Archive for April, 2008


As reported in AlwaysOn, “eSolar, producer of solar power plants, is getting a huge infusion from Google.org, Oak Investment Partners and Idealab. The funding suggests green investment is undeterred by market turmoil.” The information comes from a press release, which is available as a PDF that the article links to.

This is important news. The use of solar and other clean technologies, like wind power, is lagging behind in the US vs. many European countries. We need investment to bring the latest innovations to the market in a robust way, and we need implementation of clean power on a large scale.

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Original text © James K. Bashkin, 2008

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This interesting article from Popular Mechanics examines one possible route the auto industry could take in developing greener transportation options.

Mike Allen’s article says, “With few exceptions, these PHEV engineers and product planners seem to insist on one thing: The prime mover, the onboard engine (or fuel cell, or whatever), has to be powerful enough to move the car whether the batteries are charged or not. That means an engine—gasoline, diesel or E85—of 100 hp or more. That’s not only enough oomph to get to work, but enough power to really drive, chirping the tires at traffic lights, zooming onto freeway entrances and passing lollygaggers on two-lane country roads.

You know what? I think it’s time we re-examined that paradigm.”

Good thought, Mike!  I heartily approve of the sentiment.

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Original text © James K. Bashkin, 2008

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By Bruce Nichols SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) – “Satellite data show that changes in the sun are contributing to global warming but to a smaller extent than human activity, a space scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington told a group of petroleum geologists…”

This is the third major study in the past year or so negating the “solar activity” claim of climate-change skeptics- the claim suggests that solar activity rather than human activity is responsible for modern global warming. See discussion of another report that show no major effects of solar activity on modern global warming (at this link).

“Climate-change skeptics have suggested that solar cycles may be more responsible than human activity for increasing global temperature. But (scientist Judith) Lean said her findings showed ‘the sun is a factor of 10 less than the anthropogenic.'” In other words, people (and human activity) are responsible for the vast majority of modern climate change according to this study.

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original text © James K. Bashkin, 2008

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While some may love hearing about sweet rides like the $100K Tesla Roadster, a functional and economical electric car made for the rest of us would be even better. This could be it: the Th!nk City electric car, a four-seater with 110 mile range, top speed of 65 mph, priced under $25,000, and available in the US next year. This sounds like exactly what many people have been asking for. Next year!

The story comes to us from gas 2.0.

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Note added later: I recommend that people read the article by Sam Carana that describes other inexpensive electric car/vehicle manufacturers from around the world and their products, with pictures.

© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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Basel Action Network, named after an agreement on protecting developing countries from toxic waste, criticized 1-800-Got-junk for failing to promise that their free electronic waste recycling program would avoid shipping toxic waste to developing countries.

The story about the Basel Action Network (BAN) vs. 1-800-Got-Junk is supplemented by the following to give a snapshot of where we stand with “good” and “bad” recycling:

  1. Why and how to recycle your electronics
  2. The recycling program that pays you back heads to Europe
  3. Cell Phone Recycling Giant “Pace Butler” will integrate its efforts with environmental groups
  4. Toxic Waste being Dumped in Italy
  5. How to Recycle Plastic- Advice from the EPA
  6. Eight Ways to Green Your Technology
  7. Toxic E-waste Pouring into the Third World
  8. New Biodegradable Plastics could be Tossed into the Sea
  9. Planetsave | China’s Toxic E-Waste Problem Grows Daily

read more about BAN and e-waste | digg story about BAN and E-waste

© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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“Biofuels are fast becoming a new flash point in global diplomacy, putting pressure on Western politicians to reconsider their policies.”

Note that free registration at the NYT may be necessary to see this article at the “read more” link. Nevertheless, this New York Times article needs to be read! This is true even though the article sounds more like it was written by a politician than I would have expected, giving ample space what I would call the self-serving justifications offered by Congressmen and Federal officials. The tone of the NYT article contrasts with the stronger conclusions reached in the Chicago Tribune about the growing price of eggs, where the blame is laid squarely on high corn prices (you may have to register for a free account to see this article, also). I have been writing about the topic of the unfortunate conflict between food and fuel since approximately September (not that the idea was original to me, there was plenty of documentation available!).

I don’t condemn all biofuels, and I support biodiesel made from waste vegetable oil, fish oil or other waste products as a reasonable approach, if one must have a liquid, carbon-based fuel. It is certainly clear that liquid fuels will not be disappearing overnight. However, I do not support placing food crops in competition with energy needs. In my opinion, the time of electric cars should be and is approaching, as hybrids become more popular, plug-in hybrids are near to reaching mainstream showrooms, and battery technology continues to improve, making already-available, purely electric cars even more affordable. We should be making investments in these technologies and related clean energy programs (solar, wind, geothermal), not pouring tax dollars down the drain with ethanol subsidies that have no effect whatsoever on oil and gas prices (this much is obvious, regardless of your opinion how corn ethanol and other biofuels affect food prices). The Economist was also firm in its criticism of corn ethanol programs, as reported here earlier.

Please see my recent post about the discoveries of improved Lithium ion batteries from Argonne National Labs and my post about electric cars, hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Many other related articles are published here as well.

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© James K. Bashkin, 2008


Driven by the Energy Star 5.0 requirements as set down by the EPA, in consultation with the industry and PC Magazine, Corsair has reached the 80 PLUS standard with a new series of PC power supplies.

80 PLUS specifies at least 80 efficiency all the way from low (20%) load to high (100%) load.

This is a major improvement and a most welcome one- many power supplies (or PSUs) are near 70% or less efficient, so they generate more heat and waste more electricity (the more efficient power supplies generate less heat and keep more of the energy in the form of electricity that is used by the computer).

With all of the advances in Europe regarding clean and efficient technology, it is nice to see the US EPA making tougher requirements and driving the industry! EnergyStar 5.0 will require 85% efficiency!

I happen to have the HX620W, one of the qualifying 80 PLUS PSUs, in the desktop machine I’m working on now, and I chose it after searching the web for PSU efficiency ratings.

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© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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Mariela Moon posted this story on http://www.goodcleantech.com/ about lithium-ion batteries, which are common but hampered by both the risk of overcharging and a decrease in charging capacity after an overcharging event. “Research for the improvement of lithium-ion has reached a milestone in Argonne National Laboratory where longer battery life and a 30 percent increase in storage capacity have been achieved.” This clearly is promising with regard to plug-in hybrid electric cars and related electric cars.

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Michael Rose reports via BusinessWire (London) and http://www.greatcarstv.com/news/: “Plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are set to bust out of their niche role and become mainstream. Experts believe the global market for PHEVs is poised for expansion, with major vehicle manufacturers pronouncing plans for their production. As issues related to the cost and safety of lithium ion batteries, used in PHEVs, are resolved there are simultaneous efforts underway to boost production volumes and achieve related decrease in costs.”

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For web-savvy environmentalists, or any interested environmentalists, please consider joining sustainability, a home for all environmentally-related content on Squidoo.com. See also the new site for discussion of solar power on Squidoo.com: solar power.  If you don’t know about Squidoo, I didn’t either until a little while ago.  It is easy to set up a “lens” that focuses on your favorite topic, blog, website, etc.

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