Jun 17, 2010

Cornell Chronicle: CCSF announces 2010 seed grants

windmillsJune 16, 2010
Sustainability grants target fracking, biochar fibers, wireless solar tiles and more

Sebastiano Pitruzzello/Creative Commons
Cornell will lead a workshop to build a team of academic, government and industry partners to propose a long-term wind energy research program funded through the Department of Energy.

By Krishna Ramanujan
Improving bioreactors that create biofuels by a thousand-fold and developing a model for studying the risk of sequestering carbon dioxide deep underground are among six projects and two workshops that the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF) is funding this year to stimulate original, cross-disciplinary work in sustainability science.

The Academic Venture Fund, now in its third year, emphasizes work with the potential to involve such external partners as industry, government, foundations and NGOs. CCSF awarded $598,027 this year to eight proposals out of 25 submitted; more than 90 percent of the proposals involved researchers from more than one college or school.

The research projects are:

Developing biochar-based fibers for personal protective equipment: Biochar fibers may provide a greener option for protective clothing to reduce a wearer's exposure to toxic compounds. Researchers will test 20 biochars for their capacity to absorb organic pollutants, suitability for nonwoven fibers and for their use in containing toxic spills, among other applications.
Modeling, systems engineering and risk analysis for carbon sequestration: Geologic carbon sequestration (GCS) -- injecting pressurized carbon dioxide deep underground beneath impermeable caprock -- holds promise for mitigating climate change. To address public concerns over the procedure, researchers will use systems engineering to develop a model for analyzing, quantifying and monitoring the risk of GCS.
Monitoring air and water quality in Marcellus Shale drilling sites: With controversy about the potential environmental damage caused by hydrofracking, a technique for natural gas drilling in Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, this project will develop procedures and protocols to monitor air and water quality in counties where drilling occurs.

Researchers will investigate the utility of Cornell-developed wireless tiles powered by sun and wind and will build a prototype system.

Replacing antibiotics with bacteriophages in the livestock industry: Heavy antibiotic use in dairy cows and other livestock has led to drug-resistant bacteria, but bacteriophages -- viruses that infect bacteria -- hold promise as highly specific and nontoxic antimicrobial agents. This project will isolate and produce relevant bacteriophages and then evaluate them in a clinical trial of 900 dairy cows.
Improving solar photobioreactors by a thousand-fold using advanced photonics: An emerging technology harnesses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide to biofuel through such photosynthetic bacteria as blue-green algae, but the technology is limited by current reactor designs. This project will develop a proof-of-concept photobioreactor that uses algae to convert carbon dioxide to biofuel with three times the efficiency.
Improving water governance in the Mediterranean Basin and Middle East: As the Mediterranean and Middle East experience growing water shortages, competition for water could lead to conflicts or opportunities for cooperation. This study will assess water legislation in the Mediterranean Sea and its basin, research the reasons behind poor compliance, and develop effective monitoring systems and strategies for enforcing compliance.
The workshops awarded grants are:

Self-powered wireless solar tiles for a renewable energy future: Researchers will investigate the utility of Cornell-developed wireless tiles powered by sun and wind, build a prototype system and host a workshop this fall to promote the new tiles and report on research challenges.
University collaboration on wind energy: This workshop will seek to build a team of academic, government and industrial partners to propose a long-term wind energy research program funded through the Department of Energy.

Biochar Project

CQUninews — June 16, 2010 — Researchers at CQUniversity talk about their project to turn green waste into "biochar" - a useful product for storing carbon, helping plants grow and even as a possible biofuel.

Down and Dirty with Terra Preta

By Jimmy Mengel
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, a dark substance has mystified scientists for decades. It has been said that it holds the power to feed the world's hungry and even fight global warming...
That substance is terra preta, or “dark earth” in Portuguese.
The sumptuous soil is said to have been created and cultivated by the indigenous Amazonians before the dawn of Western civilization — sometime between 450 BC and AD 950.
But how did the ancient peoples cultivate such rich earth? For decades, the soil near the Amazon River had been thought to be far too acidic to grow most crops.
Some claim that without terra preta, there would have been no way for the area to sustain the large populations that flourished there until the European arrivals in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Research over the past twenty years has uncovered many of the ingredients that make terra preta such fertile soil. It's so fertile, that some evidence suggests that it can produce crop yields up to three times larger and three times faster than traditional soil.
Why is terra preta so fertile?
Terra preta contains three times as much nitrogen and phosphorus as traditional soil, and about 20 times more carbon.
These elevated levels can be attributed to an abundance of charcoal, organic matter like animal feces and bone, and crushed clay pottery.
Scientists have deduced that the indigenous Amazonians used a slowed version of “slash-and-burn” agriculture, in which they steadily burned large swaths of the forest; the scorched remains of trees and brush produce plenty of charcoal and not as much ash as the traditional slash-and-burn.
They would then mix the “biochar” into the soil.
The extra carbon trapped in the biochar slows the reproduction of microorganisms so organic fertilizers like feces and bone actually last longer in the soil, allowing terra preta to stay fertile for thousands of years.
Terra preta as carbon sink
The carbon sequestration involved in terra preta not only does wonders for crops, but could also be a huge boon to the struggle against climate change.
While the slash-and-burn process is a huge contributor to global warming, the biochar resulting from the Amazonian “slash-and-smolder” technique cuts the amount of carbon released in to the atmosphere by half.
Scientists and climate experts argue that if more U.S. farmers implemented biochar, our agricultural carbon footprint could be seriously reduced. We could keep the excess carbon out of the atmosphere, all while nourishing the soil. That's a win-win scenario...
Make your own terra preta
While scientists are still attempting to identify the specific microorganisms that make terra preta so agriculturally exceptional, there are a few ways to create a version of black earth for your home garden — none of which are a walk in the park, but putting in the work on the front end could pay great dividends from your garden's bounty...
Instructables.com has a comprehensive, step-by-step process complete with pictures: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-BioChar-and-Terra-Preta/

Jun 15, 2010

Ca glue wood turning application Video – 5min.com

Ca glue wood turning application -
George Vondriska shares an alternative technique for attaching wood to a lathe using Cyanoacrylate Adhesive....

Afghanistan: the ‘Saudi Arabia’ of lithium? - SmartPlanet

By Melissa Mahony | Jun 14, 2010
American geologists have discovered huge mineral deposits (possibly $1 trillion worth) throughout Afghanistan. Lithium, gold, cobalt, copper, iron, among other valuable minerals are lying beneath what is already a war-torn country with little history with mining.
Off and on over the decades, geologists—Soviet, Afghan, American—would investigate and chart some of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, only to put the work on hold as violent conflict erupted. Now, corruption, in-fighting between the central and district governments, foreign interests, and greater zeal from the Taliban might come into play to disrupt a potential economy evolving around these natural resources.
With the Ministry of Mines, a Pentagon task force is now helping organize a way of handling the mineral development and bidding rights. How this unfolds socially, environmentally and politically should be interesting.
The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.
The two most prevalent minerals are copper and iron. Niobium, used for making superconducting steel, has also been found.
As for lithium, an important metal used in computer and hybrid car batteries, Afghanistan’s potential stores in Ghazni Province in the west might be bigger than in Bolivia, which according to the U.S. Geological Society, has an estimated 5.4 million tons.
Related on SmartPlanet:

John Ikerd: The Future of Sustainability Is Relocalization : TreeHugger

john ikerd chatham kent photoJohn Ikerd on the Cost of Cheap Food

Farming has changed, and with it rural communities;

Soil now is nothing more than something to prop up the plants and add the chemicals. We turned our farms into factories without roofs and our animals move into biological assembly lines.

He noted that one big CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) replaces up to 500 traditional farms; no wonder our rural communities are depopulating. It is killing the communities:

We are at a critical time in agriculture and cannot go on. if towns are really lucky they can get a prison. If you cannot get that, maybe a landfill. and if all else fails, a CAFO. This model of rural economic development will not work.

It is also a time of great possibilities, we are going through a period of great transformation. we are moving out of the industrial era and into something fundamentally different. The big question is the one of sustainability. We have gone though decades of extraction, and its gone. so how do we meet the needs of the present without diminishing the needs of the future?

There is a growing realization that when you use up the productivity of nature and of people you realize that there is no place to get anything anymore. The financial crisis, the gulf. we cannot continue to extract and exploit. Going through the transition we must rethink every aspect of our lives and when we are done our lives will be fundamentally changed.

He concluded with a vision of a repopulated rural America.

The cities of the future will be looked at as being obsolete, and there are logical reasons for people to disperse. In the future we ill have clusters of dense but small communities, where people will spend most of their lives.....Rural people people must choose which aspects of their lives and culture they want to preserve, and which they will have to let go. The future of communities will be built on lasting value. We can discard the crap that we are building now, and new American farms will be built on the insights from the past. The factory pig farms, they can be razed to the ground or left as a monument to our stupidity.

The structures of the future may be new and energy efficient, but will be built on the ideas of the past. Rural places have great opportunities. Many still have water and air and a sense of belonging and caring, of being a part of something bigger than yourself. And the preserved architecture is the most visible sign of the viability of a community.

An impressive vision that set the tone for the conference. Ikerd has a new book available online: A Revolution of the Middle... More at John Ikerd's website

A man of great wisdom... Monte

A Madison-area company has become a leader in aquaponics

MONTELLO — Rebecca Nelson and John Pade have one simple goal as their company grows and moves to a new facility along Highway 23: They want to feed the world.
They don't plan to do that with anything they grow in their greenhouses. It's through the development, education and selling of products for aquaponics that their company — Nelson and Pade Inc. — seeks to make a difference in the way people grow or acquire food.
Aquaponics is the combination of two practices: aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). Fish waste provides the nutrients the plants need, all in one integrated system.
"We're trying to reinvent the 21st century family farm and make it profitable," Pade said.
In a greenhouse where Nelson and Pade test and exhibit what aquaponics can do, there are rows of lettuce, Swiss chard and flowers growing on beds with roots feeding off nutrient-rich water.
Nelson and Pade didn't invent the technology but have become worldwide leaders in the industry. What began as growing, teaching and consulting has also become a business of selling equipment and systems. Customers are hobbyists or families who want to grow their own fish and food, and commercial operations that want to grow for markets, stores or restaurants.
They have also been working with people from developing nations, which may have water or soil challenges to growing food with conventional agriculture.
"They all worry about food security and this is a system they can install," Pade said.
Nelson and Pade host workshops year-round in Montello — about 55 miles north of Madison — and have built and shipped systems to Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and throughout the U.S. They have published the Aquaponics Journal since 1997.
In January, the company moved from Nelson and Pade's home to a facility on the western edge of Montello. Systems are built there and Nelson, Pade and their staff are in the process of moving the greenhouse there, too.
Earlier this month, the company shipped what it calls a Living Food Bank to a Christian mission in Haiti. The mission wanted the system so people there can learn to provide themselves with food — the protein of the fish and the fresh vegetables — without having to rely on donations.
"One of our goals in our business and our life is to see that people are well-fed," Nelson said. "Protecting or patenting it would be more profitable, but it would not be compatible with what we believe in."
Nelson and Pade are putting into practice the research of James Rakocy, director of the University of the Virgin Islands Agricultural Experiment Station.
Rakocy, a Milwaukee native and a 1967 UW-Madison graduate, has been developing aquaponics for 30 years.
"They provide an important link," Rakocy said of Nelson and Pade. "They provide a valuable service in terms of getting good technology out there."
Rakocy, who serves as adviser to Nelson and Pade, has seen more interest in aquaponics in recent years.
"It's dovetailing with the local food movement," he said. "When people started looking at where their food was coming from, you saw a growth in organic and local foods. Aquaponics is a natural process that has gotten more publicity because it's a nice concept."
At Nelson and Pade's greenhouse, fish tanks filled with tilapia are the first step in the process. The young fish come from AmeriCulture, a hatchery in New Mexico. In Wisconsin, a fish import license is required for fish that are not native to the state.
From the fish tanks, the water goes to a clarifying tank where the solid waste settles at the bottom and the mineralized, nutrient-rich water moves on to the plant beds.
The water, with the nutrients removed by the plants, then returns to the fish tank.
"If you look at the science of it, it's the same thing that happens in every pond and lake on the planet," Nelson said. "We're just doing it indoors."
Nelson and Pade monitor temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and other water quality parameters. The process requires periodic testing and meticulous record-keeping.
"In aquaponics, your success is all about preventing things from going wrong," Nelson said.
The plants are grown with what is called the raft method. Floating rafts sit on 14 to 16 inches of water and are moved down the line from seedling to fully grown and harvested at the other end. The whole cycle of a plant's life can be seen in one row.
For now, Nelson and Pade have been distributing the fish and vegetables among their staff. Volume and variety are down because they're in the process of moving the greenhouse.
They have sold vegetables at markets and will sell at their new location in the future. The fish will be sold whole and on ice because of the costs and licensing involved in getting it processed.
Nelson grew up in Oconomowoc and Pade was raised on a dairy farm south of Fond du Lac.
They moved to California in the 1980s, and produced instructional videos. They learned about hydroponics because they wanted to grow tomatoes at home in the winter. They didn't see a video on the market about hydroponics, so they made one that sold well.
Their interest in hydroponics grew, but as prices for fertilizer increased, they began setting up systems with fish tanks to experiment with aquaponics. They learned about Rakocy's research and found their life's work.
They returned to Wisconsin three years ago, and the company has been growing ever since, particularly in sales to hobbyists or families. They also sell to educators.
"It lends itself to home food production, which is a huge part of our business," Nelson said. "People grow their own herbs and lettuce."
Tilapia is a hearty and efficient fish for the system, Nelson said, but isn't the only fish that work. They have also raised bluegill, large-mouth bass, catfish, koi and goldfish.
Pade said there were as many sales in January as all of last year. They've kept busy with sales, manufacturing the systems, speaking around the world and building the new facility.
"We're very conservative about our growth," Nelson said. "We believe in the technology and we love what we do, and we want to be doing it for a long time."

Power of Mother Nature Shows Itself in IL - Quinn Declares Four Illinois Counties Disaster Zones After Saturday Tornadoes Devastate Communities(VIDEO)

At least 15 tornadoes touched down in north central Illinois Saturday night, prompting Governor Pat Quinn to declare Livingston, LaSalle, Peoria and Putnam Counties disaster areas.

The Associated Press reports that more than a dozen people were injured in Dwight during Saturday's storms, where about 40 mobile homes and 10 other homes were destroyed.

In Elmwood, Ill., about 30 miles west of Peoria, the roof a movie theater collapsed, AP reports. Police said 150 to 200 people had been inside, were evacuated to the basement and no one was hurt.

Gov. Quinn passed through the devastated counties on Monday, and said the state would assist with recovery efforts. The Chicago Tribune reports:

"After viewing devastation caused by these tornadoes, it's obvious that this state disaster declaration is needed to help these communities recover," Quinn said in a statement after touring the village of Dwight, one of the hardest-hit communities. "The state has many tools that can be mobilized quickly to help with recovery efforts, and this declaration will ensure that those assets continue to be provided for as long as they are needed."
The weather service office in Romeoville said seven tornadoes touched down in its area of responsibility, including one each in southwest LaSalle County, Streator, St. Anne Township near Kankakee, Livingston County between Streator and Dwight, and Chatsworth, and two in Dwight.

WGN News reports that 17 people were hospitalized from the storms in Streator, and 30 buildings were destroyed. Streator Mayor Jimmie Lansford told the television station the town "looks like a war zone."

In Dwight, 6 people were injured in the storms. One person was listed in critical condition.

"This is an area that has always pulled together in need," Lansford told the Tribune, "and I don't see that not happening this time."

Anyone wishing to make donations of money to help in the recovery effort is asked to contact the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross.

Those wanting to volunteer were asked to call (815) 257-9911 for more information.


Artist: Scorpions
Album: Best
Music :Klaus Meine
Lyrics:Klaus Meine

I folow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change
An August summer night
Soldiers passing by
Listening to the wind of change

The world is closing in
Did you ever think
That we could be so close, like brothers
The future's in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change

Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
in the wind of change

Walking down the street
Distant memories
Are buried in the past forever
I folow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change

Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams
With you and me
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
in the wind of change

The wind of change
Blows straight into the face of time
Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell
For peace of mind
Let your balalaika sing
What my guitar wants to say

Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams
With you and me
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
in the wind of change

Beautiful song ... Monte

Jun 14, 2010

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com

June 13, 2010
WASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines.

American and Afghan officials agreed to discuss the mineral discoveries at a difficult moment in the war in Afghanistan. The American-led offensive in Marja in southern Afghanistan has achieved only limited gains. Meanwhile, charges of corruption and favoritism continue to plague the Karzai government, and Mr. Karzai seems increasingly embittered toward the White House.

So the Obama administration is hungry for some positive news to come out of Afghanistan. Yet the American officials also recognize that the mineral discoveries will almost certainly have a double-edged impact.

Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.

The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected oligarchs, some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced.

Endless fights could erupt between the central government in Kabul and provincial and tribal leaders in mineral-rich districts. Afghanistan has a national mining law, written with the help of advisers from the World Bank, but it has never faced a serious challenge.

“No one has tested that law; no one knows how it will stand up in a fight between the central government and the provinces,” observed Paul A. Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of defense for business and leader of the Pentagon team that discovered the deposits.

At the same time, American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, which could upset the United States, given its heavy investment in the region. After winning the bid for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American officials said.

Another complication is that because Afghanistan has never had much heavy industry before, it has little or no history of environmental protection either. “The big question is, can this be developed in a responsible way, in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible?” Mr. Brinkley said. “No one knows how this will work.”

With virtually no mining industry or infrastructure in place today, it will take decades for Afghanistan to exploit its mineral wealth fully. “This is a country that has no mining culture,” said Jack Medlin, a geologist in the United States Geological Survey’s international affairs program. “They’ve had some small artisanal mines, but now there could be some very, very large mines that will require more than just a gold pan.”

The mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency.

The Pentagon task force has already started trying to help the Afghans set up a system to deal with mineral development. International accounting firms that have expertise in mining contracts have been hired to consult with the Afghan Ministry of Mines, and technical data is being prepared to turn over to multinational mining companies and other potential foreign investors. The Pentagon is helping Afghan officials arrange to start seeking bids on mineral rights by next fall, officials said.

“The Ministry of Mines is not ready to handle this,” Mr. Brinkley said. “We are trying to help them get ready.”

Like much of the recent history of the country, the story of the discovery of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is one of missed opportunities and the distractions of war.

In 2004, American geologists, sent to Afghanistan as part of a broader reconstruction effort, stumbled across an intriguing series of old charts and data at the library of the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul that hinted at major mineral deposits in the country. They soon learned that the data had been collected by Soviet mining experts during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but cast aside when the Soviets withdrew in 1989.

During the chaos of the 1990s, when Afghanistan was mired in civil war and later ruled by the Taliban, a small group of Afghan geologists protected the charts by taking them home, and returned them to the Geological Survey’s library only after the American invasion and the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

“There were maps, but the development did not take place, because you had 30 to 35 years of war,” said Ahmad Hujabre, an Afghan engineer who worked for the Ministry of Mines in the 1970s.

Armed with the old Russian charts, the United States Geological Survey began a series of aerial surveys of Afghanistan’s mineral resources in 2006, using advanced gravity and magnetic measuring equipment attached to an old Navy Orion P-3 aircraft that flew over about 70 percent of the country.

The data from those flights was so promising that in 2007, the geologists returned for an even more sophisticated study, using an old British bomber equipped with instruments that offered a three-dimensional profile of mineral deposits below the earth’s surface. It was the most comprehensive geologic survey of Afghanistan ever conducted.

The handful of American geologists who pored over the new data said the results were astonishing.

But the results gathered dust for two more years, ignored by officials in both the American and Afghan governments. In 2009, a Pentagon task force that had created business development programs in Iraq was transferred to Afghanistan, and came upon the geological data. Until then, no one besides the geologists had bothered to look at the information — and no one had sought to translate the technical data to measure the potential economic value of the mineral deposits.

Soon, the Pentagon business development task force brought in teams of American mining experts to validate the survey’s findings, and then briefed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Mr. Karzai.

So far, the biggest mineral deposits discovered are of iron and copper, and the quantities are large enough to make Afghanistan a major world producer of both, United States officials said. Other finds include large deposits of niobium, a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel, rare earth elements and large gold deposits in Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan.

Just this month, American geologists working with the Pentagon team have been conducting ground surveys on dry salt lakes in western Afghanistan where they believe there are large deposits of lithium. Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni Province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large of those of Bolivia, which now has the world’s largest known lithium reserves.

For the geologists who are now scouring some of the most remote stretches of Afghanistan to complete the technical studies necessary before the international bidding process is begun, there is a growing sense that they are in the midst of one of the great discoveries of their careers.

“On the ground, it’s very, very, promising,” Mr. Medlin said. “Actually, it’s pretty amazing.”

This could be big for the future of the Afghan people! ... Monte