Archive for June 2011
It is disruptive thinking and innovation like this which will break us out of the narrow band of consumption of energy and the extraction and production of that energy.
“Eric Ingersoll wants to solve a central shortcoming of solar and wind power: their intermittency, such as when clouds block the sun or wind peters out during peak demand. His solution borders on geo-engineering: blow huge volumes of compressed air into underground salt caverns when the power sources are generating and then release the air through turbines when electricity is needed.
To be cost-effective for utility-scale operations, efficiency is crucial. Ingersoll was pretty sure he could keep 80 percent of the air pressurized, but private money to build a proof- of-concept model was elusive. In 2009 the 50-year-old autodidact landed a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Energy Dept., enabling him to test a critical refinement of his air- compression technology. “That [money] gave us a significant boost, going from ‘this looks like it is working,’ to ‘this is definitely working and it’s bankable,’” says Ingersoll, now chief executive officer and co-founder of 40-employee General Compression in Newton, Mass.
This is just the kind of creative transformational-energy research the DOE is trying to support through its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).”
via As Energy Demand Accelerates, ARPA-E Bets on Caves, Biofuels – Bloomberg.
June 30, 2011
KLM, First Commercial Biofuel Flight
By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
“A Boeing 737-800 carrying 171 passengers out of Amsterdam for Paris Wednesday moved KLM to say it was “the first airline in the world” to operate a commercial flight on biokerosene (a used cooking oil, Jet-A mix), with more to come. KLM said that by September, 2011, it will begin 200 more flights, flying the same route, and using the same 50-50 blend of fuel. Details regarding regulatory issues are not yet clear. The biofuel portion of the fuel mixture that KLM used for this latest flight was not derived from the camonila or jatropha plants. (The plants have earned attention for their high oil content and low agricultural impact.) KLM used a cooking-oil-based fuel produced by Dynamic Fuels, a joint venture between Syntroleum and Tyson Foods.”
KLM’s biokerosene was created from non-food grade animal fat supplied as a byproduct of Tyson Food’s meat processing plants. That product was refined into biofuel by dynamic Fuel at that company’s facility in Louisiana. KLM first made a biofuel-powered flight roughly 18 months ago, taking forty VIP’s on a 90-minute flight. That particular trip only fed the biofuel mix to one engine. Virgin Atlantic, Birtish Airways and Continental have all flown commercial airliners fueled, at least in part, with biofuels. European airlines are particularly motivated to find a fossil fuel alternative due to a limit set by the European Union. That limit calls for airlines to cut their carbon emissions by three percent in 2012. The flights show progress for biofuels, but according to KLM managing director Camiel Eurlings, “The costs of biofuels need to come down substantially and permanently.” Said Eurlings, “This can be achieved through innovation, collaboration and the right legislation that stimulates biofuel in the airline industry, but with an eye on honest competition.”
via KLM, First Commercial Biofuel Flight.
What is brewing in the brewery business…
“Meanwhile, the biggest brewers are consolidating. The combined market share of the top four grew from 22% by volume in 1998 to nearly 50% in 2010 from which they pocket two-thirds of combined global revenues. But that is nothing compared with the dominance of the big two soft-drinks makers: Coca-Cola and PepsiCo together have three-quarters of their market. So investors in breweries are licking their lips as they contemplate a fresh round of takeovers.SABMiller has been talked of as a potential buyer for Molson Coors, Australia’s Fosters, Efes, Turkey’s largest brewer—though it might find itself in competition with Heineken. ABI, it is said, may seek to take full control of Groupo Modelo, Mexico’s number-one beermaker, of which it already owns half.At the other end of the scale, microbreweries are bubbling. Mikkel Borg Bjergso, the proprietor of a bar in Copenhagen, makes a wonderfully light and floral pilsener, and markets it through word of mouth. He has helped to pioneer a crafty new business model. “Gypsy brewers” produce tiny quantities of inventive and flavoursome beers by hiring or borrowing other people’s breweries.These little brewers are so tasty that big ones are lining up to swallow them. In March ABI bought Goose Island, one of the larger American microbrewers, for $39m. Molson Coors recently bought Sharps, a British brewer of stupendous real ales. But such microdeals make little impact on the bottom line. America’s 1,800 craft brewers account for a mere 5% of the domestic market.”
via The global beer industry: Sell foam like soap | The Economist.
Anyone who has used Velcro has experienced Biomimicry. Many, many innovations and applications have stemmed from observing and copying from Nature.
“Termite mounds may look like ugly piles of dirt, but they provide important clues for architects designing energy-efficient buildings.Termite mounds are built six to 30 feet high off the ground in hot ecosystems and are riddled with tunnels at their peaks that provide passive ventilation, allowing cool air to flow through. Architects in Zimbabwe have used the termites’ model in building a large, beautiful building with a similar ventilation system.By imitating nature’s model, they were able to save 90 percent in energy costs because they didn’t need to install any air conditioning, according to designer Jeremy Faludi.This process of emulating nature is called biomimicry. Speaking at the West Coast Green conference last week in San Francisco, Faludi said biomimicry could help us create products and buildings that are more material and energy-efficient, robust, flexible, and long-lasting.”
via Greener Design by Imitating Nature | CleanTechies Blog – CleanTechies.com.
“Why are forests important?
We have long known that forest resources are essential to the daily lives of about a billion people worldwide. Households located near forests in many tropical countries derive about a quarter of their income from forest products. Trees provide timber for construction of houses and boats, and fuel wood and charcoal for cooking and heating homes. Forests also provide a wide variety of non-timber forest products, such as medicinal plants, and honey, gums and resins, wild fruits and nuts, rattan and mushrooms. In rural parts of the Congo Basin, many communities depend on wild meat for up to 80 percent of the fats and proteins in their diets. Deforestation, therefore, is a major threat to these people’s livelihoods.
Tropical forests harbor much of the world’s biological diversity, including wild relatives of important food crops. Maintaining that reservoir of diverse genetic material will be important as a source of resilience in the face of climate change and the need for species to adapt to changing conditions.
It is only in more recent years that society has begun to appreciate the full range of environmental services that forests provide, because in most cases, they are not valued by markets, and remain uncounted in economic statistics. These include helping to support agriculture – for example through the pollination services of forest-dwelling bees and hydrological regulation, such as moderating droughts and floods and providing water for agriculture. Most recently, people have started to realize the significance of the ecosystem service provided by forests of sequestering carbon, which turns out to be a critical component of any solution to climate change. A significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from deforestation and forest degradation, and we cannot meet global targets of keeping global warming at less than two degrees centigrade without reducing the rate of deforestation.”
via International Year Of Forests 2011 | CIFOR.
“European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet urged policy makers to revitalize the vision of an integrated Europe.
“These days, ‘Europe’ and the benefits it brings have come to be taken for granted,” Trichet said in a speech in Brussels last night, according to a text provided by the ECB. “Thanks to the success of European integration, the threat of war has become a memory of the past for many Europeans, in particular the younger generation. This makes it all the more urgent to develop a renewed vision of the kind of Europe we want and indeed need — a vision that is easily understood and shared among European Union citizens.””
via Trichet Urges New Vision for Europe – Bloomberg.
MAjor play by China in global economic / geopolitics.
“For Europe, the rise of China is exacerbating its own decline. Until recently the economic debate turned on whether Europe could keep up with America; now it is whether it can stay ahead of China. “Beyond a certain size, China is disturbing,” says one Eurocrat. It not only threatens Europe’s low-end manufacturers of shoes and textiles but is quickly moving into making cars, trains and, perhaps soon, planes. Yes, the Chinese love BMWs and Gucci bags. But can Europe survive on high-spec and luxury goods—Switzerland on a continental scale?
The EU is surely right to demand reciprocity, but it must be the right sort. Starting a tit-for-tat trade war would leave Europe worse off: consumers would pay higher prices, taxpayers would suffer and firms would lose markets. What Europe needs is more open markets and clearer rules. For China, too, these would be a better buy than dodgy bonds.”
via Charlemagne: Mr China goes shopping | The Economist.
Great concept. Am sure it will evolve as people find it and add to it. Knowledge is power , as the truism goes.
“After several months of hard work, we are glad to announce the official launch of OpenSpending and turn to everyone interested in government accountability and financial transparency to help shape the future of the project.
The OpenSpending project will make it easier for the global public to explore and understand government spending. Our developers have already imported a range of datasets, including projected budgets from the European Union, detailed spending data from the UK Treasury, and smaller datasets such as the UK’s Barnet Council local budget.
The project will also integrate with Spending Stories, our Knight News Challenge-winning project, allowing narratives and explanations to be woven around spending data.”
via OpenSpending goes live | Open Knowledge Foundation Blog.