Friday, November 20, 2009

use bacteria to turn corn into biodegradable plastics.

Article Here - One word: bioplastics

At a new plant in Iowa, Metabolix will use bacteria to turn corn into biodegradable plastics.

A gene from the bacterium R. eutropha, turned out to code for an enzyme that allows bacteria to produce polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA),a naturally occurring form of polyester

(Bacteria normally manufacture PHA as a way to store carbon and energy.)

bioplastics have been commercially available for about a decade, mostly in the form of plastic cups, bottles and food packaging. Most of those products are made from a type of plastic called polylactic acid (PLA), which is also produced from corn. PLA is similar to PHA, but PHA has higher heat resistance

Metabolix: Bio-industrial Evolution
"Working to create a new generation of highly versatile, sustainable, environmentally-friendly plastics and chemicals."

Monday, November 16, 2009

PNNL Economic Development: Harvesting Clean Energy 2010 Registration Open

Harvesting Clean Energy Conference X
February 7 - 9, 2010 | Kennewick, WA | Three Rivers Convention Center

PNNL is Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 7:44 AM
Subject: SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT from PNNL Economic Development: Harvesting Clean Energy 2010 Registration Open

The 10th annual Harvesting Clean Energy conference is coming to Eastern Washington – register now for special early bird rates!

Learn from a host of experts gathered in one place at the
Harvesting Clean Energy conference – February 7-9, 2010, in Kennewick, WA at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
·       How can farmers, ranchers, food processors and rural communities prosper in the new energy economy?  
·       Where are your best opportunities in: wind power, solar technologies, geothermal, small hydro, biomass or biofuels, upgrading to energy efficient equipment?  
·       What financing, technical expertise, and partners are available to help?  

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State. Senator Cantwell chairs the Energy Subcommittee of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is a leading voice for making America more energy independent.

David Kolsrud, CEO of DAK Renewable Energy.  David is a lifelong farmer and, for the past 13 years, renewable energy entrepreneur in which time he’s helped develop and fund over $1 billion worth of farmer-owned wind power and biofuel projects.

Richard Wynne, Director of Geopolitical and Policy Analysis, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Richard will speak on Boeing's pursuit of sustainable biofuels and outline the potential agricultural role in developing renewable energy sources for aviation.


Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, registration for the conference is remarkably affordable. Farmers, ranchers and other private individuals can register early for just $90, professionals for $140. Register on line at www.harvestcleanenergy/conference, or call Dana Colwell at 253-445-4575 for more information.

I look forward to seeing you there!
Rhys Roth

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Researchers Turn Algae Into High-Temperature Hydrogen Source

From Red Orbit:

Researchers Turn Algae Into High-Temperature Hydrogen Source

Platinum-catalyzed photosynthetic process creates high-yield sustainable source of hydrogen
In the quest to make hydrogen as a clean alternative fuel source, researchers have been stymied about how to create usable hydrogen that is clean and sustainable without relying on an intensive, high-energy process that outweighs the benefits of not using petroleum to power vehicles.

New findings from a team of researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, however, show that photosynthesis – the process by which plants regenerate using energy from the sun – may function as that clean, sustainable source of hydrogen.

The team, led by Barry Bruce, a professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology at UT Knoxville, found that the inner machinery of photosynthesis can be isolated from certain algae and, when coupled with a platinum catalyst, is able to produce a steady supply of hydrogen when exposed to light.

The findings are outlined in this week's issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Bruce, who serves as the associate director for UT Knoxville's Sustainable Energy and Education Research Center, notes that we already get most of our energy from photosynthesis, albeit indirectly.

The fossil fuels of today were once, millions of years ago, energy-rich plant matter whose growth also was supported by the sun via the process of photosynthesis. There have been efforts to shorten this process, namely through the creation of biomass fuels that harvest plants and covert their hydrocarbons into ethanol or biodiesel.

"Biofuel as many people think of it now -- harvesting plants and converting their woody material into sugars which get distilled into combustible liquids -- probably cannot replace gasoline as a major source of fuel," said Bruce. "We found that our process is more direct and has the potential to create a much larger quantity of fuel using much less energy, which has a wide range of benefits."

A major benefit of Bruce's method is that it cuts out two key middlemen in the process of using plants' solar conversion abilities. The first middle man is the time required for a plant to capture solar energy, grow and reproduce, then die and eventually become fossil fuel. The second middle man is energy, in this case the substantial amount of energy required to cultivate, harvest and process plant material into biofuel. Bypassing these two options and directly using the plant or algae's built-in solar system to create clean fuel can be a major step forward.

Other scientists have studied the possibility of using photosynthesis as a hydrogen source, but have not yet found a way to make the reaction occur efficiently at the high temperatures that would exist in a large system designed to harness sunlight.
Bruce and his colleagues found that by starting with a thermophilic blue-green algae, which favors warmer temperatures, they could sustain the reaction at temperatures as high as 55 degrees C, or 131 degrees F. That is roughly the temperature in arid deserts with high solar irradiation, where the process would be most productive. They also found the process was more than 10 times more efficient as the temperature increased.

"As both a dean and a chemist, I am very impressed with this recent work by Professor Bruce and his colleagues," said Bruce Bursten, dean of UT Knoxville's College of Arts and Sciences. "Hydrogen has the potential to be the cleanest fuel alternative to petroleum, with no greenhouse gas production, and we need new innovations that allow for hydrogen to be readily produced from non-hydrocarbon sources. Professor Bruce and his team have provided a superb example of how excellence in basic research can contribute significantly to technological and societal advances."

UFO crash hits wind turbine!

Be on the lookout for a UFO with a giant wind turbine blade sticking out of it. LOL

A UFO is believed to have struck a giant wind turbine in South Lincolnshire.

These blade are just massive, and you have to admit it really look like it hit something hard but there is no damage on the mast. Also one of the blades are just missing, how do you loose a telephone pole size windmill blade and can't find where it went? Is the owner of the turbine.

In a later report they found out the real cause metal fatigue.
It wasn't ET 'wat done it'  10 February 2009 Interim report rules out UFO’s

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wind turbines make bat lungs explode

Researchers at the University of Calgary have found out why bats have been dying near wind turbines.

From: New Scientist

"Beware: exploding lungs" is not a sign one would expect to see at a wind farm. But a new study suggests this is the main reason bats die in large numbers around wind turbines.
The risk that wind turbines pose to birds is well known and has dogged debates over wind energy. In fact, several studies have suggested the risk to bats is greater. In May 2007, the US National Research Council published the results of a survey of US wind farms showing that two bat species accounted for 60% of winged animals killed. Migrating birds, meanwhile, appear to steer clear of the turbines.
Why bats - who echolocate moving objects - are killed by turbines has remained a mystery until now. The research council thought the high-frequency noise from the turbines' gears and blades could be disrupting the bats' echolocation systems.
In fact, a new study shows that the moving blades cause a drop in pressure that makes the delicate lungs of bats suddenly expand, bursting the tissue's blood vessels. This is known as a barotrauma, and is well-known to scuba divers.
"While searching for bat carcasses under wind turbines, we noticed that many of the carcasses had no external injuries or no visible cause of death," says Erin Baerwald of the University of Calgary in Canada.

Internal injuries

Baerwald and colleagues collected 188 dead bats from wind farms across southern Alberta, and determined their cause of death. They found that 90% of the bats had signs of internal haemorrhaging, but only half showed any signs of direct contact with the windmill blades. Only 8% had signs of external injuries but no internal injuries.
The movement of wind-turbine blades creates a vortex of lower air pressure around the blade tips similar to the vortex at the tip of aeroplane wings. Others have suggested that this could be lethal to bats, but until now no-one had carried out necropsies to verify the theory.
Baerwald and her colleagues believe that birds do not suffer the same fate as bats - the majority of birds are killed by direct contact with the blades - because their lungs are more rigid than those of bats and therefore more resistant to sudden changes in pressure.
Bats eat nocturnal insects including agricultural pests, so if wind turbines affected their population levels, this could affect the rest of the local ecosystems. And the effects could even be international. "The species being killed are migrants," says Baerwald. "If bats are killed in Canada that could have consequences for ecosystems as far away as Mexico."

Windy day

One solution could be to increase the minimum wind speed needed to set the blades in motion. Most bats are more active in low wind.
The study was funded by a number of bat conservation groups together with energy companies with a financial interest in wind energy, such as Shell Canada and Alberta Wind Energy.
Journal reference: Current Biology (vol 18 p R696)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10% of US Energy Derived From Old Soviet Nukes

There is a strange irony about this.

"The New York Times reports that about 10 percent of electricity generated in the United States comes from fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, mostly Russian. 'It's a great, easy source' of fuel, said Marina V. Alekseyenkova, an analyst at Renaissance Bank and an expert in the Russian nuclear industry that has profited from the arrangement since the end of the cold war. But if more diluted weapons-grade uranium isn't secured soon, the pipeline could run dry, with ramifications for consumers, as well as some American utilities and their Russian suppliers.'"

Discussion on Slashdot

Monday, November 9, 2009


There are super conductors, and would you believe there are super dielectrics!

In theory you could store an almost unlimited amount of power in a cap made of super conductors and super dielectrics.
So "in theory" you could store enough electricity in a sugar cube to drive for years.

In reality neither material would be perfect setting upper limits. Still EESTOR's super caps at 3600 V can complete with lithium Ion batteries in power to weight already.

There is no reason why we don't have 1MV super caps.

There is no one looking at super conductors or dielectrics for caps right now. Most are building supercaps that are only good for 1 Volt or very low voltages, which means the dielectrics are super thin and therefor must be almost perfect in order not the short out.
The thicker the dielectrics the less perfection on the nano scale is needed.

I bet in 2015 we are still driving gasoline based cars and almost nothing would have changed, but just a lot of political rhetoric as people die from climate change.

They aren't using the best supercaps, just the cheapest ones.



In the EEStor patent they were claiming 610 V/um breakdown voltages for Aluminum coated CMBT, this is astonishing since I was having a hard time finding anything else above 100 V/um with Mica at 140 to 210 V/um

1100 V/um for bulk alumina which is basically Aluminum oxide also know as Saphire. 
But can you really get this in a bulk manufactured product?

Super Dielectrics.
Perovskite with High Dielectric Constant May Lead to High Performance Capacitors

Perovskite crystals, seems there are some geometric structures that make this material Super-K CCTO CaCu3Ti4O12 a very good dielectric, it has some interesting properties at low temeratures too.

Physicists discover the 'superinsulator'
thin films of titanium nitride cooled towards absolute zero in a magnetic field. Although the material is usually a superconductor, in which electrical current can propagate without resistance, the team have found that in these conditions the material’s resistance rises to infinity


EEStor Issued a Patent For Its Supercapacitor

US Patent 7466536 EEStor
Utilization of poly(ethylene terephthalate) plastic and composition-modified barium titanate powders in a matrix that allows polarization and the use of integrated-circuit technologies for the production of lightweight ultrahigh electrical energy storage units (EESU) News, Reviews and Discussion of EEStor Inc.

US Patent 7251118 Nonplanar-Nanostructures
Method and apparatus for large scale storage of electrical potential
Nonplanar-Nanostructures company web site



Tecate Group - ultracapacitors

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tech Allows Stable Integration of Wind In the Power Grid

From Slashdot:
"One of the most frequently raised arguments against renewable power sources is that they can only supply a low percentage of the total power because their unpredictability can destabilize the grid. Spain seems to have disproved this assertion. In the last three days, the wind power generation records with respect to the total demand were beaten twice (in special conditions: a very windy weekend, at night): 45% on November 5 and almost 54% last night (Google translation; Spanish original). There was no instability. These milestones were accomplished with the help of a control center that processes meteorologic data from the whole country and predicts, with high certainty, the wind and solar power that will be generated, allowing a stable integration of all the renewable power. You can see a graphic of the record here."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Warren Buffett just bought a railroad

"This is all happening because my father didn't buy me a train set as a kid."
WARREN BUFFETT, joking about his decision to buy a railroad, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation.(NYT)

On Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 10:27 PM, Steve T wrote:
By the way, literally today Buffet just bought a railroad, the largest  single purchase he has ever made . . . and as you pointed out, the railroads in India use the Jatropha plant as a fuel base.  I'm guessing you can see the possible connection I'm trying to make here - should we focus on Jatropha instead of wind?

One of the most valuable things with Railroads in long tracts of contiguous land.

There is a huge fight over getting right for fiber optics to be run as well as new power transmission lines.  (like the underground 1MV DC systems)

Owning a railroad he could just provide a power & Data transmission system without needing any ones permission.

He could also convert the RR to electric power improving operating costs, although this is unlikely. There are 1000's of old diesel locomotive available cheap because of dead engines and the electrical generator and motors that drive the wheels are still good.
There would be an interesting business converting all those to run from external electrical power like a subway car does.

Also He would be able to put up Wind turbines along all of the routes and because it's a railroad they are not subject to local regulations!  There are many special laws from 100 years ago that give railroads all sorts of magical legal protections and capabilities.

Putting up wind turbines along tracks would make a lot of sense because you could build specialized rail cars that would almost automate the whole installation process.

But who know's what someone like Mr. Buffet  was really thinking. I am sure time will reveal his true plans.


From Shlomo:
He could also put lots of solar panels next to the railroad, especially in desert areas (which will be cheap to maintain). 

Plan for solar plant in Mojave scrapped - Courtesy of Senator Dianne Fienstein

Courtesy of Senator Dianne Fienstein:

"Plan for solar plant in Mojave scrapped":

From: friend Steve T.
This entire discussion is a moot point - I predict ALL major solar power developments will be stopped, probably using environmental issues as an excuse, but, regardless of the excuse, they'll come up with some reason why none will be built, and even if, by some
miracle, one actually does get constructed, our politicians will find a way to shut it down too . . .

Which, of course, will leave us still dependent on big oil and burning oil for power.

Funny how that works, huh?

Use green smoke as smoke screen but, in the end, always end up serving big oil.

So, Dianne, how much did big oil stuff in that numbered bank account of yours in the Bahamas to destroy our solar power plant and betray all Americans and sell us out to your big oil masters anyway?

None of these is going to happen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Solar panel systems can strain water resources.

Here's an angle I bet no one even considered.

A friend of mine is on the right track with automatic washing of the panels, but maybe at night.

And to cool the panels something probable needs to be done from the underside.  Like heat sinks or water/fluid cooling in a sealed system.

It looks like evaporation is not going to scale unless we are using sea water or gray water.
It's a complete waste to produce clean drinking water only to use for non-drinking purposes.

Solar Stirs Water Wars in the West

Isaac Brekken for The New York Times An irrigation riser at Ponderosa Dairies farm in Amargosa Valley, Nev.
As I write in an article in Wednesday’s Times, a water war is breaking out in the desert Southwest over the dozens of large-scale solar power plants planned for the region.
Depending on the technology used, some solar farms can consume more than a billion gallons of water a year in regions that receive three or four inches of rain annually.
It’s a truism that all water politics are local and that’s proving to be the case as solar power becomes the latest fight in the West’s long history of internecine water wars. For solar developers that means dealing with an often-bewildering array of regulations, stakeholders and politics.
In Arizona, for instance, plans for big solar farms have revived old fears that the desert state’s scarce water resources will be exported to energy-hungry California in the form of electricity.
“That has been an issue in the past and it will be come a political issue in the future,” said Kristin K. Mayes, chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state’s utility regulator. “I don’t think it will be an obstacle to the development of solar energy, but we have to pay attention and deploy solar technologies that use appropriate amounts of water.”
Across the border in Nevada, water politics are even more Byzantine. Individuals and companies own water rights separate from their property. If farmers and ranchers in California worry about big solar projects draining local aquifers, their counterparts across the state line are often eager to sell or lease their water rights to companies like Solar Millennium.

The German solar developer wants to build a 500-megawatt solar power plant complex in the arid Amargosa Valley west of Las Vegas. Its preferred method of cooling the twin solar farms would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of the desert valley’s water. To obtain rights to that water the company will have to negotiate with scores of local alfalfa farmers and companies.
At a public hearing in Las Vegas in August, environmentalists voiced concern about the impact of the Solar Millennium project on the endangered pupfish, a tiny blue-gray fish that survives only in few aquamarine desert pools fed by Amargosa Valley’s aquifer.
Then a weather-beaten gentleman dressed in blue jeans rose to fret about his future if he could not sell his water rights to Solar Millennium. Jim Marsh was not a down-and-out local alfalfa farmer, however, but the proprietor of a Las Vegas auto dealership. He also owns a casino in the Amargosa Valley and the associated water rights.
The Longstreet Inn and Casino sits off a desolate stretch of Highway 373. On an August afternoon, as temperatures approached 100 degrees, the slot machines sat silent in an empty gaming room while sprinklers arrayed on the perimeter of the property shot jets of water into the surrounding desert scrub.
Under Nevada law, property owners must use their water at least one year out of every five. “I’m pumping water out into the desert to keep my water rights,” said Mr. Marsh. “It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Bill DeWitt is what you might call a fair-weather alfalfa farmer. He’s a Los Angeles real estate investor who bought up water rights in the Amargosa Valley years ago in anticipation of cashing in on the long-delayed nuclear waste repository at nearby Yucca Mountain.
Now he is considering leasing water rights to Solar Millennium. “We have a significant block of water rights we’ve been using in agricultural — growing alfalfa and hay and other things,” said Mr. DeWitt. “If it pencils out better for making megawatts, maybe that’s the direction to go.”