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Posts Tagged ‘fossil fuel’

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Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
The world’s largest container-shipping company, Maersk, has promised to make its operations zero carbon by 2050. Doing so will require using new fuels, such as hydrogen.

Would you pay more for goods delivered on ships that don’t use fossil fuels? Many people can’t afford to pay more, so sometimes the idea of cutting our dependency on oil and coal seems impossible. Fortunately — because they don’t know what’s impossible — young people are leading the charge.

But even corporations are starting to think it would be to their advantage to go carbon free. Maersk, the world’s largest container-shipping company, based in Denmark, is one such corporation. And there are others.

As Rebecca Hersher reported at National Public Radio (NPR), “The global shipping industry is enormous — thousands of ships carry billions of dollars of goods each year across nearly every ocean on the planet.

“Those ships run mostly on a particularly dirty type of fuel known as heavy fuel oil, or bunker fuel. It’s thick and sooty, and when it burns, it emits sulfur and particulate matter that can cause respiratory illness. It also emits greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat in the atmosphere and cause global warming.

” ‘If shipping was a country, it would be the sixth-largest polluter in the world,’ says Nerijus Poskus of the shipping technology company Flexport. ‘About 3% of global emissions are released by ocean freight shipping.’

“The industry is growing so steadily, he says, that it’s projected to produce more than 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury if ships continue to burn the same fuel, which is a real possibility considering that most cargo ships are designed to last at least 30 years.

“Yet there are signs that the status quo is changing and that a new fuel could make cargo ships among the cleanest transportation methods on Earth. …

“The international body that helps create global shipping regulations has clamped down on emissions of some air-polluting substances when ships are in or near ports. The new regulations, which started going into effect in 2012 and which decrease limits dramatically in January 2020, require ships to significantly cut the amount of sulfur pollution they emit when they’re near land. For the U.S., the regulations apply anywhere within 200 miles of its coastline. …

“Additional increasingly stringent emissions standards are planned for the next two decades. The largest container-shipping company in the world, Maersk, announced in 2018 that it intends to make its operations carbon free by 2050, though it’s still unclear how the company would achieve that goal.

“What is clear is that success will require new ships, new engines and — above all else — a new fuel. … Research at the U.S. Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratories suggests that of [liquefied natural gas and hydrogen], hydrogen is the most promising.

“Using hydrogen to generate electricity is very clean. Hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen with oxygen and create electricity and water. The electricity can be used to turn a propeller, for example. The exhaust from fuel cells is moist air — with no greenhouse gases. …

“Leonard Klebanoff, a researcher at Sandia … and his then-research partner, Joe Pratt, started systematically analyzing whether current ships could be retrofitted to run using hydrogen fuel cells instead of fossil fuels.

“Pratt says the project started when a San Francisco Bay ferry operator asked the Energy Department whether it was possible to switch his fleet over to hydrogen power. … The answer, they found, was yes.

“The main issue was about size. For each unit of energy, liquid hydrogen is about four times larger by volume than conventional diesel … but ‘the efficiency of a fuel cell is about twice as much as a diesel engine,’ Klebanoff says. …

“When they analyzed the entire system, Klebanoff and Pratt found that it would be possible to retrofit most types of existing vessels to run on hydrogen and even easier to construct a new ship powered by fuel cells.”

Read more at NPR, here.

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Once again, Sweden is ahead of the curve, as it tests two versions of an electric road. The idea is to move away from fossil fuels and creative a more sustainable energy future.

Green Car Congress is a website that covered the story in June.

“Sweden inaugurated a test stretch of electric road on the E16 in Sandviken, thus becoming one of the first countries to conduct tests with electric power for heavy transports on public roads.

“The test stretch on the E16 is two kilometers long. The technology is similar to light rail, with contact lines 5.4 meters over the roadway. The truck has a pantograph on the roof that feeds 750 VDC to the truck’s hybrid electric system. The current conductor can connect automatically at speeds up to 90 km/h (56 mph). The test stretch is equipped with posts 60 meters apart that hold up the electric lines over one of the lanes.

“At a rest area, there is a transformer for low-voltage direct current of the same type as in the light rail network. Other traffic on the road will not be affected. …

“An electrified road is one in which the electricity supply for vehicle propulsion is continuously supplied in order to keep the vehicle moving and to avoid recharging requirements. …

“The technologies for electric roads have developed rapidly over the last few years, and are now mature enough that some of them can be tested. Last year, the Swedish Transport Administration, in consultation with Vinnova [Sweden’s innovation agency for sustainable growth] and the Swedish Energy Agency, decided to give support to two test facilities. The two systems differ as to how electric power is transferred to the heavy vehicles.

  • The test on the E16 in Sandviken is being carried out by Region Gävleborg, and involves a pantograph on the roof of the truck cab feeding the current down to a hybrid electric motor in the truck.
  • Outside Arlanda, the eRoadArlanda consortium company will test a technology that involves an electric rail in the roadway charging the vehicle during its trip. …

“The tests will continue up through 2018. They will provide knowledge of how electric roads work in practice, and whether the technology can be used in the future. The experiment is based on the Government’s goal of energy efficiency and a fossil fuel-free vehicle fleet by 2030, and will contribute to strengthening Sweden’s competitiveness.”

More here.

 Photo: Green Car Congress

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Suzanne’s Mom was asked to review Revolution, a film by the young environmentalist, biologist, diver, and Sharkwater filmmaker Rob Stewart.

Encompassing gorgeous deep-sea photography, scientific climate-change testimony, a representative of the drowning country of Seychelles, and many youth demonstrations, the documentary forces you to think about what the burning of fossil fuels is doing to the oceans and what it means for the future of the planet. It also gives you the sense that anyone can do something about it — take up a camera, make a poster, or write a letter that makes a change.

The film is infused with a sense of youth, of young people saying, “Enough!” I particularly loved the moment early on when Stewart, who had read only two books on filmmaking, is flubbing his lines in front of Darwin’s Arch. What comes across in addition to the humorous inexperience is a feeling of energy, optimism, and determination.

The film has many engaging details about sea life that Stewart can’t resist throwing in, like how the endangered pygmy seahorse, which camouflages itself to look like coral, “mates for life — and the guy gets pregnant!”

He talks about how the burning of fossil fuels creates too much carbon dioxide, which is absorbed by the ocean and is harmful to anything that needs to grow a skeleton, which is pretty much everything but nasty, poisonous creatures that flourish in the muck where corals died, like the flamboyant cuttlefish. Coral expert Charlie Veron comments that at the same rate of ocean acidification caused by too much CO2, there will be no coral reefs in 50 years.

Stewart also looks at the island nation Madagascar, sole home of lemurs, explaining that endangered tropical forests are responsible for 1/4 of the world’s species and 1/3 of our oxygen. Madagascar scientist Serge Rajaobelina says that population growth on the island and the burning of the trees for development has meant the loss of 80 percent of the forest in 40 years, more than in 55 million years.

The movie goes on to cover perhaps a few too many youth protests, including one in which an inspired, tree-planting young boy says, “We have found we have to save our own future,” and is later arrested in tears.

But then we get to see that children and young adults are actually having an impact.

A sixth-grade class in Saipan writes letters to the Saipan government against killing sharks for shark fin soup, and the government signs a law preventing the practice. In fact, we are told, since the first Stewart film, China, the main adherent of shark-fin soup, has dropped the practice by 70 percent, and 100 countries have banned it.

The upbeat Saipan children who comment on their successful advocacy embody the truth of my favorite Pete Seeger line, “one and one and 50 make a million.” Says one, “Maybe the world might not end because of what we are doing.”

Watch the Revolution trailer here.

[We do not accept gifts here, so the DVD that the film company sends me for screening and reviewing will be forwarded to Save the Bay, RI.]

The late Rob Stewart. The filmmaker did not come up from a dive 1/31/17 near Key Largo.
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No matter how much you like your routine or how pleasant your surroundings, sometimes you just have to get up and go out. Today I needed a change of scene so, in spite of the freezing temperatures and high wind, I went to look at some art.

The Design Museum is not far from my office, and the folks there come up with lots of good projects. I blogged here about their Street Seats, an array of public benches designed by creative people from around the world.

This being Design Week in Boston, I decided to check out the exhibit space they are using in a new apartment building called 315 on A, a lovely renovation of an 18th century warehouse for coffee.

The new exhibit is called Green Patriot Posters and features handsome posters from professionals as well as the pretty impressive results of a school poster contest on the conservation theme.

Many of the posters explicitly reference WW II posters. You know: “Loose lips sink ships” and all that. Here, the posters urge viewers to pursue a more sustainable way of life and fight global warming. More.

Be sure to check the poster over the left shoulder of the woman speaker in this video. That was my favorite in the show because it made me laugh out loud. I think you can see a Paul Bunyan figure with an ax. He is looking at the tree he was going to cut with an uncertain expression as the tree is growing out of his foot.

 

 

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