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Ceramic Tech Today




Published on May 31st, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

A team University of Michigan researchers say they have figured out a way to nondestructively use glass as an electrode in certain microfluidic devices. Alan Hunt, a biomedical engineering associate professor at the university, and his research team accidentally discovered a way to get an electric current to pass nondestructively through a thin section of …

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Business




Published on May 27th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm  announced that the state formed a partnership with the government of Navarra, Spain, a European center of the renewable-energy sector, to work collaboratively with leading industry experts to develop green technology. The project includes the Michigan-based wind turbine manufacturer Energetx Composites. Granholm inked the agreement yesterday in Dallas where the American …

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Ceramic Tech Today




Published on May 27th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

The “Jaguar” – the most powerful computer in the world – will be used to design the next generation of nuclear reactors, according to an Oak Ridge National Lab press release. The goal is to integrate existing nuclear energy and nuclear national security modeling and simulation capabilities with high-performance computing to simulate radiation in order …

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Biomaterials




Published on May 26th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

[flash http://ceramics.org/ceramictechtoday/wp-content/video/richard_brow.flv mode=1 f={image=/ceramictechtoday/wp-content/video/richard_brow.jpg}] Richard Brow will tell you he likes everything about glass science, art and processing. Brow, an ACerS Fellow and Curator’s Professor of Ceramic Engineering at Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla, Mo., discusses his fascination with glass and delves into two specific areas: tapping into the theoretical strength of …

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Biomaterials




Published on May 26th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Like bees and their honeycomb, a team of PNNL and University of Washington scientists have figured out a way to pack tumor killing antibodies into the cavities of porous silica particles, hopefully creating a superior transport system for anti-cancer agents. They have demonstrated that they can embed antibodies into the structure of chemically modified silica …

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Ceramic Tech Today




Published on May 24th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Students from Missouri University of Science and Technology will bring sustainable, clean water to portions of rural Bolivia this summer. Students with the university’s Engineers Without Borders chapter are making the trip this summer. S&T’s EWB chapter began working with the community of Erquis Sud in 2008. Team leader Emily Pasch, a senior in mechanical …

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Business




Published on May 24th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Following up on the post from last week about Hanesbrands/Element 21’s Champion aerogel jacket that was used in Jamie Clarke’s successful ascent of Mt. Everest, an AP story indicates that the superinsulating Supersuit jacket may be in stores soon, and that Aspen Aerogel – the source of the insulation in the jacket – business is …

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Ceramic Tech Today




Published on May 24th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

A new National Research Council report starts to get at the real costs of energy versus what everyone pays at the gas pump or to their utility company. Damage to human health from burning coal for electricity, for example, totaled about $62 billion in 2005. Driving motor vehicles produced $56 billion in health and other …

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Not included in those dollar figures was harm from climate change, which the committee found impossible to estimate as a single number because of the wide-ranging possibilities for the damages. Instead, it estimated ranges for the climate-related damages; for example, the cost of those that result from burning coal to generate electricity range from about 0.1 cents to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The report also has some other findings that are, to me at least, new:

  • Almost half the damages to human health and other nonclimate-related harms caused by coal-fired power plants could be traced to a just 10% of generating plants.
  • Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, by themselves, have greater damages than many other vehicle technologies because of hidden costs in the electricity used to power them and to create the batteries and electric motors.
  • Corn-based ethanol also had higher damages than many other types of vehicle fuel because of the energy used to produce the corn and convert it to fuel.

The report suggests that, “the most efficient policies to tackle hidden costs are likely to be targeted at the damages themselves, not the energy use – for example, by taxing the sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants rather than the electricity generated by them.”

In a separate but related new report about PHEVs, the NRC also says the new generation of hybrid vehicles will have little impact on oil dependency or CO2 emissions “until tens of millions of them are on the road, which will take decades.”

The report pins much of the blame for relatively low levels of anticipated sales on the higher sticker price for PHEV vehicles. But this is where I think the NRC’s conclusions get dicey.

Coupled with the first report above, it seems that government policy conceivably could shift how the hidden costs are paid and transfers those payments into subsidies that offset the purchase prices. In other words, we can either accept the hidden costs and continue to indirectly subsidize by having everyone pay through higher health care costs, environmental remediation, etc., and change nothing, or we tax the emissions and use policies to incentivize more efficient practices (not just PHEVs but also trains, public transit and zoning) through direct subsidies. More PHEVs, even if they turn out to be a transitional technology, means better manufacturing processes and less expensive per-vehicle costs.

Policies could also reward the use of solar-powered recharge stations, such as the one featured in the picture above.

 

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