Posts Tagged ‘green’

Toyota building $192M green-car battery plant

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

toyota amblem TOKYO (AP) — Toyota is building a $192 million plant in Japan to produce batteries for gas-electric hybrid vehicles, as it seeks to keep its lead in an intensifying race for green cars among the world’s automakers.

Toyota’s joint venture with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic brand products, is building the plant in Shizuoka prefecture, in central Japan, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said Friday. He declined to give more details.

The plant will produce nickel-metal hydride batteries, now in the company’s hit Prius hybrid.

The Nikkei, Japan’s top business daily, reported Friday that Toyota was building another plant in Japan to make lithium-ion batteries, set to be running by 2010, for future ecological cars. Nolasco said no decision has been made on such a plant.

Japan’s top automaker, which leads the industry in gas-electric hybrids with its hit Prius, has said it will rev up hybrid sales to 1 million a year sometime after 2010.

Hybrids reduce pollution and emissions that are linked to global warming by switching between a gas engine and an electric motor to deliver better mileage than comparable standard cars. But they are still a niche market.

The Prius, which has been on sale for more than a decade, recently reached cumulative sales of 1 million vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries, now common in laptops, produce more power and are smaller than nickel-metal hydride batteries. Toyota has said the lithium-ion batteries may be used in plug-in hybrids, which can be recharged from a home electrical outlet.

Rebecca Lindland, an industry research director at Global Insight, said hybrids are increasingly attractive in the U.S., which had in the past favored pickups and other gas guzzlers, as fuel prices surge, environmental concerns grow and tougher emission standards kick in.

“Hybrids are starting to make a lot more economic sense,” she said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo, noting that the payback for a hybrid’s higher price comes a lot faster these days.

Lindland said the Prius owed its success to being “very well-badged” as an unmistakable hybrid to consumers.

The world’s other major automakers are also working on environmentally-friendly cars, and the race is on to produce the best batteries to power them.

Earlier this week, Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second-biggest automaker, said it will boost hybrid sales to 500,000 a year by sometime after 2010. Honda said it will introduce a new model sold solely as a hybrid next year, so the Tokyo-based company will have four hybrids in its lineup.

Nissan Motor Co., which still hasn’t developed its own hybrid system for commercial sale, said it will have its original hybrid by 2010. Nissan is focusing more on electric vehicles, promising them for the U.S. and Japanese markets by 2010.

Nissan said this week its joint venture with electronics maker NEC Corp. will start mass-producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 at a plant in Japan.

Source: wired

Airbus Betting Pond Scum Will Replace Petroleum

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Engine by LiemnAirbus is jumping onto the alt fuel bandwagon, working alongside Honeywell, International Aero Engines, UOP and JetBlue Airways to develop technology for turning algae and vegetable oil into fuel. Airbus is betting pond scum and veggies could provide 30 percent of all jet fuel by 2030.With the air industry under increasing pressure to rein in emissions and airlines taking it on the chin from rising fuel prices, the incentive to find an alternative to kerosene has never been higher. Although modern commercial jets are more efficient – and cleaner- than ever,  many in the industry agree they’ve still got a long way to go.

“Over the last 40 years, aviation has reduced fuel burn – and therefore carbon dioxide emissions – by 70 percent, but more needs to be done,” says Sebastien Remy, head of alt fuels research at Airbus. “Millions of barrels of kerosene are used each day for aircraft fuel, and worldwide demand is growing.”

Airbus and its partners are a little late to the alt fuel party. Boeing and Virgin Atlantic made the first bio fuel-powered flight in February, and Chevron is working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to figure out the best way to make fuel from algae. But Airbus and its partners are well-positions to catch up quickly.

Airbus is one of the world’s largest commercial jet makers, so its involvement lends credence – and a sense of urgency – to the project. UOP, a gas and chemical processing company, has already developed technology for converting natural gases and oils to military jet fuel under a project bankrolled by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). UOP says the technology could be applied to commercial jets.

International Aero Engines builds the engines used on many of Airbus’ planes, and Honeywell is providing its engine technology expertise. JetBlue will test potential fuels in its planes. Beyond the environmental benefits, Airbus and its partners say biofuel makes good business sense because it has the potential to  increase aircraft payloads and range,  reduce fuel consumption and  extend engine life.

There’s no denying that any effort to sink time and money into new fuel development is a good thing, but some environmentalists see the recent Virgin biofuel test flight as nothing more than a big publicity stunt designed to make the airline look good. They note that any benefits associated with using biofuels would be offset by just one year’s growth in the airline industry. These kinds of announcements give the industry a chance to regurgitate some eco-friendly sound bites like this:

“This has the potential to benefit every world citizen beyond those involved in our business,” Russ Chew, president and CEO of JetBlue, said in a statement. “Each of our companies has the social responsibility to work toward developing a cleaner way to do business.”

That’s a big promise. You guys better get on it.

Image © Systematic Design

Source: Wired

‘Solar Music Festival’ Replaces Hot Air With Sun, Wind Power

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

solar panels

Activism and music can make for a grating combination. Who wants to hear jet-setters with five houses apiece and LCD screens on the soles of their shoes lecture a crowd on how to live responsibly?

The Solar Music Festival could contain a certain level of such pontification, but in this case there will be more to the sentiments than jargon and hot air. The main festival’s stage runs on wind power from a local cooperative, while a side stage runs on photovoltaic cells.

“The festival is a hotbed of creativity and ideas for a better, more sustainable world,” according to festival co-founder and director Dawn Richardson. “It’s one thing to promote a party, but we want to inspire people to improve their environment for the long term.”

Currently in its tenth year, the Solar Music Festival will feature Steve Earle, Susan Tedeschi, BoDeans, Collective Soul and The Coup this time around. The festival is held in Taos, New Mexico from June 27-29, and will also feature a solar village where people can see alternative energy in action.

Recordings from last year’s festival are available in MP3, FLAC and CD formats for between $10 and $20 per set.

Source: Wired

Photo: Van Mij

Here Come the Tame Bugs That Make Car Fuel From Garbage

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

eco-friendly bugs turn garbages to fuelAnother cellulosic-ethanol app. This one with garbage piles, GMO bacteria and super-hot plasma torches. We Americans should devoutly hope this scheme works out. If it does, we’re home free, because America is the Saudi Arabia of Garbage! We’ll be running our monster fleet of climate-wrecking cars right off the refuse of our rampant Yankee consumerism! Ha ha ha! Take that, doubting world!

Source Link

Biofuel From Wastewater

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

A researcher of the Technological Top Institute for Water Technology-Wetsus (TTIW-Wetsus) discovered that wastewater high in organic material is better for hydrogen production than pure water. The process known as ‘biocatalysed electrolysis’, which involves the release of electrons induced by the application of special bacteria to the surface of an anode, produces hydrogen from the organic material. A key advantage is the reduced energy consumption compared to traditional production using clean water.

hidrogen extraction asparatus

Thanks to this discovery, the production of one cubic metre of hydrogen requires only one kWh, compared to electrolysis involving pure water, which requires four times as much. The new technology facilitates the cost-effective, large-scale hydrogen production using wastewater. According to the researcher,this could in theory be applied to large-scale wastewater treatment plants. However,hydrogen must be produced near to where it is used. For this reason, the initial pilot will be implemented at a company, which requires hydrogen as part of its manufacturing process.

5 Ways to Save Our Planet

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I watched a 1-hour documentary entitled ‘Five Ways to Save the World’ last night through Discovery Channel. It features five specialized viewpoints on how we might cool the world through human management of the ecosystem. It would be interesting to get your thoughts on this topic.

Watching through the whole 59 minutes. It is really amazing. Some of the ideas looks pretty amazing too.

Climate change is being felt the world over and if global warming continues to increase the effects could be catastrophic. Some scientists and engineers are proposing radical, large-scale ideas that could save us from disaster.
The first three proposed ideas featured in the film, look at reducing the power of the sun – thereby cooling the planet.
Professor Roger Angel from Arizona – the designer of the world’s largest telescope – is proposing to put a giant glass sunshade in space. Professor Angel’s sunshade will deflect a small percentage of the sun’s rays back into space.
Dutch Professor Paul Crutzen won the Nobel Prize for chemistry when he discovered the causes of the hole in the ozone layer. His plan is to fire hundreds of rockets loaded with tons of sulphur into the stratosphere creating a vast, but very thin sunscreen of sulphur around the earth.
British atmospheric physicist Professor John Latham and engineer Stephen Salter have designed a fleet of remote-controlled yachts. These will pump fine particles of sea water into the clouds, increasing the thickness of the clouds and reflecting the suns rays.

Carbon dioxide debate

The other two men want to tackle the problem of excess carbon dioxide – the cause of global warming. Sydney engineer Professor Ian Jones proposes to feed plankton with gallons of fertilizer. This will make the plankton grow and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. And New York-based Professor Klaus Lackner has designed a carbon dioxide capturing machine and his plan is to locate more of them across the globe. They would suck in carbon dioxide, turn it into a powder and he would bury it deep under the ocean in disused oil or gas fields.
Most of the scientists are reluctant advocates of these ideas, and all believe we should be cutting down on our use of fossil fuels to heat our homes and drive our cars.
But is time running out for planet earth?

Although these ideas might have unknown side effects, some scientists believe we may soon have no choice but to put these radical and controversial plans into action.