New York Recovery Firm Looks to Hemp Fuels to Reduce Carbon Footprint

New York data recovery firm SalvageData has taken the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Google and other technology firms by moving toward sustainable energies for its technical centers. The companies New York hard drive recovery services centers are not especially large users of electricity – no more than the average technology company – but they are still keen to implement a new policy of a zero-carbon footprint. This is no easy aim to achieve as there are many places in which a business can be found to contribute to the carbon in the atmosphere.  Leaving a zero Carbon footprint takes more than simply buying electricity from a wind farm. The problem is that there simply isn’t enough to go around. The government is floundering when it comes to a real change of policy on energy production and usage so in the meantime companies like SalvageData have to spend time and decide themselves how they can contribute to protecting the environment for future generations.

One of the major changes in recent times is a move toward the use of hemp to produce energy, rather than fossil fuels. We are still digging coal out of the ground in vast amounts but could easily convert a lot of these power stations to operate using biomass-produced fuels. Research has shown that the alternatives, such as GM grown corn for fuel has inherent problems. The energy conversion rate for corn is good but it comes at a cost. Canola oil and sugar cane are also being grown for this purpose but none of these plants are ideal in every way.

The problem lies in the amount of input into the biomass to make them grow and top process thereafter. Corn is very inefficient in this respect as it produces starch for energy. Starch requires yet more energy to reduce it to the hydrocarbon content that is required for fuel. Conversely, hemp has a very good bio-mass conversion rate. The plant including stems and seeds produce a high energy fuel with little processing. Extraction is easy and distillation into higher energy fuels is a lot easier and less energy consuming than other bio-fuel crops. Hemp fuels are now just becoming a popular option for agricultural-based fuel production as hemp is incredibly fast and easy to grow, leaving little damage to the soil it grows in so repeated crop plantation without rotation is possible too – an important factor for biofuel growers. Hemp has an impressive 8x efficiency in biomass energy production in comparison to corn and double that of other biofuel plants.

Getting the government to maintain impetus in all this is a challenge for environmentalists but the world is changing and we are realizing that if we don’t act, it will be too late. The promotion of the use of bio-fuels would make a big difference, but progress is slow in this respect and the oil companies have a stranglehold on the world economy. Things are beginning to change however, and hopefully soon green energy will be readily available to all. In the meantime, SalvageData recovery will continue in its quest for a greener future by reducing their carbon footprint by doing whatever is possible to limit consumption and start using energy from sustainable sources.

Why is hemp still so unpopular – is there something we should know?

Hemp is ready to return to the mainstream as a major crop, with many thousands of hectares planted, an increasing amount each year. Historically, the reason for hemp use was related solely to the fact that this is indisputably one of the most useful plants on earth. From medicine to basic commodities like fiber and edible oil, the hemp plant has many applications. It is used for building materials, food, clothing, bio-fuel and now even plastics.
The hemp fiber itself is immensely strong, much stronger than most other natural fibers. This was originally what made hemp popular. The fibers once processed can be used to make everything from rope to clothing, canvas and other woven materials. Softer and more durable than cotton, it is a tragedy that the association with drugs made hemp such an unpopular agri-product for decades. Public view has changed now; not only is the potent form of hemp (which we know as cannabis) now widely accepted for medicinal use, in many cases it has been legalized for recreational use too.

The ability for agriculture to focus on the non-intoxicating version of the plant (which we call hemp) has only just become a mainstream option for many farmers who would be happy to grow it but are legislated against so they cannot. One of the most important new developments is the use of Hemp as a fuel. In tandem with this is its use in plastics. The IT manager at SalvageData a Virginia data recovery company recently suggested that all computers should be utilizing hemp plastic as screens, keyboards and computer casings are now one of the biggest landfill problems; especially since LED screens took over from tubed screens – when the next generation of screens is introduced at higher resolutions, there will be another wave of replacement activity. SalvageData are aiming to be a totally green company and are currently able to meet the most of the conditions that environmentalists have stated are necessary if the world is to make it long term. However, their business is small compared to IBM and other giants who must also take up new technologies such as hemp plastics. In the meantime the recycling of other computer components is far from satisfactory. (more…)

New System Proposed To Optimize Combined Energy Use

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113111343.htm

Engineers from the University of Zaragoza have developed an algorithm that can optimise hybrid electricity generation systems through combined use of renewable energies, such as photovoltaic and wind power, and non-renewables, such as diesel. Their study, published online in the magazine Renewable Energy, envisions storing the energy in batteries or hydrogen tanks.

“The objective of this project is to minimise both the costs and polluting emissions generated by energy production within isolated systems in the electric network, as well as reducing the amounts of unprovided energy (energy required by appliances and devices, but which cannot be supplied)” Rodolfo Dufo, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at the Higher Polytechnic Centre of the University of Zaragoza, told SINC.

The engineers looked at isolated installations, which are provided with electric energy from photovoltaic solar panels, aerogenerators – sometimes known as windmills – and diesel generators, which use electrochemical (normally lead acid) batteries or hydrogen (by means of electrolysers, hydrogen tanks and fuel batteries) for storage. They have also looked into the possibility of redirecting the hydrogen for external uses, such as powering a vehicle, for example. “The optimisation of all these systems is a very complex process, and classic optimisation techniques are not usually appropriate in these cases due to the high computational costs they incur,” said Dufo. (more…)

Turbulence for Two East Coast Offshore Wind Farms

By Kate Galbraith

Two offshore wind farms proposed along the East Coast are running into some turbulence.

A decision on whether to give an environmental go-ahead to Cape Wind, the controversial Massachusetts wind farm off the coast of Cape Code, could be delayed, reports The Boston Globe.

A Coast Guard review of Cape Wind has been extended at the request of a Minnesota congressman, James Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mr. Oberstar sought further study of how the turbines would affect ship radar. “It remains unclear whether the delay will prevent the Minerals Management Service, the agency responsible for evaluating Cape Wind and awarding its lease, from issuing its final environmental review by the end the year as planned,” The Globe reported in its Green Blog.

A Rhode Island offshore wind-farm proposal has also been unsettled by recent developments, according to Providence Business News — including the unexplained departure of the chief executive of Deepwater Wind, the developer (which also plans to help build a wind farm off New Jersey). Another hitch is the rise of a competing application, by Grays Harbor Ocean Energy. (more…)

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