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Big Brains at Sandia National Lab Tackle the Future of Combustion

Wall Street Journal – October 22, 2007

Are you concerned with the future of automobiles and their use of liquid fuel in the future? Regardless of your stance on global warming, geopolitical reasons should dictate that most people are concerned about our source and use of liquid fuel in automobiles and its current main source in the Middle East.

This article is based on the visit by the reporter to the Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore CA.  This facility is arguably the home to some of the brightest minds in the world and their efforts in this area are quite intriguing (and sobering as well).

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35 Inconvenient Truths: The errors in Al Gore’s movie – Part 3 of 5

This is the third of a 5 part series reviewing the comments of the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) in regards to “An Inconvenient Truth” (AIT).

You can read Part 1 of 5 here.
You can read Part 2 of 5 here.
You can read Part 4 of 5 here.
You can read Part 5 of 5 here.

ERROR 18 – I can’t find evidence for SPPI’s statement that the Arctic has increased  decreased in temperature 1 deg C in the last 60 years. SPPI falls victim here to the common Gore affliction of pointing out individual instances of information (ice bound ships) and assuming that this is conclusive data. I have called AIT out on this and I need to do the same with SPPI. Unless they can point to a reference for the temperature increase, I need to call this one spin.

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Electric Car Maker Aims For the Top With Sports Car

Wall Street Journal – October 15, 2007

I think that electric cars make an immense amount of sense for the majority of Americans. Most of us do not travel more than 200 miles per day on a regular basis and most of our travel is done with one or maybe 2 people in the car. The problem is that the automotive companies have done a really bad job of selling electric cars.  They sell these vehicles like they are selling to hippies and professors so they are small, compact, and (frankly) ugly!

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In China, a Plan to Turn Rice Into Carbon Credits

Wall Street Journal – October 9, 2007

I am not a fan of carbon trading programs or carbon credits as most readers know. However, I do like programs that promise to reduce the use of our valuable resources.

This idea sounds promising as it will decrease the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere (did you know that agriculture put out more than automobiles?) and it will conserve resources.

…to sell farmers a genetically engineered rice seed. He says the seed, still in development, will cut their need for nitrogen fertilizer, which is among their biggest costs — and a huge source of greenhouse gases. He then aims to sell the resulting carbon credits on a growing global exchange.

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Global Warming, Tailpipes And Where to Tackle Them

Wall Street Journal – September 18, 2007

Many people have been following the case in California where the state was suing a group of automobile manufacturers for damages that were tied to global warming. The contention of the state was that auto manufacturers were creating a product that was causing global warming and since global warming had caused damage to certain regions of the state, the auto guys should have to pay up.

This case has been dismissed by Judge Martin Jenkins.

In my opinion, this is a good thing. Not so much for reasons of global warming but for precedence in the court system.  This is a policy related issue and not a judicial issue. The courts should not get into declaring what industry has partially caused what part of global warming. This slippery slope could have resulted in thousands of tort lawsuits and eventually the consumer would bear this cost.

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Carmakers Defeated On Emissions Rules

Washington Post – September 13, 2007

Yes, I understand. It is the right of every US citizen and US corporation to go to court when they feel wronged. It is also their right to try and convince the elected officials to do something that would be in their interest. However, in this case, can’t the US automakers understand that we need to curb the use of gasoline? This will reduce the effect of the US reliance on Mideast oil.

But that isn’t what this suit is about. I would support the government of Vermont in their efforts to reduce our “addiction” to oil. But this suit is to stop the government from inflicting a supposedly to heavy burden on the automobile industry. The Vermont government apparently believes that cars are the only or the biggest source of greenhouse gases. This is likely misguided.  So, the automotive industry has no other course but to sue to protect their interests.

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Can saltwater be burned as a fuel?

Engadget – September 11, 2007

I first saw this on Engadget but that brought me to the link on YouTube which is a captured video of a TV station that appears to be in Erie, PA.

Apparently, John Kanzius was trying to use radio frequency waves to be used to treat cancer. In the process of doing some tests, he stumbled upon the realization that saltwater can be excited by the radio waves to release its hydrogen, which can then be ignited, and used as a heat source. Further testing and some chemical analysis has shown that this isn’t a hoax.

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Frustrated hybrid driver sues Honda claiming mileage ratings are inflated

Detroit News – July 15, 2007

As I have said before, the USA is a litigious society. We tend to sue way too often. However, some suits are absolutely needed to prevent abuse of the consumer. I don’t know if this particular case is warranted but it at least deserves some attention.

The technique for determining the average miles per gallon (MPG) appears to be adequate for pure internal combustion engines but it may not be adequate for hybrid vehicles (see the Consumer Products test below). Unfortunately, this metric is even more for critical for hybrids so that consumers can correctly analyze if they can at least come close to break even over a traditional IC engine design.

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Plugging In to the Future

Wall Street Journal – August 6, 2007

Great article this morning in the Wall Street Journal on a plug-in add-on for the Toyota Prius. Evidently, with this aftermarket plug-in, the Prius can be plugged into the wall and then run about 40 miles with just electric power that was pulled from the grid.

There may be some safety problems with the current design (these are the types of batteries that Dell recently had trouble with) but the progress is very heartening! Most people in the US would probably have to change their lifestyle and commute to really make a hybrid worthwhile but it is a definite start.

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Ford says hydrogen cars close to production

USA Today – July 11, 2007

This is great news. Regardless of your personal feeling on global warming, you probably want us to start using alternative fuels that are cleaner, safe, and don’t adversely affect our trading balance with the world (if you are in the US).

Hydrogen has been discussed for a long time as a great alternative fuel. This article discusses burning hydrogen (as opposed to using hydrogen fuel cells). I think that may actually be a more cost effective method of using hydrogen but I will let market economics dictate that.

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