Going Green to Bring in the Green.

A Cambridge, Ontario metal fabrication company, VeriForm, has become an ecological leader in a field notorious for neglecting the effects of their business and product on the environment. A capital investment of $78000 has allowed VeriForm to implement many small changes (i.e. a centralized programmable thermostat, high-efficiency lighting systems, etc.) which saves the company $120000 annually!

The eco-changes shrank VeriForm’s greenhouse gas emissions to 126 tonnes in 2009, down from 234 tonnes in 2006. That figure is even more impressive given that in 2009 the company’s sales were 28 per cent higher and the plant’s physical size was 145 per cent larger than in 2006.

The inspiration for going green was altruistic. “We were just trying to reduce our carbon footprint,” Mr. Rak says. But the financial rewards quickly became evident “once we started doing spreadsheets and payback analysis,” the 46-year-old says.

This is great proof that, contrary to popular belief, going green doesn’t mean losing money – VeriForm has shown that making smart upgrades that benefit the planet can also benefit profits.

Read the rest of the article at The Globe and Mail.

These Batteries Rock

Wind and solar energy generation is criticized for not being always-on, so people have been looking to batteries to steady the flow of energy. Over at Cambridge, there are some people who think that a new type of battery made out of gravel could help with the full adoption of sustainable energy.

Isentopic claims its gravel-based battery would be able to store equivalent amounts of energy but use less space and be cheaper to set up. Its system consists of two silos filled with a pulverised rock such as gravel. Electricity would be used to heat and pressurise argon gas that is then fed into one of the silos. By the time the gas leaves the chamber, it has cooled to ambient temperature but the gravel itself is heated to 500C.

After leaving the silo, the argon is then fed into the second silo, where it expands back to normal atmospheric pressure. This process acts like a giant refrigerator, causing the gas (and rock) temperature inside the second chamber to drop to -160C. The electrical energy generated originally by the wind turbines originally is stored as a temperature difference between the two rock-filled silos. To release the energy, the cycle is reversed, and as the energy passes from cold to hot it powers a generator that makes electricity.

Isentropic claims a round-trip energy efficiency of up to 80% and, because gravel is cheap, the cost of a system per kilowatt-hour of storage would be between $10 and $55.

Keep reading at The Guardian.

Disney Influenced Environmentalists

According to a University of Cambridge professor Disney has helped create the wave of environmentalism that we are currently riding. I’m kinda skeptical about this, but it’s good news nonetheless.

Dr Whitley singled out Bambi, which was released in 1942, as particularly influential, saying that many green activists had credited it as the inspiration that first made them interested in environmental issues.

He said: “Disney films have often been criticised as inauthentic and pandering to popular taste rather than developing the animation medium in a more thought-provoking way.

“In fact, these films have taught us variously about having a fundamental respect for nature. Some of them, such as Bambi, inspired conservation awareness and laid the emotional groundwork for environmental activism.

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