Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Reduced Oil Consumption in the US is a Fantastic Development

Whatever the analyses might conclude - though Bloomberg typically does not say anything conclusive about why US oil consumption is sliding, beyond making some guesses - this is a great development. What is even more significant is the fact that a proper study of what is happening in the US, might have answers for the rest of the world, especially countries like India and China, where oil and gas use is on the increase. It is particularly interesting how Bloomberg are dismissive of nuclear energy, while China rushes ahead to build as many new nuclear powerplants as it can, and India tries to work with foreign nuclear powerplant suppliers and works at fighting its own anti-nuclear activists' propaganda. In any case, the US has a lot of knowledge that it could use to help the rest of the world become more efficient with how it uses fossil fuels. It will be interesting to see how this happens - some entrepreneur WILL take the challenge up in the years ahead.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sailships are back - Hooray!

My friends know how big an advocate I am of bringing sailships back especially as cargo carriers. There was a time in the 70s when the then oil crisis prompted thinking in this direction, but, these days, environmental and cost concerns in a time of plentiful oil are forcing a renewed interest in this area. The Smart Planet website has this link to a Businessweek article which describes a new generation of "clippers" being designed by Rolls Royce and B9 Shipping to design a thoroughly modern sailship capable of carrying "4500 MT of cargo." From the drawings on the page, it looks like these would be Dyna Rig equipped container carriers, "augmented by Biomethane engines." I personally feel that the ideal place to put sails (and even Sky Sails) would be on oil tankers. Oil is still going to be sold, and it will have to be shipped by sea. Oil tankers are enormous and they would have a lot of room to put more masts up for an even larger Dyna-Rig system. There would be no need to have winches or grabs on an oil tanker, which would make it even easier to install just such a system on them. Shipping is a very conservative industry, though, and it will take a while to bring these old designs (albeit in a thoroughly modernized form) back.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Siemens - Fjellstrand Electric Ferry

Gizmag has this piece about a very innovative ferry designed in Norway by Siemens and Fjellstrand that is entirely electric and which can be quick-charged in 10 minutes. This is a most interesting design that I hope will get sold more around the world. As a boy, I traveled from India to Sri Lanka by a steamship, the SS Irwin, which caught fire and had to be scrapped several years after I last went on it. In the USA, I have taken several ferries at different points in Southern Illinois. It would be great if this design (with its cleanliness and efficiency) could be introduced in many of the areas that are connected by ferry in this country. I am sure that there are other parts of the world where such a service would be very useful as well.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Videos of a 4000 Watt Solar Installation at Boomtown Laboratories in Texas

Since I've resumed blogging after a long time, I guess I have to have something special to post. I just found these three videos put up by a gentleman who does solar and wind installations in Texas, of a 4000 Watt solar PV installation at a business in that great state. The videos are long, but beautifully detailed. Anyone interested should subscribe for the gentleman's videos. They are well worth watching. 1. Video 1 of the 4000 W Solar PV installation at Boomtown Laboratories 2. Video 2 of the 4000 W Solar PV installation at Boomtown Laboratories 3. Video 3 of the 4000 W Solar PV installation at Boomtown Laboratories Watch this space, and keep checking the videos at the link.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gizmag: New Style Wind Harvester Breaks from Conventional Turbine Design

Gizmag has this piece about a completely new design for a wind energy harvester that uses reciprocating motion. Developed in the UK by its inventor Heath Evdemon with support from Nottingham Trent University, this should be an interesting design to watch as it progresses. Sign up on Gizmag for more information in the future - they are an excellent website to follow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Smart Planet: Semprius and Siemens Achieve 33.9% Efficiency in Solar PVs

For a long time, the criticism of solar photovoltaic cells has been that they are inefficient at the current state of the technology, and that this makes them very expensive and impractical for large scale use. All of that seems to have changed with North Carolina based Semprius Semprius Inc equaling diesel engines in efficiency. The huge advantage that these panels have over any kind of internal combustion engine, of course, is that sunlight is free. All other fuels need to be paid for.

It will be very interesting to see how fast Semprius and Siemens (who are their partners in this business) manage to bring their new highly efficient solar cells to market and what the eventual price will be. I do think that we now have a product that sets us on the road to greatly reducing the use of fossil fuels if not making fossil fuels completely outdated. I remember former Saudi Oil Minister Ahmed Shah "Zaki" Yamani telling the world when he was sacked that the "stone age did not end for a want of stones" and that the "age of oil would not end for a want of oil." Here's wishing that that day comes soon! Yes, it is time we show fossil fuels the fist.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Khaleej Times: Abu Dhabi targets 90% waste recycling by 2018

Ironically, the oil-producing countries of the Middle East also offer the greatest potential for using Renewable Energy - an abundance of solar power makes them ideal locations for solar thermal power, solar photovoltaics and for the use of solar water heaters and airconditioning systems. The cities which are closely packed also offer fantastic opportunities for recycling waste - which is where this proposal to recycle 90% of he waste in Abu Dhabi becomes interesting.

This is going to be a development that I shall watch. I am guessing that the plan will work as follows:

1. Plastic bottles, aluminum cans and recyclable food and grocery packaging will end up being collected in recyclable trash bins and shipped to India and Pakistan where huge industries exist in reprocessing these materials

2. Ditto for paper - I am aware of paper being shipped to India and Pakistan from the UAE already. My guess is that the paper collection activity will be streamlined and made more efficient

3. Used engine oil will be collected more carefully. India used to be a major center for processing used engine oil, but the Government of India banned this after a poisoning incident where some crooks mixed it with cooking oil and ended up blinding and killing people in India in the 1980s. However, with the sharply increasing price of engine oils, I can foresee used engine oil getting reprocessed once more

I have questions about the processing of sewage and food waste, however. I am not sure if the food waste would be composted or if it would continue to be buried. And whether the sewage would be processed into fertilizer or just burned. Sewage also offers the opportunity to extract methane for use as a fuel. There are advanced technologies available that would help here - at least two US companies, one in Texas and the other in California offer technologies to process food waste and sewage into gasoline and jet fuel. Some of this is currently being bought by the US Air Force from the company in Texas, and the Californian company has a project in Japan as well as one in San Francisco. Perhaps, the UAE will consider inviting these companies to use their technologies in Abu Dhabi. Who knows - this may even increase the amount of waste processed to over 90%.

Here's wishing the UAE well!