Posts tagged Department of Energy

Synthetic fuel the answer to U.S. oil dependence



The U.S. can eliminate its dependency on crude oil if the country switched to production of synthetic fuel using a combination of non-food crops, natural gas and coal, according to researchers at Princeton University.

Researchers say building 130 synthetic oil plants in the U.S. would fulfil the country’s transportation needs and take the U.S. off its crude oil dependency. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

The U.S. can eliminate its dependency on crude oil if the country switched to production of synthetic fuel using a combination of non-food crops, natural gas and coal, according to researchers at Princeton University.

In a paper produced by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, researchers say their plan could also cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 50 per cent if non-food crops are used to produce that fuel.

The team examined the economic viability of building synthetic fuel plants and producing the fuel and compared that with importing crude oil that is costing between $60 to $100 US per barrel.

“The goal is to produce sufficient fuel and also to cut carbon dioxide emissions, or the equivalent, by 50 per cent,” said Christodoulas Floudas, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton. “Not only can it be done, [it can] be done in an economically attractive way.”


Rise of the Titan: ‘World’s fastest’ supercomputer goes live



Rise of the Titan: 'World’s fastest' supercomputer goes live

(Image from

After falling behind Asia and Europe in the great race, where success is measured in FLOPS (floating-point operations per second), the US has struck back at the new high-tech Olympians with Titan: quite possibly the fastest supercomputer in the world.

When Tennesseans hear the word Titan, their first thought is going to be gains on the gridiron, rather than leaps and bounds on the field of science.

All of that might now change, as a new supercomputing giant hailing from the Smokey Mountains was unveiled by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) on Monday.

More than 10 times faster and five times more energy efficient than its predecessor Jaguar, Titan is the brainchild of the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), nestled in the Tennessee highlands.

Titan’s theoretical peak is 20 petaflops – 20 quadrillion calculations per second – with 299,008 CPUs (central processing units) and 18,688 graphics processing units (GPUs) spinning at breakneck speeds to make to make scientific breakthroughs in record times.

Titan’s blistering computation speed will be the equivalent of “the world’s 7 billion people being able to carry out 3 million calculations per second,” ORNL says.

Titan’s precursor Jaguar – which was developed by the Seattle-based Cray Inc. – was the fastest supercomputer in the world in June 2010, though it was later outclassed by the Chinese Tianhe-1A several months later.

The fastest computer to date is currently the California-based IBM Sequoia, which whirred to the 16.32 petaflops mark in June.
Titan also boosts more than 700 terabytes of memory, and will be manage higher energy efficiency than Jaguar by innovatively combining CPUs and the more recent GPUs to synergistic effect.

Power limits have long served to trammel those looking to break world records in the great computational race. Jaguar’s 2.3 petaflops needed 7 megawatts of energy – enough to power a small town.

At $7 million dollars a year, Jaguar’s electric bill was nothing to scoff at. Titan – essentially an upgraded version of Jaguar housed in the same 200 cabinets arranged very much like a locker room – will hit nearly 10 times the speed while consuming roughly nine megawatts. That makes Titan approximately five times more energy efficient than its previous incarnation.

The race to outclass the Chinese and other international competitors has driven Titan’s development forward, though as an open-science system, its benefits will be global.

“American competitiveness is very important from a global security and national security perspective,” Jeffrey Nichols, associate laboratory director for the computing and computational sciences directorate at ORNL, told PCWorld in an interview.

“It’s absolutely important that we are competitive in this high-tech field so the science solutions we are solving are competitive and put us on the leading edge of where we need to be in solving these problems,” he continued.

With Titan poised to help the US conduct research in areas like biosciences, climate change, nuclear energy and space, Nichols believes Oak Ridge has “developers that can use these machines at scale,” while China’s economic development model precludes it from reaching its research potential.

But researchers, academics, government labs and a large swath of industries seeking to expedite the scientific method via Titan’s ability to use a powerful computational model of varied natural systems are welcome to give it a spin.


Ron Paul distills economic message into new Legalize Freedom slogan



Ron Paul Credits: Courtesy of

Almost every successful political campaign needs a slogan than voters can latch onto, and encompass all the traits and platforms a candidate wants to invoke.  On Saturday, November 5th, Presidential candidate Ron Paul ushered in his slogan of ‘Legalize Freedom’ during his stop in the state of Minnesota that ties together is political, diplomatic, and economic messages.

“It’s the Federal Reserve that by interfering in the monetary system, monkeying around with interest rates, they create the bubbles,” Paul said. “For a while they can create one bubble and patch it up again, but eventually the big bubble bursts.”

He also condemned government bailouts of big banks and companies.

“They said if we don’t bail out the system there would be a depression,” Paul said. “Guess where the depression would have been? It would have been on those who were receiving our money. Instead the depression was dealt to the people, the middle class, they lost their jobs and they lost their houses and we the taxpayer absorbed the debt.”

Paul also voiced support for abolishing the Department of Education and the federal income tax, condemned the drug war as a tragedy and worried about creation of a worldwide monetary currency.

“You cannot stop an idea whose time has come and the idea of liberty’s time has returned,” Paul said of his supporters. “We don’t have to understand each little issue,  all we have to do is legalize freedom.” – The Minnesota Independent

In these two words, Ron Paul distilled his entire campaign into a single phrase.  America was created and based on freedoms, both individually, and economically, and it was also how the founding fathers desired local and foreign policy to be administered.  In his farewell speech, President George Washington warned the US against falling into ‘entangling alliances’, and advocated that trade would help create lasting allies more than war or unnecessary involvements.

Since the end of World War II, the United States has been the primary economic superpower, and over time, we have used the military to solidify that position more than stable economics.  It has led many nations to see us as an enemy rather than an ally, and helped create the terrorism which has plagued the West since the late 1960′s.

Freedom and liberty have always been the foundations for the Ron Paul grass roots revolution that began a little more than four years ago, but now that platform has a slogan.  The concept of legalizing freedom, at a time where the government has been removing freedoms and liberties from the American people, both economically, and individually through the FDA, EPA, and Homeland Security agencies, is a powerful message that does not require voters to be overwhelmed by details, but instead is the voice behind every policy Ron Paul seeks to implement in the White House.

[CIM Comment: Typos corrected, someone tell the Examiner to examine articles prior to release or use F7 by default.]

Officials Knew The Solyndra Deal Was Possibly Illegal



Officials at the Department of Energy were warned that they could be violating the law if they restructured a loan guarantee for the solar panel maker Solyndra so that investors would be repaid before taxpayers. They went ahead anyway, The Washington Post reports, after getting a look at the email correspondence that preceded the Solyndra deal’s approval.

The documents offer new evidence of wide disagreement between officials at the Energy Department and officials at the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget, where questions were raised about the carefulness of the loan vetting process used to select Solyndra and the special help it was given as its finances deteriorated. Energy Department officials continued to make loan payments to the company even after it had defaulted on the terms of its loan.

That revelation follows on the news that a former Obama fundraiser and Energy Department official, Steve Spinner, pushed for the Solyndra loan even though his wife’s law firm worked for the company and he had said he would recuse himself. The Post points to a disagreement among agencies, one that was seemingly won by the Energy Department, about whether the structure of the loan was justifiable.

The e-mails show that Mary Miller, an assistant Treasury secretary, wrote to Jeffrey D. Zients, deputy OMB director, expressing concern. She said that the deal could violate federal law because it put investors’ interests ahead of taxpayers’ and that she had advised that it should be reviewed by the Justice Department.

“To our knowledge that never happened,” Miller wrote in a Aug. 17, 2011, memo to the OMB.

In February, the restructuring was approved by Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Email traffic reflected growing political concern as the company began to founder, TIME reports:

As recently as August of this year, as Solyndra teetered on default, the import of the company’s failure was not lost on White House officials. On August 26, Heather Zichal, a deputy assistant to the President on energy policy, e-mailed a colleague at the Office of Management and Budget, asking if he would be on an upcoming conference call about Solyndra.

“Y. What’s the deal?” the colleague wrote back.

“*#~@storm,” replied Zichal.

Crony Capitalism: $737 Million Green Jobs Loan Given to Nancy Pelosi’s Brother-In-Law



Despite the growing Solyndra scandal, yesterday the Department of Energy approved $1 billion in new loans to green energy companies — including a $737 million loan guarantee to a company known as SolarReserve:

SolarReserve LLC, a closely held renewable energy developer, received a $737 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee to build a solar-thermal project in Nevada.

The 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes project, near Tonopah, Nevada, will use the sun’s heat to create steam that drives a turbine, the agency said today in a e-mailed statement. SolarReserve is based in Santa Monica, California.

On SolarReserve’s website is a list of “investment partners,” including the “PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC.” As blogger American Glob quickly discovered, PCG’s number two is none other than “Ronald Pelosi, a San Francisco political insider and financial industry polymath who happens to be the brother-in-law of Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives.”

But wait… there’s more! One of SolarReserve’s other investment partners is Argonaut Private Equity:

Steve Mitchell and Argonaut Private Equity might have a chance to recoup some of their losses in the Solyndra debacle now that the Department of Energy has given a $737 million dollar loan guarantee to a company backed by Argonaut that also lists Mitchell among its board of directors.

Mitchell served on the Solyndra LLC Board of Directors. He also serves as Managing Director for Argonaut Private Equity, a company that invested in Solyndra through the LLCs parent company. After Solyndra declared bankruptcy, two Democratic members of the U.S. House asked that Mitchell testify about Solyndra. Though he has not appeared before Congress, he has “been asked to provide documents to Congress” pertaining to Solyndra.

And for good measure, it’s also noteworthy that Obama is about to hold a big money fundraiser at the home of Tom Carnahan in St. Louis:

Carnahan, a member of the prominent Missouri Democratic family, has been tapped by the Obama campaign as its chief Missouri fundraiser. He is chairman of the board of Wind Capital Group, a wind energy company that makes it corporate headquarters in St. Louis. He formerly was president and CEO of the company.

Last year, Wind Capital’s Lost Creek Farm facility in northwest Missouri received a $107 million tax credit from the Treasury Department, among many such wind operations receiving support from from stimulus funds.

Tom Carnahan is the son of former Missouri governor Mel Carnahan and former U.S. senator Jean Carnahan. He’s also the brother of current Missouri secretary of state, Robin Carnahan.

It’s increasingly hard to tell the government’s green jobs subsidies apart from the Democrats’ friends and family rewards program.

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