Even though coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels – when burned, it produces emissions that contribute to global warming, create acid rain and pollute water – it generates half of the electricity in the United States and will likely continue to do so as long as it’s cheap and plentiful according to the Energy Information Administration. Yet with all of the, ahem, hot air that has been blown forth around alternative energy sources like nuclear, hydropower and biofuels, one would think that coal is losing steam. Well, hold onto your mining helmets because a nifty, little idea called clean coal technology is gaining traction and looks to support America’s addiction to coal. Read more
Ongoing efforts to conserve water in California have led water agencies to install smart water meters. Smart water meters allow remote meter reading and real time in-home displays to monitor water use. The California Energy Commission has been monitoring the progress of installations and is updating their data. Previous data reported that more than 50% of the state’s water utilities have some smart meters in their service areas. California’s 20X2020 Water Conservation Plan looks to reduce water usage by 20% by the year 2020. Water is a precious resource and is prohibited from being wasted by California law. Allowing agencies and consumers to monitor and adjust usage, smart water meters assist in making conscientious water choices and reducing waste.
Traditional sources of early hands-on skills development like shop classes, apprenticeships and Scouting have declined in popularity over the years. Yet as the tools of engineering and manufacturing become accessible and affordable to a wider public, hobbyists are better able to recapture the spirit of amateur innovation. Do-it-yourself projects can be very rewarding if you have the patience and wherewithal to complete them. For those interested in a good, cheap DIY project that, once completed, could come in handy for future projects, we offer ideas for making your own CNC milling machine.