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Friday, April 18, 2014

How A Drop of Seawater on Graphene Generates Electricity

IFLS Newsletter -- Researchers in China have created electricity by dragging a drop of seawater across a strip of graphene -- the insanely conductive, super thin, wonder material.

Ever since the early 19th century, scientists have known that an electric potential can be generated by simply driving an ionic liquid -- fluids with charged ions in it, like water or sodium chloride solution -- through channels or holes under a pressure gradient. The latest in hydroelectric power involves generating voltage by immersing carbon nanotubes in flowing liquids. But scientists have never quite figured out exactly how this happens -- and generating electricity without a pressure gradient remains a challenge.

Now, Wanlin Guo and colleagues from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics produced a few mi  (read more)

Submitted 3 hours ago By:

Here’s How Toyota Made Its Engines More Efficient [Video]

AutoEvolution -- As you may have heard, Toyota just revealed two new thermal efficient gasoline engines. They don’t exceed a capacity bigger than 1.3-liters but the automaker said they are 10 percent more fuel efficient and almost as fuel efficient as hybrid powertrains. But how did the engineers made this possible?

First of all, Toyota wanted its engineers to work and communicate in harmony, so the company raised a whole new building called The Unit Center. Here, engineers were assigned with one single task - improve their engines’ thermal efficiency.

If you’re new to mechanics, thermal efficiency means how efficient an engine can use the gasoline its being fed with to power the car. Each drop of gasoline has contains a certain amount of energy it can set free by burning in an engine cylinder.

 (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Historic irony? Iran to splash $20 billion on joint oil fields with Iraq

Al Bawaba -- Iran will invest over $20 billion in development of the oil fields it shares with Iraq, IRNA reported on Wednesday.

Iran’s Oil Ministry is planning to increase oil extraction from joint oilfields with Iraq by one million barrels per day (bpd) in the current Iranian calendar year, which started on March 21, 2014.

Iran shares oil and gas fields with most of its neighbors, including Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, as well as Oman and Turkmenistan.

Iran shares Yadavaran, Azadegan, and Azar oilfields with Iraq.

Based on studies, there are 23 joint hydrocarbon fields between Iran and Iraq which are divided into exploration, development and production categories.

On April 6, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Iran’s crude oil output is forecast to increase by about...
 (read more)

Submitted 3 hours ago By:

Fermi 2 goes offline indefinitely

Energy Central -- DTE Energy took its Fermi 2 nuclear plant in northern Monroe County offline today for an indefinite amount of time.

The utility said it needs to replace one of the plant's two main transformers.

Guy Cerullo, DTE spokesman, said the faulty transformer "was not working correctly after restart following the recent refueling outage."

The plant's reactor was shut down in February for normal refueling, a process that happens at nuclear plants once every 18 to 24 months.

The frequency depends on the uranium in each plant's reactor fuel.

Problems kept operators from bringing Fermi 2 back to full power after restart.

So DTE officials chose to shut down the plant and replace the malfunctioning transformer.

Transformers are in a nonnuclear part of the plant, separate from the...  (read more)

Submitted 2 hours ago By:

Study Chides U.S. Over Loan Default by Solar Business

N.Y. Times -- Long before the Energy Department lost $68 million on Abound Solar, a manufacturer that went bankrupt two years ago, it should have known that the company’s chance of repaying the loan it had guaranteed was deteriorating, according to a report by the department’s inspector general.

The damning report was issued as the Obama administration prepared to offer as much as $8 billion in additional loan guarantees.

The loan guarantee program has been a magnet for criticism since the failure of Solyndra in 2011; that company took $528 million in loans guaranteed by the Energy Department.

The new report, released on Thursday, focused on loan guarantees extended to Abound Solar, which was initially offered $400 million. When the company missed several production milestones, the department cut off  (read more)

Submitted 1 hour ago By:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Begich Earmarked Millions for Bankrupt Green Energy Company

WFB -- As Sen. Mark Begich (D., Alaska) seeks to shore up his energy policy credentials, a now-bankrupt green energy company to which he steered federal subsidies could cloud his message.

Begich received campaign contributions from a lobbyist for an Alaska geothermal plant after helping the company obtain federal financing. The company is now bankrupt, but Begich continues touting his support for alternative energy.

The senator, who is facing reelection in November, will address the Alaska Wood Energy Conference on Wednesday. The conference brings together leaders in the state’s biomass industry.

He has also promoted fossil fuel development, including effort to open areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, and to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

However, Begich’s crit  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Renewable Energy Cools Earnings View

WSJ --

Renewable Energy Group Inc. shares dropped after the company tempered its expectations for the first quarter, saying unseasonably cold winter weather reduced demand for diesel.

The company said results were hurt by a decline in biodiesel prices and higher-than-expected feedstock costs. Originally, Renewable Energy had projected constant prices for energy and feedstock.

The muted outlook sent the company's shares down 13% to $11 in after-hours trading.

Renewable Energy produces and sells biodiesel in the U.S., while also buying and reselling biodiesel produced by third parties. The company also offers facility management and operational services to the industry.

On Wednesday, Renewable Energy said it now sees first-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amo  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Those Stubborn Facts: 99.9% Proof That IPCC "Expert" Climate Models Are Hugely Wrong

C3 Headlines -- Climate reality and actual evidence-based science has completely eviscerated the global warming claims of the IPCC's "scientists" and those in the "consensus" choir.

Recent climate change predictions produced by the latest bleeding-edge computer models have proven to be spectacularly wrong.

Longer-term proof that the IPCC (and its climate-doomsday religion acolytes) is provided by the original "expert" predictions that were first published back in 1990. That proof is clearly obvious from the accompanying chart.

Simply stated: the IPCC predicted that if human emissions of CO2 kept growing in a business-as-usual (BAU) manner, the world would experience a high likelihood of global warming acceleration - to a per century rate of 2.8°C.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Solar’s dramatic cost fall may herald energy price deflation -- We’ve seen and published many dramatic graphs about the fall in solar, such as this one tracing the fall over the past 30 years and this from Citigroup, but the following graph from investment bank Sanford Bernstein is quite stunning – not just for its simplicity but because it draws attention to the potential impact of solar to the $5 trillion global energy market.

As you can see, the cost of solar PV has come from – quite literally – off the charts less than a decade ago to a point where Bernstein says solar PV is now cheaper than oil and Asian LNG (liquefied natural gas). It does its calculations on an MMBTU basis. MMBTU is the standard unit of measure for liquid fuels, often referred to as one million British thermal units.

“For these (developing Asian economies) solar is just cheap
 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Hydrogen fuel cars could be important to California’s future

Hydrogen Fuel News -- According to the representatives from five major motor companies, who were recently involved in a panel discussion that took place in Torrance, California may become the testing place for hydrogen fuel cars over the next several years.

Carmakers will be required to follow new regulations in California by 2025.

There is a strong push for non-gas-powered vehicles in the Golden State. By the year 2025, automobile manufacturers will have to ensure that 15 percent of their total car sales come from selling zero-emission vehicles.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

GAS PRICES: 12 straight days of increases irk customers

Press Enterprise -- On the 12th day of gas-price increases, Alberto Castro-Mendoza pulled into the Shell station at the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Blaine Street in Riverside, California.

It didn’t feel like Christmas.

Castro-Mendoza, 22, usually shops around, but on Tuesday, April 15, he was in a rush. So he stopped at a station, that with no competitors nearby, turned out to have the highest prices in Riverside County — $4.59 for regular, $4.67 for midgrade and $4.75 for premium — according to the website

The prices, said Castro-Mendoza, an unemployed Army veteran, “are ridiculous. They’re manipulative. They’re evil.”

“The direct impact on consumers is immediate. They don’t have money to spend somewhere else,” said Esmael Adibi, chief economist at Chapman University in Orange.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2014 By:

Commute-Case, the Portable Electric Scooter

AutoEvolution -- Folding scooters and similar transportation which can be stored in a briefcase are nothing new, as this idea has been around since the 80’s or so. Still, this doesn’t mean that improvements would not make it exceptionally appealing once more, and the Commute-Case is just the kind of new interpretation we needed.

It goes without saying that using a small, electric scooter which needs no parking place and which can also be carried around just like normal briefcase is truly convenient. Cheap to run and easy to store near your desk, the Commute-Case can also become a nifty way to travel your last miles to work or school. Park your car, take the Commute-Case out and ride away. Or just get out from the train and ride into the city, the possibilities are endless.

With a costs as low as 1 cent  (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2014 By:

Volvo Designs Ultra-Light Inflatable Child Seat Concept [Video]

AutoEvolution -- Child seats may be an indispensable accessory, but when you have to carry one around, you’ll notice that it also requires body-building skills. Well, if anybody would be on track to change all that, it has to be Volvo. The Sweedes have just come up with an inflatable child seat concept, which obviously promises parent-pleasing practicality.

The seat inflates in under 40 seconds and deflates with the help of an integrated pump. It tips the scales at under 11 lbs (5 kg), half the weight of a conventional seat. What’s more, this is gifted with Internet access via Bluetooth, allowing the user to perform a multitude of features, such as inflating it remotely. Volvo explains the seat can be folded into a weekend bag together with other child-related items.

This was all possible through the u  (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2014 By:

Girl texting while driving hits cyclist, says “I just don’t care”

By Tina Robinson | Daily Buzz – -- while driving is so totally wrong.

But according to 21-year-old Kimberly Davis, it’s totally not her fault.
 (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2014 By:

CP contests Lac-Mégantic cleanup order: Argues environment ministry did not supply documents within

The Gazette -- CP says it shouldn’t be forced to clean up the Lac-Mégantic oil spill because QC botched the process of issuing an emergency environmental order against the company, did not supply it with all the documents it had related to the oil spill within 30 days, as required by law

Last summer, QC used the province’s environmental-quality law to order MM&A, World Fuel Services and Western Petroleum to clean up spilled oil and any other contaminants. They also had to prevent the spread of contaminants into the environment, evaluate the extent of the environmental contamination, devise a cleanup and decontamination plan, and then execute that plan

About 2 wks later, the government added CP to the cleanup order

Nearly 6M L of crude oil spilled and 47 people were killed Jul 6 when a runaway oil trai  (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2014 By:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Senate Democrats to Obama: Make a call on Keystone


A group of Democratic senators in swing districts is urging President Barack Obama to make a decision on whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline soon, according to analysis in

With midterm elections looming, the 11 senators—most of whom have a history of supporting the oil industry—wrote a letter asking the administration for a "definitive timeline" on construction of the TransCanada project by the end of May, Oilprice said.

The Obama administration has resisted calls for a quick approval on Keystone, which is strongly supported by energy industry interests but opposed just as strongly by environmental groups.

Click here for the full Oilprice story, including the list of senators who signed the letter.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2014 By:

California cringing at gas pumps statewide

GasBuddy Blog -- California motorists are getting hit hard- not only does the state boast the highest average price in the lower 48, but it also has seen the largest jump in prices in the last week, jumping 13c/gal to $4.18/gal, the highest price in over a year.

The latest jump comes as refinery kinks have pinched supply, resulting in supplies that are running 7% lower than they did a year ago, and a huge 10% drop versus last week. Across the state, the pain is worst in Los Angeles and areas of Southern California. LA has seen prices spike 16c/gal while prices have jumped 12c/gal in the Bay area.

While I don't expect these large increases to continue in the week ahead, more increases are likely, but there is relief coming. I expect prices...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2014 By:

Coal Returns to German Utilities Replacing Lost Nuclear

Bloomberg -- What’s a beleaguered utility to do when forced by the government to close its profitable nuclear power plants?

It turns to lignite, a cheap, soft, muddy-brown colored form of sedimentary rock that spews more greenhouse gases than any other fossil fuel.

The story of German power giant RWE AG (RWE) exemplifies the crisis facing the nation’s utility industry -- and those of many countries across Europe -- as nuclear power plants get shuttered in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, renewables steal away revenue, and consumers and companies complain about rising power costs that are three times higher than in the U.S.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2011 to shutter all 17 of Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2022 struck a blow to RWE’s profit stream, particularly for a company that  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2014 By:

Glow-in-the-dark roads make debut in Netherlands

WIRED.CO.UK -- Light-absorbing glow-in-the-dark road markings have replaced streetlights on a 500m stretch of highway in the Netherlands.

Studio Roosegaarde promised us the design back in 2012, and after cutting through rather a lot of government red tape we can finally see the finished product.

One Netherlands news report said, "It looks like you are driving through a fairytale," which pretty much sums up this extraordinary project. The design studio like to bring technology and design to the real world, with practical and beautiful results.

Back in October 2012, Daan Roosegaarde, the studio's founder and lead designer, told us: "One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2014 By:

US ethanol prices 'just melting' as supplies firm, demand fades

Platts -- Most US ethanol prices slid Tuesday to their lowest levels in more than four weeks as stalling buying interest combined with firming supplies, sources said. The Chicago Argo ethanol assessment fell 11.5 cents to $2.6145/gallon, the lowest level since March 17. The front-month New York Harbor ethanol assessment for any-April delivery slid 10 cents to $2.53/gal, the lowest level since February 12.

The Chicago Argo assessment has plunged $1.1455, or 30.5%, since hitting $3.76/gal March 31, which was the highest level since 2006.

"This is bloodbath, round 8," one ethanol trader said, adding that prices were "just melting."

Prices across all regions have tumbled since hitting eight-year highs on April 1 as bearish production data and rebounding stockpiles have put significant downward pressu  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2014 By:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Toyota Replacing Some Factory Robots With Humans To Increase Quality

AutoEvolution -- Toyota Motor Corporation is the top automaker when it comes to using robots for its vehicle production. This was a major factor which made it the top automaker with annual vehicle production surpassing its competitors.

Relying on robots to make your vehicles has advantages and disadvantages. Yes, its good for rapidly producing cars because robots are more accurate in what they do than humans, but there are things only humans can differentiate.

Just rushing to make a large number of cars will eventually lead to your decay as a renowned automaker. And here you can see what happened to Toyota a few years ago with the sticky accelerator pedal case. You need humans to assure each vehicle comes out as it should be, and the automaker is now bringing them back.

Toyota is now looking to bring  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Toyota's astonishing new Atkinson Cycle engine delivers 78 mpg

gizmag -- Toyota has announced the development of two hyper-fuel-efficient small-displacement petrol Atkinson cycle engines: a three-cylinder 1.0-liter and four-cylinder 1.3-liter which will be introduced across the range from next year in 14 different variations. The smaller engine will deliver 78 mpg (US) in the Toyota Aygo, an improvement of 30 percent.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Speculators Boost Bullish Oil Wagers on OPEC Output Drop

Bloombreg -- A drop in OPEC production came just as refineries began looking for supply, helping boost bullish speculative bets on crude last week by the most since July.

The group, which pumps about 40 percent of the world’s oil, reduced output to the lowest for March since 2011 as a standoff between the Libyan government and rebels kept exports near the lowest level since Muammar Qaddafi was driven from office.

Output from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries fell for the fifth time in seven months, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The International Energy Agency, which advises oil-consuming countries, said April 11 that OPEC will have to pump more crude after a “steep drop” last month. Refiners in the U.S. and Europe are looking for oil after retooling to make gasoline, as...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Coal’s Best Hope Rising With Costliest U.S. Power Plant

Bloombreg -- Rising from the scrub pines of central Mississippi is a $5.2 billion construction project that may determine the future of coal in the age of global warming.

It’s here in Kemper County, 90 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that utility Southern Co. (SO) is building the first large-scale power plant in the U.S. designed to transform coal into gas, capture the carbon dioxide and pump it underground. If it succeeds -- and there are plenty of doubters -- it will boost the fortunes of the fossil fuel that drove the Industrial Revolution but has lost ground to cheaper, cleaner alternatives in the U.S.

“Kemper is a first-of-a-kind plant that could be a game changer,” said John Thompson, director at the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group that supports the project. “The central...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Colorado on path to become next state to prohibit red light cameras

GasBuddy Blog -- A proposal to ban red-light and speeding cameras in Colorado is back at the Capitol, and the bill sponsor says he has more support than when he pitched the idea two years ago.
The bill from Greeley Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe would forbid cities and towns from using the automated traffic enforcement devices. He introduced it last week.

The measure is identical to what Renfroe sponsored in 2012. The Colorado Municipal League opposed that bill, saying it should be up to cities and towns to decide the matter on their own.

Renfroe argues the cameras are used to make money, not to improve public safety.

"I mean, it's exponential the amount of revenue that is brought in, and our intersections should be about...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By: