Glacial Energy Blog

The All-Electric…Airplane?

All Electric Airplane by GreenWing InternationalIf you’ve ever thought about owning your own airplane but figured it would be way out of your price range, there’s still hope! GreenWing International has just released the pricing details for its latest plane, the eSpyder. The 32 horsepower electric motor airplane is available in kit form and can be purchased for just under the modest price of $40,000. Fortunately, with the eSpyder aircraft, you won’t have to worry about the ever-rising gas prices, but don’t expect to be able to travel too far with it, either.

The eSpyder is a rather compact plane measuring 19.4 feet long, 7.9 feet high, and has a 33.1 foot wingspan. Unencumbered, the plane weighs about 410 pounds. Instead of relying on expensive fossil fuels for power, the eSpyder has a 13 kWh lithium battery that provides a flight time between 60 and 90 minutes per charge. Charging the battery takes about 2 to 3 hours. It can reach speeds up to nearly 70 mph but will be the most efficient at its economy speed of 38 mph.

As it stands, only 25 of the kits will be sold in the United States until it is determined that the demand for them will increase. These planes are certified for aviation use under Germany’s Ultralight Association, which is the first time an all-electric airplane has been certified, but they are currently not certified for use in the United States. This is the reason they can only be sold in kit form.

If these planes do become certified, they could potentially revolutionize the way we travel. The benefits to people living on islands like Martha’s Vineyard could be far reaching; giving them the ability to travel to the mainland and back without waiting and paying for ferries.

Source 1  and Source 2

Image courtesy of GreenWing International

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

We’ve Heard It All: A Smart Toilet

Satis Smart ToiletIt probably comes as no surprise to many that this hi-tech throne comes by way of Japanese manufacturer LIXIL. The sleek, low profile SATIS toilet is designed to function as your own personal washroom butt-ler, with its many SATISfying features. Things like an automatic seat, so you’ll never have to remember to put it down again, a powered deodorizer to get the fumes of taco night out of the air, an auto flush, cleansing nozzles for your undercarriage (including a massage setting), and even lighting and music. Yes, you can enjoy a relaxing sit-down with good ol’ John while listening to your favorite Beethoven symphony.

But before you head out and buy one of these toilets of the future, consider the possibility of them being hacked. The SATIS toilet is controlled via a smart phone app that is universal for all SATIS toilets, as in anyone with the app can control one. The app only communicates over Bluetooth, giving it a relatively small range, so it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be hacked over the internet. However, if any prankster friends know you have one, there’s no stopping them from downloading the free app and messing with your restroom experience.

If that’s not enough to steer you away from one of these lavish lavatories, the price point might be a little too high. While the app is free, the toilet costs between $4212 and $5686, depending on the model. If you’re not ready for the Japanese inspired future toilet, it would be perfectly understandable to stick with your old fashioned low-tech toilet.

Source

Image courtesy of INAX USA and LIXIL Corporation

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

What is a Cool Roof?

White Roof Santorini GreeceThey’ve been implemented across the globe for centuries in one form or another, like the white roofed buildings of Santorini, and they still hold usefulness today. Cool roofs are made with reflective paint, sheet, or tiles to reflect the rays of the sun and prevent the roof from absorbing much of the warmth.  In the heat of the summer sun, a typical roof can reach temperatures of about 150°F whereas a cool roof can be up to 50° cooler, which can actually extend the life of your roof. Because the temperature of the roof is reduced, the attic will tend to be cooler too, and less heat will seep into your home, keeping the air conditioning working at a higher efficiency. In rooms that are not air conditioned, the air will be naturally cooler and more comfortable.

Outside of making your home more comfortable and saving you money, a cool roof is also good for the environment. Ambient temperatures around your home will be lower, and due to reduced electricity consumption, emissions from power plants will be lower. There is also less strain on the electrical grid, which makes it less likely for a power outage during peak hours.

There are several ways to make a roof into a cool roof, but they vary by roof type. For example, a low-sloped roof can use single-ply membranes coated with reflective paint, built up roofs can have reflective marble chips in the asphalt mixture, or a cool roof coating can be added over the existing roof, and polyurethane foam roofs come pre-treated to be as reflective as possible. Steep-sloped roofs with shingles can be replaced with cool asphalt shingles and tile roofs can be custom colored and waterproofed with special coats. Metal roofs for either low or steep slopes can be painted or coated with reflective agents to make them cool roofs.

If your current roof is nearing the time to be replaced, consider installing a cool roof.  If you’re looking to simply upgrade your current roof, be sure to check the factors involve to ensure the energy savings will cover cost of a cool roof. You can coat your existing roof with reflective material, re-cover it with a new material like tile instead of shingles, or replace it entirely.

Source

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

What is Graphene and How Does It Relate to Energy Storage?

Scientific showing a piece of graphene.Graphene is the end result of reducing graphite, the same carbon material in pencils, to layers only one atom thick. Both graphite and graphene are very strong, stable, and excellent conductors. While most people associate graphite with pencils, its individual layers can have a major impact on energy storage. Graphene energy storage is more compact, but lasts nearly as long as a typical battery.

The Department of Materials Engineering is developing new graphene supercapacitors. Professor Dan Yi is leading the research team to make these supercapacitors (SC) more efficient than current iterations. Typically, SCs have an unlimited lifespan – that is, they don’t suffer from the memory effect of normal batteries – but they have to be incredibly large to accommodate the energy density. The energy density is the ratio of energy capacity versus the volume of the container. Smaller supercapacitors would need to be recharged frequently, but can be charged very quickly.

Professor Yi’s team has developed graphene supercapacitors that hold 12 times the energy density of a typical SC. They use a graphene gel film they developed themselves, soaked in an electrolyte solution to regulate the spacing of the atoms. This spacing is as small as possible to make the electricity conducting gaps, or “pores,� more numerous. Other supercapacitors have very large pores, leading to oversized devices.

 The end result of Professor Yi’s research is an effective, compact supercapacitor that can be charged and recharged an innumerable amount of times at a very high rate. Their effective use time is nearly the same length as that of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, but without the damaging memory effect, they will always recharge to the same capacity over and over again. Typical rechargeable batteries will have their life shortened significantly after about 500 recharges.

Source

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

Note: Post this blog after “The Memory Effect� and link “the memory effect� in paragraph 2 to that blog.

The Memory Effect

Set of battery level iconsChances are if you’ve used rechargeable batteries for a long period of time, you’ve noticed that they don’t hold a charge as long when they get older. Eventually, they get to a point where when you charge them, they only last a few minutes before they are flat again. This is due to a phenomenon called voltage depression, but it is commonly referred to as “the memory effect.�

Voltage depression plagues every type of rechargeable battery, from Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cad) batteries to Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries. Inside of a Ni-Cad battery, there is a cadmium plate that when charging occurs, creates tiny crystals that store energy along their boundaries. If the battery is overcharged (that is, if it is left on the charger for too long), these crystals grow to be too large, making the crystals harder to dissolve during energy consumption. This issue also occurs if the battery is recharged when it still has a relatively high amount of energy still in the battery or if the charger is too slow.

Often times, the effects of voltage depression can be reversed by fully depleting your battery’s charge before recharging it. Once the battery reaches about 10% of its total capacity, the large crystals have been dissolved and the cadmium plate has reformed. You can now recharge the battery fully (remembering to take it off the charger once it is fully charged) and it will retain most of its total capacity again. The true “memory effect� however, is from damaging the battery cells from over charging or frequent discharge/recharge cycles. This damage to the individual cells prevents the formation of the microcrystal cadmium, thus permanently reducing the total capacity of the battery.

Eventually, all rechargeable batteries will stop charging altogether due to this damage, but reducing overcharging and constant charging cycles will prolong their life.

Source

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

Consumer Vehicles That Run on Compressed Natural Gas

Natural Gas Fillup StationNatural gas is widely used to provide electricity to a local or regional power grid, and also to directly power some homes, but did you realize that there are also vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG)? These aren’t specially designed, LNG plant-owned vehicles, either; they’re consumer grade cars, trucks, vans, and public transportation buses that run on natural gas.

While there may not be a high demand for CNG vehicles, there are some out there, and they come in the form of well known vehicles already mass produced. Ford F-250s, Dodge Ram 2500s, Chevrolet Silverado 2500s, and even the popular Honda Civic has a CNG variant, and is the only light duty CNG vehicle. The Civic has been on the market since 1998 and sells out faster than they are produced. That’s only the beginning: one could actually convert their existing vehicle from gasoline to CNG or purchase pre-owned fleet vehicles at government auctions.

Public transportation has been implementing CNG buses and vans as well. About 12% to 15% of all public transportation is CNG or LNG powered, and 1 in 5 future buses are outfitted with CNG engines. These vehicles are a lot cheaper to run than their gasoline counterparts, with CNG costing about $0.86 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE). California and New York currently lead the CNG revolution, but several other states are holding their own, including Massachusetts, Texas, Georgia, Utah, and Washington DC. In Utah alone, there are more than 5,000 CNG vehicles in use, with each one worth $3,000 in state tax credits. Many other states offer incentives to buy or convert to CNG vehicles, but the list of convertible vehicles is rather small, leaving many to overlook them entirely. The simple truth is that CNG vehicles are much cheaper to fuel and are cleaner than gasoline vehicles, but there aren’t enough manufacturers working to put more on the market. Hopefully demand for these vehicles will pick up and more people will see the benefits of owning them.

Source

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

Pennsylvania and Natural Gas: A Match Made in Heaven

Fracking DrillingPennsylvania is home to the second largest natural gas field in the world, the Marcellus Shale formation. This massive source of energy is also a massive source of wealth for the state. The Marcellus Shale is instrumental in bringing some stability to the local economy and the workers that harvest the gas. In fact, nearly 250,000 people are employed in a position relating to the Marcellus Shale. The hydraulic fracturing aspect of the operation, commonly referred to as “fracking,� is responsible for creating 150,000 jobs in the past three years alone.

Not only is this field creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, but they also pay well. Core fracking positions pay about $90,000 per year and in 2010, this sector pumped over $11 billion into Pennsylvania’s local economy. All this success has been attributed to the policies and legislation set forth to encourage investment and safety.

Even those not directly participating in the actual work of harvesting natural gas are reaping the benefits. Pennsylvania residents, particularly in Williamsport, the hub of natural gas expansion, are getting low energy rates and an economic growth of 7.8 percent. In fact, the average rates for utilities dropped more than 40 percent over three years, which saved each resident about $3200. Because of the economic growth and new residents looking to benefit from this natural gas rush, the tax base for counties with more than 150 natural gas wells grew by 11.4 percent, despite the statewide tax collection dropping by 3.8 percent.

Fracking is environmentally sound as long as it is done properly, which the experts with Marcellus Shale ensure it is. About 99.5 percent of the solution used for fracking is just sand and water. The other 0.5 percent is one or more of a few dozen chemicals. The chemical or chemicals used vary by well, depending on the geological composition of the well. A full list of the chemicals can be found here, but it also includes chemicals not used in the fracking process, like diesel fuel and oil for generators and vehicles.

It is projected that the Marcellus Shale could provide over a quarter of the United States’ natural gas by the year 2020. This could potentially drop energy costs all over the country and perpetuate tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs, which Pennsylvania was suffering a major loss of between 1990 and 2009. Because of the efforts in Pennsylvania, several other states, including Ohio, New York, and North Carolina are looking to invest in natural gas mining. It’s estimated that the United States has about a 100 years worth of natural gas within its borders, setting the stage for a majorly beneficial economic growth nationwide.

Source

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

How is Natural Gas Transported?

Gas compressor stationNatural gas is a growing energy source that is providing homes and businesses with cleaner, reliable energy all over the country. But have you ever wondered how that natural gas gets to your home? On the small scale, it may seem as simple as tapping into a natural gas pipeline that goes by your home, but on the large scale, it needs to be shipped to your area, first. Natural gas can only be harvested in certain areas, much like oil, and it is transported all over the country by more than 210 different pipelines and 11,000 delivery points.

The network of pipelines and shipping centers around the United States is huge. There are over 305,000 miles of pipelines in the continental US with more than 1400 compressor stations that keep the flow even. Along these lines, there are 24 hubs that add to the already vast 1400 interconnections, as well as 400 underground storage facilities. In addition to these pipelines, there are 59 Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) peaking facilities that compress the gas into a liquid state, allowing it to be transported by tanker boats and trucks. There are also 41 satellite LNG facilities that help distribute the liquefied gas and eight import facilities along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Natural gas pipeline networks are divided into six regions across the US: Western, Central, Southwest, Southeast, Midwest, and Northeast. Pipeline companies prefer to keep everything running at 100% capacity at all times, but it seldom ever runs at maximum. Maintenance, weather, and market demand all affect the amount of gas moving across the country. In the event of an inability to provide gas to a location directly, some natural gas is stored at one of the 400 underground storage facilities and can be used as a reserve for higher demand. Some storage facilities can also export this fuel via truck lines to other parts of the country as they are needed.

The natural gas industry aims to be as efficient as possible, whether directly through the use of the gas, or indirectly during distribution. This powerful energy source is spread throughout the country through complicated pipelines, trucks, and boats, ensuring that the energy is delivered where it is needed most.

Source

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

Wind and Snow (but not what you think)

Wind turbine and windy treesWind energy is steadily blowing away the energy markets and gaining a cool advantage in colder climates. It is predicted that by the year 2017, wind energy will produce between 45 and 50 gigawatts of electricity in cold climates alone. This would by a 72% increase over 2012’s output. Tomas Wellenius, a researcher with VTT Technical Research Center of Finland claims this to be “a huge opportunity� in that cold climate wind energy is more feasible than offshore wind energy, which is “still at the research and development stage.�

Cold climate wind energy is unique in that during winter months especially, the air is denser than in summer and higher speed winds are more frequent. Coupling that with the sparse populations and sprawling lands of tundra, cold climate wind energy seems like a no brainer. But, all those benefits come at a cost. Wind turbine blades are highly susceptible to icing in cold weather. This can lead to a loss of 3% to 10% in energy production. This can be counteracted by implementing anti-icing systems.

The Finland based VTT is also working on developing anti-icing systems. One firm, Labkotec Ltd, is a leader in developing technology that detects icing. These severe weather climates require specialized knowledge and experts in their fields to ensure that the systems they design and integrate work at the utmost capacity, allowing the energy to flow from these massive wind turbines.

Wind energy is definitely a growing part of the energy market, and with all the open space available in cold climates, particularly in the northern hemisphere, turbines are being erected as quickly as possible to keep the juice flowing. It’s expected that wind power will top 300,000 megawatts by the end of 2013, and a good portion of that will be due to the advances in anti-icing technology and cold climate wind programs.

Source

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

What’s in the Sun?

sun in blue skyThe sun provides us with light and warmth every single day. We use sunlight to warm our homes, help grow our plants, and even power cities. The sun, whose official name is Sol (where we get the word “solar� from), produces enough energy every single second to power every electronic device on the Earth for half a million years. It outputs light in every wavelength from gamma rays to X-rays, ultraviolet, visible light, and infrared. That light travels about 92.96 million miles (1 AU or Astronomical Unit) and takes about eight minutes to reach the Earth. That means that in a live viewing of the sun, you are seeing it as it was eight minutes in the past.

The amount of energy that reaches Earth every second is enough to power 4 trillion 100-watt bulbs. The amount of energy that hits just a single square mile each year is equivalent to 4 million barrels of oil. About 1% of all US energy production is generated from solar power. Massachusetts is the current leading state in solar power production.

For all its benefits, the sun also has its dangers. Looking directly at it for any length of time, especially looking at it through magnifying lenses like binoculars or telescopes can severely damage your eyes. Sunlight focused through magnifying lenses can also start fires. In climates that experience dry spells with foliage are at risk of massive wild fires caused by sun exposure.

Though it may appear small in the sky, the sun accounts for 99.8% of the total mass of the solar system and could fit over 1.3 million Earths inside it. A single “day� on the sun lasts between 25 and 36 Earth days. We get this by watching how the surface rotates around the sphere. The day lengths vary from equator to the poles since the sun is not a solid object, like Earth. It is comprised of more than 70% hydrogen and 28% helium. Through nuclear fusion, the sun’s core converts hydrogen into helium. When the hydrogen runs out, the sun will start to die, but fortunately that won’t be for another 5 billion years or so.

Source 1, Source 2

About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:  www.GlacialEnergy.com.

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