It could be a dream come true or the latest scene in a long nightmare. Dow AgroSciences has developed a genetically engineered corn, named Enlist, to withstand herbicides containing 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). The chemical was developed with the intention of helping to increase crop yields by eliminating nutrient-robbing weeds from farmers’ fields, and these days it is thought to be the most commonly used herbicide in the world.
Archive for the ‘Going Green’ Category
By: Kate Bachman
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, the newly appointed chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, outlined his vision for making the U.S. more competitive in the global marketplace in a March 8 speech to The Executive Club of Chicago, contributing writer John Kerastas reported.
It was good to hear that at the onset, Mr. Immelt asserted, “We’ve got to have an economy that’s balanced. It is not our destiny to be just a service economy. We have to have both a service industry and a strong manufacturing industry. It is not natural for a powerful and successful economy to have a trillion dollar trade deficit. We’ve got to export more; we’ve got to innovate more; we’ve got to manufacture more.”
Regarding his role on the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, he noted that the council has just started. “But I can give you a few of the big themes that I think are going to be important in a more competitive America:
“We need some real solutions for energy security and affordable healthcare. These are two pillars of infrastructure that can ensure long-term competitiveness. We need to open more energy supply, accelerate our investment in renewable, drive technology like nuclear power, and leverage our advantage in natural gas.”
By: Eric Lundin
In my previous blog entry, I made some comparisons between several gasoline-powered and alternative-fuel vehicles: Two passenger cars (a Toyota Prius® and a Toyota Camry®), two exotic sports cars (a Tesla Roadster Sport and a Lotus Evora), and two motorcycles (a model S from Zero Motorcycles and a traditional Harley-Davidson®). The Prius and the Roadster Sport are practical and very fast, respectively, and are comparable in performance and price to their gasoline-only counterparts, so it’s clear that we have low-carbon-footprint choices in automobiles these days. However, regarding the electric Zero model S, the technology has a long way to go; it has a top speed of 67 MPH and a range of 50 miles. (more...)
By: Vicki Bell
Four years ago I wrote a blog post about turning large shipping containers into homes. I found the concept, process, and results fascinating. That post is no longer available, and the links it contained are no longer active — the Web moves on — but the topic of the post, cargotecture, is very much alive.
Cargotecture is the design of large cargo shipping containers for housing. Part of the recycling movement, it falls under the upcycling umbrella. Upcycling is a component of sustainability in which waste materials or useless products are converted into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. Turning the countless shipping containers littering lots throughout the country into housing certainly fits this description.
Another term to describe reusing old materials or products in different ways is repurposing. This week saw reports of a creative repurposing and possible example of upcycling. For the first time ever, New York City invited residents to swim in pools made from repurposed garbage dumpsters. (more...)
By: Vicki Bell
Is there a day that goes by that some politician somewhere doesn't mention green jobs as a possible lifeline for the economy? If not the national economy, maybe a state's or city's? Many politicians are touting and campaigning on green job creation. I was reminded of this by an item on WCCO, St. Paul, Minn., "What makes jobs 'green,' and how many are there?"
The article quoted Minnesota's Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said, "Green jobs will be one of the largest changes in our economy since the industrial revolution." How's that for hyperbole? (more...)
By: Vicki Bell
On the road again, goin' places that I've already been. Seeing things (and people) that I hope to see again. I'm just glad to be on this road again.
This week I'm in Rockford, Ill., home of my employer, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl.®, the organization behind The FABRICATOR® magazine, its sister publications, and thefabricator.com. The purpose of my visit is Staff Appreciation Week (SAW), an annual event the company hosts to express its gratitude for its hard working employees. We participate in physical and mental games (not to be confused with mind games), eat, spend time outdoors, eat, and commune with co-workers that we typically don't see in our normal workdays — which is particularly good for those of us who work hundreds of miles from the home office. And did I mention that we eat? (Maybe we need to add a company hike to work off all those extra calories?) (more...)
By: Eric Lundin
It’s no secret that the Transocean oil spill is among the largest man-made environmental disasters of all time. Given the impact, the word spill itself is a huge understatement. Gusher or torrent or catastrophe would be more accurate. An early estimate of 5,000 barrels leaking per day appears to have been wildly understated. To quote a June 9 update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Web site, “… BP hopes to ramp up the collection rate from 15,000 to 28,000 barrels per day over the next week.” The second-largest petroleum disaster in the U.S., the Exxon Valdez wreck, spilled about 250,000 barrels in total.
Even though BP is far from getting the leak under control, the cleanup efforts have been going on for weeks (almost as long as the oil has been leaking, in fact). We have more than a handful of cleanup measures. We can use skimmers to vacuum it up, absorbents and adsorbents to soak it up, controlled fires to burn it up, and detergents and dispersants to break it up. The effectiveness of each of these depends on the oil’s density, the water temperature, weather conditions, and so on.
My particular favorite oil cleaner? Hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria (HCB). That’s right, bacteria. Considering that petroleum contains compounds known to be toxic, it doesn’t seem possible that some bacteria can digest hydrocarbons, but that’s what it amounts to. Most fabricators use hydraulic equipment and already know that some types of bacteria and fungi thrive in hydraulic systems. Considering the heat and pressure developed in most hydraulic systems, these are some hardy life forms—hence the need for maintaining the hydraulic system’s filtration system and adding a biocide on a regular basis. It turns out that they don't just survive in hydraulic systems; some feed off the hydrocarbons in in hydraulic fluid. In a natural environment, they can digest the components in crude oil.
The Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989; Prince William Sound is both the site of the wreck and a classroom. What have we learned from that cleanup effort? It’s a slow process. Despite our efforts, as well as those of HCB’s, some areas in that region will be contaminated for another 10 years.
And the Deepwater Horizon disaster may have already released 50 times as much oil as the Exxon Valdez did.
By: Dan Davis
FMA Communications Inc., the parent organization of this Web site and The FABRICATOR magazine, launched Green Manufacturer last month. The magazine covers manufacturing practices that are not only environmentally friendly, but also friendly to a company's overall performance, whether we are talking about bottom-line performance or increasing productivity. The magazine's editor, Kate Bachman, and the rest of the team behind the first issue should be congratulated. It looks great and reads better.
We thought the timing was perfect for such a magazine, as everyone tries to understand just where they fit into this green landscape. Whether you like it or not, the interest in "green" or "sustainable" manufacturing practices is part of a larger, legitimate movement.
Obviously, some manufacturers don't like it. (more...)
By: Eric Lundin
The headline caught my attention like few do: “Oh-so quick and even carbon-free.” The article discussed Tesla Motors’ Roadster®, the $110,000 beauty that uses lithium-ion battery technology—6,831 individual cells, to be exact—to power a 375-VAC induction motor that redlines at 14,000 RPMs and develops 288 peak horsepower. And indeed it is quick. It goes from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Top speed is 125 MPH. Cool!
The automobile has come quite a long way since the first ones were developed for commercial production around a century ago. (more...)
By: Vicki Bell
One of the much-touted bright spots for the future of manufacturing in the U.S. and the economy overall is the green energy revolution. Part of this uprising (we have nowhere to go but up) includes companies producing products for wind, solar, and nuclear power and creating high-paying jobs in the process.
Just yesterday, President Obama announced government approval of an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build a nuclear power plant in Georgia that will create thousands of "well-paying, permanent jobs in the years to come."
As reported in Business Week, Obama said the U.S. "can't keep on being mired in the same old debates" over nuclear power because energy production affects the nation's economy and security.
"Whether it is nuclear energy, or solar, or wind energy, if we fail to invest in these technologies today, we'll be importing them tomorrow," the president said in a speech in Lanham, Maryland.
If we are to believe the points raised by John McCormick (Siliconsamurai) in his article High-Paying Green Jobs in U.S. – Another Fantasy? (published on News Blaze), tomorrow may come sooner than expected. (more...)