Thursday, January 28, 2010
Thursday morning, FWCS unveiled 90 buses that have cleaner exhaust systems.
They were paid for in part with a $99,000 grant of of federal stimulus money awarded to the American Lung Association.
In October 2009, the American Lung Association awarded FWCS and Cummins Crosspoint $99,000 to install Cummins Diesel Oxidation Catalysts on 90 FWCS buses in an effort to reduce emissions.
Each day, a fleet of 300 buses takes more than 21,000 FWCS students to and from school. The cleaner exhaust system is estimated to benefit about 2,100 students who suffer from asthma.
"Cleaner air benefits everyone, but it is especially important for our students with breathing issues, such as those with asthma, and other medically fragile children," said Mary Hess, health services specialists. "Every step we can take to reduce pollutants in the air is a positive step."
FWCS said the objective of the grant from the ALA was to prevent the emission of nitrogen oxides, fine particles (soot) and toxins that are emitted in diesel exhaust.
Nitrogen oxides are precursors of ozone and when breathed, can lodge deep in the lungs.
FWCS said it wants to make sure pollution from diesel vehicles is reduced to prevent health complications for everyone, especially children.
"The more buses that we have that are burning cleaner, the better that is for the air in general. And the better that is for people and our children with chronic breathing problems," said Krista Stockman, FWCS spokesperson.
Diesel oxidation catalysts use a chemical process to break down pollutants in the exhaust stream into less harmful components. The expected lifespan on a diesel oxidation catalyst exhaust system is about 7-15 years.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
According to Whitehouse.gov, the release of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) 4th Quarter 2009 industry assessment(PDF) indicates that stimulus spending is directly responsible for turning a potential 50% decline in growth in the wind power sector into a 39% increase in growth in the country's fleet of wind plants in 2009 alone.
"The U.S. wind industry shattered all installation records in 2009, and this was directly attributable to the lifeline that was provided by the stimulus package," Denise Bode, the trade association's chief executive told The New York Times Deal Book Blog. "The second half of the year was extraordinary. But manufacturers didn't see much growth because they had built up so much inventory."
The White House also points out the environmental benefits to this economic growth: "America's wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road. "
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) co-author of the Waxman-Markey clean energy bill, praised the results of the assessment: "In 2009, America's wind capacity grew by nearly 40 percent - blowing past the expectations that existed prior to the passage of the Recovery Act, These numbers show the potential for growth in clean energy, if only our country will make a commitment to these technologies."
The AWEA report also points out, however, that "The wind manufacturing sector has the potential to employ many more Americans in green jobs, but without a renewable electricity standard to provide a long-term market, the sector will be slow to grow."
Monday, January 25, 2010
This month, Apple filed three new clean energy and energy efficiency patents, creating a new wave of speculation about the eco-friendly direction of the gadget behemoth.
1. The first is a software patent that enables Apple devices to "register their power usage and communicate" using HomePlug Alliance, a set of universal standards showcased at this year's CES. The system would allow users to schedule and monitor the charging of all their "smart devices," ensuring that charging happens during off-peak hours and that devices are not overcharged, a problem which the Dept. of Energy estimates could be wasting as much as 10% of a home's typical electricity usage. Here's more about HomePlug Alliance:
2. According to Engadget, Apple also appears to be working on a proprietary "smart plug" that could internally perform a conversion from AC to DC (no more bulky white bricks) and regulate the flow of electricity to match the device, eliminating wear and tear on batteries by over-charging.
3. In 2008, Apple applied for the first of its solar gadget patents, solar-augmented glass that could be integrated into any device with a screen -- iPhones, Macbooks, etc:
This week, Apple filed for a second solar-augmentation patent in which the entire device is covered by solar cells. The solar cells are networked to allow power to continue flowing to the device even if one's hand obstructs some of the cells. When the battery is fully charged, the user can change a setting that puts the solar cells in a "second operational state" and if the battery gets low, switch to the solar cells as the primary source (which one assumed would reduce the performance and brightness of the device).
It appears that Apple may lead the pack once again, this time in terms of product-integrated solar power and smart charging for personal electronics devices.