It's About Energy
Conserving energy and the CO2 reduction that accompanies it is a good thing for your company’s bottom line. In our energy-intensive industry, we are always on the lookout for the next thing to help us save. We also oppose unhelpful regulations that add to our bottom line without providing measurable environmental benefit.
Are we being selfish or irresponsible when we oppose legislation and regulations that seek to tax the engine of the economy? The new administration doesn’t seem to think so. Within the first couple months of this young administration, President Trump used an executive order to undo the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) praised this action. “The domestic steel industry has made substantial gains in reducing our energy usage as well as our environmental footprint, and we remain committed to our sustainable performance,” said Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of AISI.
Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EPA, agreed when he said, “We’ve made tremendous progress on our environment, and we can be both pro-jobs and pro-environment.”
In addition to the effect on the Clean Power Plan, the action will affect other Obama-era climate-change initiatives. The Interior Department will end a moratorium on new coal leasing on federal land, and the assault on methane emissions will also end.
One of the reasons for these actions is to take a less radical approach to climate-related issues. I recently read a column on what scientists are saying about climate change, and the author (Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric sciences professor at MIT) indicated that scientists essentially agree that “given the complexity of climate, no confident prediction about future global mean temperature or its impact can be made.” In its 2007 report, the International Panel on Climate Change acknowledged the same when they said, “The long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
In essence, this is what led the Trump administration to take a more temperate approach. Lindzen argues that it’s unfortunate that the most shrill environmentalist groups seem to be “winning the argument because they have drowned out the serious debate that should be going on … But they won’t be able to bury the truth. The climate will have the final word on that.”
As I was writing, we received information about new technology for optimizing plant operations by utilizing on-site energy-storage solutions to target the high costs of peak demand. Much work is happening in the area of energy storage as utilities attempt to make use of green-energy options and integrate them into the power-grid infrastructure. Basically, you need to store the solar energy for use during the night or the wind energy for a calm day. Battery (storage) technology is also important in the electric-vehicle industry.
One such solution is called bi-ION from nanoFlowcell, which produces electricity from liquids (electrolyte solutions). The result of two decades of R&D in the field of molecular nanotechnology, it is pretty interesting. Basically, two energy-storing electrolytes circulate in separate circuits, between which an exchange of positive and negative ions occurs. Inside the cell, the chemical reaction takes place, which releases electrical energy. Chemical energy is converted into electrical energy.
In the bi-ION process, the electrolytes are neutralized. Interestingly, if used for an electric car, the spent saline electrolyte is released while driving. The tanks can be refilled at “fuel” stations. Some of the technology benefits are that it is non-explosive, non-flammable, non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-harmful to water and recyclable. It can also be stored for a long time.
For more on energy savings, check out this issue for an article discussing rebates for reduced power usage. We also cover NOx limitation and how some of these standards (regulations) can actually result in using a lower-efficiency technology. Another article discusses heating elements and includes energy considerations. You can also check out the Energy-Saver Update for more energy-saving ideas. Enjoy the summer and keep your cool on.