Sunday, October 31, 2021

Monday, October 25, 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Ultimate Automobile

Reformed Methanol Fuel Cell Automobile Natalie (Credit: RG)

 by Marcel F. Williams 

Electric cars solely powered by lithium batteries are often promoted  as the inevitable  passenger vehicles of  a carbon neutral future  However, there are many alternate automobiles that could be compatible with a carbon neutral and even a carbon negative economy.

And  even gasoline powered vehicles could be carbon neutral and even carbon negative  — if the source of gasoline is from a carbon neutral or  carbon negative resource.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles already exist that utilize compressed hydrogen as their fuel source.  Hydrogen not only extends the range of a vehicle relative to a purely battery powered car but is much faster to refuel. And if the hydrogen fuel source can be derived through the electrolysis of water then carbon neutral sources of energy (nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric) would also make the  hydrogen carbon neutral. As a plug-in-hybrid, lithium batteries could reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel.

Methanol contains even more hydrogen per volume, further extending the range of an electric vehicle. A methanol car with a reformed methanol fuel cell would use waste heat to extract hydrogen from the methanol before its utilized by the fuel cell for the production of electricity. Methanol can be produced from the electrolysis of seawater  or through electrolysis of potable water synthesized with CO2 extracted from the atmosphere.  Carbon negative sources of methanol could come through the  pyrolysis of urban, agricultural, and forest bio-waste. The pyrolysis of biomass can produce syngas that can be converted into methanol plus carbon rich bio-char that can be used to enhance the fertility and water retention of land areas. So sequestering the bio-char ground fertilization would be inherently carbon negative. And if the land that has been fertilized with bio-char is used to grow new forest then that creates even more carbon sequestration. So vehicles using renewable methanol derived from the pyrolysis of biomass could be considered carbon negative.

Methanol can also be conveniently converted into gasoline and utilized in existing internal combustion engine cars. A such fuel would also be ultimately carbon negative if derived from the pyrolysis of of bio-waste. However, synthetic gasoline would be even more expensive that synthetic methanol. And both fuels would be significantly more expensive than fossil fuels.  So it would be more efficient to utilize relatively expensive synthetic gasoline in hybrid and plug-in-hybrid vehicles that use at least some lithium battery technology.

Links and References

Gumpert Nathalie

World Premier of Roland Gumpert Fuel Cell Methanol Car

Methanol Fuel Cells: Powering the Future Conference

The Methanol Economy

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The US Murder Rate before the Pandemic


There has been a disturbing increase in the rate of murder in the US during the pandemic. Assuming that the intentional homicide rate in the US will revert back to pre-pandemic levels, here is a list of the intentional homicide rate per 100,000 people in individual countries in 2018 or 2019, just before the start of the pandemic 

El Salvador - 52.02
Jamaica - 43.85
Venezuela - 36.69
South Africa - 36.40
Bahamas - 30.90
Mexico - 29.07
Brazil - 27.38
Colombia - 25.34
Uganda - 10.42
Iraq - 10.08

Nigeria - 9.85
Russia - 8.21
Eritrea - 8.04
Ethiopia - 7.56
Haiti - 6.68
Zimbabwe - 6.67
Phillipines - 6.46
Ukraine - 6.20
Argentina - 5.32
Cuba - 4.99
United States - 4.96
Kenya - 4.93
Lithuania - 4.57
Latvia - 4.36
Moldova - 4.10

Pakistan - 3.88
Liberia - 3.23
India - 3.08

Turkey - 2.59
Thailand - 2.58
Belarus - 2.39
Estonia - 2.12

Canada - 1.76
Vietnam - 1.52
Israel - 1.36
Cyprus - 1.26
United Kingdom - 1.20
Sweden - 1.08

Germany - 0.95
Australia - 0.89
Ireland - 0.87
Portugal - 0.79
Poland - 0.73
South Korea - 0.60
Italy - 0.57
China - 0.53
Slovenia - 0.48
Norway - 0.47
Japan - 0.26
Singapore - 0.16
Links and References

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

NASA Produces Oxygen on Mars

Technicians  lower the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument into the belly of the Perseverance rover.
(Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On April 20th on the alien surface of Mars, NASA's Perseverance rover produced oxygen from the Red Planet's carbon dioxide atmosphere-- emitting carbon monoxide as a waste product. 


 Links and References

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Extracts First Oxygen from Red Planet

NASA's Perserverence Rover Generates Oxygen on Mars in Amazing First For Science

NASA develops 'MOXIE', a device that generates oxygen from the atmosphere of mars

Rover Makes Oxygen From Mars Atmosphere

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Haru Oni Project

Located in the southern Magallanes, Chile, wind turbines will be used by Siemens Energy and several other international compaies to produce e-Methanol. The electricity produced by the wind turbines will be used to convert water into hydrogen through electrolysis and to capture CO2 (carbon dioxide) directly from the atmosphere. The hydrogen and carbon dioxide will afterwards be synthesized into e-Methanol (renewable methanol).

The Haru Oni project will produce 750,000 liters of methanol per year by 2022 with 130,000 liters of e-Gasoline produced from the e-Methaol. And there are plans to increase the production of E-Gasoline to 55 million liters per year by the year by 2024 and over 550 million liters per year by the year 2026. 

Methanol can not only be converted into gasoline but also into dimethyl ether, a diesel fuel substitute and into a variety of jet fuels and aviation fuels. Methanol can be used to produce electricity in natural gas electric turbines cheaply modified to use the wood alcohol. Methanol is already being used to power ocean vessels that have been modified to use methanol 


 Links and References

A new hydrogen reality: Fuel from wind and water

Monday, February 15, 2021

Vitamin D and Covid

A nurse works on a computer in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in St George's Hospital in Tooting - Victoria Jones/PA

Giving high-dose Vitamin D to coronavirus patients when they are admitted to hospital could cut deaths by 60 per cent – double the benefit of the best current drug, new research suggests. Scientists from the University of Barcelona showed that patients prescribed calcifediol – an intensive dose of Vitamin D usually used for people with chronic kidney failure – had their risk of admission to intensive care dramatically cut and death rates significantly lowered......

Vitamin D for patients admitted to hospital could cut Covid deaths by 60 per cent

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Why Biden Should use NASA as a Bridge to Bipartisanship

by Marcel F. Williams


2021 is going to be a very exciting year for NASA and the US space industry. In 2021, we should see the debut of the second Commercial Crew launch system when the ULA (United Launch Alliance) deploys its first astronauts into orbit aboard the CST-100 on top of an  Atlas-Centaur rocket. The ULA will also debut their Vulcan-Centaur rocket system in 2021. This year will also be the debut of Blue Origin’s New Glenn heavy lift vehicle which should be capable of deploying up to 45 tonnes to LEO. And, finally, the SLS will launch an unscrewed Orion spacecraft beyond LEO before the end of 2021, debuting a spacecraft that will initially be capable of deploying 70 to 95 tonnes to LEO.

But the Biden administration  needs to neutralize any attempt by Trump and Trump extremist in the Republicans Party to use NASA as a political wedge issue against Democrats during the next two election cycles. Displaying strong support for NASA could help Democrats turn states like Florida, Ohio, and even Texas Blue again during the next presidential election. And it could increase the number of Democrats in the legislature during the next two election cycles.

There’s no logical reason for the Biden Administration to be stingy with NASA’s relatively meager budget. So Biden needs to be bold and raise the NASA budget up to $30 billion a year. This would allow ample funding for the ISS plus sufficient funding for the Artemis program. And it would also allow NASA to provide grants for  funding the development  of the next generation of carbon neutral aircraft from airships, to electric airplanes, to hypersonic transcontinental aircraft— and even spacecraft.

Jobs and economic output from NASA in 2019

 A  $30 billion a year NASA budget  would still account for less than 1% of annual Federal spending (less than one penny for every tax payer dollar sent to Washington). Plus NASA spending creates more wealth than it consumes. 2019 estimates indicate that NASA’s $21.5 billion budget created $64.3 billion in economic output. So for every tax dollar invested in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA pumped approximately $3 back into the general economy. How many government programs can do that!

Biden needs to avoid calls for cooperating with China’s ruling oligarchy  in space-- which would not result in any significant savings for US tax payers-- and could  only lead to more outsourcing of strategically important US jobs in the space industry to an economic and strategic enemy.  

Instead, the Biden administration should focus on establishing international rules, through the UN, on the regulation of lunar and martian territory. Such rules should allow governments and private companies to lease up to 1% of the total land area on the Moon and Mars under the administration of individual governments on Earth under the existing Outer Space Treaty  while preserving at least 99% of the land area on the Moon and Mars. Once percent of lunar territory would comprise some 380,000 square kilometers on the surface of the Moon (that’s still an area larger than 46 states in the United States). One percent of martian territory would comprise 1.45 million square kilometers (an area larger than the states of Texas, California, Florida, and New York combined).

Cooperating with Republicans in Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Ohio, some conservative states that have significant economic output from NASA could help the Biden Administration to garner enough Republican support to pass critical legislation-- on other-- important issues such as energy, climate change, health care and  US military power at home and abroad.  

Links and References

NASA Economic impact report Y 2019

Leasing the Moon

Outer Space Treaty

Vulcan Centaur 

New Glenn 

Boeing CST-100 Starliner

Space Launch System 

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