Saturday, April 30, 2011

The town that wants nuclear waste

I found this to be a very interesting article about the problem of nuclear waste. We all know that Nuclear energy creates a bi product that is highly radio active and dangerous. The issue then obviously is what to do with this waste. A town in Sweden, Osthammar, has volunteered for the job. The article describes some reactions from the people who live there with their obvious concerns on how it will affect their environment. I found it interesting that the men and women in the town had very different concerns. The women were wanting to know will it affect the berries which they pick for food or will the moose they hunt. The men being more interested in the technology and how safe the facilities they use will be. I find it hard to believe that any town would volunteer for the job but as long as we need nuclear power there will always be the issues of what to do with the waste. I've posted a link to the article which also has a video and a link to a site which gives information on what nuclear waste is and can be done with it.

How Nuclear Energy Works

Much has been said about nuclear energy, but there has been little mentioned about how it actually works. Nuclear power starts with the nuclear reactor core, which is a bundle of uranium in the center of the nuclear reactor that heats the water into steam through nuclear fission. Energy is released when the nucleus of an atom is split and turns the water into steam, which turns the turbines to release electricity. When this chain reaction of fission heating up the water is not controlled, it can become overheated and cause radioactive elements to escape into the environment.  Many people have praised nuclear energy because it helps alleviate dependency on fossil fuels, however problems can arise and lead to radiation leaking into the public, which is what happened on Chernobyl and Fukushima.

-Cristina Coyne

Fukushima Power Plant

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Solar Power Safer than Nuclear Energy

Every day – every hour, the problems with Japan’s nuclear reactors seem to get worse.  In the wake of the massive 9.0 Japan earthquake on March 11, 2010, radiation leaks from the power plants are causing major concerns.  Worldwide, countries are re-evaluating the safety of nuclear energy within their own borders.  Fears of what could happen in the wake of other major natural disasters leaves many giving solar energy a closer look.

There can be no question that solar power is safer than nuclear energy.  Before the Japan earthquake, some commentators were starting to refer to nuclear as another form of clean, renewable energy.  That is fast changing, however.
Since the disaster in Japan, some solar energy stocks have climbed 3-6% in just a few days.  Experts believe that the trend will continue to rise, causing more demand for solar power in the short term.  Moreover, the cost of solar is projected to be lower than nuclear power by 2015, even with safety concerns set aside.  As solar panel costs have been falling since 1998, the price tag for a new nuclear reactor has gone up from a projected $2 billion in 2000, to more than $10 billion today.
Regardless of cost comparisons between the two energy sources, we can all agree that we’ll never have to evacuate thousands of people in the event of a “solar power meltdown.”  The only radiation associated with solar energy is pure sunlight.
Perhaps its now time to give solar power its day in the sun, and reconsider our reliance on nuclear energy.Solar Power Safer than Nuclear Energy

~ Laura Wilcox 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How far are we from another Chernobyl?

Lindsey Rieger provided  the article she listed below "25 years later". It is really interesting to see and compare what happened and what is happening these days in Japan. Are we facing another Chernobyl? 

I gathered this info from couple of articles... You should read! 

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. In light of that, and the story continuing to unfold at Japan's Fukishima plant, we'll look at three of the worst nuclear plant disasters. First, to give some context, here's how the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) classifies each type of event:

Major release of radioactive material; widespread health and environmental effects
Significant release; requires planned countermeasures  

Limited release; several deaths from radiation 

Minor release 

Exposure in excess of 10 times the annual limit for workers; possible burns from exposure

Exposure of statutory annual limits 

Level 1: Anomaly

Biggest nuclear disasters
Date: April 26, 1986

Level: 7 on INES  

Comparison: The Chernobyl plant accident released significantly more radiation into the atmosphere than the Hiroshima bombing during World War II. (How much more radiation?) How does that compare with the Fukishima event?

What happened:
    Plant operators carrying out technical experiment switched off key safety systems
    Explosion blew off the reactor's 2,000-ton steel and concrete lid
    No secondary containment vessel
    Reactor later entombed (see photos); since has developed cracks and is being replaced by new structure
    An 18-mile (30-km) exclusion zone remains in force
    You can visit the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev; tours are also offered inside the exclusion zone

Note: At the time of the accident, Chernobyl was located in the Soviet UnionHow far are we from another Chemobyl?

Thank you.

~ Luai Abdallah

25 Years Later

It is important to remember the effects nuclear disasters can have and how long the effects will last. 25 years later Chernobyl is still working to get back on it's feet and figure out the next steps. Deemed as the world's largest nuclear disaster to date, we still have a lot to learn about nuclear energy and how it works as well what to do when something goes wrong. The information and pictures in this article allows for deeper thought into how nuclear energy can effect people and hopefully push for ways and ideas on how to make nuclear energy better.

-Lindsey Rieger

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meltdown 101: What is a nuclear reactor meltdown? 

"Combine the word “nuclear” with the word “meltdown,” and you get something which sounds really scary to the average person. But all those scientists on cable news talking about what’s happening in Japan aren’t always clear about what a nuclear meltdown is, and isn’t. Is it an explosion? Will it burn a hole to the center of the earth? Does it spray radioactive stuff into the air, poisoning the surrounding landscape?" 

Well, everyone has been hearing about what is going on in Japan after the horrible Tsunami that had hit the country last month. Peter Grier, Staff writer wrote this article explaining some of what is happening in Japan in regard to this. 

I highly encourage you to read the article. Its very interesting and it breaks down whats happening and the consequences of Japan in a very easy and "broken down" way. 


~ Luai Abdallah

A by the numbers look at Nuclear Radiation and Health Effects

This article breaks down the different types of radiation, the various units of radiation, basic sources, regulations and limits ordained by certain countries. Worth noting are the comparative radiation doses chart; which also outlines its effects. A very useful guide when it comes to general information regarding radiation et al.

The link is here :

- Adnan Mansoor

Another insight on betting with Nuclear Power

This is an interesting article that highlights some numbers worth considering.  Here are some basic points to take away:
  • ·         For instance, even though a substantial amount of radiation has indeed leaked into Japan’s sea. However, a member of the public would be have to eat seaweed and seafood harvested just one mile from the discharge pipe for a year to receive an effective dose of 0.6 millisieverts.
  • ·          On average, Americans receive 3 millisieverts each year (In most countries the current maximum permissible dose to radiation workers is 20 mSv per year averaged over five years, with a maximum of 50 mSv in any one year.).
  • ·         Considering the pros and cons of other sources of energy including how expensive they can be.
  • ·         For instance in Japan, you would need 1.3 billion-acre of land if you want solar power plants. The effective cost would be one trillion dollars.
 Click on the link to read more about an interesting perspective on Nuclear energy.

- Adnan Mansoor

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Recycling Used Nuclear Fuel

         Sure nuclear energy has proven its ability to create energy, but what about the waste? Radioactive waste from these plants is constantly being produced with no possible way to eliminate them. We know this problem has no solution, yet nuclear energy plants are still in use and causing catastrophic pollution. 

This article announces a breakthrough in policy change for the subject of spent nuclear fuel. The United States government recently announced its plans to begin developing advanced recycling technologies to address the issue of radioactive waste. Although this new technology would not completely eliminate all byproducts, but any reduction in radioactive waste is always welcome. 

For the full article check out:

-Steve Becker

Crowd Power

Vibrations from passing trucks, the rumbling of speeding trains and even the footfall of busy city commuters could be captured and converted into energy to light walkways and buildings, engineers say. A London-based architectural firm is working on a project that aims to harness the pulse of a city and use it as a renewable energy source.

Facility Architects director Clair Price says tens of thousands of people can pass through urban hubs like train stations during rush hour. "You don't need to be a maths genius to realise that if you can harness that energy... you can actually generate a very useful power source that is currently being wasted,"

Info and image were found at 

-Steve Becker

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Studying Life in the Shadow of Nuclear Plants

This article helped my eyes continue to open to the dangers and concerns incorporated with nuclear plants. We have all seen in the media the issues with natural disasters and their effects on cultures that use nuclear power as a large part of their energy production(Japan).  This article brakes away from this and into the reality that we have all been concerned with from the introduction of nuclear plants, radiation damage to humans.  They discuss in this article personal accounts of people who grew up around these plants and were diagnosed with cancer.  This is a good way to awaken your mind to the issues we truly face when incorporating nuclear power into everyday life.

To read this article please visit here:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Exploring Algae as Fuel

In San Diego California a biotech company called Sapphire Energy is trying to use algae as a source of energy. These algae are being genetically modified and pitted against each other to speed up the evolution of the more fit strains. The reasoning for this is to produce super algae which convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into lipids and oils which can be refined into diesel or jet fuel. Not only Sapphire Energy, but dozens of companies and Universities are trying to transform algae to make green energy. These strains of algae are of interest because they can potentially produce ten times more fuel per acre than corn or soybeans. These algae consume carbon dioxide at a very high rate as well, so the potentially can help keep greenhouse gasses in check. Because some of these techniques involve the splicing of genes into the algae, there is some opposition to this technology by scientists and government, but people in favor of the technology as well some who are critical of biotech seem unworried by engineered algae. With $200 million dollars raised from investors like Bill Gates and government funding, the three year old company Sapphire Energy seems to have the best shot at unlocking this technology. There is alot of alternative ways to get energy in development. Many people think that the government is only commited to getting energy from old technologies, but that is not the case. The 100 million dollar government grant to Sapphire Energy is proof in the matter.
-John Curran

What is the 'Smart Grid'?


The ‘Smart Grid’ is a term that has been doing the rounds on the Internet and abroad. This term indicates that the current ‘electrical grids’ that is in use today are inadequate and use old infrastructure to maintain its life cycles.
There are four major problems with the current United States energy grids:
1.  A fraction of the energy we use to produce electricity is wasted due to old distribution and generation methods.
2.  Much of the electrical energy is produced from coal and natural gas, which contribute to climate change.
3.  Generators at peak load are not elastic to demand. Meaning only a small fraction of its use cannot meet the current demands.
4.  Storage capacity of electrical energy is very limited and outdated technology. We need to improve ‘electrical’ storage facilities to make best use of when and how energy is stored for future use.

Please visit the Department of Energy site for more information.

Also, there is an initiative in the works with several agencies to meet ‘Smart Grid’ initiatives for the year 2030.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

California Sets Alternative Energy Benchmark by 2020

California's governor is setting high hopes for energy consumption by the year 2020, in which 33% of all energy used in the State will come for renewable sources. The increasing rise in energy cost has fueled the development of greater hopes for renewable energy. The last time California's governor was in office during the '70s he attempted a similar bill but was ridiculed as oil prices weren't nearly what they are today. The hope is that as more States take California's lead, renewable energy startup costs will decline. Follow the read more link below to a piece from the San Francisco Chronicle, the article describes the legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Read More

- Adam Smith

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What is Greenwashing?

Hey guys,

Just wanted to let you know I published my first post on my test Google site, on greenwashing.

Here is the link to my blog...

Sammy Al-Bazzaz

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some other sources of energy

The above website speaks rather broadly of possible alternative sources, for renewable energy. It does also list (in brief) some pros and cons of various alternatives energies. For example, even though Solar Energy is promising--' the main disadvantage of using solar cells is that they are still relatively expensive, for instance installing solar panel rooftop system in United States is likely to cost you more than $20,000 (2009 data).'. Alternative energy will have an uphill struggle due to the reluctance of our generation, to try our hand at something (relatively) new. This reluctance can come from a variety of reasons, but the first step to dispelling it, is to understand what are the alternatives, and how these alternatives work.

- Adnan Mansoor

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Andy Singer cartoon is an excellent depiction of the concept of 'greenwashing'. Clearly, just because something is marketed as 'green', does not mean it truly is 'green'. One of the biggest problems of 'greenwashing' is that most of the time, it is successful. The average consumer is not going to take the time to research a claim that a company is making when it is marketing its product as being 'green' to the consumer. The average consumer is going to consciously or subconsciously associate that product and/or company as being in some way 'green'. We, as consumers, need to take the time to question the 'green' claims that we see being advertised. I leave you with another cartoon that lists for us ten things we should look out for to avoid being 'greenwashed'.

By Melissa Carter

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Using Wing Waves to Generate Electricity

Wing waves are a new alternative source to power, just like wind mills and wind turbines. A company from Tallahassee, Florida called Clean and Green Enterprise has been trying to find a way to use the sea as a source of energy in the past couple of years.  The power is generated by switching elliptical motion wave to mechanical energy after keeping it for more than 30 feet deep underwater.
According to Stephen Wood, an assistant professor of marine and environmental systems at Florida Institute of Technology’s College of Engineering, one square mile of wings can generate power to light around 200,000 houses.The use of wing waves is a clean source to generate energy, it will not affect the marine life and it can generate power even when there are no big waves.

Retrieved from:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

EPA changes regulations regarding fuel conversion systems

The EPA has recently amended their regulations on conversion systems for gasoline powered vehicles.  The Clean Air Act prohibits altering vehicles or their engines from their certified configuration.  This makes converting existing vehicles to run on alternative fuel sources difficult to do legally.  The EPA's recent amendments to the Clean Air Act will allow companies to sell converter kits for your car or truck to run on alternative fuels without being in violation of the law.  This is an exciting change in policy because it will allow more people access to the choice of using alternative fuel sources for their personal vehicles.

Visit the EPA’s website to learn more about this recent change.

-Ryan Cohen

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a term that is used to describe the practices of companies that claims to be “green” through their marketing but in fact they are not totally “green”, they just do some practices that minimize environmental impact. Energy companies are a good example for greenwashing as they claim to have “green” technology for not green business. British petroleum (BP) is one of the largest oil companies in the world, they spent huge amount of money for marketing companies to promote that their “green” practices. Although they might appear as having green practices but their business is not good for the environment or “green”. The July, 2010 oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico explains that their practices are not “green” even if they claim to be.

California Solar Initiative

California is a leader in the solar energy movement.  The prospect of saving money and the planet has 79,590 solar projects throughout the state (as of April 6, 2011).  Solar energy offers several fiscal advantages as well as environmental impacts: reduction in utility costs, predictable utility costs, protection against the rising energy costs, and a clean renewable source of energy. The impact on the budget is one of the many reasons California has the ambitious goal of being 20% solar energy fueled by 2020.  This is part of Arnold Schwartzenegger's Million Solar Roofs program and the comprehensive $2.8 billion dollar program.  This program was authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and by Senate Bill 1 (SB1).  It offers cash incentives as well as Federal and State tax benefits of more than $2 billion.  This aggressive approach to being fueled by more renewable energy sources is a testament to the the rising cost of energy and impact on the planet. 

~Kristen Roland

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Oregon tops nation In third-quarter wind projects

Although the third quarter of 2010 was the slowest for the US power industry since 2007, Oregon was number one in the way of new capacity installed throughout the quarter according to the American Wind energy Association. With this ranking, it moves Oregon past number one Texas but it also shows an overall deceleration of wind turbines erected in the US.
The main reason for Oregon’s number one ranking is PGE’s completion of the Biglow Canyon Wind farm, which ads 76 total turbines able to produce 175 megawatts of electricity. Oregon ranks fourth overall in wind turbine capacity behind Texas, Iowa and California. As a whole, Oregon produces 2095 megawatts of power from all of its turbines. This puts it ahead of Washington’s 1964 megawatts produced by wind turbines.
Tax incentives and stimulus money equaling around 30 percent of the cost has driven Oregon to make a push for more wind turbines. Power analyst Jeff King expects Oregon to slow down its turbine expansion and he also expects California with its high demand for energy to push forward and continue development of renewable energy such as solar and wind power.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nuclear Disaster: How do we deal with it?

This video from Fox News, whom has a conservative slant on the issues of energy independence, is with former New York Mayer Giuliani. The beginning of the video discusses the indecision of world leaders, to include President Obama, the Prime Minister of Japan and how they have reacted to the recent devastation in Japan. The discussion in the video talks about the nuclear reactors in Japan that have been melting down and how they should or should not promote a sense of leadership through a disaster coordination effort. I personally found it interesting that in Japanese culture there was minimal looting during or after the disaster in Japan. Possibly, the morality of a typical Japanese citizen is of a higher caliber than that of the United States.
The last half of the video discusses that a nuclear reactor is built to withstand even the worst natural disaster by a large margin. The simple fact that nuclear energy is widely used and only contributes to minimal incidents has proven its ability to be a beneficial resource for energy among nations. The question that remains is the fact that we as United States citizen may only remember the negative aspects that media plays on nuclear catastrophes that include the Three Mile Island, 1979 ( incident on the United States east coast. Former Mayor Giuliani lived through the Three Mile Island nuclear incident and believes that nuclear energy is the safest form of energy production and states that no deaths have been proven from nuclear issues at Three Mile Island.
Video link:

YouTube video posted by FoxNewsInsider on Mar 15, 2011