Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘saving the earth’ Category

Happy Easter/Ostara/Spring Festival Of Your Choice!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 12, 2009

Bring on the fertility! (Well, not for me personally, unless it’s for my garden.)

In that spirit, here’s Gjallarhorn and their song/video dedicated to Suvetar, the Finnish goddess of spring. Enjoy!

Posted in family values, farming, gardening, Good Things, saving the earth | Comments Off on Happy Easter/Ostara/Spring Festival Of Your Choice!

New Jersey: A Garden State Once Again?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 27, 2008

New Jersey’s capturing the methane exuded from its landfills and turning it into electricity, thus providing power, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and cleaning up the place all at once.

Even better, they’re being considered as sites for solar and wind farms:

One of New Jersey’s leading environmentalists envisions the state’s landfills someday making more use of their sites by installing wind and solar power to supplement methane.

“We see landfills as potential New Age energy plants, because you can combine all three and create a steady source of power — and not everybody wants a windmill in their back yard,” said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club.

Marturano cautioned that adding wind farms might take a while since landfill surfaces are constantly shifting, but the Meadowlands Commission already has plans to install 20 acres of solar panels on the southern side of the 1-E landfill.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s Energy Master Plan for the state touts landfill methane gas as one of the key renewable energy sources that the state hopes will combine to supply 30 percent of New Jersey’s electricity consumption by 2020. According to the plan, New Jerseyans produce 6.7 pounds of trash per day, 50 percent more than the national average.

Making this work will be a great coup for the Garden State.

Posted in energy, environment, Good Things, saving the earth, solar, wind power | Comments Off on New Jersey: A Garden State Once Again?

Two Neat Things That Would Be Neat Together

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 21, 2008

Have a room with a south-facing window that could use a little extra heat in the winter? Check out the solar windowbox heater:

This is a demonstration model of a solar windowbox air heater.

You can build it from a sheet of insulation board, some clear glass or plastic, and a furnace air filter painted black.

When the sun shines, the black absorber inside the insulated windowbox gets hot, heating air which rises into the room behind the window, and drawing cooler air from inside that room past the absorber in a thermal loop that lasts until the sun goes down.

At night, the cold air sinks to the bottom of the windowbox and closes off this thermal loop so there is no additional night time heat loss.

Increase the efficiency of the windowbox solar air heater with a solar electric, photovoltaic, PV fan.

This demonstration model uses a repurposed solar car window ventilator. Only when the sun hits the PV panel does the fan move air, an automatic solar circuit thermostatic control.

The windowbox solar air heater is a supplemental heater for one room with a south-facing window and can be modified to provide increased ventilation and cooling in the summer as Edward Sylvester Morse’s 1881 solar air heater design did.

Cost for a 2 foot by 3 foot insulation board solar windowbox air heater is around $100. PV fan car vents are available for as little as $5. One recently built windowbox has heated air by at least 20º Fahrenheit, from 65 to 85º, and will do so all winter.

I’ll bet it would help heat a Tumbleweed Tiny House rather nicely — they start at 65 square feet and only go up to just under 800 square feet. Dee Williams of Olympia, Washington already uses a couple of solar panels to provide electricity for her own 84-square-foot house, and a propane tank for her stove; a solar windowbox heater/cooler would probably cut her already-minimal heating bills to nearly zero.

Posted in Good Things, priorities, renewable energy, saving the earth, solar, sustainability | Comments Off on Two Neat Things That Would Be Neat Together

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 1, 2008

— One concern about solar-cell production has been that conventional techniques might not be sufficiently sustainable. BioSolar is working to change that: “BioSolar Inc. revealed at the SPIE Symposium on Solar Applications and Energy earlier this month that materials derived from cotton and castor beans compose the company’s BioBacksheet. The backsheet is a protective covering, traditionally made from petroleum-based film, used in the back of virtually all photovoltaic solar cells.”

Banks have been gradually tightening their credit over the last few months, a trend that has become noticeable now.

Tom Brokaw, McCain camp liaison: Because one Ron Fournier just isn’t enough.

— Sarah Palin sez that Ceiling Putin has been rearing his head and invading US airspace recently. NORAD sez: Um, no.

Posted in 2008, banking, economy, energy, Good Things, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, Russia, Sarah Palin, saving the earth, solar, sustainability, WTF? | Comments Off on Wednesday Morning News Roundup

More Good News On The Solar Front

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 21, 2008

Thanks to Jo6pac, who tipped me off to this story about an amazing twelve-year-old boy, William Yuan of Beaverton, Oregon, who has managed to take the already-promising field of 3D solar cells a step further:

In his project, “A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV
Light,” William invented a novel solar panel that enables light absorption from visible to
ultraviolet light. He designed carbon nanotubes to overcome the barriers of electron
movement, doubling the light-electricity conversion efficiency. William also developed a
model for solar towers and a computer program to simulate and optimize the tower
parameters. His optimized design provides 500 times more light absorption than
commercially-available solar cells and nine times more than the cutting-edge, threedimensional
solar cell.

This is possible in part because the cell, in addition to using the new 3D nanotube technology that enables light-wave collection at a greater range of sun angles (in other words, you don’t have to be constantly changing the position of the cell for it to keep generating power), also absorbs UV rays as well as visible light spectrum rays. This is something that even current cutting-edge 3D solar cells don’t do.

He’s earned a $25,000 scholarship for his work, and he’s planning to contact potential manufacturers to start production of test runs large enough to provide useful information on cost and real-world energy harvesting potential. Wish him well — I, for one, would love to see a solar cell array the size of a typical tablecloth that could be used to power my house and my car, once the Chevy Volt comes along.

Posted in children, climate change, doing the right thing, energy, environment, Good Things, saving the earth, solar, sustainability | 2 Comments »

Human-Powered Generators

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 28, 2008

Following up on the roads-as-solar-collectors post (yes, renewable energy’s been on my mind a lot lately):

I was at the Minnesota State Fair recently and got to try out the “We Power” bicycle power generation system at WCCO-TV’s We Power stand. Power generated from the eight Specialized step-through frame has been used to power several WCCO-TV broadcasts during the Fair, both this year and last year. Per the We Power people, it takes the average fairgoer about twenty minutes to generate 500 watts; I did it in around sixteen, and my spouse did it in just under eight, which surprised the We Power folk as he’s a bit hefty. (Pro bike racers could do it in five or less.)

That got me thinking about the potential for using bikes as power sources, not just as transportation. Think about it: How many people do you know who spend $60 a month to use an exercise bike at a gym when they could be pedaling a stationary bike at home or when car camping or doing other off-grid activities? You could get or stay fit and pay for the bike and the generator in three years’ time or less (and that’s if you ordered the ready-made easy-to-use Pedal-a-Watt package system made by Econvergence). Plus, you’d be saving a few dollars every month by generating a little bit of your own power.

It’s certainly not going to cover all your power needs (unless of course you’re very energy-stingy), but it could help tide you over for those times when the wind’s not blowing or the sun’s not shining – and keep you healthy at the same time.

Posted in energy, environment, Good Things, health issues, saving the earth, sustainability | 2 Comments »

Chevy’s Hybrid Lineup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 18, 2008

Did you know that you can get a hybrid version of the Chevy Malibu?

Or the Chevy Tahoe SUV?

Or, in a few months, a hybrid Silverado?

Neither did I, until very recently.

Check it out, at http://www.chevrolet.com/hybrid/ . Since the Priuses are currently on back order anyway, why not try an American hybrid, if you can find one? (And no, GM’s not paying me a dime to do this. They probably have no idea I exist.)

Posted in automobiles, economy, energy, environment, Good Things, industry, saving the earth, technology | 5 Comments »

Back-ing And Forth-ing

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 17, 2008

This article on the possible role of pulp mills in biofuel production is interesting, but the discussion it’s generated is even more so.

So far, I think Fred Linn’s winning.

Posted in climate change, energy, environment, saving the earth, solar, sustainability | 2 Comments »

Thursday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 14, 2008

— Adam Stein discusses the limits of localism and why vertical gardens aren’t the solution to feeding city dwellers.

— GM’s all-electric Chevy Volt won’t be released until 2010, but the car already has over 33,000 prospective buyers waiting for one — and many of those buyers are overseas ones. This is how we save American industry, people.

— Sean Hannity, trying to minimize John McCain’s many adulteries even as he attacked John Edwards for straying, actually used the words “extenuating circumstances” in McCain’s defense. And Alan Colmes, normally Mister Milquetoast, just did a Benihana-chef number on him for it.

Posted in 2008, automobiles, energy, environment, gardening, global food crisis, global warming, John Edwards, John McCain, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, saving the earth, sustainability | Comments Off on Thursday Morning News Roundup

Making Moo Poo Work For You

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 7, 2008

The fine folks at TerraPass have used the sale of carbon offsets to finance some nifty methane digester projects in Wisconsin: the Holsum Elm Dairy, the Holsum Irish Dairy, and the Clover Hill Dairy. No more yucky, methane-emitting, ground-water-poisoning open sewage lagoons! Instead, farmers get clean power and we get dairy products.

Posted in climate change, energy, environment, farming, food, global warming, Good Things, saving the earth, sustainability, technology | Comments Off on Making Moo Poo Work For You

 
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