Archive for April, 2009

Trash? No, Energy

waste-to-energy-2Recently, there have been significant breakthroughs in the alternative energy industry. One of the significant ones has been extracting energy from waste. THe process of safely incinirating waste to form heat or electricity is called Waste-to-Energy. During the 1980’s, there was some concern with this process due to the harmful chemicals that were released to the air during the incineration process, recent breakthroughs however have made this entire process safe for the environment. Not only does this process significantly reduce the amount of trash in landfills, it’s also a very practical way of creating energy. Waste to energy plants are able to extract energy from virtually any time of waste. WtE makes nearly as much electricity as regular power plants. Using WtE will not only be better for communities, the environment, but also the economy. Waste to energy can be a great way to jump start the economy, create jobs, and help the environment.

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Animal’s Waste – Human’s Energy – Our new life style

20080904_kippenmest_centrale1Many of farmers do not know where they should throw their animal’s waste or where should they put all these waste. New solutions show up that they can use these “unnecessary” wastes to energy.

According to Kimberley D. Mok, the Netherlands is home to the biggest biomass power plant in the world which runs on chicken manure. “The plant will generate more than 270 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year enough to power approximately 90,000 households.” Not only can they use chicken manure to generate power but after that they can use the ashes of this manure to use as land fertilizer. The Dutch people believed that “the Dutch cooperative “Duurzame Energieproductie Pluimveehouderij (DEP)” (Sustainable Energy Production in the Poultry Sector) gives its 629 poultry farming members an eco-friendly and profitable waste management option by allowing them to provide chicken waste to the power plant.”

Not only can chicken poop can be use to generate energy but cows’ wastes that was produced after an animal especially cows got slaughtered. According to Julie Steets the major source that produced and emitted polluting water and greenhouse gas emissions is from slaughter house in developing countries. Taking these excessive wastes can turn the water cleaner and help reduced the amount of greenhouse gases in the air by using these wastes to generate power. “Slaughterhouse waste could be turned into clean household cooking gas plus organic fertilizer.” Three positive solutions were presented: 1. water pollution from slaughter house would be reduced. 2. Greenhouse gases emissions would be reduced. . 3. It would help the countries because this could be turn into a biogas that can be sell for money.

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Power Up There, Down Here

060830_moon_smart_hmed_9ahmedium1That which burns with the fiery hot intensity of 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit may end up being our next source of power. The Sun itself, something which provides us warmth and light, may end up replacing coal as the main source of energy. There is currently a new form of energy that is being developed even as you read this. That energy is a familiar one, Solar Power, however, the means by which this power is taken is different. A newer more innovative means is to gather this energy directly from space. The solar cells on the satellites would collect the energy from the sun and then beam down the energy collected via Microwave or Laser form. This would then be directed to a collecting station which would collect and transfer the power to millions of people who use electricity.

Researchers from the National Security Space Office (NSSO) say that the plan is technologically feasible, and could provide more energy than fossil fuels, wind and nuclear power combined. They have recently presented their findings to the US government, recommending that the government spend $10 billion over the next 10 years to build a test satellite capable of electromagnetically beaming 10 megawatts of electric energy down to Earth. In fact, it has been estimated that the energy amassed from the Solar Powered Satellites could power the world seven times over.

There are several benefits from using this newer form of solar energy, some of which include:

• Unlike oil, gas, ethanol, and coal plants, space solar power does not emit greenhouse gases.

• Unlike coal and nuclear plants, space solar power does not compete for or depend upon increasingly scarce fresh water resources.

• Unlike bio-ethanol or bio-diesel, space solar power does not compete for increasingly valuable farm land or depend on natural-gas-derived fertilizer. Food can continue to be a major export instead of a fuel provider.

• Unlike nuclear power plants, space solar power will not produce hazardous waste, which needs to be stored and guarded for hundreds of years.

• Unlike terrestrial solar and wind power plants, space solar power is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in huge quantities. It works regardless of cloud cover, daylight, or wind speed.

• Unlike nuclear power plants, space solar power does not provide easy targets for terrorists.

• Unlike coal and nuclear fuels, space solar power does not require environmentally problematic mining operations.

• Space solar power will provide true energy independence for the nations that develop it, eliminating a major source of national competition for limited Earth-based energy resources.

• Space solar power will not require dependence on unstable or hostile foreign oil providers to meet energy needs, enabling us to expend resources in other ways.

• Space solar power can be exported to virtually any place in the world, and its energy can be converted for local needs — such as manufacture of methanol for use in places like rural India where there are no electric power grids. Space solar power can also be used for desalination of sea water.

• Space solar power can take advantage of our current and historic investment in aerospace expertise to expand employment opportunities in solving the difficult problems of energy security and climate change.

• Space solar power can provide a market large enough to develop the low-cost space transportation system that is required for its deployment. This, in turn, will also bring the resources of the solar system within economic reach.

However, there are several disadvantages which prevent the world from using this form of energy. The most major is the sheer amount of money necessary to build such a satellite. Although this money is an astonishing amount, we must take this in comparison to the money which we currently spend on Fossil Fuels.

One of the biggest technical challenges of the plan is in launching the satellite, which would have a mass of about 3,000 tons-more than 10 times that of the International Space Station. Such a feat would require the development of lower-cost space launches. Today the United States initiates less than 15 launches per year. Construction of a single SBSP satellite alone would require in excess of 120 such launches.

The state of technology today is also insufficient to support the Solar Powered Satellites. The technologies which we still require include:

• Low-cost, environmentally-friendly launch vehicles. Current launch vehicles are too expensive, and at high launch rates may pose atmospheric pollution problems of their own. Cheaper, cleaner launch vehicles are needed.

• Large scale in-orbit construction and operations. To gather massive quantities of energy, solar power satellites must be large, far larger than the International Space Station (ISS), the largest spacecraft built to date. Fortunately, solar power satellites will be simpler than the ISS as they will consist of many identical parts.

• Power transmission. A relatively small effort is also necessary to assess how to best transmit power from satellites to the Earth’s surface with minimal environmental impact.
Until the day we can develop these technologies, the reality of a solar powered future is just out of hand’s reach.

Written by, Dennis Chau

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Earth Day

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I’m hoping most of you know by now that Earth day was yesterday. Earth Day is on April 22nd every year for those of you who don’t know. Like every other holiday, Earth Day has a story behind it.

Earth Day was “born” in 1970. It was a year in which some major pollution was happening. People were concerned about what was happening to the environment. The environment was constantly getting polluted and people were also concerned about wildlife. It was then when Gaylord Nelson organized the first Earth Day. Nelson had proposed a nation-wide environmental ‘teach in’ demonstration. Many people got involved in this movement by participating in rallies on that day. Denis Hayes was the national coordinator. It was the first Earth Day ever. An estimating 20 million Americans participated according to USA today.

All sorts and kinds of people came together to take action on that day. April 22nd on each year (Earth Day) actually marks the anniversary of this movement. This day actually brought large awareness to the issues of global warming and the environment and what not. Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for being founder of Earth Day. Hayes organized more campaigns after the success with Earth day. In 1990 Earth day went global according to USA today. Hayes did yet another campaign on Earth day of 2000. Hayes focused more on clean burning energy and global warming that time.

Things you can do on Earth Day
Go outside for some fresh air

Limit your time watching TV, playing on the computer, etc.

Go walking to wherever you’re going instead of taking the car if you can

Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room

Go to some parade or do another Earth Day activity

Yesterday
Everyone turned off their lights for one minute exactly starting at nine o’ clock at night yesterday on Earth Day. It might not seem like much but it might’ve helped to raise awareness of environmental issues and what we can do to slow it or maybe even prevent it. One step usually leads to another so most of the people that did this will try to learn more and take action after today or at least accept the fact that we can do something about it.
Earth Day already passed yesterday, but either way, take notice of the environment. Give back to the environment by recycling or maybe even planting a tree. Learn from the green debate team website and actually use the info you learned about the environment. Most of the time people do know what they can do but they just don’t really do it for some strange reason. It could be as simple as just not wanting to look ridiculous. If anything caring about your planet would make you look…..caring (what else would you expect?). When it comes to “saving the world” it doesn’t really matter whether or not you seem weird to others when you think about it…

You know, we probably shouldn’t have had school yesterday huh? After all, schools do use up a whole lot of energy/ electricity. Isn’t the point of Earth day to try to reduce the energy we use up? Etc.? Exactly. Makes sense to me…
=D

Michelle C.

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Oil. Nature’s Gift or Curse?

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You use it everyday, you probably can’t live without it, and of course, it is slowly killing our planet. Many of you may have heard this but, “In this world, we cannot gain anything without giving something up in return.” The same goes for oil, while it does fuel our cars, revolutionize the way we live, and provide plastics for humans to use on a daily basis. T. Boone Pickens, a wind energy enthusiast, has said that oil costs around $700 billion (American of course) annually. Imagine all the things you could buy with 700 billion American…
But of course, you don’t get to have any of it! It goes straight to the government, but then again, we ARE in a recession. We are currently suffering economic hardships, so a gain of $700 billion yearly seems really helpful when taken in consideration to the fact that we currently owe 11 trillion in debt. In fact, the debt has been increasing at around an average of $3.83 billion a day. Take 3.83 and multiply this by 365 and you get around 286 billion. That means that we have around 14 billion leeway to work with. 14 billion saved year after year eventually adds up and even though we currently have 11 trillion, this can eventually be worked off, restoring power and status to the United States.
Of course however, oil is not without its disadvantages. Some of which include the different means by which they extract the oil. You see, the different drillings ends up harming the environment. If that wasn’t bad enough, its been estimated that around 70% of all the oil in the world is stored in politically unstable regions. This means that at any time, these countries may end up completely cutting off all the oil from that region and chaos would result. The good news though, is that these nations that export oil have based most, if not their entire economy on this oil. For those countries, this oil causes riches, but at the same time this poisons their country and their landscape. Oil, useful and beneficial, but we must not let ourselves drown in the consequences.

Written by, Dennis Chau

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What’s That Smoke Coming From Willie’s Bus?

wilienelsongasThe famous country singer, Willie Nelson,  has long been a friend of the American farmer and of plants in general, but I was shocked this weekend to learn that he is also an avid fan of the environment. This weekend I happened across a Fox program featuring the earthy Willie Nelson and former Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in a mini-jam on late night programing.

Huckabee brought up the fact that his tour bus smelled like french fries, and Willie explained that all his vehicles, including his tour bus and $100,000 Mercedes ran on vegatable oil biofuel. They continued to talk about the importance of increasing American biofuel production to support our local farmers.

This exchange made me question once again the feasablity of biofuels, especially made from food producing plants. I remember first learning about the detrimental effects of rising food prices and cutting of the rainforest attributed to ethonal in a Times cover story last April entitled the clean energy myth. The question is, will biofuels do more harm or good, and can the average person afford the transition.

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What Will You Do For Green Week?

go-green We all know what green week is, right? Well, for those of you that don’t know what green week is, it’s just basically where people all around the world, either stop or reduce their usage of electricity, just for one week.

People do all kinds of activities like host festivals and are all about saving the planet! Others may cut down on their food intake or change their diet for the good of themselves.

According to The University of Arizona estimates that if every American household reduced the amount of food it throws away by half, we’d cut our entire environmental impact as a country by 25 percent. For those that may think 25 percent isn’t a lot, it actually is. That’s like cutting almost half of Global Warming right there. Some people vow to take two fewer car trips over the next seven days, replacing them with walking, biking or public transportation. And for each car trip you do without, note any other benefits you reap beyond saving gas—such as fresh air, exercise, community interaction or reading time—so you can see the full spectrum of ways that driving less impacts your daily life.

People also try saving energy, like saving energy at home. The latter is the best choice if you own your home, and since they specialize in larger projects such as helping you choose efficient heating and cooling systems. A professional assessment will run $350 to $550 but will likely pay for itself in energy savings if you end up making a major improvement. To find a certified building energy rater, visit resnet.org. And if you think an energy audit isn’t worth the time or money, think again.

“An energy audit will help you focus on the top one or two purchases that will have the biggest impact on your home energy use,” says Josh Dorfman, author of The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget. Heck, some people are so into it; they even make personal “Going Green” kits. These kits include such items such as:

–  reusable tote bags
– stainless steel water bottle
– travel coffee mug
– BYO-lunch supplies—an insulated carrier, utensils and wax paper or aluminum foil (instead of plastic wrap)
– compact fluorescent light bulbs

So from what I’ve told you, what will you do? Will you be part of the eco-friendly week?

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