Archive for October, 2009


Sunday, October 25th, 2009

In mid-October, I was down in Guayaquil, Ecuador once more, working with my friends & colleagues at Efficacitas. Back in one of my first postings, I described a pollution control effort we did at a power plant in northern Ecuador, and this time we’re doing a very similar project for a facility in Guayaquil. It was really great to see Juan Carlos Blum (the firm’s General Manager, and one of my former students); Mario Patiño-Aroca and Jorge Duque-Rivera, engineering professors at ESPOL (and officers in the firm); as well as their very talented staff (mostly mechanical engineers by training — but they’ve decided to let in a few chemical engineering-types too!).

Ecuador sugar mill

I had a chance to visit the power plant site, as well as that of another Efficacitas client, a sugar mill in the nearby countryside using bagasse in a CDM project. I hadn’t been in such a bagasse-burning plant since my days teaching energy management at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica in the early 1980s, & so it was really fun to see how much the technology has changed. And of course, it wasn’t all work – we also headed over to the Pacific coast at Playas for a wonderful seafood feast – courtesy of Prof. Patiño (pictured on the right with his son, Gustavo, & Juan Carlos on the left).

At the beach in Playas

One of the interesting factors in our study is the potential role of Chinese vendors for flue gas desulfurization (FGD). Given the massive investment that China has been making in FGD, they have significantly begun to affect the worldwide marketplace for such equipment – especially since they have managed to drive costs down dramatically (most estimates put the cost reduction at about 50% within China, although anecdotally I have heard even lower numbers). There have been numerous concerns about equipment quality associated with such significant cost reductions, however, so our project work in Guayaquil should be both interesting and challenging!

The Boss

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

New T-shirt

I hope you’ll forgive yet another non-work-related posting – but definitely another fun one! My three daughters grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen records in our house (and yes, they were still vinyl records then), and when they heard that he was performing the last concerts at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey – a local hometown hero coming back for the venue’s last hurrah — they decided to treat their Dad to a truly memorable event! So along with almost 60,000 other dedicated Boss fans, we were there when he & the E Street Band burned their way through more than thirty songs – Badlands, Born to Run, & the whole ‘Born in the USA’ album – in a triumphant fifth & final concert on October 9th. You can get a sense of the energy level in some of the bootleg clips of the concert posted on YouTube, including a favorite No Surrender.’

On the way to see Bruce

My daughters know that I’m a big Bruce fan – I once drove the 140 miles from Chicago to Urbana, IL, to see him because I couldn’t get local tickets – and the hometown setting at Giants Stadium (soon to become a parking lot) made it especially fun. Three hours of high energy rock-n’-roll without any breaks is apparently now the benchmark for sixty-year old guys (thanks, Bruce), so I was told that I should no longer expect any sympathy whatsoever after a piddling three-mile run. The concert ended with inside-the-stadium fireworks, and his seventh & final encore was ‘Jersey Girl‘– an especially fitting tribute to my own three special & absolutely wonderful ‘Joisey girls’. You can see them in the picture (Lisa, Jessica & Sarah, from the left)…. and in the very lower left, the back of the head of my four-year old grandson Jackson, who is obviously taking after his grandpa (see the China CCTV note two postings below).


Sunday, October 25th, 2009

In early October 2009 I made a presentation for the International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC), a DC-based ‘think tank’ that focuses on a variety of medium and long term international security concerns. My presentation was entitled “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Energy,” and discussed the current energy situation in Central Asia, SCO’s attempt to develop an “Energy Club,” and China’s rapidly developing energy needs and their environmental implications. Professor Arthur Waldron, a well-known China expert and history professor at Penn, is IASC’s vice president, and I’ve found sitting in on IASC workshops and working with their scholars over recent months to be a really fascinating — & educational! — experience.