Archive for April, 2009
Note: as we are now in the midst of a health epidemic with a flu virus that originated in Mexico, we want to call our readers attention to a website that has been monitoring the spread of the infection and publishes fair and balanced reports. We are in the camp of no panic, but information is always of great benefit in such epidemics as this.
We recommend reading: www.mexicanflu2009.com to keep up with the worldwide reports. They even publish information direct from the Center for Disease Control on the Mexican Flu.
Homemade Cleaning Supplies:
One of the biggest sources of poisons in every household is the cabinet that has the toxic cleaning supplies in it. To help safe guard your family and the environment think of the alternative, homemade cleaning supplies. Most of these can be made with ingredients already in the average American home. Best of all they are non-toxic and non-polluting.
Next time there is a clogged drain in your house, try a non-toxic alternative. Mix ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of salt. Pour them down the drain immediately followed by a gallon of boiling water. This will need to set overnight but in the morning turn on the tap, the water will drain down the pipes, and the clog will be gone. This approach is non-toxic to the environment and safe for your pipes.
Baking powder has many uses as a cleaning tool. The mild abrasive it inherently has makes it ideal for cleaning anything were scouring powder is used.
Another handy ingredient most homes have is vinegar. Combine this with baking powder and the black heel marks on the floor will disappear along with the grime in your bathtub. Vinegar by itself is a good cleaner on it own. Use it to remove coffee stains and to clean your coffee pot and coffee maker. When cleaning the coffee maker pour the vinegar into the area were water is usually put. Turn it on and let it run through a cycle. Next to get the taste of vinegar out of your maker run two loads of just plain water through. This will help flush out any stubborn stains along with all traces of the vinegar.
Club soda is not just for cleaning stains out of cloths and other fabrics; it can also be used to polish hard wood floors and vinyl tile.
Homemade cleaning supplies are a safe non-toxic way to help the environment and keep those kids safe.
The last weekend in March of 2009 was the first Formula One race of the season. With new racing regulations come new devices including the Kinetic Energy Recovery System ( KERS ), will they make a difference? The testing being done in the racing circuit will result in a new way to go green for your personal automobile.
There are two different KERS systems deployed at this race, the mechanical and the electrical. Most teams are deploying the electrical, which takes the kinetic energy from the process of braking and converting it to electricity. This electrical energy is stored in a battery. When this stored power is released it is by using the stored energy to an electrical motor that is attached to the drive train. This sounds simple and efficient.
The second type is more mechanical. This system takes the same kinetic energy from braking and then this energy is stored in a flywheel that is said to spin at between 40,000 and 100,000 rpm. This spinning power can instantly be released into the drive train and an increase in speed will occur instantly. The Williams team is the only Formula One team utilizing this type of system. In testing this team claims this boost will reduce lap times by 0.3 seconds.
The only team formally announcing they will utilize this new technology during the race is Renault. The BMW and Red Bull teams have both reported mechanics receiving electrical shocks from the body and chassis of the racecars, but implementation of the KERS device is still planned to proceed.
In racing, results are everything and with the first day of time trials in Australia one team has the fastest two times, Williams. I wonder why. This could be a sign of good things to come for the world’s environment. Big money investments mean more and faster advancement of green energy. This KERS system could be on your vehicle within a decade.
The GMC Hybrid Cars utilize the first two-mode hybrid propulsion system in any full size vehicle in production today. This technology is patented and has helped to improve the fuel mileage of the Yukon and Tahoe full size SUV’s without losing any of their pulling power or size in the interior. The control module of the drive train monitors the power demand and with smooth precision the appropriate operating power mode is engaged.
This is a sure way to go green with a hybrid SUV. The two-mode system is divided to maximize fuel efficiency without the loss of power.
1) Mode 1: This mode is low speed, idle and light power loads. There are actually three different modes within this mode. For the very light power loads, only the electric motor is supplying power. At the appropriate load limit the conventional engine engages and assists the electric motors. And at a heavy power load requirement only the conventional engine is supplying power.
2) Mode 2: This is the mode for which there is a high power load demanded. The full power of the v8 engine is engaged for situations as when passing on the highway, towing a trailer or ascending up an incline.
Other features of this hybrid include the KERS technology. This system utilizes the kinetic energy lost during the braking process and channels it to the battery. The Vortec V8 engine also has a new and improved Active Fuel Management System to optimize use of the fuel. The aerodynamics of the body is also improved to have a better streamlining effect. To monitor all the new systems, there is a hybrid monitor display visible for the driver to use.
The highway fuel economy is relatively unchanged. The big savings is in the city driving with an increase of nearly 30% better fuel mileage. This GMC hybrid is making its move in the full size market.
When looking to alternative power sources most Americans first think of solar power.
This is why affordable solar panels are in such a demand. If you look you can find used or even blemished solar panels on the market at reasonable prices. But know what you are looking for before making a payment.
The solar panel manufacturer Evergreen Solar sells their solar panels that are fully functional but have cosmetic blemishes for a reduced price. With a list price of over $25,000 and a sale price of just over $18,000 it sounds like a deal, but wait, remember the warranty. 5 years on workmanship and a 25-years on power is the warranty. This is the same as the manufacturer. The cosmetic blemishes are not a hindrance on the power performance is advertised. This is for 114 poly-crystalline silicon solar cell panels that rate at 205 watts. This is claimed to be an American manufacturer but the alternative language is German. Kinda like the old AMF, American manufactured but owned by the Japanese.
Another option is ebay with a 45 watt lighting systems available for less than $200. You might find a bargain on Craigslist.org from time to time but you will have to keep checking for used solar panels.
Looking at the global market there is a glut of solar panels but most of the manufactures are from China. The only question is that are any of them still in business today and will they be in 25 years. The economic crunch has hit China too with exports down and over 40% of the factories closing I am not sure this is a viable option.
There are alternatives to new just be careful when choosing affordable solar panels that are used or blemished.
Here are some great household cleaning tips. There are many different ways and ideas for cleaning your home. Most of which are known like to using newspapers to clean your windows. But I also have non-traditional ways of cleaning that most people have not thought of or use.
Window washer fluid for your car will work just fine on your home windows and it’s cheaper.
Vegetable shortening is great for getting grease off your hands or out of cloths. This one makes a lot of sense. As a chemist I know the principle of like dissolves like. Shortening is a grease but without impurities. This is why mixing cleaner grease with dirty grease, the two will join and the spot will disappear.
Vinegar is a wondrous liquid. In the laboratory it is known as acetic acid. This acid is very mild but has all the great characteristics of acids that are useful around the house from cutting grease in dishwater to reacting with baking soda to remove carpet stains.
The abrasive ingredients in most toothpaste can be used to clean and polish other items like rings and candle sticks that are made out of metal.
To repair scratches on furniture try rubbing a walnut on it. For dark furniture apply a little appropriate color shoe polish.
For those that have super glue around, make sure you also keep nail polish remover. This is actually acetone, which dissolves super glue.
If your iron has build up or rust from sitting too long, rub emery cloth on the base to bring back the new finish shine.
Yes another use for baking soda. On a damp sponge place a small amount of baking soda and watch those crayon mark on the wall just disappear.
Worcestershire sauce not only tastes good but cleans the bottom of copper pans. The heavier the stain the longer you let it sit on it before washing it off.
These are just a few helpful household-cleaning tips. Just remember keep it simple and it might just work.
Cascade Engineering has entered the renewable energy market with Wind Power for the Office and Home, and help from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The state funded group has assisted this Grand Rapids plastic company to develop and test out its roof top wind energy system called the Swift Wind Turbines. The fans that turn the turbines were developed with not only the purpose of providing power but doing it as quietly as possible.
On February 20, 2009 Meijer announce it was planning to install 6 of Cascade Swift Wind Turbines on top of it corporate office. With additional plans to add smaller turbines at two other locations as soon as zoning approval is obtained.
The demand is increasing for the Swift Wind Turbines with local area clients like the Franciscan sisters of the Eucharist in Vergennes Township, schools and residents. One already is installed and working on the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts in Muskegon. Cascade is expecting to install over 60 units of the Swift Wind Turbine in the next few months according to a company spokesman.
The cost to install each turbine is between $10,000 and $12,000. Each turbine can produce up to 2,000 kilowatts an hour. This 8-foot fan blade has a life expectancy of 20 years and utilizes wind efficiently between 8 to 40 mph.
Another advantage is the tax breaks that were included in the $787 billion federal stimulus package pass earlier this year and signed by President Obama. There was a 30% investment credit for renewable energy spending. To be sure you qualify contact you local governmental official of a tax expert before investing.
There are ocean currents that cover our world from one end to the other then back again in a continuous motion. This kinetic energy is also a green renewable energy source. The best-known ocean current to Americans is the Gulf Stream. If just 1/1000th of the energy of this current was harnessed it could supply the state of Florida with 35% of all of its energy needs. This is a source of efficient energy production without any pollution or waste. This energy source is not only green and renewable but also more reliable than either solar or wind power. The speed of this current is a steady 4 knots at the surface, which can translate to 1 kW per square meter.
There presently exist turbines that are capable of producing electricity on water movement at speed as little as 1 knot. This is slow enough not to harm most fish and other wildlife that might encounter the ocean-based machinery. This is in comparison with the technology that is used in the dam and stream turbines currently in use. This older technology needs a current of five to six knots for efficient operation.
The new technology uses the power of the current to push and pull a cylinder up and down. The energy from this vibration is converted to electricity. Power production from a square meter of ocean current that is occupied by cylinders with a current flow of 3 knots is equivalent to 51 watts of power.
Just think of it if about one percent of the energy in the ocean could be harnessed. This power could provide over 150 billion people with all of their energy needs.
The most widely available and unharnessed green renewable energy source is still untapped. The time is right to utilize this energy source.
Now this is a loaded statement, eco friendly products. In my search to find these products I came across t-shirts, hats and bags all imprinted with the words eco-friendly. But if one looks a little deeper one can locate earth friendly. Recycled and reclaimed is a statement many places are using to draw you in. There are also items out there made of natural parts like palm leaf baskets, wooden masks and 100% wool rugs to name just a few, are these eco-friendly? Is this one way to go green?
There are also stores that advertise they are eco friendly. They generally have a supply of earth friendly products along side things like Better Living Products and Fair Trade Products. Make sure you know the difference if you truly want to buy eco friendly products. I have nothing against fair trade products because they help support people in developing nations with a fair price for their goods. But that does not mean they are environmental friendly.
Just like the stores that sell eco friendly bags. Yes using a cloth or plastic reusable bag instead of taking that disposable plastic bag the stores give you to bring home the products purchased is good for the environment. Just be sure the bag you use was made out of eco friendly materials. I have seen some made out of plastic with the words eco-friendly embossed on them. Who are they kidding?
Remember it is all of our responsibility to know the difference. It is not a fad to be eco friendly, environmentally friendly or a Green consumer it is a way of life. Do your research. The better informed you are, the better choices you will make. Do not fall for the quick gimmick some marketing agencies use. We only have one earth.
There is a new science called Epigenetics that is described on the website of DNAnews.org and it is the study of how the environment can affect your genes. All of these studies of DNA science are causing rapid influence on our life and the lives of our children.
I have been a big fan of Jason Calacanis for a couple of years now after hearing him on Leo LaPorte’s twit.tv podcasts. Jason is a brilliant serial entrepreneur who has a very high degree of business, financial and life in general insight. Jason is the CEO and driving force behind Mahalo which is a search engine with real people answers.
From the Team Jason Newsletter just released and used here with permission, I would like to make our readers aware of some new developments in the fabulous XPRIZE contest to develop a practical automobile that will be able to achieve 100 miles per gallon of gasoline.
Read the following news release on this subject and then become an activist yourself and insist that the government get involved and put up some serious money to back the top 50 competitors which will give a huge boost to the automotive industry at a time when it is so badly needed.
Thought I would forward you guys this exciting news from my good friend Peter (another great Greek!) regarding the XPRIZE getting a HUGE number of folks signed up their automotive X-Prize. Over 100 teams signed up to compete for the “$10 million prize to build a practical vehicle capable of getting the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon of gas.”
Oh yeah, GM passed on getting involved but fear not: Neil Young’s 59 Lincoln convertible is in! What does it say about GM when salty-dog rock icons are more active in alternative fuel than they are (please don’t answer–too painful)?
Got me thinking: Wouldn’t it be better to give $20M in venture capital/loans/gifts to each of the top 50 candidates in this contest than another billion to failed US automakers like GM? Since half of you seem to be good friends with Obama & Co. can someone forward this to him?
Your thoughts can be shared directly to me and Peter (he is cced above) or in public here (you can login with Facebook ID–no need to register): http://tinyurl.com/xprizeloans
Peter: Jason’s List is my private email list of about 14k really smart, considered and rather dapper, I might add, insiders from over 50 count[r]ies. Sometimes I email them really important/interesting stuff. You might get a couple of emails back.
all the best,
There are two ways to use the power of the sun in your home. There have been numerous articles about residential solar energy. But not much has been said or written about passive solar energy uses for the home. To discuss the differences the first thing would be to know the differences.
First residential solar energy is a small-scale use of business solar energy. The use of solar panels is nothing new being on a good number of houses today. Most of the solar panels are located on the roofs of residential houses for personal use in that home. Some smaller panels are on top of light polls. The uses of this solar power also vary. The first wide scale product for the home that utilized solar power in America was for heating water. That was decades ago and this industry has progressed forward in leaps and bounds since. Now residents can power their whole house with solar power. The more the energy consumption the greater is the need for collecting the power of the sun, which means an increase in the number of solar panels. There is also the option to be hooked up to the local power grid and exchange power. Your system will feed the grid during the day and draw off it at night. Simplified, residential solar power is mechanical or in need of an active operating systems.
Now on to passive solar use in a residential home. It has been around for decades but never really called passive solar or used to its full potential. Remember skylights and large picture windows, this is passive use of solar energy. By allowing light to enter deep into our homes we can save energy by using this light during the day instead of turning on the light switch. The large picture windows combined with stone or thick tile flooring can absorb the heat during winter months and help keep you warm. This is a sustainable and renewable source that can be utilized with a low cost as long as you design your home properly. If you are building a new home or just adding on an addition to your existing home, think about added skylights. In the bedrooms they add a romantic touch and it just makes sense for that bathroom. Best of all once a skylight is installed there is nothing to wear out. This is a renewable reliable source of energy for years to come.
Thermal energy is a green renewable energy source that is largely left untapped. Investments in other forms of renewable energies are well known like solar and wind to a lesser degree is wave power but what about thermal?
First what is thermal energy? This is defined as a form of energy that manifests itself as an increase of temperature. It is the sum of sensible heat and latent heat. The best known source of thermal energy is our sun. Most people think of it as a heat source. This is true but it is only heat after it leaves the sun. Heat is thermal energy in transfer or in motion.
Another source of renewable thermal energy is our own earth. Deep inside is a heat source that has been around since the earth was formed. Most people have heard about volcanoes. This is the earth releasing trapped thermal energy. The force is enough to blow the top off of huge mountains. But not all of the thermal energy from the earth is so explosive and dangerous. The State of Idaho has decided to start an incentive program for residents and businesses to invest in thermal heat pumps.
The theory is sound. This involves taking heated water from the ground and converting it to electricity or as radiant heat to supply heat for buildings. The temperature of this ground water is constant and with a regulator can be used.
As for electrical plants the first geothermal plant went online over 20 years ago. Due to the economic conditions present at that time it was closed. In 2002 this same plant was reopened and in 2008 it went online and started supplying the people of Idaho with 10 megawatts of electricity. There are 24 other sites in Idaho alone with the same potential to create renewable power. Thermal Energy, this renewable source of energy is non-polluting and will always be present.
There are many ways to save the environment. Every body should care but even if one person reduces their waste or conserves energy, it is a positive step forward. Of course the more people that contribute to saving our environment, the better it will be.
To conserve energy at home is the easiest. Turn off lights in rooms that are unoccupied. Keep the filters on your HVAC units clean. Lower the temperature of your water heater to 120F and wrap the unit with a blanket. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. The planting of trees on the west side of your home will shade it during the hottest part of the day. There is more just use common sense.
Removing and reducing the dangerous toxins from your home is one of the easiest ways to save the environment. Each cleaning product must be inspected for toxic substances. The toxic chemicals must then be properly disposed of. The use of mousetraps instead of poisons will also help. Know the age of your house and determine if it might have been painted at one time with lead paint.
At work reuse common items. Just because you don’t pay for items like paperclips, envelopes, copy paper, is not a reason to be wasteful. Remember saving the environment is all of our responsibility.
Conserving water is relatively easy. Stop all leaks as soon as they appear. Wash the dishes then rinse. Do not let the water run continuously. Install a low flow showerhead.
Purchase items in bulk and avoid those products that have multiple layers of packaging. Reuse plastic bags and storage containers.
If possible use energy supplied from renewable sources like hydro, solar and wind power.
There are many ways to save the environment. We all must do our part.
There are currently three different types of solar cells in production in today’s market place. There are the monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous. There are differences between the three and knowing the difference will help the consumers make a better choice on which type is best for them.
First there is the monocrystalline cell, which is made from a single large crystal, usually cut from one large man made ingot. This is difficult to handle and if broken then the whole cell has to be replaced. Since it is one piece there is no resistance thus being the most efficient. It is even efficient in low light conditions. This cell has a major draw back of being the most expensive to manufacture.
Second there is the polycrystalline cell, which is made from many small blocks. This is less expensive to manufacture since it is smaller and easier to handle. Connecting all the cells together does reduce the efficiency but not a great deal.
These first two are the most common and most efficient at about 33%. In addition with the high cost of production, it is not possible now to see a further reduction in the cost, which is about $1 US per watt.
The last is amorphous cell. This is sometimes referred to a thin layer or second generation. This has good and bad to it. This cell is the cheapest to manufacture thus being the least expensive to purchase but also the least efficient.
There are other types of solar energy panels but for photovoltaics these three different types of solar cells will be your choices for your solar power system.
With the first two using silicon and the last one using cadmium or copper, the price of the raw materials will be the driving cost in finished cost of the cells. Make your choice a wise one just remember if you chose the thin cell it will take more of them to produce the same amount of energy as the silicon based cells.
A new hybrid car intended for the American market for 2010 is the Audi Q5. In an unusual move, the American market was chosen as the testing grounds for this new Audi. This is a departure from what most manufactures do. Like the Japanese manufacture Toyota. The American market is screaming for a hybrid minivan and Toyota has three in the Japanese market but none for the American market.
The new Audi is looking to compete with the Lexus 400 hybrid and the BMW X6 hybrid. I could find no details or specifications on this new hybrid vehicle but I did find many references to the management of Audi thinking the future was in diesel engine. The head of the powertrain development for Volkswagen (the parent company of Audi) Wolfgang Hatz was quoted as saying, “If you look at what you have to spend to get the advantage of the hybrid and what you have to spend on other technologies like diesel, the diesel is much more cost-effective,” he further stated “We have to do hybrids in order to show people that we are able to do them.” Wow, what a loaded statement.
Audi, the car manufacturer that gave us the Quad 4, is making the same mistake Xerox did when they did not pursue their original version of windows or Motorola that sold the VHS technology to a Japanese firm. One thing is for sure, Volkswagen does know diesels, but as for the hybrid vehicle, I will chose a manufacturer that embraces the new technology. Not one that feels it is forced to manufacture one. My new hybrid car next year will definitely not be an Audi.
In the year 2008, hybrid cars came of age. In America for the first time in 16 years, a car was the top seller, not a truck. But that is not all that the year 2008 will be remembered for. The roller coaster ride for consumers and investors that came from wide fluctuations in the price of oil and Wall Street instability left us all wondering what was next. The biggest surprise of all was “Green Car of the Year” was awarded to a V-8 full size hybrid SUV with a combined fuel mileage of 20 mpg
A milestone was also achieved by Toyota last year. The announcement came on May 15, 2008 that more than 1,000,000 Prius have been sold worldwide. With the U.S. Congress approving an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency to 35 mpg by the year 2020 with a benchmark of 31.5 mpg to be achieved by 2015 the Big Three must respond soon.
GM introduced 6 new models to their hybrid fleet. All but one was a full size vehicle. Chrysler also made 2 new hybrid models, but just like GM, they were full size hybrid models. From the Japanese manufacturer Honda, the announcement came that the all-new Insight will be reintroduced into the American market to compete with the Toyota Prius.
Looking back on the year, one could see a pattern. The American consumer purchased small fuel-efficient vehicles from Japan. The U.S. Government is mandating better fuel efficiency for the future of the automobile industry in America. Investors and consumers are worried about the instability and weakening of the U.S. economy. The Big three from Detroit still think the American consumer wants a big vehicle.
There was a bright sign that the boys from Detroit have finally received the message. Unlike the previous trip in corporate jets that were used as transport to capital hill, this time the CEO’s arrived in hybrid vehicles with their hands out to ask for more bail out money from the U.S. taxpayer. I think they finally understand that the 2008 hybrid cars are the turning point and this trend should continue.
For the person wishing to have clean windows but tired of using those harsh cleaners loaded with toxic chemicals, I have the window cleaner recipes for you. Please remember that all cleaners, either toxic or non-toxic should be handled with care and always kept out of reach of children.
1) Non-toxic, non-ammonia window and glass cleaner: into a labeled spray bottle add ¼ cup of vinegar, ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap and 1 ½ to 2 cups of distilled water. Place lid on bottle and shake to mix. For added cleaning strength and a fresh lemon scent add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
2) Non-toxic window and glass cleaner: All ingredient need to placed into a mixing container before transfer to a spray bottle. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to ¼ cup of ammonia, ¼ cup of vinegar and ½ gallon of warm distilled water; mix until all cornstarch is dissolved. The warmer the water, the fast the starch will dissolve. Transfer the solution to a labeled spray bottle and then cap the bottle.
Note: distilled water is used to eliminate dissolved solids in regular tap water.
1) Use your clean newspaper as the wiping medium. This is not only a useful reuse of your daily paper but for some reason it also reduces streaking.
2) Clean windows either in the morning or evening hours. If the window or glass is warm to hot, the cleaner could evaporate before being wiped off which would produce spots and streaking.
3) For windows, wipe each side in a different direction. This will make it easier to identify which side has a streak if any are present.
These are just a couple of handy window cleaner recipes and tips to help you do that chore that we all avoid. Stay seeing clean and green.