Garry Golden's Blog Posts

Japanese Researchers Advance High Surface Area MOFs For Biofuels and Solid Hydrogen Storage

March 01 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 2

MOFs RikkenResearchers from RIKEN’s Harima Institute have designed a unique version of a high surface area material known as Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs).  Their version of these ‘lego-like’ scaffolding have two different size pores useful in manipulating metals to interact with carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules.

The larger pores could be helpful in separating alcohol gases from water in creation of fuels from biomass, while the smaller pores can be used to store hydrogen as a solid.

We have featured a number of stories (below) on MOFs, and believe they are on a solid development path towards commercialization in a wide range of energy applications. 

First synthesized in the mid 1990s, MOFs have the highest surface area of any known material.  They can be used for 'separating (carbon-hydrogen rich) gases, acting as catalysts to speed up chemical reactions, and for storing gases as solids.' 

The future of energy will be based on our mastering of interactions between basic units like light, molecules, and metals. MOFs provide human beings with a platform of unprecedented surface area that increase our ability to manipulate these interactions.  They might play a critical role in enabling a new era of energy systems that go beyond 'extraction' of hydrocarbon reserves.

Why Science, Not Consumerism, is Needed to Move beyond the ‘Extraction’ Era of Energy

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General Motors Can Still Reinvent the Auto Industry

February 28 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 2

Kill the Combustion EngineVision: Skateboard = 21st Platform for Mobility
Last week, GM announced $30.9 billion loses in 2008, yet it hasn't lost its 'Autonomy' vision of re-engineering how cars are built via modular components and its ability to grow new revenue streams around 'after market' upgrades and mobility services (e.g. OnStar).

The catch?

It needs a decade or two to make it happen!

21st Century Growth Platforms
Growth has nothing to do with moving beyond oil, or finding better ways to sell 'new' cars.  In fact, we must get over this notion of a 'new' car industry model.   What other industry manufactures a $20,000-60,000 product without a pre-arranged buyer?

Growth has everything to do with:

1) Reducing 'Manufacturing Footprint'
Lowering costs by moving beyond the combustion engine manufacturing platform towards modular electric drive trains powered by the integration of batteries, fuel cells and capacitors. 

2) Software Services &  After Market
Shifting revenues towards the software-service side of the driving experience, and physical 'after market' design upgrades. GM should profit 'per mile', not 'per vehicle'.  Dealerships need customers that buy some new upgrade every month, not one vehicle every few years.

3) Rebranding as a Mobility Service Company
Why should GM be limited to a brand for personal vehicle ownership?  Develop new categories of mobilty products (e.g. personal urban vehicles).  Integrate products and services into a broader 'mobility services' sector that blends private and public transit options. (Realize you aren't in the 'new car' business, but in mobility services)

Many of GM's leaders like Sr VP Larry Burns, (Mr. 'Skateboard kills Car') understand this new reality, and I wish they'd be more public about a new vision for mobility and jumpstart this multi-decade long transition.  I'm not talking about an 'ad campaign', but a clearly stated vision that inspires the next generation of mobility industry entrepreneurs. 

Fixated on Building better 'Buggy Whips' (and Related Posts)

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Sony unveils new micro fuel cell products for portable power solutions

February 27 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 2

SonyFuelCell

Sony product managers must be loving the blogosphere buzz around its demonstration of three unique fuel cell products at Japan's 5th Annual Hydrogen and Fuel cell Expo. 

Geek.com has a nice snapshot of the three fuel cell models including a hybrid lithium ion battery charger.

Many 'gadget' bloggers love to hate fuel cells because of missed 'hype' expectations.  But the appeal of hydrogen's 'clean molecules' is hard to escape.  And business leaders with foresight see a nice path to growth around micro-fuel cells and packet-based refueling sales.

Ironically the first commercial applications for micro fuel cells are likely to be 'battery rechargers'!  A number of startups have early products already on the market, and analysts expect Toshiba to release its first generation product this year.


Portable Power Systems: Enabling a 21st Century Energy Solution

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Canadian Researchers Advance Key Enabling 'Green Chemistry' Process, Then Open Source It For the World

February 25 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Biotechnology   Year: General   Rating: 2

wikipeptide

The vision of 'Green Chemisty' is to create the basic components used in making materials, energy, food and pharmaceuticals using sustainable practices, often without the use of petroleum based feedstocks.

Researchers from McGilll University have announced a breakthrough in a key enabling building block technology for 'green chemistry' that could not previously be explained by 'classical chemistry'.

The team led by Chemistry professor Chao-Jun (C.J.) Li discovered an entirely new way of synthesizing peptides by using simple reagents that will enable a lower cost method for building larger molecules. 

Peptides are short polymer chains that Mother Nature uses as a foundation for building proteins and other bio-materials.  

Creating a Simple, Low Cost Process
“Currently, to generate peptides you must use a peptide synthesizer, an expensive piece of high-tech equipment,” explained Li, Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry. “You need to purchase every single separate amino acid unit that makes up the peptide, and feed them into the machine one by one, which then assembles them. Every time you need a new peptide, you need to synthesize it individually from scratch.”

The team's process is based on 'a single, simple “skeleton” peptide which can be modified into any other peptide needed with the addition of a simple reagent.'

Open Innovation, Access to All
Not only has the team announced the process breakthrough, but it is taking the high road to advancing global efforts by opening the information to anyone.

“This is really an enabling new technology,” he added, “and since McGill has decided not to patent it, we’re making our method available to everyone. We are paying the journal’s open access fee, so anyone in the world can access the paper.”

Related Green Chemistry Posts:

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[Video] Could 3D Projection Systems Transform Urban Landscapes?

February 25 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

France-based Easy Web develops 3D video projection systems for 'monumental architecture', but could they be developing new cultural expectations for human-city interfaces where everything becomes a template?

via Laughing Squid Youtube

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Algae startup Bionavitas unveils Light Immersion Technology

February 24 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 2

BionavitasBioenergy startup Bionavitas [Video] has unveiled a new lighting system, designed for both open pond and closed bioreactors, that the company believes could make algae-based biofuels price competitive with petroleum products.

Why algae?
The premise of Algae bioenergy is elegant and transformational in our effort to close the carbon loop. To understand the future of algae, you have to understand the past.

Oil is just chemical energy stored in the form of hydrogen-carbon bonds that were assembled by ancient sea-living microbes.  So, oil is the result of ancient algae growth!

But instead of extracting reserves of oil, we can 'grow energy' using efficient biochemical pathways of algae (and bacteria) that eat carbon and, then using the power of light, bind it with hydrogen to produce bio-oil that can be used as a source of energy or as a feedstock for biomaterials. 

But in order to scale algae production, we need to solve a few problems including adequate lighting. 

Let there be Light
The Bionavitas Light Immersion Technology addresses one of the main barriers to scaling algae systems- giving the rapidly growing algae enough light to keep eating carbon and producing hydrocarbon chains.  As the algae grow, they block the light of the fellow neighbors.  Bionavitas hopes to bring 'photons to biomass' through an innovative lighting system.

Within open pond systems, the Light Immersion Technology enables 'the algae growth layer in open ponds to be up to a meter deep... representing a 10 to 12 time increase in yield over previous methods that produced only 3-5 centimeters of growth.'

For closed bioreactors 'the rods evenly distribute more readily absorbed red and blue spectrum light from high efficiency LEDs.'

Related algae posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

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Dow & Global Solar Continue Push For Distributed Power Generation Around Roof Shingle Solar Cells

February 23 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2011   Rating: 6 Hot

Global SolarThe future where buildings integrate energy generation systems like 'thin film' solar rooftops might be closer than you think.   

Instead of designing expensive, bulky and ugly glass based solar panels, solar start ups are pushing down costs of plastic-substrate based 'thin film' solar cells that resemble today's roof shingles.  The field also includes 'Big Chemistry' players like Dow and DuPont who hope to drop the costs of advanced solar materials.

PV Tech is reporting on the continued push by Dow Chemical to expand mainstream construction use power-generating roof shingles by 2011.  Dow has already committed more than $3 billion towards polysilicon production that will help lower the global costs of solar cells.

One of Dow's key partnerships is with CIGS solar producer Global Solar (Image).  The two companies agreed in 2008 to join the US Department of Energy Solar America Initiative (SAI) project to develop building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) that makes solar energy cost competitive with 'grid' electricity by 2015.

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[Video] Nanopore based DNA Base Sequencing Shows Potential of 'Wet-Dry' Nano Systems

February 23 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

One of the most exciting areas of 'Nano-bio' research is the engineered integration of 'wet' and 'dry' nanoscale systems that might revolutionize research in genetics and proteomics (Study of Proteins).  But how do you explain this breaking down the barriers of biological and human-made systems? Through 3D animation videos on YouTube, of course!

ScienceBlogs has featured a video of Oxford Nanopore Technologies's new label free DNA sequencing system that reads A-C-G-T segments as they pass through a nanopore.

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Growing Recognition of Peak Oil Production Could Accelerate Death of Combustion Engine

February 22 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

peakoil

[Note: Sadly, this is a Production chart focused on alternative 'decline rates', and does not include Global Demand forecasts.  Only know that there is a gap in any scenario!]

The upside of 'Peak Oil Production' is that it might be a more effective message than Climate Change in spurring dramatic changes to our transportation sector.  The worst case 'peak production' scenario is that it might remain marginalized among mainstream audiences and political leaders just long enough to really matter. What if confusion reigns?

People might confuse the idea of 'running out of oil' (not true) with the reality that global production is not keeping up with increasing demand.  People might place misguided hope into potential 'solutions' like solar or nuclear that have nothing to do with liquid fuel markets.  You cannot put electricity into a gas tank!

Why Data Has Replaced 'Assumptions' & Why 'Peak and Plateau' Matters

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[Video] Impress Touch Project Hints at Post-PC Era Interfaces

February 22 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

During the next decade we are likely to see commercial products that will start to define the 'Post PC' Era of smart, networked objects that follow a new path of product development.  Users will interact with embedded devices beyond the keyboard and mouse.  We know that OLEDs offer a clear path to flexible, transparent display screens, but what about the combination of sensors and low power chips that make the 'screen' irrelevant for new applications.  If it is hard to imagine commercial Post PC applications for enterprise sectors, what about designs for education and entertainment markets based on visions like Impress project from Sillenet [via Vimeo]

Via TrendHunter