Natural gas has been in the spotlight lately as the clean fuel of the future, but what do we know about this clean gas? We already use it in our home furnaces, water heaters, stoves, fireplaces, even some cars (CNG); but it is now becoming the energy of choice to produce our electricity. While it is a cleaner burning alternative to coal, is it our best choice? There are two parts to this question, how it is obtained, and how it is used.
Natural Gas Extraction
Natural gas is a fossil fuel derived from plant and animal matter that was heated and pressurized over time within the earth’s layers. It is a byproduct of oil drilling and for many years was just burned off with flares or re-injected back into the wells (and it still is in many countries). More recently, it has become a resource constituting it’s own development as an energy source. As a result, many oil companies are looking into developing the vast shale gas reserves found throughout the US as a new domestic energy plan competing with renewable energy.
Shale gas extraction is a bit more complicated and requires hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of the fine clay like rock to obtain sufficient amounts of the gas. Chemicals (some which are toxic and unrecoverable) are injected at high pressure into these drilled wells, fracturing and breaking up the shale rocks and thus releasing the natural gas. › Continue reading
The results are in; C3Nano Inc., a team from Stanford University, has won a competition amongst peers, the coveted MIT Clean Energy Prize. Barely three years old, the competition has brought some of the brightest minds from around the world, working with their respective teams, for a single common objective: becoming pioneers in the advancement of (relatively) clean energy.
A good idea isn’t enough to change the world, a good idea backed by significant capital and popular support is. The people behind the competition and the participants are well-aware of this reality, leading to the high turn-out of academics with futuristic ideas. And that’s where the competition comes in; the winning team earns $200,000, but more importantly, their idea gains wide recognition beyond the scholarly circle resulting in sponsorships from established organizations.
The following media frenzy has been distressing to watch, and frustratingly shallow on facts. Media responses range across the board, from John Stewart’s Daily Show brilliant simulation of the failure to cap the oil leak, to Rush Limbaugh’s statement that the oil is as “natural” as the ocean water it’s polluting and therefore should be left alone. › Continue reading
But maybe we in the environmental community shouldn’t really be so surprised. In this New York Times article, it’s reiterated that ‘Mr. Obama said several times during his presidential campaign that he supported expanded offshore drilling. He noted in his state of the union address in January that weaning the country from imported oil would require “tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.’” › Continue reading
Last year the Times Square ball underwent a green renovation, replacing the old incandecent lightbulbs with 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel energy efficient LEDs. Not only does this allow for a greater savings in energy, it also provides countless patterns using 10 million different colors refracted through 2,668 Waterford Crystal panels. The ball also received an upgrade giving it 20% greater efficiency making it the greenest its ever been using the same amount of energy that would be used from two household ovens.
Reminiscent of The Green Microgym, this year features a eco-frienldy renewable people-powered 2009 sign. Revelers can already pedal on bicycles in Duracell’s Times Square “power lodge” to generate energy for the sign.
While not the best display of energy savings, it is a great innovative way to get people excited and spread the word about new green technologies.
Google is putting something really scary on their website, your energy bills. Calculate your energy costs, and what you can do about them. From energy going up the chimney, to energy leaching computer zombies, a few suggestions could exorcise your energy demons. Visit the site to get into the holiday mood, and save a lil’ change too.
Used alkaline batteries are a bad thing when thrown in the trash. They leech toxic chemicals out into the landfills, oceans, streets, or wherever they are discarded. Here comes a beautiful (although optimistic) solution in allowing for easy system for recycling and efficiency from Sungwoo Park & Sunhee Kim. Most ‘dead’ batteries are just running too low to power our devices, but they still have energy. This light/recycling station can utilize the remaining power left in the battery to light up a corner, subway, bus stop or even better, integrate them into lighted vending machines.
The Energy Seed is a demonstrative technology in efficiency and recycling ideals, but presents just as many problems as it solves such as battery collection, reliable lighting, vandalism, etc. I applaud the idea and design and feel that it is a very creative solution for a hidden problem.
Keep up with us on Twitter and RSS!
You can find us at: