Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Batteries will batter you

The hype around A 123 (AONE on the NASDAQ) has again pushed the stock up. This firm is a dead on arrival battery company if ever there was one. Who cares if GE and P&G are investors? Will the new jingle for A123 be "Ride my Tide" or "We bring dead batteries to life"? These mega large companies should stick to working together on dishwashers and detergent. My guess is around April when fools are exposed the hype around A 123's lithium ion batteries will die down, they will again show massive losses and hardly any gain in sales revenue except for the few demo vehicles that rich celebs parade their ugly mugs in to show off to the world.

A friend in Australia sent me an email about Panasonic selling a lithium battery system to load shift your purchase of electricity for your home from on peak periods to off peak periods. The system costs $15,000 and it will save you a dollar a day. Hi Panasonic yeah I like the idea of waiting 41 years for my payback on a system that needs replacement every eight years. Perhaps you can get Burn in Hell Madeoff as your celeb spokesperson.

This was posted today on tickerspy.com It is informative but I do not give stock advice just green exploration is my bag.

Electric cars have been the focus of recent battery hype, but don't discount the impact of a cell phone contract.
Mention Google (NASDAQ:
GOOG - News) in the same breath as any small-cap company and it is likely to send the latter soaring. Today's beneficiary is China BAK Battery (NASDAQ: CBAK - News), after Briefing.com said it is "hearing chatter" that CBAK's lithium polymer batteries will power the search giant's upcoming Nexus One smartphone. Until more official reports surface, investors can chalk the 10% spike up to speculation after a nearly three-month slump for the stock.
China BAK Battery is one of the
Energy Storage and Battery Technology Stocks Index's worst-performing components for the period, down by -45%. On a one-month basis, only Valence Technology (NASDAQ: VLNC - News) and C&D Technologies (NYSE: CHP - News) have done worse.
Watertown, Massachusetts-based A123 Systems (NASDAQ:
AONE - News) is experiencing a nice no-news pop on what has been a steady, albeit volatile upward trend since late November. The company, which received investor support from General Electric (NYSE: GE - News), Procter and Gamble (NYSE: PG - News), and Sequoia Capital, among others, is one of the most closely watched components of the 2009 IPOs Index.
A report by Bloomberg's William Mellor is helping boost Warren Buffett's electric car and battery play BYD (OTC:
BYDDF - News) today. Mellor noted that China's 10% average annual GDP growth since 1978 has helped, "turn a nation of bicyclists into a land of car-craving consumers." Given the country's recent focus on environmentalism, the trend bodes well for homegrown clean transportation player BYD, in which Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A - News, BRK-B - News) owns a 10% stake.
Elsewhere in the energy storage segment, Advanced Battery Technologies (NASDAQ:
ABAT - News), Ener1 (NASDAQ: HEV - News), and Maxwell Technologies (NASDAQ: MXWL - News) are all slipping by -5% or more today. Investors can expect similar volatility for some time in what remains a somewhat speculative industry.
As of this writing, the Energy Storage and Battery Stocks Index is one of
the 100 worst-performing tickerspy Indexes over the last month, up only 5.2%.
Investors can track the Energy Storage and Battery Stocks Index for performance trends and a suite of other metrics at tickerspy.com.
Fun and informative, tickerspy.com is a free investing website where you can track multiple stock portfolios and compare against
250 proprietary Indexes tracking themes from dividends to ETFs to green energy to precious metals. Best of all, tickerspy.com lets you spy on the portfolios of nearly 3,000 Wall Street institutions and hedge funds and see graphs of their performance. Try tickerspy.com today and find out how you stack up against investing legends like Warren Buffett!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Banter With Blair

Blair an avid Green Explored reader who is also a chemical engineer like me, wrote the following comment about my last blog that Americans get overcharged.

How efficient is oil as an energy source for autos? Step 1: A supertanker consumes an average of 30,000 barrels of heavy fuel oil to transport 2,000,000 barrels of crude oil from Jeddah, Saudia Arabia to the West Coast or the Gulf of Mexico in the US. 2,000,000 – 30,000 = 1,970,000 barrels. Step 2: According to the NAICS, almost 20% of the fuel energy consumed in the US in 2002 was by oil refineries. Though the actual amount of energy required to refine oil into gasoline is less than 20%, the fact remains that 20% of the energy that goes into the refinery will not be leaving the refinery. 1,970,000 x 80% = 1,576,000 barrels. Refineries process 50% of their crude oil into gasoline and the rest into diesel fuel, heating oil, and other petroleum products. 1,576,000 x 50% = 788,000 barrels of gasoline. Step 3: The overwhelming majority of refineries are located on the coasts or borders of the US. Therefore, to get gasoline to consumers, it must be trucked from refineries to wholesalers/retailers (gas stations). A diesel tanker truck requires 250 gallons of diesel to transport 9,000 gallons of gasoline the average distance (1,500 miles roundtrip) from a refinery to a gas station. So, another 3% is “lost”. 788,000 barrels x 97% = 764,360 barrels remain. That’s 38% of the original total. The cost of gasoline “at the pump” is irrelevant. The thermodynamics of hydrocarbon combustion compared to other energy sources is moot. It doesn’t matter where you stand on the issues of global climate change or auto exhaust air pollution. The fact is using oil as an energy source to power automobiles is incredibly inefficient. Raising CAFE standards will not raise that 38% efficiency figure. We have to come up with something better.

Well Blair it is back to thermo 101 for you. Step 1 you are correct the super tanker will use about 1% of the oil it carries. Step 2 there is no way on God’s green earth that oil refineries consumed 20% of all the fuel energy of the USA. In fact refineries put out more barrels of product than incoming product as there is this thing called “processing gain” that comes about because the refined product is less dense than the crude so if you remember mass balance methodology there is an increase in volume of “lighter” less dense material for a given mass. The US DOE reports processing gain at about a million barrels a day or about 5% of the total usage of oil. See http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/weekly_petroleum_status_report/current/txt/table1.txt

Of course the refinery does need electricity (often self generated), steam (often self generated) and hydrogen for the refining process so there is some loss of energy (not barrels). Here is a wiki article for the well to the gas station analysis for oil and it puts the value as a 17% loss (ie 83% of the energy is in the gasoline that was in the crude in ground). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_cycle_assessment

OK so let’s live with this wiki number even though I believe it is more like 90% of the energy that remains. You magically lost the energy in the other products like diesel fuel, jet fuel in you calculation. This energy is not lost in the refining process it is used for other purposes. So you cannot suddenly say that the gasoline has to bear this loss. That calculation my friend is like counting backward from ten on the fingers of your one hand. You go ten, nine, eight, seven, six going from your thumb to your pinkie and then you say add my five other fingers and I have eleven fingers (a trick I learned when I was four). I got the other kids in kindergarten to believe they had eleven fingers.

For the electric power alternate we have a natural gas extraction and distribution at 95% efficiency, power generation station at 50% efficiency, transmission and distribution at 97% efficiency, inverting AC to DC for battery charge at 90% efficiency and, charge discharge efficiency of lead acid batteries at 60% for a complete cycle efficiency of 24.8% . Using the wiki wells to station efficiency of 83% and the Prius’ engine efficiency of 30% as the engine is running optimally we have the very same 24.9% well to wheels efficiency of the heavy metal car. Without the 500 pounds of batteries the lighter Prius will get better energy efficiency (Newton’s laws of motion). Blair I hope this lesson in “processing gain” helps you understand the dumbness of your Bezerkley friends and alumni. Have a great new year and let’s meet up for coffee even if you drive an electrified Hummer

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

America gets overcharged

I found an interesting article today about two guys in Berkeley California starting a business that on the surface seems to make some sense. I blogged several weeks ago about A 123 and their overpriced system to convert a Prius into a plug in that will go 16 miles on battery power before the engine kicks in. The lithium ion batteries that A 123 sells cost $11,000. These two guys in Berkeley said to hell with expensive lithium ion just use cheap lead acid batteries from electric wheel chairs and golf carts. They have a system that costs $4,500 and allows the plug in Prius to go 25 miles on battery charge. Sounds good hey?

Their system is still not economic compared with running the Prius on gasoline. One will save 180 gallons of gas a year with the lead acid system or about $540 a year in gasoline savings. The lead acid battery charge discharge efficiency is 60% so it will cost about $1.20 per day to purchase the 12 kilowatt hours of electricity from the grid to yield the 7.5 kilowatt hors of power delivered to the wheels. Net savings are therefore approximately $100 a year and guess what the lead acid batteries need replacement in 3 or four year so there is no payout for their system. It is not as big a rip off as A 123 but you still will get overcharged with the lower cost system.

Well just how dumb or smart is it to convert the Prius to a plug in with lead acid batteries other than being economically stupid.? To travel 50 miles in a Prius one needs one US gallon of gasoline. To travel 50 miles in the overweight plug in Prius using battery power one needs 15 kwh delivered to the wheels or 25 kilowatt hours from the grid given the low charge discharge efficiency. The generation of electricity even in the most modern generation station is 50% efficient so one needs 50 kilowatt hours of natural gas to generate the electricty. A gallon of gasoline has approximately 34 kilowatt hours of chemical energy and even if the refining and transportation of oil entails the loss of 10% of energy, the straight up Prius is 25% more energy efficient that the lead acid plug in conversion. Simply adding 500 pounds of added mass to the Prius in the form of lead acid batteries is dumb and not smart. This just goes to show how dumb the folks in a city with a famous university are. Here is article from CNN Money on these fuel fools from the nuclear free city of Bezerkley. Perhaps the CNN Money reporters are even dumber for reporting the dumass story. Of course readers of the Green Machine are thermodynamic Einsteins, and none of us will get over charged and super excited by this Rube Goldberg contraption.

The Prius hackers

Daniel Sherwood, left, and Paul Guzyk in a Pruis that they modified to run on battery power alone.

Paul Guzyk and Daniel Sherwood are computer geeks who co-founded
3Prong Power, a Berkeley business that transforms standard Toyota Priuses into all-electric green machines.
In 1999, Guzyk moved to California and rediscovered an old passion for cars after tinkering with a Prius. He found that in many ways the Toyota hybrid was more like a computer than an automobile. Notably, it ran on recognizable computer standards similar to those found in an office network.
"I found that modifying the Prius is like getting your computer to do what you want it to do," says Guzyk.
In 2006, he met fellow Prius tinkerer Sherwood. Together they gave a 2004 model an all-electric makeover.
First, they installed a bank of Prius batteries they had salvaged from a junkyard. That didn't work well, so they tried traditional lead-acid batteries, used in electric wheelchairs, which did the trick.
Next, they developed software that programmed the Prius to run only on its newly enlarged battery pack. Unlike the one in an unmodified Prius, the car's internal-combustion engine doesn't fire up -- and burn gas. Presto: instant electric car, albeit one with a range of only about 25 miles.
In 2007, they launched their startup in a former Cadillac dealership with less than $100,000 of their own money. Since then they've added six employees and now expect to do 500 conversions, or some 40 a month, through 2010; at $4,500 per job, that works out to about $2.2 million in annual sales.
By Jonathan Blum

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Did Copenhagen yield an agreement?

While there is no binding agreement that resulted from the Copenhagen conference, there is some sort of desire by the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa to attempt to keep global warming to a limit of 2 degrees C (3.6 F). The following was the report on Fox News re the outcome of the conference. My take on the conference and the outcome is that we will have carbon taxes very soon and that the cap and trade of greenhouse gases will become an industry dominated by organized crime rather than disorganized governments. It has already been reported that some eight billion Euros were made by organized crime just in the European Cap and Trade system.

I have very little faith and trust that my Congress of my government has a clue what to do other than tax the hell out of us. If only the taxes will be used for something valuable like kids education it does not bother me to tax carbon that sexy sixth element. Actually if taxes are used for the good of society I would not mind if they Congress taxed every element in the periodic table. However the system of cap and trade will be gamed and frauded by some cartel who will have Madeoff with the money and the carbon will still make its way into the air. I applaud the Pres for his efforts but the reality is that after hundreds of years of the West exerting control over China, India and South Africa none of these countries want to be charmed again into submission. Obama again used the word hope in his news conference before leaving Copenhagen. I wish he would listen to the green machine and undertand that hope is no strategy. The Pres also compared the technologies to be developed for reduction of greenhouse gases to the historical efforts we had to reduce acid rain forming gases. The Pres needs a lesson in thermo or he needs a speech writer who studied thermo. The part of the Pres' speech that resonated well with me was the part where he said we have to embark on a path of more efficient use of fossil fuels. The Pres gave himself a B+ on 60 minutes for his performance in the White House in the first year. I give him a C+ for the Copenhagen trip. Had I represented the USA in Copenhagen I may have been able to ace the exam by telling all the assembled leaders that the best path forward is to reduce the population growth rate, in fact reverse the growth in population to a decline in population as by 2020 there will be 8 billion human mouths to feed. Interesting that not a single word was discussed about the population explosion. Here is the fox news piece.

COPENHAGEN - The U.N. climate conference narrowly escaped collapse Saturday as bitterly divided delegates agreed after all-night talks to recognize a political compromise that President Barack Obama brokered with China and other emerging powers.
The Copenhagen Accord was bogged down for hours by protests from delegates who felt they were excluded from the process or said the deal didn't go far enough in cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
After a break, the conference president gaveled a decision to "take note" of the agreement instead of formally approving it. Experts said that clears the way for the accord to begin even though it was not formally approved by the conference.
"We have a deal in Copenhagen," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, adding "this is just the beginning" of a process to craft a binding pact to reduce emissions. He said the agreement "will have an immediate operational effect."
Disputes between rich and poor countries and between the world's biggest carbon polluters -- China and the U.S. -- dominated the two-week conference in Copenhagen, the largest and most important U.N. meeting ever on fighting global warming.
Obama met twice with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao -- once privately and once with other leaders -- in hopes of sweeping aside some of the disputes that had blocked progress.
The U.S. president appeared to have salvaged the faltering talks Friday when he declared a "breakthrough" with China, India, Brazil and South Africa. But the three-page document they agreed upon ran into trouble in the plenary, where delegates from Bolivia, Cuba, Sudan and Venezuela denounced it.
Decisions are made by consensus in U.N. climate negotiations.
Obama's day of hectic diplomacy produced a document promising $30 billion in emergency climate aid to poor nations in the next three years and a goal of eventually channeling $100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries.
It includes a method for verifying each nation's reductions of heat-trapping gases -- a key demand by Washington, because China has resisted international efforts to monitor its actions.
It requires industrial countries to list their individual targets and developing countries to list what actions they will take to cut global warming pollution by specific amounts. Obama called that an "unprecedented breakthrough."
The document said carbon emissions should be reduced enough to keep the increase in average global temperatures below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but it omits the usual reference to pre-industrial levels. Without that language, the starting point for limiting temperatures would be 0.7 degrees C higher -- the amount of warming in modern times.
However, some of the most vulnerable nations believe the limit should be held to a no more than 1.5 degree C rise.
Since leaders failed to agree on a binding deal to reduce greenhouse gases, delegates also scrapped a plan to protect the world's biologically rich tropical forests early Saturday that would have paid some 40 poor, tropical countries to protect their forests.
Deforestation for logging, cattle grazing and crops has made Indonesia and Brazil the world's third- and fourth-biggest carbon emitters.
The overall outcome was a significant disappointment to those who had anticipated the deal brokered by Obama would be turned into a legally binding treaty. Instead, it envisions another year of negotiations and leaves myriad details yet to be decided.
"The deal is a triumph of spin over substance. It recognizes the need to keep warming below 2 degrees but does not commit to do so. It kicks back the big decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash," said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International.Sudan's delegate, Lumumba Di-Aping, said the agreement would condemn Africa to widespread deaths from global warming and compared it to Nazis sending "6 million people into furnaces" in the Holocaust. The African Union, however, backed the deal and his statement was denounced by other delegations.
To resolve the stalemate early Saturday, U.N. officials changed the way the text was presented to the plenary. The conference recognized the agreement and those who agreed with it were invited to sign it.
Robert Orr, the U.N. policy coordination chief, said the conference's decision to "take note" of the U.S.-led accord provides it with "equal legal validity as 'accepted."'
One reason it's been "a very wild roller coaster ride," he said, was the unusual negotiating process involving the hands-on participation of officials on multiple levels, ranging from heads of state to ministers to negotiators.
If the countries had waited to reach a full, binding agreement, "then we wouldn't make any progress," Obama said. In that case, he said, "there might be such frustration and cynicism that rather than taking one step forward, we ended up taking two steps back."
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama called the deal "a major step forward." German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a leading proponent of strong action to confront global warming, gave the Copenhagen Accord only grudging acceptance, saying she had "mixed feelings" about the outcome and called it only a first step.
Outside the conference hall Saturday, more than 100 protesters chanted, "You're destroying our future!" Some carried signs of Obama with the words "climate shame" pasted on his face.
Obama had planned to spend only about nine hours in Copenhagen but, as an agreement appeared within reach, he extended his stay Friday by more than six hours to attend a series of meetings. He and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held talks with European leaders, including Merkel, Britain's Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Obama said there was a "fundamental deadlock in perspectives" between big, industrially developed countries like the United States and poorer, though sometimes large, developing nations like China, India and Brazil. Still he said this week's efforts "will help us begin to meet our responsibilities to leave our children and grandchildren a cleaner planet."
The deal reflects some progress helping poor nations cope with climate change and getting China to disclose its actions to address the warming problem.
But Obama agreed the world would have to take more aggressive steps to combat global warming. The first step, he said, is to build trust between developed and developing countries.
In a diatribe against the U.S., Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez criticized the conference as undemocratic.
"There is a document that has been moving around, all sorts of documents that have been moving around, there is a real lack of transparency here," he said Friday. "We reject any document that Obama will slip under the door."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

News from Copenhagen

This piece below from AP is interesting. The US will offer money to a fund that will dole out $100 billion a year in 2020. China will open its books on emissions. Yeah and the second law of thermo will be declared invalid in 2018 by the ignited nations. Poor nations need to use their natural gas. Not the stuff their cows emit but natural gas that is widely available in most parts of the planet. If we give poor folks some LED lights for their huts, some wind energy and lead acid batteries so they can light up the LEDs and we could distribute propane and butane and perhaps compressed methane so they have clean stoves we could clean up the soot that accounts for a significant fraction of the man made warming going on and is causing illness and early death. How about some hydroelectric dams on the Congo River and letting Africans get electricity instead of Mugabe? I don't want to take credit but the Green Peace gate crashers at the Queen of Denmark's dinner must have read my piece on Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. The crashers unfurled a banner that said "Politicians Talk Leaders Act" before getting tossed off the red carpet. Was the red carpet out for the commies from China? Come on Queen Margrethe surely some carpet bagger named Al could have found you a Green Carpet somewhere in Copenhagen. Was he an invited guest? Last week Kim commented on the blog and then I replied in my comment that Al makes me barf and I bet he will soon get the Feds to dole out billions for his VC fund to use barf as a biofuel. Forget the H1N1 the A1G1 will mutate into a green virus that only eats paper money.

By Arthur Max, Associated Press Writer , On Thursday December 17, 2009, 5:45 pm
COPENHAGEN (AP) -- Large pieces of a climate deal fell into place Thursday with new offers from the U.S. and China, but other tough issues remained before President Barack Obama and other leaders can sign off on a political accord to contain the threat of an overheated world.
An announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the United States would contribute to a climate change fund amounting to $100 billion a year by 2020 was quickly followed by an offer from China to open its books on carbon emissions to international review.
The U.S. delegation did not immediately react to the offer by Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei. But it went a long way toward the U.S. demand that China report on its actions to limit the growth of Beijing's carbon emissions and allow experts to go over its data.
The sudden concessions on the eve of Friday's final session lifted hopes that the 193-nation conference could reach a framework agreement that could be refined into a legal accord next year on limiting greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change.
Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao were to join more than 110 world leaders for the last scheduled day of the conference, which for most of its two weeks was embroiled in angry exchanges, a partial boycott by African countries and another entire day wasted in procedural wrangling. It's also possible that once the world leaders depart, the talks could continue at the ministerial level and stretch late into the night and early Saturday.
A pair of Greenpeace activists crashed a Thursday night banquet hosted by Denmark's Queen Margrethe for the world leaders already in town. The couple, dressed in formal wear, unfurled two banners reading "Politicians Talk, Leaders Act" as they walked on the red carpet reception line, and were dragged from the hall by security guards.
The conference seems likely to fall short of the goal set by many developing countries for a deal that would be legally binding on all parties and guarantee the kind of dramatic emissions reductions by the industrial world that threatened nations feel are necessary.
Clinton's announcement on funding was widely welcomed. Yoshiko Kijima, a senior Japanese negotiator, said it sent a strong signal by Obama "that he will persuade his own people that we need to show something to developing countries. ... I really respect that."
Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said Clinton added "political momentum," and India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh called it "a good step forward."
Independent agencies also praised the move. "I think we're closer now than we have been in two years," said Tom Brookes, an analyst for the European Climate Foundation.
"It shows that when the U.S. moves, China moves," said Kim Carstensen, the climate director for the World Wildlife Fund.
The White House was lowering expectations ahead of Obama's trip.
"Coming back with an empty agreement would be far worse than coming back empty-handed," presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Neither the U.S. nor China raised its commitment on emissions. Clinton repeated the U.S. would cut emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and China said its voluntary emissions target was nonnegotiable. It announced last month it would cut its "carbon intensity," or the amount of emissions in relation to production, by 40 to 45 percent.
An internal calculation by the United Nations, obtained by The Associated Press, said pledges made so far by both industrial and developing countries would mean a 3-degree Celsius (4.8-degree Fahrenheit) temperature rise this century, which scientists say could lead to a catastrophic sea level rise threatening islands and coastal cities, kill off many species of animals and plants, and alter the agricultural economies of many countries.
But the U.S.-China moves could prompt the European Union to raise its emissions commitment to a 30 percent reduction by 2020 from 1990 levels, and similarly inspire Japan and Australia to lock into the upper end of their previously announced targets -- 25 percent each.
Clinton said the U.S. agreement to the annual transfer of $100 billion to developing countries was contingent on reaching a broader agreement that covers the "transparency" of China's measures to limit heat-trapping gases.
"We think this agreement has interlocking pieces, all of which must go together," Clinton said, accusing China of backsliding on deals reached in closed meetings earlier this year. "It would be hard to imagine, speaking for the United States, that there could be the level of financial commitment that I have just announced in the absence of transparency from the second-biggest emitter -- and now I guess the first-biggest emitter."
He, the Chinese official who spoke in the same press room a few hours later, said Beijing had no legal obligation to verify its emissions actions, but was not afraid of supervision or responsibility.
"We will enhance and improve our national communication" to the U.N. on its emissions, He said. China also was willing to provide explanations and clarification on its reports.
"The purpose is to improve transparency," He said, adding that Beijing was ready to take part in "dialogue and cooperation that is not intrusive and doesn't infringe on China's sovereignty."
Negotiating committees worked through the day and were expected to continue late into the night on an agreement.
Yet to be decided was how the huge sums of money flowing from rich to poor countries would be handled, and whether a new multinational body should be created to distribute the funds. Dessima Williams of Grenada, who chairs an alliance of small island states, said Obama telephoned her prime minister Wednesday to discuss the governance of the bulging climate fund.
The White House officials said the biggest sticking point in the talks was the form of the final accord, and whether it will be legally binding on everyone.
Developing countries insist Kyoto be renewed and extended while a new pact is drawn up to include the U.S. and others. The U.S. does not want its emissions targets to be binding in an international treaty.
Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein, John Heilprin, Charles J. Hanley, Michael Casey and Karl Ritter contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Copenhagen and Carbon Emissions

Today the blog is about the meeting going on right now in Copenhagen Denmark. Unless you have been in a coma for the past week you must have heard that world political, business, academics, lobbyists, and other want to be thought leaders are in Copenhagen trying to iron out a protocol for a greener future for the planet. Many in attendance are just plain hypocrites and fall into the Alfalfa Gore category of fame seekers. Actually they are like moths and are more likely flame seekers. If only they would get close to the fire and disappear in a puff of carbon dioxide we may well be better off.

China the world’s largest carbon emitter is there to protect its own interests as a “developing nation”. All sorts of real developing nations are represented by their honest and capable presidents who really care about the air their people breath. Of course Zimbabwe has to be on the world stage with their man Mugabe sprouting his “convenient untruths”. The entire event arranged by the Ignited Nations is such a sham but it is good for the news organizations so it is well covered. President Obama will go to Copenhagen next week for the closing of the conference and will promise to try to convince our senate to ratify the minus seventeen percent goal for reduced US green house gas emissions. China will commit to lowering the carbon intensity of their gross domestic product by half in 2020. Yeah China owns the USA and most of the rest of the world so if they simply add the rest of the global GDP into the calculation they have already achieved their goal.

Now that I have depressed you all and caused you all to question the sincerity of those attending the conference there is a silver lining to all the hoopla. The average citizen in the industrialized world knows we have to prevent the proliferation of “weapons of mass combustion”. We are all embarked on a new course of improved energy efficiency. Fewer massive homes that are distant from work and places of entertainment will be built. Certainly Hummers and Escalades will disappear from the planet as will thermodynamic fakes such as Al and Arnold. The greening of our thoughts and actions is not just a fad like a hula hoop but is a permanent long term sea changing event comparable to the cessation of smoking tobacco by the majority. Cheap oil and cheap water are gone and we the people will be more efficient in consuming these ever more costly resources.

For certain the politicians will return to their respective parliaments to pass laws to lower emissions by taxing carbon. The cable news networks will provide ample air time for the politicians to grandstand. All sorts of charlatans will start offering vehicles that run on fresh air, travel hundreds of miles on a single gallon of gasoline, or have zero pollution. The Green Machine offers the following advice “there is no fuel like an old fuel and fossil fuels are very old.” We will continue to rely primarily on fossil fuels well past 2020 and we should just use them more sparingly.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I love grannies they are so green

Thank Grannies It Is Saturday

I hope there is nobody out there who does not love their granny or grannies in general. I have selected this group of people as the G word of the week because they have the lowest carbon footprint of any age group. Due to their extremely slow driving they achieve far better gas mileage than teenagers. Also I have not seen a Granny driving a Hummer or an Escalade. Tiger may drive an Escalade, Arnie a Hummer but you won't see a granny in one of either of these pieces of junk. Grannies in Tiburon, California tend to drive a baby Mercedes or a compact Lexus as they are fairly wealthy grannies. Grannies do not accelerate rapidly nor do they brake suddenly close to the traffic light or the stop sign. In fact it almost takes an expert to identify if a granny is accelerating or braking and that is why cars are equipped with brake lights. Some grannies actually use two feet while driving an automatic vehicle. This is why their brake lights are on even when they pull off from a stop or are driving up a grade. These two footed drivers are ruining the average fuel economy for their age group and should be told that braking while accelerating and accelerating while braking is contrary to Newton’s second law of motion but congruent with his third law of equal and opposite actions and reactions.

Midas Brake Repair should offer an early bird special to Grannies who use both feet as they must need brake pads as often as they need an oil change. Enough of my picking on an age group that is not much more than a decade older than me. The news for Chrysler this past June. Fiat bought old Chrysler and is revamping the entire product line. Out with the big and in with the small. I have a suggestion for the Chrysler Fiat combination company that hopefully emerges as a large global auto company, why not target Grannies as your primary market segment? You do not need powerful engines to satisfy grannies. Fiat is famous for underpowered vehicles. Fiat is also well known for their style. Grannies are into style and color and I can only wait for the first purple Fiat 500 to drive down Tiburon Boulevard. Grannies can also loan these underpowered vehicles to their teenage grandchildren without fear that the young and the restless will break the land speed record.

Jokes aside Fiat will provide Chrysler with small car technology that will offer improved fuel efficiency and that is what the Green Machine is all about. Many years ago when I was a child my Dad owned an auto junk yard in Johannesburg and he had a massive watch dog named Chrysler that roamed the yard. Both my Dad and Chrysler must be looking down from heaven in disbelief that future smaller stature guard dogs in junk yards may get to be named Fiat. The last time Fiat tried to gain a market toehold in the USA their cars were not of good quality and the name FIAT stood for Fix It Again Tony. This time I do believe we will see high quality cars from Fiat Chrysler and FIAT could stand for First In Advanced Technology.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Can 2020 equal minus 17?

Today we ponder whether 2020 can equal minus 17? President Obama will attend the climate conference in Copenhagen in early December and he will offer up the proposal that the USA will reduce its carbon emissions in 2020 by 17% from their 2005 level. Sounds like an achievable plan right? Sweet seventeen is a small number and we were burning fuel like there was no tomorrow back in 2005 when the US still had an economy and folks had positive equity in their homes. After Copenhagen the president will go to Oslo to collect his Nobel Prize that he so richly deserves for all of his first year accomplishments in the office of the President of these United States. http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/11/25/obama.copenhagen.climate/index.html

A standard measure of energy consumption is called a Quad. A quad equals one quadrillion (ten to the power fifteen} British Thermal Units (BTUs). A BTU is the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water by a temperature of one degree Fahrenheit. A gallon of gasoline has approximately 125,000 BTUs of energy content so a Quad of energy is contained in 8 billion gallons of gasoline or about the amount of gasoline the USA uses in about 20 days. The Department of Energy reported the following usage of hydrocarbon fuels back in 2005 when old GW was the boss: Petroleum Liquids 40.739 quads; Natural Gas 22.583 Quads; and Coal 22.841 quads.

When I look at these numbers from all sides of the quadrilateral I have sincere doubts that the USA will reduce natural gas usage by any amount. Therefore all of the reduction in carbon emissions will have to come from reductions in Petroleum Liquids (mainly oil) and coal. Coal is primarily used for electric power production as we hardly produce much steel with coke anymore. The problem for old Obama is that one third of the new power plants being constructed between now and 2014 are slated for coal as their energy source. Therefore unless many older less efficient coal power plants are shut I doubt that coal consumption can hit a 17% reduction target. But let’s assume that indeed we in the USA can lower coal consumption by this figure. Consumption of Petroleum Liquids will also reduce over the next decade but the 17% figure will indeed be difficult to achieve. My prognostication is that we will achieve a 10 to 12% reduction in oil usage but Liquid Petroleum Gas consumption will in fact increase. Therefore a 10% targeted reduction in Petroleum Liquids is plausible. As coal is more carbon intensive than petroleum liquids and in turn natural gas, the US should be able to achieve a 10% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels in 2020.

The politicians will use Copenhagen as their pretext of doing environmental good and will impose carbon taxes left, right and center to pay for their grandiose political agendas. On the emissions front Obama in his first year in office is off to a good start. Through the virtual destruction of our economy we will reduce carbon emissions by 5.6% in 2009 compared with last year. In 2020 I will be 68 years old, social security will be bust and I will hardly be able to afford a bus ticket let alone drive a car so my carbon footprint will reduce by 50% from 2005. Obama will be travelling in his private jet and will buy carbon offsets from Alfalfa Gore. You my friends will also have to do your part.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Where do I get my tryptophan?

Thanksgiving is again upon us. It is certainly my favorite All American holiday. Folks get to eat well and then sleep very well after eating a huge amount of calories in a massive turkey dinner. Legend has it that it is this certain protein called tryptophan in the turkey that causes the sleepiness. Tryptophan is a standard and essential amino acid in the diet. It is not true that turkey has more tryptophan than other foods, in fact on a per unit mass basis dried egg whites have four times as much tryptophan than turkey if you eat the same mass of the two foods. Parmesan and cheddar cheese are also richer in tryptophan than is turkey. My advice is if you really want to sleep well after your Thanksgiving meal, sprinkle your turkey with parmesan and have meringues for dessert rather than pumpkin pie. Actually all who eat over 1,000 calories will sleep well no matter what is on the Thanksgiving dinner menu.

The Japanese company Showa Denko attempted to produce synthetic tryptophan as a food supplement in 1989. Unfortunately their quality control was terrible and they produced the dimer (two molecules connected) of tryptophan, a poisonous chemical that caused thirty seven deaths and permanent disability to over 1,500 people. Their manufacturing motto must have been try to kill two birds with one stone.

There are approximately 100 million households in the USA and some 30 million turkeys will be cooked for Thanksgiving dinners. The average mass of a turkey is about 16 pounds. Therefore some 500 million pounds of turkey will be cooked. The amount of gas and electricity needed to roast these birds is not that enormous. If one assumes that the birds take four hours to roast and that the oven uses about .4 kilowatt hours for each hour of cooking, the sum total of energy used in roasting turkeys is 48 million kilowatt hours. The Hoover Dam can produce 48 million kilowatt hours each day so we use one day’s of electric generation of the Hoover Dam to make the majority of citizens in the country very content once a year.

All this talk of fowl makes me sad. Last year around Thanksgiving we had to put our dog Jason down. Jason was thirteen and a half years old and had a wonderful life. He was allergic to many foods and the vets at Alto Tiburon gave us the recommendation of a special diet when Jason was a small pup. His diet consisted of roasted chicken, rice, and fat free cottage cheese. Jason consumed one and a half chickens a week or about seventy five chickens a year. Therefore Jason accounted for the demise of some one thousand chickens during the course of his remarkable life. Only Colonel Saunders did in more of these fine feathered fowl. Jason loved all and was perhaps the easiest going dog on the peninsular. This thanksgiving we are going to miss Jason as he was always happy to substitute turkey for chicken and Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday except for perhaps the Jewish New year when he was given a special treat of chopped chicken liver. An Iranian friend of ours coined the name “shikamoo” for Jason. This Persian word can roughly be translated as glutton. Jason was no glutton for punishment. He was a wonderful dog that my daughter chose for the family many years ago. We should all give thanks for the Jason’s of this world. Maybe there is tryptophan in the afterlife?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How green are the Alpine Valleys?

I just returned last night from a week spent in Switzerland. My time was spent primarily in Basel and at a small town on Lake Zug near Zurich. I also visited Lucerne. Switzerland has incredible geographic beauty and is not an overcrowded place. In Basel it was interesting to note that folks often commute to work on bicycles even now in the late fall. The weather was actually very warm as a warm front from the Mediterranean had swept up from Italy and France, but folks there often commute on bicycles even in the winter. There are trolleys, buses and trains and many do commute via public transport. Many though do commute to work in their personal vehicles and although gasoline and diesel are pretty expensive at about $6 per US gallon those who commute in their personal cars are not dissuaded even by this high cost to use alternate transportation. Basel has a very old ferry system that is used to ferry a few passengers across the Rhine River. There are numerous bridges to walk over and the Rhine is no Mighty Mississippi. The ferry functions by a pipe sliding over a guide wire strung high above the river and attached to a small boat that may hold as many as twenty people. The operator sits at the rear of the boat and has a hand operated tiller for the rudder. By angling the rudder in the right direction the flow of the river and the tethering of the boat by a wire to the pipe on the guide wire the boat vectors across the river simply on the power of the flow of the river and without any human or mechanical power. This was by far the greenest idea I have seen in cross river ferry transportation and Basel gets the Green Machine award for the city keeping the ferry in operation. No doubt the ferry is subsidized by the city as it only cost about a dollar a ride. A small café au lait in a coffee shop costs about five dollars.

I did have breakfast on the banks of the Rhine quite near the spot where the ferry operates and I chose hot chocolate over coffee as the hot chocolate in Switzerland is wunderbar. Several Swiss candy companies are now owned by Nestle as well as Kraft but there are still a few independent chocolate bar manufacturers who purvey the best chocolate I have ever tasted. All this talk of calorie laden delights has me thinking of a news item I saw last night on the CNN internet web sight. It was reported that gangs in Peru have killed some people for their body fat that is then used for high end cosmetics and in reconstructive surgery. http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/11/20/fat.dead.humans.peru/index.html The value of the human fat was reported by CNN at $15,000 a liter or almost $60,000 a US gallon. A liter of fat does not have as much fuel value as a liter of gasoline as human fat is already partially oxidized and gasoline is simply a hydrocarbon. Perhaps gasoline will also cost $15,000 a liter one day in the future. The Peruvian thugs make the plastic surgeon in Los Angeles who was arrested about a year ago for converting human fat he obtained from patients he had liposuctioned into biodiesel look extremely dumb. The LA plastic surgeon who fueled his Mercedes derived a paltry $5.00 a gallon when fuel prices peaked in the summer of 2008 in California. Human greed shows no bounds does it? Nor does the human desire to be thin and look Wunderbar show any bounds.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The eagle has landed on Falcon's parents

A few weeks back I blogged about the falcon that could not fly. This was the story about the kid who never flew in the stray helium balloon. I prognosticated that the whole event was a big hoax to drum up publicity for the family. This week the parents pleaded guilty to criminal charges brought against them. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091113/ap_on_re_us/us_balloon_boy The father pleaded guilty to a felony charge, the mother to a misdemeanor. If the parents do get a few days in jail will Falcon help them fly the coop? Young Falcon actually could not tell a lie and puked on national TV during the morning show the day after the phantom flight of the falcon.

Falcon’s folks are not the only folks who I have called out for perpetrating a hoax. Raser Technologies with their 100 mpg Hummer that they sold our idiot governator on are far bigger haoxsters than Falc’s folks. Raser even had the audacity to take their pile of junk to the steps of the US Capitol and have Senators and Congressmen drive the heap of steel around the capital. Should the CEO and the VP of Marketing for Raser also cop a plea bargain. I would hope that the long arm of the law would extend to those who defy the laws of thermodynamics just like those who pretended their six year old was missing in a fly away balloon. While the gullible population of the US may have been glued to their TVs watching CNN and the US Air Force follow a flimsy collapsing helium balloon for two hours, Raser and their friends have had an idiot governator make multiple speeches that the problem with vehicles is that the vehicles are not too large but the engines inside them are not efficient. Here is Raser’s link of the idiot driving the monstrosity http://www.rasertech.com/media/videos/governor-schwarzenegger-with-hummer-at-capitol . The Detroit News is quoted as saying that Arnie loved the 100 mpg Hummer so much he said "There is nothing wrong with the Hummer; it’s great vehicle," he said, according to The Detroit News. "We should change the technology within those vehicles."

We do have a warped legal system. The Falcon’s parents pleaded guilty after the DA in their town threatened to deport the Japanese born mother. The rationale was the parents were not being good parents. Yeah she will make a great mother 8,000 miles away. How about deporting Arne back to Austria as he has not been a good governor and he was made to look like an idiot by Raser. I have no knowledge of whether Arnie has any dealings with Raser but some have reported he will be the first person to get one of the “100” mpg Hummers. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/04/hybrid-hummer-c/ I say it is time to focus on prosecuting the turkeys rather than the young falcon as we move forward with exposing those that have repeatedly violated the “Second Law’. I love the legal system that jails those who create a 2 hour hoax that keeps fools spellbound and let’s those that repeatedly fake us out about a mythological 100 mpg Hummer stay free to drive on their hydrogen highway to nowhere while masquerading as the Jolly Green Giant.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The revolt is happening

Good news this week from a Norwegian technology company called Re Volt. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/09/revolt-20090901.html They claim to have made a breakthrough in zinc air batteries that are rechargeable. Back in 2003 when I wrote my book on sustainability I wrote several pages on the hope of zinc air as an alternate method of storing energy and having a “rechargeable fuel cell” that may actually work. I postulated that if the zinc oxide that results after the oxidation reaction of zinc could be easily converted back to zinc a lightweight high power fuel cell could be developed that is also relatively inexpensive compared with PEM fuel cells and lithium batteries. The zinc air battery is relatively light as it does not have to contain the oxidizing chemical as oxygen in the air accomplishes this. Zinc is also abundant, non toxic and relatively inexpensive. It is also safe from an electrochemical point of view. In my book I envisioned a train that had a zinc air fuel cell that powers electric motors. Several tons or tens of tons of zinc pellets are fed from a carriage into the zinc air power plant (engine) and pellets of zinc oxide are then stored in another carriage for reprocessing. When the train reaches it destination the carriage with the zinc oxide is decoupled and a new carriage with zinc pellets is attached. The zinc oxide is then reconverted (reduced) back to zinc at a refinery.

It looks like Re Volt has cracked the nut of how to effectively reduce the zinc oxide (recharge) back to zinc within a contained battery and they claim they can do this many times over. Viola you have a less expensive lightweight powerful rechargeable battery. This is truly big news if indeed Re Volt has cracked this nut and solved this trying problem other have struggled with for quite some time.

This zinc to air talk had me thinking about the possibilities of an aluminum air battery. When aluminum oxidizes it too yields an electric current. School kids can perform a science experiment with a small piece of aluminum foil and create an aluminum air battery. The problem with aluminum is that once the surface of the aluminum has oxidized with the thinnest of layers of aluminum oxide, the oxide forms a passivation layer that prevents further oxidation. This is great for aircraft, windows, RVs etc. that are made from aluminum as they do not rust. It is terrible for a battery though as the moment the oxidation reactions atop the battery stops yielding any current. A single aluminum soda can contains about 200 watt hours of possible oxidation energy. By comparison one needs a lithium battery that has a mass of 2 kilograms to yield the same quantity of energy. If once could safely convert the used soda can into aluminum powder it would then be possible to have a longer lasting battery as the surface are of the aluminum is increased many fold and the oxide passivation would be less immediate. Unfortunately aluminum powder is highly explosive and if it catches alight the more water you pour on it the more it burns. Please recycle your aluminum soda cans as we do save as much as 3 hours of electricity to power your television if a single aluminum can is recycled rather than thrown into a landfill.

I will be watching Re Volt with great interest to get developing information on whether they have really cracked this nut or are they simply another company like many other that have short circuited when air was allowed to pass over their zinc and simply became a money sink. In case you have not seen the youtube video of the German Coast Guard guy who mixed up sinking with thinking here is a link to that video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zkZ3f8DnKs I pray the Norwegian words for zinc and sink are not too close.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More on Cash for Clunkers

A quick update. I received an email from Melissa a very smart professor of strategy at one of the country’s leading business school. In the past she has used some of the blog material to explain energy and sustainability to her MBA students. She asked me in her email if could opine of the added carbon emissions that occurred simply to replace clunkers with slightly more efficient vehicles. I did the math quickly and responded to her a couple of days ago.

This is my email response to her

Melissa You are so right. The 2 miles per gallon gained on the 150,000 (Edmunds) vehicles is worth about 50 gallons of gasoline per year per vehicle. This equals 7.5 million gallons a year. The CO2 saved is 150 million pounds a year or 75,000 tons a year of saved CO2. To recycle and produce steel (most efficient from CO2 perspective) is about 2 tons of CO2 per ton of steel. The new cars have 1 ton of steel (minimum) so we have 300,000 tons of added CO2 just in recycling the steel. That equals four years worth of the saved emissions. Add the plastic, aluminum, chrome, rubber, paint, etc and we have 6 to 8 years. If the steel came from the average steel mill (mix of recycle and virgin) it would take 8 years to recover the CO2 just in the steel. If the steel came from a steel mill that uses virgin iron ore and coke it would take 12 years to recover the CO2 just in the steel. A far better program would have been to give each clunker owner free gasoline for 2 years if they used the clunkers to car pool to work with other clunker owners.

An update on stocks that I determined were hype. Raser (RZ) is down to a $1.11 I dinged them and their hype of the 100 mpg Hummer a few months back when they hyped their stock to $4.00 a share. Verenium (VRNM) has gone through a reverse stock split and is close to dying. I dinged them and their cellulosic ethanol six months back. A 123 Battery (AONE) that I dinged a couple of weeks back when they first went public has lost all of their initial gain. I predict they will be A down for the 10 count within three years. Just today Mark a very smart MBA asked me if we needed an ETF (electronically traded fund) of a basket of green companies. I responded that a basket of basket cases is basket squared. Folks don’t believe all that glitters is gold, true green will not lose its sheen.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cash for clunkers was a bust

I have opined a few times that the cash for clunkers program that our pres and congress touted so much did nothing to save the planet. Now a large organization Edmunds has reported the very same analysis of this dumass program from DC. Here is the Edmunds report

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — October 28, 2009 — Edmunds.com, the premier resource for online automotive information, has determined that Cash for Clunkers cost taxpayers $24,000 per vehicle sold.
Nearly 690,000 vehicles were sold during the Cash for Clunkers program, officially known as CARS, but Edmunds.com analysts calculated that only 125,000 of the sales were incremental. The rest of the sales would have happened anyway, regardless of the existence of the program.
Ironically, the average transaction price for a new vehicle in August 2009 was only $26,915 minus an average cash rebate of $1,667.

"This analysis is valuable for two reasons," explained Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl. "First, it can form the basis for a complete assessment of the program's impact and costs. Second—and more important—it can help us to understand the true state of auto sales and the economy. For example, October sales are up, but without Cash for Clunkers, sales would have been even better. This suggests that the industry's recovery is gaining momentum."
"Our research indicates that without the Cash for Clunkers program, many customers would not have traded in an old vehicle when making a new purchase," Edmunds.com Senior Analyst David Tompkins, PhD told
AutoObserver.com. "That may give some credence to the environmental claims, but unfortunately the economic claims have been rendered quite weak."

To conduct the analysis, the Edmunds.com team of PhDs and statisticians examined the sales trend for luxury vehicles and others not included in Cash for Clunkers, and applied the historic relationship of those vehicles to total SAAR to make informed estimates. These estimates were independently verified through careful examination of sales patterns reflected by transaction data. Once the numbers were determined, Edmunds.com's analysts divided three billion dollars by 125,000 vehicles to arrive at the average $24,000 per vehicle.

Of course the pres the congress and their supporters are arguing that cash for clunkers was an enormous success and Edmunds was invaded by the GOP. But now the pres will give mega bucks to the smart grid for dumb Americans. How many dumasses will rid themselves of six TVs, three refrigerators, and their 2,000 watt hair dryer just because they have a smart meter that the utility company will install on their incoming electric line. Why don’t we just charge more for electricity, more for gasoline, more for natural gas and give the added money to folks who actually will help save the planet? Who are these people? They are children who need a real education and may not be as dumb as the generation of adults who bought SUVs, large houses miles from nowhere, and have to have six TVs and three refrigerators for their beer to watch TV. Let’s get real big brother does not need to watch an electric or gas meter spin, it needs more of your money. It should just admit that a $10 per million BTU energy tax is needed. We use 80 quadrillion BTUs of fossil fuel and doing the math the government can raise $800 billion a year right there to pay for real education for the future generation that will also need to be good at breathing carbon dioxide.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Energy from lightning and energy in a hurricane

After my last blog, I got more than a half dozen emails asking me to estimate the energy in lightning strikes. I found a link from the University of Illinois that states a 3 mile lightning strike will have between 1 billion and 10 billion joules of energy.

Three miles is about 15,000 feet so my storm analysis of the Johannesburg thunderstorm showed that at 10,000 feet the storm lost potential energy of 1.2 billion kilowatt hours. At fifteen thousand feet the lost potential energy is 1.8 billion kilowatt hours. One kilowatt hour equals 3.6 million joules so again I use my calculator to show that if the lightning during the storm struck 100 times the energy in the rain was 64,800 times greater than the 100 combined lightning strikes if the lightning had 1 billion joules each strike and 6,480 times greater if each lightning strike had 10 billion joules. Now that you are equipped with this jewel of information you know that trying to collect the energy from lightning in a storm will not do much to save the world from fossil fuels.

Sudhir an avid reader sent me this email with the following link to show how powerful a hurricane is compared with atomic bombs. Looks like this guy who wrote the link came to same conclusion as me that storms are pretty powerful. He claims that Hurricane Gustav was 11,070 times more powerful than the Hiroshima A bomb. Wait Hurricane is spelled with a H so we will see if the National Hydrogen Association claims Gustav was simply a Hydrogen Bomb.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Energy in a thunderstorm

Enough time was spent by me on the hydrogen nonsense so now to some real powerful stuff. My friend in South Africa just emailed me that they had a terrible thunder storm with tons of rain and hail last night in Johannesburg. Tree limbs and leaves all over her garden and the street in front of her home. This got me thinking about how much energy is in a thunderstorm. As a first approximation I will just calculate the lost potential energy in the rain and hail that falls out of thunderstorm clouds. As an assumption I will estimate that the rainfall in the storm is two inches, the storm lasts for one hour, the clouds are 10,000 feet above the ground, and that the storm dumps rain on 1,000 square miles. Doing really tedious arithmetic and with the help of a calculator I estimate that this storm lost 1.2 billion kilowatt hours of potential energy in that hour of storming. For comparison the entire USA uses about 600 million kilowatt hours of electricity on average each hour. Therefore this one storm over Johannesburg last night dumped sufficient rain and hail to power two United States’ worth of electricity had we been able to capture the potential energy of just the water in the storm cloud. Add the wind associated with the thunder storm and the storm could have power the entire world’s electricity requirement for that hour. The world uses four times as much electricity as the USA and I am making the assumption that the wind was as powerful as the rain.

This simple illustration shows us how powerful nature is and that we simply have not developed the methods other than hydroelectric dams to capture the power nature is inflicting on some place on earth whether in a thunderstorm, hurricane, gale, forest fire, or earthquake. Back to how powerful that storm over Johannesburg was, you need to consider the following. Each and every second for that hour the 1,000 square mile area was receiving at total of 1.2 billion kilowatts of power. What is 1.2 billion kilowatts of power? Well a Porsche Carrera has an engine that has a peak power of about 300 kilowatts. Therefore the power of the storm over the 1,000 square miles was like having 4 million Porsche Carreras racing their engines at maximum speed in that 1,000 square mile area. This is 4,000 Porches running at full throttle in one square mile. Kind of like four million Porches spaced every 80 feet revving at 7,000 rpm on a grid covering a 1.000 square miles. In money terms if the National Hydrogen Association got their way and they could build 1.2 billion kilowatts of fuel cell power, this would require a budget of almost a quadrillion dollars or twenty times the yearly global economy. I think I will stand in awe the next time a thunderstorm passes. I will also make sure I take refuge as I do not want to personally experience the power of a lightening strike.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Hat Trick With Patrick

More from Patrick at the National Hydrogen Association

Alright Lindsay. This isn't very friendly, but I'll respond, this once.About your balloon. It’s not all about payload, it’s about staying in the air for long periods of time, flying specific routes silently and flying undetected so that it won’t get shot down. Something at which your balloon would fail miserably.About the Clarity. If you’d rather use gasoline in a Prius, go right ahead. But the Honda FCX Clarity produces 40% fewer emissions well-to-wheels (even when the hydrogen is made from natural gas), gets 60 miles per gallon equivalent (you can check their website next time--it's more accurate: http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/specifications.aspx) , and uses zero gasoline. I’m going with the Clarity, leased at $600/mo, including all maintenance, fuel and insurance for collision and damage. (You should know that it’s not for sale yet, and I know you didn’t get the $400,000 price tag from Honda, so let’s just call that a bogus, made up number.) For fun, I checked to see what a lease for a new gasoline-electric Prius would cost, and it’s almost $500/mo, not including the maintenance, fuel, insurance, etc. So even though the FCX Clarity is not yet a production vehicle, you can still get one for about the same price today (or cheaper) than you can a Prius. http://www.automotive.com/2009/12/toyota/prius/lease/index.html

My response

Patrick this is going to be a hat trick. Products are measured by their market penetration. The Prius has sold one million and the FCX Clarity has so far leased 10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_FCX_Clarity The Clarity has 100 kw fuel cell and per my information from Ballard a PEM fuel cell still sells for about $7,000 per kw so right there we have $700,000 for the fuel cell without costing out the rest of the car. I was being kind saying $400,000. To support my arithmatic I offer you the following. Ballard is a leading member of your association and they recently reported their second quarter 2009 results with revenues from fuel cells of just over $9.65 million and that they sold 340 backup fuel cells and 12 material handling fuel cells. Their web site lists the maximum kw for material handling as 19.3 kw and the backup as 3.4 kw. Multiplying out the number of fuel cells sold in the quarter we get that they sold a maximum of 1,388 kw of fuel cells for a price of $9.65 million or $6,952 per kw. This means the puny 100 kw "engine" in the FCX costs $695,200 even if manufactured by Ballard (the largest fuel cell maker in your association). For the readers the normal gasoline engine in a Honda Civic also about 100kw costs $5,000. Honda can produce 139 gasoline engines for the price of one fool cell. Maybe Honda knows that Bernie Madoff lost people's money by selling too many items for less than they cost. Honda is doing the FCX for the press and is willing to loose ten or fifteen million dollars for the publicity on this Betamax technology. Actually Betemax is being kind. My new terminology for thermodynamic junk is Omegamax.

Getting back to your good friends Ballard their end of 2008 balance sheet show they have retained earnings of minus $1.12 billion. This means they have had cumulative losses of 1.12 billion dollars over the years they have tried to perfect their fuel cell. They are the poster child of the money wasted on this betamax technology. Let's add the losses of some of your other members (Proton Energy Systems, Millenium Fuel Cell, Plug Power, Hydrogenics, FuelCell Energy) to Ballard and these fool cell folks have lost over $3 billion collectively in their attempt to get this dead end to market. Add the government waste and well as the money invested by the major auto firms and thispile of junk was given over $6 billion to go nowhere. Honda has placed 10 fuel cell FCXs in service, Toyota has placed 1 million Prius cars in service. Give me a Break. Actually Give me a Brake and I will regenerate energy in the Prius.

On the wells to wheels story I was being kind. If the hydrogen is produced by electricity that was generated by the average source of electricity in the US grid the FCX GETS approximately 40 MPG equivalent. I checked the Honda link and it lists the distance per kilogram of H2 as 60 miles. A kg of H2 has 110,000 BTU LHV so you simply said this is a gallon of gas. But to produce the H2 one needs more energy from natural gas as the reformer is 75% efficent. Hence
the 60 miles is reduced to 45 miles. Add the energy for compressing the hydrogen to 5,000 psi and we get 40 mpg even with natural gas. Patrick you have to know thermo and not just first grade arithmatic, unless you are trying to pull a trick on us

Patrick please tell me your educational background. Are you an engineer? Have you studied thermodynamics? I wish to continue the debate only if you have the requisite engineering education. If you did not study engineering or physics this gives me an unfair advantage in this debate, kind of like the Prius over the FCX. If you are not an engineer or a physics major with years of study in thermodynamics it is kind of sad that the NHA has you in the position of VP of Technology. Sincerely The Green Machine.

PS one of my readers did some detective work and found out Patrick has an Engineering Science degree from Dartmouth. I can see us going ten rounds and this could be the re-enactment of the Thriller in Manila or the Rumble in the Jungle.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My debate with Patrick at the National Hydrogen Association

Patrick of the NHA commented yesterday on my last blog

Hey, that's funny Lindsay. The National Hydrogen Association did take physics 101. It's why we know how to make small, efficient planes, vehicles that go over 300mph, fuel cells that can power a building, silently with no emissions and cars that travel over 400 miles on one tank and fill-up in 2-5 minutes. You don't have to slanderize and badmouth other technologies to promote your own. There's room for innovation from everyone. You can disagree all you want, but let's place nice, like gown-ups.

My reply to Patrick

Hey Patrick glad you read the piece. I have no technology that I own or promote. I just promote knowledge and help folks understand in a simplified way the laws of thermo dynamics.

OK so you guys powered a 35 pound drone with 4 pounds of hydrogen and kept it aloft for 23 hours with a 0.75 kw fuel cell. Please tell us how much the US Navy paid for this toy? A fuel cell vehicle like the Honda needs about 0.3 kwh per mile. This means we need 0.5 kwh of hydrogen as the FC is approx 60% efficient. The production of H2 from natural gas is approx 75% efficient so we need 0.67 kwh of natural gas for the vehicle to go a mile. A gallon of gasoline has 33.7 kwh so your Honda fuel cell vehicle gets 50 mpg equivalent. Same as the Prius on Gasoline. The prius is sold (not leased) for $22,000 and the Honda fuel cell vehicle costs Honda over $400,000 to produce.

Patrick you should get real and you should stop playing games nicely. I could have taken the 4 pounds of hyrogen that were burned in keeping the drone aloft and used them in a balloon to displace 28 pounds of air and therefore lifted 24 pounds of balloon plus load. Let's say the balloon weighs 4 pounds so I can lift 20 pounds of payload. The lighter than air blimp will need about 1/3 the fuel to go the same distance as the drone as I do not need thrust for lift and only need thrust for propulsion. Now that you have learned physics 001 please go to Congress for another $3 billion of my tax money so It can be wasted on repulsion instead of propulsion.

Patrick let's continue this debate as I note you are the Vice President, Technology and Communications of the National Hydrogen Association. Readers you can also go to the NHA site at http://www.hydrogenassociation.org/ Patrick after our debate we will poll the greenexplored readers to see if they have been given value for $3 billion of tax payer funding.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The falcon that did not fly

The US cable news networks were covering a story about a kid named Falcon Heene who floated from his backyard in a helium balloon that his dad made. Planes and helicopters were sent up and no kid could be seen attached to the balloon. The balloon started to deflate and after four hours it landed hundreds of miles away and the kid could not be found. A massive hunt was started to find out where the kid landed and possibly perished. It turns out the kid was hiding in his home and the whole thing was a non event except that now the parents are being questioned if this was a publicity stunt. The parents appeared on Wife Swap last year a reality TV show and I guess they needed more coverage so to speak. The kid and his parents were interviewed on the Morning Show the next day and the kid started puking on live TV. Here is the headline from the San Francisco Examiner on October 15 the day this happened: "Helium balloon floats away with boy,6, inside: After landing, child is missing from balloon"

All this helium balloon stuff got me thinking of the Hindenburg and dirigibles. With the help of Bill an extra smart engineer who studied at Caltech, we have decided that hydrogen not helium should be used in lighter than aircraft and that diesel should be the fuel of choice for the engines. Hydrogen got a bum wrap for causing the Hindenburg fire. Aluminum oxide, static electricity and shellac ignited the fire and hydrogen then burned. I am pretty sure I would not travel in a new Hindenburg that I may design but I would use it to deliver heavy equipment to remote areas like the North Slope of Alaska. The pilot would get double pay for hazardous duty or perhaps the dirigible could be remote controlled just like the drones the Air Force uses.

The National Hydrogen Association had a piece on a remote controlled drone that was powered by hydrogen fuel using a half horsepower fuel cell that stayed aloft to almost a day. The puny little drone might be able to carry a pea sized camera but my green machine could lift a tank. The National Hydrogen Association should go back to physics 101 and realize they have a massively buoyant chemical and a puny fuel. As for Falcon he may become forgotten like a Ford Falcon the car that certainly could never fly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lindsay Leveen The Green Machine Top Ten Notable Quotables

“You can fuel some of the people some of the time but you can’t fuel all the people all of the time”

“Be green when all are fearful and be fearful when all are green”

“Some are green others are gangrene”

“Words speak of your noble intentions but actions should win Nobel prizes”

“Soon all the icebergs will be lettuce”

“There is no fuel like an old fuel and fossil fuels are very old”

“Expensive weak batteries killed the electric car”

“The convenient truth is Alfalfa won the PowerPoint Piece Prize’

“When I die I want a thousand Hummers to drive over my grave, I want to be buried at sea”

“Stop the world I want to get off so I can discover what kind of fuel am I?”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Congresswoman Woolsey will take my letter to her house subcommittee

Folks: I received an email Friday from my Congresswoman's chief of staff. She has extended an offer to deliver a letter from me to all house members who sit on the house science subcommittee on energy. Here is the letter I sent to my Congresswoman today:

October 10, 2009

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey
US House of Representatives
Via Fax 707 542 2745

Re - House Science Subcommittee on Energy

Dear Congresswoman Woolsey

Thank you for granting me this opportunity to write this letter that you will forward to all the members of the House Science Subcommittee on Energy. The representatives who sit on this science subcommittee have an awesome responsibility. Our standard of living as well as our national security and well being are based on good policy coming forth from this subcommittee. Unfortunately the record on energy policy ever since the Department of Energy was created in 1977 has been dismal. Without boring you with detail I list the failures in chronological order: Coal to Liquid and Gaseous Fuel; Energy Deregulation; MTBE and Reformulated Gasoline; Cold Fusion; Hydrogen; Fuel Cells; Corn Ethanol; Clean Coal; and Cellulosic Ethanol.

A new Administration and a new Congress will now be spending even more money on the “energy problem”. Most energy technologies are Betamax technologies from a thermodynamics perspective. A little about my background and why think I can help. I graduated in 1973 with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg S. Africa. I received my MBA from the same university in 1975 and went to work on coal gasification in South Africa. I came to the USA on a fellowship from the Monsanto Corp to study for my MS in Chemical Engineering at Iowa State University and my field of graduate work was in Thermodynamics. I graduated with a MS Chemical Engineering in 1977. I worked for 12 years in cryogenics and became well versed in hydrogen. I then spent 16 years becoming an expert in microelectronics fabrication leading teams in the design of chip, LCD and nonmaterial making facilities the world over. For the past four years I have worked at Genentech and lead teams in the chemistry, manufacturing and control of biopharmaceuticals. My education and work experience is deep in the fundamental technologies that relate to energy past and present. I am not a registered Democrat yet Andrew Tobias, the Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, has referred to me on his blog as me being “frighteningly bright”. Enough said on qualification to opine on matters before your subcommittee.

The single point I wish to communicate is that very few technologies have a “Moore’s Law” rate of learning. I had the good fortune to lead the design of Intel’s chip fabrication facilities in the Silicon Valley for six years and lived Moore’s Law. I have written and lectured extensively that fuel cells will never approach a high rate of learning and hence cost reduction. I have written and lectured that the same slow rate of learning will hold for photovoltaic cells. I have written and lectured that corn ethanol would be a bust.

I told the National Hydrogen Association meeting in 2005 that hydrogen was a great chemical and a pathetic energy carrier. At this very meeting Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman handed out $100 million to GM for their science fictional fuel cell. I was one of the few antagonists to MTBE back in 1989. I have said that cellulosic ethanol will be a bigger bust than corn ethanol. And I now say that lithium ion batteries will not become sufficiently inexpensive for the Volt to stand a chance against a Prius. Carbon sequestration will also not happen in sufficiently large measure to do much and will remain prohibitively expensive. I say to you the House Science Subcommittee on Energy that these assertions you hear that economies of scale and mass production will drive down the cost of these technologies are not realistic.

What is realistic from a thermodynamics perspective are improvements to wind farms, improvements to geothermal, improvements to solar thermal, improvements to nuclear power generation, improvements to pumped hydro and compressed air energy storage. Certainly improvements in the rate at which we consume energy can and should be made. I also have prognosticated that is possible from a thermodynamic point of view to develop gasoline engines that operate at the same high compression ratio and in the same un-throttled mode as diesel engines. Running all engines in a mode that mimic diesel engines will yield massive improvements in fuel economy. Simply promoting the use of diesel for private vehicles will also make a big difference in fuel consumption.

You may ask why did computer chips and LCD screens enjoy a rapid learning rate and why won’t these other technologies improve in likewise manner? I would like the opportunity to address that fundamental question by detailed explanation of Thermodynamics, Learning Rates, System Fabrication, Reaction Kinetics, and Resource Limitations. This of course cannot be accomplished in a simple introductory letter. I remind you all of a sign that hanged in Albert Einstein’s office in Princeton. The sign read “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts “. Likewise the laws of thermodynamics will prove that hope is not a strategy for a realistic energy policy and if what we do is going to count let’s allow the laws of thermodynamics to take precedence over our man made laws.


Lindsay Leveen

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why is Russia getting greener?

News out of Russia is that it is one of the few G20 countries that are actually getting greener. Since 1990 greenhouse gas emissions are down by over a third. Before we all celebrate that Putin and his boys are green guardians, most of the reduction is a result of decreased economic activity after the fall of the soviet empire. Of late though the Russian economy has been growing and this resource rich country that spans two continents will again begin to emit increasing amounts of carbon dioxide as living standards improve, more personal vehicles are bought, and Muscovites give up on living like the Honeymooners and emulate the Brady Bunch lifestyle. Perhaps they won’t have eight kids in a household though. The population of Russia is in decline and is now some six million less than a decade ago and the trend continues with a high death rate and an extremely low birth rate.

Russian men drink ethanol at an amazingly alarming rate and this is the dominant reason for a high death rate in their country. Life expectancy for Russian men is only 59 years. For women life expectancy is 72 years. The Russian population is now 142 million and could go as low as 110 million in 2050. In 1939 before the start of world war two the population of the Russian part of the Soviet Union was also 110 million. While the folks in the USA guzzle ethanol in their vehicles to the tune of some 30 gallons a year, the men in Russia think of their bodies as a Chevrolet and guzzle an equal amount of booze in a year. If only alcohol could kill off Clunkers as fast as men we may have a greener world.

While the Russians may have inadvertently become green by closing inefficient state owned heavy industries after the collapse of communism and by loosing population, there is in fact a lesson that should be learned here. These two reasons for the lowering of the environmental footprint of mankind are indeed where the focus of all our attention should be placed. The population explosion is by far the biggest cause of the degradation of the environment. The second is that a country such as China produces half of the steel in the world using primitive steel making techniques that employ coal and are reminiscent of the steel industry in Pittsburgh in the 1930s. If the steel industry is to rationalize and clean up, countries such as Australia and Brazil should produce more than half of the worlds steel supply. Australia has vast iron ore and natural gas reserves and producing direct reduced iron in Australia would yield steel with a third less carbon emissions. Brazil is blessed with vast and excellent grade iron ore. Its neighbor Bolivia has abundant natural gas. These two could combine to form a low cost, low emission steel manufacturer.

Iran and Russia are also blessed with vast natural gas reserves. Even if Iran developed its economy to the point where each citizen consumes as much electricity as each citizen of the USA, Iran has sufficient natural gas to generate electricity for over 200 years. Iran has a population of 66 million and this country has seen its population grow massively from only 17 million in 1950. They are not the only country placing an increased burden on the planet, the USA has essentially doubled its population since 1950. We are told that increased education leads to increased living standards and decreased population growth. The USA should also lead by example and educate it citizens to understand the implications of the suburban lifestyle that Hollywood has glorified to audiences around the world. Perhaps then the Iranians will follow in the footsteps of their Russian friends to the north and slow their population growth and enjoy life albeit shortened by shouting Nasdrovia .

Friday, October 2, 2009

I am posting this cartoon courtesy of the cartoonist Zapiro http://www.zapiro.com/ and the South African Sunday Times. The cartoon says it all for this week. I was granted permission by the cartoonist to post the cartoon but there is a copyright that is held by the cartoonist so do not copy this cartoon and use it elsewhere.
In saying it all the Cartoonist has captured that the leadership of the G20 economies are excusing the others for their ecological misbehavior. It is time that collectively the larger economies do tackle their emissions and do it in a realistic way. The USA can institute a real energy policy of taxing the hell out of gasoline and providing incentives to those who carpool, vanpool, or take public transportation. My firm Genentech where I work has one out of three workers using carpools, vanpools, company operated buses, bicycles, public transportation to get to and from a suburban campus. My commute costs are negative. C'mon politicians do something besides eating beans at the campfire of your next get together. The Green Machine

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Can Lithium batteries solve our oil addiction?

I have thought long and hard and read all I can on whether there will be cheaper lithium batteries in five years that make plug in cars affordable. Alas my friends the lithium plug in hybrid or all electric plug in is another thermodynamic dead end. A company A 123 went public this week and their stock soared. Their hype is that they will make affordable lithium batteries for vehicles. If I was a stock analyst and I am not I would say short this stock. They will short circuit and be a goner in a few years. This is not about Google or a wonder drug company this all about electrochemistry and thermodynamics and the truth is one needs a certain mass of electrolyte, anodes, cathodes, spacers, housing , wiring etc. to get a certain amount of stored energy. My research shows that the raw materials make up 75% to 80% of the total cost of the lithium battery. The materials will actually have inflationary pressure on their prices and if anything 80% of the battery cost will trend upward. The other 20% that is labor, capital, and non raw material inputs may experience a learning rate and economies of scale may lessen this small fraction of the total battery cost, however the raw material costs are just too large a fraction of total cost to allow a learning curve.

Technological novices will argue that alternate cheaper materials will be found and that there will be a way of reducing the quantity of raw materials. I argue that we have found the least expensive materials that actually work electrochemically and that less materials just means less power stored in the battery. Last week A123 put a Google ad on my site. I have no control over who advertises. A 123 has this battery pack as an after market add on for a standard Prius to make it plug in and capable of going 15 miles on the battery. I called the company and got the following information. The battery is a 5 kilowatt hour battery. It costs $11,000 and if I drove 12,000 miles a year with their system I would save approximately 180 gallons a year of gasoline compared with the base Prius. OK I will need to pay the electric company something like $200 per year for the electricity and I save $540 a year in gasoline at $3 per gallon. So my net savings are $340 a year. I need more than 30 years to pay for the batteries. But the story gets worse the batteries are only good for a maximum of 8 years. So every 8 years I pay $11,000 to get back $2,720. I think A123 should change their name to the Made Off Battery Company.

I have been trying for four months to see my congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, the ranking democrat on the house sub-committee on energy technology. I have been blocked and stonewalled by her staffers. Just today I wrote to the Committee Against Government Waste http://www.cagw.org/ as their head had commented on the waste of tax payer dollars money that the Feds just gave to Fisker a plug in hybrid company funded by Alfalfa Gore and his VC group. Here is a copy of my email to CAGW:

I am outraged by the waste of tax payers’ dollars on plug in vehicles. I am a chemical engineer and a pretty well known expert in thermodynamics. I blog at http://www.greenexplored.com/ The Lithium plug in will be as big a waste as Fuel Cells, ethanol and bio-diesel. I am convinced that batteries will cost more not less in ten years. These proofs of concept are just pure ways of giving money away. Lithium Ion batteries are expensive because the raw materials are expensive. Raw materials account for 80% of the cost and the other 20% may have some economies of scale but the inflation in raw material costs will simply overwhelm the decrease in costs from economies of scale. The plug in electric vehicles or hybrids are a betamax technology. Great play things for a few rich folks. We need many diesel vehicles, we need many basic hybrids with small batteries, we need an energy policy based on the laws of thermodynamics not the laws of the Washington pig farm. I think I can help you with the supporting science, engineering, thermodynamics and get our voice out there. For four months I have been asking for an audience with my congresswoman. One Lynn Woolsey who is the ranking democrat on the house sub-committee for energy technology. I have been given the run around. No doubt because she has to follow her party and follow her guru one Alfalfa Gore. please go to http://www.greenexplored.com/ and then let's chat. I have no commercial interest in any technology, business, or organization involved in energy. I only care about the country and the planet. Lindsay Leveen The Green Machine

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What does the Department of Energy do?

Carl an avid reader of the Green Machine asked me to opine on what the Department of Energy really does. I call this department of the Federal Government the Department of Entropy because it has to be one of the most disorganized and chaotic departments of our government. The new secretary of energy Dr Chu has a lot to chew on to get the mess under control. If we can get the DOE to work on a real energy policy then the US may in fact lower its carbon footprint and lessen its dependence on foreign fossil fuels, the very Reason President Carter asked that this department be created in the first place.

32 years and many hundreds of billions of dollars later Dr Chu faces the same problem as the first secretary of energy James Schlesinger faced in 1977. James was also director of the CIA, and the secretary of defense under President Ford. At least Jimmy and Jimmy crafted an energy policy in the late 70s that was to draw upon oil from coal. Since then no policy at all has been crafted. In a future blog I will discuss the drawbacks of coal to liquids for a transportation fuel but at least these guys had a policy. The two secretaries of energy under GW had to be the two biggest waste of energy ever. Sam Badman sorry Bodman was our last secretary of energy before Dr Chu and old Sam is a disgrace to my Chemical Engineering profession. He should have been a magician instead of a PhD Chemical Engineer. His magic helped turn oil into a $150 a barrel commodity. Maybe Sam had an Uncle not named Sam but named Oillie.

Carl sent me the following in an email:

Subject: Funniest Joke Ever- well maybe not

Absolutely the funniest joke ever......ON US !!!
Let it sink in.
Quietly we go like sheep to slaughter.

Does anybody out there have any memory of the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ..... During the Carter Administration?
Didn't think so!

Bottom line ... We've spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency...the reason for which not one person who reads this can remember. Ready??????? It was very simple .. And at the time everybody thought it very appropriate.... The 'Department of Energy' was instituted on 8-04-1977 TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL. Hey, pretty efficient, huh????? AND NOW IT'S 2009, 32 YEARS LATER ... AND THE BUDGET FOR THIS NECESSARY DEPARTMENT IS AT $24.2 BILLION A YEAR


Friday, September 18, 2009

Where do you draw the green line?

Sometimes it's easy to be green - turning off the lights, unplugging your cell phone charger, and taking the bus are pretty effortless. But sometimes being green can seem downright silly.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Can Californians get out of their cars, trucks, and SUVs?

The Green Machine is sorry to report some not very good news from the Golden State. Even with massive unemployment, in the once Golden State, gasoline consumption in May 2009 exceeded that of May 2008. I hope this extra driving is because folks are looking for work and not simply because the price of gasoline this summer is lower than last year. The sales of diesel are however way down from last year to this. Diesel consumption is the most accurate indicator of economic activity as the Californian economy moves on trucks. Imports move on trucks, produce moves on trucks, autos move on trucks, and garbage moves on trucks.

The following is the statement from the California Board of Equalization on August 31, 2009
Old Betty Yee who is the Chairwoman of the Board had to put a spin on the data. The diesel data show a dismal economy. The gasoline sales were up in May from April as May has 31 days versus 30 in April and that equals 3.3% right there.

If I was the Chairwoman I would have said the economy stinks but the average motorist paid 37% less per gallon of gasoline and even though the equity in their homes is nearly worthless they took to the roads in droves to look for treasure troves.

Betty T. Yee, Chairwoman of the Board of Equalization (BOE), today announced that California gasoline consumption rose in May, while diesel fuel continued to decline.
“We’re in an uncertain time,” said Chairwoman Yee. “While more fuel efficient cars and trucks are increasing fuel economy – and in light of some of the recently improved economic statistics – consumers remain cautious in their spending as the economy continues toward an uncertain recovery.”
Figures released today show that gasoline consumption rose by 3.5 percent from April, and was 0.6 percent higher than a year ago. Diesel consumption declined by 4.8 percent from April, and was 7.0 percent lower than a year ago.
May 2009 gasoline sold for use on California roads totaled 1.29 billion gallons of gasoline, which was 0.6 percent above that of May 2008, when Californians consumed a total of 1.28 billion gallons of gasoline.
A month to month comparison shows that gasoline consumption rose 3.5 percent in May when Californians consumed a total of 1.29 billion gallons of gasoline, compared with 1.25 billion gallons in April. Historically, May shows an increase over April, in part because of the Memorial Day holiday, which traditionally is the start of the summer when people travel more and consume more fuel.
The average California gasoline price at the pump in May was $2.53 per gallon, a 37.1 percent decline from the average price the same month last year when it was $4.02. Gasoline sold at the lower price in May generated approximately $241 million in sales tax during that month, an estimated $139 million less than was generated last year.
May 2009 diesel fuel sold for use on California roads totaled 209 million gallons of diesel, which is a 7.0 percent decline, or 15.8 million gallons less than May 2008, when Californians consumed a total of 225 million gallons of diesel. A month-to-month comparison shows that diesel consumption declined 4.8 percent in May when Californians consumed a total of 209 million gallons of diesel, compared with 220 million gallons in April.
California diesel prices were $2.35 per gallon in May down 49.6 percent compared to last year, when the average diesel price was $4.67 per gallon.
The BOE is able to monitor gallons through tax receipts paid by fuel distributors. Figures for June 2009 are scheduled to be available at the end of September 2009. All monthly, quarterly, and annual figures can be viewed on the BOE website at: http://cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=smartlink&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.boe.ca.gov%2Fsptaxprog%2Fspftrpts.htm&esheet=6038921&lan=en_US&anchor=www.boe.ca.gov%2Fsptaxprog%2Fspftrpts.htm&index=1.
Taxable Gasoline Gallons: http://cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=smartlink&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.boe.ca.gov%2Fsptaxprog%2Freports%2FMVF_10_Year_Report.pdf&esheet=6038921&lan=en_US&anchor=www.boe.ca.gov%2Fsptaxprog%2Freports%2FMVF_10_Year_Report.pdf&index=2
Taxable Diesel Gallons: http://cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=smartlink&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.boe.ca.gov%2Fsptaxprog%2Freports%2FDiesel_10_Year_Report.pdf&esheet=6038921&lan=en_US&anchor=www.boe.ca.gov%2Fsptaxprog%2Freports%2FDiesel_10_Year_Report.pdf&index=3