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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nanomedicine

Nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnoloy to medicine. It includes medical imaging, lab-on-a-chip, quantum dots and other novel diagnostic tools, biosensors, regenerative medicine, advanced and “smart” medical materials, drug targeting and delivery systems, nano-bio-electronic interfaces and novel devices. The study of nanomedicine also includes the associated risk, ethical and regulatory issues.

Greatly increased knowledge of how the human body and disease pathologies work at the molecular level is combining with the ability to manipulate materials at the nanoscale to provide much earlier and more accurate diagnoses, far less invasive procedures, targeting of smaller doses of more effective drugs to desired delivery sites and new paradigms of treatment where damaged tissues or even organs can be regenerated using the patient’s own cells.

Nanomedicine has a great future and a long way to go

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

PEV: plug-in electric vehicles

Plug-in electric vehicles reduce overall carbon emissions by up to 70 percent (100 percent if charged by zero-carbon, renewable energy sources) and lower fuel costs by about 80 percent.

The vehicles running on renewables (like solar and wind) and electric vehicles don’t give a smooth ride. They come with hitches. One of the common problems they all share is the range. Solar power is only produced during daytime. Wind provides power when the wind is blowing. The plug-ins that come with vehicles have their range as well. It’s as far as the vehicle can travel between lengthy recharging.

If we pay close attention we can get rid of the common “range” problem of electric vehicles and intermittent renewables. This problem can be tackled by the two working together. Plug-in vehicles contain a battery pack for energy storage. There is no storage of energy for renewables. It is possible use electric cars and trucks to store energy from renewables. Another logical step can be to install enough renewably powered, high-voltage, fast-charge charging stations. It will ease off the tensions from vehicle owners and make charging more frequent so that long charging periods would not be necessary.

How green are the zero emission vehicles ?: Read and participate in a discussion on the subject


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Carbon budget

The carbon budget can be defined as the amount of tolerable global emissions over a period of time to limit the average global temperature increase to 2 deg C. The budget is from 1990 to 2050. Till 2008, we used up approximately 40 percent of the budget of 1990-2050. If we keep on doing what we're doing now, including the increase of emissions, we have wasted, not only time but we shall spend our budget by about 2025.

The report by Dutch energy consultancy Ecofys, commissioned by WWF, says:

* Rich nations must cut emissions by 80 pct by 2050

* Rich countries must help poorer ones to curb emissions

* Countries must adopt flexible carbon accounting system

Monday, October 5, 2009

Earth too has limits

Out of the nine biophysical thresholds that must be observed in order to prevent disastrous consequences for humanity, we've already surpassed three, according to a feature article published in Nature (see Ref.). The report looked at nine different metrics including climate change, ocean acidification, and global freshwater use and estimated for each the degree to which we have approached or surpassed the critical threshold. Loss of biodiversity and alterations to the nitrogen cycle have progressed far past the point of safety, with climate change also exceeding its limit.

During the Holocene state, environmental change occurred naturally and Earth's regulatory capacity maintained the conditions that enabled human development. Regular temperatures, freshwater availability and bio-geo-chemical flows all stayed within a relatively narrow range. Now, largely because of a rapidly growing reliance on fossil fuels and industrialized forms of agriculture, human activities have reached a level that could damage the systems that keep earth in the desirable Holocene state. The result could be irreversible and, in some cases, abrupt environmental change, leading to a state less conducive to human development. Without pressure from humans, the Holocene is expected to continue for at least several thousands of years.

The authors tried to identify the Earth-system processes and associated thresholds which, if crossed, could generate unacceptable environmental change. They found nine such processes for which we believe it is necessary to define planetary boundaries, namely climate change; rate of biodiversity loss (terrestrial and marine); interference with the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles; stratospheric ozone depletion; ocean acidification; global freshwater use; change in land use; chemical pollution; and atmospheric aerosol loading.

Ref: Johan Rockström et. al., "A safe operating space for humanity", Nature, Vol. 461, September 2009, pp 472 -475 | doi:10.1038/461472a


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Five steps to sustainability

The five steps to sustainability, as outlined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD):

  • Establish clear and transparent price signals that reflect the external environmental cost of greenhouse gas emissions

  • Incorporate life-cycle energy costs into all government and private-sector strategic plans

  • Remove regulatory barriers and provide incentives for innovation

  • Protect intellectual property rights, which are critical to private-sector investment and innovation

  • Educate and train citizens to develop and deploy cutting-edge sustainable energy solutions.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brazil launches first fuel cell bus, with hydrogen station

The Brazilian hydrogen-fueled bus project reached a major milestone recently in São Paulo, with the unveiling of the country's first fuel cell bus, as well as its first service station capable of supplying hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

The Brazilian hydrogen bus initiative is being deployed by a consortium formed by Petrobras Distribuidora, AES Eletropaulo, Ballard Power Systems, EPRI International, Hydrogenics, Marcopolo, NuCellSys, and Tuttotrasporti. The project was created in partnership with the Brazilian ministry of mines & energy, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the FINEP investment program of Brazil's science & technology ministry.

The project involves the acquisition, operation and maintenance of up to five fuel cell/battery hybrid buses; the fueling station, which will produce hydrogen by electrolysis; and the monitoring and performance verification of these vehicles.

The bus uses a hybrid power system that combines hydrogen fuel cells and batteries. This strategy can increase fuel economy, because the batteries are recharged by the fuel cell system while the vehicle is stopped, and through regeneration of braking energy. The power required is obtained by using two fuel cell systems in parallel, each rated at 64 kW, and which significantly reduces the bus production costs.

The station can generate up to 120 kg of hydrogen per day at a pressure of 440 bar (6400 psi), enough to supply up to three buses for a range of 300 km (190 miles). In the first stage, it will store enough hydrogen to fuel one bus, but when more vehicles go into operation, this capacity will be boosted.

Ref: Fuel Cells Bulletin, Vol. 2009, Iss. 9, Sept 2009, p2

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Canadian roadmap for electric vehicles

A roadmap containing a series of recommendations and strategic initiatives to help in the evolution of electric vehicles (EV) in Canada was formally presented to Natural Resources Canada Minister Lisa Raitt, on 28 September 2009. It calls for the combined efforts of governments and industry to achieve the timely and effective commercialization of electric vehicles. The report adds that consideration should be given to the supplementing of federal and provincial mechanisms to promote the development, public acceptance and procurement of personal and commercial EVs, and also the installation of charging infrastructure.

As per the estimates there will be at least 500,000 personal and commercial vehicles that rely exclusively or primarily on electric traction on Canadian roads by 2018.

The roadmap outlines 21 strategic initiatives, which touch on the areas of technology, standards and regulations, studies and assessments, education and outreach. One of the proposed technology initiatives calls on governments and the private sector to demonstrate vehicle use in real-world operation to assess the reliability and durability of energy storage and other components in Canadian settings. Educationally, the report proposes assessing the resource requirements for training, education and certification in skills related to the emerging EV industry.

As with all new technologies, the cost at the beginning is higher and because of the environmental and economic benefits of these vehicles, it makes sense for governments to offer financial incentives in the early stages. Once the sale volumes reach larger numbers, the unit costs will go down. There are no such incentives at the federal government level in Canada at this time as compared to other developed industrialized nations.

It is equally important to provide support to the battery industry to further research, develop more rapid manufacturing techniques and to generally advance the state of the art of batteries. The new battery technology - lithium ion, for example - is evolving and has not yet been demonstrated over long periods of time.