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Category Archives: environments

Tiny Solar Thermal Power Plant Solves Gigantic Salt Problem

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We’ve been getting all excited about Ivanpah and Crescent Dunes, two new gigantic concentrating solar thermal projects in California and Nevada. Now let’s turn our attention to a third solar thermal plant at the Panoche Water and Drainage District in California.

This one, from a company called WaterFX, is different in terms of scale (miniature compared to the first two), solar energy collection (its concentrators are troughs, not flat panels), and thermal platform (it uses a form of mineral oil, not molten salt).

solar thermal desalination

Solar Power Desalination Solves Part Of the Problem…

The plant is actually a modular, integrated system that WaterFX calls the Aqua4™ Concentrated Solar Still, and it’s designed to solve a problem bedeviling the water desalination field: what to do with all the leftover salty brine after you’ve extracted all the fresh water?

That problem is bound to keep growing as already-stressed global water resources keep shrinking, forcing farmers and other users to tap formerly overlooked sources including seawater, brackish groundwater, and various forms of wastewater.

One key element in the problem is that advanced desalination typically uses a high-pressure process called reverse osmosis, which requires a tremendous amount of energy, adding to the global carbon burden aside from adding to costs.

The energy factor can be partly solved by using solar power for desalination, along with other forms of clean, renewable energy.

However, that still leaves the salt problem. According to WaterFX, typical reverse osmosis operations only recover about half their input in the form of freshwater. The other half is a saltwater brine that needs to be further processed or transported offsite for environmentally responsible disposal.

To get reverse osmosis from the 50 percent recovery rate to a more concentrated byproduct would help ease disposal costs but that would require more pressure, which requires more energy, making the whole system less cost-effective.

The resource recovery route also involves additional expense, since the highly diluted brine would have to undergo additional steps to achieve a concentration that makes extraction cost-effective.

…And Here’s A Solution For The Other Part

One Aqua4 module is designed to produce about 65,000 gallons of freshwater daily, with a relatively small footprint of just 160 x 40 feet.

The system basically consists of common off-the-shelf components including a 400 kW trough-shaped solar thermal collector that focuses energy on a pipe through which mineral oil runs.

The heated oil goes to a heat pump to ramp up efficiency, which goes to a distillation system that yields a freshwater condensate and a concentrated brine.

The system also includes a thermal energy storage component so it can continue to operate at night, but that’s not what caught our attention.

What did catch our eye is the potential for resource recovery from spent brine, helping to make the operation cost-effective.

Here’s how it works on the agricultural drainage water of Central Valley, which is typically discarded as an unsuable byproduct of irrigation. The salinity level for drainage water in that region can range higher than the content of seawater.

The solar power plant provides emission-free energy that can be cheaper than fossil fuels, helping to keep energy costs down.

The distillation part of the process achieves a recovery rate of more than 93 percent while working far more quickly than natural evaporation and simple stills.

The concentration of salt in this solution is more than 20 percent by weight, enabling a cost-effective solids extraction process. The idea is that since you’re dealing with far smaller volumes of brine, you don’t need the kind of high-volume equipment (and energy input) that would be required when the recovery rate is only 50 percent.

Now, About That Salt…

Right now the project is in phase one, with the equipment humming along nicely and plans afoot for expansion.

Phase 2 is where the rubber will hit the road in terms of resource recovery. Due for completion this fall, phase 2 is expected to demonstrate that resource recovery can from the brine can be managed with minimal environmental impacts, if any.

The recoverable products include gypsum and calcium compounds that are widely used in the building industry for drywall, plaster, and cement.

Also present in the brine from this particular drainage area are magnesium salts, which are used in the medical industry, selenium (a health supplement), nitrates (fertilizer), and boron, best known for its use in bleach and pyrotechnics among many other uses.

Boron is also coming into its own in high-efficiency electronics and cutting edge solar technology, and for the record, selenium is also used in electronics as well as glass making, so altogether the region could be looking at a new high-value, job-creating industry in tandem with its agriculture base.

WaterFX also points out that the re-use of local groundwater reduces carbon emissions related to long-distance transportation of freshwater supplies, and it could also help alleviatewater resource competition issues  that are sure to intensify unless more sustainable solutions are adopted.

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Forget Surfing or Eating Fish for the Next 6000 Years! Fukushima radiation hits San Francisco

By DNA | December 26, 2013

 

This shocking video was taken December 23rd 2013 with a quality Geiger Counter at Pacifica State Beach (Surfers Beach), California.

Location:

http://bit.ly/1g26Zjm

Geiger Counter used:

http://www.geigercounters.com/Inspector.htm

Background radiation is 30 CPM. Near the ocean it’s 150 CPM. The fine mist coming from the ocean waves seems to be what makes the Geiger Counter jump.

Fukushima radiation disaster info:

http://www.rense.com

Massive starfish deaths on West Coast:

http://www.naturalnews.com/

We all must come to the realization that swimming in the Pacific Ocean (let alone eating anything out of it) is a thing in the past. And it’s only going to get worse, as it’s unstoppable. This is by far the worst man-made disaster in human history, and our garbage media and government say nothing.

RELATED :

Fukushima is here: ‘ALL Bluefin Tuna Caught In California Are Radioactive’

 

 

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For 67 years the US has pursued its own interests at the expense of global justice – no wonder people are sceptical now

Obama‘s rogue state tramples over every law it demands others uphold

by  –

US fire white phosphorous at Taliban

US troops fire a white phosphorous mortar towards a Taliban position on 3 April 2009 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Photograph: John Moore/Getty

You could almost pity these people. For 67 years successive US governments have resisted calls to reform the UN security council. They’ve defended a system which grants five nations a veto over world affairs, reducing all others to impotent spectators. They have abused the powers and trust with which they have been vested. They have collaborated with the other four permanent members (the UK, Russia, China and France) in a colonial carve-up, through which these nations can pursue their own corrupt interests at the expense of peace and global justice.

Eighty-three times the US has exercised its veto. On 42 of these occasions it has done so to prevent Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians being censured. On the last occasion, 130 nations supported the resolution but Barack Obama spiked it. Though veto powers have been used less often since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the US has exercised them 14 times in the interim (in 13 cases to shield Israel), while Russia has used them nine times. Increasingly the permanent members have used the threat of a veto to prevent a resolution being discussed. They have bullied the rest of the world into silence.

Through this tyrannical dispensation – created at a time when other nations were either broken or voiceless – the great warmongers of the past 60 years remain responsible for global peace. The biggest weapons traders are tasked with global disarmament. Those who trample international law control the administration of justice.

But now, as the veto powers of two permanent members (Russia and China) obstruct its attempt to pour petrol on another Middle Eastern fire, the US suddenly decides that the system is illegitimate. Obama says: “If we end up using the UN security council not as a means of enforcing international norms and international law, but rather as a barrier … then I think people rightly are going to be pretty skeptical about the system.” Well, yes.

Never have Obama or his predecessors attempted a serious reform of this system. Never have they sought to replace a corrupt global oligarchy with a democratic body. Never do they lament this injustice – until they object to the outcome. The same goes for every aspect of global governance.

Obama warned last week that Syria’s use of poisoned gas “threatens to unravel the international norm against chemical weapons embraced by 189 nations“. Unravelling the international norm is the US president’s job.

In 1997 the US agreed to decommission the 31,000 tonnes of sarinVX,mustard gas and other agents it possessed within 10 years. In 2007 it requested the maximum extension of the deadline permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention – five years. Again it failed to keep its promise, and in 2012 it claimed they would be gone by 2021. Russia yesterday urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control. Perhaps it should press the US to do the same.

In 1998 the Clinton administration pushed a law through Congress which forbade international weapons inspectors from taking samples of chemicals in the US and allowed the president to refuse unannounced inspections. In 2002 the Bush government forced the sacking of José Maurício Bustani, the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He had committed two unforgiveable crimes: seeking a rigorous inspection of US facilities; and pressing Saddam Hussein to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, to help prevent the war George Bush was itching to wage.

The US used millions of gallons of chemical weapons in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It also used them during its destruction of Falluja in 2004,then lied about it. The Reagan government helped Saddam Hussein to wage war with Iran in the 1980s while aware that he was using nerve and mustard gas. (The Bush administration then cited this deployment as an excuse to attack Iraq, 15 years later).

Smallpox has been eliminated from the human population, but two nations – the US and Russia – insist on keeping the pathogen in cold storage. They claim their purpose is to develop defences against possible biological weapons attack, but most experts in the field consider this to be nonsense. While raising concerns about each other’s possession of the disease, they have worked together to bludgeon the other members of the World Health Organisation, which have pressed them to destroy their stocks.

In 2001 the New York Times reported that, without either Congressional oversight or a declaration to the Biological Weapons Convention, “the Pentagon has built a germ factory that could make enough lethal microbes to wipe out entire cities“. The Pentagon claimed the purpose was defensive but, developed in contravention of international law, it didn’t look good. The Bush government also sought to destroy the Biological Weapons Convention as an effective instrument by scuttling negotiations over the verification protocol required to make it work.

Looming over all this is the great unmentionable: the cover the US provides for Israel’s weapons of mass destruction. It’s not just that Israel – which refuses to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention – has used white phosphorus as a weapon in Gaza (when deployed against people, phosphorus meets the convention’s definition of “any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm”).

 

It’s also that, as the Washington Post points out: “Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile results from a never-acknowledged gentleman’s agreement in the Middle East that as long as Israel had nuclear weapons, Syria’s pursuit of chemical weapons would not attract much public acknowledgement or criticism.” Israel has developed its nuclear arsenal in defiance of the non-proliferation treaty, and the US supports it in defiance of its own law, which forbids the disbursement of aid to a country with unauthorised weapons of mass destruction.

As for the norms of international law, let’s remind ourselves where the US stands. It remains outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, after declaring its citizens immune from prosecution. The crime of aggression it committed in Iraq – defined by the Nuremberg tribunal as “the supreme international crime” – goes not just unpunished but also unmentioned by anyone in government. The same applies to most of the subsidiary war crimes US troops committed during the invasion and occupation. Guantánamo Bay raises a finger to any notions of justice between nations.

None of this is to exonerate Bashar al-Assad’s government – or its opponents – of a long series of hideous crimes, including the use of chemical weapons. Nor is it to suggest that there is an easy answer to the horrors in Syria.

But Obama’s failure to be honest about his nation’s record of destroying international norms and undermining international law, his myth-making about the role of the US in world affairs, and his one-sided interventions in the Middle East, all render the crisis in Syria even harder to resolve. Until there is some candour about past crimes and current injustices, until there is an effort to address the inequalities over which the US presides, everything it attempts – even if it doesn’t involve guns and bombs – will stoke the cynicism and anger the president says he wants to quench.

During his first inauguration speech Barack Obama promised to “set aside childish things”. We all knew what he meant. He hasn’t done it.

 

 

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