Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
“I really think it’s important that the best and brightest in the colleges today should take a look at these problems. If we can resolve the energy problem then clean water isn’t far behind. And if you’ve got inexpensive renewable energy worldwide, and if you have clean water, once you take those major problems away for the planet there’s a lot less to fight about.” – Jack Baron, CEO of Sweetwater
KissMyCountry continues our ‘CEOs Saving the Planet’ series with Jack Baron, CEO of Sweetwater , a biofuels company in Rochester, New York that’s working on some exciting solutions, including a replacement for jet fuel. Jack, best known for co-founding the telecommunications firm PAETEC, took the helm at Sweetwater to make a difference in renewable energy today. Jack talks about the importance of renewable fuels for saving our planet, and the most interesting green technologies that people are working on today, as well as the places he loves in Rochester. Enjoy!
KissMyCountry: Jack, Sweetwater is an exciting company that brings new ideas to biofuel production. You’ve got great technology. In layman’s terms, can you tell us a little bit about Sweetwater and your breakthrough technology? Why are you excited, and what would you like us to know about Sweetwater?
Friday, June 11th, 2010
No, says a new report from the Global Justice Ecology Project, the Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch called “Wood-based Bioenergy: The Green Lie”.
Burning wood – even fast-growing, genetically engineered trees designed to be used for fuel – merely increases the dangers of climate change, especially among the poorest nations, where much of the tree-growing takes place.
Growers argue that the tree plantations are growing on “marginal” land, but there is no such thing as marginal land in a poor country like Borneo, for example, where such land is used for grazing livestock, gathering wild plants for food or medicine, or as housing space.
Even the argument itself is specious. Some of these monoculture plantations are encroaching on arable land, or invading old-growth forests, a process that ends up displacing indigenous forest people (more…)
Monday, June 7th, 2010
As global warming intensifies, demands for human manipulation of the climate system are likely to grow. But carrying out geoengineering plans could prove daunting, as conflicts erupt over the unintended regional consequences of climate intervention and over who is entitled to deploy climate-altering technologies.
Last month, J. Craig Venter announced that his team had successfully developed the first self-replicating cell to be controlled entirely by synthetic DNA. Not artificial life exactly, but certainly something different: a synthetic cell in which humans had intervened deliberately with the express purpose of changing the genetic structure and characteristics of a natural organism. (more…)
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, scientists from the J. Craig Venters Institute (JCVI) announced that they had created the first organism with a synthetic genome. President of the institute Craig Venters sees this as the first major step towards creating synthetic organisms that will produce anything from cheap medicines to advanced biofuels.
This synthetic organism, a bacterium, contained a complete genome that had been created by combining thousands and thousands of Mycoplasma mycoides gene base sequences in several stages. (more…)
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
Many are aware of the subsidies, tax credits, and grants available to property owners and utilities to install and utilize alternative energy (i.e., wind, solar, biomass, etc.). Unfortunately, many forget that these technologies need to be manufactured somewhere. The majority of the panels that go into a photovoltaic array and the large blades that make up wind turbines are currently being manufactured overseas, often in China. This directly contradicts President Obama’s plan to spur green job growth with the passage of the Stimulus Bill. Enter the Security in Energy and Manufacturing Act (SEAM Act). (more…)
Friday, May 21st, 2010
At a meeting on May 6 in São Paulo, Brazil, industry stakeholders formed ABRABA to spearhead development of aviation biofuels. The effort signals a growing concern for the growth of the industry within a carbon and oil constrained future.
Earlier this month, aviation companies, biofuel producers, and the sugar cane, algae, and jatropha industries came together to form the Brazilian Aviation Biofuels Alliance (Aliança Brasileira para Biocombustíveis de Aviação, or ABRABA). As the aviation industry continues to feel the crunch from rising fuel costs and price volatility, ABRABA represents the latest multi stakeholder effort to ramp up biofuel production in the commercial aviation sector (see CAAFI). (more…)
Friday, May 21st, 2010
J. Craig Venter, the genome pioneer, has created a “synthetic cell” by synthesizing a complete bacterial genome and using it to take over a cell. Venter’s breakthrough, reported in the online edition of Science, represents a preliminary step toward the goal of creating microbes from scratch in the lab and using them to make biofuels, vaccines, and other products.
Venter’s achievement could one day lead to a technology where, though engineering the genome, individual cells could be turned into their own miniature refineries for harvesting carbon dioxide and generating hydrocarbons.
In 2005, Venter — one of the first people to sequence the human genome, doing it faster and cheaper than government scientists — set up a company, Synthetic Genomics, to create synthetic cells, and the advance reported in Science represents a milestone for the company and for so-called synthetic biology. (more…)
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
A NASA-sponsored competition to design futuristic, fuel-efficient airplanes has led to a jet prototype that would burn roughly 70 percent less fuel than current aircraft.
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed what they called a D-series “double bubble” jet, which features a wide fuselage composed of two partial cylinders fused together in an aerodynamic shape.
The prototype also has a smaller tail, skinnier wings, and engines mounted on the rear of the fuselage instead of the wings, which allows the engines to suck in slower-moving air and increase efficiency. (more…)
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
The algae industry converged on San Diego this week for Algae World Summit 2010. There was significant buzz among the conference participants surrounding the use of algae as a biofuel. Massive investment by private investors and the federal government have spurred interest in algae, but many of the speakers reinforced the fact that complex issues surrounding the growth of algae remain.
It was highlighted that for ideal growth of algae, sunlight, water, temperature, and access to CO2 are all taken into account. What may be ideal territory for sunlight may not be the ideal territory for water and vice versa. (more…)
Monday, May 17th, 2010
The successful development of the controversial oil sands in Canada has prompted oil companies to invest in similar operations elswhere, including Russia, Venezuela, the Congo, and Madagascar, according to a new report.
With the price of crude oil rising, companies — including BP and Shell — are increasingly looking to so-called “unconventional” oil deposits similar to the massive resources of bituminous sands found in Alberta, according to the report by the environmental group, Friends of the Earth. (more…)