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Thoughts and comments about making life even better
Curated by Kenneth Weene
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India Launches Energy Saving Solar-Powered Train Coaches

India Launches Energy Saving Solar-Powered Train Coaches | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
India has once again stepped up as it launches solar-powered train coaches to ditch diesel and for energy-saving purposes.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I figure a little ray of sunshine is always something worth sharing. Possibly in the long run the engineers of this world will figure out how to keep our species and all life on Earth alive. 
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How Batteries Could Revolutionize Renewable Energy

How Batteries Could Revolutionize Renewable Energy | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Batteries allow utilities to collect excess electricity and keep it for times when the sun may not be shining or the wind not blowing
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Time to repeat something I have said many times; the future will belong to those who come up with the best batteries. Yes, there is lots of lithium in the world, but the supply is being depleted. Also there is a limited life to lithium batteries, some danger, and of course the simple question of size (weight) when talking about major storage, say for a house's solar source. My guess, it will be some other rare earth that will make the big difference, one reason that Africa is much on my mind. At any rate, if your kid is interested in electrical engineering, try to get them to think beyond computers and to start thinking energy storage. There's a big future waiting for the innovative. 
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Scientists Accidentally Discover Method to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Ethanol

Scientists Accidentally Discover Method to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Ethanol | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Scientists discovered a new method to convert carbon to ethanol, a finding that could aid the development of methods to fight climate change
Kenneth Weene's insight:
As I have said for years, the creation of efficient batteries to store the electricity generated by renewable sources such as solar and wind will be the game changer. Of course, this method sounds great and the rarest mineral that would be used is copper. Here is a list of copper producing countries. http://investingnews.com/daily/resource-investing/base-metals-investing/copper-investing/2013-top-10-copper-producing-countries/
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It’s the first new U.S. nuclear reactor in decades. And climate change has made that a very big deal.

It’s the first new U.S. nuclear reactor in decades. And climate change has made that a very big deal. | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Meet the Watts Bar 2 reactor, which comes at a time of crisis for the nuclear industry.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I find it ironic that the TVA is opening atomic reactors when it was the need for hydroelectric power to electrify the region that lay behind the creation of the Authority. Meanwhile, what do you think, should we have more nuclear reactors in this country as part of our effort to end carbon emissions? For my part, I think wind and solar should be the biggest contributors, but I do know that we are a country with a great and ever-growing hunger for electricity, so I guess some nuclear is good in the mix, especially since there is a need to get rid of some of the dams that were built in the twentieth century, dams that are interfering with water use and flow of rivers. 
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Try not to jiggle while watching these amazing bladeless wind turbines.

Try not to jiggle while watching these amazing bladeless wind turbines. | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
A startup in Spain has created a wonderfully innovative alternative to traditional wind turbines.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Cheaper and more efficient so able to work in less wind. Also, these new turbines will be safer for birds and they are a lot neater looking. The only problem, we might all start jiggling along with them. Heck, maybe that can be part of my exercise plan, watch and jiggle. 
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How Cheap Oil Is Changing the World

How Cheap Oil Is Changing the World | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
From Russia to your local gas station, the consequences of low fuel prices are clear. But the consequences of those consequences are less apparent.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

One of my fears is that we Americans will go back to petroleum-guzzling ways instead of pushing for better mileage vehicles and renewable energy. 

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Germany's Revolution in Small Batch, Artisanal Energy

Germany's Revolution in Small Batch, Artisanal Energy | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The industrial engine of Europe is increasingly powered by backyard windmills and locally owned solar panels. And this complex, patchwork system just might be the future of sustainable energy.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

The old model of economies of size which suggests that big industry is the better way to go for an economy may not be the right model after all. Germany seems to be getting a very efficient energy industry and one that protects the environment by allowing small, locally driven projects. Perhaps the U.S. should follow suit. 

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Energy Department Announces $28M In Funding For 7 Offshore Wind Projects

Energy Department Announces $28M In Funding For 7 Offshore Wind Projects | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday announced $28 million to fund America’s first 7 offshore wind projects around the country.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Renewable energy is great if they can come up with workable and economical methods. These are good beginnings.

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Mississippi 'Clean Coal' Project Flops - D-brief

Mississippi 'Clean Coal' Project Flops - D-brief | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The Kemper power plant, once a hopeful site for sustainable clean coal, is cutting its ambitions short.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I love the delusion of clean coal. I guess anybody who remembers playing/hiding in the coal bin and ending up so blackened that they had to take their clothes off outside the back door and then run directly into the bathroom for not one bath but two to get everything clean has to love the fantasy that somehow we can make coal the clean fossil fuel. It ain't gonna happen, but we  live in a time of alternative realities, so I guess there will still be more attempts and more wastes of money.
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The future will be battery-powered

The future will be battery-powered | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Inside the high-stakes race to build a better energy storage device.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
For years I have said that the country that solves the problem of batteries, how to safely storage significant amounts of electrical energy both for specific usage and to facilitate the reliability renewable energy creation will be dominant in the years to come. The search for the most efficient and affordable battery fuels competition and conflict as science and especially militaries consider the rare metals found in some of the most remote and primitive parts of the world. Why are they found there? Partly because those areas haven't already been picked clean and partly because the local geology has made them less inhabitable. What riches lie beneath the rugged mountains of Afghanistan or deep in under the ground of South Sudan, two countries that I particularly think about? How about deep in Congo? The future is not clear, but I do know that the space stations hovering above the earth will need batteries as will the rovers on distant planets. So, for me, this article is fascinating. How about you? Enjoy some science today. 
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Breakthrough solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight, produces burnable fuel

Breakthrough solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight, produces burnable fuel | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a potentially game-changing solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel, using onl
Kenneth Weene's insight:
If this can be properly developed, it will be a major breakthrough in who we meet our energy needs. While we would be burning fuel, on net, we wouldn't be adding CO2 to the atmosphere but recycling it. This could provide an outstanding storage method for solar energy possibly to be used in conjunction with regular solar (and other renewables) during times of darkness. Potentially brilliant! Comments?
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Bionic leaf converts energy from our sun better than nature does

Bionic leaf converts energy from our sun better than nature does | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Researchers at Harvard have created a device that mimics the natural process of photosynthesis, taking solar energy and converting it into chemical energy or liquid fuel.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
This is potentially a great breakthrough not only in storing solar power, in effect creating a bio-battery but also in using carbon dioxide in a positive way. 
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Beyond the lithium ion -- a significant step toward a better performing battery

Beyond the lithium ion -- a significant step toward a better performing battery | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have taken a significant step toward the development of a battery that could outperform the lithium-ion technology used in electric cars such as the Chevy Volt.

They have shown they can replace the lithium ions, each of which carries a single positive charge, with magnesium ions, which have a plus-two charge, in battery-like chemical reactions, using an electrode with a structure like those in many of today's devices.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

I have for years been saying that the key to the future is the development of better batteries so that renewable energy can be stored and used economically and safely. Hopefully, this is a real step towards that goal.

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Agricultural waste could be used as biofuel

Agricultural waste could be used as biofuel | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Straw-powered cars could be a thing of the future thanks to new research from the University of East Anglia.

A new study pinpoints five strains of yeast capable of turning agricultural by-products, such as straw, sawdust and corncobs, into bioethanol -- a well-known alcohol-based biofuel.

It is estimated that more than 400 billion liters of bioethanol could be produced each year from crop wastage.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

If we can find an efficient way to use what is now agricultural waste to generate power, that would be a great step forward.

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Electric cars have batteries. Why not power plants?

Electric cars have batteries. Why not power plants? | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
A Southern California Edison wind-powered plant offers a peek at the potential for energy storage at power plants. Energy storage would allow utilities to bring more renewable energy power plants onto the grid.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

If affordable methods for storing energy from renewable sources can be developed, this will mean a real change in the way we think about energy. Batteries are certainly going to be part of the solution as might some of the other methods mentioned in the article.

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