Archive | Indoor Air Pollution

Geothermal Power Gaining Attention

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) — The heat in the upper six miles of Earth’s crust contains many times the energy found in all the world’s oil and gas reserves combined, experts say.

Despite the abundance, researchers say, only 10,700 megawatts of geothermal electricity generating capacity have been harnessed worldwide, Inter Press Service reported.

The oil, gas, and coal industries have been providing cheap fuel by omitting the costs of climate change and air pollution from fuel prices, environmentalists charge, so little investment is being made in geothermal energy, which has been growing at scarcely 3 percent a year, the report said.

About half the world’s existing generating capacity is in the United States and the Philippines, with Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, and Japan accounting for most of the remainder. About two dozen countries convert geothermal energy into electricity.

El Salvador, Iceland, and the Philippines get 26 percent, 25 percent, and 18 percent, respectively, of their electricity from geothermal power plants.

In 2006, a team of scientists and engineers assembled by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology assessed U.S. geothermal electrical generating potential.

Geothermal electricity technology involves drilling down to the hot rock layer, fracturing the rock and pumping water into it, and then extracting the superheated water to drive a steam turbine.

The MIT team said the technology would provide enough geothermal energy to meet U.S. needs 2,000 times over.

About 152 power plants are under development in 13 U.S. states and are expected to nearly triple U.S. geothermal generating capacity, now at about 3,000 megawatts.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Geothermal, Other0 Comments

China Boosts, Boasts Hydroelectric Power

BEIJING, Aug. 30 (UPI) — China, whose latest hydropower station came on line last week, has laid claim to having the world’s largest hydropower capacity, authorities said.

The inauguration of the Xiaowan hydropower station in China’s southwest Yunnan province was described by Lui Qi, deputy director of the country’s National Energy Administration, as a “great leap forward,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The 700,000-kilowatt Xiaowan station is expected to increase China’s installed hydropower capacity to 200 million kilowatts, Xinhua said. The country’s second-largest hydropower project, which cost $5.86 billion, can produce 19 billion kilowatt hours of electricity every year, officials said.

The station will receive water from the Xiaowan dam, the world’s tallest double-arch dam with a storage capacity of almost 530 billion cubic feet.

The Xiaowan is the fourth dam the Chinese have built on the upper part of the Mekong River, which the Chinese call the Lancang, Inter Press Service reported.

Countries on the lower stretches of the Mekong will not share China’s celebrations of its dam-building prowess, activists say. Erratic water levels have been reported in the Mekong since the construction of the dams, affecting livelihoods in riverside villages in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, critics say.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electricity, Other0 Comments

U.S. Energy 'appetite' Trimmed in 2009

LIVERMORE, Calif., Aug. 24 (UPI) — Americans are using less energy overall and availing themselves of more renewable energy sources, a report says.

Data released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed the United States used significantly less coal and petroleum in 2009 than in 2008 while utilizing considerably more wind power.

And while there was a decline in natural gas consumption, solar, hydro and geothermal power use was up, the laboratory said.

“Energy use tends to follow the level of economic activity, and that level declined last year,” A.J. Simon, an LLNL energy systems analyst, said.

“At the same time, higher efficiency appliances and vehicles reduced energy use even further,” he said. “As a result, people and businesses are using less energy in general.”

Wind power increased dramatically in 2009, and since most of that energy is tied directly to electricity generation it helps decrease the use of coal for electricity production, he said.

“The increase in renewables is a really good story, especially in the wind arena,” Simon said. “It’s a result of very good incentives and technological advancements.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Consumption, Electricity, Geothermal, Natural Gas, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Astronauts' Brains 'tricked' for Training

HOUSTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they can trick the brains of astronauts to simulate the dizzying effects experienced when returning to Earth after a long period in space.

A research group at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute has developed a Galvanic vestibular stimulation system that safely induces the sensory and mobility disturbances commonly experienced by astronauts returning to Earth’s gravity, an institute release said Tuesday.

These disturbances could affect an astronaut’s vision and neurological function, impacting the ability to land a spacecraft. Once on the ground, astronauts often have trouble keeping their balance and walking, researchers said.

The system developed by Steven Moore, an associate professor of neurology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, uses electrodes placed behind the ear to deliver small amounts of electricity to the vestibular nerve, which then sends the signals to the brain, resulting in sensory and motor disturbances.

This makes it an excellent operational training tool, scientists say.

“You can train for spaceflight tasks under normal conditions on Earth, but that will not give you an indication of what an astronaut will feel like,” Moore said. “The GVS system will make mission simulations more realistic. This will be quite useful for astronaut training, especially for astronauts that have not flown before.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electricity, Other0 Comments

Study: Energy Self-sufficiency is Closer

BOSTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve made a discovery that could bring the era of energy self-sufficient homes and small businesses one step closer.

Scientists at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society have reported the discovery of a powerful catalyst that would be a key element in inexpensive solar energy systems that could free homes and businesses from dependence on the electric company, a society release said Monday.

“Our goal is to make each home its own power station,” study leader Daniel Nocera said. “We’re working toward development of ‘personalized’ energy units that can be manufactured, distributed and installed inexpensively.

“There certainly are major obstacles to be overcome — existing fuel cells and solar cells must be improved, for instance. Nevertheless, one can envision villages in India and Africa not long from now purchasing an affordable basic system.”

Such systems would use solar panels to generate electricity needed for heating, lighting and cooking during the day. Surplus energy created would be stored in an “electrolyzer” which breaks ordinary water down into hydrogen and oxygen, which would be stored in tanks.

At night, with no energy coming from solar panels, the system would feed the hydrogen and oxygen back into fuel cells that produce electricity.

The newly discovered catalyst can boost the output of the electrolyzer 200-fold, researchers say.

The catalyst has been licensed to a company, Sun Catalytix, which says it is working to develop safe, super-efficient versions of the electrolyzer, suitable for homes and small businesses, within two years.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electricity, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen, Other, Solar0 Comments

U.K. Begins Geothermal Effort

REDRUTH, England, Aug. 20 (UPI) — Britain could soon have its first operating commercial geothermal plant after exploratory drilling was authorized in Cornwall, officials said.

Engineers will begin drilling a 2.8-mile-deep borehole early next year at a site near Redruth, England, The Guardian reported this week.

It is the first project in an emerging geothermal power sector in the United Kingdom, where the government hopes the technology could provide between 1 and 5 gigawatts of renewable electricity by 2030, the British newspaper said.

Geothermal energy involves pumping water up to 3 miles underground where it is heated by naturally occurring hot rocks before being pumped back up to the surface to either be converted into electricity or used as a source of renewable heat.

Unlike wind power, geothermal can operate steadily 24 hours a day.

Cornwall is expected to prove the best site for geothermal power, as research in the 1970s and ’80s found significant opportunities within the county’s granite bedrock, The Guardian said.

If successful in its exploratory drilling, the Redruth project would produce 10 megawatts of electricity and 55 megawatts of renewable heat for the local community.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electricity, Geothermal, Other0 Comments

Australia Looks to Ocean Waves for Energy

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Researchers say ocean waves off the southern coast of Australia have the potential to generate as much as half of the country’s current electricity needs.

Interest is growing in wave energy as a viable source of renewable electricity generation as the world faces dwindling fossil fuels supplies, an American Institute of Physics release said Monday.

Wave-energy developers, however, face the problem that all previous estimates of wave-energy potential were based on data from deep ocean waters, while “wave-energy generation systems are typically positioned near to shore,” Australian physical oceanographer Mark Hemer says.

In a journal article, Hemer and his colleagues have made new estimates of the wave-energy potential of Australia’s southern near-shore regions, and have calculated what percentage of the country’s energy needs could be supplied by wave energy alone.

Hemer says if 10 percent of the near-shore wave energy available along Australia’s Southern coastline could be converted into electricity, it could meet half of the country’s present-day annual electricity consumption of 130,000 gigawatt-hours.

Wave energy offers a “massive resource” to contribute to the Australian Government’s aim of producing 45,000 gigawatt-hours a year of additional renewable energy before 2020, Hemer said.

“Convert 10 percent of available wave energy from a 1000-km stretch in this area to electricity, ” Hemer says, and “the quota could be achieved by wave energy alone.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumption, Electricity, Other0 Comments

Method Proposed for Power Demand 'spikes'

LEEDS, England, Aug. 11 (UPI) — British and Chinese researchers say they’ve found a way to deal with sudden peak demands for electricity that could cut fuel costs in half.

Scientists at the University of Leeds and the Chinese Academy of Sciences looked at ways to cope with demands on a national power grid that can vary widely at different times of the day, a Leeds university release said Wednesday.

Power demands usually peak in the early evening after the mass exodus toward home from school and work, and short-lived spikes in demand are common after televised sports events or during commercial breaks, the release said.

Energy companies typically deal with the demand spikes with electricity from power plants that are only switched on to cope with the peaks. But the gas-fired generators often used to feed these peaks are notoriously inefficient and expensive to run, and sit idle for long periods of time, researchers say.

University of Leeds Professor of Engineering Yulong Ding and colleagues propose a more environmentally friendly system that would store excess energy made by a plant supplying the “base” demand and use this to supply the “peaks” in demand as and when they happen.

The key idea would be to use excess energy — not needed during “base” demand times — to power a unit producing liquid nitrogen. At times of peak demand, the nitrogen would be boiled, using heat from the environment and waste heat from the power plant, to drive a turbine or engine generating “top up” electricity to deal with demand spikes.

“On paper, the efficiency savings are considerable. We now need to test the system in practice,” Ding said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electricity, Engineering, Other0 Comments

Africa Cellphone Benefits Need Support

DALLAS, Aug. 9 (UPI) — The explosive growth of cellphone use in Africa isn’t enough to drive the continent’s economic growth without accompanying infrastructure, economic experts say.

Researchers at Southern Methodist University say that while there is evidence of positive short-term impacts, so far there’s limited evidence mobile phones have led to large-scale improvements in African countries, a university release says.

Cellphones can do only so much, the researchers say, as long as many Africans still struggle in poverty and still lack reliable electricity, clean drinking water, education or access to roads.

“It’s really great for a farmer to find out the price of beans in the market,” said SMU economist Isaac Mbiti, who has seen the impact of the cellphone boom firsthand in his native Kenya.

“But if a farmer can’t get the beans to market because there is no road, the information doesn’t really help. Cellphones can’t replace things you need from development, like roads and running water.”

Mobile phone coverage has jumped from 10 percent of the population in 1999 to 60 percent in 2008 despite the extreme poverty of many Africans, Mbiti’s research found.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Drinking Water, Education, Electricity, Infrastructure, Other0 Comments

Canada Looks to Utilize Wind Energy

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, Aug. 6 (UPI) — Energy companies in Canada’s Maritime Provinces say they are studying ways for their customers to help them utilize wind energy more efficiently.

Wind power is environmentally friendly but unpredictable compared to carbon-fueled sources of electricity, which are always available as needed, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News reported Friday.

A $32 million Power Shift Atlantic project hopes to recruit consumers to help solve the problem by developing ways to use wind-generated power whenever it is available.

“So what we’re looking at is being able to manipulate customer usage, whether it be refrigeration, or air conditioning or process-related,” said John Gaudet of Prince Edward Island’s Maritime Electric.

“So like if the wind blows in the middle of the night, potentially processes could be operated in the middle of the night,”, he said.

Power Shift Atlantic wants 2,000 commercial and residential customers to take part in the pilot project.

Researchers at the University of New Brunswick are studying wind patterns in the region to determine peak wind-generation times, so customers will be able to plan their power usage.

The project is also looking at systems that will provide power with minimum inconvenience to the customer.

“Can we control customer apparatus at these times so we can turn them on, use that electricity, and turn them off when the wind isn’t blowing, all without the need to consult or inform or contact the customer?” Gaudet said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electricity, Other, Wind0 Comments

No Posts in Category
Advertisement