Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2011

Although I usually update on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with it being Halloween, I figured I better tie in the holiday to green issues. Given my dislike of Captain Planet and nonsensical nature of eco-villains, this video covers it.

Be forewarned: Coarse language ahead, so NSFW:

***

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools discusses how it’s possible to be a green technology in the oft-vilified oil and gas industry. From eliminating harmful vapors to recovering up to 10 times more natural gas liquids than conventional methods, Vortex Tools keep oil and gas wells running efficiently and safely.

It’s not hard to figure out that people are more inclined to go green when it has a financial benefit, since even the staunchest opponent of green issues likes more green in his wallet. Not surprisingly, this also applies to the oil and gas industry. Yeah, I know, every time I bring up the green side of oil and gas, I have to assure people I’m not writing fiction (or lying to cover for an ill-favored industry), but one of the ways Vortex Tools makes the oil and gas industry more energy efficient is to squeeze more profitability out of what’s already there.

Yes, seriously, on fire

A couple of alternative energy resources that regularly get burned along the way — yes, literally set on fire — are natural gas liquids (NGL) or condensates. This is because several states allow oil and gas companies to flare the natural gas (containing the NGLs) for a set period of time. For all the controversy about fracking, I’m surprised this practice is still allowed, considering the negative environmental impact of flaring and that the energy from this natural gas could be used to heat a half-million homes for a day. While I’ve yet to meet a monocle-wearing oil and gas executive who twiddles his mustache and laughs maniacally, sometimes it’s easy to see why the oil and gas industry are more easily pegged as villains. However, one of the reasons oil and gas companies often flare the gas is not because it isn’t profitable, it’s that with gas values (which have stayed relatively low despite the up-and-down values of oil) and the associated pipeline costs to take it to market, natural gas isn’t profitable enough.

With this in mind, Vortex Tools decided to market the benefits of its natural gas liquids recovery (SX-NGL) tool to oil and gas companies’ bottom line. (Sure, it’s easy to wag our “We are the 99%” fingers at corporations looking to make more money off environmental issues, but look at how an individual green responsibilities like recycling have tanked when homeowners have to help pay for the process instead of subsidies.) In enabling these oil and gas companies to make a greater profit, alternative energy resources are maximized, and harmful environmental practices are eliminated.

By spinning gases back into liquids, the Vortex tools knock out more natural gas liquids like butane, pentane and propane—valuable liquids that are sold for three times the value of the gas (at current rates). Additionally, oil and gas producers have to pay a large treatment cost to remove these “nuisance liquids” from the gas to purify it to a sellable quality, but since the valuable liquids are removed before the processing plant, the producer gets greater value, the plant gets a purer gas ready for sale and the consumer gets more alternative fuels. (Processing plants can also use these Vortex SX-NGL tools to purify their product.) One East Texas producer studied these Vortex NGL recovery tools for 15 months and found that, in one year, they had generated over $2 million worth of NGLs (as well as reducing their gas treatment costs) from a $200,000 investment (which includes the cost of the Vortex tools and associated tanks/installation). Again, this profit number is before calculating all the processing costs saved.

A brochure about this increased NGL recovery can be found here.

For more applications—including how Vortex downhole tools extend the decline curve of an oil and gas well, allowing it to free flow under its own production without major intervention—as well as technical papers and case studies, please visit vortextools.com.

***

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo looks at some of the marketing strategies in business, how they’ve expanded to green technologies, and when a selling point crosses the line to become an outright lie. With the savings listed on the energy-efficient shower head provided by Xcel Energy, it appears they’ve crossed that line.

When my daughter was in sixth grade, the local energy company, Xcel, handed out a LivingWise kit — basically a box full of energy-efficient devices, including an air filter alarm, a high-efficiency light bulb and a high-efficiency shower head. While I have zero qualms with free stuff — even free stuff with an agenda (side note: anyone with a “free nachos” agenda is welcome to contact me at any time) — I do take issue with blatantly false data; so when I saw the weekly water savings listed on the shower head, I was immediately irritated.

LivingWise kit: Free at school or $5 on Ebay

Most people have seen the diet pill commercial where the girl in the bikini brags about losing dozens of pounds while standing side-by-side with a black-and-white photo of her much larger self from six months back. There’s a chance her frail frame is holding out her old, giant pants, but one thing’s for sure: Most people know those results aren’t typical, and sure enough, when your eyeballs squint at all the tiny words along the bottom of the TV screen, you usually find that the average weight loss on the fad diet pill (which will likely wind up banned by the FDA) is less than 15 pounds — weight that is likely to return.

Thing is, even if you assume these numbers are bogus, you can usually find out the truth (often that the advertised success story is an anomaly and not the norm). With many green technologies, however, I find that the truthful fine print is never available and some of the savings don’t add up. For anyone with even modest experience in household water savings, one glance will tell you that any showerhead claiming to save 770 gallons of water a week is bogus, but that’s what the flyer for the LivingWise shower head from Oxgenics and Xcel Energy claims. I was curious about exactly how false the numbers were.

With any data, you have to decide which averages you’re going to use — since different researchers have been known to find different data — and then make certain assumptions. With this in mind, I am using the EPA‘s average numbers for shower use, assuming that each person (out of an average 2.4 person home) is taking one shower a day. I am also assuming that the Xcel/Oxygenics shower head is in compliance with the 1.5 gallons per minute low-flow standard. Finally, given that the apocalypse has not yet happened, I am assuming there are still seven days in a week. Risky territory, I know, but now you know the foundation I’m working with. So, here we go:

2.4 showers a day times 8 minutes per shower times 7 days in week with a standard 2.5 gallon per minute shower head only uses 336 gallons in a week total. There aren’t even 770 gallons a week to save.

In order to save 770 gallons a week, still using the other averages, you’d have to save 5.73 gallons per minute off every shower. This means that in order for the Xcel/Oxygenics 1.5 gallons/minute high-efficiency shower head to save that huge amount of water, what they consider an average-flow shower head has to be above 7.2 gallons/minute. Problem is, the max flow shower head you can get since 1992 is a 2.5 gallon/minute shower head and the EPA estimates that 10% of the remaining big ol’ shower heads are getting replaced every year. So unless you’re using those giant, frying pan shower heads from a 1970s swinger pad as your average, you are lying.

Lots of water to distract you from the alien invasion

The part that grates me the most is that energy companies (who should know better) are endorsing these numbers. Maybe they’re just trying to appear like good stewards of the environment, or maybe it’s that sad green trend of the ends justifying the means, but it’s hard enough to get people to take energy efficiency seriously without adding in misinformation.

If I get updated info, I’ll certainly visit this issue again and correct any assumptions I may have made (I’m watching you, apocalypse). That said, neither Xcel Energy nor Oxygenics returned my phone calls on the matter. I’ll have more in the comments (including a statement from an energy savings insider).

“Free nachos” agenda, I  still await your delicious propaganda.

***

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools discusses how it’s possible to be a green technology in the oft-vilified oil and gas industry. From eliminating harmful vapors to recovering up to 10 times more natural gas liquids than conventional methods, the Vortex tools keep oil and gas wells running efficiently and safely.

Hi, I work for the green side of oil and gas.

I know, I know, you probably think the green side of oil and gas is as fictional as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot or the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, but we actually do exist. Vortex Tools figures if we are going to use fossil fuels (foreseeably for a long time), let’s at least help maximize their efficiency and minimize their environmental impact.

One of the basic things the Vortex surface tools do is to help oil vapors not catch on fire. That’s a reasonably green application, right? Not setting stuff ablaze. Basically, as oil and gas production comes to the surface, harmful vapors (labeled volatile organic compounds [VOCs]) can be released to atmosphere, causing short- and long-term adverse affects for both people and the environment. If these VOCs encounter friction, pipelines and storage tanks can break and/or catch on fire, resulting in contamination, injuries and even death. As a result of this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors these VOCs, fining oil and gas companies for not being in compliance.

Although vapor recovery units (VRUs) are used to capture these VOCs, Vortex has a cost-effective VRU replacement. Placed on a surface pipeline, the Vortex VRU tool spins the production into an efficient flow that also spins the VOCs back into the liquids, thereby increasing their value while keeping the harmful vapors contained. Naturally, liquids are more likely to be gases at higher temperatures (and part of what makes VOCs so dangerous is that they’re gaseous at ambient daytime temperatures), but customer experience has shown that, even with ambient temperatures of 103 degrees F, there were zero vapors with the Vortex VRU replacement tool. With no vapors, there’s no need to worry about the associated fees or the dangerous consequences from VOCs and friction.

Vortex SX-VRU: Vapor elimination tool

For more applications—including how Vortex downhole tools extend the decline curve of an oil and gas well, extending its free-flowing life (or enabling coalbed methane wells to free flow rather than starting out on pump)—please visit vortextools.com.

***

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo analyzes the terms that make up the environmental world—the cliché, the misunderstood, and the “don’t tell your mama” variety—and how they play in today’s society. Today’s word was, up until recently, the dirty little secret of water. If you don’t know about biofilm, it’s time for a basic education about the little bacteria community that could (and unfortunately still can in places you don’t even want to think about). Fortunately, SpiroFlo has a solution.

Biofilm is a bacteria that grows wherever there is water. Like most bacteria, it has some good uses, but for the most part, biofilm is causing far more problems than it’s solving. You know that creepy film on your teeth when you wake up in the morning? That’s biofilm. The goopy, green stuff hanging from pipes — that’s biofilm. Most biofilm is too small to see without a microscope, but considering 80% of all chronic, recurring infections involve biofilm, what you can’t see can hurt you.

In the same way that we have those satellite cameras in space that can zoom down into your house to watch you eat Chef Boyardee in your underpants, there are micro cameras that can zoom down into various microbes. When these micro cameras have zoomed into biofilm, it looks like a slime city. Biofilm isn’t just easily treatable free-floating bacteria; it’s a community that sticks readily to any surface (heart valves, pipe, the inside of an opened water bottle, etc.). With a regenerative, sticky film, the biofilm is very tough to remove, and it protects the other bacteria inside. Biofilm also has polymer webs that allow it to concentrate nutrients and resist purification. A lot of this info comes from Andy Coghlan’s “Slime City” — which is some of the newest info we have about biofilm… and the article came out in 1996.

Welcome to Slime City

The biggest thing we’ve learned about biofilm over the last 15 years is that the problem is way worse than we thought. In addition to infecting hospitals and drinking water, biofilm shows up in the very (not-so-) sterile lines dentists use to rinse out your mouth. (My condolences if your six-month check-up is today.) Recently, however, it seems as though biofilms aren’t the closeted secret they were 10 years back, as the medical industry is finally starting to publicly acknowledge the severity of the problem. Even Listerine is getting in on the act, touting a commercial about how their mouthwash kills biofilm… well, at least for half a day.

Since I work with the water industry via SpiroFlo, I’ve mostly been focused on biofilm removal applications in residential drinking water and industrial water purification. The “solutions” for these applications were, up until recently, chlorine chemical treatments (which don’t work, so companies continually increase their concentration and frequency of use) and monochloramine treatments (which also don’t work, so companies continually increase their concentration and the frequency of use). At best, these treatments can slow the stretch of the sprawling problem, so it’s a little like trying to hogtie a millipede with dental floss. Thankfully the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has endorsed Sterilex as a chemical treatment that completely kills biofilm. Did I say a treatment? I meant to say it’s the only EPA-endorsed chemical treatment. So even though the government has a general rule about not endorsing any particular product, somehow there’s one lonely EPA-endorsed biofilm removal chemical. (My beef is with the faulty protocol, not the solution.*) Can you figure out what the problem with Sterilex is? You guessed it: As the one and only government-endorsed chemical solution to completely kill biofilm, Sterilex is incredibly expensive. It’s kind of hard to readily treat a widespread problem when the main solutions are ineffective or unaffordable.

So here’s where I get to toot my company’s horn: A large, multinational corporation recently completed an independent test regarding the SpiroFlo device’s ability to remove biofilm. This patented SpiroFlo device sets up a spiraling flow that travels around the boundary layer of a pipe — the area of the pipe that is often missed by even the best chemical treatments (and, of course, where biofilm loves to grow). With water alone (as in no chemical treatment), the SpiroFlo device took the biofilm from “too many to count” to less than 100 parts per million. (That’s one of those numbers that basically means: might as well be zero.) These biofilm still need to be neutralized or flushed out — otherwise those sticky suckers can reattach downstream — but since the bacteria is now free-floating, it is easily treated.  One of the other benefits of the SpiroFlo device is that it helps keep chemical treatments suspended for longer, meaning that a company can use less chemicals and get the same result, especially as SpiroFlo scrapes the biofilm loose. As a result of these findings, this large multinational corporation has purchased SpiroFlo device for use in conjunction with Sterilex. More info is available on this page.

Here’s to having hidden solutions exposed as well.

*EDIT: Turns out the government protocol isn’t faulty, rather just so exhaustive that only Sterilex has gone through it. See here.

***

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

Cheese Mobile: Not quite what I had in mind

SpiroFlo analyzes the terms that make up the environmental world—the cliché, the misunderstood, and the “don’t tell your mama” variety—and how they play in today’s society. With companies using “green” as an automatic product selling point, how does the buzzword hold up?

Did you know you can power a lamp (to a dull glow) off a potato? You can even use a tomato, though during a jury-rigged power surge, I think I’d rather have French fries than ketchup splatter all over the room. I’m sure you can make a rug out of dried fruit, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be on sale at IKEA any time soon, because when it comes to making an economical decision, the green option doesn’t even rank in the top options for most businesses (and frankly, most consumers). Throw in the cost, quality and morality of a product (among other factors) and green options can often feel more like a compromise than a top choice.

A friend of mine felt compelled to eat only free range meat, but with the high cost of eating healthy, he compromised his values and budget into becoming a vegetarian. Upon moving to the Sudan to open an orphanage, his diet took a back seat to the reality of eating what was available. (While diet choices aren’t exactly a green philosophy, there are correlations between the two.)

With this in mind, I think it’s time to admit that simply because a technology is green doesn’t mean it’s inherently good (or even good enough), because being green alone isn’t enough.

I know the guy who regularly touts his not so socially acceptable green product(s), much to the chagrin of most people. He drives a truck that runs on grease that he gets free from restaurants. While he’s not increasing foreign oil dependency, you can still hear and smell his truck coming from a couple of blocks away. His vehicle is green (sorta), but for most people, that’s not enough, for the same reason the other characteristics of a product also usually aren’t enough on their own: Most decisions are not made off one factor. We absorb all the aspects — the pros, cons and limitations — and usually decide based on what’s feasible, not just what’s desired. Then again, we all know people going into debt over stuff they can’t afford (usually shopping sprees, expensive homes and cars, etc.), but I’ve yet to meet a person who got into financial trouble because they cared about the environment too much.

With all the trend-of-the-week gimmick cars, it seems like you can run a vehicle on just about anything—wine, algae, coffee—whether it runs efficiently or not. (I’m waiting for the day when I watch someone fuel their morning commute and their caffeine kick from the same tank.) Not all the cars that run on alternative fuels are held together by duct tape and the budget-crunched hope of a better tomorrow either. Some are actually quite sporty, but with the high-price tag on these options (see electric cars), it doesn’t yet feel like there’s a middle ground that works for mainstream society on many green products. As a result, thus far, most green niches have been held back by their large limitations. If that’s the case, saying something is green isn’t quite the trump card companies are pretending it is.

***

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

Is there a villain against environmentalism? If not, what specifically are environmentalists fighting against? SpiroFlo examines where the eco-fight is going and if it’s having an effect on the public at large.

Whether it’s hunters with more guns than teeth, or anyone who drives an SUV, I’ve heard several groups slighted as eco-villains—a term I learned from Ted Turner’s masterpiece of children’s animation, “Captain Planet.” Labeled as “edutainment” (note that I place edutainment in quotes because it was neither educational nor entertaining), “Captain Planet” was designed to teach environmentalist values to kids with a superhero shtick.

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/tv-shows/Captain-Planet-and-the-Planeteers/Verminous-Skumm/

Be sure to thank your parents for naming you Verminous Skumm

One of the many problems was that none of the villains on the show made any sense. Besides getting saddled with awful names like Sly Sludge, Looten Plunder and Tank Flusher III (real creative, guys), these eco-villains didn’t just show indifference to the environment, they specifically enjoyed dumping toxic waste in the ocean and misusing nuclear missiles. You know, the kind of hobbies any kid might get himself into if not redeemed by choppy 90s animation. Even better, many of these eco-villains were voiced by Hollywood actors and actresses—including Ed Asner, Martin Sheen and Meg Ryan—a group who, by and large, are far deeper into fringe environmental issues that the average American soul, making the overt bias of the cartoon all the more cringe-worthy.

It’s easy to laugh off this awkward attempt to market environmentalism to kids, but these cartoon opinions often come out when speaking about green issues. It’s rare I get through a heated conversation on environmentalism that doesn’t include comments about corporate greed, crooked politicians and consumer ignorance. It’s hard for me to grasp, but there are those who believe you cannot trust anyone who wears a suit to work. While I might not like a lot of what the government does, this does not mean I believe that every thought from politicians is evil, yet green issues seem to boil up to a level of vitriol that burns well beyond understanding those who disagree. In the end, we get villains, and we do not reason with villains. Villains gets yelled at; villains get fought. However, even if you consider every issue important, you cannot protest every issue every time. I would argue protesting lost its power long ago, but now what? If you keep your opponents as villains, you cannot go back and have a civil discussion, so we’re stuck in gridlock because both sides feel like any compromise is too much compromise.          

Let’s pick on me on one environmental issue and see how I do:

I do not own an electric car, and frankly, I do not see doing so any time soon. Maybe it’s that there isn’t yet a battery strong enough and cheap enough — one that will actually let me take a road trip without getting stranded in a middle-of-nowhere horror movie cliché — maybe it’s that the price tag for electric cars is still two-to-three times higher than that of a comparable economy fossil fuel ride, or maybe it’s the reality check that I can’t squeeze my value system into my financial budget, but when it comes down to it, I can’t afford to pay so much for a transportation option that doesn’t meet my everyday needs.

The Nissan Leaf: More expensive than hugging the whole tree

Does this disqualify me from being an environmentalist? Some would argue my everyday needs need to change; others might shield me with the notion of being a common sense environmentalist, but there isn’t an agreed upon green checklist to meet a level of bare minimum environmentalism, so it’s up to personal opinions (and inevitably, whatever mob mentality has taken hold recently, good or bad).

Like most issues, environmentalism isn’t so black and white. There are a lot of issues, a lot of nuances, a lot of opinions and, yes, some exceptions. Quite frankly, I think it’s time for a lot more conversations with a lot more listening.

Finally, for those of you who haven’t seen “Captain Planet,” feel free to hurt yourself with the following clip:

***

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »