May 6, 2011

Power Project For Mississippi - Google News

Power Project For Mississippi
With recent flooding, we've seen the power of the Mississippi River. But should it be harnessed to generate power? Boston-based Free Flow Power thinks so. "We're here because we see an excellent resource in the Mississippi River. ...

Boston company looks to harness hydropower in QC
It's all about harnessing the power of the Mighty Mississippi. A Boston firm, Free Flow Power, wants to use four area locks and dams to put in turbines and create clean energy. "We're of the strong belief that this renewable concept of clean ...

Mississippi hydropower plans outlined
Quad City Times
Jack Batchelder of Free Flow Power opens a meeting in Moline about adding hydropower to some Mississippi River dams. (Mark Ridolfi/Quad-City Times) - A conventional powerhouse built adjacent to dams with three submerged turbines up to 150 feet long and ...

A U.S. startup is working on a plan to install hundreds of 40-kilowatt hydrokinetic turbines, each the size of a large jet engine, along the bottom of the Mississippi River, an ambitious renewable energy project developers say could someday produce more than one gigawatt of electricity — enough to power 250,000 homes. While the technology remains relatively unproven, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently granted the company, Free Flow Power, preliminary rights to explore the potential for dozens of turbine locations along the 2,320-mile river. Although most efforts to develop hydrokinetic energy projects so far have focused on tidal or wave energy, the company says river installations have significant advantages. “The water flows in one direction, it doesn’t have salt in it, and, in the case of the Mississippi, people have spent 100 years tracking water flows and velocities,” said Henry Dormitzer, the company’s chief financial officer. The challenges, however, will be to show that the turbines will not impact marine life or the massive volume of traffic on the river. The only commercial hydrokinetic river project currently in use is a single turbine installed on the Mississippi by Texas-based Hydro Green Energy near Hastings, Minn.

Free Flow Power Corporation

Here you will find copies of documents that Free Flow Power has made available for public viewing.

FERC PAD for Mississippi River Projects 1 through 59

FERC PAD for Mississippi River Projects 60 through 85

Saylorville - Dam Water Power Project
Rock Island District - Lock and Dam
St. Paul District - Lock and Dam

May 5, 2011

Salman Khan on Charlie Rose

Salman Khan on Charlie Rose on May 4, 2011

With $42 billion and seven homes, why are the Kochs buying our democracy?

Charles and David Koch are worth $42 billion and make $13 million every day while vulnerable Americans struggle to afford shelter and groceries. Meet three Florida seniors who rely on Social Security and are fighting back against the Koch brothers attempt to make them homeless. They told the Kochs what's on their minds. What would you tell the Kochs? Have your say at

We all know why...

Why are we allowing corporations to buy our government?

It is time to stand together as a people, no matter what political persuasion, and stop this... Monte

TEDxSanJoseCA - Salman Khan - (Sequel to talk at TED)

Sequel to Sal's TED talk (TED talk should be watched before this one) Salman Khan is doing great work teaching anyone who wants to learn for free!!! Monte

May 4, 2011

Removing Rust with Electrolysis : One Great Tip

By George Vondriska
Photos by George Vondriska

Posted: May 2, 2011

This article is two-fold. First, I’m going to show you how to use electrolysis to remove rust from tools. Secondly, this is the first installment in a series of articles that will take you through the rehabilitation of a hand plane including finding replacement parts, tuning, and sharpening. You can watch as I get the plane back in working order. Ever get to an auction or flea market and stare lovingly, but in despair, at a hand plane that you’d love to own, but are going to pass on because it’s too rusty? There’s a solution for this problem. Electrolysis. It’s crazy cool, and easy to do. Here’s the overview; submerge the tool in a solution of baking soda and water, connect a battery charger, and let it sit overnight. By the next day the rust will have sloughed off.

The beauty of using electrolysis for rust removal is that you’re not abrading the tool and removing metal. It’s better for the tool, especially if you’re concerned about its value, if you don’t hit it with sandpaper or a wire wheel. This, and the ease of doing it, makes electrolysis the perfect answer for restoring old tools. Electrolysis provides a very easy way to get rust out of a tool’s nooks and crannies.

I picked up the plane in this story cheap. You’ll see it go through the rust removal process here and, in future stories, get to follow along as it’s restored and tuned up.

Here’s a Bailey #4 hand plane I picked up for $25. Last patent date on the body is April 1910. It’s sound, but has a lot of surface rust on it, and is unusable in its current condition. I’ll remove all the parts from the body and use electrolysis to remove the rust.

What You Need Gather your electrolysis supplies together.

  • An electrolysis vat that is non-conductive. A plastic five-gallon bucket works well for most tools.
  • An anode (I’m using a coffee can)
  • Auto battery charger
  • Baking soda or washing powder
  • Measuring spoon
  • Scotch Brite pad and soft bristle brush
  • Wire leads
  • Rubber gloves


Wash the tool you’ll be treating. Make sure there isn’t any oil or wax on it that will prevent the electrolysis process from working. Give it a good bath with soap and water.

Make an anode. You need some kind of sacrificial steel for this. It’s best if the anode surrounds the tool so the electrolysis can happen from all sides. The anode will get eaten up by the electrolysis process, and will need to be replaced after being used a few times.

Connect one of the wire leads to the anode. Make sure you have a good, solid connection and that the lead is long enough to connect to the battery charger outside of the bucket.

Connect a lead to the tool. You’ve got to have a good connection or the process won’t work well. This can be challenging with a rusty tool. You may have to clean a small section of the tool with sandpaper to make certain you have contact.

Make up the electrolyte solution. You need enough water to completely submerge the tool. Add one tablespoon of baking soda or washing powder (either one will work) per gallon of water. Mix the solution to dissolve the powder.

Suspend the tool in the vat and check the set up. Try to arrange the anode so it surrounds the tool, but don’t let the tool and anode touch each other.

Start Removing Rust Connect the clips from the battery charger to the leads on the tool and anode. Make sure you get this right. With the charger unplugged connect the positive to the anode and the negative to the tool. If you do this backwards your tool will become the sacrificial anode. Set the charger on a 2-amp charge and plug it in. Don’t let the connections from the charger touch the electrolyte solution.

Within minutes of plugging in the charger you should see bubbles rising from the tool. Allow the tool to “cook” for 15-20 hours.

Results After some time the top of the vat will be covered with sludge. This is a good thing. The sludge is the rust coming off the tool.

Unplug and disconnect the charger and remove the tool from the solution. It won’t look like much now. It’ll need some cleaning.

Wearing rubber gloves, use a fine Scotch Brite pad to remove the sludge from the tool. It doesn’t take much elbow grease, just some wiping.

Use a soft bristle brush to get into the spots you can’t reach with the pad. Wipe the tool clean using a paper towel.

After the tool is clean and dry, coat it with paste wax so it doesn’t start to rust again.

The result? A tool that’s clean of rust. If only I could make a vat large enough for my 1959 Farmall tractor to fit into…

The vat of electrolyte solution is pretty benign stuff, but will burn your lawn if you dump it all in one spot. It’s best to dilute the liquid before disposing of it.

Now that the rust is gone from the plane body it’s time to do some shopping. In the next installment we’ll have a look at the replacement parts I purchased for this tool.

Related Videos:

Removing Rust with Electrolysis

Book Review – The Biochar Solution - Domestic Fuel

Can biochar singlehandedly save the world from all of its carbon dioxide, global warming woes? Well, the jury is still out but there may be some potential. This I learned from reading the book, “The Biochar Solution: Climate Farming and Climate Change,” by Albert Bates. First, I should explain what biochar is. Biochar is charcoal, a cellulosic material that has been pyrolyzed (to pyrolyze something you burn it a low oxygen environment, such as a kiln, burning off everything but the carbon). The resulting charcoal is black and largely devoid of any nutritional value, yet it can be burned in a high oxygen environment without producing much smoke. These attributes make it a good option for burning in cooking stoves.

But Bates believes the real value of biochar lies in that it has a unique ability to condition soil. Bates explains that if it is turned in a nutrient pile and then tilled into the ground, it immediately becomes colonized by soil microbes. These microbes attract fungi, which connect to the roots of the plants, carrying nutrients to the place they are most needed. Biochar is also a water solution – it provides a reservoir and conduit for soil moisture, soaking up water from oversaturated areas and moving it to dyer areas (it can also be used to purify water). Bates says that one gram of charcoal has the surface area of one small house, or 1,000 to 2,500 square meters, because of all its micropores. In terms of soil health, after several years, biochar helps soil return to its natural state and eliminates the need for inputs such as nitrogen or phosphorous – another major environmental benefit.

There is also a connection between biochar and biofuels. When converting biomass to biofuels, not all of the biomass is consumed. At this point, the remaining biomass can be burned and turned into biochar and then the biochar can be tilled into the biomass fields to aid in soil sustainability. In this example, biochar becomes both a biofuels and agriculture solution.

There are several views of biochar one being those who truly believe that biochar alone can reduce CO2 emissions faster and more completely than any other solution. Bates writes, “…humans can alter the atmosphere to take us back to pre-industrial carbon levels – without risky, short-lived, and costly geoengineering gambits such as space mirrors, sulfur aerosols, and fish-suffocating plankton blooms. All we have to do is plant trees, build terra preta soils, and organically store carbon in our planet’s terrasphere instead of in its atmosphere.” Terra preta soils are very dark, fertile soil found in the Amazon Basin that were created using a mixture of charcoal, bone and manure.

It sounds so simple doesn’t it? Bates defends his view through a historical look at terra preta soils and biochar through the ages. He then provides research and offers a plan to begin sequestering carbon through carbon farming. Oh, and I should mention that biochar supporters believe one ton of biochar can sequester 3 tons of CO2 for at least 1,000 years or more.

Ultimately Bates believes that at this late hour there is still hope and his solution, “It would likely involve some combination of biochar, carbon farming, tree planting, and redesign of the built environment and energy systems to be carbon-negative. I cannot imagine any alternative that excludes those strategies that would remain viable for very long.”

So there you have it. It’s Earth Day on Friday and many people like to plant trees. This year, when you plant your tree, add a little biochar. Who knows. If enough people plants trees using biochar, it just might save the world.

ICM Deploys Its Biomass Gasification System - Domestic Fuel

ICM has announced that it is beginning commercial deployment of its biomass gasification system after the successful completion of infrastructure development, research, testing, and an independent engineering review. The company began operating its commercial scale demonstration gasifer back in 2009. The technology has the capacity to covert 150 tons of biomass per day to a syngas that can then be used a a fuel for industrial power and heating applications.
“We’re extremely pleased to announce the commercialization of our gasifier technology. We believe that ICM’s past experience in delivering technology to the renewable energy sector, coupled with our favorable reputation with lenders, makes the ICM gasification technology an extremely valuable and rare option for clients seeking gasification technology solutions,” said Dave Vander Griend, President and CEO of ICM.
Since 2009, ICM has successfully tested more than 13 feedstocks, processed 7,000 tons of biomass, and amassed more than 2,100 hours of operation. The various feedstocks tested include refuse-derived fuel (RDF) generated from municipal solid waste (MSW), tire-derived fuel (TDF) mixed with RDF, wood chips, pine bark, wheat straw, corn stover, chicken litter, switchgrass, automobile shredded residue (ASR) mixed with RDF, and other biomass/energy crops.
“It was critically important for ICM to invest heavily in a commercial-scale demonstration unit to prove the feedstock-flexible capabilities of this robust technology, which dates back to 1975, as well as to give potential customers and lenders the comfort and reassurance they need to finance waste-to-energy and biomass-to-energy projects,” added Tom Ranallo, Vice President of Operations for ICM.
In addition to producing syngas, ICM’s biomass gasification platform also has the ability to co-produce biochar, a type of charcoal, that has the ability to store carbon dioxide in the soil for thousands of years when buried.