Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Green Commentary’

I count on Emilio Estevez to appropriately deliver the weight of all bad news:

*     *     *

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo covers the recent controversy over single-serving coffee cups waste, the inventor’s regret in even making the cups, and the landfill problems that still remain.

Maybe you’ve seen this video going around (NSFW: language). It’s got a bit of a “Cloverfield” vibe, but, you know, with a giant monster made of plastic single-serving coffee cups (or K-Cups):

It’s decently done, but like many marketing efforts, it’s too hip for its own good. Remember those Burger King ads where their mascot, the King, became weird and creepy? Sure, some were fun, but you know what it didn’t do? Make people want to buy more burgers. McDonald’s’ ads are boring—look: food + happy people—but showing your food for 30 seconds along with a jingle gets the job done.

What this video has done is increased my desire to pelt people in the face with K-Cups and/or create an army of giant evil monsters. Probably not what they were going for.

Interestingly enough, over the last month:

  1. The creator of K-Cups has stated he regrets making them (but already sold off the company in 1997); and
  2. Keurig has pledged to make their K-Cups 100% recyclable by 2020.

As for point A, I’ve already discussed thinking through the total environmental impact of your technology, but in 1997, that understanding wasn’t there in the same way it is today. As for B, there are recyclable K-Cups available now, but it essentially requires modifying your current Keurig machine and buying knockoff cups so, surprise, Keurig isn’t too into that.

Despite the buzz this generated, some of the biggest “convenience drink” perpetrators are still going on as is. Starbucks pledged to make their cups 100% recyclable by, well, now (they said 2015), but instead opted to sell reusable cups when it wasn’t cheap enough to remove the plastic coating from their disposable ones. Meanwhile, plastic water bottles also contend for which unrecyclable waste can load up landfills faster.

But hey, nobody’s made a video of monsters made from those yet.

*     *     *

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools discusses why oil prices (and gasoline prices) have declined, the inefficiency of U.S. oil and gas, and what can be done to make a profit at low crude prices.  

If you haven’t kept track of the recent changes in oil and gas prices, here are the basics:

  • People are happy at the pump: Gasoline prices are at a four-year low (down 40% from six months ago). Eight states are expected to have gas below $2/gallon, and the 2015 nationwide average is projected to stay lower than 2014 average.
  • Oil and gas companies are scaling back: In addition to gasoline prices sitting at a four-year low, crude oil prices just hit a five-year low. Currently, they’re at the low-to-mid-$60s/barrel range. There are projections that the slump is not over, that these low prices could hold through 2016, and that oil may not get above $100/barrel again for a long time.

While there are natural ups and downs with commodity prices, this rapid decline was unforeseen by most, and the timing is bad for the industry. The Organization of Petroleum Countries (OPEC) reduced the oil estimates needed in 2015 by 300,000 barrels down to 28.9 million. Doesn’t seem like a lot percentage wise, but it’s the lowest in 12 years. With lower demand, drilling rig counts are down, 2015 budgets are getting slashed, and oil company stocks are falling.

Even with low prices, the Middle East has no plans to slow down their production. Some say this is a way to root out terrorist influence, others say it’s a way of protecting market share, but whatever the case, the success or failure of the U.S. oil and gas industry doesn’t majorly play into their plans.

What this has done is highlight the inefficiency of U.S oil and gas.

The Middle East claims that their costs per barrel are at about half of U.S. costs (and significantly lower than the average cost of all other countries), so $60/barrel oil may cut into their profits, but in the U.S., where $60-$64/barrel is considered break-even price for shale production, $60/barrel can be a breaking point.

Probably doesn’t hurt that Saudi Arabia has $700 billion in foreign currency reserves thanks to higher oil prices.

From: https://i1.wp.com/cdn.na16.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/scrooge-mcduck.jpg

Pretty much what I think of, head-into-coin injuries be damned

You can debate the profit mark—which will also fluctuate due to legislation, available technology, and world issues—but generally speaking, the U.S. oil and gas industry has two modes, both of which avoid efficiency:

  • When oil prices are high, they’re too busy to invest in innovation/efficiency and it’s full on drill, baby, drill!
  • When oil prices are low they don’t have any money to invest in innovation/efficiency.

These maxims hold true until legislation requires oil and gas companies to change, and 2015 is a year of legislation when it comes to making companies deal with flared gas, vented vapors, and the volatility of oil.

It also doesn’t help that U.S. companies largely focus on what will boost their stocks this quarter, even if it’s to the detriment of say, next quarter. Oil and gas companies care about their bottom line (which is good—you should make a profit in business), but they often don’t have the ability (read: time and/or money) to care about efficiency in their processes, even if doing so would greatly increase their bottom line.

I recently met with a customer that had posters everywhere that said something like, “Safety first, environment second, profit third.” I joked that the reality is actually, “Profit, profit, profit… and don’t get me fined while you’re at it.” This doesn’t make them villains. The reality is I’ve worked in enough green industries to know that the way you get people—individuals or business groups—to care about environmental issues is to make them money while doing good.

To be blunt: No company primarily cares about environmental issues when they’re facing heavy losses and/or going out of business.

Given that Vortex tools improve oil and gas efficiency and gives an environmental benefit, here’s some of what we can do (and are expecting to grow into more in the coming year):

2015 is set to be a rocky year for oil and gas producers/operators. It’s time to squeeze every bit of efficiency and value from production.

*     *     *

*Sources and image credit listed in the comments.

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo shares the far-reaching effects that environmental technologies need to consider.

Whenever the holidays roll around, I like to look up all the awkward green approaches, but this last 4th of July, I noticed that the fun is gone. While I’ve previously noted that being green often coincides with my tendency to be a cheapskate, I’ve found the approaches to a green Thanksgiving—save the ultimate horror of tofurky—are rather dull.

NOfurky

Do you really need a reminder that it’s environmentally friendly to eat all your leftovers, or is the family cook threatening to kill you if you don’t eat turkey sandwiches for a week the main motivation?

Exactly. I welcome thee, Turkey Sandwich Apocalypse.

So again, what happened to all the fun green holiday ideas?

One of the big problems is that people started to think through what the complete process costs the environment. Suddenly wasting an entire morning on a green project that’s not all that impactful doesn’t seem so worthwhile (and that’s before signing up for the grind of the afternoon/evening meal with your extended family).

So sorry, Mother Earth, I’ve got a Mother-in-Law to deal with first.

Let’s go bigger: Given that we work on environmental issues, we get to hear how everyone and their mom has the greatest green idea ever!!!!! Until, you know, you actually start to work it through.

So, for example, Harry has an idea to reuse Chain Store X’s trash as an alternative fuel. He believes the store should give it to him for free, and that this process will solve landfill issue while displacing fossil fuels with a cleaner, energy-efficient fuel. In addition, Harry will create jobs and make gobs of money while making Mother Earth happy with his trash-to-fuel process.

Sounds great, until you start looking at the complete process. Once this happens, Harry will find that:

  1. Chain Store X will not give him their trash for free because, a) they don’t want to be held responsible for what some crazy unknown entity will do with their stuff (and the PR havoc that could cause); and b) once something has economic value it is no longer simply trash.
  2. Even if Harry can convince Chain Store X to give him their trash, he discovers that in order to go pick up enough trash, he has to get a fleet of gas guzzling dump trucks to route to his facility that runs on fossil fuels. He searches for alternatives but discovers that there are no economically viable energy sources—at least not any that are reliable and scalable enough—and that he doesn’t have nearly enough access to capital to develop his own. In calculating the carbon footprint of his facilities and transportation, Harry realizes that he’s essentially undoing the good he’s creating with his process.
  3. Harry again debates using his own super trash fuel for the above issues, but discovers that scaling the fuel starts to mess with supply and demand, that suddenly his fuel isn’t profitable at this level, and that no venture capitalist is willing to back his growth with the abysmal track record of cleantech startups that have blazed the same trails and burned up with the same mistakes.
  4. Finally, Harry discovers that his process creates a nasty byproduct that can’t be used anywhere. In addition, even the landfills won’t take this byproduct because it’s so toxic, so his great, clean fuel has created a series of problems that he didn’t know about until the process is already in motion, leaving him with a business model that no longer applies.

And so on and so on.

This kind of example sounds ridiculous, but corn ethanol facilities ran on fossil fuels (and that’s before they got into the associated water waste from such an inefficient process that created an unusable bounty of ugly byproduct).

However, more than likely, Harry will never get past complaining about the unfairness of big oil, greedy venture capitalists, and the monopolistic tendencies of the energy world. At best, he will turn a blind eye to the inefficiency he creates with his old, beat-up, alt-fuel pickup truck that runs for four days at a time without breaking down.

The reality is that you can make an alternative fuel from just about anything, but it’s a matter of:

  • How efficient the fuel is
  • How it scales to larger use
  • How economically viable it is to build/maintain the process/end-user device; and
  • How bad you’ll stink driving down the road

(The last one seems to apply the least to the “creative fuel” drivers I’ve met.)

So maybe this isn’t the thankful post I should be writing this time of year, but I’ve just seen a hundred too many cutesy environmental technology ideas that never really go anywhere while wasting a lot of time, money, and credibility. In the meantime, viable (yet in-progress) technologies get nitpicked by the very environmental crowd that will never support them anyway.

If you find the perfect technology, let me know. You should find it alongside a perfect relationship and an alternate reality where the Chicago Cubs finally win the World Series.

*     *     *

Okay, okay, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for… just not in this post. Have a great Turkey Day / mediocre Tofurky Day!

 

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools covers the growing subculture of diesel trucks modified to produce excess amounts of exhaust soot.

When it comes to jerk drivers, there are many variations of “that person”:

  • The aggressive motorcyclist leaning in and out of lanes, wearing a tank top, shorts, and of course, no helmet. One slip and he’ll be scraping road rash out of his eyes.
  • The multi-tasking, rush-hour commuter putting on makeup, smoking, and chatting on the phone, yet who still magically has a hand free to flip you off when she veers into your lane.
  • The giant truck driver on your grill no matter how fast you’re going.
  • The androgynous elderly person driving 20 under in the fast lane.

All those people could just be having a bad day (even if they feel far too common), but the coal rolling subculture is an intentional move to be “that person” every day. I first encountered a rolling coal truck about a year back. I thought it was a lame novelty, but apparently it’s a growing trend.

The Huffington Post notes that coal rollers are spending a lot of time and thousands of dollars to modify their trucks with several components to increase the fuel going into their engines. By doing so, these engines don’t combust properly, and you get large amounts of soot.

Several of these coal rollers take great joy in blowing this black smoke at Priuses and pedestrians:

I’ve made no secret of my dislike of Captain Planet. Part of the reason is that I believe very few people are anti-environment and that the show seemed to unfairly skew people into roles of the heroic and the villainous. In the past I’ve noted:

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.

Most political groups cheat a bit when labeling themselves pro-anything. I mean, who’s anti-life, anti-choice, or anti-environment? Well apparently, the rolling coal crowd is at least largely anti-environmentalist:

“I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all,” an unnamed Wisconsin seller of smoke stack kits told Slate’s David Weigel, explaining some of the rationale behind the movement. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”

Yeah! You tell ‘em! Take that, completely reasonable health standards!

Wait, what?

Bear in mind, this crowd isn’t just anti-environmentalist, they seem to take great pleasure in blowing soot all over people—themselves included. They seem to be quite terrible on a number of fronts.

At this point, my stance is fairly straightforward: You can modify your truck like that, but only if you use that smoke stack as your daily enema.

*     *     *

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Valentine's Donut: Skip this, mumbling something about calories.

Valentine’s Donut: Skip this, mumbling something about calories.

SpiroFlo uses another holiday to show how being cheap can be rephrased as green values.

Ah, yes, Valentine’s Day.

Call it an opportunity to rage or buy into corporate and societal expectations. Call it a chance to hear “I like you, but I’m not ‘in like’ with you.” Me, I call it an opportunity to show how green values can line up with being cheap:

  1. Don’t you dare buy a card. $4 for an impersonal message on a murdered tree? Nay, I say! Go with an e-card that you can customize and email with minimal carbon impact. Be sure to break up with your significant other if you find it printed out later. Hang onto your memories in your memory, dear.
  2. Insist on only buying fair trade, eco-friendly chocolate. Make your standards so high that no chocolate will suffice, and insist that as you didn’t want your lover to bear that burden of guilt, no chocolate was the only way to remain principled.
  3. Get local flowers. Do not invest in the sham that is overpriced flowers; do not enable the environmental impact of delivering flowers across state lines. Note that I didn’t even say “buy” local flowers. Just step over into your neighbor’s yard and snip off a few bloomed delights. If caught by said neighbor, insist that it is your duty to share the beauty of earth and spout off something about corporate greed.
  4. Keep date night inside: Of course you’re not going to be wasteful by dressing up and driving out to an overpriced dinner you booked months in advance. Instead you will respect the environment by staying in your home with all the lights and heat turned off. Maybe you’ll even venture again into your neighbor’s yard to “share the beauty of earth” by sneaking fistfuls of (up until recently) planted vegetables back to your room.
  5. And finally: Don’t be single. Living and commuting by yourself? Your carbon footprint is bigger than it should be. This means that if you are married, you can consider it enough of a Valentine’s Day gift to bless earth with your living situation, and smugly judge all those single people who clearly just hate the environment.

*     *     *

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Enhanced by Zemanta

Read Full Post »

cleantech open logoSpiroFlo qualified as a semifinalist in the 2013 Cleantech Open (CTO)—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for its application in reducing pumping costs and providing water/energy efficiency to green communities. This series of blogs was designed to cover our experience going through the process a second time (we went through as our sister company, Vortex Tools, last year)—giving future applicants a heads up on what to expect from the CTO. Each 2013 entry is included here.  

Another year, another Cleantech Open. As I see no reason I’d be back in a participating team next year—unless someone wants to pay me in excessive amounts of nachos—I figured I’ll compile our complete 2013 CTO experience here:

The ‘too long, didn’t read’ (TL;DR) version of this three-part series: If you’re willing to put in the work and ride out the flaws of a growing volunteer organization, the Cleantech Open (CTO) is a great process for startup companies to connect with customers, refine their business plan, and get exposure in the marketplace… but the final regional judging experience still sucks.

Main Posts: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the 2013 Cleantech Open

Part One: What Stayed the Same? Covers how the CTO is a good process at its core, but that there are still flaws with webinars, variance in volunteers, and growing pains.

Part Two: What Changed? Notes that most of the changes made this year were positive.

Part Three: Final Judging Still Sucks: Covers how the final regional judging process needs an overhaul, as it’s flawed in its current form.

Every post from the 2012 CTO experience can be found here (covers what to expect at each stage).

Misc. Posts

Step Away from the Green Grants: Comments on what generalist mentors are for in the CTO.

An Awkward Steve Jobs Joke

SpiroFlo Qualifies as a Semi-Finalist in the 2013 Cleantech Open: Covers why we decided to return for a second year.

*     *     *

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at blog (at) spiroflo (dot) com

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools looks at the damage done to and from the oil and gas industry during the Colorado flood, as well as why this industry is often unfairly targeted during catastrophic events.

Last time I wrote about the Colorado flood and how it didn’t help the reserve levels in Lakes Mead and Powell (short version: it’d have to flood like that for nearly a year to make up the decades of drought).

Although the 24-hour news cycle went rampaging off to the latest event, there’s still massive amounts of cleanup to do in Boulder County. A woman I know has a fiancé in Lyons (an hour-and-a-half northwest of Denver). They don’t have power there and won’t restore it until the water is out and everything is dry. With limited access, workers (and residents) can’t even get in to start the process. It’ll likely be Christmas before it’s done.

Christmas. Three-and-a-half months after the initial flooding. Could you survive that long without going home or to work?

Now here’s what didn’t happen: No one logically grilled the builders of these homes and businesses for these structures getting overwhelmed by a raging body of water that unexpectedly shows up once every thousand years. No one logically went after road makers and bridge builders when they literally broke off from the force of the flood.

Why? Because most sane people get that you can’t build around rare, catastrophic events.

Sure, it’s an engineer’s dream to build a structure that would hold up to Godzilla or Mothra (clearly not both, that’d be nuts), but it’s not feasible or affordable on a widespread level.

Yet the oil and gas industry isn’t afforded that same understanding.

I get it. I work on the green side of oil and gas: reducing the environmental impact of flares and harmful CO2 vapors, recovering 10 times more natural gas liquids than conventional methods, etc., but being around the unreasonable brand of environmentalism long enough, I know their thinking. I hear the comments on how the U.S. should quit our oil addiction (coupled with an image of an evil, yet delightfully ripped Uncle Sam jamming a needle full of crude in his arm).

Oh yes, he will wear (patriotic) white after Labor Day

Oh yes, he will wear (patriotic) white after Labor Day

This is where I start asking for items—smart phones, glasses—that wouldn’t be possible without the plastic made from oil and gas. I offer to take a sledgehammer to the plastic parts of their Priuses and mountain bikes so that they can remain principled, but thus far, no one has taken me up on the offer or allowed me to pawn off their iPhone.

Still, there’s a valid question as to the damage done to and from the Colorado oil and gas market as a result of the flood.

These are actually some scary stats: Thus far, 43,000 gallons of oil have been reported to be in or near the South Platte River. As 20% of the fields in the Wattenberg Basin have yet to be examined, other problem areas will likely arise. Before the flood hit, oil and gas companies in the area raced to shut in nearly 1,900 oil and gas wells to prevent damage both to their production and the surrounding areas. Noble Energy is reported to take a hit of $7 to $17 million from lost production and flood damage, but the final tally is not yet in.

Officials from the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission think that, with the flood and road damage, it’ll take about 90 days to repair—so pretty much the same reparation timeline that everyone else is forced to work with.

This is the type of pain point no one wanted (save the types of people who never want to see a good catastrophe go to waste). Everything in the area got affected by the flood, and yes, everything includes oil and gas. So why are they specifically targeted?

Because no one likes a dirty industry making money.

The perception of the oil and gas is that it’s a rich industry. Sure, it makes billions, but the overall net profit margin is low because it also spends billions to capture those values. Of the 215 total industries, major integrated oil and gas comes in at #114 with 6.2% net profit margin. Drilling and exploration does better at a 9.9% (placing at #60), but overall, oil and gas is not the flush industry that should be hit up before all others with more taxes and fewer subsidies. If there is such a slot, it belongs to Closed-End Fund Equity with an 81% net profit margin.

Still, some are using the damage from the flood to move against the oil and gas industry: “Researchers from the University of Colorado studying how to limit the natural gas industry’s impact on the environment and communities are collecting soil samples along the river looking for evidence of benzene, a carcinogen, and benzene compounds, left behind by the spilled oil.”

If you’re going to play around in a fantasy land of no negative consequences in moving away from the energy resources generated by oil and gas, you might as well project how much time and money could’ve been saved from not flooding, but this is the reality we get to deal with.

Sigh. Looks like I’ve got some university Priuses and mountain bikes to smash.

*     *     *

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

cleantech open logoSpiroFlo qualified as a semifinalist in the 2013 Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for its application in reducing pumping costs and providing water/energy efficiency to green communities. This blog covers the flaws of pursuing nothing but green grants.

Given that I had a thing or fifty to say about the Cleantech Open the last time, I haven’t said much this time around. However, I had a chat with one of the generalist mentors not too long ago, and it shaped my thinking on both the Cleantech Open and niche groups as a whole.

In going through the 4-5 month process in 2012 as Vortex Tools, I assumed the generalist mentor the Cleantech Open assigned to you would help fill in any confusing parts of the process. This year I know better, but I bounced my thinking off a long-term mentor. His response:

We intentionally don’t help Cleantech Open teams in every little step of the the process. You need to be able to figure it out, and serves as a litmus test for how well you’ll do overall in business. Actually, the teams that win the Cleantech Open usually don’t do the best in business. You can spend all your time in green competitions—NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), DoE (Department of Energy), Cleantech this, Cleantech that—and never have to have any success as a business. You just keep getting grants. Often times, it’s the losers in the Cleantech Open who go out and do better in business.

It’s one thing if I think these things, but it’s another to have it confirmed by a staple of the organization (it was no surprise to me that he was mentor of the year several times). However, it’s the truth. Small green competitions are full of archetypes. When you see someone who’s under 35 at the Cleantech Open, odds are they’re a PhD. Many of them are bright; many of them have qualified for several stages of SBIR/STTR grants (government grants for small emerging technologies); and many of them will go nowhere in business.

It’s not necessarily inexperience or taking the wrong path—the archetype became a good standard for a reason—it’s the reality that doing well in the classroom doesn’t equate to doing well in the business world. Plus, the reality is most small business fail anyway—there are gobs of ways to mess it up.

Here’s to failing in the right areas.

*     *     *

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 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.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

By United States Senate [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsVortex Tools explains why the latest trends in environmentalism have little sway.

I realize my interest in environmental regulations news has waned.

I know, it’s not something most people would pick to be interested in to start with, but given I work in the water and oil & gas industries, this type of thing has at least somewhat of a foothold in my worldview.

So take President Obama’s recent environmental speech. I thought about blogging live reactions and ramifications. I thought about spoofing a mock drinking game based on overused environmental buzzwords (but then figured I might get someone killed from alcohol poisoning). I thought about doing a lot of things to respond in the moment, but I didn’t, and here’s why:

  1. Political parties often determine environmental policy: Like it or not, there’s a reason why people largely vote along party lines, not for individuals. Majority determines policy, and based on who’s controlling what, I know what I’m getting without having to hear the latest promises.
  2. If you want to know what a politician will do, check their voting/implementation/funding record: This ties back to #1, but you can monitor the individual over time. It’s hard to find a list without some form of spin on it, or with enough context to make sense as is, but you can get a good feel for what a politician favors and opposes.
  3. Passing environmental law =/= a change in reality: Again, look at the history. Heavily subsidized companies fail (sometimes without a workable product—the kind of thing you figured would be researched before handing them millions of dollars); laws get passed on green alternatives that no one can meet even if they wanted to do so; then agendas/political party power changes and so do the laws.

In short: Whether by statement or legal implementation, the latest environmental intent doesn’t mean anything.

So all these views about what this politician meant by x, what this latest movie/study on climate change/fracking/whatever-hot-button-issue-it-is-this-week, and any other environmental niche you can debate all day—take electrical power from potatoes; I’m begging you: please take on the electrical power from potatoes mantra—it’s all for naught.

It also doesn’t help that all this analysis, theory mongering, and strategizing get trumped by that thing called ongoing reality.

I suppose that’s a sad thing to say for a fella like me who likes to follow and comment on this bent, but it’s not like I wasn’t a cynic before…

Do I believe that enough little changes over a long enough timeline can change the big picture? Certainly, but I think that the change count and timeline is far higher and longer than even the most hopeful want to admit. But hey, I’m just one voice among many. This is the information age, which means everyone has the right be misinformed.

*     *     *

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 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.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »