Blog

It Couldn’t Be Done

It Couldn’t Be Done, by Edgar Albert Guest Somebody said that it couldn’t be done But he with a chuckle replied That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried. So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin On his face. If he worried he hid it. He started to sing as he tackled the thing That couldn’t be done, and he did it! Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that; At least no one ever has done it;” But he took off his coat and he took off his hat And the first thing we knew he’d begun it. With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin, Without any doubting or quiddit, He started to sing as he tackled the thing That couldn’t be done, and he did it. There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done, There are thousands to prophesy failure, There are thousands to point out to you one by one, The dangers that wait to assail you. But just buckle in with a bit of a grin, Just take off your coat and go to it; Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do...

It Couldn’t Be Done

It Couldn’t Be Done, by Edgar Albert Guest Somebody said that it couldn’t be done But he with a chuckle replied That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried. So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin On his face. If he worried he hid it. He started to sing as he tackled the thing That couldn’t be done, and he did it! Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that; At least no one ever has done it;” But he took off his coat and he took off his hat And the first thing we knew he’d begun it. With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin, Without any doubting or quiddit, He started to sing as he tackled the thing That couldn’t be done, and he did it. There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done, There are thousands to prophesy failure, There are thousands to point out to you one by one, The dangers that wait to assail you. But just buckle in with a bit of a grin, Just take off your coat and go to it; Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do...

American Greatness – Letter to Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow, D.PhilMSNBC Broadcast Journalist Dr. Maddow, Thank you for your contributions to the world of journalism.  While so many of your colleagues are challenged to stay inside the lines of your profession’s proverbial ethics, your smiling face appears on my screens delivering a “better reality”.  Your recent series of broadcasts regarding our nation’s history and heritage are indeed inspiring, however, they do not reflect an understanding of current resource availability.  To better convey my point (in your own style) I will share the following quotes from the movie, “Six Days Seven Nights”… Robin: Aren’t you one of those guys? Quinn: What guys? Robin: Those guy guys, you know, those guys with skills. Quinn: Skills? Robin: Yeah. You send them into the wilderness with a pocket knife and a Q-tip and they build you a shopping mall. You can’t do that? Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” was indeed great because they wielded the greatest amount of the cheapest energy in human history.  The great accomplishments – Hoover Dam (about 5 miles from my offices), …, the vast majority of the entire U.S. Civil Engineering infrastructure – were all basically the result of this same “unique in all of human history” energy resource opportunity. To share some background, after graduate school, I ran my own firm for 12 years then went to work for the then Fortune 82 Corporation.  A few years of experience provided a path to the then Fortune 67, then Fortune 38 and finally Fortune 8.  Afterward I worked for the DoE and the DoD for many years.  I served as an Analyst and Project Manager/Principal Investigator in...

Blogging on renewableenergyworld.com

@etcgreen Even if we use your number of 2.8 miles/kwh, the Nissan still costs 4 cents/mile @12 cents/kwh. Or 1/2 the cost of a Jaguar @ the national B100 average of $4.20/gallon. Response… With respect, please take the time and make the effort to understand the world around you. Today, the average kwh rate in CA is about $.24 rather than your suggested $.12kwh.  Many areas of CA are now peaking at $.38kwh. This is the result of clean air legislation and increased renewable energy sources. Should the rest of the country opt for the same level of clean air legislation, the kwh price in many parts of the country would rise to 3-4x this cost – over $1kwh – due to the lower number of photons and greater amounts of rain, hail, snow, ice, humidity, tornadoes, hurricanes, …, in those areas. A more viable alternative is the proverbial National Smart Grid where solar and wind power are long hauled from their optimum generation sources to other parts of the nation. Though this plan, by all estimates, will require a double digit $T something commitment (in the range of $12T-$25T by most reports) – to power the states that need the energy.  This also results in something close to $1/kwh. The cost of solar modules may be reduced over the next 20 years.  Please do not make the common error of thinking that when solar panels are half the cost, that the total installation of solar panels will be half the cost.  Labor costs will never be reduced dramatically.  Then again, energy costs for mining the needed minerals and...

Longevity is Critical for Sustainability

Dexter Ford, the long respected auto industry journalist, recently had an article printed in the NYT, “As Cars Are Kept Longer, 200,000 Is New 100,000”. I was surprised at what he thought was important in that article until I began “walking a mile in his moccasins”, if you will.  Here is a guy who has been writing about cars for decades.  His very livelihood is based on the evaluation of new models – year after year.  Has this man or for that matter, has any individual so well embedded in the auto industry ever driven a single vehicle over 200,000 miles?  To most of these people, the very concept is probably a concerning and potentially embarrassing thought. While economics are an extremely strong factor for driving the same car year after year, there are other motivations.  If I have dated a woman more than a month, then they have heard the following explanation of my values.  Most men purchase a new car and “Baby it” with frequent car washes, timely fluid changes, better quality fuel, they park it waaaay out in the parking lots to avoid door dings, ….  Ah, but when the car is a few years old, the car washes are reduced or cease altogether.  The fluids changes are between late and very late, they burn the cheapest gas and they park the vehicle right up by the grocery store door for every shopping cart and other cars to ding and potentially dong. Now this never made sense to me in that a new car was less susceptible than an older car to scratches as the clear...

PENN & TELLER & H2O

Penn & Teller are a veritable institution in Las Vegas Entertainment.  Good to see they are expanding their horizons and using their celebrity to help the environment. PENN & TELLER &...

Blogging on the Tesla Forum

It has been an interesting experience visiting the Tesla Forum.  Throughout the etcgreen.com website and on our blog posts there, we salute EV’s as a viable solution to reduce our dependency on petroleum and (if the energy source is not coal) reduce emissions.  The purpose of our articles is not to attack EV technologies, rather it is to provide buyers accurate information that they can better filter through the EV marketing hype that we all constantly encounter.  Our shared and ultimate goal is to reduce our dependency on petroleum and emissions with an immediate and economically viable solution. It might surprise the readers to understand that our core research group came together 7 years ago in the then, Emerging Technology Center, which was a Research Group at a major university funded by the DoE, DoD and a private trust fund.  The primary mission of that group was to develop technologies for the advancement of Electric Vehicles.  For 3 years we brought together scientists, engineers and economists to help define opportunities in this amazing new market.  We developed an Internet crawler feeding a massive database to help us process all the information, papers, articles, product specifications, etc.  We used this information to develop models – engineering, logistics, environmental, economic, geo, …  The next generation of that crawler found the specific Tesla Forum post which I understand has created a flurry of responses – over 100. Within the first few years at the university, we came to realize that even a 50% migration to EV light fleet vehicles in the U.S. would require decades and that this technology was not sustainable...

Does Cycling Reduce Petroleum Usage?

By Steve Frazer I love cycling.  Year after year I have put more miles on my bike for transportation than on my ICE vehicle.  However, cycling is not a solution to our petroleum problem.  Actually, for most individuals, it is exactly the wrong direction based on the required energy conversion – particularly when factoring in emission levels. I worked in a Human Performance Research Center for 2 years in college.  I hold a college minor in Human Performance and have competed in about 500 Tri’s, Bi’s, Marathons, Ultra-Marathons, 10K’s, etc.  Several times in my athletic career (which included several years of training for Olympic competitions) I stopped training as I could not afford the cost or felt too guilty consuming 10,000-15,000 calories/day (6′-4″/265lbs).  That volume of food could feed 2 families of 4 in most countries. The amount of energy necessary to power a bicycle is based on the efficiency of your metabolism and a list of other lessor variables.  Even if we calculate energy conversion based on the highly efficient levels of a world class athlete (which is a memory for me at this point), the amount of petroleum required to produce and secure the additional food needed to human power a bicycle the same distance is greater than simply powering an ICE vehicle.  Seriously, a modern diesel powered vehicle that weighs 3,400lbs with start/stop technology, only uses about 2.3 fluid oz – less than 1/2 of 1 cup of fuel to move 1 mile.  To plant, grow, harvest, process and transport enough food to power a human body to move a bike the same distance of 1...

EV Tech – Postmortem

The phrase “Who Killed the Electric Car” has been in the press again lately with the recent release of the documentary, “Revenge of the Electric Car”.  While it is our dire desire to be rid of all dependency on petroleum for our transportation needs, current generation EV technologies are still far from viable per a list of issues… economically, environmentally, safety, human health, longevity, scalability and sustainability.  These high-tech vehicles simply do not make sense for the vast majority of American drivers.  Per our exhaustive evaluation, we consider the EV “dead” to the general American public until the various technologies surpass a long list of reasonable thresholds.  The following is the postmortem report on the current generation of EV vehicles. Every emerging technology needs early supporters and if you can afford to pay $1-$2/mile to operate a small vehicle that offers extremely limited range and you plan to operate your EV in grid areas not powered by coal plants, then the current EV manufacturers and future EV technologies will benefit from your support and we salute your commitment to this emerging technology.  It has a very real potential at some point in the future (20-30 years) of being more environmentally friendly than other current options.  If you have limited financial resources and still need to drive a private vehicle as is the situation with the vast majority of our nation’s population, we strongly suggest you join the U.S. Migration. Each of the following issues below have been the core message of related articles.   While any one of these problems makes a convincing argument not to drive an EV,...

MPPG

Everyone today seems so focused on MPG, yet this unit of measure is outdated.  If the fuel is scalable, economically viable, environmentally friendly and truly sustainable, then MPG is actually not that important. Petroleum is a finite resource. Focusing our resources to double or even triple the Miles Per Petroleum Gallon (MPPG) for vehicles is wrong headed in that this direction only delays the depletion of this finite resource.  The correct focus is sustainability.  We must migrate to sustainable fuels as soon as possible to reduce the impact the end of the petroleum era will have on our economy and on all our lives. If we stay on the current track, auto makers will spend several trillion dollars in R&D over the coming decade trying to increase MPPG for a fuel that will likely no longer be sold in the U.S. commonly within 10-15 years.  Also, emissions from any vehicle running on petroleum sourced fuels – including gasoline powered hybrids such as the Prius and Volt – have no life-cycle emissions off-sets.  As compared to petrodiesel, biodiesel from 2nd generation feedstock has radically reduced emissions: use of preferred sourced B100 completely eliminates lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), it also reduces emission of particulate matter by 40-65%, unburned hydrocarbons by 68%, carbon monoxide by 44-50%, sulfates by 100%, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by 80%, and the carcinogenic nitrated PAHs by 90% on an average. The biodiesel molecules are simple hydrocarbon chains free of the aromatic substances and sulfur associated with fossil fuels. So to calculate the MPPG – take the MPG and figure in the biodiesel blend % – B5,...

Japanese Announce Source of Rare Earths

The Japanese have been searching for an alternative to Chinese rare earth minerals for more than a year and claim to have found it with this recently published paper. It has long been known there were high concentrations of minerals on the ocean floor – this accumulated mud is the decomposing biomass of a gazillion micro algae that have built up over eons mixed with the emissions of ocean floor vents.  We (ETC) have discussed this possibility at length within our own group and Crude – The Incredible Journey of Oil the 2007 Documentary, shows this process in the scene where they journey to the ocean floor to see this Industrial Metabolism cycle in progress (these layers of biomass are the primary source of petroleum, natural gas and coal). This “discovery” supports the concept that micro algae is a fundamental source of life on our planet and that we need to tap into it directly for our sustainability. Micro algae is also the primary 2nd generation feedstock target for the production of biodiesel.  Minerals from the ocean floor vents add a new twist and we are curious about the types and volumes of minerals that can be extracted from this source and the cost of doing so.  We do not believe this potential source will contain high concentrations of all rare earths – only a few and primarily the light weight rare earths and far less of the heavy rare earth minerals. Mining mud from 1-4 miles below the surface and then using toxic chemistry for the refining process on a ship in the middle of the ocean brings...

Letter to our Friends in the Sierra Club

Rachel Rye Butler National Conservation Organizer Sierra Club, Green Transportation e: rachel.butler@sierraclub.org w: sierraclub.org/transportation RE: Invitation to participate in your Transportation Activists Blog Dear Rachel, Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your Transportation Activists Blog.  Working together we can move this nation into more environmentally friendly solutions while still supporting our economy and way of life. From the Sierra Club, Green Transportation Invitation: Why are individuals’ stories important?  Personal stories help illustrate the fact that transportation is more than just statistics– people are affected by our current system that keeps us addicted to oil while providing too few safe, convenient transportation choices. By sharing our stories through social media, blogs, and in print, we can focus public attention on the need for a better transportation system. So how will this work?  Throughout the next few months, we’ll collect compelling stories from individual activists on how they are affected by our transportation system and why they care about making it better.  After we’ve collected a good set of personal stories, we’ll work to share these stories through blog posts, social media, and our local newspapers. I’ve exchanged emails with many Transportation Activists on why they care about transportation, and I’ve heard some very compelling stories from this group.  So let’s get those stories out there! Steve Frazer Submission – 2011-06-06 For more than 20 years, I was employed by Fortune 100 Corporations and government agencies as an Analyst.  I enjoyed the level of influence my job provided me to “make a difference” in those organizations.  Then about 10 years ago, I began to see the world in a...

U.S. Migration

There are a dozen transportation infrastructures with a poll position to “wean” U.S. drivers off of OPEC petroleum.  Only one of them is economically attractive, has the potential to become a large scale solution and can achieve rapid success.  It is a win, win, win, win solution in that it can (#1) eliminate 100% of all U.S. purchases of OPEC petroleum within 5 years.  It is (#2) great for the environment in that it results in an immediate 30%-35% lower emissions and puts us on the path to 95% lower emissions.  This migration (#3) results in an immediate 25% petroleum volume reduction over-all each year at the same number of miles traveled in comparable sized vehicles and establishes the infrastructure and industry capacities over the long-term to eliminate petroleum as a transportation fuel entirely.  It is economically viable (#4) – while this Migration will save U.S. drivers a considerable amount of money individually, many economists are suggesting this immediate solution has the best potential to boost our economy of any option on the table today. To paraphrase Clint, “Ya gotta ask yourself. Are you feeling lucky today at $4/gallon?” You should because most every other industrialized nation in the world is paying $6-$10/gallon (USD equiv.) at their pumps today.  You should also consider if you are willing to pay $5-$6/gallon ($100-$200 to fill up your tank) to drive a gasoline powered vehicle in the next few years?  (Total cost of fuel at the pump in red with government taxes per gallon in blue): Edmunds has published several articles over the past 3 years with the statistics for vehicle price...

Secrets to Success – Colin Powell

“There are no secrets to success” “Don’t waste time looking for them.” “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work and persistence.”   General Colin Powell U.S. Army...

Letter to our Friends in the EPA

Public Information Services Team U.S. EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality 2000 Traverwood Drive Ann Arbor, MI 48105-2195 Thank you so much for your politically correct reply.  There is a level of awareness in the letter that suggests the author has some engineering credentials and the experience to apply the knowledge.  Also, I will share that I spent a great deal of time in Ann Arbor years ago – I have fond memories of good times and wonderful people. I must take exception to the statement contained in your reply below as the US Government does take sides in promoting specific technologies and solutions.  When federal funding is made available for any specific technology, the government is taking a position.  The 15% ethanol blend EPA announcement on 2010-10-13 is a major statement as E15 can no longer credibly be labeled “gasoline”.  The continued $.51 gallon ethanol blender incentive is certainly taking a position.  The tax incentives and cash-back offers for EV’s and hybrids are strong evidence our federal government is supporting these technologies. A common published perspective of Economists and Analysts is that the current global recession shares the same cause as the last 5 recessions – the price of petroleum.  Petroleum has been the largest traded commodity in the world for almost 100 years so even a small change in price has a rippling and compounding impact on world GDP and a large change will have a staggering and long term effect on world GDP. The current recession is the most severe compared to past recessions simply because the 2008 petroleum peak price was the historic record...

EV’s and Hybrids are not our Future

While we appreciate the concept of limited EV production for specific markets, using battery powered vehicles to replace liquid fuel vehicles on a mass scale is problematic. We have found our readers to be extremely informed about transportation technologies, yet few seem to have taken the time to understand all the variables and inter-dependencies of what the media and so many politicians are suggesting will be our future. The unit of measure for “Greenness” is not limited to the vehicle’s MPG.  One must consider the impact a vehicle has on the environment from mineral extraction to recycling and if the technologies are sustainable and scalable for the long term. When gasoline was below $2/gal the American people demanded huge SUV’s and the US manufacturers were happy to build and sell them. This was less than a good idea as it narrowed the historic time line of the petroleum era. Now the American people are demanding EV’s and hybrids and the same companies are happy to build and sell them. Please ponder the amount of copper, aluminum, gallium, selenium, lutetium, lanthanum, neodymium, …, minerals needed to build the new National Smart Grid. Then consider there are 145 nations – now building National Smart Grids.  Note:  While aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust and the third most abundant element, its manufacture requires a great deal of energy which is why it is was one of the first metals to be recycled and also why most of the aluminum manufacturing facilities that were once in the US have closed their operations over the past few decades. Please ponder...