Interesting Bio-fuel solutions

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Guest Post by Maria Kruk, an author for Patentsbase.com

Search of new renewable energy solutions has embraced most of the countries recently. Indeed, growth of oil and gas prices and shortage of fuel deposits contributed a lot in referring to alternative power facilities, such as solar stations, wind farms and tidal power systems. However, these are the prerogative of those lands possessing suitable climate conditions and favoring national policy. On the contrary, the other states have many benefits for biofuels production, converting wastes and unnecessary materials into promising energy resources. Some examples testify on how creative and effective new technologies might be.

Germany is a vivid example of how biofuels might invest in national energy balance. For several decades German scientists have been working on biofuel technologies, and some of the concepts alerted governmental attention. To date, economic discussions are engaged in related issues, which are focused on how to make biofuels cheaper.  One of the received results is directed on car fuels production out of agricultural and wood wastes. The released technology features synthetic gasoline made of sawdust and straw, including two major stages: gathering basic material straightforward on farms and timber factories and gasoline production on the plant. Its price is expected to be 0,5 Euro per liter and the first supplies are scheduled on 2012.

Wageningen University and Research Centre in Ukraine is working on the concept of thermal and electrical energy from biomass gathered in Chernobyl restricted zone. It is appropriate to mention that this country still copes with consequences of tragic events of April 26th 1986, when there was a huge explosion on the local nuclear plant. However, biomass is offered to be cultivated on the lands cleared from radioactive effects.  All in all, the idea of any activity in Chernobyl zone is quite unpleasing and it might influence negatively on reputation of Ukrainian businessmen. Many scientists conclude that this area should be a testing ground for scientific experiments and investigations for many decades in future.

In contrast, Ukraine can boast of certain biomass advancement. It is the first country in Eastern Europe to establish a production of mobile industrial facilities that convert organic wastes into fuel pellets. These biofuel complexes, called “Forward”, are embedded on the truck platforms. Forward’s average capacity is about 2 tons per hour. The other advantage of these mobile platforms is their cost, which twice cheaper than foreign equipment – 300 thousand dollars.

During recent decades many countries in Europe opened huge biodiesel plants, using different primary materials. One of them is located in Spanish port Ferrol with a total capacity of 200 thousand tons of biodiesel fuels per year. It produces biodiesel from refined and unrefined vegetable oil, mainly soybean and canola oils. Giant biomass recycling plant was put in commission in Kalundborg city in Denmark. This facility performs several important tasks, which include recycling wheat straw, corn stalks and cobs, sugar bagasse and grass; usage of waste steam in biomass production and manufacturing lignin biofuel. Palm oil and rapeseed oil and animal fats are used in three biofuel plants in Rotterdam, which belong to Neste Oil Corp (Finland).  Their total capacity is 800 thousand tons of biodiesel annually.

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Going Green in Small Things

Going Green in Small Things

When we think of going green we typically think of things like adding solar panels to your home’s roof or massive wind farms or building a home out of used tires. However, going green does not have to mean making massive, expensive changes to your lifestyle. You can just do a few little things and make a big impact on the environment. Here are some little things you can change –

  1. Light Bulbs – We all know that the classic light bulb is a huge waste of electricity and heat. Thankfully we have other options today. Even big chain stores carry a variety of eco-friendly lighting choices. LED lights are becoming cheaper every year and use almost no electricity while still providing more than enough light.
  2. Car Maintenance –Keeping your car maintained is an easy way to help the environment. A well maintained car does not give off as much pollution and a car with inflated tires and a clean fuel injector assembly does not use as much gas. Not only are you reducing emissions, but you are also reducing the drain on non-renewable resources and the transportation and processing required to get them to your local gas station.
  3. Insulation –An easy and inexpensive way to make your home more eco-friendly is to replace your insulation. A well-insulated home stays warmer in winter and cooler in summer, reducing your need for utilities to heat and cool your home. It also helps to replace your windows with double paned glass. This double layer of glass means that less cool air will escape in the summer and fewer icy breezes will get in during the winter. You can even have your windows tinted or add dark colored screens to reduce sun exposure and keep your house cooler.
  4. Recycle –This simple idea has been around for a long time but is still something that we need to be reminded to do every once in a while. You should be recycling everything you can. Things like soda cans, glass jars, and plastic jugs can be recycled into new, useful things. Even paper products can be recycled. If your community does not have a recycling program you can form one or find your closest recycling center. Oftentimes your local public school will have a recycling program in place and would be glad for any donations you care to provide.
  5. Shop Smart –Las but not least, learn to shop smart. Try to buy locally as much as you can, reducing the transportation costs and emissions to get the products to the store. Try to find items that are made from recycled materials and thingsthat can be reused instead of thrown away.

All these little steps add up to really help the environment. Remember that you do not have to be rich to be green. Just a few thoughtful changes and a little effort on your part can help us to keep the Earth in shape for the next generation.

Author Bio:

Jason Miner plays a vital role for www.blogcarnival.com. He is an expert in writing topics of different categories. He is helping the carnival team to grow & working on making this an even better place for bloggers. 

HIT Solar Cells

Cheaper Manufacturing for HIT Solar Cells

This is a guest post by Mathias Aarre Maehlum of  Energy Informative

Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST in Braunschweig, Germany, has been working on making the manufacturing of HIT solar cells cheaper by engineering an improved coating process.

Hetorjunction with Intrinsic Thin layer (HIT) solar cells are currently one of the most promising new technologies in the PV industry. They have consistently shown high performance in laboratory conditions – in some cases up to 23% – significantly higher than the majority solar modules on today`s market.

Fraunhofer IST`s new way of producing HIT solar cells includes hot wires instead of the plasma-CDV process, which allows for cheaper mass production. The plasma-CDV process is dependent on large quantities of silane gas to function. Somewhere of 85-90% is lost through the process and becomes waste, which of course brings costs up.

By using the hot wire method “we can use almost all of the silane gas, so we actually recover 85 to 90 percent of the costly gas. This reduces the overall manufacturing costs of the layers by over 50 percent. The price of the wire that we need for this process is negligible when compared to the price of the silane” states Dr. Lothar Schäfer, department head at Fraunhofer IST.

The generators that power the manufacturing system are also ten times less expensive in terms of energy consumption than those that power the plasma CDV-process.

Even though the technology seems to have significant advantages over convetional ways of producing solar cells, it is still nowhere near being released on the market. It will likely be another three to five years until Fraunhofer IST`s new technology will be used for large-scale manufacturing of solar panels.

For more information on the new technology, check out the official press release.

Tidal Power Then and Now

A while back I wrote a post on Tidal Barrages (https://lifekills.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/tidal-power-barrages-and-ebb-generation/). Here is another way to generate energy from tides.

Probably, everybody is aware of possibilities of energy production in case of extinction and depletion of fuel deposits.  The solution is found in renewable energy due to multiple opportunities provided by natural and environmental conditions. Tidal energy is the one secured by both cosmic gravitation of the Sun and the Moon, and oceanic spaces, of course. However, not all the regions on Earth can boast of favorable and promising tidal indicators. That is why it is better to feature on France and the English Channel as an area where tidal energy generation was organized for the first time and where the most powerful tidal station is going to be constructed this year.

It is interesting to know that the first registries of tidal energy usage are dated back to the 10th -11th centuries. There were lots of windmills and sawmills in England and France, which used tidal energy in industrial purposes. However, only one of these two states might be marked with erection of the first tidal energy system in the world. It was Rance Tidal Power Station, constructed on the estuary of Rance River (Brittany Peninsula) in 1966. Its capacity is pretty astonishing – 240 MW produced by 24 tidal generators, – which is preconditioned by comparatively high tides reaching 13,5 meters. The significance of Rance station is still of high value even nowadays, contributing 0,012% to energy demand in the country. Most of the power generated by the station is used during peak seasons (544 million kWh per year in total). However, high prices obstruct the enlargement of tidal energy industry. Speaking of energy production in France, nuclear power production keeps the lowest cost. In this case, the renovation of the Rance station is getting more appropriate and promising.

On the contrary, in 2012 Frenchmen might see the most powerful tidal project actualized. In particular, it is associated with the station near the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat in Brittany. The project was assigned to Irish company OpenHydro Group Ltd. and French company EDF, which already accomplished some magnificent and profitable projects on tidal energy in North America and the United Kingdom. Paimpol-Bréhat power station was designed in 2004 (estimated cost was 55 million dollars) and in 2008 the construction was started.

The basis of new tidal station is comprised of four large turbines with a weight of nearly 850 tones each. They are going to be established near the coast, attached to an anchor on the depth of 115 meters. The diameter of each turbine is 21, 5 meters. It is appropriate to note that tidal turbines have certain advantages in opposite to wind and solar cells, including invisibility under the water, quiet operation and less impact on environment. And, besides, a new station can provide energy for more than 4 thousand houses in the region of Paimpol-Bréhat.

Maria Kruk, an author for Patentsbase.com

Book or Kindle?

How Many Trees Will the Kindle Save?

The festive season during late 2011 could have been called the gadget season as tablet computer owners increased from 10% to 19% of the US population from mid December 2011 to early January 2012. The same figures applied to owners of eBook readers – Amazon don’t and won’t say exactly how many Kindles they sold. Some people bought both. An incredible 29% of people (up from 18%) now own at least a tablet or an eBook reader – that’s almost one in three of the entire population according to the figures from pewinternet.org.

So how many trees are being saved by Americans reading books on either their dedicated eBook reader or via software on their tablet computer?

How many trees to make a book?

There isn’t an easy mathematical equation to definitely show how many trees are needed to make a book because there are too many unknown figures in the equation. Trees vary in size both in height and width, even within the same species. Books vary in size in both size and length – number of pages, making it impossible to give a simple answer to the question, but some experts have taken averages into account to show some results.

How far does one cord go?

You may not have heard of the measurement cord, but one cord of dense hardwood, air-dried, produces 942 copies of a 100 page hardcover book. TAPPI, who provided the figures, based their results on roughly 15 trees with a 10 inch diameter to make up one cord. If you click on the link you will find out more about the tree to book making process.

Working backwards, that means each tree makes around 60 100-page books, but as the average novel appears to contain around 300 pages, each tree makes about 20 books. If you have been reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy concerning his heroine Lisbeth Salander, you will know that each tree will provide just over 3 sets of the trilogy. 65 million of you have bought the set so let us hope more now have it in the shape of an eBook file rather than downing a full forest to provide for the book’s paper.

The cost of maintaining a Kindle

The cost of books bought – mostly as paperbacks from your grocery store – is close to the cost of downloading an eBook from your favorite online store, be that for your iPad, your Kindle, your Nook or Sony reader. However, there has been a surge in books available in eBook format at anything from 99 cents to less than three dollars. Your local Wal-Mart won’t sell you a paperback at less than 4 dollars.

There has been a general encouragement to read more books because they are priced so cheaply in the electronic version. As eBook readers mostly store at least 1,000 books, it will be easier to take enough books on vacation without affecting the ever dwindling baggage allowances. Therefore, the eBook reader will save you money over the traditional paperback purchase in weight allowance alone. More importantly, your carryon baggage can be considerably lighter as each paperback weighs more than an eBook reader and most avid readers carry at least two in fear of having nothing to read.

The lowering of weight on the airplane per passenger will reduce the weight of the airplane which means they will gain more miles to the gallon of air fuel. You should not wait around to collect your cheaper ticker based on this assumption.

Your Kindle or other eBook reader still needs to be charged. That costs electricity even if you charge from your laptop computer. It may only be a trickle, but there are several million more trickles going out through the system since the festive season. However, this needs to be balanced against the costs of making a paperback which uses more energy than charging an eBook and the time spent online downloading a new book or two.

Who wins?

Even if you balance up the cost of making the eBook reader and the cost of charging the gadget, a lot less energy is being used compared to the process of making paperbacks. You will still buy paperbacks, but only if your choice of downloading provider doesn’t have the book in its store.

Demi Relf is a self-confessed bookworm but always felt guilty about the paper she was consuming. After a decade of reading only second hand books on her organic latex mattress, she can now read books without endangering a single tree.

Green Vacation

Planning a Green Vacation

Everybody wants to do their part for the environment, but at the same time, we don’t want to stop living and doing the things we like and want to do out of fear of damaging the environment.

Travel is one particularly sensitive issue for anyone who is eco-friendly, because there are very few environmentally beneficial modes of travel available, and because, while traveling, there isn’t much we can control in the way of saving energy.

We are largely at the mercy of the options available to us, but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. With a little bit of research, you can reduce the size of your travel’s carbon footprint, and feel good knowing that you are supporting the environment, even while living the dream.

Consider looking into the following things when planning your next trip:

  • Alternative modes of travel, part I: While every kind of travel is environmentally taxing, some kinds are far less damaging than others. Cars are generally better than planes, for example, and trains are even better than cars. If it is possible to take a train to your next destination, do that instead and you’ll be able to rest easier knowing you did what you could. It might take a little longer, but it will be worth it.
  • Stay at green hotels: As a rule, a hotel will never be as energy efficient as a house, simply because they are so large and have so much space to light and heat or cool, but similar to the tiers of transportation, some are better than others. There are websites that list eco-friendly lodgings, which should be a great help when trying to decide. Some of these sites are:
    • It’sAGreenWorld.com
    • Eco Green Hotel
    • Eco Hotels of the World
  • Alternative modes of travel, part II: Once you have arrived at your destination, you have the option of several different kinds of transportation. These should be more familiar to you, because they are basic city transit options: cars, buses, bicycles, walking, horse carriage, etc. I probably don’t have to say (but I will anyway) that walking, bicycling, or taking a horse ride or more eco-friendly than cars or even riding on the bus; if you can plan to take these methods of transportation while you are vacationing, instead of renting cars or taking cabs, you’ll be helping to save the environment, and saving some cash, too.
  • Sight-see green: Another big source of energy consumption on vacations is the activities you do while there (wherever “there” happens to be). Try to plan green activities, such as eco-tourism, while out, instead of high energy activities like theme parks or movie theaters.

It will take a little extra planning to get your vacation to green status, but it isn’t impossible, and every little bit helps. Just think how much good we could do if every person planned green vacations!

 

Cap and Trade Infographic

I have been meaning to write an article on cap and trade in the United States but it can be hard for people to understand and without other major polluting countries having similar programs, the whole thing seemed somewhat pointless.

In the US, however, the program will have an effect on our poor sad economy and thus should be addressed.  I still don’t want to write about though, so here is a great ideographic from the people at http://www.wellhome.com

 

 

When is Green Technology Most Useful?


It’s a term that’s being bandied about regularly these days, and if you want to be perceived asdoing your bit for the environment, it goes without saying that you must be interested in allthings green as well. Green technology is all the rage today – if you’re not going green, you’reviewed as a villain by many. However, no matter how much you invest in green technology, it isuseless if you don’t change habits that have been ingrained in you from childhood and over thecourse of your life. Green technology is useful only when:

You utilize it efficiently: If you’ve invested in a solar panel yet insist on using your oldwater heater, if you’ve installed energy efficient appliances yet hold on to your oldrefrigerator and stove because they’re still in good working condition, or if your home isnaturally insulated/aired yet you insist on using air conditioners and heating units, thenyou’re not using green technology efficiently. Green technology works only when youoptimize its use and minimize your overall energy usage.You minimize waste: There’re no significant gains to be realized when you replace allthe lights in your home with CFL bulbs, yet fail to switch them off when you don’t needto use them. Minimizing energy costs is all well and good, but it’s still a waste whenyou use energy unnecessarily, even if you’re expending just the minimum. So when youinvest in and install green technology, ensure that you don’t use much more energythan you need – shut your computer down when you’re not going to be using it for afew hours; remove charging units from the socket and switch off the main when you’redone charging your devices, and use the main switch to turn the TV off instead of justpointing your remote at it.You adopt greener habits: You may have just bought a hybrid car, but that doesn’tmean you have to drive it even to the store around the corner. Walk when you caninstead of taking your car, use the stairs even if your building is green and has energy-efficient elevators, avoid smoking to safeguard your health and the environment, andtry to minimize the effect of your carbon footprint as much as possible.


For green technology to be successful and sustainable, we have to change our way of life andadopt new habits, habits which may seem like drops in the ocean, but which have a significantrole to play in determining the future of our planet.

This guest post is contributed by Cathy Thomas, she writes on the topic of Computer Technician OnlineDegrees . She welcomes your comments at her email id: cathy83.thomas<@>gmail<.>com.

Greenwashing

Everywhere we go recently it seems as though there is a brand new eco-friendly “green” versions of old products.  I have mentioned a few of these silly things like the 57 watt light bulb as a new energy efficient version of the 60 watt.

I have been coming across even more ludicrous examples, many of them outright lies.  Often you can see the absurdity just by looking at the contradictions in the advertising.  Phrases like “eco-friendly” and “contains mercury and lead” should not be on the same product.

I came across a good example the other day with a can of lithium grease.  The can is green of course and is pitched as a bio-based biodegradable lubricant.  If the warnings about calling poison control if ingested aren’t enough there is always the fact that Lithium is a metal and thus can not bio-degrade…ever.

This trend is a problem because in addition to claiming dangerous products are safe, overall the public believes things are changing for the better when in reality the packaging is just different. Consumers look around and things look like companies are being less wasteful but in the end it is just a marketing illusion.

Sky Farms

Sky farms – The new Green farm?

Sky farms are quite literally multilevel agricultural farms, much like
skyscrapers. These sky farms are springing up all over the world, and the
economics of sky farming are already showing positive results. Sky farming
is basically a form of hydroponic farming. It includes significant potential for
organic farming, and major improvements in water usage efficiency. Sky farms
to involve some logistics and infrastructure, notably provision of in-house water
management systems and electrical services, but these are actually far more
economic than traditional agricultural systems.

Sky farm basics

Sky farms are essentially high-rise buildings. They’re designed to achieve
maximum efficiency in the growth and harvesting of agricultural products of all
kinds.  They’ve already shown significant potential for commercial production.
Many growers are particularly interested in the fact that sky farms also provide
enclosed spaces, which naturally provide significant protection against the
elements, weeds, droughts and insect and fungal pests.

Sky farms and agricultural issues

Because sky farms provide a lot of vertical and cubic space, they can overcome
the limitations of the “two-dimensional” traditional farming environment. It’s
possible that the sky farms may be the solution to the increasing problems
of conflicting land use where urban land is displacing agricultural land and
agricultural land is destroying natural habitat and ecology.

The appalling condition of rural land around the world is a major issue
currently being raised at government and international levels regarding the
sustainability of future food production. Sky farms have the potential to
completely eliminate this problem. Theoretically they can grow more food in
far less space than traditional farming.

The economics of traditional rural land use can also be drastically improved by
sky farming. The fact is that it takes extraordinary amounts of water and soil to
produce basic agricultural products. That situation is definitely not sustainable,
and far more efficient means of food production are desperately required.

Because of the quasi-hydroponic nature of sky farming, water usage can be
improved by up to 200%. Soil degradation can be drastically decreased, due to
the fact that sky farm plants use significantly less soil in their growth media.

Organic growers concerned about the possibility of contamination and cross
pollination of their crops with genetically modified organisms have also
expressed interest in sky farms, which provide enclosed growing habitats for
their products. Sky farming could in fact be a particularly useful method of
ensuring agricultural and botanic genetic lines.

The future of sky farming

The big winners in sky farming will be farmers, consumers and the
environment. Sky farms have so far shown themselves to be very easy to
manage, logistically simpler to operate in terms of crop management, and to
have the potential for significant flexibility in choice of commercial crops.

It may be strange for a while for farmers when they realize that instead
of using a backhoe they’ll have to call an electrician, but the cost savings
and peace of mind may be the greatest breakthrough for farmers since the
Agricultural Revolution.

Sky farming is a very much more efficient, profitable approach to a serious
food supply situation which traditional commercial farming has so far shown
itself to be completely unable to address.

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