Friday, May 14th, 2010
The Oil Spill’s Unlikely Victim: As oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill continued to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, it tarred the feathers of an endangered creature: the climate bill. Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced a retooled American Power Act on Wednesday to little fanfare. Perhaps that’s because the media’s klieg lights were already divided between the grilling of oil executives on Capitol Hill or the so-far hapless efforts to plug the leak. Or maybe it’s because the two senators took to the dais without their erstwhile Republican ally, Lindsey Graham. Nevertheless, it was ironic to see a solution to our fossil-fuel addiction pushed to the side because of a fossil-fuel disaster. Must we cap the gusher before we get a cap on CO2?
More Electric Cars Roll to the Starting Line: You’ve heard that the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt are on the way, but how about the Think and the Wheego? Wheego, a maker of electric putt-putt vehicles based in Atlanta, hopes that 200 highway-ready copies of its Whip Life will roll off the assembly line by August, months ahead of the well-publicized launch of the Leaf. Meanwhile, the Norwegian carmaker Think raised $40 million this week and plans to start assembly of the tiny Think City in Elkhart, Indiana in early 2011.
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
New Zealand-based Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation announced this week that it will collaborate as a co-funding partner with the United States Gas Technology Institute (GTI) on an advanced biomass conversion technology program worth $3.1million that will be part funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Earlier this year, Aquaflow also announced it would be working with Honeywell’s UOP on another algal technology project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
“We have reached another major milestone in expanding our U.S.-based partnerships and project involvement and we are delighted to be working with GTI in this space,” said Aquaflow director Nick Gerritsen. (more…)
Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
It might seem odd that South America, too often the victim of corporations looking for cheap labor and even cheaper natural resources, would become Mother Earth’s most vociferous advocate.
Yet it has, confirming a belief that suggests adversity creates heroes. This is certainly true in South American countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and even Venezuela , where some of the most egregious examples of corporate pollution have left South Americans, and their indigenous counterparts, thoroughly disgusted not only with capitalism but with Western civilization as a whole.
Take, for example, the Cochabamba protests of 2000 , incited by the privatization of Bolivia’s municipal water supply by the Bechtel Corporation. Cochabama, Bolivia’s third largest city, has since become the permanent site for a yearly festival, the Feria del Agua (Water Fair). (more…)
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Biomass Advisors announces the release of a Camelina Feedstock Report, an abbreviated version of the consulting firm’s Camelina Aviation Biofuels report released in March (see One Billion Gallons in Camelina Biofuel by 2025).
Meanwhile, UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced yesterday that Honeywell Green Jet Fuel powered a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet flight as part of the Navy’s efforts to certify the use of alternative fuels in military aircraft.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet, dubbed the Green Hornet by the Navy, was fueled with a 50/50 mixture of Green Jet Fuel made from camelina oil and petroleum-derived military jet fuel. The flight is one of a series of biofuel test flights that will be conducted by the Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet test program and marks the first flight of a supersonic jet with afterburners flying on a biofuels blend. (more…)
Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Is efficiency worth the bother if you save only $5 to $10 per month on your energy bill? Many homeowners think not. One dad told us his family would rather save money by just skipping a pizza order once a month. That sentiment is not unusual.
But it is hard to negate the economic value of efficiency if you spend $20 billion per year on energy, as does the U.S. military, our government’s largest energy user, responsible for nearly 80 percent of the government’s total energy consumption.
“Re-energizing America’s Defense,” a recent report by The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, looks at how profoundly our energy mix affects the military.
The military has great motivation to make our energy supply more efficient and less oil-dependent. For every $10 per barrel increase in oil prices, the Defense Department’s energy bill increases more than $1.3 billion. That is a lot of pizza. (more…)
Friday, April 23rd, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected $78.9 million in brownfields grants to communities in 40 states, four tribes, and one U.S. Territory. This funding will be used for the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of brownfields properties, including abandoned gas stations, old textile mills, closed smelters, and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties.
The brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. As of March 2010, EPA’s brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $14 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding.
In total, the EPA is selecting 304 grants through the Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants programs: (more…)
Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
For consumers, discussion of electric cars tends to focus on how long the vehicle travels before needing a recharge and what it will cost to buy. But a new report backed by several large corporations takes a broader view of what the electric car will mean to our overall finances.
And the news is good.
Fueling our cars with electricity instead of gasoline – this one change – could avert a lot of economic pain, according to the “Economic Impact of the Electrification Roadmap” report by the Electrification Council. (more…)
Monday, April 19th, 2010
Battle of the Bulbs: LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have been the Next Big Thing in lighting for nearly a decade, but have never been made bright enough to illuminate the pages of Malcolm Gladwell while we read in bed. Until now.
This week, GE unveiled an eco-equivalent to the 40-watt incandescent bulb — a 9-watt LED that will go on sale late this year or early next. Days later, Philips announced its own entry, a 12-watt LED meant to replace the plain ol’ 60-watt bulb. Both will sell for $40 or $50 and could last up to 17 years — long enough that your mattress will give out before your bedroom bulbs do.
Not Exactly Glacial: Usually global warming occurs at pace that’s hard to detect, but that changed on Sunday for the people of Carhuaz, Peru. A massive block of the Hualcan glacier broke off and tumbled into a lake, creating a 75-foot-tall tsunami that killed three. (more…)
Friday, April 16th, 2010
Algae biofuels are receiving more and more attention in the media and from the Obama administration. Evidence of this can be seen through increasing number of algae related stories in the news as well as several recent actions by the administration, most important of which is the U.S. Department of Energy awarding millions of dollars in research grants for the study of algae .
Recent government grants like this in addition to many private organizations like Exxon investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the future of algae fuels have only added to the drive of many small companies looking to develop the best way to grow algae. Many of these organizations have decided on bioreactor growth systems and are looking at either using artificial or natural lighting to maximize the growth of algae.
However, one company is taking more of an “all of the above” approach in developing an algae growth system. (more…)
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
Stanford University scientists have created a tiny electrode that can harness an electric current from a single algae cell, a breakthrough they hope will one day lead to the creation of an inexpensive source of renewable energy.
The nanoelectrode, made of gold and specifically designed to probe inside cells, is so sharp that it is able to penetrate the algae cell membrane without killing the cell.
And once inside the cell, it can intercept electrons just after they are energized by sunlight by the photosynthesis process.
Researchers hope it is the first step toward developing a “high efficiency” form of bioelectricity. (more…)