Wednesday, September 30, 2009

carbon sequestration

I think carbon sequestration is something that we will need to do if we don't want to see all of our coastal cities under water.
( Wiki - carbon sequestration )

The problem is all of the stored hydrocarbon we burned in the past it's going to take almost as much energy to put back.

This week 9/30/09 opens the South African Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) conference.

CCS technology can help SA reduce emissions
"We cannot neglect any technology that will assist us to address the matters of energy security and climate change" - Republic of South Africa Minister of Energy, Elizabeth Dipuo Peters.
Why is the US not leading this?
Storage must be at depths below 800 m, as the CO2 becomes a super-critical liquid and occupies less space. It is not trapped in a cavernous space, but within porous rock, like a sponge. It is trapped underground by the cap rock, as well as by the capillary action of the ‘sponge' storage rock; and, in the case of deep saline aquifers, it is trapped by dissolving in the water; and, finally it is trapped through a process of calcification as the gas becomes part of the rock - the reaction takes time, but at this stage storage is permanent.

Good stuff.

A Better Bug for Biofuels

From: Technology Review

 Scientists are optimizing a lipid-producing microbe to make biofuels.

Glow bug: Scientists are engineering Rhodococcus bacteria to boost production of lipids (glowing white balls), which can be converted into biodiesel.  --->

While most attempts to engineer biofuel-producing microbes have focused on well-known organisms such as yeasts and E. coli, scientists also hope to co-opt the unique metabolic functions of some of the microbial world's less-studied creatures. Anthony Sinskey and his team at MIT have been cataloguing the genomic secrets of Rhodococcus bacteria, soil-dwelling microbes known to eat a variety of toxic compounds. The goal is to make a biodiesel-producing organism that can use a variety of sources as fuel. "We have done a lot of the basic chemistry and biology," says Sinskey. "Now we need to figure out how to maximize yields."

The strain of bacteria that Sinskey is working on, Rhodococcus opacus, is related to the type that causes tuberculosis, but it has two particularly appealing qualities. The bacteria have a flexible appetite, with the ability to eat a number of sugars and toxic compounds--in fact, the microbes were originally isolated from contaminated soil, where they were breaking down petroleum waste products. In addition, R. opacus are one of just a few types of bacteria that naturally produce a type of lipid called tryacylglycerols, which can be chemically converted into biodiesel. "Its life is focused around lipid metabolism, eating weird lipids and making more of them," says Jason Holder, a postdoctoral researcher in Sinskey's lab. "The trick is to engineer them to make it more efficiently, using waste streams of carbon."

The research is part of a larger effort to develop biofuels that, unlike ethanol made from corn or sugarcane, do not rely on food sources or agricultural land. Some companies, such as Synthetic Genomics, Amyris, LS9, and Joule Biotechnologies, are using synthetic biology techniques to engineer bacteria to more efficiently produce desirable metabolic products that can be used for biofuels.

Sinskey's team has recently sequenced R. opacus's genome and mapped its 9,000 genes into various metabolic pathways. Understanding these pathways allows scientists to boost or inhibit specific reactions, which can in turn increase the microbe's efficiency at creating a particular fuel or end product. The researchers have also developed a microarray for Rhodococcus--a genomics tool that allows scientists to quickly assess patterns of gene expression--and are using it to study these metabolicnetworks. "It will allow us to predict other bacteria that might do the same thing," says Sinskey, "and it will help us identify genes important in the assembly process." They plan to publish the genome soon.

The researchers have already created a strain of Rhodococcus that can eat a mix of two types of sugars, glucose and xylose. Once scientists have found a way to break down cellulosic biomass into simpler sugars, the ability to use more than one will simplify the production process. "They are not like wimpy E. coli that can't use different sugars simultaneously," says Sinskey. "These bacteria gobble them up." The researchers have also engineered strains that can feed on glycerol, which is a waste product in the production of biodiesel.

Sinskey and his team hope to develop better ways of isolating the lipids from bacteria at a commercial scale, perhaps via additional genetic engineering. For example, altering production of a specific protein encourages the lipids to aggregate into balls, called lipid bodies, which makes the molecules easier to recover. "Ideally, we want to develop a way to make the lipid body pop out of the cell," says Sinskey.

It's not yet clear how long it will take to create a process that is efficient enough for commercial production. "I don't think I'm far behind lots of companies that have lots of publicity in this area," says Sinskey. "I think in two to three years I will have a robust process."

Sinskey previously developed a way to make polymers from bacteria, founding a bioindustrial company called Metabolix in the early 1990s. A $300 million plant that will produce the company's biodegradable plastic is slated to begin operations later this year in December, as part of a joint venture with agricultural giant ADM.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

hydrocracking / hydropyrolysis / thermal depolymerization TDP

hydrocracking / hydropyrolysis / thermal depolymerization TDP are all very similar processes. All use heat and pressure to break any organic material be it plant, animal, any petroleum, tars and waste plastics. Some use a catalyst, to reduce the temperature and pressured required since these can be at high as 400C and 300 Bar ~4500 psi.
While these temperature and pressures sound like a lot, these pressures are found in Scuba Diving tanks, and hydraulic systems. And Steam engines have both these temperatures and pressures.

I'd love to talk with some Steam engine people because basically I think this chemical breakdown of material should occur with any organic matter left behind in a high pressure steam boiler.

(I just want to mention here that it is theoretically possible make heat and pressure exchanges that will conserve much of the energy used in a process like this. So it should be possible to build a machine that would only have a minimal amount of energy loss in the processing of these materials)

These organic materials breakdown to 3 things.
  • Carbon Black, and inorganic material (salts, etc)
  • Syngas (Carbon monoxide that burns in to CO2 and hydrogen that burns in to water)
  • Misc. hydrocarbons
Syngas can be further catalyzed in to oils, gasoline or other liquid fuels or just burned to drive a generator or other industrial process. Often it's just used to drive the pyrolysis process itself.

The last item hydrocarbons, being a mix of Oils, alcohols(if any oxygen is present in small quantities), and the lightest hydrocarbons being gases, such as butane, propane, methane etc.

It's my understanding the more breakdown the lighter the hydrocarbons will come out until there is nothing but syngas.

These are snippets from various E-mail discussions that I have been having on this subject.
Sorry some of this is disjointed.
I just realized that the east coast is full of wasted potential biofuel. The seasonal autumn leaves are just put in to land fills every year. My father was telling me about the recreational lakes in NJ are also cleaned of Algae that is just discarded or composted. Both of these can be directly turned in to diesel and gasoline!
Also there is tons of seaweed out in the surf off Goleta where I am living,(OK BAD IDEA, Beach hoppers eat this stuff and the Endangered Snowy Plover birds live on beach hoppers)  it covers the beaches and clogs the water, all of this is exactly what some people are trying to grow, and I just realized that it's possible to just harvest it right out of the water here. But equipment would need to be made to harvest the weeds, then extract and process the oils.

Leveious, William B.'s  plastic burner can really play in to something here.   His burner can drive hydropyrolysis or Pyrolytic conversion of waste plastic into synthetic diesel and syngas.
  I am told there is a continent size mass of garbage plastic floating in the middle of the pacific.

 It should be possible to modify a tanker ship to collect and then process this floating plastic garbage and algae in to sell able diesel and syngas right there on the spot while at sea then return to port with a full tanker of fuel to sell.

What happened to GRTECH?  I tried to e-mail William but he never responded.
I am thinking of making a low operating cost hydropyrolysis system for leaves, seaweed, lawn clippings and waste plastic.

It's already being done on garbage with something like 85% efficiency.
And that's including the preprocessing of material.
Dave B. felt he could build a small unit that could be run in a garage for a few thousand dollars. It would use reciprocating pistons to act as a pressure exchange and keep the pressure inside.
I still think an abandon well that's 2 miles deep would be the most efficient method.

Apparently the German gov is giving this guy some trouble.

pyrolysis / syngas (no water, outputs gas only)

Comment from friend Steve T:
Hey there, John:

Looked at all the videos, and it's funny that 5 of them focus on recycling old tires into oil, but the techniques would probably be usable on that Mid-Pacific Ocean plastic mess clean up idea.  Going
back to the very first two, though (the German invention that uses the top secret catalyst), I've got to wonder how much the "catalyst" costs to produce and, on all the systems (with the exception of the solar), the costs and feasibility of heating up the chopped up/post-turbine trash - like I pointed out with the corn-based ethanol, if you attempted to power the heating process from the ethanol derived from the process, you would have to use up 100% of the generated product PLUS an additional .29% gasoline or some other fuel above the 100% generated product just to power the process, which makes no sense.  If
these things have similar problems, they're not practical, but no one is giving any numbers in any of the videos.
P.S. The German government are morons to screw with the guy over his idea.  But then, the U.S. does the same nonsense - the whole 3G cell phone network was an American-originated idea, but the inventors caught such crap over it that they sold it to the Chinese.

P.P.S. By the way, the emphasis on tires in 5 of the videos reminded me of a cheap eco-friendly house building technique called "earthships".  An earthship really is just a cheap house built out of
recycled tires, and there's a whole bunch of them in New Mexico.  If you're curious, here's a few links (I find tire-based earthships interesting, but with the collapse of the housing market, and with my
stack of cheap real estate tracking programs, I can always find a decent existing house that would be cheaper than building one of these, so I'll probably never actually build one of these):

Steve K.,

     Both John Sokol and Daniel M. are interested in processes to produce liquid fuel from natural gas/bio mass, etc.--any comments or info. relating to this and the link below will be appreciated.    thanks, later, David B.

HMF, also known as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, can be used as a building block for plastics and "biofuels" such as gasoline and diesel, essentially the same fuels processed from crude oil. In previous work, PNNL researchers used a chemical and a solvent known as an ionic liquid to convert the simple sugars into HMF.
The chemical, a metal chloride known as chromium chloride, converted sugar into highly pure HMF. But to be able to feed cellulosic biomass directly from nature, the team still needed to break down cellulose into simple sugars -- Zhang and colleagues wanted to learn how to skip that step.
HMF as a fuel is hydrogen insufficient i.e., has about half as much as gasoline.
HMF is a solid and soluble in water.
HMF catalyst is like the product(s), amenable to batch processing at best around boiling water temp.

A good fuel scenario would be to dissolve HMF in Methanol for fuel delivery; kicking the charge off
with Hydrogen made catalytically from Methanol on board would work efficiently, economically and
atmospherically.  Likewise, if Ethanol could be made from fermenting the other 40% unconverted
product, such Ethanol could be run through the same catalyst on board.  Methanol is relatively
inexpensive and I have access to a beta catalytic unit for confirmatory experimentation natural gas
trials.  However, if cellulosic HMF & Ethanol (in wet solution) could be used as a fuel (with catalytically
generated Hydrogen from Ethanol for the kick) vehicle fuel cost would be nil, only Cat. unit investment?

Steve K.

When I have more time I will organize my thought on this better and post something with more information that is cleaner.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wind Power FAQ

Helix Wind has an excellent FAQ on where web site.
The really applys to anyone interested in any kind of wind and even somewhat applicable to solar


  1. How do I get a permit?
  2. Does Helix qualify for a Federal Tax Credit?
  3. How does Net Metering work?
  4. How much does electricity cost?
  5. What is kilowatt hour?
  6. Vertical versus Horizontal Turbines
  7. What are the dimensions?
  8. How tall is the mounting pole?
  9. What are rotor startup/shutdown speeds?
  10. Is it safe for Birds and Bats?
  11. Does the turbine make noise?
  12. What are the mass & loadings?
  13. How close can these turbines be mounted to each other?
  14. Can I sell electricity to the grid ?
  15. What safety features are there?
  16. Does it have accreditation?
  17. How do I calculate my Helix investment payback ?
  18. What are the economics of Small Wind?

The Man Who Planted Trees

A friend sent this too me as a word doc a while ago, this seems like a good place to share it. May the copyright gods not be displeased.



The Man Who Planted Trees

Translation from french by Peter Doyle

     In order for the character of a human being to reveal truly exceptional qualities, we must have the good fortune to observe its action over a long period of years. If this action is devoid of all selfishness, if the idea that directs it is one of unqualified generosity, if it is absolutely certain that it has not sought recompense anywhere, and if moreover it has left visible marks on the world, then we are unquestionably dealing with an unforgettable character.

     About forty years ago I went on a long hike, through hills absolutely unknown to tourists, in that very old region where the Alps penetrate into Provence.
     This region is bounded to the south-east and south by the middle course of the Durance, between Sisteron and Mirabeau; to the north by the upper course of the Drôme, from its source down to Die; to the west by the plains of Comtat Venaissin and the outskirts of Mont Ventoux. It includes all the northern part of the Département of Basses-Alpes, the south of Drôme and a little enclave of Vaucluse.
     At the time I undertook my long walk through this deserted region, it consisted of barren and monotonous lands, at about 1200 to 1300 meters above sea level. Nothing grew there except wild lavender.
     I was crossing this country at its widest part, and after walking for three days, I found myself in the most complete desolation. I was camped next to the skeleton of an abandoned village. I had used the last of my water the day before and I needed to find more. Even though they were in ruins, these houses all huddled together and looking like an old wasps' nest made me think that there must at one time have been a spring or a well there. There was indeed a spring, but it was dry. The five or six roofless houses, ravaged by sun and wind, and the small chapel with its tumble-down belfry, were arrayed like the houses and chapels of living villages, but all life had disappeared.

     It was a beautiful June day with plenty of sun, but on these shelterless lands, high up in the sky, the wind whistled with an unendurable brutality. Its growling in the carcasses of the houses was like that of a wild beast disturbed during its meal.
     I had to move my camp. After five hours of walking, I still hadn't found water, and nothing gave me hope of finding any. Everywhere there was the same dryness, the same stiff, woody plants. I thought I saw in the distance a small black silhouette. On a chance I headed towards it. It was a shepherd. Thirty lambs or so were resting near him on the scorching ground.
     He gave me a drink from his gourd and a little later he led me to his shepherd's cottage, tucked down in an undulation of the plateau. He drew his water - excellent - from a natural hole, very deep, above which he had installed a rudimentary windlass.

     This man spoke little. This is common among those who live alone, but he seemed sure of himself, and confident in this assurance, which seemed remarkable in this land shorn of everything. He lived not in a cabin but in a real house of stone, from the looks of which it was clear that his own labor had restored the ruins he had found on his arrival. His roof was solid and water-tight. The wind struck against the roof tiles with the sound of the sea crashing on the beach.
     His household was in order, his dishes washed, his floor swept, his rifle greased; his soup boiled over the fire; I noticed then that he was also freshly shaven, that all his buttons were solidly sewn, and that his clothes were mended with such care as to make the patches invisible.
     He shared his soup with me, and when afterwards I offered him my tobacco pouch, he told me that he didn't smoke. His dog, as silent as he, was friendly without being fawning.

     It had been agreed immediately that I would pass the night there, the closest village being still more than a day and a half farther on. Furthermore, I understood perfectly well the character of the rare villages of that region. There are four or five of them dispersed far from one another on the flanks of the hills, in groves of white oaks at the very ends of roads passable by carriage. They are inhabited by woodcutters who make charcoal. They are places where the living is poor. The families, pressed together in close quarters by a climate that is exceedingly harsh, in summer as well as in winter, struggle ever more selfishly against each other. Irrational contention grows beyond all bounds, fueled by a continuous struggle to escape from that place. The men carry their charcoal to the cities in their trucks, and then return. The most solid qualities crack under this perpetual Scottish shower. The women stir up bitterness. There is competition over everything, from the sale of charcoal to the benches at church. The virtues fight amongst themselves, the vices fight amongst themselves, and there is a ceaseless general combat between the vices and the virtues. On top of all that, the equally ceaseless wind irritates the nerves. There are epidemics of suicides and numerous cases of insanity, almost always murderous.

     The shepherd, who did not smoke, took out a bag and poured a pile of acorns out onto the table. He began to examine them one after another with a great deal of attention, separating the good ones from the bad. I smoked my pipe. I offered to help him, but he told me it was his own business. Indeed, seeing the care that he devoted to this job, I did not insist. This was our whole conversation. When he had in the good pile a fair number of acorns, he counted them out into packets of ten. In doing this he eliminated some more of the acorns, discarding the smaller ones and those that that showed even the slightest crack, for he examined them very closely. When he had before him one hundred perfect acorns he stopped, and we went to bed.
     The company of this man brought me a feeling of peace. I asked him the next morning if I might stay and rest the whole day with him. He found that perfectly natural. Or more exactly, he gave me the impression that nothing could disturb him. This rest was not absolutely necessary to me, but I was intrigued and I wanted to find out more about this man. He let out his flock and took them to the pasture. Before leaving, he soaked in a bucket of water the little sack containing the acorns that he had so carefully chosen and counted.

     I noted that he carried as a sort of walking stick an iron rod as thick as his thumb and about one and a half meters long. I set off like someone out for a stroll, following a route parallel to his. His sheep pasture lay at the bottom of a small valley. He left his flock in the charge of his dog and climbed up towards the spot where I was standing. I was afraid that he was coming to reproach me for my indiscretion, but not at all : It was his own route and he invited me to come along with him if I had nothing better to do. He continued on another two hundred meters up the hill.
     Having arrived at the place he had been heading for, he begin to pound his iron rod into the ground. This made a hole in which he placed an acorn, whereupon he covered over the hole again. He was planting oak trees. I asked him if the land belonged to him. He answered no. Did he know whose land it was? He did not know. He supposed that it was communal land, or perhaps it belonged to someone who did not care about it. He himself did not care to know who the owners were. In this way he planted his one hundred acorns with great care.

     After the noon meal, he began once more to pick over his acorns. I must have put enough insistence into my questions, because he answered them. For three years now he had been planting trees in this solitary way. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of these one hundred thousand, twenty thousand had come up. He counted on losing another half of them to rodents and to everything else that is unpredictable in the designs of Providence. That left ten thousand oaks that would grow in this place where before there was nothing.
     It was at this moment that I began to wonder about his age. He was clearly more than fifty. Fifty-five, he told me. His name was Elzéard Bouffier. He had owned a farm in the plains, where he lived most of his life. He had lost his only son, and then his wife. He had retired into this solitude, where he took pleasure in living slowly, with his flock of sheep and his dog. He had concluded that this country was dying for lack of trees. He added that, having nothing more important to do, he had resolved to remedy the situation.
     Leading as I did at the time a solitary life, despite my youth, I knew how to treat the souls of solitary people with delicacy. Still, I made a mistake. It was precisely my youth that forced me to imagine the future in my own terms, including a certain search for happiness. I told him that in thirty years these ten thousand trees would be magnificent. He replied very simply that, if God gave him life, in thirty years he would have planted so many other trees that these ten thousand would be like a drop of water in the ocean.
     He had also begun to study the propagation of beeches. and he had near his house a nursery filled with seedlings grown from beechnuts. His little wards, which he had protected from his sheep by a screen fence, were growing beautifully. He was also considering birches for the valley bottoms where, he told me, moisture lay slumbering just a few meters beneath the surface of the soil.
     We parted the next day.

     The next year the war of 14 came, in which I was engaged for five years. An infantryman could hardly think about trees. To tell the truth, the whole business hadn't made a very deep impression on me; I took it to be a hobby, like a stamp collection, and forgot about it.
     With the war behind me, I found myself with a small demobilization bonus and a great desire to breathe a little pure air. Without any preconceived notion beyond that, I struck out again along the trail through that deserted country.
     The land had not changed. Nonetheless, beyond that dead village I perceived in the distance a sort of gray fog that covered the hills like a carpet. Ever since the day before I had been thinking about the shepherd who planted trees. « Ten thousand oaks, I had said to myself, must really take up a lot of space. »
     I had seen too many people die during those five years not to be able to imagine easily the death of Elzéard Bouffier, especially since when a man is twenty he thinks of a man of fifty as an old codger for whom nothing remains but to die. He was not dead. In fact, he was very spry. He had changed his job. He only had four sheep now, but to make up for this he had about a hundred beehives. He had gotten rid of the sheep because they threatened his crop of trees. He told me (as indeed I could see for myself) that the war had not disturbed him at all. He had continued imperturbably with his planting.
     The oaks of 1910 were now ten years old and were taller than me and than him. The spectacle was impressive. I was literally speechless and, as he didn't speak himself, we passed the whole day in silence, walking through his forest. It was in three sections, eleven kilometers long overall and, at its widest point, three kilometers wide. When I considered that this had all sprung from the hands and from the soul of this one man - without technical aids - , it struck me that men could be as effective as God in domains other than destruction.
     He had followed his idea, and the beeches that reached up to my shoulders and extending as far as the eye could see bore witness to it. The oaks were now good and thick, and had passed the age where they were at the mercy of rodents; as for the designs of Providence, to destroy the work that had been created would henceforth require a cyclone. He showed me admirable stands of birches that dated from five years ago, that is to say from 1915, when I had been fighting at Verdun. He had planted them in the valley bottoms where he had suspected, correctly, that there was water close to the surface. They were as tender as young girls, and very determined.
     This creation had the air, moreover, of working by a chain reaction. He had not troubled about it; he went on obstinately with his simple task. But, in going back down to the village, I saw water running in streams that, within living memory, had always been dry. It was the most striking revival that he had shown me. These streams had borne water before, in ancient days. Certain of the sad villages that I spoke of at the beginning of my account had been built on the sites of ancient Gallo-Roman villages, of which there still remained traces; archeologists digging there had found fishhooks in places where in more recent times cisterns were required in order to have a little water.
     The wind had also been at work, dispersing certain seeds. As the water reappeared, so too did willows, osiers, meadows, gardens, flowers, and a certain reason to live.
     But the transformation had taken place so slowly that it had been taken for granted, without provoking surprise. The hunters who climbed the hills in search of hares or wild boars had noticed the spreading of the little trees, but they set it down to the natural spitefulness of the earth. That is why no one had touched the work of this man. If they had suspected him, they would have tried to thwart him. But he never came under suspicion : Who among the villagers or the administrators would ever have suspected that anyone could show such obstinacy in carrying out this magnificent act of generosity?

     Beginning in 1920 I never let more than a year go by without paying a visit to Elzéard Bouffier. I never saw him waver or doubt, though God alone can tell when God's own hand is in a thing! I have said nothing of his disappointments, but you can easily imagine that, for such an accomplishment, it was necessary to conquer adversity; that, to assure the victory of such a passion, it was necessary to fight against despair. One year he had planted ten thousand maples. They all died. The next year,he gave up on maples and went back to beeches, which did even better than the oaks.
     To get a true idea of this exceptional character, one must not forget that he worked in total solitude; so total that, toward the end of his life, he lost the habit of talking. Or maybe he just didn't see the need for it.

     In 1933 he received the visit of an astonished forest ranger. This functionary ordered him to cease building fires outdoors, for fear of endangering this natural forest. It was the first time, this naive man told him, that a forest had been observed to grow up entirely on its own. At the time of this incident, he was thinking of planting beeches at a spot twelve kilometers from his house. To avoid the coming and going - because at the time he was seventy-five years old - he planned to build a cabin of stone out where he was doing his planting. This he did the next year.

     In 1935, a veritable administrative delegation went to examine this « natural forest ». There was an important personage from Waters and Forests, a deputy, and some technicians. Many useless words were spoken. It was decided to do something, but luckily nothing was done, except for one truly useful thing : placing the forest under the protection of the State and forbidding anyone from coming there to make charcoal. For it was impossible not to be taken with the beauty of these young trees in full health. And the forest exercised its seductive powers even on the deputy himself.
     I had a friend among the chief foresters who were with the delegation. I explained the mystery to him. One day the next week, we went off together to look for Elzéard Bouffier, We found him hard at work, twenty kilometers away from the place where the inspection had taken place.
     This chief forester was not my friend for nothing. He understood the value of things. He knew how to remain silent. I offered up some eggs I had brought with me as a gift. We split our snack three ways, and then passed several hours in mute contemplation of the landscape.
     The hillside whence we had come was covered with trees six or seven meters high. I remembered the look of the place in 1913 : a desert... The peaceful and steady labor, the vibrant highland air, his frugality, and above all, the serenity of his soul had given the old man a kind of solemn good health. He was an athlete of God. I asked myself how many hectares he had yet to cover with trees.
     Before leaving, my friend made a simple suggestion concerning certain species of trees to which the terrain seemed to be particularly well suited. He was not insistent. « For the very good reason, » he told me afterwards, « that this fellow knows a lot more about this sort of thing than I do. » After another hour of walking, this thought having travelled along with him, he added : « He knows a lot more about this sort of thing than anybody - and he has found a jolly good way of being happy ! »
     It was thanks to the efforts of this chief forester that the forest was protected, and with it, the happiness of this man. He designated three forest rangers for their protection, and terrorized them to such an extent that they remained indifferent to any jugs of wine that the woodcutters might offer as bribes.

     The forest did not run any grave risks except during the war of 1939. Then automobiles were being run on wood alcohol, and there was never enough wood. They began to cut some of the stands of the oaks of 1910, but the trees stood so far from any useful road that the enterprise turned out to be bad from a financial point of view, and was soon abandoned. The shepherd never knew anything about it. He was thirty kilometers away, peacefully continuing his task, as untroubled by the war of 39 as he had been of the war of 14.

     I saw Elzéard Bouffier for the last time in June of 1945. He was then eighty-seven years old. I had once more set off along my trail through the wilderness, only to find that now, in spite of the shambles in which the war had left the whole country, there was a motor coach running between the valley of the Durance and the mountain. I set down to this relatively rapid means of transportation the fact that I no longer recognized the landmarks I knew from my earlier visits. It also seemed that the route was taking me through entirely new places. I had to ask the name of a village to be sure that I was indeed passing through that same region, once so ruined and desolate. The coach set me down at Vergons. In 1913, this hamlet of ten or twelve houses had had three inhabitants. They were savages, hating each other, and earning their living by trapping : Physically and morally, they resembled prehistoric men . The nettles devoured the abandoned houses that surrounded them. Their lives were without hope, it was only a matter of waiting for death to come : a situation that hardly predisposes one to virtue.
     All that had changed, even to the air itself. In place of the dry, brutal gusts that had greeted me long ago, a gentle breeze whispered to me, bearing sweet odors. A sound like that of running water came from the heights above : It was the sound of the wind in the trees. And most astonishing of all, I heard the sound of real water running into a pool. I saw that they had built a fountain, that it was full of water, and what touched me most, that next to it they had planted a lime-tree that must be at least four years old, already grown thick, an incontestable symbol of resurrection.

     Furthermore, Vergons showed the signs of labors for which hope is a requirement : Hope must therefore have returned. They had cleared out the ruins, knocked down the broken walls, and rebuilt five houses. The hamlet now counted twenty-eight inhabitants, including four young families. The new houses, freshly plastered, were surrounded by gardens that bore, mixed in with each other but still carefully laid out, vegetables and flowers, cabbages and rosebushes, leeks and gueules-de-loup, celery and anemones. It was now a place where anyone would be glad to live.
     From there I continued on foot. The war from which we had just barely emerged had not permitted life to vanish completely, and now Lazarus was out of his tomb. On the lower flanks of the mountain, I saw small fields of barley and rye; in the bottoms of the narrow valleys, meadowlands were just turning green.
     It has taken only the eight years that now separate us from that time for the whole country around there to blossom with splendor and ease. On the site of the ruins I had seen in 1913 there are now well-kept farms, the sign of a happy and comfortable life. The old springs, fed by rain and snow now that are now retained by the forests, have once again begun to flow. The brooks have been channelled. Beside each farm, amid groves of maples, the pools of fountains are bordered by carpets of fresh mint. Little by little, the villages have been rebuilt. Yuppies have come from the plains, where land is expensive, bringing with them youth, movement, and a spirit of adventure. Walking along the roads you will meet men and women in full health, and boys and girls who know how to laugh, and who have regained the taste for the traditional rustic festivals. Counting both the previous inhabitants of the area, now unrecognizable from living in plenty, and the new arrivals, more than ten thousand persons owe their happiness to Elzéard Bouffier.

     When I consider that a single man, relying only on his own simple physical and moral resources, was able to transform a desert into this land of Canaan, I am convinced that despite everything, the human condition is truly admirable. But when I take into account the constancy, the greatness of soul, and the selfless dedication that was needed to bring about this transformation, I am filled with an immense respect for this old, uncultured peasant who knew how to bring about a work worthy of God.

     Elzéard Bouffier died peacefully in 1947 at the hospice in Banon.

LED lighting last longer and uses less power

Here are some cool Products

LED Tube Light, T8 / G13 Bi-Pin, 4-ft (1200mm) Replaces T8-32W Fluorescent Tube

from LedTronics

LED Rechargeable Portable Emergency Solar Lamp

from LED Wholesalers 

LED Shower

From: Shanghai Liyu Optoelectronic Co., Ltd.

Led Shower head ,no battery ,no power supply, embedded dynamo generates power for the LED

On a more technical note:

For general and technical information on LED technology check out the The LED Museam

A matter of light, Part 1---The ABC's of LEDs
Here's the basics on LED parameters and what you need to know about their drivers.

A matter of light, Part 2--- Buck whenever possible
Here's why a constant-current buck converter should be the first preference when it comes to switch-mode LED drivers.

A matter of light, Part 3---When to boost and buck-boost
In this third installment, we investigate larger LED displays and the applications space for other converter topologies.

A matter of light: Part 4 - PWM dimming
Digital dimming with a buck regulator provides the best LED driving topology.

LEDs shine as replacement for lightbulb
Researchers create a better white light-emitting diode (LED) by embedding yellow, green and red luminescent nanoparticles into a fluorescent blue polymer matrix and pump the hybrid organic/inorganic material with a near ultra-violet LED.

Integrated drivers prove their worth in demanding auto high-brightness LED apps
Engineers serving the automotive sector need to be fully aware of what driving options are most suitable if the benefits of high-brightness LEDs are to be fully realized.

LED Related Trade Shows 2009
Aug. 25-26
LED Lighting
Sept. 13-15
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
LED Components
Sept. 17
Chicago, Illinois
LED Components
Sept. 24
Minneapolis, Minnesota
LED Components
Oct. 11-16
Nuremberg, Germany
Oct. 13-15
Chicago, Illinois
LED Lighting,
LED Components
Oct. 18-23
Jeju, Korea
LED Components
Oct. 20-22
San Diego,
LED City
Columbus, Ohio
LED University
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
LED Components &
LED Lighting
LED Components &
LED Lighting
Nov. 11-13
Phoenix, Arizona
LED Lighting

Monday, September 21, 2009

SLASHDOT: Using the Sea To Cool Your Data Center

Cooling data centers accounts for almost 50% of the power consumption. This is a massive amount of energy used for cooling.

Article on Slashdot:  Using the Sea To Cool Your Data Center

"We haven't yet seen signs of the Google Navy of seagoing data centers that use the ocean for power and cooling. But data center developers are planning to use sea water air conditioning in a new project on the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Cold water from deep-sea currents would be piped ashore to be used in a heat exchanger for the data center facility. A similar system has been used to replace the chillers at Cornell University, which draws cold water from Lake Cayuga. The Cornell system cost $50 million, but has slashed cooling-related energy usage by 86 percent."

Sea water has several disadvantages mostly keeping the system clean, barnacles, muscles and other small plants and animals will get sucked in to the system, and eventually clog up everything. It's also very corrosive. In addition hot water discharged from the system will hurt local ecosystems in both salt and freshwater systems.

Using the Hull of a ship would solve the clogging problems, where there is a large mass of metal in which to dissipate heat without having to pump seawater.

Still using seawater is still not a very good solution. Even is it's cost effective in reducing energy consumption.

When I had my start-up Nisvara Inc.(2002 to 2006 RIP) we worked out that we could accomplish the same using nothing but chiller towers that just used evaporative cooling. In cooler climates like where we were based at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View Ca, we worked out that we could cool the largest computer cluster what would have been built at that time using nothing just large truck style radiators and fans. No compressors or any active cooling just circulating water or cooling fluid.

A lot of data centers objected to the use of water because it would damage equipment. The Nisvara solution kept water in continuous copper tubes without any joints or seals.  Still that wasn't enough to belay their fears of water contacting electricity, so we also found other suitable coolants such as using 3M Novec 1230 Fire Protection Fluid. It's amazing stuff. Totally green and safe also known as "Dry Water" and "Waterless Water", will not harm equipment and just happened that it could be used as a coolant too.

It may even be useful as a refrigerant because it can phase change at a lower temperature then water, but this would have required more research.

More about Novec 1230

Low-Methane Cows? makes note of an article by Financial Times that highlights the successful experiments to use Mootral, a garlic-based additive, to reduce methane in farm-raised ruminants (those with two stomaches - cows, sheep, camel, etc.). NOTE: Both articles are from March of 2009. Note also the religious importance of ruminants in Wikipedia.

Also worth noting, Methane is 22 times more potent than than CO2. They estimate accounts for 20% of the greenhouse gases. I think this could be a game changer.

Here is another story on changing the diets of cows, 15 farms various diets.

Here is another magic pill, bolus. -Jan, 2009

UK tries fumaric acid in cow's diet. Dec, 2005

Notes from an FAO study published in June of 2009

Lastly, it's good to remember there are generally two (2) type of cows in domestic use, milk cows & meat cows.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

high tech composites and plastic from plants

I see the possibility of making high tech bio-composite materials with natural fiber and binders replacing fiber glass or carbon fiber and petroleum based epoxy currently used to make high tech composites.

Plant based epoxy are already available on the market, but I think it's important to be able to bring such technology down to a crafts level where rural farmers in third world countries can produce high tech composite materials using nothing but plants and local materials.

For more read about Fiber Crops

There is also the possibility of ultra strong carbon fibers from plant based chemicals as well, replacing petroleum.

In the course of my research I found it is possible to get almost all of the compounds found in Crude Oil from organic sources such plant, animal waste and algae.
Using catalysts and heat and pressure known as pyrolysis it's possible to convert almost any source hydrocarbon in to almost any other. As computing power increases we will be able to have computational chemistry simulators that will be able to perform billions of experiments to find the right chemical processes to produce anything we are currently getting from petroleum today, including the gasoline we currently run are automobiles with today.

Epoxys and Plastics.

On the more technical side:

Another good link:
ECOS Magazine

UPDATE: 9/30/09
From:  A Better Bug for Biofuels
MIT Professor Anthony Sinskey developed a way to make polymers from bacteria, founding a bioindustrial company called Metabolix in the early 1990s. A $300 million plant that will produce the company's biodegradable plastic is slated to begin operations later this year in December, as part of a joint venture with agricultural giant ADM.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Solar power plant links

I was researching the Solar two power plant that is now shut down in the Mojave Desert.

LA Times Article A solar plant that's worth its salt May 29, 2009

Search google image search with
"solar two" Mojave

Google Map aerial photo.
(search for "Solar two")

Excellent page on many technologies - Sorry it's in Spanish.
Search for "Australia to Build 154 MW Solar Energy Plant"
This one is identical in design to the one in the Mojave Dessert here. Abandoned Solar Power Plant

This shows video of Mojave Solar 2 plant at 5:30 in to the middle of the clip.

Electric Vehicals - Lithium battery issues

( I am reposting the green articles from )

Bolivia Is the Saudi Arabia of Lithium

"You can literally scrape valuable lithium off the ground of many Bolivian salt flats. The country is poised to be the center of world lithium battery production, reaping the benefit of the metal's skyrocketing value. 'The US Geological Survey says 5.4 million tons of lithium could potentially be extracted in Bolivia, compared with 3 million in Chile, 1.1 million in China and just 410,000 in the United States. ... Ailing automakers in the United States are pinning their hopes on lithium. General Motors next year plans to roll out its Volt, a car using a lithium-ion battery along with a gas engine. Nissan, Ford and BMW, among other auto makers, have similar projects.' However, the government fears foreign countries might exploit their natural resources, so for the time being, the salt flats remain untouched."

Windmill Efficiency.

I have been searching for articles on making efficient wind mills.

This seems like a really obvious thing, but apparently no one is doing this right!

Some articles below show this.

This seems like a perfect problem to put to a genetic algorithm search.
If I could find a good simulation code, then many different designs not just of blade shape but orientations, configuration. Both horizontal and vertical can be simulated and tested quickly.

I am definitely seeing a trend where very old wind mill designs are cheaper easier and more efficient then these modern high tech mega windmills.

Where modern windmills seem skewed towards large construction projects.
It would seem something is broken in the wind industry.

Some additional interesting articles:

A few more ideas.
  • You know about shark skin has dimples that reduce drag, Using these in water pipes, ship hulls and propellers should make these more efficient.

    Its dermal denticles decrease drag and turbulence by directing water flow over the body, which allows surrounding water to pass over the shark more effectively. SPEEDO Introduces Fastskin -- the Fastest Swimsuit Ever Made

    Would this work with Air? For Windmill blades, and aircraft propellers and wings?

  • Energy storage is a big deal. Can we store compress air underground generated from a windmill or solar (sterling cycle) and then have generators that convert this compressed air in to power on demand?
  I found a few more good links on this.

    sustainable European Energy systems  (Sorry this only seems to display correction in MS IE)

    Welcome to Green Ideas

     I have been having many brainstorming session over E-mail, phone and Facebook. Ideas such as  Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Bio Fuels as well as the problems associated with them like Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, and Green Materials and manufacturing techniques. Also carbon sequestration, and anything that will move us past the  petroleum age and the impending climate disaster it has brought.

    Now I finally will have a place for the open discussion and hopefully new solutions leading to inventions and product. For any of these ideas to work, they must not only be green but economically viable and buy that I mean profitable.

    I would like to invite as many smart people in to these brainstorming sessions as possible.
    My only requirement is to keep an open mind.  As I am even open to things like biblical references, but don't want to tangent too far down those paths.

    The end goal is to work towards reversing global warming and other problems facing the continued expansion of the human race.  I believe this idea of limiting the human race at 10 Billion is horrific. If we are to continue to progress, we must keep inventing and take control over all aspects of our environment.  I think the earth could easily support 1 trillion people comfortable with trillions more living thought the solar system and beyond.

    Below is a list of some of what I have been researching and getting in to some very deep discussions. 
    • Bio Diesel - Algae, Jatropha, Fisher-Trope process, and other plant oils.
    • Bio Gasoline - pyrolysis, hydropyrolysis,
    • Bio Gas - HHO, Syngas, methane hydrates
    • Solar, holographic lenses, flexible cells,  alternatives to Silicon, ways to reduce cost, 
    • Wind - optimal designs, cost reductions
    • Power storage, Super Caps, batteries, thermal
    • Geothermal - way to reduce cost, maintenance
    • Electrical generation, transmission and storage
    • Non petroleum based plastics, Eco-epoxy and materials for manufacturing
    • Materials for third world production, like using plant fibers
    • Alternatives to Cement that release CO2 during production
    • Methane and CO2 release during food production