Monday, August 25, 2014

Weed blaster or propelled aggressive grit management - PAGman

Over the past few years organic and sustainable farm researchers have attempted to control weeds using high velocity grit to hinder the growth of weeds in crop fields in particular field corn.  Corncob bits appear to be one of the most effective grit materials. 

USDA Researcher, Frank Forcella at Morris, MN  MN Star Tribune have been attempting to combine the corncob bits with cornmeal and other organic fertilizers to develop an organic weed and feed combination.  His research on corn row crops is availabe as a pdf at ( Weed Technology 2012 26:161-164 ). 

According to Mr. Forcella, using the initial prototypes, the current cost of application is 5 times the cost of chemical herbicides.  Cost of application is expected to fall as the machinery becomes mass produced and the technology improves.  Sam Wortman at the University of Illinois has focused on the horticultural applications for weed control in tomatoes and broccoli.
I am impressed with this technology.  Further research needs to be done regarding the most sustainable grit and the appropriate organic fertilizer mix.  This also has some positive implications for improving the quality of ground water and control of chemically resistant weeds.  I can also see the application for home gardening using a cone around the nozzle to protect adjacent plants.  The ergonomics of weed removal would be greatly improved.

Ror information on the USDA grant see Development and Demonstration of a New Method of Physical Weed Control with researchers Frank Forcella and Sharon Clay, SDSU.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Controlling Particle production in China

Optical depth of particles - Wikipedia

The Chinese government has been taking action to address problems with smog in the country.  As the pollution from this country has a global effect this is good news.

University of Minnesota researchers David Pui and others are attempting to assist China with their $277 billion dollar investment to reduce the production of PM 2.5 particles. The Airborne Pollution Prevention Control Plan makes a significant investment from 2013 -2017 towards reining in pollution. 

One of the major roadblocks to there success is the inability of the government to shut down inefficient older steel production facilities.  Local interests with respect to employment and business conflict with the broader goals of efficient production.  An increase in production at coal fired power plants, cement plants and the increase in the number of motor vehicles in Beijing are other major contributors to the production of PM 2.5 particles.

Singapore Haze

PM 2.5 micron sized particles are small enough to deposit in the lungs and cause respiratory health problems in individuals.  Campfires and burning wood for heating also contribute to PM 2.5 particle production in less developed countries.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tesla to team with Panasonic on Giant Battery Factory

Telsa automotive has formed a partnership with Panasonic to build the next generation battery factory to produce batteries for the model 3 electric car aimed at middle class consumers with a price point around $35,000.  The location of the 5 billion dollar SW USA Gigafactory has yet to be determined.  The goal of the factory is to reduce the cost of next generation rechargeable batteries by 30%.  The location is important as both wind and solar energy will be used to power the plant.

11 minute electric car update 8/1/2014

Waste Carbon Dioxide as a Resource

A Motley Fool Article in USA Today suggests that the use of waste carbon dioxide as a resource could add over 1 Trillion dollars to the US economy.

Captured carbon dioxide could be used for chemical production or to add in algae biofuel production. The US department of energy lists 12 innovative concepts for using waste carbon dioxide.  This includes construction materials, natural gas production, fertilizer production and others.

Methanol Production - click on image to enlarge

Solar/Biofuel production -79 minutes