Breaking wind news. Do not worry about methane.

Break wind is the habit of cows,

far more than clean air act allows.

Let’s collect all their gas,

give the cows some pizzazz;

the food a methanotrop chows.

 

Gretacowbreak

 

Fear not, dear Greta: This is the solution.

On second thought it isn’t. Methane, even if it is a much stronger greenhouse gas than even CO2 when analyzed by itself , is an irrelevant gas.

Water vapor has already absorbed the very same infrared radiation that Methane might have absorbed. (You cannot absorb more than 100% of the radiation emitted in any given band)

Guest essay by Dr. Tom Sheahen

Q: I read that methane is an even worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and cattle are a big source of methane emissions. How are they going to regulate that? Not just cattle, but dairy cows as well! That doubles the worry.

Fortunately, there is really nothing to worry about, scientifically. The main thing to worry about is over-reacting politicians and another layer of unnecessary government regulations.  

To understand methane’s role in the atmosphere, first it’s necessary to understand what absorption means. When light passes through a gas (sunlight through air, for example), some molecules in the gas might absorb a photon of light and jump up to an excited state. Every molecule is capable of absorbing some particular wavelengths of light, and no molecule absorbs all the light that comes along. This holds true across the entire electromagnetic spectrum – microwave, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet.

The process of absorption has been studied in great detail. In a laboratory set-up, a long tube is filled with a particular gas, and then a standard light is set up at one end; at the other end of the tube is a spectrometer, which measures how much light of each wavelength makes it through the tube without being absorbed. (Mirrors are placed so as to bounce the light back and forth several times, making the effective travel path much longer; this improves the precision of the data.) From such measurements, the probability of radiation being captured by a molecule is determined as a function of wavelength; the numerical expression of that is termed the absorption cross-section.

If you carried out such an experiment using ordinary air, you’d wind up with a mixture of results, since air is a mixture of various gases. It’s better to measure one pure gas at a time. After two centuries of careful laboratory measurements, we know which molecules can absorb which wavelengths of light, and how likely they are to do so.

All that data is contained in charts and tables of cross-sections. Formerly that meant a trip to the library, but nowadays it’s routinely downloaded from the internet. Once all the cross-sections are known, they can be put into a computer program and the total absorption by any gas mixture (real or imaginary) can be calculated.

The many different molecules absorb in different wavelength regions, known as bands. The principal components of air, nitrogen and oxygen, absorb mainly ultraviolet light. Nothing absorbs in the visible wavelength range, but there are several gases that have absorption bands in the infrared region. These are collectively known as the GreenHouse Gases (GHG), because absorbing infrared energy warms up the air – given the name greenhouse effect.

The adjacent figure shows how six different gases absorb radiation across the infrared range of wavelengths, from 1 to 16 microns (mm). The vertical scale is upside-down: 100% absorption is low, and 0% absorption (i.e., transparency) is high.

methane_absorption_spectra

It’s important to realize that these are shown on a “per molecule” basis. Because water vapor (bottom bar of the figure) is much more plentiful in the atmosphere than any of the others, H­2O absorbs vastly more energy and is by far the most important greenhouse gas. On any given day, H2O is a percent or two of the atmosphere; we call that humidity.

The second most important greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which (on a per-molecule basis) is six times as effective an absorber as H2O. However, CO2 is only about 0.04% of the atmosphere (400 parts per million), so it’s much less important than water vapor.

Now it’s necessary to scrutinize the figure very carefully. Looking across the wavelength scale at the bottom, H2O absorbs strongly in the 3-micron region, and again between 5 and 7 microns; then it absorbs to some degree beyond about 12 microns. CO2 has absorption bands centered around 2.5 microns, 4.3 microns, and has a broad band out beyond 13 microns. Consequently, CO2 adds a small contribution to the greenhouse effect. Notice that sometimes CO2 bands overlap with H2O bands, and with vastly more H2O present, CO2 doesn’t matter in those bands.

Looking at the second graph in the figure, methane (CH4) has narrow absorption bands at 3.3 microns and 7.5 microns (the red lines). CH4 is 20 times more effective an absorber than CO2in those bands. However, CH4 is only 0.00017% (1.7 parts per million) of the atmosphere. Moreover, both of its bands occur at wavelengths where H2O is already absorbing substantially. Hence, any radiation that CH4 might absorb has already been absorbed by H2O. The ratio of the percentages of water to methane is such that the effects of CH4 are completely masked by H2O. The amount of CH4 must increase 100-fold to make it comparable to H2O.

Because of that, methane is irrelevant as a greenhouse gas. The high per-molecule absorption cross section of CH4 makes no difference at all in our real atmosphere.

Unfortunately, this numerical reality is overlooked by most people. There is a lot of misinformation floating around, causing needless worry. The tiny increases in methane associated with cows may elicit a few giggles, but it absolutely cannot be the basis for sane regulations or national policy.

So, dear Greta, go back to school and learn some physics, some chemistry, and learn how nature really functions. Then you would not be as worried any more. There is a great temperature regulator, called water vapor. Yes, water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas, and without it the earth would be so cold that no life would be possible. Not only that, but water vapor is a condensing gas, and it forms clouds, which are the main regulator of temperature here on earth.

Have you ever noticed that it is cooler in the shadow?

And by the way, what are methanotrop bacteria?

Methane-utilizing bacteria (methanotrophs) are a diverse group of gram-negative bacteria that are related to other members of the Proteobacteria. These bacteria are classified into three groups based on the pathways used for assimilation of formaldehyde, the major source of cell carbon, and other physiological and morphological features. The type I and type X methanotrophs are found within the gamma subdivision of the Proteobacteria and employ the ribulose monophosphate pathway for formaldehyde assimilation, whereas type II methanotrophs, which employ the serine pathway for formaldehyde assimilation, form a coherent cluster within the beta subdivision of the Proteobacteria. Methanotrophic bacteria are ubiquitous. The growth of type II bacteria appears to be favored in environments that contain relatively high levels of methane, low levels of dissolved oxygen, and limiting concentrations of combined nitrogen and/or copper. Type I methanotrophs appear to be dominant in environments in which methane is limiting and combined nitrogen and copper levels are relatively high. These bacteria serve as biofilters for the oxidation of methane produced in anaerobic environments, and when oxygen is present in soils, atmospheric methane is oxidized. Their activities in nature are greatly influenced by agricultural practices and other human activities. Recent evidence indicates that naturally occurring, uncultured methanotrophs represent new genera. Methanotrophs that are capable of oxidizing methane at atmospheric levels exhibit methane oxidation kinetics different from those of methanotrophs available in pure cultures. A limited number of methanotrophs have the genetic capacity to synthesize a soluble methane monooxygenase which catalyzes the rapid oxidation of environmental pollutants including trichloroethylene.

Sounds excitig, doesn’t it. Harvesting methane, put it into warm water (about 45C) and let the bacteria do their job, producing fish food. It may even be profitable.

 

All electric cars in our future? Is there enough mining capacity in the world?

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer is preparing to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on a plan that would fast-track the elimination of nearly every gas-powered vehicle in the country.

The Senate’s top Democrat wants to spend a massive amount of money enticing Americans to exchange their gas-guzzling vehicles for an electric car. Schumer’s proposal, which he announced in a New York Times Oct. 24 editorial , shows Democrats are lurching leftward on the issue.

Sounds good on paper. Sen. Schumer  promises advances in battery technology not invented, much less developed yet. There is not enough mining capacity to provide 65 million or more  electric cars with enough battery capacity to have an acceptable range, using existing technology.

There is another problem with today’s batteries. Cobalt is already in short supply for the manufacturing of electric car batteries currently in the production chain. Half of the world’s mining supply takes place in the Democratic republic of Congo, and

Image result for cobalt supply and demand"

they use a lot of child labor to mine it.

And China is, as always ready to exploit Africa. Never mind the consequences.

And one more thing. Electric cars are for the future. If CO2 is the great driver of environmental destruction, never mind that the increased CO2 is feeding 2 billion more people than before thanks to the greening effect of increased CO2, then we should develop the battery technology first, and when all Coal fired and natural gas fired electric plants are eliminated, then switch to electric cars.

How do you eliminate all Coal and natural gas electric plants? Look at the U.S usage: (Last  year 2016)

Image result for electric production"

We can see that renewable energy will not suffice. The only real answer is to go nuclear, bur we are already the world’s biggest importer of Uranium. (The Uranium One deal, when we sold 20% of our Uranium mining rights to Russia did not help). No, the only real answer is to rapidly develop molten salt Thorium nuclear energy production. There are many advantages to that. Here are 25:

Twenty-five reasons to rapidly develop Thorium based Nuclear Power generation.

We need badly to develop and build Thorium based molten salt fast breeder nuclear reactors to secure our energy needs in the future. Lest anyone should be threatened by the words fast breeder, it simply means it uses fast neutrons instead of thermal neutrons, and breeder means it produces more fissible material than it consumes, in the case of Thorium the ratio is about 1.05.

1. A million years supply at today’s consumption levels.

2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

3. One ten-thousandth of the TRansUranium waste compared to a U-235 based fast breeder reactor.

4. Thorium based nuclear power produces Pu-238, needed for space exploration.

5. Radioactive waste from an LFTR decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors.

6. Thorium based nuclear power is not suited for making nuclear bombs.

7. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

9. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel is already molten.

10. Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors have a very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control.

11. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions.

12. Virtually no spent fuel problem, very little on site storage or transport.

13. Thorium Nuclear Power generators  scale  beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

14. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas.

15. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will work both as Base Load and Load Following power plants.

16. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will lessen the need for an expanded national grid.

17. Russia has an active Thorium program.

18. China is having a massive Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program.

20. United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?

21. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen.

22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, disasters like Chernobyl are impossible.

23. With Molten Salt Reactors, a catastrophe like Fukushima cannot happen.

24. Produces electrical energy at about 4 cents per KWh.

25. Can deplete some of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

 

 

 

Penn State University Engineering Capstone Showcase, Fall 2019.

Thursday, two days before finals was the PSU Engineering Capstone showcase. Even though I have been a lecturer there for over seven years I didn’t realize it is the largest Capstone showcase of this type in the world.

The set-up began at 10:30 a. m. in the Bryce Jordan main Arena, with 84 senior Capstone projects displaying their results and 21 teams from the Cornerstone projects.

The success of the showcase is in part because of a large number of corporate sponsors, some who sponsor multiple projects. Some of these projects are at the very cutting edge of  science and provide a real challenge for the students.

Some of the projects are international in character. This poses special challenges, for example: Singapore time is exactly 12 hours apart from EST. This is also giving the students a taste of what multinational cooperation entails.

My role as an instructor is quite simple: To convert the engineering students from students to world class engineers in 16 short weeks. One does what one can. The engineering students are organized in teams of 4 or 5 persons. All of my teams this year consisted of engineers from at least 2 engineering majors, so the teams must get to know each other, work together as a functioning team, do the research, build a series of prototypes or a final product as a team, with deadlines to meet. This is quite different from cramming for an exam.

The projects are quite different: This fall I had the opportunity to coach 5 teams:

The first team was tasked to make a knee brace for people recovering from knee replacement surgery. The object was to measure progress in the recovery of the patient in a consistent measurable way. To do this the team affixed four sensors, one for temperature, one sensing pulse, and two gyroscopes, sensing angles and motions. They are connected to a small Arduino Nano computer, collecting all data and storing it on a small SD card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next team was tasked to make an autonomous, industrial size vacuum cleaner to suck up lime dust in a lime packing facility. It was supposed to have an 8 hour continuous operating time on batteries, and after an 8 hour shift empty itself and go into recharging mode. By the way, lime dust is nasty. This turned to be over ambitious to accomplish on a 1000 dollar budget, which is the limit for the students, so they were left to make a model that did not accomplish anywhere near what the original specification had defined. These are nevertheless great learning experiences for the teams, how to scope projects right, so they are possible to accomplish the deliverables on time and under budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third team got quite an ambitious task to fulfill.

The object was to automate a lime reactivity test procedure. They were given the exact specifications how it was to be done, fill a thermos with so much temperature controlled water, add a specified amount of lime, measure the temperature rise, document the results, empty the bucket, rinse and repeat. The team fulfilled all the requirements on time and only exceeded the allowable budget by less than 100 dollars, so there was no money left to transport the device to the showcase. Anyhow, this is how it looks:

This would have been a candidate for best project, but I could only nominate two, so I nominated the fourth and the fifth team instead.

The fourth team was charged with automate a leaf cutting procedure. There is a great need to discover diseases in orange groves as early as possible. The apparatus to do the forensic analysis of the leaf had already been developed and used successfully. Via a robotic arm they developed a claw to grab a leaf, cut it from the tree without damaging it and affix it onto the analysis window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They won third prize for best project!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving the best for last. Penn State University is a world leader in 3D printing  research and development, and the University of Texas Arlington is hosting the fourth annual 3D printed aircraft competition to leverage the design freedoms of 3D printing technologies to improve performance.  The team was tasked by Penn State CIMP-3D to design an aircraft to compete in this competition.  The aircraft will utilize a fixed wing  to stay airborne as long as possible.  The nature of 3D printing allowed the team to rapidly prototype and quickly iterate many different designs.  This will result in some less conventional designs that push the limitations of aircraft design and 3D printing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team addressed the challenges with gusto, they bought two 3-D printers to facilitate doing as much printing as possible. During the showcase they printed a part of a wing. The printing speed, since the material printed should be as thin as possible, was so slow that the wing part gained only on inch an hour. The team had been printing around the clock for the last few weeks to test a large range of feed stocks suitable for printing model aircraft parts. In the spring another team will continue the project and participate in the competition. May the best design win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gained quite a lot of interest, and the team had to do one presentation after another, explaining the intricate 3D modeling and how to design lightweight, yet structurally sound devices. A couple of high school teams were in awe, and no wonder, so were the judges, the team won first prize for best project of the showcase!

 

 

 

Six years of global warming tourism ships getting stuck in the ice. A Limerick.

The “climate catastrophe” ship

got stuck, t’was the end of the trip.

They got rescued by air

in a state of despair.

Then Svalbard’s new ice lost its grip.

(The Arctic expedition ship Malmö ofGöteborg getting unstuck by its own power four days after the ecotourists/”scientists” got “rescued” by helicopter airlift)

16 personer blev evakuerade med helikopter, sedan MS Malmö fastnat i isen sydväst om   Hinlopenstredet på Svalbard. Videobild.

It started innocently enough. A group of environmental researchers, led by a couple of film producers were going to retrace the Ahlmann expedition of 1931, where he examined the glaciers of Western and Northern Svalbard. The previous few years Svalbard had been ice free in September, so the conditions seemed ideal. Last winter nearly all winter storms went up the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico, dumping a lot of snow on Svalbard, avoiding Greenland. The loss of snow over Greenland is well publicized, but not the extra snow over Svalbard. This meant that the ice was still thick in the same waters where Ahlmann had no trouble navigating. Everybody “knows” that the ice is receding year by ear, and according to Al Gore, all Arctic ice has melted in September by the year 2015, and from then on it will be warmer still, so the sighting of new, healthy ice must be a mistake.

This is the sixth year a polar expedition with global warming “scientists” gets stuck in ice and has to be rescued.

Why is that?

They believe more in what their climate models have proven about global warming than what simple observations could have showed them. It is true that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and more CO2 make global temperatures rise unless something else changes as well. The thing that changes when temperatures rise is that the air can contain more water vapor before it condenses. Condensed water vapor in the atmosphere is called clouds, and clouds reflect back into the sky much of the incoming sunlight during the day which has a large cooling effect, and keeps the energy in during the night, which has a much smaller warming effect. The net result is that the clouds have a stabilizing effect on the earth’s climate, so much so that the tropics have found its temperature and there will be no further warming regardless of the level of CO2. Nearly all the warming will occur around the poles, and DanishMeteorologicalInstitute has the chart to prove it: These are polar temperatures above the 80th latitude

The winter temperatures have risen about 8 degrees, but there has been no corresponding rise in summer temperatures.

In the winter there are more clouds and it snows more, which keeps temperatures from falling, and in the summer there is all that extra ice to melt. This will be the new normal with the extra CO2. Some glaciers have started growing again.

 

What is hate speech?

What is hate speech?

Hillary Clinton put up this tweet on Saturday morning, just before the terrible shooting tragedy in El Paso that killed 22 people and wounded more than two dozen.

The El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius of Allen Tx, was a registered Democrat, held anti illegal immigrant views since before Donald Trump became President, pointed out that one of his biggest fears was what illegal immigration did to the environment and climate change. His manifesto, published two hours before the shooting mentioned the massacre in Christchurch, NZ, which also defines him as anti Muslim. The interpretation of his manifesto has been that he is a white supremacist, but other parts seem to indicate that he believes in sustainability and has to reduce the overall population of the world.

It looks as though Connor Betts, the Dayton shooter, who killed nine people Saturday night, one of them his own sister, was a registered Democrat, Satanist, vehement anti-Trumper, and supporter of one of the Democratic presidential candidates. I do not mention her name, she has no personal responsibility for the shooting.

Now back to Hillary’s tweet. It mentions climate emergency as if it were a fact and only by voting Democrat can this emergency be averted. This is delusional at best and a flat out lie at worst. Let us take a look at what is happening to Greenland this year.

It is true that we are having a heatwave over Greenland the last four days, and there has been some ice-melt. See chart from the Danish Meteorological Institute

in 2011-2012 there  was a much larger ice-melt. By contrast, the last 4 years the ice accumulation has been above normal and Greenland actually grew its glaciers. This year nearly all snow storms went between Greenland and Scandinavia so the snow did not accumulate as fast, which means it is old ice melting in the western parts of Greenland. This is perfectly normal and now the sun is so low on the horizon that melted water actually reflects the sun more than the ice, so the melting is about over for this year. Hillary is no climate scientist, and all this fear mongering does is trying to whip up a frenzy, so much so that us “climate deniers” (a term reserved for climate change realists) should be exterminated, or at least castrated. This too is hate speech.

The truth about rats and lemmings, Trump and Baltimore. A Limerick.

The truth about rats and lemmings.

The rats in the Baltimore port

are eating the “food” of all sort.

Where corruption abounds

it’s as bad as it sounds

for rats are Corruption’s cohort.

Everybody have heard about lemminghttps://lenbilen.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/lemming-info0.gifyears, when a large number of lemmings follow each other over a cliff, falls down into the sea below and drown. Political analogies abound, and so this has become common knowledge: That’s what lemmings do. But why? By the way, 2011 was a lemming year in Northern Sweden, it repeats itself every 20 years or so. Here is a video from BBC Nature.

To explain why, there is an even better example with rats. When food is plentiful they multiply fast and after about 4 years there are far too many rats for the food supply. No, they do not die of starvation, virtually all the rats get stressed out and die, all in short order, and the cycle starts anew. It used to be a fairly limited supply of food for the rats, people ate what the land produced, and the number of rats were kept below the stress level. Enter modern day landfills and cities with inadequate sanitation like Baltimore. There is an overabundance of food in a very limited area, so rats congregate there and multiply. Eventually they will hit the stress level die out and the cycle is renewed. Enter the division of rodent control. In their wisdom they put out rat poison to keep the population down. In so doing they manage to keep the rat population just below the stress level, thereby ensuring that every year is a year of plenty of rats rather than every fourth year.

The only solution to get rid of a rat infestation is to eliminate the food source!

To point that out is not racist.

Donald Trump pointed out the rat-infestation and was immediately labeled a racist. It is also not racist to point out that the three last mayors of Baltimore have resigned. None of them addressed the real problems of Baltimore, a once beautiful, vibrant City with a charming inner harbor.

Make Baltimore beautiful again!

 

 

50 year anniversary since the first moon landing. A Limerick.

https://lenbilen.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/wb.jpg

I remember it like yesterday. We sat up late in the evening of July 20 1969 and watched the first landing on the moon, in real-time and transmitted over all 3 networks. Later President Nixon commented: “This is the greatest week in the history of the world since Creation.” Be that as it may, it was watched by about 500 million people world-wide and the future looked bright. Look at us since then:

Fifty years since “a small step for man.”

It seemed we lost sight of the plan.

Now it’s back to the Moon

with the Gateway, and soon

for with Thorium power, we can.

The ambition is to build a space colony on the moon, have a space station, the “Gateway”, and from there launch unmanned and finally manned Mars missions. A very ambitious program. The only way it is possible by utilizing molten salt Thorium nuclear reactors on the moon to cope with the 14 day nights on the moon. This 10 min video tells it well.