Monday, August 2, 2010

Biodiesel From Coffee Grounds?

This is an all too familiar sight in the Pacific Northwest. Espresso machines everywhere. But in addition to the velvety coffee they make, what is a common byproduct of the whooshing and tapping?

Coffee grounds.

It turns out that the University of Missouri College of Food and Natural Resources is turning that byproduct into valuable fuel: biodiesel.

From the grounds they collected, U of M students turned the residual oil into a fuel. A success as part of their research, evaluating alternative feedstocks such as vegetable oils, used cooking oils and gasified shredded tires.

From their press release: "The properties of the coffee oil are similar to the properties of soybean oil, the major source of biodiesel," said Bulent Koc, assistant professor of agricultural systems management.

According to the National Coffee Association, global growers produce more than 16 billion pounds of coffee each year.  That's a lot of "alternative feedstocks." Some scientists estimate that spent coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel yearly to the world's fuel supply.

It is said that educating students is as much art as it is science. The ultimate art form in this example is connecting two somewhat unrelated topics and creating a compelling case for scientific exploration. This is so much more than "out of the box" thinking. It is helping our students to combine unrelated elements of our society to produce solutions to aid that same society.

Your continuing work as educators helps our students do just that.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Totally Unnecessary - And Counting News

Energication is not a place for political rhetoric or partisan views or even any single-minded perspectives. (Except for the strong belief that Energy Education is needed; is valuable; is inevitable.) So the oil spill odometer is meant only to make a point about how unnecessary it is to endanger our environment for the sake of energy.

Instead of tapping an arguably limited oil reserve 5,000 feet below the surface of an ecologically fragile ocean, why not tap the immensely unlimited potential of our students and avoid these issues altogether? This is a potential that can design a future that we can only begin to imagine.

So how do we tap that potential? Energy Education.

Energication continues to promote the value of making energy a core strand in our schools. It affects fuels, the environment, civics, our legal system... Based on BP's experience, I believe you get the point.

Thank you for your continuing interest passion surrounding Energication's Energy Education.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Charge During Drive

If nothing else, we Americans are creatures of comfort. Notice that I didn't say creatures of habit, but that is true also. Yes, we do enjoy our comfort. So when I saw this example of the ultimate "creature comfort" in the realm of battery-driven driving, I just had to share it.

Batteries are today's "Achilles Heel" in our drive for electric mobility, but there's an exciting technology that could negate the need for a super-battery that will supposedly solve our energy storage problems: Inductive Power Transfer, or IPT.

IPT is in effect, wireless power transfer, using wireless magnetic energy.

Educators, think of the varied science and technology curriculum opportunities while you enjoy the video!


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