Guest blog by Mr. R. U. Cirius: Here are some interesting and somewhat offbeat energy stories that haven’t gotten much media attention during the first three months of the year.
UoA Windship renewable energy vessel
Students from the University of Acadians (UoA), not to be outdone by their archrivals at the Massachusetts Technology Institute (MTI) (see story below), have turned their focus toward harnessing wind energy. Last year, after placing 20th of 20 teams at the Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition, the students decided their expertise was better suited to larger vessels. By focusing their collective background and skills on the problem, they developed a new, high-tech, 100% renewable fuel, cargo vessel which they have named Windship (see Fig. 1). They believe it will revolutionize marine transportation in the 21st century.
Click here to learn more about wind power.
Coal Slaw – a new high-energy and environmentally friendly food product
The researches from the Massachusetts Technology Institute (MTI) who brought you Coal Bricks from 2019 have now turned their focus to utilizing existing coal resources without increasing carbon dioxide emissions and addressing world hunger, simultaneously. Their new product, Coal Slaw, combines the energy content from anthracite coal dust and protein from cricket meal with the added polyisobutylene (for texture and “chewiness”) to create a tasty and healthy food product. Due to the low cost and wide availability of the respective ingredients, Coal Slaw can be produced in large quantities anywhere in the world. It doesn’t require refrigeration or any special handling and has a shelf life of over 1,000 years. The US military has taken notice and has begun to replace all its MREs with the new Coal Slaw packets.
Click here to learn more about coal power.
Foamcrete building products reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
CO2 Solutions, LLC, the start-up company that brought you Fizz Wizzie last year, has a new product that utilizes carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. Using the same revolutionary process that extracts CO2 from air as used to produce your favorite Fizz Wizzie drinks, CO2 Solutions can now create a CO2 infused concrete product called Foamcrete. The entrained carbon dioxide bubbles within the concrete matrix allow for a much lighter concrete building product. And the perfectly spherical shape of the bubbles allow for a surrounding concrete matrix that loses very little strength compared to a 100% concrete product. They have determined that approximate 30% CO2 to concrete, on a volumetric basis, is the sweet spot where the ratio of applied stress to net weight is maximum. Foamcrete can be easily formed into many different shapes for different construction applications. For site-specific applications, CO2 Solutions is currently developing on-site Foamcrete mixers that will allow compete flexibility in size and shape for your every construction need.
A new use for old wind turbine blades
Much has been written about the challenges of disposal of old wind turbine blades. Dr. Marko Ramius from the National Wind Energy Laboratory (NWEL), who last year identified the “turbulence boundary interface” that contributed to California’s record “superbloom” of wildflowers, has found a clever use for old wind turbine blades to keep them out of landfills. Dr. Ramius has demonstrated in the laboratory that the fiber-reinforced epoxy composite that is used for blades can be shredded into long moldable strips with extrememly high tensile strength that can be coated with synthetic rubber. The product is extremely durable and doesn’t degrade under heat or abrasion, which makes it an ideal material for automobile tires. He has filed for a patent application and trademark for Turbitires. Word on the street is that Tesla has already committed to purchases all he can produce as soon as a commercial scale process is up and running.
Click here to learn more about wind turbines.
What if a wind farm was a real farm?
The Temporal Technical University of Texas (colloquially referred to as “Tick-Tock-Tex”), located in Abilene, Texas, has been researching what to do with all the wind farms located in the area when they reach the end of their lives. One answer they’ve come up with is to remove the turbine blades but leave the towers in place as vertical farms for growing vegetables. Turbines consist of extremely tall shafts that create an enclosed environment, protected from the elements. The university researchers outfitted an abandoned tower with vertical vegetable racks and installed humidifying and drip water systems. They demonstrated that the environment was conducive for growing pole beans, climbing peas, vine tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, squashes, pumpkins, and even sweet potatoes.
And now for something completely different (and a bit less revolutionary)
How solar panels turn air into water
Source Hydropanels from Zero Mass Water can produce pure drinking water from air with no power required. These panels, which come in pre-assembled boxes, utilize solar panels to gather energy from the sun and increase the dew point inside the box. Each Hydropanel is 4 feet x 8 feet, and a standard array contains 2 Hydropanels. The standard array will produce on average 4-10 liters of water each day or between 8 and 20 16.9 oz standard water bottles, depending on sunshine and humidity, and the system will work even in very low humidity regions. Each Hydropanel holds 30 liters in a reservoir for a total of 60 liters for a standard array and can connect easily via a water line to your dispensing unit. For more information take a look at Ben Sullins’ (our favorite video blogger from Teslanomics) latest video. No joke here.
Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: In Part 1 of this blog on Oil Supply, l examined the supply-demand history of oil over the past decade, which has set the stage for the dramatic changes in the industry that are just beginning. In this blog I’ll explore some of the likely consequences and will venture to predict some of the dramatic events to come and some of the likely irreversible impacts recent events will have on the world oil industry.(more…)
Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: A few years back, I wrote that at some point in the future (now-ish) oil produces may need to resort to providing incentives for ICE buyers, or undertake more extreme measures to ensure sufficient oil demand. Well, oil producers have not yet undertaken either of those steps and, as noted in a recent blog, we’ve now hit peak oil demand. So producers were resorting to the next best means of balancing the supply-demand equation by curtailing supply in order to support oil prices. At best this was a short term solution to a growing long term problem. Now with the beginning of the oil supply war, we see that curtailing supply has failed completely, and, as predicted in my February 2, 2019 blog, somebody has decided to produce the hell out of its reserves while there still is a market for oil. This will not be a short war; it will be long and drawn out, and the eventual winners will not be who everyone now thinks they will be. In Part 1 of my blog on this topic, I’ll examine the supply-demand history of oil over the past decade, which has set the stage for the dramatic changes in the industry that are just beginning. In the upcoming Part 2 I’ll explore the likely consequences.(more…)
Note from your OWOE editor: Houston has always been a city whose fortunes have risen and fallen with the price of oil. Now it is being hit with two crises at the same time – the coronavirus pandemic which is significantly cutting oil demand, and the Saudia Arabia-Russia battle for market share which is flooding the world with oil and forcing down its price (see Fig. 1). The result has been immediate and drastic. The almost instantaneous drop in price from the $50-60 per barrel range to the $20-30 per barrel range is worse than the drop in 2014 that almost destroyed the US oil business, with some analysts predicting the possibility of $5/bbl oil. Oil companies are looking at every way possible to cut spending quickly, including cancelling projects, idling rigs, instituting hiring freezes, and laying off staff. Add on top of that the fear of transmission of the coronavirus and need for social distancing are having what could be a long-term impact on oil demand as well as making it even harder to work, assuming one is fortunate to keep a job in this climate.(more…)
Guest blog by SA Shelley: (Note from your OWOE editor: This demand blog was written a few weeks before the oil supply war started. The oil supply war and corresponding drop in oil prices will be discussed in an oil supply blog in a few weeks. However, the author firmly believes that COVID-19 and a likely economic recession are short term demand shocks. Long term demand decline resulting from shifts in technology and consumer behavior, key issues addressed in this blog, is inevitable.)
The world has hit peak oil demand. I wrote it, I’m standing by it, and no apologies to anyone for this.(more…)
Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: There still is continuing debate in California as to how much of what kinds of renewable energy are needed in order to achieve net-zero energy by 2045 . California is blessed with an abundance of renewable energy resources, especially solar, wind and geothermal, and California is still the 6th or 7th oil and gas producing state in the country (see also ShaleXP). But California has not yet harvested any of its significant renewable offshore energy resources.(more…)
Guest blog by Amanda Tallent: Although the principle of wanting warmth and light in our homes has been constant, the way that we provide these necessities has evolved tremendously over the last 150 years. This makes the future exciting to think about, as we are finding new ways to be sustainable yet innovative when it comes to providing energy in the United States and globally. The team at The Zebra has given insight on the topic, sharing the history and probable future of energy use.(more…)
Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: As some people, including most notably the Prime Minister of Canada, are confused about greenhouse gas emissions, both during production of electricity and during transportation, I feel that it is time to write a quick blog about this. I will focus mostly on CO2 emissions, which are believed to be the predominant greenhouse emissions driving global warming, even though the effect of methane (CH4) emissions on warming are roughly 20 times as potent (see edf.org, greenplanet.org, and Scientific American), and some other industrially produced gases that are ubiquitous in modern life are yet exponentially more potent.(more…)
It’s a new year and a new decade and time to make a bold prediction regarding developments in the energy industry and associated transportation industry. The last few years have been a wild ride for electrical vehicles (EVs) with Tesla continuously in the headlines. Will Tesla go bankrupt? Will Tesla change the way the world views automobiles? Is Tesla stock a good buy at $250/share (2019) or $550 (2020)? But other automakers have made their own headlines: Jaguar began sales of its iPace EV, Volkswagen began sales of its eTron, and Ford introduced its Mustang Mach-E. A prediction concerning EVs is warranted, but OWOE is going to go beyond EVs and make a prediction concerning the broader automobile industry: Within this next decade one of the three US legacy car makers will cease to exist.(more…)
Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: If the world wants to move quickly to a lot of renewable energy, then maybe money laundering is the key to getting it done.
It’s been well known for some time that money laundering is a significant driver in real estate ( see theweek.com and boingboing.net) Such shenanigans with real estate began way back in the 1980s in Florida, with cocaine cowboys literally knocking on home-owners’ doors and offering cash for homes at above market value. From there, it moved to California, Hong Kong and Dubai, Vancouver, and of course London…until a large chunk of high-end real estate was infected somewhat by illicit money. There are of course other means to launder money. Cash flow businesses such as restaurants or car washes have also been havens, i.e., anything that can provide a large, difficult to trace production output and revenues versus costs and volumes of input: Was that 1lb of pasta used to make 5 dishes or 6?(more…)