January 13 2009 / by amisampat
Category: Environment Year: 2009 Rating: 3 Hot
By Ami Sampat
The Nano car, created by Tata Motors, has not yet gone on sale but an affordable micro-hybrid version is already gearing up to hit the market. In this micro-hybrid, the engine would automatically stop running once it has gone idle. This feature would cut fuel and gas emissions by 10 to 15 percent.
The Nano which was first introduced in January 2008, was said to be on the market by late 2008, but is now expected to roll into the market early this year. The Nano will cost an affordable $2,500, which may increase due to the added micro hybrid-system.
The introduction of Tata's Nano was meant to create the first reasonably priced, environmentally friendly car, in order to help the densely populated and polluted urban areas India. Having the hybrid being affordable will also make it more accesible to not just the rich class, but the middle class as well.
Meanwhile, China is producing hybrid cars of its own. Chinese automakers, BYD, will display their hybrid car at the Detroit auto show this month. At the auto show, BYD will be given a main floor, rather than a hallway which it had last year. BYD will displaying its plug-in hybrid.
Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd is also making its first appearance at the show.
China is certainly making waves to make its car companies known. However it will be five years before Chinese automakers are able to compete in the U.S. markets.
India and China's venture into hybrid cars is a preemptive step of the automakers to reduce pollution and make a name for itself in the North American auto industry. As these country's launch their respective cars in their homeland and the U.S, it will certainly cause a sensation for the rest of the world.
The Wall Street Journal has finally reported on the real driver of change around the electrification of the world's auto fleet: Manufacturing.
Reframing the Problem
Our insights into the crossroads of energy and the future of the auto industry have reflected a very unique tone when compared to all major media outlets and bloggers.
We have been alone in pushing a few disruptive ideas about the future of energy and the auto industry:
Kill the Combustion Engine
While others focused on the problem of oil, we said it was the manufacturing legacy of the combustion engine. We have argued that it's how you build the car, not fuel it that matters most.
Skateboard chassis is Platform of the Future
January 09 2009 / by joelg
Category: Energy Year: 2009 Rating: 3
By Joel Greenberg
Byron Reeves is a man with a vision: using video games to teach and to help mold behavior. When we get a smart grid and smart devices that track and report on their energy consumption, we'll have the data we need to understand our energy usage in the home. But will we really take advantage of that information?
"Games have the potential change behavior," says Reeves a professor at Stanford University and co-founder of Stanford's MediaX; he conducts research on the emotional and social effects of immersive environments including complex online games . "I became interested in building a game platform that could change behavior around energy usage," he says. To that end, he's been showing a vision video he created with Millions of Us in which he brings to life a game where homeowners compete with each other to see who can become the most energy efficient.
This week Garry Golden, Jeff Hilford and I had the pleasure to participate in the latest of The Speculist's outstanding Fast Forward Radio series (audio below the fold). Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon led us through a comprehensive exploration of the year ahead of us and then (of course) encourage a bit of speculation about events 10-30 years out.
Garry shared his energy and transportation policy insights and predictions for 2009 (a must listen), and ventured some suppositions for the future including the possibility of converging on a space-based Dyson Sphere.
Jeff discussed the ongoing rise of social media and the future meme, then offered up a longer-term prediction concerning Actuarial Escape Velocity, aka the point in time that medicine becomes capable of extending the average lifespan quicker than nature can take it from us.
I of course got into the steady growth in prosumers, intelligence amplification and a bit of simulation theory.
After kindly facilitating our output :), the hosts also got into the speculation game, with Phil tackiling issues including Global Quantification and Cancer Containment (very cool conept), and Stephen venturing the prediction that the first generation of life extension technologies are much closer to reality that we may suppose.
All in all, it was a wonderful brain-fest that I encourage you check out whenever you've got a spare hour on your hands. And be sure to add The Speculist to your RSS as they've got a steady stream of great future content, including their weekly podcast, flowing through regularly. -- (Audio is below the fold.)
January 07 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: 2010 Rating: 2
Most startup energy companies don't expect major media attention when they announce their second commercial deal.
Unless of course, your technology is reported to generate energy beyond the scientific paradigms of combustion and nuclear reactions.
This is why Blacklight Power has little trouble attracting press and controversy from paradigm bound scientists.
Earlier this Fall we reported on the indepdent verification of the company's novel method of capturing energy released when powder containing hydrogen atoms reacts with a catalyst to drop its energy state into hydrinos. Then in December Blacklight announced its first commercial agreement.
Now the company has Customer No. 2: Farmers' Electric Cooperative, Inc. of New Mexico for a 250 MW power system which could in theory power 250,000 homes.
Related Blacklight posts on The Energy Roadmap.com
Is Asia's expanding middle class closer to reaching a tipping point where modern notions of 'environmentalism' become a key component to improving quality of life factors? Maybe!
The Korean government is pushing forward on a massive 'Green' New Deal style investment package could create more than 900,000 jobs.
The $38 billion investment plan includes: waste to energy power plants, support for 'Green Homes', transportation infrastructure for rail and bicycles, cleaning up polluted river systems, and investments in energy storage technologies used for electric vehicles.
Real story = Values Shift up Maslow's Hierarchy
The long view implications of this story go far beyond any actual investments that may or may not turn Korea's attention towards 'cleantech' industries. These projects might already have been planned long before the recent global economic slowdown. And $38 billion is not a lot of money for a 'New Deal'.
The real story is the media spin on 'green' and underlying values statement that shows widespread support within Korea for cleantech and eco-friendly ventures. The ripple effect of modern notions of environmentalism (able to address impacts of large scale industrialism, not traditional forms of agricultural living) could begin to challenge the notion of 'growth at any cost' that dominates economic policies around the world in all nations, but especially in emerging economies.
Values are very important when it comes to 'cleantech' policies, and there is no evidence that 'environmentalism' as it is viewed in American and European life is a current global phenomenon. There are still several billion people in the world who see 'quality of life' factors as related to jobs, education, home ownership and upward mobility, not planetary health.
What is driving this value's shift? Economic Growth, not Traditionalism
January 02 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Science Year: 2014 Rating: 2
We are not going to 'consume' ourselves into a future global economy driven by clean energy technologies.
We have to build it using new scientific knowledge based on nanoscale interactions of light and molecules mostly- carbon, hydrogen, oxygen reacting to metals and enzymes.
Energy = Interactions
Creating 'clean energy' means using materials that make these molecular interactions that capture and release energy more efficient and less wasteful.
While consumers might be the ones who get the credit for changing behavior, the real heros of our cleantech energy future will be people involved in chemistry, biology, physics and materials engineering.
And the good news is that these scientists are increasingly turning to advanced computers and simulation software to accelerate the development of energy related materials!
Computational Power & Materials Science - Recent Examples for Materials Science
December 16 2008 / by joelg
Category: Energy Year: 2008 Rating: 1
By Joel Greenberg
Putting a face to energy happened in a big way in 2008. From T-Boone Pickens' full court press promoting his Picken's Plan for wind energy and natural gas to Shai Agassi coming of age with his Wired cover story promoting his electric vehicle infrastructure company Better Place, energy technology became humanized. And what do you do for an encore once you've cracked the Human Genome? Ask scientist Craig Venter and he'll tell you it's using algae to create bio fuels that replace oil. He's hoping to have something on the market in five years.
Could personality be the thing that takes a vital, but dry industry from infrastructure to top of mind in the eyes of customers?
Continue with Top Energy Stories of 2008
December 29 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: Beyond Rating: 3
"Whether you think you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right." - Henry Ford
The worst thing we can do when thinking about the future of energy is to look at possible solutions and simply extrapolate today's technologies and scientific assumptions forward about what 'is' or 'isn't possible'.
There is still a lot we do not know about the basics of energy systems dealing with photons, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, enzymes and metals. Our current first phase efforts to design nanoscale materials used in energy production, conversion and storage are certain to yield systems that will change how we live in the world in the decades ahead.
Remember, only a century ago, coal and wood were king, magical 'electric' light intimidated the general public, only a few could see the potential of oil, rockets and nuclear science were beyond our imagination, and the vision of a tens of millions of 'horseless carriages' reshaping the urban landscape was a ridiculous proposition.
So what seemingly novel ideas could shape the next century?
List of 10+ Novel Energy Stories from 2008:
December 27 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: 2009 Rating: 1
How do you build an 'sustainable' economy for 9 billion people?
Reinvent how we make, recycle and re-use metals, wood, glass, plastic and biomaterials that go into everyday products.
Who can enable the 'new energy economy'? Our bet is on the Scientist, not the Consumer.
While some get excited over 'green products' like solar powered backpacks, better lightbulbs and organic cotton yoga mats, most notions of 'eco-friendly' products fall drastically short of what will be needed to meet the demands of adding another 3 billion people to the planet by 2050.
We need to reinvent the whole concept of 'Industrialism' to create new methods for producing materials using less energy and 'resources' in fundamentally new ways.
List of 2008 Stories in Energy Materials Science
December 24 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: Beyond Rating: 7 Hot
Let's think beyond simply trying to find new ways to produce more energy, and focus on ways of storing energy. Why? Because this expands ways for us to produce more energy! Confused?
Solar and wind alone are a hard sell to utility providers because of intermittent production when the sun isn't shining or wind doesn't blow. Add utility scale storage to solar and wind farms, and you have a more valuable proposition.
Battery powered cars sound great, but not if we have to plug in our vehicles every 50 or 100 miles. Or what about a new iPhone with a battery that cannot last the entire day.
We have written dozens of posts on energy storage and believe it deserves much more attention from the media and policy leaders. 2009 could be a turning point for awareness around the importance of enabling next generation batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.
List of 20+ Energy Breakthroughs in Batteries, Fuel cells, and Capacitors
Japan's largest shipping company, Nippon Yusen, has unveiled a cargo ship outfitted with enough solar panels to produce 40 Kilowatts of power. Named the Auriga Leader, the energy comes from 328 solar panels outfitted on top of the ship which set the company back about $1.7 million dollars. While 40 Kilowatts is a huge sum house-wise, it really only produces enough energy to power about 7% of the lighting systems on board. But when one considers the size of the ship (frickin' HUGE) it should save them quite bit down the road. When combined with Nippon's gel-like paint, it promises to save them hundreds of thousands down the road with this ship alone.
Honestly, it's surprising this kind of tech has waited this long in this market. Transportation eats up a huge amount of oil, especially things like ships, trains, tractor trailers and planes. And to be honest, any help is much needed help for these behemoths. Japan has its solar panels, China is working on solar sails for its cargo ships, and tons of people in America are calling for more efficient big rigs. Now we just need to press innovation ahead faster.
via Crunch Gear