Dec
25
2015

French Alps in need of Christmas snow dump

France’s warmer than usual temperatures this December are bad news for skiers but snow cannons could still provide joy in some areas over the Christmas period. While plenty of people have delighted in France’s mild autumn, ski resort owners and slope lovers alike are stamping their feet with frustration. And there’s no snow forecast before Christmas either – news which is unlikely to please people flying in to the French slopes over the coming days. In fact, the only half-way decent snow conditions to date this season arrived in November and even that colder spell left the southern Alps and Corsica bereft of the sort of snow skiers long for. In the northern Alps, meanwhile, snow conditions are described as “weak” or “very weak”. In some places, however, artificial snow will allow resorts to offer a modicum of relief. That’s the case at the L’Alpe d’Huez station in the Alps, where 30 of a total 130 pistes are now […]

Dec
14
2015

The Professor: The Art and Science of Creating Refrigerant Blends

Each component brings its own characteristics to the final mixture   Refrigerant blends are mixtures of refrigerants. These blends have been carefully formulated and mathematically modeled to tailor their characteristics to match certain properties of the refrigerants they are replacing and to provide maximum system efficiency and performance. In the past, refrigerant blends have been based on chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. However, because of ozone depletion potential (ODP) and global warming potential (GWP) regulations, most of today’s refrigerant blends are HFC-based and have zero ODP with small GWP impacts to the environment. Even though most of today’s blends are HFC-based, they can sometimes contain a small percentage of a hydrocarbon (HC) as a refrigerant. The HC, however, will not make the blend flammable because it only constitutes a small percentage (usu […]

Nov
30
2015

How to Invent Our Way Out of Climate Change

If internal combustion was the monumental technological achievement that, over the decades, contributed to climate change, perhaps new technologies can help solve the crisis. The Paris climate talks are crucial not only for forging a political agreement to reduce carbon emissions, but for fostering a political environment that encourages green technology and innovation. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, speaking in November at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, stressed that encouraging climate innovation was an essential component of success. “We are advancing the theme that energy technology innovation, and the resultant cost reductions in energy technology, are ultimately the key to meeting our climate challenges,” Moniz said. Innovation is not a silver bullet, however. “Neither better technology, nor changing to low-carbon behavior will be sufficient on its own; both will be necessary,” Gregory Nemet, a professor o […]

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