Global Nation Organization

Securing the Future With Love, Hardwork and Integrity

Mohammed the BearHow much sillier can Muslims get? Are they insane or just completely defective in their thinking? I believe it is the latter. To think they want to execute Gillian Gibbons, a British school teacher in Sudan who allowed her students to name a teddy bear of all things, Mohammed. WTF????

Muslims are the sickest people on Earth. Every time they open their mouths, or riot, or make these insane demands – the world comes closer to realizing Islam is not compatible with humanity.

 

Toxic Earth

I am not sure how much people understand the problem that is being posed by China’s cavalier attitude to product and environmental safety. If you think the toys your children are playing with are the only threat for toxicity you are wrong. Hidden problems exist.

Exactly what do you think is being done with the millions of tons of toys being recalled from lead and other heavy metal contaminants? I can tell you it will be one of two things. First, the toys will get distributed into countries with no standards for toxicity. Second, the products will be recycled. Now that may sound like a good option, but truthfully, it is not. The recycle process will separate and segregate the various parts for reprocessing. Metal pins and rods will get melted down and reformed. The plastic will get be reground and put back into the raw material supply chain.

The lead in these parts will not disappear by reheating and remolding into a new product.

On the plastic side, it is possible some of the regrind will be used for seemingly inert products, like dimensional plastic lumber. But others will be sold to plastic producers who will make who knows what with them. Most likely a lot of it will get molded into black plastic parts. Why black? Because black is the only color that will mask ALL other colors. I know this because I’m a plastic manufacturer. Internally, we reuse our scrap by regrinding and introducing small amounts back into the production process on certain parts. When making black parts we’ll increase the use of regrind. Because we are selective on the parts we will use our regrind on, we don’t use as much scrap as we make and sell it on the open market. So trust me, this is happening in China too.

The potential for toxicity is still very high and will require even more diligence on companies who are purchasing the finished products to test for heavy metal additives. There are lead test kits that home-owners can purchase, but what about all the other heavy metals such as Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, and Mercury.

Again this goes back to survival strategy. How will China’s disregard for human and environmental safety affect your personal survival, let alone the human species? This is something each of us needs to address on an individual level before contamination spirals out of control.

If there is any reason to end our use of oil for fuel it should be situations like what we’ve seen happen this weekend in the Black Sea. Fortunately, people are working on new technologies that will help us move away from our oil dependence for fuel.

I am in a bit of a rush to get to the airport so if you call could just read this article I cut from Science Daily.

Microbial Fuel Cell: High Yield Hydrogen Source And Wastewater Cleaner

ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2005) — Using a new electrically-assisted microbial fuel cell (MFC) that does not require oxygen, Penn State environmental engineers and a scientist at Ion Power Inc. have developed the first process that enables bacteria to coax four times as much hydrogen directly out of biomass than can be generated typically by fermentation alone.

Dr. Bruce Logan, the Kappe professor of environmental engineering and an inventor of the MFC, says, “This MFC process is not limited to using only carbohydrate-based biomass for hydrogen production like conventional fermentation processes. We can theoretically use our MFC to obtain high yields of hydrogen from any biodegradable, dissolved, organic matter — human, agricultural or industrial wastewater, for example — and simultaneously clean the wastewater.

“While there is likely insufficient waste biomass to sustain a global hydrogen economy, this form of renewable energy production may help offset the substantial costs of wastewater treatment as well as provide a contribution to nations able to harness hydrogen as an energy source,” Logan notes,.

The new approach is described in a paper, “Electrochemically Assisted Microbial Production of Hydrogen from Acetate,” released online currently and scheduled for a future issue of Environmental Science and Technology. The authors are Dr. Hong Liu, postdoctoral researcher in environmental engineering; Dr. Stephen Grot, president and founder of Ion Power, Inc.; and Logan. Grot, a former Penn State student, suggested the idea of modifying an MFC to generate hydrogen.

In their paper, the researchers explain that hydrogen production by bacterial fermentation is currently limited by the “fermentation barrier” — the fact that bacteria, without a power boost, can only convert carbohydrates to a limited amount of hydrogen and a mixture of “dead end” fermentation end products such as acetic and butyric acids.

However, giving the bacteria a small assist with a tiny amount of electricity — about 0.25 volts or a small fraction of the voltage needed to run a typical 6 volt cell phone — they can leap over the fermentation barrier and convert a “dead end” fermentation product, acetic acid, into carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

Logan notes, “Basically, we use the same microbial fuel cell we developed to clean wastewater and produce electricity. However, to produce hydrogen, we keep oxygen out of the MFC and add a small amount of power into the system.”

In the new MFC, when the bacteria eat biomass, they transfer electrons to an anode. The bacteria also release protons, hydrogen atoms stripped of their electrons, which go into solution. The electrons on the anode migrate via a wire to the cathode, the other electrode in the fuel cell, where they are electrochemically assisted to combine with the protons and produce hydrogen gas.

A voltage in the range of 0.25 volts or more is applied to the circuit by connecting the positive pole of a programmable power supply to the anode and the negative pole to the cathode.

The researchers call their hydrogen-producing MFC a BioElectrochemically-Assisted Microbial Reactor or BEAMR. The BEAMR not only produces hydrogen but simultaneously cleans the wastewater used as its feedstock. It uses about one-tenth of the voltage needed for electrolysis, the process that uses electricity to break water down into hydrogen and oxygen.

Logan adds, “This new process demonstrates, for the first time, that there is real potential to capture hydrogen for fuel from renewable sources for clean transportation.”

###

The Penn State researchers were supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Penn State Huck Life Sciences Institute and the Stan and Flora Kappe Endowment. (Penn State (2005, April 24). Microbial Fuel Cell: High Yield Hydrogen Source And Wastewater Cleaner. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 13, 2007) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050422165917.htm

In addition, please go visit the Microbial Fuel Cells website that has more information and news on turning waste into power.

Yesterday I wrote about whether human actions are in concordance with our survival. I am not sure if I was clear enough though. While I do not believe humans are impacting global climate change, I do believe we are impacting our ecology. A perfect example are the two oil spills this weekend; one in San Francisco and the other along the Black Sea.

The San Francisco spill is downright puny at 58,000 gallons compared with 560,000 spilled in the Black Sea. So far 30,000 birds and an uncountable number of fish have been killed from a Russian oil tanker splitting open in bad weather. In addition, several humans have been killed. The damage to the ecology in the Black Sea will be devasting. It will take decades to cleanup. This type of occurence is the best reason to stop using oil for fuel.

If you’ve read the first page of this website you will know one of our tenets is for humans to live in balance with our environment. This is an interesting task. You have to remember, people are as much a part of nature as all the other animals, minerals and vegetables. So for us to dominate and decimate our environment is nothing new…from a species point of view. It is a part of our survival strategy. However, with that said, because we are humans and because our only natural enemy is ourselves and to a greater extent - bacteria and virus’ - it behooves us to question if our impact on the rest of nature is in fact concordant with survival.  I am not a big believer in humans impacting global climate change. We are not that big of a threat when it comes to the big Kahuna in the sky, the Sun. The Sun has more influence on Earth than anything us lowly humans can think up. And the Earth itself packs quite a punch as well. Just think back to the tsunami from three years ago in the Indian Ocean. Earth has other surprises in store for us too. Such as super volcanoes and methane hydrates locked into the ocean floor that could bubble up into our atmosphere one day, as they have in the past. 

So getting back to the question: Are we only taking what we need from the Earth or are we pigging out on our resources? Unfortunately, there really is no way of knowing. All we can do is look at our current resources, contrast them with past levels and extrapolate. We know that commodities such as oil, gas, copper, helium are all finite and are quickly dwindling. We know that the seas are being emptied of fish in a relatively short period of time. We know people inhabit every single ecosystem on the planet. And with every new habitation we are like an invasive species, disrupting the ecological balance that was once there. But because we are only looking at the environment over a short span of time, one or two generations, we are not capable of accurately predicting our true impact. We have no way of knowing if this is in fact natural. And to be frank, it is. 

If our species does not survive, it will not be at the hands of man. It will be due to a force of nature itself. This does not mean we should be free to eat all the fish, chop down the forest, smelt all the copper, consume all the helium, burn all the coal, oil and gas, drink or pollute all the fresh water; it means we need to strike a balance. I say this because while these things are plentiful now, they will not be in a few thousand years. And I’d like to see humans live at least as, if not longer than the dinosaurs did, for several hundred million years. I’d like to see us evolve further and that will require us to live in concordance with our environment as we continue to drive the most powerful force in life — survival of the fittest. 

 

Survival of the Fittest Sculpture   

 

Aloha readers,

The following is an article sent to me a few weeks ago by Franz. I should have posted it when he first sent it, but better now than never.

In many countries, cement is crucial for growth but an enemy of green
By Elisabeth Rosenthal International Herald TribuneSunday, October 21, 2007

In booming economies from Asia to Eastern Europe, cement is the glue of progress. The material that binds the ingredients of concrete together, cement is essential for constructing buildings and laying roads in much of the world.

Some 80 percent of cement is made in and used by emerging economies; China alone makes and uses 45 percent of global output. Production is doubling every four years in places like Ukraine.

But making cement creates pollution, in the form of carbon dioxide emissions, and the greenest of technologies can reduce that by only 20 percent.

Cement plants already account for 5 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming.

Compounding the problem, cement has no viable recycling potential, as the abandoned buildings that line roads from Tunisia to Mongolia demonstrate. Each new road, each new building, needs new cement.

“The big news about cement is that it is the single biggest material source of carbon emissions in the world, and the demand is going up,” said Julian Allwood, a professor of engineering at Cambridge University.

“If demand doubles and the best you can do is to reduce emissions by 30 percent, then emissions still rise very quickly.”

Worse yet, green incentives may be allowing the industry to pollute even more. The European Union subsidizes Western companies that buy outmoded cement plants in poor countries and refit them with green technology.

The emissions per ton of cement produced do go down. But the amount of cement produced often goes way up, as does the pollution generated.

Many of the world’s producers acknowledge the conundrum. “The cement industry is at the center of the climate change debate, but the world needs construction material for schools hospitals and homes,” said Olivier Luneau, head of sustainability at Lafarge, the Paris-based global cement giant.

“Because of our initiatives, emissions are growing slower than they would without the interventions.”

Cement manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in programs like the Sustainable Cement Initiative, yet many engineers like Allwood see “sustainable cement” as something of a contradiction in terms, like vegetarian meatballs.

Lafarge, a leader in introducing green technology to its field, has improved efficiency to reduce its emissions from 763 pounds, or 347 kilograms, of CO2 per ton of cement in 1990 to 655 in 2006. Its goal is to get to 610 by 2010, but it expects it will be difficult to get much below that number.

Lafarge, which bought 17 cement plants in China in 2005 and has holdings throughout eastern Europe and Russia, acknowledges that its emissions are growing year by year.

“Total emissions are growing because the demand is growing so fast and continues to grow and you can’t cap that,” Luneau said. “Our core business is cement, so there is a limit to what we can change.”

Cement is certainly a good investment these days.

“The construction market is booming in Eastern Europe, so cement factories are booming,” said Lennard De Klerk, director of Global Carbon, a Budapest firm that arranges investments in Ukraine, Russia and Bulgaria. “All the big cement companies, like Lafarge and Heidelberg Cement, have bought existing facilities there that generally use fairly outdated technology and that waste a lot of energy.”

Carbon trading schemes - green incentives created by the European Union and the Kyoto Protocol - encourage such purchases. But they also allow manufacturers to increase overall cement production, both in the developing world and at home.

The European Union effectively limits production of European cement makers in their home countries by capping their allowed yearly emissions. In places like Ukraine, meanwhile, there are no limits, so cement production can increase there without regulatory caps.

Moreover, European companies get allowances known as carbon credits to pollute more for use at home by undertaking green cleanup projects elsewhere. So buying an old Soviet factory and investing in converting it to green technology can bring multiple paybacks.

“They can invest in Ukraine and Russia, clean up, and earn carbon credits - the investment is much more attractive than it used to be,” said De Klerk, whose company brokers such “carbon” investments. Factoring the value of the carbon credits into the cost of refitting a factory in Ukraine, the predicted rate of return rises from 8.8 per cent to close to 12 per cent, he said.

Once outmoded plants are refitted with “clean technology,” their emission per ton of cement produced does decline. The Podilsky plant in Ukraine is being refitted with greener kilns - financed by the Irish cement manufacturer CRH to earn carbon credits - and energy consumption per ton of production is forecast to drop 53 percent.

But even that sharp drop may not be enough to stop the inexorable growth in cement emissions in the aggregate, or compensate for the new lease on life that refitting provides old factories that otherwise might have shut their doors. Production went up over 10 percent in Ukraine in 2005 and again in 2006. At Heidelberg Cement’s Doncement plant in Ukraine, output soared 55 percent in the first nine months of last year.

Old factories that for years were running at half capacity are now churning out cement as never before, propelled by booming economies and foreign investment.

And cement, which used to be produced and used locally, is increasingly shipped long distances. On the Internet, cement brokers are now selling relatively cheap Ukrainian cement to all corners of the world. Demand is particularly high in the Middle East.

Unlike many industries, cement has a basic chemical problem: The chemical reaction that creates cement releases large amounts of CO2 in and of itself. Sixty percent of emissions caused by making cement are from this chemical process alone, Luneau said.

The remainder is produced from the fuels used in production, which may be mitigated by the use of greener technology. So to “go green,” cement makers try to cut the fuel side of the equation.

When they buy plants in the developing world they often turn from a water-intensive system to a more energy efficient “dry” system. Ten percent of the fuel used by Lafarge is biomass and alternative fuels.

One industry project called the Cement Sustainability Initiative suggests that concrete should be mixed using smaller portions of cement to reduce emissions, and that cement buildings be given better insulation so that they are more energy efficient. But there is less incentive for cement manufacturers to take on fundamental changes in how to make buildings and roads.

Western cement manufacturers emphasize that the emissions problem cannot be solved until China and India and other booming economies realize that they must limit emissions as well. “Trying to solve emissions in the EU or G-8 will not solve the problem unless emerging economies and their cement production are included,” Luneau said.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/10/21/business/cement.php

I had wanted to contrast this with alternative building materials, such as clay and bamboo, but am concerned that nothing truly has the properties of cement. It is a bit of a conundrum. I will write more in a few days about the use of bamboo in construction. In the meantime I want to to say Mahalo to all of you!

It was on December 7, 1972 that Apollo 17 launched on a 12-day mission to the Moon. Settling into the dust along the northern rim of the Sea of Tranquility on December 11th and returning to Earth on December 19th, it marked the last of on the last of the lunar space missions for NASA. And the last time human’s walked the Moon. Apollo 17

That was thirty-five years ago. Since that time, humans have sadly not ventured beyond a low Earth orbit, flying at the most 250 miles above Earth. To you put that into perspective, the Moon is 238,900 miles away.

In 1996, twenty-four years after the last manned mission to the moon, the X Prize Foundation was established in the hopes of sending humans back to the Moon and beyond. They established a competition, offering a sweet monetary reward to anyone who could create a viable space transport vehicle. If you’ve clicked on the link I provided for X Prize you might have been struck by their motto; Revolution through Competition. Now that is exactly how to get the blood moving in the right direction—through a desire to achieve by outwitting an d outlasting all others. Really, is there any other valid reason for living?

Last week, on October 26-28, the Lunar Lander challenge for the X Prize cup took place at Holloman Air Force base in New Mexico. Holloman Air Force Base All eyes were on Armadillo Aerospace. Unfortunately, they crashed. However, a check of their website shows they are jubilant in their failure because every failure is one step closer to success. Armadillo Aerospace X Prize

If you are an engineer looking up into the heavens in the hopes of leaving Earth’s orbit and have a well thought out idea on how to accomplish such a dangerous mission, but are short on funding, you might want to speak to the people at Space Angel’s Network.

“Space Angels Network is the premier source of dealflow for investors and early-stage capital for space-related ventures across a wide spectrum of technologies, markets, and industries.”

If you have been reading my blog for a while you would know I view life as a series of opportunities leveraged by visionaries. Where better to begin formulating your vision than at an educational institution geared toward your exact field of study. If it is planetary science or a career in space travel and technology I would recommend a visit to the International Space University at the Isle of Man, U.K. From their website:

INTERNATIONAL SPACE UNIVERSITY is an institution founded on the vision of a peaceful, prosperous and boundless future through the study, exploration and development of Space for the benefit of all humanity.
ISU is an institution dedicated to international affiliations, collaboration, and open, scholarly pursuits related to outer space exploration and development. It is a place where students and faculty from all backgrounds are welcomed; where diversity of culture, philosophy, lifestyle, training and opinion are honored and nurtured.

ISU is an institution which recognizes the importance of interdisciplinary studies for the successful exploration and development of space. ISU strives to promote an understanding and appreciation of the Cosmos through the constant evolution of new programs and curricula in relevant areas of study. To this end, ISU will be augmented by an expanding base of campus facilities, networks and affiliations both on and off the Earth.

ISU is an institution dedicated to the development of the human species, the preservation of its home planet, the increase of knowledge, the rational utilization of the vast resources of the Cosmos, and the sanctity of Life in all terrestrial and extraterrestrial manifestations. ISU is a place where students and scholars seek to understand the mysteries of the Cosmos and apply their knowledge to the betterment of the human condition. It is the objective of ISU to be an integral part of Humanity’s movement into the Cosmos, and to carry forth all the principles and philosophies embodied in this Credo.

THIS, THEN, IS THE CREDO OF ISU. For all who join ISU, we welcome you to a new and growing family. It is hoped that each of you, as leaders of industry, academia and government will work together to fulfill the goals set forth herein. Together, we shall aspire to the Stars with wisdom, vision and effort.

Furthermore, Live Science has reported the ISU “has made a five-year commitment to establish and host the International Institute of Space Commerce - conceived of as the world’s leading authority on space commerce.”

So there you have it; innovation boosted competition, leads to commerce, spurring growth and a renewed sense of achievement. As always: World, keep innovating so we can keep driving forward at the speed of 1670 km/hr – times - 30 km/sec.