Daniel Matthews

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Everything posted by Daniel Matthews

  1. In order to avoid a future water world (the movie was a dud, I think the scenario would be even worse in real life) or something even more catastrophic, one of the industries that has got to shape up is the automotive industry. We’re looking at an industry driving a huge portion of fossil fuel extraction. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, fossil fuelled vehicles are responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. Yes, you gear-heads and old- school mechanics will miss your cherished internal combustion engines (ICE). But who says you can’t keep working on the old ones? Who says you can’t convert them to run on biodiesel? After all, the old roadster will be worth plenty in the future as a relic, but it’ll be worth even more running around on clean fuel. Just think. There will only be so many (if any) like it. The auto industry, including the trucking industry, is shaping up to an extent, just slowly. I’ll get into why I mentioned the trucking industry soon. Most of us blogger kids like to think about all the super-neat new tech we might use ourselves. Smart, web-savvy autonomous cars, pure EV’s that glow in the dark, hybrids that run on beet juice—well, that last one I pulled out of thin air (I don’t think it’s unreasonable), but you get the idea. This post, though, is about five innovations that could make a real difference in the horsepower-driven world. Electric powertrains for trucks The sexy blogs aren’t publishing a lot of stuff about this, because it doesn’t sound that sexy. But right now, the commercial trucking industry is staring down the barrel of regulations designed to cut emissions from trucks we rely on a great deal. They deliver your mail, they pick up your garbage, and until they turn into drones, the class 7 and 8 ones drive 80% of the freight in America to any city with a supermarket. At the same time, according to the EPA, freight semi-trucks are super-inefficient, spewing two-thirds of the GHGs (Greenhouse Gases) commercial trucks spew. So, Obama decided commercial trucks in general need to clean up their act. By 2027 they will have to cut GHGs by a combined total of 44%. Phase 1, which began this year, mandates a 20% cut. Phase 2, which begins its mandate in 2021, requires a 24% cut. If Wrightspeed's powertrains have anything to say about it, the cuts will be easy to accomplish and will save fleets money in the long run, too. Ian Wright co-founded Tesla then split off to start Wrightspeed. His Route powertrains are a plug-in innovation incorporating an electric engine and transmission that fleet operators can retrofit to their trucks. They can just slap it on the old rig to hopefully achieve results like the Isuzu NPR achieved. According to breakingenergy.com, the Isuzu NPR delivery truck went from 12 mpg in the city to 44 mpg—a 300% improvement. Let’s hope fleets will shell out the $200,000 for those type of results sooner than later. Hydrogen fuel cells Right now hydrogen-powered cars aren’t the big sellers in the green car market because of the price. There aren’t enough fueling stations, and the cost of creating the technology fuels a high price tag. But according to the New York Times, major manufacturer Hyundai is sinking more effort into these cars, creating the possibility for another fuel-saving alternative on the market in a decade. It’s not exactly a revolution, but the Times reports the price for a hydrogen-powered Hyundai has dropped from $124,000 to $76,000 in Korea. Having another green car option on the market is important because it will drive prices for extant technologies down, and it will create further competition for technological advancement. Once Hyundai is infiltrating the market with hydrogen-powered cars—cars that emit absolutely no GHGs and run on the most plentiful element in the universe, hydrogen—majors like Honda and Toyota will have to answer back. They’ll have to give us more inexpensive alternatives to the ICE in order to stay afloat. 3-D printed cars This one may seem pretty far off, but why not consider the possibility of 3-D printed cars? Imagine cutting down on all the emissions car manufacturers themselves create and rolling a new vehicle directly out of your own garage. That’s exactly what Chandler, Arizona-based Local Motors has been working on. It started with a competition called Project Redacted. After announcing the winner of the competition, the tech company/electric car manufacturer announced they will begin a new project with three universities to delve deeper into making 3-D printed cars a reality. Not only will these cars be DIY, the design Local Motors will be working on is for an electric, autonomous vehicle That this is even on the table speaks to the amazing capabilities of 3-D printers to create objects out of metals and other substances besides plastics and polymers—this technology is progressing at an incredible rate. One could imagine a time when the infamously restrictive policies of auto manufacturers are obliterated by this type of tech. For years, manufacturers have had the technology to create cars that run for hundreds of thousands of miles longer than what we have now. They’ve also had the technology to improve the gas-mileage cars can get to an equally mind-blowing extent. Once making cars becomes a more democratic pursuit, and there are more environmentally-friendly options on the market, the gas-guzzlers of today will be just as much dinosaurs as the gas that fuels them.
  2. My Favorite Ways to Green

    I think one of the really important things for us to realize in our fight to protect the environment is that it’s got to be personal. Like the ‘personal calling’ those with religious fervor feel, the personal conviction a good steward of the environment feels is the cornerstone of an authentic and unflagging purpose. And the reality of climate change is backed up by scientific evidence. So, the conscientious among us are the way we are because of the facts, and because we get a level of enjoyment from this lifestyle. This objective and subjective motivation creates a powerful drive. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite means to live my life green. Repurposing Presents the chance to basically do an art project with stuff you might otherwise throw away. For example, lately I’ve been creating a collage from old compact disk sleeves. It’s a lot of paper with a lot of artwork bands took plenty of time to either create or curate. Instead of using a canvas, I’m gluing the plastic cases together with the interiors facing down. This makes for a flat surface on which I’ll paste the artwork. I plan on creating or buying a wooden frame to place around the exterior, both for visual appeal and hanging purposes. I’ve always had a big thing for wooden furniture. A good armless chair is priceless for sitting down and strumming the acoustic on a summer night. When it comes to wooden furniture, yes you can find a lot of scrap, but sometimes tools are pretty spendy and it’s a specialized game to make your own. So if you can’t DIY and you want something that looks decent, the next best option is “upcycled” furniture. Upcycling involves taking previously used materials and making them into something more upscale, something that functions well in the home and looks new. Eating Seasonally It’s easy to pick something up from the supermarket, but most of that produce is picked before ripe. According to Dominion Harvest, the average piece of produce travels an average of 1750 miles to get to the supermarket. Cutting a piece of produce from its stalk deprives it from the nutrient source. And, during the time it takes to ship, the vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content degrades, as does the overall quality. That’s why I either grow it myself or buy from a local farm. Again, you don’t have to be hardline DIY. It’s the vindictive, do-it-this-way-or-no-way attitude that scares people away from this practice. In my opinion, what matters is the intent. But if you have space to garden, first I recommend putting together some good compost. There are a lot reasons to compost and a lot of things you can compost, but if you’re not sure, try consulting a source of information on the subject. Two of my favorite things about composting are: I drink a ton of coffee, and I can use my organic filters and coffee grounds in my compost heap; on the objective side of things, compost captures and destroys about 99% of harmful organic industrial chemicals in the air. The coffee factor is my subjective enjoyment; the benefit for the environment is the objective end. And there are plenty of other environmental benefits that stem from eating seasonal, local produce. Huge monoculture farms use pesticides and insecticides to protect their crops from insects. You may have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder, in which adult honeybees abandon the hive, leaving the queen and the young and causing destruction of the colony. Although an indisputable link is tough to prove, a recent Harvard School of Public Health study points to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids as a probable culprit. One indisputable fact is this: less fuel will be consumed if you eat seasonally. It just takes less gas for the goods to get to your table, and that makes environmental sense. Biking to work Conserving on fuel is paramount, and biking to work is one of the number one ways I choose to do so. There are a lot of motivating factors for this, especially this month since May is National Bike Month. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of the bike ride. It helps me wake up in the morning, it provides me with a good amount of the cardiovascular exercise my body needs, and it’s just downright fun tearing down the street on your bike. Knowing my terms I’m a writer, so I like to stay up-to-date on the terminology and information relating to green practices. For me this comes down to the subjective enjoyment, but at the same time these terms and this information are essential for having an objective, knowledgeable conversation about the subject at hand. A lot of this stuff is downright fascinating. Ever heard of photovoltaic cells? These are the tiny units that make solar panels possible. Here we have materials that work to achieve a goal similar to the goal photosynthetic plant cells achieve: the conversion of sunlight into directly usable energy. Only, in this case the energy that results is in the form of electricity. What if we could find a way to put these cells in our windows while maintaining transparency? Even if not entirely realistic, for me imagining the possibilities is the most exciting part of the green pursuit. We each have our own reasons to get in on living a green lifestyle. Getting pleasure out of our practice is the only way we can sustain it. With that in mind, please share some of your green reasons and tips in the comments below.