Month: December 2012

Crude Glycerol as Cost-Effective Fuel for Combined Heat and Power to Replace Fossil Fuels, Final Technical Report

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The primary objectives of this work can be summed into two major categories. Firstly, the fundamentals of the combustion of glycerol (in both a refined and unrefined form) were to be investigated, with emphasis of the development of a system capable of reliably and repeatedly combusting glycerol as well as an analysis of the emissions produced during glycerol combustion. Focus was placed on quantifying common emissions in comparison to more traditional fuels and this work showed that the burner developed was able to completely combust glycerol within a relatively wide range of operating conditions. Additionally, focus was placed on examining specific emissions in more detail, namely interesting NOx emissions observed in initial trials, acrolein and other volatile organic emissions, and particulate and ash emissions.

This work showed that the combustion of crude glycerol could result in significantly reduced NOx emissions as a function of the high fuel bound oxygen content within the glycerol fuel. It also showed that when burned properly, the combustion of crude glycerol did not result in excessive emissions of acrolein or any other VOC compared to the combustion from more traditional fuels. Lastly however, this work has shown that in any practical application in which glycerol is being burned, it will be necessary to explore ash mitigation techniques due to the very high particulate matter concentrations produced during glycerol combustion. These emissions are comparable to unfiltered coal combustion and are directly tied to the biodiesel production method.

The second focus of this work was directed to developing a commercialization strategy for the use of glycerol as a fuel replacement. This strategy has identified a 30 month plan for the scaling up of the laboratory scale burner into a pre-pilot scale system. Additionally, financing options were explored and an assessment was made of the economics of replacing a traditional fuel (namely natural gas) with crude glycerol from biodiesel production. This analysis showed that the cost of replacing natural gas with crude glycerol requires a strong function of the market price per unit of energy for the traditional fuel. However, the economics can be improved through the inclusion of a federal tax credit for the use of a renewable fuel. The conclusion of this analysis also shows that the ideal customer for energy replacement via crude glycerol is biodiesel producers who are located in remote regions, where the cost of energy is higher and the cost of crude glycerol is lowest. Lastly, the commercialization strategy analyzed competing technologies, namely traditional natural gas and electric heaters, as well as competing glycerol burners, and concludes with a discussion of the requirements for a pilot demonstration.

Economizer Based Data Center Liquid Cooling with Advanced Metal Interfaces

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A new chiller-less data center liquid cooling system utilizing the outside air environment has been shown to achieve up to 90% reduction in cooling energy compared to traditional chiller based data center cooling systems. The system removes heat from Volume servers inside a Sealed Rack and transports the heat using a liquid loop to an Outdoor Heat Exchanger which rejects the heat to the outdoor ambient environment. The servers in the rack are cooled using a hybrid cooling system by removing the majority of the heat generated by the processors and memory by direct thermal conduction using coldplates and the heat generated by the remaining components using forced air convection to an air- to- liquid heat exchanger inside the Sealed Rack. The anticipated benefits of such energy-centric configurations are significant energy savings at the data center level. When compared to a traditional 10 MW data center, which typically uses 25% of its total data center energy consumption for cooling this technology could potentially enable a cost savings of up to $800,000-$2,200,000/year (assuming electricity costs of 4 to 11 cents per kilowatt-hour) through the reduction in electrical energy usage.

How BMW is driving smart energy strategies

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

BMW recently convened a group of transportation, electric vehicle (EV) and energy thought leaders in Silicon Valley to participate in a dialogue with their senior executives about sustainability, energy and mobility services. The discussion also focused on V2G (vehicle-to-grid) integrations pondering new smart grid convergences with sustainability principles.

BMW’s guiding view is that sustainability along the entire value chain is inseparable from their corporate self-image. The company has been systematically reducing energy use in facilities through energy-efficient materials, products, and processes; and in vehicles through use of regenerative energy technologies.

UK: Guide to Citizen Science

Via Docuticker.

UK: Guide to Citizen Science

Source: Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UK)

A new practical guide on how to develop, implement and evaluate citizen science projects to monitor the UK’s environment is published today. The guide is based on conclusions from a comprehensive report reviewing more than 200 citizen science projects from the UK and around the world.

Scientists from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the Natural History Museum in London were commissioned by the UK Environmental Observation Framework (UK-EOF) to undertake a review of citizen science. The aim of the project “Understanding Citizen Science and Environmental Monitoring” was to learn lessons from past citizen science projects. The report and guide published today are particularly timely because there is growing interest in using citizen science, an increasingly valuable approach to scientific discovery, for environmental monitoring purposes….

Citizen science can broadly be defined as the involvement of volunteers in science. The UK-EOF project reviewed 234 projects ranging in scale from small one-off local surveys, such as a bioblitz in a local park, to large scale long-term programmes, such as the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The project team studied the motivations of volunteers, held structured interviews with users of citizen science and environmental monitoring data, and looked at how such projects help meet policy needs.

The practical guide accompanying today’s full project report shares the good practices found during the review process, making suggestions on how to plan, carry out, and evaluate citizen science projects to provide benefits for both participants and potential data users.

+ Report (PDF; 3.5 MB)

+ Practical Guide (PDF; 3.5 MB)

Climate Change Policy and the Adoption of Methane Digesters on Livestock Operations

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Methane digesters—biogas recovery systems that use methane from manure to generate electricity—have not been widely adopted in the United States because costs have exceeded benefits to operators. Burning methane in a digester reduces greenhouse gas emissions from manure management. A policy or program that pays producers for these emission reductions—through a carbon offset market or directly with payments—could increase the number of livestock producers who would profit from adopting a methane digester. We developed an economic model that illustrates how dairy and hog operation size, location, and manure management methods, along with electricity and carbon prices, could influence methane digester profits. The model shows that a relatively moderate increase in the price of carbon could induce significantly more dairy and hog operations, particularly large ones, to adopt a methane digester, thereby substantially lowering emissions of greenhouse gases.

West Village Community: Quality Management Processes and Preliminary Heat Pump Water Heater Performance

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West Village, a multiuse project underway at the University of California Davis, represents a ground-breaking sustainable community incorporating energy efficiency measures and on-site renewable generation to achieve community-level Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goals. When complete, the project will provide housing for students, faculty, and staff with a vision to minimize the community’s impact on energy use by reducing building energy use, providing on-site generation, and encouraging alternative forms of transportation. This focus of this research is on the 192 student apartments that were completed in 2011 under Phase I of the West Village multiyear project. The numerous aggressive energy efficiency measures implemented result in estimated source energy savings of 37% over the Building America B10 Benchmark. This research seeks to evaluate performance and efficiency of the central heat pump water heaters as a strategy to provide efficient electric water heating for net-zero all-electric buildings and where natural gas is not available on site. In addition, effectiveness of the quality assurance and quality control processes implemented to ensure proper system commissioning and to meet program participation requirements is evaluated. Recommendations for improvements that could improve successful implementation for large-scale, high performance communities are identified.

Estimating climate change effects on installation energy use

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In its 2009 report , the U.S. Global Change Research Program stated that climate change impacts are already being observed across the United States, and ecosystems and society are going to have to adapt to the ongoing changes in climate. As a result, Executive Order 13514 of October 5, 2009, directed the formation of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, jointly chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and staffed with representatives from more than 20 federal agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD). The task force recently recommended that the federal government expand and strengthen the nation’s capacity to prepare for climate change. The task force further recommended that federal agencies make adaptation a standard part of agency planning.

Following the recommendations of the task force, as well as direction from the National Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of Climate Change and the Quadrennial Defense Review, DOD is now beginning to develop policies to ensure that climate change is properly accounted for in the department’s infrastructure planning process.

Many aspects of installation infrastructure and management are subject to the effects of climate change. The challenge that is discussed most often is sea level rise and its obvious implications for coastal installations. Drought and its implications for water supply are also often discussed, as are the increase in severity of hurricanes and tropical storms and the resulting flooding and damage to structures. In this memo, we look at an obvious but seldom discussed implication of climate change for installation managers: rising temperatures and their implications for installation energy use.