Friday, July 9, 2010

Solar Impulse Lands After Successful Night Flight

After flying for more than 26 hours, pilot André Borschberg has completed the first ever night flight by a solar-powered airplane. The Solar Impulse aircraft touched down at 9 a.m. local time at its home airfield in Payerne, Switzerland, after breaking records for the highest and longest solar flight in history.
“I’ve been a pilot for 40 years now, but this flight has been the most incredible one of my flying career,” Borschberg said in a statement. “Just sitting there and watching the battery-charge level rise and rise thanks to the sun. And then that suspense, not knowing whether we were going to manage to stay up in the air the whole night.”
After taking off early Wednesday morning, Borschberg spent the day climbing to higher altitudes and charging the polymer lithium batteries using the nearly 12,000 solar cells. As the sun was setting, the airplane known by its Swiss identifier HB-SIA was near its maximum altitude of 28,097 feet (8,564 meters). At this point the team had fully charged batteries and maximum potential energy to descend slowly through the night.

Read More

Monday, July 5, 2010

Switching Off Your Lights Has A Bigger Impact Than You Might Think, Says New Study

ScienceDaily (July 1, 2010) — Switching off lights, turning the television off at the mains and using cooler washing cycles could have a much bigger impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power stations than previously thought, according to a new study published this month in the journal Energy Policy.
The study shows that the figure used by government advisors to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide saved by reducing people's electricity consumption is up to 60 percent too low.

The power stations that supply electricity vary in their carbon dioxide emission rates, depending on the fuel they use: those that burn fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) have higher emissions than those driven by nuclear power and wind. In general only the fossil fuel power stations are able to respond instantly to changes in electricity demand.

Dr Adam Hawkes, the author of the new study from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, says the government should keep track of changing carbon emission rates from power stations to ensure that policy decisions for reducing emissions are based on robust scientific evidence. The new study suggests that excluding power stations with low carbon emission rates, such as wind and nuclear power stations, and focussing on those that deal with fluctuating demand would give a more accurate emission figure. More >>>

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Real Gulf Crisis

At last report BP was making progress on the relief wells that are being drilled to plug the runaway well in the Gulf. 
The London Times reports that BP hopes to penetrate the casing of the leaking well and start pumping in well-sealing mud in about two weeks. Let's hope something works.
In the next few weeks, or if things do not go well, perhaps months, the leaking well will be plugged, fishing hopefully will resume, the tourists will return, and the whole matter will be left to lawyers who will spend decades arguing how much New Orleans strip clubs that lost business during the oil spill should be remunerated by BP. More >>>