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Author Topic: For MoMan: Renewable Energy
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 19, 2008 18:56      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I interviewed a guy today about a presentation on renewable energy that he'll be giving to one of our local Sertoma clubs.

He was saying that in a few years, when electricity is decentralized here in PA, the prices are going to skyrocket, but people can get off the grid - or even sell electricity back to the grid owners - by using wind and/or solar power. He told me of a company in NJ that's creating horizontal wind turbines (helix-shaped) that can go in any resident's backyard or on the roof.

The guy also told me of vehicles being built on the West Coast that have zero emissions. Apparently the EV-1 made by GM a few years ago worked so well, that oil companies made GM recall the cars, and they were destroyed. The patent for the battery mysteriously wound up in the miasma that is an oil company.

Apparently, Google is investing in solarthermal power that uses saltwater and the sun to create electricity. Wind surfers in Hawaii are trying to put a turbine 15,000 feet up in the atmosphere, tethered to the ground like weather balloons. Australia has built a prototype vertical wind tunnel in Spain. Air heats under angled glass and as it gets hotter, it rises and is drawn through turbines and up a stories-tall tower. The turbines run at 35 mph, and the tower destined for Oz will be at least three times that of NYC's Empire State Building. Another group is taking abandoned oil wells and continuing to drill deeper to access the heat within the earth.

A group that spun off MIT discovered that solar panels made with 6/9 parts silicon are as effective as those made with 9/9 parts silicon. They're going to move into iron brownfields near Bethlehem, PA, to manufacture the 6/9 panels at 1/3 the cost of the 9/9 panels.

Apparently, all of this technology has existed, but its development has been squashed by big oil and coal companies. It's depressing, but it's exciting, too. I'm hoping that when Jonathan and I are in a position to buy a house, we can get one with solar or wind power and with a rainwater collection system. I'd also like an electric car, or one that runs on aquahol or some other renewable resource.

Ehh, there's so much else I could say, but I'll spare you. MoMan, if you want this guy's contact info to verify his sources or talk about what he's learned, send me a PM with your e-mail address. I'll send you his info and copy him on the e-mail.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 20, 2008 07:25      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
_________________________ Rhonwyyn First lets get to some facts, the drive train on the EV-1 was developed by North American Rockwell (aircraft builder) they hold all the intelectual property. The batteries were just old plain lead acid. One of the reasons GM dropped the ball on the EV-1 was when the finance whis kid from Spain wanted to renegotiate the contract, NAR wanted out as they could see the handwriting on the wall that they would now be losing money on the deaL the oridginal contract between GM and NAR stated that the technology could not be sold.

Wind mills, low head hydro, solar all hold the most hope for most americans to shake the grip of the power grid owners.

To really evaluate wind get a weather rope and watch how often it hangs straight down, at those times you are going to be buying power. Flags work also but flapping is not a lot of power, the really good wind is above five hundred feet and that is beyound most home owners, think solar and don't try to buy the highest yield panals, some times seconds or removed from sevice are the better buy.

Solar hot water to a large tank for radiant heat from the floor is gaining a good following, That works. Look at drain back systems where in periods of clouds or low input the water falls back to the tank. then when the system gets sunlight the pumps refill the upper loop.

If you are thinking Solar look to having the ridge line run E/W so that you do not have to have tracking collectors.

I'll thik of more later.

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Benjamin Franklin,

Posts: 5836 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 20, 2008 13:08      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
_________________________ Rhonwyyn Okay I had some time to think. I may have sounded harsh before. Right now the field of renewable, wind, solar, and hydro, small scale is no where near being viable. That does not stop the unscrupuled from tring to make a buck. So view all claims as lies untill you see it in action. One of the better Junior Colleges near here had a nice fair a few years ago. Venders were invited but the Indian Tribe put it on. It was very well done and some vendors left after they saw the scrutiny that the tribe required. (prove your claims)

The most interesting display involed a solar powered sterling engine running a magneto. The device would light up a tail light bulb from the heat of a cup of coffee. A dash light bulb just from setting one end in the shade the other end in sunlight, that was impressive espesially when the showman shadowed the hot side for a few seconds and the engine slowed down only to speed back up when he removed his hand.

Small scale for homeowners, solar heating with homemade collectors seems the most cost effective, in other words don't go out and buy big buck stuff, that may not perform as advertised.

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Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


Benjamin Franklin,

Posts: 5836 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 20, 2008 15:38      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The Amish here have been using solar and wind power for many years. Of course, they probably don't have TVs, computers, and stereo systems that require lots of power. [Razz]

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 20, 2008 16:57      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
____________________________ So far I have built a couple of small wind turbines, The most I have got is 150 watts, I have gotten a solid thirtysix watts out of one machine, before the winds here distroyed it.

I also have been reading up on those along the foundation colectors (for solar). Thoughts are a foam box with a solar cell to power a computer fan to spread the heat into the crawl space, of the house.

http://www.homepower.com/home/

These people act more like a info center than sales place,

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Benjamin Franklin,

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted February 20, 2008 22:42      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You'd think I'd know better than to follow links from this site... [Frown]

ED Note: I edited this to remove the link, right after I removed Chesty's posting privileges.

[ February 21, 2008, 08:13: Message edited by: Snaggy ]

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 21, 2008 06:09      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
________________________ TFD I am sorry that some jerk has decided to hijack a thread about serious global problems and think that his actions are cute.

I am unsure if Snaggy should censure him or not, but he has sure shown us his true colors. I wonder if he brags about pulling the wings off flies.

JERK

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Benjamin Franklin,

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Snaggy

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Icon 3 posted February 21, 2008 08:21      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Chesty's posting privileges are now unplugged.
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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 21, 2008 10:01      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
_____________________ Rhonwyyn, TFD, and of course Snaggy. I am not sure if that was what should have been done but some non geeks would not know how to get out of a loop. Its your BBS Snaggy.

I tried an experiment today at what we call the back door. This door faces due East, so it gets the rising sun. I took three thermometers that I know track very similar and placed one on the North side of the house about five feet off of grade. I placed one near the top of the East facing door, and one near the sill. Waited one hour. Out side shaded temp 15 degrees F. top of door frame between storm door and the insulated door 98DF temp at bottom 40DF.

So with just a door space or prehung door frame one could build an effective solar heater. I am now thinking about a four by eight inclosed box, maybe even with the ability to track the sun. Will report on progress and outcome.

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Benjamin Franklin,

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Doco

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Icon 1 posted February 21, 2008 12:14      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I wish I could remember where I saw it.... but I can't remember which site/forum and google isn't helping me right now.

Anyway - what I remember seeing was a home-made solar heating box. If I remember correctly it was 4x8 sheet of plywood painted black, a couple of inch thick air space and then glass over the front. Cold air return near the bottom and warm air exited from the top. A vent (maybe PVC pipe?) ported these to the living space. An old patio door would be a good source of cheap and possibly thermopane glass.

I think the gentleman that I saw this from was in Iowa and provided plans on what he did along with some testing data showing how well it worked.

So - basically like the space between your doors.

Grrrrrrrr - sometimes I wish my memory didn't fail me.

edit: I found the Build it Solar site which has a bunch of documents on that same basic concept. Not the plans I was remembering - but very similar.
http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/SpaceHeating/Space_Heating.htm

Edit #2: Found the original one (damn it, I was infuriated that I couldn't find it. [Smile] ) Desoto Solar http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted February 21, 2008 13:10      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
While we're talking about reducing our reliance on The Big Grid...

TheMoMan's 3-thermometer experiment reminded me of a story about a small company a friend worked for. They went on an energy-efficiency drive, and being geeks, the first step was to find out where their energy was being used, so they got some of those meters you attach to power-points that measure how much energy that point uses. They found well over half of their total power bill was for air-conditioning.

A $100 shade-cloth for the big window on the sunny side of the building cut their total power bill by almost 1/3.

Other simple power-saving measures (eg turn off all your stuff when you go home, power-boards with individual switches so you can easily turn off the plug-packs that aren't in use) brought their bill down to less than half what it had been.

A kilowatt-hour saved is a kilowatt-hour earned.

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 21, 2008 13:33      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Helix wind turbine
It would be interesting to see the stats on this.

one leading vertical axis wind turbine company

interesting claims in "Wired" three years ago. I wonder if they've made any progress since.

Oh, and last link: zero emission fleet vehicle Apparently PG&E has ordered 500 of them. If they work well, I'd be tempted to buy one. (If we had the money, of course.)

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 21, 2008 14:12      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
_________________________Rhonwyyn Vertical axis may be simple to build but think of this. Look at a boat propellor all of the area of all of the blades act upon the water. Now lets look at a paddle wheel, how do we keep the wind from acting on the blades going up wind, shape, ducting.

I was a big fan of vertical axis until several of my experiments proved them to be hard to build and hard to start (get them going following a lull in the wind.) For the home builder the yeng/yang shape is easiest to fabricate and will make power however it does not scale up well (forces to distroy the rotor grow faster with size, than the power one would expect.) Guy down the road has a vertical axis that looks like a sting of flower pots around a big wheel, the winds here brought it down.

One design of vertical I saw used fabric sails that opened while running with the wind and flaped shut (furled) while going up wind, I don't know how well that would work in practice.

I also have found that the generator must be allowed to pitch and yaw some or the bearings will be distroyed by centripital forces. Watch a top spin down and wobble, the same forces act on the spinning blades of a windmill Vert. or Horiz. You just can't get away from the laws of Physics. Wind gusts play heck with windmills, thats why the old ones used so many blades to regulate speed, and keep gyro forces down.

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 21, 2008 17:13      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
According to Russ, some guy figured out that if he turned the turbine on a 23-degree angle, it caught more wind and produced more power.

YMMV

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Icon 1 posted February 22, 2008 03:06      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
___________________________ Rhonwyyn Other forms of alt energy. Pellet or Bio-Mass, Corn stoves for heat, this foem of new CO2 is about half the price of Propane and Fuel oil on a par with coal.

http://www.pelletheat.org/3/residential/compareFuel.cfm

Pellet stoves may not always burn corn but corn stoves will burn pellets.

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Benjamin Franklin,

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 22, 2008 04:35      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The winner of Solanco High School's science fair this year based his project on testing the efficiency of a gasifier. He used wood and paper as fuel. They were half as efficient, but he said in a pinch, a gasifier with wood could be used in place of gasoline.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 22, 2008 05:41      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
____________________________ Hi All Here are some random thouhts on Alt, Energy cost reduction and other green topics. Payback period If longer than ten years you are getting ripped. Five or less is closer to reality this is not rocket science, these are old school brought back around and repackaged.

There may be big claims about our new microprocessor does this (so does my laptop) Basically look for the cutting ede of low tech. will it run unattended, is it a fire risk. Some of those out side firebox woodstoves are really boilers and need special controls to comply with many state codes for unattended operation.

Buying used, look at cost to remove and reinstall. I know of a windmill that I could get for a small sum, the cost to take it down and re-erect would be more than buying new with install. I really would like to have that big intertech but I could buy one half the size and have it installed plus a get warrantee.

So does this mean that there is now way out of the energy mess, no just go learn from the amish, read your history books and visit some good OLDE TIME VILLAGES and see how things were done before the convience of Electricity and piped in gas.

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Benjamin Franklin,

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Icon 1 posted February 22, 2008 14:27      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey - corn stoves - I have one of those, and I'm buying pellets right now to finish off the season. Most corn stoves work with pellets, but not all. Mine isn't supposed to - but it works fine with a mix of corn and pellets.

The comparison site it pretty cool, but I'd encourage you to do your own math.

Electric heat is easy - it's 100% efficient (more or less) and the kw to BTU conversion is easy.

Natural gas and propane are pretty easy to as they have pretty standard energy densities and most furnaces are relatively accurate in their efficiency.

Pellet and corn are more interesting to figure out. The people selling the stoves sometimes use math creativly. They will often ignore the efficiency factor of the stove. Just because it burns 99% of what goes in (leaving 1% ash) doesn't mean you get 99% of the heat out of it. A good percentage goes up the chimney and they rarely have a certification showing what % efficient they are.

There is also a pretty good range for how many BTU's / lb of material. Wood pellets can be 8000-8400 BTUs/lb. Some of the softwood pellets will be higher than that even, but marketing has driven people to hardwood pellets which have slightly lower energy densities. (Softwood pellets have pine resin/pitch which is high in BTUs)

Normal corn that you get is around 8200-8400 BTU/lb of dry matter. You then have to subtract out the water in the corn (about 12-14% for most corn that you would buy) - that brings you down to about 7000 usable BTU/lb of corn. That last little fact many manufacturers seem to ignore.

Disclaimer - at one time I worked for a stove manufacturer. I gave them the real numbers and how I came up with them, but said - let the marketing people put whatever they want up because here is what our competition is doing. I never did look up what they put out on the brochures.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 22, 2008 17:37      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
______________________ Doco You bring up some very valid points.

Lets examine the average house, air leaks and all, sixty years ago the rule of sizing a furnace was 100BTU/ square foot. that is a lot of heat. Then the first oil shortage and high oil gas and propane costs. those numbers were revised downward. Now considering fairly air tight and insulated 30 to 35 BTU/SQ'. But even that is high the furnace on most winter days here near N45Deg. the furnace during a bad night will not run 50% of the the time, all that over kill is sending heat up the stack. By watching the amount of propane we are buying the furnace is only running 30% of the time. So we need 18KBTU to break even on most days I would bet that the cost to make up the fall behind with resistive electric would not be too bad Or go one better two small furnaces staged to cover both ends of the house. Two twentyK units like the ones in our Motorhome would do just fine they do well in the coach.

The pellet stove we have but do not have hooked up since the move is an old Whitfield Vantage, it is the small one that can be turned down to 8K/hr I plan on installing that during the summer. I just bought two tons of pellets at [email protected] you can only get those prices during the spring around here when the stores want to get into Lawn & Garden supplies. When running on low fire I would guess that the capture is 75-80% based on flue temps compared to breaching temps.

So in closeing this segment, most homes are over furnaced and throwing heat up the stack and those outdoor woodburners are real overkill, stay tuned.

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Benjamin Franklin,

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Icon 1 posted February 24, 2008 13:11      Profile for sconzey     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's customary in Southampton for followers of diverse faiths and religions to gather along the high street and proselytize. The other week it was the turn for the environmentalists.

I had a nice long chat with a chap from Greenpeace. Apparently now they're not actually advocating solar/wind power, but a concept he called "power decentralisation"

The idea being that rather than an epic coal fired power station running at 40% efficiency serving a county, a smaller wood/oil/natural-gas power station runs at a much greater efficiency and serves both electricity and hot water to a small town or city block (with, of course, the greatest loss in efficiency of a large power station being thermal transfer).

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Icon 1 posted February 25, 2008 07:55      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
___________________________ Hi All well tonight there is supposed to be a meeting about renewable alt. energy at the Wirt library in Bay City Mi, starts at 5:30 Pm and is supposeded to run two hours I am not sure as to if I will be able to make that venue, I recieved the notice just this morning and we already have most of the day plans.

_______________ Saw an interesting set up in Ireland, basically a shop owner runs a water cooled genset to charge batteries he captures the water jacket and exhaust gas heat and pumps that to his town folk while selling the electricity also. Small unit heats and lights about five homes and businesses.

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Icon 1 posted February 25, 2008 18:50      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Speaking of alternative energy - just saw a video that shows a turbine exploding. Seems that the brake failed in a high wind time and it spun faster than it was designed for.

Ouch!

At one time I carved a 2x4 into a prop. About 2.5' blades to 5 foot long overall. I never hooked it to anything, just created the prop, put it on a shaft and let it spin. That thing was dangerous in a moderate breeze. Sheared the wooden axle that I used. Fortunately that happened before it cause any serious damage.

I too think that more decentralized power generation is a good thing. A lot less loss to transmission, less money spent on power poles, etc and fewer issues with terrorists hitting big targets. Problem is finding non-polluting sources. The big gas or coal fired plants have enough economies of scale that they can (and must) put in scrubbers, etc. Small sites don't have to and so often are more polluting. Wind and solar are great - but their peaks don't necessarily match the peak demands. Hydro isn't that available and has issues if you put in big dams and/or divert too much flow.

Too bad there isn't that pocket-sized fusion device yet. <grin>

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Icon 1 posted February 26, 2008 08:51      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
________________________ Ahh Yess the economies of scale . There in is the rub. Could I gasify weeds, yes or would it be better to use the energy directly? The major Electric manufactuers know how to get to Faradays num. (The Holy Grail of Electricity) it just is very expensive to get there. No way could a small scale unit come any where near that kind of efficiency.

So the best alt. is to conserve and make as small a footprint as possible. Solar cells are getting better, home brew space heating (solar) is well known. Now here is the crevat if you are buying technology to capture solar energy, BEWARE if you can't build it or fix it your self you are going to get hosed.

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Icon 1 posted February 27, 2008 08:56      Profile for sconzey     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Depends on what you mean by polluting. CO2 is odourless and colourless and asside from its (much debated [Wink] ) contributions to the greenhouse effect (and of course, acid rain in massive concentrations) it's not really a pollutant.

The point the greenpeace guy made was that the increase in efficiency means that you need to burn less fuel and you cut your carbon output without having to even start thinking about alternative energy sources.

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--Isaac Asimov

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Icon 1 posted February 27, 2008 09:29      Profile for Ashitaka     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by sconzey:
Depends on what you mean by polluting. CO2 is odourless and colourless and asside from its (much debated [Wink] ) contributions to the greenhouse effect (and of course, acid rain in massive concentrations) it's not really a pollutant.

it has a sharp, acidic odor. It will act as an asphyxiant and an irritant.


from it's MSDS

Carbon Dioxide is a powerful cerebral dilator. At concentrations between 2 and 10%, Carbon Dioxide can cause nausea, dizziness, headache, mental confusion, increased blood pressure and respiratory rate. Above 8% nausea and vomiting appear. Above 10%, suffocation and death can occur within minutes.

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"If they're not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent, fearful white people and racists?"

-Assif Mandvi

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