Thursday, January 30, 2014

New FIPEL Lighting Technology equals LED, offers new form factors

FIPEL Lighting Technology developed by David Carroll - Business Insider
The FIPEL is slightly more efficient than a CFL bulb and on par with an LED, but comes with a few advantages over these other types of lights. CFLs and other fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury, which can be toxic if not disposed of properly. FIPELs do not use any caustic chemicals in manufacturing and can easily be recycled because they're made of plastic.
Some LEDs give off a blueish tint, which many people don't like to look at. FIPEL, on the other hand, can be made to have any tint, including the yellowish hue of the sun that our eyes have come to prefer, having evolved on Earth.
"FIPEL can match the response of your eye more perfectly than any other lamp ever created," Carroll told Business Insider.
Although the new light source doesn't have the shape of a traditional light bulb — it's more a panel — it is moldable, so it can be customized to fit into conventional light sockets and work with many different types of lamp fixtures.  
The FIPEL light has a lifetime of between 25,000 and 50,000 hours, which is comparable to an LED.
Carroll notes one drawback to FIPEL.  
"From a pure physics point of view, the best efficiency that you could ever accomplish with this lamp is still going to be slightly lower than the best efficiency you could ever accomplish with an LED," says Carroll. Right now, LEDs do not perform at their theoretical best. But as both technologies mature, you can expect the LED to come out on top in terms of overall efficiency.
The FIPEL technology is currently under an exclusive world-wide license by CeeLite Technologies. David Sutton, management consultant for CeeLite, said the first units for commercial use will be available by the end of 2013. The new bulb will cost less than LEDs and slightly more than CFLs.
"In five years, instead of saying I've got to get a new bulb, you're going to be saying I've got to get a new FIPEL. I do believe that these are going to be ubiquitous,"  says Carroll. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

America’s health craze for fish oil is wiping out the world’s rarest shark – Quartz

America’s health craze for fish oil is wiping out the world’s rarest shark – Quartz
Another day, another round of headlines about China’s butchering of rare species. Today’s bloodbath bulletin concerns whale sharks, which feed on plankton and can grow up to 40 feet (12 meters)—about the length of four station wagons. The shark is so vulnerable to extinction that most countries forbid fishermen from catching them.
That’s not stopping a factory in China’s Zhejiang province from slaughtering 600 whale sharks per year, according to Hong Kong-based conservation group WildLifeRisk. The factory pays up to 200,000 yuan ($31,000) per whale shark (pdf), as WLR reports, and there’s now a global network of fishing boats that will sell them.
Why? Whale sharks feed the growing market for fish oil used in supplements and cosmetics sold in the US and Canada (paywall), reports the New York Times.

California Drought: Water Supply Could Tighten in Mega Droughts |

California Drought: Water Supply Could Tighten in Mega Droughts |

But as he spoke, Brown hit a darker note. Last week, amid the driest year for the state since record-keeping began in the 1840s, Brown declared a drought emergency for California, and in his speech he warned of harder times ahead:
Among all our uncertainties, weather is one of the most basic. We can’t control it. We can only live with it, and now we have to live with a very serious drought of uncertain duration…We do not know how much our current problem derives from the build-up of heat-trapping gasses, but we can take this drought as a stark warning of things to come.
(MORE: Can GM Crops Bust the Drought?)
Californians need to be ready, because if some scientists are right, this drought could be worse than anything the state has experienced in centuries. B. Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has looked at rings of old trees in the state, which helps scientists gauge precipitation levels going back hundreds of years. (Wide tree rings indicate years of substantial growth and therefore healthy rainfall, while narrow rings indicate years of little growth and very dry weather.) She believes that California hasn’t been this dry since 1580, around the time the English privateer Sir Francis Drake first visited the state’s coast:
If you go back thousands of years, you see that droughts can go on for years if not decades, and there were some dry periods that lasted over a century, like during the Medieval period and the middle Holocene [the current geological epoch, which began about 11,000 years ago]. The 20th century was unusually mild here, in the sense that the droughts weren’t as severe as in the past. It was a wetter century, and a lot of our development has been based on that.
Ingram is referring to paleoclimatic evidence that California, and much of the American Southwest, has a history of mega-droughts that could last for decades and even centuries. Scientists like Richard Seager of Columbia University’s Lamont-Dohery Earth Observatory have used tree-ring data to show that the Plains and the Southwest experienced multi-decadal droughts between 800 A.D. and 1500 A.D. Today dead tree stumps—carbon-dated to the Medieval period—can be seen in river valley bottoms in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and underwater in places like California’s Mono Lake, signs that these bodies of water were once completely dry. Other researchers have looked at the remains of bison bones found in archaeological sites, and have deduced that a millennium ago, the bison were far less numerous than they were several centuries later, when they blanketed the Plains—another sign of how arid the West once was. The indigenous Anasazi people of the Southwest built great cliff cities that can still be seen in places like Mesa Verde—yet their civilization collapsed, quite possibly because they couldn’t endure the mega-droughts.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Keystone XL study warns of risks in shipping oilsands products from Alberta to B.C.

U.S. study warns of risks in shipping oilsands products from Alberta to B.C.:

'via Blog this'
The study examined the different ways to transport Alberta's bitumen, a molasses-like crude oil, over U.S. land and water. Those included rail, the proposed Kinder-Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver, the Keystone XL line to Texas from Alberta, and Northern Gateway.
"Most oilsands products are transported to market via existing and proposed pipelines; however, a sharp increase in the use of rail and marine transport can be expected while new pipelines are constructed to match the increased production of oilsands products," the report says.
It was written by six experts at the University of Washington and supervised by Prof. Robert Pavia of the university's School of Marine and Environmental Affairs.
"While there are many arguments about the level of risk, no one believes the risk is zero," Pavia told The Canadian Press, adding that he was speaking personally. "In my mind it's not a question of whether a spill will occur, but how well-prepared we are for a spill once it does occur."
In the case of Northern Gateway, not only might there be potential to harm Washington state shores, there could be hazards from tankers leaving Kitimat, B.C., to travel through the waters of Alaska, near the Aleutian Islands to Asia. The proposed 1,177-kilometre-long pipeline would carry 525,000 barrels of bitumen daily from Alberta to the northern B.C. port.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Elders of Organic Farming -

The Elders of Organic Farming -

Mr. Ableman climbed out the window of his parents’ house when he was 16 and ran away. He was soon managing a 100-acre orchard, and then a 12-acre farm in Southern California, which grossed close to a million dollars. He now farms on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, and travels to Vancouver to oversee urban farms he developed for people coping with addiction and mental illness. They are paid to work the land, and they sell their food to 30 restaurants and at six farmers’ markets.
Amigo Bob Cantisano’s dreadlocks dangle below his knees; he is tie-dyed down to his socks. Mr. Cantisano, 63, is the only one of the group at Esalen who has regular contact with industrial organic farmers. Some of them are Republicans in cowboy hats, he said, but they overlook his nonconformist appearance. He consults with companies like Sun-Maid, Sunkist and Earthbound Farm on how to improve yields and practice better sustainable agriculture.
Mr. Morton, who sells seeds through his Wild Garden Seed catalog, discovered at age 6 that food could be free but digging was hard. As a teenager, he said he “came to the realization that seed was the key to wealth and independence.”
Some related their marketing tips. Mr. Coleman, who sells his produce to 10 restaurants, said the endive variety called Bianca Riccia da Taglio would not sell until he renamed it. “Within two weeks, every lobster salad was sitting on a bed of golden frisée,” he said.
When farmers changed the name of Mandarin Cross tomatoes to tangerine tomatoes, sales soared. A farmer who had trouble selling her misshapen potatoes labeled them “Ugly Potatoes” and cut the price. They sold.
And many came looking for answers to the conundrum of retirement. Some have put their farms in land trusts; others said they tried to negotiate similar deals but failed. Like other family farmers around the country, some are finding that their children do not want to carry on their work.
Dru Rivers of Full Belly Farms in the Capay Valley in California was one of the few farmers whose children had returned to the farm, with their own ideas. A son is doing farm weddings and dinners. A daughter is operating a summer camp and running farm tours. In true hippie style, Ms. Rivers said: “I don’t want to die with one thing to my name. I want to give it all away. We have to do that to regenerate.” So she will give the farm to her children.
Norbert Kungl, 58, who farms in Nova Scotia, is concerned about the future of his land, which he says produces enough income for only one family. “I can’t find a cushion,” he said. “What options do I have other than selling to the highest bidder, which I do not want to do? These are questions that I have no answer for.”
Mr. Willey, 65, said he called a family meeting with his three children. “We made clear to them we have a very profitable business,” he said, but none were interested in carrying it on.
He understands why. “Farmers often work seven days a week and as many hours a day as the sun is up,” he said. “Young people looking into agriculture are not willing to make that drastic a sacrifice.”
Mr. Huber, who owns 25 acres and farms more than 600 acres on the north Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, said, “I think we’re looking at models that don’t work anymore.”

Brilliant Cement Making Technology Mimics Coral While Removing CO2 From the Atmosphere | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Brilliant Cement Making Technology Mimics Coral While Removing CO2 From the Atmosphere | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a novel way to create a new form of carbon neutral cement by studying the formation of coral reefs and applying the principles at work. Coral takes in minerals and CO2 and then secretes calcium carbonate to build its hard exoskeleton. Inspired by this construction process, Stanford scientist Brent Constanz has developed a way to capture CO2 and dissolve it in seawater to form calcium carbonate, which has properties suitable for use in construction and could replace Portland cement (which is responsible for more than a ton of CO2 for every ton of product created). This new technology could reduce the environmental impact of construction in a big way by capturing and sequestering CO2 emissions while creating a durable building material

PV from Greece; Heliosphera » Micromorph - What is Micromorph Technology and Why it is Important

Heliosphera » Micromorph - What is Micromorph Technology and Why it is Important

The dual semiconductor layer structure makes optimal use of the sun’s light spectrum because the two silicon layers convert a bigger part of the light into electricity. The amorphous layer is sensitive to the visible range of the solar radiation, while the microcrystalline layer converts the infrared part of the spectrum into electricity. As a result a module based on micromorph technology is 50% more efficient than a module based on the conventional amorphous technology.
Micromorph technology is based on environmentally friendly, non-toxic abundant materials. It also requires half the energy needed to produce crystalline silicon cells. Consequently, micromorph modules require two to three years to deliver the energy consumed for their production.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fukushima Cesium 137 levels and prediction models for NE Pacific seawater,.pdf

Slide 1 - MEQ-1700-Smith.pdf

Hard data, extrapolations for future, discussion of various models of East Pacific Cesium 137 concentrations, into the future, with maps, and tentative conclusion, back to longterm levels comparable to 1990's background levels!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Yet Another Reason Clean Energy Will Dominate

Yet Another Reason Clean Energy Will Dominate the Future: Water Scarcity
Posted By Lowell F. on December 18th, 2013

Stories like this one are why water-conserving, clean energy technologies need to – and hopefully will – dominate the future.

Climate change could put millions more people at risk of water scarcity, a new study suggests.

Forty percent more people will be put at risk of chronic or absolute water scarcity due to changes in rainfall and evaporation that result from climate change, according to a report published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Climate change will “substantially aggravate the water scarcity problem” globally, the report says.

“We conclude that the combination of unmitigated climate change and further population growth will expose a significant fraction of the world population to chronic or absolute water scarcity,” the report adds.

How much water do fossil fuels use? A lot. For instance, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reports that “total water used for coal mining in the United States (including water use for coal washing and cooling of drilling equipment) ranges from 70 million to 260 million gallons a day.” Then, to transport the coal, “slurry pipelines withdraw hundreds of gallons of water for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced.” And then there are coal-fired power plants, which the UCS says can use up to “20 to 50 gallons per kilowatt-hour—even without considering the water needed to mine coal or store coal waste.” As for natural gas fracking, this report finds that in Colorado, fracking uses as much as 39,500 acre-feet, “[e]nough water for 66,400 to 118,400 homes in Colorado.” That’s a lot of water — water we can’t afford to waste in a world of increasing scarcity.

In stark contrast, according to the UCS, “[s]olar PV cells do not use water for generating electricity.” As for wind power, UCS reports that “[t]here is no water impact associated with the operation of wind turbines.” So here’s the choice for the 21st century: continue on with polluting, water-wasting fossil fuels, or switch to clean, water-saving renewable energy. This is not a difficult choice, especially given the plummeting cost of clean energy.

Clean energy a success story, regardless of what 60 minutes claims!

Cross posted from Scaling Green

This evening, "60 Minutes" is scheduled to run a segmenton the cleantech and renewable energy industries that appears, from the preview, to present extremely outdated, misleading, even blatantly false information. In advance of this possible hit piece on clean energy, the American Council on Renewable Energy's (ACORE) Energy Fact Check program has put together a prebuttal fact sheet on the true state of these industries, demonstrating their strength and the speed at which they're growing. A few key points from ACORE:
*Despite a ginned-up "controversy" over the unique case of Solyndra, the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program actually has had a 97% success rate.

*The DOE Loan Guarantee Program has created over 55,000 direct jobs, in everything from electric vehicles to renewable energy (e.g., the Ivanpah solar thermal power project alone has created over 1,000 jobs).

*This past year alone saw an estimated $13 billion invested in U.S. solar power projects, a tenfold increase since 2007.

*From January to October of 2013, all-electric vehicle sales were up 448% year-on-year.

*In Q3 of 2013, 80 new clean energy and clean transportation projects were announced, creating more than 15,000 jobs.
Broadly speaking, there's voluminous evidence that the marketplace has embraced cleantech and renewables, and that government investment has been overwhelmingly successful. For example, one can point to Tesla's 9-year-early loan repayment, the latest industry figures, the highly successful 2013 clean tech investing landscape, and stories from the DOE Loan Programs Office website itself. To cite a few specific industry success stories:
*In 2012, wind energy accounted for the most newly installed capacity - beating even natural gas.

*In 2013, Wall Street showed to be bullish on solar power.

*Electric vehicles are growing in marketshare and consumer satisfaction.
Need more evidence for cleantech's success? Check out this piece by Clean Technica, which provides "13 cleantech charts 60 Minutes seems to have missed." Those charts demonstrate that U.S. (and world) solar power capacity and generation are growing exponentially, that wind power capacity is ramping up fast as well, and that solar power prices have fallen by more than 99% since 1977. Yet, somehow, "60 Minutes" manages to spin all this great, exciting news into the bizarre, 100% false conclusion that "[d]espite billions in taxpayer dollars invested by the U.S. government in so-called 'Cleantech' energy alternatives to fossil fuels, Washington and Silicon Valley have little to show for it."

It's mind boggling, but remember that tonight's apparent hit piece on cleantech comes in the aftermath of the "6o Minutes" debacle over a story it did in late November 2013 on Benghazi. Perhaps, given all its own internal problems, "60 Minutes" should be more concerned about figuring out how its once high standards of journalism have "crashed," instead of slandering one of America's most successful sectors?