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Monday, September 1, 2014


The Virtual Water Dilemma: Act 2 – Energy

water droplet falling

When we flip on the TV and hear about water scarcity, the suggested ways to conserve are usually to water our yard less and use less water in our home.  It might interest you to know that even turning on that TV is using water in the form of virtual water. Virtual water is all the water that goes into the production of a product; and it often goes unnoticed by consumers.

Like food, energy consumption is another area where we are guilty of using virtual water. Because the production of both electricity and fuel use large amounts of water when consumed, we increase our virtual water footprint on an ongoing basis. As already discussed in Act One, more than 50 percent goes into our food production. But water is also used up in the production of the energy that we rely on to support our everyday lives. On average, an American relies on about 670 gallons of water a day just in energy consumption.

oil refinery

You might find yourself wondering how water consumption is related to gas consumption. But the fact of the matter is that most of our industrial processes, including gas production, use extensive amounts of water. Water is intimately related to the production of fuel and in the case of oil water is used in the following ways:

  • Injection: During injection water is injected into the reservoir to compensate for the drop in reservoir pressure after production is started. It’s also used to displace and aid with oil extraction.
  • Refining: During refining water is used in the boiler to generate superheated steam, to power the equipment through heat transfer. Water is also used to dilute the salt content of crude oil before the distilling process. And lastly, water is used in cooling.

The sources of water that are used in these processes include: seawater, rivers, estuaries, aquifers and waste water in certain cases. But all the water is treated depending on what it is going to be used for. Ultimately, it takes about 13 gallons of water to make one gallon of gasoline. Estimates also indicate that the US uses 1 to 2 billion gallons of water to refine 800 million gallons of petroleum products every day.

nuclear power plant

But petroleum products are not the only energy products that we use every day. Most of the electricity in the US is generated by thermoelectric power plants. These power plants use water to make the steam that turns turbines and generates electricity. Some 49 percent of water withdrawals in the US are for thermoelectric power plants.

So what can consumers do to reduce water consumption? Trying to carpool, driving a fuel efficient car or driving less will help cut down on our virtual water waste that goes into transportation. To cut back on energy related virtual water waste make sure your home has energy efficient light fixtures, don’t leave the lights on and turn off your electronics when not in use. Not only will it save on your electricity bill but it will also help to reduce your virtual water impact. Knowing the impact of our daily activities is key to helping us make the right kind of changes. We can all help to save virtual water.

related: alternative energy

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

American Performance Technologies: The SmartCarb

Small engine fuel delivery systems have experienced a constant evolution since the introduction of the internal combustion engine towards the end of the 19th century, with innovations such as the carburetor and the electronic fuel injection (EFI) system appearing to feed larger and more powerful engines. It’s now become common knowledge that the newest EFI systems provide the optimal blend of engine power, fuel efficiency and emissions reductions, but one good ol’ American company is working to change that.

The SmartCarb® from American Performance Technologies, based in Kansas City, Missouri, is poised to revolutionize the small engine fuel delivery system industries by turning back the clock on what is “best” for the consumer. The SmartCarb® is the culmination of 45 years of development on the classic, flat slide carburetor, featuring automatic altitude compensation, increased horsepower and significantly better fuel economy than other carburetors on the market. This device can potentially be installed on motorcycles, all terrain vehicles, portable generators and small aircraft, or perhaps conventional full-size vehicles in the future!

The most notable improvement in the APT SmartCarb® is it’s revolutionary high atomization rate of fuel (in other words, the “stream” of fuel is converted into a “mist”) which allows for a significantly higher amount of fuel to be burned in the combustion process. (more…)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Planning a Trip to Paris? Checkout This New 2-Wheeled Trend

rental bike and Eiffel tower

Paris, the city of lights, is a world renowned tourist destination. Like many European cities it offers a wide range of transportation options. One that is particularly interesting and eco-friendly is the Velib bike rental. Instead of sitting in the traditional tour bus with a bunch of clamoring, chatting strangers, you can tour the city of light by bicycle.

The Velib program, which was launched in 2007, has had much success and been a shining example for other cities. The first 30 minutes of every checkout is free, and some of the pass options include:

  • A Velib Classic pass is 29 euros or about 39 US. And is good 24/7 for an entire year.
  • A Velib Passion pass is 39 euros or about 52 US. And is good 24/7 for an entire year and gets you the first 45 minutes free instead.
  • A 7-Day ticket is only 8 euros, about 11 US. And is good for an entire week.
  • A 1-Day ticket is 1.70 euros, about 3 US. And is good for 24 hrs.
  • Note: Depending on exchange rates these prices may change.

Velib bike share station

Bikes are rented from a collection of 1,800 docking stations which are located every 300 meters from each other, about 0 .1 mile or 984 feet.  Each station has up to 70 bike posts, where the bikes can be checked back in and re-rented. If space isn’t available a 15 minute extension is given to reach the next station. Stations are embedded all over the city and are broken up by districts. Choosing to use the bike instead of a taxi allows you to immerse yourself in city and you won’t have to worry about getting caught up in traffic. (more…)

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love Your Reef Tank Without Loving Coral Reefs to Death

For novice aquarists fresh water tanks are usually a starting point because they are easier and cheaper to maintain. But some may say that coral reef tanks are the Bentleys of aquariums. Despite their deep love for these amazing species many aquarists buy corals, fish and inverts that have been taken from wild reefs. A lot of reef species are obtained from the exploitation and over harvesting of already threatened reef systems. Some estimates put 60% of corals reefs in critical danger. The practice of taking corals, fish and invertebrates from these fragile systems for aquarium practices has been going on for decades.

purple stylo

There are however ways to enjoy having salt water species in your tank without promoting their exploitation, simply buy from aquaculture providers instead. As American aquarists have become more eco-conscious companies have taken notice and new options are all over the market. Fort Pierce, Florida based, ORA ( Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums), offers aquacultured hatchery-raised saltwater fish, invertebrates, and live aquarium foods and Sustainable offers access to aquacultured corals, fish, plants and inverts from various aquaculture providers. (more…)

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Monday, August 18, 2014

5 Green Orgs That Deserve Our Support

Mother Earth's Eyeball

We thought we’d highlight just a few of the organizations and NGOs that are out there in the trenches everyday tirelessly working to conserve and protect our natural environment from all the forces working against it and us.

NRDC – The National Resources Defense Council works tirelessly to protect our land, water, sea and air – and the plants, people and animals that inhabit the earth. The NRDC is not afraid to get its hands dirty. The group’s 1.4 million members and online activists include more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals, making the NRDC one of the nation’s most powerful environmental action groups. NRDC has taken on countless polluters, energy producers and environmental law breakers – big and small and knows more about environmental laws than the governments and its regulators.

Audubon Society – I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “like a canary in a coal mine”. Well, birds, their health, abundance and survival rate are a clear indicator of the health of our ecosystem. Habitat loss, pollution and man’s affinity for killing things has put many bird populations in danger. The Audubon Society mission: To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. The Audubon Society has chapters, programs and initiatives  and sanctuaries across the nation. Find a chapter near you, get involved, or make a donation.

EWG – If you’d like to make more informed buying decisions, know which sunscreen, skincare and food products contain harmful chemicals and additives and protect both yourself, and the environment, then the Environmental Working Group is the org for you. EWG does your homework for you and provides comprehensive, well researched guides for consumers to utilize when evaluating everyday purchases. The organization tests hundreds of products – from light bulbs to bottled water – and outlines the best, environmentally appropriate and healthiest choices you can make when purchasing a wide range everyday consumer products. EWG also tackles tough civic and environmental issues, including: energy production, pollution and fracking.

Rainforest Alliance – The mission: The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. The Rainforest Alliance works with large corporations, individual farmers, local officials and organizations to support and preserve the health and conservation of some of the most endangered and important global ecosystems.  The Alliance is a key participant in the global war on climate change. Consumers can look for the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal on products. The seal stands for environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Sierra ClubThe Sierra Club is all about incorporating grassroots action and advocacy to preserve, protect and promote America’s imperiled natural wild treasures, forests, water and resources. The org has over 2.4 million members and supporters and 64 local chapters nationwide. In addition to fighting to protect millions of acres of wild America, the Sierra Club is actively involved in efforts to reduce the number of coal fired and nuclear power plants and to promote the enforcement and creation of the environmental laws that protect our land, water and air. Join a local chapter near you and get involved.

Please check out these great green organizations and join their efforts to protect, conserve, preserve and support our natural world and the plants, animals and people that inhabit it. Visit them on social media, join a local or national chapter and donate to them if possible.

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