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Friday, April 16, 2010


While I've recently been dabbling in saving Planet Earth and Humanity, today, I thought I would toss out a few interesting energy facts that caught my attention:

  1. On nuclear power: 94% of the uranium used in American nuclear reactors are imported. Oil today is “only” at 66%. As an aside, I read that Iran also imports uranium, and even their stockpile is being depleted. Ergo: just make sure they can't import any more.

  1. About windpower: 79% of the 2009 stimulus funds for wind machines went to foreign manufacturers.

  1. Future of plug-in electric vehicles: the lithium battery for the GM Volt will be supplied by South Korea (on license from Japan).

A little more than a year ago I wrote an article for The Huffington Post entitled, “Don’t Copy…Build Something Better.” I wondered why we weren’t developing our own motive source, and recommended the direct methanol fuel cell, for, given biomass, it makes a lot more economic sense to produce methanol over ethanol. Methanol is the ONLY liquid capable of being directly fed into a fuel cell. Ethanol and gasoline first need to be processed through an expensive reformer. Plus, under similar conditions, a fuel cell vehicle can go five times further than a lithium battery system. My HuffPo of 10June08 provides some details. Plus, no one is doing much R&D on this subject.

My sense is that the Farm Lobby, to protect its ethanol investments, has successfully prevented the U.S. Department of Energy from doing any research with methanol. The Department of Defense has supported development, but only for smaller size applications, like backpack use. Some day, it is predicted that this innovation will replace batteries. To upscale this technology for cars will take at least a decade, and might never be possible. But, just a thought, as Toshiba last year actually began marketing a direct methanol fuel cell for portable applications. So the concept is viable.


The Dow Jones Industrials sunk 126 to 11,018. One would tend to blame the civil fraud problems with Goldman Sachs (about a 13% drop in stock value today) as a shock to the system, but it turns out that the stock markets of the whole world fell over the past 24 hours, with the Japan Nikkei sinking 172 today. Everything decreased, as gold is down $21/toz to $1137 and crude oil dropped more than $2 bucks to under $83/barrel.


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