What is Food? Harry Blazer

By Harry Blazer I would like to thank Nazha Aschenbrenner for giving me the opportunity to provide my perspective on Investment in Agriculture for Sustainability and Food Security (sovereignty) since I was not available to moderate the session at the 2014 AIM Conference. First some definitions. We define food as primary ingredients or that, which is made from primary ingredients, using processes that do not alter the fundamental integrity, wholesomeness and healthfulness of the primary ingredients used. A primary ingredient is water and also a natural (non-synthetic) nutrient with a fully-disclosed, one-word ingredient statement, which is neither genetically modified nor produced using GM technologies. We define food sovereignty as self-sufficiency in the production of all nutrients including water and wholesome, healthful and nutritious: a) land-based foods, i.e. fruit, vegetables, grains, livestock and b) water-based foods i.e. fish/seafood; and distribution of those nutrients to the population as required – in sufficient quantities for the population to thrive. We define sustainability as that which at worst is benign and preferably beneficial to the quality of air, water and soil. Sustainability can also be viewed through three lenses: a. Material – where rate of use < rate of replenishment, with the goal of emulating as much as possible Nature’s closed-nutrient-loops where there is no “waste”, since the waste products of one process become the feed stock for another. b. Energy – All secondary sources of energy, even so called renewable sources, are derived from our sun. So the closer we can get to the direct use of the sun’s energy, the more sustainable we are likely to be. c. Economic/Social – the key...
Reviving Algae from the (Almost) Dead

Reviving Algae from the (Almost) Dead

Bill Scanlon, NREL November 03, 2014 Tucked away in darkness and almost dead, algae can emerge from a frigid and foggy environment to live again — and perhaps even become the seeds for a new beginning that can provide biofuel for a clean energy future. NREL Research Technician Nick Sweeney inoculates algae being grown in a tent reactor. Algae brought back to active states from cryogenic tanks need aerobic environments to meet their full potential as biofuels. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL At the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and at dozens of other labs nationwide, algae are like a junior high kid with great promise: slow to arise, but packed with energy for the long haul. It may take years, but eventually the great expectations can be reached. A gallon of fuel made from algae currently costs about quadruple the cost of a gallon of conventional diesel. But looking long term, algae are an inexhaustible resource that if used as a substitute for fuels would slash the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — and costs are dropping. Resurrecting Algae a Delicate Task Unlike resurrecting zombies — or teens — awakening a dormant algae sample takes precision and care. At NREL, that task often falls to Research Technician Nick Sweeney. “We do cryogenic resurrection of algae from our library of strains,” Sweeney said. “We get calls from other labs, universities, private companies, or from our own researchers requesting a particular strain. “It’s not as simple as pulling something frozen out of the freezer; the protocol is to slowly bring it back to a state where its...

Dodge Doubles 1500 Ram Diesel Production

2014-10-27 Chrysler said this week that it would double production of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickup, increasing the model’s share of all Ram pickups from 10 to 20 percent. Ram is currently the only light truck manufacturer in the US to offer a diesel engine in a light-duty pickup. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel comes with a 240 horsepower 3-liter diesel V6 with a fuel efficiency rating of 28 miles per gallon. Their are very few of these trucks on the lots across the nation – most are sold before the Dealers take delivery. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Chevy, GMC, and Ford are all announcing the release of new light and mid-sized pick up trucks with advanced diesel engines. The U.S. Migration is well...

Renewable Energy Killing Birds

With both horizontal wind turbine and solar concentrator installations, it is being made clear by the powers that be – including our Federal Government – that the lives of birds are less important than the electricity these installations are generating.  It is sad to realize this is a common attitude among renewable energy advocates and is not universally accepted by everyone in the industry.  There are other options both for wind and solar that do not kill birds and ETC will continue to install those technologies though they are not as profitable.  The public needs to understand this issue is not a black and white decision where a vote for renewable energy is a vote to kill birds.  Rather, there are renewable energy technologies where bird kills are virtually non-existent. We will continue to lobby against these mega installations and hope others will join in the fight. ————— Background: Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair. Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version. ————— The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) announced it was suing the Obama administration for finalizing a rule that would allow wind farms to kill eagles for up to 30 years. The bird group says that the new rule violates existing federal laws....

U.S. Clean Diesel Car Sales Up 25% in 2014

Diesel passenger car purchases continue to increase, which is great news for the biodiesel industry.  Diesel car sales in the U.S. increased by more than six times the rate of overall car sales during the first six months of 2014 — a 25 percent increase from last year — according to Edmunds data and the Diesel Technology Forum. Diesel sales in 2014 show six consecutive months of increases: +6.8 percent in January; +4.5 percent in February; +39.5 percent in March; +60.4 percent in April; +26.8 percent in May and +8.8 percent in June. “Sustained and mostly double-digit increases in sales each month over a four-year period prove that U.S. consumers are embracing the benefits of clean diesel technology and its proven, high fuel efficiency, great driving performance, and long-term value,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. Clean-diesel vehicles are about 30 percent more efficient than those with gasoline engines, says the DTF, and the group expects automakers to introduce even more diesels to help meet federal fuel-efficiency standards that mandate a 54.5 mpg corporate average by 2025. Current clean-diesel offerings in the U.S. include 27 models of cars and SUVs, nine vans and 10 pickup trucks. Click here for a list of the clean diesel cars and pickups available in the U.S....
XanaFlow Increases MPG and Lowers Emissions

XanaFlow Increases MPG and Lowers Emissions

We all have been bombarded with scores of late-night TV ads for gadgets that increase MPG in our vehicles for decades…  “Just add this little piece of plastic into your air in-take and you will get 20% better MPG”.  “Pour this elixir into your tank and poof – no more smoke out your tail pipe”. The reality is that it now costs over $1B USD to take an engine from concept into production.  The world market is unforgiving and ruthlessly competitive.  Engine design specialists now must study computer science for years before they can wield the advanced tools of an engine designer … Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), CAD to CNC milling machines and even then, they must also become intimate with the vast number of variables of Material Science – Metallurgy, an in-depth knowledge of the chemistry of the fuels and the Laws of Thermodynamics.  Yet, the best and most honest engine designers, will tell you that CFD results can be off by orders of magnitude from real-world testing, that CNC milling machines can’t always do what is desired, that material science is plagued with QA and virgin vs. recycled metals issues and the look-up tables for the environmental thermodynamics as they relate to engine design are changing as the result of Climate Change. Our 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 dually was getting about 17mpg on the highway prior to the XanaFlow install and 22mpg after or about a 30% mpg improvement. Our 2014 Chevy Cruze diesel was getting about 46mpg highway prior to the XanaFlow install and we are now seeing over 60mpg after or about a 44% mpg...