Friday, 31 August 2012

Geothermal Power Is HOT!

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.

If you drill a deep well in several areas of Australia, and then pour water down it, the water turns to steam, and returns in a jet fierce enough to drive a turbine to generate electrical power. It’s an exciting concept called geothermal power.

It’s in its infancy in Australia, but several companies are actively developing it. There are known and potential locations near the centre of the country that have been shown to contain hot granites at depth which hold good potential for development. Exploratory geothermal wells have been drilled to test for the presence of high temperature geothermal reservoir rocks and such hot granites were detected. As a result, projects will eventuate in the coming years and more exploration is expected to find new locations. 

For the British company specialising in the development of geothermal resources, see Geothermal Engineering Ltd.

At the core of the Earth, thermal energy is created by radioactive decay and temperatures may reach over 5000 degrees Celsius (9,000 degrees Fahrenheit). Heat conducts from the core to surrounding cooler rock. The high temperature and pressure cause some rock to melt, creating magma convection upward since it is lighter than the solid rock. The magma heats rock and water in the crust, sometimes up to 370 degrees Celsius (700 degrees Fahrenheit).

Exploratory geothermal wells have been drilled to test for the presence of high temperature geothermal reservoir rocks and such hot granites were detected.

As a result, projects will eventuate in the coming years and more exploration is expected to find new locations. From hot springs, geothermal energy has been used for bathing since Paleolithic times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but it is now better known for electricity generation.

Worldwide, about 10,715 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 24 countries. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.

Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation.

Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels.

As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigate global warming if widely deployed in place of fossil fuels. The Earth's geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supply humanity's energy needs, but only a very small fraction may be profitably exploited.

Drilling and exploration for deep resources is very expensive. Forecasts for the future of geothermal power depend on assumptions about technology, energy prices, subsidies, and interest rates. Polls show that customers would be willing to pay a little more for a renewable energy source like geothermal. 

But as a result of government assisted research and industry experience, the cost of generating geothermal power has decreased by 25% over the past two decades.

In 2001, geothermal energy cost between two and ten cents per kilowatt. The 30 MW Paralana project is located adjacent to the Beverley Uranium Mine. It is an enhanced geothermal system (EGS) project, based on Petratherm’s "heat exchanger within insulator" model. 

The 25 MW Cooper Basin demonstration project will demonstrate the potential of hot-rock geothermal energy for zero-emission, base-load power. 

The project is owned by Geodynamics and will be the world’s first multi-well hot fractured rock power project. Geodynamics has assessed its resource as holding geothermal energy sufficient to support several thousand megawatts of electricity generating capacity. The Jurien-Woodada project, owned by New World Energy Limited, is the most advanced geothermal play in Western Australia for electricity production.

The project is adjacent to transmission infrastructure and large resource-driven energy markets in the mid-west region. The project area has the potential to contain both hot sedimentary aquifer and EGS styles and is being assessed for delivery of electricity into Western Australia's South West Interconnected System. [ The Penola Project is part of Panax’s Limestone Coast Project and is the largest of only three known Measured Geothermal Resources in Australia. An independent assessment has estimated the geothermal resource potential at 11,000 petajoules.

The Penola Project has an extensive database with 28 petroleum wells. The deepest petroleum exploration well is approximately 4,000 metres and intersects more than 1,000 metres of the target reservoir, the Pretty Hill Sandstone.

Panax’s Salamander-1 well, drilled in 2010 is the first deep geothermal well drilled in the Otway Basin. It was completed in record time and is the first to demonstrate conventional geothermal technology in Australia. First steam was produced and the well-testing program was also completed on the project in 2010. The Salamander-1 well met its primary objectives.

At 4,000 metres projected geothermal temperatures were exceeded by more than 10oC and target reservoir rocks met the requirements for the development of a geothermal demonstration plant. An in-house pre-feasibility study found the project has the potential to generate power at $83 per megawatt hour, which is cheaper than wind power.

Complication with the well were found during well-testing. Reservoir engineers have been engaged to examine the well and carry out remediation works. Panax is pioneering conventional geothermal technology in Australia with its Salamander-1 well and is securing funding from the Australian Federal Government to progress the

Penola Project. Video:

Million Kiwis in Earthquake Drill

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney Australia.
At 9.26am on Wednesday, September 26, a million New Zealanders will take part in a unique earthquake drill, Mark Benthien, organiser of The Great ShakeOut predicts.

He says it will be “the first ShakeOut drill held nationwide in any country.” A month later, similar exercises will take place in the US, Canada and southern Italy.

“Official rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of earthquakes and other disasters around the world continue to advocate use of the internationally recognised ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ protocol to protect lives during earthquakes” says the ShakeOut website.

  • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

“If there isn’t a table or desk near you, drop to the ground in an inside corner of the building and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table.”

A story by Ambrosia Viramontes-Brody on a University of Southern California website says: “The 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake that shook Southern California in 1994 did more than rattle Mark Benthien out of his bed at UCLA. It reaffirmed his commitment to earthquake preparedness.

“After that quake, which killed 57 people and injured 8,700 others, the applied geophysics major was responsible for placing seismometers in people’s backyards to record aftershocks.

“Talking to residents about their earthquake fears, Benthien decided to dedicate his career to helping save lives by increasing the public’s understanding of earthquake risk. Two years later he was hired to support education and outreach activities at the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) headquartered in USC Dornsife.

“‘When I was in high school I thought I needed to be a seismologist and predict earthquakes in order to help Californians be safe’, said Benthien, now SCEC’s director for communication, education and outreach, and executive director of the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA) also based in USC Dornsife. ‘But in my work at UCLA I saw that there was a place for me in helping to communicate crucial information.’ Much of this work was on joint projects coordinated by SCEC, of which UCLA is a core institution.

“Benthien’s work preparing California communities and beyond for earthquakes — including promoting the “Drop, Cover and Hold On!” self-protection procedure as part of the Great California ShakeOut annual earthquake drill— has been recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the President Barack Obama administration.

“Benthien was among 17 leaders honored as a Champion of Change at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19. All were honored for their efforts to increase public awareness in disaster preparedness.

“Being selected as a White House Champion of Change is a recognition of the success of many people brought together by SCEC over the past 10 years to deepen our partnership, create products and programs and motivate preparedness,” Benthien said. “I'm honored to lead the ECA and work with so many excellent people and partners.”

“The White House Champion of Change program recognizes citizens of all ages and walks of life for their exemplary work improving their communities. In Washington, D.C., Benthien joined fellow honorees in a discussion about how to best engage communities in emergency preparedness.

“’This past year we’ve been reminded that disasters can strike at any time and that preparedness is critical,’ said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, referring to the May 2011 tornadoes that ripped through Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma and Hurricane Irene that devastated the Caribbean and parts of Canada and the United States including North Carolina in August 2011.

“’We commend the innovative practices and achievements that these individuals bring to the field of emergency management in order to make our communities safer, stronger and better prepared,’ Napolitano said.

“Benthien joined SCEC in 1996 and developed ECA in 2003. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey, SCEC is a center that partners with more than 600 scientists and more than 60 institutions worldwide to research and develop earthquake forecasts.”


The Great ShakeOut:

Mark Benthien:

Monday, 6 August 2012

Printer's Devil: Those Dreaded Tyops

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.


By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia
Old-time printers used to recite or sing this heartfelt rhyme:
The typographical error is a slippery thing and sly
You can hunt til you are dizzy, but it somehow will get by.
Til the forms are off the presses, it is strange how still it keeps.
It shrinks down in a corner and it never stirs or peeps.
That typographical error, too small for human eyes.
Til the ink is on the paper, when it grows to mountain size.
The boss, he stares with horror, then he grabs his hair and groans.
The copyreader drops his head upon his hands and moans.
The remainder of the issue may be clean as clean can be,
But the typographical error is the only thing you see.
That was back in the days when a printer had to set every word by hand, carefully picking out each metal letter one at a time from a box of two cases (hence the terms upper and lower case). "There was a convenient belief among printers that there was a special devil in every print-shop," says Chas. Jones, of Britain's
"At night, or when the printer was not watching, this pesky demon would iuvert letters, mizspell a word or perhaps remove an entire or even a complete line... Mistakes were inevitable, and the printer's devil took the blame."
Chas. kindly gave us permission to copy the image of the Printer's Devil displayed at the top of this page. "It's perched outside a shop in Stonegate, Yorkshire, England" he said. "I think I censored the original! It marks the place where Tristram Shandy was first published."
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman was a novel written by Laurence Sterne in 1759. Wikipedia says "its bawdy humour was popular with London society, and it has come to be seen as one of the greatest comic novels in English, as well as a forerunner for many modern narrative devices."
Probably the first and one of the worst typographical errors occurred in 1631, when printers of what is now known as the "wicked" bible were fined 300 pounds sterling. In printing the Ten Commandments, they had omitted the vital word “not” so that the verse read “Thou shalt commit adultery." A thousand copies were ordered to be destroyed, but a few survived. Today they're worth thousands of dollars to collectors.
Thanks to the computer, typographical errors (now called typos) are much more frequent these days. It's rare to find a web page without them. Most blogs are full of them, because of bad spelling, ignorance, or carelessness. But it's easier to blame Typo, the printer's devil, gremlins, leprechauns, or even those pesky Norwegian trolls.
In the old days, a printer's devil was the name given to the newest apprentice in a print shop, the unfortunate lad who had do all the odd jobs, ending the day with ink all over his hands, face and clothes. No wonder he would have scattered a lot of those typos in revenge!
This story was first published by OhmyNewsInternational (before the printer's devil changed the headline), and by the UK daily literary e-zine Open Writing.


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