Category Archives: alternative fuels

NASA’s Green Aviation Research and a possible reason for Alien Invasion

From Phys.Org:

NASA has selected eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations to advance aircraft concepts and technologies that will reduce the impact of aviation on the environment over the next 30 years, research efforts that promise future travelers will fly in quieter, greener and more fuel-efficient airliners.

The demonstrations, which are part of by NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project, will focus on five areas—aircraft drag reduction through innovative flow control concepts, weight reduction from advanced composite materials, fuel and noise reduction from advanced engines, emissions reductions from improved engine combustors, and fuel consumption and community noise reduction through innovative airframe and engine integration designs. The selected demonstrations are: Active Flow Control Enhanced Vertical Tail Flight Experiment: Tests of technology that can manipulate, on demand, the air that flows over a full-scale commercial aircraft tail. Damage Arresting Composite Demonstration: Assessment of a low-weight, damage-tolerant, stitched composite structural concept, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in weight over state-of-the-art aircraft composite applications. Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge Flight Experiment: Demonstration of a non-rigid wing flap to establish its airworthiness in the flight environment.Highly Loaded Front Block Compressor Demonstration: Tests to show Ultra High Bypass (UHB) or advanced turbofan efficiency improvements of a two-stage, transonic high-pressure engine compressor.2nd Generation UHB Ratio Propulsor Integration: Continued development of a geared turbofan engine to help reduce fuel consumption and noise.Low Nitrogen Oxide Fuel Flexible Engine Combustor Integration: Demonstration of a full ring-shaped engine combustor that produces very low emissions. Flap and Landing Gear Noise Reduction Flight Experiment: Analysis, wind tunnel and flight tests to design quieter flaps and landing gear without performance or weight penalties.UHB Engine Integration for a Hybrid Wing Body: Verification of power plant and airframe integration concepts that will allow fuel consumption reductions in excess of 50 percent while reducing noise on the ground.”With these demonstrations we will take what we’ve learned and move from the laboratory to more flight and ground technology tests,” said Fay Collier, ERA project manager based at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “We have made a lot of progress in our research toward very quiet aircraft with low carbon footprints. But the real challenge is to integrate ideas and pieces together to make an even larger improvement. Our next steps will help us work towards that goal.”

The demonstrations, which are part of by NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project, will focus on five areas—aircraft drag reduction through innovative flow control concepts, weight reduction from advanced composite materials, fuel and noise reduction from advanced engines, emissions reductions from improved engine combustors, and fuel consumption and community noise reduction through innovative airframe and engine integration designs. The selected demonstrations are: Active Flow Control Enhanced Vertical Tail Flight Experiment: Tests of technology that can manipulate, on demand, the air that flows over a full-scale commercial aircraft tail. Damage Arresting Composite Demonstration: Assessment of a low-weight, damage-tolerant, stitched composite structural concept, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in weight over state-of-the-art aircraft composite applications. Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge Flight Experiment: Demonstration of a non-rigid wing flap to establish its airworthiness in the flight environment.Highly Loaded Front Block Compressor Demonstration: Tests to show Ultra High Bypass (UHB) or advanced turbofan efficiency improvements of a two-stage, transonic high-pressure engine compressor.2nd Generation UHB Ratio Propulsor Integration: Continued development of a geared turbofan engine to help reduce fuel consumption and noise.Low Nitrogen Oxide Fuel Flexible Engine Combustor Integration: Demonstration of a full ring-shaped engine combustor that produces very low emissions. Flap and Landing Gear Noise Reduction Flight Experiment: Analysis, wind tunnel and flight tests to design quieter flaps and landing gear without performance or weight penalties.UHB Engine Integration for a Hybrid Wing Body: Verification of power plant and airframe integration concepts that will allow fuel consumption reductions in excess of 50 percent while reducing noise on the ground.”With these demonstrations we will take what we’ve learned and move from the laboratory to more flight and ground technology tests,” said Fay Collier, ERA project manager based at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “We have made a lot of progress in our research toward very quiet aircraft with low carbon footprints. But the real challenge is to integrate ideas and pieces together to make an even larger improvement. Our next steps will help us work towards that goal.”

I find this research fascinating because it relates to a National Geographic Special I saw yesterday about an alien invasion ( and yes, according to the people being interviewed, the U.S. Government does have a plan for such a thing ) and the reason the aliens ( which were robots no less ) invaded was because the Earth is full of chlorophyll and other biology that could be harvested for biofuel.

Now I seriously don’t believe total machine intelligence would travel tens or hundreds of light-years and for hundreds of years to harvest biofuel for their starship which would surely be powered by anti-matter or vacuum energy. I hardly believe that these sources are fueled by biofuels.

But if the aliens are cybernetic organisms, such as the “Borg” of Star Trek fame, then I could assume their interest in our world for biofuel is believable and the U.S. Government’s plan for fighting an invasion is realistic.

Maybe the government really does know something we don’t? I sure hope we don’t find out the hard way.

NASA’s green aviation research throttles up into second gear

NatGeo ‘Alien Invasion’ Part 1 ( password ) scroll down for passwords.

NatGeo ‘Alien Invasion’ Part 2password )

Really? Warp Drive Actually Possible?

From Space.com:

HOUSTON — A warp drive to achieve faster-than-light travel — a concept popularized in television’s Star Trek — may not be as unrealistic as once thought, scientists say.

warp drive would manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light. A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre; however, subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy.

Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science.

“There is hope,” Harold “Sonny” White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center said here Friday (Sept. 14) at the100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss the challenges of interstellar spaceflight.

Warping space-time

An Alcubierre warp drive would involve a football-shape spacecraft attached to a large ring encircling it. This ring, potentially made of exotic matter, would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind. [Star Trek’s Warp Drive: Are We There Yet? | Video]

Meanwhile, the starship itself would stay inside a bubble of flat space-time that wasn’t being warped at all.

“Everything within space is restricted by the speed of light,” explained Richard Obousy, president of Icarus Interstellar, a non-profit group of scientists and engineers devoted to pursuing interstellar spaceflight. “But the really cool thing is space-time, the fabric of space, is not limited by the speed of light.”

With this concept, the spacecraft would be able to achieve an effective speed of about 10 times the speed of light, all without breaking the cosmic speed limit.

The only problem is, previous studies estimated the warp drive would require a minimum amount of energy about equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter.

But recently White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.

Furthermore, if the intensity of the space warps can be oscillated over time, the energy required is reduced even more, White found.

“The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation,” White told SPACE.com. “The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab.”

This is a boon and a most fortuitous opportunity if it’s the real deal. But like most things in the real world, there is something that is an essential ingredient in any research project.

Money.

Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

Leadership in world green energy another “Sputnik moment” for U.S.

Folks in government are calling China’s meteoric rise on the super-power stage a “sputnik moment” for the United States, especially since the introduction of their super-computer this year and the construction of their modern high speed rail service.

And although China’s currently the new leader in carbon emissions that aggravate the contested global warming effect, they are leading in finding new technologies that will eventually circumvent these problems.

Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary, likened the milestones to a new U.S. “Sputnik moment”, which sparked the Space Race and the manned landing on the Moon in 1969:

A senior US official called China’s growing innovation a “Sputnik moment” that should spur the United States to ramp up investment in clean energy, despite a shift in Washington on climate change.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu likened a series of Chinese milestones — including the development of the world’s fastest supercomputer — to the Soviet Union’s landmark 1957 satellite that led the United States into the Space Race.

“America, I am optimistic, will wake up and see the opportunity. And when it does, it still has the greatest innovation machine in the world,” Chu said in a speech entitled “Our New Sputnik Moment.”

Chu said the United States still concentrated on research in areas such as computers, defense and pharmaceuticals but that its funding for energy innovation was paltry.

By contrast, China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon blamed for global warming, is working to build the world’s most expansive high-speed rail network and has developed technology for the highest-efficiency coal plants.

“America still has the opportunity to lead in a world that will need essentially a new industrial revolution to give us the energy we want inexpensively but carbon-free,” Chu said.

“But I think time is running out,” said Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.

Chu, however, will enjoy little political leeway when he heads to Cancun, Mexico, where representatives of more than 190 countries on Monday opened two weeks of talks on drafting a new global treaty to stem climate change.

President Barack Obama last year went to the climate summit in Copenhagen where he pledged US action to curb carbon emissions along with assistance for poor countries hardest hit by rising temperatures.

The rival Republican Party, which swept November 2 congressional elections, is strongly opposed to a so-called “cap-and-trade” plan to require industry to cut carbon. Many Republicans argue that it is too costly in uncertain economic times, while some contest the science behind climate change.

Chu countered that climate action would benefit the economy by opening up a new field in green technology.

But Chu also defended potential costs. He likened climate skeptics to homeowners who are repeatedly told to change wiring but keep looking for electricians to tell them they do not need to.

“Do you actually go and you say, well, okay, that’s a threat but I think it’s more cost-effective — I just make sure my fire insurance is up-to-date?” he said.

Two recent studies found that China’s investment in green technology has outpaced that of the United States. But China has held firm in rejecting a treaty that would legally require it to cut carbon emissions.

The United States, backed by other developed nations, has insisted on a binding treaty, believing it is crucial to ensure global action — and to win over support in Washington.

The Kyoto Protocol, which the United States rejected, asks only wealthy nations to cut carbon emissions. The requirements run out at the end of 2012.

The dispute has been tense at times. At UN-backed talks in October, China’s chief climate negotiator, Su Wei, said the United States was like a “pig looking in a mirror” and finding itself beautiful.

Vaughan Turekian, chief international officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said that the political dynamics have barely changed more than a decade after the Kyoto negotiations.

“The current climate summit process is unlikely to produce a global treaty that includes the United States as a signatory, let alone one that would stand any chance of being ratified by 67 senators,” he said.

With a $700,000,000,000 Pentagon budget, 1,000 military bases worldwide, budget deficits as far as the eye can see and an ultra-conservative Congress just elected, I don’t see any infrastructure investments at all within the next two years, if at all.

Actually, I see more townships combining, taxes going up and local paved roads returning to graded gravel, like in the 1920s and 1930s.

We are a 21st Century Roman Empire in decline, slowly being put down by the corporate global governance system after having served its purpose.

No Sputnik moment here. Its time has past.

US: China rise a ‘Sputnik moment’ for clean energy

Climate Chaos

When people talk about ‘climate change’ now-a-days, they usually mean ‘anthropocentric’ climate change, which means climate change influenced by human activity.

I used to be in the above crowd. Why not? 250 years of Industrial Revolution actions that dumped millions of tons of hydrocarbon waste into the atmosphere surely must have an effect? And to note, ‘acid rain’, ie rain that is essentially sulfuric acid has fallen on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains here in Upstate New York during the 1970s through the early 1990s, the result of which from the smoke-stacks of coal-fired power plants in the Mid-West.

What has changed my mind?

Let me first say this disclaimer; I am not an atmospheric scientist, just a half-assed informed layman.

In that capacity, after 2 1/2 years of research I have IMHO discovered that there is a global elite who stand to gain significantly (economically) from centralized global control of ‘climate change’ policy.

Now do I think that we, as a global society, should get away from using fossil fuels to power our economies and societies?

Sure. But there are too many reasons to list here.

And the poor nations of the Earth, who get short shrift from the First World Nations anyway, know that their economies still need fossil fuel technology, just to break even and make their loan payments to the IMF.

But the recent climate conferences in the Netherlands in the EU (CO15) were not derailed by poor nations (they did walk out at one point anyway), but was jinked by the US and China (is China Third World or First World now?):

Following a meeting in Brussels to discuss how to rescue the Copenhagen climate process, EU environment ministers emphasized the need for concrete, legally binding measures to combat global warming.

The European Union went to Copenhagen with the hope of achieving a broad commitment to at least a 20-percent cut in carbon emissions below 1990 levels within 10 years, but that and other firm goals failed to emerge in the final accord.

The two-week, United Nations-led conference ended on Saturday with a non-legally binding agreement to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, but did not lay out how to achieve that.

Despite months of preparation and strenuous diplomacy, the talks boiled down to an inability of the world’s two largest emitters, the United States and China, to agree fixed targets.

“Expectations and pressure on the United States have risen after Copenhagen … to really deliver,” Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren told a news briefing on Tuesday after Sweden, as EU president until December 31, chaired pan-EU talks.

Ministers from the EU’s 27 member states will meet again in January to discuss what role the EU can play in cobbling together a stronger agreement.

DASHED PLANS

The bloc went to Copenhagen with a unified position and a plan for financing emissions cuts in the developing world, with a commitment to spend around 7 billion euros ($10 billion) over the next three years to aid poorer countries.

But those aims were largely sidelined as the talks failed to produce a breakthrough. Carlgren described the summit as a “disaster” and a “great failure,” despite what he called Europe’s united efforts.

“Europe never lost its aim, never, never came to splits or different positions, but of course this was mainly about other countries really (being) unwilling, and especially the United States and China,” Carlgren said.

Britain on Monday blamed China and a handful of other countries of holding the world to ransom by blocking a legally binding treaty at Copenhagen, stepping up a blame game that has gathered momentum since the talks ended.

In a sharply worded response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu rejected accusations that China had “hijacked” the climate talks and added: “The statements from certain British politicians are plainly a political scheme.”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the summit as “at best flawed and at worst chaotic” and demanded an urgent reform of the process to try to reach a legal treaty when talks are expected to resume in Germany next June.

But Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard, who quit as president of the talks midway through after being criticized by African countries for favoring wealthier nations in negotiations, said there was no point in getting depressed.

“What we need to do is to secure the step that we took and turn it into a result,” she told reporters as she arrived for the Brussels meeting on Tuesday. Asked whether Copenhagen had been a failure, she replied:

“It would have been a failure if we had achieved nothing. But we achieved something — a first step.

“It was the first time we held a process where all the countries were present, including the big emitters.”

In short, there must be a way to convert the worlds’ societies economies and technologies slowly and evenly with alternate tech over the next 50 years to shift away from fossil fuels. Is there sufficient wealth in the market to begin the change, or is technology being suppressed by the global financial/energy elites so only they have the power to begin the shift, if they feel like it?

If they see money in it, they will start the change.

And the elite aren’t as united as one would think.

EU calls for more U.S. involvement in climate works

hat tip

NASA Wants Algae-Fuel Too

More on renewable algae-fuel from NASA this time.

From OnOrbit

NASA ARC: As a clean energy alternative, NASA invented an algae photo-bioreactor that grows algae in municipal wastewater to produce biofuel and a variety of other products. The NASA bioreactor is an Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae (OMEGA), which won’t compete with agriculture for land, fertilizer, or freshwater. 

NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., licensed the patent-pending algae photo-bioreactor to Algae Systems, LLC, Carson City, Nev., which plans to develop and pilot the technology in Tampa Bay, Fla. The company plans to refine and integrate the NASA technology into biorefineries to produce renewable energy products, including diesel and jet fuel. 

“NASA has a long history of developing very successful energy conversion devices and novel life support systems,” said Lisa Lockyer, deputy director of the New Ventures and Communication Directorate at NASA Ames. “NASA is excited to support the commercialization of an algae bioreactor with potential for providing renewable energy here on Earth.” 

The OMEGA system consists of large plastic bags with inserts of forward-osmosis membranes that grow freshwater algae in processed wastewater by photosynthesis. Using energy from the sun, the algae absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and nutrients from the wastewater to produce biomass and oxygen. As the algae grow, the nutrients are contained in the enclosures, while the cleansed freshwater is released into the surrounding ocean through the forward-osmosis membranes. 

“The OMEGA technology has transformational powers. It can convert sewage and carbon dioxide into abundant and inexpensive fuels,” said Matthew Atwood, president and founder of Algae Systems. “The technology is simple and scalable enough to create an inexpensive, local energy supply that also creates jobs to sustain it.” 

When deployed in contaminated and “dead zone” coastal areas, this system may help remediate these zones by removing and utilizing the nutrients that cause them. The forward-osmosis membranes use relatively small amounts of external energy compared to the conventional methods of harvesting algae, which have an energy intensive de-watering process. 

Potential benefits include oil production from the harvested algae, and conversion of municipal wastewater into clean water before it is released into the ocean. After the oil is extracted from the algae, the algal remains can be used to make fertilizer, animal feed, cosmetics, or other valuable products. 

This successful spinoff of NASA-derived technology will help support the commercial development of a new algae-based biofuels industry and wastewater treatment.

Again, would Exxon-Mobile, Chevron, Dutch-Shell and British Petroleum allow this to happen without their mitts in the pie?

NASA Develops Algae Bioreactor as a Sustainable Energy Source

Wonky Planet Discovery and Algae Against War

The theory of planetary formation is now being questioned.

A discovery of a planet that orbits its parent star in reverse of its spin is certainly an oddity; only three have been discovered to date.

Now planetary scientists are scratching their heads about how this phenomenon can occur:

Astronomers have found an extrasolar planet with an “outlandish orbit” that circles its star either backwards, or at an angle of around 90º to the orientation of the star’s rotation.Planets in our own Solar System orbit in the same plane and direction as the Sun’s own rotation. This led astronomers to propose the ‘nebula hypothesis’ – whereby planets form from a flat, swirling disk of gas around a proto-Sun.

Now two teams of astronomers – one in Japan and the other in the U.S. – have independently discovered a planet about 1,000 light-years away, which orbits its star either in reverse or at an angle of more than 86º.

Predicted but never seen

Such objects have been predicted in models of Solar System formation, whereby a companion star or gravity from another planet knocks it out of orbit. However this strange phenomenon has never been observed until now.

The exoplanet, HAT-P-7b, is 1.8 times the mass of Jupiter and orbits a star about 1.5 times the mass of the Sun. Out of the more than 400 exoplanets discovered so far, only three are known to have misaligned orbits, but none as widely divergent from their Sun’s orbital plane as this one.

Details of the discovery (made using Hawaii’s Subaru Telescope) were published in October by both astronomers led by Norio Narita, from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Tokyo, and a second team led by Joshua Winn from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA.

Blue-shift

The teams calculated the distant planet’s orbit by looking at how its transit affected the spectrum of light from its rotating star. As the surface of the star spins towards us, its light is blue-shifted (the light spectrum is shifted towards the blue end of the spectrum) due to the Doppler effect (where light is squashed or stretched depending on its motion towards or away from us).

The other side of the star spinning away from us is red-shifted, so astronomers expected to see a blue- then red-shift pattern. But because of the interference of the dark body of the transiting planet, this pattern is reversed in HAT-P-7′s case.

“The extraordinary orbit of HAT-P-7b presents an extreme case for theories of planet formation and subsequent orbital evolution,” write Winn and colleagues in their paper.

It just goes to show that Humanity must spread out to the stars to visit these sites personally, instruments and probes just don’t cut it!

Outlandish planet has wonky orbit

hat tip

One of the biggest arguments in the memestream is whether global warming/freezing/climate change is man-made or natural.

The petro-chemical/hydrocarbon industry runs our planet de facto and global wars are occurring this very minute in order to secure these resources for certain nations/empires, the very same resources that are contributing to ‘anthropic’ climate change.

But what if a very suitable substitute came along that was able to use the same infrastructure as the above industry with no muss, no fuss and most inportantly, no wars?

One of the nascent industry’s biggest and most well-heeled players, Sapphire Energy, announced last week that it would be producing 1 million gallons of diesel and jet fuel a year by 2011, double its initial estimates.

The La Jolla, Calif.-based company – with big-name backers like Bill Gates and the Rockefeller family – says it will be producing more than 100 million gallons a year by 2018 and 1 billion gallons a year by 2020 – enough to meet almost 3 percent of the U.S. renewable fuel standard (RFS) of 36 billion gallons.

But there’s a hitch: Federal law makes no room for algae-based fuel in the RFS. The 2007 energy law caps corn ethanol production at 15 billion gallons a year by 2015 and has the remaining 21 billion gallons of renewable fuels coming from advanced biofuels, including 17 billion gallons from cellulosic biofuels and biodiesel.

“There needs to be policy work done to incorporate these new concepts like algae, which is an organism that actually consumes large amounts of carbon in the process of creating a liquid transportation fuel,” said Tim Zenk, vice president of corporate affairs at Sapphire.


Sapphire is working to get lipids(oils) from various strains of algae, which would then be fed directly into the current refining cycle, as any other crude product. Source

Algae-based fuel producers use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to convert carbon dioxide into sugar, which the algae metabolize into lipids, or oil. The industry says it can do so using non-potable water and without converting more forests into farm fields – thus addressing major criticisms of corn- and soy-based biofuels.

Sapphire says its technology is unique because it produces a fuel that can be used with existing U.S. pipelines, refineries, cars, trucks and airplanes. “We are 100 percent convinced that the only way to address climate and energy security is to use the same infrastructure we already have,” Zenk said.

Zenk said his company is supported by major oil companies. Its newly appointed president, C.J. Warner, is a 10-year BP executive.

“They really like us because we’re providing them with what they do today, which is refining crude oil,” Zenk said. “It’s not ethanol, it’s not biodiesel. It has the same molecules as gas, diesel or jet fuels.”

The company’s jet fuel was tested earlier this year by two of three airlines testing the commercial use of algae-based fuels in flight. Continental Airlines reported that the Boeing 737-800 test flight on Jan. 7 was successful. That test was the first commercial airline test of algae-based biofuel.

“Continental’s primary role in the demonstration was to show that the biofuel blend would perform just like traditional jet fuel in our existing aircraft without modification of the engines or the aircraft,” said Holden Shannon, Continental’s senior vice president for global research and security, during a congressional hearing last month. “This is important because … the current engine and airframe technology is unlikely to change materially for many years, so it is crucial that alternative fuel be safe for use with the current aircraft technology.”

Zenk said the test flight showed that algae fuel gets better mileage than petroleum-based jet fuel. “We noticed a 4 percent increase in energy density in the fuels because of the lower-burning temperatures in the engine itself, which resulted in greater fuel mileage,” he said.

But more work needs to be done. Both Zenk and Shannon noted the long certification process to approve jet fuels for commercial aviation. Still, the airline industry thinks it could be using biofuels in its flights on a large scale within three to five years. And Sapphire said its “drop in” transportation fuels – jet fuel, gasoline and diesel – will be ready for commercial deployment in three years.

“Fuel from algae is not just a laboratory experiment or something to speculate on for years to come,” said Brian Goodall, Sapphire’s vice president of downstream technology, in a statement. “We’ve worked tirelessly, and the technology is ready now.”

Indeed, creating fuel from algae is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Petroleum crude oil used today to create gasoline, jet fuel, plastics and other substances was once pond scum – albeit 500 million years ago.

At that time, the Earth’s atmosphere contained 18 times more carbon dioxide than it does today, which resulted in a giant algal bloom. The algae grew over a period of 100 million years and then died. After time, temperature and pressure worked their magic, and that algae became the crude oil extracted today from the Rocky Mountain West and other reservoirs around the world.

“Once we figured this all out and applied modern biology to it – genetics, genetic engineering, molecular biology – it allowed us to think creatively about how to speed up the evolution of that product, that commodity that we value today, by about 500 million years,” Zenk said.

Many things come into play; the military-industrial-congressional-complex/military keynesism for example.

Will the American Federal Empire give up a main portion of their economic engine (war) in order to switch to a ‘renewable’ fuel source in the midst of a ‘great recession’ ?

Doubtful.

Is Algae the Biofuel of the Future?

source

hat tip

The Fallacy of Biofuels and GM Crops

Here is a subject I might know a little about, farming.

I grew up on a dairy farm in the 1960s and 1970s. I saw a lot of changes during that time, tractors getting larger, haying and grain equipment getting larger and cows getting larger.

See the pattern here?

But my Dad didn’t believe in that philosophy. Mainly because he couldn’t handle a business worth a shit, but some of what we did at that time had wisdom to it. Like breeding a first calf holstein heifer with a small breed like a Jersey so the calf wouldn’t be so big and cripple the heifer while she was giving birth. Or saving some of the previous harvests seed, like corn, oats or winter wheat for planting the next year. People call that ‘organic farming’ now, but back then it was SOP.

Let’s take a look at organic farming for instance. To be certified ‘organic’, a farmer must prove that he/she hasn’t used any kind of chemical or artificial hormone on their livestock and feedstock for three years. Any and all seed must be of the heritage variety, no Monsanto, Dow Chemical or Bayer GM crap at all. And that’s a tall order now because these corporations have the seed market monopolized to the point where almost all farmers if they want to plant any crop, they have to use the dangerous GM stuff.

I have four cousins who farm organically, one has done it for twenty years. There’s a market for it and the prices are high for organic commodities, thus they are able to make pretty decent livings from it despite the planned destruction of the family farm. Amish communities in Pennsylvania have been able to make good livings from classical farming methods for over three hundred years. It’s only been during the past twenty years they’ve had difficulties because their young people are leaving for the big city and corporate farms buying up all the good cropland.

It is because of these corporate farms and the massive government subsidies they receive for growing corn for ‘biofuel’ that the current world food crisis is occurring now.

And guess who’s in the thick of the biofuel debate now? That’s right, Barack Obama, Democratic Party Presidential candidate:

When VeraSun Energy inaugurated a new ethanol processing plant last summer in Charles City, Iowa, some of that industry’s most prominent boosters showed up. Leaders of the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association, for instance, came to help cut the ribbon — and so did Senator Barack Obama.

Then running far behind Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in name recognition and in the polls, Mr. Obama was in the midst of a campaign swing through the state where he would eventually register his first caucus victory. And as befits a senator from Illinois, the country’s second largest corn-producing state, he delivered a ringing endorsement of ethanol as an alternative fuel.

Mr. Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views. And when it comes to domestic ethanol, almost all of which is made from corn, he also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates.

In the heart of the Corn Belt that August day, Mr. Obama argued that embracing ethanol “ultimately helps our national security, because right now we’re sending billions of dollars to some of the most hostile nations on earth.” America’s oil dependence, he added, “makes it more difficult for us to shape a foreign policy that is intelligent and is creating security for the long term.”

Mr. Obama very noticably declines to mention the issue of the subsidies. It is a well known fact that Obama’s home state Iowa is the second largest producer of corn in the U.S. and Obama of course would be remiss if he left his clientel hanging should he be selected to be President.

So how does the world feel about corn being diverted from food to fuel production? Well, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) makes a token attempt to protest biofuel subsidies in the U.S. and Brazil:

As was widely expected, the U.S. and Brazil’s biofuel programs came under heavy criticism at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food crisis meeting yesterday in Rome. Jacques Diouf, its head, reserved most of his reprobation for the U.S.’s billions of corn ethanol subsidies (roughly $12b in 2006), which he said were depriving developing countries of food, reports The Guardian‘s Julian Borger.

He accused the U.S. of diverting close to 100 million tons of cereals from human consumption to “satisfy a thirst for fuel for vehicles.” Officials from U.S., Canadian and European biofuel industries had written to Diouf prior to the summit to warn him not to lash out against biofuels — advice he clearly (and rightly) chose to disregard. Ed Schafer, the U.S. agriculture secretary, tried to deflect blame from the ethanol subsidies, claiming biofuel production only accounted for 2 – 3% of the rise in food prices.

By comparison, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) research estimates that it has accounted for 20 – 30% of the price increases over the last 2 years. For its part, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) believes that biofuels caused nearly 60% of the increase in the consumption of cereals and vegetable oils between 2005 and 2007.

Schafer also tried to peddle the canard that corn ethanol was an “efficient producer of energy,” despite mountains of evidence to the contrary (see this post about the significant land-use concerns).

Please note that although Brazil subsidizes their biofuel industry, they use cellulose from switchgrass to turn into alcohol fuel, which isn’t food to begin with. But wholesale clearing of rainforest to grow it is a big issue. Thus this has ecological impact as well.

So what to do? Well, quit giving corporate welfare to mega-farms for one thing. But campaign coffers are filled by corporate PAC money and Monsanto is a big player here. Not only that, Monsanto gengineers the seed for the ethanol:

No doubt Monsanto plans to come up with new, “improved” corn seed products that will target new, improved pests, and will be able to resist new, improved herbicides. That is the treadmill that the human race has put itself on, and whether we’ll ever be able to get off of it seems a highly doubtful proposition, unless food prices rise so high that biofuels become politically impossible. But that dreary quagmire is not the point of this post.

For some time, How the World Works has been convinced that the rush to biofuels will significantly boost the ongoing rollout of genetically modified organisms. There’s just too much money at stake in the energy business for it to be otherwise. The popularity of the latest biotech crops is a perfect illustration of this. These seeds aren’t cheap — they are top-of-the-line products. But for well-financed farmers and industrial-scale agribusinesses aiming to cash in on ethanol demand, seed costs are not a significant barrier. It seems reasonable to expect, in the not-too-distant future, quadruple- and quintuple- and sextuple-stacked hybrids that do all kinds of fancy things such as incorporate herbicide resistance, targeted pesticides, and modifications that make the corn cheaper and easier to industrially transform into ethanol

So there it is in a nutshell. Or a GM corn kernal anyway. Follow the money and you will find how the world works. I have to hand it to the mega-corps though, they have managed to ‘collectivize’ farming to the point that would’ve made the old U.S.S.R. blanch. Or bow down to them.

Well, the U.S. is due for a round of neoliberal corporate communism anyhow and the ‘green technology’ field is slated to be the next big bubble economic powerhouse. And corporate GM corn for biofuels plays a big part in it. Plus picking the wallets of the slaves to pay for it just sweetens the pot even more for these assholes.

Also, don’t expect this to create any middle-class jobs for American citizens, most of the machinery that agribusinesses use are automated, even the tractors.

And there are plenty of illegal immigrants willing to work for three dollars an hour to monitor the equipment!

Obama Camp Closely Linked With Ethanol

FAO Takes on Biofuel Subsidies, U.S. Claims 2020 Climate Targets “Unachievable”

Why Monsanto loves ethanol 

Federal Reserve Bubble Bath; Updated

Eric Janzsen writes in the online February ’08 Harper’s Magazine:

Our economy is in serious trouble. Both the production-consumption sector and the FIRE sector know that a debt-deflation Armageddon is nigh, and both are praying for a timely miracle, a new bubble to keep the economy from slipping into a depression.

We have learned that the industry in any given bubble must support hundreds or thousands of separate firms financed by not billions but trillions of dollars in new securities that Wall Street will create and sell. Like housing in the late 1990s, this sector of the economy must already be formed and growing even as the previous bubble deflates. For those investing in that sector, legislation guaranteeing favorable tax treatment, along with other protections and advantages for investors, should already be in place or under review. Finally, the industry must be popular, its name on the lips of government policymakers and journalists. It should be familiar to those who watch television news or read newspapers.

There are a number of plausible candidates for the next bubble, but only a few meet all the criteria. Health care must expand to meet the needs of the aging baby boomers, but there is as yet no enabling government legislation to make way for a health-care bubble; the same holds true of the pharmaceutical industry, which could hyperinflate only if the Food and Drug Administration was gutted of its power. A second technology boom—under the rubric “Web 2.0”—is based on improvements to existing technology rather than any new discovery. The capital-intensive biotechnology industry will not inflate, as it requires too much specialized intelligence.

There is one industry that fits the bill: alternative energy, the development of more energy-efficient products, along with viable alternatives to oil, including wind, solar, and geothermal power, along with the use of nuclear energy to produce sustainable oil substitutes, such as liquefied hydrogen from water. Indeed, the next bubble is already being branded. Wired magazine, returning to its roots in boosterism, put ethanol on the cover of its October 2007 issue, advising its readers to forget oil; NBC had a “Green Week” in November 2007, with themed shows beating away at an ecological message and Al Gore making a guest appearance on the sitcom 30 Rock. Improbably, Gore threatens to become the poster boy for the new new new economy: he has joined the legendary venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which assisted at the births of Amazon.com and Google, to oversee the “climate change solutions group,” thus providing a massive dose of Nobel Prize–winning credibility that will be most useful when its first alternative-energy investments are taken public before a credulous mob. Other ventures—Lazard Capital Markets, Generation Investment Management, Nth Power, EnerTech Capital, and Battery Ventures—are funding an array of startups working on improvements to solar cells, to biofuels production, to batteries, to “energy management” software, and so on. (link)

Wow. My ol’ buddy Highwayman sure called this one right, especially about ‘favorable tax treatment’, meaning Wall Street firms will get the favorable part, not us:

Yep, the Canadian element of Gore/Suzuki Morons Inc. are yapping their fool heads off, once again, bleating the virtues of a “Carbon Tax” that supposedly will make big business pay for polluting the environment! But, you know who REALLY is going to pay, now, don’t you? US! Not big business, whom ‘Stupid Pants’ really worships, but the common people! (link)

Say what you want about The Highwayman, (in fact, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him, he loves a good fight!) he has studied the world bankers and financiers for almost thirty years, so he has a good feel for what they do to the world’s working poor and middle classes. Yes, he’s a Christian and people accuse him of being a ranting fundie at times, but he’s a friend and never hid who he is from anybody.

Unfortunately, this economic bubble and tax the poor scheme the Federal Reserve gangsters have imposed upon us since 1913 is the only game in town. As Janzsen notes in his essay; “Given the current state of our economy, the only thing worse than a new bubble would be its absence.

It gives the old tome ‘bubble, bubble, toil and trouble’ life like Frankenstein’s Monster! (Gawd, another cliche, somebody make me stop!)

Update: Interview of Investor Eric Janzsen in Wired Magazine; http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2008/03/cleantech_bubble

Just Google for Nuclear Fusion

Dr. Robert Bussard, the inventer of the Bussard Interstellar Ramjet who passed away last fall was a life long advocate of nuclear fusion energy and worked diligently to make it come to pass, was working on a method of nuclear fusion that converted hydrogen and boron directly into electricity, leaving helium the only by-product of the process:

This is not your father’s fusion reactor! Forget everything you know about conventional thinking on nuclear fusion: high-temperature plasmas, steam turbines, neutron radiation and even nuclear waste are a thing of the past. Goodbye thermonuclear fusion; hello inertial electrostatic confinement fusion (IEC), an old idea that’s been made new. While the international community debates the fate of the politically-turmoiled $12 billion ITER (an experimental thermonuclear reactor), simple IEC reactors are being built as high-school science fair projects…

Dr. Bussard will discuss his recent results and details of this potentially world-altering technology, whose conception dates back as far as 1924, and even includes a reactor design by Philo T. Farnsworth (inventor of the scanning television).

Can a 100 MW fusion reactor be built for less than Google’s annual electricity bill? Come see what’s possible when you think outside the thermonuclear box and ignore the herd…

The following is a Google vid that shows Dr. Forward giving a lecture in November 2006 about his fusion process and how it would meet Google’s present and future energy needs.

In fact, the Defence Department was funding his research, the Navy I believe. After his death there was speculation the funding would be pulled, but as of this posting the project is still funded until the end of this fiscal year.

General Motors plans to “Run Silent, Run Deep”

From Live Science:

A new concept car from General Motors could get 53 mpg on a propulsion system pioneered in submarines about a hundred years ago.

Rechargeable batteries power an electric motor that turns the wheels. There’s also an engine, which can be used to charge the batteries. The setup worked for the U.S. Navy during the Wilson Administration, so it just might also shine on 21st Century American highways. At least that’s what GM apparently hopes, as it is reportedly intends to have the car in production by 2010 as an addition to the Chevy lineup.

“They have taken the way that the automobile industry thinks about hybrid cars, and turned it on its ear,” said Michelle Krebs, editor at Edmunds AutoObserver.com. “If you don’t drive far, you may never need gasoline. No other major car maker had done this.”

Most hybrid cars, she noted, retain a connection between the engine and the wheels, and use the electric motor to supplement the gasoline engine.

Call me suspicious, but isn’t using 100 year-old submarine technology implying that this could’ve been utilized, say, 30 years ago after the Arab oil Embargo?

Sure, a person can nitpick over the details, but c’mon people! 100 year old sub tech to increase fuel mileage? Isn’t that enough to show the average kool-aid drinking sheep-head in this country that the oil-igarchs along with their Rockefeller bankster masters might, just might, have suppressed some beneficial technology?

Somehow I think when GM presents this car to the public, it’ll be spun as “new” and “revolutionary”.

Hogwash!

Doesn’t matter to me though, I’ll never be able to buy it anyway. Anything “new” like that would cost close to $100,000.

Just right for the NWO’s thinned out middle class.

Original article

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