Energy Deathprint – One of those pesky externalities you never hear about

This article is both disturbing and self explanatory.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/

How Deadly Is Your Kilowatt? We Rank The Killer Energy Sources

 

James Conca, Contributor

Everyone’s heard of the carbon footprint of different energy sources, the largest footprint belonging to coal because every kWhr of energy produced emits about 900 grams of CO2. Wind and nuclear have the smallest carbon footprint with only 15 g emitted per kWhr, and that mainly from concrete production, construction, and mining of steel and uranium. Biomass is supposedly carbon neutral as it sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere before it liberates it again later, although production losses are significant depending upon the biomass.  Carbon emissions and physical footprints are known as externalities and are those vague someone-has-to-pay-eventually kind of thing it’s hard to put a value on. Proposed carbon footprint taxes are in the range of $15 to $40/ton of  CO2 emitted, but assigning a physical footprint cost depends on the region, ecosystem sensitivities and importance. A hundred-acre wetlands to be flooded by a new dam is worth more to the planet than a barren hundred-acre strip under a solar array in the Mojave (P. Bickel and R. Friedrich, 2005).

But an energy’s deathprint, as it is called, is rarely discussed. The deathprint is the number of people killed by one kind of energy or another per kWhr produced and, like the carbon footprint, coal is the worst and wind and nuclear are the best. According to the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Academy of Science and many health studies over the last decade (NAS 2010), the adverse impacts on health become a significant effect for fossil fuel and biofuel/biomass sources (see especially Brian Wang for an excellent synopsis). In fact, the WHO has called biomass burning in developing countries a major global health issue (WHO int). The table below lists the mortality rate of each energy source as deaths per trillion kWhrs produced. The numbers are a combination of actual direct deaths and epidemiological estimates, and are rounded to two significant figures.

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Go there and read. The numbers are disgusting. More tomorrow.

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Nanocrystaline Cellulose – Its nature’s way of telling you

This isa  pretty interesting piece. It implies that most of the complicated and expensive atom level experiments to create nanotubes and other “nanostructures” were something of a waste of time. They also imply that the next advance in nanotechnology maybe finding ways to form, market and install new nanostructures at the real world level. In the literature it is stated that this form of cellulose can be both an insulator and a conductor so it would be nice if someone came up with a shielded electrical cable that could be used in the housing market, for instance. I have included 2 references for clarity’s sake.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanocellulose

http://www.conservationmagazine.org/2012/06/nanocellulose-is-no-small-thing/

Nanocellulose Is No Small Thing

Trees could become part of electronics, medical devices, and military gear

 

For centuries, the forestry industry has produced paper and lumber. But what if trees could be transformed into an entirely new set of products, ranging from electronic sensors to biomedical implants to military protective gear?

The idea isn’t as improbable as it sounds. Researchers are studying a nanoscale material that can be extracted from trees and, in some forms, is about as strong as Kevlar. Called “nanocellulose,” this lightweight material is composed of bundled sugar chains from the cell walls of wood. Researchers can extract nanocellulose by grinding pulp or using chemicals to break it down into tiny particles. At such small scales, the material has fewer defects, making it stronger. One type of nanocellulose particle, called cellulose nanocrystals, is especially tough because the sugar chains are arranged in a highly ordered structure.

Researchers envision a huge array of applications for nanocellulose. It could partially replace fossil fuel–based products such as petroleum-derived plastics and might be cheaper than other high-performance nanoscale materials. Clear sheets of nanocellulose might be useful for windows or electronic displays. Studies have shown that some forms of cellulose are piezoelectric, meaning they generate an electrical signal when deformed, so nanocellulose-based sensors could potentially monitor structures such as bridges for signs of stress. Nanocellulose food packaging could block oxygen permeation and keep the contents from spoiling, while nanocellulose scaffolds implanted in the body might aid bone regeneration. And at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland, researchers are investigating whether nanocellulose-reinforced materials could better protect soldiers on the battlefield.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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A Bike Made Out Of Cardboard – This is an amazing design

Finding a design as cool as this is like finding a reason to live. Like being given a sack full of candy. It just lights up my life and gives me hope. Hope is a scarce commodity these days what with the drought and the drum beats for war against Iran. Still this is so cool.

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670753/this-9-cardboard-bike-can-support-riders-up-to-485lbs

This $9 Cardboard Bike Can Support Riders Up To 485lbs

Innovation By Design

It’s 100% recycled and very lightweight, with a frame that’s stronger than carbon fiber.

Izhar Gafni has designed award winning industrial machines for peeling pomegranates and sewing shoes. He’s also a bike enthusiast who’s designed a lot of carbon fiber rigs. But one day, he’d heard about someone who’d built a cardboard canoe. The idea drilled its way into his consciousness, and ultimately, led him to create a cardboard bike called the Alfa.

The Alfa weighs 20lbs, yet supports riders up to 24 times its weight. It’s mostly cardboard and 100% recycled materials, yet uses a belt-driven pedal system that makes it maintenance free. And, maybe best of all, it’s project designed to be manufactured at about $9 to $12 per unit (and just $5 for a kids version), making it not only one of the most sustainable bikes you could imagine, but amongst the cheapest, depending on the markup.

But as the above video documents, the design process was arduous. Engineers told Gafni that his idea was impossible. Yet he realized that paper could be strong if treated properly. As in crafting origami and tearing telephone books, he explains, “[if] you fold it once, and it’s not just twice the strength, it’s three times the strength.”

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Global Warming Causes The Illinois Drought – This will probably last until May 2014

Why do I say that. Because the Sun is finally into its warming phase. The Sun always has 4 cycles: cooling, quietude, warming and maximus. These cycles inhabit an 11 year cycle most probably related to the creation of some of the heavier elements in its core. What does change in no known sequence is which is bigger the cooling cycle or the warming cycle and I suppose some brief time periods of equilibrium. For the last 30 years (almost 3 full cycles) the cooling side of the cycle has been bigger than the heating cycle and the last quietude was almost 2 full years which I believe is the biggest in recorded history. Here is the point. The planet should be cooling but it isn’t. During the cooling we still had some pretty hot years. Why. There is no other thing to blame, but humans. Now that the Sun is heating up and for the next 3 years or so, Watch Out!

http://www.examiner.com/article/drought-affects-nation-s-energy-prices

If you think the drought of summer 2012 is only increasing the prices of the nation’s corn and grain supplies, you’re missing a large part of the picture. Drought reaches into every corner of American pockets, affecting even the cost of driving a car and what we pay for air conditioning.

Current drought conditions

The United States is experiencing the most severe drought, with the highest percentage of land affected by it, in over 60 years, according to the National Climatic Data Center‘s July 17 report. (See August 5 Palmer drought severity map at left. Yellow = moderately dry, orange = severely dry, red = excessively dry.)

Parched conditions have now led to disaster declarations in more than half the counties in the nation–1,584, in 32 states–this growing season. The declarations make these areas eligible for government aid, including low-interest emergency loans to hold the line until farms and ranches recover.

And the ripple effects of this brutal weather will extend farther than the farms in the Midwest, where corn and soybean crops are failing. It will affect meat production nationwide as well because pasture and grazing land has been blighted, forcing farmers and ranchers to seek other–and more expensive–feed for cows and other animals.

In some areas, cattle have to be fed with next year’s grain reserves because local pasture lands have dried up. Almost four million acres of federal conservation land has been opened for haying and grazing. Crop insurers have also begun to provide penalty-free 30-day grace periods on 2012 premiums.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Fukushima Update – Mutated butterflies…oh my

I was going to put up a piece by a woman in Austin today about recycling electronics and then start in on global warming and the drought here in Illinois but then this popped up. I mean it is the biggest nuclear disaster of this decade and the effects of the radiation are going to be with us for thousands of years. So just like the Ukrainian wolves that we have been watching, the Japanese butterflies bear watching too.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57492524/report-mutated-butterflies-found-near-fukushima/

August 13, 2012 10:52 PM

Report: Mutated butterflies found near Fukushima

Disaster in Japan

(CBS News) A group of scientists in Japan made a surprising discovery by finding large numbers of specimens of pale grass blue butterflies that had mutated.

In a report in the Scientific Reports journal, the scientists said their research concluded that “that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species.” The scientists said their findings were not expected.

“It has been believed that insects are very resistant to radiation,” lead researcher Joji Otaki from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, told the BBC. “In that sense, our results were unexpected.”

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Curiosity Lands On Mars – Sometimes reality intrudes on this blog

Sometimes there are things that are just as important as energy distribution/consumption and the environment in general. Sometimes an event is so large that you have to at least acknowledge that it happened. Such was the case of the death of Princess Dianah or Hurricane Katrina. So it is with the landing of the Curiosity MARs Probe. It is nuclear powered and this blog does not care for that. It extends capitalism’s mythology that humans have unlimited capacity to expand, thus unlimited markets to exploit. Still there is so much to learn and so little time as our planet heats up. So while this is just a little text. It is so much more than that.

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/nasa-s-newest-mars-rover-slideshow/

  1. This image released on Tuesday Aug. 7,2012 by NASA shows the first color view of the north wall and rim of Gale Crater where NASA’s rover Curiosity landed Sunday night. The picture was taken by the rover’s camera at the end of its stowed robotic arm and appears fuzzy because of dust on the camera’s cover. (AP Photo/NASA)

  2. NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity snapped this picture of Mount Sharp with its front Hazard Avoidance camera, or Hazcam. The photo was released by NASA on Aug. 6, 2012.

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Go there and see all the pretty pictures. I know I did. More tomorrow.

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Koch Brothers Mouthpiece Changes His Tune – So Global Warming is actually real

That is the bitch about science. Over time it is always right. The Catholic Church was very slow to get this. RJ Reynolds eventually got it but it cost it billions. All of the asbestos people eventually got it too. But the Koch Brothers were just gona prove them wrong. I do not know whether it is endemic  to capitalism but this “prove them wrong” phase is what the space exploration crowd is experiencing right now. Call it the Buck Rogers phenomena but private companies will fail to develop space much like Climate Change needed to stop 30 years ago.  30 years from now the space people are going to be wondering what happened to their dreams…if any of us are still left alive.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/29/koch-funded-climate-scientist-i-was-wrong-humans-are-to-blame/

Koch-funded climate scientist: I was wrong, humans are to blame

By Jonathan Terbush
Sunday, July 29, 2012 14:16 EDT

The founder and director of a climate change study project funded heavily by the Koch brothers, who last year reversed course and said he believed global warming was real, has gone one step further, writing in a weekend op-ed in the New York Times that he is now convinced the phenomenon is caused by humans.

In a piece titled, “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” Richard A. Muller, a University of California, Berkley physicist who founded the Berkley Earth Surface Temperature study (BEST) wrote that his, “total turnaround, in such a short time,” was driven by a new report from the group that concluded for the first time that global warming is a man-made problem. That revelation brings Muller essentially full circle from his stance a few years ago, when he criticized other global warming studies as flawed and questioned whether the Earth was even warming abnormally, dangerously fast at all.

“Science is that narrow realm of knowledge that, in principle, is universally accepted,” Muller wrote. “I embarked on this analysis to answer questions that, to my mind, had not been answered. I hope that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes.”

The BEST study, he wrote, found that the Earth had warmed by about two and a half degrees over the past 250 years, with the bulk of that spike occurring in the past 50 years. Moreover, he found that, “essentially all of this increase” was likely due to greenhouse gas emissions, a point climate change believers have accepted as fact for years.

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Go there and crow. More tomorrow.

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OK Back To The Solar Installments Around The World – Just a brief stop Friday

Now that we know that humans are going to be in pretty bad shape because of climate change, let’s go back to the meditation on what could have saved us if we would have started building them sooner. Large Solar Power Plants. I am not posting any pretty pictures, just the test.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39836641/ns/us_news-environment/t/worlds-largest-solar-plant-gets-us-ok/#.UA2duaCkNyU

World’s largest solar plant gets U.S. OK

$6 billion project in Calif. aims to power at least 300,000 homes

msnbc.com staff and news service reports

updated 10/25/2010 6:07:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON — Calling it a major milestone, the Obama administration on Monday approved what investors say will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant and one that more than doubles all of U.S. solar output and can power at least 300,000 homes.

The project in the Mojave Desert near Blythe, Calif., is the sixth solar venture authorized on federal lands within the last month. All are in desert areas.

“The Blythe Solar Power Project is a major milestone in our nation’s renewable energy economy and shows that the United States intends to compete and lead in the technologies of the future,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in announcing the approval.

Construction on the $6 billion plant is expected to start by the end of 2010, with production starting in 2013. Developer Solar Millennium, a company based in Germany, says the plant will generate 1,066 construction jobs and 295 permanent jobs.

The project had run into opposition by some environmentalists due to wildlife concerns.

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Go there see the pictures and read. More tomorrow.

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Nuclear Power – On time and under cost

Yah right. That is so laughable. Even after they announced that they were going to try to bring 5 nuclear plants on line there were no commercial backers and so the price went up before they even started. It has been all downhill since then.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/news-guide-building-nuclear-power-plants-16750327#.T_2tBZGkNyU

News Guide: Nuclear Industry Facing Cost Pressures

By The Associated Press
July 10, 2012 (AP)

Q: How many nuclear plants are under construction in the U.S.?

A: Three. Two nuclear reactors are being built at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia. Two more reactors are under construction at Plant Summer in central South Carolina. A fifth reactor mothballed in 1985 is being finished at Plant Watts Bar in Tennessee.

Q: How often are nuclear plants built?

A: The last nuclear plant built in the United States was the existing reactor finished at Watts Bar in 1996.

Q: How much does a nuclear plant cost?

A: Billions of dollars. Nuclear plants are among the most complicated and expensive infrastructure projects in the world. The plants require incredible amounts of design and engineering work and must be built to exacting safety standards. Federal inspectors can require that parts of the plant be ripped out and replaced if they don’t meet muster. The plants require huge amounts of metal, concrete, cables and wires. Building two Westinghouse Electric Co. AP1000 reactors at Plant Vogtle is supposed to cost roughly $14 billion, though the final expenses could be more.

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Go there and read the rest. More tomorrow.

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Is Tidal Energy Coming – According to this the answer is yes

Tapping The Source: The Power Of The Oceans

Posted by Big Gav in , , , , , ,

Last year I came across the story of Dutch company Kema and their energy island idea – basically a variant on the usual pumped hydro energy storage concept where water is pumped out of a space below sea level then allowed to flow back in, generating power as it does. The “island” uses wind power to pump water out of the enclosed area. An obvious extension to this idea would be to harness ocean energy as well – letting wave and/or tidal power supplement the output of the wind turbines. An attraction of this concept is that it potentially allows a large amount of new energy storage to be brought online – and this storage would be along the world’s coastlines, where most of the population lives.


Another form of energy island has been in the news recently, this one a substantially more ambitious proposal which envisions artificial islands to collect wind, wave, ocean current and solar power in the tropics, along with a more unusual energy source – harnessing the difference in water temperatures between the warm surface and the cold depths using a technique called OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion). These islands are being proposed by architects Dominic Michaelis and his son Alex Michaelin as a response to Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge, which offers $25 million in prizes for innovative solutions for combating global warming.

While the practicality of these particular proposals has yet to be put to the test, the various forms of ocean power are probably the most overlooked of the big 6 renewable energy sources (along with solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydro).

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Go there and read. More next week.

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