Archive for the ‘Industry News’ Category


Taking a Cue from Nature: How the Newest Diesel Engines Emit Very Little Greenhouse Gas

Battelle / PNNLThe newest catalytic converters in diesel engines blast away a pollutant from combustion with the help of ammonia. Common in European cars, the engines exhaust harmless nitrogen and water. How they do this hasn’t been entirely clear until now. New research shows that the catalyst attacks its target pollutant in an unusual way,  by coming at the target from the side rather than head on like similar bacterial enzymes.

“What I find exciting is the correlation between this artificial catalysis and enzyme catalysis,” said Szanyi, lead chemist in the project at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.”Nature is telling us what to do. Nature’s been at it for many millions of years, and it does this beautifully.”

Read the original article from PNNL here.


Expansion of Google Campus Aims for LEED Gold/Platinum

Google_new_campus_renderingA major upgrade is underway for the Puget Sound’s tech economy. Nearly a decade after they first arrived in 2004, tech giant Google has officially launched its most dramatic expansion in the area to date. In a Thursday ceremony featuring high-profile speakers, including Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Google broke ground on an enormous, sleekly modern new facility in Kirkland. When completed in 2015, the 180,000 square foot building will double the company’s footprint in the area, as well as its staff.

According to Dave Tomson of Spokane-based SRM Development, which is overseeing the facility’s construction, this new Google building will honor a particular aspect of local culture: its environmentalist tradition.

The goal is to build this to the standards of LEED Gold,” Tomson said, referring to the rating system for how environmentally friendly a building is. “If we can, we’ll make it LEED Platinum. It’d be one of only a handful of buildings in the state to reach that. It’s important to Google that they’re perceived as leading the way to being carbon neutral.”

Read the original article here.


Innovative new way of allocating heat costs in multifamily housing from Itron

Itron has announced the availability of its new heat cost allocation solution. EquaScan enables an easier, more accurate and secure way to measure, manage and allocate heat energy costs to consumers in multi-housing dwellings. In many markets, thermal energy is the primary source of heat in multifamily housing. In these instances, in order to bill consumers fairly, a sub-metering or allocation solution is critical.

The EquaScan solution enables customers to bill apartment building residents based on their actual consumption, enabling more accurate and fair billing. The visibility of the individual energy usage also empowers end-users to foster more conscious heating habits, saving money and conserving resources.

The “plug-and-play” solution, consisting of heat cost allocators, water meter communication modules, master radio units and application software, is quick and easy to install and cost-effective to maintain. Communication devices are compatible with existing Itron water meters, utilizing open standards.

Itron saw a need in the rapidly growing multi-housing market to more accurately measure and bill consumers for the heat they actually use,” said Harald Joellenbeck, vice president of sales, marketing and delivery for heat and allocation solutions at Itron. “EquaScan provides this emerging market an innovative and simple solution to more accurately and securely monitor and collect energy consumption data.”

Read the original article here.


Demand cools as fight rages over coal-export terminals

Back in 2011, when SSA Marine laid out plans for a major coal-export terminal in Northwest Washington, international markets were on a tear as the demand for coal pushed prices to record levels. But this summer, export prices have plunged by more than 40 percent, prompting some coal-export projects in Australia to be scaled back or scuttled. That’s raising new questions about the prospect for large-scale exports from the proposed SSA Marine terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County and a second terminal proposed for Longview in Southwest Washington.

A Goldman Sachs report called 2013 a “watershed year for global coal markets,” and predicted that export coal markets will continue to be characterized by ample supply and lackluster demand in the short to medium term — and that prices will eventually be capped at $85 a ton “for the foreseeable future.” Furthermore,  researchers from three organizations — Sightline Institute, Climate Solutions and Greenpeace — highlighted the downturn in coal markets during a news conference last week.

There is no question that the U.S. coal companies need Asian markets for Powder River coal. The key question is, do Asian markets need Powder River coal?” said Ross MacFarlane, a senior adviser at Climate Solutions. Clearly, these companies are relying on and hoping for rising prices in the international coal market.

Read the original article here.


Solar Heat Could Help Gas Power Plants Generate More Electricity, Run More Cleanly

Battelle / PNNL

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are testing a device that can harness solar heat to increase a natural-gas power plant’s efficiency 25 percent from the same amount of fuel.

The PNNL approach builds on what’s called solar thermal energy production. Instead of relying on photovoltaic cells to directly convert sunlight into energy, solar thermal plants use mirrored, parabolic troughs or dishes to concentrate sunlight and tap the resulting heat to drive steam turbines. The difference: the PNNL system takes advantage of the solar heat to drive a chemical reaction instead of using it to create steam.

Read the original article here


Nissan Pledges Self-Driving Car by 2020

Nissan Motor Co. plans to offer cars with self-driving technology by 2020, a senior company executive said on Tuesday.

“Nissan Motor Co. pledges that we will be ready to bring multiple affordable, energy efficient, fully autonomous-driving vehicles to the market by 2020,” Executive Vice President Andy Palmer said during a presentation in Southern California.

Nissan is one of several major auto makers working to develop cars that can drive themselves. Silicon Valley search giant Google Inc. also is working on autonomous driving technology.

autonomous leaf

The push to perfect cars that can drive themselves, all the time or part of the time, is aimed in part at reducing

the number of accidents caused by driver errors.

Nissan demonstrated on Tuesday how a prototype self-driving Leaf electric car could use a combination of laser guidance systems, radar sensors and cameras to navigate around a track with various obstacles.

The car could detect a red light and slow to a stop. When a dummy pedestrian jumped in front of the car, it automatically swerved to the left to avoid a collision. When a test driver engaged the turn signal, the car turned right to simulate exiting a freeway.

“Most of the technology solutions are in sight. The challenge is not…the technology,” Mr. Palmer said at the presentation Tuesday. “The big step is the regulatory framework.”

Read the original article here.


MicroGREEN Polymers Raises $10M From Increasingly Active Tribal Investors


The cup that holds your morning coffee is a seemingly simple item to be used and discarded. It probably hasn’t changed much over the years. No big deal, except that Americans go through 137 billion disposable beverage cups each, generating a tremendous amount of waste.

That looks like a huge opportunity toMicroGREEN Polymers, a company with a distinctly Pacific Northwest mix of technology, innovators, customers, and investors, now including two American Indian groups, which represent a new source of venture capital and private equity nationally.

The Arlington, WA-based manufacturer is raising $10 million from investors including the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. The financing is part of a $20 million round, which began early this year with a $5 million investment from the Stillaguamish Tribe, and is expected to close with another $5 million investment, also from American Indian tribes, says MicroGREEN president and CEO Tom Malone. The company plans to use the cash to expand its line of recycled and recyclable hot and cold beverage cups, and to increase production capacity.

The Stillaguamish and Grand Ronde are part of a growing number of American Indian tribes putting their newfound casino wealth to work in more sophisticated ways, including through direct investment in local companies focused on long-term sustainability, among other values that match their own.

Read the original article here.


State Receives a Menu of Climate Change Options

Five years ago, Washington’s Legislature set a goal to reduce carbon house emissions by 2020. Gov. Jay Inslee and a panel are looking for an extra pair of hands.

Washington now has a list of programs worldwide from which to steal, or borrow, as a legislative panel tackles climate change in this state. Read More…


Pterofin has an Innovative Approach to Pumping Water Based on Biomimicry

Pterofin, Inc

Here is the latest from their newsletter:

Holding true to our Social Venture Plan, Pterofin has continued to focus on pumping water in developing countries via natural wind or water currents and is being well received by service organizations around the world.

This has been a busy and exciting summer for us, as so much has happened since our last newsletter!

  • Pterofin is now working with K & L Gates on the expedited patent, a terrific team and partner for us
  • Our latest bamboo prototype for pumping water in developing countries is helping us answer key design points
  • Our latest aluminum prototype for pumping water in more developed countries is bringing us closer to a priced installation

Find the complete newsletter here.


Renewables Made Up Half of New 2012 US Electric Power

According to the CleanEdge 2013 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, renewable energy from wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and other sources, accounted for forty-nine percent of U.S. added electricity capacity during 2012. This was the largest percentage ever.

Wind capacity was forty-one percent of the growth.

Natural gas–not considered a renewable–accounted for thirty-three percent of added electric capacity.

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