Tag Archives: gas

Electric-car brakes last 3x longer than conventional – threatening auto mechanics

Not only do electric cars threaten all those gas stations on every corner, but also the auto-mechanics and car parts stores:

Mechanic worries that electric-car brakes will ruin his business

Joe Ferrer says that brakes are easily 35 to 40 percent of his total business. Replacing rotors, calipers, and pads keeps his shop humming.

But on hybrids, brake jobs aren’t needed every 15,000 miles as they are on conventional cars–more like 45,000 miles, he says.

 

Those regenerative braking systems reduce the impact when braking and extend the life of the brake pads.

Of course, this isn’t the only thing that will change, Jiffy Lube will also be hurt. Electric vehicles (EV’s) get rid of nearly all the liquid lube in cars, so that means no more oil changes.

What is going to happen to all that land currently used for gas stations, Jiffy Lubes, and mechanics shops?

 

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The United States continues to go green – CO2 emissions near 1990 levels

CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low

In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

Isn’t that great news?

I think we need some uplifting climate change news with all the “doom and gloom” stories out there. Let’s keep it going.

The United States has cut its CO2 output more than any other country in recent years, with our output dropping since 2007.  We are now close to 1990 levels and may be able to fit in with the Kyoto Protocols.

Of the fossil fuels, natural gas releases the least amount of air pollution and CO2. It is a homegrown source which improves our energy independence and stability, as well as keeping our money at home.

Coal has gone from producing half our energy to only one-third.

Good news!

 

** Fracking for natural gas – it is unknown how destructive this new, hugely popular process is. 

 

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Astronomers discover black hole with 140 trillion times more water than Earth

Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world’s ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.

“The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water,” said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times.”

A quasar is powered by an enormous black hole that steadily consumes a surrounding disk of gas and dust. As it eats, the quasar spews out huge amounts of energy. Both groups of astronomers studied a particular quasar called APM 08279+5255, which harbors a black hole 20 billion times more massive than the sun and produces as much energy as a thousand trillion suns.

Astronomers expected water vapor to be present even in the early, distant universe, but had not detected it this far away before. There’s water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 times less than in the quasar, because most of the Milky Way’s water is frozen in ice.

 

And, the instruments they used:

Bradford’s team made their observations starting in 2008, using an instrument called “Z-Spec” at the California Institute of Technology’s Submillimeter Observatory, a 33-foot (10-meter) telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Follow-up observations were made with the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA), an array of radio dishes in the Inyo Mountains of Southern California.

The second group, led by Dariusz Lis, senior research associate in physics at Caltech and deputy director of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, used the Plateau de Bure Interferometer in the French Alps to find water.

 

Source: NASA - Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

 

 

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Researchers discover our twin solar system, GJ676A – where everything is 4x larger

Astronomers have detected our “grotesque” twin: A planetary system arranged much like our own solar system, a new study says.

Dubbed GJ676A, the system has two rocky planets orbiting close to its host star, and two gas giants orbiting far away. This means the system is arranged like our system—though in GJ676A, everything is much larger.

For instance, the smallest rocky planet in GJ676A is at least four times the mass of Earth, while the largest gas giant is five times the size of Jupiter.

Other multiple-planet systems have been discovered, such as HD10180, which has been called the richest exoplanetary find ever because of the seven to nine planets orbiting its host star.

But HD10180′s planets are all gas giants in relatively close orbits, while GJ676A has both rocky and gas planets—and its “Neptune-like” planet takes 4,000 days to make one orbit.

The long orbits of GJ676A’s gas giants and the short orbits of its close-in, extremely hot super Earths are what led the astronomers to dub GJ676A our solar system’s twin.

 

Source: National Geographic News - Solar System’s “Grotesque” Twin Found

 

 

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Scientists watch a black hole devour a star

Back when single-celled organisms ruled Earth, a gigantic black hole lurking quietly at the center of a distant galaxy dismantled and devoured a star.

On Wednesday, astronomers reported that they watched the whole thing unfold over a period of 15 months starting in 2010, the first time such an event had been witnessed in great detail from start to finish.

“The star got so close that it was ripped apart by the gravitational force of the black hole,” said Johns Hopkins University astronomer Suvi Gezari, lead author of a paper about the observations that was published online by the journal Nature.

***

Veering close to the black hole — about the same distance as Mercury lies from the sun — the gaseous star was stretched out and torn asunder by the black hole’s intense gravity.

“It turned into this really thin piece of spaghetti,” Gezari said.

About 76 days after the star was ripped apart, the black hole began devouring its remains, taking at least a year to finish off the meal.

***

Astronomers call these star-obliterating events tidal disruptions. The process is similar to….keep readingGiant black hole is seen gobbling up a star

Gas prices have peaked – $3.70+ is the new normal

This year’s surge in gasoline prices appears over, falling short of the record highs some had feared heading into peak summer driving season.

Prices have held at a national average of $3.92 a gallon the past week, below 2011′s $3.99 high and July 2008′s record $4.11.

“By the behavior of the market, things are just running out of steam,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior analyst for price tracker gasbuddy.com. “Barring any major event — refinery problems, Iran — I think prices have peaked.”

DeHaan said the national average could dip to $3.70 a gallon by early May.

via USA Today

 

High in national average each year.

Photo – the most volcanic body in our solar system – Jupiter’s moon Io

How big is Jupiter’s moon Io?

The most volcanic body in the Solar System, Io (usually pronounced “EYE-oh”) is 3,600 kilometers in diameter, about the size of planet Earth’s Moon.

Gliding past Jupiter at the turn of the millennium, the Cassini spacecraft captured this awe inspiring view of active Io with the largest gas giant as a backdrop, offering a stunning demonstration of the ruling planet’s relative size.

Io hurtles around its orbit once every 42 hours at a distance of 420,000 kilometers or so from the center of Jupiter. That puts Io nearly 350,000 kilometers above Jupiter’s cloud tops, roughly equivalent to the distance between Earth and Moon.

The Cassini spacecraft itself was about 10 million kilometers from Jupiter when recording the image data.

via NASA

Debate over oil subsidies – Senators voting to protect them received on average 4x more contributions

The debate goes much deeper than who received money, but these numbers are still important:

In a 51-47 vote, 43 Senate Republicans and four Democrats filibustered to protect $24 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil. Although a majority voted for Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) bill, it fell short of the 60 needed. The only two Republicans to break rank were Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

A Think Progress Green analysis shows:

  • The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas. The 51 senators voting to repeal oil tax breaks have received $5,873,600.

Democrats who joined the Republicans in defeating the bill include Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Jim Webb (D-VA).

The oil industry also spent over $146,000,000 on lobbying last year.

55 percent of Americans want to see the subsidies stopped.

via Think Progress Green

 

Thx to Justin Bacon

Are you ready to rent out your car? – ‘Personal Car Sharing’ brings in $2-300/month

Have you ever thought about renting out your car, like an automobile version of Airbnb?

The trend is catching on as “personal car sharing” comes to Los Angeles in March 2012. It already exists in Boston and San Francisco as a distinct service compared to Zipcar, which rents out cars owned by Zipcar-itself.

RelayRides, based in Boston, is expanding a service that allows car owners to rent their vehicles to other licensed drivers by the hour or the day.

Personal car sharing was legalized in California last year, but RelayRides and the other two companies that offered the service in the state (Getaround and Spride) operated only in San Francisco.

“AB 1871 allows Californians to rent their cars by the hour to offset their costs of ownership, as well as cars’ impact on the environment. Previously, California law prevented personal cars from being rented for commercial use.

Under the new law, individuals who rent their personal cars need to carry auto-insurance levels at least three times greater than the state’s current minimums of $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person and $5,000 for damage to property.” via Greenspace

Car sharing would seem to work best where “it’s easy to live without a car,” Clark said, meaning a dense city with good public transportation. In areas such as L.A., where the opposite is true, Clark expects car sharing will be used as an alternative to buying a second or third car.

“A lot of families always need one car and sometimes need two,” Clark said. “Right now, their only option is to round up. The only way to access that car when they need it is to own one.”

The starting price for RelayRides rentals is $5 per hour and includes gas, 20 miles of driving and insurance. RelayRides keeps 35% of the rental cost. The remaining 65% goes to the car owner. Monthly payments, which average $250, are sent to owners.

via LA Times

 

From RelayRides:

Total convenience - No more walking a mile to some gas station to pick up a car: RelayRides cars live where you live! Whether it’s down the block, across the street, or in your neighbor’s driveway, RelayRides cars are always conveniently located.

 

You want lower gas prices – here is what it takes

The U.S. Navy is upgrading its defensive and offensive capabilities in the Persian Gulf to counter threats from Iran to seize the Strait of Hormuz and block the flow of oil, the chief of naval operations said Friday.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told reporters in Washington that the Navy will add four more mine-sweeping ships and four more CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters with mine-detection capability. The Navy is also sending more underwater unmanned mine-neutralization units to the region.

Greenert said he plans to assign more  patrol craft to the gulf, possibly armed with Mark 38 Gatling guns.

The narrow Strait of Hormuz is a key transit way for oil tankers. Any closure of the strait could send oil prices skyrocketing, officials say.

via World Now – LA Times

 

Makes riding a bike for those “70 percent of Americans’ car trips are less than two miles long,” seem like a better idea.