Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Some Energy Champs who Work With What They Have

While the whole business of new products that save energy is good and it is a direction to take in the future, there are people who make it their hobby to maximize the output of whatever they are using so that they use the minimum energy. If you ask me, these people are real heroes. Give them a 300 mpg car like the Aptera and they would probably squeeze out another 25 to 50 mpg out of it. There is a very interesting article about "hypermilers" who maximize the fuel consumption of their cars in today's USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2008-06-23-hypermilers-saving-gas_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

To these guys getting 100 miles per gallon is just day to day stuff. I really admire them and hope that they get more to join their fold. My current car, I am ashamed to say, does not fall into the category that could make this kind of ridiculous mileage. The next one which I shall buy very soon, will be one; and then, I'll try to join the hypermilers' ranks.

On the other hand, USA Today also reports a sad phenomenon of birds getting killed by flying into power lines and wind turbines in the USA and about measures to do something about it: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2008-06-23-birds_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip Fortunately, this is the USA and serious money and efforts are being put into preserving the wildlife. In India, for example, some morons would think about locating Nari Kuravas around these lines and ask them to eat whatever falls off the lines for dinner.

In other news, a Swedish university and private enterprise in that country are building an office building which wuld be heated by the body heat of its occupants. Considering how much energy gets wasted during the winter months because heating is required (yes, you know, I live in Sh!tcago, Ill-annoy) this is an idea that could revolutionize the building industry. The swedes plan to complete the building in Stockholm in 2010 and I hope that their design is replicated elsewhere in the world. If we show Fossil Fuel one Fist, we also need to show our electric utilities the other one. The Swedish building has been featured at Gizmag at: http://www.gizmag.com/human-body-heat-building-stockholm/8792/

Gizmag also has another interesting idea which is very similar to something that good friend Niro told me about some time ago. They plan, Gizmag reports, to build a "heel-strike generator system" so that pedestrians on sidewalks, in stadiums, railway stations etc would generate power by walking on specially designed floors under which generators would utilize the energy of their feet on the ground. Niro's plan is for treadmills which harness energy to run a fruit juicer or something of the sort and it is another idea that needs to be worked on. Who knows? Maybe I'll write to Scott Wilson who are designing these heel strike systems and talk to them about it. Thanks, Niro! The link to this project is at: http://www.gizmag.com/heel-strike-generators-to-harness-pedestrian-power/9518/

In the midst of all this, I keep hearing the same groups from friends in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh about power shortages right through these countries, of crowded roads and air thick with so much smoke that you could pick a shovel and start loading the carbon into a sack if you were so inclined. Come on, people! These are countries with a lot of sunshine. All of these countries have deserts and long coastlines. And they also have, despite their overcrowding, vast areas of waste land where they could set up some of these renewable energy projects. Solar thermal energy conversion systems could be a big thing in places like Rajasthan and on some of the barren southern coasts of India. India has done a reasonably good job of using wind energy but there are other countries in South Asia who have not. They need to buck up.

I must sign off for now - I did promise to make at least one post a day and did not do that yesterday, just three days into this blog. Well, I intend to make up with twice the usual amount of information tomorrow. Do write in and let me know what you guys think.


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