Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's Official: Honda Kills The Insight & Fit EV - The Washington Post


Fear not Honda has better replacements. Read.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

World’s largest emissions-busting bus retrofit scheme completed


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Willow Run Foods adds Cadec PowerVue software to its fleet of CNG vehicles | Foodservice content from Refrigerated Transporter


Willow Run Foods has added Cadec's PowerVue software to its compressed natural gas (CNG) fleet of vehicles. Willow Run Foods says it is the first distributor in the United States to deliver goods regionally using CNG.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Optimus Technologies receives EPA approval for biofuel conversion solution | Running Green content from Fleet Owner

PITTSBURGH--()--Optimus Technologies today announced two significant milestones that are changing the U.S. commercial truck industry. First, it is the first to receive U.S. EPA Approval for an advanced biofuel conversion solution for existing medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Second, while approved for a wide range of fuel types, it is also the first to achieve compliance for use with pure biofuel derived from recycled cooking oil. Since the solution reduces fleet fuel costs up to 25% and reduces lifecycle emissions up to 80% without the prohibitive start-up costs of compressed natural gas (CNG), it creates new business opportunities for advanced biofuel providers, from biodiesel refiners to ethanol refiners and cooking oil recyclers.
“We have been a strong supporter of Optimus’ efforts. Now, we will be able to expand our market reach and grow into servicing commercial and government fleets with our high quality, renewable fuels.”
The solution is based on a combination of Optimus’ Vector bi-fuel (diesel or biofuel) conversion system -- hardware and software that bolts-on to existing diesel engines -- and certified, pure biofuel. Fuels tested were derived from a variety of bio-sources including non-food grade corn oil, recycled cooking oil, and pure biodiesel (B100). While Optimus may be first to the U.S. market, such solutions have been available in Europe for more than a decade.
“We’re very excited that the EPA has approved our technology,” said CEO Colin Huwyler, “Our solution represents a tangible opportunity for fleets to shrink their operating costs while improving the environment. And, our solution does not require multi-million dollar start-up costs like CNG does.”
Fleet operators have been surprised to find that CNG solutions require capital-intensive modifications to fueling stations and maintenance facilities, extending payback periods well beyond 5 years. Optimus’ solution can leverage current facilities with only minor modifications, offering paybacks as little as one year.
Optimus currently works with a network of advanced biofuel suppliers whose fuel meets the Optimus standard.
“We are very glad that Optimus has secured EPA approval,” stated Rory Gaunt, CEO of Lifecycle Renewables, a leading renewable fuel provider based outside of Boston, MA. “We have been a strong supporter of Optimus’ efforts. Now, we will be able to expand our market reach and grow into servicing commercial and government fleets with our high quality, renewable fuels.”
Emissions tests conducted for Optimus’ approval in May were performed and validated by the West Virginia University Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions. The results showed a significant overall reduction in tailpipe emissions in comparison to diesel. Specifically, particulate matter was reduced by about 40%. Further, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions were reduced with all fuels tested, including when used with B100. The Vector system was approved for use on Navistar DT466 engines between the model years 2004 and 2006. Field trials and certification tests on other engines are currently underway.
Fuel providers seeking certification to the Optimus fuel standard and inclusion with its partner network are encouraged to contact Optimus Technologies for further information.
About Optimus Technologies
Optimus Technologies is the technology leader in high performance bi-fuel conversion systems (diesel & biofuel) for medium- and heavy-duty fleets, providing the simplest way to reduce fuel costs, reduce emissions and address alternative fuel mandates. Savings can be so significant that fleets can realize a payback of less than one year from Optimus’ solution. Driven by the vision and the knowledge that other alternative fuel solutions are prohibitively expensive and do not provide the same results as biofuels, Optimus was formed in 2010 to commercialize the results of five years of research and development of biofuel systems for diesel engines. Optimus Technologies is private company, based in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information, see www.optimustec.com.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Electricity to Food - Industrial farming indoors, improves yield 100-fold

This is what I call an Electricity to Food system.  Mostly self contained and isolated from the environment, you could grow food underground or in the desert and control water usage and air temperature.   But they never talk about powering the LED.

So if you use Solar, then it seems like a long way to put up solar cells only to turn it back to light to grow plants. 

That's why this is different then the solar elevated farms. 

I dread the thought of coal or oil to food using this technology. 


If you thought the agricultural revolution was something that already happened, maybe you should think again: a scientist in the Miyagi Prefecture of east Japan recently converted an old semiconductor factory into the largest indoor farm on the planet illuminated by LEDs. Racking up 25,000 sq. ft. and 10,000 heads of lettuce per day (no, that is not a typo) even this early in the process, the superfarm could very well make outdoor agriculture a figment of history.

Point in case: Shimamura's indoor farm uses just one percent of the water consumed by outside crops. This is thanks to the advanced monitoring systems that are plentiful throughout the entire system. The farm is truly a science experiment at this point, not meant to get into the produce business, but rather the "changing the world" business. It may do just that -- plans are already being drafted to crop up more farms in food-starved areas of the world.

The innovative people at GE Reports have kept us well-apprised with a thorough article on the topic, and the topic surely warrants even more research. We may be witnessing a monumental discovery, as it occurs.

Source:  http://www.mekanikalblog.com/2014/07/s-shimamura-brings-industrial-farming.html

Inter-modal containers used to grow fresh produce.

Basically Electricity to food, independent of how harsh the outside environment is. 

This is nice, I have a friend in New York that talked to me about something like this. 

Ships are not really known as places to grow food on; rather, they’re adding to the food miles that your typical lettuce or tomato spends from where it grows to your table.
On Blueseed, things will be different. This past week, we’ve partnered with Freight Farms, an award-winning startup that makes it possible to grow plants 130 times more efficiently than on land, in terms of space, using only 10% of the conventional amount of water, and without pesticides or herbicides. This is done with soil-less vertical hydroponics in a repurposed shipping container with low energy needs using remote monitoring and control via a cloud-based mobile app.
The 1,000 entrepreneurs on Blueseed will be able to consume entirely local-grown lettuce, supplied by one Freight Farm unit, which requires only about one hour of human operator time per week. Units are self-contained and Freight Farm will be working with Blueseed to adapt them for maritime use.
Lettuce is just the beginning. Blueseed intends to use two Freight Farm units, the second one for vine plants (currently in development). The partnership with Freight Farms is an excellent showcase of local food growing, and is an important step in furthering the environmental sustainability of the Blueseed community.

How To Rid America of Fossil Fuels by 2030.


I will post the youtube video when it get's posted.

Hydrostor Wants to Stash Energy in Underwater Bags

Submerged bags of air could turn wind and solar power into round-the-clock resources


Solar thermal magazine


Friday, July 11, 2014

First complete theory of how plasmons produce "hot carriers"

The first complete theory of how plasmons produce "hot carriers" has been developed by researchers in the US.

This research could help enhance solar energy conversion in photo voltaic devices.

Friday, July 4, 2014

WSJ: For Storing Electricity, Utilities Push New Technologies

A 4-kilowatt lithium-ion battery, at right, is part of a project by Southern California Edison to reduce demand on the electrical grid during peak hours.

SAN FRANCISCO—From backyard tinkerers to big corporations, inventors have been struggling to find a way to store solar, wind and other renewable energy so it can furnish electricity when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow.
Now California is offering businesses a big incentive for success—contracts that the utility industry estimates could total as much as $3 billion for successful, large-scale electricity-storage systems.
Starting this year, big utilities that do business here must begin adding enough battery systems or other technology so that by 2024 they can store 1,325-megawatts worth of electricity—nearly 70 times the amount that the handful of mostly experimental systems in the state store now. Regulators are also requiring municipal utilities to buy or lease energy-storage equipment.
The storage systems California wants don't exist on such a scale, so the new rules amount to a big bet—paid for by utility customers—that creating demand will produce workable new technology. If so, other states are likely to follow suit, experts say.
Like most states, California has an electric system that was built around big power plants that cranked out electricity around the clock. But utilities here are on track to get a third of the electricity they sell from intermittent resources like solar panels and wind turbines by 2020."We're not talking about lab experiments anymore," said Nancy Pfund, managing partner of Silicon Valley venture-capital firm DBL Investors. "We're talking about a real solution to a growing issue as renewables become a bigger percentage of everyone's grid. The whole world is watching this."
Nationally, renewables accounted for 37% of the new generating capacity added last year, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Utilities now use small natural-gas plants to fill gaps when power generation and demand aren't in balance, but the state thinks storage systems would be more efficient and produce less pollution.
At least in the first few years, many of the storage contracts are likely to go to projects that use rechargeable batteries, like the ones in electric cars and buses, industry officials say. Batteries have been tested for durability and safety by the automotive industry, and they are in widespread use.
"Battery technology is probably going to be the immediate, short-run leader," said Jeff Gates, managing director of commercial transmission at Duke Energy Corp.DUK -1.15% in Charlotte, N.C. Duke built a large battery-storage facility near one of its Texas wind farms, and the company plans to build similar projects in California and other states, he said.
While utilities have installed a handful of battery-storage systems in California and other places, many of them were designed to store less than an hour's worth of electricity to provide extra power to transmission lines. Under the new program, California utilities are likely to want systems that can store at least two or three hours of power to fill in gaps left by solar panels after sunset, Mr. Gates said.
Different types of batteries are already being made by manufacturers including General Electric Co. GE +0.94% , of Fairfield, Conn., and LG Chem Ltd. 051910.SE +0.35% of South Korea.
Some people hope that California's bet on energy storage will create opportunities for technologies that currently exist only in the lab or in one-off projects, including storage based on compressed air or giant flywheels. Gravity Power LLC, a startup in Goleta, Calif., uses deep underground bore holes, filled with water, to create energy when huge pistons are dropped down central shafts.
Among the questions the California experiment may answer is where storage devices should be installed. Some experts think they should be built next to wind farms, for example, as Duke did. Others suggest they should be located along transmission lines or installed next to businesses and homes with solar panels.
"I don't think we understand the function of storage on the grid [enough] yet to know where it would have the highest value," said Mark Nelson, a power-planning manager at Southern California Edison, based in Rosemead, Calif.
SolarCity Corp. SCTY -1.07% , of San Mateo, Calif., in December began offering commercial customers rechargeable batteries—the same ones that are used in Tesla Motors Inc. TSLA -0.08% electric cars—along with solar panels. Tesla, of Palo Alto, Calif., said Wednesday that it plans to build a U.S. battery factory to supply its Fremont, Calif., car factory and SolarCity's energy-storage business. "Storage is important because the sun only shines part of the day, but we use electricity all of the day," Elon Musk, who is chairman and chief executive of Tesla and chairman of SolarCity, said Thursday during an appearance in San Francisco.
Southern California Edison recently installed stacks of lithium-ion batteries at an Irvine, Calif., parking garage that has solar panels on the roof and a row of electric-car chargers on a lower floor. The panels generate electricity for the car chargers and the batteries, which help power the chargers after sunset.
Some utilities and consumer advocates worry that the technologies are expensive and aren't ready for prime time.
Mike Niggli, president of San Diego Gas & Electric Co., a unit of Sempra Energy, said that although there are many storage technologies, "few of them are cost-effective at this time."
The financial strength of some companies likely to offer their products is also a concern, following a series of bankruptcies by battery makers, including Xtreme Power, which filed for Chapter 11 last month, and A123 Systems Inc. and Ener1 Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012.
California is one of 37 states that have renewable-energy mandates or goals, but the only one to require utilities to buy lots of storage.
"Energy storage is a highly specialized market now," said Haresh Kamath, a researcher at the Electric Power Research Institute, a utility-funded group in Palo Alto, Calif. "But I expect it to become an important part of the grid's architecture in coming years."

World's first solar-powered farmbot unveiled in Australia

A new solar-powered robot has been designed for farms to collect data on pests and plant disease, pick weeds, and someday even harvest crops. 

Named the Ladybird, this new robot is laser-guided and self-driving. It uses sensors and hyper-spectral cameras to collect data about pests and crop conditions as it moves around, which it automatically interprets and delivers to the farmer.
It has just completed a successful three-day test on an Australian farm that grows spinach, onions and beetroot. 
"Ladybird focusses on broad acre agriculture and is solar-electric powered. It has an array of sensors for detecting vegetable growth and pest species, either plant or animal,” said chief designer Salah Sukkarieh, professor of robotics and intelligent systems at the University of Sydney, in a statement. "She also has a robotic arm for the purposes of removing weeds as well as the potential for autonomous harvesting.” 
If there is a concern that the robot will replace jobs, Sukkarieh says that it will increase a farm’s efficiency and yield, freeing staff up from manual work to spend more time figuring out how to adjust and improve their methods using the information it collects. If the Ladybird picks up on the early stages of a crop disease or infestation, the staff will have the time to address these threats much quicker than if they were left to identify on the signs on their own.
According to Brian Merchant at Motherboard, the industry has welcomed the technology:
"Sukkarieh was awarded the 'Researcher of the Year' accolade by the Australian Vegetable Industry, which is apparently more excited at the prospect of getting some automated help than it is afraid the bot will take its jobs. In the dystopian-looking days ahead, when climate change has raised temperatures and brought less rainfall to arid-leaning regions, farmers will need all the help they can get to squeeze as much produce as possible out of increasingly less productive land."
Ed Fagan, the owner of the farm where Ladybird carried out its trial run, told the ABC, "A lot of the time in horticulture, if you're short of an element in the plant, by the time you see a symptom it's too late. [The Ladybird] will be able to pick up a nutrient deficiency before we see any symptoms. Secondly, you can use it at night at 2 o'clock in the morning and go out and do an insect survey, so things like cutworm popping out at night time, slugs, worms, things like that.”
It sounds pretty promising, but as Merchant at Motherboard points out, the technology will need to be affordable for a farm to buy and maintain, and it must be durable enough to justify. And just how much more efficient it can make a farm must offset the cost of the Ladybird to make the investment worthwhile.

Source: http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20140107-25792.html