Category Archives: Alternative Energy

BMW to Make At Least 30,000 i3 Electric Cars
Posted by Sam T March 02, 2011 at 11:33 PM under Alternative Energy Home Living Tips News and Events

German car maker BMW has recently announced that it plans to sell around 30,000 units of its i3 electric car in order to serve the growing market. BMW’s newest two models, i3 and i8, will be launched by the end of 2013.“We are targeting volume production for the i3,” said Ian Robertson, BMW’s global sales and marketing boss. The i8 two-door coupe is based on the 2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study. It also combines the fuel consumption and emissions of a small car with the the performance of a sports car.

Whilst BMW has not officially announced the price of the i3, but according to some sources, it will have a price of about 40,000 euros in Europe. “As with all BMW Group products, the BMW i3 will be a premium car,” Robertson said.  The i8 and i3 also will share parts for powertrain electronics, electric motors and lithium ion batteries. The models will be built in BMW’s plant in Leipzig, Germany. After their official launch, the automaker will expand its BMW “i” lineup to include more vehicles.

Atlantic City’s Offshore Wind Farm Might be First in the US to Finish Construction
Posted by Carole K February 25, 2011 at 12:17 AM under Alternative Energy News and Events
wind farm

Fisherman’s Energy of New Jersey became the first offshore wind farm in New Jersey to apply for the state’s new renewable energy credit program, making it likely that it will be the first offshore wind farm in the state (and the country) to get on the grid. New Jersey passed a law just last week requiring utility companies to buy credits from offshore wind farms — they already have a similar solar program in place — which will give wind developers the financial means to build their turbines. The program should help to jump start the offshore wind market in New Jersey and sendclean energy soaring through the Garden State’s grid.

Obama Plans an $8 billion Green Energy Budget for 2012
Posted by Paul M February 23, 2011 at 6:33 PM under Alternative Energy Environment News and Events

This looks like a promising move towards less reliance on fossil fuels:

President Barack Obama proposed on Monday increasing funds for renewable energy research by 2012 and also reducing subsidies for fossil fuels.

The Department of Energy has $29.5 billion available for the fiscal year 2012. About $8 billion would be invested in solar, wind and advanced batteries. “Whomever leads in the global, clean energy economy will also take the lead in creating high-paying, highly skilled jobs for its people,” the administration said about the budget.

Novel small-sized nuclear energy technologies, such as modular reactors, will also be funded $853 mln from this budget. To raise funds for clean energy, the White House asked the Congress to withdraw $3.6 billion in oil industry, coal and natural gas subsidies, a move that will lead to the loss of $46.2 billion by these industries over ten years.

Many Republicans are opposed cutting subsidies for fossil fuels, claiming that it would affect industries that offer jobs at a time when the economy is still fragile.

“Given the broad difference in priorities between House Republicans and the White House on energy issues, we believe that few of the proposed cuts and expansions … will become law,” Whitney Stanco, an energy policy analyst at MF Global, said in a research note

Scientists convert water into fuel
Posted by Craig P February 22, 2011 at 8:35 PM under Alternative Energy Environment

Scientist at work

A team of researchers at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have recently set up a new laboratory (the first in Asia) that will be used to convert water into hydrogen fuel.

As the scientists said, the development of this technology may reduce the cost of using  to the same price as using conventional energy sources.  The laboratory will use what is known as “artificial leaf” technology. It is inspired by the way leaves use sunlight to generate electricity.This technique will make possible the separation of water into oxygen and hydrogen. Large quantities of hydrogen can be produced in a clean and sustainable manner.

Conventional technologies are not so efficient because they require huge amounts of energy to extract only small amounts of hydrogen from water. The researchers want to test in the lab if cheap substances like titanium dioxide and rust can efficiently capture solar energy to split water. Currently, such extraction technologies are available, but the team wants to find cheaper ways.

“We can do this reaction right now. It’s no problem. We can use platinum, or we can use very expensive semi-conductor materials. The challenge is to devise a technology which is cheap, and is robust,” said professor James Barber, a leading expert in this field.

Sunlight converted to Hydrogen using Spinach
Posted by Graeme D February 18, 2011 at 7:23 PM under Alternative Energy Environment


A system that converts the energy of sunlight directly into hydrogen has been discovered at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Scientists there have managed to design what they call a “biohybrid photoconversion system,” which consists in the interaction of plant proteins responsible with photosynthesis and a synthetic polymer they created.

The Light Harvesting Complex II proteins (LHC-II) in a spinach plant have been determined of being able to self-assemble with polymers in a synthetic membrane structure which can produce hydrogen from water in the presence of sunlight. The researchers used a technique called “small angle neutron scattering” at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor.

“Making a self-repairing msynthetic photoconversion syste is a pretty tall order. The ability to control structure and order in these materials for self-repair is of interest because, as the system degrades, it loses its effectiveness,” ORNL researcher Hugh O’Neill, of the lab’s Center for Structural Molecular Biology, said.

The discovery is not new – ORNL researchers had previously determined the light conversion properties of platinized photosystem I complexes and based their present achievements on this data. “We’re building on the photosynthesis research to explore the development of self-assembly in biohybrid systems. The neutron studies give us direct evidence that this is occurring,” O’Neill said.

Eventually, hydrogen will get transformed into electricity through fuel cells and used to power electric motors. This is yet another points where energy is lost through inefficiency, but I tend to think it’s better to directly generate the gas than generate electricity through solar cells, then turn it into hydrogen and then into electricity again. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Obama wants more electric cars by 2015
Posted by Victor M February 13, 2011 at 7:42 PM under Alternative Energy Environment

It will be interesting to see what happens with this. Will the large oil companies block this initiative?

Eight years ago, President George W. Bush proposed a $1.2 billion program to help develop fuel-cell vehicles and hydrogen storage systems. Now, in 2011, the U.S. still has no hydrogen fuel cell cars in commercial production.

At the State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama stated that his goal is to make the United States the first country with one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

According to Michael Omotoso, director of global powertrain forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates in Troy, Mich., the limited market for short-range compact cars and the high cost of batteries could be real obstacles to reaching Obama’s goal.

The first vehicles planned to be on the road will be the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. General Motors wants to expand its production to 120,000 Volt units by 2012. So far, a total of 19 Leafs and 326 Volts have been sold in the U.S.

As the Energy Information Administration claims, automakers will sell about 281,000 light trucks and electric vehicles from 2011 through 2015.

New fuel research in Japan
Posted by Andrew T February 05, 2011 at 10:10 PM under Alternative Energy Home Living Tips

Butanol can be made greener by the research of a Japanese institute, who developed an energy-saving biobutanol with a density of at least 80 percent. They derived their biobutanol from a 1 percent concentrated butanol and used a zeolitic separation membrane.

Being derived from biomass sources, biobutanol’s overall carbon emissions are zero, since the carbon dioxide it emits when burned is reabsorbed by the next biofuel crops. Unlike ethanol, which has a relatively smaller energy density (27 MJ/kg), biobutanol has 34 MJ/kg and has the same cost per calorific value. Moreover, biobutanol is easier to store and the tanks don’t have to have special designs. It doesn’t mix with water, like ethanol, which is a plus.

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Save money and the environment!
Posted by Gary H February 04, 2011 at 6:03 PM under Alternative Energy Environment

Here are some great ideas to help you save money and help the environment at the same time.

Energy costs – financial and environmental

Using electricity to create heat is always an energy intensive exercise; so clothes dryers do tend to be electricity hogs. According to the California Energy Commission, the average clothes dryer will cost around $1,500 to operate over its life span.

Environmentally speaking, the energy consumed by a clothes dryer can be anywhere from 1800 to 5000 watts per hour, or 1.8 to 5KwHr. Given that 1.5 pounds of carbon emissions per kilowatt hour are generated in the production of electricity by a coal fired power station (give or take a bit), over a year this comes to a considerable amount.

Benefits of line drying

The benefits of a solar clothes dryer, aka a clothes line are many; here’s just a few:

– Initial outlay is cheaper than a clothes dryer
– No ongoing energy costs
– No greenhouse gas emissions from usage
– The sun helps to kill bacteria
– A fresh smell for your clothes without the use of chemicals

Read more:

Clothesline controversy
Posted by John T February 03, 2011 at 5:21 PM under Alternative Energy

I read this with interest…

A variety of interests are involved in the controversy about clothes lines, including: frugal living, global warming, individual rights, the economy, private property, class, aesthetics, health, energy, national security and nostalgia.

When mechanical dryers were first introduced, only well-to-do families could afford them and they became associated with affluence. However, now that most people can afford a mechanical dryer, clothes lines have become associated with a “home-town” character in neighborhoods because they are indicative of a low-crime area. (Clothes lines are used less frequently in high-crime areas because of the risk of clothes being stolen.) Also, environmental concerns and higher energy prices have created a new generation of clothes line advocates. Still, the old association with poverty persists in some people’s minds.

Those against the use of clothes lines include:

  • some associated with oil and coal companies
  • some associated with electric and gas utilities
  • some associated with peddling idealized life styles
  • mechanical clothes dryer manufacturers and retailers
  • some associated with appliance repair shops
  • people who find clothes lines aesthetically displeasing
  • older people who still associate mechanical dryers with wealth

Those in favor of using clothes lines include:

  • people who believe that clothesline use will reduce reliance on foreign energy for national security reasons
  • people who believe that clothesline use will reduce global warming
  • people who believe that clothes blowing in the breeze are aesthetically pleasant
  • older people who are nostalgic for times when everyone used clothes lines
  • people who associate them with low-crime areas
  • people who prefer to use clothes lines for personal reasons (save money, get exercise, no static cling, etc.)

The controversy surrounding the use of clothes lines has prompted many governments to pass “right-to-dry” laws allowing their use.[1] According to Ian Urbina, a reporter for The New York Times, “the majority of the 60 million people who now live in the country’s roughly 300,000 private communities” are forbidden from using outdoor clothes lines.


Drying laundry indoors
Posted by Gary H February 02, 2011 at 4:26 PM under Alternative Energy Clotheslines and Laundry Home Living Tips

This may be useful during the colder months:

Laundry may be dried indoors rather than outdoors for a variety of reasons including:

  • inclement weather
  • physical disability
  • lack of space for a line
  • legal restrictions
  • to raise the humidity level indoors
  • to lower the air temperature indoors
  • convenience
  • to preserve privacy

Several types of devices are available for indoor drying. A drying rack or clotheshorse can help save space in an apartment or clothes lines can be strung in the basement during the winter. Small loads can simply be draped over furniture or a shower curtain pole. The drying time indoors will typically be longer than outdoor drying because of the lack of direct solar radiation and the convective assistance of the wind.

The evaporation of the moisture from the clothes will cool the indoor air and increase the humidity level, which may or may not be desirable. In cold, dry weather, moderate increases in humidity makes most people feel more comfortable. In warm weather, increased humidity makes most people feel even hotter. Increased humidity can also increase growth of fungi, which can cause health problems.

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