Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Natural Gas - Discussion on the Biggest Stimulus Idea

Matt Nolan (Lyndon Institute) wrote on September 16, 2009 at 1:30pm

But natural gas isn't the best solution. To solve this climate problem we need to radically change the way we use energy and just moving to something that still pollutes isn't good enough. We need zero emissions, natural gas still pollutes carbon dioxide only 30% less than oil and 45% less than coal. So, natural gas is a small step but we need to take even bigger steps. Also, once we do make the switch to natural gas everybody will think its fine cause they've switched to an alternative energy source, but its not fine.

Marvin Pirila wrote on September 16, 2009 at 5:58pm

Very true, it is only viable during the interim to reduce our dependence on foreign states that include rogue states like Iran and Venezuala. Ultimately, one has to believe that electric cars, once batteries are developed to last longer, will be the solution. Until that time, natural gas will buy us that time to develop these cars. Keep in mind though, that natural gas can be naturally produced, eliminating emissions.

Glen Sorensen wrote on December 7, 2009 at 1:43pm

Did you know that performance buffs are switching to Nat Gas for their high performance turbo powered sports cars because it produces equivalent power of 130 octane, compared to that 89 you are driving?

Did you know that skinflints and cheapskates are converting to Nat Gas because it costs HALF as much, plus you get TAX CREDITS for the fuel, the conversion costs, and your nat gas compressor( if you have nat gas in your house, a special compressor can refill your car overnight).

Did you know that Diesel rigs can be fed nat gas? Most rigs today have turbocharged. If you bleed some natural gas into the compressor, you offset the huge costs of diesel fuel. Depending on make and model, you can run your diesel on 10 - 90% methane. There is one other interesting side effect of burning these fuels simultaneously...

did you know that methane in your diesel acts as a scrubber? When the diesel ignition sets off the methane, the methane in turn burns that last 25% of unburnt diesel that typically blows out the tailpipe. So it produces more power, it is more efficient, it is cheaper and it is cleaner. BEAT THAT!

For more information on Natural Gas and Propane powered vehicles, you may want to check out these resources...

1. YOUR LOCAL RV DEALER. Thats right, America. Your RV dealer may be equipped to convert your gas or diesel rig to Propane (LPG) or Methane, compressed (CNG) or liquified (LNG). Hardware runs $2000, sometimes less. Installation is extra.

2. EBAY! You can also find conversion kits on eBay for everything--liquified LNG/LPG direct fuel injection, normally aspirated bonnet systems (carbureted or throttle-body equivalent), and Diesel bleed kits. And you can find torroidal pressure bottles (doughnut-shaped fuel tanks) that look like and will fill the space your spare tire occupies, because you are never really going to use that anyway...

3. The Pickens Plan. T. Boone Pickens has some very interesting information on Natural Gas and resources on his site--TAKE A LOOK!

4. Aubry McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, is supporting the Pickens Plan (Naturally!) and has some very useful information on his site.

5. CNG NOW has all sorts of information on Nat Gas vehicles, engines, conversions, government programs. Check out their Methane Powered Motorcycle!! Very cool.

6. NGV America....more technical and financial data

Glen Sorensen wrote on December 7, 2009 at 2:06pm
More Links on using Nat Gas in vehicles:

wikipedia offering:

Matt Nolan (Lyndon Institute)

But we can skip that step. We can skip over natural gas and move straight to green energy. Our government isn't making it that easy right now, but that's what we need to do. The conservative politicians will say were being green, if we use natural gas, but we aren't. We need to put huge amounts of our money and time into hydro, solar, and all other green technologies. I know it all sounds good, like Nuclear energy, but we need to RADICALLY change our way of using energy.

Marvin Pirila

Moving over completely will take time for the auto industry. To go electric they need to develop batteries that last longer between recharging. You're right, natural gas isn't green, but it does burn a lot cleaner than gas does now at the pump. Natural gas also has natural alternatives. The future solution is electric for cars. For the sake of all Americans we need to break our dependence on foreign oil as quickly as possible.

As far as houses go, the technology is already there. Right now, the solar thermal/electric panel all-in-one is in the prototype stage (working and going into test sites). There are also solar windows being produced with a five year backlog. Everything but cars have an immediate solution, but some of them are currently too costly for the average consumer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Soudan Mine & Geothermal Energy

The Soudan community has a tremendous opportunity to utilize the Soudan mine for producing heat and electricity. The mines’ close proximity to the town, coupled with its geothermal capabilities, ensure both great heating and air conditioning resources.

A study by Maria B. Diaz and Rafael Rodriguez concludes that geothermal energy may be created by converting mine shafts into geothermal boilers. Reference: Rafael Rodriguez, Maria B. Diaz. “Analysis of the utilization of mine galleries as geothermal heat exchangers by means a semi-empirical prediction method.” Renewable Energy 34 (7): 1716, 2009.

The capacity of the mine is so large that there wouldn’t be any disruption to current tours. In fact, as a model for other former and current mine cities/towns you would attract a whole new spectrum of tourists and visitors. They might include engineers, city planners, green energy enthusiasts, and officials of other mining areas.

The savings to the community would be immense as geothermal systems are 300-600% efficient. Given the depth of the Soudan mine and its steady 50° F temperatures all year long, the potential is great and promises higher than normal (300%) efficiencies.

The heating/cooling savings would result in bills about 1/3 to ¼ of what is currently paid. This savings is a wonderful incentive to living in Soudan and may attract additional residents while retaining more current ones.

Groundsource Heat Pumps (GHPs) also reduce electricity use by 30–60% compared with traditional heating and cooling systems, because the electricity which powers them is used only to collect, concentrate, and deliver heat, not to produce it.

Mechanical engineers could design two systems to fully utilize the mine openings. One would be used to heat and cool homes and businesses in the city. The second would be for generating electricity. Until November 2, 2009, there is a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) organization for grant funding for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance. This project funding can support technical assistance services (labor costs only – such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor). Perhaps the IRRRB would pick up the additional costs. The IRRRB should be especially interested with the several mines found on the Iron Range. Their website is

This project would bring more jobs, while reducing costs for everyone in the area. Excess electricity could be fed back to the grid, and earn money.

If this mine was in my community, I would be aggressively going after its geothermal capabilities.

Possible sources of funding/financing include:

-Federal/State Grants
-Local Power Company

Considering the rock structure of the Soudan mine, the vast openings, and sheer depth, this is an ideal mine for energy production. Who knows exactly how much “cost-effective alternative energy” can be mined here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Studies/Reports on the Real Price of Corn Based Ethanol

Ethanol Fuel from Corn Faulted as ‘Unsustainable Subsidized Food Burning’

Food price spike: Is ethanol to blame?

Ethanol Demand Threatens Food Prices


These links help substantiate our need for discontinuing subsidizing the corn based ethanol industry. It is clearly not the answer or even a worthwhile contributor towards reducing oil imports or reducing greenhouse gases. Quit the politics and toss this wasteful spending now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Natural Gas - The Biggest Stimulus in the U.S.

The biggest stimulus package imaginable with long-term strength lies in our vast reserves of natural gas. In fact, U.S. and Canada have enough reserves to power all vehicles, including diesels, for the next 80-118 years.The U.S. could break their dependence on foreign oil as fast as cars could be retrofitted or new ones rolled out. Ten million cars fueled by natural gas are already in operation around the world. The distribution channels, such as trucking, pipelines, and train, already exist.

Ethanol has proven to be a global failure especially when produced from food crops such as corn. It's production has dramatically raised food prices and threatens to cause disruptions in the price of other commodities like soybeans. The rain forest is being burnt and cleared at record paces to make more agricultural land for ethanol purposes. This leads to increased global warming.

Natural gas burns much cleaner than gasoline, is readily available, and has alternative sources that aren't food related. North America has enough to provide the U.S. a domestic-based fuel, at the same or lower price as foreign oil. There are enough reserves already to last more than 100 years if used alone. That 100 years could be greatly extended by mixing with alternative fuels (non-food sources). Most importantly it would provide the U.S. ample time to pursue other viable, earth-friendly fuel sources, while reducing price fluctuations due to foreign instability.

The time to use natural gas for vehicles is here. We must get to it as soon as we can, because this is critical to our economy both now and long-term. The benefits include:

  • Keeps domestic money here, reduces exports, and produces jobs domestically
  • Reduces greenhouse gases substantially
  • Stabilizes fuel price fluctuations
  • Eliminates foreign dependence
  • Eliminates need to produce ethanol using food staples such as corn. The government should end subsidies to any producers still using corn or other food source.
  • Reduces inflationary pressures caused by high oil and food prices
The impact on our national economy would be tremendous. It simply cannot be ignored any longer! There are already politicians in favor of expanding the use of natural gas for vehicles, but others need to get on board. Write your representative and tell them that now is the time to put our plentiful natural gas reserves into play.

The Economy Answer - Natural Gas Vehicles

Demand Side Economics of Oil

The U.S. imported nearly 70% of its oil in 2008. The U.S. has only 4% of the world's population, just 3% of the world's oil reserves, yet uses 25% of the world's oil. OPEC controls the supplies to boost prices that American's have no choice but to pay. The U.S. demand for oil contributes greatly to its own economic demise.This demand could be eliminated and result in a great economic boost for the U.S. How? Switch all cars to natural gas and quit using oil altogether. Natural gas is already being used in both diesel and gas cars right now worldwide to the tune of 10 million vehicles.

Supply Side Reaction to Curbed Demand

Even as the United States curbed its demand, OPEC countries would have to deal with growing inventories and need to lower prices. This takes them out of the driver's seat, and in many ways, forced to negotiate on different fronts. Without oil monies, some rogue countries wouldn't have the same power and influence to hold the world hostage.

Other Invaluable Gains

Natural gas costs, on average 1/3 less to fill a vehicle. About 98% of the U.S. consumption is produced in the U.S. and Canada. The Energy Information Agency (EIA) predicts that over 98% of natural gas used in the U.S. will come from the U.S. alone by 2030. A recent study found that the U.S. already has 118 years of natural gas resources itself. The 1 1/2 million miles of pipelines and distribution lines across the U.S. makes it readily available to nearly anyone.

Natural gas produces 22 to 29% less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel or gasoline-powered vehicles, respectively, and less urban pollution. Source: State Alternative Fuels Plan, California Energy Commission, Adopted December 5, 2007.Natural Gas has Renewable Options Too!Natural gas can be produced from any organic waste or energy crop like switchgrass. Conservative estimates suggest that the U.S. could produce the equivalent of 10 billion barrels of gasoline by producing biomethane (renewable natural gas). This potential is nearly infinite when biomethane production from cellulosic energy crops is considered.Unlike Ethanol, natural gas does not compete with food sources, and drive up its prices. Ethanol also has distribution issues that natural gas doesn't. Greater ethanol use would only create more food shortages and higher prices.

The U.S. Must Act Now

Quit putting the economic status of the U.S. in the hands of foreign countries, by using fuel sources found at home.Its good for the environment, good for reducing foreign imports, and good for the pocketbook of every American. To top it off, it boosts the economy by keeping the jobs right here at home.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lighting replacing Compact Fluorescent Lighting?

Cold Cathode fluorescent lighting has been around since the 1930’s and is already being used in products like scanners, flat panel TVs, and computer laptop screens.


1. Cold Cathode lights are very energy efficient, with 50,000 – 70,000 hours of life
2. They operate at much lower temperatures than incandescent, fluorescent, or H.I.D. light sources significantly lowering the air conditioning load.
3. Cold Cathode lamps last four-five times longer than fluorescent lamps
4. Cold Cathode uses 30-50% less energy than compact fluorescent and up to 85% less Mercury.
5. Cold Cathode lights are unaffected by turning on and off. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), on the other hand, lose three hours of life every time they are turned on, and can lose up to 85% of their rated life if they are turned off after less than 15 minutes of operation. CFLs are therefore unsuitable for motion sensor lighting.
6. Cold Cathode lights maintain their color throughout their rated life, and operate at near peak output after 25,000 hours. LEDs are rated up to 50,000 hours of life, but lose both color and intensity of their light rapidly after 25,000 hours.
7. Cold Cathode lamps offer 63 to 80 lumens per watt compared to 15 to 40 for LEDs, making Cold Cathode the most efficient and least expensive option for general illumination or backlighting. Note: LEDs are a directed light source and energy efficient when used for accent or spot lighting, decorative lighting, and some types of edge lighting.
8. The lamp life and energy efficiency (lumens per watt) of Cold Cathode lamps exceed those of both neon and fiber optic lamps. Neon lamps have a life of 25,000 hours with 50 lumens per watt. Fiber optic lamps have a life of 2,000 – 6,000 hours with 9 -15 lumens per watt.

Cold Cathode lamps are highly efficient and long-lasting due to its design and components. Cold cathode, unlike CFLs, don’t have a filament to wear out via vibrations, repeated starting, strobing, or dimming. Cold Cathode uses the bulk of its energy being converted to light, unlike other bulbs that use a much higher percentage of energy producing heat.

Cold Cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) are sealed glass tubes with electrodes at each end, filled with inert gases and an inner coating of fluorescent phosphor. A high-voltage, low-current charge is produced by a ballast (electronic inverter) that energizes the electrodes, ionizing the gases inside the tube. These ionized gases create UV light, which excites the phosphors that produce visible light.

CCFLs may very well replace CFLs as the world become more energy conscious and savings oriented. And why not, they last longer, use less energy, and lower air conditioning costs.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Almost all Wood Furnaces are 30% Efficient

Almost all wood furnaces are 30% efficient

Probably not, because unscrupulous dealers don’t want you to know…the good news is that there is a wood furnace that is far more efficient, and better yet, a multi-fuel/combination

Regular Wood Furnaces lose 40% of its Energy in Unburned Gases

Most solid fuel furnaces and stoves are grossly inefficient compared to oil or gas appliances for various reasons:
  • Wood burns at different temperatures because of the different amounts of water in it. Wet wood burns at a lower temperature and is therefore less efficient because of incomplete combustion.
  • Forty percent (40%) of the energy in wood is unburned gas released as wood burns. This gas fails to ignite and release its energy because it starves for oxygen. To burn these gases, an injection of a controlled amount of air just above the flame is necessary. This action increases the efficiency of the appliance.
  • A lot of smoke out the chimney indicates that wood energy is being lost and loss of efficiency.

Some unscrupulous wood furnace and wood stove manufacturers advertise their products as having very high efficiencies. In comparisons to newer oil or gas furnaces, tested with certified and accepted equipment, these statements prove to be false. These tests show that their true efficiencies are 30% or less, very different from those of newer oil or gas furnaces. The American Gas Association (AGA) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) use the one accepted test method that measures the CO2 and temperature of the stack.

The good news is that there is wood furnace that burns wood with much greater efficiency. The added bonus is that offers central heating using multi-fuel or combination wood/gas, wood/oil or wood/electric furnace

The homeowner can burn wood as a primary fuel, using the gas or oil burner to ignite. When the wood burns down, the gas or oil burner takes over to keep the home comfortable. The Yukon-Eagle brand has a massive heat exchanger (firebox), a secondary air system that burns the smoke and unburned gases, and a large circulating blower. These furnace components make this furnace extremely efficient and use a fraction of the amount of wood of an outdoor boiler, other wood furnaces, stoves, or indoor boilers without these features. The Yukon-Eagle Multi-fuel wood is UL Listed (approved) to heat your home with wood or coal without electricity.
Other benefits of multi-fuel and combination fuel central heating furnaces are optional air conditioning, electronic air cleaning, and/or humidifier.

Facts about solid fuels

Wood and all solid fuels such as coal, corn, and grain have the same 12,000 BTU’s per pound of energy.

Other facts include:

  • Hardwood (oak, maple, etc.) is a better burning choice than softwood (pine, conifer, poplar, etc.) because it is denser (heavier per square foot)
  • A fresh cut tree has about 50% moisture content
  • Split wood, air-dried for a year, has about 20% water content. This lower water content is one reason why air-dried wood burns better and hotter than freshly cut wood, reducing creosote formation
  • After deducting water content, heat values of woods have about 8,000 Btu’s of usable energy per pound.

Wood stoves come with some downsides

All wood stoves produce heat but there are some downsides.
The room they are in gets most of the heat while rooms farther away are cooler or cold.
From a heating efficiency standpoint, you should put the wood stove in the basement, because all heat rises. A wood stove will supply all the heat it produces to the floors above the basement.
Most wood stoves are what they call “air tights”. A better word may be “creosote generators” because once you shut off the air supply off so that the wood smolders, the temperature of the fire falls. There is usually enough oxygen in air-dried wood to keep the fire burning without air to the firebox. The downside is the fire burns at a low temperature, creating creosote buildup in the stove, smoke pipe, and chimney. If the wood burning flame ignites the creosote, it can burn at temperatures in excess of 2,500 degrees, possibly causing flue pipe failure, chimney failure, or worse. A catalytic converter provided by some wood stove manufacturers will burn some of the creosote and smoke. Many of them fail prematurely and are expensive to replace.

In contrast to a wood stove, a wood-burning appliance has secondary air to burn the creosote and a circulating air blower to blow the heat away from the firebox.

Wood fireplaces are grossly inefficient

A wood fireplace is extremely poor for heat efficiency. The EPA sponsored a meeting in Portland several years ago where it was determined that fireplaces were about 1% efficient. One of the attendees spoke up and said, “But you can double the efficiency of a fireplace by adding glass doors”. The speaker said, “That is true, that makes them about 2% efficient”. While fireplaces are great to watch wood burn, don’t buy one to save on your heating bill. That is, unless it has a massive heat exchanger and blower above the fireplace.

Note: A plenum is a separate space provided for air circulation for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning and typically provided in the space between the structural ceiling and a drop-down ceiling. A plenum may also be under a raised floor.Add-on wood furnace

Add-on wood furnaces, also known as a sidekick or furnace helper, are simply furnaces used in conjunction with your primary gas, oil, or electric furnace. The warm air sheet metal plenum at the top of the wood furnace connects to the warm air plenum of their primary furnace.

A hole in the lower part of the wood furnace casing connects to the return air duct on their primary furnace. Sometimes, back draft dampers are used so heated air in the wood furnace does not re-circulate back through the warm air plenum on the primary furnace.

An add-on wood furnace is usually in your basement next to an oil, gas, or electric furnace. It usually has its own thermostat and optional circulating air blower. Add-on wood furnaces without blowers utilize the blower from the primary furnace to circulate its heat.
Add-On used as a Wood Stove

Add-ons work as stand-alone wood stoves when not connected to any ductwork. Stand-alone add-ons are not as efficient as add-ons connected to a furnace with a blower. Heated air stays close to the wood stove without the presence of a blower.

Central Heating using a wood furnace

A central heating wood furnace is either a stand-alone wood furnace that has its own duct and circulating blower or an add-on that uses the same duct system as an oil, gas, or electric furnace. The stand-alone, with its own duct system, is common used in homes with electric or hot water baseboard systems. The stand-alone system allows you to add whole house air conditioning, electronic air cleaning or humidification.

Outdoor Wood Boiler

Outdoor wood boilers are also known as outdoor furnaces. Usually these systems work in conjunction with an indoor gas, oil, or electric furnace. These systems heat water that is stored between the firebox and an outer casing. A water pump transfers the heated water to a water coil located at the top of your primary furnace plenum. When the thermostat calls for heat, the pump transfers the heated water to the coil. The furnace blower distributes the heat to the rooms.

These are “open systems” where water is subject to air. Often, this destroys the firebox in just a few years. Because of the high cost of these systems, it takes away any cost savings you hope for by burning wood. Some manufacturers now use stainless steel, which is a deterrent, but not a guaranteed fix. In comparisons to indoor furnaces or wood stoves, these systems use huge amounts of wood.

Disadvantages of an Outdoor Wood Boiler

If you let the water cool from not keeping enough wood in the firebox, it can take a long time to heat the water, leaving you with inadequate heat for a long time.

These systems burn wood with a low fire, so even 180-degree water in the water storage system is very cold to a wood fire. When the temperature of the firebox cools, creosote forms on it, acting as an insulator that restricts heat from the firebox to the water. This adds to the boilers inefficiency. In fact, State Farm Insurance Company requires wood boilers be at least 75 feet from any building because of the creosote fire hazard. In addition, most of these systems emit so much smoke that many States and local communities have banned them. See for more information.

Indoors Wood Boiler

Generally, indoors wood boilers accompany a gas or oil boiler that uses the same “closed” water system. This ensures that air cannot get into the water system, which can cause corrosion and failure of the primary boiler along with the wood boiler. The water in the wood boiler, being only 180 degrees or cooler, is susceptible to the same creosote problem as the outdoor boiler. Additionally, at 212 degrees, steam forms, and the safety valve will blow the steam off into your basement drain. This tends to be a frequent problem with indoor wood boilers.

Wood Pellet Stove or Furnace

Wood pellet stoves and furnaces, in comparison to oil and gas, may not save much on your overall heating costs. Wood pellets are generally very expensive compared to a wood log. Remember, there are about 8,000 BTU’s per pound of usable energy in either one.Courtesy of, the world’s leader in wood furnace technology.

Geothermal energy a booming business

Geothermal energy a booming business
Leases snapped up across the West as states mandate renewables