Sep 30, 2013

State ruling keeps solar incentives suspended for rest of year

From  Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel

Solar electric and solar hot water incentives for Wisconsin homes have been suspended for the remainder of the year by the Focus on Energy program.

Focus kept in place a temporary suspension announced in August, after the state Public Service Commission voted 2-1 not to change its stance on making funding for solar contingent on funds being allocated to more cost-effective bioenergy projects.

Renewable energy advocates and businesses had weighed in since then, with hundreds of letters asking the PSC to change its stance to allow more funding for solar energy projects.

In a notice posted on the Focus website, the statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program said the PSC's decision "forces Focus on Energy to suspend incentives for Solar Thermal and Solar Photovoltaic technologies under the Residential Renewables and New Homes Programs for the remainder of 2013."

Funding remains for residential geothermal energy projects, Focus on Energy said.

Funding for solar projects has been criticized by the Republican majority on the state Public Service Commission is not cost-effective enough, in essence not a wise use of utility ratepayers' money that funds Focus.

The commission capped renewable energy projects at $10 million a year, and decided that funding for solar and wind projects be capped at 25% of funding. Because these projects are contingent on slower-to-develop bioenergy projects, and no more bioenergy funds have been spent, solar is now capped.

This marks the second time in three years that Focus has suspended solar energy funding. In 2011 the commission decided to halt renewables incentives because too much money was being spent on that and not enough on more cost-effective energy efficiency projects.

"No similar situation exists today," said PSC commissioner Eric Callisto, a Democrat, in a critique of the decision. "The commission's decision creates uncertainty in the renewables marketplace and penalizes entire classes of technologies without any compelling justification."

Businesses looking to add renewable energy systems will be able to submit applications under a request for proposals that will be posted on Tuesday on the Focus website, said Sarah Platt, Focus spokeswoman.

That request for proposals will be open to all kinds of renewable energy technologies, though Focus has in the past budgeted smaller incentives for solar and wind, a maximum incentive of $100,000, compared with a maximum of $200,000 for geothermal and $500,000 for biogas and biomass projects.


And now it's global COOLING! Return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 29% in a year

A chilly Arctic summer has left 533,000 more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 29 per cent.

The rebound from 2012's record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.

Instead, days before the annual autumn re-freeze is due to begin, an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia's northern shores.

ice sheet graphic.jpg


 Since publication of the original version of this article, the US source of the figures – the NASA-funded National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) - was discovered to have made a huge error and then quietly corrected the figure without mentioning it.

On September 4, NSIDC, based at the University of Colorado, stated on its website that in August 2013 the Arctic ice cover recovered by a record 2.38 million sq km – 919,000 sq miles – from its 2012 low.

News of this figure was widely reported – including by Mailonline - on September 8. But on September 10, the NSIDC quietly changed it to 1.38 million sq km (533,000 sq miles) – and replaced the original document so the old figure no longer shows up on a main Google search. It can now only be found on an old 'cached' page.

The figures in this article have now been corrected.

Prompted by an inquiry from 'green' blogger Bob Ward, the NSIDC's spokeswoman Natasha Vizcarra said the mistake was a 'typographical error', telling him: 'There are no plans to make a statement on the change because it was not an error in the data.' 

The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year. More than 20 yachts that had planned to sail it have been left ice-bound and a cruise ship attempting the route was forced to turn back.

Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.

The disclosure comes 11 months after The Mail on Sunday triggered intense political and scientific debate by revealing that global warming has 'paused' since the beginning of 1997 – an event that the computer models used by climate experts failed to predict.

In March, this newspaper further revealed that temperatures are about to drop below the level that the models forecast with '90 per cent certainty'.

The pause – which has now been accepted as real by every major climate research centre – is important, because the models' predictions of ever-increasing global temperatures have made many of the world's economies divert billions of pounds into 'green' measures to counter  climate change.

Those predictions now appear gravely flawed.

The continuing furore caused by The Mail on Sunday's revelations – which will now be amplified by the return of the Arctic ice sheet – has forced the UN's climate change body to reconsider its position.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was due in October to start publishing its Fifth Assessment Report – a huge three-volume study issued every six or seven years. It will hold a pre-summit in Stockholm later this month.

Sep 29, 2013

Cancer Officially Number One Cause of Childhood Death in U.S. | ABC News

The number one reason blamed for childhood deaths in America used to be accidents; now it's cancer.


ABC News is reporting today that cancer has officially outranked every other cause of childhood death in this country:

Cancer is the leading cause of childhood death in the United States, with 13,500 new diagnoses each year according to the American Cancer Institute. One out of every 300 boys and one out of every 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Cancer in America has seen a sharp increase over the last 100 years across all age groups. Data from the U.S. Public Health Service estimates that cancer death rates in 1900 were around 64 per 100,000; that number has increased almost threefold to 188.7 per 100,000 in 2005.

cancerdeathchartIn fact, the chances of an American being diagnosed with some type of cancer in his or her lifetime is now one in two.

This dramatic increase over a relatively short span of time obviously suggests environmental factors are at play here. So why haven't all these charitable "run for the cure" cancer drives — fundraisers that happen year after year after year as cancer rates only continue to grow — ever cured anything?

The Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) notes that cancer equals big business in this country:

Winning the war on cancer means preventing cancer. Yet cancer is a multi-billion dollar business. Isn't preventing cancer bad for business? It is for the pharmaceutical and mammography businesses. These industries have intricate ties to U. S. policy makers, directing research funds to ensure their continued profits in cancer diagnosis/treatment.

If prevention is key to crushing cancer, then finding out what is actually causing this cancer epidemic from independent studies not funded by the very companies that stand to profit off pointing fingers in the wrong direction is the first step.

What is causing all this cancer, especially the rise in children? Two big factors may be chemicals and electromagnetic radiation.

A whopping 70-90% of any average U.S. grocery store is filled with processed foods full of chemical additives and preservatives, many of which are genetically modified, in addition to the fact that a vast majority of U.S. food is tainted with pesticides.

Sep 28, 2013

Global warming is irreversible without massive geoengineering according to IPCC

Global warming is irreversible without massive geoengineering of the atmosphere's chemistry. This stark warning comes from the draft summary of the latest climate assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Even if all the world ran on carbon-free energy and deforestation ceased, the only way of lowering temperatures would be to devise a scheme for sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Please continue reading at: Next Big Future // Read more »

China still leads the world in emissions, with no end in sight

...This year's tipping-point event for the public debate, dubbed by expats as "airpocolypse," covered 2.7 million square kilometers (over 1 millions square miles) of the country with a pall of smog and impacted more than 600 million people. We pass through Zhengzhou, ranked among the four worst cities in China for air pollution; the city consistently registers levels well over China's official scale for what's called PM2.5 – dangerous tiny particles from coal-burning and industry. In the first half of this year, China's levels of these particles were three-times worse than levels advised by the World Health Organization. It's this kind of air pollution that contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, researchers say. My Beijing friends will call me a wimp, but I've developed a persistent cough these last few days. It's hard to breathe.

"I think the air quality is awful all around the country," a Chinese man surnamed Liang tells me (like the filmmaker, he didn't want to give his full name). "For average citizens, there are not many things we can do about it … We are not yet a democracy. Average people can only try to live their own lives."

According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released Friday, greenhouse gas levels are now higher than at any point in "at least the last 800,000″ years. With a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions now coming from China, the world's most populous country will have an outsized influence on the future of climate change. That didn't go unnoticed at the IPCC release in Stockholm, Friday. "If China can mind its business well, it will be a great contribution to the world," said report co-chair Dahe Qin, speaking in Chinese in response to a question from a Chinese reporter, according to a translator.

Please continue reading published on Grist // visit site

Medical experts powerless to stop antibiotic-resistant bacteria, find smarter use of current antibiotics could offer a solution.

Medical experts have been powerless to stop the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and are increasingly desperate to develop novel drugs. But a new study finds that smarter use of current antibiotics could offer a solution. Researchers were able to keep resistant bacteria from thriving by alternating antibiotics to specifically exploit the vulnerabilities that come along with resistance—a strategy that could extend the lifespan of existing drugs to continue fighting even the most persistent pathogens.
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Hydro One Chooses Flywheel Energy Storage for Wind Balancing

Greentech Media has an article on a flywheel energy storage company that are building systems for Canadian utilities - Hydro One Chooses a Flywheel for Wind Balancing.
"Utilities are very familiar with spinning steel," said Cam Carver, CEO of Temporal Power, a Canadian startup with an all-steel flywheel technology. The Ontario-based company is working with Hydro One to provide up to ten 500-kilowatt flywheels for frequency regulation on a feeder that is connected to two 10-megawatt wind farms in southwest Ontario.

Frequency regulation is the sweet spot for flywheel technology, which can quickly respond to the fluctuations on the grid to provide balancing services. Carver said that Temporal's technology is ideal for providing about three minutes to fifteen minutes of storage. ...

The result is that it can run for up to six minutes at its full rate of power and can store up to 50 times more energy. The flywheels can be scaled to provide anywhere from about 2 megawatts to 100 megawatts. "It's bigger, simpler, more powerful -- and it's cheaper," said Carver. "We're advancing it, but we're also making it simpler."

Hydro One is using 500-kilowatt units, which are under construction now. The flywheels can be matched with motors of various sizes, for a rated power mode of anywhere from 100 kilowatt-hours to 500 kilowatt-hours.

published on Peak Energy // visit site 

Compressed air energy storage: Latest breakthrough for utility-scale renewables : Renew Economy


We don't expect the wind and solar naysayers to give up any time soon, but new utility-scale energy storage solutions are beginning to come on line, and they will put to rest this whole notion that intermittent energy sources (namely, wind and solar) can't provide a significant proportion of reliable power to the national grid.

The latest development comes from a company called SustainX, Inc. The technology is called an isothermal compressed air energy storage system, and since we've been following its progress for the past several years we're happy to tell you that SustainX has completed construction of its first utility scale system. It was hooked up to the grid earlier this month and it's now in the process of revving up to speed.

An Isothermal Compressed Air Energy Storage System

We first took note of SustainX back in 2009, when it spun out of Dartmouth College. The goal was to store four megawatt-hours worth of energy in transportable 40-foot long containers, while achieving a 70% reduction in the amount of energy needed for conventional compressed air energy storage (CAES) systems.

Last year, the company took a big leap forward by entering a technology licensing agreement with the University of Minnesota.


Isothermal CAES courtesy of SustainX

Isothermal refers to storage of compressed air at a constant temperature, which is a key element in the improved energy efficiency of the system.

The new SustainX CAES system is located in New Hampshire, at the SustainX headquarters. As SustainX describes it, the new system represents a next-generation improvement over earlier CAES systems dating back to the 1970′s which typically are located underground and run on fossil fuel.

The SustainX system was designed to run on grid-supplied electricity, so depending on the local grid mix it can potentially run exclusively on emission free sources including wind and solar. That also means that it is not dependent on caves or other geological quirks for site selection.

Some patented, cutting edge tweaks by SustainX make all the difference, but other than that, the entire system consists of practically nothing but steel, water, and air. Here's how it works:

A mechanical drivetrain utilises an electric machine and a crankshaft…This efficient mechanical link powers a two-stage, mixed-phase (water-in-air) heat-transfer process within pneumatic cylinders. During piston strokes, water is sprayed into the air-filled chamber of each cylinder, allowing heat to be transferred from water to air during expansion or from air to water during compression. The same ICAES power unit provides both isothermal compression and expansion, eliminating the cost of separate compressor and expander subsystems.

We Built This CAES!

If the new facility proves successful we taxpayers can all do a group hug because SustainX received a $5.4 million award from the Department of Energy to help accelerate the project, as part of the Obama Administration's Smart Grid initiatives.

The project, which also includes private sector investors, appears to be on track. Completion of the test phase  is due by the end of this year and a final technology report is due in 2015.

CAES and other new storage technologies fit into the Smart Grid concept partly by eliminating the need to construct new peaking plants. Peaking plants, which typically run on natural gas, are designed to come on line quickly to address demand spikes, but most of the time they sit idle, which means that they are a very expensive way to provide for variations in local energy consumption to say nothing of their dependence on fossil fuel sources.

Sep 27, 2013

First Study on 4G/LTE Cell Phone Radiation Shows It Affects Brain Activity

First Study on 4G/LTE Cell Phone Radiation Shows It Affects Brain Activity

New peer-reviewed research finds that 30 minutes' exposure to LTE [4G] cellphone radiation affects brain activity on both sides of the brain.

Brain images pre- and post-LTE (4G) exposure
Activist Post

The first study on the short-term effects of Long Term Evolution (LTE), the fourth generation cell phone technology, has been published online in the peer-reviewed journal,Clinical Neurophysiology. (1)

In a controlled experiment, researchers exposed the right ear of 18 participants to LTE cellphone radiation for 30 minutes. The source of the radiation was 1 centimeter from the ear, and the absorbed amount of radiation in the brain was well within international (ICNIRP) cell phone legal limits. The researchers employed a double-blind, crossover, randomized and counter-balanced design to eliminate any possible study biases.The resting state brain activity of each participant was measured by magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at two times — after exposure to LTE microwave radiation, and after a sham exposure.

The results demonstrated that LTE exposure affected brain neural activity not only in the closer brain region but also in the remote region, including the left hemisphere of the brain. The study helps explain the underlying neural mechanism for the remote effects of microwave radiation in the brain.

In 2011, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, published a similar study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that received worldwide news coverage. Dr. Volkow reported that a 50 minute exposure to CDMA, a second generation cell phone technology, increased brain activity in the region of the brain closest to the cell phone. (2)

Sep 26, 2013

How Economic Freedom Promotes Better Health Care, Education and Environmental Quality

Excerpt: Economic freedom and prosperity go hand in hand with improved health and health care, better education, and a cleaner environment, say James M. Roberts, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and Ryan Olson, a research assistant at the Center for International Trade and Economics. Instead of the coercive monopolization of health care through expensive and inefficient government programs, economic freedom can be applied to achieve positive health care outcomes by: Eliminating barriers by removing subsidies and repealing laws that prevent individuals from purchasing health care services from market-based sources. Increasing competition among bidders to help reduce cost trend and encourage innovation. Decentralizing regulations, allowing for health care plans that fit the customer.

Please continue reading at:

Sep 25, 2013

47% of US jobs under threat from computerization according to Oxford study

Jobs involving cognitive tasks are among those under threat, according to the study (Photo...

Almost 47 percent of US jobs could be computerized within one or two decades according to a recent study that attempts to gauge the growing impact of computers on the job market. It isn't only manual labor jobs that could be affected: The study reveals a trend of computers taking over many cognitive tasks thanks to the availability of big data. It suggests two waves of computerization, with the first substituting computers for people in logistics, transportation, administrative and office support and the second affecting jobs depending on how well engineers crack computing problems associated with human perception, creative and social intelligence... Continue Reading more published on Gizmag Emerging Technology Magazine // visit site
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The Greenest Building in the World #LEED #Sustainable #Energy

ENN Original news: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens may be known for its glass Victorian greenhouse built in the late 1800s, or even as the location where President Obama hosted the G-20 summit in 2009. But the real piece de resistance that puts the Conservatory on the map is their new Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL).

The CSL is primarily home to many of the administrative, educational, and research offices associated with Phipps, however parts of the building are open to the public and there are plans in the works to connect the building's indoor space to the outdoors by means of artwork and sound installations.

So why does this building rank among the greenest in the world? For one, the facility is expected to meet or exceed three of the world's highest green standards. So far the facility has achieved LEED Platinum status, the highest of the US Green Building Council's certifications. Beyond LEED certification, the CSL is striving to achieve the Sustainable Sites Initiative SITES certification for landscapes. The CSL is currently in the process of obtaining state permits and will find out in October if they have achieved 4-star status which has yet to be achieved by any other project. Finally, the CSL is involved with the Living Building Challenge. Projects that achieve this level of performance must document net zero energy, which defines the most advanced measures of sustainability in the built environment.

So what actually makes this building so green?

World record solar cell with 44.7% efficiency #Energy

 PhysOrgGerman Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin announced today that they have achieved a new world record for the conversion of sunlight into electricity using a new solar cell structure with four solar subcells. Surpassing competition after only over three years of research, and entering the roadmap at world class level, a new record efficiency of 44.7% was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. This indicates that 44.7% of the solar spectrum's energy, from ultraviolet through to the infrared, is converted into electrical energy. This is a major step towards reducing further the costs of solar electricity and continues to pave the way to the 50% efficiency roadmap.

Ban on Japanese seafood in full effect, says Russia — Includes Fukushima and 7 other prefectures — “Decision is based on monitoring” [feedly]

Source: Voice of Russia, Interfax
Date: Sept. 19, 2013

A ban on fish and seafood imports from Japan, introduced on April 6 2011 in connection with the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, will remain in effect in full, the federal veterinary and phytosanitary oversight service Rosselkhoznadzor has reported.

It said the ban applies to 242 companies located in eight prefectures of Japan. The ban remains in effect despite Japanese officials' repeated requests to lift it," Rosselkhoznadzor said.

This decision is based on the monitoring, run by Russian services, and by international and foreign organizations. [...]

Sep 24, 2013

List of Toxic Environmental Chemicals that are pregnancy risk; American Congress of Ob/GYN, ASRM

Report: Environmental chemicals are a pregnancy risk.
 From mercury to pesticides, Americans are exposed daily to environmental chemicals that could harm reproductive health, the nation's largest groups of obstetricians and fertility specialists said Monday. ttp://
and here:

Including a printable educational guide with specific recommendations:

What is Total Worker Health™?

Total Worker Health™ is a strategy integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance health and well-being.

Today, emerging evidence recognizes that both work-related factors and health factors beyond the workplace jointly contribute to many health and safety problems that confront today's workers and their families. Traditionally, workplace health and safety programs have been compartmentalized. Health protection programs have focused squarely on safety, reducing worker exposures to risk factors arising in the work environment itself. And most workplace health promotion programs have focused exclusively on lifestyle factors off-the-job that place workers at risk. A growing body of science supports the effectiveness of combining these efforts through workplace interventions that integrate health protection and health promotion programs.

In June 2011, NIOSH launched the Total Worker Health™ (TWH™) Program as an evolution of the NIOSH Steps to a Healthier US. Workforce and the NIOSH WorkLife Initiatives, TWH™ is defined as a strategy integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance worker health and well-being. The TWH™ Program supports the development and adoption of ground-breaking research and best practices of integrative approaches that address health risk from both the work environment (physical and organizational) and individual behavior. The original scientific rationale for expanding research on the benefits of integrated programs to improve worker health and workplace safety was published last year in a research compendium of three seminal papers on the science and practice of integrating health protection and health promotion, The NIOSH Total Worker Health™ Program: Seminal Research Papers 2012.

The "Issues Relevant to Total Worker Health™" graphic below is an at-a-glance visual of issues relevant to integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion. The lists below are not meant to be exhaustive, but, rather they illustrate the breadth of issues related to work that have the potential to impact health and should be considered as strategies are developed for integration of health protection and health promotion activities.

Please read full at:

DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2012-146
cover of 2012-146

The Research Compendium: The NIOSH Total Worker Health™ Program: Seminal Research Papers 2012

In this paper, we review the scientific evidence for coordinating and integrating worksite health promotion and occupational health and safety as a means of enhancing the effectiveness of efforts to promote and protect worker health. The overall aim of this paper is to introduce the parameters for a research agenda aimed at improving worker health through such integrated and coordinated efforts.

The Research Compendium: The NIOSH Total Worker Health™ Program: Seminal Research Papers 2012 Adobe PDF file [PDF - 11.3 MB]

Air Pollution Deaths Around The World [Infographic]

Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon based on data provided by Jason West

How are the conditions where you live?

You've probably seen those photos of Beijing on a bad pollution day. Such days come and go, but the effects of even small amounts of increased pollution may linger in a population for a long time. Several studies have established that different air pollutants reduce people's lifespans.

In a new study, a team of international scientists estimated how many people die each year from the effects of air pollution all over the world. This map shows their numbers.

The map's colors don't actually show absolute numbers of deaths. Instead, they say how many more people in a region died from air pollution in 2000 than in 1850. The colors indicate the number of increased deaths per 386 square miles, an area about the size of Dallas. That means that in the worst parts of northern China and India, there are now 1,000 more deaths from air pollution per Dallas-sized area than there were in 1850.

There are a few places around the world in which air conditions were better in 2000 than they were in 1850. One big improved patch includes the U.S.'s southeastern states, where Antebellum farmers used to burn vegetation to clear the ground, throwing a lot of particulate matter into the air. Improved areas in India and Africa are likely due to climate change, which can alter the rate at which different chemical reactions occur in the air and how the atmosphere circulates.

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Natural Garden Pest Control - easy to make and simple recipe for an all natural garden pest spray.

Natural Garden Pest Control

Check out this easy to make and simple recipe for an all natural garden pest spray. Cook a batch up and help protect your fall garden crops. Don't forget about putting down a bunch of Diatomaceous Earth (8 Reasons to Stockpile Diatomaceous Earth) for additional protection.

Wind Power Makes Hydrogen for German Gas Grid

Proposals to generate hydrogen using excess wind power have been blowing around for quite a few years now, with the hydrogen being a form of "energy storage" that can be subsequently burnt for heat and/or power.

Some systems are now appearing in the wild in countries as diverse as Morocco, Turkey, Argentina and Norway.

Greentech media reports that the Germans are getting in on the act as well, converting excess wind power to hydrogen and feeding it into the natural gas grid (perhaps the combination of hydrogen derived gas and biogas will eventually eliminate European dependence on gas from Russia and the middle east) - Wind Power Makes Hydrogen for German Gas Grid

For the first time on an industrial scale, hydrogen produced using wind power is being injected into the natural gas grid in Germany. It's a development that could enhance the value of wind power by making it useful no matter when it is produced.

E.ON said the P2G unit in Falkenhagen in eastern Germany, operated in a partnership with Swissgas AG, has a capacity of 2 megawatts and can pump out 360 cubic meters of hydrogen every hour. In a sign of the potential of the technology, its inauguration drew a crowd that included the German economics minister, members of the European parliament and high officials of Brandenburg state.

"One of the biggest challenges of transforming Germany's energy system is finding ways to integrate the increasing share of intermittent, renewable-source energy," Economics Minister Philipp Rösler said in the E.ON news release. "To ensure that Germany's power system remains stable and that our economy continues to have the energy it needs, we not only have to rapidly expand energy networks. We also need innovative solutions like the P2G unit here in Falkenhagen."

The Falkenhagen facility is essentially a way to store wind power. Instead of turning off the turbines at a nearby wind farm when demand is low (as it can be at night, when the wind tends to blow strongest), or using the power to move water up a hill (effective but site-specific and expensive pumped hydro) or charge a battery (expensive), or try to find a buyer for the power far away (requiring costly transmission), the power is used to turn water into hydrogen by electrolysis. The hydrogen is then shot straight into the area's natural gas system, displacing a fossil fuel.

What's especially interesting here is that last step: the use of the hydrogen in the natural gas pipeline. We recently reported on a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, "Blending Hydrogen Into Natural Gas Pipeline Networks: A Review of Key Issues," in which the authors sound a fairly optimistic note about the possibility of putting the country's extensive gas pipeline system to work for clean hydrogen's benefit. They don't give a 100 percent endorsement of the idea -- because of the nature of hydrogen, the natural gas system can only take small percentages without extensive reworking -- but their review of the issues says that the pluses appeared significant enough to warrant further study. So while the E.ON project in Germany is fairly small, it should provide valuable insight that will help guide subsequent approaches with the technology.

Other similar approaches include putting hydrogen produced from excess renewables to work in fuel cells, and reacting it with CO2 from bioenergy plants to produce a carbon neutral methane, sometimes known as "renewable methane" or synthetic methane. This synthetic methane could go directly into the natural gas pipeline without the limitations of hydrogen. A 25-kilowatt demonstration plant using just such a system is operating in Germany.

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If we have to use fossil fuels to manufacture renewable plants, doesn't it mean that renewables are useless ?

One of the more frustrating arguments you can ever have with a doomer about renewable energy is the weird "solar panels (or wind turbines" aren't built entirely using renewable energy today and therefore they never can be" line that they like to trot out. Resilience has a post from Cassandra's Legacy looking at this bizarre belief (Still taking a mildly pessimistic viewpoint but its an improvement on the collapsist stuff you still see at places like - If we have to use fossil fuels to manufacture renewable plants, doesn't it mean that renewables are useless?.
In this post, Marco Raugei makes a fundamental point about an often raised question: if we have to use fossil fuels to manufacture renewable plants, doesn't it mean that renewables are useless? Raugei's answer is a resounding "no". In fact, the EROEI of fossil fuels acts as a multiplier for the final EROEI of the whole process. It turns out that if we invest the energy of fossil fuels to build renewable plants we get an overall EROEI around 20 for a process that leads to photovoltaic plants and an even better one for wind plants. So, if we want to invest in our future, that's the way to go, until we gradually arrive to completely replace fossil fuels!

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Two-Way Wave Power Generator Wins UK Dyson Award

IEEE Spectrum has an article on a new wave power generator design - Two-Way Wave Power Generator Wins UK Dyson Award.
A new multi-axis wave power generator that can absorb forces no matter which way the water is churning has won the Dyson Award for the UK region, according to BBC News.

Renewable Wave Power is a semi-submersible, multi-axis wave energy converter that is specifically designed for the waters off of the Orkney Islands in Scotland. ... Sam Etherington, the project's engineer, was inspired by the variability of the ocean while kite surfing and sailing off of Cumbria in Northwest England.

In wave tanks at Lancaster University, the chain of loosely coupled pistons was able to absorb forces from all directions. The conditions in the tank were modeled after the data taken from buoys off the Orkney Islands.

published on Peak Energy // visit site

Skin cancer vaccine in clinical trials was able to get complete regression in 50% of animals

Harvard scientists, engineers, and clinicians announced that they have begun a Phase I clinical trial of an implantable vaccine to treat melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer.

The technology was initially designed to target cancerous cells in skin, but might have application to other cancers. In the preclinical study reported in Science Translational Medicine, 50 percent of mice treated with two doses of the vaccine — mice that would have otherwise died from melanoma within about 25 days — showed complete tumor regression.

Read more // published on Next Big Future // visit site

New hydrophobic material could benefit power plants, cooling systems.

Steam condensation is key to the worldwide production of electricity and clean water: It is part of the power cycle that drives 85 percent of all electricity-generating plants and about half of all desalination plants globally, according to the United Nations and International Energy Agency. So anything that improves the efficiency of this process could have enormous impact on global energy use.

It has been known for years that making steam-condenser surfaces hydrophobic — that is, getting them to repel water — could improve the efficiency of condensation by causing the water to quickly form droplets. But most hydrophobic materials have limited durability, especially in steamy industrial settings. The new approach to coating condenser surfaces should overcome that problem, the MIT researchers say.

The covalent-bonding process the team developed is significantly more stable than previous coatings, he says, even under harsh conditions.

Tests of metal surfaces coated using the team's process show "a stark difference," Paxson says. In the tests, the material stood up well even when exposed to steam at 100 degrees Celsius in an accelerated endurance test. Typically, the steam in power-plant condensers would only be about 40 degrees Celsius, Varanasi says.

Read more published on Next Big Future

Molten Air - A new, highest energy class of rechargeable batteries with up to 4.5 times the energy capacity of lithium air batteries

Where are the high energy capacity, cost effective batteries urgently needed for a range of medical, transportation and power generation devices, including in greenhouse gas reduction applications such as overcoming the battery driven "range anxiety" of electric vehicles, and increased capacity energy storage for the electric grid? This study introduces the principles of a new class of batteries, rechargeable molten air batteries, and several battery chemistry examples are demonstrated. The new battery class uses a molten electrolyte, are quasi-reversible (rechargeable), and have amongst the highest intrinsic battery electric energy storage capacities. Three examples of the new batteries are demonstrated. These are the iron, carbon and VB2 molten air batteries with respective intrinsic volumetric energy capacities of 10,000, 19,000 and 27,000 Wh liter-1. These compare favorably to the intrinsic capacity of the well known lithium air battery (6,200 Wh liter-1) due to the latter's single electron transfer and low density limits.

Higher energy capacity, cost effective batteries are needed for a range of electronic, transportation and greenhouse gas reduction power generation devices. Needed greenhouse gas battery reduction applications include overcoming the battery driven "range anxiety" of electric vehicles, and increased capacity energy storage for the electric grid.

The molten iron air battery. Charging (in this case from dissolved LiFeO2, dissolving 1:1 Li2O to Fe2
O3) forms a thick iron layer on the cathode as described in the text. Rights side: Discharge polarization (following electrochemical charge to form iron) of the air and iron electrodes in 730°C molten lithium carbonate with LiFeO2.

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The Credit Bubble Is Not Only Back, It Is 94% Bigger Than In 2007

The Credit Bubble Is Not Only Back, It Is 94% Bigger Than In 2007 (ZeroHedge, Sep 23, 2013):

If the Fed was worried about 'froth' in the markets earlier in the year, then this chart should have them panicking. Of course, as Jim Bullard noted Friday, there is no bubble because everyone knows there is no bubble but judging by the massive surge in covenant-lite loan issuance, there is a bubble in forced demand for leveraged loans. At $188.7 billion, the 2013 issuance of these highly unsafe loans (which have seen huge inflows since the Fed started talking taper back in May) is almost double that of the peak of the last credit bubble in 2007 and is five times the size of 2012 YTD issuance at this time. As Reuters notes, Covenant-lite loans used to be reserved for stronger companies and credits, but are now so common in the U.S. leveraged loan market that investors are becoming wary of some credits with a full covenant package. With corporate leverage at all-time highs, what could go wrong?

Demand for leveraged-loans is surging (as rate concerns rise)…

And where there is demand, supply rises to meet it – as the least lender-protected notes surge in issuance…

(Data: Morgan Stanley S&P LCD)

Via Reuters,

Huge demand for leveraged loans from billions of dollars flowing into U.S. loan funds pushed covenant-lite loan volume to a record $188.7 billion, far surpassing the record of 2007, and still going strong.

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Sep 23, 2013

Superbugs make green energy from black waste

A costly health problem facing countries all over the world – petroleum contamination of groundwater – could soon be tackled by armies of the world's tiniest inhabitants turning toxic waste into green electricity.

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Sep 22, 2013

Power from the Tap: Water Motors... In 1900's water motors were used to power electrical devices,

Pelton water motor 3

Low-tech Magazine // visit site // Few people in the western world realize that they have an extra power source available in their household, workshop or factory: tap water.

Just before the arrival of electricity at the end of the nineteenth century, water motors were widely used in Europe and America.

These miniature water turbines were connected to the tap and could power any machine that is now driven by electricity.

Picture: a late nineteenth-century water motor with one side of the casing removed. Source: Old Pelton.

Water has been the main inanimate source of mechanical power from antiquity right up to the beginning of the twentieth century. Although most water wheels were located at the banks of the river (or in the river itself), some were set up at considerable distances from a water source. This was made possible by the introduction of hydraulic power transmission -- the process by which water from a stream is led through artificial watercourses to water wheels built on the land.  

To support hydraulic power transmission, man-made channels ("power canals" or "aqueducts") could be dug into the earth or carved out of the rocks ("ditches"). They could also be elevated structures whose walls were raised above the surrounding terrain ("flumes"). Water reservoirs formed by dams could be integrated into these power transmission networks, regulating water flow, providing power storage for times when water was running low, and increasing the "head" or fall of water for a vertical overshot water wheel. The use of power canals increased throughout the medieval period and became widespread during the 1500s.

Power from the Tap

In the mid-nineteenth century, many European and American cities introduced a more sophisticated water distribution system: the public water supply. Although this introduction was an answer to health concerns (it had become clear that reoccurring epidemics were the consequence of drinking contaminated water), it became quickly obvious that the potable water sent through the pipelines of the public water supply could also provide motive power.

Waterwheels were still the most important source of mechanical power in the early days of public water mains. Most European and American cities had running water before they had electricity, so there was a market for a compact power source that could be used in the city, as an alternative to steam engines (which were too expensive, too dangerous and too unpractical to operate on a small-scale) or hand and foot powered machines.

Water motor smokstak

Pelton wheel 

Late nineteenth-century water motors. Pictures: Smokstack and Old Pelton.

The town mains were no different from the hydraulic power transmission systems built in earlier times.   In public water supply systems, traditional reliance on geological features as a head for the hydropower cycle is replaced by the use of a water tower. Water is pumped into an elevated reservoir, which could be on a hill or on top of a specially built water tower (a combination of both is also possible).

The height differential between the water level in the reservoir and the water level in the mains determines the pressure of the water. For every 10.20 cm of elevation, a water column produces 0.145 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure. To produce 70 psi of pressure at street level, a water tower must be 50 m tall.


It became quickly obvious that the potable water sent through the pipelines of the public water supply could also provide motive power.


In the town mains, the role of the aqueducts or power canals is taken over by a much more intricate network of pipelines. This prevents debris from entering the water and makes uphill water transport easier. Water piping technology was used in some ancient civilizations, but the nineteenth-century systems introduced some lasting innovations.

First of all, thanks to the screw type tap (which was patented in 1845), the water supply could be easily regulated. Second, the water could be further distributed inside individual buildings, often reaching multiple rooms at several floors. At any of these spots, all you had to do to receive motive power from the town mains was to connect a small water turbine to the tap. This is exactly what happened.

Water Powered Household Devices

In Europe, small motors using the public water supply appeared in the 1840s. In the US, they came into extensive use in the 1870s and 1880s. A water motor consisted of a small water turbine that was suspended in a metal casing. The diameter of the turbine runner could be anywhere between from 20 to 90 cm.

Water motor 1  

Hydro electric dynamo

Above: A 1906 advertisement for a typical American water motor. Below: A hydraulic dynamo. Source: The Museum of Retrotechnology.     

 The smallest water motors were used to run sewing machines, jigsaws, fans, and other similarly mechanized items. The somewhat larger water motors were recommended for operating coffee grinders, ice cream freezers, jeweler's and locksmith's lathes, grindstones, church organs, or drug and paint mills. The largest water motors were used to run elevators or circular saws. In water powered washing machines, the water that was needed to wash the clothes was capable of providing power to the machine simultaneously. 

Water motors operated machinery by means of a mechanical power transmission, similar to old-fashioned wind, water, and pedal powered machines from that era. The shaft of the water turbine was either equipped with a belt pulley to which different machines could be attached, or it drove one machine directly.

At the end of the nineteenth century, water motors were also used to power electrical devices, especially radios and light bulbs. In this case, the water motor drove a dynamo that produced electricity on the spot. Compact units consisting of a small water turbine directly coupled to a dynamo were commercially available.

Output and Efficiency of a Water Motor

Most water turbines derived pressure by extracting energy from the impulse of moving water as opposed to generating energy via weight, as was the case with most water wheels and some other water turbines. A major innovation was the Pelton wheel, which was invented in 1878.

This water turbine consists of a series of cups fastened at equal intervals around the periphery of a circular disc (the "runner"). The water enters the casing through an inlet pipe, where it is forced through a nozzle which reduces its volume and increases its velocity, after which it is directed to the cups. By changing the nozzle which influences this fluxuation in pressure, the power obtained from a wheel could vary. The exhaust water is dropped out of the bottom of the casing, or led away by an outlet pipe.


The efficiency of a Pelton wheel is not dependent on its size, which makes it especially attractive for smaller powers.


The Pelton turbine is especially well suited for use in combination with the town mains, due to the fact that it requires a high head and a low water flow. A Pelton wheel is up to 90% efficient, which is comparable to the efficiency of a large, modern electric motor. Unlike steam engines, electric motors, and most other water turbines, which become less efficient as they become smaller, the efficiency of a Pelton wheel is not dependent on its size, which makes it especially attractive for smaller powers.

Water motor 3

A water-powered sewing machine. Source: Knight's American Dictionary (1881).

Water turbines (such as the Pelton wheel) are much more compact than water wheels, which makes that a small motor can deliver more energy than one would suspect. The maximum power output of a water motor is determined by two factors. The first is the prevailing water pressure and the second is the water flow rate, which is defined by the pipe diameter and the velocity of the water. The latter factor is rather fixed for narrow pipes, because at velocities above 8 km/h friction becomes problematic.

Water pressure in the town mains is typically between 40 and 70 psi (2.75 to 4.8 bar), and was closer to 70 psi in the nineteenth century. With a water pressure of 70 psi and a pipe diameter of 1.25 cm (a typical size for individual branch lines running to the taps), the maximum power output of a water motor is 0.33 horse power (or 243 watts of mechanical power). Even after you take into account the efficiency loss in the motor, this is quite a lot of power: Two to three times as much as a human operating a pedal powered machine can sustain for an hour or longer. 

Water Use

Water motors supplied a need almost entirely unmatched by other new motors from that time, and they exploited a source of energy readily available from centralized systems already built in most urban areas. However, at least in the United States, their succes was short-lived. When electric motors and gasoline engines became available, the water motor lost its attraction. In 1900, the amount of water motors in the US (an estimated 30,000 motors aggregating 26,000 horse power) was about one-fifth of the amount of gasoline engines and one-tenth of the amount of electric motors. [Source: Hunter 1991]

At the end of the nineteenth century, water motors were also used to power electrical devices, especially radios and light bulbs

 The main drawback of water motors was their very high use of potable water. Using a 1.25 cm diameter pipe and a pressure of 70 psi, a water motor consumed 30 litres of water per minute for a power output of 243 watts. This means that it took 7,440 litres of water to produce 1 kWh of mechanical energy. To give an idea: People today in the west consume less than 500 liters of potable water per day, and they consume at least 5 kWh of electric energy per day.

Water powered fan 1

Water powered fan 2

A water powered fan. Found at Smokstak.

If the water pressure dropped below 70 psi, a water motor's power output decreased with it, while potable water consumption remained the same. The minimum pressure in the public water supply was (and still is) 20 psi (1.4 bar). Below that value, there is a risk of contamination because polluted water could enter the mains through leaks in the pipes.

If you were unlucky and you got a water pressure of just 20 psi, motor output would have been limited to a much less impressive 0.09 hp (67 watt). You could have chosen to restore the power output by increasing the pipe diameter, but that would have further increased the consumption of potable water.

There are many reasons why the water pressure in the town mains could be lower than 70 psi: adoption of a lower water pressure by a company, leaks in the pipelines, structural location of consumer residences in relation to the water tower, or use of a water motor on a higher floor. Water pressure drops by 10 psi per mile of pipeline. Water pressure is generally higher when it enters the house than when it comes out of the tap: It will decrease with every bend in the pipelines, and about 5 psi of pressure is lost each time you go up one floor.

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