Archive for the ‘Express 96’ Category

Photosynthesis for Hydrogen & Algae for Commercial Production

Posted by admin on February 17, 2010
Posted under Express 96

Photosynthesis for Hydrogen & Algae for Commercial Production

Researchers from the University of Wollongong are working on new technology to effectively convert sunlight, the energy in sunlight, into a transportation fuel, namely hydrogen, while in the US algae researchers are urged to work side-by-side with algae producers, as now is the time to fast-track the commercialisation of this industry.

From the National Algae Association (US):

“At the moment, you only have OPEC to buy your fuel from. That’s it, there’s no competitor,” he said.

“If you develop a clean fuel made of algae, or butanol, then there is a clean alternative.”  

(Richard Branson, December 17, 2009)

 Algae: The New Biofuel  

It’s renewable, does not affect the food channel and consumes CO2

Oil prices are rising again, and they’re going to continue to do so.  We’re already seeing it at the gas pump.   The foreign oil and gas we have depended on for generations has turned into a dangerous addiction. 

The U.S. holds less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, and we now import 60 percent of our oil from foreign sources.  The point was recently made that, at current rates of supply and demand, by 2030, 50% of the oil supply would come from OPEC nations.   

Both Exxon and Bill Gates recently invested in the new algae biofuel industry.  By investing in renewable energy in the United States, we will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, become energy independent and create new green jobs – and algae is one solution that takes care of all three! 

We need to add the most practical renewable jobs, here in America, so we can replace the oil and gas we import from places like the Middle East and Venezuela with clean, renewable, American power.  A nation that doesn’t depend on others for a vital commodity is a strong country.  And that’s what America needs to be.    

The National Algae Association is well aware that we will still need a supply of oil and gas as we work toward energy independence, and the petroleum jobs in the United States are going to remain and flourish.  But Henry Ford’s first car is a far cry from what we are driving today. 

We know that algae strains, raceway ponds, closed-end loop photobioreactors, harvesting and extraction systems developed and built today will be different 3-5 years from now.  We are all in this together, and we all need to work closely together to help the US reduce its dependency on foreign oil, become energy secure and create new green jobs. 

Algae researchers in the US need to work side-by-side with algae producers.   Algae strains, production and equipment have been researched for over 35 years in the US.  It is now time to fast-track the commercialization of this industry. So, what are we waiting for?

The NAA is all about Collaboration + Innovation = Commercialization!  NAA’s mission is focused on fast-tracking commercialization of algae.  Supporting the National Algae Association is supporting America’s future.  Our quarterly conferences are attended by algae producers, equipment manufacturers, researches, and scientists, along with members of the legal, investment and financial communities. 

NAA’s quarterly conferences are not panel discussions looking down at the algae industry from 30,000 feet.  We are at ground level – presenting and discussing the technologies, processes and equipment that are currently available or under development.  We collaborate and share our efforts to move algae into commercial-sale production.  


ABC News (12 February 2010):

Scientists shed light on hydrogen fuel project: By Water as fuel

Researchers from the University of Wollongong, on the New South Wales south coast, are part of a group to have developed new technology with the potential to make hydrogen fuel from water.

The process would occur using sunlight from solar panels on suburban homes and schools.

The research group has obtained patent status in Australia for the technology and has applied for a patent to protect intellectual property rights in the United States.

Dr Gerhard Swiegers from the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute says researches have been able to mimic the process of photosynthesis that occurs in plants.

“Hydrogen is of course a fuel. You can burn hydrogen in your car like you can burn petrol or diesel. In fact, there are a number of hydrogen-powered cars already out there,” he said.

“What we are effectively doing is converting sunlight, the energy in sunlight, into a transportation fuel, namely hydrogen.”

While the technology is still some years away from commercial production, it has attracted strong interest in the United States where hydrogen power cars are in development.

Dr Swiegers says the technology has great commercial potential.

“Potentially we will be able to build a solar cell which you can put on your roof, the roof of your home, and then it will split water for you and make hydrogen for you at home which you could fill your car up with,” he said.

The University of Wollongong is collaborating with teams from Princeton University in the United States, Monash University and the CSIRO.


Sporting Green Venues and Clean Energy

Posted by admin on February 17, 2010
Posted under Express 96

Sporting Green Venues and Clean Energy

Are the Vancouver Olympics are as green as they could be?  David Suzuki wonders whether we may eventually have to rethink our approach to such global mega-events if we are serious about reducing the impacts of climate change, particularly as the very future of winter Olympics depends on having winters cold enough to sustain snow and ice.

By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola

Several people have asked me if the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics will be the greenest games yet. The answer may be yes – if we’re talking about the abundance of greenery and lack of snow brought on by record high temperatures during one of the earliest spring seasons the city has experienced.

With respect to environmental impact, all Olympic Games leave a very large footprint. Thousands of people flying in from all over the world, along with local transportation and the infrastructure that must be created, mean a lot of carbon emissions get spewed into the atmosphere.

What many people may not realize is that, along with sports, the Olympic movement has two other official “pillars”: culture and the environment. People in Vancouver have seen evidence of the cultural pillar, with an amazing line-up of music, theatre, and other cultural events for the Cultural Olympiad.

Vancouver Olympic organizers have also tried to reduce the environmental impact of the 2010 Games. For example, venues and infrastructure have been built using energy-efficient technologies, clean-energy sources will be used for many aspects of the Games, and carbon offsets will balance out a significant portion of the emissions from the Games. As a result of these and other initiatives, the 2010 Olympics are expected to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than previous Winter Olympics.

But that doesn’t mean the Vancouver Olympics are as green as they could be. In fact, we may eventually have to rethink our approach to such global mega-events if we are serious about reducing the impacts of climate change, particularly as the very future of winter Olympics depends on having winters cold enough to sustain snow and ice.

We hope that future host cities, and the IOC itself, will learn from the lessons of the 2010 Olympics. For example, despite an emphasis on public-transit use during the Games, the Vancouver Olympics will leave the region with few long-term improvements in sustainable transportation. Instead, the highway up to Whistler was widened at a cost of $600 million. And so far, 2010 Olympic organizers haven’t made the most of opportunities to tell the story of their climate initiatives to Canadians and the world. Because so many people will be focused on the host city, and because climate change is a defining issue of our time, the winter Olympics offer an unparalleled opportunity to inspire billions of people around the world with solutions to global warming.

The IOC itself must also play a stronger role to ensure that Olympic organizers take the environment seriously. A look back at previous Olympics shows remarkably varied performances regarding the environment, with the Athens 2004 Games standing out in particular for their weak environmental record. The IOC should set minimum environmental benchmarks so that every organizing committee has clear targets to meet – or exceed. Such benchmarks would also allow successive Olympic Games to be assessed and compared and opportunities for improvement to be identified.

The IOC should also put in a place an external monitoring body for each host city to ensure that standards for addressing climate impacts are upheld. For example, the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 was created to increase accountability of the London Olympic organizers with respect to their sustainability commitments.

And because not all host countries have the same financial means, the IOC could create an environmental fund, with financing from media-rights revenues or other sources. The fund could help less wealthy countries to incorporate environmental considerations into their games, and to invest in long-term environmental and social initiatives in their regions.

Of course, environmental initiatives around Olympic Games are a shared responsibility. For the Vancouver Games, the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, the organizing committee, and other organizations are all accountable when it comes to ensuring that the Games themselves are green and that they leave a lasting legacy for the region.

The Vancouver Olympics have demonstrated that climate change initiatives, such as green venues and clean energy, are not only doable but affordable and can leave lasting legacies for host cities. Future Olympics can and should raise the bar even higher by finding ways to reduce their climate impact and inspiring their worldwide audiences with climate solutions.


Lucky Last – about a resourceful climate sceptic

Posted by admin on February 17, 2010
Posted under Express 96

Lucky Last – About a resourceful climate sceptic

Never mind the science, follow the money. So writes Paddy Manning, who is a mine of information, in his column in The Age’s Business Day. Read More

Paddy Manning in The Age Business Day (13 February 2010):

NEVER mind the science, follow the money. It is perhaps not well known that celebrated climate sceptic Ian Plimer is on several mining company boards – which earned him more than $400,000 over the past two years – and has mining shares and options worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Plimer, 63, once described by opposition leader Tony Abbott as a ”highly credible scientist”, is author of the sceptical tome Heaven and Earth.

Now into its ninth reprint, the book has sold 40,000 copies here and more overseas since it was published last year, and catapulted Plimer on to the world stage.

At December’s Copenhagen climate change summit, Plimer was one of the key speakers at a well-publicised fringe event for sceptics, telling his audience: ”They’ve got us outnumbered, but we’ve got them outgunned, and that’s with the truth.”

Plimer’s day job is professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide. His profile page on the university’s staff directory lists his many qualifications, awards and publications … but is blank under the section ”consulting activities”.

Since late 2007, Plimer has been a non-executive director of Ivanhoe Australia, the ASX-listed subsidiary of colourful mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Mines. Ivanhoe’s major Cloncurry Project in Queensland has prospective copper, gold, lead zinc, silver and uranium deposits.

Ivanhoe Australia raised $125 million to float at $2 a share in 2008 and was trading around $3.12 yesterday. On top of directors’ fees ($50,000 last year, plus super) Plimer received, at the time of the float, 100,000 performance rights, convertible to a free share in the company at the rate of 25,000 a year for four years.

Late last year Plimer converted the first half of those rights into ordinary shares – worth about $156,000 at yesterday’s prices. So his total stake would be worth double that at current prices.

Plimer is also a director of ASX-listed CBH Resources, which has zinc, lead and silver mining interests in WA and NSW. Its last annual report shows CBH paid Plimer more than $125,000 in 2009 and $181,003 in 2008. He also indirectly holds more than 3.7 million CBH Resources shares, which, at yesterday’s price of 13.5¢, would be worth about $502,000.

Plimer is also on the board of tiny British-listed Kefi Minerals, which is exploring for gold and copper in Turkey.

There is nothing unusual about geologists going on to the boards of mining companies. But as several writers have noted, Plimer rails against government action to prevent climate change – for example, telling ABC’s Lateline an emissions trading scheme might destroy the mining industry – but rarely mentions his mining company directorships or the money he earns from them.

In November, Bob Burton, author of Inside Spin, posted an article on Plimer’s mining interests on the website. He noted that Plimer’s climate scepticism sits oddly with Ivanhoe’s promotion of uranium mining as a solution to global warming. ”One of the arguments for nuclear energy is its substantially reduced level of carbon emissions,” the Ivanhoe prospectus states.

Graham Readfearn had a successful green blog for Queensland’s Courier-Mail newspaper when he joined in a debate at the Brisbane Institute with Plimer and Lord Christopher Monckton a fortnight ago.

Before a predominantly business audience of more than 400 people, each paying $130 a head, Monckton won ”in straight sets”, according to the Courier-Mail’s own coverage of the debate.

Plimer bristled when Readfearn broached the subject of his mining interests.

Readfearn, worn down, subsequently resigned from the newspaper. He says the sceptics – and sympathetic media outlets – just kept going and shouting everyone down.

”It’s like they’ve got this machine-gun full of nonsense and they keep firing it,” Readfearn says. ”You can’t catch every bullet, it’s impossible.”

In a quick email to this column fired from overseas, Plimer said: ”My links with the industry are public, I have invested in a number of mining companies and am proud to create jobs in outback areas where there are no other jobs. Presumably you will be balancing my links with those from the alarmist quarter and, as science is married to integrated interdisciplinary evidence, pointing out that my links cannot possibly influence supernoval eruptions, solar activity and the Earth’s orbit.”

Not exactly, but allegations of conflict do fly thick and fast in the climate debate. Plimer has previously complained that Ross Garnaut’s objectivity on climate change is rarely questioned, though he chairs mining company Lihir Gold.

Everyone has a stake in the climate. I suppose some are more conflicted than others. Some are more public, like Plimer, and some less so.


Look out for this Green Tag

Posted by admin on February 17, 2010
Posted under Express 96

Look out for this Green Tag

It’s being launched by David Baggs of ecospecifier Global at Green Cities in Melbourne. Ken Hickson/ABC Carbon will be attending the four day exhibition and conference. The next issue – abc carbon express 97 – will come to you from the Melbourne event, More news then, so in the meantime… Read More

Green Light for GreenTag™


Australian-owned ecospecifier Global is committed to raise standards for green building materials and methods with the introduction of its four tier GreenTag™ eco-label certification process.

David Baggs, ecospecifier Global’s technical director, is launching the company’s much anticipated GreenTag quality mark at the Green Cities Conference in Melbourne which starts Sunday 21 February and runs until Wednesday 24 February.

The GreenTag is a third party, green building certification system, underpinned by rigorous scientific and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) testing processes. Its advanced and robust LCA certification methodology, which has been developed exclusively by ecospecifier, is a world first.

Mr Baggs is convinced the GreenTag will “simply and effectively demonstrate to the market and the industry which building materials and methods are ecological, safe and socially-responsible compared to other comparable purpose business-as-usual products”. 

Design and development of the GreenTag mark has occurred over three years, under the watchful eye of some of the world’s top advisors in eco-labeling standards, green building and green product development.

GreenTag operates on four tiers – platinum, gold, silver or bronze – to rate and position a product at the top end of the green building market for materials and methods. 

The GreenTag standard has been created to comply or exceed the highest international green building rating requirements, and Mr Baggs expects it will be adopted in many overseas markets, including the Middle East, South East Asia, India and China.

“Australian exporters with GreenTag certified products will also be instantly at a distinct advantage in overseas markets, as this system becomes recognised as the highest possible standard for green building materials and methods,” says Mr Baggs.

In Australia, GreenTag is expected to become the benchmark for green products vying for selection in buildings to be approved by the Green Star system, awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). 

Currently, ecospecifier’s GreenTag is going through the final stages of its application for acceptance as an authorised third party certification authority with the GBCA.

“We have designed GreenTag to be an efficient one-stop solution for the whole industry to benefit,” says Mr Baggs, “as it will speed up product research and planning processes in the specification and purchase of green building products”.

The GreenTag rating certification is seen as a versatile process that will also optionally assess products against other green building schemes around Australia, including NABERS, BASIX, BCA and overseas schemes, including LEED, BREEAM, Estidama Pearl, Green Building Index and Green Mark. 

“To protect nature, it is important to begin with a good sustainable design, however, the building blocks of any project rely on the quality, characteristics and advanced functionality of the products selected.   These are critical for the end result for any construction project that is seeking a top green building scheme rating,” Mr Baggs says.

He contends that the Life Cycle Assessment inherent in the GreenTag is particularly important as it determines the environmental and health impacts of a product from the sourcing and refining of its raw materials, transport, manufacturing, disposal, including reuse, recycling, operations and maintenance, over the whole life of the product.

“Our main intention is to enable the protection of natural systems to the utmost and help in the quest to deliver healthier built environments,” says Mr Baggs.

Since starting out in 2002, ecospecifier has created a reliable resource for the building industry in Australia, as a trusted third party verifier of green building products, fit-out materials and technologies. 

In 2008, the company took a leap onto the world stage to take up a leader position in the Middle East, as an industry resource and service in green product knowledge and application.  When the UAE and more specifically, Abu Dhabi Emirate, mandated new directions for the building sector in the region ‘to start greening the Middle East’, ecospecifier Global became a key advisor in these processes, helping to develop green policies and processes for the building industry.  

Now ecospecifier Global is also working with key local partners with websites also in South Africa, South East Asia and China.

GreenTag Information Seminars will be held in Melbourne 24 February; Sydney 4 March; Brisbane 8 March. Besides the Green Cities event, Ecospecifier will also be demonstrating Green Tag at DesignEX in Sydney 22-24 April and DesignBuild in Melbourne 23-25 June.


GBCA (12 February 2010):

Victoria’s credentials as the home of Australia’s most sustainable cities will be under the spotlight when Premier John Brumby addresses the cream of global property and environmental leaders in Melbourne this month.

The Premier will deliver the first keynote address at the Green Cities 2010 conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre on 22 February to hundreds of international and Australian property and environment experts. Green Cities 2010 is a joint initiative of the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and the Property Council of Australia (PCA).

Green Cities 2010 will showcase many of Melbourne’s most sustainable buildings with delegates touring a number of Green Star rated buildings. They include The Gauge, Kangan Batman and Goods Shed North in the Docklands area, and Council House 2 in Little Collins Street, which has become a high-profile example of public sector leadership in sustainable development.  

GBCA Chief Executive, Romilly Madew said government policy is playing a critical role in determining the sustainability of cities.

“The approach government takes to development and planning policy, and its leadership by example, will determine which cities are sustainable for the next 100 years,” Ms Madew said.

The options available to further improve the sustainability of Australian cities will be a key theme of Green Cities 2010, with experts from the United States, Germany, South Africa, Hong Kong, New Zealand and India comparing the most successful methodologies from around the world.

Property Council Chief Executive Peter Verwer said the impact of sustainability policy on the property sector would be a key theme for delegates at Green Cities 2010.

“Australia has a rare opportunity to supercharge the greening of the nation’s buildings, precincts and cities,” Mr Verwer said. “Public policy on sustainability is a hot topic for commercial building owners and developers, and will be a key focus for Green Cities 2010 delegates.”

“Undoubtedly there will be a robust debate concerning government sustainability initiatives and how they will determine the future of incentives for existing buildings, the Green Building Fund and carbon trading.”