January 2008

Vendors at Clemson event talk enviro-friendly solutions
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Hydrogen-electric concept unveiled
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Clemson researcher makes biofuel from rotten peaches
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January 25, 2008
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Vendors at Clemson event talk enviro-friendly solutions

— As part of the kick-off event for “Focus the Nation,” a national “teach-in” to focus attention on global warming issues, vendors at Clemson University’s Green Exposition spoke Friday with students and faculty members about proposed solutions to environmental problems.

The exposition took place on the top floor of the University Union and featured more than a dozen different local organizations such as Whole Foods and the South Carolina chapter of the Green Building Council as well as student organizations like Students for Environmental Awareness.

Greg Hilton, a spokesman with the Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative, showed off a Segway Personal Transporter powered by a hydrogen-powered fuel cell designed to extend the life of the scooter’s batteries.

Expositions like the one at Clemson were important, he said, to educate the next generation about ways to solve climate problems. “For this to work, people have to understand what social responsibility is, and how their decisions impact not only climate problems, but also geopolitical problems while creating huge job opportunities for South Carolina,” he said. “This is the future. These students will be making the buying decisions in the next 20 years. They need to understand the issues now.”

At the Roots and Shoots booth, students talked about the importance of caring for people, animals and the environment to implement change. Business was brisk with, students stopping by to pick up free apples and shirts.

At the booth, Cheryl DeSelliers with the Green Building Council said the turnout had been surprisingly good, and the information was having an effect.

“There is some resistance on campus about global warming, even a question as to whether or not it exists,” she said. “We hope that students will be able to gather information from this and learn about the issue.”

One student, Nicholas Hanks, of Honea Path, said he knew about the issue, but that he was learning more from the week’s events.

“I think I am fairly well educated on global warming and what we can do for it. I don’t like to buy anything I will just throw away later,” he said. “But I have learned some things that I didn’t know before. I watched the ‘11th Hour’ last night and learned a lot.”

Along with the exposition, CLEMSONLIVE sponsored a free showing of Leonardo DiCaprio’s film “The 11th Hour” about global warming and turning the tide on global warming. Clemson’s activities ended with a dinner catered by Whole Foods and a keynote speech from Focus the Nation founder and director Eban Goodstein at Tillman Hall.

Nationally, Focus the Nation will take place Jan. 31. For more information, log on to focusthenation.org.

January 9, 2008
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Hydrogen-electric concept unveiled

GM envisions Cadillac crossover that goes 300 miles on hydrogen fill-up

General Motors unveiled a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Cadillac crossover concept vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.GM envisions the five-passenger Provoq going 300 miles on a single fill-up of hydrogen, getting 280 miles from hydrogen power and 20 miles from batteries. It would go from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and have a top speed of 100 mph. The aerodynamic Provoq’s hydrogen fuel cell would charge lithium-ion batteries to power one electric motor for the front wheels and another for the rear. The vehicle could also be the basis of a replacement for the SRX, a larger crossover vehicle powered by V-8 and V-6 engines, Cadillac officials said.

The Provoq has a solar panel in its roof to power accessories such as the interior lights and audio system, the company said.

“All the people- and cargo-carrying capability customers expect in crossovers and SUVs is available in the Provoq, along with the premium attributes expected in a Cadillac,” said Ed Welburn, GM’s vice president of global design.

No date has been set to bring the Provoq to showrooms, nor has pricing been discussed, the company said.

January 7, 2008
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Clemson researcher makes biofuel from rotten peaches

CLEMSON — What’s brewing in Caye Drapcho’s bioreactor may well be a fuel of the future. Drapcho, a biosystems engineer at Clemson University, is investigating a bacterium that produces hydrogen. The microbe is called Thermotoga neapolitana. And it has a taste for peaches, especially rotten ones.

"Working with the South Carolina Peach Council, we have found that peaches not suited for consumer sale can be converted to a biofuel by these bacteria,” said Drapcho.

An extremophile, the microbe thrives in conditions that would kill most life forms. It flourishes at temperatures slightly less than the boiling point of water and in mineral-rich, deep-ocean heat-vents near volcanoes. In the laboratory scientists have discovered that T. neapolitana is very industrious.

“This microbe produces gas byproducts that can contain as much as 80 percent hydrogen, though typically it produces hydrogen in the 25 percent to 30 percent range, which is still impressive,” said Drapcho.

The South Carolina Peach Council is funding research by Drapcho and graduate assistant Abhiney Jain. There are more than 200 million pounds of peaches harvested annually in South Carolina – the nation’s No. 2 peach producer behind California – and approximately 20 million pounds of peach are discarded yearly, according to the Peach Council. Peach waste has substantial organic value with a high percentage of sugars that can be converted to hydrogen gas by bacteria.

The research can help provide the means to make the earth’s most abundant gas into an abundant fuel. Hydrogen has the potential to help replace oil, while nearly zeroing out carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells create electricity, leaving water as the only byproduct.

“We have a long way to go before today’s research becomes tomorrow’s fuels. But we are moving forward toward a sustainable future,” said Drapcho. Back to Top

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