Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dark Humor in the Ethanol Industry

Give this analyst an award for most colorful description of VeraSun Energy's financial condition:

"Last week, ethanol producer VeraSun Energy (VSE) announced it put itself up for sale after blowing its brains out in the corn market."

The article came from SeekingAlpha.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

OEM Made Glycerine Based Coolant Announced

Back in about 2002 I was told by someone the real industrial hope for glycerine was as a coolant.

That with a little creative chemistry glycerine can be formed into Ethelyn Glycol the main ingredient in antifreeze-coolant used in many cars. Upon hearing this I asked a friend of mine who is a turbologist (a lubrication engineer who deals in automotive motor oils and chemicals) what he thought. He told me back in the 30's and earlier glycerine was used as a coolant additive so it was plausible.

And so I wait to see this big savior for nonfood grade industrial off-take to arise. Finally I see a report of a product.

Cummins Filtration (the filter division of Cummins Engine) has rolled out a glycerine based coolant. Cool stuff to say the least (yes pun intended). I saw the original story at the Biobased News.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Man, His Business Model, and a Paradigm Shifting Approach to the Electric Car.

From Wired Magazine. An interesting and thought provoking idea coming our way from Israel (a nation no doubt distinctly aware of where their economy's petro purchase dollars flow).

Here is the story in a nutshell. The issue with electric cars in the short term is a full large-scale deployment of support. Not just complete with recharging stations but also battery swap out facilities if you need a fully charged battery on short notice for a longer range trip. Also critical is support of fully delveloped and existing auto manufacturers to support electric vehicles. (See diagram below)

So in essence its the story of the Hydrogen Car but with technology immediately available today, full OEM support to roll out electric cars, and a product horizon of the near future.

Its doable and no less audacious than any other major idea drawing investment, support, and political advertising photo-ops right now. Its a little more complex than T. Boone Pickens' concept of converting vehicles to natural gas (an easy process) and much simpler than a Hydrogen Economy concept talked by the do-nothing till next decade crowd in opposition to most other proposals.

As viable as the smart-grid ideas pitched as the future, hydrogen refueling concepts pushing for funding, and of course the next-Gen biofuels emerging right now. I like what I'm hearing and I think that its something that would likely draw funding and support. In particular if Government and Utility groups stepped up to support this concept like they've done other experimental technologies in the past.

Also worth note, an Agassi quote from the article:

"I thought that the greatest problem of our time was oil. Oil on one hand is polluting the land, and on the other hand it's financing terror."

I trust those who are motivated by a perspective that moves them outside the normal box of concept. I don't trust those who are thinking big concepts to make a billion dollars. Though its a nice goal it breaks the focus away from true success of the technology and the recipricol partnerships necessary for a billion dollar business to thrive.

I am a capitalist personally so I don't trust those motivated that government is the sole solution either. But I do find an amazing pool of ideas and concpets trickling up from the End of Suburbia entrapanuer set. I don't believe in peak oil but I do find common ground with the perspective that imagines a world without oil and attempts to develop solutions that in their own right could compete with petroleum.

Shai Agassi is a leader of a logical framework I hope to see more from. An architect for the future that right or wrong will probably wring real additional wealth and value from technologies already with us and never applied in new directions. This is the definition of progress. Ideas pushing envelopes.

NOTE: I use this blog primarily to organize my reading, thoughts, and reactions over time. Complete with the tags and other background links. This is a little less than timely but I wanted to ensure I had it up for sake of finding it again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh How they Forget

Sawdust a.k.a. "Biomass" was a common heating and boiler fuel in the Pacific NW. Very common. You can see the remnants of these hoppers and belt systems attached like skeletal remains on older buildings. They exist all over the older parts of Oregon. Which makes the following story reasonably funny.

From this week's Wallowa Chieftan Article:

"On Friday, Sept. 19, the first-ever biomass boiler system to be installed in an Oregon School District will be the subject of a much-anticipated gathering at Enterprise High School. The ribbon-cutting, dedication and tour of the facility will take place from 1 to 3 p.m., and the public is invited to attend."

Its funny when high-tech is really the fuel of yester-year with the additional controls of a computer aided combustion and recirculated exhaust gas improving the efficiency and emissions of the fuel. But of course the argument would be - it's new to them.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The sign read: "This is Not a Concept Car"

The return of the VW Turbo Diesel.

Hybrid mpg efficiency with Century Old technology. Thank you Rudolf Diesel and thank you VW for the long awaited return.

I was driving past a VW dealership in Salem, Oregon and what did I see? A vinyl covered new VW Jetta TDI which said along its panels "45 mpg This is Not a Concept Car."

I've been waiting and now it looks like its finally about to arrive. Now lets just hope that Honda, Toyota, Subaru, GM and Ford all follow through with their own suggestions of small sedan clean diesels. I could only imagine what a Subaru AWD wagon would do for Biodiesel if it rolled out with a high efficiency clean diesel engine.

Now the only question is..... Will it be for under $25,000?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Google and Distributive Wave Power

This is interesting. Google has not taken its success for granted and has invested its historically unique opportunity to move many great ideas forward. This one leads the pack in my opinion. The paring of one technology with a whole business model. I could really see this providing some strong reliable technology to many lesser developed nations. An interesting concept to say the least.

I saw it first at a favorite E-Newsletter of mine the Environmental Leader

"The floating data centers would be located 3 to 7 miles from shore, in 50 to 70 meters of water. If perfected, this approach could be used to build 40 megawatt data centers that don’t require real estate or property taxes."

The E-Leader cites Data Center Knowledge as their source with a more in depth discussion of Google's plans to make containerized data centers.

Almost A Month

It's been almost a full 30 days since my last post.

This summer has been good to me and bad to this blog. I've been busy with a friend of mine running for the legislature all I've focused on the last bit here is getting a good man in office.

That and I was lucky enough to go as a volunteer for this year's Cycle Oregon which was an amazingly enjoyable vacation. I heard it described by one of the cyclists as "Five Star Camping" which I must agree. A greater vacation I doubt can ever bee had.

Mark Fitz