Posts Tagged ‘Scientific American’

The HIVE: How high-tech solutions stopped the Gulf oil spill

April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

bp-oil-spill-macondo-wellFeatured on Scientific American this week is an article discussing how science and technology stopped last summer’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The piece, authored by Scientific American’s David Biello, provides a narrative of how scientific discussion and collaboration resulted in a solution to one of history’s largest environmental disasters.

The article discusses how high-tech solutions were discusses, discarded and improved upon until they could finally be used to stop the stream of oil gushing into the Gulf.

Forty-eight hours into an attempt to muscle a gusher of oil back into the deep-sea well from which it spewed, the flow of petroleum and gas refused to slow. Screen after screen in a special room at BP’s headquarters in Houston showed the oil gushing undiminished, silently witnessed underwater by remotely operated vehicles(ROVs).

The room—called the HIVE, for Highly Immersive Visualization Environment—was hardly the only place at BP buzzing with activity. Earlier, locked in the 10-meter-square “intervention room” on the third floor, scientist fought scientist in the battle over whether to proceed with an established way to plug the leak, the so-called “top kill” operation…


Scientific American: Smart Grid 101

Scientific American released a new video about what the smart grid is, starting with how our transmission infrastructure works. For those interested in learning about terms like “spinning reserve” and “just in time” manufacturing to the “extreme”, this video is definitely work a look.

Waste-to-Energy: a mountain of trash, or a pile of energy?

December 16, 2010 1 comment

David Wogan (friend and author of The Daily Wogan) and I co-authored a post for Scientific American’s Guest Blog. The article, published this morning, discusses Waste-to-Energy technology and the dirty image that might be keeping this technology from taking-off in the United States.

Check out the post here – and, if you have a moment, please share your thoughts and comments.


The Daily Wogan: Texas’ Transition to the Green Star State

December 13, 2010 1 comment

The following was a post published last Tuesday (12/7) by Mr. David M. Wogan on his blog The Daily Wogan. The post includes commentary on activity in the Texas Legislature on the topic of clean energy.

Published the day before the CleanTX Legislative Minisummit at the Texas capitol building, it is an interesting commentary for those interested in Texas politics and the state’s drive toward the development of clean, renewable, 21st century energy.

Last week Melissa Lott wrote a blog post at Scientific American about how Texas is transitioning beyond being the petroleum capital of the United States. These sentiments are echoed in the Texas Legislature including Kirk Watson, D-Austin:

“You know, stop right there for a second.  Because the mere fact that there’s a conference about clean, renewable, 21st Century energy out near the edge of the Permian Basin should tell you a lot about where the world’s headed.

For a century, the energy industry has been defined by oil and other fossil fuels that have meant so much to the West Texas economy – and really, to all of the state.

But that industry is fundamentally changing.  It’s moving toward renewable energy, both to solve current environmental challenges and to meet the needs of a growing state, nation, and world.”

But Texas needs to keep innovating and not rest on its laurels. Wind has been extremely successful in the state for pretty much everyone involved, but the CREZ transmission lines are facing opposition from landowners, environmentalists, and elected officials.

In 2005, the Texas Legislature designated Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (affectionally referred to as CREZ zones) to move the electrons from where the wind is (in west Texas) to where the people are (Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston). It goes to show that every energy technology has tradeoffs.

Texas is also conspicuously lacking in solar energy and biomass production (and not for lack of resources). As of 2008, solar energy doesn’t even register on the books (behind California – 416 MW of capacity – and even New Jersey at 4 MW of generating capacity). And with non-attainment looming for most of the urban centers, renewable energy (among many other things) could help the state clean up its air and water.

But even wind development has a few kinks: the CREZ transmission lines are facing opposition from landowners, environmentalists, and elected officials. In 2005, the Texas Legislature designated Competitive Renewable Electricity Zones (affectionally referred to as CREZ zones) to move the electrons from where the wind is (in west Texas) to where the people are (Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston). It goes to show that every energy technology has tradeoffs.

Looking ahead, the upcoming legislative session will be dominated by redistricting and the budget, not leaving room for much else (including energy legislation). However, Senator Watson does plan on reintroducing his solar energy bill again, and it sounds like Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, and Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, might have energy bills in the works.


Texas “Tea” becomes the Texas “E”?

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Check out my article in Scientific American’s Guest Blog – released into cyberspace this morning.

This article is about the movement in Texas from being an oil & gas state, to an energy state.

If you have a moment to share your thoughts and comments, I would enjoy hearing them!






Scientific American: Power from pondscum

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Favorite story of the day – David Wogan’s blog post on Scientific American’s guest blog.

In the discussion of alternative energy and fuels, algae have been bubbling to the top of the proverbial feedstock pool. Algae, the little green guys responsible for everything from making your Dairy Queen Blizzard solid to forming the basis of our current fossil fuels, are being looked at long and hard by some of the nation’s top researchers and decision-makers as a source for next-generation biofuels.

Titled “Power from pondscum: algal biofuels,” David’s post discusses what algae-for-biofuels could mean for the US.

David is currently a graduate research assistant in the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin. A dual-degree student in Mechanical Engineering and Public Affairs, David has spent his time studying the potential for algae to supply our transportation fuel needs. In his work, David has developed a model that incorporates solar, water, and carbon dioxide resources to determine the potential for algae growth by region.