Road to efficiency
The following article is about energy related research at Idaho National Labs done by one of my sons, Dan Ginosar, PhD.
Road to efficiency
Inventor favors small steps to energy independence
By SVEN BERG. From the Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho on Feb. 12, 2010: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is odd to hear a nationally recognized inventor say the world shouldn't immediately count on transformative technologies, some of which he helped invent, as a path to energy independence and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Yet Dan Ginosar, who has collected at least 18 patents in his career and won Idaho National Laboratory's Inventor of the Year award in 2008, is emphatic when he says there is no silver-bullet technology that will cure the United States' energy woes -- at least not right now.
Instead, he believes the country should focus on a range of cheap, partial solutions that cut its overall energy consumption. Those partial solutions are mostly ideas already in use but worthy of expansion, he said. Some have been tried at one time or another and abandoned.
Improving efficiency standards for new and existing homes.
Using more natural gas to produce heat and electricity.
Increasing the number of carpool lanes in large cities.
Using heat produced in power plants for commercial purposes and to heat homes instead of letting it go to waste.
Replacing 25 percent of the fuel in coal-fired power plants with wood.
Sexy? No. Doable? Ginosar thinks so. In fact, he estimates the U.S. can cut its energy consumption by more than 30 percent by instituting these policies, which he said would all but eliminate any need for foreign oil. He said his proposal would cut greenhouse-gas and other harmful emissions while saving consumers money.
"You start small. You start low-cost. You start low-risk," he said. "And then you build."
Throughout his career at INL, Ginosar has helped develop a variety of technologies, mostly in the energy field. Shortly after arriving at the lab, he collaborated with Bob Fox, 2009's Inventor of the Year, on a cheap, easy method of producing biodiesel from waste grease discarded by restaurants and sewer plants.
"When you get to 18 patents, you're nationally recognized," INL spokesman Keith Arterburn said.
Ginosar believes lofty ideas like electric cars and widespread conversion of hydrogen to energy are worthy pursuits. But they won't be ready for large-scale deployment for years, perhaps decades, he said. The U.S. needs to take strong steps right now toward energy independence and reduced emissions, Ginosar said.
Ginosar describes his proposals as an on-ramp to the country's road to energy independence and efficiency. In the slightly longer run, he calls for expanded use of nuclear energy, biofuels and a complete phasing out of coal as an energy source.
"The only good thing you can say about coal is it's cheap," Ginosar said. "But its effect on the environment is really unfathomable -- how horrible it is."
Burning natural gas, huge amounts of which have been discovered within the U.S., produces half the carbon emissions that come from coal, he said. Burning coal also releases other harmful emissions such as uranium and mercury.
What about clean coal?
"I have a hard time saying those words together," Ginosar said.
Ginosar worries that trapping carbon emissions underground -- a central component of the clean-coal concept -- could cause massive subsurface disruptions. Besides that, he said, building clean-coal plants could require up to four times the upfront capital as a natural-gas power plant.
(Emphasis by Dr. Matania Ginosar)
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