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A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood? Add Water

submitted by Samuel Bendett

The New York Times - by Matthew L. Wald - September 27, 2011


Technology from Renmatix obtained this sugar solution from wood pulp by applying very hot water at high pressure. The New York Times Company

A Georgia company says it has overcome a major roadblock in turning agricultural waste into vehicle fuel and other useful chemicals by experimenting with a technology that treats the waste with compressed water heated to very high temperatures.

The company, Renmatix, plans to cut the ribbon on a research and development center on Tuesday in King of Prussia, Pa., near the heart of the nation’s chemical and refining industry, to complete development of the process. The goal is to accomplish something that has eluded a dozen companies in recent years despite big government inducements: to commercialize a technology for making use of cellulosic biomass, or wood chips, switchgrass and the nonedible parts of crops.

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The Power of the 21st Century Librarian

Michael D. McDonald, Dr.P.H.

It can be argued that libraries have their origins in the swarm behavior of individuals and groups acquiring and sharing cultural artifacts (e.g, pictographs, books) as the fundamental repositories of knowledge within a community and the broader society.  Librarians have played a key role in the founding and differentiation of  America at its origins.  Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, for example, played key roles in deepening and broadening the tradition of knowledge sharing within the early United States. 


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Jeremy Rifkin: The Third Industrial Revolution: Toward a New Economic Paradigm


Our industrial civilization is at a crossroads. Oil and the other fossil fuel energies that make up the industrial way of life are sunsetting, and the technologies made from and propelled by these energies are antiquated. The entire industrial infrastructure built off of fossil fuels is aging and in disrepair. The result is that unemployment is rising to dangerous levels all over the world. Governments, businesses and consumers are awash in debt and living standards are plummeting everywhere. A record one billion human beings--nearly one seventh of the human race--face hunger and starvation.

Microbes Generate Electricity While Cleaning Up Nuclear Waste

Michigan State University - September 6, 2011

Homeland Security Newswire - September 7, 2011


MSU microbiologist Gemma Reguera (right) and her team of researchers have unraveled the mystery of how microbes generate electricity while cleaning up nuclear waste. Photo by Michael Steger.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Researchers at Michigan State University have unraveled the mystery of how microbes generate electricity while cleaning up nuclear waste and other toxic metals.

Details of the process, which can be improved and patented, are published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The implications could eventually benefit sites forever changed by nuclear contamination, said Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist.

“Geobacter bacteria are tiny micro-organisms that can play a major role in cleaning up polluted sites around the world,” said Reguera, who is an MSU AgBioResearch scientist. “Uranium contamination can be produced at any step in the production of nuclear fuel, and this process safely prevents its mobility and the hazard for exposure.”

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NRC Task Force Review of Insights from Fukushima


United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - July 12, 2011

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released "Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century: The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident." The Near-Term Task Force was established in response to Commission direction to conduct a systematic and methodical review of NRC processes and regulations to determine whether the agency should make additional improvements to its regulatory system and to make recommendations to the Commission for its policy direction, in light of the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century: The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident (96 page .PDF report)

Solar Brings Clean Water to Madagascar

by Duncan Alfreds - - August 16, 2011


Tenesol Madagascar provides thermal and photovoltaic solutions.,226-.html

Cape Town - Rural communities in Madagascar are receiving access to safe drinking water and electricity with a solar power project.

"Solar energy is a life-giving technology that can improve the welfare and education of a country's population," said Benoit Rolland, managing director of Tenesol.

Typical of a poor country, the majority of Madagascar's population do not have access to clean drinking water and solar water pumps are an efficient way to ensure that communities get access to water.

Solar pumps have also been installed in Zambia where it has allowed farmers to irrigate land that would otherwise not be able to produce crops.


Local communities in Madagascar are trained to maintain the solar pumps to ensure that they work optimally.

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Japan Task Force Makes Its Report

by Mike Campbell - - July 13, 2011

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station - San Clemente, California - Image: © iofoto

On 11th March 2011, northeast Japan was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake and an ensuing tsunami. The Fukushima nuclear power plant was directly in the path of the tsunami and was also at the epicentre of some aftershocks. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission established a Japan Task Force which was charged with identifying lessons that the USA should learn from the Fukushima incident.

The task force was led by Charles Miller and it came up with a set of twelve recommendations aimed at improving safety at US nuclear power plants (NPP) and re-evaluating the level of public health protection required to meet needs in the 21st century.

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Germany, in Reversal, Will Close Nuclear Plants by 2022

The New York Times - May 30, 2011

BERLIN — The German government on Monday announced plans to shut all of the nation’s nuclear power plants within the next 11 years, a sharp reversal for Chancellor Angela Merkel after the Japanese disaster at Fukushima caused an electoral backlash by voters opposed to reliance on nuclear energy.

The plan calls for phasing out all of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors — eight of which are offline — and expanding the use of renewable resources. The decision was based on recommendations of an expert commission appointed after the Japanese disaster to study an industry that generates 23 percent of Germany’s electricity.

“It’s definite — the latest end for the last three nuclear plants is 2022,” said Norbert Röttgen, the environment minister.


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