Category Archives: Energy

Sustainable Whiskey

The Helius Group has announced a joint venture with The Combination of Rothes Distillers (CoRD) called Helius CoRDe. Their goal is to create a renewable (biomass-powered) combined heat and power (CHP) plant for whisky production on Speyside (northeastern Scotland).

The proposed £50 million project will use whisky distillery by-products to fuel a 7.2 MWe GreenSwitch biomass combined heat and power plant and a GreenFields plant which will turn the liquid co-product of whisky production, known as Pot Ale, into a concentrated organic fertiliser and an animal feed for use by local farmers.

This is the first biomass plant to use dark grains (draff) instead of wood as its fuel. The 7.2 MWe is equivalent to power for about 9,000 homes, yet the new CHP is expected to produce only 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year. A coal-fired plant of the same size would generate more than three times that amount. Perhaps the best thing about this news is that it makes whiskey, usually treated as a conservative and venerable industry, innovative and reconnects it to the conservation and sustainability of nature.

Here is a list of single malts in Speyside that could benefit from the new plant.

* Aberlour Single Malt
* Ardmore Single Malt
* Aultmore Single Malt
* Balmenach Single Malt
* Balvenie
* Benriach Single Malt
* Benromach Single Malt
* Cardhu Single Malt
* Cragganmore
* Dailuaine
* Dufftown Single Malt
* Glendronach Single Malt
* Glendullan Single Malt
* Glenfarclas Single Malt
* Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky
* Glen Grant
* Glen Keith Single Malt
* The Glenlivet
* The Glenrothes
* Glentauchers Single Malt
* Glen Elgin
* Glen Moray
* Imperial Single Malt
* Inchgower Single Malt
* Knockando
* Linkwood Single Malt
* Lismore Single Malt
* Longmorn Single Malt
* The Macallan
* McClelland’s Speyside
* Miltonduff Single Malt
* Mortlach Single Malt
* Speyburn Single Malt
* The Speyside
* Strathisla Single Malt
* Tamnavulin Glenlivet Single Malt
* Tamdhu
* Tomintoul Single Malt
* Tormore Single Malt

Clean Diesel Locomotives

California was awarded millions this summer for new Clean Diesel Projects

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has awarded $25 million for clean diesel projects in California under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009 National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program

A single clean-burning diesel locomotive engine can cost $1.6 million, so companies like California Northern Railroad (CFNR) have been encouraged to upgrade by federal and state financial incentives. 80 percent of the cost of the new CFNR 501 engine came fom the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Likewise, Caltrans is upgrading their fleet.

The first Caltrans locomotive to be upgraded is a Model F59PHI originally built by Electro-Motive Diesel in October 2001. EMD has installed a 710ECO™ Repower upgrade package with the latest microprocessor-controlled locomotive engine technology for lower emissions, increased fuel economy, greater reliability and predictable maintenance costs. The newly upgraded locomotive will now achieve EPA Tier 2 emissions performance – two levels cleaner than required for this model.

Thus it has taken state laws, local and national grants, as well as 40% more fuel efficiency, and concern about health quality (85% particulate matter reduction in the new engines) to get the railroads to finally get moving in this direction.

$10 to Ride Across Canada

A trip across Canada in 30 days for less than $10 in total power cost (watt-hours) is explained by Justin Lemire-Elmore in the following video. He gives four reasons for his summer 2008 journey:

  1. Meet electric bike enthusiasts dispersed across Canada
  2. Examine feasibility of touring by electric motor
  3. Develop products such as LED lights, 100-140 km range battery, and on-the-fly recharge
  4. Prove to the world the low-cost efficiency of electric bicycles

That $10 is actually donated from random 120V stops along the way.

Every building had outlets on the side

He was intercepted just once and asked to pay a dollar, which he declined because his battery only draws $0.06 for a recharge. He spends just $0.86 for the ride from Vancouver to Lake Louise, with a target of 12 watt/hr per km. There is quite a bit of classic hacker behavior such as trip segments starting at 2am and breakfast as the only meal of the day. Fresh fruit stands also are often mentioned, as recharge stops for the rider.

Also notable is the discussion of engineering feats such as odd hand-built bicycles and even tunnels in the Rockies that stand above the road in summertime — built to prevent impact of avalanches.

Electric Car Facts

I hate stories like this one by the Associated Press.

Electric cars are also more limited than their gas-guzzling cousins, running 40 and 120 miles (60 to 200 kilometers) on a charge, while taking anywhere from two to seven hours to fully recharge.

The problem with this? Although the article gives a negative tone with phrases like “more limited” the perfect fit for electric vehicles is the urban and suburban driver who never go more than 120 miles per day and are stationary for at least two hours a day. This technology is not meant to replace the fantasy of the open road trip; the one people in the suburbs always talk about but rarely ever act upon. They could rent an exotic non-guzzling turbo-diesel performance vehicle for those days.

Here is another example:

Jay Nagley, the publisher of Clean Green Cars, a British online guide to environmentally friendly vehicles, said the G-Wiz, while ubiquitous, is technically not a car but an “electronic quadricycle.”

He said the G-Wiz had limited appeal outside the British capital, where wealthier residents use it mostly to avoid parking fees and the city’s hefty congestion charge.

“It’s pretty expensive paying seven grand for a four-wheeled motorcycle. You’d be pretty brave to take it outside the city center,” he said.

First of all, seven grand is peanuts for a new high-end motorcycle in London, especially one to carry two passengers and baggage. When you factor in the maintenance and gas consumption of a motorcycle then the G-Wiz doesn’t seem “pretty expensive”. It also is a tiny sum compared with the cost of property in London. Finally, why should an urban vehicle have appeal outside the British capital? That seems to me a lot like saying an airplane doesn’t do very well as a ferry on the Thames. This chicken does not taste like beef. There should be more attention paid to the objectives of new transportation with better efficiency and less noise about the old fantasies, habits and fashions.

Some of the more meaningful things that the article could have mentioned is a reduction in risk that comes from smaller vehicles, lower insurance rates, etc.. It also could have mentioned stats like the average daily distance traveled by American drivers; seems like it is around 50 miles, perfect for a small electric bike with two or four wheels.

American Water Safety History

Every so often I am reminded about the need for safe water. A site called GOOD has put forth a list of disasters related to water in American history. They start with the latest one, a tragic story that has directly impacted the health of soldiers at home:

For years, U.S. health officials have claimed that although the drinking water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune is contaminated, it poses no danger to Marines or their families. This April, the government reversed itself, saying that its assessment of the water contained “omissions” and “inaccuracies,” and adding that a million people over the course of three decades may have been exposed to the carcinogen benzene in their water. Fifteen hundred former Lejeune Marines, some of whom are now afflicted with rare lymphomas, have filed lawsuits seeking more than $33 billion. Sadly, Lejeune is just one of the many recent poisoned-water cover-ups in American history. There are others going on all the time. Here are some more of the worst.

A phrase like “some of the worst” is a research cop-out. Inquiring minds want to know what are the worst? Where is the baseline for “worst”. Number of people affected? Area? Length of time? Where is the comprehensive list of disasters? I don’t ask just to be facetious but also because I think it will help put cybersecurity in perspective, especially with regard to SCADA systems.