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OCT 17

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Battery Maker A123 Enters Bankruptcy
Written by Philip Proefrock on 17/10/12   

Further bad news for the electric vehicle market comes with word that A123, the company that owns the largest battery manufacturing plant in North America, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week.

The two A123 manufacturing plants, which have been making batteries for electric vehicles including those built by General Motors and i recommend rx generic cialis Fisker, will be taken over by Johnson Controls, which is acquiring A123's automotive assets.

In addition to click here best price for generic levitra its vehicle batteries, A123 also produces cells and batteries for portable equipment, telecommunications and electric grid applications, and stationary power backup systems.

An earlier deal to sell most of the ownership of A123 to a Chinese manufacturer, the Wanxiang Group, apparently fell through, and the bankruptcy filing coincided, at least in part, with A123 failing to make a scheduled loan repayment to Wanxiang.



OCT 17

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Cheaper New Anti-Reflective Solar Panel Coatings
Written by Philip Proefrock on 17/10/12   

For efficiency, solar panels need to be as absorbtive as possible of the light that strikes them. Any light that reflects off the panel is not producing energy, so anti-reflective coatings have been studied by researchers trying to boost the performance and efficiency of buy generic levitra solar panels. Highly efficient coatings have already been available for a number of years, but recent developments have been able to bring the costs down, as well.

The latest coating development from the Australian company Brisbane Materials is able to be applied at room temperatures, rather than needing high temperatures, as other coatings have needed to what is levitra professional affix the coating. With this coating, solar panels can have an improvement of about 3% in efficiency. This may be a small increase, but, as we've pointed out before, accumulating small increases in efficiency are how improvements come about.

In addition, the coating can also be combined with anti-soiling coatings, which will help keep the panel cleaner for a longer period of time, which also helps maintain the effectiveness of the panel.

via: Treehugger


OCT 16

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"What a versatile material it is and a shame that it is an industry whi..."

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All-Natural Insulation with Expanded Cork Boards
Written by Philip Proefrock on 16/10/12   

Cork is a very versatile material with a great green pedigree. It is considered a rapidly renewable material because the bark of the cork oak can be harvested without killing the tree, allowing repeated cycles of production over the 200+ year lifespan of the tree. While cork has long been an attractive choice for flooring, it is now being used to provide building insulation boards, as well.

Like cork flooring, the cork insulation is also made from granules of cork that are left over after wine corks have been punched out of the bark. Cork granules are treated under heat and pressure to release a natural binder and produce billets of expanded cork which are then cut to size. The expanded cork has an R-value of 3.6 per inch. This isn't as good as the highest performance materials, but is comparable to fiberglass batts, cotton (blue jean insulation), and cellulose insulation.

Expanded cork insulation at present is a comparatively expensive material for insulation. The cost comparison from Building Green (who have an extensive write-up of the material) indicates that cork might be as much as 5 times the cost of a similar amount of i use it buy levitra online pharmacy polyisocyanurate insulation board, and more than twice as expensive as extruded polystyrene. But the buy cialis in canada cork does not rely on petrochemicals for its manufacture, and offers an all-natural insulation product that will definitely appeal to some builders and building owners.

In addition to its energy performance, the cork insulation is also highly flame resistant, helps with sound absorbtion, and does not offgas any significant VOCs. From a LEED perspective, it is a very useful material, qualifying as a rapidly renewable material in addition to being manufactured from the waste byproduct of the manufacture of another product (wine corks). Many cork forests are already FSC certified. And, from the perspective of a materials red list, it is 100% natural.

via: Jetson Green


OCT 12

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Frozen Air Offers a New Concept for Power Storage
Written by Philip Proefrock on 12/10/12   

An intriguing method for storing excess power from renewable generation sources is based using super cooled air as a means of storing power until it is needed. British-based Highview Power is developing the system with a pilot plant adjacent to a heat and power plant at Slough.

The frozen air storage system cools air to cryogenic temperatures around -200 degrees F (-129 degrees C) and stores it in tanks. When power is called for, the liquified air can be evaporated and used to run turbines to produce electricity. Fundamentally, it is similar to other steam-based systems, relying on a phase change of a liquid to a gas being used to run a turbine. The process can be coupled with systems that produce waste heat which can be used to augment the efficiency of the system.

The current pilot frozen air storage does not have nearly the efficiency as many other power storage systems (most of which average 70-80% if not better). But the engineers working on the project believe that they can reach similar efficiencies as other systems offer when the system is scaled.

As a small added benefit, the frozen air storage system requires the air to be cleaned of soot and small atmospheric particles, as well as water vapor, before it is cooled down, so in addition to storing power, the process also results in slightly cleaner air.

via: Treehugger


OCT 11

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Denmark Hits Solar Energy Goal 8 Years Early
Written by Philip Proefrock on 11/10/12   

Installing solar power in Denmark is going faster than planned, and the country has already reached its goal of 200 megawatts of solar capacity. This amount was the goal that the Danish government had set to reach by 2020.

At present, the country is adding 36 MW of solar panels each month, and industry predictions are that there will be 1000 MW of solar panels (five times the goal) installed by 2020. Denmark has one of the highest levels of renewable power installed as a percentage of total power requirements. The national goals on that front are 35 percent (to be reached by 2020) and 100 percent (to be reached by 2050). More than 20 percent of Danish power is supplied from renewable sources at present.

The Danish energy market makes this an attractive option for homeowners and other building owners. “The demand for solar cells has increased dramatically since net metering was implemented in 2010. Net metering gives private households and public institutions the possibility of ‘storing’ surplus production in the public grid, which makes solar panels considerably more attractive.”

via: Danish Ministry of viagra canada prescription Foreign Affairs Press Release


OCT 10

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"This sparks my interest for many reasons - I'm in the market for the b..."

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Audi's Carbon Neutral E-Gas
Written by Philip Proefrock on 10/10/12   

Automakers have a strong interest in understanding and improving the fuel market. After all, without a stable fuel infrastructure in place, their products (the cars they build) are nothing more than big sculptures. So it's not surprising that Audi is involved in a carbon-neutral fuel called e-gas.

Working with an organic waste burning facility, CO2 is captured and then combined with electrolytically produced hydrogen (powered by clean energy sources like wind and cialis available in india solar) to create synthetic methane (which is natural gas). To use this fuel, Audi is building a dual-fuel car called the Audi A3 TCNG which can use either the visit web site order cheap cialis e-gas or regular gasoline. The feedstock is non-food organic waste, to avoid competition between food and fuel. In addition to the e-gas, Audi is also producing e-diesel and e-ethanol, to provide cleaner fuels for the entire range of its engines.

This is not too different from any number of other biofuel manufacturers. And this is not the first time that an automaker has taken an interest in fuel manufacturing. (GM was an investor in Coskata, a biofuel startup that got a lot of attention in 2008.) The issue with this, and other, biofuel schemes is to make the entire process carbon neutral. Not only the fuel itself, but also the energy used in producing the fuel must all be clean or carbon neutral in order to be sustainable in the long term.

via: Jalopnik


OCT 09

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​Flaws in the "Organic Food" Study
Written by Philip Proefrock on 09/10/12   

Last month there was a great deal of media attention paid to a study about organic food (Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review), which was widely cited for concluding that "[there is no] evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods." But the study is more spin than significant science.

A critique of the study in the New York Times by columnist and food writer Mark Bittman points out the weaknesses and oversimplifications in the study that have been used to "debunk" organic food based on criteria that are significantly immaterial to the organic label.

Bittman says of the study, "[it] was like declaring guns no more dangerous than baseball bats when it comes to blunt-object head injuries. It was the equivalent of comparing milk and Elmer’s glue on the basis of whiteness. It did, in short, miss the point." The other half of the conclusion of the study, "Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria," was much more overlooked.

Organic food has never been about some perception of super-food with extra nutritional value, except perhaps to those who don't understand organic in the first place. But this study was so narrow in its definitiion of "nutritious" (which was taken to mean "containing more vitamins") that, as Bittman points out, "you can claim that, based on nutrients, Frosted Flakes are a better choice than an apple."

The benefits of organic farming are numerous, and are far beyond relative comparison of the amount of some vitamin content. Not only are there potential individual benefits (the aforementioned reduced exposure to pesticide residue and buy levitra soft so forth), but contributing to such broader environmental benefits as reduced pesticide use and more sustainable farming practices are also worthwhile goals.

image: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Ragesoss

via: NY Times (apologies; this may be behind their paywall)


OCT 05

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German Cars Are the Next Wave of EVs
Written by Philip Proefrock on 05/10/12   

German carmakers are catching up to what other manufacturers are doing, and seem to be coming out with several models incorporating electric drive. According to reports from the Paris Auto Show, an electric drive Mercedes B-Class will be brought to the US market. And a hybrid Volkswagen Jetta is also scheduled to be available for the 2013 model year. An all-electric VW Golf (which will be based on the newly introduced 2014 Golf) is expected to be released as part of the 2015 line, as well.

The concept version of the Mercedes B-Class shown in Paris has almost 125 miles (200 kilometers) of range and can reach a top speed of 93 miles per hour (150 kph). The vehicle uses lithium-ion batteries for power storage, but the capacity of the batteries has not been released. The battery powered B-Class will be available in 2014.

The hybrid Jetta has a 1.4 liter gas engine along with a 27 HP electric motor. It can travel at speeds up to 44 miles per hour (70 kph) in all-electric mode, and has an estimated combined fuel economy of 45 MPG. Deliveries of generic cialis fast shipping the hybrid Jetta are slated to begin at the end of this year.

These moves come even as other automakers are pulling back from pure electric drive vehicles. Even if they aren't a large part of these manufacturers' lines, the electrification of automobiles will continue, and this will give these manufacturers further insight and customer feedback about how these vehicles are or are not meeting consumer needs.


OCT 01

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US Military Embracing Green Energy
Written by Philip Proefrock on 01/10/12   

The US military is one of the biggest users of renewable energy, and the Pentagon is continuing to investment in a variety of renewable power systems. Eleven former 3- and 4-star generals have made a strong argument for renewables in a joint paper they have issued titled 'A National Security Imperative to Reduce U.S. Oil Dependence.' The generals looked at the matter not only from a perspective of military operations, but, more broadly, from an overall national policy perspective. "The chief finding of the paper, signed by all eleven generals, states simply 'America’s dependence on oil constitutes a significant national security threat.'"

The military has already been one of the largest adopters of green building practices, despite the efforts of good choice cialis pfizer the Congress to suppress or limit the use of LEED on military projects. Green building may be a political football for the legislature, but the military takes a more functional and long-term view, and the benefits of greener practices are plainly clear to them.

Numerous military programs have looked at a wide variety of ways to save energy. About a year ago, the Army organized a renewable energy task force. The Navy has tested biofuel for jet fighters and fuel conservation programs for ships. This is not because the military is really a bunch of tree huggers, but because it makes good sense for their broader mission.

Not only is it important to have sustainable practices at the military bases and fixed facilities, but also, in the field, the use of renewable power means less need for transporting fuel and how to find cialis other supplies. In the current conflicts the American forces are engaged in, supply chains are one of the vulnerabilities that must be dealt with, and the costs associated with protecting and transporting material takes its toll in "blood and treasure." But using renewable power such as solar, rather than diesel generators, allows soldiers in the field to be more self-reliant and less dependent upon supply deliveries.

We often talk about the triple bottom line in explaining the numerous benefits of following greener policies. But that argument may not sway some people. Maybe that can be buttressed with a perspective of long-term strategic thinking that also makes an argument for the same policies.

image: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Henrickson

Hat tip to Ray James


SEP 27

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Downturns in Pure Electric Vehicles
Written by Philip Proefrock on 27/09/12   

There have been a couple of signs recently that consumers may not be quite ready yet for pure electric vehicles (EVs), or at least that manufacturers still have some work ahead of them to be able to provide an EV that has all the features that consumers want.

Toyota has drastically cut the number of eQ cars it plans to build to only about 100 vehicles, down from several thousand as were initially planned when the vehicle was first announced. (The eQ is an all-electric variant of their small iQ car.) But the company is far from abandoning vehicle electrification altogether. Toyota has also announced plans to have 21 different gas-electric hybrid models in its line by 2015. It is the all-electric vehicle that the company does not see as a viable market at present.

Meanwhile, a group of Nissan LEAF owners in Arizona got together to test their vehicles on their own to show the company that their vehicles batteries are prematurely losing capacity and are not able to reach the promised driving range. The LEAF owners felt that they were not getting sufficient responses to their complaints from the company and decided to take matters into their own hands. The hot Arizona environment was a particular concern from the outset, since the LEAF does not have a battery cooling system.

Electric vehicles certainly have niches in which they are an excellent option. But in many ways, they are not perceived as ideal for the wide range of driving that many people do. As automakers make improvements, these perceptions may well change, and more people will take up EVs. But there are a lot of ingrained consumer habits that will take more than a couple years to overcome.


SEP 26

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Progress in Biofuels Production
Written by Philip Proefrock on 26/09/12   

We've been getting an onslaught of press releases from a number of companies all promoting their biofuel production facilities and the deals they are making to provide biofuels to various industries and cheap viagra with fast delivery markets. Numerous airlines and branches of the military have tested biofuels in their aircraft to verify it is safe to use. In many aspects, biofuels are a growing business.

However, despite the flurry of production, biofuels are still a long way from replacing conventional fossil fuels. While the numbers can be impressively large-sounding, these still represent only a tiny percentage of the total amount of fuel that is consumed by motor vehicles annually. The output from a pilot plant may sound impressively large if thinking about the volume of fuel in comparison to one's individual use. But when considered against the millions of vehicles on the road, it is completely dwarfed by the volume of fuel consumed annually (or even just daily) across the nation for transportation.

In addition, as part of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, the EPA has recently set the annual production volume target for bio-based diesel at 1.28 billion gallons, a volume which is in line with current industry production and capacity. The EPA rule does not mandate a particular percentage of biofuel to be incorporated into diesel fuels, but instead is an amount that industry is required to accommodate. This serves to guarantee a place for biodiesel in the fuel mix and is part of the Energy Policy Acts of 1992 and 2005.

According to the EPA, this use of biodiesel offers benefits to the nation, noting that "[q]uantified estimates of buy 10 mg cialis benefits include $41 million in energy security benefits and $19-52 million in air quality disbenefits." Additionally, there are likely to be direct and indirect employment benefits and GHG emissions reductions.

Biofuels are not a silver bullet solution, however, and there are a number of drawbacks to many current forms of biofuel production. Unfortunately, many of the sources for biodiesel and ethanol are competing with food uses of land and levitra samples in canada are using food crops like corn and soybeans as feedstocks for fuel. Rainforest lands are also being cleared for plantations of sugarcane and jatropha that is being used for fuel. Despite these problems, in the long term, the growth of this industry can be useful in developing non-fossil fuels that can replace the current unsustainable fuel sources.

image: CC BY 2.0 by Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia


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