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Showing posts from December, 2008

Plasma-gasification

In our youth, we were taught cute rhymes about recycling and reducing to provide us with a hope for continuing awareness of the environment. But let’s be honest; it never stuck. Now the cute phrase that comes to my mind is, “plasma gasification, to remedy a wasteful nation.”

The idea behind plasma gasification comes from the law of conservation of matter, which states that matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Plasma gasification is a process that turns everyday waste into an energy resource. Maybe you’re thinking this is just a fancy word for biofuels, but there are two key differences between the two: the plasma process involves no incineration and emits no sulfur dioxide. In fact, there is no fire or smoke involved with plasma gasification. Instead, a device called the plasma torch shoots an electric current across an electrode assembly, ionizing an inert gas usually nitrogen or just air. This ionized gas becomes scorching hot – up to 27,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Then t…

Dating Local

Case’s B- green report card grade reflects that students recycle and enjoy the Farm-to-Fork grub at Leutner, but are our hearts really in the right place?

According to a statistic in Laura Stafford’s Maintaining Long-Distance and Cross-Residential Relationships, 25-50% of college students are in a long distance relationship at a given time and 75% of college students have been in at least one long-distance relationship. This is evidence supporting my theory that our hearts are not actually residing within the Case campus. As students share their love cross-country or even just cross-county, their emotions are not alone in taking that leap of faith; your carbon footprint is leaping across as well.

Let’s consider the impact of a Case student dating an alumn who moves to Arizona for grad school. The couple probably alternate in flying to see the other at least once a month. These monthly romantic trips will cost the environment approximately 30 extra metric tons of CO2 per year (h…

Wood-burning fire places

While attempting to be red-hot warm, during the white-blanketed winter, it’s not really topical to think green. But with the variety of different choices for heating this winter: gas, electric and wood-stove— be careful not to purchase too hastily. A wood-burning fire may seem greener and cheaper, but the environmental effects of a winter season full of wood-burning could result in more than expected.

This winter season, consumers are looking to save not only on their gas-guzzling, but on heating bills as well. Wood stove sales have increased by about 55% compared to last season’s sales. Consumers are looking for a way to stray away from costly oil and gas, and head towards a greener and cheaper alternative.

Ideally, wood seems like a smart alternative to oil and gas since it is a renewable resource (if you chop down a tree, you can just go ahead and plant a new one) and a local resource (transportation costs would include only the break of a sweat) but the particulate matter (tiny …

CWRU Sustainability

Most students are well aware of groups such as USG, UPB and all the Greek life shindigs, but we never hear news of a few other group that seem just as relevant and hip: the SCC, EAC and the “Adopt a Building” committee.

Not to be mistaken with SEC (Student Executive Council), SCC is the Student Sustainability Council. Members plan events, bring guest speakers to campus, learn about campus sustainability and network with sustainability professionals. Having this group available right on campus makes it easier to participate in green events and to learn about green lifestyle tips. Unfortunately, if you are like myself, you probably have never actually heard of this group. Simply searching the word, “sustainability” on the case.edu site will expose you to a variety of sustainability and energy groups. www.case.edu/news/sustain provides a description of these groups and applications to join them.

Another one of the groups listed on the site that I find fascinating is the Energy Adviso…

Subbing tofu into diet can lower carbon footprint

How is it that something that only consists of two ingredients - soybeans and bittern (magnesium chloride) - can lead to so many both tasty and useful products? Tofu, made from boiling and combining these two ingredients, is the main component of numerous tasty dishes due to its popularity and utility. Foodies indulge in delectable tofu dishes, while ideally, restaurateurs are able to use the excess tofu to pay their energy bills.

We have all encountered tofu in our meals, especially those of us who obsess over Asian cuisine. Tofu can be found in sweet-and-sour dishes as well as miso soup. But did we ever think that the excess parts of perfectly cut tofu cubes would end up as the fuel powering our computers and iPod chargers? Well, maybe tofu isn't fueling such trendy accessories, but in Indonesia and India villages power their stoves and lighting with excess tofu from nearby tofu factories. Visit http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=89753&videoChannel=74 for a video of ex…

Plug-in hybrids not safest choice for drivers

This just in: plug-in hybrids found responsible for recent West Coast wildfires. I'm just being playful; the West Coast may be especially environmentally conscious, but I cannot blame the droves of hybrids for what is really just the beginning of wildfire season. However, I can go ahead and raise an eyebrow at society for perpetuating the plug-in hybrid trend and purchasing these vehicles, which have been known to overheat and catch on fire.

By now, most trend-conscious readers are aware of hybrid cars. If you Google the word 'hybrid,' the first link that shows up is a site for General Motors - not a site for hybrid animals or plants. A hybrid vehicle utilizes an electric motor and an internal combustion engine for power. The plug-in hybrid has the same characteristics of a hybrid vehicle, but also allows you to recharge your car's battery by connecting a plug to an electric power source. Recently, some hybrid owners have been purchasing kits to convert their hybrids in…