Future Energy eNews June 5, 2004

  1. Administration Secrecy on Energy Task Force - Legal defense resembles the detention of enemy combatants, according to New York Times.
  2. Thermal Battery - For the first time, a battery that recharges from body temperature heat.
  3. Superconductivity - Shiny metal tape is now churned out by Superpower company.
  4. Artificial Photosynthesis - Cheap electrons from water with organic metals
  5. US Losing Dominance in Science - In the areas of US patents, Physical Review articles, and Nobel Prizes, US decline is dramatic in the past decade
  6. Distributed Electricity is the Future - They rely on the utility for standby power only.
  7. Heat from Smokestacks to Electricity - Propane vapor drives an electricity generator.
  8. Infinite Energy Editor's Life is Lost - Noted advocate of free energy and cold fusion is murdered. Supported IRI's 1999 Conference on Future Energy as its largest sponsor.
  9. Energy Expo on Capitol Hill - Energy efficiency debate and exhibits open to the public

1) Administration Says a `Zone of Autonomy' Justifies Its Secrecy on Energy Task Force

By LINDA GREENHOUSE, April 25, 2004, New York Times

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/tnt.html?tntget=2004/04/25/politics/25SCOT.html&tntemail1

WASHINGTON, April 24 The Bush administration's effort before the Supreme Court to shield the names of private citizens who helped devise its energy policy might appear on the surface unrelated to its defense, in cases also before the court, of the detention of those the administration has classified as enemy combatants.

But the legal arguments are strikingly similar, projecting a vision of presidential power in both war and peace as far-reaching as any the court has seen and posing important questions of the constitutional separation of powers.

Just as the administration is arguing in the detainee cases for the exercise of presidential authority without judicial interference in policies related to the war on terrorism, it is making sweeping claims in the energy case for the existence of a constitutionally protected "zone of autonomy" for presidential advice received in the ordinary course of proposing legislation.

In this case, which the court will hear on Tuesday, the administration is appealing a judicial order permitting limited inquiry into who outside the government provided advice to Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force in early 2001. The organizations seeking the information maintain that the formal list of the task force's members the vice president, six cabinet members and four other government officials did not tell the whole story, and that energy industry officials were so closely involved with the deliberations as to have become de facto members.

As its primary argument, the administration asserts that the order permitting pretrial discovery is based on a mistaken interpretation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a 1972 law at the center of the dispute over how the task force conducted its business.

But if the law, properly interpreted, really does support the discovery order, the administration argues, the law itself is "plainly unconstitutional" in authorizing "unwarranted intrusion" and "extreme interference" with the president's exercise of his "core" constitutional responsibilities.

"Congress does not have the power to inhibit, confine or control the process through which the president formulates the legislative measures he proposes or the administrative actions he orders," Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson's brief asserts.

The administration's opponents say the breadth of this argument calls into question long-settled assumptions about the ability of both Congress and the courts to conduct the necessary oversight of executive branch activities and ensure openness in government. "It is an extraordinary assertion of executive power and privilege," Thomas Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, one of the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said this week at a symposium on the case sponsored by the Federalist Society, the conservative legal policy organization.

Ever since the Supreme Court agreed in December to hear the administration's appeal, most public discussion of the case, Cheney v. United States District Court, No. 03-475, has concerned whether Justice Antonin Scalia's duck-hunting trip with Vice President Cheney in January disqualified him from participating in the case. By last month, when Justice Scalia rejected a motion to recuse himself filed by the Sierra Club, the other plaintiff, the issues in the case had been all but submerged in the recusal debate.

As a legal matter, the case is about procedure, a fact that has also helped obscure the underlying issues. The question is whether the administration was entitled to a prompt appeal of the Federal District Court's pretrial discovery order without first having to make specific objections or assert claims of executive privilege. The federal appeals court here refused to permit the administration to appeal in the absence of a final judgment. It also refused to order the district court to dismiss Mr. Cheney as a defendant in the case.

From the administration's point of view, procedure and substance amount to much the same thing. The administration argues that if it had to submit to a discovery order it regards as unconstitutional to have the right to appeal that order, an eventual victory would ring hollow.

Federal advisory committees are extremely common in the government; there are now 947, according to the General Services Administration. The Federal Advisory Committee Act imposes a number of obligations on these committees: they must hold their meetings in public, make their records accessible and have a membership that is "fairly balanced." The president must explain the actions he takes in response to a committee's recommendations.

The statute exempts any advice-giving group "composed wholly of full-time, or permanent part-time, officers or employees of the federal government." Since all members of the Cheney task force, formally called the National Energy Policy Development Group, are federal employees, the administration maintains that the law simply does not apply.

But in 1993, ruling in a suit seeking access to information about Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care task force, the federal appeals court here held that private citizens, through close participation, could be deemed "de facto members" of a committee and bring the committee within the law's coverage.

Applying that precedent to the Cheney case, the district court ruled in 2002 that Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club were entitled to pretrial discovery sufficient to determine whether the energy task force included any such members. At that point the battle over discovery began, lasting far longer than the eight-month life of the task force itself. The group disbanded in September 2001, after submitting some 150 recommendations for administrative and legislative action on energy policy.

The administration is arguing that the "de facto member doctrine" was never intended by Congress and should be rejected by the Supreme Court. Its brief says the doctrine turns the statute "into a general warrant to search executive branch groups and committees for contacts with outsiders who might be deemed de facto members," and that this interferes with the president's ability to obtain the advice he needs to perform his constitutional duties.

In reply, Judicial Watch says in its brief that the administration is making a "startling bid for effective immunity from judicial process." Courts should not be prohibited from taking account of a committee's "operational reality," the brief says.

While 15 organizations concerned with the environment or with access to information have joined briefs supporting the plaintiffs, the administration has attracted not a single "friend of the court." That seems odd, given that the administration is hardly without friends. But it is perhaps explainable in the culture of Washington, where any group that might be inclined to help an incumbent administration protect its secrets knows that the next time, with a different party in power, its interests might best be served by being first in line to pry the secrets loose.


2) Biophan Announces Development of Breakthrough Long-Life Biothermal Battery

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 14, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- http://www.centreforenergy.com/displayNewsArticle.asp?NewsID=1539520&template=1,5

Company Acquires Majority Interest in Biothermal Battery Nanotechnology Venture Targeting Approximately $500 Million Global Market

Biophan Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: BIPH), a leading developer of next generation biomedical technology, announced today that it has acquired a majority interest in TE-Bio, LLC, a company developing a breakthrough, long-life power source for use in implanted medical devices, such as pacemakers, defibrillators, neurostimulators, and drug pumps.

The technology is based on a patented innovation in the utilization of thermoelectric materials, using nanoscale-based, thin-film materials to convert thermal energy produced naturally by the human body into electrical energy. The resulting power can be used to "trickle charge" batteries for medium-power devices such as defibrillators, or directly power low-energy devices like pacemakers. The Company will be displaying the technology to over 6,000 healthcare professionals at the NASPE--Heart Rhythm Society's Heart Rhythm 2004 Conference, May 19-22, 2004 in San Francisco, CA.

TE-Bio is developing an implantable power system that has the potential to provide as much as a 30-year life--a five-fold increase in service life compared to existing technology. The technology is anticipated to dramatically extend the service life of neurostimulators and drug pumps that are used for treatment of tremors, diabetes, and chronic pain. Furthermore, since these devices can be implanted in young patients, the combination of TE-Bio technology and extended device life may reduce the number of replacement implants needed throughout a patient's life. For further information or to view the patent, please visit www.biophan.com/biothermal.php.


3) The Biggest Jolt to Power Since Franklin Flew His Kite

By BARNABY J. FEDER , New York Times , April 27, 2004
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/27/science/27COND.html?ex=1084084012&ei=1&en=569cc70f67f089a5

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - In a onetime printing plant on the edge
of this tattered manufacturing city, a small company named
Superpower churns out sample after sample of what looks
like shiny metal tape.

The tape has five layers. The middle one, a ceramic film
one-tenth as thick as a human hair, exhibits one of
nature's most tantalizing tricks. At very low temperatures,
the ceramic abruptly loses all resistance to electrical
current.

That free-flowing current generates a strong magnetic
field, a feature that Superpower technicians demonstrate by
showing visitors how a thumbnail-size magnet floats half an
inch or so above a ribbon of chilled tape.

Superconductivity, as the phenomenon is known, has
fascinated and baffled scientists since its discovery in
1911. Even now, they have yet to develop a comprehensive
theory to explain its appearance in materials as diverse as
metal and ceramics.

Such scientific conundrums are of only passing interest at
Superpower, a four-year-old subsidiary of Intermagnetics
General, and at other companies like it. After years of
false starts and setbacks, these companies say they are
closing in on the goal of producing relatively inexpensive
superconducting wire for power generators, transformers and
transmission lines.

Success requires making yard after yard of wire, and
eventually mile after mile. The focus at the companies, at
national laboratories and at many universities is on
questions that call for a genius more like Edison than
Einstein.

"We are finding out what works and going with that," said
Dr. Jodi L. Reeves, a senior materials scientist at
Superpower.

Success could spring superconductivity from the modest
niches that it has occupied in fields like medical
diagnostics and give it wide commercial applications. In
addition to cutting costs and raising reliability in
generating and distributing electricity, superconductive
wire could replace copper wire in motors to save space and
cut energy costs in factories and on ships. Railroads might
finally embrace maglev technology, which allows high-speed
trains to ride magnetic fields above superconductive rails.


The alloys used in medical imaging superconduct only at
supercold temperatures, about 450 degrees below zero
Fahrenheit. To reach that point, they have to be cooled by
liquid helium, which is expensive to make and manage.

By contrast, ceramic superconductors work at temperatures
above minus 321 Fahrenheit, allowing them to be cooled by
liquid nitrogen, an inexpensive industrial refrigerant. For
that reason, they are called high-temperature
superconductors, though they are still far from the dream
of a room-temperature superconductor.

The first reports of ceramic superconductors, in 1986,
touched off a global research race to understand them and
find others. The excitement peaked at the annual meeting of
the American Physical Society in March 1987, when thousands
of researchers crowded into a hastily organized midnight
presentation.

That session, later called the Woodstock of physics, ran
for hours as research groups from around the world reported
their successes, sometimes with data updated to include
results just hours old.

For some who were there, it was a life-altering experience.
Dr. Gregory J. Yurek, a professor of materials science and
engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
founded a company called American Superconductor in his
kitchen in Wellesley, Mass., and resigned his tenured
position the next year to work full time on his fledgling
business. Experts from Intermagnetics General, a
manufacturer of superconducting metals that was spun out of
General Electric in 1971, immediately began work on the
materials.

"Superconductivity was guaranteed to be a field where
everything you did would be new," said Dr. Venkat
Selvamanickam, who joined the first wave of research as a
graduate student at the University of Houston, home to one
of the leading high-temperature superconductivity research
groups. He was hired by Intermagnetics in 1996 to lead the
development work that it handed off to Superpower.

Although the United States and other countries have poured
hundreds of millions of dollars into the area, success has
not been quick. Unlike metal superconductors, the ceramic
ones are naturally brittle and powdery. There was no simple
process to transform them into wire.

Moreover, superconductivity in ceramic tape is easily
disrupted by magnetic flux, in which changes in the
magnetic field drift through the superconducting layers of
the tape like swirling weather systems through the
atmosphere. Figuring how to immobilize the magnetic
vortices, an atomic-scale process called pinning, has
emerged as a crucial area for research.

Early ceramic compounds were based on bismuth. The
complexity of manufacturing and the need to rely on silver
substrates to provide a workable mix of strength and
stability to the bismuth compounds kept costs so much
higher than standard copper wires that companies lost
confidence that they could compete in mass markets.

Although bismuth-based wires have been useful for research
and in a few products that help stabilize power grids, the
spotlight has shifted to another compound, a mixture of
yttrium, barium, copper and oxide generally called YBCO
(pronounced IB-co).

YBCO tape cannot yet match bismuth's performance. But it
uses nickel instead of silver as a wire strengthener and
"thin film" technology borrowed from the semiconductor and
photovoltaic industries to deposit the layers of the tape,
which then can be made into wire.

The technology will cut the cost of production up to 80
percent from the first-generation technology, said Dr.
Yurek, whose company is the leading producer of the
bismuth-based wire.

The last steps will not be easy. While the semiconductor
industry works on improving technology to produce ever
thinner films, superconductivity companies chase the
opposite goal, making thicker films to carry more current.

The best available process for depositing YBCO involves
blasting a chunk of it in a vacuum chamber with high-energy
laser pulses and running the tape through the resulting
plume. But pulsed lasers use too much time and money to
produce large quantities of wire. So companies are looking
for other methods.

"There's probably a dozen ways to deposit the
superconductor," said Dr. Dean Peterson, head of the
research program at the Los Alamos National Laboratory,
which has been researching the alternatives and how to
improve them.

As an added complication, technologies under development
are competing to create the substrate under the
superconducting ceramic. Although that material is less
sexy, research indicates that the uniformity and alignment
of the substrate are as crucial to obtaining useful wire as
a foundation is to a house.

As they race toward commercialization, the same question
that attracted materials scientists to the field lurks in
the background. Are better superconductors out there,
waiting to be discovered?

Other links: www.eren.doe.gov/superconductivity/update11_22_02.html

http://techvalleytimes.homestead.com/September-Superpower.html
http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r1/schenectady/nov21_2003.html


4) Artificial photosynthesis for energy production
Prof Stenbjörn Styring,
http://www.biokem.lu.se/people/styringstenbjorn.htm

The May 1-7, 2004 issue of New Scientist www.newscientist.com magazine has an article entitled
"Flower Power" on page 28 focusing on Prof Stenbjörn Styring's work.

"A breakthrough in the mystery of how plants derive energy from sunlight
could hold the key to solving the world's energy problems. Researchers are
getting closer to being able to mimic the water-splitting reaction in
photosynthesis. Achieve artificial photosynthesis and you have an unlimited
supply of cheap, clean energy."
-------------------

We try to synthesize metalorganic super complexes that mimic the function of
the natural photosynthetic system. The idea is to use solar energy to take
electrons from water (a never ending electron source) and use these
electrons to produce a valuable reduced fuel like hydrogen or an alcohol.
Our strategy is to use principles from natural Photosystem II and to
synthesize organic, stable compounds that can oxidize water using the energy
in solar light.

A class of complexes is synthesized around the central metal ion Ruthenium
(II) which can be excited by light. These Ru-complexes are linked to
multinuclear Manganese complexes that are built on principles from natural
Photosystem II. We hope to develop chemistry where light oxidizes Ru(II) to
Ru(III) which in its turn shall oxidize the Mn-ions.

The synthesized complexes are studied by EPR spectroscopy at Lund university
and by fast optical spectroscopy at Dept of Physical Chemistry, Uppsala
university. The synthetic work is carried out at the Dept of Organic
Chemistry, KTH Stockholm. The three groups constitute the Consortium for
Studies of Artificial Photosynthesis which is firmly held together by
regular meetings and a large collaborative effort.

Prof Stenbjörn Styring
Dept of Biochemistry, Lund University
P.O. Box 124, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46-46 222 8195
Phone: +46 46 222 0108
Fax: +46-46 222 4534
Visiting address:
Kemicentrum, Getingevägen 60, Lund
Stenbjorn. Email: Styring@biokem.lu.se


5) U.S. Is Losing Its Dominance in the Sciences

By WILLIAM J. BROAD, New York Times, May 3, 2004

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/03/science/03RESE.html?ex=1084597311&ei=1&en=14552e740d254604


The United States has started to lose its worldwide
dominance in critical areas of science and innovation,
according to federal and private experts who point to
strong evidence like prizes awarded to Americans and the
number of papers in major professional journals.

Foreign advances in basic science now often rival or even
exceed America's, apparently with little public awareness
of the trend or its implications for jobs, industry,
national security or the vigor of the nation's intellectual
and cultural life.

"The rest of the world is catching up," said John E.
Jankowski, a senior analyst at the National Science
Foundation, the federal agency that tracks science trends.
"Science excellence is no longer the domain of just the
U.S."

Even analysts worried by the trend concede that an
expansion of the world's brain trust, with new approaches,
could invigorate the fight against disease, develop new
sources of energy and wrestle with knotty environmental
problems. But profits from the breakthroughs are likely to
stay overseas, and this country will face competition for
things like hiring scientific talent and getting space to
showcase its work in top journals.

One area of international competition involves patents.
Americans still win large numbers of them, but the
percentage is falling as foreigners, especially Asians,
have become more active and in some fields have seized the
innovation lead. The United States' share of its own
industrial patents has fallen steadily over the decades and
now stands at 52 percent.

A more concrete decline can be seen in published research.
Physical Review, a series of top physics journals, recently
tracked a reversal in which American papers, in two
decades, fell from the most to a minority. Last year the
total was just 29 percent, down from 61 percent in 1983.

China, said Martin Blume, the journals' editor, has surged
ahead by submitting more than 1,000 papers a year. "Other
scientific publishers are seeing the same kind of thing,"
he added.

Another downturn centers on the Nobel Prizes, an icon of
scientific excellence. Traditionally, the United States,
powered by heavy federal investments in basic research, the
kind that pursues fundamental questions of nature,
dominated the awards.

But the American share, after peaking from the 1960's
through the 1990's, has fallen in the 2000's to about half,
51 percent. The rest went to Britain, Japan, Russia,
Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and New Zealand.

"We are in a new world, and it's increasingly going to be
dominated by countries other than the United States," Denis
Simon, dean of management and technology at the Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute, recently said at a scientific
meeting in Washington.

Europe and Asia are ascendant, analysts say, even if their
achievements go unnoticed in the United States. In March,
for example, European scientists announced that one of
their planetary probes had detected methane in the
atmosphere of Mars - a possible sign that alien microbes
live beneath the planet's surface. The finding made
headlines from Paris to Melbourne. But most Americans,
bombarded with images from America's own rovers
successfully exploring the red planet, missed the foreign
news.

More aggressively, Europe is seeking to dominate particle
physics by building the world's most powerful atom smasher,
set for its debut in 2007. Its circular tunnel is 17 miles
around.

Science analysts say Asia's push for excellence promises to
be even more challenging.

"It's unbelievable," Diana Hicks, chairwoman of the school
of public policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology,
said of Asia's growth in science and technical innovation.
"It's amazing to see these output numbers of papers and
patents going up so fast."

Analysts say comparative American declines are an
inevitable result of rising standards of living around the
globe.

"It's all in the ebb and flow of globalization," said Jack
Fritz, a senior officer at the National Academy of
Engineering, an advisory body to the federal government. He
called the declines "the next big thing we will have to
adjust to."

The rapidly changing American status has not gone unnoticed
by politicians, with Democrats on the attack and the White
House on the defensive.

"We stand at a pivotal moment," Tom Daschle, the Senate
Democratic leader, recently said at a policy forum in
Washington at the American Association for the Advancement
of Science, the nation's top general science group. "For
all our past successes, there are disturbing signs that
America's dominant position in the scientific world is
being shaken."

Mr. Daschle accused the Bush administration of weakening
the nation's science base by failing to provide enough
money for cutting-edge research.

The president's science adviser, John H. Marburger III, who
attended the forum, strongly denied that charge, saying in
an interview that overall research budgets during the Bush
administration have soared to record highs and that the
science establishment is strong.

"The sky is not falling on science," Dr. Marburger said.
"Maybe there are some clouds - no, things that need
attention." Any problems, he added, are within the power of
the United States to deal with in a way that maintains the
vitality of the research enterprise.

Analysts say Mr. Daschle and Dr. Marburger can both supply
data that supports their positions.

A major question, they add, is whether big spending
automatically translates into big rewards, as it did in the
past. During the cold war, the government pumped more than
$1 trillion into research, with a wealth of benefits
including lasers, longer life expectancies, men on the Moon
and the prestige of many Nobel Prizes.

Today, federal research budgets are still at record highs;
this year more than $126 billion has been allocated to
research. Moreover, American industry makes extensive use
of federal research in producing its innovations and adds
its own vast sums of money, the combination dwarfing that
of any other nation or bloc.

But the edifice is less formidable than it seems, in part
because of the nation's costly and unique military role.
This year, financing for military research hit $66 billion,
higher in fixed dollars than in the cold war and far higher
than in any other country.

For all the spending, the United States began to experience
a number of scientific declines in the 1990's, boom years
for the nation's overall economy.

For instance, scientific papers by Americans peaked in 1992
and then fell roughly 10 percent, the National Science
Foundation reports. Why? Many analysts point to rising
foreign competition, as does the European Commission, which
also monitors global science trends. In a study last year,
the commission said Europe surpassed the United States in
the mid-1990's as the world's largest producer of
scientific literature.

Dr. Hicks of Georgia Tech said that American scientists,
when top journals reject their papers, usually have no idea
that rising foreign competition may be to blame.

On another front, the numbers of new doctorates in the
sciences peaked in 1998 and then fell 5 percent the next
year, a loss of more than 1,300 new scientists, according
to the foundation.

A minor exodus also hit one of the hidden strengths of
American science: vast ranks of bright foreigners. In a
significant shift of demographics, they began to leave in
what experts call a reverse brain drain. After peaking in
the mid-1990's, the number of doctoral students from China,
India and Taiwan with plans to stay in the United States
began to fall by the hundreds, according to the foundation.


These declines are important, analysts say, because new
scientific knowledge is an engine of the American economy
and technical innovation, its influence evident in
everything from potent drugs to fast computer chips.

Patents are a main way that companies and inventors reap
commercial rewards from their ideas and stay competitive in
the marketplace while improving the lives of millions.

Foreigners outside the United States are playing an
increasingly important role in these expressions of
industrial creativity. In a recent study, CHI Research, a
consulting firm in Haddon Heights, N.J., found that
researchers in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea now account
for more than a quarter of all United States industrial
patents awarded each year,
generating revenue for their own
countries and limiting it in the United States.

Moreover, their growth rates are rapid. Between 1980 and
2003, South Korea went from 0 to 2 percent of the total,
Taiwan from 0 to 3 percent and Japan from 12 to 21 percent.


"It's not just lots of patents," Francis Narin, CHI's
president, said of the Asian rise. "It's lots of good
patents that have a high impact," as measured by how often
subsequent patents cite them.

Recently, Dr. Narin added, both Taiwan and Singapore surged
ahead of the United States in the overall number of
citations. Singapore's patents include ones in chemicals,
semiconductors, electronics and industrial tools.

China represents the next wave, experts agree, its
scientific rise still too fresh to show up in most
statistics but already apparent. Dr. Simon of Rensselaer
said that about 400 foreign companies had recently set up
research centers in China, with General Electric, for
instance, doing important work there on medical scanners,
which means fewer skilled jobs in America.

Ross Armbrecht, president of the Industrial Research
Institute, a nonprofit group in Washington that represents
large American companies, said businesses were going to
China not just because of low costs but to take advantage
of China's growing scientific excellence.

"It's frightening," Dr. Armbrecht said. "But you've got to
go where the horses are." An eventual danger, he added, is
the slow loss of intellectual property as local
professionals start their own businesses with what they
have learned from American companies.

For the United States, future trends look challenging, many
analysts say.

In a report last month, the American Association for the
Advancement of Science said the Bush administration, to
live up to its pledge to halve the nation's budget deficit
in the next five years, would cut research financing at 21
of 24 federal agencies - all those that do or finance
science except those involved in space and national and
domestic security.

More troubling to some experts is the likelihood of an
accelerating loss of quality scientists. Applications from
foreign graduate students to research universities are down
by a quarter, experts say, partly because of the federal
government's tightening of visas after the 2001 terrorist
attacks.

Shirley Ann Jackson, president of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, told the recent forum
audience that the drop in foreign students, the apparently
declining interest of young Americans in science careers
and the aging of the technical work force were, taken
together, a perilous combination of developments.

"Who," she asked, "will do the science of this millennium?"


Several private groups, including the Council on
Competitiveness, an organization in Washington that seeks
policies to promote industrial vigor, have begun to agitate
for wide debate and action.

"Many other countries have realized that science and
technology are key to economic growth and prosperity," said
Jennifer Bond, the council's vice president for
international affairs. "They're catching up to us," she
said, warning Americans not to "rest on our laurels."


   

6) A balance of power

Boston Globe Editorials, May 10, 2004, http://www.boston.com/news/globe/

BOTH TO SAVE money on their electric bills and ensure reliability, some companies and institutions find it makes sense to go "off the grid" by installing their own generating capacity. In most cases, their generators are fueled by oil or natural gas, but for others the source of electricity for this distributed generation is the sun or the wind.

The Boston-area utility NStar says it is a supporter of distributed generation in general and green power in particular. Especially after last August's blackout, distributed generation has become an industry buzzword because it offers a source of electricity that does not add to transmission-line congestion. Companies with their own mini-power plants can save themselves high peak power costs and relieve pressure on the overall system by making sure their generators are working on hot summer days when high demand can otherwise lead to brownouts or worse.

But NStar has come in for criticism from both environmentalists and owners of distributed generation facilities by asking the state to approve a new rate for the standby service it provides such customers even when they are not using it. Instead of simply approving such a rate, the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy should take a look at the entire rate structure of NStar to make sure that rates promote both new methods of power generation and basic fairness.

With rare exceptions, customers with distributed generation rely on the utility for standby power. For the utility, this means supplying and maintaining all the distribution gear that is necessary when the customer is drawing power from the utility. NStar wants the special standby rate to ensure that it gets these costs covered without passing them on to other customers, including owners of homes and small businesses.

Distributed generation, often in the form of combined heat and power production, is still a small part of the electricity picture. In New York and New England it accounts for 1,400 megawatts. The Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire produces 1,100 megawatts. One local institution with distributed generation is MIT.

Critics of NStar's proposed standby rate, including David O'Connor, head of the state's Division of Energy Resources, fear that it will make more such projects uneconomic. O'Connor said NStar's case for its rate overstates the cost of standby power to the utility and understates the benefit to the system when big customers produce their own power.

The challenge for the DTE is to come up with a rate that encourages independent power sources without unduly burdening other customers. Threading that needle might require reexamining the entire rate structure, which has not been done since the last full rate increase request in 1992.

 


7) System converts smokestack heat to electricity

Bob Holmes, New Scientist Print Edition. 31 May 04.

 

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99995039

 
 

A system designed to capture waste heat from industrial smokestacks and turn it into electricity could significantly boost the efficiency of power stations, drastically cutting carbon emissions, its inventors claim. It could also reduce the amount of toxic pollution released into the atmosphere.

The key to the efficiency of the heat-scavenging system is that it uses propane vapour rather than steam to turn a turbine and drive an electricity generator. This allows it to be driven by low-temperature waste heat.

When steam is used to turn a generator, it must be pressurised and raised to around 650 C. Below 450 C, the process no longer operates efficiently because the steam pressure drops too low. This means that the heat in flue gases below 450 C cannot be used to generate electricity, and so is lost to the atmosphere.

 

 

 

Scavenging electricity from smokestacks

This is one of the reasons why fossil-fuel-powered generating stations have an overall efficiency of only around 35 per cent. Many other industrial processes, such as chemical plants and oil refineries, also vent waste heat.

Unlike water, propane's properties are much more suited to electricity generation at lower temperatures. After pressurising in its liquid state, propane's lower boiling point means it can be vaporised at much lower temperatures than water.

But this propane still contains much useful heat after it passes through the turbine, so a lot of heat is still vented, and the small increase in efficiency usually does not make it worth the investment.

Doubling up

But now Daniel Stinger, a turbine engineer, and Farouk Mian, a petroleum engineer, have developed a surprisingly simple way to harness almost all this waste heat. They calculate that a second turbine, driven by the waste heat from the first, would capture almost all the remaining energy. The first turbine's waste heat would vaporise and pressurise still more propane to drive the second (see diagram).

The pair calculate that flue gases will then emerge at a relatively cool 55 C. They have set up a company, called Wow Energy, http://www.wowenergies.com/ based in Sugar Land, Texas, to license the technology to industry once a pending patent is granted.

Wow's concept should allow industry to make use of heat sources below 450 C - which includes most industrial waste heat. The company's calculations suggest that power stations adopting dual turbines should be able to boost their efficiency from 35 per cent to potentially as much as 60 per cent.

BP and Chevron Texaco have told New Scientist they are interested in adopting the systems to harness waste heat in their industrial plant.

Closed loop

If even 20 per cent of industrial waste heat, say, could be converted to electricity in this way, Stinger estimates the US alone could add over 200 gigawatts of generating capacity - almost 20 per cent of its power needs.

No one is pretending it would be cheap: it would produce electricity at about the same cost per megawatt as electricity from conventional steam turbines. But more power from the same fuel means less CO2 emissions.

Promising as it sounds, Wow Energy's scheme, called a cascading closed loop cycle (CCLC), remains untested. But engineers who have studied it say it makes sense. "It certainly looks very feasible, and the numbers seem to pan out," says James Prochaska, an engineer with turbine maker GE Aero Energy in Houston, Texas.

If CCLC can be shown to work, says Joseph Roop, an economist at the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, it "opens a vista of possibilities for capturing low-grade heat that we don't currently try to exploit at all."

CCLC also has another potential advantage. Because it cools smokestack emissions to about 55 C, many pollutants that enter the atmosphere today, such as mercury oxide and cadmium oxide, would instead condense inside the stack, from where they could be disposed of safely through chemical treatment.

 


8) NFA grad killed
Science writer Mallove slain at family home in Norwich

By GREG SMITH, Norwich Bulletin, May 16, 2004 http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/stories/20040516/localnews/430783.html

NORWICH -- A 56-year-old former Norwich man was killed during a suspected robbery and brutal assault at his family home on Salem Turnpike Friday.

Dr. Eugene F. Mallove, a Norwich Free Academy graduate, published author and father of two, died of multiple injuries to his head and neck, according to an autopsy performed Saturday at the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner in Farmington. The death was ruled a homicide.

Police would not confirm Mallove's identity Saturday pending positive identification by family members.

Mallove was discovered at the small 119 Salem Turnpike house at 10:55 p.m. Friday after police received a report of an injured person.

At the house, situated at the entrance to Interstate 395 in a primarily commercial area, police found Mallove unresponsive, the victim of an assault. He was later pronounced dead by medical personnel called to the scene.

Police said initial investigation indicated a robbery, during which a physical confrontation took place. Several unidentified items were taken from the scene and Mallove's vehicle was missing, according to a written statement released by Norwich police.

Several hours later, Mallove's 1993 green Dodge Caravan was found in the Foxwoods employee parking lot on Route 2 in Preston. The vehicle is easily identifiable by several large bumper stickers, including an American flag and his company Web site, www.infinite-energy.com, in the rear window. The New Hampshire license plate bears the registration INFNRG.

Police are now seeking information from anyone who saw the vehicle between 7 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. Saturday.

Police declined to provide further details of the killing Saturday.

Cars sped past the quiet Salem Turnpike home Saturday, where a large Dumpster was situated alongside the home in the driveway. Several cars, which looked as though they hadn't been moved in some time, are near the two-bay detached garage.

The home, owned by Mallove's parents since 1958, is now under Eugene Mallove's care, according to city records.

Mallove, with his wife, Joanne, had moved to Pembroke, N.H., from Norwich in 1987.

In New Hampshire, Mallove was the president of the nonprofit New Energy Foundation and since 1995 the editor-in-chief of the organization's magazine Infinite Energy.

The bimonthly magazine covers topics of new technological innovations in energy and science and follows developments in the field, according to its Web site.

Infinite Energy http://www.infinite-energy.com/whoarewe/gene.html managing editor Christy Frazier worked with Mallove for the past six years and had become very close.

She called Mallove the "most caring and giving person I probably have ever known -- a very successful, brilliant man.

"It's been a wonderful, wonderful experience. It's hard not to love the things he loves because he's so passionate," she said. "He touched the lives of everybody he came in contact with."

Mallove's parents, Mitchel and Gladys Mallove, had followed their son's move to New Hampshire in 1988. His father, the son of Russian immigrants, died in March 2003 after a long illness, according to a published obituary. He is buried at the Hebrew Benevolent Cemetery in Norwich.

Eugene Mallove had become a grandfather just this year and was caring for his mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, Frazier said. She said Mallove was a Norwich Free Academy graduate.

He held a master of science degree and bachelor of science degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a science doctorate in environmental health sciences from Harvard University in 1975.

He also taught science journalism at MIT and Boston University and previously was chief science writer at the MIT news office.

He is the author of numerous technical articles and of several books, including the Pulitzer-nominated book on cold fusion titled, Fire and Ice: Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor.

 


9) Annual Congressional Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Expo

Alexandra Morel, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, May 20, 2004, www.eesi.org

WHEN: Tuesday - June 8, 2004; 10:00 am 5:00 pm

WHERE: Caucus Room 3rd Floor of the Cannon House Office Building U.S. House of Representatives, 1st Street & Independence Avenue, S.E.; Washington, D.C. 20515

WHAT: The Seventh Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus will bring together more than 50 companies from across all 50 states representing more than two dozen renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies .

à Free ice cream and soft drinks will also be available to all attendees. ß

Previous EXPOs have drawn about 3,000 visitors including members of Congress, congressional staff, Executive Branch officials, members of the media, and the general public.

WHO: The EXPO is co-sponsored by the members of the House and Senate Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucuses** and the member groups of the Sustainable Energy Coalition*

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

Ken Bossong, coordinator, Sustainable Energy Coalition 202-293-2898, ext.201; kbossong@hotmail.com

* The Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of over 80 national and state business, environmental, consumer, and energy policy organizations which collectively represent several thousand companies, community groups, and municipal utilities. Founded in 1992, the Sustainable Energy Coalition works to promote increased use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

** The House and Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucuses are non-legislative, information-sharing organizations which include 224 and 33 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate respectively.

THE GREAT ENERGY EFFICIENCY DEBATE

WHAT: The Alliance to Save Energy will host a special forum, The Great Energy Efficiency Debate, using a presidential debate format that will feature leading energy voices from industry, government, academic, the media, and the public interest sector. The debate, to be opened by Alliance Chairman Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), will include:

* Meeting America's Energy Appetite: How Big Is the Role for Efficiency?

* Accelerating to New Auto Technologies: Mandates or Market-Based Approaches?

* States vs. Feds: Which Has in Place More Effective Energy Efficiency Policies and Programs?

WHEN: June 8, 2004; 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Room G50 - Senate Dirksen Building

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

Contact Zoe Dawson, Manager - Public and Corporate Relations Alliance to Save Energy; zdawson@ase.org; 202-857-0666

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COMPANIES: DOING BUSINESS IN ALL 50 STATES

A partial listing of companies planning to exhibit at the June 8 Congressional Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency EXPO and the states they represent.

1.) 3M - all 50 states

2.) Acuity Brands - Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, California, Texas, New Jersey

3.) Austin Energy - Texas

4.) Beacon Power Corp. - Massachusetts

5.) Biodiesel Industries - California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas

6.) BP Solar - Maryland, California

7.) Calpine Geothermal - California; generates power in 21 states

8.) Capstone Turbine Corporation - California

9.) Cardinal Glass Industries - Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia

10.) Caterpillar Inc. - Illinois + 278 company facilities & 207 dealers nationwide

11.) Changing World Technologies, Inc. - New York, Philadelphia, Missouri

12.) CMC Energy Services - Maryland, Pennsylvania + distribution outlets throughout the U.S.

13.) Cree Inc. - North Carolina, California

14.) Cummins Power Generation - Indiana, Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio + more than 170 distributor locations throughout the U.S. and Canada

15.) Elevated Security, LLC - Virginia, West Virginia

16.) Energy Conversion Devices, Inc./Ovonic - Michigan, California, Ohio

17.) Fagen, Inc. - Minnesota, Nebraska, South Carolina

18.) Fuel Cell Energy - Connecticut, California

19.) GE Wind - Florida, California

20.) GemTech Products - Arizona

21.) GHD, Inc. - Wisconsin, Washington

22.) Geothermal Education Office - California

23.) Griffin Industries Biodiesel - Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, California

24.) Home Depot - 1,731 stores in 50 states + DC and Puerto Rico

25.) IBACOS, Inc. - Pennsylvania

26.) IdaTech, LLC - Oregon

27.) Isofoton - Washington DC

28.) Johnson Controls - present in all 50 states with 257 Sales & Services Offices + 9 manufacturing plants

29.) Kronosport, Inc. - Pennsylvania

30.) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - California, Washington DC

31.) Millennium Cell Inc. - New Jersey

32.) National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Colorado, Washington DC

33.) Oak Ridge National Laboratory - Tennessee

34.) Plug Power Inc. - New York, Washington DC

35.) Power Integrations - California, Georgia, Illinois

36.) Sacramento Municipal Utility District - California

37.) Sandia National Laboratories - California, New Mexico

38.) Sharp Solar Systems - California, Tennessee, Virginia, New Jersey

39.) Southwest Windpower - Arizona; products can be found in all 50 states

40.) United Technologies Corporation Fuel Cells - Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Virginia + sales, service, and distribution outlets in all 50 states

41.) Verdant Power, LLC - Virginia, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Mississippi, California, Washington DC

42.) Vestas Wind - Illinois

43.) Voith Siemens - Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Georgia

44.) WorldWater Corp. - New Jersey, California

Alexandra Morel, Program Assistant, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, 122 'C' Street, NW, Washington DC, 20007

(202) 662-1882


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