Monday, March 31, 2014

Can you make gasoline that slows down global warming? Google Ventures thinks so | The Verge

Can you make gasoline that slows down global warming? Google Ventures thinks so | The Verge: "The company is also being careful not to rely on any plants that double as food sources: for instance, corn, which can be used to create ethanol and saw a number of volatile price spikes in recent years. It's also trying to diversify its revenue streams, selling its product as a blend to be mixed in with traditional gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. It sells the biochar to farmers and is looking at using it for cleaning chemicals out of polluted water as well. Finally, the company is planning to sell carbon credits. "The fossil fuel companies know they will be obligated to obtain these renewable fuel credits," says Janzen. "So we are a technology that helps their current business last longer." In exchange Cool Planet gets customers and can rely on the infrastructure that companies like BP and ConocoPhillips have already put in place."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come -

Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come -

The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries.
The $100 billion figure, though included in the 2,500-page main report, was removed from a 48-page executive summary to be read by the world’s top political leaders. It was among the most significant changes made as the summary underwent final review during a dayslong editing session in Yokohama.
The edit came after several rich countries, including the United States, raised questions about the language, according to several people who were in the room at the time but did not wish to be identified because the negotiations are private.
The language is contentious because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September in New York at a summit meeting of world leaders, who will attempt to make headway on a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases.

Many rich countries argue that $100 billion a year is an unrealistic demand; it would essentially require them to double their budgets for foreign aid, at a time of economic distress at home. That argument has fed a rising sense of outrage among the leaders of poor countries, who feel their people are paying the price for decades of profligate Western consumption.
Two decades of international efforts to limit emissions have yielded little result, and it is not clear whether the negotiations in New York this fall will be any different. While greenhouse gas emissions have begun to decline slightly in many wealthy countries, including the United States, those gains are being swamped by emissions from rising economic powers like China and India.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thorium molten salt offers a clean energy future

“In 30 to 50 years, I can see a move away from light-water reactors to molten-salt reactors because they have a safer cycle,” says Tom Drolet, a Florida-based nuclear-energy expert and energy consultant, in an interview. “Thorium is also the most abundant nuclear resource on earth.”

The US, however, will find it difficult to transition to thorium because of its cold-war decision to invest in uranium fuels, which could be more easily enriched to make nuclear bombs. Even if there is a breakthrough in thorium technology, it would be too costly to retrofit America’s existing nuclear energy infrastructure. The supply chain is now fully stocked and includes everything from uranium suppliers to reactor designers.

Uranium supplies can feed the current reactor fleet, says David Martin, deputy director of research for the Weinberg Foundation in London, in an e-mail. But if nuclear energy should undergo a renaissance and the need for that fuel stock would increase as a result, it would only underscore the need for fourth generation molten salt nuclear reactors that use thorium.

“China's ambition is far-sighted,” he says. “This announcement should cause Western governments to end their de facto shutdown of nuclear R&D and massively increase investments in advanced reactors.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal | Singularity Hub

100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal | Singularity Hub

The proposal is straightforward: eliminate combustion as a source of energy, because it’s dirty and inefficient. All vehicles would be powered by electric batteries or by hydrogen, where the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis rather than natural gas. High-temperature industrial processes would also use electricity or hydrogen combustion.
The rest would simply be a question of allowing existing fossil-fuel plants to age out and using renewable sources to power any new plants that come online. The energy sources in the road map include geothermal energy, concentrating solar power, off-shore and on-land wind turbines and some and tidal energy. All but tidal energy collectors are already commercially available.
“The greatest barriers to a conversion are neither technical nor economic. They are social and political,” the AAAS paper concludes.
Common political wisdom has it that, while clean energy is a nice idea, powering our economy with wind, water and solar power would require an enormous amount of land allotted to production and would push energy prices up beyond the reach of average consumers.
But according to Jacobson and his colleagues, the reverse is true. Less than 2 percent of United States’ land mass would support all of the wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation required to meet energy demand. That includes the space between concentrating solar arrays or wind turbines.
Clean energy would save an average American consumer $3,400 per year than the current fossil fuel regime by 2050, the study lays out. That’s because the price of fossil fuel rises regularly, but with clean energy — where raw materials are free — once the infrastructure is built, prices would fall.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sustainable Energy: Thermal Banking Greenhouse Design

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highly recommended!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

New tech will make cellphones use less energy

Everything You Need To Know About pCell - Business Insider

How is pCell better than 4G or LTE?

Besides speed and signal strength, it uses a lot less power. pWave radios use a 1-milliwatt transmitter to deliver data, compared with the 250 milliwatts used by most Wi-Fi radios and even larger amounts of power used by cellular towers.
They also use less power on the user's end, too: phones as they exist today would waste far less power searching for a signal, and one day "pCell Native" devices could use parts that use even less power than the Wi-Fi chips built into devices like the iPod Touch today.
Going back to the carrier side of things, pCell also brings significant reductions in the amount of infrastructure needed to power a cell network. Unlike cell towers, which need a massive fiber infrastructure to provide enough bandwidth for all their users, pWaves can be deployed in enough locations that each unit can "see" another unit, meaning they can bounce data around using line-of-sight radio waves for far less money. And instead of using custom hardware to handle all signal processing, a carrier using pCell can run the software behind it on any sufficiently powerful Linux computer.

Will I need a new phone to use pCell?

Nope. To make adopting the technology as easy as possible, Artemis engineered pCell to work with regular LTE devices — so when it's ready, your iPhone or Android device should already be compatible. That also means you'll be able to use your phone on a pCell network and still have it work when you go somewhere that's still running regular LTE cellular service.
With that said, there will be some devices made "pCell Native" that will use less power (and thus get better battery life) than regular LTE-compatible devices.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Startup Cuts Lithium-Ion Battery Costs | MIT Technology Review

Startup Cuts Lithium-Ion Battery Costs | MIT Technology Review

Bulky and expensive batteries are the bane of electric vehicles. A new MIT spinoff company, SolidEnergy, says it has a solution: materials that can increase the amount of energy that lithium-ion batteries store by 30 percent or more and lower costs enough to make electric vehicles affordable.
The startup recently raised $4.5 million in its first round of venture funding. It is working with A123 Venture Technologies, part of the battery maker A123 Systems, to scale up the technology and bring it to market.
SolidEnergy replaces the graphite electrode used in conventional lithium-ion batteries with a high-energy lithium-metal one. That’s been tried before, but the metal tends to cause short circuits and fires. So the company has also developed improved electrolytes to make them safer. It plans to sell materials to battery manufacturers, rather than making batteries itself.
So far, SolidEnergy has made small, hand-built battery cells, similar to what you would find in a cell phone, using equipment and experts at an A123 Systems lab near Boston. (A123 Systems went bankrupt last year, and was acquired by the Chinese company Wanxiang.) These experimental cells store 30 percent more energy than conventional lithium-ion batteries, but the company calculates that the approach could eventually lead to a 40 percent improvement.
The first application of the technology will likely be in portable electronics, says cofounder and chief technology officer Qichao Hu. Electric vehicle batteries take longer to develop, in part because they need to last a decade, whereas batteries for powering electronics need only last a few years (see “How Tesla Is Driving Electric Car Innovation” and “Will Electric Vehicles Finally Succeed?”).
Lithium-metal electrodes are used in some specialty batteries now, but the measures that battery makers use to prevent short circuits weaken the batteries’ performance and increase the cost of making them. Typically researchers replace the liquid electrolytes used in conventional lithium-ion batteries with solid polymer ones, which are poor conductors of lithium ions, and have to be heated up to work properly.
SolidEnergy uses a two-part electrolyte. First, it coats the lithium metal with a thin polymer, much like the solid electrolyte others have used. The key difference is that it’s very thin, so it doesn’t slow down lithium ions, and the battery doesn’t need to be heated. The thin polymer can be applied using conventional electrode-coating equipment, Hu says. On its own, the thin polymer isn’t enough to prevent short circuits, so he supplements it with a liquid electrolyte.
Unlike conventional liquid electrolytes, the ones SolidEnergy is using—they’re a type of what’s known as an ionic liquid—are not flammable, which improves safety. In some recent, highly publicized battery fires, the part that was burning was primarily the electrolyte