Cowboy Coffee kicks off 11 Days of Round-Up

first_imgRed Bluff >> The 11 Days of Round-Up that accompany the Red Bluff Round-Up Rodeo officially started with the Cowboy Coffee mixer event Thursday at the Round-Up Museum.“We have a great crowd here and I’m thankful you’re here to help kick off the 11 Days of Round-Up,” said Red Bluff-Tehama County Chamber of Commerce CEO Dave Gowan. “The Red Bluff Round-Up is amazing, 96 years now and we’re nearing 100. That will be quite a party. It always is.”What is especially significant about the event is …last_img

Plasma May Revamp Cosmology

first_imgA “diverse new field” of astrophysics is poised to revolutionize our understanding of stars, energetic galaxies, and perhaps the entire universe.  The properties and interactions of plasma, that hot, electrically-charged gas that makes up the sun and stars, have not been considered as often as matter and light have in astronomy.  A set of top ten questions about plasma astronomy was recently set down at a workshop for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), according to PhysOrg.    “Plasma physics governs much of the behavior of the visible universe at all scales, from tokamaks to extra-galactic jets that are 10 billion times larger than the solar system,” said Stewart Prager, Director of the PPPL (the article explained that “A tokamak is a type of magnetic fusion energy experiment”).  Since plasma (often called the fourth state of matter) responds to electromagnetism – a much stronger force than gravity – the new proposed research will bring together “experimentalists, astronomers, and computational scientists to identify the major puzzles at this intersection of laboratory physics and space science, and to map out new strategies for better understanding the plasma universe.”If you thought the universe was pretty well figured out, wait till we see what comes from plasma cosmology.  “Often, a detailed understanding of the plasma physics under the specific space and astrophysical conditions holds the key to many long-standing mysteries,” the article said.  Mysteries imply basic misunderstandings in our current science.  Can fundamental changes to our thinking be in store?  No one yet knows; science is tentative, not absolute.  Interdisciplinary approaches are likely to challenge basic assumptions and bring outside-the-box thinking to stale modes of inquiry.  The universe could look very different to future astronomers, just as it differs today from what astronomers thought they knew in 2000, 1900, 1800, 1700, 1600, ….(Visited 14 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

China-Africa trade to soar

first_imgSouth African president Thabo Mbekiwith Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.(Image: Xinhua News Agency)Janine ErasmusChina has become Africa’s third-largest trade partner, after the US and former colonial power France. According to a report by China’s General Administration of Customs, bilateral trade between China and Africa will exceed R803-billion ($100-billion) in 2008, two years earlier than predicted.China had expected trade to hit that mark by 2010. The country also plans to increase oil and gas imports from Africa by up to 40% in the next five to 10 years.The trend is attributed to escalating shipments of natural resources to China, especially crude oil, mainly from Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Angola, metals from Ghana, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and South Africa, as well as cobalt and other minerals. At the same time, goods manufactured in China are increasingly sought after by African consumers.During the first half of 2008, exports to China from Africa rose 92% to R240-billion ($30-billion), while the continent imported goods to the value of R184-billion ($23-billion), an increase of 40% according to the Chinese customs authority. The growth in trade was attributed to an upswing in the economic climate in Africa, as well as demand from China for natural resources to drive its own fast-growing economy.Investing in developmentA report released in July 2008 by the World Bank states that China, together with India and several Gulf nations, is financing a number of large infrastructure projects, such as hydropower schemes and transport schemes, across sub-Saharan Africa in a drive to reduce poverty. The World Bank says that investment by these nations reached R64-billion ($8-billion) in 2006 and R40-billion ($5-billion) in 2007.“China’s growing infrastructure commitments in Africa are helping to address the huge infrastructure deficit of the continent,” said World Bank vice president for Africa, Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili.Nearly 70% of Chinese investments are concentrated in Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Sudan, says the report, and 33 countries in total have received finance from China for infrastructure. Moreover, China attaches very few demands and conditions to its investments, laying the groundwork for unencumbered development, said British researcher Bill Durodie, an associate fellow with the Royal Institute of International Affairs.The growing South-South co-operation was the result of China’s consistent demand for natural resources and Africa’s ample oil and mineral reserves, much of which is still under-exploited, said the World Bank’s Vivien Foster, the organisation’s lead economist in sustainable development for the Africa region.The report states that oil makes up the bulk of African exports to China, comprising some 80% of total exports. While 57% of Africa’s oil goes to the US and Europe, China imports 14% of the resource.Africa’s need for infrastructure development was balanced by China’s well-oiled construction industry. Development experts say that aged and under-developed infrastructure is cutting the growth of African economies by up to 1% every year.International co-operationChina and Africa collaborate extensively together on economic, cultural, educational and agricultural programmes. The Sino-Africa Co-operation Forum was established in 2000 between China and willing African countries to facilitate constructive dialogue and South-South cooperation.Since the establishment of the forum, economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa has boomed. This was helped by the fact that China has written off 10.9-billion yuan (R11-billion or $1.4-billion) owed to it by 31 heavily-indebted poor African countries. China also implemented a zero-duty regime for some imports from Africa.South Africa and ChinaSouth Africa’s relations with China have improved dramatically since the two countries resumed diplomatic ties on New Year’s Day in 1998. Writing in January 2008 to mark the 10th anniversary, former Chinese ambassador to South Africa Liu Guijin said that South Africa, as the biggest economy in Africa, sees huge potential for economic and trade cooperation with China.In 2000, said Liu, trade between the two countries amounted to R16-billion ($2-billion), more than 20% of the total trade volume between China and the entire African continent. And by the end of 2006, Sino-South Africa trade had increased nearly five times to R78-billion ($9.8-billion).However, said Liu, the years of isolation had taken their toll and there is a need for greater mutual understanding between the two nations. This is being addressed not only through bodies such as the Sino-Africa Co-operation Forum, but also through increased tourism and exchange on a personal level. More Chinese nationals have been travelling to South Africa, said Liu.Under the Sino-Africa Co-operation Forum, Chinese professionals are sharing their expertise with Africans to improve the lives of others – for example, academics from China Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University have been applying their mushroom-planting technology to help South African farmers boost their incomes.In the first quarter of 2008, China became South Africa’s largest import market, snatching this position from Germany. The country is the fifth largest export destination for South African goods. Trade between China and South Africa has been increasing at around 20 to 30% annually over the last 12 years.China has set up more than 80 companies in South Africa since 1998, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, while South African investment in China is valued at approximately R5.6-billion ($700-million). South African companies with stakes in Chinese industry include SABMiller; MIH (part of media group Naspers); petrol manufacturer Sasol, and mining companies Anglo American, Kumba Iron Ore, Anglo Gold Ashanti and Gold Fields, among others.Useful linksSino-Africa Co-operation ForumSouth Africa-China economic and trade co-operationDepartment of Foreign Affairs: China-SA relationsXinhua News Agencylast_img read more

A Passivhaus Doesn’t Have to Look Weird

first_imgMarch 6, 2014: Airtightness testingWith most of the rough mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work complete, it was time to test the Grant residence Passivhaus for airtightness.We scored approximately 0.75 air changes per hour (ACH) at 50 pascals (Pa) of pressure. Although this is four times tighter than the current energy code requires, it’s not good enough to meet the Passivhaus standard, which requires a reading no greater than 0.60 ach50. So we still have some tightening up to do.The bad news is that the testing did not reveal any major leaks. That means mitigating that last little bit will be extremely difficult.On top of that challenge, the items yet to be installed — the dryer vent and the fireplace flue — are inherently leaky. Wish us luck! ARTICLES BY ALAN ABRAMS A Post-Passivhaus Paradigm for Energy-Efficient DesignMakin’ WUFIA Shortcut To Sustainable Living: Downsize! Never fear. The Passivhaus occupant need not forfeit the vision of a cozy winter’s evening by the fire. There are a few wood stoves and prefabricated fireplaces on the market that are virtually airtight. They can maintain a fire at a low enough output to provide the cozy atmosphere that we naturally seek, without the disadvantages noted above.The point is, that Passive House limits some decisions, but it does not dictate them. The “tyranny” of PassivhausIn his Discourses, Plato has Hippias the Sage assert that “…law is the tyrant of mankind, and often compels us to do many things which are against nature.”The Passivhaus system is truly rigorous. Often it requires modifying a decision or restraining an impulse that would be natural in another context. Specifying an open masonry fireplace in your design program would be a triple nightmare for the Passive House Consultant to deal with:The flue damper. The darn thing would leak so much it would be nearly impossible to reach the airtightness level required to satisfy the energy models.The mass of the chimney would constitute a significant thermal bridge.Stoking up a blazing fire would probably very quickly overheat the super insulated space, forcing the occupants to open doors and windows. October 19, 2013: Under constructionOctober 19 was a gorgeous day to bike out and visit this Passivhaus project located in Derwood, Maryland. The site is surrounded by forest and abuts Lake Bernard Frank. The bike trail passes over the earthen dam, where I saw great blue herons sunning on the berm, and a banded kingfisher perched in a branch near the water. When I arrived at the site, a red-tailed hawk was wheeling right above the house.Image #2 (below) shows the west elevation. What has been erected so far is the first layer of the wall and roof assemblies, which will function as the structural shell of this PassivhausThe specifications call for several inches polyisocyanurate insulation to be installed all of the Zip sheathing shown in the photo. The walls will get 3 inches of polyiso, and the roof will get 6 inches. The roof layer will extend about 30 inches beyond the outside walls to form the eaves. This projection will not only protect the walls from the weather, but will also shade the windows from the summer sun while admitting the winter sun.A second set of framed walls will be built inside the walls shown in the photo. They will form a 10-inch-deep cavity that will be filled with cellulose insulation. According to PHPP, the walls will achieve R-52.1 and the roof will achieve R-66.1. Passivhaus is compatible with traditional home stylesThere are a number of architectural characteristics of a Passivhaus that facilitate performance. To keep warm here in our mid-Atlantic winters, a Passivhaus likes to spread out in the sun, and look to the south. At the same time, a Passivhaus likes generous overhangs and shutters to avoid overheating in summer.Provision for cross flow ventilation, such as windows on two exposures in each important room, and operable skylights, can reduce the need for mechanical air conditioning during the shoulder seasons. In other words, the house could easily look like a traditional bungalow or cottage.A Passivhaus also likes simple massing — corners, offsets, and projections present challenges to achieving airtightness, and inevitably introduce thermal bridges. In this sense, it could also be a Cape Cod or Colonial style house.Some features fight against the grain. Our clients, the Grants of Derwood, Maryland, wanted mulled windows — but the muntin bars reduce the amount of light passing through by as much as 5%. Passivhaus cares deeply about this — when this amenity was factored into the Passive House Performance Package (PHPP), the performance fell off perceptibly.But there was always a solution somewhere: for example, by enlarging south-facing windows or adding additional insulation to compensate for the loss of solar gain.Are you wondering what this house is going to look like when it’s done? The rendering at the top of the page shows the Grant House. Not too weird looking, is it? December 12, 2013: More progressAs winter closes in, work continues on this Passivhaus project (see Image #6, below). The Intus triple-glazed doors and tilt-turn windows are due to be delivered next week. When they are installed, we can perform a preliminary blower-door test, to see how close we are to the mythic air tightness requirement of 0.6 ach50.In the meantime, the duct systems have already been installed. There are two duct systems: one for tempered air, and one for fresh air supply and exhaust. As soon as the building is closed in, other rough-in work will continue. December 20, 2013: Passivhaus certificationNow that the rough carpentry is nearing completion, it was a perfect moment to bring out our Passivhaus rater, Andy Corral of Elysian Energy, to see things in the flesh. I spent a good part of yesterday morning compiling a set of plans and documents for Andy to review, including a revised Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) spreadsheet that reflects the field changes and revisions that have taken place.Some of the changes are minor tweaks — for example, substituting 4 inches of polyisocyanurate insulation for 6 inches of expanded polystyrene over the primary roof structure. The former has more than a 50% higher R-value than the latter; even as the total thickness is reduced, the net insulation value of the roof is increased by R-2.This gain is offset by the substitution of a custom wood front door for the Intus E-Forte UPVC door. Although the wood door has a smaller window, it has a lower net R-value, because — counterintuitively — the three layers of glass are more efficient than 2 inches of wood. It was almost jaw-dropping, how much this one change added to the Specific Space Heat Demand.Another major change is to enclose what had originally been designed as a screened porch. This space is intended for three-season use, and will not have a heat source, but it will still reduce heat loss through the adjacent spaces. I’ve asked Elysian to help quantify the energy savings.An area of some controversy remains. During the Passivhaus pre-certification process, I initially modified some of the PHPP defaults for ground conditions. These were rejected by PHIUS, and I had to beef up other areas of the building envelope to compensate.But during construction, we actually improved conditions beyond the initial input. The entire building subgrade was backfilled with an average of 3 feet of crushed stone, and then topped with 4 inches of sand to support the subslab insulation. This is a very effective thermal break with the underlying soil. Including these values in PHPP makes a significant positive impact.On the other hand, the local climate seems to be slightly cooler than the PHPP default climate for Washington, D.C. Passing by on my bike this morning, Lake Frank — a few hundred yards southeast of the Grant house — was completely frozen over. Does a Passivhaus have to look weird? The short answer is, no. RELATED ARTICLES Passivhaus on a BudgetVisiting Passivhaus Job Sites in Washington StateMore Passivhaus Site Visits in Washington State Alan Abrams is a Certified Passive House Consultant, a Certified Passive House Builder, aCertified Green Professional (NAHB), and a Certified Professional Building Designer (American Institute of Building Designers). He is also the owner of Abrams Design Build in Takoma Park, Maryland.last_img read more

Energy Minister Highlights Growing Bunkering Sector

first_img The Government is working towards ensuring that Jamaica’s geographical advantage is leveraged to attract a sizeable shipping base, to boost the bunkering sector. The Government is working towards ensuring that Jamaica’s geographical advantage is leveraged to attract a sizeable shipping base, to boost the bunkering sector.This was emphasised by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, as he delivered the keynote address at the opening of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) Caribbean Conference at the Hyatt Ziva Hotel in Montego Bay on April 18.“We want to ensure that players in the bunker supply chain are internationally competitive and that the supply infrastructure can cater to an expanded demand for bunkering,” he said. He pointed out that Jamaica is increasingly becoming a significant location for bunkering, driven by a number of factors.These include the projected rise in shipping traffic from the widening of the Panama Canal and the country’s positioning as a major cargo centre; and the country’s distinction of being a premier cruise destination with more than 1.9 million cruise ship stopover visitors.Dr. Wheatley said that with the accommodation of Post Panamax ships and other positive developments in future shipping traffic to Jamaica, the country’s outlook for bunkering is good.He added that Jamaica’s maritime appeal provided “unparalleled opportunities for the establishment of a range of ancillary services to the global shipping industry, as we move towards making Jamaica a major maritime centre in the Caribbean.”According to the Minister, the country’s thrust towards this end will be advanced with the development of a core of ancillary ship-related services which will allow it to capitalise on the cluster effect of a shipping hub.He informed that bunkering, which is the refuelling of ships, is a vital part of the shipping industry and that the Government is seeking to position the country to reap the rewards that are to be gained from the industry. “It is expected that bunker volumes will hit 1.9 million tonnes per annum by 2025, but only if the Government introduces the necessary legal and administrative framework,” he explained.The Minister said the Government is fully supportive of the growth of the bunkering industry and welcomes both local and foreign investors. “We see bunkering as an aggregate of ship-related services that will enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of Jamaica as a premier shipping hub,” he said.The conference was hosted jointly by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica and IBIA from April 17 to 19. This was emphasised by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, as he delivered the keynote address at the opening of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) Caribbean Conference at the Hyatt Ziva Hotel in Montego Bay on April 18. “We want to ensure that players in the bunker supply chain are internationally competitive and that the supply infrastructure can cater to an expanded demand for bunkering,” he said. He pointed out that Jamaica is increasingly becoming a significant location for bunkering, driven by a number of factors. Story Highlightslast_img read more