Aiming For ‘Wild and Crazy’ Energy Ideas

Aiming For ‘Wild and Crazy’ Energy Ideas
June 28, 2013
http://www.npr.org/2013/06/28/196594974/aiming-for-wild-and-crazy-energy-ideas

Cheryl Martin, Deputy Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E)

Jennifer Lewis, Wyss Professor, Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

Shilpa Iyer, Graduate of Comsewogue High School, Freshman at Cornell University in the fall, Winner of the Proton OnSite Scholarship and Innovation Program

Shweta Iyer, Graduate of Comsewogue High School, Freshman at Stony Brook University in the fall, Winner of the Proton OnSite Scholarship and Innovation Program

Back in 2007, Congress funded, and the president signed into law, a new kind of research organization, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E. Its mission is to back energy technologies that are too risky for investors but offer a potentially huge payoff if they work. The agency has gambled on flywheels, compressed air energy storage, lithium-air batteries, even wind-energy kites. http://arpa-e.energy.gov

how much energy you can get into a certain space. And when you look at what’s out there, that could be really game-changing. Lithium sulfur comes to mind. It’s literally, along with lithium air, the highest energy density you could get.

Renewable Energy as Share of Total Primary Energy Consumption

Renewable_energy_2011_June302013Renewable Energy as Share of Total Primary Energy Consumption

Annual Energy Review
Release Date: September 2012
Next Update: August 2013
http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm

Could Some Midwest Land Support New Biofuel Refineries?

Could Some Midwest Land Support New Biofuel Refineries?
January 16, 2013
http://www.npr.org/2013/01/16/169538570/could-some-midwest-land-support-new-biofuel-refineries

if you take farmland currently used for food and instead plant crops for fuel, you reduce food supplies and drive up prices.

Philip Robertson and colleagues at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station have been looking at plants that don’t require farm fields. “First, we discovered that the grasses and flowers that take over fields once you stop farming produce a fair amount of biomass, especially if you provide them a little bit of fertilizer,” Robertson says.

“Is there truly a climate benefit to doing this, or are we just robbing Peter to pay Paul?” Robertson wanted to know. After all, if you leave those lands alone, the plants will soak up carbon dioxide and store it in the soil, and that’s good for the climate.

Their answer: Using these crops for fuel is much better for the atmosphere than burning gasoline.

They figured that it would become too expensive to transport this heavy and bulky plant material more than 50 miles, from field to refinery. “At the end of the day, we discovered we could produce enough biomass to supply 30 or so of these potential biorefineries,” Robertson says.

a lot of this acreage is in the Great Plains, which wouldn’t produce a reliable crop year after year. “One year you may have high rainfall and high crop yields and be able to sustain your facility, [but] the next year you may have a drought,” Liska says.

the Biotechnology Industry Organization, an industry trade group, says nobody has plans just yet to use this kind of plant material to make biofuels. Instead, the young industry is eyeing other sources of material to use as a feedstock. “Every region of the country has some form of biomass — so the Northwest would have sawdust and wood waste; the California area might have rice straw or wheat straw,” Erickson says. Refiners in the Midwest are looking at corn cobs, and a plant that’s actually operating in Florida uses dead citrus trees. “As this technology progresses, we’re going to see a great diversification of biomass supply,” Erickson predicts.

But biofuels could at best provide only a tiny fraction of our energy needs.
Plants are very inefficient when it comes to capt uring solar energy.
“If you were to take every gram of crops produced anywhere in the world for all purposes — and that includes every grape, every ton of wheat, every ton of soybeans and corn — and you were to use that for biofuels and essentially stop eating, those crops would produce about 14 percent of world energy,” says Timothy Searchinger, an associate research scholar at Princeton University.

the more we try to expand biofuels, the more we risk displacing crops for food, or chopping down forests, which store a huge amount of carbon.

Searchinger says Europe has recently recognized those potential hazards and is scaling back its biofuels ambitions.

“They realize that it was a mistake, and their compromise for the moment is essentially to cap what they’re doing, and then they promise by 2020 to phase out all government support for biofuels.”

see also:
http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/tag/alternative-energy

Comb Jelly (Ctenophora) Movement

Comb Jelly Movement
3 years ago

Ctenophora. Their most distinctive feature is the “combs”, groups of cilia they use for swimming, and they are the largest animals that swim by means of cilia – adults of various species range from a few millimeters to 1.5 m in size.

CreatureCast.org brings you stories about the unexpected world of animals.
http://creaturecast.org

U.S. Should Lead Assault on Climate Change

Obama: U.S. Should Lead Assault on Climate Change
June 28, 2013
http://www.npr.org/2013/06/28/196594972/obama-u-s-should-lead-assault-on-climate-change

This week President Obama announced his plan to tackle climate change, including proposals to regulate gas and coal emissions, and brace the nation for rising seas.
David Roberts, who covers energy and climate change for Grist.org, talks about what to expect from the plan — and how much the president can accomplish without the help of Congress.

President Obama announced a plan this week calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate how much carbon power plants are allowed to emit.
He had tried and failed to get Congress to act on climate change from the very first days of his presidency.
This week in a speech at Georgetown University, he announced it was time to take matters into his own hands.

The big missing piece is coal in the Pacific Northwest, which is, you know, the Powder River Basin up in Wyoming and Montana is a huge coal field, and it’s on public land.
So the public is leasing that coal to private companies, who are now proposing to ship it over to the West Coast and export it to China.