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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sodium ion batteries have made a breakthrough

As reported here in the past, sodium ion batteries have suffered from a real problem with bloating. The problem lies in the negative electrode, or the anode as it is known. There has been a real advancement made in this territory by the Kansas State University. See they have developed an anode that is made up of graphene and molybdenum disulfide. It apparently allows us to have a sodium battery that does not swell. Here is a link to the article reporting the story: Sodium ion battery advancement

Sunday, August 4, 2013

N-Fix technology

Well this story is not going to seem to be directly about the environment, but I assure you that the consequence of such is. You see, a professor at Nottingham University has developed technology that will revolutionize agriculture farming. This technology is known as N-fix and it is a bacteria that will allow virtually all plants to affix nitrogen from the air as legumes naturally do.

As was stated in the beginning of this blog post this technology is coming to us from Nottingham University, which is located in the United Kingdom. The head researcher however is Professor Edward Cocking an expert in nitrogen fixing.

But the reason why this is a win for environmentalist is because for starters all the nitrogen used by agriculture for plants that do not naturally affix nitrogen is that all artificially produced nitrogen uses vast amounts of hydrocarbon fuels to make nitrogen. In fact, the process used to produce nitrogen is what is known as the Haber-Bosch process; and yes that is the same Bosch that you should know from their many products.

But the other reason why this N-Fix is an environmental success is that our water has become way to polluted with nitrogen. In fact there has been an ongoing effort to limit the amount of nitrogen that ultimately leeches through the soil and into our groundwater. We will just have to wait and see what this development holds for us all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

John Bradley heading up negotiations on fracking in Illinois!

Yea you read that correctly! John Bradley is in favor of fracking in the state for what he terms 'financial benefit' which will come from it.
Well, this practice of fracking; actually known to the petroleum as hydraulic fracturing could very well be a financial windfall for our state. But think about this for a minute-- have you seen the endless number of people in pro-fracking states such as Pennsylvania and Colorado for instance? In these states the fracking process had ended up in contaminating their groundwater!

I mean for those of you who have not seen this, a good film for you to watch would be the documentary Gasland. This clip is compliments of Rachel Maddow, and the documentary Gasland. I do not know about you, but I would rather my water not erupt into flames as it does n this clip:

I mean groundwater is the only unadulterated resource that we have. But if politicians like Bradley get their way, Illinois will also become a fracking state! And by the way it is no wonder why he is in favor of such-- a quick search at the Illinois State Board of Elections Website, results in finding this out about his contributors as far back as 2011. And by the way you will most likely have to click on the image to see the names that it details, unless you have a huge monitor
First up on the list is Exxon, no surprise there:

And that is only the start as can be seen by this screenshot which was also taken today:
And as can be seen from that particular screen shot, all but two of the donors were oil companies! And Mr. Robert Wilson, who is from Harrisburg, I do not know if he owns any oil properties, but I am certain that he is a stakeholder in at least one coal mine that I am aware of.

And this list is not as populated by oil's interest but it clearly shows a few:

And as I told a good friend of mine, the list goes on:

Now in a perfect world I would say that he should be excused from deciding whether or not to allow fracking in our state! Now, since I am more of a realist, and realize that this will not happen; I would be willing to settle for Representative Bradley to send all of this money back to its source, then perhaps we could get an unbiased point of view. But the question is will he do this and prove to us, his constituents that he is unbiased? Only time will tell!

And just so that everyone knows, Representative Brandon Phelps is also on the dole of the petroleum corporations. But I do not believe he is on the same committee deciding to let fracking happen in this state. But I lay you even odds that he would also be in favor of legalizing it as well, since he has been paid off by them beforehand! I, for one, do not want my groundwater to end up being flammable right out of the tap, but this could very well be the case if the petroleum industry gets their way!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Advancements made in the alternative energy industries

You know not a day goes by where an article in my news feeds does not tell of some advancement in alternative energy technologies. Well, today instead of writing articles on each of these I figure that I am going to write one large article which will encompass them all. I will start out by tackling advancements in the solar energy market, then move onto wind energy, then hydrogen fuel cells then, then I will talk about the first fiber optics with solar cell properties, and finally wrap all of this up with a story about how nano technology is revolutionizing the alternative energy sector.

In the past year, not a day has gone by when I did not see a story where another company set a new record for solar cell efficiency. By efficiency what I mean is how much of the light that a solar cell sees which is successfully converted to electricity. Now it should be noted that this story is on concentrated solar cells only. Solar Junction has now managed to surpass all other solar manufacturers with an efficiency of 43.5%. But I can almost promise you if you were to wait around another month or two, someone or some entity will break this record as well.

Now the ext story is how the wind turbines in the world could be greatly helped out by superconductors. Now if you have been following this blog for sometime you already know the properties of superconductors, but in the off chance that you are a new reader of this blog, I explained the properties of superconductors in laymen's terms here and you should really check that story out so that you understand what I am talking about here. But in effect a team at University of Huston has been working on a project that uses superconducting wires to not only produce electricity but to transport it as well. And if you want to learn more of what I am talking about you should really check out that article as well.

Now we make onto the hydrogen making process that fuel cells use. Now this article is full of scientific jargon, but I encourage you to read it as well. But in short a team of researchers at UC Davis have been investigating a type of Hydrogenases that can be made from nickel and iron and could possibly replace the alternative, much more expensive platinum.

Now we have come to the fiber optic with solar cell properties. And of course this is brought to us by another great university team from Penn State University. Their idea is rather unique in the world of fiber optics because they have managed embed the chip that which encodes and decodes the fiber optic signal. For morre on this subject, I would refer you to this article.

And now we come to nanotechnology. Nanotechnology has made major advances in recent years. And such advances in it also helps out the alternative energy market. This article is about how silver nanocubes can help out the solar industries. But nanotechnology does not just help out the solar industry; in fact there are leaps and bounds made by nanotechnology every day in the fields of medicine and many many others.

And this winds up my very large blog post about the advancements made in the fields of alternative energy. But I must say that it is by no means an all encompassing post; as the field of alternative energy is growing by leaps and bounds every day. It is just meant as a guide.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mag Lev trains are one of the most efficient modes of transportation

Well, some time ago I had to do a school project on Mag Lev trains. For those of you that do not know what Mag Lev stands for; it means magnetic levitation. There is quite a bit of engineering that goes into a Mag Lev train.

But in short a Mag Lev train has virtually no resistance working against it. The only force that could be said to be working against such a train is the effect of wind upon it. You see Mag Lev trains do not have the standard wheels that most people think of when envisioning trains.

Instead of having wheels like conventional trains do, they rely on magnetic repulsion. In relying on such, the train basically floats along the track. Imagine that-- a train which seems to apparently float on the track! And here is a picture of the Mag Lev train which the Japanese have developed:

And such a train, since it does not have all of the affect of the various resistances that conventional trains do it can travel much faster. In fact according to this article on the train it has a reported speed of 310 mph!

I hope and prey that we in America can join the Mag Lev revolution and develop them here for use on our railroads. Just think about how fast this would make travel for commuters or someone wanting to go across the country. Not to mention if this technology was adopted by the likes of BNSF (which is owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway) or the Canadian National (successor to the Illinois Central) travel time for packages would be greatly reduced!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Alternative energy deserves what the fossil fuel industry does

You know, the subjective of alternative energy came up in a discussion with a friend of mine. Now everything he brought up to me was known by both of us before hand. But, at the root of this problem is the fact that the fossil fuel industry gets huge government support-- always has, and will continue until we do something about it.

This can be seen in the PTC (production tax credit) for wind energy. I mean why on earth does our congress go about doing these tax incentives through a patchwork of bills and amendments, etc? Wouldn't it make much more sense for them to do something more long term to help the alternative energy initiative?

If our congress were to do this-- make permanent revisions to the tax code-- instead of the current patchwork business they are now engaged in I believe this could help out the alternative energies in a huge way! But the fossil fuel industry as a whole have many top rate lobbyist on their side. Plus, you have to figure into the equation people of the likes of Charles and David Koch who literally have untold billions to oppose this idea with. And of course they would.

I mean this is literally not rocket science folks. We have the technology right now to make this happen. We could get the majority of our electricity from solar and wind, with baseload coal and nuclear for backup. Plus, there has been much work done on solar power plants that will allow them to produce after dark or when the sun is not out. I just wish that the average consumer of such electricity would realize this fact-- there is no longer a need for either coal (and its noxious pollutants) or nuclear and the threat of a meltdown!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Toyota's magnesium ion battery, will it out do Li-ion?

Well, it is with great reluctance that I bring news of this article to you. As was pointed out in this article, Toyota has done almost no research in the lithium ion market.

But as was pointed out very early on in this article, magnesium can hold almost twice the charge that lithium can. Now upon coming across this article, I forwarded it to a friend which I have in the industry to get his input on this news (that of Mg-ion) but to date he has not gotten back with me about this new development.

Now, I know for a fact that manufacturers have been researching the rechargeable battery for well over ten years now. The thing that would make magnesium more attractive to manufacturers than lithium is one that it can hold twice the charge, but also has a higher energy density to lithium.

Well, with lithium approaching the energy density of gasoline, and now we have magnesium in the mix, we could very soon see a battery that not only approaches the energy density of gasoline, but may actually exceed that of gasoline!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Volvo's 22kw fast charger

Well Volvo has a new 22kw charger for electric cats which it is now developing. While the 22kw charger pales in comparison to the Tesla fast charger which is 90kw. In other words this pales in comparison to a Tesla fast charger. But the charging time is said to be ninety minutes with this fast charger by Volvo.

But something which is not usually pointed out in all of the articles and discussions with chargers-- we still do not have a standard for such. And, I myself, think I know the real reason why. See, I know several people in the DIY world that say they can make a much smaller cable than 2/0 copper to handle 200 amps. And as most of you who know me should know, I say this is a code violation. I do not know what the answer is, but we really need to be looking into this fact to see if we can't find some sort of rectification to this issue.

Everyone is usually hesitant to adopt an electric car because of this alleged rand anxiety. Well to me and people in the know more than I am, there is no basis in fact for this range anxiety feeling that most consumers have. In fact that was talked about in this article about Volvo's fast charger which they now have in development.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rice university is researching how to make silicon useable

Well, in all of my incessant searching trying to bring you the latest news in the area of conservation, I ran across this article from Rice University. And as it detailed in that article, they (researchers at Rice University) have been trying to find a way to make silicon work for rechargeable batteries. And I have spoken about this before here also.

But why is silicon so troublesome? In short it degrades in such a way that makes it use unfeasible. But the reason why everyone is trying to figure out how to use it for rechargeable batteries is because silicon can hold ten times what the common graphite can hold. It would sure be an improvement in rechargeable batteries if we could find a way to make silicon work in the anodes of batteries.

Well, this is just what the researchers at Rice have done. Their answer was porous silicon, which you can see a picture of here:

They have not totally solved silicon's problems, but this marks a huge step forward for us all. I truly believe that one day soon we may have an answer to silicon's problems, at least we can hope anyway.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Upset because you will not be able to purchase a 100 watt bulb after January 1, well look here

Ok so I know by now that most of you are infuriated with the fact that production and sales of 100 watt lightbulbs will be ceased on January 1, 2013. Well to this fact I would have to say that there is an affordable alternative. And what I mean by affordable alternative is that you could buy yourself an LED lightbulb.

Not LED lightbulbs have gotten kind of a bad name. Primarily because the Chinese have fooded the market with cheap bulbs. And, of course, I have tried out many of them. Problem is that none of the Chinese knock offs can compare to an American made LED bulb.

While most of the Chinese bulbs I have bought were miserable failures, none of my American made ones have failed-- they are still burning just as brightly as the day when they were new. Now there are two great advantages of using LED bulbs. The first being that the fact of them (LED bulbs) burn much less energy when compared to conventional bulbs. The other thing being, if (and I cannot stress this enough) you actually buy American made bulbs they can have a lifetime of 30+ years or more.

One other huge advantage of LED bulbs over CFL bulbs is that they do not necessitate a hazardous clean-up crew should you drop them. That is correct, CFLs contain mercury and if you should drop and break one of them you really need a hazmat crew to preform the clean-up for you. With LEDs the need for a hazmat crew completely goes away-- they are made from a semiconductor material, primarily silicon or germanium. Si and Ge are rather innocuous compounds and do not present the threat that mercury does!

Now I am writing this today because I have received tons of emails about American made LED lightbulbs. This is just one of the emails which I have received. And it is more or less an ad for Central Lighting which is based out of Ohio. But I also received this article which talks about the fact that they are discontinuing 100 watt energy hogs next year. So, like it or not LED bulbs are here to stay and will get much better over time.