The holidays are a time to consider all that we’re thankful for, and you are on our list.
You drove a tremendous 2013 for ThomasNet News with your Green & Clean Journal readership, sharing of our articles, and feedback on our content.
We want to keep this momentum going. In 2014, you will see a more streamlined and improved ThomasNet News that will ensure you get the most complete picture of manufacturing, industry, and business anywhere. We will be introducing an exciting all-new platform over the next few months. Read more
It’s not that Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest reserves of oil or gas; the United States and Russia both have more. It’s that in Saudi Arabia, oil is so close to the surface, it’s much cheaper to extract than elsewhere. Stamp your foot in Saudi Arabia and you have an oil well.
Fracking was developed to get to hard-to-reach oil and gas. So it makes sense to read circulating reports that as domestic oil consumption is rising in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom is turning to fracking to release huge amounts of shale gas and export more of its profitable oil.
As IndustryWeek reported in the fall, the head of Saudi Aramco announced a deal where the state oil giant is to supply gas to a massive Saudi power plant project. “The world’s largest oil exporter launched an unconventional gas program in northern Saudi Arabia two years ago, as it sought alternative domestic fuel supplies that would allow an expansion of lucrative oil exports,” the article noted. Read more
Those were the strong words of Dina Cappiello and Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press.
Cappiello and Apuzzo took a long, hard look at the ethanol industry under the Obama administration and found that farmers, in a rush to plant corn for fuel, “wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat, and polluted water supplies.” That 5 million acres, as Cappiello and Apuzzo reported, were more than the Yellowstone, Everglades, and Yosemite parks combined.
Their investigation found that the federal government’s biofuel mandate, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), “has raised corn prices and incentivized farmers to grow corn on environmentally fragile land once set aside for conservation.”
Are simpler, cheaper solar cells on the way? Work being done to improve solar cell efficiency using a mineral called perovskite at Oxford University raises interesting possibilities.
According to a summary at SciTechDaily, from about 2009 to now, solar cells made from materials called perovskites “have reached efficiencies that other technologies took decades to achieve, but until recently no one quite knew why.”
Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral species composed of calcium titanate. It can be found in the Urals and Switzerland, as well as in Arkansas and some chondritic meteorites. And it’s quite inexpensive.
As Inhabitat reported in August, the substance “is said to be very efficient at absorbing light and uses less material to capture the same amount of energy when compared to conventional solar absorbers,” meaning it could result in “dirt cheap solar power.”
Perovskite, according to SciTechDaily, was first used in 2009 to produce 3 percent efficient photovoltaic cells. Since then, scientists pushed the technology to achieve efficiencies beyond 15 percent, which overtakes other emerging solar technologies.
There’s more exciting news. Researchers reported in Science that they have figured out the secret to perovskite’s success: It’s a property known as the diffusion length, and they also think they have a way to improve diffusion length by a factor of 10. Read more
Ninety percent of all chemical products produced involve the use of catalysts at one stage or another, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA). The combination of nanotechnology in catalysts has led to the emergence of nanocatalysts, which boast significant economic advantages over traditional catalysts. As environmental regulations continue to impact automotive and other industrial sectors, demand for nanocatalysts is expected to soar.
A wide variety of chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical products require the use of catalysts in production, the report notes. Nanocatalysts, with their extremely small size and a higher surface area, demonstrate superior catalytic activity. Further, nanocatalysts also increase the speed and efficiency of catalysis, which makes the processes relatively inexpensive and economically feasible. In addition, by helping accelerate chemical processes, nanocatalysts help lower the use of energy required for the process, further reducing the carbon footprint of many manufacturing technologies. Read more
Oil and gas drilling operations came under public scrutiny during the September flooding in Colorado. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) reports that, according to its most recent reckoning (Nov. 26), the flooding caused spills of 1,149 barrels of oil or natural-gas condensate (48,250 gallons) and 1,035 barrels of produced water (43,479 gallons). The largest spill at any one site was 323 barrels.
Colin Harris, environmental attorney with Boulder, Colo., law firm Bryan Cave, has worked with oil and gas firms in developing spill prevention and control plans. He told Green & Clean Journal that “while unfortunate, the fact that oil spills occurred during the one-hundred year flooding is not surprising, nor does it demonstrate a lack of reasonable planning and prevention. The important question is that, of the barrels spilled, how much actually impacted the environment outside the immediate well facility, what was the nature and severity of the impact, and what has been the response of industry to remediate and mitigate for any impacts.” Read more
It might be said that the transport industry is at the cutting edge of sustainability. After all, its operating costs are directly linked to the price of energy. And the industry is responsible for 13 percent of all global emissions. So it stands to reason that logistics companies are wise to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to energy consumption, not only to keep expenses down and stay competitive, but also to and win support from environmentally conscious customers.
- Consumers are becoming aware of their market-shaping power. A surprising 59 percent of businesses and 39 percent of consumers surveyed said they would pay more for green (carbon neutral) delivery options over the next ten years.
- The growing economic value of sustainability has become a key factor in shaping the reputation of a company and its brand. Ninety-one percent of customers would consider changing their purchasing habits in response to learning about a company’s environmentally harmful practices.
- Investment is key. More efficient vehicles will save money in the long run, but commitment is required to buy them now. The authors recommend investment in infrastructure, the removal of market barriers in the transport sector, and better administrative management of infrastructure, not only to support the seamless flow of goods, but also improve overall capacity. Read more