Sunday, March 30, 2008

New Technology, Not Amish Ethics, Will Stop Global Warming

Everybody should check out this awesome essay by Joel Stein. Yeah, you're not going to click the link, are you. Anyway, here's the money quote:

"I believe our messy oil age will be replaced by better technology, not by a planetary embrace of Luddism. Because really, what's easier--one smart dude figuring out how to run cars on sea monkeys, or convincing all of Asia to never try air-conditioning? Those people eat spicy food."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

America's First Green Ballpark

Washington (TGW) – The Washington National’s new ballpark is the first green stadium in the U.S., the U.S. Green Building Council said yesterday.

The Nats' stadium received a LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification from the council on Friday for its energy-conserving and environmental design.

The stadium was outfitted with energy saving lights, water conserving plumbing, drought resistant plants, and a green roof. Also, the stadium was built on once contaminated soil, and has special systems to prevent runoff into the nearby Anacostia River.

The stadium will use air-cooled chillers for concessions instead of water-cooled ones, as well, which will save six million gallons of water each year.

The park took only 724 days to build.

Via :: Reuters

Thursday, March 27, 2008

MIT Professor Improves Solar Cell 27%, Cuts Costs at the Same Time

Massachusetts (TGW) – An MIT researcher claims he can improve the efficiency of multicrystalline silicon solar cells by 27% at a cheaper cost.

solar power

The claims are based on tests done on extremely small solar cells by Professor Emanuel Sachs and his startup, 1366 Technologies.

Commercial solar cells made from multicrystalline silicon are normally far less efficient than more expensive ones made from single-crystal silicon, but they're cheaper. The 27% improvement will bring the efficiency to be about 19.5%.

Sachs says this new research will bring down the cost of solar from today at $2.10 a watt to at least $1.65 a watt. With further research, he says, the cost could go down even further to $1.30 a watt.

To achieve this new efficiency, 1366 Technologies did three things: adding texture to the surface of the cells that allows the silicon to absorb more light, using less silver wire (adds efficiency and cuts costs), and etching the surfaces of other wires that connect energy so they act as mirrors.

Via :: Technology Review

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thin Film Solar Power Efficiency Sets World Record at 19.9%

NREL HQ (TGW) – Researchers at the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) have developed a thin film solar cell that achieves a conversion efficiency of 19.9%, a world record.

Thin film solar cells are the newest competitor to the traditional silicon solar cells, which can be costly because of the price of silicon. Silicon solar cells have been shown to have an efficiency of 20.3%.

Via :: Alternative Energy Info

Florida Town 'will save $9 mil' by Converting Sludge into Energy

Florida (TGW) – Sanford, Florida will be the first municipality in all of North America to adopt the MaxWest gasification system which turns sludge from municipal waste facilities into energy.

MaxWest will build the facility at a wastewater treatment plant.

The end product of a sewer plant, wastewater sludge, also called biosolids, will be gasified in an enclosed primary gasifier to produce syngas. In a continuous integrated process, the syngas will be oxidized in an enclosed thermal oxidizer to produce thermal energy. For Sanford, the thermal energy will replace natural gas.

"Compared to the projected cost of natural gas, a fossil fuel, Sanford will save $9,000,000 over the 20-year life of our contract," said Paul Moore, the city's utility director. "This technology has provided us with the opportunity to save money while managing our waste stream and protecting the environment."

Via :: Renewable Energy World

Monday, March 24, 2008

Taichung – The World’s Dirtiest Coal Plant

Taichung Coal Fired Power Plant

Taichung – the world’s greatest CO2 emissions coal power plant
Location: Taiwan
Emissions: 41,300,000 Tons CO2 per year
MWh Energy: 45,100,000
Intensity: 1,832

The plant emits the most carbon dioxide per coal power plants in the world and number two is 3500 tons behind. What’s pathetic is the fact that this country emits more in a year than 65 countries COMBINED. What’s even more pathetic is the fact that the plant emits more than 144 individual countries. This single power plant almost emits as much in a year as does Ireland.

Pictures and other information were hard to find. I had to create the Wikipedia page myself! Any information or pictures would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Democratic Kansas Governor Vetoes Republican Legislation for New Coal Fired Power Plant

Kansas (TGW) – The Democratic governor of Kansas vetoed Republican legislation that would have allowed a coal fired power plant to expand and emit 11 million more tons of greenhouse gases per year.

coal fired power plant

The bill would have allowed Sunflower Electric Power Corp to add two 700-megawatt units at a facility in western Kansas.

The Kansas Health and Environment Secretary turned down the plant last year because of environmental concerns. The bill sought to overturn the ruling.

The governor, Kathleen Sebelius, also issued an executive order creating an energy and environmental policy advisory group make recommendations to the governor on how to reduce Kansas' greenhouse gas emissions.

Via :: Reuters

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

World's Largest Tidal Power Station to be Built in South Korea, will Power 200,000 homes

South Korea (TGW) – British tidal power company Lunar Energy has agreed to build the world’s largest tidal power system in South Korea.

tidal power

The $1 billion project will use power from fast-moving tidal streams, caused by rising and falling tides, to turn a field of 300 60ft-high tidal turbines on the sea floor.

The project is expected to power 200,000 homes by 2015.

tidal power

William Law, chairman of Lunar Energy, said that there was the potential around the British coast for tidal stream turbines to generate up to 20% of Britain's energy needs.

Via :: Telegraph

Monday, March 17, 2008

Researchers Improve Plastic Solar Cell Efficiency by 5% by Adding Alkanedithiols

U.S. (TGW) – Researchers in the United States and Austria have developed a technique to increase efficiency of plastic solar cells by 3.4 to 5.1%.

Alan J. Heeger led a team of researchers that found that by adding a class of chemicals known as alkanedithiols as processing additives the efficiency of plastic solar cells could be increased.

This 5.1% increase is, according to the researchers, “among the highest efficiencies achieved to date for this type of solar cell.”

Plastic solar cells do not use expensive highly refined silicon, unlike photovoltaic solar cells, and are lightweight. They have yet to be used commercially because their current average efficiency is around 5%.

Via :: Press Release

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Climate Political Action Committee Launched in New York

New York (TGW) – The New York League of Conservation Voters, the nonpartisan voice for New York’s environmental community, today announced the launch of a new political action committee that will support candidates who pursue comprehensive climate change policies and legislation in New York state.

The Climate Action PAC will offer direct financial support and independent campaign expenditures to help elect individuals who have demonstrated their passion and ability to advance strategies to aggressively tackle climate change. The Climate Action PAC will target state legislative seats in 2008 and local races throughout the state – including New York City – in 2009.

“Climate change is the biggest issue of our time and the most important thing we can do to fight it is to elect the right leaders,” said Marcia Bystryn, executive director of the Climate Action PAC. “By mobilizing dollars and voters, the Climate Action PAC will demonstrate that New York’s elected officials can no longer afford to give lip service to global warming. If politicians pursue an aggressive climate change agenda, we will give them our support. If not, we will help recycle them into another line of work.”

The Climate Action PAC’s new Web site – – calls on New York’s elected leaders to pursue a comprehensive energy plan that ensures the role of clean, renewable technologies. The Climate Action PAC will base its endorsements and financial support on legislators’ pursuit of this and other issues related to climate change, including congestion pricing, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and power-plant siting reform.

The official launch party for the Climate Action PAC will take place in New York City on Wednesday, March 19. New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs, Kevin Sheekey, will be the event’s keynote speaker. For more information on the Climate Action PAC, call (212) 361-6350, ext. 206, or visit

Via :: Press Release

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Process That Makes Ethanol with Vinegar Absorbs More Carbon Dioxide, Doesn't Use Corn, and Is $1.50 a Gallon

ZeaChem HQ (TGW) – ZeaChem technology has perfected a process that turns virtually any form of biomass into cheap ethanol.

The process would eliminated recent criticism of ethanol in that it ZeaChem’s process would not necessarily need corn, soy, or any other food to create the fuel.

The procedure also produces about 40% more ethanol and absorbs more carbon dioxide than competing processes.

The company hopes to have the fuel on the market by 2010 at about $0.80 per gallon, which translates to about $1.50 at the pump.

See the sciency stuff here.

The company has yet to prove the technology works on a larger scale.

Via :: Green Tech Blog

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Solar Thermal Company Says It Could Power 90% of Electric Grid and Electric Cars

California (TGW) – Ausra, a California-based solar thermal energy provider, has published a peer reviewed study showing that over 90% of the United State’s electric grid and auto fleet’s energy needs could be met by solar thermal power.

solar thermal power

Solar thermal power stations use fields of mirrors to capture the sun's energy as heat to boil water and drive steam turbines.

"The U.S. could nearly eliminate our dependence on coal, oil and gas for electricity and transportation, drastically slashing global warming pollution without increasing costs for energy," said David Mills, chief scientific officer and founder at Ausra.

Mills is the inventor of the absorber surfaces used in the majority of the world's solar hot water heaters.

Converting the nation’s electric grid to solar thermal would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. The combination of plug-in hybrids and solar thermal power would eliminate the importation of 13 million barrels of fuel per day.

A plant for such a solar thermal facility would cover 9600 square miles, about the size of Vermont.

Via :: Press Release

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chinese Emissions to Overtake Emissions Saved by Kyoto by 2010

China (TGW) – By 2010, the amount of greenhouse gases that have been emitted by China will be larger than the amount of greenhouse gases not emitted because of the Kyoto Protocol.


According to researchers, the minimum figure for Chinese emissions is five times as large as the 115.90 million metric metric tons in reductions which the US Energy Information Agency estimates will have been achieved by signatories of the Kyoto protocol by 2010.

It is estimated that CO2 emissions will rise by 11% per year in China between now and 2010. Previous estimates ranged between 2.5% and 5%.

Via :: New Scientist

Advanced OLEDs can Be Printed Like Newspapers

GE HQ (TGW) – General Electric has demonstrated successfully the world’s first roll-to-roll manufactured organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs).

OLEDs can be printed like a newspaper

OLEDs are the thin, organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes, which illuminate when an electrical charge is applied.

This process GE has invented could dramatically lower the prices of the material.

GE’s goal is to have the technology on the market by 2010.

Via :: Press Release :: Wikipedia

Monday, March 10, 2008

Exxon Profits vs. Renewable Energy Funding

$1.5 Billion
Amount of money ExxonMobil made in two weeks during the fourth quarter of 2008. [1]

$1.5 Billion
Amount US government spends a year on renewable energy research. [2]


Plug in Hybrids and Electric Cars Could Triple Demand for Water, Study Reports

The road (TGW) – A new study concludes that producing enough energy for plug in hybrids and all electric vehicles could triple demand for water consumption.

Each mile driven with electricity consumes about three times more water (0.32 versus 0.07-0.14 gallons per mile) than with gasoline, the study found.

"This is not to say that the negative impacts on water resources make such a shift undesirable," King and Webber emphasized. "Rather this increase in water usage presents a significant potential impact on regional water resources and should be considered when planning for a plugged-in automotive economy."

The study was led by Carey W. King and Michael E. Webber.

Via :: Press Release

Study: U.S. Economy Can Grow While Reducing Greenhouse Emissions

U.S. (TGW) - Renowned economic professor in coalition with Yale's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies has created a new website called See it for yourself. There he answers the following question: What will reducing greenhouse gas emissions do to the American economy?

He examined 25 different economic models -- which project different economic impacts for the same level of emissions reductions -- and synthesized thousands of policy simulations.

He found that under the worst assumptions, GDP would increase robustly, and hardly take a hit.

On the website, you can plug in your predictions and see the outcome.

Via :: Solve Climate

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Rainbow Solar Cells?

Notre Dame (TGW) – Researchers at Notre Dame have created solar cells made of different sized quantum dots, each capturing a specific wavelength of light.

By arranging these dots in an ordered pattern, the researchers hope to create “rainbow” solar cells which efficiently harvest a large part of the visible spectrum of light.

By varying the size of the tiny semiconductor quantum dots, the researchers can tune the solar cells to absorb light of certain wavelengths. Smaller quantum dots absorb shorter wavelengths of light, while larger quantum dots absorb longer wavelengths.

By combining different sized dots in a solar cell, the researchers can create a cell that absorbs more light and therefore is more efficient.

Two main challenges remain: the first is organizing the nano dots, and the second is the quantum dots should generate multiple charge carriers to be captured to generate photocurrent.

The dots also show promise in developing solar windows, in which the color of the window could be changed while still creating energy.

Via :: Physorg

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Solar Power Paint Could Turn Wasteful Buildings Into Power Plants

Swansea University (TGW) – Researchers at Swansea University are developing a way to paint solar cells onto the steel sheets commonly used to clad large buildings.

The paint will be based on dye-sensitised solar cells. Instead of absorbing sunlight using silicon like conventional solar panels, they use dye molecules attached to particles of the titanium dioxide pigment used in paints.

While less efficient than conventional cells, dye-based cells do not require expensive silicon, and can be applied as a liquid paste.

The scientists are collaborating with leading metal group Corus Colours.

“Corus Colours produces around 100 million square metres of steel building cladding a year. If this was treated with the photovoltaic material, and assuming a conservative 5% energy conversion rate, then we could be looking at generating 4,500 gigawatts of electricity through the solar cells annually. That’s the equivalent output of roughly 50 wind farms,” said head researcher Dr. Dave Worsley.

Unlike conventional solar cells, the materials being developed are more efficient at capturing low light radiation.

The team has already demonstrated a prototype.

Via :: Press Release

Foldable Electric Car Could Help Solve Congestion, Pollution

Boston (TGW) – Researchers at MIT are working on a prototype of a lightweight, stackable, foldable, electric car.

The City Car would solve many problems at once: congestion, pollution, and energy use, is about the size of a golf car, and would be shared by many users.

Hundreds could be stacked around a city and "you would just go and swipe your (credit) card and take the first one available and drive away," said Franco Vairani, designer of the vehicle's foldable frame.

Team leader Bill Mitchell predicted that the car would hit the production line within four years.

Via :: Reuters :: Boston Globe

Friday, March 7, 2008

Link Love

Along with our regular program, today I thought I post a bunch of the best green stories around the web:

1. GreenDev: 50 Environmentally Friendly Apps, Hosts and Resources from the Virtual Hosting Blog.

2. The spring issue of OnEarth Magazine is out, with a bunch of great articles: Green Collar Vets, Buried Sea Treasure, and The Not-So-Mighty Colorado River.

3. From Inhabitat, the World’s First Positive Energy Building in Masdar, Abu Dhabi

3. From EcoGeek, The Low Down on Plug-Ins. Are they Really Green?

If you know any other great stories, just leave a comment!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Solar Cell can be Printed Out of an Inkjet Printer

Your printer (TGW) - Konarka Technologies has successfully conducted the first ever demonstration of manufacturing solar cells by highly efficient inkjet printing.

This method of printing solar cells is extremely cheap because it relies on existing inkjet printer technology.

The substrate which is printed on is simply a lightweight, cheap, flexible plastic, in a process similar to newspaper printing.

Also, Konarka solar cells can utilize a wider range of the light spectrum the conventional solar cells.

Via :: Press Release

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How Do We Convince the Public Global Warming is an Immediate Threat?

(Special Report) – Here in the U.S., we often take it for granted how cheap our gas is. Sure, the average price is around $3.04, which is much higher than what most folks are used to. But we really don’t realize how lucky we are; Europe and Asia have it off much worse.

For example:
• Turkey: $10.03 per gallon
• Norway: $9.6 per gallon
• United Kingdom: $7.72 per gallon
• Germany: $7.63 per gallon
• Italy: $7.30 per gallon
• Switzerland: $6.24 per gallon

The list goes on. The U.S. meanwhile, as mentioned, gets gas for around $3.04 a gallon. In China it’s twice as cheap: $1.51 (source).

There’s a pattern of sorts here: where the gas prices are higher, more is being done to combat global warming; where the gas prices are lower, little is being done to fight global warming.

And it makes sense too; it’s basic economics.

I even have a fancy name for this affect: the ‘Simmons effect’. As gas prices go up, environmentalism goes up. As gas prices goes down, environmental activism goes down.

What does this mean? Well, high gas prices are good for environmentalists. But more importantly, we as environmentalists need to recognize that until the public sees global warming and the energy crisis as an immediate problem, they will never put pressure on their governments to solve these problems.

So, the real question becomes this: how do we convince the public global warming and the energy crisis is an immediate threat?

Education, my friends. Education.

Natural Gas from Cow Manure to Power 1200 Homes in California

California (TGW) – Utility company PG&E Corp began producing natural gas from manure, which will be used to create electricity.

The vat holding the manure covers 5 football fields and is 33 feet deep.

The Vintage Dairy Biogas Project, the brainchild of life long dairyman David Albers, aims to provide the natural gas needed to power 1,200 homes a day, Albers said at the facility's inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.

Most of the manure comes from cows.

Via :: Reuters

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

'In 18 Months': Scientists Engineering Organisms to Eat CO2, Excrete Energy

California (TGW) – The scientist who mapped his own genome and the genetic diversity said he is creating a life form that feeds on carbon dioxide to produce fuel.

Craig Venter disclosed his potentially world-changing "fourth-generation fuel" project at an elite Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in front of an audience that included Al Gore.

"We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy," Venter said. "We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock."

He is leading a team of researchers that are reengineering existing life forms with synthetic chromosomes, not creating whole new life.

Organisms already exist that produce octane, but not in the levels we need, he said.

Scientists put "suicide genes" into their living creations so that if they escape the lab, they can be triggered to kill themselves.

Via :: AFP

Monday, March 3, 2008

New Material Captures 7x the Amount of CO2

Local Smokestack (TGW) – Engineers in Georgia and Pennsylvania have developed a new, cheap material that can capture 7 times the amount of carbon dioxide compared to conventional materials.

The scientists describe development of a new solid adsorbent coined a hyperbranched aminosilica (HAS) that avoids problems with existing materials such as low energy cost, price, long term stability, and low absorption capacity.

The material also shows greater stability under different temperature extremes, allowing it to be recycled numerous times.

Via :: Press Release

Shiny New Hybrid Also Solar Powered

Italdesign HQ (TGW) - Italdesign Giugiaro will unveil its solar assisted hybrid car, the Quaranta, at the Geneva Motor Show.

The black roof is actually a solar panel that helps charge the car.

The all-wheel-drive, mid-engined car accelerates from zero to 62 mph (100 kph) in 4.05 seconds and tops out at 155 mph.

The car fits 4 people. Depressingly, the car is only expected to get 33 mpg.

Via :: Press Release (PDF)

Scientists Create LEDs That Lasts 80 Years From Battery the Size of a Penny

Ireland (TGW) – A team led by William Henry at Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute has created a miniature light emitting diode (LED) that will last 80 years.

The micro LED is 20 times smaller than a conventional LED and only requires a few billionths of an amp to operate. It can operate for 80 years from energy stored in a coin sized battery.

"We can produce visible light from nanoamps," Henry said of the FLAME project, which stands for "future lighting applications for miniature entities."

The LEDs will be first marketed as an alternative to lasers.

Via :: CNET

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Machine Turns Poop, Garbage Into Fuel

India (TGW) - Sintex Industries, a plastics and textiles manufacturer in Gujarat, India, has developed a machine that turns human waste, cow waste, or kitchen garbage into fuel that can be used for cooking or generating electricity.

The biogas digester uses bacteria to break down waste into sludge. The bacteria produce methane during this process, which is captured and stored.

The breakdown of the waste happens naturally. Sintex just captures it.

A one-cubic-meter digester, primed with cow dung to provide bacteria, can convert the waste generated by a four-person family into enough gas to cook all its meals and provide sludge for fertilizer. A model this size costs about $425 but will pay for itself in energy savings in less than two years.

Of course, that is still a lot for most Indians, but the government has agreed to subsidize about a third of the cost of these machines.

Sintex has already installed 100 to date.

Via :: Forbes

Turbines Generate Energy From Toilet Flushing

The toilet (TGW) – Researchers have developed a device that captures energy when a toilet is flushed.

The gadget will use hydroelectric power created during the flushing of the loo to power other home appliances.

Via :: Eco Friend