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Leave it to Israel to lead the way in converting their entire economy from fuel based cars to ALL electric. And what better testing ground than Israel? With a population of 6.8 million residing within only 20,770 square kilometers of territory they are perfectly sized to leverage economies of scale in implementing a new electric automobile based transportation system.

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Israel Will Be Test Market For Electric Cars

Consumers can get their electric cars by 2011.

Compiled By Adrienne Selko

Jan. 25, 2008 — A partnership between Renault-Nissan Alliance and Project Better Place will result in electric vehicles being mass-marketed in Israel. Renault will supply the electric vehicles, and Project Better Place will construct and operate an Electric Recharge Grid across the entire country, while the Israeli government will provide tax incentives to customers. Electric vehicles will be available to customers in 2011.

The energy solution comes in response to Israeli’s challenge to the auto industry and its supply chain to migrate the country’s transportation infrastructure to renewable sources of energy.

Renault’s vehicles will run on pure electricity for all functions. The objective of zero emissions will be achieved, while at the same time offering driving performances similar to a 1.6 liter gasoline engine. Renault’s electric vehicles will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries.

Consumers will use this technology similar to how mobile phones are sold since the ownership of the car is separate from the requirement to own a battery. Consumers will buy and own their car and subscribe to energy, including the use of the battery, on a basis of kilometers driven.

A network of battery charging spots will be operated by Project Better Place. Customers will be able to plug their cars into charging units in any of the 500,000 charging spots in Israel. An on-board computer system will indicate to the driver the remaining power supply and the nearest charging spot. Nissan, through its joint venture with NEC, has created a battery pack that meets the requirements of the electric vehicle and will mass produce it.

Renault is working on development of exchangeable batteries for continuous mobility. The entire framework will go through a series of tests starting this year.

Israel is an ideal test market since 90% of car owners drive less than 70 kilometers per day, and all major urban centers are less than 150 kilometers apart, allowing electric vehicles to cover most of the population’s transportation needs.

And the Israeli government is helping as well by extending a tax incentive on the purchase of any zero-emissions vehicle until 2019. Combined with the lower cost of electricity as opposed to fuel-based energy, and the vehicle’s lifetime guarantee, the total cost of ownership for the customer will be significantly lower than that of a fuel-based car over the life cycle of the vehicle.

Project Better Place, based in Palo-Alto, Calif. is headed by Shai Agassi an American-Israeli entrepreneur. It is a venture-backed company that aims to reduce global dependency on oil through the creation of a market-based transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles, providing consumers with a cleaner, sustainable, personal transportation alternative. Launched in October 2007, Project Better Place will build its first pilot Electric Recharge Grid in Israel and plans to deploy the infrastructure on a country-by-country basis with initial deployments beginning in 2010.

Just as I suspected, Solar Energy is not the cheapest form of energy. Hopefully in the near future, energy suppliers will tap into hydropower and geothermal energy. Wind energy, while it has the potential to offer the same cost benefit as geothermal has an environmental impact that cannot be adequately justified. The best advantage of switching to geothermal energy is it is available anywhere. 

 The following article is reprinted from Discover Magazine

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The Cheapest Way to Power Your Car

If you had the right ride, hydropower could lop 2/3 off your gas bills.

Illustration by J. Siers 

With the price per barrel of crude oil at a formerly panic-inducing $90, and at the pump, the price in many areas is no longer just flirting with $3 a gallon. Imagine a world without gas-­guzzling combustion engines (it’s easy if you try), where much of our technology isn’t dependent on oil. We could then look objectively at how much each unit of energy—usually measured in Btu—costs and judge which energy sources make the most economic sense. Granted, a nuclear-powered car is not a likely alternative, but if it were possible to get other energy sources at the current taxed or subsidized cost into the gas tank, here’s how the costs would compare.

Information based on national averages from the Energy Information Administration, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, all offshoots of the Department of Energy. Power plants measure energy in kilowatt-hours (kWh), and one kWh is equivalent to 3,413 Btu, or about 3 percent of the energy in one gallon of gasoline.

Fuzzy Math

*Based on California’s high average price per kilowatt-hour, according to the California Energy Commission.       

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.”

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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.

A friend of mine has some very interesting things being posted on his blog over in his corner of the Internet. If you have an interest in Photovoltaic Solar Energy I highly recommend his blog at Double Glazing Insulating Glass Blog

Anyway, he has been posting lots of videos on magnetic motors and solar energy. Makes sense, he is an industrial engineer focusing on the insulating glass sector. One video which started me on this entire post was from Robert McMann of Australia. In that video he brought up a good point: Solar Energy requires storage batteries.

I wondered to myself, is solar truly the way to go? What other drawbacks are there to a solar based energy supply? For example, what finite materials go into the manufacture of solar cells? Obviously, the glass is renewable, so that shouldn’t be a problem. But what else is in there? Well, I do know newer, less expensive (as in more cost effective using today’s energy dollars) solar panels have a polymer layer. Such as the one’s produced by Konarka Technologies.

Hopefully, we won’t run out of oil before we build out all those solar cells, because polymers are manufactured from oil. So, when considering the best alternative to oil, gas or coal energy supplies, we have to look at the entire supply chain.

Now Harald had a very interesting video on a mirror solar cell test facility in the Negev that concentrates energy into a small collector in the center.

Quite frankly, I am a little surprised to see so little coming from Israel in the way of solar energy. I would think the Israeli’s would be more heavily involved in researching alternative energy since they have no energy resources of their own. And they have no vested interest in assisting to perpetuate the oil monopoly. Plus, there is the added benefit of thumbing their noses at the Muslims. While Muslims are busy looking for more inventive ways to destroy civilization and force the world to submit to Islamic oppression, Israel could be improving on or discovering alternative energies. One destroys, while the works towards establishing freedom from oil tyranny.

That led me to wonder: What else are the smart, hard-working people of Israel working on? I found this article on an Israeli company that has discovered a way to convert radioactive waste into clean energy:

In case you don’t feel like clicking the link here is a reprint of the full article.

Israeli discovery converts dangerous radioactive waste into clean energy
19 Mar 2007
An Israeli firm has taken the laws of science and turned them into a useful invention for mankind - a reactor that converts radioactive, hazardous and municipal waste into inert byproducts such as glass and clean energy.

Glass

By Karin Kloosterman - ISRAEL 21C

The laws of conservation of energy and mass say that energy or mass cannot be created or destroyed - only change form. With the help of Russian scientists, Israeli firm Environmental Energy Resources (EER), has taken the laws of science and turned them into a useful invention for mankind - a reactor that converts radioactive, hazardous and municipal waste into inert byproducts such as glass and clean energy.

The problem of radioactive waste is a global one, and getting increasingly worse. All countries in the industrialized world are waking up to the need for safer hazardous waste disposal methods.

“In the beginning, nobody believed that we could do it,” says Itschak Shrem, chairman of investment company Shrem, Fudim and Keiner representing EER at a press briefing announcing the innovation last week in Tel Aviv.

Shrem, himself an invoker of small miracles through the founding of one of Israel’s most lucrative venture capital funds - Polaris (now Pitango) - points to a chunk of black, lava-like rock sitting on the table in front of everyone’s coffee cups.

The journalists cautiously eye Shrem as he assures them that the shiny dark material, emitted from EER’s pilot waste treatment reactor near Karmiel in the north, is safe to touch.

“It also makes a good recyclable material for building and paving roads,” he assures them. Earlier, Shrem told ISRAEL21c that EER can take low-radioactive, medical and municipal solid waste and produce from it clean energy that “can be used for just about anything.”

Using a system called plasma gasification melting technology (PGM) developed by scientists from Russia’s Kurchatov Institute research center, the Radon Institute in Russia, and Israel’s Technion Institute - EER combines high temperatures and low-radioactive energy to transform waste.

“We go up to 7,000 degrees centigrade and end at 1,400 centigrade,” says Moshe Stern, founder and president of the Ramat Gan-based company.

Shrem adds that EER’s waste disposal rector does not harm the environment and leaves no surface water, groundwater, or soil pollution in its wake. The EER reactor combines three processes into one solution: it takes plasma torches to break down the waste; carbon leftovers are gasified and inorganic components are converted to solid waste. The remaining vitrified material is inert and can be cast into molds to produce tiles, blocks or plates for the construction industry.

EER’s Karmiel facility (and its other installation in the Ukraine) has a capacity to convert 500 to 1,000 kilograms of waste per hour. Other industry solutions, the company claims, can only treat as much as 50 kilograms per hour and are much more costly.

According to the journal Research Studies (Business Communications, Inc.), ‘The production of nuclear weapons/power in the US has left a 50-year legacy of unprecedented volumes of radioactive waste and contaminated subsurface media and structures… Nuclear waste generators include the national laboratories, industrial research facilities, educational and medical institutions, electrical power utilities, medical diagnostics facilities, and various manufacturing processes.’

In the US alone, Research Studies predicts that this year’s market for radioactive waste-management technologies in America will cap $5.5 billion.

EER was founded in 2000 and has maintained a low profile until revealing its reactor last week.

“We spent our time on R&D and building up the site in Israel which we started constructing in 2003. We realized that nobody was going to believe us unless we started doing the process physically. They always said it sounded too good to be true, so we had to prove it to them,” said Shrem.

Back in 2004, the Ukrainian government put out a tender searching for a solution that would provide safer hazardous waste disposal methods. At that time, the country was looking for a way to treat its low-radioactive waste zones resulting from the Chernobyl explosion. EER sent in their proposal, and their technology won the bid.

According to Stern, the former Soviet Union was the first to build nuclear plants. Over the years they have generated “huge amounts of low-radioactive waste. They came to us looking for a solution,” he said.

The Chernobyl nuclear meltdown on April 26, 1986 - was beyond a doubt the largest civil nuclear explosion in the world and one still linked to thousands of deaths. More than 20 years after the explosion, tens of kilometers around the reactor is still highly radioactive; and some 30,000 radioactive homes remain buried along with household appliances, food and clothing, explained Stern.

“The European community is afraid of what is happening there,” notes Stern, warning that it is time for the clean up to begin, even if it means making only a small dent in the massive pile. “The low-radioactive waste is slowly contaminating the water and will continue to do so over the 300 years it takes to break down.”

And since new conventions have been set by The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, first world countries are no longer permitted to traffic their hazardous waste to third world nations - forcing Western countries to drum up immediate and responsible solutions.

With a strict eye over its operations by Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, EER revealed its proof-of-concept to Israeli and foreign dignitaries in Aeblin, near Karmiel last week, showing how it can take mountains of municipal waste and reduce it to a pile of black rubble.

“We are not burning. This is the key word,” Shrem said. “When you burn you produce dioxin. Instead, we vacuum out the oxygen to prevent combustion.”

EER then purifies the gas and with it operates turbines to generate electricity. EER produces energy - 70% of which goes back to power the reactor with a 30% excess which can be sold.

“In effect, we are combining two of the most exciting markets in the US - the environment and clean energy,” says Stern, “We also reduce the carbon footprint.”

The cost for treating and burying low-radioactive nuclear waste currently stands at about $30,000 per ton. The EER process will cost $3,000 per ton and produce only a 1% per volume solid byproduct.

In the US, EER is working to treat low-radioactive liquid waste and recently contracted with Energy Solutions, the largest American company in the field with 75% of the US market.

Based on the financial forecasts, EER is certainly giving a fresh meaning to the expression - one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. But in EER’s case, ones man’s hazardous waste may very well be EER’s goldmine.