Monday, November 30, 2009

Reverse Recipe for Fuel

Sandia National Labs created a prototype that could “reverse-combust” CO2 back into fuel. CO2 can be produced by a variety of sources, but combustion of carbon containing fuels (methane, petroleum, coal, wood, etc) is the largest producer. An example of a chemical reaction could be what occurs between methane and oxygen: CH4 + 2O2 -> CO2 + 2H20 (2). Basically when CO2 is produced, the chemical reaction usually results in CO2 and water. Scientists at Sandia National Labs have discovered that they can produce carbon monoxide using solar energy, water, and CO2. The process can also create raw hydrogen. While it’s only a prototype, and the reverse-engineered syngas procedure isn’t anywhere near being economical, it gives a glimmer of hope to those anxious for renewable energy solutions.

Kaitlyn Hill


Sunday, November 29, 2009

President Obama and Changing Minds

According to President Barack Obama, the country that focuses on harnessing the power of renewable energy will lead the 21st century. His energy policy claims to recognize the “relationship between energy, the environment, and our economy and leverages American ingenuity to put people back to work, fight global warming, increase our energy independence and keep us safe.” (Organizing for America) The Obama Administration will work to chart a new energy future with renewable energy in order to end dependence on foreign oil, address global warming, and create jobs for Americans that will not be shipped overseas. They will focus on a goal of generating 25% of our energy from renewable sources by 2025, and will continue to invest in solar, wind, biofuels, and geothermal power. They will also work to fight climate change by investing in energy efficiency and conservation. (Organizing for America)

Howard Gardner offers some suggestions for political leaders that might help President Obama achieve these goals in Changing Minds. Gardner states that leaders must “make particular use of two tools: the stories that they tell and the lives they lead. In terms of our levers of change, the ‘resonance’ that exists- or doesn’t- between those stories and those lives proves of telltale importance.” (69) Gardner gives the example of Margaret Thatcher, and discusses the story she put forth that changed history. Her “message contained the essential elements of any good narrative: a protagonist- the British nation (if not British society!); a goal- the restoration of stature, the proper international role for Britain; and obstacles- the misguided consensual policies of recent years, the willingness to cede leadership to other countries, the power of the unions, the fractiousness of the Commonwealth nations, the absence of a directed National Will.” (72) The vehicle for combating these obstacles was Thatcher, and the policies she provided. President Obama must follow suit and create a narrative with the United States as the protagonist, clean, renewable energy as the goal, and the energy and environmental policies of recent years as the obstacle. President Obama must acquire the support of the people with this story, and only then will he be able to create change. His story of renewable energy should strike a chord with the American public, and he could show the world that he is fully in favor of clean, renewable energy by changing the way he lives his life.

Post by Alexandra West

Organizing for America -

Gardner, Howard. Changing Minds. Massachusetts: HBS Press, 2006.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Renewable Energy in Europe

Recently, over 500 politicians met for the 3rd European Renewable Energy Policy Conference in Brussels. They came to the consensus that “renewable energy will be the mainstream source of Europe’s energy supply by 2050.” ( They decided that 80% of the energy used will come from renewable energy sources in 2050.

This decision is of considerable importance, and should be taken into consideration by the United States. The European Union has recognized that the European Renewable Energy Industry is providing thousands of new jobs, is cost efficient, and is working to reduce CO2 emissions. (

Each of these advantages to working on increasing the use renewable energy work well with Howard Gardners’ suggestions in his book Changing Minds. By working to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions, the EU is using reason to appeal to its citizens. Also, the idea of protecting the environment resonates with people. And furthermore, jobs and decreases in energy costs act as rewards for those who live and work in Europe.

If we use rewards, reason, and resonance to change the minds of those in our country, we might be able to switch over to using primarily renewable energy sooner.

Post by Alexandra West

“European Commission Projects 80% Renewable Energy by 2050.” N. p., 17 Nov. 2009. Web. 19 Nov. 2009, <>.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coast to Coast on Slime

Recently an article on yahoo (**URL at the bottom of the post**) made the job of both getting off foreign oil, and cleaning up our current addiction very optimistic. Apparently algae eats CO2, the reference "coast to coast on slime" refers to a project aimed at just that; "California company Sapphire Energy has already fueled a cross-country road trip with algae-tinged gasoline."

The idea of algae-fuel is very promising. Algae grows in a lot of places without much effort, making it perfect for the job. Although some people are cynical, as they often are, there seems to be a lot of buzz lately regarding the topic.

Algae is not only good at eating off gas from fossil fuel, but it may be able to be used as a source of fuel as well. Lipids are stored in algae, and many scientists are working on methods of extraction. Promising headway has been made promting patents and investments.

ExxonMobil recently said it would be spending 600 million dollars on research, and in July Dow Chemical announced a new partnership aimed at building a demonstration plant, and expects to launch commercial production by 2011.

Good news for us!!!