I’m currently working on another project, which is taking up much of my time. This week we had about 200mm of rain in one day. That could have been why my cable connection to the internet disappeared for 36 hours. I’m grateful to John D who sent me the links for each item in the following except the last.
Zero-emissions engine that runs on liquid air
A new zero-emissions engine capable of competing commercially with hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric systems appeared on the radar when respected British engineering consultancy Ricardo validated Dearman engine technology and its commercial potential.
The Dearman engine operates by injecting cryogenic (liquid) air into ambient heat inside the engine to produce high pressure gas that drives the engine – the exhaust emits cold air. It’s cheaper to build than battery electric or fuel cell technology, with excellent energy density, fast refuelling and no range anxiety. It just might be a third alternative.
Among the advantages are that it doesn’t catch fire or explode and doesn’t require rare materials.
Residential green building trends
According to a post at Climate Progress the total green building market is expected to be worth $135 billion in the US in the next three years, with non-residential activity set to triple. Residential opportunities are growing as well. The post lists some top trends that will help accelerate growth in the residential market, as compiled by the Earth Advantage Institute.
These include greater urban density, multifamily homes, energy auditing and retrofitting, new materials, monitoring and tracking devices, and the broader adoption of residential energy ratings for homes.
Energy labelling systems are appearing in many states, offering a miles-per-gallon style estimate of a home’s energy consumption for home buyers and home owners. The Energy Performance Score and the Department of Energy’s own Home Energy Score have been rolled out in different climate zones across the US to encourage home owners to compare energy use and undertake energy upgrade work.
Blowing bubbles to reduce friction on ship hulls
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and transport company Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) have been investigating a system intended to reduce the frictional resistance between a vessel’s hull and the seawater using a layer of air bubbles known as the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS).
To verify the CO2 reduction efficiency of MALS, MHI has installed it on the “YAMATAI,” a module carrier operated by an NYK subsidiary. A module carrier was chosen as the first permanent installation of the system because they have a shallow-draft hull that generates relatively low water pressure, which minimizes the amount of electricity required by an air blower to supply air to the vessel’s bottom. Additionally, the flat, wide bottom is able to better retain the supplied air under the vessel’s bottom.
Initially they expect a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 10% but with additional design features they expect an overall cut of 35%.
Alarming outlook for urban water supply
This post at Climate Progress looks at the issue of the impact of drought especially on urban water supply in the US and the world. It draws from a post by Jay Kimball at 8020 Vision. Concerns include:
- By 2020, California will face a shortfall of fresh water as great as the amount that all of its cities and towns together are consuming today.
- By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in conditions of absolute water scarcity, and 65 percent of the worlds population will be water stressed.
- In the US, 21 percent of irrigation is achieved by pumping groundwater at rates that exceed the water supplies ability to recharge.
Mitigation strategies suggested include greater urban density to allow more water catchment to remain, green housing development to capture and treat water before it becomes urban runoff, and reviving rust-belt cities rather than continuing to expand in the sunbelt.
A criticism of the article is that the maps focus on the present and recent past. The world map, for example is from 2003. An earlier post which linked to a NCAR study of drought contained this scary map:
It should be noted that drought involves more than precipitation. Here’s an image from IPCC AR4 that includes soil moisture, runoff and evaporation as well:
I don’t think you can place a high degree of confidence on these forecasts on a regional basis, but the chances that significant and problematic change will occur are quite high.
The true effect of Kyoto
Marcus Preist in the AFR did a recent article on a study by Rahel Aichele and Gabriel Felbermayr on the effects of outsourcing industries to developing countries in implementing the Kyoto Protocol. Here’s the abstract:
The carbon footprint of a country refers to the flow of CO2 emissions caused by domestic absorption (i.e., consumption and investment) activities. Trade in goods drives a wedge between the footprint and domestic emissions. We provide a new panel database on carbon footprints and carbon net trade. Using a first-differenced IV estimation strategy, we evaluate the effects of ratification of binding Kyoto commitments on the carbon footprint and emissions. Instrumenting countries’ Kyoto commitment by their participation in the International Criminal Court, we show that Kyoto commitment has reduced domestic emissions in committed countries by about 7%, has not lowered carbon footprints, but has increased the share of imported over domestic emissions by about 14 percentage points. It follows that the Kyoto Protocol has had at best no effect on world-wide emissions. The results highlight the difficulties of unilateral climate policies. (Emphasis added)
Here, I think, is at least a version of the paper, which I haven’t had time to read.
Greg Hunt of course said, we told you so. A spokesman for Greg Combet said, well that’s why we are giving assistance to trade exposed industries.
Erwin Jackson of the Climate Institute said the research was not robust, because while most countries ratified Kyoto in 2002 they were not obliged to cut emissions until 2007, so they didn’t have to do anything to meet targets.
Be that as it may, the authors main contention is that while Kyoto may have been an important first step, a broader international approach is needed.