Archives for May, 2012

Earlier this year, a U.S. intelligence report predicted that as water shortages become more acute, “water in shared basins will increasingly be used as leverage” over the next 10 years and beyond.  This prediction is already being borne out in places such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (map), where long-standing distrust between the two nations has…

Congress, businesses, and consumers show an appetite for the proverbial low-hanging fruit. Remember the Brouhaha Over the Light Bulb Efficiency Standard? On December 19, 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act [pdf] became law with bipartisan Congressional support and a stroke of President George W. Bush’s pen. The bill attempts to reduce energy consumption and…

Laurens van Mulukom, a mechanical engineering student at Hogeschool van Amsterdam, talked about why hydrogen is “one of the most innovative fuels to work with,” at Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2012 in Rotterdam. With this year’s competition that ended Saturday taking place on its home country’s soil, <a href=”http://www.h2a.nu/h2a-news/”>Team H2A</a> was proud to achieve a new…

One of the most unusual looking cars at this year’s Shell Eco-marathon Europe was testing out one of the oldest concepts for harnessing energy for motion: the Stirling heat engine. Team Schluckspecht from the University of Applied Sciences, of Offenburg, Germany, designed a vehicle that relied on external heating and cooling to drive pistons. The…

Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced his resignation this week, but he is still making pointed comments about the need to strengthen regulations to ensure nuclear power plants are safer. “I think the Fukushima event was a wake-up call, hopefully for everyone,” Jaczko said in a news conference today, referring to…

What will it really take to get the public to make tradeoffs on energy? It’s a fundamental question, because energy policy is all about the tradeoffs. No form of energy is perfect. Everything comes with pros and cons. The key to moving forward is figuring out what people will accept: how much will they pay,…

A pair of French student teams from schools side-by-side on the Loire River shared technology, team spirit, and sleek aerodynamic styling to capture top fuel efficiency prizes Saturday at Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2012 in Rotterdam. Team Microjoule from the technical school La Joliviere in Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire won the gasoline prototype division for the third year in…

Oguzhar Yalcin, a student at the University of Celal Bayar in Manisa, Turkey, explains the inspiration for his team’s solar car at Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2012 in Rotterdam. The car is named for the “Manisa Tarzan,” the environmentalist Ahmet Bedevi, who is legendary for his work in the first half of the last century planting…

Many engineering students, like Matthias Jungbluth of Fachhochschule (The University of Applied Sciences) Trier  in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, are attracted to a project like Shell Eco-marathon by the hands-on experience involved in designing and building a fuel-efficient car. The Trier school’s team, called team ProTRon (a combination of the word “protype” and the abbreviation for the…

Students from the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland conduct some final technical tests on their vehicle at Shell Eco-marathon 2012 in Rotterdam. Cars in the fuel efficiency race need to pass a battery of safety tests, including on the fueling and exhaust systems, the braking and steering, and the solidity of the chassis. The…

Nicole Miranda, a first-year doctoral student at the University of Oxford, practices her vehicle exit technique and timing at Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2012 in Rotterdam. She is assisted by fellow student and driver, Lucy Mahoney. (Often female students serve as drivers in the fuel efficiency competition because they weigh less than the men on the…

Romain Lejas, of Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, works on InfinitiX, the team’s entry in Shell Eco-marathon 2012 this week in Rotterdam. Last year, the team achieved 454 kilometers per liter (1,067 miles per gallon), and this year sought to reduce weight more. The car is entered in the “prototype” category—these don’t have to be…

The drive for a new and better way of doing things is built into the car designed by students from Italy’s Italy’s Politecnico di Torino, and entered in Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2012 this week in Rotterdam. Most students in the fuel efficiency competition choose ultra-lightweight material like carbon fiber to shave mileage. But for their…

Students from Spain’s La Universitat Politecnica de Valencia (UPV) do some final testing on “Urban Spirit,” the car they hope will help test new possibilities for fuel efficiency in Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2012. The Valencia team is one of 154 teams from some 20 countries gathered in Rotterdam this week for the student design, build,…

Negotiators picked up discussions toward a new global climate treaty in Bonn, Germany this week. The meeting was the first since the 2011 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, where leaders initially agreed to put together a plan that would limit Earth-warming emissions. The stakes for the 10-day meeting are high—negotiators have set goals of building support for funding…

Bryony Schwan, co-founder and Executive Director of The Biomimicry Institute, discusses the solutions embedded in nature that could help address global food, water and energy issues. She appeared at the Powering Progress forum Wednesday in Rotterdam. Related: Pictures: Nature Yields New Ideas for Energy and Efficiency  

Hubert Klumpner, co-founder of the Urban Think Tank in Zurich, Switzerland and Sao Paulo, Brazil, discusses the challenge and promise of cities in addressing global resource stresses, at the Powering Progress business forum Wednesday in Rotterdam. Related: The City Solution Pictures: Twelve Car-Free City Zones Quiz: What You Don’t Know About Cities and Energy  …

Alexandra van Huffelen, vice mayor for sustainability for the city of Rotterdam, discusses why her city is an appropriate host for the Powering Progress business forum on the linked stresses that the world faces in meeting its water, food, and energy needs.

“This is not an engineering discussion. It is a humanities one,” Bruce Oreck, U.S. Ambassador to Finland, told an auditorium full of engineers this week at the World Renewable Energy Forum in Denver. Paraphrasing great thinkers such as Aristotle, Einstein, and Newton, Oreck said, “Words don’t just describe what we think. They shape what we…

Perhaps there’s no better place to see the link between water and energy than in Rotterdam, gateway for much of the oil that enters Europe. The same waters that stoke the city’s economy, daily carrying tankers of crude to the port city’s five large refineries, will threaten the future of the low-lying delta if global…

These days, it seems that $20 doesn’t buy much in the United States. Sure, you can get lunch at a decent restaurant, half a dozen lattes, or maybe even enough gas to travel from one gas station to the next. But what if I said that it only takes $20 to pay for the energy…

Not fracking with millions of gallons of water this time round — waterless fracking. Americans love a good game with lots of momentum and game-changing shifts. Who would have thunk — shale gas extraction is turning out to be one of the most exciting games in town. The Original Natural Gas Game Changer Over the…

The electrical prototype of the Polyjoule team is the most energy efficient vehicle in the world. During the EducEco Challenge competition (from May 2-4, 2012), on the Nogaro circuit in Gers, France, the all electrical prototype of Polyjoule got the result of 10,017 km with the energy equivalent of 1 liter (a bit less than…

How far did you walk to get clean drinking water today? As far as the kitchen sink? Even if you had to walk outside and draw it from a well, you’re still enjoying a privilege that many humans can only imagine. In Africa, millions of people walk miles every day to procure water, often from a contaminated…

The U.S. Department of State has received a new application from TransCanada—the company behind the controversial Keystone XL project—to ship crude oil via a proposed pipeline running from the Canadian border to existing infrastructure in Nebraska. TransCanada had its initial application rejected by the Obama administration in January. The reapplication to the U.S. State Department…