jillithian: (Default)
Man-Made Wetlands Filter Wastewater From Facility.

The AP (12/5, Felberbaum) reports, "Eventually the birds, foxes, turtles and deer stumbled upon a man-made wetlands that naturally filters wastewater from the nation's biggest tobacco maker. The nearly 50 acres of wetlands are part of a $7 million science experiment," which is "using more than 150,000 plants to filter wastewater discharged by Philip Morris USA's Park 500 facility." This "project along the James River...became fully operational over the summer" and now "is creating a habitat for many animal species -- a stark contrast from the industrial city of steel buildings and towers less than a mile away." The AP notes, "Wastewater first flowed into the wetlands in March and more than 15 species of plants like bullrush and duck potato were installed shortly afterward, followed by more than 70 varieties of animals that come and go with the seasons." About "1.8 million gallons of treated wastewater a day moves through a series of ponds with native trees and shrubs. The plant life and microbes absorb mineral nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous before the water reaches the river."
jillithian: (pwnd Cute Overload)
This is awesome:

from St. Cloud Times website

Athletic complex upgrades bring savings
By Lawrence Schumacher • lschumacher@stcloudtimes.com • December 3, 2008

If not for the deep fryer in the concession stand, natural gas would no longer be needed at St. Cloud’s Municipal Athletic Complex.

“We’ve had a normal gas bill of $14,000 or $15,000 a month, but this month I figure it’ll be more like $200 or $300,” said Todd Bissett, arena operations manager at the MAC.

Bissett, other city officials, builders and contractors and some curious residents showed up Tuesday at Dave Torrey Arena to see what’s making the MAC not a little, but a lot “greener” these days.

The answer is a $1.7 million geoexchange heating and cooling system installed during the summer and fall. It is ready for this winter’s skating season.

The system will cut natural gas use by 95 percent, electricity use by 30 percent, save 4 million gallons of water and eliminate 300,000 pounds of greenhouse gases while saving the city money, said Bob Swanger, vice president for Harris Companies, the group that sold the technology to the city.Read more... )
jillithian: (Big Earl)
I think I can stop shopping for cars now.

This will require me to keep this car for two more years, however, but that also gives me two years to save up a really good down payment. I'm currently saving $300 a month but am thinking of bumping it up to $400 a month, which should give me about $10,000 (after interest and include the extra odd paycheck and bonuses) in two years.

What happens in 2010? The Chevy Volt will be released. So will the Chrysler electric minivan, SUV, and sports car.

This makes me giddy. I'm just so excited about this.

Alas, I don't live in Southern California, so I don't get participate in the hydrogen revolution. Me and Jamie Lee Curtis could be buddies. Neither of us like irregularity and we don't like pollution, either. :)


From my SME email:
Automakers work to make hydrogen a sustainable energy source.

On the front page of its Business of Green section, the New York Times (9/24, SPG1, Mouawad) reports, "On a strip of Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, a futuristic experiment posing as an ordinary fuel station may be bringing the world one step closer to the hydrogen age." The Shell station "has conventional gasoline pumps as well as an odd-looking nozzle with bright blue 'hydrogen' labels. ... Faced with the perils of global warming and soaring prices, automakers and oil" firms "have been working together" to make hydrogen sustainable source of energy. "Their answer is to introduce both cars and new fuel stations, clustering them in urban centers like Los Angeles, Berlin, and Tokyo." And "this strategy" includes "Honda's decision to lease about 200 of its newly developed FCX Clarity cars over the next three years to selected customers in Southern California, who will be able to fill them up at the new Shell station and others." The vehicle "uses a fuel cell to power an electric motor; the cars are being leased for $600 a month, a fraction of what they would cost to buy." The Times notes, "Other carmakers, including Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler, are working on prototypes."



Also, Honda is kicking butt and taking names:
Flexible plants give Honda strategic advantage over rivals.

On the front of its Marketplace section, the Wall Street Journal (9/23, B1, Linebaugh) reported that flexible plants are "considered quite a feat" in the automotive world. Operators at a Honda Motor Co. plant in East Liberty, Ohio, which makes Civic compacts, can easily halt the production line, letting workers sweep "in to install new hand-like parts on the giant gray robots that weld steel into the cars' frames." After five minutes the line is "back to life, and the robots [start] zapping together a longer, taller vehicle, the CR-V crossover." While in other manufacturers' factories, the process of "switching from one model to a completely different one still can take weeks and millions of dollars," the Journal noted, "the manufacturing dexterity of Honda's plants...is emerging as a key strategic advantage for the company." When gasoline prices are "volatile," the automaker "can adjust production to inventory levels faster than its competitors." For instance, "earlier this year, gasoline prices reached $4 a gallon," and Honda "slowed production of its Ridgeline pickup truck at its Canada plant and increased output of better-selling vehicles." Furthermore, "to respond to changes in economic conditions," the manufacturer "is able to shuffle production among different plants as well as make different models in one plant."
jillithian: (climbing rose)
Blogger suggests building up biomass industry in Michigan.

In a blog for Michigan's Tri-Cities Business Review (9/11), Chris Schilling, who "holds the Charles J. Strosacker Chair and is a" professor of engineering at Saginaw Valley State University, wrote that he thought "how easy it would be for [Michigan] to" collect "all manner of biomass," compress it "into pellets or briquettes," and deliver it "to homes, businesses, and electric power stations alike." Schilling queried, "Why not follow the lead of European countries having strict environmental rules that allow making pellets or briquettes only from clean, safe-to-burn materials?" Schilling pointed out that, in Sweden, where the "countryside looks much like the Saginaw Valley," small farms grew native grasses and "salix (a native shrub)...that are sold to make biomass fuel pellets, briquettes or methane biogas." He suggested that "Michigan start a similar industry." The state is capable of "growing plenty of native grass," and also has "plenty of waste wood." Furthermore, Michigan has "a smart population of farmers, manufacturing engineers, and skilled tradespeople who can build the industrial infrastructure," he pointed out.
jillithian: (Big Earl)
Today I figured it was about time for me to trade in my running shoes for new ones.

I'm actually kind of proud of myself for worn out they are! I darn near wore them flat in the centers of the balls of my feet. I'd probably still be wearing them, too, but I have also worn the inside of the heel out enough that even with socks, there's a lot of rubbing where the fabric is torn.

That's right, folks. I've run and walked so much the past year that I've completely wore my running shoes out.

I decided to patronize the EnduRUNce Shop here in town that is locally owned and run by runners. One of the owners - Havila - actually watched me walk barefoot across the floor a couple of times before deciding that I needed a medium support running shoe. They actual prefer if you bring in your old running shoes so they can determine the type of wear you've done to them which indicates if you need additional types of support. I was really quite happy with their service and found some very comfy running shoes (even though I forgot to bring in my old ones). Hopefully I'll remember on my way down to [livejournal.com profile] princess_nicci and [profile] thetim's for the fanball draft tonight to stop at the Nike store in Albertville to drop off my old shoes so they can be made into playgrounds and basketball courts.
jillithian: (Toe Jam)
Hundreds of Chrysler workers protest decision to shut down minivan plant.

The Detroit Free Press (8/14, Higgins) reported, "More than 450 UAW (United Auto Workers union) members from St. Louis (Mo.) protested outside Chrysler LLC's Auburn Hills headquarters" Thursday morning against "the automaker's decision to shut down the minivan plant in that community." Joe Shields, president of UAW Local 110, which "represents workers at the St. Louis minivan plant," said, "We're an American car company, but they're taking all of our work outside the company." Jeff Hagler, president of UAW Local 412 told the Free Press, "We must send a strong message that enough is enough. We at Local 412 have made it perfectly clear to the company that we know that we can be a world-class workforce at a competitive cost." Hagler "encouraged his metro Detroit members to turn out to help support the protest." Mary Beth Halprin, a Chrysler spokeswoman, who "said the company worked with UAW organizers to ensure a safe demonstration," added, "We are committed to treating those affected by the manufacturing actions in a socially responsible manner."




For some reason, of all of the US car manufacturers, I think Chrysler/Dodge will be the one that might not make it through. I see Chevy putting a lot of effort into fuel efficient and electric cars and I see Ford adding some very progressive and unique vehicles to its line-up. And then I see Chrysler with the most fuel inefficient vehicles on the road continuing with their trend of bigger, tougher vehicles.

But then I read the above snippet and it sounds more like the upper management of Chrysler are what's dragging them down. There's too much spunk in the workforce. I think if the upper management presented the opportunity to the workforce, they could pull out of this.

It reminds me a little about the Ford plant in St. Paul. They were going to close it down and a bunch of the employees came up with an idea of developing a new kind of engine (I think it was going to be hydrogen powered) for the pickups that they built there so that it wouldn't shut down. Ford made the decision to close it anyway. That is, until the most recent turn in the automobile market. Because that plant builds the smaller, more fuel efficient pickup trucks, Ford has decided to keep it open for now.

On a side note, I still don't understand why there has to be 50 different models of 4 door sedans out on the market along with 50 different models of every other kind of vehicle. Every car company is competing with itself and then wondering why they can't stay afloat. I know that it can be very risky to just pick the one thing you are good at and do that thing, but it would seem to solve some of these problems...
jillithian: (Toe Jam)
Dell meets carbon neutral goal ahead of schedule.

IndustryWeek (8/11, Selko) reported that "Dell has met its carbon neutral goal ahead of schedule." By meeting the goal, Dell "achiev[ed] a major milestone in its commitment to be the 'greenest' technology company on the planet the company announced last week." Dell CEO Michael Dell said, "We're driving 'green' into every aspect of our global business." According to the CEO, "[t]his includes setting new standards for energy efficiency and green power, delivering environmental and cost savings for customers, and aligning key growth priorities." The PC maker "met its goal early by implementing an aggressive global energy-efficiency campaign and increasing purchases of green power, verified emission reductions and renewable energy certificates." In the last four years, Dell's "annual investment in green electricity from utility providers, including wind, solar, and methane-gas capture, has grown from 12 million kWh to 116 million kWh, an increase of nearly 870 percent." Earlier this year, Dell "announced that its global headquarters campus is powered by 100 percent green energy."
jillithian: (climbing rose)
I am a WorldPerks member with NWA and received an interesting email this morning:


An Open letter to All Airline Customers:

Our country is facing a possible sharp economic downturn because of skyrocketing oil and fuel prices, but by pulling together, we can all do something to help now. Visit www.StopOilSpeculationNow.com.

For airlines, ultra-expensive fuel means thousands of lost jobs and severe reductions in air service to both large and small communities. To the broader economy, oil prices mean slower activity and widespread economic pain. This pain can be alleviated, and that is why we are taking the extraordinary step of writing this joint letter to our customers.

Since high oil prices are partly a response to normal market forces, the nation needs to focus on increased energy supplies and conservation. However, there is another side to this story because normal market forces are being dangerously amplified by poorly regulated market speculation.

Twenty years ago, 21 percent of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66 percent of all oil futures contracts, and that reflects just the transactions that are known. Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; the price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs.

Over seventy years ago, Congress established regulations to control excessive, largely unchecked market speculation and manipulation. However, over the past two decades, these regulatory limits have been weakened or removed. We believe that restoring and enforcing these limits, along with several other modest measures, will provide more disclosure, transparency and sound market oversight. Together, these reforms will help cool the over-heated oil market and permit the economy to prosper.

The nation needs to pull together to reform the oil markets and solve this growing problem. We need your help. Get more information and contact Congress by visiting www.StopOilSpeculationNow.com.

Robert Fornaro
Chairman, President and CEO
AirTran Airways

Bill Ayer
Chairman, President and CEO
Alaska Airlines, Inc.

Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman, President and CEO
American Airlines, Inc.

Lawrence W. Kellner
Chairman and CEO
Continental Airlines, Inc.

Richard Anderson
CEO
Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Mark B. Dunkerley
President and CEO
Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.

Dave Barger
CEO
JetBlue Airways Corporation

Timothy E. Hoeksema
Chairman, President and CEO
Midwest Airlines

Douglas M. Steenland
President and CEO
Northwest Airlines, Inc.

Gary Kelly
Chairman and CEO
Southwest Airlines Co.

Glenn F. Tilton
Chairman, President and CEO
United Airlines, Inc.

Douglas Parker
Chairman and CEO
US Airways Group, Inc.


jillithian: (Grumpy)
From the Daily Executive Briefing email compiled by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers:

White House asks EPA to delete parts of emissions draft, sources say.

The Wall Street Journal (6/30, A3, Talley, Hughes) reports, "The White House is trying to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from publishing a document that could become the legal roadmap for regulating greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S." The development "is the latest...in a long-running conflict between the EPA and the White House over climate-change policy." The fight over the document "will likely intensify ongoing Congressional investigations into the Bush administration's involvement in the agency's policymaking." The Journal explaines, "The draft document...outlines how the government, under the Clean Air Act, could regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from mobile sources such as cars, trucks, trains, planes, and boats, and from stationary sources such as power stations, chemical plants and refineries." The White House has urged the agency "to delete sections of the document that say such emissions endanger public welfare, say how those gases could be regulated, and show an analysis of the cost of regulating greenhouse gases in the U.S. and other countries."
jillithian: (climbing rose)
This is from my SME Daily Executive Briefing email I got today:

McCain vows to put U.S. at heart of efforts to tackle global warming.

The Financial Times (5/13, Ward) reports that the GOP presidential candidate John McCain "vowed yesterday to put the U.S. at the heart of international efforts to tackle global warming." He "propos[ed] aggressive targets to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions and the creation of a cap-and-trade system to encourage investment in green technology."

The AP (5/13) notes that "McCain broke with the Bush administration and Republican Party orthodoxy Monday as he not only declared global warming real, but reached out to Democrats and independents with a free-market solution." McCain "also prodded China and India -- two major emitters of the greenhouse gases blamed for the planet's warming -- to join the effort, although he muted planned talk of tariffs against them in favor of 'effective diplomacy' to encourage their compliance."

Reuters (5/13, Gaynor) recalls that, "[s]oon after taking office in 2001, Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol" and, since, "has resisted mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, saying they would hurt the U.S. economy." McCain's "proposals drew fire from Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama, who said, "It is truly breathtaking for John McCain to talk about combating climate change while voting against virtually every recent effort to actually invest in clean energy." The AFP (5/13) and the Washington Post's (5/12, Juliet Eilperin) The Trail blog also covered the story.


I find this very promising. Even the Conservatives are realizing that changes need to be made. I just hope that this isn't just pillow talk if he gets elected.
jillithian: (climbing rose)
from here:

News Release

French fries driving Metro Bus on St. Cloud State student routes )

Metro Bus believes that the endeavor is unique, the first metropolitan bus system in the country to use waste vegetable oil to power a public transit bus. Read more... )
jillithian: (vomitus girl)
This sounds promising: (From the Daily Executive Briefing email sent by SME today):
Shell partners with U.S. company for biofuel project.

The Financial Times (3/27, Crooks) reports that on Wednesday, Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's biggest oil company, "announced a joint venture with Virent, a U.S. biotech business based in Wisconsin," to develop "a process to turn sugars into a synthetic petrol, rather than ethanol."

Virent says the process, called BioForming, "uses catalysts to convert plant sugars into the hydrocarbon molecules like those produced at a petroleum refinery, instead of fermenting them into ethanol, a form of alcohol," the AP (3/27) reports. According to Shell, the five-year partnership "signals that, after testing successes, they want to bring the product toward large-scale production quickly."

The companies said the "collaboration has the potential to create new biofuels that could eliminate the need for specialized infrastructure, new engine designs and blending equipment, the Business Journal of Milwaukee (3/26) noted. Graeme Sweeney, Shell executive vice president, said, "Fuel distribution infrastructure and vehicle engines are being modified to cope but new fuels on the horizon, such as Virent's, with characteristics similar or even superior to gasoline and diesel, are very exciting."

The Houston Chronicle (3/27, Clanton) adds, "Unlike ethanol, the fuel can also be used in high concentrations in regular gasoline engines and travel through existing pipelines, the companies said." Moreover, the synthetic gasoline "will have a higher energy content and be more fuel efficient than ethanol."

Reuters (3/27, Bergin) points out that the partnership "follows a trend of major oil companies...investing in plans to produce motor fuels from crops." Most of the oil companies "are...focusing on second-generation biofuels, which will be produced from non-food crops" that are able to "be grown on land not suitable for wheat or sugar cane."

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