Thursday, December 23, 2004

Solar Cells on Rovers Keep Delivering

The Mars Carwash

Boy oh boy these little rovers just keep going. They have lasted so long that even the phrase extended mission no longer applies. More like the Energizer Bunny of scientific exploration.

Opportunity's output also declined at first - to around 500 watt-hours - but over the past six months it has regained power (New Scientist print edition, 30 October). Lately, its solar cells have been delivering just over 900 watt-hours.

Rover team leader Jim Erickson at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told New Scientist that a process still not understood has repeatedly removed dust from the solar panels. "These exciting and unexplained cleaning events have kept Opportunity in really great shape," he says.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Opportunity Rover Surprises Team

One of the little rovers that has astounded the world with how long it has been going now has a mystery around it. It seems that there has been an unexpected boost in the power, about 2 to 5%.

Mars Rovers Get Mystery Power Boost

"Now we're assuming they're cleaning, but all we can really say is that overnight the solar panels produced between 2 and 5 percent additional power immediately," he said. "We're surmising that for some reason dust is being removed from the solar panel and that's increasing the efficiency of the sunlight being converted to electricity."

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Oil futures slide

Off to a decent start as oil futures slides downwards. Basically someone who sits on their ass predicting the future saw that the US might have enough to get through the winter.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Oil drops in price, US ups inventory

Oil Steady as U.S. Inventories Recover

U.S. light crude futures fell to a new five-week low of $36.45 per barrel, down 14 percent from their last week's peak at $42.45, the highest price since the New York Mercantile Exchange launched its crude contract in 1983.

By 1618 GMT (12:17 p.m. EDT) New York crude was at $37.20 a barrel, down eight cents on the session. London benchmark Brent crude was off seven cents at $34.98 a barrel.

Prices fell after the U.S. federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that crude oil stocks rose by 400,000 barrels to 302.1 million barrels last week, their highest in nearly two years.

Gasoline stocks also rose by 2.1 million barrels to 206.4 million, easing concerns that U.S. refineries will struggle to meet summer gasoline demand as Americans take to the roads for vacations.

I have watched the gas prices drop by up to 14 cents a gallon in my local area. Hopefully this will mean less expensive gas for my upcoming trip.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Before you run out for that hybrid, read this first

Wired News: Hybrid Mileage Comes Up Short

But after a few months of commuting to his job in Cincinnati, Blackshaw's hybrid euphoria vanished as his car's odometer revealed that the gas mileage he was hoping for was only a pipe dream. Honda's Civic Hybrid is rated by the EPA to get 47 miles per gallon in the city, and 48 mpg on the highway. After nearly 1,000 miles of mostly city driving, Blackshaw was getting 31.4 mpg.

Related article:
For Speeders, Hybrids Suck Gas

Toyota responded to customer queries by distributing a four-page pamphlet to its dealers in April. The document, which explains hybrid fuel-efficiency and offers tips on boosting gas mileage, is available upon request from dealers, according to Toyota spokeswoman Nancy Hubbell.

Toyota engineer Dave Hermance said that weather, driving conditions and driver habits can cut fuel-efficiency by up to 30 percent. Hermance said drivers who slowly roll through intersections using "California stops" are decreasing their mileage. "If you don't stop, you don't get the free energy of regenerative braking."

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Gas Price Primer

Primer on Gasoline Prices

Not sure what influences can cause price fluctuations? Then click the link above and start the learning process.

Primer on Gasoline Sources and Markets

More info to help one learn about the gasoline market and sources.

Senate Report on how prices are really set

You can trust them, they're the govt and are here to help us. ;p HTML front page that leads to PDF documents.

Here is a link that will take you directly to the PDF file that reports how they are set.

So you're reading the stuff on oil and gas and terms like barrels of oil are being thrown around. But how many gallons of oil fit in a barrel? Answers here, Petroleum Quick Stats

I mentioned hybrids, but what exactly is going on for Developments in US Alternative Fuel Markets? Click here to learn more

Once you are sold on the concept, you may ask what alternative fuel vehicles are availabe. Click here for the report, circa 2000

At this time, you may recall the whole ethanol thing that started a long time ago, fizzled and then came back in the 70s. Here is a link to a report on that as well.

Break out the hybrids!

High oil prices here to stay: OPEC - News -

Time to save up for one of those new hybrids coming out soon. There are some available now, but it appears the market will be a bit more competive in the near future. Besides, I'll have to pay off FFS and SRS before I can afford another vehicle.

Want to know where we get our crude oil from? Click here

Friday, April 23, 2004

Possible breakthrough for solar efficiency

Material grabs more sun TRN 042104
"The researchers were working on making a three-junction photovoltaic cell when they accidentally made a material that had a split bandgap. Once they realized the nature of the material, they reverse-engineered their inadvertent discovery to figure out how it happened.

The key turned out to be replacing some of the atoms of a material that is strongly electronegative with atoms of a material that is even more electronegative to create a highly mismatched alloy. The introduced atoms split the conduction band. "

The current cells, at best, will capture 25% of the sun's energy. This new material appears to have the potential for a 50% capture. The article says that it will take 3 years to see how well (or not) the new solar cell will work.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Dow, GM Make World's First Significant Fuel Cell Application a Reality

The initial GM fuel cell will generate 75 kilowatts of power. This is enough electricity for fifty average homes. Dow and GM plan to ultimately install up to 400 fuel cells to generate 35 megawatts of electricity. That would be enough power for 25,000 average sized American homes. While this is a lot of electrical capacity, it represents two percent of the total Dow needs at its Texas Operations site.