THE BIG RIGS

September 13, 2014


The data presented in this post results from work accomplished by the Pew Charitable Trust.

I have a client located thirty-seven (37) miles from my business office. Fortunately, my commute to their facility is via our interstate highway system.  It is absolutely amazing what I see traveling those seventy-four (74) miles most days of the work week.  I see people reading the morning paper, ladies applying makeup, every third person talking on the cell phone, texting, people reading a book and TONS of people, mostly younger individuals, rocking out to the music they undoubtedly love.  One unmistakable fact—you can’t miss the number of “big rigs” moving across our country.  Regardless as to the time of day, they are out in force.

Let’s take a look at several very interesting statistics relative to transportation:

  • The transportation sector accounts for seventy percent (70%) of all fuel consumption in the United States.
  • Medium and heavy-duty trucks, using 2011 figures, represent seven percent (7%) of all vehicles on the road but consume twenty-five percent (25%) of the fuel used by all vehicles.
  • In 2013, trucks consumed 2.7 million barrels of petroleum per day.
  • Fuel is the single largest cost of owning and operating heavy-duty trucks, with the average cost per vehicle being $73,000 per year.
  • The average fuel consumption for an “eighteen-wheeler” is six and one-half (6.5) miles per gallon.
  • Goods and services provided by these trucks account for an average of $1100.00 per year in added expense for each consumer. This is indirect cost passed on to the purchaser.

These facts to me are definitely eye-opening.  In August of 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized fuel efficiency and emission standards dictating café standards of 54.5 MPG for light-duty trucks and passenger vans.  These fuel consumption regulations become effective in 2025.  In September of 2011, the first-ever standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks were finalized by the same agencies.  This standard covers a time period of 2014 through 2018.  Data is now being accumulated for the purpose of further defining the action.

These standards hope to bring about the following beneficial conditions:

  • A $50 billion reduction in fuel cost to transportation companies. Truck owners would save approximately $30,000 per year per truck.
  • A reduction in carbon pollution by 270 metric tons per year.
  • A net fleet savings of $0.21 per mile every thirteen months.
  • Saving 1.4 million barrels of petroleum per day.
  • Reduction of indirect cost to consumers of $250 near-term and $450 short-term.
  • Reduction of air-borne particulate saving health cost by $1.3 billion to $4.2 billion by 2030.

CONCLUSIONS:

I think these goals are achievable but do present engineering challenges to auto and truck designers and manufacturers. We are now seeing great efforts towards compliance with designers looking at the following areas:

  • Design of more efficient engines.
  • Using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methodology to investigate air flow around truck bodies.
  • Lighter composite structures and materials to reduce the overall weight of cabs and trailers.
  • Using alternate fuels such as CNG (compressed natural gas), fuel cells and on-board hydrogen production.
  • Reduction or elimination of “idle” when a semi-truck is stationary
  • Disengagement of rotating gears when a truck is stopped.

All efforts are exploratory at this point but great progress is being made to meet the requirements.  I would love to hear from you relative to this post.

bobjengr@comcast.net.

 

INTERNET ADDICTION

September 6, 2014


The following resources were used to produce this post:  Internet Society, “Global Internet Report 2014”, SITEOPEDIA and HELPGUIDE.ORG, BBC News, “The Age of Internet Overload”.

WHAT IS THE INTERNET:

According to the Global Internet Society, “The Internet is a uniquely universal platform that uses the same standards in every country, so that every user can interact with every other user in ways unimaginable 10 years ago, regardless of the multitude of changes taking place.”

This statement sums it up in a very precise fashion.  The Internet has undoubtedly changed the entire world.  Open access to the Internet has revolutionized the way individuals communicate and collaborate, entrepreneurs and corporations conduct business, and governments and citizens interact. At the same time, the Internet established a revolutionary open model for its own development and governance, encompassing all stakeholders.  Fundamentally, the Internet is a ‘network of networks’ whose protocols are designed to allow networks to interoperate.  In the very beginning, these networks represented different academic, government, and research communities whose members needed to cooperate to develop common standards and manage joint resources.  Later, as the Internet was commercialized, vendors and operators joined the open protocol development process and helped unleash the unprecedented era of growth and innovation.

INTERNET PENETRATION BY COUNTRY:

If we look at global Internet penetration by country, we see the following:

GLOBAL INTERNET PENETRATION

Internet penetration on a global basis is obvious for countries other than those considered third-world.  Internet usage on a daily basis approaches use by one billion individuals per day.  There should be no doubt that with numbers such as these, there will be those with obsessive/compulsive disorders producing addiction.  With that being the case, what is Internet addiction?

INTERNET ADDICTION:

Internet Addiction, otherwise known as computer addiction, online addiction, or Internet addiction disorder (IAD), covers a variety of impulse-control problems, including:

  • Cybersex Addiction – compulsive use of Internet pornography, adult chat rooms, or adult fantasy role-play sites impacting negatively on real-life intimate relationships.  The Internet is the cheapest, fastest, and most anonymous pornography source. Internet pornographers made over $1 billion in revenues dealing their merchandise on-line. The threat of pornography over the Internet cannot be discounted: 70 percent of children viewing pornography on the Internet do so in public schools and libraries (The Internet Online Summit, 1997). All of us realize that we are surrounded by various forms of pornography, whether noticing the “adult” section of videos at Blockbuster, surfing the Internet, seeing advertising which is clearly sexually suggestive, or innocently going to a movie that just happens to have some kind of sex scene.
  • Cyber-Relationship Addiction – addiction to social networking, chat rooms, texting, and messaging to the point where virtual, online friends become more important than real-life relationships with family and friends.   Facebook has 1.4 billion profiles, and 1.06 billion of those (or 15 percent of the world’s population) use Facebook regularly.   Of those, 78 percent of users access Facebook on a mobile device a minimum of once a month.  Every second, there are 8,000 likes on Instagram.  Instagram launched in 2010, and boasts 200 million active users in 2014, with over 75 million users daily.   Google+ has over 540 million profiles and over 300 million monthly active users.  LinkedIn, launched in 2003, has 300 million users, and an average of two new members per second. Forty percent of users on LinkedIn check the site daily, and Mashable is the LinkedIn company with the most engaged following.
  • Net Compulsions – such as compulsive online gaming, gambling, stock trading, or compulsive use of online auction sites such as eBay, often resulting in financial and job-related problems. Obsessive playing of off-line computer games, such as Solitaire or Minesweeper, or obsessive computer programming.
  • Information Overload – compulsive web surfing or database searching, leading to lower work productivity and less social interaction with family and friends.  An average US citizen on an average day consumes 100,500 words, whether that is email, messages on social networks, searching websites or anywhere else digitally.  Take a look at the global statistics given below and consider what happens in sixty (60) seconds:
    • 168 million e-mails sent
    • 694,445 Google searches launched
    • 695,000 Facebook updates attempted
    • 370,000 Skype calls made
    • 98,000 Tweets accomplished
    • 20,000 new posts on TUMBLR
    • 13,000 iPhone apps downloaded
    • 6,600 new pictures on Flickr
    • 1,500 new blog entries posted, (just like this one )
    • 600+ videos posted totaling over 25 hours duration on YouTube

The most common of these Internet addictions are cybersex, online gambling, and cyber-relationship addiction.  Talk about busy.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

Signs and symptoms of Internet addiction vary from person to person. For example, there are no set hours per day or number of messages sent that indicate Internet addiction. But here are some general warning signs that your Internet use may have become a problem:

  • Losing track of time online. Do you frequently find yourself on the Internet longer than you intended? Does a few minutes turn into a few hours? Do you get irritated or cranky if your online time is interrupted?  From a business standpoint, I have often heard the Internet is a “black hole” when it comes to wasting time.  This is primarily due to net-surfing.  I will admit, in the work I do as a consulting engineer, I use the Internet on a daily basis to investigate vendors and companies supplying services to complement my work.  I don’t really consider this wasting time but actually saves time spent in research through phone calls, magazine searches, searches through Thomas Register, etc.
  • Having trouble completing tasks at work or home. Do you find laundry piling up and little food in the house for dinner because you’ve been busy online? Perhaps you find yourself working late more often because you can’t complete your work on time—then staying even longer when everyone else has gone home so you can use the Internet freely.
  • Isolation from family and friends. Is your social life suffering because of all the time you spend online? Are you neglecting your family and friends? Do you feel like no one in your “real” life—even your spouse—understands you like your online friends?
  • Feeling guilty or defensive about your Internet use. Are you sick of your spouse nagging you to get off the computer or put your smart phone down and spend time together? Do you hide your Internet use or lie to your boss and family about the amount of time you spend on the computer or mobile devices and what you do while you’re online?
  • Feeling a sense of euphoria while involved in Internet activities. Do you use the Internet as an outlet when stressed, sad, or for sexual gratification or excitement? Have you tried to limit your Internet time but failed?

INTERNET USAGE/USA:

If we look at Internet usage relative to addiction, we see the following for the United States:

HOW MUCH TIME EACH WEEK

This calculates to 988 hours per year for men and 728 hours per year for women. How much time do you spend per year reading a good book, calling your mother, taking a course at a local technical school or university, volunteering in your community, etc?  Have you improved your reading speed and reading comprehension lately?  You get the picture.

SITEOPEDIA has conducted polls that indicate significant addiction can result from Internet usage.  The graphic below will highlight the results of that poll.  Note: those indicating they are not addicted may just be lying.  The real rates of addiction are estimates at best.

ADDICTED

Those indicating they are addicted might consider the following recourse:

  • Recognize any underlying problems that may support your Internet addiction. If you are struggling with depressionstress, or anxiety, for example, Internet addiction might be a way to self-soothe rocky moods. Have you had problems with alcohol or drugs in the past? Does anything about your Internet use remind you of how you used to drink or use drugs to numb yourself? Recognize if you need to address treatment in these areas or return to group support meetings.
  • Build your coping skills. Perhaps blowing off steam on the Internet is your way of coping with stress or angry feelings. Or maybe you have trouble relating to others, or are excessively shy with people in real life. Building skills in these areas will help you weather the stresses and strains of daily life without resorting to compulsive Internet use.
  • Strengthen your support network. The more relationships you have in real life, the less you will need the Internet for social interaction. Set aside dedicated time each week for friends and family. If you are shy, try finding common interest groups such as a sports team, education class, or book reading club. This allows you to interact with others and let relationships develop naturally.

Modify your Internet use step by step:

  • To help you see problem areas, keep a log of how much you use the Internet for non-work or non-essential activities. Are there times of day that you use the Internet more? Are there triggers in your day that make you stay online for hours at a time when you only planned to stay for a few minutes?
  • Set goals for when you can use the Internet. For example, you might try setting a timer, scheduling use for certain times of day, or making a commitment to turn off the computer, tablet, or smart phone at the same time each night. Or you could reward yourself with a certain amount of online time once you’ve completed a homework assignment or finished the laundry, for instance.
  • Replace your Internet usage with healthy activities. If you are bored and lonely, resisting the urge to get back online can be very difficult. Have a plan for other ways to fill the time, such as going to lunch with a coworker, taking a class, or inviting a friend over.

WHAT WE DO:

The fascinating thing about Internet usage is what we actually do with all that time.  From the graphic below, we see legitimate usage of the Internet to accomplish “chores” and execute responsibilities.  I think shopping online and paying bills certainly fall within reason.

MONEY-MONEY-MONEY

Wasting time on the Internet is a matter of definition.  Please keep in mind the graphic below indicates time per DAY.  Left side men—right side women.

SITEOPEDIA U-TUBE

OK, now that I have your attention, where do we go next?

WHERE NEXT

We just might be doomed as a society.  Curb that habit.  I welcome your comments:

bobjengr@comcast.net


There is absolutely no doubt the entire world is dependent upon the generation and transmission of electricity.  Those countries without electrical power are considered third world countries with no immediate hope of improving lives and living conditions and yet there just may be alternatives to generally held methods for generating electricity.

If we look at the definition for renewable energy, we see the following:

Renewable energy is derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly. In its various forms, it derives directly from the sun, or from heat generated deep within the earth. Included in the definition is electricity and heat generated from solar, wind, ocean, hydropower, biomass, geothermal resources, and biofuels and hydrogen derived from renewable resources.

POWER GENERATION:

We are all familiar with current methodologies for power generation.  These are 1.) Hydroelectric, 2.) Nuclear, 3.) Coal-Powered, 4.) Oil-Fired, and 5.) Generation using Natural gas.  The graphic below will indicate the percentages of each generation type by technique.  This is for the United States.  Other countries use generation methods relative to the availability of resources, political pressures and cultural pressures.   Germany is in the process of abandoning their use of nuclear energy for power generation.  This is a cultural and political decision and not entirely based upon scientific considerations.

Generation of Electricity by Type

You will notice that renewable energy was approximately 12.9 percent of the total generation within the United States in 2013. Please note also that hydroelectric is considered to be a source of renewable energy.  This is show by the graphic below.  To break this down even further, we look at the following:

EIA TOTAL GENERATION BY ENERGY TYPE(2)

Renewable energy is represented by five (5) categories:

  • Hydroelectric
  • Wind
  • Solar
  • Geothermal
  • Biomass

One additional possibly is generation of electricity by virtue of tidal processes.  This technology is in its infancy with work being accomplished on a “demonstration” scale.  It is an up-and-coming methodology but right now does not enjoy a place within the list above.

Just how much energy results from each renewable category?

RENEWABLE ENERGY BY TYPE

From above we see there has been growing dependence upon renewable technology as a source of electricity.  Wind and biomass production are increasing while hydroelectric decreasing.  Geothermal and solar remain about the same.   The increase in energy production by biomass is significant. Very significant.

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) has collected the following data:

EIA Numbers for Renewable Energy

Why should governments and independent companies continue to consider renewable energy as a source of power?  There are compelling reasons.

BENEFITS:

  • ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS— For the most part, renewable sources of energy have minimal negative impact on our environment.  They are paramount in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.  Millions of people are exposed to toxic fumes from cooking fuels and kerosene lanterns, emissions from automobiles and energy sources for generating electricity.  All result in chronic eye and lung conditions.   Countries such as China and India have days where atmospheric particulate requires masks or face coverings when prolonged periods of outdoor activity are needed.
  • ENERGY FOR THE FUTURE—Coal, oil, natural gas, and even nuclear energy are expendable non-renewable sources of energy.  Once exhausted—gone forever.  Prolonging their use is paramount.  We will never completely remove ourselves from being a petro-based economy.  Too many bi-products are made from petroleum.  It is fantasy to suspect total elimination of petroleum usage.
  • JOBS AND ECONOMY—Investments in hardware and infrastructure for renewable energy use requires money but can creates jobs.  If you have been following the insanity relative to approval of the Keystone Pipeline you know the argument.  On a global basis, we can see the following: (PLEASE NOTE:  The numbers are in billions of US dollars )

GLOBAL NEW INVESTMENTS

The point with this graph is showing the increasing investment dollars for R & D efforts and   production of infrastructure in allowing generation of energy.

  • ENERGY SECURITY— The U.S. imported approximately 10.6 million barrels per day of petroleum in 2012 from about 80 countries. We exported 3.2 MMbd of crude oil and petroleum products, resulting in net imports (imports minus exports) equaling 7.4 MMbd. Net imports accounted for 40% of the petroleum consumed in the United States, the lowest annual average since 1991.

“Petroleum” includes crude oil and refined petroleum products like gasoline, and biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. In 2012, about 80% of gross petroleum imports were crude oil, and about 57% of all crude oil that was processed in U.S. refineries was imported.

The top five source countries of U.S. petroleum imports in 2012 were Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia. Their respective rankings vary based on gross petroleum imports or net petroleum imports (gross imports minus exports).  Net imports from OPEC countries accounted for 55% of U.S. net imports.

DISADVANTAGES:

One disadvantage with renewable energy is that it is difficult to generate the quantities of electricity that are as large as those produced by traditional fossil fuel generators. This may mean that we need to reduce the amount of energy we use or simply build more energy facilities. It also indicates that the best solution to our energy problems may be to have a balance of many different power sources.

Another disadvantage of renewable energy sources is the reliability of supply. Renewable energy often relies on the weather for its source of power. Hydro generators need rain to fill dams to supply flowing water. Wind turbines need wind to turn the blades, and solar collectors need clear skies and sunshine to collect heat and make electricity. When these resources are unavailable so is the capacity to make energy from them. This can be unpredictable and inconsistent. The current cost of renewable energy technology is also far in excess of traditional fossil fuel generation. This is because it is a new technology and as such has extremely large capital cost.

CONCLUSIONS:   It remains right and proper that the Unites States and other countries continue research and development relative to renewable sources of energy.    The cost of power generation is increasing and depletion of non-renewable sources is of great concern.  We must continue efforts to improve technologies of renewable power to reduce the cost of infrastructure and delivery.

I would welcome your comments: bobjengr@comcast.net

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