Category Archives: Science

posts about science

Poop To Energy

bio fuels from farm wasteAnyone who has been on a farm, or driven past one, or hell even read about one in a book knows that, one they have lots of cute little farm animals, and two that they smell bad. Reason one being the cause of reason two. Animals (including ourselves) eat a lot and poop a lot. Poop is made up of plant matter (the fibrous stuff that cant get digested) and waste. Why, you may be asking yourself, are we talking about the contents of animal droppings? Well for the simple reason that this “brown gold” can be used to create energy. Waste not, want not.

Lucky for us the Texas Cooperative Extension (pdf) has put together a nifty little report outlining a simple and easy way to incorporate a manure to energy plan.

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Ten Questions For SCHOTT About Solar Thermal Electricity Part 1 Of 3

SCHOTT solar parabolic trough collectorsAbout two months ago I attended the opening of the largest “bright field” in America. While there I got the chance to meet with some representatives of SCHOTT solar the providers of the solar panels used in the field. This in turn lead to a tour of the solar cell plant. While there I started speaking with one of their representatives about solar thermal electricity.

I got the chance to ask there CEO’s some questions about their Solar Thermal Electricity production plans. SCHOTT has been providing key components for parabolic trough collectors to collect heat and in turn produce large amounts of electricity for years now. Simple and elegant solar thermal electric generation has been an important energy production method. It will only grow in scale as people turn to renewable methods to create energy.

What follows is part one of three of the Answers they gave me.

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Making Fertilizer The Right Way

wind turbineYou may or may not know, but most food production uses a lot of oil. A lot of this oil is used in the production of fertilizer. As mentioned in the previous post, the University of Minnesota is working on a way to use windpower air and water to create nitrogen fertilizer. This would significantly reduce the amount of oil that is used on our nations fields. Providing a sustainable way to create fertilizer (if using fertilizer is a good idea or not I leave to another debate).

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Making Hydrogen The Right Way

The number one problem with the “hydrogen economy” is the hydrogen. Its light, hard to store, and unfortunately does not occur naturally isolated in nature. That means you have to bust it loose from something else. Most often this is from natural gas using a steam reforming process that uses more energy to make the hydrogen than you get from burning/reacting the hydrogen.

turbine at whitelee wind farm

So what are we to do? We don’t want to use a fossil fuel, and we don’t want to waste that much energy. We could use water as our electrolyzing source…but we would still need lots of electricity. Really the only good option for producing hydrogen is to use water, and renewable energy. Enter the wind to hydrogen project.

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Silicon Valley Goes Green

green keyboardSilicon Valley is moving towards a green future. While many other companies are reluctant to even mention global warming, many tech companies are embracing a path towards a green future.

From here

In Silicon Valley, though, climate change is pretty much taken as a given. It’s part of the tech industry’s shift in recent years toward the green end of the spectrum. This year, Silicon Valley delegates — in a combination of good will and self-interest — will be fanning out across the country to preach on the issue to the unconverted.

Just last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a regional business booster association founded in 1977 by David Packard, of H-P fame, announced a 12-point campaign called Clean and Green that takes traditional regional planning issues, such as ride-sharing and mass transit, and frames them in the context of global warming. The same group made headlines earlier last year by breaking with other California business groups to endorse the legislation being pushed by nouveau-environmentalist Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to limit greenhouse gases, among other steps.

Carl Guardino, the tech group’s CEO, says the position on global warming has the support of all 210 member companies, which includes virtually all of the area’s major technology players. Mr. Guardino says his group will be spending this year challenging business groups around the U.S. to follow the example set by his association, such as to greatly increase car pooling at local companies.

“These are engineers and they are really good at looking at science,” says Mr. Guardino. “And the science with climate change is undeniable.”

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