Saturday, December 24, 2011

Alternative Energy: Can Algae Replace Oil for Our Energy?

By Johnson R Masterson

Anyone who drives a car can see that the cost of gas bounces up and down in the short term but in the end will always continue to move higher as our fossil fuel reserves diminish. This makes the development of alternative fuels an unavoidable necessity in the future. It's vital that we discover cost-effective and economically viable alternatives. Thankfully scientists are hard at work creating alternative fuel technologies that may be practical to implement and better for our environment. There is one alternative fuel source that hasn't garnered as much attention as wind or solar power. This under-appreciated potential new power source is algae. Algae is endlessly renewable and can be grown in basically endless quantities.

Approximately half of algae's weight is comprised of lipid oil which scientists believe can be converted into biodiesel a fuel that burns more cleanly and efficiently than petroleum. In contrast to oil, algae are renewable and ubiquitous. Algae grow almost any spot on earth. Oil does not get replenished. Algae might be grown anywhere so long as it has access to carbon dioxide water and sunlight. Everybody has seen pond scum. This is probably the most know algae and is also probably the most productive form for producing biofuel. Far from depleting the food supply, the parts that are not converted to biodiesel might be used for fertilizer and feedstock.

Big energy as well as agricultural companies around the globe are beginning to see the windfall that algae might represent in the area of energy production. The majority of research in the field is done by private organizations. Many proponents of algae as a renewable energy source are frustrated at the lack of funding and attention directed at research in this area by public institutions. Many people feel passionately that algae is critical to altering our power mix away from fossil fuel and that algae could create most of our electrical power and fuel our vehicles if only more funding and effort were put into the research necessary to perfect the technology. Despite the large amount of interest from the private energy sector compared to the public sector skeptics maintained that oil companies will not easily allow oil to be usurped as the energy source of choice for the world electricity grids and transportation needs.

Oil prices will continue to go up as the basic laws of supply and demand dictate. Oil companies are well-positioned to make unprecedented amounts of profit from this endgame in oil as they can realize much higher margins from turning over less product. The fossil fuel revolution has facilitated a period of unprecedented prosperity for mankind. But it has not come without a price. Because algae can be grown in every corner of the globe it has the potential to be a great equalizer when it comes to the geopolitical implications of energy. Localizing energy production in the form of algae farms and biodiesel fueled electricity plants means local jobs, economic stability, and opportunity for many nations of the world that today lack these things.

We have grown accustomed to electricity rates which are quite low compared to what they may become when fossil fuels begin to run out. The promise of an algae driven electricity grid and transportation system is truly encouraging. Although lab results and early field test have shown promise, the technology has a long way to go to be perfected.

Johnson is an energy writer who follows issues and trends that impact Texas electricity rates.

Article Source: Can Algae Replace Oil for Our Energy?

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Emergence of the Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

By Michael Vargas

While hybrid cars use the combination of electric with fossil fuels, the result have been only a relatively small increase in fuel efficiency. Electric cars are becoming more popular, but they have a very limited range when compared to gas engines. Natural gas has been providing heat in homes for decades, but it use in cars has been limited due to concerns over the pressurization.

This leaves the fuel cell as perhaps the best chance to produce a practical energy source for vehicles that has the range of gas engines, but provides a clean energy alternative. A solid oxide fuel cell produces electricity from the oxidization of the fuel source. The electrochemical conversion provided in the cell creates a highly efficient method of power generation for a vehicle that's both stable, has few emissions and a relatively low cost.

The development of the technology dates back to the 20th century, but the program got a significant boost almost a decade ago when more government incentives were used to help promote the program. Today the fuel cell car is still in the experimental stages though it has progressed significantly over the past 10 years. The recent hikes in oil prices have help to expand interest in the development of the fuel cell.
The major technical problems that must be overcome with the cell centers on the high operating temperature needed to produce the electrical current. This result is a longer start up time for the fuel cell that includes mechanical and chemical issues that have yet to be fully fleshed out.

Current research to improve the fuel sources is currently being conducted by several companies around the world. The main effort is to reduce the temperature needed to provide the electrical current from the cell which would significantly reduce the cost of the materials needed to house the fuel cell.

One of the more promising areas of research, though it is still in the initial stages is to combine gas turbines to the cell to help augment the chemical reaction. This would be a similar step to the current hybrid vehicles on the market which combine electrical batteries and a gas powered engine.

There are many different chemicals including fossil fuels that are being tested, particularly natural gas and diesel fuels to try and reduce the temperature but these fuels have their own issues which interfere with the electrical process of the cell itself.

With the growing need for renewable energy sources around the world, solving the final issues of the fuel cell may revolutionize the way vehicles are powered leading to a cleaner, healthier environment with more resources being used to solve other energy concerns.

Michael Vargas is the founder and principal consultant of Atlas Project Support. Mr. Vargas has more than 10 years of construction and energy accounting and utilization experience, and is a Certified Business Energy Professional through the AEE, a California Energy Commission Certified Energy Plans Examiner, LEED Green Associate and GBCI Advisory Panel Member.. Mr. Vargas also holds a BSBA from SDSU, MBA and MPM from Keller Graduate School. For more information contact Michael at or via the web at

Article Source: Emergence of the Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Porsche Hybrid Cars Past and Present, A Brief Guide

By Gregory Greene

The Porsche luxury sports car manufacturer has always been one of the leaders in sports innovation, technology and in the competition sports car racing world. Many of the race tracks and courses around the world have not only been a proving ground for the famous sports car Marque, but also as laboratory to race test many of their innovations, thus to strive to constantly improve the technology used by the famous sports car manufacturer.

As an innovator from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century Dr. Ferdinand Porsche is credited for the design and development of the Lohner Porsche in 1898, the first hybrid motor vehicle (petrol-electric). The vehicle was developed and produced by Dr. Porsche while he worked for Jakob Lohner & Co, where he was a leading technical engineer.

The Lohner Porsche Semper Vivus ("Mixte Hybrid"), as it was known, was partially powered by two electronic motorised wheel hubs on one axle and a petrol motor which powered on the remaining axle. The car also featured an electric generator to sustain the battery charge. This vehicle was also offered as a fully electrical version with four hub powered motors, instead of two.

So if you now skip forward to the present, it's no surprise to see Porsche excelling in the world of hybrid sports car technology. The Porsche 911 GT3 R was launched recently at the Geneva Motor Show and has had some rave reviews for its own design and innovations using Porsche Intelligent Performance (or PIP) through unique hybrid technology. This clever hybrid technology has been developed to make racing cars even more efficient, but this technology will ultimately filter down into road going production cars eventually.

The Porsche 911 GT3 R uses a mixture of clever hybrid technology which has been specifically developed for racing, but differs from the technology found in other hybrid cars. As the 911 GT3 R powered configuration is what makes this car unique from conventional hybrid systems, because the front axle is driven by a two electric motors, which develop 60 kW each. In turn these electric motors supplement the rear driven 480-bhp four-litre flat-six petrol rear engine and driven-train.

Another significant point is the "electrical flywheel power generator" fitted in the interior next to the driver delivers energy to the electric motors, as this replaces the usual batteries in a hybrid road car. The flywheel generator can rotate up to 40,000 rpm, this energy can then be stored mechanically. Then when required the driver can access this generated energy to supply an extra 120kw to the electric motors in the form of kinetic energy, which can be used for additional power when over taking or pulling away from a corner. So to coin a phrase "the car in front is probably a Porsche."

Gregory Greene is writing on behalf of Bramleys in Surrey, the best choice for a Porsche Dealer or when choosing a specialist garage for Classic Car Restoration to bring back your car to its former glory.

Article Source: Porsche Hybrid Cars Past and Present, A Brief Guide

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