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US delivers message of urgency on climate change

April 23, 2009 12:39 pm | Blogs | Comments

The United States insisted Thursday that it had a common purpose and felt a sense of urgency over climate change, taking part in environment talks with other Group of Eight nations and developing countries. Delegates are holding three days of talks in this eastern Sicilian city amid high expectations over the extent of the U.S. commitment to tackle climate change

100 MPG Electric Hummer a Reality

April 23, 2009 9:23 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Raser Technologies recently announced a 100 MPG version of the Hummer H3 at the 2009 SAE International World Congress. The idea of taking the most infamous gas guzzler and making it “greener than a Prius” sounds like a pipe dream. But Raser claims to have achieved it. The resultant vehicle is the best of both worlds: environmentally-friendly and attractive

Congress considers major global warming measure (AP)

April 20, 2009 7:36 am | Blogs | Comments

The last time Congress passed major environmental laws, acid rain was destroying lakes and forests, polluted rivers were on fire and smog was choking people in some cities. The fallout from global warming, while subtle now, could eventually be more dire. That prospect has Democrats pushing legislation that rivals in scope the nation's landmark anti-pollution laws.

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Obama: Better trains foster energy independence (AP)

April 16, 2009 10:52 am | Blogs | Comments

President Barack Obama is calling for the country to move swiftly to a system of high-speed rail travel, saying it will relieve congestion, help clean the air and save on energy. Appearing with Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Thursday, Obama said the country cannot afford not to invest in a major upgrade to rail travel. He said he understands it necessarily will be "a long-term project" but said the time to start is now

Chevy Volt Not the Answer, Says Obama Administration

April 14, 2009 12:48 pm | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

There’re strange brewings in the auto industry. President Obama once remarked that “unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.” Fresh off its government bailout, General Motors has devoted “significant resources” to the Chevy Volt, an "Extended Range Electric Vehicle" set for release in 2011. Obama’s response?

Obama looking at cooling air to fight warming (AP)

April 13, 2009 5:36 am | by SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein, Ap Science Writer – Thu Apr 9, 6:17 am ET | Blogs | Comments

Tinkering with Earth's climate to chill runaway global warming — a radical idea once dismissed out of hand — is being discussed by the White House as a potential emergency option, the president's new science adviser said Wednesday. That's because global warming is happening so rapidly, John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month. The concept of using technology to purposely cool the climate is called geoengineering

Congress Urges EPA to Drop SSL Energy Star Criteria

April 10, 2009 7:11 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

To follow up on an earlier story, congress has urged the EPA to drop its SSL Energy Star criteria. A letter, signed by nine congressional members, encourages EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to defer to the DOE on Energy Star. The letter makes mention of “the current state of affairs, in which two federal agencies have put forth two separate standards,” and that, “The overlapping standards are creating uncertainty in the industry”

Plug In America Refutes Obama Auto Task Force Conclusion on GM Volt

April 2, 2009 10:31 am | Blogs | Comments

In response to an Obama Administration auto task force report, Plug In America on Tuesday proposed a plan to make GM’s Chevy Volt and other plug-in cars more affordable, noting that most advanced new technologies are initially more costly. California law requires that the Volt and other plug-in hybrids come with a 10-year warranty. To ensure this longer life, automakers are as much as doubling the size of the battery pack, increasing cost to manufacturer and consumer.

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Biomechanical ATV Boasts Extremely High Range

March 31, 2009 7:27 pm | Blogs | Comments

Advanced technology vehicles have yet to gain a foothold in the mainstream auto industry. Hybrids boast a fuel economy upwards of 40 mpg, but are too pricey for your average consumer. Similarly, “clean diesel” sports high MPG ratings, but diesel is prohibitively expensive. The more exotic ATV’s (air-cars, biodiesel, solar) are aesthetically morose. Pure electric vehicles (PEVs) lack the necessary infrastructure to support them. Welcko’s Mogwai Electric Vehicle (or MEV) is the first ATV with potential mainstream viability

Proposal Could Ban the Sale of Plasma TVs in California

March 30, 2009 12:23 pm | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is moving ahead with a proposal that could make Plasma TVs legally obsolete. Based on the 2008 Report, “Draft Efficiency Standards for Television” (which drew heavily from Pacific Gas and Electric Company findings), the proposal would set a cap on the maximum active mode power usage (watts). This would effectively ban the sale of Plasma, DLP, rear projector, and certain LCD TV’s in California

World’s Cheapest Car Riles Environmental Groups

March 24, 2009 12:27 pm | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Tata Motors has unveiled the world’s cheapest car, with potential for a vast standard of living increase. And Greenpeace doesn’t like it. The same organization that supported a ban on chlorine in drinking water feels that the mass proliferation of cheap automobiles is a bad thing. Despite its eco-friendly 47 MPG rating, the Tata Nano is seen as a threat to the environment. Why? Because lots of people want to buy them.

New government brochure explains climate science

March 19, 2009 4:43 am | by Alix Paultre | Blogs | Comments

Day after day, reports of the dangers of climate and climate change circulate in the news, often filled with confusing data and debate. In an effort to improve understanding of climate science, a group of government agencies has combined efforts to produce "Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science."

Electrode Breakthrough Enables Rapid Battery Recharge

March 12, 2009 4:48 am | Product Releases | Comments

A lithium-ion battery electrode described this week in the journal Nature can deliver electricity several times faster than other such batteries. It could be particularly useful where rapid power bursts are needed, such as for laser weapons or hybrid race cars. Test batteries based on the new electrode--developed by Gerbrand Ceder, a professor of materials science at MIT--can be discharged in 10 seconds.

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Global Warming: Science vs. Activism

March 11, 2009 2:03 pm | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In 2007, Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change.” In his Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Gore screeched, “The scientists are virtually screaming from the rooftops now. The debate is over! There’s no longer any debate in the scientific community about this.”

ASU Develops World’s First Flexible Touchscreen Display

March 9, 2009 9:36 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Arizona State University’s Flexible Display Center (FDC) recently unveiled the world’s first flexible touchscreen display. Developed in conjunction with E Ink Corporation and DuPont Teijin Films, the active matrix display is capable of real-time user input, and can send and receive information. The applications for such a device, particularly in the military sector, are endless

Hundreds rally for legislation on climate change

March 2, 2009 11:08 am | Blogs | Comments

Hundreds of demonstrators are urging Congress to pass legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, and they're using the Capitol power plant as a symbol of the problem. Despite attempts by lawmakers to clean up the power plant in southeast Washington, it still burns coal and accounts for a third of the legislative branch's greenhouse gas emissions. Monday's rally on Capitol Hill was being followed by a march to the power plant, where some demonstrators planned to block entrances and get arrested.

Electric Vehicles on Cell Phone Contracts

February 18, 2009 11:15 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place, wants to make electric cars viable. His solution? Spread battery-swapping stations throughout the world, using a fee structure similar to cell-phone contracts. According to Better Place’s site, “The batteries of a zero-emission vehicle need three things in place for optimum functionality: charging spots, battery switching stations, and software that automates the experience.” Their solution is a network of stations where depleted batteries can be swapped out for fresh ones.

Clean Coal and Nuclear Funding Cut from Stimulus

February 13, 2009 7:13 am | by Alix Paultre | Blogs | Comments

This "compromise" is an example of the misguided cuts that have been made in the stimulus package in the name of savings. "Clean Coal" and Nuclear power are among the best alternatives to oil we have, and to cut funding for these important technologies is shortsighted. "Clean Coal" and Nuclear power are among the best alternatives to oil we have, and to cut funding for these important technologies is

Next Stop, the Twilight Zone

February 7, 2009 9:22 pm | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Obama’s position on tailpipe emissions presents a strange paradox: traditional supporters of states’ rights are clamoring for one national standard, while federalists want the states to decide. It seems that we’ve entered bizarro world. But it goes deeper. Allowing states to set their own emissions standards is a thinly-disguised attempt to impose higher national standards through backdoor means.

The Dangers of Exporting E-waste

January 30, 2009 11:27 am | by by Ken Manchen, Newark & Premier Farnell | Blogs | Comments

As readers of ECN well know, Americans are purchasing new and improved electronic products faster than ever—and thereby creating a record amount of electronic waste. What you may not know is that 50% of the e-waste generated in the European Union and North America is now exported to developing countries such as India, China and Africa.

State vs. Federal Emissions Standards

January 27, 2009 10:39 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

President Obama has ordered the EPA to “review” its denial of California’s request for exemption to federal emissions standards. On Monday, January 26th, Obama gave a press conference relating to, “Jobs, Energy Independence, and Climate Change.” Among other things, he spoke about America’s dependence on foreign oil, the proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, and the aforementioned EPA denial.

Energizer to Release OEM Version of Zinc/Air Battery

January 14, 2009 10:14 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The history of portable electronics is one of decreasing size, both for the devices themselves and the batteries to power them. A while back, I reported on the Quad A battery—specifically, Energizer’s push to make the Quad A more commercially available. The Quad A was commercially available (though not prevalent) since 1989. Similarly, the technology behind Energizer’s latest offering, the Zinc Air Prismatic Battery (or ZAP for short), has been around since 1991.

Mini-E is Highway Legal Pure Electric Vehicle

December 31, 2008 9:23 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Hipsters of the world rejoice! Mini has announced the greatest thing since arthouse theater—an electric version of the Mini Cooper. Unveiled at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Mini-E is the first highway legal all-electric vehicle. Amazingly, the Mini-E is heavier than its internal combustion engine (ICE) counterpart (curb weight of 3,230 vs. 2,546 for the ICE). This will satisfy those who feel greater mass equals greater safety. Despite its added bulk, the Mini-E has even greater front/rear weight balance than the ICE.

European Union to Phase Out Incandescent Bulbs by 2012

December 11, 2008 4:42 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In a move sure to ignite debate on this side of the Atlantic, the European Union approved the phasing out of incandescent bulbs by 2012. Here in the US, we’re debating which technologies should be allowed to earn a label (Energy Star). Over in Europe, they’ve ended the discussion with multinational governmental action. By following the commission’s proposal, EU citizens will save close to 40 TWh per year, and emissions will go down by 15 million tons of CO2 (according to the European Commission). But there’s a larger issue at hand: should government have such control of industry?

Wind Turbine Design Reduces Blade Size, Saves Money

December 3, 2008 11:10 am | by by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Betz’ Law (culled from its namesake, Albert Betz) is a theory for flow machines. From this theory we derive the Betz Limit, that is, “the maximum possible energythat may be derived by means of an infinitely thin rotor from a fluid flowing at a certain speed.” In windmills, this equates to how much electricity can be harvested from the wind energy. Current technology allows turbines to capture a maximum of 59 percent of the energy in wind

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