Energy News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on energy
Sempra Energy has agreed to pay about $410 million to settle claims that it played Enron-style games with California's electricity market during the 2000-01 energy crisis, state officials said. Houston's Enron, as well as other companies, used a variety of tactics to create the appearance of congested power lines in some instances and energy shortages in others. Electricity prices soared, and rolling blackouts rippled across the state. Enron traders were caught on audio tape bragging about how much their trading schemes were costing "Grandma Millie," their derisive term for the California utility customer. The crisis forced the state to buy expensive long-term power contracts that Californians are still paying off, month by month, on their utility bills. Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the state's largest utility, tumbled into bankruptcy as a result of soaring wholesale power prices. And Gov. Gray Davis lost his job in a recall election fueled by public anger over his handling of the crisis. Since then, the state government has reached 39 settlement agreements with energy companies for a total of $3.2 billion.
Note: To see how blatant the corruption is, watch the tapes of Enron traders laughing at causing traffic accidents at this link. For many more examples of corporate corruption reported by reliable, verifiable sources, click here.
The lawyers and engineers who dwell in an elegant enclave here are at peace with the hulking neighbor just over the back fence: a vast energy plant that burns thousands of tons of household garbage and industrial waste, round the clock. Far cleaner than conventional incinerators, this new type of plant converts local trash into heat and electricity. Dozens of filters catch pollutants, from mercury to dioxin, that would have emerged from its smokestack only a decade ago. In that time, such plants have become both the mainstay of garbage disposal and a crucial fuel source across Denmark, from wealthy exurbs like Horsholm to Copenhagen’s downtown area. Their use has not only reduced the country’s energy costs and reliance on oil and gas, but also benefited the environment, diminishing the use of landfills and cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The plants run so cleanly that many times more dioxin is now released from home fireplaces and backyard barbecues than from incineration. Across Europe, there are about 400 plants, with Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands leading the pack in expanding them and building new ones. By contrast, no new waste-to-energy plants are being planned or built in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency says — even though the federal government and 24 states now classify waste that is burned this way for energy as a renewable fuel, in many cases eligible for subsidies.
Note: Why isn't the US implementing this clean technology? For lots more from major media sources on promising new clean energy developments, click here.
A Navy-funded thermal engine bobbing off the coast of Hawaii is accomplishing a rare feat -- it produces more energy than it consumes. Though it's not quite a perpetual motion machine, it could provide scientists or the Navy with a perpetual presence on the seas. The engine is attached to an unmanned underwater vessel, called SOLO-TREC, and uses the energy of the ocean to derive a practically limitless energy supply. SOLO-TREC is outfitted with a series of tubes full of waxy phase-change materials. As the float encounters warm temperatures near the ocean's surface, the materials expand; when it dives and the waters grow cooler, the materials contract. The expansion and contraction pressurizes oil, which drives a hydraulic motor. The motor generates electricity and recharges the batteries, which power a pump. The pump can change the float's buoyancy, allowing it to move up and down the water column. "In theory what you have now is unlimited endurance for something that has this type of engine," said Thomas Swean Jr., team leader for ocean engineering and marine systems at the Office of Naval Research, which funded the project. "Other things can break, but as far as the energy source, it will only stop working if the ocean ran out of energy, which is unlikely to happen."
Note: For lots more from major media sources on promising new energy inventions, click here.
Is the economic, social and physical deterioration that has caused so much misery in the Motor City a sign of what’s in store for larger and larger segments of the United States? I found real reason to hope when a gentleman named Stan Ovshinsky took me on a tour of a remarkably quiet and pristine manufacturing plant ... about 30 miles north of Detroit. What is being produced in the plant is potentially revolutionary. A machine about the length of a football field runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, turning out mile after mile after mile of thin, flexible solar energy material, from which solar panels can be sliced and shaped. Mr. Ovshinsky ... developed the technology and designed the production method that made it possible to produce solar material “by the mile.” He invented the nickel metal hydride battery that is in virtually all hybrid vehicles on the road today. When I pulled into the parking lot outside his office ... he promptly installed me in the driver’s seat of a hydrogen hybrid prototype — a car in which the gasoline tank had been replaced with a safe solid-state hydrogen storage system invented by Mr. Ovshinsky. What’s weird is that this man, with such a stellar track record of innovation on products and processes crucial to the economic and environmental health of the U.S., gets such little attention and so little support from American policy makers. In addition to his work with batteries, photovoltaics and hydrogen fuel cells, his inventions have helped open the door to flat-screen televisions, new forms of computer memory and on and on.
Note: Ovshinsky has been at the forefront of new energy breakthroughs for years, yet has received very little press, likely because his inventions threaten the established oil industry. For a powerful, three-minute video showing how some of his key inventions have been shelved because they threatened profits, click here.
You may have heard of abiotic oil, the notion that oil is not the result of ancient biomass – hence the term fossil fuels — but rather from compressed methane seeping up from the Earth’s mantle. Most petroleum engineers spurn abiotic oil as a crackpot idea, but the notion has percolated along and been popularized by books such as Thomas Gold’s Deep Hot Biosphere. Setting aside the climate issue of burning petroleum, the idea of naturally replenished oil supplies is alluring considering oil is by far the most portable, energy dense fuel around. [A] paper published in Energy & Fuels, a peer-reviewed publication, supports the theory of abiotic oil. For their study geochemists at the Carnegie Institution of Washington combined the key ingredients for the abiotic synthesis of methane in a device and then simulated the high pressures and temperatures near the interface between the Earth’s crust and mantle. They found it highly plausible that methane could form from chemical reaction in this environment, writing that their experiment “strongly suggests that it is likely that, in deep earth geologic systems, some methane generation is inevitable.” The theory of abiotic oil holds that rapidly rising streams of compressed methane gas reach the crust from the mantle, and when they strike pockets of high temperature they condense into heavier hydrocarbons like crude oil.
In 1901, Nikola Tesla began work on a global system of giant towers meant to relay through the air not only news, stock reports and even pictures but also, unbeknown to investors such as J. Pierpont Morgan, free electricity for one and all. It was the inventor’s biggest project, and his most audacious. The first tower rose on rural Long Island and, by 1903, stood more than 18 stories tall. Tesla, who lived from 1856 to 1943, made bitter enemies who dismissed some of his claims as exaggerated, helping tarnish his reputation in his lifetime. Today, his work tends to be poorly known among scientists, though some call him an intuitive genius far ahead of his peers. He was widely celebrated for his inventions of motors and power distribution systems that used the form of electricity known as alternating current, which beat out direct current (and Thomas Edison) to electrify the world. Around 1900 ... inventors around the world were racing for what was considered the next big thing — wireless communication. [Tesla's] own plan was to turn alternating current into electromagnetic waves that flashed from antennas to distant receivers. The scale of his vision was gargantuan. Investors, given Tesla’s electrical achievements, paid heed. The biggest was J. Pierpont Morgan, a top financier. He sank $150,000 (today more than $3 million) into Tesla’s global wireless venture. But Morgan was [eventually] disenchanted. Margaret Cheney, a Tesla biographer, observed that Tesla had seriously misjudged his wealthy patron, a man deeply committed to the profit motive. “The prospect of beaming electricity to penniless Zulus or Pygmies,” she wrote, must have left the financier less than enthusiastic.
Note: This article underplays a number of things about Tesla. Morgan stopped funding him primarily because he eventually realized that there would be no way to charge for the electricity Tesla was generating. If successful, electricity would be available virtually for free to those supplied by his tower. Tesla was then shunned by the power elite and his rightful claim as inventor of the radio (not Marconi) was erased in the history books. As stated on the PBS website, "It wasn't until 1943 — a few months after Tesla's death — that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Tesla's radio patent number 645,576." For more on this amazing man, click here and here.
Bill Dubé gets giddy when he talks about batteries and speed. After all, his 500-horsepower Killacycle electric motorcycle goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under a second. He claims it is the fastest electric vehicle on the planet. In October, the Killacycle traveled a quarter mile in 7.89 seconds, topping out at 174 mph, a record. Dubé, 56, an engineer and Rhode Island native whose day job is designing air chemistry instruments at the University of Colorado, is the bike's designer, owner, and builder. He is out to prove that electric vehicles do not have to be "nerd-mobiles." At the heart of electric vehicles like the Killacycle are the batteries. A123 Systems Inc., based in Watertown, sponsors the Killacycle and provides its battery. Dubé read about A123's lithium-ion battery technology in 2003 and decided to approach company officials. He thought drag racing was a great way to torture-test the company's innovative battery cells. "I told them I'll take the battery cells out to the drag strip and set a world record," he said. Electric-vehicle racing hit the start line about 15 years ago, when pioneers like Dubé began building the machines. "Bill is quite amazing and does pretty good promoting electric-vehicle racing in general," said Mike Willmon, president of the National Electric Drag Racing Association, based in Santa Rosa, Calif. The mission of the group, whose membership stands at 100, is to increase public awareness about the performance side of electric vehicles.
Note: Why such a weak title for this amazing bike? Why not a title like "Electric motorcycle goes 0 to 60 in one second"? Could it be the media doesn't want us to know things like this? For lots more suggesting this may be the case, click here. And for more on this amazing motorcyle and an unassuming electric car that does the quarter mile in under 12 seconds, click here.
A long-sought solar milestone was eclipsed on Tuesday, when Tempe, Ariz.–based First Solar Inc. announced that the manufacturing costs for its thin-film photovoltaic panels had dipped below $1 per watt for the first time. With comparable costs for standard silicon panels still hovering in the $3 range, it's tempting to conclude that First Solar's cadmium telluride (CdTe) technology has won the race. But if we're concerned about the big picture (scaling up solar until it's a cheap and ubiquitous antidote to global warming and foreign oil) a forthcoming study from the University of California–Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that neither material has what it takes compared to lesser-known alternatives such as—we're not kidding—fool's gold. Even if the solar cell market were to grow at 56 percent a year for the next 10 years—slightly higher than the rapid growth of the past year—photovoltaics would still only account for about 2.5 percent of global electricity, LBNL researcher Cyrus Wadia says. "First Solar is great, as long as we're talking megawatts or gigawatts," he says. "But as soon as they have to start rolling out terawatts, that's where I believe they will reach some limitations." Even the current rate of growth won't be easy to sustain. Despite the buck-per-watt announcement, First Solar's share price plummeted more than 20 percent on Wednesday, thanks to warnings from CEO Mike Ahearn about the effect of the credit crisis on potential solar customers—as much as 10 to 15 percent of current orders might default.
Note: Solar energy costs have dropped consistently and steadily over the past 30 years. In the late 1970s solar energy cost $100 per watt. The price will almost certainly continue to drop. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2005 that "the electricity currently provided by utilities ... averages $1 per watt." Why isn't it being trumpeted loudly worldwide in the media that solar energy is reaching parity with traditional energy sources? Could it be that powerful interests don't want solar energy to be competitive with oil and nuclear?
For a few months this summer, the oil market speculator ... helped push oil prices steadily higher, shattering records that had lasted for decades. As oil topped $145 per barrel, Congress started looking for ways to rein the speculators in. Then oil prices plunged, and interest in the issue fizzled. But that may soon change. "This will remain an issue," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who introduced oil market legislation this year. "Because when the price of oil has gone from $50 to $147 and back, it's clear to me and everyone else that this has nothing to do with supply and demand. It has to do with speculation." Among possible changes, Congress may try to assert more authority over unregulated oil swaps that don't take place on any formal market. Many factors helped shove prices higher, including the growth of China's economy and the decline of the American dollar. But oil kept rising even as gasoline sales fell in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer. That wouldn't have happened if supply and demand really were driving the market, many analysts say. "The entire move from $70 (per barrel) to $147 was people fleeing the dollar and looking at oil as an asset class," said Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy research fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute. "It was speculators, so when they exited the market, we went right back to $70." Speculators are investors who trade in oil or other commodities strictly as a financial investment. They include hedge funds and investment banks as well as retirement funds.
Note: For lots more reports on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Volkswagen has a new car in pre-production that, the automaker estimates, could get up to 282 mpg. That's not a misprint. Autoblog explains, "A few years back, Volkswagen introduced a concept vehicle," known as the VW 1L, "which derived its name from its stated goal of using just one liter of fuel per one-hundred kilometers traveled." The concept "actually beat its lofty goal rather handily as it managed to achieve a miserly 282 miles per gallon in testing. Much of its amazing fuel-saving capability stemmed from its 660 pounds (300 kilograms) curb weight. The concept also featured a single cylinder engine and a 1+1 seating arrangement down the center of the car." The U.K.'s Car Magazine reports, "At the time the chairman of VW's supervisory board predicted that the super-economical two-seater would go into production…in 2012. Now the VW 1L will hit the market two years ahead of schedule, in 2010." Whether the 1L would be sold in the U.S. market isn't yet clear.
Note: Any bets on whether this car will actually go into production and be promoted? Check out what happened to the Eco Spirit, which got over 100 mpg at this link.
What we drive in the future may not be designed in Detroit, or Tokyo or Stuttgart, but on the college campuses of North America. Teams of students from 17 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada have spent the last three years taking apart models of a Chevrolet Equinox, and re-designing and re-fitting the crossover SUV to get better fuel efficiency than the engineers and designers at General Motors have been able to achieve. It's called Challenge X. So what did these college teams come up with? They came up with bio-diesel, ethanol, hydrogen, hybrid electric, plug-in electric - with most of the teams using two of these energy sources together. The team from Penn State created an Equinox that runs on three fuels: bio-diesel, hydrogen and electric hybrid power. "The way it's designed, it's always burning hydrogen and bio-diesel together, and the hybrid motor turns on and off," explained Nate Simmons. The team from San Diego State created a bio-diesel electric hybrid, and transformed the transmission from automatic to manual for even better gas mileage. They were able to boost the EPA rating for the conventional Equinox from a rating of 23 miles per gallon highway up into the low 30s. "We set out to produce the most powerful vehicle in the competition," said faculty advisor James Burns. This year's winner was Mississippi State University, for its bio-diesel hybrid electric design. The MSU vehicle is powered by a 1.9-liter GM direct injection turbo-diesel engine, fueled by bio-diesel (B20). It won for achieving a whopping 38 percent increase in fuel economy over the production-model Equinox.
Thane Heins is nervous and hopeful. In four days the Ottawa-area native will travel to Boston where he'll demonstrate an invention that appears ... to operate as a perpetual motion machine. The audience, esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Markus Zahn, could either deflate Heins' heretical claims or add momentum to a 20-year obsession. Zahn is a leading expert on electromagnetic and electronic systems. In a rare move for any reputable academic, he has agreed to give Heins' creation an open-minded look rather than greet it with outright dismissal. The invention ... could moderately improve the efficiency of induction motors, used in everything from electric cars to ceiling fans. At best it means a way of tapping the mysterious powers of electromagnetic fields to produce more work out of less effort, seemingly creating electricity from nothing. Heins has modified his test so the effects observed are difficult to deny. He holds a permanent magnet a few centimetres away from the driveshaft of an electric motor, and the magnetic field it creates causes the motor to accelerate. Contacted by phone a few hours after the test, Zahn is genuinely stumped – and surprised. He said the magnet shouldn't cause acceleration. "It's an unusual phenomenon I wouldn't have predicted in advance. But I saw it. It's real. To my mind this is unexpected and new," he [said]. "There are an infinite number of induction machines in people's homes and everywhere around the world. If you could make them more efficient, cumulatively, it could make a big difference."
Note: For a treasure trove of reports on new energy breakthroughs from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.
In 2000 Jonathan Goodwin, a self-described "gearhead", bought his first Hummer, an old H1, in Denver, Colorado. "The thing did eight miles to the gallon and nought to 60 in about two days," he recalls. On his drive home to Wichita, Kansas, it broke down three times. The engine died. Rather than fix the engine, he replaced it with a new Duramax diesel and doubled the fuel economy to 20 miles per US gallon (equivalent to 24 miles per Imperial gallon), tripled the horsepower to 600 and quadrupled the torque to 1,200ft lbs. Driven by his quest for more power and less consumption he had inadvertently stumbled across a solution for America's SUV-loving masses. The byproduct of the system he installed is lower emissions - a greener output for these thirsty beasts. "Now we can have our cake and eat it," he says. "It's difficult for these huge companies. The technology is there to make cars that have vastly improved consumption figures already, but they're driven by the need to sell all the cars they currently make," Goodwin says. "If they announced they were bringing out a 100mpg car then no-one would buy the old line." Goodwin sees three stages to a process of change: converting all autos to diesel which can then run on biofuel, making the step to bio-electric and finally to hydroelectric, meaning cars will run on water.
Note: For more on this amazing man and his cool inventions, click here.
Everything that goes into Frank Pringle’s recycling machine — a piece of tire, a rock, a plastic cup — turns to oil and natural gas seconds later. “I’ve been told the oil companies might try to assassinate me,” Pringle says without sarcasm. The machine is a microwave emitter that extracts the petroleum and gas hidden inside everyday objects. Every hour, the first commercial version will turn 10 tons of auto waste — tires, plastic, vinyl — into enough natural gas to produce 17 million BTUs of energy (it will use 956,000 of those BTUs to keep itself running). Pringle created the machine about 10 years ago after he drove by a massive tire fire and thought about the energy being released. He went home and threw bits of a tire in a microwave emitter he’d been working with for another project. It turned to what looked like ash, but a few hours later, he returned and found a black puddle on the floor of the unheated workshop. Somehow, he’d struck oil. Or rather, he had extracted it. Petroleum is composed of strings of hydrocarbon molecules. When microwaves hit the tire, they crack the molecular chains and break it into its component parts: carbon black (an ash-like raw material) and hydrocarbon gases, which can be burned or condensed into liquid fuel. If the process worked on tires, he thought, it should work on anything with hydrocarbons. The trick was in finding the optimum microwave frequency for each material. In 2004 he teamed up with engineer pal Hawk Hogan to take the machine commercial. Their first order is under construction in Rockford, Illinois. It’s a $5.1-million microwave machine the size of small bus called the Hawk, bound for an auto-recycler in Long Island, New York. Oil companies are looking to the machines to gasify petroleum trapped in shale.
Note: For many exciting breakthroughs in new energy technologies, click here.
Imagine a solar panel without the panel. Just a coating, thin as a layer of paint, that takes light and converts it to electricity. From there, you can picture roof shingles with solar cells built inside and window coatings that seem to suck power from the air. Consider solar-powered buildings stretching not just across sunny Southern California, but through China and India and Kenya as well, because even in those countries, going solar will be cheaper than burning coal. That’s the promise of thin-film solar cells: solar power that’s ubiquitous because it’s cheap. The basic technology has been around for decades, but this year, Silicon Valley–based Nanosolar created the manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality. The company produces its PowerSheet solar cells with printing-press-style machines that set down a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil, so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute. Nanosolar’s first commercial cells rolled off the presses this year. Cost has always been one of solar’s biggest problems. Traditional solar cells require silicon, and silicon is an expensive commodity. That means even the cheapest solar panels cost about $3 per watt of energy they go on to produce. To compete with coal, that figure has to shrink to just $1 per watt. Nanosolar’s cells use no silicon, and the company’s manufacturing process allows it to create cells that are as efficient as most commercial cells for as little as 30 cents a watt. "It really is quite a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar and in inherently altering the economics of solar," says Dan Kammen, founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley.
Note: For exciting reports of other new energy technologies, click here.
Gerald Rowley keeps his dreams in his garage. There ... he stores an aging Mazda 626 sedan [specially outfitted with a] one-gallon steel box in the trunk connected to fuel lines leading to a gasoline vaporizing device under the hood. The steel box holds one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. The device beneath the hood is called the VFS, Vaporizing Fuel System. I came here to drive Rowley's VFS-equipped car. For years, I had spurned the invitations of homespun inventors worldwide to travel to distant points to witness first-hand machines that could deliver 100 miles per gallon or 200 miles per gallon. The claims sounded too incredible to believe -- ridiculous, in fact. If such devices really worked, really did what their inventors said they did, why would they still be sitting on shelves in anonymous workshops -- ignored by the driving public and all of the vehicle manufacturers who serve them? What automobile manufacturer in its right mind, especially with rising concerns about future oil availability and with gasoline prices escalating worldwide, would not jump at the opportunity to acquire a device that delivered 100 miles per gallon? Rowley's patented device is nothing new. It's just the latest iteration of an idea already developed by others -- the notion that you could get more miles per gallon out of a traditional gasoline engine if you pre-heated the fuel to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, thus turning it into a vapor before it enters the combustion chamber. Vaporized fuel, when properly mixed with air, burns more efficiently, saves fuel and emits fewer tailpipe pollutants than traditional fuel-air mixtures in which gasoline is sprayed into a combustion chamber in tiny droplets and then mixed with air before burning. All car companies know this.
That 55-mile-per-gallon hybrid car you've been eyeing may end up being a 44-mpg hybrid. The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced a new system Monday for evaluating fuel economy that will lower mileage estimates for most vehicles. On average, vehicles rated under the 2008 method will post a 12% drop in city gasoline mileage and an 8% decline in highway mileage. With the new testing requirements, the EPA is attempting to come up with estimates that more closely reflect the real-world mileage motorists can expect when they purchase a vehicle. Under the current system ... actual mileage is often far lower than the posted EPA ratings. Hybrids will be hit harder because the new test eliminates some of the all-electric driving that helped them produce impressive results. A recent study ... found that the average mileage for passenger cars and light trucks was about 14% less than EPA estimates. The mileage for gas-electric hybrids probably will be 20% to 30% lower than present estimates for city driving and 10% to 20% lower on the highway. These vehicles quickly lose their all-electric advantage when operated in cold weather or quickly accelerated. The new EPA mileage estimates won't harm automakers' ability to meet federal rules requiring an industrywide average fuel economy of 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 21 mpg for sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and vans.
Note: The government could easily mandate higher gas mileage, but has not significantly raised the bar in almost 20 years. Why? The current average mileage for all cars is less than the mileage of the 1908 Model T. With all of the incredibly technological advances in other fields, how is this possible? For more on this vital topic, click here and here. Toyota came out with a hybrid that got 100 mpg in 2002. For what happened to it, click here. And to learn how a Toyota Prius can be converted to get 100 miles per gallon, click here.
Chris Paine´s documentary film "Who Killed the Electric Car?" argues convincingly that there was indeed a market for the cars — and a devoted one, ... but that GM [General Motors] squashed the EV1 because, quite simply, it threatened the livelihood of the entire automotive industry. The car used no gasoline, no oil and no mufflers, and it required only sporadic brake maintenance. Each of these components represents billions of dollars in profits for the industry. GM, the oil companies and various government agencies argued that the car wasn´t practical, didn´t have enough range for consumers and was less promising than the apparently imminent hydrogen technology. The reality was exactly the opposite, Paine´s film suggests — the viability of hydrogen as an automotive fuel source alone is in fact almost comically optimistic. The whisper-quiet EV1 was designed by [an] aviation pioneer, Paul MacCready of AeroVironment. In the 1970s, MacCready built the only successful human-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Condor and the Gossamer Albatross. His solar-powered electric car Sunraycer, built for GM, won the 1987 World Solar Challenge Race in Australia. His corporate mantra is "do more with less" — that is, focus on creating vehicles that require less energy to operate, not on finding ways to pump more power into inefficient systems. His team´s battery-powered EV1 was a triumph of engineering and a joy to operate.
Note: For lots more on key suppressed automotive and energy inventions, click here.
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - There is a new breed of weaponry fast approaching. They are labeled "directed-energy weapons," and they may well signal a revolution in military hardware -- perhaps more so than the atomic bomb. Directed-energy weapons take the form of lasers, high-powered microwaves and particle beams. Their adoption for ground, air, sea, and space warfare depends not only on using the electromagnetic spectrum, but also upon favorable political and budgetary wavelengths too. After more than two decades of research, the United States is on the verge of deploying a new generation of weapons that discharge beams of energy, such as the Airborne Laser and the Active Denial System, as well as the Tactical High Energy Laser, or THEL. Then there’s Active Denial Technology -- a non-lethal way to use millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy to stop, deter and turn back an advancing adversary. This technology, supported by the U.S. Marines, uses a beam of millimeter waves to heat a foe’s skin, causing severe pain without damage, and making the adversary flee the scene. By tuning the resonance of a laser onto Earth’s ionosphere, you can create audible frequencies. Like some boom box in the sky, the laser-produced voice could bellow from above down to the target below: "Put down your weapons."
Economists have predicted that 2005 is the year of the "global oil- production peak," when the world produces the most oil it will ever produce. And so ends the era of cheap fossil fuels, taking with it everything we've associated with modern American living: cheap groceries, cheap electricity, cheap construction, cheap beer, cheap everything. Because without cheap fossil fuel, nothing is cheap; and without cheap stuff, our society will soon be a very, very different place. A better place. At least for Ben Jordan. "The sooner we get rid of fossil fuels," explains Jordan, "the sooner we can have alternatives like biodiesel." Using vegetable oil as fuel isn't new; in fact, it's what the diesel engine was originally intended to run on. When Rudolf Diesel first showcased his engine at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, he used peanut oil. Diesel engines -- operating solely on vegetable oils -- got an average of 30 percent more miles per gallon than traditional combustion engines, and soon became the standard for buses, trucks, freightliners and marine craft. In the 1920s, impressed by the efficiency of the engine and eager to control the diesel market, oil companies forced car manufacturers to modify diesel engines to run off their huge supplies of cheap, low-grade petroleum diesel. And the world's cities have been clogged with sooty, black, highly polluting diesel exhaust ever since.
Note: For many promising reports on new energy developments, click here.
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