Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Irish Health System and Minister Harney


Ministerial Plan
to further penalise
the less well off?

(with apologies to my readers for going off-subject again)

While President Obama is making attempts to humanise and balance the health system in the US, I have just read that the Irish Health Minister Mary Harney is planning to bring into effect some rather shortsighted regulation regarding private health insurance in Ireland.

She plans to establish regulations making the cost of health insurance higher for older people taking out a policy for the first time.

In my case, and I am one of a very large number, I have not been able to afford to take out health insurance during the years while rearing a family, paying a mortgage, and basically trying to survive. If Minister Harney has her way it will simply close the door permanently on any health insurance and GUARANTEE that many older people are FORCED onto our very faulty public health schemes.

Health Costs in Ireland a Rip-Off

Health costs in Ireland are the real problem. With consultants expecting to earn 200 - 300,000 Euro per year. This factor along with one of the most criminally inefficient health management systems in the world has lead to Ireland being an unattractive place to live when it comes to public health care.

The rip-off factor is showing when it comes to dentistry. It costs between one third and a half of the Irish dental costs to have treatments in mainland European treatment centres, including the costs of staying at a 5 star hotel, have all connections, meals etc. That spells Ireland in one word for me RIP-OFF!!!


Dear Minister Harney, would you perhaps consider taking the really radical moves of (a) having a SINGLE health system in Ireland for ALL CITIZENS regardless of means, along with (b) Strictly regulating all medical fees and costs, setting limits on consultants fees etc. making it law that doctors prescribe "generic" drugs, etc. etc. Would you then be prepared to back that move, if necessary, by recruiting replacement medical staff, to be employed on contracts, from Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia etc. ? As it stands, IMHO, you are simply bowing to a bloated, self-serving, greedy, overpaid, and essentially un-ethical medical system which has evolved in Ireland.

Joan Baez Song

Ireland has a two tier medical system which exemplifies the words of a Joan Baez song; “If living were a thing that money could buy then the rich would live and the poor would die”. If you have money and can afford the best medical insurance, you can have your triple bypass in the Blackrock Clinic, will live, if not, tough brother - you are just going to die.

Great!! Isn’t it? Christian Ireland my arse!!!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Storing Wind Energy


Prof. Garvey has his
Bags Packed and Ready to Go

I have already sketched the "Energy Bag" and Mega sized Turbine story. This post is by way of a wrap-up on what I know of the project.

I have been unsuccessful in getting more information from Professor Garvey about his ideas.

Bags Packed and Ready to GO!!

Seamus Garvey has already “packed his bags”, “Energy Bags” that is. Testing of scale-model prototype Energy Bags has been going on for some time.

These Air Bags are quite small scale model versions to test the theory

Here is the lab set-up arrangement
showing the water tanks in which the bags are mounted

Storing compressed air in bags?
These air bags are strong enough to lift a ship!!!

The project is funded with a €310,000 grant from the EON International Research Initiative. Prof. Garvey believe that the green investment market is out there and actively looking for what he has to offer. He believes that the initial testing has already shown that the system can work.

The Prof. believes that more than 25% of ocean based wind farms in the UK will use his integrated compressed air approach by 2025.

Good luck to Professor Garvey and his team in the testing phase.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Minister Ryan's Electric Car Scheme


Import €7bn of New Electric Cars?
Retrofit at a Fractional Cost?

Ireland is set on a path of becoming more energy sufficient and reducing its carbon footprint. To that end, there has been a national drive, replete with incentives, the latest being the €5000 grant towards the cost of a new EV aimed at greatly increasing the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads. However, with the Mitsubishi electric car selling at about €45,000 a pop, I cannot see a rush to buy them, even with the grant!!

A Suggestion

My suggestion is that instead of importing 100% of the electric vehicles EVs over the coming years, and thereby sending some €7bn (estimated), over 3 years, out of the country, that we set up a government backed, uniquely managed, and centralised national electric vehicle (EV) retro-fit conversion programme. The purpose of the programme to manage the setting up of an infrastructure to convert, as many existing cars and commercial vehicles as possible to electric power.

It is vital that a retrofit EV project is not left to open market forces. It is equally vital that is does not fall prey to the civil service or other forms of institutional thinking or political jockeying.

The project would need a central purchasing and warehousing facility, several regional retrofit factories, and a collect and return facility. Training mechanics would need to be undertaken on a national basis, Fás might be utilised here. Initially experts from the US would be needed to train the trainers.

The enterprise like this would need careful and expert planning, the extent of which is beyond my scope to outline.

Why Retrofit EVs

1. Retrofitting ICE vehicles is a tried and tested strategy in the USA and has been in operation for many years. Many people believe that retrofits are better in quality and performance than most new EVs.

2. New types of highly efficient and cheaper batteries are soon coming onto the market, these would make a retrofit better than a lot of existing EVs.

3. Existing car owners get to keep their favourite, comfortable, safe, and familiar car or van. They could have it converted to an EV in a week or less for a small fraction of the cost of buying a new EV

4. Converting would save Ireland overseas spending of billions of our Euros on imported new electric vehicles.

5. EV conversion factories would provide many jobs for mechanics at central locations, and would additionally stimulate many ancillary services.

6. EV retrofitting would mitigate the cost of scrappage schemes and the need to deal with so many unwanted (ICE) vehicles.

7. The cost to owners would be a fraction of the cost of a new EV.

8. Savings in fuel, maintenance, lower road tax etc. would pay for a retrofit in a few years.

9. More EVs on the road would save the country hundreds of millions every year on imported fuel.

10. Most importantly, it would substantially boost the current national drive towards sustainability, reducing our carbon footprint, and moving towards energy sufficiency.

The efficiency of the project would be greatly increased by having central conversion facilities. Additionally, materials costs could be substantially lowered by high quantity purchasing of batteries, motors, control gear etc. at a properly managed purchasing and distribution centre. It would be vital that ALL these saving be passed to the end user, and perhaps sweeten it further with a FAT grant.

If this is to work, the gougers and rip-off merchants must be vigorously kept out of the loop, and no self-serving public body or civil service needs to be involved either, as they tend to complicate everything they put their hands to!!!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ecolocap to Build Factory in Korea


Nano-Lithium Battery

What I recently said about the Ecolocap battery

On 18th March 2010 Ashish Arora, a scientific consultancy firm, performed extensive tests on a
special 9 cell Nano-Lithium battery made by a company called Ecolocap. What made the battery very special is that, while rated at 12 volts, it offers a massive 720 Ampere/Hours capacity. It does this without being much bigger or heavier than a small truck battery.

A typical battery of a similar size and weight would have a capacity of a mere 150 A/h or just over 20% of the capacity. But that’s not all that is different, this battery can deliver very high currents for extended periods, and additionally it can be charged at very high currents. This means that it would take just 20% of the time to charge up, 2 hours, or less, as against 10 hours, and it could deliver a massive blast of energy for a sustained period unlike a lead acid battery.

I advised not holding one's breath while waiting for delivery of this battery, given the hype by companies like EEstor which has been rattling on about their wonderful battery / supercapacitor for years - and have shown us NOTHING to date.


The technology buzz on the wires is that EcoloCap Solutions Inc. The same company that recently announced a major advance in Nano-Lithium Battery technology, and has shown us some of the test results to prove it, has hired Enersol Energy System Solutions, a US consultancy firm., to work on its plans to build a production factory in Korea!!!!

We, hopefully, should see some production within a year. If all the bits of the complicated jigsaw fit together, this could change the face of electric motoring!!! Not to mention provide a better storage option for wind power.

Test Results for Ecolocap's prototype Nano-Lithium Battery

Latest battery figures given out from Ecolocap:

Volts - - Ahr - - - Weight lbs - - - Size in Inches - - Cells
4.2 - - - 240 Ahr - -12 - - - - -- - 17.91 x .61 x 13 - - - 1
4.2 - - 1,440 Ahr - - 72 - - - - - - -17.91 x 6 x 13 - - - 6
12.6 - - 1.440 Ahr- - 216 - - - - - - 17.91 X 18 X 13 - 18
Model 240
Capacity Ah 240.00
energy density Wh/l 1.17
Mass energy
density Wh/Kg 185.19
Mass Kg 5.44
Voltage V 4.20
Voltage V 4.20
Minimum Voltage V 2.70
Capacity Wh 1,008.00

The company blurb with the usual "terms and conditions apply" tag:

"Following the independent test results from Exponent that confirmed the superiority of our battery technology, we are now focused on rapidly bringing the Nano Lithium X battery to market. With the help of Enersol's experienced team, we are prudently but expeditiously developing a roadmap to maximize value for our shareholders," said EcoloCap Solutions, Inc. CEO Michael Siegel.

Management is actively exploring strategic partnership opportunities with leading battery manufacturers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. With the lithium-ion battery market expected to reach $16 billion by 2020 in the U.S. alone, EcoloCap's Nano Lithium X batteries are entering the market at a perfect time. Strategic partnerships will help expedite the process of bringing the revolutionary batteries to market and position the Company to rapidly gain market share.

This press release may contain statements of a forward-looking nature regarding future events. These statements are only predictions and actual events may differ materially. Please refer to documents that EcoloCap Solutions Inc. files from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a discussion of certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materials from those contained in the forward-looking statements.

EcoloCap Solutions Inc.
847-919-8440 (FAX)


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Try and Store the Wind


Storing Wind

Professor Garvey aims to create the world’s most massive wind turbines on a scale not yet attempted with a rotor of almost a quarter kilometre in diameter, and that is just the baby of the pack.

Prof. Garvey believes that it is possible to store energy at costs well below £10,000/MWh. That is about one fifth or 20% of the cost of pumped hydro energy, which is the next cheapest competing technology available to date.

With some radical redesign work, professor Garvey believes that the quantity of material used in the manufacture of the turbines for a given output can be greatly reduced thereby cutting costs by a factor of four!!!!!!

Prof. Garvey has indicated a unique method of compressing the air using gravity as one of the driving factors. He envisages long tube inside the massive hollow blades of the rotors. Inside the tubes are large free moving heavily weighted pistons, which will slide up and down in the tubes compressing air on both cycles.

To be continued ....


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Storing the Wind


You may as well try and
Store the Wind

At the University of Nottingham there is currently a unique research project headed by a man with a grand Irish name;

Prof Seamus Garvey. He, and his team, are working on an idea called “ICARES” (Integrated Compressed Air Renewable Energy Systems). The Prof. has been developing it since 2006.

? - ? - Wait a while and I’ll tell ya!!

I love the ballbarrow for its design perfection, so simple and has additionally the big advantage that there is little to go wrong.

Prof. Garvey’s idea, on the face of it, is simple enough; he wants to build to build humongous wind turbines mounted at sea. But instead of having generators and gearboxes, his turbines will directly compress and pump air into huge undersea inflatable bags anchored to the seabed.

The Prof. in his own words proposes to “store the wind” !!! Then allow the wind to blow, from the compressed bags, when it is actually needed. The stored compressed air is then used to generate electricity by releasing it through turbine generator systems.

By bypassing the electrical generating stage before attempting energy storage, the efficiency is immediately increased, with no gearboxes and generator losses. Thus avoiding one of the losses associated with hydro-storage. With pumped hydro-storage systems you have to add pump losses, seepage, evaporation, and leaks, plus a second generating loss when the systems is generating.

To be continued...


Friday, May 14, 2010

Energy Storage Solutions part one


Storing Energy

Almost two years ago I wrote about the discovery of a new catalyst electrode that could revolutionise energy storage.

The electrode could, in a far more efficient and less costly way than ever previously possible, split water into its elements of Oxygen and Hydrogen. The hydrogen thus produced is a great fuel for all sorts of devices including fuel cells and cars!

The work being done is at MIT by Professor Daniel Nocera and his team, and now the news comes that the team have discovered another new electrode material (perhaps even more than one), which again is based on inexpensive and widely available elements.

In 2008, Professor Nocera and his team reported the discovery of a durable and low-cost material for the oxygen-producing electrode which was based on the element cobalt. The team now report the discovery of yet another material that can even more efficiently function as the oxygen-producing electrode. This time the material is based on nickel borate, an even more abundant and inexpensive material than the earlier compound.

The ongoing MIT research indicates that the first experimental electrode was not a simple freak and additionally it suggests that there may be a group of similar materials to be developed.

Hundredfold Gas Production Increase!

The rate of gas production from these new catalysts has been increased a hundredfold from the level reported two years ago!!!!!

The earlier work was focused on the oxygen-producing electrode; the hydrogen-producing electrode at the time was based on an expensive platinum catalyst. The team have now overcome this limitation and expense and have totally eliminated the need for platinum. This part of the team’s research however has not as yet been formally reported.

Long term, Professor Nocera envisages domestic systems in which rooftop solar panels, and perhaps other generating devices, would provide electricity to a home. Electricity, which is not used at the time of generation, would go to his “electrolyzer” - which would split water into its elements of oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen would be stored in tanks until needed. When more power was required, the hydrogen would be fed to a fuel cell where it would generate electricity.

The research teams work has already been taken a step further by the creation of a company, called Sun Catalytix which aims to commercially develop the system in the next two years.

The research program was recently awarded a major grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Advanced Research Energy Projects Agency”.


Energy Storage, the Sustainability Problem


Energy Storage Research

Over the next few day I will be posting two separate stories about very different types of energy storage.

One is a follow-on of a story I covered, almost two years ago, regarding research done by Prof. Nocera and his team at MIT.

The second story is one concerning an Irishman's unique take take on energy storage, and the ongoing development of the idea.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Weeding at Your Country Your Call


The Irish Presidential initiative called “Your Country Your Call” produced a whopping total of 10,114 entries to the “competition” designed to elicit ideas that could stimulate the country and create jobs.

A quick scroll through the proposals immediately shows that only a small percentage have any real substance. As one commentator put it, “many entries look like they were written on the back of a beer mat”, to which I would add, very late in the evening and after a skin full of beer.

My rough estimate is that perhaps 5% of the proposals offer ideas of any depth. At 5% useful ideas it would still leave about 500 suggestions with some reasonable degree of practicality.

The judges will have a tough job sorting through the list. As far as I can gather there are six judges on the panel along with a chairman, each one will have to scan and evaluate 1,444 entries apiece.

Putting it another way, if you take the 10,114 entries and spend just 30 seconds considering each one on a first scan, it will amount to 84 man-hours.

Now I guess that the beer mat inscribed rubbish will be fairly quickly eliminated from the pile leaving maybe 500 entries to be more seriously considered. Lets assume there are moderate sized attachment with each of these entries, and lets say each takes an average of 20 minutes to digest the attachment, that’s 166 man hours for that stage.

We now have a total of some 250 man-hours. If we allow a generous 5 hours of this work per day, that would give us some 50 man-days in total. These guys are going to be busy unless they have some helpers to at least weed out the rubbish for them.

It will be interesting to see what comes of the "Competition".


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Nanotechnology Lead Acid Battery


Carbon Nanotube
Lead Acid Battery

A Canadian based company, Next Alternative Inc. are using Carbon Nanotube technology in the oldest type of rechargeable battery around. They are modifying lead acid battery technology to produce a battery that will recharge in less than 1 hour and hold 4 times the charge.

The figures are based on test results of prototype CNT lead lead/acid battery packs. Essentially, if it works like it says on the box, it will give an electric car some 300 miles between charges and can be recharged in less than 1 hour.

This battery will also have a much longer life than regular lead acid batteries; the company say it will last at least 4 times longer. If we take it a lead acid battery has an average life of 3 years or so, this new battery should last 12 years!! (If the hype can be believed)

Next Alternative Inc
Ottawa Ontario