Friday, November 29, 2013

How Much Subsidy Does Sabahan Get On Electricity?

Have you ever wonder what is the actual production cost of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) and how much subsidy do we receive? Below picture shows the breakdown of 2010 SESB's costs. We can see that the actual electricity production cost was 75.54 cents/kWh and the average tariff was 31.69 cents/kWh. Hence, we receive 43.85 cents of subsidy per kWh.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Malaysians Are Expecting Another Round Of Electricity Tariff Hike In 2014

Malaysians could expect 10% to 20% increase in electricity tariff per kWh next year, according to Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Ongkili. He also added that anything below 20% is reasonable. The final decision has yet to be made by the Cabinet, but the hike could happen anytime in 2014.

The hike will apply to both industrial and households increase. But Ongkili hinted that the government would maintain the current structure where consumers using 300 kWh per month and below would not experience any hike. Below are the snapshots of current domestic and commercial tariffs.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shelf Life Of Cosmetics And Skin Care Products

Do you know that all cosmetics and skin care products have an expiration date? This means most likely that we, especially ladies, have been keeping the products longer than they should be. Of course, using expired cosmetics and skin care products don’t seem nearly as bad as drinking a glass of spoiled milk, the ingredients still get absorbed by your skin. Natural products have an even shorter shelf life than mainstream, drugstore products, which are full of preservatives.

Below is a quick list obtained from LifeHacker with the usual expiration dates for products that contain preservatives. Organic Authority has a similar list for all-natural products.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Do Fried Foods Cause Cancer?

Back in 2002, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S.A., brought fear to many french fry lovers that it is carcinogen (meaning it could cause cancer). This is because most fried foods contain a chemical called acrylamide.

Acrylamide (or acrylic amide) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula C3H5NO. Acrylamide presents in many commonly eaten foods — including French fries, potato chips, bread and even coffee, and known to cause cancer in lab animals when ingested at high doses


Acrylamide turns up in foods when they are fried, baked or cooked at high temperatures. It forms from sugars and an amino acid naturally found in food. It is part of the chemical reaction that transforms the flavor and color of food when cooked. It has been in our foods probably for as long as we've been cooking, but we didn't know it until a little over a decade ago.

The confusion part is that since the first warning given years ago, researchers have been studying acrylamide in humans but most of the studies published so far have failed to find any links between dietary acrylamide and various types of cancers.

"We found a suggestion that it might increase ovarian and endometrial cancer, but we found nothing for breast and nothing for prostate," said Kathryn Wilson, an epidemiologist at Harvard's School of Public Health.

Still, even though the human research hasn't pinpointed much of a cancer risk from eating acrylamide, the National Toxicology Program lists it  as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," because of those animal studies.

And as for french fries? As Wilson notes: "You probably shouldn't be eating them for a lot of other reasons than acrylamide content."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hydro Power In Sabah

Borneo Post posted on 22nd November that about RM57 million was approved under the 10th Malaysia Plan for upgrading the electricity generation system in the Tenom Pangi hydro power station at Sabah.

Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) managing director Ir Haji Abdul Razak Sallim said the project would boost the existing power generation capacity of 66 MW to 75 MW and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. The said station has been in operation for 30 years and is time for upgrading to support the generation of electricity to consumers in the state.

Currently there are total of 81 MW of hydro power in Sabah and will continue be the focus of renewable energy development for SESB, as mentioned by one of the speaker during the SESB's Sustainable Energy Convention held on 14th and 15th of November.

12 sites have been identified as feasible hydro power with total capacity of 782 MW. SESB estimates that by 2023, the state's total hydro power would stand at 880 MW. Existing 180 MW Upper Padas  hydro development will be the biggest in SESB's road map and is targeted to be completed in 2019.

Upper Padas hydro power would consist of 3 x 60 MW Francis turbines. 120 MW would be firm supply and 60 MW would be for peak hours. The dam will be 120 meters tall with volume of 925,000 cubic meters. Below picture is taken from the presentation during the convention.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 Global CO2 Emission Continues In Raising!

According to new figures from Global Carbon Project 2013 global CO2 emission will set a record high again. CO2 released from fossil fuel burning and cement production has increased 2.1% in 2012, reaching a total of 35.3 billion tonnes emitted to the atmosphere, which is 58% increase compared to 1990 emissions (the carbon emission baseline reference of Kyoto Protocol). CO2 emission is projected to increase by another 2.1% this year, making a total CO2 emission to reach 36 billion tonnes, which is 61% above 1990 emission.

The 2.1% rise in 2012 emission was lower than the predicted value of 2.6%, mainly due to the slower economic growth in China, as commented by Roisin Moriarty from University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Center for Climate Research.

In 2012 most emissions were from coal (43%), oil (33%), gas (18%), cement (5.3%) and gas flaring (0.6%). The growth in coal itself  was accounted for 54% of the total growth in fossil fuel emissions.

CO2 emissions from deforestation and other land-use change added 8% to the emissions from burning fossil fuels. Cumulative emissions of CO2 since 1870 are set to reach 2015 billion tonnes in 2013 – with 70% caused by burning fossil fuels and 30% from deforestation and other land-use changes.

In a statement, Prof Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter said: "We have exhausted about 70% of the cumulative emissions that keep global climate change likely below 2 degrees. In terms of CO2 emissions, we are following the highest climate change scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stanford Creates A Durable, Low-Cost Hydrogen Generating Devide Made Of Nickel-Coated Silicon

Water splitting is an emerging technology for hydrogen fuel cells. Two semiconducting electrodes are connected and placed in water. The electrodes absorb light and use the energy to split the water into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, and the hydrogen is stored as fuel. The hydrogen can later be recombined with oxygen to produce energy with byproduct of just water.

The entire process is sustainable and clean. But finding a cheap way to split water has been a major challenge. Today, researchers continue searching for inexpensive materials that can be used to build water splitters efficient enough to be of practical use.

Silicon solution

Scientists from Stanford University, California, have created a low-cost and corrosion-free water splitter using nickel-coated silicon electrode to absorb sunlight to generate hydrogen. "Silicon, which is widely used in solar cells, would be an ideal, low-cost material," said Stanford graduate student Michael J. Kenney, co-lead author of the study. "But silicon degrades in contact with an electrolyte solution. In fact, a submerged electrode made of silicon corrodes as soon as the water-splitting reaction starts."

To find a low-cost alternative, the team tried to coat silicon electrode with a 2 nanometer think ordinary nickel. "Nickel is corrosion-resistant," Kenney said. "It's also an active oxygen-producing catalyst, and it's earth-abundant. That makes it very attractive for this type of application."

When light and electricity were applied, the electrodes began splitting the water into oxygen and hydrogen, a process that continued for about 24 hours with no sign of corrosion. To improve performance, they mixed lithium into the water-based solution. "Remarkably, adding lithium imparted superior stability to the electrodes," Kenney said. "They generated hydrogen and oxygen continuously for 80 hours – more than three days – with no sign of surface corrosion." This was one of the longest lasting silicon-based photoanodes for water splitter,

The team plans to do additional work on improving the stability and durability of nickel-treated electrodes of silicon as well as other materials.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Volkswagen Announces Its Super Efficient Diesel Hybrid

Volkswagen will be debuting its 250 MPG (~ 106 km per liter) Twin Up! diesel hybrid later this month at the LA Auto Show. The Twin Up! uses a modified version of the XL1′s 47 hp, 800 cc diesel engine and electric hybrid drivetrain to return a claimed fuel consumption of more than 256 MPG and CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km on the European cycles.

Just a comparison. Toyota Prius yields about 50 MPG and generates about 100 g/km of CO2 emission. So Twin Up! is 5 times more fuel efficient and 4 times less emission than Prius.

The new Volkswagen diesel hybrid would, if sold in the US, carry the highest EPA mileage rating of any hybrid car.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SmartLight - An Innovative Way To Use Sunlight For Indoor Illumination

Researcher Anton Harfmann and Jason Heikenfeld from University of Cincinnati, U.S.A., have come out with a new lighting technology called SmartLight to enhance sunlight distribution in building. SmartLight utilizes tiny electrofluidic cells and a series of open-air "ducts" to distribute sunlight into windowless work spaces deep inside office buildings and excess energy can be harnessed, stored and directed to other applications. The technology could be applied to any building – big or small, old or new, residential or commercial.

SmartLight works like this: A narrow grid of electrofluidic cells which is self-powered by embedded photovoltaics is applied near the top of a window. Each tiny cell – only a few millimeters wide – contains fluid with optical properties as good or better than glass. The surface tension of the fluid can be rapidly manipulated into shapes such as lenses or prisms through minimal electrical stimulation – about 10,000 to 100,000 times less power than what's needed to light a traditional incandescent bulb. In this way, sunlight passing through the cell can be controlled.

The grid might direct some light to reflect off the ceiling to provide ambient room lighting. Other light might get focused toward special fixtures for task lighting. Yet another portion of light might be transmitted across the empty, uppermost spaces in a room to an existing or newly installed transom window fitted with its own electrofluidic grid. From there, the process could be repeated to enable sunlight to reach the deepest, most "light-locked" areas of any building. And it's all done without needing to install new wiring, ducts, tubes or cables.

SmartLight also can be controlled wirelessly via a mobile software application. So instead of manually flipping a switch on a wall, a user would indicate their lighting preferences through an app on their mobile device, and SmartLight would regulate the room's brightness accordingly. SmartLight could even use geolocation data from the app to respond when a user enters or leaves a room or when they change seats within the room by manipulating Wi-Fi-enabled light fixtures.

But what happens at night or on cloudy days? That's where SmartLight's energy storage ability comes in. SmartLight can funnel surplus light into a centralized harvesting- and energy-storing hub within the building. The stored energy could then be used to beam electrical lighting back through the building when natural light levels are low.

"We're going to look for some substantial funds to really put a meaningful program together," Heikenfeld says. "We've already done a lot of the seed work. We're at the point where it would be a big, commercially driven type of effort. The next step is the tough part. How do you translate that into commercial products?"

Monday, November 11, 2013

5 Things You Might Not Have Known About God And Beer

Just found the topic 5 Things You Might Not Have Known About God And Beer interesting. For centuries, beer has brought people together to worship God. And God has inspired people to make beer. Few examples show below:
  • As far back as the 18th century, Paulaner monks in Germany would brew and drink a heavy, malty type of beer called Doppelbock for Lent. Beer was so nutritious that it kept them nourished for the entire 40-day fast.
  • Arthur Guinness, creator of Guinness beer, was a devout Christian who grew up in a time when drunkenness, mainly from liquor, was rampant. Monks had been brewing beer for ages, and Guinness decided to do it to give people in his community a less potent alternative to liquor.
  • People come to the Greenbelt Festival in London to be inspired by God with the help of art and music. What sets this religious festival apart is the beer. People would grab their cup of beer and sing to praise God.
  • Beer brewing is as ancient as the Sumerians, who had a goddess called Ninkasi with a recipe for beer. The recipe was pressed into a clay tablet that dates back to around 1,800 BC. It was called The Hymn To Ninkasi, and it gives hints on how to brew beer.
  • A long-standing belief is that Benjamin Franklin was quite the beer lover. This may stem from a quote attributed to the founding father, stating, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." A Chicago-based brewing historian Bod Skilnik found that the quote actually reads: "Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Much Water Does It Take To Produce A Bottle Of Water?

International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) carried out water use benchmarking study to evaluate water use efficiencies and trends among North American bottlers. In the study, IBWA tried to figure out how much water goes into producing 1 liter of water.

North American companies use 1.39 liters to make 1 liter of water. That's less than the global averages of,

1 liter of soda = 2.02 liters of water
1 liter of beer = 4 liters of water
1 liter of wine = 4.74 liters of water
1 liter of hard alcohol = 34.55 liters of water

But water activists say IBWA's study wasn't comprehensive enough. Bottled water companies (along with many other beverage companies) should include all freshwater used in production, including the water used for packaging. Not just the production of water itself.

"Packaging makes a significant footprint," according to Ertug Ercin from Water Footprint.Network. 3 liters of water might be used to make a half-liter bottle. In other words, the amount of water going into making the bottle could be up to 6 or 7 times what's inside the bottle.

Drilling for oil to make plastic, Ercin says, uses a substantial amount of groundwater. And you need water to make the paper, too, he adds.
Chris Hogan from IBWA explained the reason why the study didn't look at these issues as it's hard to know where to stop, "You could extrapolate that ad infinitum".

Hogan says some companies say they don't think they can get any more efficient, but they're trying. He also says, "Water, is the lifeblood of the industry and they want to be as efficient as possible."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How Would The Earth Look Like If All The Ice Melts?

National Geographic has published an interactive map showing how the world looks like if all the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, which would raise the sea-level by 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas. There are more than 5 million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Smoking Makes Your Look Older!

A new study published in Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons comparing standardized photographs of identical twins with different smoking histories to see the impact of smoking to facial aging. Twins who had smoked longer had worse scores for lower lid bags, malar bags, and lower lip vermillion wrinkles.

 The left twin has smoked 17 years longer than the right twin.
 The right twin is a smoker and the left twin is a nonsmoker.
 The right twin has smoked 29 years and the left twin is a nonsmoker.
 The right twin has smoked 14 years longer than the left twin.

I guess this will be a very good reason to quit smoking besides health reasons.