Saturday, December 31, 2011

The year is gone

The stock market here in the US as measured by the Standard and Poor’s 500 basically did nothing from beginning to end of year but certainly had some wild swings during the year. The US moved to become a net exporter of refined petroleum products for the first time in 60 years. The price of natural gas in the US dropped by 30% during the year thanks to the shale gas, while the cost of oil was up just over 10% for the year. The economy here in the San Francisco Bay area had some real winners as well as losers. Apple and Google are humming while Solyndra is dead as a door nail. I drove down interstate 880 yesterday and went past the closed Solyndra facility in Fremont. This large imposing billion dollar facility is shut and the lights are off. About a mile north of Solyndra is the Tesla assembly facility that previously was owned jointly by Toyota and GM. There are massive Tesla signs on the walls of this large facility and my bet is in about a year it too will be half empty as the Tesla Model S does not deliver as promised.

My least favorite auto company Fisker just recalled all the 250 cars they have delivered so far. Looks like A 123 who supplied the lithium ion batteries did not clamp coolant lines properly to the battery packs and the battery packs might catch alight if they get too hot. No doubt A 123 was a dog this year as the stock dropped (as predicted by the Green Machine) to $1.61 at year end after starting the year as a ten buck share. I think A 123 will be gone by the end of 2012 and Fisker will also be a history major. Advanced Battery and Ener 1 are goners and delisted from the NASDAQ. Valence Technology will soon be put out of its misery and a discharged lithium ion stock. The question is how much longer can Tesla (TSLA) and Nissan lie about their costs of producing cars with lithium ion batteries. Tesla uses Panasonic batteries and Nissan uses NEC ones. Panasonic got its clock cleaned in 2011 in the TV space and recently admitted to a yearly loss of over $5 billion. Yeah 5 billion big boys! Panasonic cannot continue to pretend to produce lithium ion batteries at low cost and give these to Tesla to sell at an even lower cost. The charade will end in 2012. GM has priced its Volt at its cost and has not subsidized sales of the vehicle hence its puny market share. My expectation is that GM may sell 15 to 20 thousand volts in the US next year and will be happy to sell twenty times as many of their Cruze which is doing really well without any plug from a plug in. GM will also do really well with their E Assist vehicles and the US auto fleet will be greener.

Auto sales in 2011 in the US totaled 12.8 million new vehicles and this was about one million more than in 2010. I do believe we may see 13.5 million vehicle sold in 2012. The great news is that we scrap approximately 14 million vehicles a year so the total fleet continues to shrink and so does our appetite for gasoline. We used 1.9% less gasoline in 2011 than we did in 2010 and we are now using 8,944,000 barrels a day of gasoline on average. My prognostication is that we will use 1% less gasoline in 2012 than we did in 2011 and will continue to drop by this much each year going forward. We of course used more natural gas in 2011 than we did in 2011 and will continue to use more each year going forward. I have often stated that President Obama should declare victory in natural gas and say it was his idea to frack our way forward. Coal is another declining fuel in the US with 17 million less tons consumed in 2011 versus 2010. The US did produce half a percent more coal in 2011, but exported its surplus.

The New Year will be full of surprises and who knows we may actually get some real leadership in Washington come November. What won’t change are the laws of thermodynamics and the laws of motion. As much as the VCs have hyped alternate energy we will likely see them pretend like they did not bring us Solyndra, A 123, Kior, Fisker, Solazyme, Coda, and a dozen other thermodynamically challenged startups. The VCs will find the next bandwagon to hang their hat on and maybe just maybe Vinod Kholsla will end his reign as the king of alternate energy. I think we will also see a lot less of Al Gore. I hope that by December 31, 2012, our Secretary of Energy will be long gone and forgotten. I hope I am proved wrong next year and the Brady Bunch lifestyle is endless for all of mankind and free and abundant energy will flow from heaven and that Bright Source and their partner Bechtel dispatches electricity that is too cheap to measure. But for now I see the entropy on our planet simply increasing as it has done since the dawn of time. Steve Hawking had it right that entropy increase with time because we choose to measure time in the direction entropy increases. I wonder if I spell all my words backwards and if my blogs were written backwards whether this will change the direction of time or will it be yet another futile attempt to refute Josiah Willard Gibbs. Brother Gibbs is perhaps the man I admire most from the 19th Century. Gibbs spent his whole adult life at Yale. Those who refute him and break his second law should spend their adult life in Thermodynamic Jail.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2012 A New Year’s Message

Many readers of the Green Machine blogs have asked me to be more optimistic and provide a solution to our energy and ecology problems. I know the limitations of the laws of thermodynamics and Newton’s laws of motion so most of my writing is that we have to have smaller lighter vehicles with hybridization of the power train and that we also have to change our way of living with smaller homes closer to work and use public transport, walk or ride bicycles that can be electrified. I do think there is a political solution that should be explored and this is my New Year’s sermon.

I have hinted that the cost of membership of countries to belong to the UN should be in direct proportion to their carbon emissions. While I think the UN is a broken organization I do believe the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a thriving organization and is the cornerstone of economic development for all countries that belong to this global organization. My suggestion is therefore that the cost of membership in the WTO be in direct proportion to the country’s CO2 emissions. This would start in 2012 at $10 per ton of CO2 emissions and will increase by $1 per ton each year going forward. You may ask what will the WTO do with $300 billion that falls into its lap in 2012? My suggestion is that the WTO take over the operation of the WHO (World Health Organization) as well as create a World Children's Organization (WCO) to replace UNESCO. The WTO should also take over the World Bank for the funding of development projects and concentrate on small projects that actually assist the extremely poor in rural areas of the developing world. This new bank will be called the WBO (World Banking Organization)

Let’s look a little more deeply at my idea for the WHO. It should concentrate on preventable diseases and work to stop the spread of infectious diseases. The WCO needs to deal with basic education (non-religious and non-biased) of the children of the world and assure that children everywhere are adequately nourished, housed, educated, and respectfully treated. UNESCO was supposed to do this but has failed as the parent organization (UN) is compromised politically. The World Bank is also a politically incompetent organization and simply has not delivered projects that bring improvement to the lives of the extremely poor around the globe. Instead of large power projects that simply make money for the likes of GE to supply expensive equipment and large engineering contractors to install this expensive equipment, I suggest the new WBO look at three immediate aspects of improving the lives of the very poor. The first is clean and safe drinking water, the second is lighting, and the third is cooking fuel for folks in remote villages. I can solve all three to improve the lives of 500 million people with 50 billion dollars of investment and rapidly lower the carbon intensity and despoliation of the land that surrounds these rural poor. The first step is to deploy PV cells or small wind turbines to create a small amount of electricity in each little village. A portion of the electric power can be used to produce ozone (from the air) or bleach (if salt is available) to render the water drinkable and safe. Some of the electricity will be stored in lead acid, nickel metal hydride, or lithium ion batteries and then used in LED lighting at night. The lighting could even be via portable lanterns. I suggest for cooking fuel that the WBO provide systems to anaerobically digest sewage and animal dung or even help set up the infrastructure to bring in propane or kerosene for cooking fuel. Wood fires should be avoided and subsidies should be given to substitute the above fuels for wood that primarily come from deforestation of the surrounding areas.

My blogs are limited to short crisp message so I will end here and continue the thoughts in further blogs. The real problem with my solution is to make sure the WTO does not become another bloated and incapable organization. For that I propose I become the Head of the WGO and the WGO will run the WTO. The WGO stands for the World’s Greenest Organization. If I am not given the post and it is given to Donald Trump instead the WGO will be the World’s Greediest Organization. In the case of Donald at the helm of the WGO the WTO will then become the World’s Trumpiest Organization, the WCO will be the World’s Costliest Organization, The WHO will be the World’s Hugest Organization, and the WBO will become the World’s Boastiest Organization. “Be Green Vote Leveen” will be on bumper stickers in 2012. Actually on a very serious note if Donald chooses to run as an independent for President I have my “Take a Dump, Vote For Trump” bumper sticker printed and ready for action.

To you all Seasons Greeting and a Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Lump Of Coal For Christmas

In days of old if a child misbehaved they got a lump of coal as their Christmas gift. I say we institute the practice of giving a lump of coal to the most gangrene folks of the year. Bechtel may be a winner with all of their failed “clean coal” projects. One of their customers got wise and managed to get out of Bechtel’s grip this year. That customer is American Municipal Power (AMP) a not for profit association of Ohio municipalities that had engaged Bechtel three years ago to build a 1,000 megawatt power station. When Bechtel admitted the power station would cost $4.1 billion and not $3.1 billion as originally budgeted AMP told Bechtel to get lost and actually sued Bechtel in Federal court for misleading them on the project. AMP decided to buy a combined cycle natural gas generation station instead. I guess the management at AMP must read my blog or must have studied thermodynamics as young Buckeyes. Here is what the Athens Ohio news reported in February 2011 when the suit was filed:

The company said at the time that the contractor had increased its cost estimate by 37 percent between May and November 2009, making it economically unfeasible to proceed.
AMP was partnering with Bechtel Power Corporation on that coal-fired facility, and Bechtel was the contractor that AMP said increased its cost estimate. On Friday, AMP filed a federal lawsuit against Bechtel Power alleging breach of contract, gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.
AMP, in the court filing, is asking for actual damages not less than $97 million plus punitive damages and court costs.
In the lawsuit, AMP alleges that Bechtel repeatedly misrepresented to AMP the various costs associated with the project as well as Bechtel’s previous experience in developing similar projects.
AMP attorneys wrote that by November 2009 Bechtel’s presentation to AMP indicated that the cost of the project would be $1.06 billion more than what Bechtel had said it would cost in August 2008 and May 2009.
AMP attorneys wrote that Bechtel’s “enormous surprise increase of more than a billion dollars” in the cost of the project rendered it “economically unfeasible.” The attorneys wrote that had AMP known that the project would cost over $1 billion more than what it was originally projected to cost, the company would not have made various purchases with relation to the plant that totaled over $97 million.
These costs would not have been incurred, the lawsuit states, if it were not for Bechtel’s “wrongful conduct.”
AMP alleged that Bechtel repeatedly failed to “withdraw, correct or amend” its price projections “in any sort of honest, forthright, proper, timely, diligent, careful or reasonable manner.”
As a result, AMP is asking for upward of $97 million in damages due to Bechtel’s allegedly “willful, wanton, reckless and/or grossly negligent misconduct.”

The AMP management gets a green star from the Green Machine while Bechtel gets a lump of coal. Who else deserves a lump of coal for Christmas? One recipient has to be Al Gore for his hypocrisy on Fisker that he colored green. Secretary Chu gets his lump of coal for selling out thermodynamics for hope. Elon Musk gets his sack of coal for the Tesla fake out. The UN gets a train load for the nonsense they resolved in Durban. The Chinese get a cargo ship full for being the world’s biggest polluters. Tokyo Electric Power Company gets a coal mine for the Fukashima disaster. Russia gets all of the Powder River Basin coal reserves as it is estimated that 1% of the oil produced each year in that country is spilled and never delivered. The spilled oil equals 5 million tons each year. This leakage equals 6 times as much as the BP Deepwater Horizon spill. I guess Toxic Tony has been overtaken by Toxic Trotsky as the winner of the Green Machine’s annual global gangrene award.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Indiana Wants Me

Wow the year is almost over and I am still alive. This is the miracle of working hard and not sleeping much. I have to say that I am happy that my life is good and that there is still oxygen to breath, water to drink, food to eat, and the department of entropy and their connected cronies to pick on. I have hammered AONE and Raser and no doubt the stock market now sees my wisdom. Amyris, KIOR, and Solazyme have also been show cased in my blog as being gangrene and not green. Their stocks are also trading near their lows and no doubt will head south in 2012.

Who am I to pick on today? Well not being shy, I take on a threesome of not so smart but massive and well-connected companies. These three are GE, Bechtel, and Duke Power. They must have listened to Alan The Green Spanner in the works of the Federal Spinning Reserve who opined several years ago that the US was running out of natural gas. So these three stooge companies got together to build a coal gasification combined cycle power generation station in Edwardsport Indiana. That station is almost ready to fire up so to speak. The project has a capacity of 630 megawatts and was budgeted to cost $1.9 billion or about $3 million per megawatt. The project is a billion dollars over budget. I guess Bechtel and GE took Duke for a bit of a ride but actually Duke is taking their customers for a major ride as Duke has asked the utilities commission to place the full $2.9 billion into the rate base that customers are charged for their electricity.

By my estimation this gleaming new power station will need to charge 15 cents per kilowatt hour that Duke sells to the grid in Indiana. Households will pay another 3 cents per kilowatt hour on top of this for transmission and distribution. Had Bechtel, GE and Duke built a natural gas combined cycle power station the power could have been dispatched to the grid for 6.2 cents per kilowatt hour for a savings of almost 60% on the cost of power generation. But wait normally our department of entropy and the companies who suckle at the teat of “green” handouts make claims of reduced carbon dioxide emissions. This Rube Goldberg cannot make such a claim. The Indiana coal gasification project will emit 4.2 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. Had Moe the General of Electricity, Larry the Bechtel who rebuilt Iraq, and Curly the Duke of Hazardous Power Generation constructed a combined cycle gas generation station the carbon dioxide emissions for same number of kilowatt hours a year dispatched to the grid would only have amounted to 1.9 million tons each year. Great the people of Indiana are saddled with overpriced electricity and the world will be burdened with 2.3 million extra tons a year of carbon dioxide. The 2.3 million tons a year of CO2 is equal to adding 400,000 cars to road.

Talking about Iraq, that war is finally over. Over 4,500 US service people lives were lost. Many more were injured. Only God knows how many Iraqis were killed. There is a great shame on us for the war and a greater shame on us for how it ended. Nothing got rebuilt, and the weapons of mass combustion that were found will end up going to China in the future. I suggest that GE, Bechtel, and Duke help the Chinese with their “high tech” coal power generation. The people of Indiana will be better served if they never were given this gasification treat. As for Immelt the CEO of GE, he is President Obama’s main man on “Job Creation”. He is just plain lucky that Jack Welch was born before him else GE would be Westinghouse. I remember a song from the sixties that had the lyrics “Indiana wants me, Lord I can’t go back there”. The song ends “this is the police, you are surrounded, give yourself up”. I suggest the men in blue surround the Edwardsport gasifier and demand that it “give up”.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Durban Kyoto and You

The nations of the United Nations have met in Durban South Africa to ‘deal” with carbon emissions. Several years back these same nations met in Durban to “deal” with racial discrimination. The fine countries of Syria, Libya, and Iran turned that conference into a forum to promote Anti-Semitism. Finally the people in Libya and Syria have woken up and soon the people in Iran will hopefully wake up that it is their leadership that discriminates and that blaming their condition on the Children of Israel is an excuse these leaders use to subjugate them. The leaders of these tyrannical states of course would like to blame increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere on the Children of Israel but with only 12 million such children out of a global population of 7 billion even these despicable leaders realize this will be difficult to make the carbon blame stick. So instead the charade of how to reduce carbon emissions is played out where we are asked to pretend that Indian, Brazilian, and Chinese carbon is fine but Western carbon is harmful. Finally today the participants in this idiotic conference agreed that all carbon should be dealt with, but not now and only with some vague promise of helping the poor and vulnerable countries deal with effects of these carbon emissions.

I have a suggestion for the United Nations, why not make the contributions that counties pay to the organization directly proportional to their carbon emissions and at a rate of $50 per ton? As China emits 8 billion tons a year of carbon dioxide, make the Chinese pay $400 billion a year to “belong” to the United Nations. Either the Chinese will then do something to curb their emissions or will leave the United Nations which will be a good result in either event. The Chinese are subsidizing their “green” industries to the tune of $500 a ton of reduced carbon dioxide so the $50 for all carbon emissions is a fair price to make them pay to play. If this “membership fee” was instituted the United Nations will collect $1.6 trillion each year and then they may actually be able to start preventing war and famine around the globe and mostly start educating people to practice birth control. A good use of some of this money will be for the UN to take over the administration of failed states like Syria and give the people proper government, proper education, and proper opportunities. There are dozens of failed states that the UN should administer and the world may actually become a better place.

As for the dribble that came out of Durban this morning I suggest you read the CNN report below and see if Monkey Moon the Secretary General of the Ignited Nations has real reason to hail the decision reached in Durban.
Durban, South Africa (CNN) -- An agreement reached Sunday in South Africa will help tackle the challenges of climate change for years to come, the United Nations' chief said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the decision reached by parties of the Climate Change Convention in Durban, South Africa, which agreed to extend efforts set forth in the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol, ratified by 37 industrialized countries, was set to expire in 2012. It mandates that industrialized nations cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Ban "welcomes the agreement to establish a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that will increase certainty for the carbon market and provides additional incentives for new investments in technology and the infrastructure necessary to fight climate change," according to a statement from his office.
As part of a broad pact, nations will agree in some sort of a legal format to curb their carbon emissions. The talks also launched the Green Climate Fund, which would essentially channel about $100 billion by 2020 to vulnerable countries to help them deal with the effects of climate change.
U.S. chief negotiator Todd Stern described the talks as "tough" but worthwhile.
"For the first time there is an agreement to negotiate a legal accord of some sort, a legal instrument that is applicable to all countries -- that is a new thing. That means China, India and Brazil -- and there is no hedging in it," Stern said.
He added, "We have been pushing for the last three years continually to change the paradigm of this negotiation so it did apply to all the big emitters because you can't solve this problem if you have 50-60% of world emissions not at the table. So an agreement to do this legal accord --that's applicable to of all the major parties, that's a big deal."
The British secretary for energy and climate change also said he was pleased.
"I think we have all come away from this now with a really credible package which will address the problems of global warming," Chris Huhne said.
The agreement came after a marathon session of negotiations.
"It was an extraordinarily complex negotiation with a lot of moving parts," said Elliot Diringer, an executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions who was an adviser to former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
"Up until the last minute, there was every reason to think that it could well have fallen apart. So I think that the fact that it came together is in of itself a success, even if the outcome doesn't fully satisfy anyone," Diringer said.
Critics who were not satisfied with the outcome include the international charity Oxfam, which said negotiators at the U.N. climate talks agreed to the "bare minimum deal possible."
"The plan gets the Green Climate Fund up and running without any sources of funding ... and gets a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol without key members," Oxfam said in a statement Sunday. Without further action, Oxfam said, "farmers in parts of Africa could face a drop in crop yields of more than 50% within this generation or that of their children. Food prices could more than double within the next two decades, up to half of which caused by climate change."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter Driving and the Navy

Here is a quick update on two recent blogs of mine. First the US Navy has joined the USDA (Uncle Sam Dreams Algae) in paying an extra $26 bucks a gallon for diesel from sugar or chicken fat. The navy will purchase 425,000 gallons of bio diesel for $12 million. The recipients of this gift as it is truly a gift to overpay for diesel for this much are three companies. They are Solazyme, Tyson Foods, and Syntroleum. Tyson Foods is the largest chicken purveyor in the USA and they and Syntroleum jointly own a facility that converts chicken fat and other body parts of chickens into diesel. My grandmother used to render chicken fat into schmaltz and gribenes seventy years ago. I can tell you no government department gave her an extra 26 bucks a gallon for her efforts to clog the family’s arteries. Solazyme will get the extra 26 bucks a gallon for wasting table sugar in their feeble attempt to yield transport fuel from the sweet nectar. The 425,000 gallons is only 0.04% of the 1.26 billion gallons of diesel the Navy uses each year. Hey Admiral your gangrene efforts will only save the proverbial drop in the ocean. I can save the navy more than 425,000 gallons of diesel by simply asking them to return to sailing ships. Here is the news on this from AP.

“WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Navy is spending $12 million to buy 425,000 gallons of fuel made from cooking oil and algae that will be used to power vessels and ships in a training exercise.
The government ordered the fuel from a joint venture between poultry producer Tyson Foods Inc. and refining company Syntroleum Corp. called Dynamic Fuels LLC, and from biofuels company Solazyme Inc., the companies and the government said Monday.
By 2016, the Navy wants to deploy what it calls a "Great Green Fleet" of nuclear vessels, hybrid electric ships and other ships and aircraft powered by biofuels. It is investing more than $500 million in the budding biofuel industry with the hope that it will be able to supply enough alternative fuel so the maritime branch can cut its dependence on fossil fuel by 50 percent over the next decade.
The fuel will be manufactured at Dynamic Fuel's Geismar, La., plant.”

Moving on, I also opined that the Leaf would lose a massive fraction of its range if the heater had to be turned on. Well I actually found data to this effect on the official Nissan Leaf web site. Nissan performed a test of driving the leaf at an average of 15 miles per hour when the outside temperature was 14 degrees F. The outcome was a paltry 62 miles of range. Driving the Leaf at 24 miles per hour in warm weather (72 degrees F) with no heater on yielded a range of 105 miles. Of course Nissan never told us just how cold the interior of the Leaf remained while driving at 15 MPH in 14 degree F weather. The heat loss will be less than at 66 MPH as the forced convection is lower but my guess is the interior of the Leaf was not much more than 35 degrees F when they drove the ice maker so slowly in cold weather. Here is the data directly from the official Nissan Leaf site.

Winter, urban stop-and-go, traffic jam: 62 miles
Speed: Average 15 mph
Temperature: 14 degrees
Climate control: On
Though the average speed is only 15 mph with stop-and-go traffic, the 14-degree temperature means the heater is doing a lot of work so you spend considerable time and energy heating your car rather than moving forward. Despite these conditions, it would still take more than 4 hours to run out of charge!

Suburban driving on a nice day: 105 miles
Speed: Average 24 mph
Temperature: 72 degrees
Climate control: Off
The average speed in this scenario is 24 mph; common when commuting and running errands. The ambient temperature is 72 degrees and the climate control is off. Not using the air conditioner and driving at slower speeds mean less energy use and a little extra range.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Electric Cars Now Is Their Winter Of Discontent

Nick a buddy of mine from varsity days in Johannesburg (40 years ago) and now a Canadian sent me an email last week. He asked me to opine on the difficulty lithium ion plug in cars will have in living through a Canadian winter. Well Nick ou maat, just like when you arrived in Canada and I arrived in Iowa we quickly learned that winter can be biting cold and the thin coats and sweaters we wore in South Africa were ill equipped to handle the wolf of winter on the Great Plains. Just like we newcomers were ill equipped, the Leaf is no Maple Leaf and it will have a terrible time in the winter up there where you live.

First the batteries have to be heated to keep operating and this robs the plug of some range. Mostly the Leaf has to heat the interior and the occupants by resistance electric heating as there is no hot water from an engine. Nick will remember studying heat, mass, and momentum transfer with me as part of our Chemical Engineering core curriculum. We were taught that under forced convection the heat transfer coefficient can be derived from an equation relating the Nusselt Number to the Reynolds and Prandtl numbers. These three numbers are dimensionless numbers that relate things like viscosity, density, velocity in fluid mechanics and heat transfer. Using a lot of tedious high level math solving partial differential equations one can observe the following. If the Nissan Leaf is travelling at 110 km per hour (66 mph) the overall heat transfer coefficient will be approximately 40 watts per square meter per degree Kevin on its glass surfaces. I estimate the glass surfaces on the leaf to be 5 square meters and the differential temperature between a 293 degree K (68 degrees F) interior and a 263 degree K (14 degrees F) outside the car will need 6,000 watts (6 kilowatts) to keep the occupants at a moderate 68 degrees F and this only accounts for the heat lost through the glass surfaces. Assuming the metal surfaces are insulated let’s hypothesize that only another 2 kilowatts of heating will be needed for a total of 8 kilowatts for the entire car. Of course the folks at Nissan will say someone in Winnipeg driving on frozen tundra is not their target customer but let us continue.

The pile of junk that is subsidized by the Obama administration has 24 kilowatt hours of battery storage. With no heating being used, the car may go 80 miles at 66 MPH on a level and open freeway in Manitoba and run for about an hour and ten minutes before the lights go out. With an 8 kilowatt heater turned on the car will go about 55 miles at 66 MPH and run for 50 minutes. But wait the Leaf does not have an 8 kilowatt heater! It is now equipped with an energy saving heated steering wheel and heated seats that only draw about 1.5 kilowatts. Wow the poor Canadian in Winnipeg driving a Non Maple Leaf will never reach an interior temperature of 20 degrees C or 68 degrees F> The equilibrium inside temperature reached with it being -10 degrees C (14 degrees F) outside is only -4 degrees C (24 degrees F). The pile of junk cannot be driven unless of course the driver is willing to die of frostbite.

Of course the car which is an Oh Bummer special was intended to be sold to liberals in Northern California. Heating of the car will not pose a real problem in the City by the Bay, but the hills pose another energy robbing problem. The pile of junk going up and down the hills of Pacific Heights, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill and Twin Peaks will be lucky to get the 55 mile range on single charge. At least the driver in San Francisco will not die of frost bite or become a human Popsicle. The Leaf is best suited for Winnipeg in May and October when ambient temperatures are such that the car does not need heating or air-conditioning. For the other ten months of the year the vehicle should stay in a garage. I am sure that Nissan will eventually put in a fireplace as an option on the Leaf to be sold to Maple Leaves. Al Gore will make a fine speech that as long as wood from a sustainable maple forest is used in the fireplace in the Leaf, the car still has absolutely zero emissions.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Another Bloody Week

The stock market was up this week and the central banks have stepped in to help Europe, so you would think the Green Machine would have nothing to be blue about. If you believe the fantasy that Europe’s economic woes are solved you are bloody mistaken. This is just another band aid on the cancer patient. I do hope all the band aids do stop the blood from gushing out of the patient, but we need to get Europe healthy again.

The Europeans have finally realized that paying a fortune for green energy was bankrupting them and they simply cannot afford the prices and subsidies they have been giving for green electricity. Our department of entropy has also slowed down its bleed rate and less bloody nonsense is being subsidized by the driver of the Chu Chu train. One company getting loan guarantees and grants from the Feds has the name of a precious jewel. It is a San Diego California company named Sapphire Energy. Now that the DOE is in hot water for its green energy loans a new department of government has stepped forward to help pay for expensive gems. This department is the USDA (Agriculture) and the following was reported on November 15, 2011.

Erin Voegele, Biorefining Magazine
The USDA announced this month that it had issued a loan guarantee to Sapphire Energy Inc. The guarantee will support the development of Sapphire Energy’s demonstration-scale algae production facility in New Mexico, which will produce “green crude” oil from algae that can be refined into transportation fuel.
“The Obama Administration is committed to providing support for renewable energy production, which will safeguard national security and create jobs in rural America,” said Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This project represents another step in the effort to assist the nation's advanced biofuel industry produce energy in commercial quantities from sustainable rural resources.”
Sapphire Energy is constructing a $135 million integrated algal biorefinery (IABR) in Columbus, N.M. According to the USDA, the IABR will be capable of producing 100 barrels of refined algal oil per day, equivalent to at least 1 million gallons per year. The oil will be shipped to the Gulf Coast, where it will be refined into drop-in biofuels by Geismar, La.-based Dynamic Fuels.
According to Tim Zenk, Sapphire Energy’s vice president of corporate affairs, his company has been working to finalize the loan guarantee since late 2009. The $135 million project is under development using a $50 million federal grant, the recently finalized $54.5 million loan guarantee and $30 million matching funds contributed by Sapphire Energy.
Construction on the first phase of the project began in June, Zenk said. “The project will be built in three distinct phases,” he said. The first portion of the project will include 100 acres of algae cultivation. “We’ll do everything from cultivation to harvest and extraction,” Zenk said. “Then the oil will be refined in a typical refinery into diesel and jet fuel. At full capacity, once all three phases are built over the next three years, we’ll be producing a million gallons of jet and a million gallons of diesel per year.” The final stage of the project is scheduled to be operational by 2015.

This is utter bloody nonsense as Simon of the X Factor would say. $135 million invested for a million gallons a year of bio-diesel. The government and industry do have to return money and do have to return it fairly fast if lasting and meaningful jobs are to be created. If the whole bloody investment of $135 million is paid back in 5 years this equals $27 per gallon of bio-diesel just for capital recovery. The operating cost for labor, water, power, maintenance, insurance, etc. has to be at least another $3 per gallon so the Sapphire gemlike bio-fuel is at least $26 a gallon more expensive than plain diesel with diesel costing $4 a gallon. OK 100 gallons of bio-diesel save a ton of CO2 emissions and now our Sapphire is costing us $2,600 per ton of avoided CO2 emissions. With Europe almost in bankruptcy their carbon credits are trading for around $15 a ton and that truly is what reduced carbon dioxide emissions are worth.

I am a little lost why the name Sapphire was chosen if this gem is blue. Emerald Energy is at least green in color and would have been a more appropriate name for this collection of bio fools. I am singing the blues about the funding of this “pond scum” company. Petro-Sun announced a similar project in 2006 and now they trade on the pink sheets for a penny, yes one bloody single cent a share. Shell Oil gave up on their pond scum company Cellana as it was a dead end. GreenFuel Technologies, another algae to fuel company, came and went. Perhaps the Secretary of Agriculture was asked to take some of the heat off of the Secretary of Entropy and hence expensive Sapphires were bought by the USDA. Perhaps renaming the USDA to the Uncle Sam Dreams of Algae is a fitting department name for this waste of funds and tax payers’ dollars.