Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cheaper Gallium Nitride LEDs

Gallium Nitride (GaN) LEDs are, in the qualified sense, superior to CFLs. They burn on average 100,000 hours before needing replacement, 10 times longer than compact florescent lamps, and 130 longer than conventional light bulbs; they light up instantly without the warm-up of CFLs; and they contain small amounts of mercury, making their disposal by the well-intentioned but ignorant a bit softer on the environment. The only issue is production cost.

U.K. scientists appear to be on the right path to cheap production enlightenment. According to NewScientist:

The cost of production has kept the LEDs far from homes and offices, however. Gallium nitride cannot be grown on silicon like other solid-state electronic components because it shrinks at twice the rate of silicon as it cools. Crystals of GaN must be grown at 1000°C, so by the time a new LED made on silicon has cooled, it has already cracked, rendering the devices unusable.

One solution is to grow the LEDs on sapphire, which shrinks and cools at much the same rate as GaN. But the expense is too great to be commercially competitive.

Now Colin Humphreys's team at the University of Cambridge has discovered a simple solution to the shrinkage problem.

They included layers of aluminium gallium nitride in their LED design. These layers shrink at a much slower rate during cooling and help to counteract the fast-shrinkage of pure gallium nitride. These LEDs can be grown on silicon as so many other electronics components are. "They still work well as LEDs even with those extra layers inside," says Humphreys.

A 15-centimetre silicon wafer costs just $15 and can accommodate 150,000 LEDs making the cost per unit tiny. That levels the playing field with CFLs, which many people only ever saw as a stopgap solution to the lighting problem.

Commercial availability of LEDs designed by this process may be available within five years.

- Brewskie

Friday, January 30, 2009

Don't Mess With Texas Hackers

Too funny.
- Brewskie

Mr. Burns' Fly Trap

This lamp shade isn't a disco ball, but a fly and moth trap that burns from what it feeds on:

this "carnivorous lamp," which appears to be designed to catch flies, feed on them and use energy generated through that to power LEDs.

Flies and moths are naturally attracted to light. This lamp shade has holes based on the form of the pitcher plant enabling access for the insects but no escape. Eventually they expire and fall into the microbial fuel cell underneath. This generates the electricity to power a series of LEDs located at the bottom of the shade. These are activated when the house lights are turned off.

And if you delight in powering your lifestyle from the incarnation of pests, check out these carnivorous gizmos on Material Beliefs' website - one being a mousetrap coffee table "that lives off the dead." Yeah... just what you want in an artsy coffee shop.

Burn, baby, burn.

- Brewskie

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Exxon Mobil Barrel Chests Through Economic/Cheap Oil Hailstorm

"Good times are good and bad times are better," says the wise investor. Exxon Mobil rattled the public last year with its stout refusal to to take its monster cash horde, and step up oil exploration. Now with the themed "terrible triplets" on the IR - oil, commodities and the global health of the economy - Rex Tillerson is licking his chops like any good buccaneer: "It's time to spend, maties."

Looks like Rex is using a little plunder to pull out the big guns. Exxon is looking to increase capital spending to $30 billion, a 20% increase. Excerpts include (link):

The increase will mark his biggest push to discover oil fields and boost fuel and chemicals production.

Exxon’s $36.7 billion cash hoard, which exceeds those of Microsoft Corp. and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., gives Exxon Mobil the unique opportunity to buy assets cheapened by a $100-a-barrel plunge in crude prices, said analyst Neil McMahon of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in London. Investing now will mean a return to record profits when the world’s largest economies recover and fuel demand rebounds, McMahon said.

“I consider it a very wise move on the part of Exxon because they’re taking a long-term strategic perspective on energy,” said Nansen Saleri, president of Quantum Reservoir Impact, an advisory firm in Houston, and former chief manager of oil fields for Saudi Arabia’s state oil company. “The energy requirements of the planet will go up once the financial markets shake off the current crisis.”

Profits are in decline, but...

Full-year profit for 2009 will probably fall 45 percent to $24.9 billion, analyst estimates showed, halting a five-year streak of gains during which profit more than tripled and cash on hand ballooned fivefold. Exxon Mobil reaped $186 billion in net income in the past five years, exceeding the annual economic output of Malaysia, the Philippines and Pakistan.

Exxon Mobil shareholders were left behind when crude futures surged to a record $147.27 a barrel in July. While oil producers such as Chevron Corp. and Petroleo Brasileiro SA benefited from oil’s rise during the first half of 2008, Exxon Mobil dropped almost 6 percent as Tillerson amassed cash and bought back stock rather than bolstering output.

After Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s Sept. 15 bankruptcy filing started a meltdown of global credit markets, Exxon Mobil’s cash became a source of strength rather than a sign of weakness, said Gianna Bern, president of Flossmoor, Illinois- based Brookshire Advisory & Research Inc. and a former BP Plc oil trader.

On Brazil...

Conserving cash put Exxon Mobil in a position to fund exploration without resorting to borrowing, Tillerson told reporters last month after giving a speech in Chicago.

Exxon Mobil's biggest opportunities to load up on reserves are in Brazil, home of the Western Hemisphere’s largest petroleum discovery in three decades, and West Africa, Bernstein’s McMahon said in a Jan. 9 note to clients.

Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, is short of cash to develop deepwater fields hundreds of miles from shore, McMahon said. Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based company is known, failed to replace 73 percent of the oil and gas it pumped from the ground last year, according to a Jan. 16 public filing with U.S. securities regulators.

The Brazilian company said last week that it plans $174.4 billion in capital spending over the next five years, financed partly with state loans.

“With Petrobras seemingly struggling for financing, while deep-pocketed Exxon Mobil wants a much bigger position in Brazil, this could be the ideal time for the two companies to form a joint venture,” McMahon said.

Tillerson said he’s unlikely to lead acquisitions of entire companies because prices remain inflated. Partnerships with oil- rich nations work better because they allow Exxon Mobil to obtain reserves in exchange for financing and technical expertise, he said.

Is the economic/cheap oil maelstrom causing other oil producers to cut back? Some, yes; but not all, and here's an article on how the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is charging forward. Again, commodities' free fall and the torrid world economy is reducing production costs.

- Brewskie

UPDATE: Here's a bit on Imperial Oil, Canada's largest oil company, aims to boost spending by 60%.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Konarka's Cheap "Plastic Power"

Thin-film solar technology is a promising field that aims to present cheap solar power. One startup, Konarka of Lowell, Massachusetts, has a somewhat different twist: Plastic Power, thin plastic (as opposed to metal foil) that rolls up like film for a camera. It can be taken anywhere and used to recharge you cell phone or laptop.

This sounds minute and beige, but Konarka holds many ambitions. Below are excerpts from the article (link).

Lowell-based Konarka (named after a temple dedicated to a Hindu sun god) currently sells small amounts of its Power Plastic for use on outdoor umbrellas and tote bags that will recharge a cellphone whether you're on the go or on the beach. That potential impressed investors, who have put $145 million into the closely held venture, including a recent $45 million in funding from French oil giant Total. "We believe the solar market in the U.S. will accelerate between 2010 and 2015, and we need to be ready for this," says Philippe Boisseau, president of Total's gas and power business. "By then Konarka products could become mass market." Konarka won't disclose its revenue.

Sure, solar chips have been used to power calculators, watches, and other small gadgets for years. But most are made of silicon, the material found in computer chips - and they are rigid, fragile, and expensive to manufacture. (Think clean rooms with skilled techies in space suits.) Konarka's film rolls off a converted printing press that used to belong to Polaroid. It prints a secret plastic ink onto rolls of thin film. As it absorbs light, the polymer ink emits electrons, producing electricity.

In a few years, Hess says, Konarka will have perfected a translucent version of its product that could be built into the windows of skyscrapers, generating enough power to run whole buildings. It is also working on projects for the Department of Defense to make solar-power tents that recharge soldiers' equipment in remote locations. Eventually the technology could even be woven into clothing - imagine slipping your cellphone into your pocket to recharge it.

It's not perfect...

Power Plastic, however, does have its drawbacks. So far it is not nearly as efficient or durable as traditional silicon panels. Konarka's cells convert about 6% of the light that hits them into electricity, whereas silicon solar panels typically are 16% to 20% efficient. Hess says Konarka hopes to double its efficiency within a few years. Power Plastic also doesn't last nearly as long - about five years as opposed to more than 30 with silicon panels. But Hess argues that it doesn't matter because his product will be cheap to replace.

- Brewskie

Big Three Bites the Hand Feeding It

The badly run Big Three were walloped last year, in part, by their over reliance on gas guzzlin' SUVs that sold porously under high fuel price duress. Trucks and "APCs" are selling again, but seemingly nothing has been learned from three occasions of high fuel prices, and the automakers are suing to prevent higher fuel-efficiency standards.

Chrysler, GM and (possibly) Ford will be asking for more money later this year. Do they want to go bankrupt?


Editor's note: to be fair, Ford has been making an earnest effort to improve the fuel economy of its fleet. Examples include the Ford Fiesta and Fusion hybrid

MAD Magazine Lampoons Obama's Duress

Yes, MAD Magazine probably knows how Obama feels better than anyone.

- Brewskie

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

EU Tires of Russian Recalcitrance

Europe is getting fed up with Russia. After being left to freeze during the annual Russian-Ukrainian gas spat, the Eurozone has decided its had enough of the schizophrenic gasbag, and the trailer-trash instigator. Europe is looking to take matter into its own hands, and secure its gas future.

This won't be easy. Europe is experiencing declining production in the midst of increasing demand - consumption has risen 70% since 1990! Still, Europe is cradled in an enviable part of the world where others, bloated with gas, are willing to deal for "developed" currency: Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Importing from a variety of sources could induce Russia and Ukraine to straighten out their act.

According to Businessweek, Europe's key banks and the EU presidency have reached an informal agreement to financial and political backing for the Nabucco pipeline. If constructed, this 2,050 mile winding snake will sip up gas from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, cut through Turkey and the Balkans, and make delivery in Central Europe - cutting out the Jerry Springer sparring partners.

Europe has also taken note to America's recent success with shale gas. GASH, an interdisciplinary shale gas research program, has recently begun a six-year initiative to map possible shale gas sites in Europe. Western Europe may possess 510 Tcf of shale gas (Canada is also looking into the same game).

Additional Russian-European pipelines that bypass Ukraine are also being considered.

- Brewskie

"Near Perfect" Solar Absorbtion From All Angles

Researchers at the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered a new method that overcomes several obstacles with solar, and achieves higher efficiency. A new antireflective coating allows panels to capture more sunlight, and absorb the entire solar spectrum from nearly any angle. The news release can be found here; excerpts are as below...

“To get maximum efficiency when converting solar power into electricity, you want a solar panel that can absorb nearly every single photon of light, regardless of the sun’s position in the sky,” said Shawn-Yu Lin, professor of physics at Rensselaer and a member of the university’s Future Chips Constellation, who led the research project. “Our new antireflective coating makes this possible.”

Results of the year-long project are explained in the paper “Realization of a Near Perfect Antireflection Coating for Silicon Solar Energy,” published this week by the journal Optics Letters.
An untreated silicon solar cell only absorbs 67.4 percent of sunlight shone upon it — meaning that nearly one-third of that sunlight is reflected away and thus unharvestable. From an economic and efficiency perspective, this unharvested light is wasted potential and a major barrier hampering the proliferation and widespread adoption of solar power.

After a silicon surface was treated with Lin’s new nanoengineered reflective coating, however, the material absorbed 96.21 percent of sunlight shone upon it — meaning that only 3.79 percent of the sunlight was reflected and unharvested. This huge gain in absorption was consistent across the entire spectrum of sunlight, from UV to visible light and infrared, and moves solar power a significant step forward toward economic viability.

On the antireflective coating:

Lin’s discovery could antiquate these automated solar arrays, as his antireflective coating absorbs sunlight evenly and equally from all angles. This means that a stationary solar panel treated with the coating would absorb 96.21 percent of sunlight no matter the position of the sun in the sky. So along with significantly better absorption of sunlight, Lin’s discovery could also enable a new generation of stationary, more cost-efficient solar arrays.


Typical antireflective coatings are engineered to transmit light of one particular wavelength. Lin’s new coating stacks seven of these layers, one on top of the other, in such a way that each layer enhances the antireflective properties of the layer below it. These additional layers also help to “bend” the flow of sunlight to an angle that augments the coating’s antireflective properties. This means that each layer not only transmits sunlight, it also helps to capture any light that may have otherwise been reflected off of the layers below it.

The seven layers, each with a height of 50 nanometers to 100 nanometers, are made up of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods positioned at an oblique angle — each layer looks and functions similar to a dense forest where sunlight is “captured” between the trees. The nanorods were attached to a silicon substrate via chemical vapor disposition, and Lin said the new coating can be affixed to nearly any photovoltaic materials for use in solar cells, including III-V multi-junction and cadmium telluride.

As 80s one-hit wonder Timbkuk3 stated, "The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades."

- Brewskie

Monday, January 26, 2009

Japs Recieve Get Out of Work and "Get Busy" Card

Japan's population is ageing faster than any other nation in the world. With a birthrate of 1.34, Japan has long-term concerns on pension and medical coverage for current and future retirees, along with workforce issues To deal with the twin-headed tsunami (my creation) of old poops and economic doldrums, corporations are being asked to balance the needs of the propping the population, plus the needs of their balance sheets, by letting their workforce go home early for some r&r(link).

In a country dominated by 12-hour workdays, in a land still influenced by Edwards Deming, it's about time this country jive down and relax to some ジョージクリントン溝.

- Brewskie

Multi-Battery Pack Geared to Electric Cars and Plug-in Hybrids

Any idiot can slap in a battery, and make a plug-in hybrid or an electric car; but the true genius - the holy grail, if you want to call it - is finding the ideal battery or power storage medium that can hold bundles of power (enough for a 300 or 400+ road trip, and recharges in a matter of minutes - not hours). Ironing out these kinks is still years away.

Indy Power, an Indiana startup, is taking a different approach in this quest, incorporating a combination of storage technologies to improve and perfect vehicle performance. Excerpts from the Technology Review article are as below:

Noblesville-based Indy Power Systems has developed an energy management system for vehicles that can quickly switch between two or more energy sources, even when their voltages are different. "It's basically a switch that directs energy in any amount and any direction," says Steve Tolen, chief executive officer and founder of Indy Power, which operates out of Purdue Research Park. "The hardware handles the switching, and the software handles the timing and amounts."

Tolen says that the power electronics package--called the Multi-Flex Energy Management System--is only slightly larger than a laptop computer. He describes it as a custom, software-controlled, DC-to-DC converter that's bidirectional and variable.

"Imagine adding hot and cold water to a tub. We can add a variable amount of hot and a variable amount of cold in different volumes to match the outflow of the drain, which can also be variable," Tolen explains. "In other words, the motor can ask for different amounts of current, and we can provide that, and in different ratios from the two (or more) power sources, regardless of the voltage of the power sources."

For example, an electric vehicle could have both lead-acid and lithium-ion battery packs. Advanced lead-acid batteries may be cheaper, but they are also heavier and deteriorate more quickly if subjected to regular depletion and recharging. Lithium-ion batteries are generally more robust and lighter but are far more expensive. Combining the two means that you can use less of each. And just as important, says Tolen, the two chemistries can be balanced against each other to optimize performance. For example, the lithium-ion battery can be used to relieve stress on the lead-acid battery and extend its life, and vice versa.


The concept is being pursued by many different research groups," says Iravani, who is working on a similar system that utilities could use to switch between energy-storage technologies and renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Iravani says that within five or six years, hybrid approaches will significantly improve the performance of energy-storage systems.

Indy Power has already demonstrated its technology in golf carts and is scaling up to highway-capable vehicles. A manufacturer approached the company just last week, says Tolen, to say that it was interested in combining two different lithium-ion chemistries and a lead-acid battery pack in a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Indy's system can also be customized with a simple software upgrade, says Tolen. He envisions a day when we can upgrade the performance of vehicles in much the way we add RAM to computers. "My wife never drives more than 20 miles a day, so I would probably put 100 percent lead acid in her vehicle. Some people might want to go 40 miles, so they'll have five kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries and maybe 15 kilowatt-hours of lead acid. It depends on preferences. We just need to change the paradigm of how we buy cars."

The company has some technical veterans behind it. One of its directors is Bill Wylam, a former General Motors engineer who was responsible for the development of the propulsion system for GM's EV1 electric car. Indy Power's chief operating officer is Bob Galyen, who helped develop the battery pack for the EV1 prototype.

- Brewskie

Possible BP Bid on Chesapeake Energy?

BP shares jumped 3% on market rumors of a possible bid on Chesapeake Energy, America's largest natural gas producer (link).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekly Rundown for January 25, 2009

Here's a look at happenins' in the world of energy:

Website of the week: Inhabitat, where former Star Wars concept artists and Jetsons writers go for work, along with individuals like Ray Kurzweil and Newt Gingrich go to give consultation. The concept drawings and renderings on this website are the most cornucopian this side of Amsterdam; still, in spite of how lost in space this site is, the concept art is still worth seeing.

Goodbye, goodnight and good luck.

- Brewskie

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Okay, Now it's Gap Oil...

"Peak oil" became a household term last year with the sky high death march of oil prices. Many supposed "experts," including Matthew Simmons and Robert Hirsch, became overnight celebrities on MSNBC, warning that the current and future supply of oil would bring dire consequences to civilized life on the planet. Their rationale stated, the situation of oil prices was a result of tight supply amidst high demand - as opposed to a speculative run, which it was (video) - global oil production was at or near peak, and global production was at or would soon enter an irreversible decline.

Now that the speculative oil bubble has burst, the global economy is in the shit can, and the world is drowning in an oil glut, prices has have rested to more palatable levels (some OPEC members, desperate for cash, are actually talking about increasing production!). This is handsomely benefiting consumers in developed countries, while (unfortunately) bruising oil producing nations' fiances. It appears cheap oil will be around for at least a bit longer. Out of the smoldering peak oil ruins has come a new concept: gap oil. Its rationale is that future oil demand will outstrip production, causing a supply-demand gap, propelling oil prices to the moon. The editorial can be read here.

Editor's comment: it's the opinion of Ghawar Guzzler that the next phase of energy evolution is in its prelude; that while oil is still king, its glory days as a fuel are in the late chapters, and future production will partially soothe demand; and humans will move into the next energy chapter in the decades ahead. One thing needed remembering is that most oil used is for transportation; solve this dilemma, and the world will have more oil than it will know what to do with, creating "fantastic" cheap plastic products such as beef jerky makers found at Wal-Mart. Portly greeseballs, rejoice!

- Brewskie

Petrobras Thumbs Nose at Global Economic Crisis With $174.4 Billion Investment Over 5 years

Petrobras, Brazil's state-run oil company, displayed barrel chested courage recently with its announcement that it will invest $174.4 Billion over five years - an increase of 50% (link). At a time when multi-nationals are gutting investments - Conoco Phillips will slash investments to $12.5 Billion vs. last year, where as Chevron is expected to cut its investments by 10% - Petrobras is displaying courageous bravado in the face of cheap oil with strident determination to take advantage of Brazil's vaunted offshore oil fields.

Some excerpts from the article:

Petrobras said late Friday that it will invest $174.4 billion in 2009-2013, including a whopping $28.6 billion in 2009. Chief Executive Jose Sergio Gabrielli called the company's investment plans "robust and important." Petrobras' previous strategic plan called for $112 billion in investments from 2008 to 2012. Petrobras invested about $23 billion in 2008.

Petrobras joined Mexico's Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, as one of the few oil majors willing to up the ante on investments as a slowdown in global economic growth has sapped demand for crude. Pemex said that it will boost investments in 2009 to $19.4 billion, up from $18 billion in 2008.

- Brewskie

Friday, January 23, 2009

Possible Lithium Shortage to Impede Future Electric Car Production?

Lithium - an integral component for lithium-ion batteries used in electrical cars, not to mention cell phones and laptop computers - could face shortages if, in the future, demand for electric cars outstrips supply (link). The article goes:

"Mitsubishi, which plans to release its own electric car soon, estimates that the demand for lithium will outstrip supply in less than 10 years unless new sources are found."

"The U.S. Geological Survey’s mineral commodity specialist on lithium, Brian Jaskula, offers a more conservative estimate, forecasting that demand will begin to drive lithium prices up in the next 10 to 15 years. But the signs are clear: Lithium, which now costs less than a buck per kilogram, will not stay cheap for long."

The article does go further into depth and provides some optimism. As is often the case, technology's "invisible hand" often comes to the rescue, pulling us up in our hour of need. This will likely be the case with batteries:
This doesn't sound too good at first, but if the past is any indication of the future, we can probably expect that as demand increases, prices will rise, making both recycling of existing lithium-ion batteries more profitable and exploration for new sources more viable (techniques to extract lithium from sea water in a cost-effective way, for example).

If things unfold like with silicon and solar panels, a constrained supply will lead to innovation; no forms of batteries that don't need lithium (or need much less of it), in the same way that thin film solar that doesn't need highly purified silicon was born.
Another thing to consider is that it would be very surprising if 20-30 years form now the
energy storage that we use is anything like what it is today. Technological innovation builds on technological innovation, and by most measures the pace of change is acceleration. We've seen a lot of movement in the past 30 years, and we'll probably see even more in the next 30. Maybe by then hydrogen will be a viable storage medium, maybe hypercapacitors designed on the nanoscale will totally replace chemical batteries. Maybe ferrous batteries will replace
lithium-ion... Who knows?
Getting a little off topic, the Chinese recently had a breakthrough with nickel catalyst fuel cells.
- Brewskie

Israel Nails Impressive Gas Find

Israel recently hit an impressive gas discovery - a potential jackpot that could meet the tiny middle-eastern country's gas needs for over a decade. Below are some details:

Led by Noble Energy (NBL.N), the group said it found more than 3 trillion cubic feet (88 billion cubic meters) of gas at the Tamar exploration well, 90 km off the Israeli northern port of

News of the deposit, which is three times as large as a site already in production off the country's southern coast, sent energy shares soaring in a country anxious to reduce its dependency on foreign fuel.


Petroleum Commissioner Yaakov Mimran said if early findings are validated the site would meet Israel's demand for 15 years.

"I have no doubt this discovery will boost investments and exploration" in Israeli waters, Mimran said.

Analysts estimated the natural gas was worth about $26 billion and will be sold starting in 2013.
"It could solve the country's gas problems for many years and generations to come," Yitzhak Tshuva, who controls Delek Group, told Army Radio. "We now won't be dependent on others for gas, and we'll even be able
to make exports."

- Brewskie

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wind Power Leads in New Power Generation

Electricity generation reached record levels in 2007, and for the first time ever, non-hydroelectric generated power was the leading source of new power, led by wind power.

Several points in the article:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions from conventional electric generation and combined heat and power plants increased by 2.3 percent in 2007. Meanwhile, estimated emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide continued to decline. Nitrogen oxides emissions dropped by 3.9 percent, and sulfur dioxide emissions decreased by 5.1 percent.

  • End-of-year coal stocks for 2007 increased 7.3 percent from 141 million tons to 151 million tons. The build in coal stocks in 2007 was considerably less than the 39 percent increase that occurred in 2006.

- Brewskie

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rotating Sun-Catching Solar Roof

Here's a bit from about a Spanish research team's novel approach to designing solar-powered home. More below:
The single-story house has a square design, which helps avoid energy loss in its layout. It's designed as a modest (45 square meters) home suitable for production as a prefab. It's been carefully designed to help make more efficient use of the solar power accumulated by the rotating roof: "a recirculation heat/refrigeration liquid capture system is responsible for redistributing all the energy captured through the walls storing it in raised thermal inertia
mass." Which means that the energy can be used to either heat or cool the house,
depending on the weather at any given time.

There are other efficient ideas implemented, like the use of "a skylight that illuminates the center of the house with diffused light," to save electricity, and passive design principles abound, but the star is most certainly the rotating, 2-ton solar panel laden roof

"The roof incorporates a carefully chosen combination of thermal and photovoltaic panels that emphasize its square design . . . it will be able to offer the necessary 30 or 45 degree angle according to the latitude where the house is located and the angle of the sun in each season of the year. At night the roof can be laid flat to offer minimum resistance given its balanced

- Brewskie

Toyota Ahead of GM in 2008 Sales

A long-running superlative since the Great Depression appears to be ending: G.M.'s 8.35 million vehicles sold in 2008 is 620,000 fewer than Toyota's 8.97 million.

Read the article here.

G.M. had been the largest carmaker since 1931, two years before Toyota
began making cars in Japan. Toyota had been closing in on G.M. for years; its
sales surged around the world while G.M.’s global expansion was tempered by
decades of falling market share in the United States. The two had traded places
from one quarter to the next in recent years. G.M. had been widely expected to
slip into second place in 2007 but held off Toyota by about 3,000

G.M.’s global sales fell 26 percent in the fourth quarter, and the company
received a $4 billion loan in December; it is expecting another $5.4 billion
installment any day.

G.M., which upon release of its 2008 sales figures Wednesday began
describing itself on official statements as merely “one of the world’s largest
automakers,” expects a rough road in the months ahead, for itself as well as its
competitors. It recently reduced its United States sales forecast for all
automakers in 2009 to 10.5 million, compared with 13.2 million in 2008.
target is to hold market share this year,” Mr. DiGiovanni said, which would
translate to a 20 percent decline in sales for the company, based on its
forecast for the industry. But even in such a depressed market, G.M. has
expressed confidence that it can remain solvent. It must submit a restructuring
plan to the government by March 31 showing that it is viable.

Tough Attorney Bags Sickos, Drives FCX

Honda's hydrogen fuel-cell car, the FCX Clarity, is currently available to selected customers for lease - an anticipated 200 customers, over the next 3 years, mostly in Southern California for $649 per month. One current lessee is Karen Thorp, the second "non-Hollywood type" to be given the vehicle; the first and second went to film maker Ron Yerxa, and actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

Karen describes her experience driving the FCX Clarity here.

Kudos to Karen for helping the planet, plus prosecuting kidnappers and multiple-murder suspects:)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congragulations, Barrack!

It's nearly over - what a long eight years it has been. As impenitent as W. appeared initially, both him and his partner, Cheney, had rare one-in-a-million gifts for somehow breaking the barriers of stupidity. When you didn't think it could get any worse... Dubya and Cheney always pulled out their "Jordanesque magic," and performed an idiotic feat that defied possibilities. What a global embarrassment.

Today is your day, Barrack. As this is being written, about two hours remain before your swearing in. You have a lot of work to do, and thankfully, the country seems to understand the mess we're in, and is willing to lend some patience. Still, bad times are no excuse for incompetence: do you have your head wrapped around the economy, what you're going to do about it, how you're going to pay for it? Is such a large stimulus a good idea without a tax increase on the wealthy? Can you achieve large deficit spending - of which proposes to be a record - and in the future, cut it down to reasonable proportions, get the country's financial house in order and set it up for super surpluses?

There's no doubt you'll be a better leader than George. However, an ADDled cat would prove a better leader than this nimwit. You have a lot of work ahead of you, sir. The world is your audience today. Today is your day. Tomorrow you go to work... and we watch.

Best of luck,


Monday, January 19, 2009

Silly and Beige: Enough Anti-Matter to Juice a Light Bulb

According to this columnist, we should consider anti-matter as a source of energy. It's the most expensive substance known to man - $25 million per gram - but 2.2 pounds of the stuff would be the equivalent to 345 million gallons of gasoline. Our collection so far from the high-tech CERN particle accelerator... yup, enough to fire a light bulb for a few minutes.

Geesh... we can do that with a "flock" of hamsters running on wheels. What do these physicists get their fancy degrees for anyway?

- Brewskie

Military Recruits Up Under Shoddy Economy

With the economy in the crapper, with Larry Flint and German sex shop owners crying for bailouts, one U.S. industry is having banner times - the U.S. military. With fewer jobs to go around - especially for males, claims blogger Mark Perry of Carpe Diem, who states we're in a "man-cession" - the military, according to the New York Times, is seeing an influx of recruits, "with all reserve- and active-duty branches meeting or exceeding recruiting goals for the first time since 2004." The Times goes on:

And the trend seems to be accelerating. The Army
exceeded its targets each month for October, November and December — the first
quarter of the new fiscal year — bringing in 21,443 new soldiers on active duty
and in the reserves. December figures were released last week.


Another lure is the new G. I. Bill, which will significantly expand
education benefits. Beginning this August, service members who spend at least
three years on active duty can attend any public college at government expense
or apply the payment toward tuition at a private university. No data exist yet,
but there has traditionally been a strong link between increased education
benefits and new enlistments.

The Army and Marine Corps have also added more recruiters to offices around
the country in the past few years, increased bonuses and capitalized on an
expensive marketing campaign.


As a rule, when unemployment rates climb so do military enlistments. In
November, the Army recruited 5,605 active-duty soldiers, 6 percent more than its
target, and the Army Reserve signed up 3,270 soldiers, 16 percent more than its
goal. December, when the jobless rate reached 7.2 percent, saw similar increases
in requirements.

- Brewskie

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 18, 2003 Weekly Rundown

In previous writings on energy, I always posted a weekly update on the world of energy. Below is a few items; this will be expanded in upcoming weeks.

That's it for now. More on the way.

- Brewskie

Honda's 2010 Insight

The return of Honda's Insight. It will be priced around $19,000 - $4,000 cheaper than the Prius, but with lower fuel efficiency. A strange oddity is Ford's upcoming Fusion hybrid, a larger car, will achieve slightly better city fuel economy (41 mpg vs. 40 mpg) then this little space pod, though at a higher price of $27,000. Still, it's good to see Honda stepping up with a what appears as a competitive hybrid: one that doesn't resemble an aerodynamic soda can flying down the road, barely sipping atoms of petroleum-based fuel, while primarily running on psychedelic dreams. This will suffice until we get this money shot below filling up the roads:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Big Bang Blowout

This is a notification that Ghawar Guzzler will now be the primary blog for all energy-related news. Anyone who has read my prior postings, please, resort only to this blog for future postings; the other two blogs are empty space.

The intent of this blog is to report on the world of energy - both current happenings and the future's prospect. The years ahead will bring both challenges and many wonderful developments. It will indeed be an exciting time.
- Brewskie

Hugo Chavez to Decadent Oil: "No Podemos Ser Amigos?"

This revolutionary loves socialism, but like any good socialist, he loves power more. In light of low oil prices - which recently have stayed as depressed as Kurt Cobain - Hugo, in his earnest efforts to re-inflate his paradise, is now turning to the very oil companies he kicked out when he pursued ever-increasing (but well intentioned) greed (link).

According to the New York Times:

But the shift also shows how the global financial crisis is hampering Mr.
Chávez’s ideological agenda and demanding his pragmatic side. At stake are
no less than Venezuela’s economic stability and the sustainability of his
rule. With oil prices so low, the longstanding problems plaguing Petróleos
de Venezuela, the national oil company that helps keep the country afloat,
have become much harder to ignore.

Embracing the Western companies may be the only way to shore up
Petróleos de Venezuela and the raft of social welfare
programs, like health care and higher education for the poor, that have been
made possible by oil proceeds and have helped bolster his popular support.

Hugo ascended to Venezuela's Presidency largely because of his egalitarian platform. He was very critical of the government's over reliance on oil revenue; but under Chavez, Venezuela's government has become more dependant on oil revenue, not less. His rampant nationalization of the oil industry - along with booting out foreign oil companies - has led to poor management of vaunted oil fields, despite previously sky high oil prices. As stated below:

Venezuela may have little choice but to form new ventures with foreign oil
companies. Nationalizations in other sectors, like agriculture and steel
manufacturing, are fueling capital flight, leaving Venezuela reliant on oil for
about 93 percent of its export revenue in 2008, up from 69 percent in 1998 when
Mr. Chávez was first elected.


It claimed it produced about 3.3 million barrels a day throughout most of
2008. But other sources, like OPEC, of which Venezuela is a member, place the
figure closer to 2.3 million and show a fall of about 100,000 barrels a day from
a year earlier. When Mr. Chávez rose to power a decade ago, Venezuela was
producing about 3.4 million barrels a day.

Despite the previously high oil prices, despite the generous income brought, Venezuela never-the-less experienced an assortment of problems, such as sky high inflation and crime. Now with oil's recent "defeat at Waterloo," Hugo will face ever larger challenges in maintaining his vision of a socialist utopia... and may need to come crawling back to the capitalistic decadents he kicked out.

Enough Untapped Oil to Bathe Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz

Here's an article from Foreign Policy that lists some of the world's largest untapped oil fields. Not listed are fields in Saudia Arabia (Al Khurais, Khursaniyah and Manfia), nor the untapped potential of Eastern Siberia ("Less than 5% of the oil-producing zones have been explored, however, meaning proven crude could reach 75 billion barrels, according to TNK-BP").