Rick Perry confirmed as Energy Secretary

March 3, 2017 by  
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With bitter battles over the confirmations of Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency administrator or Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise the Senate confirmed the slightly less controversial Rick Perry . In a 62 to 37 vote, the former Texas governor slid right into his new role as Energy Secretary. He’ll oversee energy policy , 17 national laboratories, and the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons . Perry’s views have come a long way from those he touted during his failed campaigns for president, or so it appears. During his 2012 campaign, he called for the elimination of the Department of Energy , but could not remember the department’s name in a debate. During his recent confirmation hearing, he said he regretted that proposal. Related: Rick Perry tapped to run the Department of Energy – which he once promised to shut down According to The New York Times, people close to Perry said he once thought the Energy Department centered around promoting and developing America’s energy resources – a weighty task in its own right, but it was only after the former governor heard about the agency’s other functions he changed his tune. During his confirmation hearing he said after “being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy,” he now supports its goals. For many years Perry showed complete disdain for the science of climate change , but the Energy Department does deal with the issue through research into energy technologies. It appears Perry has changed his mind on that too. He told senators, “I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity.” Some of that man-made activity can be linked to oil and gas companies, such as Energy Transfer Partners , where Perry once sat on the board. To his credit, he did resign from the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline after his appointment, according to The Texas Tribune . During his confirmation hearing he also made a poorly phrased but promising claim: “I am going to protect all of the science, whether it’s related to the climate or other aspects of what we’re going to be doing. I am going to protect the men and women of the scientific community from anyone that would attack them, no matter what their reason may be, at the Department of Energy.” Via The New York Times Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Rick Perry confirmed as Energy Secretary

Sebastian Errazuriz’s transforming wave cabinet opens with undulating movement

January 13, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Sebastian Errazuriz’s transforming wave cabinet opens with undulating movement Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: art furniture , Cristina Grajales Gallery , Design Miami , eco design , green design , Sebastian Errazuriz , sustainable design , undulating furniture , Wave Cabinet

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Sebastian Errazuriz’s transforming wave cabinet opens with undulating movement

How to live comfortably without power if an emergency forces you off grid

January 13, 2015 by  
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The power is out. The heat is out. Water is off. Suddenly, you are off the grid . Without the proper gear, this could be an uncomfortable circumstance for a day, a week, or even longer. Whether the outage was caused by a storm or system failure, it’s is essential to have a way to live off grid if you have to. Read on to learn how you can prepare yourself if you’re forced to live without power for a while. Read the rest of How to live comfortably without power if an emergency forces you off grid Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: emergency off grid , emergency power outage , emergency preparedness , living off the grid , off the grid , power outages , surviving power outages

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Ton Matton’s Chicken Cabinet Produces Fresh Eggs Right in Your Kitchen

February 18, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Ton Matton’s Chicken Cabinet Produces Fresh Eggs Right in Your Kitchen Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “green furniture” , Chicken Cabinet , chicken coop , eco-friendly furniture , free range chicken , green interiors , green lifestyle , Recycled Materials , repurposed furniture , sustainable food , Ton Matton , urban chicken coop , Urban Farming        

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Ton Matton’s Chicken Cabinet Produces Fresh Eggs Right in Your Kitchen

How can I reuse or recycle a whole kitchen?

February 9, 2012 by  
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I’m back post-lurgy and I thought I’d post this great question from James – asking how to recycle a whole kitchen: We shall be replacing our kitchen in the next few months. The present one is 15 years old and is perfectly serviceable. I don’t want to “skip” it. Any suggestion as to how I can recycle it? My first suggestion would be to try to pass it on – lots of people would love a kitchen revamp but can’t afford to go the whole hog so just replace cabinet doors etc. I regularly see sets of door & drawer fronts offered up on eBay, Gumtree or Freecycle/Freegle (and probably Craig’s List in the US). Built-in appliances can be sold/passed on separately too as they often expire before the rest of the kitchen so people might want to replace just those bits. People don’t just use them for revamping their own full kitchens either – someone might want to make a “tea station” at a community venue, or for storage in a porch/understairs cupboard – so if you’ve not got a lot, someone still might want them for that sort of thing instead. And tatty but still usable cupboards and worksurfaces are still useful in places where function very much trumps form like a garage, cellar or shed – and old sinks are often useful in those places too. We recently covered ways to reuse old ovens (and toaster ovens ) too so again, people might want those for non-culinary pursuits where aesthetics are less important. As for more creative reuses (rather than just reusing stuff for its original purpose), I’ve made oversized planters from wooden cupboard doors before, I’ve seen people making pretty serving trays from doors and Alison Bailey Smith curated an art project last year where people used her old kitchen as art materials . (Of course, I also have to mention the most important point in the recycling triangle – reduce . New kitchens are very resource intensive and a greener option would be to revamp an old kitchen rather than replacing it with all new …. but you know what, I think that’s a whole ‘nother post for tomorrow! 😉 ) Any other suggestions for ways that James could recycle his whole kitchen? Have you given away an old kitchen – or got one from someone else? Any tips? (Photo by cgarbiano )

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How to make a solar powered boombox

October 1, 2011 by  
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Satyajit Bera: Solar powered speakers Use solar energy to power up a boom-box With the gradual depletion of the natural energy resources, the world is looking forward to the non-conventional energy sources, mainly the solar-power. The power of the sun can be harnessed easily to produce useful electrical energy to power up different electrical or electronic devices and gadgets. All of us prefer a music system which is wireless and portable in nature. The conventional battery powered speaker boxes are OK. What if you can charge up the speaker batteries with solar power? Well it is obviously an excellent concept to “enjoy music off the grid”. Following are the steps to build up a solar powered audio boombox with some simple accessories and tools: Difficulty level: Moderately challenging (may require expertise in few areas) Time required: The overall time required to make this project is about 2 days. It depends on the efficiency of the person involved. Resources required: A small audio amplifier playable by a 12 V D.C. power source A pair of speakers (medium in size) Wooden plates (to make the cabinet) A 12 V D.C. rechargeable battery A solar power regulator Connecting cables (preferably copper cables) Wire stripper Hand saw Screws Zipper ties A screwdriver Soldering Iron Electrical insulation tape Cable ties Estimate cost: The estimated cost involved in this project is about $100. It depends on the type of solar panel and quality of the amplifier-speaker set used. Instructions: First of all make a sleek cabinet to mount the equipments. Use the hand saw, cut appropriate sizes and fix them together with the help of screws to build the cabinet. Cut two round shaped holes to place the speakers. Provide a strong metallic handle or a pair of handles to lift up or carry the system. Then, fix the solar panel on the top surface of the cabinet box with the help of screws and bolts and also make an additional hole for the cable entry from the panel to the components inside. You can also make an adjustable mounting for the solar panel so that you can change it’s angle so as to capture maximum sunlight. Mount the battery, the solar power regulator, speakers and the amplifier inside the wooden cabinet with the help of screws or zipper ties. Now lets get started with the electrical connections. Connect the two terminals of the battery to the solar power regulator. Next connect the solar power regulator with the two wires coming from the solar panel above the box. This is the one which collects the electrical power from the solar panel output and charges up the battery to store it. Once these connections are over, let us move on to the audio amplifier part. Connect the D.C. 12 V power source of the battery to the amplifier’s power input. Solder two wires to each of the speakers and connect them to the audio output sockets of the audio amplifier. You can take a test run of this system in order to check the correctness of the electrical circuitry. Once you have finished with the testing part, cover any naked wire terminals with electrical insulation tape. Properly dress the power cables with the help of cable ties. Connect the audio input cable of the amplifier and take out the other end from the hole you’ve already made for the solar panel cable. Connect this cable to any audio source such as Ipods, MP3 players or laptops and enjoy the music. Frequently asked questions: 1. Is this device portable? Yes, the design given above is completely portable. Well if you select small speakers then the solar panel required to feed the batteries will be smaller. That can reduce the overall size and weight of the boombox and make it easier to carry. 2. How long can I play the music off the grid? This device is designed suitably to charge a battery unit which powers the speakers and the amplifiers. Depending upon the backup capacity of the battery, you can enjoy the music. Try to use batteries above the rating of 2500 mAH. You can also get an increased playtime by optimizing the volume level of the speakers. Quick tips: Make sure that all the electrical components are of the same voltage ratings that is 12 V D.C. Mount the speakers and other components tightly and properly to avoid any damage due to any vibration or while carrying the device from one place to another. Make use of high quality copper wires for the connections. It is because a poor quality wire will result in losses and discharge the battery quickly. Try to keep the volume level moderate to get extended battery backup. Things to watch out for: Look out for cloudy weathers. In that case carry extra batteries if you are in a camp site or picnic because the solar charging system will not work in the absence of solar radiation. Never use a dead or leaking battery for such project. It may lead to the explosion of the battery as a result of repeated charging and discharging. Properly inspect the battery and check the outgoing voltage with the help of a multimeter before installing. Don’t make the cabinet box too heavy. Instead, try to keep it light and strong. That will prevent it from breaking up if it ever slipped from your hands and hit the ground.

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Size Matters: NASA to exhibit largest ever solar sail in space

October 1, 2011 by  
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Pratima Kalra: Solar sail NASA to exhibit largest even solar sail in space What is it? With the launch of IKAROS, Japan was the first country to experiment successfully with solar sail technology to be used in the interplanetary space. Realizing the immense potential of solar sail technology and its future application for a more economical power solutions, NASA has undertaken to take a few steps further for transforming space communication, deep space navigation and also in-space propulsion capabilities with the help of three projects to be implemented in tandem. Massive flares, during solar activity often cause disturbances and the energy thus releases can be used for increasing in-space propulsion capability. The massive solar energy released during the process can be harnessed using the solar sails and they would increase the efficiency of the spacecraft and at the same time also reduce the operating costs. For exploiting this huge potential and for technology demonstration, NASA will soon be launching the largest ever solar sail around 2015. The area of this spacecraft will be seven times greater than any other spacecraft launched previously. In 2010, NASA’s 100 square feet sail NanoSail-D, re entered the earth’s atmosphere as a pre test effort before the big leap. It was able to collect valuable de-orbiting data, but lacked maneuvering capabilities. More work is being done for making this demonstration mission a success. Through this project, NASA will also demonstrate three main new technologies namely; laser communication relay, deep space atomic clock and beyond the plumb brook chamber. The laser communications relay will improve data rates by almost 100 percent that too cost effectively. The prototype of a deep space atomic clock based on a mercury-ion atomic clock will also be used. This will increase the GPS accuracy along with the speed of one-way radio communications. Finally, an advanced weather warning system will provide accurate notices about the flare activity. How big is it? California’s L’Garde Inc, in collaboration with National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, will be giving the project its final shape. They intend to build a solar sail, measuring 15,543 square feet and 1, 444 square meters. It will be used for gathering orbital debris over many many years, holding the satellites even during unstable conditions. It will have the capability to locate GeoStorm solar flare tracking satellite to be located at points, approximately three times away from the earth. The demonstration mission will also illustrate the sail’s attitude control, trim control and also its passive stability. The combined cost of all the three projects to be undertaken will be around $175 million with a cost sharing basis among all partners who want to use the technology currently or who will need it in the future. The game changing activities offered by the solar sails will include capturing orbital debris and its removal from the orbit with the help of solar sail thrust. The solar sails will be integrated with satellite payloads for de-orbiting it and for unstable times, station keeping will be undertaken using propellant less thrusts. How green is it? As already mentioned the solar sails would be so designed with a whopping surface area so that so that when massive flares are caused during solar activity, their energy could be exploited for increasing the efficiency of the spacecraft and also for bringing down the costs of operation. Therefore, this system can be labeled as an energy saving propulsion system. Using the low cost technology, small satellites can be converted into space debris cleaners. According to the Space Surveillance Network, there are around 6,000 tons or 20,000 pieces of space debris in orbit that need removal. They have been lying abandoned for almost 50 years now. Satellites often fall dead and leave behind space debris and these solar powered space sails will become a critical method of cleaning up the space post defunct operations. The predecessor The first ever effort towards building a spacecraft demonstrating solar sail technology was done by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) with the launch of IKAROS i.e. interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun in 2010. It was during December 2010 that IKAROS cross passed the Venus at a distance of 80,800 kilometer and successfully entered the extended operation phase. It was the first to demonstrate deployment and control of larger solar sails in spacecrafts, integration of solar cells with the sail for powering the payload, measurement of acceleration and also it will demonstrate attitude control via variable reflective liquid crystal panels. Till date, the IKAROS is spinning at 2rpm approximately and its movements are being visualized using two cameras, DCAM1 and DCAM2.

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