Showing posts with label alternative energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alternative energy. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Schwarzenegger to Push ‘Green’ Policy

Despite Economic Woes

The former action-hero in an interview on the CBS program 60 Minutes discussed ‘green’ policy, emission limits, climate change, and renewable energy. He also was unafraid to criticize the Bush administration for their lack of ‘interest’ in cutting tailpipe emissions.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes tonight, vowed to push on with his tough environmental laws despite last month’s announcement that his state faced a whopping $40 billion deficit.

“The more difficult it gets, the more joy I find in it. Because it’s just great to figure out all of the ways of bringing people together and shaping policy. But to get it done, to get there is always a long process. But when you get it done, it’s very satisfying,” Gov. Schwarzenegger told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley.


The governor was unafraid to criticize the Bush administration for what he termed their lack of 'interest' in cutting tailpipe emissions.
When put on the spot and asked if the current economic crisis currently makes it a bad time to change America’s energy habits, Schwarzenegger quickly dismissed that notion.

“I think that there’s never the wrong time. There’s always the right time. I will argue the opposite. Because we have seen that the industries that are performing well in California, even right now in this economic decline, is green technology. It’s really spectacular to see those manufacturers coming up to me and saying, ‘Our business is booming,’ while there’s an economic decline. So, green technology’s where it’s at,” the governor retorted.

The former actor also addressed his concern that the American automakers were not doing enough to assist in the energy changeover.

“I have been in Detroit in 2000 and have talked to the car manufacturers then to put hydrogen engines in the cars and start experimenting. And they said to me then, ‘Well, this would take five to ten years to do something like that.’ Well, that time has come now. Where are the cars?” Schwarzenegger questioned.

When Pelley noted the hatred that the city of Detroit had for him after he came out with his ultra-strict emission laws, even going as far as displaying a billboard which read ‘Arnold to Detroit: drop dead’, the governor pretty much joked it off.

That was the best free publicity I could get. But actually I was not saying, ‘Arnold to Detroit: drop dead,’ I was just saying, ‘Get off your butt,’” Schwarzenegger said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger also spoke about the Hummer he owns, which he spent $100,000 to convert from a military vehicle to a legal civilian one. In fact, he is the inventor of the civilian Hummer, the infamous gas-guzzler, when he invested the astounding sum after being told by the military manufacturer that it couldn’t be done.

His Hummer has been modified and can now run on bio-fuel.

“You can literally go up to a restaurant and get cooking oil,” he said. “it runs, basically, on anything. Anything natural.”

He also knocked environmentalists who tried to hold up a proposed solar project in the Mojave desert for what they said can endanger some animals.

“The environmentalists are the first ones to say, ‘Yes, we need renewable energy. We should get rid of, you know, using our energy from coal and from natural gas,’ and all those kind of things. But then when you say, ‘Okay, let’s do renewable, let’s go that,’ ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up, not so fast,’” reasoned Schwarzenegger.

He also said that when trying to cut tailpipe emissions, he was thwarted by an uninterested Bush administration.

“I could tell in his eyes (President Bush’s EPA administrator Stephen Johnson) that he did not believe in it, that we would never get it, that he will create every obstacle. And the administration just had no interest in it.”

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ocean currents can power the world

A revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents could provide enough power for the entire world, scientists claim.

By Jasper Copping

Existing technologies require an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth's currents are slower than three knots The technology can generate electricity in water flowing at a rate of less than one knot - about one mile an hour - meaning it could operate on most waterways and sea beds around the globe.

Existing technologies which use water power, relying on the action of waves, tides or faster currents created by dams, are far more limited in where they can be used, and also cause greater obstructions when they are built in rivers or the sea. Turbines and water mills need an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth's currents are slower than three knots.

The new device, which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs.

As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity.

Cylinders arranged over a cubic metre of the sea or river bed in a flow of three knots can produce 51 watts. This is more efficient than similar-sized turbines or wave generators, and the amount of power produced can increase sharply if the flow is faster or if more cylinders are added.

A "field" of cylinders built on the sea bed over a 1km by 1.5km area, and the height of a two-storey house, with a flow of just three knots, could generate enough power for around 100,000 homes. Just a few of the cylinders, stacked in a short ladder, could power an anchored ship or a lighthouse.

Systems could be sited on river beds or suspended in the ocean. The scientists behind the technology, which has been developed in research funded by the US government, say that generating power in this way would potentially cost only around 3.5p per kilowatt hour, compared to about 4.5p for wind energy and between 10p and 31p for solar power. They say the technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation.

The system, conceived by scientists at the University of Michigan, is called Vivace, or "vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy".

Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture at the university, said it was based on the changes in water speed that are caused when a current flows past an obstruction. Eddies or vortices, formed in the water flow, can move objects up and down or left and right.

"This is a totally new method of extracting energy from water flow," said Mr Bernitsas. "Fish curve their bodies to glide between the vortices shed by the bodies of the fish in front of them. Their muscle power alone could not propel them through the water at the speed they go, so they ride in each other's wake."

Such vibrations, which were first observed 500 years ago by Leonardo DaVinci in the form of "Aeolian Tones", can cause damage to structures built in water, like docks and oil rigs. But Mr Bernitsas added: "We enhance the vibrations and harness this powerful and destructive force in nature.

"If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people. In the English Channel, for example, there is a very strong current, so you produce a lot of power."

Because the parts only oscillate slowly, the technology is likely to be less harmful to aquatic wildlife than dams or water turbines. And as the installations can be positioned far below the surface of the sea, there would be less interference with shipping, recreational boat users, fishing and tourism.

The engineers are now deploying a prototype device in the Detroit River, which has a flow of less than two knots. Their work, funded by the US Department of Energy and the US Office of Naval Research, is published in the current issue of the quarterly Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

50% Better Fuel Economy and 40% Lower Emissions

UPS is First in Delivery Industry to Test Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles
Written by Nick Chambers


In partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency, UPS will begin testing a small fleet of hydraulic hybrid delivery trucks in the United States. The new vehicles can achieve 50-70% better fuel economy, a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and pay for their extra expense in less than 3 years.


UPS will field two hydraulic hybrids in Minneapolis, MN, in early 2009 and an additional five hydraulic hybrid trucks will be deployed later in 2009 and early 2010. Although this sounds like a tiny fleet, keep in mind that this is the largest scale commercial test of hydraulic hybrids ever conducted.

The UPS hybrid hydraulic truck is a standard-looking 24,000 pound package car, with an EPA-patented diesel series hydraulic hybrid drive attached to the rear axle.


In a series hydraulic hybrid, the conventional drivetrain is replaced with a hydraulic system that stores energy by compressing gas in a chamber using hydraulic fluid. It works in much the same way that a hybrid electric car does — a small, efficient motor generates power which gets stored for later use — only, the way energy is stored in a hydraulic hybrid is in a pressurized chamber rather than in a battery.

The hydraulic hybrid drivetrain eliminates the need for a conventional transmission and increases fuel economy in three ways:

A large amount of the energy that is otherwise wasted in braking can be recovered to pressurize the hydraulic fluid.
The engine operates much more efficiently — similar to a hybrid electric car, only without the bulky batteries
The engine can easily be shut off and instantaneously restarted during regular driving — such as when the vehicle is slowing down or stopped at a light.
UPS has been developing what it calls its “green fleet” over the last several years and currently has more than 1,600 low carbon emissions vehicles including electric, hybrid-electric, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and propane trucks.

Although this is a small step, I applaud UPS for testing the waters. Hopefully others will join in quickly.

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