5 Excuses People Make for Not Recycling (and Why They’re Wrong)

March 9, 2017 by  
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Recycling is one of the most beneficial habits for preserving our environment’s health and creating a more sustainable culture. The average American produces about 7.5 pounds of garbage every day; without recycling, that garbage goes into landfills…

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5 Excuses People Make for Not Recycling (and Why They’re Wrong)

Caltech Study Says Vertical Axis Wind Turbines 10X More Efficient Than Horizontal Axis Turbines

July 13, 2011 by  
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Wind energy production has so far been dominated by the horizontal axis wind turbine (HAWT).  They can be scaled up to reach high in the air where the wind blows faster and produce a lot of energy per turbine (a 10 MW turbine is not far away), but researchers at Caltech say that vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) may actually be the better choice. A recent study of turbine placement and output found that because VAWTs can be placed closer together, they’re capable of generating ten times as much energy per square meter than HAWTs. In a series of field tests that placed six VAWTs in different configurations, it was found that a spacing of four turbine diameters apart (about five meters) got rid of any aerodynamic interference between the turbines.  HAWTs require 20 turbine diameters of spacing in order to eliminate aerodynamic interference, equaling more than a mile between each turbine. The six VAWTs were able to produce 21 to 47 watts of power per square meter, while a comparable HAWT farm only produces about two to three watts per square meter. The study also found that having each VAWT spin in the opposite direction of its neighbor allowed them to spin faster because the opposing spins reduced the drag on each turbine, which upped their efficiency even more. To add to the list of benefits, VAWTs are also cheaper, smaller and less intrusive, allowing them to be installed in lots of places where large HAWTs just wouldn’t do . via Caltech

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Caltech Study Says Vertical Axis Wind Turbines 10X More Efficient Than Horizontal Axis Turbines

Evaluating Energy Sources by Human Deaths

July 13, 2011 by  
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In all the furor during the Fukushima Reactor Complex crisis , there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not nuclear power is a good option and, more generally, what kinds of power should be used to meet increasing demand. An unusual piece that was making the rounds on this topic was an article about the number of deaths per terawatt-hour (TWh) for different kinds of power production. It’s an interesting metric to use to weigh different methods of generating power. Nuclear power, interestingly, is at the bottom of the list, with only 0.04 deaths per TWh, while coal tops the list with a world average of 161 deaths per TWh. The numbers for this were calculated looking at not only at direct impacts from power station accidents, but also indirect effects, such as coal miners’ deaths and deaths due to air pollution, as well. The list gets difficult, though, when it starts to ascribe deaths in supporting industries to the total. Steel and concrete are needed to construct wind turbines, and the calculations extend to include industrial deaths in the mining and manufacture of those components, as well as transportation deaths. While it’s not unreasonable to ascribe those fractions to the overall calculation, it does make it start to get a bit tenuous. Rather than take any of these numbers as hard and fast conclusions (any two reasonable people could have long arguments over any number of assumptions in these statistics), the general trends and relative scale of each could instead be given consideration in weighing options. Although nuclear power may have a low associated death rate, the economic cost of the energy produced this way is quite high, and there is a great deal of public opposition and NIMBY reaction to new nuclear power plants. A lot of the investment in nuclear power goes to safety and security, rather than to producing power. The money spent on backups and redundant safety systems for a nuclear plant isn’t increasing power efficiency. A nuclear plant might cost as much as $8,000 (or more) per kW of electrical generating capacity (though this number is speculative, since no new nuclear plants have been built for many years), while a wind turbine might cost $1,200 to $2,600 per kW. A wind turbine won’t necessarily generate power as steadily as a reactor, but it’s a lot less expensive to build. Operating costs are another big, but rarely discussed element in favor of many renewable power systems. Actively operated electrical generating facilities need many full-time employees operating the plant’s various systems. However, solar and wind power facilities do not typically need the same active management. While the construction and installation costs may be higher, the operating costs might be far lower. Construction costs, environmental costs, operating costs, financing and regulatory costs all enter into the power generation equation. All of these factors need to be taken into account to make more reasonable decisions about power generation. link: Economics_of_new_nuclear_power_plants (Wikipedia) images: CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported by KEI at ja.wikipedia ; Wikimedia Commons

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Evaluating Energy Sources by Human Deaths

Toyota to Introduce All-Electric Scion iQ Next Year

July 11, 2011 by  
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Now that Toyota has dominated the hybrid market for a decade, the automaker is finally coming out with an all-electric in the U.S. to compete with other leading automakers’ offerings.  At a dealer meeting in Las Vegas, Toyota announced that it will launch the Scion iQ sometime next year. The Scion iQ is known as the Toyota iQ outside the U.S. and has existed as a super efficient gasoline engine car in other countries for a few years now.  The urban ultra compact EV will be a small four-passenger car that will have a 50 mile range, good for those who just need to get around town. The car has a 3+1 seating arrangement to optimize seating room within the small car.  Because of its smaller size, it will be interesting to see how much lower it’s priced compared to something like the LEAF, since we’ve recently seen that when it comes to EVs, price seens to be the biggest factor of all . Through its partnership with Tesla, Toyota will be coming out with an all-electric RAV4 in 2012 as well. via Treehugger

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Toyota to Introduce All-Electric Scion iQ Next Year

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