New gasoline station launches website to show customers a better way at the pump

Cox Petrol launched its new website to showcase the introduction of the newest brand of independent gasoline and gasoline stations in Texas

Showcasing the tag line, “Evolving the Fueling Experience,” the new website delivers on the Cox Petrol promise to make the gasoline-buying experience better for both customers and independent gas station owners, according to Michael Cox, vice president of sales for the brand.

“We’ve designed the website to be as customer-friendly as our gasoline service stations,” Cox said. “For consumers, buying gasoline is at best a chore that is often aggravated by fuel pumps and premises that are dirty and littered,” he explained. “At Cox, we’re making the gas buying experience pleasurable with an approach that reveals the pride we have in our product and the focus we have on our customers.”

The website’s look mirrors that of the new stations and explains some of the aggressive operational and marketing plans that the company says are calculated in order to change the pump experience and help station owners increase sales and profits.

Two of the new programs that are being implemented under the new Cox Petrol fueling concept are Fender Vendor™ and Cox Fuel Friends. Fender Vendor allows customers to purchase sodas at the fuel pump while they are filling up their cars and pay for all of their purchases with one swipe of their credit card. “You never even need to take young children out of their car seat,” Cox explained. Cox Fuel Friends is a frequent buyer program that allows customers to earn cents-per-gallon off on future purchases. Both Cox Fuel Friends and Fender Vendor will be available during the next 60 days.

The site also is home to the “Tank Talk Blog,” which will regularly update readers on store promotions and offer unique insights on topics such as gasoline prices, driving vacation ideas and how-to-do-it-better tips to keep in mind, from road trips and tailgate parties to nutrition on the road and fuel efficiency.

Cox Petrol plans to expand the network to some 30 stations during the next 16 months.

Hydrogen refuelling stations to open in Slovenia

Hydrogen refuelling stations to open in Slovenia

This summer, the first two hydrogen refuelling stations in Slovenia will be put in operation. The project is financed and coordinated by the Center of Excellence for Low-Carbon Technologies (CONOT), and project partners include INEA, expert in the field of industrial automation, process computer control and manufacturing informatics, and Petrol, Slovenia’s leading energy company and principal supplier of fuel, which will operate the hydrogen stations

A hydrogen fueled bus at a Petrol Slovenia stations

The stations will be delivered by Air Liquide by the end of July. One of the hydrogen stations will be installed in the city of Velenje and the other will be located in the Municipality of Bled, in the Julian Alps and one of Slovenia’s most picturesque and popular tourist destinations with more than 200,000 visitors annually. Bled has already seen the promotion of hydrogen for transportation, with the demonstration of a Rampini fuel cell bus and a Fiat Multipla vehicle during the 2011 World Rowing Championships at Lake Bled.

The project partners emphasise their intention to ensure the hydrogen stations stay in operation and welcome proposals for the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in these Slovenian regions.

Source Petro Plaza

Green Cities: Waste2Tricity Pushes ‘Game Changing’ Waste-to-Energy Tech

Graphic courtesy: Waste2Tricity

The folks over at Waste2Tricity in the UK believe they’ve hit upon a process and combination of technologies that are going to change the economics of the energy-from-waste (EfW) market. The consortium is putting together an EfW system and strategic plan ultimately based on two core components: at the front-end, plasma gasification technology is to be used to “gasify” waste that will feed clean, high-efficiency alkaline fuel cells that will produce electricity and hydrogen. Initially, W2T proposes using internal combustion engines (ICEs) on the back-end.

Aiming to turn urban waste into a local, renewable clean energy resource, UK governments since at least 2009 have been soliciting input from and providing incentives to private industry in the search for cost-effective EfW solutions. Waste2Tricity (W2T) says its plasma gasification-fuel cell system is not only head-and-shoulders above competing alternatives in terms of clean energy, it will be of a modular, scalable nature that will enable the cost-effective construction of EfW plants up and down the country, eliminating trash and waste and producing clean, low-carbon energy locally, at source. Adding to the possible benefits is the potential to use surplus hydrogen to stock hydrogen vehicle fueling stations.

“We’ll be running at the 10-MW scale taking waste as a feedstock. It’s much more distributed, and you’re avoiding the issue of grid losses [by minimizing transmission distance],” explained Howard White, a consultant to W2T. “You’re not having the grid losses and you’re boosting your efficiency because a lot of feedstock is essentially renewable and local.”

The High & Rising Cost of Waste

The W2T consortium — made up of alkaline fuel cell developer AFC Energy and AlterNRG, amongst others, was formed in 2009 as a result of rising fossil fuel costs over the past decade.

Since 2002, the high and rising price of fossil fuels has fundamentally changed the way government, business, and society look at energy, prompting individuals and groups across all three spheres to cast a wider net in the search for clean, renewable energy alternatives, as well ways to reduce the amount of energy that’s wasted.

At the same time, rising urban populations have led to more and more trash and waste, and less space to bury it. Reuse and recycling has increased, but they’re nowhere near large enough in scale today to effectively cope with the issue. That’s meant rising taxes for the public, including businesses, to haul away and bury or burn trash.

Burning it by conventional means has traditionally meant incinerating waste, and increasingly making use of the heat produced to fuel coal-fired electricity generation. It’s an old, centralized, large-scale, inefficient and very polluting means of converting waste to energy. Though, that doesn’t have to be, nor should it be, given advances in technology, W2T’s White and John Hall pointed out.

The UK’s Waste-from-Energy Drive

Since at least 2009, UK governments have been working on policies and the right combination of market-based incentives to commercialize a new generation of more efficient, much greener EfW plants.

“There’s been a drive to find a technology that will efficiently extract energy from waste, from renewable carbon feedstocks,” White elaborated. “The market has developed and there’s certainly been a lot of government interest in promoting advanced technologies. On the UK government side, that’s been focused on Advanced Conversion Technology — pyrolysis, gasification and anaerobic digestion. We have focused on gasification in W2T.”

After much back-and-forth between government and varied, often competing commercial and public interest stakeholders, a potential turning point occurred last August in the UK’s EfW market, continued W2T managing director John Hall: Air Products and AlterNRG received local council planning permission to build a utility-scale, advanced EfW plant in Teesside in the Tees Valley.

Air Products-AlterNRG’s proposed advanced waste gasification plant has been designed to process more than 300,000 metric tons of waste and produce 49-MW of electrical power, enough for some 50,000 homes. Plasma gasification equipment is to process the waste and channel it into natural gas turbines, which will generate electricity.

“The final decision depends on the future of the ROC (Renewable Obligation Certificate) regime,” Hall explained, a clean energy program established around 10 years ago along the lines of state REC programs that exist in the US.

A much anticipated reformulating of UK ROC rates — Electricity Market Reform (EMR) — for various forms of clean energy production — wind, solar, landfill gas, hydroelectric, etc. — that’s been delayed repeatedly now appears imminent. The new ROC rates will have a major impact on the financial viability and returns available to clean and renewable energy project developers and investors.

Scaling Down for Distributed, Local Power

In any event, “the Teesside project validates the technology,” Hall stated, noting that “it’s been operating eight years in Japan.”

Besides being much smaller in scale, thereby holding out the potential of locating EfW plants closer to sources of waste feedstock, W2T takes Air Products’ design one step further by replacing natural gas turbines with fuel cells. That will further boost the energy efficiency of the system, as well as reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions further, Hall and White explained.

According to the two W2T execs, their plasma gasification-fuel cell system can cost-effectively boost electricity output from waste conversion by 130% over steam turbines and as much as 70% above internal combustion engines (ICEs) and natural gas turbines. At the same time, substantial reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions would be realized, not to mention eliminating the nasty problems associated with disposing of fly ash.

AlterNRG acquired Westinghouse’s plasma gasification technology, which will be incorporated as the front-end of W2T’s EfW system. At the back-end will be AFC Energy alkaline fuel cells.

AFC’s been testing its modular, low-cost fuel cells with chemicals manufacturer Akzo Nobel at its Bitterfield chlor-alkali plants in Germany, where hydrogen is produced as a by-product in the making of chlorine, a widely used intermediary chemical that is in turn used to produce mass market products, such as poly vinyl chloride (PVC).

W2T’s Plasma Gasification-Fuel Cell Design

In W2T’s proposed system, syngas is produced as a result of the plasma gasification of organic waste. The syngas — primarily a mix of CO2, CO and H — is refined to remove contaminants, such as sulfur and nitrogen compounds — that can gum up natural gas turbine and fuel cell works.

The carbon monoxide (CO) is used to produce additional hydrogen and CO2 via a gas-water shift process. The hydrogen and CO2 are separated by means of pressure-swing adsorption (PSA), which results in highly refined hydrogen for the fuel cells, White explained.

The one process White said he believes is generally accepted as the best, most proven method of refining syngas to produce almost pure hydrogen is that of Calgary, Alberta-based W2T partner AlterNRG, which acquired the technology from Westinghouse, White noted.

“Syngas contains oils and tars that can gum up systems. At over 1200 degrees C, you crack the tars and oils. The majority of gasification systems operate at 850 degrees C and leave these contaminants in the gas stream.”

There is one missing link in W2T’s vision of a “closed-loop” EfW system: what happens to the CO2 captured during the process? White noted that 60%-70% of the cost of carbon capture and storage (CCS) lies in the extraction part of the process.

The Missing Link in a Closed Loop EfW System

Without carbon storage, or sequestration, any technology that uses hydrocarbons as a fuel, be it ICEs, gas turbines or fuel cells, produces CO2 and other emissions, he continued.

“However, if you look at the feedstock and see that 85% of it is renewable, it will result in a reduction in carbon emissions. If CCS is incorporated, it will result in negative carbon emissions.”

In addition, Hall added, fuel cells’ higher efficiency will result in pro rata reductions in the proportion of CO2 and emissions as compared to EfW systems where ICEs and natural gas turbines are used.

“You need sequestration to really close the loop; CO2 pipelines, etc., they’re part of long-term government strategies. They’re now trying to make industry carbon capture-ready.”

For its part, W2T is now moving forward with a project that entails building an 80,000-metric-ton EfW plant. Along the lines of Air Products’ Teesside plant, plans call for ICEs to be used in a first stage, to be replaced with AFC fuel cells at a later stage.

“We believe once you have a system with fuel cells linked in, then you’ll have a low-cost waste-to-energy plant that will outperform substantially any other solution on the market. It recalibrates the total cost of waste-to-energy downward, which will eliminate the practice of throwing waste into the ground.”

“You’ll get a sea change in the approach to waste overall,” White continued. “As opposed to a nuisance, waste becomes a great resource. As this resource is generally accepted, you’ll get the opportunity of a virtuous circle of distributed energy. The feedstock is produced in place, where the electricity is generated.” That sounds like a goal worth pursuing.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1fNOK)

Germany plans construction of 50 hydrogen fuel stations by 2015

The Linde Hydrogen Center

The German Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development has signed a joint Letter of Intent with several industry partners to expand the network of fuelling stations from current 15 stations across the country. The letter forms part of the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP), in which Germany’s federal government will work with its partners; Air Liquide, Air Products, Daimler, Linde and Total Germany to expand the public network.

The German government’s own NOW GmbH (National Organisation for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology) will coordinate the construction of the filling stations. The network of hydrogen filling stations accompanies the introduction of fuel cell vehicles that the automobile industry has announced for 2014/15.

Hydrogen Fueling

Partner, Daimler plans to be the first carmaker to start full commercial production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with plans to launch the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell by 2014.

Dr. Peter Ramsauer, Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development, said: “Electric vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells generate no harmful emissions. They also have a high range and can be refueled within minutes. To facilitate their introduction to the market, we need a network of filling stations that covers the major metropolitan areas and connects them to each other. We are therefore partnering with the private industry to setup a total of 50 hydrogen filling stations in Germany by the year 2015. By doing so, we create the basis for a demand-driven infrastructure for refueling hydrogen vehicles.”


Prof. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development: “Electric vehicles equipped with a battery and fuel cell will make a considerable contribution to sustainable mobility in the future. However, the success of fuel cell technology depends crucially on certain conditions being in place, such as the availability of a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure.”

Source – Petroleum Plaza

East Africa to See Natural Gas Boom?

A huge swathe of natural gas reservoirs have been discovered off the East coast of Africa and are set to catapult the region into being a major natural gas player on the world scene.

Already, planned investments worth tens of billions of dollars actually exceed the gross domestic products of some host nations, including the regional powerhouse Kenya, and all the way down to the impoverished Mozambique.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, East Africa’s coastal region — which stretches out to the Seychelles — holds 441.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas; that’s approximately 50 percent more than in Saudi Arabia.

“The gas discoveries offshore in Mozambique and Tanzania are large and world-class, with potential for more to come, including prospects for an oil leg,” said Duncan Clarke, CEO of oil consulting company Global Pacific.

“These finds will lead to LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants … and will make the zone akin to the Northwest Shelf in Australia,” which can produce 23 billion cubic meters a year, he told AFP.

Baobab field next to Pemba bay, Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.

For example, Houston-based Anadarko in June announced that it had found up to 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources in northern Mozambique, which led to the company proposing an investment of $15 billion to set up LNG facilities. Mozambique’s gross domestic product for 2011 was only $12 billion.

“It will bring a huge flow of foreign direct investment in the region that would contribute to rapid economic growth in the region,” said Silas Olang, east African coordinator from resources watchdog Revenue Watch Institute.

But there will be difficulties in setting up major industry in the region.

“There’s very limited infrastructure in place,” said Tim Dodson, vice president for exploration at Norway’s Statoil on the company website.

Mozambique is, again, a good example of the problems that will be faced. Pemba is a port city, and the closest for offshore drillers. It is located 3,000 kilometres north of the capital of Maputo, linked by dirt roads and with very little housing.

Not only that, but the countries in question lack the skilled workforce to set up such industries, with only 50 mining graduates a year.

Time will tell, but the hope is that the investment and risk of losing said investments will minimise the soon-to-be expected corruption so native to the region. This won’t be a problem solved anytime soon, though — production is planned for five years from now, and may take even longer.

“There could be the expectation that natural gas will be exploited tomorrow and we’ll benefit immediately,” said Olang. But that simply is not going to be the case.

Of course, the green community is a bit split on natural gas. Many see it as an important “bridge fuel” to more truly clean, renewable energy. However, others have shown that it’s effect on the climate is so bad that it’s not worth using as a bridge fuel (even if that’s all it would be used for, which seems debatable in the instance above), and it has also been linked to earthquakes on several occasions and pollution of local water supplies.

I know our readers are also a bit split on natural gas — what are your thoughts about all this?

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1fcKp)

EPA approves fuel blend containing 15% ethanol – ‘E15’ won’t likely be at the pump soon, since sizable hurdles remain

Fuel dispenser selection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave final approval on Friday for a fuel blend containing 15 percent ethanol to be sold at gas stations across the country, but a series of hurdles remain that could prevent it from being available to consumers anytime soon

Until now, U.S. companies were not allowed to sell a fuel that contained more than 10 percent ethanol for use in most conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Most gasoline sold in the United States contains the blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol.

The EPA, which approved the new blend in January 2011, had to first complete a series of steps before E15 could go on sale to prevent misfueling and ensure that the fuel is properly marked and sold. The blend has been approved for use in cars and light trucks from the 2001 model year onward, but it is banned from older vehicles and light equipment.

“I think there are a number of stations, particularly in the Midwest, that will be very interested in introducing E15, and there will certainly be encouragement from the renewable fuel industry for it to be done as quickly as possible,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

Vilsack said there are a limited number of flex-fuel vehicles in the U.S. that can use a fuel containing 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. And with most gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol, boosting the additive to 15 percent was one way to increase the use of the renewable fuel, he said. “Anything that paves the way for E15 is a good thing, and today we got the last hurdle removed, so we should be able to see additional biofuel use,” Vilsack added. Still, he acknowledged it will “take some time” before the E15 blend is readily available.

The EPA said while some companies may introduce E15 into the marketplace, some federal, state and local requirements, along with other issues, must still be addressed. For example, dispenser and tank compatibility with E15 must be considered by marketers of the fuel. In addition, because several states restrict the sale of some gasoline-ethanol blends, law changes might be needed before E15 can be sold in those states.

Iowa is the nation’s largest ethanol-producing state, with 41 plants that in 2011 produced about 3.7 billion of the total 13 billion gallons of ethanol produced nationwide.

Corn-based ethanol has been touted by the ethanol industry and American farmers who produce corn as a way to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil, create jobs and boost income for rural communities. Critics counter that ethanol leads to food inflation by driving up the cost of meat and poultry.

Pat Westhoff, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, said the rollout of E15 to the marketplace could be very gradual. “I wouldn’t expect to be seeing it in gasoline stations across the country anytime real soon,” added Westhoff, noting the Midwest as one exception where the fuel could appear relatively quickly. “As of right now, there appears to be some resistance on the part of consumers because of concerns about mileage and concerns about (its impact) on their vehicle.”

In a joint statement, the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy called the announcement “a victory for American consumers.”

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents 500 oil and natural gas companies, downplayed the EPA announcement. “The bottom line is that it’s premature to say that it’s ready to be sold — the obstacles remain. Even the EPA acknowledged obstacles remain,” said Bob Greco, an API director. “Our position still remains that the partial waiver of E15 was premature.”

A series of studies have promoted the money ethanol has saved consumers at the pump. Most recently, a study conducted by economic professors at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University and sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association estimated ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011.

A federal renewable fuel standard mandates the use of 13.2 billion gallons of alternative fuels in 2012, with most of it coming from corn. By 2022, the figure would require 36 billion gallons to be blended into transportation fuel.

Source – Petro Plaza

Turning Carbon Dioxide Into a Green Fuel

A research team is working on turning carbon dioxide into methanol to use later as a green fuel.

The researchers from the Freiburg Materials Research Center (FMF), led by the chemist Prof. Dr. Ingo Krossing, have developed a new system that produces methanol from CO2 and hydrogen. They hope to eventually be able to harness the power of CO2 on a large scale and integrate it back into the utilization cycle as a sustainable form of energy production.

In order to produce methanol, Krossing’s doctoral candidates combine the carbon dioxide with hydrogen in a high pressure environment, a process known as hydrogenolysis.

Doctoral candidate Elias Frei has already been conducting research on methanol for several years. “Our goal is to develop new catalyst systems and methods for accelerating the chemical reaction even more,” explains Frei.

The researchers at FMF use the metal oxides copper, zinc, and zirconium dioxide as catalysts, enabling the reaction to happen at lower temperatures. In this way, the gases don’t have to be heated as much. Together the catalysts form a so-called mixed system of surface-rich porous solid matter with defined properties. If the catalysts consist of nanoparticles, their activity is increased even more.


Frei and colleague Dr. Marina Artamonova have also been testing techniques by which the catalysts are impregnated with ionic liquids, salts in a liquid state that cover the catalyst like a thin film. This would help fix the CO2 and hydrogen to the catalyst and therefore remove methanol and water. This conversion would subsequently lead to the production of pure methanol. The researchers believe that in two years they will be able to produce methanol on a mass scale using this technique.

The theory runs that the CO2 would be filtered out of the waste gas stream of a combined heat and power plant and used to create methanol. This methanol would be used in motors, but because it was being used twice — so to speak — it would theoretically be possible to use 50 percent less CO2 to create the same amount of energy.

The amount of methanol that could be converted from 10 percent of the yearly CO2 emissions in Germany would cover the country’s yearly fuel needs.

“There is enough energy out there, but it needs to be stored,” says Frei. “As a sustainable means of energy storage, methanol has potential in a wide range of areas. We want to use that potential, because the storage and conversion of energy are important topics for the future.”

Source: Freiburg Materials Research Center
Image Source: joezero5 on Flickr

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1eqRY)

15 Hot Tips for a Cool Summer / Save money, water, and energy

Tips for a safe and enjoyable summer:

1. Energy Star savings for your home: The average home spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling. These cooling bills can be lowered by simply changing out incandescent light bulbs with EPA’s Energy Star qualified lighting, which use less energy and produce approximately 75 percent less heat. Raising your thermostat by only two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent too.http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.es_at_home

2. Increase your gas mileage: Obey the speed limit; go easy on the breaks and avoid hard accelerations; reduce your time idling; and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you’re not using your removable roof rack take it off to improve your fuel economy. http://www.fueleconomy.gov

3. Prevent skin cancer and be SunWise: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and is the most common cancer among 20 to 30-year-olds. Remember to practice safe sun habits.http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/actionsteps.html

4. Heading to the beach? Check the water: Americans take almost two billion trips to the beach every year. Beaches are a place to play, watch wildlife, fish, and swim. Learn more on how to plan a safe trip to the beach and check out state specific beach advisory and closing notifications.http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/whereyoulive_state.cfm

5. Take EPA’s apps with you on your smartphone: The AirNow app gives location-specific current air quality information to use to protect your health when planning daily activities and the Ultraviolet (UV) Index app provides daily and hourly forecast of the UV radiation levels from the sun so you can better prevent overexposure to the sun. http://m.epa.gov/apps/index.html

6. Enjoy the outdoors and capture the State of the Environment: Almost 40 years ago, EPA’s Documerica project captured thousands of images across the nation as EPA’s work was just beginning. Now it’s your chance to mark the progress and submit environmental photos to EPA’s State of the Environment photo project.http://blog.epa.gov/epplocations/about/

7. Protect yourself with insect repellents: Mosquitoes and ticks can carry diseases but you can protect yourself by choosing the right repellent and using it correctly. Read the product label before using; apply just enough to cover exposed skin and clothing; and look for the protection time that meets your needs. Children can use the same repellents as adults unless there is a restriction on the label.http://epa.gov/pesticides/insect/safe.htm

8. Water wisely: A large percentage of water we use at home is used outdoors. As much as 30 percent of that outdoor water use can be wasted due to evaporation by watering in the middle of the day. Water in the morning when winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Look for the new WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controller that uses local weather data to determine whether your sprinkler system should turn on.http://www.epa.gov/watersense

9. Clean greener: If you’re going to wash the car, deck, boat, or RV– be sure to look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) label to quickly identify and choose cleaning products that are safer for families and also help protect the environment. Look for the DfE label on grill cleaners as well. http://www.epa.gov/dfe

10. Improve your indoor air: About 90 percent of people’s time is spent indoors. While inside this summer, make sure to free your house of mold, test your home for radon, check your carbon monoxide detector and ask those who smoke to go outdoors. http://www.epa.gov/iaq

11. Check into an Energy Star hotel: On average, America’s 47,000 hotels spend more than $2,000 per available room each year on energy. Look for an Energy Star certified hotel–they perform in the top 25 percent of hotels nationwide, use an average of 35 percent less energy and emit an average of 35 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than peers. http://www.energystar.gov/buildinglist

12. Waste less and remember to recycle: Each year, Americans generate millions of tons of waste in homes and communities but it’s easy to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Recycled items such as glass can be used in roadway asphalt (glassphalt) and recovered plastic can be used in carpeting and park benches. Learn what you can do to waste less. http://www.epa.gov/waste/wycd/summer.htm

13. Season firewood: Summer is a great time to season firewood in preparation for fall and winter. Remember to split firewood to the proper size for your wood stove or fireplace, but no larger than 6 inches in diameter; stack firewood to allow air to circulate around it; cover the top of the stack to protect it from the rain; and store your firewood for at least 6 months before using it. http://www.epa.gov/burnwise

14. Looking for a summer project and tired of the heat? Try composting: Composting can be a fun and educational summer project that saves landfill space, helps feed the soil and prevents methane, a potent greenhouse gas. http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/rrr/composting/basic.htm

15. Let summer inspire you and submit Six Words for the Planet: Keep the creativity flowing beyond the school year and into the summer by submitting a meaningful story or idea in just six words.http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2012/04/sixwords/

Source – EPA

Shell to build CNG stations at TravelCenters of Americas stops

Shell Oil Products U.S. will add compressed natural gas filling stations at some of the travel centers that a northeast Ohio company operates along major interstates, primarily in the Midwest and eastern U.S.

Shell will install at least 200 of the filling stations at a minimum of 100 Westlake-based TravelCenters of America facilities, according to a newspaper report. TravelCenters has 238 locations.

The company, which has about 3,000 repair technicians, plans to train those workers to work on vehicles that run on compressed natural gas, the newspaper reports. TravelCenters expects the first station to be operational next year.

Source- Petro Plaza

On Building & Driving a Solar Car…

Someone representing Stanford’s Solar Car team recently reached out and shared the interview featured below with me. It’s and interview with a multi-year member of the team. I thought it was interesting enough to post here on CleanTechnica, so here it is (reposted from CJEnvironmental):

Stanford’s Solar Car, Xenith, cost about $480,000 in parts to build. Photo courtesy of Stanford Solar Car Project.

Stanford senior and Club Business Manager Wesley Ford spoke with CJ Environmental about the project, Xenith’s last race, and driving down California’s Ventura Highway in a carbon-fiber solar car that weighs only 375 lbs – less than half the weight of the world’s fattest man (Xenith is street legal). As the business manager and member of the Stanford Solar Car Club since his freshman year, Ford has been involved in almost every aspect of the car’s production: from contributing to the manifacturing of the car during his freshman year to acting as the team’s financial manager. The Project is almost entirely student-run.

When the school year ends in mid-June, Ford and some other members of the squad will head to North Carolina to perform wind-testing on Xenith, in which they hope to gather data that will help them develop even better technologies for the next iteration of the solar car. Here’s what Wesley had to say:

 

CJ: When did you join the Stanford Solar Car Project?

WF: I joined just after my freshman year. It’s the largest student engineering project on campus, and it looked like a lot of fun.

 

CJ: So the club is between solar cars right now?

WF: Xenith raced in October, so we’re starting a brand-new cycle. We’re designing the car through this coming summer. Next fall, winter and spring we’ll be building the car, and the following October (2013) we’ll be racing it. So we’re trying to improve the current design, see how well our computer models matched the real world performance of the car.

 

CJ: So how does the car itself work compared to a normal car?

WF: There are three big subsystems: The solar panels on top that convert solar energy into electrical energy that we can use, a battery pack that either charges or receives power from the solar panels directly, and a motor that propels the car forward on the highway.

Most of the other systems are the same (as a regular car). Same steering system, hydraulic brakes. It’s street legal, but it’s a little bit hard to see when you’re in the car. But there are no worries about merging in traffic. Driving it isn’t bad. It can go highway speeds. It’s a bit loud on the side and the compartment’s tight, and the car only fits one driver.

 

CJ: What’s the fastest you’ve taken it?

WF: About 80 miles an hour using the battery pack to pass a car on the highway. But if we’re cruising on solar power, we target speeds of 45 to 55 mph.

 

CJ: How long does the battery pack last for?

WF: Throughout the day you’ll be charging or recharging the battery pack. Midday you’re probably burning the pack more. One charge can go 150 to 200 miles with just the battery alone.

 

CJ: That’s crazy. Who developed the battery?

WF: We developed it ourselves. The actual cells we sourced from Panasonic.

 

CJ: Doesn’t the Nissan Leaf only go 100 miles on a single charge?

WF: We make compromises that most car makers wouldn’t want to make. Our biggest motivations in designing a car are making it aerodynamic and light weight, with low power consumption. A normal car would be much heavier with a lot of different amenities and luxuries. Our intention is to get the best components we can to make it as efficient as possible. We build with no limits.

 

CJ: So what technologies can be taken to the real world?

WF: The solar panels we developed are being tested for how their efficiency ranks compared to those produced by the world record holders. Some of our battery monitoring systems are unique and new, as well.

We don’t do a lot in terms of licensing technologies directly, but our alumni leave to use their expertise in their professional careers. JB Straubel (Chief Technology Officer of Tesla) worked on the solar car, and he presumably took some of the ideas he developed at Stanford to design the Tesla Roadster.

 

CJ: Since you can’t reuse Xenith for the next race, what are you going to do with the car?

WF: Right now we’re hoping to put it in a museum. Otherwise it’ll be housed at an alumni’s home. It’s also good to use as a training tool for new members, and we also do a lot of outreach events with Xenith. We’re going to visit schools, trying to show the connection between green technology and the automotive (world). We do a lot of outreach work to show the community what’s possible.

 

CJ: Any big scares when you guys have taken Xenith on the road?

WF: Nothing too big. It’s nice in the fact that we have escort vans in front of and behind the solar car that act as its eyes and ears. The one thing that does freak out other drivers is that the car can turn all three wheels in different directions to optimize airflow. All of a sudden a car on the other side of the highway will notice that the solar panels are pointed towards them (even though it’s staying in its lane), and they’ll suddenly veer off the road thinking it’s going to hit them.

Stanford’s Solar Car, Xenith, may look like it’s heading right for the big rig, but it’s three wheels are actually pointed parallel to the road. Three-wheel steering helps the car optimize windflow efficiency. Photo courtesy of Stanford Solar Car Project.

 

CJ: Tell me more about the last race.

WF: We place fourth in the production class (editors note: in the group of cars that were street legal) and 11th overall out of 40 cars. We had higher aspirations, but we had a breakdown on the first day and a bunch of flat tires. We fell to 17th after the first day but rallied back to 11th.

 

CJ: How long did it take?

WF: Five to six days. It varies from year to year. Last race was a slow year because there were thunderstorms. You do get some power production through the solar panels but it’s much less than if there were clear blue skies.

 

CJ: Must be a fun experience, though.

WF: It’s definitely exciting. We go down a few weeks before the race and do the press work, ship the car by ocean freight, test it in the Outback. The race itself is 3,000 km from coast to coast from Darwin to Darwin to Adelaide. You start at 8 or 9 am each day and you stop the race at 5 pm each day. Wherever you are, you just pull off the road and spend the night there. Hopefully you have your tents and water supplies ready. There aren’t many towns in the outback, so you’re setting up a tent and cooking in the dark.

 

CJ: So do you make the freshmen trek to towns for supply runs? 

WF: Not really (small laugh). By the time you get to Australia after two years of building a car you’re going to be pretty good friends.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1e26u)