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Energy Newsbriefs

Articles for February 4, 2013

ENERGY NEWSBRIEFS is a weekly current awareness service provided by the WSU Extension Energy Program Library and written by Angela Santamaria, WSU Energy Library Manager, to assist users in tracking developments in the energy field. To view past issues or to subscribe to receive an email notification of the publication of a new issue, go to the Energy Newsbriefs home.

Please be aware that although every URL is checked for accuracy prior to the publication of Energy Newsbriefs, URLs are, for various reasons, subject to change. Further, servers sometimes fail to connect to working URLs.


"Fireflies Inspire Brighter LEDs," by Susan Young, was posted on the MIT Technology Review website on January 14, 2013. It explains the physiological feature of fireflies that is lending itself to the design of LEDs, an example of biomimicry.


The following five articles were published in the January/February 2013 issue of Home Energy:

  1. "Financing Home Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy"(on page 18) was co-authored by Francisco DeVries, President, and Kelley McKanna, Project Manager, both of Renewable Funding. This is a review of financing options currently available including solar leasing, power purchase agreements (PPAs), on-utility-bill financing, PowerSave loans, and consumer credit financing (known as unsecured loans). Additionally, as the authors mention, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is another option that, though popular, has run into opposition by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). (Though not covered in the article, an explanation of the FHFA's position on the matter is included in the July 6, 2010 FHFA Statement on Certain Energy Retrofit Loan Programs. Essentially, the problem posed by PACE loans is that they are first liens on existing mortgages, an advantage for PACE lenders, of course, but a major liability for mortgage holders as well as a financial intrusion on legally-set mortgages – the FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages as well as all the Federal Home Loan Banks.)
  2. "Is That House as Air Filter?" (on page 32) was written by Brent Stephens, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology. The problems with high levels of airborne outdoor particulate matter are mainly two: it has been shown to be responsible for serious health difficulties and it does most of its damage indoors by seeping into homes where most people spend most of their time.
  3. "Deep Energy Retrofits" (on page 24) was jointly written by Paul Eldrenkamp, Owner and Founder, Byggmeister Inc., and Co-Principal, DEAP Energy Group; and Mike Duclos, Principal and Founder, DEAP Energy Group. It includes three case studies of homes in need of major energy-retrofits: a single-family ranch, a two-family, and a three-family. The lessons-learned section of the article provides good insights that can be applied to many other retrofit projects.
  4. "Selling Energy Conservation" (on page 12), by Cynthia Ojczyk, Owner, Simply Green Design, focuses on the experiences of an energy professional as she promotes energy efficiencies and energy conservation in developing green remodeling plans for homeowners.
  5. "Taking Weatherization to Native Americans in Washington State" (scroll to page 40) was written by Eunice Herren, Weatherization Tribal Liaison (retired), Washington State Department of Commerce. Commerce's Housing Improvement and Preservation (HIP) Unit began bringing its formidable weatherization experience to Native American homes in the state in 2010. Three major programs have been established: the Makah Tribal Housing in Neah Bay, the Spokane Indian Housing Authority in Wellpoint, and the Yakama Nation Housing Authority in Wapato.


The following three articles appeared in the December 2012 issue of Industrial Heating; free registration is required to see them:

  1. "CFC Heat-Treating Racks for Ultrahigh Temperatures," by Steve Winters, Toyo Tanso USA, explains the need for a better rack in furnaces running at or higher than 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. It appears that rack parts comprised of carbon-fiber-reinforced carbon (CFC) and ceramics perform better than steel in this setting. This offsets the higher initial cost of using CFC and, actually, results in dramatic savings of time, materials, and money.
  2. "Cost-Effective Material for Heat-Treated Gear Applications" was jointly authored by Ulf Engström, Robert Frykholm, and Caroline Larsson, all of Höganäs AB, Höganäs, Sweden. A new powder-metal (PM) comprised of iron, nickel, and molybdenum has been developed for use in heat treating. It performs well and is less likely to be influenced by future price fluctuations than traditional PMs.
  3. "Forging with Induction Heating" was written by Stanley Zinn, Induction Consultants Inc. shows how the hot forming of certain bolts used for wind turbine assemblies is accomplished.


"Award-Winning PV Cell Pushes Efficiency Higher," by staff, was posted on the NREL Online Newsroom on December 28, 2012. It describes how a solar cell with several layers of semiconductors instead of one is able to absorb more solar photons, thereby dramatically increasing its efficiency.


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© 2013 Washington State University Extension Energy Program. This publication contains material written and produced for public distribution