RSS

Category Archives: Money

Tiny Solar Thermal Power Plant Solves Gigantic Salt Problem

by

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t Let These Financial Blunders  Leave Your Wallet Empty

6a00d8341c652b53ef0111688ffa0d970c-800wi
Financial Literacy Month Is A Good Time
To Get Your Fiscal House In Order

To err is human, but when mistakes affect your pocketbook it’s not exactly divine.

Don’t feel alone if you’ve committed a financial blunder, though. Two-thirds of Americans have made a significant money mistake somewhere along the way, says Jim Chilton, founder and chief executive officer of the non-profit Society for Financial Awareness (www.sofausa.org).

Since April is National Financial Literacy Month, this is a good time for anyone to pledge to do a better job handling money, whose organization’s mission is to “eliminate financial illiteracy, one community at a time.”

SOFA does that by conducting free workshops and seminars for corporations, small businesses, government agencies, community colleges, libraries, churches or organizations.

“One thing I always tell people is that you can’t let your emotions get in the way when you are trying to meet your financial goals,” Chilton says. “When it comes to finances, there is always going to be at least a little uncertainty.”

But he says people can go a long way toward financial stability if they avoid these common blunders:

•  Living without a ‘net.’ Bad things happen in life, even to the best people who are trying to do the right things. That’s why you need to set aside savings that will serve as an emergency fund in case you suddenly have major medical problems or lose your job, Chilton says. He recommends a six to 12-month cushion that would cover your mortgage, groceries, utilities and the other necessities of day-to-day living.

•  Failing to check credit reports. More than 70 percent of credit reports contain some sort of error, Chilton says. Meanwhile, identity theft is on the rise. You should check your credit reports annually to make sure you are not a victim.

•  Giving little thought to retirement. Many people fail to properly prepare for retirement. If you think Social Security will take care of you, think again. Social Security is designed as supplemental income, not something that can replace your entire paycheck, Chilton says. You need to plan and save to make sure you can lead the lifestyle you want in your later years.

•  Racking up credit card debt. Credit seems to rule, but cash should be your real king, Chilton says. Americans are carrying more than $800 billion in credit card debt, he says. Making a conscious effort to use cash will help wean you off your reliance on plastic. “If you are struggling with credit card debt, you need to start making a plan to get rid of that debt,” he says.

•  Seeking advice in the wrong places. Uncle Felix may mean well, but he’s not necessarily the ideal person to offer you advice on the stock market. A trained professional is your best bet, Chilton says. Sure, word of mouth can be helpful, but it can be equally hurtful. Before you pick someone to help you with investments, though, do your homework because you want someone with a good reputation, Chilton says. Check with the Better Business Bureau and do a Google search to see what else you can learn.

•  Trying to do too much, too quickly. Financial problems that took years to create aren’t going to be fixed overnight, Chilton says. So ease into your new financial plan. Instead of a dramatic overhaul that could leave you frustrated, try to make small changes that will lead to larger commitments.

“Even as we get older and presumably know more, we are still bound to make a misstep here or there,” Chilton says. “We simply can’t know it all, especially when it comes to our finances.

“But if we realize our limitations, we can at least learn to make fewer mistakes and do a better job of setting and meeting the goals we have for our money.”

About Jim Chilton

Jim Chilton is the founder and chief executive officer for the Society for Financial Awareness, or SOFA (www.sofausa.org), a non-profit public benefit corporation with a mission to provide financial education across America. SOFA conducts free financial workshops and seminars to individuals, companies, and organizations on such topics as “Getting Fiscally Fit,” “Financial Blunders,” “Exploring Your Options for a Quality Retirement” and “Solving Debt.” Chilton is a San Diego, Calif., native and alumnus of San Diego State University. After college, he became a high school teacher and coach, but later joined the financial services industry. After achieving a desirable level of success, Chilton felt the need to do more for the community and in 1993 founded SOFA.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

GOVERNOR BROWN DIRECTS FIRST EVER STATEWIDE MANDATORY WATER REDUCTIONS

790fc55f6f1357026b0f6a7067003513_r620x349

4-1-2015

SACRAMENTO – Following the lowest snowpack ever recorded and with no end to the drought in sight, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced actions that will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state’s drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.

“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Governor Brown. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

High resolution photos of previous snow surveys are available here.

For more than two years, the state’s experts have been managing water resources to ensure that the state survives this drought and is better prepared for the next one. Last year, the Governor proclaimed adrought state of emergency. The state has taken steps to make sure that water is available for human health and safety, growing food, fighting fires and protecting fish and wildlife. Millions have been spent helping thousands of California families most impacted by the drought pay their bills, put food on their tables and have water to drink.

The following is a summary of the executive order issued by the Governor today.

Save Water

For the first time in state history, the Governor has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville.

To save more water now, the order will also:

-Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments;
-Direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models;
-Require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use; and
-Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

Increase Enforcement

The Governor’s order calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing, recognized as an effective way to realize water reductions and discourage water waste.

Agricultural water users – which have borne much of the brunt of the drought to date, with hundreds of thousands of fallowed acres, significantly reduced water allocations and thousands of farmworkers laid off – will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state’s ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water under today’s order. Additionally, the Governor’s action strengthens standards for Agricultural Water Management Plans submitted by large agriculture water districts and requires small agriculture water districts to develop similar plans. These plans will help ensure that agricultural communities are prepared in case the drought extends into 2016.

Additional actions required by the order include:

-Taking action against water agencies in depleted groundwater basins that have not shared data on their groundwater supplies with the state;
-Updating standards for toilets and faucets and outdoor landscaping in residential communities and taking action against communities that ignore these standards; and
-Making permanent monthly reporting of water usage, conservation and enforcement actions by local water suppliers.

Streamline Government Response

The order:

-Prioritizes state review and decision-making of water infrastructure projects and requires state agencies to report to the Governor’s Office on any application pending for more than 90 days.
-Streamlines permitting and review of emergency drought salinity barriers – necessary to keep freshwater supplies in upstream reservoirs for human use and habitat protection for endangered and threatened species;
-Simplifies the review and approval process for voluntary water transfers and emergency drinking water projects; and
-Directs state departments to provide temporary relocation assistance to families who need to move from homes where domestic wells have run dry to housing with running water.

Invest in New Technologies

The order helps make California more drought resilient by:

-Incentivizing promising new technology that will make California more water efficient through a new program administered by the California Energy Commission.

The full text of the executive order can be found here.

For more than two years, California has been dealing with the effects of drought. To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov.

Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at SaveOurWater.com.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Iran nuclear negotiators have reached broad understanding, says UK

UK foreign secretary says detailed and technical issues still to be resolved but he is optimistic further progress will be made on broad framework agreed.

89a36bae299f5dab7c57f48f8f7a03c4dbe5dec4Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has said negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks in Switzerland have reached “a broad framework of understanding”, but that details still have to be agreed.

Hammond was speaking after the negotiations missed a midnight deadline to produce a preliminary accord on the main issues in dispute in Iran’s nuclear programme. After breaking off in the early hours of the morning, talks among foreign ministers and senior diplomats resumed on Wednesday.

“I think we have a broad framework of understanding but there are still some key issues that have to be worked through,” the foreign secretary told a group of British broadcasters.

“Some of them are quite detailed and technical so there is still quite a lot of work to do, but we are on it now and we’ll keep going at it.”

He added: “We have made significant progress over the last few days but it has been slow going. We decided to break last night because some of the staff had been working through the previous night. We wanted people to be fresh as we tackle the last few isssues that remain.

“We are now working on them this morning. I’m optimistic that we will make further progress this morning, but it does mean the Iranians being willing to meet us where there are still issues to deal with. Fingers crossed and we’ll hope to get there during the course of the day.”

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, predicted there would a joint press statement tonight. But he added: “We are in the overtime but the contents are more important for us than the time. ..We have had good progress, especially on Tuesday, but until we have resolved all issues, we can’t say we have a resolution.”

Over the course of the night, three of the seven foreign ministers at the talks – Wang Yi of China, Sergei Lavrov of Russia, and Laurent Fabius of France left the talks to fly back to their capitals, leaving senior diplomats to lead their delegations. Hammond, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, stayed behind for a seventh day of talks in the Swiss lakeside town.

Advertisement

US diplomats had earlier denied that the agreement had been finalised, saying there were still issues to resolve. In a sign, however, that the talks could be approaching a critical moment, Barack Obama held a video-conference on Tuesday night with his national security team to be briefed on developments by the US negotiators: Kerry and the energy secretary, Ernest Moniz.

The talks went past a midnight deadline but appeared to have gathered momentum as they approached the cutoff point.

Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, said in statement on Wednesday there had been “significant progress in core issues” and the positions of all parties involved in the talks had become closer.

“One can say with relative certainty that we at the minister level have reached an agreement in principle on all key aspects of the final settlement of this issue,” Russian media quoted the Russian foreign minister as saying.

After a marathon 17-hour day of talks, ministers from seven nations adjourned just after the midnight deadline and agreed to reconvene at 9am Lausanne time.

Speaking to reporters after midnight, Iran’s Zarif, said: “It has been a very long day for all delegations. We have accomplished quite a bit but people needed to get some rest and start over early in the morning.

“I hope that we can finalise the work on Wednesday and hopefully start the process of drafting tomorrow.”

Hammond said the negotiators would not be rushed into making a shoddy compromise.

“We have said throughout that we won’t do a bad deal,” he said. “We have to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s, and by working through this in a methodical way we’ll make sure if we get the deal done it is a deal that is good for us, good for Iran, good for the world, and ensures peace in the region in the future.”

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

U.S. Commits To Slashing Emissions Up To 28 Percent By 2025

zombie woof

WASHINGTON – The United States officially submitted its emissions-cutting target to the United Nations on Tuesday morning, formalizing its commitment to reducing emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The Obama administration had previously announced the goal in its work with Chinaon a bilateral climate agreement. The Tuesday submission makes the pledge official.

“With today’s submission of the U.S. target, countries accounting for more than half of total carbon pollution from the energy sector have submitted or announced what they will do in the post-2020 period to combat climate change,” wrote Brian Deese, senior adviser to the president, in a blog post Tuesday morning.

Under a system established through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, individual countries are putting forward their own emissions commitments, referred to as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs. Countries are supposed to submit their INDCs to the U.N. by March 31. The submissions will be the basis for an international climate agreement, which leaders expect to reach at the upcoming negotiation session in Paris at the end of 2015.

The U.S. described its target as “fair and ambitious” in the U.N. document, and said that the country has already undertaken “substantial policy action to reduce its emissions.” The submission says that the U.S. is already on a path to reach its previously submitted goal of cutting emissions 17 percent by 2020, and the new commitment will require the country to speed up its rate of emissions reduction.

The European Union, Norway and Mexico submitted their commitments last week.

The Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, which includes 34 Democratic senators and 83 Democratic House members, sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday praising the commitment. “One of the three pillars of the Climate Action Plan is to lead international efforts to address global climate change. As a nation that has contributed more than a quarter of all global carbon pollution, it is our responsibility to lead,” they wrote. “As a nation already feeling the effects and costs of climate change, it is also in our national interest to do so.”

Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, called the U.S. target “a serious and achievable commitment” in a statement. Based on WRI’s research, the U.S. can meet the goal by using existing federal authority, and make even further reductions as technology advances, Morgan said.

Other environmental groups were more critical of the submission, arguing that the U.S. could make a more ambitious commitment. Greenpeace legislative representative Kyle Ash said in a statement that the pledge “begins to treat the wound, but does not stop the bleeding.” “As the world’s second largest emitter, the US must strengthen its commitment to climate solutions before Paris to ensure an agreement that immediately spurs the necessary transition away from fossil fuels and towards 100 percent renewable energy,” said Ash.

The Obama administration is expected to face staunch opposition from the Republican-led Congress to any sort of international climate agreement. It remains unclear at this point whether the international agreement will be finalized as a treaty, which would require Senate approval, or take some other legal form that does not require approval. The Obama administration has long sought an alternative format to try to avoid a battle with the Senate.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bangladesh blogger becomes second to be murdered in a month

Another blogger hacked to death in the Bangladeshi capital
A blogger known for his atheist views has been stabbed to death in Bangladesh, in the latest of a series of attacks on independent writers in the developing south Asian nation.

Washiqur Rahman, 27, died of serious injuries inflicted in the assault on Monday morning in Dhaka, the capital.

Police have arrested two men for the murder, which comes just weeks after an American atheist blogger was killed in Dhaka, in a crime that triggered international outrage.

Local police chief Wahidul Islam told Agence France-Presse the victim had been “brutally hacked to death this morning with big knives just 500 yards [460 metres] from his home at Dhaka’s Begunbari area”.

Islam said the two detained men were arrested immediately after the attack as they tried to flee the scene.

The suspects have so far been identified only as Zikrullah, said to be a student at a religious school near the city of Chittagong, and Ariful Islam, who police say was studying at the Darul Ulum religious school in Dhaka. Police are hunting a third man.

“Those who killed him differed on his ideologies about religion. He was not an atheist. He was a believer. But the way he followed religion was different from the way radical groups insist,” Biplob Kumar Sarkar, deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan police, told the Guardian.

However, Tamanna Setu, a friend of Rahman said: “He used to write a satirical column on facebook about against believers. He was an atheist. His killing has to be connected to his writing,”

One social media activist said that he used to write “against religious fundamentalism”.

“It appeared Rahman used to write using a pen name, Kutshit Hasher Chhana [Ugly Duckling],” Imran Sarker, head of the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, said. “He was a progressive free thinker and was against religious fundamentalism.”

Ibrahim Khalil, a fellow blogger who knew Rahman through events they organised, said Rahman was a “progressive” who wrote against religious extremism and repression of ethnic minorities.

“I can say he was a very humble man,” Khalil said.

The Dhaka Tribune reported that the dead man was a member of eight Facebook group pages including Atheist Bangladesh.

Rahman, who worked at a travel agency as an IT manager, is the third such blogger to have been murdered in the Muslim-majority country in the past two years.
Atheist blogger Avijit Roy ‘was not just a person … he was a movement’
Read more
Police have also arrested a suspect over the killing in February of American atheist writer and blogger Avijit Roy.

Roy, an engineer of Bangladeshi origin, was killed by machete-wielding assailants near Dhaka University as he and his wife were returning from a book fair last month. His wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a finger. She later returned to the US for treatment.

Advertisement

“While Avijit and I were being ruthlessly attacked, the local police stood close by and did not act,” Rafida told Reuters.

Roy’s death sparked uproar at home and abroad, with hundreds of secular activists protesting for days to demand justice. They also criticised the country’s government for not doing enough to protect secularist writers.

An adviser to Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, appeared in comments earlier this month to pass the blame for the murder of Roy on to the police.

“Identify the black sheep among the force and bring them under law and justice to uphold your image,” HT Imam told senior officers.

A suspect in the killing, named as Farabi Shafiur Rahman, had previously threatened Roy several times, including on Facebook, where he said Roy would be killed upon his arrival in Dhaka. Rahman was arrested in 2013 for making threats to a cleric for administering Islamic funeral rites to another atheist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was murdered.
Bangladesh seeking police ‘black sheep’ on duty when US blogger was killed
Read more
Media group Reporters Without Borders rated Bangladesh 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.

In 2004, assailants attacked Bangladeshi writer Humayun Azad, also with machetes. Azad survived the attack, but died in mysterious circumstances later that year in Germany, where he had gone on an academic visit.

Political violence in recent months has claimed the lives of more than 100 people and left hundreds more injured. Clashes have pitted activists from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP), which boycotted general elections a year ago, and other parties against security forces. The latest protests have been called by Khaleda Zia, leader of the BNP, who wants Hasina to resign and call fresh polls. Hasina has said her government would remain in office until her term ends in 2019. Allies of the BNP include Islamist parties.

The country of more than 160 million people has struggled to resolve profound disagreements over the role of religion in politics and society in recent years.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hypergrowth

by Seth  icn.seths.head

Fast growth comes from overwhelming the smallest possible audience with a product or service that so delights that they insist that their friends and colleagues use it. And hypergrowth is a version of the same thing, except those friends and colleagues quickly become even bigger fans, and tell even more people.

Often, we get sidetracked when we forget about “smallest possible.” If you make the audience you’re initially serving too big, you will dilute the very thing you set out to make, avoid critical mass, and compromise the magic of what you’re building. You’ll make average stuff for average people instead of something powerful for the few.

By “smallest possible” I don’t mean, “too small.” I mean the smallest number that eventually leads to the kernel of conversation that enables you to grow.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,060 other followers

%d bloggers like this: