Friday, April 27, 2012

The Army To The Rescue

For the life of me I did not know why A 123 had an increase in its stock price over the past two or three days.  The news came out today that the US Army came to its rescue.  Of course after the Department of Energy wasted over $100 million on this Betamax junk, the Army needs to lend a helping hand.  The Army is testing a prototype more fuel efficient hybrid fighting vehicle that includes A 123 lithium ion batteries.  Yeah the army wants to be fuel efficient.  Did the army not read the news that an A 123 battery caused a massive explosion in a specially built lab of General Motors that injured a technician and blew out an 8 inch thick special purpose steel door in the lab?  Structural damage was also caused to the lab.  But the Army can safely deploy a fighting vehicle in a war zone with the same lithium batteries on the premise that we should be green when fighting the enemy. 

How dumb can military intelligence be!    The enemy in a combat situation will be able to make our military vehicles explode more viciously if they simply aim at the battery pack.  If the US Army wants to save fuel why not avoid unnecessary wars and simply use the vehicles during parades on the Fourth of July or Memorial Day?  Better still as we all like soldiers marching in perfect step why even have vehicles driving in the parade?  I have a suggestion for the Pentagon.  Why not equip electric bicycles with A 123 batteries and instead of soldiers being in an infantry division they could be the new first electric cavalry division and win the West in skirmishes where the enemy only uses bows and arrows to wage war.   Imagine a scene in the sequel to Blazing Saddles where the arrow fired by Chief Electron Volt scores a direct hit to the battery pack under the saddle of the cavalry officer named Major Mega What.  The army has the perfect solution for the deployment of the new lithium ion powered hybrid fighting vehicle.  Of course the GIs who will be assigned to use the fuel efficient fighting vehicle will wear bright green camouflage and the vehicles will only be deployed to protect a plantation of cane sugar that is the source of the ethanol fuel for the engine in the vehicle.  The army will claim carbon neutrality while fighting a war.  How can something be neutral and yet fight wars?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brazil Needs Booze

Brazil leads the world in blending ethanol into gasoline for transportation fuel. Their large land mass and their large sugar cane crop helped support an industry that over the past twenty years became the darling of the lefties at Cal Bezerkeley. Many papers were written at that fine institution that ethanol from cane has a positive carbon footprint and that while ethanol from corn in the US may not have a positive carbon footprint we need not worry as ethanol from cane sugar will dominate the world stage for this bio fool. Fast forward and we now find out Brazil cannot supply their own needs of ethanol and they have become net importers of the fuel. From whom do they get the fuel? From the US of course and the ethanol certainly did not come from cane sugar in Hawaii, it came from corn in the Midwest. Brazil is so short of ethanol they have cut down the fraction of ethanol in gasoline blend from 25% to 20%.

Our government wants us to increase our fraction of ethanol in gasoline above 10% and the fuel fools at Bezerkeley are all love this as they dream of green while ignoring thermodynamics. Of course Brazil discovered large fossil fuel reserves and this is not 1979 in Brazil when they were impoverished and could not afford oil imports after the oil shock. Brazil needed to become self-sufficient in transportation fuels and the cane sugar ethanol did help. However what really helped was the discovery of massive fields of oil off shore of Brazil and exploitation of these fields allowed Brazil to become a major oil producer. The Brazilian economy has been propelled by the Chinese economy the Chinese need for Brazilian iron ore and Soy Beans. Over the past decade trade between Brazil and China has grown 20 fold. Over the past decade the only thing at Bezerkeley that has grown is the cost students must pay to attend university in our bankrupt state.

The equally dumb staff at the California Energy Commission in Sacramento mandated the need for low carbon transportation fuels and mistakenly they continue to think that natural gas is not a low carbon fuel. They still have this dream of electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. While Brazil actually has had massive economic growth in the last decade, we have had nearly none except for Apple, Facebook, Google and a few other social media companies. Our Silicon Valley is depleted of all silicon and perhaps one hundred thousandth of the microelectronic circuits fabricated each year on planet may actually come from Silicon Valley where it all started. Industry has been driven away and the Fabs I designed at Intel, National Semi, VLSI, Xerox PARC, and others have been dismantled and their equipment sold to China or just sits on a scrap heap.

The team at Bezerkeley can write academic papers that cane sugar ethanol is green but even the verdant and large country of Brazil has no space to increase their crop. More and more of the world’s cane sugar is now grown on irrigated land and that irrigated cane sugar actually has massive carbon and water footprints. It had to happen that Brazil could not simply propel their fleet of vehicles on cane sugar based ethanol. Even a weed that grows fast but yet relies on photosynthesis cannot propel almost a billion vehicles on the planet and 60 million vehicles in Brazil. C’mon folks over the past decade many millions of people saw their lives improve because of economic growth driven primarily from China. These people want cars not bicycles and cars need fuel not foot power so let’s all move toward the Prius or a much smaller version of the Prius that should be called the Minus. The one thing that remains constant in Brazil is excellent football. I hope that when they all drive in cars they do not lose their innate skill to kick a ball into a net. I still have dreams of being Pele, but I certainly do not have dreams of being the governator of our decaying yet once golden state. The Kelvinator maybe, as old Kelvin was top notch in thermodynamics. One can still buy a Kelvinator refrigerator in Argentina but like Maradona was not Pele, Argentina is not Brazil when it comes to economic or football miracles.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fracking and Elkader Iowa

A really interesting week. A One Two Three continues to stumble and caused a lab explosion and injury to a lab technician with a battery they sent to General Motors for testing. I will not dwell on this company that is a thermodynamic joke. Bright Source the other heavily funded DOE DOA company decided to pull their IPO as they simply could not get the share price they needed. That says to me investors have smartened up and won’t fork out bucks like they did on AONE, KIOR, AMRS and other want to be green companies. The Chinese continue to manufacture polysilicon and sell the starting material for many solar cells at cash production costs. I guess when your government funds you it is possible to even sell your products below cash production costs. Solar Millennium who gave up on thermal solar in favor of PV have now simply given up completely on the US projects they intended to develop and the US DOE intended to fund. I guess we will have to wait till the third millennium for them to reappear. So the Green Machine was spot on and the second law of thermo arrested these fake-outs who were going to make our lives carbon neutral. I guess we all go back to natural gas that is now very affordable and the companies that are involved in this industry have seen their share prices soar rather than tank. Such companies are WPRT, CLNE, LNG, and GTLS. I am not making any stock recommendation just simply pointing out these companies are on the right side of the second law of thermodynamics.

The President signed an executive order to set up a Whitehouse based oversight committee for the streamlined oversight of fracking reserves for production of hydrocarbons. Finally in this election year the administration wants a coordinated approach to the single industry that actually created jobs, brought down costs, helped displace coal and hence lower carbon emissions, and may provide the US with a product we can actually export. Below I have copied an article from the Washington Times that reported on this landmark event. The person chairing the oversight committee is Heather Zichal. No doubt a very intelligent fairly young woman who never studied thermodynamics but let’s give her a chance as she was born in Iowa and I was educated in thermodynamics at Iowa State. Heather now is your chance to shine unlike the PV and green energy companies the department of entropy funded. It is quite amazing that a 36 year old person who came from Elkader Iowa may actually play a larger role in real energy policy than the winners of the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Peace. I looked up Elkader and it is the county seat of Clayton County. Very interestingly back in 1846 when the town was founded it was named after an Algerian Leader of the time. Wiki lists the following: The city is named after Algerian leader Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri. When the community was platted in 1846, the founders, Timothy Davis, John Thompson, and Chester Sage decided to name it for the young Algerian who was leading his people in resisting the French colonial takeover of Algeria. Heather let’s hope you are not an Al Qadaffi when it comes to energy policy. Please God your town was not named after Al Qaeda but I have to say the pronunciation is bloody close. If I was mayor of Elkader Iowa I would think about a name change to Frackville Iowa.

By Ben Wolfgang


The Washington Times

Friday, April 13, 2012

In a move that immediately drew praise from across the energy industry, President Obama on Friday issued an executive order to better coordinate federal oversight of “fracking,” the popular but controversial natural gas extraction method.

The order establishes an “interagency working group” consisting of members from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, Energy Department, National Economic Council and other bodies. At least 10 federal departments or agencies are currently mulling new regulations of the gas industry, or have commissioned studies of its environmental impact.

The sheer number of potential rulemakers has caused many industry insiders to fear confusing or overlapping guidelines, which, some analysts say, could greatly hamper domestic oil and gas production. The new working group, Mr. Obama said, is designed to “ensure coordination among the appropriate federal entities.”

“By helping to power our transportation system, greater use of natural gas can also reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And with appropriate safeguards, natural gas can provide a cleaner source of energy than other fossil fuels,” the order reads in part. “It is vital that we take full advantage of our natural gas resources, while giving American families and communities confidence that natural gas and cultural resources, air and water quality, and public health and safety will not be compromised.”

Mr. Obama’s announcement comes just as the November presidential election kicks into high gear, with energy policy, and the administration’s perceived antagonism toward fossil fuels, shaping up to be a key issue in the race. It also comes as the fracking boom has produced stocks of natural gas so large that prices are now hitting record lows.

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has lately made increased American energy production a focal point during campaign speeches, and has accused the administration of seeking to limit U.S. research and production. Many Republicans in Congress have painted the administration’s EPA as the determined enemy of natural gas, with some members accusing Mr. Obama of waging a war on the industry.

Friday’s olive branch, which could help to reduce tension between the administration and the oil and gas sector, was met with enthusiasm from industry leaders.

“We’re pleased the White House recognizes the need to coordinate the efforts of 10 federal agencies that are reviewing, studying or proposing new regulations on natural gas development and [fracking],” said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. “We have called on the White House to rein in these uncoordinated activities to avoid unncecessary and overlapping federal regulatory efforts and are pleased to see forward progress.”

Barry Russell, president and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said in a statement that the order “has a very good intent,” and he hopes the revamped regulatory framework “provides the administration with a more comprehensive understanding of the federal government’s increasing regulatory grasp on the industry.”

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents drilling firms in Pennsylvania and other areas of the Marcellus, one of the richest known gas deposits in the world, is offering to work closely with the administration in the coming months.

“We remain eager to provide real-time, on-the-ground insight in an effort to ensure that common-sense regulations are in place, which is essential to leveraging the countless benefits of America’s natural gas resources,” said coalition President Kathryn Klaber.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the move lessens the potential impact of looming federal rules. Later this year, the EPA will release a long-awaited report on the environmental safety of fracking, the use of water, sand and chemicals to crack underground rock and release vast quantities of fuel. Many industry analysts expect the report to call for sharp new restraints on drilling.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fantasy Island

News Flash Fisker Threatens the US

Has the Green Machine gone nuts? How can Al Gore’s wonder child threaten the United States? This car company has sold 500 cars in total to the rich and famous. They received over $180 million of US funding to “engineer” their Karma that weighs over 5,000 pounds. They were to receive over $500 million of US DOE funding for the factory to mass produce their second generation “affordable” car in Delaware, but that funding has been put on hold pending review of their “business plan”. Of course Al Gore’s group at Kleiner Perkins had to up their equity investment in the Flopping Fisker and now that this round of equity funding has been completed Fisker is now Frisky and full of bravado. Their CEO stated this week that if the US does not fork over the big dough to Fisker they will leave the country. That pile of dough should be used to bake American Pie for us all, but Fisker wants it for their fat cat owners and to subsidize their fat cat customers like Just Born Bieber.

Fisker unveiled the new affordable second car called the Atlantic at the New York Car Show this week and used the opportunity to exert pressure on the US to reinstate the half billion dollar funding for the Delaware assembly facility. The car used to be called the Nina but I guess they realized this was a sister ship to the Pinto and that is not good Karma for their Dogma of a company. Of course I know the Pinto was the Pinta, but I am allowed some poetic license. The Governor of Delaware claims he was caught off guard and that this was the first he heard of the Fisker declaration of war on the country and his state. Of course the Vice President who hails from Delaware, and who engineered the original deal for Fisker and his pal Al, is radio silent. Chu and the President are tight lipped and of course Gore did not personally pull the threatening stunt on the US. They used Tommy LaSorda (Tom the Sordid) their new CEO to raise the issue of vacating the US. "We're going to launch this car with or without the DOE," said Chief Executive Tom LaSorda during a media event ahead of the New York auto show. "We're proceeding where the best cost will be. We're looking for alternative options to the U.S., of course."

Fisker was founded by Henrik Fisker who was recently replaced by Tommy as CEO. Henrik was born in Denmark. William Shakespeare set his longest play and saddest tragedy Hamlet in Denmark. Sadly the modern long tragedy out of Denmark is Fisker. The Atlantic has a BMW internal combustion engine not a Chevy engine that was used in the Karma, so much for the American jobs in that regard. The Atlantic will have a far smaller battery pack than the Karma and therefore it will be limited on the range for electric drive. So this billion dollar wonder is a plug in Prius with a great looking body. I say they should choose a third name for the car using a combination of the first two names. I would call it the Panic and I would rename the Karma the Titanic. Leonardo you went down in the Titanic, played Romeo with Juliet, and your Karma needs a whole new set of A 123 batteries. This is sufficient tragedy so why not star in a comedy as your next film? That comedy can be set in the eco-friendly resort on the island you own off Belize that you plan on developing. I suggest the name of the new film be Fantasy Island. Maybe Fisker can assemble their eco-friendly Atlantic on this Atlantic Fantasy Island? Do you all remember Ricardo’s TV ads for the 1975 Chrysler Cordoba? Do you all know that Tommy LaSorda led Chrysler as its CEO? Do you all know Leonardo’s middle name is Wilhelm (German for William)? All of these do you knows can be weaved into the Fantasy Island plot.