MAE 124/ESYS 103:   Class Topics in the News

4 June 2009: The Wall Street Journal blog, Environmental Capital, evaluates the economic and environmental considerations behind a desalination plan proposed for Marin County. article.

4 June 2009: Technology Review reports on an Ohio startup company called Xunlight that has started producing rollup solar cells, inexpensively but with only about 8% efficiency. article.

1 June 2009: The New York Times Greenwire blog reports on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee efforts to define a new renewable electricity standard and building efficiency requirements. article.

1 June 2009: The USA Today reports on factory-built, green modular homes. article.

31 May 2009: The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that "green jobs" are leading the list of hot jobs for new college graduates. article.

29 May 2009: The Los Angeles Times reports on SolarReserve's efforts to use molten salt to generate affordable solar power. article.

27 May 2009: Technology Review reports on converting garbate into fuel and electricity. article.

25 May 2009: The Associated Press (in the Chicago Tribune) reports on an prototype car powered by compressed air. article.

22 May 2009: The city of San Diego has declared a level 2 drought alert and has announced mandatory water use restrictions starting June 1st. web site.

21 May 2009: Although wind energy is normally thought to be safe, as reported by the BBC a Taiwanese goat farmer who experienced a rapid die-off in his herd thinks that noise from nearby turbines kept his goats from sleeping. are tested in a model home under construction by Rice University students for the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. article.

20 May 2009: The prospects for affordable, zero-energy solar-powered houses are tested in a model home under construction by Rice University students for the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. article.

20 May 2009: Overfishing is an example of a tragedy of the commons. Interested in eating sustainably harvested fish? Cathy Preston, a master's student at the Scripps Instituion of Oceanography Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, has launched a web site entitledm In Fish We Trust, aimed at promoting sustainable seafood in San Diego. web link.

19 May 2009: According to the AFP, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu says that the federal government administration will pursue "clean coal" technology, while also focusing on solar energy and wind. article.

19 May 2009: Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports on construction of the world's first zero carbon, zero waste city in the oil rich United Arab Emirates. article.
19 May 2009: The Union of Concerned Scientists has just released a report entitled "Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy", which argues that by 2030 the US can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 56% relative to 2005 levels, while saving consumers and businesses $465 billion annually. link.
18 May 2009: The New York Times reports on efforts to make use of hydrates (methane that under pressure or at cold temperatures is formed into ice-like cryastal structures) as a source of natural gas. article.
18 May 2009: In a real world response to the midterm essay question, the Los Angeles Times reports that the EPA has decreed that US automakers will need to improve their fleet vehicle mileage significantly by 2016, more rapidly than the original regulations stipulated. article. Even Fox News reported the story. article.

17 May 2009: The Los Angeles Times reports that Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to buy electricity from Solaren, a company that plans to collect solar energy in space via satellite and beam it back to Earth. article.
17 May 2009: An Associated Press article (in the Houston Chronicle) reports that the University of Oregon has converted its elliptical trainers to generate electricity. article.
13 May 2009: The Associated Press (in the Contra Costa Times) and Wired both report on a new demonstration of swappable batteries for electric cars, allowing drivers to keep going without needed an extended recharging delay. AP article, Wired article.

13 May 2009: The Associated Press (in CNBC) reports that San Diego's water board has approved the largest water desaliniation plan in the Western hemisphere, to be built in Carlsbad. article.

12 May 2009: The Oregonian carries a report on a new, more efficient method to convert algae into natural gas. article.

12 May 2009: In a timely follow-on to one topic in today's lecture, the UK newspaper, the Guardian, reports on composting toilets. article.

10 May 2009: The New York Times reports that China is building clean coal-fired plants faster than the U.S. article.

10 May 2009: National Public Radio Weekend Edition reported on the EPA's draft regulations that would require the biofuel industry to assess the net carbon dioxide impact of producing and burning biofuels. coverage.

8 May 2009: The Associated Press reported (in an article printed in the Chicago Tribune) that 42% of new electricity production in the US last year came from wind, but we are reaching a maximum threshold for what transmission lines can handle. article.

7 May 2009: A San Jose Mercury News report (run in the Santa Cruz Sentinel) reports on a Stanford study showing that it's more efficient to generate electricity from corn or switch grass and run cars on electricity rather than running cars on bioethanol. article.

7 May 2009: The New York Times reports that the Department of Energy is cutting funding for hydrogen powered vehicles, because of concerns about the impracticality of storing hydrogen in cars. article.

7 May 2009: The Financial Times reports on a South Korean effort to produce methane from food waste, which is banned from landfills in South Korea. The country is collecting carbon credits for the effort. article.

7 May 2009: An Associated Press article (appearing in the New York Times) reports on the promise of green industries to generate jobs. The article focuses on one of the many Michigan companies that have retooled themselves to build wind turbines rather than auto parts and are thus better shielded from the woes of the auto industry. article.

6 May 2009: An Associated Press article (in the LA Times) discusses the energy efficient pre-fabricated "i-house". article.

6 May 2009: Bloomberg reports on a recent study by the Pew Center on Climate Change finding that a proposed cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon dioxide emissions would have a modest impact on industries such as cement, steel and aluminum. article.

6 May 2009: The Wall Street Journal Environmental Capital blog reports on a Formula 3 racing car built from biodegradable materials (such as carrots and potatoes) that runs on biodiesel. article.

5 May 2009: The Wired blog, Autopia, reports on local company Saphhire Energy's efforts to produce jet biofuel from algae. article.

5 May 2009: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that student enrollment in alternative-energy courses is up, but that nationwide, the rising enrollment may not be sufficient to meet growing needs. article.

1 May 2009: Technology Review reports on a new strategy for erxtract biofuel from algae, developed by Los Angeles-based OriginOil. article.

30 April 2009: The Rolla (Missouri) Daily News reports on a recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology showing large fresh water demands required to produce biofuel from corn or other crops. article.

30 April 2009: National Public Radio is well into a 10-part series on "Reinventing the U.S. Electric Grid". web site.

29 April 2009: The New York Times reports that aerospace company Lockheed Martin is working to develop a system to generate electricity using the temperature differential between the cold deep ocean and warm surface ocean. article.

28 April 2009: According to an Associated Press report (published in the Chicago Tribune), the oilseed crop camelina shows good prospects for producing a low-greenhouse gas jet fuel. article.

28 April 2009: We discussed in class the fact that the Green Revolution never really reached Africa. Now the Los Angeles Times reports on preliminary work to develop genetically modified corn, high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate, to meet nutritional needs of people in developing countries. article.

27 April 2009: The New Tork Times reports on a new type of thermoset plastic that is recyclable, in contrast with usual thermoset plastic resins used for circuit boards among other things. article.

27 April 2009: The Los Angeles Times reports that the costs of building a "smart grid", an electric grid that can better respond to variable demand, will vastly exceed the $4.5 billing budget allocated as part of the economic stimulus package. article.

27 April 2009: Meanwhile the Washington Post showcases a house in Bethesda, Maryland, that has been refitted as a demonstration project on taking advantage of smart grid technology. article.

26 April 2009: According to another Los Angeles Times article, the US military is making significant advances in testing energy efficiency and green energy to power operations in the Mojave Desert in California. article.

24 April 2009: The New York Times reports that an energy industry lobbying and PR group called the Global Climate Coalition produced an internal report with clear written evidence showing that greenhouse warming was anthropogenic as early as 1995, even as they continued to sow confusion among the general public. article.

23 April 2009: quotes Jon Wellinghoff, the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, saying that the US may be able to meet all future energy needs without building new coal or nuclear plants, through the use of renewable energy and improved efficiency. article.

21 April 2009: The LA Times reports on an effort to produce ethanol from garbage, in order to make a low carbon fuel for cars that will meet the increasingly stringent requirements of the California Air Resources Board. article.

19 April 2009: USA Today reports on recent findings regarding geoengineering, the idea of engineering our way out of global warming, suggesting that one oft mentioned strategy of increasing sulfur in the atmosphere might have unintended negative consequences. article.

17 April 2009: The New York Times (and numerous other newspapers) have reported on the EPA's new stance on carbon dioxide as an endangerment to public health, which will set the stage for government controls on greenhouse gas emissions. article.

16 April 2009: The New York Times blog, Green Inc., reports on integrated gasification combined cycle as a strategy for generating electricity from coal while capturing carbon: article.

16 April 2009: The Las Vegas Sun reports that San Diego-based Sempra Generation is expanding its Boulder City, Nevada, photovoltaic power plant to make it the largest in the world. It will produce energy to serve 30,000 homes: article.

15 April 2009: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Pacific Gas and Electric has agreed to buy electricity from orbiting solar panels: article.

14 April 2009: Technology Review reports that corn ethanol consumes three times more water than previously thought. This has real implications for the utility of corn-based ethanol as a viable biofuel. article

13-14 April 2009: National Public Radio Morning Edition reports on the impact of the Green Revolution on India: part 1, part 2.

10 April 2009: The Union of Concerned Scientists has come out with a strong statement on biofuels and how they should be used: California Low Carbon Fuel Standard

8 April 2009: The Los Angeles Times reports on the long-term effects of drought and temperature change in Australia: What will global warming look like? Scientists point to Australia

3 April 2009: Contribute to the global warming policy-making process. A National Academy study is soliciting feedback to inform science-based policy advice on climate change. See the web site for America's Climate Choices

3 April 2009: According to a Los Angeles Times article, off-shore wind turbines could meet US electricity needs.

2 April 2009: A draft California Climate Action Team Report details expected impacts of global warming for the state. These include increased risk of forest fire, water supply issues, and air pollution. See the LA Times coverage

31 March 2009: In this week's Thank You Ocean Report, Acting Director of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service Dr. Walter Cruickshank discusses the energy potential from windfarms and the energy captured from waves and ocean current. This is part two of a two-part series looking at the potential energy and potential impacts of these new technologies.