Includes Nuclear Power Too, some day soon, Congress

Ever since the late 1980s, Duke Power’s CEO James Rogers has been beating the drum for green energy as an answer to global warming, putting him in the vanguard of climate-change activists. But what’s most remarkable is that Rogers happens to be the CEO of Duke Energy Corp., the huge electric and gas utility that ranks among the U.S.’s biggest emitters of carbon dioxide.

Moreover, that dubious distinction is one the Charlotte, North Carolina, utility won’t be relinquishing any time soon. It is the only power company in the U.S. that is simultaneously building two coal-burning plants, which are due to come online in 2012. And coal, although it is both abundant and cheap, is a notorious pollutant compared with natural gas or nuclear power. What explains the apparent paradox between Rogers’ green persona and Duke’s seemingly retrograde strategy? A self-proclaimed pragmatist, he argues that a climate-friendly future will require a 40-year forced march. So how do new coal plants fit into this scenario? For those detail, check out the link!

Which of All The Alternative Energy Sources Holds The Most Promise? — If you look out over the next decade, the Environmental Protection Agency is going to write a set of regulations requiring us to shut down as much as one third of the existing coal fleet [of plants] in the United States. And that coal fleet is going to have to be replaced by something. Will it be natural gas? Will it be nuclear? Will it be renewables? One of the great challenges confronting us is what mix of those three do we need to replace one third of the U.S. coal fleet.

What Drives Your Interest In Green Energy? — I’m in the business of making billion-dollar decisions, and as a pragmatist, I ’m an advocate for advancing [green] issues, in part so that I can deliver on my job one: making energy as affordable, reliable and clean as possible. Whether it’s a coal plant at $3 billion or a nuclear plant at $12 billion to $14 billion, I can make more-informed decisions about huge investments that will last 50 years if I know the[environmental] rules, even though a cleaner carbon footprint in our generation facilities is going to translate into higher prices.

What Do You Say To People Who Deny Global Warming? — There’s a wide number of people that don’t believe it, for a variety of reasons. But even if it didn’t exist, what would I change about my strategy?

We are building plants today that are modernized and have significantly reduced the emissions per kilowatt hour. We would be doing that anyway.

The Institutional Investor by Frances Denmark, 29 Oct 2010.

http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/Popups/PrintArticle.aspx?ArticleID=2702321

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America’s Oil Crude Oil Habit — Hey folks be fair, everyone has the right to their choice of a ‘Fix’

Every petroleum crisis in this country — whether triggered by foreign suppliers flexing their muscles, a price spike at the gasoline pump, or a spill that causes untold environmental damage — heightens demands that the U.S. wean itself from oil. So, predictably, in reaction to the colossal BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico, lawmakers and corporate heavyweights are dusting off past proposals and crafting new ones to kick the national addiction.

Doc Sez — Sorry, to day I’m again feeling cynical — Even the financially troubled PB has pockets deep enough to buy most of entire congress, its called lobbying coupled with political contributions, made all the more murky by the recent US Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to be treated as ‘people’ with no requirement for disclosure. If that does work then perhaps the US Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, and Business Round table can join big oil in keeping the status quo. On the other hand, the Saudi’s and other Middle Eastern countries are investing in nuclear energy, perhaps, being more comfortable with taking along view, they know something America doesn’t or refuses to acknowledge.

On Monday, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D. Ore., outlined an ambitious plan to transition American cars and trucks to alternative fuels, reform and-use laws to make communities less dependent on cars, and shift more freight from 18-wheelers to trains and barges. The freshman senator is also calling on the White House to create a National Council on Energy Security. A week earlier, six-term Sen. Richard Lugar, R. Ind, introduced legislation to raise automobile fuel-efficiency requirements yearly and expand the federal program encouraging advancements in biofuels.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing the Energy Department to designate at least five test sites for electric cars. They want Uncle Sam to help pay for the installation of charging stations in those communities and to give residents tax breaks for buying plug-in vehicles.

Doc Sez: There’s lot more, check it out— Perhaps tomorrow I will regain my optimism! Alas, I’m having real problems distinguishing between show and tell, type posturing, and real initiatives that may roll back our dependence of oil.

Bottom Line — No other nation is so thoroughly hooked on oil. Even though Americans constitute only 4 percent of the world’s population,  they consume 20 percent of its petroleum. Of the 20 million barrels this country uses each day, 13 million are imported. And about 70 percent of the black gold burned in the U.S. goes to power vehicles.

The Fly, Other Than Politics, in The Ointment — Every time gasoline prices skyrocket, lawmakers look for ways to cut domestic oil use. When the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries embargoed oil to the United States in 1973, Washington required automakers to produce more-efficient cars and pushed electric utilities to turn to fuels other than oil. Please recall that starting with President Carter, to some degree all of our presidents tried and FAILED.

National Journal Group Inc, by Margaret Kriz Hobson, June 19, 2010.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/cs_20100619_3491.php?print=true

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When the Assembly Line Moves Online — It’s all beyond Charlie Chaplin’s Imagination

In “Modern Times,” Charlie Chaplin, second from left, was mired in monotony. Today, many repetitive tasks are being parceled out on the Internet.

Do one assigned task on your computer. It shouldn’t take you more than two seconds. Repeat 14,399 times. Congratulations! Your eight-hour workday is complete.

No such workplace yet exists, but with the fiendishly clever creation of standardized two-second tasks, delivered to any computer connected to the Internet, it is now technically possible to set up. Microtask, a start-up company in Finland, has come up with the software that delivers such tasks. [http://www.microtask.com/] The company offers to take on “dull, repetitive work” — like digitizing paper forms or business cards — for prospective clients. As it says in a video on its Web site, “Microtask loves the work you hate.”

The company is in a position to love that work because not one of its 12 employees actually performs it. Its software carves a given task into microscopically small pieces, like transcribing a handwritten four-digit number in a tiny rectangle on a form. (Handwritten numbers and letters are the bane of text-recognition software.) These tasks, stripped of identifying information about the client or the larger task, can then be distributed online anywhere.

The approach shows how the online concept of widely distributed work has evolved since it was pioneered by the Mechanical Turk service, introduced by Amazon.com in 2005. Mechanical Turk [http://mturk.com/] resembles an online bulletin board. Businesses post income-earning opportunities, with rewards for each task completed. Turkers, as the independent contractors are informally called, choose a task they like and are qualified for. Recent offers included 2 cents each for finding the contact information for 7,500 hotels and 3 cents each for answering questions about 9,400 toys.

Miriam Cherry, an associate professor of law at the University of the Pacific, tried Mechanical Turk and says she found out for herself that the compensation was meager. “My assistant and I tried but we couldn’t make minimum wage,” says Professor Cherry, who presented an argument last year in the Alabama Law Review [http://www.law.ua.edu/lawreview/articles/Volume 60/Issue 5/cherry.pdf] for extending minimum-wage laws into cyberspace.

Fascinating – Check out the rest – This is an idea not even my Science Fiction addiction had turned up!

The New York Times, by Randall Stross, October 30, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/business/31digi.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=business

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Clean Energy Entrepreneurs Face More Obstacles in U.S.Were back to  the 2010-2012 version of the China Syndrome, with a whimper not a bang this time.

With erect posture and clear gray eyes, Chuck Provini still looks like the Marine who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1969 and was repeatedly decorated for bravery in Vietnam.  Chuck Provini, chief executive of Natcore Technology in Red Bank, N.J. He fumes at strangers who call him a traitor for agreeing to manufacture in Zhuzhou, China, a new solar panel production device that his company developed in the United States.  “I love my country,” said Mr. Provini, chief executive of 10-employee Natcore Technology in Red Bank, N.J. “It makes me crazy that I’ve got countries that want to do things with us, but not here.”

Mr. Provini acknowledges that further refinements are needed to the technology, which involves replacing a costly furnace in the manufacture of solar panels with a room-temperature process. But his experience in trying to commercialize it highlights the challenges that clean energy entrepreneurs face in the United States — and the opportunities that await in China. American venture capitalists are the main source of money for many clean energy start-ups because most commercial banks are leery of lending to businesses with no proven revenue. But venture capitalists are reluctant to make long-term financial commitments, Mr. Provini said, and want clear timetables for when they can get their money back with a profit.

“They want to come in, make a killing and get out,” said Mr. Provini, who spent most of his career on Wall Street, including as president of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management.

He said he spoke with a Congressional aide and visited a Washington law firm, Baker Botts, seeking advice on government assistance. But available grants came with too many restrictions, and were hard to find and apply for, Mr. Provini said. What Natcore really wanted was money for its own research and help finding joint-venture partners with the right technology.

Investors in Brazil, Taiwan and particularly China were more interested, he said.

There lot more details posted, check it out. Alas, Sez Doc, this is a more typical story than not. From my, albeit limited reading (e.g., the Economist, Business Week, the Sunday Times and the Wall Street Journal on line) American venture capitalist have gotten the take not risk that require waiting for more than 3-5 years for a payout.

“I feel what China is doing is taking chances on new technologies, investing relatively small amounts of money understanding that some of those technologies will blossom,” Mr. Provini said.

Matt Rogers, an adviser to the United States energy secretary, said his department had many grants available of all sizes, and that the competitions for them effectively identified companies that investors might also want to finance. “We have the best technology,” Mr. Rogers said. “I think we have the best manufacturing here in the United States.”

However, many Chinese clean energy executives are skeptical of Rogers assertions, saying that the United States was losing its lead even in the production of the sophisticated factory equipment needed to make solar panels, and now retained an advantage only in the earliest stages of research.

The New York Times, By Keith Bradsher, September 8, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/09/business/global/09tradeside.html?nl=&emc=aua21

Also Check Out:

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How To Stop Global Warming – Even If You Don’t Believe In It

In the global-warming debate, scientists are, admirably, still trying to save the day. Last week, the American Geophysical Union announced plans to mobilize about 700 climate scientists in an effort to improve the accuracy of media coverage and public understanding of their field. Separately, a smaller group of scientists organized by John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota said it was putting together a “rapid response team” to bring accurate climate science to public debates.

On the face of it, such efforts certainly make sense. The scientists hope, not unreasonably, to bring more attention to the climate-change crisis. More crucially, they seek to halt the slide in public opinion on the issue, with recent polls finding Americans’ belief in the evidence for global warming on the decline, along with their view of the need for immediate action to slow climate change. And it’s true that science education, when done well, may help accomplish these goals.

But will it lead to meaningful policy? Or will this latest round of efforts instead result in another spate of news stories about scary end-of-the-world scenarios, another series of debates over whether global-warming science is a hoax and more wasted time — time we don’t have? There is good reason to think that those who are worried about climate change would make greater progress — especially among Republicans, who profess increasing skepticism about warming — if they focused less on arguing the scientific reality and more on building support for specific solutions that all sides can agree on.

The first problem with focusing on the science debate is that the spectacle of dueling scientists confuses people. We have already seen this story unfold in the media: Two opposing sides, given similar exposure, argue about complexities that most Americans feel they have little ability to assess. Instead of focusing on the causes of climate change in simple terms that people can grasp and act upon, it is all too easy for scientists to get trapped in a debate with skeptics about whether they can prove that warming is real and how they can show definitively that its effects are imminent. Faced with this sparring, it becomes fairly easy for the average person to dismiss climate change as an open question and cross it off the list of things they need to worry about.

Unfortunately, the global warming debate increasingly turns more on political belief than on scientific fact. Until relatively recently, environmental issues were largely nonpartisan. Republican presidents such as Richard Nixon have historically achieved significant environmental gains, and voters across party lines used to express fairly equal levels of support for environmental protections.

There’s more – do the check references thing!

Congress, member of both parties, must start by focusing on climate-friendly policies and stop assuming that we must first achieve unanimity on global warming science. People can support the transition to a carbon-free energy future without believing, or even knowing, that it might influence glaciers, coral reefs or Arctic ice.

There is a long list of carbon-reduction measures that strong majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents firmly support, including mandating better fuel efficiency, increasing federal funding for clean-energy research, spending more for mass transit, raising efficiency standards for homes and other buildings, and requiring utilities to produce more energy from renewable sources. They even support limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases – just as long as they are seen as anti-pollution measures, not “caps.”

The Washington Post, by Meg Bostrom, November 14, 2010

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/12/AR2010111202800.html

Also See:

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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 material with quotation makes, 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.

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ADDED REFERENCES

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming [Hardcover] by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway; Published by Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (May 25, 2010) Amazon.com has some well written review of the book, others can be googled.

In Closing

I’ll be posting articles for your comfort and anger 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.

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 its all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequence. However, that’s better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember, there’s no free lunch and as a taxpayer and consumer you must always end up paying the piper!

May your world get greener and all creatures on Earth become healthier and more able to fulfill their function in thi,s Gaia’s world.

Harry, aka doc_Babad

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Previous Greening Columns

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

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/

The materials I share in the articles that follow come from the various weekly science and environmental newsletters to which I subscribe. However, as a fallen chemist I still subscribe to Chemical & Engineering News. A magazine published by the American Chemical Society. I’ve been a member of that organization for over 50 year, despite having switched my attention to the safe disposal of high-level (the hot stuff) nuclear wastes including both those generated in the defense of our country and from the generation of nuclear electricity. So I decided to see what I could glean fro the last half-inch or so of back issues, that might interest our readers.

Chemistry is related to, by less than three degrees of separation, to most aspects of our lives from energy we use, to the production food and safety, medicine to extend our lives, and is a critical part of all the widgets and do-dads that make up our technology toys. So, enough blabbering, here’s the best what I found.

Doc.

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Now, As Usual, in No Formal Order, The Titles of My New Snippets

  • Our World is Really Warming
  • Biofuel Feedstocks From Algae are Getting Big-Gun Attention
  • Natural Gas Drilling Process Draws Environmental Scrutiny
  • Fuel From The Sun — Water + sunlight = fuel.
  • The Value Of Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon Dioxide’s Emissions Control Unsettled Future
  • Microbes To The Rescue? — The Gulf Oil Spill
  • The Gambler — My degree says I’m a doctor, would you let me perform open-heart surgery on you?

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

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Our World is Really Warming this despite the naysayers who keep blowin’ in the wind.

Ten measurable, global features all provide evidence that Earth’s climate  has warmed during the past half-century, according to a report released last week by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 2010, 6, S1). Seven indicators showed an uptick: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and temperature of the troposphere, which is the lowest layer of the atmosphere. And three indicators declined: the extent of Arctic sea ice, the mass of glaciers, and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. “These independently produced lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion: Our planet is warming,” explains NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. NOAA’s “State of the Climate” Report for 2009 is based on information from scientific institutions around the world and includes data from satellites, weather balloons, ships, and field surveys. The report was published as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and is available at www.ncdc.noaa.gov/bams-state-of-the-climate/2009.php.

Doc Sez, no matter how you drink your tea, it can’t all be a conspiracy. Perhaps a universal global hallucination fostered upon us by ET’s whose motives we’ll never figure out, but no a conspiracy. Once again I ask who will gain by fostering denial. It doesn’t mater whether you believe that the change is anthropogenic (Man caused) or not. If the continuing tends, which rely on:

  • Additional varied and improved instrumentation,
  • More and varied collected data sets, and
  • An increasing number of studies by independent investigators

…continues to trend as it has, cause is irrelevant, man, Gaia or G-d, we can become victims or do something about it.

For an excellent, easy to follow overview on the factors that appear to strongly affect global warming check out the Blewbury Energy Initiative UK site   http://www.blewbury.co.uk/energy/warming.htm

Article by Cheryl Hogue, Chemical & Engineering News, August 2, 2010. http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i31/html/8831govc2.html

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Biofuel Feedstocks From Algae are Getting Big-Gun Attention

ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI) opened a greenhouse in La Jolla, Calif., last week to begin testing methods to produce affordable biofuel feedstocks from algae. The two companies became partners a year ago when Exxon agreed to invest $600 million over the next decade in R&D at SGI and in its own labs.

Algae are considered a promising biofuel starting point because they are fast-growing and can be raised on non-arable land. Various companies, from biotech start-ups to Dow Chemical, are pursuing algae-derived biofuels, but the Exxon-SGI alliance is by far the most financially ambitious.

Moving out of the lab into real sunlight is “a small, but important, step,” SGI CEO J. Craig Venter said at a press conference. Although the partners are not yet using a real-world environment, they will begin assessing natural and engineered strains of algae in systems that range from open ponds to closed photo-bioreactors. They plan to evaluate and optimize growth conditions, oil production, harvesting, and recovery.

The collaborators also have conducted lifecycle and sustainability studies to determine the impact of biofuel harvesting on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as on land and water use. In an effort to be independent of agricultural resources, their process uses sunlight, salt water, and carbon dioxide, Venter explained. “Fuels cannot compete with agriculture if this is going be successful.”

They hope to find or design a strain of algae that can secrete the desired long-chain hydrocarbons. “The greenhouse will enable us to go into the next phase of our development plan, which will include a larger test facility outside,” said F. Emil Jacobs, ExxonMobil’s vice president for research. Scaling up into that facility is expected in mid-2011.

So far, the algal products look similar to intermediate streams processed in existing refineries, Jacobs pointed out. Both he and Venter emphasized that the project is long-term and that it will take billions of dollars to reach commercial scale. “We are committed to this activity and will spend money necessary to be successful,” Jacobs remarked.

By Ann M. Thayer, Chemical & Engineering News, July 19, 2010

http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i29/html/8829notw2.html

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Natural Gas Drilling Process Draws Environmental Scrutiny

Doc says, net to resuming offshore drilling, obtain large amounts of natural gas, trapped in US shale deposits is the next big energy brouhaha. What is see is folks getting polarized and hot under the collar, rather than working together t find cost effective solutions to any negative potential environmental impacts for such drilling. After-all oil the burning natural gas for transportation fuel and electricity generation creates less carbon dioxide when burned, in shale based gas is a made in America product. It’s sure has heck easier to move natural gas, and were done with the radioactive, unregulated slag piles that surround our coal powered electrical facilities. — I have only accepted a few ‘semi-random sections of this excellent multi-page article, to wet your appetites. The reason I am sharing this particular article, among the many I’ve googled, is that it ha , despite appearing an a chemistry profession oriented magazine, is even handed about both the hopes and the fears of producing shale stored natural gas by hydrofracturing.

The U.S. has a plentiful supply of natural gas—a clean-burning, efficient  fuel that could help solve the nation’s energy problems, ranging from climate change to dependence on foreign oil, industry proponents contend. But critics say this view is overly optimistic, because the technology for releasing gas embedded deep underground in massive shale fields has not yet been shown to be economical. Such technology could also contaminate water supplies with toxic drilling chemicals.

Geologists have long known that natural gas is abundant in shale rock formations running from the Appalachian Basin to the Rocky Mountains. But the resource has remained largely untapped because of the difficulty in extracting it. In recent years, however, advances in a technology developed decades ago by the petroleum industry to boost production at aging oil wells has helped unlock vast reserves of once-inaccessible natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which millions of gallons of chemically treated water and sand are pumped into the ground at extremely high pressure to generate fractures or cracks in shale rocks and release trapped gas.

Recoverable U.S. gas reserves might now exceed the proven reserves of Russia, the world’s largest natural gas producer, some experts say. In 2009, the Potential Gas Committee, a panel of U.S. industry specialists, found that the nation’s estimated gas reserves had surged 35% since an assessment in 2007. The jump was the largest increase in the 44-year history of reports from the committee.

The U.S. now has about 2,074 trillion cu ft of technically recoverable natural gas resources—enough to meet domestic demand for more than a century at the current rate of consumption.  “New and advanced exploration, well drilling, and completion technologies are allowing us increasingly better access to domestic gas resources—especially unconventional gas—which, not all that long ago, were considered impractical or uneconomical to pursue,” says John B. Curtis, a professor of geology and geological engineering at Colorado School of Mines.

Natural gas is the fuel of choice for a wide range of industries, including chemical manufacturing. In addition to its use in generating electricity, natural gas is also a feedstock for a variety of products, including petrochemicals, plastics, and fertilizers.

Environmental Concerns and Initial Assessment Actions — Although hydraulic fracturing has the potential to turn gas deposits in shale formations into an energy bonanza, the method is coming under increasing scrutiny. Environmental activists and some lawmakers are concerned that the drilling technique may pose a threat to drinking water. Consequently, they argue, the federal government should regulate the drilling practice. Individual states currently monitor fracturing activities.

What worries critics are the chemical additives used in the process to reduce friction, kill bacteria, and prevent mineral buildup. The chemicals make up less than 1% of the overall solution, but some are (may be) hazardous in low concentrations. [The critics provided no peer reviewed references that I could find.]

“We have significant concerns not only about contamination of our water resources, but also depletion of the water table,” says Tracy Dahl, president of the North Fork Ranch Landowners Association in Colorado. “We have already seen significant impacts and expect more to come.”

In an attempt to determine whether federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing is warranted, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) has asked eight oil-field service companies to provide detailed information about the chemicals used in their drilling operations. These will be evaluated to determine their toxicological properties, relative to ground water protection.

Hydraulic fracturing “could help us unlock vast domestic natural gas reserves once thought unattainable,” Waxman noted in a statement. “As we use this technology in more parts of the country on a much larger scale, we must ensure that we are not creating new environmental and public health problems.” The inquiry, he added, will “help us better understand the potential risks this technology poses to drinking-water supplies and the environment, and whether Congress needs to act to minimize those risks.”

The Environmental Protection Agency also intends to conduct a comprehensive research study of the effects of fracturing on water quality and public health. A committee of EPA’s Science Advisory Board is expected to recommend a strategy for conducting the $1.9 million study by this summer. Agency officials have said they intend to have their initial research results completed by the end of 2012. EPA reviewed various past studies on fracturing in 2004 and concluded that the technology poses “little or no threat” to drinking water.

Environmentalists dismissed the finding, claiming it was politically motivated and scientifically unsound.

Poor bewildered Doc! I can’t understand why, according to the referenced link, the environmentalist bashed the 2004 studies but are pleased to have EPA expand and update it?

By Glenn Hess, Chemical & Engineering News, May 31, 2010

http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i22/html/8822gov1.html

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Fuel From The Sun — Water + sunlight = fuel.

This equation embodies the use of solar energy to rip apart water molecules to produce hydrogen, which can be used as an energy-rich fuel for vehicles and to produce electricity. If perfected and made affordable, the technology  could supply a substantial portion of future global energy demand, which is anticipated to double between now and 2050.

Key to solar water splitting is developing inexpensive catalysts to capture light efficiently and speed the process while minimizing the amount of electricity needed to drive the electrochemistry. Most catalysts so far have less than stellar efficiencies, rely on expensive and rare metals, or tend to be easily deactivated under harsh working conditions.

Two U.S. research groups have recently reported breakthrough developments that could signal a new wave of progress in producing H2 via solar water splitting. Daniel G. Nocera and coworkers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have made a heterogeneous cobalt phosphate water-oxidation catalyst <chemical stuff> with improved stability. And Craig L. Hill of Emory University and coworkers have created a related homogeneous cobalt catalyst supported by bulky polytungstate ligands <more great chemical stuff> that displays improved catalytic activity. Both catalysts are made from Earth-abundant elements, avoid organic ligands that are prone to oxidation during electrolysis, have a built-in mechanism for self-repair to improve lifetime, and operate at neutral pH with modest electricity input.

Development of such cobalt water-oxidation catalysts do benefit from federal initiatives to harness solar power to make hydrogen fuel. If perfected and made affordable, the technology could supply a substantial portion of future global energy demand, which is anticipated to double between now and 2050. Key to solar water splitting is developing inexpensive catalysts to capture light efficiently and speed the process while minimizing the amount of electricity needed to drive the electrochemistry. Most catalysts so far have less than stellar efficiencies, rely on expensive and rare metals, or tend to be easily deactivated under harsh working conditions.

A company, which Nocera started last year to develop inexpensive solar-powered water-splitting systems <E.g., Direct sunlight to electricity via hydrogen as fuel to make H2 for a fuel cell that generates electricity. His company has garnered more than $4 million in ARPA-E funds. “ARPA-E is having an incredible impact on other small companies, enabling us to follow our dreams to turn science into technology and eventually into commercial products,” In a full, but not totally energy conserving cycle, In fuel cells, which also require catalysts, the opposite reactions take place to release the energy stored in the H–H bonds: hydrogen and oxygen are fed into a fuel cell, releasing electrons to make electricity and producing water.

Commercial technology to derive H2 from water by electrolysis has been available for nearly a century. Because electrolysis remains expensive, industrial H2 production continues to be primarily by steam reforming of petroleum and by coal gasification, both of which are based on limited fossil resources, comments Matthias Beller of Leibniz Institute for Catalysis at Germany’s University of Rostock, who studies iron-based H2-generating catalysts. “Clearly, on a mid- to long-term basis, there is an essential demand for alternative technologies to generate H2 in a more sustainable manner if it is to be used as a transportation fuel and for producing electricity,” Beller says. “Photocatalytic water splitting offers the most straightforward production of H2 from H2O. In this respect, the recent work from the Nocera and Hill groups is highly interesting.”

Water splitting is a two-stage process. In an electrolysis cell, water is oxidized at the positive electrode, or anode, to form oxygen, along with four hydrogen ions and four electrons. The hydrogen ions migrate to the negative electrode, or cathode, where two hydrogen ions [H+] are reduced by two electrons arriving through an external circuit to form hydrogen gas. Of the two electrode processes, both of which require a catalyst to be efficient, the water-oxidation reaction is more complex and thermodynamically demanding.

Also check out Mitch Jacoby’s article Hydrogen From Sun And Water, Chemical & Engineering News, AUGUST 10, 2009. It shows how the science is increasing the efficiency of such catalysts, a key to making them cost effective.http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/87/i32/8732notw.html 

For a different approach check out Getting to the Hydrogen Highway Via the Nano Road, by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, August 20, 2009. http://newscenter.lbl.gov/feature-stories/2009/04/20/hydrogen-highway-nano-road/

There’s lots more… if what I shared is not enough check both “fuel cells” and Water Splitting in Wikipedia or just Google the terms. You’d be amazed! Not much of this has approached cost effective commercialization, but methinks were getting close. One interesting sidelight — Fuels produce direct current, not the usual AC current in our walls; this is the type of electricity that Edison was promoting in days gone by.

Article by Stephen K. Ritter Chemical & Engineering News, 88(27), July 05, 2010

http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i27/html/8827sci1.html

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The Value Of Carbon Dioxide Where some see pollution, Andrew Bocarsly sees products

I found this article while browsing a recent C&EN issue and decided to share it because it pushed a button in my mind. Almost of the ways of dealing with the excess carbon dioxide in the environment call for what is in essence throwing it away.  Whether that’s by pumping into a deep geological formation, or precipitating it into the ocean bottom; even using it to enhance oil recovery for spent wells — it’s all a toss the stuff game.  Albeit, Dr. Bocarsly’s science is just at the invention stage, it is one of the few approached that I’ve read that use the infamous greenhouse gas as raw material. The other alternatives are to grow trees, or other vegetation including algae to use them for creating bio fuels.

Andrew Bocarsly’s lab at Princeton University looks like any photo-electrochemistry lab you might stumble into. Crumpled pieces of aluminum foil cloak light-sensitive chemical reactions. Three-necked flasks decorate the bench tops like vases sprouting electrodes instead of flowers. But it’s a chemical you can’t see that’s become a focus for the Bocarsly lab in recent years—carbon dioxide, specifically the CO2 pollution that pours out of cars and power plants each day.

Two years ago, Bocarsly reported that with the help of a pyridinium catalyst he was able to use visible light to transform CO2 into methanol (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 6342). The process uses a light-driven gallium phosphide semiconductor electrode to reduce carbon dioxide gas that’s bubbled through a pyridinium solution. <Okay, that more chemistry than you wanted, but keep reading anyway – this is just another hopefully great magical POfS*>.

Since that time, the research has spun off in two directions: In Bocarsly’s lab at Princeton, there’s been an intensive effort to understand the mechanism behind this process and in a research park five miles north of campus, a small company called Liquid Light is trying to capitalize on it.

In 2008, Kyle Teamey, Liquid Light’s chief operating officer, was working as an entrepreneur-in-residence with Redpoint Ventures. He read Bocarsly’s Journal of the American Chemical Society communication and thought the technology had promise. “With any catalytic process there are certain things you look for,” Teamey says. “You look for energy efficiency, the stability of the catalyst, the kinetics. Several factors need to come together for a catalytic process to work efficiently, particularly when you’re looking at commodity markets where products are made at large scale. We were attracted to this technology because it displayed factors that generally indicate it has potential.

“Ultimately what we’d like to do is make CO2 a feedstock for producing fuels and chemicals. That’s the ultimate vision,” Teamey says. For that to happen, Bocarsly’s process needs to compete cost-wise with traditional methanol production. It’s not enough to be doing something that’s environmentally friendly by removing excess CO2 from the air. Liquid Light needs to compete financially.

There’s a lot more including so me interesting chemistry for those like me who are so inclined. Also note that POfS is a pinch of stuff.

By Bethany Halford, Chemical & Engineering News, JUNE 28, 2010

http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i26/html/8826sci1.html

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Carbon Dioxide’s Emissions Control Unsettled Future Technologies to reel in greenhouse gas emissions abounds, but can’t move forward without policy actions

With world population climbing, and energy demand along with it, countries are trying to figure out how to minimize the global-warming consequences of carbon-based energy. The challenges are enormous: Because of differences in energy resources, nations around the world have different abilities to shift away from fossil fuel and to adapt technologies that reduce CO2 emissions. And many of those technologies are not moving as fast as they could be because of uncertainty in public policies to reduce CO2 emissions. These are the take-home messages from a conference held to stimulate ideas and form collaborations to quicken the pace of development and implementation of CO2-emissions-reducing technologies.

“Many scientists and engineers recognize that energy production and controlling greenhouse gas emissions are our biggest technology challenges today,” chemical engineer Frank Zhu told C&EN. “If we continue business as usual, we can’t imagine how CO2 emissions are going to impact the planet.”

Zhu pointed out at a recent global warming related conference’s opening remarks, that countries around the globe are pursuing three CO2 solution pathways: (1) CO2 reduction, (2) CO2 rejection, and (3) CO2 dilution,

To “reduce” CO2, countries can cut emissions by improving the efficiency  of vehicles, electricity generation, and industrial processing, he said. To “reject” CO2, countries can develop ways to burn coal cleanly and use technologies to capture and store CO2 to keep the greenhouse gas out of Earth’s atmosphere. And to “dilute” CO2, countries can reduce their use of fossil fuel and increase use of carbon-neutral biofuels and alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind.

The public would like to have clean energy from these new technologies, but at the same price as petroleum-based products, Powell said. “We can’t implement new technologies for free, but our challenge is to do it at the lowest cost possible and with as limited a footprint as we can—new energy technologies have to be cheap, clean, and convenient.”

Doc sez, I can’t figure out how to get any more than two of three of these goals optimized simultaneously – something has to give. This sounds too much like ‘a free lunch’. On top of that there have to be customers willing to pay for what you produce.

Globally, three sequestration technologies are actively being developed: storage in saline aquifers in sandstone formations, where the CO2 is expected to mineralize into carbonates over time; injection into deep, uneconomic coal seams; and injection into depleted or low-producing oil and natural gas reservoirs.

Overall, billions of tons of CO2 must be captured and stored per year to stabilize atmospheric CO2 at levels that should moderate global warming. Global capacity for sequestration is pegged at hundreds of billions of tons of CO2, adequate for several hundred years of storage. Currently, only tens of millions of tons of CO2—most of it from natural gas and not coal-fired power plants—are being squirreled away by demonstration storage projects and oil and natural gas mining operations.

George A. Richards, focus area leader for energy system dynamics at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, agreed: “We need more energy, and it needs to be affordable, especially for countries with developing economies,” he said. “Like the U.S., these countries are going to use the fossil-fuel resources available to them first. It’s imperative we develop CO2 capture and sequestration technologies that will allow us to do that. And that means we can’t abandon fossil-fuel energy research solely in favor of renewables.”

Like most of the attendees at a recent CO2 summit, DOE’s Richards believes many different energy technologies, from coal to solar, will be integral parts of the future energy mix. It’s not possible to know politically or economically which ones will play leading roles. “Predicting the future is easy, but predicting it correctly is more difficult,” he quipped. “I can say with confidence that we need more energy, and we want to manage the CO2 emissions.

There’s lot more about the international perspectives on how to control and dispose CO2.  However, most technical experts continue believe “If we continue business as usual, we can’t imagine how CO2 emissions are going to impact the planet.

By Stephen K. Ritter, Chemical & Engineering News, July 26, 2010.

http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i30/html/8830sci1.html

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Microbes To The Rescue? — The Gulf Oil Spill

The fate of spilled oil in the Gulf rests with the hydrocarbon-digesting microbes colonizing underwater plumes.  Millions of gallons of oil now drift throughout the Gulf of Mexico in massive, underwater plumes. Last week, scientists from the University of South Florida confirmed that this submerged oil came from BP’s leaking well more than 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Over the past three months, the high pressure at the wellhead has pulverized the oil, while chemical dispersants have broken it into microscopic droplets. Unlike surface oil slicks, which physical forces such as evaporation can degrade, the fate of these hovering oil clouds—and by extension the Gulf’s ecological future—lies chiefly with a biological process: the conversion of hydrocarbons into less harmful byproducts by marine bacteria.

After an April 20 explosion sank the Deepwater Horizon exploration rig and started the largest oil spill in U.S. history, microbiologists have converged on the Gulf to investigate the microbial composition throughout its waters and affected coastlines. According to Joel Kostka, a microbial ecologist at Florida State University, Tallahassee, the fundamental goals of this research are to determine the oil’s impact on the Gulf’s microbial ecosystems and to assess how limiting factors, chiefly oxygen concentrations, influence microbial oil degradation. Results could supply insights not only into the Gulf’s ongoing recovery, Kostka says, but also into how scientists might direct cleanup operations more efficiently.

Preliminary data collected by these researchers show that marine microbes have mobilized across the Gulf and are in fact chewing their way through the oil plumes. These monitoring efforts have chiefly focused on drops in dissolved oxygen levels, a sign of microbial metabolism. Graduate students working with Andreas Teske, a marine biologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, collected water samples from May 26 to June 8 aboard the University of Miami’s research vessel (RV) Walton Smith. They found that alkane hydrocarbon -digesting bacteria have colonized the Deepwater Horizon oil plumes and have begun to consume significant amounts of dissolved oxygen.

Likewise, David Valentine, a microbial geochemist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has observed microbe-associated oxygen declines in plumes of oil and methane gas. In these “gassy” plumes located within a 5- to 7-mile radius of the wellhead and at depths greater than 2,500 feet, oxygen levels drop by between 5 and 35%, he says. Valentine gathered his samples from June 11 to June 20, while aboard the RV Cape Hatteras, operated by the Duke/University of North Carolina Oceanographic Consortium. Also in a July 23 report, the US government’s Joint Analysis Group described dissolved oxygen drops at depths below 1,000 meters near the wellhead, where BP crews have injected dispersants directly into the leaking oil.

But scientists don’t exactly know yet which bacteria species are present in these plumes. The Gulf has a “leaky” seafloor, populated with natural seeps that discharge between 560,000 to 1.4 million bbl of crude oil ever year, according to a 2003 National Research Council report on oil spills. Also hydrocarbons in general are ubiquitous in the ocean and can be found not only in seeping oil, but also in plant waxes and lobster shells. Myriad marine bacteria have evolved to consume these hydrocarbons, and now the spill has allowed them to travel beyond their natural food sources.

Doc sez, like all solutions, natural or man-made, there’s a bit of Yang with every Ying. The bacterial action may reduce spilled oil toxicity and other damage, but we don’t know how server the oxygen depletion effects will be on the marine ecosystem. Guys and Gals – this is nature. Not man-caused in action so we need to watch the wheel turning to intercede, if we can, should things go badly awry.

By Charles Schmidt, Chemical & Engineering News, August 2, 2010.

http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i31/html/8831news1.html

Also check out:Cleaning Up The Gulf Oil SpillResponse teams use multiple techniques, including a new one, to try to protect coastal wetlands. Article by Michael Torrice Chemical & Engineering News, May 13, 2010  

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/88/8820sci3.html

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I’d like to close this column with a copy of an article called The Gambler sent to me by my colleague John Droz, jr. — A physicist & environmental advocate.

The Gambler

When we are confronted with questions of science we often have neither the resources nor intellectual rigor to properly do our homework. In our ignorance, we have a habit of bestowing quasi-mystical properties on our own creations in much the same way as the faithful can be moved and inspired by splendid architecture or pious icons. Our instincts suggest that this level of expenditure, the moral correctness of the enterprise, and the weight of our investments in hope and good intentions, must surely prove the underlying theory.

It stands to reason that we wouldn’t have gone so far down this path if the technology didn’t work. We take it as a given that somebody — our scientists, our politicians, our priests, or our parents — has done the intellectual heavy lifting already. Alas, this is seldom the case, and definitely not so here.

In the disciplines of politics and parenting, expedience is quite often the order of the day, and obfuscation, misdirection and white lies are the tools of implementation.

In a world currently focused on all things green it is perceived to be politically irresponsible to be circumspect or behind the curve. “We have to do something, or every little bits helps” have now become the mantra.

The “something” our representatives are endorsing is for us to pay exorbitant premiums to people who have no more background in power production than does the local school marm. We are asked to line the developer’s seemingly limitless pockets with unrequited subsidies and incentives — despite the fact that green energy solutions on the production side of the equation have been shown, the world over, to be window dressing, canards and delusions.

In so doing we will divert resources, time and attention away from more meaningful solutions, and from programs like conservation and reuse — options and programs that we know reduce our impact on the environment.

Instead, we will expend greater resources, build bigger more impressive monuments and blindly put our faith in the promises of others — despite all the empirical science to the contrary. We will convince ourselves that our good intentions plus the size and scope of the effort is evidence enough of its merit.

We are being seduced by the splendor of the temple without taking the time to see the emptiness of the catechism.

Frankly, I’d rather just pray. It costs less, holds equal promise, and is not a blight on the landscape.

The Gambler — Translated from a post by Gord McDonald — in the Wellington Times, April 16, 2010” http://wellingtontimes.ca/?p=1025

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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.

In addition, when duplicating materials that I cite, I do not fill the material with quotation makes, 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, usually indented.

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In Closing

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 its all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequences. However, that’s better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember, there’s no free lunch and as a taxpayer and consumer you shall always end up paying the piper!

Readers Again Please Take Note — Many of the technologies I share still have to prove that they are reliable, durable, scalable and cost effective. They also have to demonstrate that we will not fall victim top the law of unintended consequences when we implement them. If you care to Google them in detail, you will find studies saying they are capable of being commercialized and often as many studies that whose authors remain skeptical. Putting ones money where one mouth is creates one method of determining the reality of a dream still to come true. Ask any one with a technical start-up company – the big cost is the leap from bench scale to operational facility. Sometime not that is a good test – look at the ethanol plants that have shut down in the mid-west.

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

Harry, aka doc_Babad

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Previous Greening Columns

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

— Apple’s tools to shortcut your daily workload

Introduction:

A few months ago I attended a very interesting Mid-Columbia Macintosh club (Tri-Cities, WA) and listened to Scott Armstrong our president discuss Snow Leopard and his favorite Macintosh 101 things. At that time, I once again realized the degree of redundancy and flexibility of the OS X operating system, which allows you to ‘compute’ in your own personalized way.

In Apple advertising lingo:

  • “The Power to Be Your Best”
  • The Computer for the rest of us”

As Scott discussed the dock and sidebar with our members, I again became aware of how many tools, Apple’s and those created by others, there were to support accessibility and access to your files, documents and applications. These do and will allow you to organize and quickly access items in your startup hard drive, network and mounted volumes. Such tools, those I’ve set up and work with daily, to make life easier during the 6+ hours/day I spend ‘mac-puting’ — but otherwise pay no attention to.

I’m not going to tell you how to organize your files and folders in a manner that suits your working style but yet allows you to understand/remember in 6 moths, where stuff is stashed. I did that several times over the years:

  • Thank Goodness — Your Mac is Not a File Cabinet, One person’s guide to hard disk organization [MacNut 2003]
  • Organizing Your Mac, The Responsible Macintosh Column, macCompanion, Nov 2008.
  • There’s one more 5-7 years ago, but I named it weird and haven’t time to play Spotlight games to find it.

Triple Play – Full House, Whatever!

Actually your choices create at least a full house with a little help from shareware and freeware. I use DEVONtechnologies free XMenu  1.9 (Snow Leopard compatible) and have used Unsanity’s shareware Fruit Menu, being updated to snow leopard. More on these and other possible file/folder accessibility program alternatives, below. Now the details…

My Menu Bar (Apple OS X) — Without the use of an add-on application, this is the least flexible of Apple’s OS related tools. But I do use enhancement tools, since mousing to the menubar is a good way for me to go.

A few samples

My Dock (Apple OS X)

As you know the left hand side of the dock is reserved for applications I use it for my frequently used items as well as temporary storage for applications I’m testing. The dock’s right side focused on storing frequently used folders or documents.  I’ve illustrated this by four example, read the Apple help files to learn more about configuring your dock.

Doc’s Dock, A Snapshot – An Ever Changing Mix

Professional FilesHousehold Files

Nuclear Energy Book I Revision

MacUpdate site link

Main Professional Societies

Amazon.com Link

macCompanion

Energy Books and Projects

Orders and More-Taxes 2010

Asian Recipes plus Pasta & Seafood

NON-Asian Recipes w/o Pasta & Seafood

Home Related—to Finish or File

Databases and FilesComputer Related – General

Three Rivers Folklife Society

Active Links

Seldom Used Installed Applications

Burn to CD/DVD Images

Current Active Consulting Projects

Library {Apples}

Applications {Apples}

Documents {Apples}

Harry’s Documents

Harry – Home

Trash

Note — Temporary Items are marked in blue. The contents of my permanent folders change but the categories usually don’t.   I also store some of these permanent  and temporary folders on my sidebar, but I do prefer using the Dock or augmented menu based tools most of the time.

I here share just the barest how-to summary:

  • To add a file or folder, drag its icon from a Finder window to the right hand side of the Dock
  • To add an application, drag its icon from a Finder window to the left side of the Dock
  • To arrange or rearrange items in the Dock, drag them into the order you prefer. (This can be tricky since icons vary in grab-ability, so don’t give up)
  • To remove an item, drag it off the dock — Poof, it’s gone. No, not the item on your hard disk or mounted volume, it’s only an alias.

My Side Bar (Apple OS X)

Finder windows have a sidebar on the left side of the window that displays icons for items you use frequently, including disks, servers, and folders. To open a Finder window, click the Finder icon in the Dock. If the sidebar is not visible, open the View menu and choose Show Sidebar. If Show Sidebar is dimmed, choose Show Toolbar. [From Apple’s help.]

To add, remove, and rearrange items in the sidebar:

  • To add a file, folder, or application to the sidebar, drag its icon to the Places section.
  • To remove an item, drag its icon out of the sidebar. Although the icon disappears, the original is still in its place on your computer. 
You can’t remove items from the Shared section.
  • To rearrange items, drag to where you want them in the sidebar.
 Note, you can’t rearrange items in the Shared section.

My Other Goodies to Supplement Apple’s Tools.

X-Menu 1.9 —XMenu adds one or more global menus to the right side of the menu bar. They give you access to your preferred applications, folders, documents, files, and snippets. Launch any application or insert text snippets or URLs into your email messages or Pages documents with a single menu choice. Freeware from Devon Technologies)

FruitMenu 3.8 — FruitMenu is a haxie that gives you the ability to customize the Apple Menu and contextual menus. Using a visual editor you can edit the contents of the menus to suit your needs and taste. FruitMenu will also display the contents of the FruitMenu Items folder inside of your Library folder, launch applications and shell scripts from the Apple Menu and contextual menus, to allow easy file navigation and launching. To make the haxie completely flexible and customizable, you can assign hotkeys to particular menu items. (Shareware $15 from Unsanity LLC) now for Snow Leopard

Other Possibilities

…More than we would ever need, at least most of us. These tools are either supplements to and/or enhancements to Apple’s dock, or add to the flexibility of the Apple Menu bar. They go by various category names, so read the application titles below and re-learn the jargon. Although I’ve tested a few of these items and continue to do so, I’ve not been convinced I need my than my present ‘full house’ of tools.

Dock-It 2.7.4 — Dock-It is a multifunctional launcher and Finder enhancer for the Mac OS X operating system. It utility allows for multiple docks & more. (Shareware $10.00 – Gideon Softworks).

Dock Spaces 3.10 — Have 5 different docks and swap them from the menubar. Freeware Patrick Chamelo)

AppMenuBoy 1.0.4 — When Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) changed the way that folders are represented in the Dock, I lost a handy start menu made by dragging the Applications folder to the end of the dock. AppMenuBoy is a small Cocoa application that creates a hierarchical menu of your apps in the dock and menubar Freeware David Phillip Oster

DragThing 5.9.5Tidy up your desktop with this versatile launcher. DragThing, the original dock augmentation software, is designed to tidy up your Macintosh desktop. It puts all your documents, folders, and applications just a single click away. Highly flexible, it allows multiple docks, each customized to suit your exact needs. It stores frequently used clippings such as text and pictures, and lets you easily paste them into other applications with just a click. Shareware $29 by James Thompson)

Application Switcher Menu 2.3 — ASM (Application Switcher Menu) is a small utility that adds a system-wide menu to the right side of the menubar. This menu lists all of your open applications, so you can easily switch between them. And you can set ASM to automagically hide other apps when you switch to another app! This is one utility you must have! Brings back the application switcher menu (and more) to Mac OS X. It’s highly customizable and offers some nice extra features, such as Classic Window Mode (orders all windows of an application to front when it becomes active) or Single Application Mode (automatically hides applications other than the front-most one). Frank Vercruesse $9.50)

Overflow 2.5.7 — Overflow is an application designed to quickly launch applications, open documents, or access folders while reducing the number of items needed in your Dock. Anything you want can be added to the Overflow interface, making it accessible through a few simple mouse clicks or keystrokes. The interface is resizable, and fully customizable. Create separate categories for your applications, work files, games, or anything else you want to be able to access quickly. After using Overflow, we think you’ll find it just as indispensable as we do. Stunt Software Shareware 14.95

LaunchBar 5.0.2 — is an award winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the web. It provides instant access to your applications, documents, contacts and bookmarks, to your music library, to search engines and more, just by entering short abbreviations of the searched item’s name. Shareware, Objective Development $35.00

QuickAccessCM 1.7.1 — QuickAccessCM is a contextual menu plug-in for easy access to frequently used folders, documents and applications. It can be used as a launcher, file commander or installer. QuickAccessCM plugin provides a number of access augmenting feature has independent modules to your contextual menus.

Final Thoughts

If this is NOT enough to get you moving then go use Google — Check: Organizing Your Mac. Also check the MacUpdate site for utilizes of you choice and updates to the ones you use.

In addition you might try, Apple OS X Spaces (a tool which I ignore.) – its purpose is to organize your main windows into ‘project’ groups to decrease desktop and window clutter and increase access to project specific tools and documents. Perhaps if I were using a small screen based computer and traveling with it, I’d try it but my iMac’s 24” screen is plenty large enough for my work.

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

Acknowledgments: Unless otherwise noted I have provided the additional sources for the material in these articles. I also found in my many notes I’ve stashed for future articles, that certain themes keep coming up, that parallel what I’ve read or practiced.  In most cases I have acknowledged as well as modified the original document(s) to personalize them for my own use and for you our readers.

As needed the information provided was created, and as appropriate demonstrated on my iMac 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2 GB installed 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM now running Snow Leopard Mac OS X version 10.6.4 with all current security updates installed.

This article was originally published in the April issue of macCompanion, and has been updated for our readers. Alas, macCompanion is no longer published so we’re cherry picking the best and most relevant our recent writing for the MHBlog.

By Harry Babad © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

Introduction

With A Chip on My Shoulder — I avoid greening sites that equate a demonstration of a concept (e.g., a lab or small scale pilot scale test) to having an industrially viable commercial solution that an instant cure all for our environmental and energy woes. My paradigm, government subsidies don’t make things commercial viable — Indeed, governments have, internationally, been shown to consistently pick losers whether as energy-green or in other technology areas. . [E.g., Corn ethanol vs Food, No cost unmetered water policies in a world of drought and shortages or off shore oil as an energy cure-all.] In addition, subsidizing industry to use its politically sold favorites… no way.

Read more 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/

The information I share in the articles that follows comes from the various weekly science and environmental newsletters to which I subscribe. When I have time, I also check a variety of energy related and environmental blogs.

Article selection (my article – my choice} are obviously and intentionally biased by my training, experience and at times my emotional and philosophical views of what works and what will not… If you want more information, read the article by clicking on its link. If that does not satisfy, Google a bit.

Bottom Line: The resulting column contains a mini-summary with links to articles I found interesting. I also get technology feeds from the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Economist, Business Week, Discover Magazine, various international advocacy groups, and the American Nuclear Society. I also subscribe to a number of technology blogs, which are identified when I use their posted contents.

Why a Greening Column? — This all started while writing two textbooks on things nuclear for high school students and their teachers. Googling and reading subscription turned out as a good way as any to keep up with a rapidly changing world of energy and greening – for example who would have thought a few weeks ago that off shore oil might not be the main route to US energy independence, climate change be damned?

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 its all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Remember today’s favorite is tomorrows unintended consequences. However, soling unintended consequences is better than sticking one’s head in the sand. As Charles Dickens would have likely agreed — It was the best of times, the worst of times.

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No, As Usual, in No Formal Order, a Bakers Dozen Snippets

——— A List of Their Titles ———

  • Building Better Biofuels
  • EPA Proposes Stronger Air Quality Standards For Sulfur Dioxide /New Standard To Protect Millions of The Nation’s Most Vulnerable Citizens)
  • E-Transportation Jump-Start: Coalition Seeks to Pave the Way for Electric Vehicles
  • Don’t Bet On a Hydrogen Car Anytime Soon
  • Engineer Designs Micro-Endoscope to Seek Out Early Signs of Cancer
  • Experts Say — The Smart Grid Poses Privacy Risks
  • The Six Greatest Threats to U.S. Cyber Security
  • Battery Research Aims To Store Renewable Energy
  • A New Route{s} to Cellulosic Biofuels
  • As Nuclear Reactor Fleet Ages, Engineers Ask,’ Is 80 the New 40?
  • The Hidden Costs Of Fossil Fuels – And Biofuels, Too
  • Native Grasses An Explosive Idea For Cleaning Contaminated Soil
  • 10 Reasons Not to Revive the Nuclear Power Industry

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Building Better Biofuels

By Dr. Tim Donohue, Director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

(PhysOrg.com) — Making biofuels from plants brings opportunities and challenges, according to Dr. Tim Donohue, Director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, one of three U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers. The opportunity lies in the availability. Donohue gave a talk at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Frontiers in Biological Sciences Seminar Series. The series features academic government and industrial leaders who discuss novel ideas and scientific advances in biological sciences.

“We’re trying to replace fossil fuels in the liquid transportation fuels sector, so we have to use a readily available feedstock. Cellulose is the most abundant organic material on the planet,” said Donohue. It consists largely of sugar polymers (glucose plus others) that can be converted to other fuels by catalytic or microbial chemistries. And these sugars come from the non-edible parts of the plants, rather than from food sources.

The challenges include getting at the sugars trapped in insoluble fibers of the cellulose wall, and the variety of cellulosics. “Plants being considered are hardwood, softwood, corn, and switch grass. However, there’s likely no one magic solution,” said Donohue. One of the Center’s roles is to come up with the varying solutions needed.

Read more about the benefits and present limitations on biofuels production.

PysOrg.com Blog       Science-Physics-Technology-Nanotechnology News

November 17th, 2009 – Article Provided by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

http://www.physorg.com/wire-news/19935327/building-better-biofuels.html

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EPA Proposes Stronger Air Quality Standards for Sulfur Dioxide /New standard to protect millions of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens)

WASHINGTON – For the first time in nearly 40 years, EPA is proposing to strengthen the nation’s sulfur dioxide (SO2) air quality standard to protect public health. Power plants and other industrial facilities emit SO2 directly into the air. Exposure to SO2 can aggravate asthma, cause respiratory difficulties, and result in emergency room visits and hospitalization. People with asthma, children, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to SO2’s effects.

“Short-term exposures to peak SO2 levels can have significant health effects – especially for children and the elderly – and leave our families and taxpayers saddled with high health care costs,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We’re strengthening clean air standards, stepping up monitoring and reporting in communities most in need, and providing the American people with protections they rightly deserve.”

EPA is taking comment on a proposal to establish a new national one-hour SO2 standard, between 50 and 100 parts per billion (ppb). This standard is designed to protect against short-term exposures ranging from five minutes to 24 hours. Because the revised standards would be more protective, EPA is proposing to revoke the current 2 4-hour and annual SO2 health standards.

EPA also is proposing changes to monitoring and reporting requirements for SO2. Monitors would be placed in areas with high SO2 emission levels as well as in urban areas. The proposal also would change the Air Quality Index to reflect the revised SO2 standards. This change would improve states’ ability to alert the public when short-term SO2 levels may affect their health.

The proposal addresses only the SO2 primary standards, which are designed to protect public health. EPA will address the secondary standard – designed to protect the public welfare, including the environment – as part of a separate proposal in 2011.

EPA first set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for SO2 in 1971, establishing both a primary standard to protect health and a secondary standard to protect the public welfare. Annual average SO2 concentrations have decreased by more than 71 percent since 1980

US Environmental Protection Agency  — Release date: 11-07-2009

Cathy Milbourn

http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d985312f6895893b852574ac005f1e40/f4dcb340a6d523608525767100770756!OpenDocument

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E-Transportation Jump-Start: Coalition Seeks to Pave the Way for Electric Vehicles By Larry Greenemeier 

Although the widespread adoption of electric vehicles and their related infrastructure has always suffered from chicken-and-egg syndrome, Nissan and FedEx, along with several utilities and technology companies have formed a coalition to break the stalemate. At a press conference Monday in Washington, D.C., the Electrification Coalition announced its formation as well as a new 130-page report on the dangers of oil dependence, the benefits of electric vehicles, and ways to overcome roadblocks that have kept these vehicles from being deployed en masse.

Sixty percent of the petroleum used by the U.S. daily comes from foreign sources, FedEx CEO Fred Smith said at the launch event, adding that 90 percent of all U.S. transportation is petroleum-powered. Smith made clear his position that reliance on foreign oil is “in no small way related” to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This energy mentality has to change because the U.S.’s dependence on foreign oil has created what amounts to a security risk for the country as a whole, said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D–N.D.), who also spoke at Monday’s event.

The coalition’s position is that a move to electric vehicles would help the U.S. combat the economic, environmental and national security vulnerabilities caused by the country’s petroleum dependence. The coalition’s “Electrification Roadmap” report predicts that if by 2040, 75 percent of light-duty vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. are covered by electric vehicles, oil consumption in that fleet would be reduced by more than 75 percent, and “U.S. crude oil imports could effectively be reduced to zero.”

With the number of vehicles on the planet expected to grow from 600 million today to 2.5 billion by 2050, this group of companies sees electric vehicles as the best alternative, given concerns of foreign oil dependency, oil prices and climate change.

The Electrification Coalition, made up of carmaker Nissan Co., various utilities and tech companies.  Read more that the link below.

Scientific American

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=electrification-coalition

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Don’t Bet On a Hydrogen Car Anytime Soon

By Curt Suplee

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a familiar techno-turkey is back on the national policy table: the hydrogen-powered car. The Obama administration had flatlined funding for President George W. Bush’s pet initiative, briefly but heavily touted a few years back as the driving force toward a future “hydrogen economy” in which gas would displace gasoline.

Two wars and a financial sinkhole later, most Americans had managed to forget the whole thing. But then last month the Senate improbably restored $187 million for H-car research programs to an appropriations bill.

Okay, that’s barely enough to cover one year’s bonuses on the lower floors at AIG. But why is it there at all? The answer lies in the persistent, hypnotic allure of hydrogen eco-mythology, with its promise of breaking our addiction to fossil fuels and foreign oil while banishing greenhouse pollution from our skies — a vision most pointedly embodied in the hydrogen car. Or, more accurately, the notion of the hydrogen car.

Electrical current from a fuel cell, a device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, powers the prototypical H-car. The principle involved is a schoolroom classic: If you stick two electrodes into a beaker of water, the electrical energy breaks H2O apart into its ingredients, H and O, in a process called electrolysis. A fuel cell does the same thing in reverse, putting separate H’s and O’s back together into water molecules and thereby producing electrical energy, which can be used to run a motor. Click the Link — Read On.

The Washington Post, Tuesday, November 17, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/16/AR2009111602668.html

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Engineer Designs Micro-Endoscope to Seek Out Early Signs of Cancer

Traditional endoscopes provide a peek inside patients’ bodies. Now, a University of Florida engineering researcher is designing ones capable of a full inspection.

Physicians currently insert camera-equipped endoscopes into patients to hunt visible abnormalities, such as tumors, in the gastrointestinal tract and internal organs. Huikai Xie, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is working on replacing the cameras with scanners that “see” beneath the surface of tissues — revealing abnormal groups of cells or growth patterns before cancerous growths are big enough to be visible.

“Right now, endoscopes just take pictures of the surface tissue. So, if you see some injury, or abnormality, on the surface, that’s good,” Xie said. “But most of the time, particularly with cancer, the early stages of disease are not so obvious. The technology we are developing is basically to see under the surface, under the epithelial layer.”

Experiments with the professor’s scanning “micro-endoscopes” on animal tissue have been promising, although his devices have yet to be tested in people. The pencil-sized or smaller-sized endoscopes could one day allow physicians to detect tumors at earlier stages and remove tumors more precisely, increasing patients’ chances of survival and improving patients’ quality of life.

Xie and his graduate students have authored at least 40 papers on various aspects of the research, which is supported with more than $1 million in grants, primarily from the National Science Foundation. In September, he delivered an invited talk, “MEMS-Based 3D Optical Micro-endoscopy,” at the 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. He also recently launched a small company, the Gainesville-based WiOptix Inc., to speed commercialization of his scanning technology.

With current camera-equipped endoscopes, once doctors spot abnormalities, they typically perform a biopsy, and then send the suspicious tissue to a laboratory. But biopsy is risky and may cause bleeding and even trauma. Also, it usually takes a couple of days to receive the analysis of the biopsy sample from the laboratory. If it is cancerous, surgeons may attempt to remove the abnormality and surrounding tissue, using either endoscopes equipped for surgery or traditional surgical methods.

Xie’s endoscopes replace the cameras with infrared scanners smaller than pencil erasers. The heart of his scanner is a micro-electromechanical system, or MEMS, device: A tiny motorized MEMS mirror that pivots back and forth to reflect a highly focused infrared beam.

Computers process the return signal from the endoscopes, transforming it into a three-dimensional image of the surface tissue and the tissue beneath. One scanner even produces a 360-degree-image of all the tissue surrounding the endoscope. Doctors or other trained observers can then search the image for abnormalities or suspicious growth patterns. There’s more click on!

Also check out http://www.u.arizona.edu/~kuchi/Research/index.html

AScribe Newswire, Nov. 19 2009

http://www.ascribe.org/cgi-bin/behold.pl?ascribeid=20091119.080049&time=08%2021%20PST&year=2009&public=1

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Experts Say — The Smart Grid Poses Privacy Risks

By Brian Krebs

Technologists already are worried about the security implications of linking nearly all elements of the U.S. power grid to the public Internet. Now, privacy experts are warning that the so-called “smart grid” efforts could usher in a new class of concerns, as utilities begin collecting more granular data about consumers’ daily power consumption.

<Doc Sez, so what’s new – first the telegraph, then the cell phone. Now the Internet and the cell phone and soon the grid. Establish controls, enforce them HARSHLY and live with the reality that what can be done – will be done.>

“The modernization of the grid will increase the level of personal information detail available as well as the instances of collection, use and disclosure of personal information,” warns a report (PDF) jointly released Tuesday by the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a think tank made up of chief privacy officers, advocates and academics. The report mentioned above can also be downloaded as a PDF.

Smart grid technology — including new “smart meters” being attached to businesses and homes — is designed in part to provide consumers with real-time feedback on power consumption patterns and levels. But as these systems begin to come online, it remains unclear how utilities and partner companies will mine, share and use that new wealth of information, experts warn. Read more about the issue at the link below.

Doc Further Notes: Even when you anticipate the law of unintended consequences, it is never the less difficult to deal with them. Indeed in our blogger conspiracy theory rich Internet, even relatively solvable problems become major political and headline issues. After all of all the truths we hold self evident, scientific literacy and the ability to deal with risk related issues are rarely in evidence.

The Washington Post Security Fix Blog, November 18, 2009

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2009/11/experts_smart_grid_poses_priva.html

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The Six Greatest Threats to U.S. Cyber Security

By Michael Cooney

It’s not a very good day when a security report concludes: Disruptive cyber activities expected to become the norm in future political and military conflicts. But such was the case today as the Government Accountability Office today took yet another critical look at the US federal security systems and found most of them lacking

From the GAO: “The growing connectivity between information systems, the Internet, and other infrastructures creates opportunities for attackers to disrupt telecommunications, electrical power, and other critical services. As government, private sector, and personal activities continue to move to networked operations, as digital systems add ever more capabilities, as wireless systems become more ubiquitous, and as the design, manufacture, and service of information technology have moved overseas, the threat will continue to grow.

Within today’s report, the GAO broadly outlines the groups and types of individuals considered to be what it called key sources of cyber threats to our nation’s information systems and cyber infrastructures.

Click on and read about our Nation’s vulnerability

Network World Inc., November 17, 2009

http://www.cio.com/article/print/508112

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Battery Research Aims To Store Renewable Energy

By Devin Powell and Philip F. Schewe, ISNS

A battery storage facility on Long Island helps to provide power for an MTA bus depot. Credit: New York Power Authority. Battery manufacturer EaglePicher, working in partnership with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, received 7.2 million [dollars] to modify and lower the cost the sodium sulfur batteries.

The biggest chemical battery in the United States is located near Interstate 90 in the small town of Luverne, Minn. The 80 ton device — the size of two tractor-trailers stacked on top of each other — stores as much energy as about 3 million rechargeable AA batteries and can power about 3,000 houses for more than an hour when discharging at its maximum rate.

The battery is also intended to soak up extra energy at night, when the wind blows strongest and when the power demand from the grid is the lowest. This energy can then be released in the afternoon to lessen the strain on the electrical grid when people return home from work.

Why Size Matters — “Most of the batteries we have in the world were made for small-scale usage,” said George Crabtree director of the material science division of Argonne National Laboratory. “You don’t need much energy to start your car, and your car battery is going to recharge again as soon as the car starts.”

But according to a 2008 report by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, large-scale batteries need to be developed to deal with the increasing amounts of renewable energy on the grid. The AIChE report warned that no proven technologies have been developed to store large quantities of solar and wind energy. “Without [massive energy storage], renewable power can only be piggybacked onto the U.S. grid to supply not more than 15 percent of the power at best,” concluded the 2008 AIChE report.

The chemistry inside these sodium-sulfur batteries is similar to that of the lead acid battery inside of a car. In the car battery, a chemical reaction provides power by sending electrons from one lead plate to another through a liquid called an electrolyte. NGK batteries replace the lead plates with molten sulfur and molten salt and the liquid electrolyte with a solid piece of ceramic that allows electrons to flow between the two hot liquids.

This gives the batteries a much longer lifetime than car battery chemistry would allow. NGK guarantees them for 15 years (4,500 charge and discharge cycles), during which their efficiency at absorbing and discharging energy drops from about 92 to 75 percent.

There’s more , check it out: Google Large Scale Storage Batteries, there’s some fine articles out there-tune in .

PhysOrg.com, November 19, 2009

http://www.physorg.com/news177830654.html

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A New Route to Cellulosic Biofuels — ZeaChem’s pilot plant will make ethanol-using termite microbes. By Phil McKenna

Biofuel startup ZeaChem has begun building a biofuel pilot plant that will turn cellulosic feedstocks into ethanol via a novel approach that uses microbes found in the guts of termites. The company says the ethanol yields from the sugars of its cellulosic feedstocks are significantly higher than the yields from other biofuel production processes. ZeaChem says its process also has the potential to produce a plastic feedstock.

The company employs a hybrid approach that uses a combination of thermochemical and biological processes. It first uses acid to break the cellulose into sugars. Then, instead of fermenting the sugars into ethanol with yeast, as is typically done, the company feeds the sugars to an acetogen bacteria found in the guts of termites and other insects. The bacterium converts the sugar into acetic acid, which is then combined with hydrogen to form ethanol.

“It’s a little more complicated than a conventional process. It’s not the obvious, direct route, but there is a high yield potential,” says Jim McMillan of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO.

In more conventional biofuel processes, much of the carbon content locked up in the sugars is lost to the formation of carbon dioxide when the sugars are fermented into ethanol. Converting the sugars into acetic acid and then ethanol, however, yields no carbon dioxide. As a result, this method has the potential to raise biofuel yields by as much as 50 percent, according to ZeaChem.

In Israel, a different concept with the same goal Cellulosic Ethanol,

http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22774/

There’s more – there’s no free lunch!

Technology Review, November 2009

http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/23989/

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As Nuclear Reactor Fleet Ages, Engineers Ask,’ Is 80 the New 40?

By Paul Voosen of the Greenwire Column

Could nuclear power plants last as long as the Hoover Dam?

Increasingly dependable and emitting few greenhouse gases, the U.S. fleet of nuclear power plants will likely run for another 50 or even 70 years before it is retired — long past the 40-year life span planned decades ago — according to industry executives, regulators and scientists.

With nuclear providing always-on electricity that will become more cost-effective if a price is placed on heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions, utilities have found it is now viable to replace turbines or lids that have been worn down by radiation exposure or wear. Many engineers are convinced that nearly any plant parts, most of which were not designed to be replaced, can be swapped out.

“We think we can replace almost every component in a nuclear power plant,” said Jan van der Lee, director of the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI), a nuclear research facility inaugurated this week in France and run by the state-owned nuclear giant EDF.

“We don’t want to wait until something breaks,” he said. By identifying components that are wearing down and replacing them, he said, suddenly nuclear plants will find that “technically, there is no age limit.”

Indeed, as U.S. regulators begin considering the extended operations of nuclear plants — the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) expects the first application for an 80-year license could come within five years or less — perhaps the largest lingering question is one of basic science: How do heavy doses of radiation, over generations, fundamentally alter materials like steel and concrete?

There’s more to read about

New York Times, November 20, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/11/20/20greenwire-as-nuclear-reactor-fleet-ages-engineers-ask-is-94897.html

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The Hidden Costs Of Fossil Fuels – And Biofuels, Too

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff,

The ‘hidden’ costs of burning fossil fuels and biofuels aren’t factored into their market prices, but someone has to pay them. Fumes, as illustrated,  emerge from a coal-fired power plant in Germany. The hidden costs of coal plants include the effects of mercury on wildlife and people, the climate-warming effects of carbon emissions, as well as pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.

A new report by the National Research Council seeks to put a dollar amount on the “hidden” costs of energy produced by burning fossil fuels. These costs aren’t factored into the market prices of coal, oil, and gasoline, or the prices of electricity generated by fossil fuels, the report says. But someone eventually pays for them.

The report found that, in 2005, the hidden costs of energy production with fossil fuels in the United States amounted to $120 billion. This includes the negative impact of air pollution on health, but doesn’t include the effects of mercury emitted by coal-fired plants on wildlife and people, harm done to ecosystems by air pollution, or the climate-warming effects of carbon emissions.

Coal-fired plants produce about half the nation’s electricity. The report found that pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter cost the US $62 billion. That works out to about 3.2 cents’ worth of “non-climate” damages for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) generated.

Natural gas had fewer hidden costs than coal. Four hundred ninety-eight natural-gas-powered electric plants caused about $740 million in damages. That’s about 0.16 cents per kWh, or 1/20th of the damage produced by coal.

Vehicles, meanwhile, which account for 30 percent of US energy use, produced $56 billion in damages. That works out to between 1.2 and 1.7 cents’ worth of hidden costs per mile traveled.

Climate considerations aside, damages wrought by ethanol made from corn were usually similar to, or even slightly worse, than damages from gasoline. That’s because of the extra energy needed to convert corn to biofuel.

The Christian Science Monitor

http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Energy/2009/1119/the-hidden-costs-of-fossil-fuels-and-biofuels-too

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Native Grasses An Explosive Idea For Cleaning Contaminated Soil

By Judy Lowe

You hear a lot these days about the benefits of native plants, but here’s a new one: Certain native grasses can convert the toxic leftovers from atrazine – second most common herbicide in the US and a stubborn pollutant in the nation’s waterways – into harmless carbon dioxide, reports the Kansas City Star.

But there’s more.

Three researchers – Robert Lerch of the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA, Chung-Ho Lin of the University of Missouri at Columbia, and John Yang of Lincoln University – thought that if native grasses worked for atrazine, why wouldn’t they clean up soils contaminated with TNT and another explosive, RDX, which are chemically similar?

It turns out that two common native grasses – switch grass and Eastern gamma grass – do. This is a big deal, because “The U.S. Army has identified more than 538 sites contaminated by explosives, including 20 EPA-designated Superfund sites,” says Dr. Yang.

The grasses work by nourishing microorganisms in the soil that work to break down the explosives into harmless components. The advantage to using grasses is that they’re natural and cost effective, says Yang in an interview with the Columbia Daily Tribune. Research shows using native grasses to clean up a site costs only $200 to $10,000 for 2-1/2 acres — a fraction of cost of the traditional method of phytoremediation, reports the Tribune.

Compare those small amounts to the estimated cost of $100,000 to $1 million per acre that, the Star reports, it typically costs to haul away the soil in a field contaminated by TNT or RDX and incinerate it.

And the researchers think there may be many more potential uses for grasses in cleaning up contaminated areas.  “We really haven’t looked at that,” Dr. Lerch says. “I think it’s fair to say there is a lot more potential.”

The Christian Science Monitor

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Bright-Green/2009/0617/native-grasses-an-explosive-idea-for-cleaning-contaminated-soil

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10 Reasons Not to Revive the Nuclear Power Industry

By Elisabeth King

(“Nuclear power redux … why?), I would add these 10 reasons why nuclear power is the wrong answer to our nation’s energy needs.

Doc Sez, I wonder how much time it took Ms. King to search the copyright protected antinuclear sites to come up with this well-worn list. What no references — Isn’t that plagiarism or am I just under educated.

But in fairness, here’s Ms King’s List followed by my reality check based on US government and international agency documentation. There’s not enough space to provide all the references that counter Ms Kings agenda, but you can check out Google for the word,

1.)        Human Error.

That’s why the nuclear industry has the toughest safety training and zero tolerance for effort. After Three Mile Island, that Safety & Training became the paradigm of the industry. Can Ms King find one that is safer – Oil recovery, coal and other minerals mining, chemical manufacturing… ?

2.)        Carbon Footprint.

I absolutely agree with Ms King – all industries including renewable need to be judged on cradle to grave costs including their carbon footprints. I guess the steel (wind power) Concrete {hydropower) chemical pollutants {Photovoltaic Solar Power) and potential from ground water contamination (hydro cracking for natural gas.) are all foot print free.

3.)        Pollution of the Soil {and Groundwater}.

So what’s unique about uranium? How about lead, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, silver and god, and zinc mining, are they pristine? The issue is not contamination but creating rigorously enforcing regulations and assuring control measure are suitable for the risk associated with mining, or oil drilling for that mater.

4.)        Waste disposal.

Are contained nuclear wastes (HLW) in airplane crash proof storage, less risky that mining wastes. Are exposed radioactive coal slag piles less dangers that EPA mandated Low-level waste burial? You surely could have fooled me, and the majority of health-risk-exposure experts. If a cause is needed, start working on lobbyist funded politicians, undereducated technically illiterate bureaucrats and an public that thinks, for the most part, that science ins a dirty work.

5.)        Leakage.

All talk, just inflammatory smoke and mirrors. Miss King, prove the validity and generality of you claim documented by multiple certified scientific analysis published, independently replicated, and peer reviewed.  Provide references by any world regulatory agency that agrees with your hypothesis.

6.) Effects on health.

Without even casting rocks at the often almost discredited linear threshold dose hypothesis, there is ample evidence that low-level of radiation behave like most other toxic substances, what you ask does that mean? At sufficiently low dose {exposures}, most amply reported in the peer reviewed open literature, there is not linear threshold to radiation, or mercury or arsenic or chromium. The human body, and its well developed, but not perfect immune system has protected mankind other of Gaia’s creatures since they evolved and thrived.

7.)        Unreliability.

Since when – All you need to do call you claim false, is to check both the DOE’s and IAEA records, since of course you believe traceable industry records are not reliable. Shutdowns are preventative – if these were bad how could nuclear power be demonstrated to have online factors approaching 90-91%.

8.)        Expense.

Capital costs up front are caused by a combination of regulatory overkill and risk adverse bankers and venture capitalist, at least in the US. Ms King, have you ever wondered why the same nuclear power plant take twice to three times as long to build in the US than in the rest of the nuclear power seeking world. Are our plants any safer? After all most of the approved designs whether by the NRC or the IAEA, are carbon-copy clones of one-another, at least for this generation of reactors.

9.)        Eventual {uranium} shortages.

Hmm — what is there neither a breeder reactor, proliferation proof recycling, a thorium fuel cycle (India), and ocean extraction of uranium or finding new deposits in your future.

10.)      Fiscal responsibility.

Humbug!  You should become a politician. “Nuclear power is by far our most expensive option: the moral equivalent of buying a mink coat with a credit card while the refrigerator stands empty and the children have holes in their shoes.” Alas even the worlds economist will challenge that premise – true we Americans lead by your wisdom, make it so. Apples and oranges comparisons, our side of full lifecycle analysis is equivalent of the medieval belief in demoniacal possession and vapors and humors cause disease.

By now you, Miss King, must be really unhappy with me… However I can back my statement up with hundreds of peer (independently) reviewed studies, can you? Or is this another case of Dylanesque ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.

The Times Record, March 5, 2010

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/03/05/opinion/commentaries/doc4b91463c450e6637811596.prt

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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: — Most of these items were found in the newsletter NewsBridge that lists ‘articles of interest’ to the libraries technical and regulatory agency users. It is electronically published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, in Richland WA.  I then follow the provided link to the source of the information and edited the content (abstracted) the information for our readers. Should I find an associated or contradictory reverence, I also share that with you.

PS:

Charles Dickens in a Tale of Two Cities

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens, An English novelist (1812 – 1870)

In Closing

I’ll be posting articles for you comfort and anger 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 yourselves. To prove me wrong all you need to do is to send me scientifically peer-reviewed evidence (references).

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

Harry, aka doc_Babad

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