Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Geothermal: Possible downside

I came across this article today based on some observations made at the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland.

Geothermal Is Not So Clean

Not long after the station started producing electricity, Reykjavik residents became aware that they had to clean silverware every three to four days instead of three to four months because it was always covered with black soot.

Truck drivers who drove daily to sand mines in the western part of Hellisheidi found that the rubber in the suspension and steering systems of their vehicles became hard and prone to breakage after only a year, whereas normally it would take three to five years for this to happen.

People suspected that the Hellisheidi plant was responsible for the damage, but at first this was never discussed openly.

Then in September 2008, people saw that the moss vegetation adjacent to the Hellisheidi plant was severely damaged.
Those are the symptoms. What is the problem?
Although no definite conclusions could be made because the effect of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) on moss has not been researched, there are strong indications that sulphur, derived from H2S, is the cause of the damage at Hellisheidi and nearby Nesjavellir.

The damage stems from the steam produced at the plant. Most of this is water, but 0.4 percent of the steam contains gases of various kinds - 83 percent is carbon dioxide (CO2), 16 percent hydrogen sulphide (H2S), and the remainder other gases. Trace elements in the steam include sulphur, mercury, boron, arsenic and aluminium.
The solution?
Johannsson says it is technically possible to reduce H2S levels from geothermal plants, but this is costly. "Various methods are known which are used all over the world," he says. "The disadvantages of these methods are that pure sulphur, sulphuric acid or gypsum are left behind and there is an over-supply of all these products on the world market. However, Reykjavik Energy are trying out an experimental project of pumping the H2S back into the geothermal system."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Well, if one is looking for another reason to promote native plants, here it is. 

Newest pest can cut you
An aquatic invader is camping out on the banks of the Trent-Severn Waterway, and from the sounds of it, is getting very comfortable...

The new undesirable in her sights is called the water soldier, Stratiotes aloides.

It resembles an aloe vera or spider plant, but with one significant difference: "It is very sharp..."

"From what we have seen, it has become an impediment to boaters," (
Francine - ed) MacDonald said. "It could be a huge problem for swimmers."

Like spider plants, water soldiers have offsets, little plants that detach and take root at new locations, so moving water offers the perfect method for them to spread.

Unfortunately, so are careless gardeners. Water soldiers and many other invasive species can be purchased at Ontario nurseries.

"If you are going to use exotic plants, keep them contained, don't enable them to escape" by planting them in flood plains or near waterways, said MacDonald.

OPSEU has begun Year 2 of introducing native plants to its Headquarters at 100 Lesmill. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Webconferencing update...

What's been keeping me so busy lately? Web conferencing for one. 

OPSEU's plan to develop the infrastructure for a province-wide webconferencing network is moving ahead for full implementation by the summer. Highlights include:
  • acquistion of one new laptop and peripheral equipment for each regional office for use by members
  • plans for training OPSEU staff who will be supporting the program 
  • development of support materials
The OPSEU Executive Board proposed, and Convention 2009 agreed, that each OPSEU committee would attempt to use webconferencing for at least one meeting this year. 

I'm back....

Things have been so busy around the office these past few weeks since Convention that I haven't had an opportunity to update the blog. Please be assured that there will be lots of new content coming in the near future.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

College Support Divisional

I had the opportunity to make a short presentation to the Colleges support staff annual Divisional meeting on Saturday. The main focus of my talk was about OPSEU's webconferencing plan. 

Gary, Divex Chair Betty Cree, Staff support Mike Culkeen

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