Tuesday, December 16, 2008


test of openID

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Exxon Valdez vs. Natural Oil Seeps

Oil naturally seeps out of the ocean floor in areas known as seeps. One in particular, off the coast of California is well known. It is the Santa Barbara Oil Seep, and was known by the Indians that lived on the coast.

The oil seep has been quantified by researchers in this paper. The authors claim that 100 barrels of oil per day seep into the ocean.

According to Wikipedia, the Valdez reportedly released 10.8 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. This is equivalent to 257,000 barrels.

Thus, the Santa Barbara oil seep leeks equivalent to the Valdez every 2600 days, or 7.0 years.

And check out this article from the Christian Science Monitor on the same subject.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yeah? So What!

Ok. The arctic may have oil.

Well compare that to oil reserves in the Green River Formation in the Western United States.

Then get back to me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Global Warming is not a settled science

We don't have to accept any more without a fight, that there is any consensus amongst scientists about Antropogenically caused Global Warming.

From the most recent Editor's Comments of the American Physical Society:

With this issue of Physics & Society, we kick off a debate concerning one of the main conclusions of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body which, together with Al Gore, recently won the Nobel Prize for its work concerning climate change research. There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution. Since the correctness or fallacy of that conclusion has immense implications for public policy and for the future of the biosphere, we thought it appropriate to present a debate within the pages of P&S concerning that conclusion. T...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nuclear Waste Vitrification Revisited

I've read a recent popular mechanics article about mini nuclear reactors. From the comments on the article, many people are still terrified about how we process nuclear waste.

Let me first say that I worked for some time with EG & G Rocky Flats, in Rocky Flats, Colorado, on a research project that was directly involved with the development of processes to treat nuclear waste.

While I am not a chemist involved in radioactive chemistry, I developed models to predict chemical and mechanical processing times, in order to assess the overall requirements necessary to treat the many thousands of drums of nuclear contaminated waste that was sitting ABOVE ground.

In my view, the process of vitrification to research the process of "vitrification", which is essentially the process of embedding the radioactive ash into glass. The ash is created by oxidizing the radioactive waste in a slow, but controlled fashion. The resulting ash is mixed with molten glass. The ash incorporates itself into the glass matrix. After it solidifies, the radioactive components are embedded within the crystalline structure. This is much like how lead crystal is safe to drink from, even though it contains lead. The lead does not leach out of the glass. The following research paper from Pacific Northwest National Labs shows that unblanketed nuclear ash-containing glass has a nearly leachless rate for thousands of years.

The vitrified glass is still radioactive, and does heat up, but in a very predetermined way. The heat-up is determined by the relative amounts of ash and glass.

Finally, the vitrified radioactive glass can be "blanketed" That is, encapsulated by non-radioactive glass. This would reduce the leach rate by many orders of magnitude... That is to TENS to HUNDREDS of thousands of years.

Add to the fact that the vitrified waste can be stored in an underground salt dome, and basically there is no problem for humanity.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Driving Distance Per Dollar: A comparison of electric vs. gasoline engine cars

I've been interested in determining an appropriate comparison of the cost of driving an electric car compared to an ordinary gasoline-powered (or non-plug in hybrid) car. Since I was unable to easily find this comparison published, I've done it myself here.

What am I calculating in each case? The cost per distance of an electric car and the same quantity for a gasoline powered car. The ratio of the two tells us how much farther we can go, per dollar, with an electric car.


Both vehicles are traveling at the same speed, and require the same brake power. The brake power is the power delivered to the wheels.


P = Power required at wheels of vehicle to drive at speed V (hp or Watts)
V = Vehicle speed (mile/hr or m/s)
ηe = Overall efficiency of electric engine
ηg = Overall efficiency of gasoline engine
Ce = Cost of electric energy ($/kW-hr or $/J)
Cg = Cost of gasoline ($/gal or $/liter)
ρ = Density of gasoline (kg/liter)
Δh = Specific energy of combustion of gasoline (J/kg)
DDe = Distance per Dollar of electric car (miles/$ or km/$)
DDg = Distance per Dollar of gasoline car (miles/$ or km/$)
Ee = Fuel economy of electric car (miles/gal or km/liter)
Eg = Fuel economy of electric car (miles/gal or km/liter)
Qg = Volumetric flow rate of gasoline (gal/hr or liter/hr)


Step 1. Analysis of the Gasoline Car.

The Distance per dollar, DDg is the ratio of the fuel economy to the cost of the gasoline fuel consumed by the engine, DDg = Eg/Cg. The fuel economy is the ratio of the vehicle speed to the volumetric flow rate of fuel consumed, Eg = V / Qg.

The thermal power released by the combustion of gasoline is ρΔHQg. (We multiply by flow rate by the density because the thermal energy is usually listed on a mass-basis, but the flow rate of fuel is a volume-basis.) Due to thermodynamic inefficiencies inherent in the combustion process (and transmission losses), the amount of mechanical power delivered to the wheels is less than this. The ratio of the power at the wheels to the thermal power by combustion is the overall gasoline engine efficiency, ηg. The mechanical power delivered to the wheels, P = ρΔhQgηg. Rearranging this equation, we have Qg = P / (ρΔhηg).

Substituting this expression into the first equation in this section, we have DDg = ρV&etagΔh / (PCg).

Step 2. Analysis of the Electric Car

The distance per dollar for the electric car is given as the ratio of the "fuel" economy to the price of electricity needed to charge the batteries, DDe = Ee / Ce.

The electric car economy is the ratio of the speed of the vehicle to the rate of electrical power supplied by the batteries. The ratio of the power at the wheels to the electrical power supplied by the batteries is the overall efficiency ηe. Thus, Ee = Vηe / P, where P is the power at the wheels. Thus, DDe = Vηe / (PCe).

Step 3. Compute Ratio

The ratio of the electric vehicle distance per dollar to the gasoline vehicle distance per dollar is given by dividing the two equations at the end of each previous section. Note that the P and V cancel out since they represent the power at the wheels and the vehicle speed. We assumed these things were the same for both cars. Thus,

DDe/DDg = ηeCg / (ηgρΔhcCe)

Sample Calculation

For an electric car, the overall efficiency is 75%. For the gasoline car, the efficiency is about 20%. The cost of gasoline is $4.25/gallon. The cost of electrical energy is about $0.106/kW-hr (according to my ComEd bill). Finally, the density of gasoline is about 740 kg/m3 and the specific combustion energy (actually enthalpy is the correct term here) is about 47,000,000 J/kg.

Inserting these terms into the our equation for the DD ratio yields.

DDe/DDg = (0.75/0.2) x (2.734) x (4.25 / 10.6) = 4.1 !!!

The middle term accounts for the density, combustion term, and unit conversion factors.


For a typical electric car, the distance driven per dollar is 4 times that for a gasoline-powered car. This analysis does not imply that the overall costs of electric vehicles is lower, since a real economic analysis has to include many other factors, not the least of which is initial cost.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Arctic Ice Recession due to "Global Warming"?

More than likely, the cause is now revealed as underwater volcanoes in the Arctic ocean seabed.

Of course, people who seriously study the "Global Warming" issue from an intellectual perspective know that the ice in Antarctica is increasing.

But now it makes more sense.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Believe...., or Else!

James Hansen has now asked that certain people, namely oil company execs and Republican politicians, be placed on trial for not seeding doubt in people's minds about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. See the story here.

Hansen's remarks are better suited for the Salem Witch Trials. His scientific credentials have been severely damaged by such ugly and distasteful requests.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ocean Levels

I've seen several stories on Drudge concerning ocean levels. Lest you had any incling to get real data on ocean levels, I forward you to NOAAs site here.

Please choose a state and see that a roughly average sea level change is about 2 mm (or less) per year. This equates to 8 inches per century.

Even the IPCC reports indicate that there has been no detectable increase in the rate of ocean rise in the 20th century.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

But wait.... China is now suffering from Coldest winter in 50 years

Days after we hear about Shanghi --- and hence the world --- being warmer than ever, we hear that China is having the coldest winter in 50 years.

The downturn is going to be welcomed in some Chinese leadership quarters because of the fear of runaway inflation from an overheated economy — now fed by food shortages and the impact of the worst winter in 50 years.

Is it you or me, or do we have some mixed messages here?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Global warming in Shanghai?

According to this news report, Shanghai is the warmest in years.

I don't doubt that the city is warmer, I doubt that it has anything to do with anthropogenic global warming.

Perhaps the authors of the article have never heard of urban heat island effect?

By the way, the type of reporting in this article is part of a long-standing trend, in which a mysterious "report" is cited as a source for a story. Yet, the name, authors, and date of publication are left to the imagination of the reader.

How is it that we can verify the data from this report is consistent with the story? Does the report even exist?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Methane Contributions to Enhanced Global Warming

Some of my friends have been recently "enlightened" by articles concerning Enhanced Greenhouse Warming (EGW) effects from anthropogenic sources of methane (CH4), primarily enteric production from cattle. This entry seeks to address some of these issues and to shed some light on this topic.

A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs bands of infrared radiation that are emitted from (primarily) the earth. All molecules that have more than two atoms: water, co2, ch4 are have absorption bands in this range. Oxygen, Nitrogen, Argon, NO do not. The "enhanced" in EGW implies that there is a positive feedback of the warming effects of one gas on the warming effects of the primary greenhouse gas: water. The amplification factor is for the most part a guess in real life, because we cannot accurately model the effect of clouds.

The amount energy absorbed in a column of gas is a logarthmic as a function of gas concentration. This is because additional molecules do not absorb energy that has already been absorbed. From this reference, the EGW effect of CH4 is about 8%. Thus a doubling of CH4 would result in an increase of CH4's warming effect to 13%.

Molecules do not stay in the atmosphere forever. They have an average lifetime, or residence time. Molecules with a short residence time do not stay in the system for very long, for various reasons. Residence time of methane is about 10 years. Carbon dioxide is about 100 years. See here, here, or here.

The primary mechanism for methane removal is OH reduction and by microbial processes in soil. Increases in temperature or methane concentration will increase the rate at which these processes occur. This will result in a reduced residence time if average temperatures increase.

Methane is a trace gas. In the last 200 years, it has increase from 0.7 parts per million to 1.7 parts per million. CO2 is about 200 times more abundant. See reference. There are thousands of water molecules out there for every free-floating methane.
So I think ultimately we have a problem here. CH4 does, in theory add to EGW. The question is does it really matter? Are the effects even measurable outside of the errors of say, clouds.

If we had an atmosphere with no water vapor, I would worry a lot more. But we don't.

Finally, even though CH4 does contribute to EGW, the amount that it does is only measureable under laboratory conditions. Throw in clouds, and the MASSIVE energy fluxes that result from the condensation and evaporation of water, the effects of CH4 adsorption are effectively lost in the noise.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Shill for Global Warming Calamity Grasps at Straws

Reuters manages to find someone who claims that a cooling trend is really a warming trend.


Of course, this fool is incorrect. A cooling trend is a measurement of the instantaneous rate of change of temperature for a system.

From the years since 1998, there is no record of a global temperature increase. Since 1998 (which is an anomaly) the decade of the 2000s is marked by a slightly negative temperature change vs. time. To say that we are in a warming trend is patently FALSE.

If, however you compare temperature now with those of the 70s, they are, indeed warmer.

So is the WMO Shill correct? Well, in a word, NO. Here's why. You can take temperatures from ANY point in time from the past, compare them to today's temperatures and state that whether they are warmer or cooler. Duh. What is important is the instantaneous rate of change of the temperature.

Currently this is zero or even slightly negative.

Oh, by the way. The reference for the article is Amir Delju, who is claimed to be senior scientific coordinator of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) climate program, which seems to do little else besides push for initiatives related to so-called AGW.