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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Optimization of Energy Sources

Going on a little tangent here today.  I'm looking out my hotel window on I-81 near Frackville, PA, at a nearby coal-fired power plant.  It's a relatively small one, a 48-megawatt unit owned interestingly enough by Waste Management and operated by its Wheelabrator Technologies subsidiary. It's a cold, clear day today, and a small steam plume is rising from the plant, but otherwise it looks pretty darn clean.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Great Designs in Wood (2) - Helsinki Bay Hotel Design

The Finns have a great heritage of wood utilization. For centuries, Finland has been known as the "woodbasket of Europe". I had the opportunity back in 2007 to visit the country to learn about their utilization of wood for bioenergy; you can see some of my observations of that trip at this old blog posting of mine.

Besides recognizing the value of wood for energy, they work wood into their building design almost everywhere. Here are some great shots of a "hotel" structure that was built in the bay at Helsinki as part of a design competition. It's rustic yet beautiful at the same time...can it get any better than that?

Source: http://interiorzine.com/2009/09/10/wooden-design-hotel/

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Is there Gold in that Wood Waste?

I own a small floor company, 25 employees. Among our services, we install, sand and finish new wood flooring and refinish existing wood floors. I have always wanted to do something with the waste we generate, mostly bags of sawdust, some from sanding old floors with finish, some from new flooring, much more oak than any other species.

How silly would it be to look into a chipper and pellet maker? I'm sure the oak sawdust from new flooring would burn fine, but what about oak dust from floors that had been finished?

I'm sure we don't have enough waste for a commercial enterprise but I'm wonder if we would be doing any good with just our waste?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Housing Crash Is Hitting Cities Thought to Be Stable - NYTimes.com

A companion piece for the previous posting. Housing refuses to recover, so the wood industry will continue to struggle...

Housing Crash Is Hitting Cities Thought to Be Stable - NYTimes.com:
"While almost every economist is expecting another round of price declines for the next few months, many see a leveling off in the second half of the year. Fiserv, the company that produces the monthly Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, analyzed prices in 375 communities. About three-quarters of them will be stable by December, Fiserv calculates.

“We’re at a period near the bottom but with more volatility than we normally see at this point,” said David Stiff, Fiserv’s chief economist. “This sort of double dip is unprecedented for housing.”"

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help you...

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give another presentation of the global economic conditions that are driving lumber prices, this time at the quarterly meeting of the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council. After the presentation, I stayed to hear the reports by different company representatives on the state of the hardwood industry here in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Webinar - Why Wood Energy?

There are a couple of reasons usually given for pursuing biomass energy alternatives that probably shouldn't be, and a couple of great reasons that aren't usually discussed. If you're interested, you can visit this Penn State Extension web site, sign up for a Friend of Penn State log on, and watch an on-line webinar I gave last week.

It starts slow as I figure out the technology, but picks up speed as I go to full screen about 6 minutes in. Try to bear with it if you're interested in the topic, the key points need to be better understood.