Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tennessee Valley Authority Wants 2 New Nuclear Plants

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will submit applications to build two new nuclear reactors and restart its oldest reactor after a 22-year shutdown at Browns Ferrys. TVA will also decide by August whether to spend up to $2 billion to complete the unfinished Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. The total cost could exceed $7 billion for design and construction. (Wash Post)

Nuclear Plants Do Not Need To Be Protected From Planes

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ruled 5-to-0 that the nation's 103 nuclear power plants do not need to protect themselves from potential attacks by terrorists using airplanes.
The ruling was in response to a 2004 petition by the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a Los Angeles nonprofit group, that said nuclear plants should build shields made of steel I-beams and cabling or take other steps to prevent a release of radiation in case of an air attack. Eight state attorneys general backed the petition. (NRC) (Wash Post)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Senator James Inhofe Starts Blog

He was the Chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee until the Republicans lost the Senate. He does not believe in global warming. Oh, he believes the temperature is rising, but believes it is a normal Earth adjustment - - just part of another climate cycle in the history of the Earth. Now California's Barbara Boxer chairs the committee and will be promoting climate change legislation like there is no tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ford Edge Hybrid Electric Vehicle Should Be The Future

We like the Ford HySeries Edge. We have been promoting this concept for years. It is the future and should be the future because it gets good mileage and does not emit smog or greenhouse gases. In fact, the only emission is harmless water vapor. Unfortunately, it now costs $2 million. Hopefully mass production and government assistance will help bring that price down to $30,000 or lower.

The Ford Edge is a plug-in fuel cell hybrid with a fuel cell and Lithium-ion battery. This is the ideal. The GM Volt has a Lithium-ion battery too, but the other propulsion component is a gasoline engine. We prefer the Edge. The Edge has a fuel cell that recharges the battery while driving. It has a range of 225 miles with fuel cell recharging. It can be recharged at any outlet.

Much work is still needed on the Lithium-ion batteries. They are unstable and can ignite or explode if not manufactured properly and exposed to high temperatures.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Polar Bear, the Penguin and the Eagle

The Eagle will be taken off of the Endangered Species List. It is well overdue. There are eagles everwhere. There was even a famous eagle melodrama at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement construction site south of Washington, DC. The delisting was first proposed during the Clinton administration but they just didn't want to do it. Probably for political reasons.

Conversely, global warming is threatening the polar bear by destroying its sea ice habitat in the Arctic region. The Bush administration is proposing to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA is administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) in the Department of Interior. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced the proposal at a press conference in Washington, DC. Probably not good news to the average Arctic seal, but evidently they are not threatened . Although not proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered, the penguin, according to some reports and studies is also threatened by the deicing of the Arctic.

Plug-In Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric Cars

The Lithium-ion car batteries are expensive. Once they are mass produced the price will come down. And Lithium-ion batteries don't like heat. That little problem can be solved too. The GM Volt, right, is a big step in the right direction. The Volt still has a gasoline engine. We would like to replace that with a fuel cell. The Volt will travel 40 miles on the battery before tapping into the gasoline engine. GM killed off its previous electric vehicle. GM has also sold more cars outside the U.S. than in the U.S. in the last two years. Conversely, Toyota is quickly becoming the top car seller in the U.S. Ford barely held them off for the number 2 position behind GM last year. Toyota Motor Company also has plans to build subcompact cars in China.

We believe the true hybrid car revolution will probably happen in China. Amercans are spoiled and want more creature comforts when the average Chinese citizen might be more interested in a vehicle that will simply take him or her to and from work. Chrysler and China's Chery Automobile Company plans to build small cars for sale worldwide. The tiny 'B-cars' are a good model for the plug-in fuel cell hybrid electric vehicles the Center is promoting. Malcolm Bricklin lost out on a deal to partner with Chery Automobile Comapny to build a revelutionary plug-in hybrid. DaimlerChryler beat him out. (Electric Vehicles in China) (Wall Street Journal)

Malcolm Bricklin To Build Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

We are on the same page with Malcolm Bricklin left. Remember the gull-wing Bricklin? It was the cult classic car of the 1970s. The coolest car on the road. DeLoreon copied the Bricklin. Now he has his eyes on hybrids. He is currently chairman and CEO of Visionary Vehicles and wants to start fresh and mass produce a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. GM, Ford and Daimler Chrysler also want to introduce a dependable plug-in vehicle.

The ideal vehicle would be one under $10,000 that uses a battery (Lithium-ion or Nickel Metal Hydride), a fuel cell and regenerative braking to power the vehicle. It would be very lightweight. The battery technology needs some work because there are problems with Lithium-ion and high temperatures. But that can be solved. Lithium-ion batteries like to be recharged and they are lightweight. Hopefully these vehicles will get up to 300 miles.

Monday, January 08, 2007

U.S. EPA Names Harold Zenick Director of National Lab

Dr. George Gray, Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office ofResearch and Development (ORD), has named Dr. Harold “Hal” Zenick left, Director of National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (HNEERL), which is headquartered in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The U.S. EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Lab isthe largest of ORD's laboratories and centers and produces specializedscientific research to help protect human health and safeguard thenatural environment. NHEERL accomplishes this mission by linking thebest available science and data to the Agency’s goals of making soundpolicy decisions and setting appropriate regulatory requirements.

Dr. Zenick he has been with ORD for 22 years, recently as the acting director andpreviously the deputy director of NHEERL. He has also served as the acting ORD deputy assistan t administrator for science in Washington,D.C., and was a branch chief in EPA's Office of Health and Environmental Assessment. Prior to joining ORD, Dr. Zenick spent 13 years in academia with the Department of Environmental Health in the University of Cincinnati Medical School preceded by an appointment at New Mexico Highlands University. Dr. Zenick has a Ph.D. in physiological psychology from the University of Missouri (Columbia). For more information on the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory: http://www.blogger.com/.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Arlington Country Fights Global Warming

Arlington County government plans to spend $6 million to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They will pay rebates to residents who use clean energy. The county wants to reduce GHG emissions by 10 percent by 2012. They will spend $5 million to improve energy efficiency in public buildings, $400,000 to plant 1,200 trees, buy wind power and give away 2,000 fluorescent light bulbs.

Montgomery County has a similar program called Clean Energy Rewards where they defray up to 40 percent if they purchase renewable energy through PEPCO and Washington Gas. Montgomery County also buys 10 percent of its of its power from wind companies.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Lithium Ion Battery Compared to Nickel Metal Hydride

The lithium ion (Li ion) battery, left graphics, is a rechargeable battery technology introduced in 1991 that provides greater charge per pound than nickel metal hydride. In 1993, Toshiba introduced the first notebook in the U.S. with a Li-ion battery. Since then, it has become the most popular battery technology for notebooks, cellphones and other handheld devices. In contrast to nickel-based batteries that require full discharges to keep the battery healthy, lithium ion batteries are better with frequent, shallow discharges before charging again.

Lithium is the third lightest element, giving a substantial saving in weight compared to batteries using much heavier metals. lithium-ion batteries should be charged early and often. Li-ion batteries should be kept cool. Ideally they are stored in a refrigerator. Aging will take its toll much faster at high temperatures. The high temperatures found in cars cause lithium-ion batteries to degrade rapidly. Lithium-ion batteries should never be depleted to empty (0%). Lithium-ion batteries can easily rupture, ignite, or explode when exposed to high temperatures, or direct sunlight. They should not be stored in a car during hot weather. Short-circuiting a Li-ion battery can cause it to ignite or explode. Never open a Li-ion battery's casing. Li-ion batteries contain safety devices that protect the cells inside from abuse. If damaged, these can also cause the battery to ignite or explode.

Applications of the Nickel Metal (Cadmium) Hidride (NiMH) type battery, top pictures, includes hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius and consumer electronics. NiMH battery technology was invented developed at the end of the 1980's and commercialised first by Matsushita Company. (Wikipedia, Answers)

Russia Plays Hardball with Gazprom Gas Pipeline

Russia is maximizing profits and manipulating foreign policy with its huge natural gas resources and massive gas pipeline system. Russia is leveraging its natural gas power with European Union countries and its former Soviet Union states. Russia has promised its investors maximum profits by raising rates. Gazprom is the world's 4th largest company.

Gazprom bought a majority stake in Shell's Sakhalin 2 liquefied natural gas development in Russia's Far East for7.25 billion. Critiecs say it was a nationalization. Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp are Shell's partners in Sakhalin 2.

Gazprom has increased prices on countries that it is at odds with, like Georgia (separatist) and Ukrain (pro-Western). It is also increasing prices on its ally Belarus. The price is being raised from $47 per 1,000 cubic meters to $105. Gazprom also wasts a 50 percent ownership stake in Belarus' national gas company, Beltransgaz. Belarus does not want the partnership. (NYT 12/30/06, Wall St Journal 1/2/07)

Russia Will Never Sign the EU Energy Charter Treaty

The European Union (EU) wants access to Asian gas via the Russian state-owned Gazprom pipeline, but Rissua does not want to give such obligatory access because it does not want its own interests compromised. Although the EU does not have any negotiating leverage over the Russians, the automatic access to Gazprom's pipeline would give them access to cheaper Asian gas, particularly from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Why would Russia allow its EU customers to buy cheaper gas from a competitor?

The EU might also be operating under the myth that there is extra capacity to carry Asian gas. Of course, the EU and Russia need to negotiate some sort of provisions for a practical Energy Charter Treaty. Gazprom has the world's largest gas pipeline network.

Russian Railways

Russian Railways (RR) is a state-owned monopoly that accounts for 3.6 percent of Russia's GDP. It had $22.6 billion in sales in 2004 and operates 85,500 kilometers (53,000 miles) of track. RR has the longest stretch of electrified track in the world - 42,300 kilometers (26,000 miles).

Facts about RR: 1) 624,000 freight wagons and 19,600 freight locotives, 2) employs 1.3 million people, 3) owns nearly 1,000 enterprises and 165 subsidiaries, 4) handles 83 percent of all freight (excluding oil that travels by pipeline), 5) carries 1.3 billion passengers a year and accounts for 41 percent of Russia's passenger transport6) passenger services operate at a loss whereas freight is profitable. (Trendline Russia)