Monday, March 30, 2009

Solar flares, Pumping water, Coronal Mass Ejection, NASA, Power outages, Water shortages, 2012, December 21 2012, US National Academy of Sciences, NAS

When I was young, no one gave much thought to having drinking water available. There was no bottled water as we know it and little concern for the quality of water coming from our taps. Gradually we have been indoctrinated into relying on bottled water and questioning the quality of water everywhere and in most cases for good reasons.

Many are aware of potential problems of having access to potable water. Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters have heightened our awareness of this potential problem. However, most people are not aware of the impact of power outages on public water systems. We have a false sense of security about our ability to get the power back on fast.

This article will hopefully provide a reality check.

"It sounds ridiculous. Surely the sun couldn’t create so profound a disaster on Earth. Yet an extraordinary report funded by NASA and issued by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in January this year claims it could do just that."

"The projections of just how catastrophic make chilling reading. “We’re moving closer and closer to the edge of a possible disaster,” says Daniel Baker, a space weather expert based at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and chair of the NAS committee responsible for the report.

It is hard to conceive of the sun wiping out a large amount of our hard-earned progress. Nevertheless, it is possible. The surface of the sun is a roiling mass of plasma - charged high-energy particles - some of which escape the surface and travel through space as the solar wind. From time to time, that wind carries a billion-tonne glob of plasma, a fireball known as a coronal mass ejection (see “When hell comes to Earth”). If one should hit the Earth’s magnetic shield, the result could be truly devastating.

The incursion of the plasma into our atmosphere causes rapid changes in the configuration of Earth’s magnetic field which, in turn, induce currents in the long wires of the power grids. The grids were not built to handle this sort of direct current electricity. The greatest danger is at the step-up and step-down transformers used to convert power from its transport voltage to domestically useful voltage. The increased DC current creates strong magnetic fields that
saturate a transformer’s magnetic core. The result is runaway current in the transformer’s copper wiring, which rapidly heats up and melts. This is exactly what happened in the Canadian province of Quebec in March 1989, and six million people spent 9 hours without electricity. But things could get much, much worse than that.

Worse than Katrina"

"There are two problems to face. The first is the modern electricity grid, which is designed to operate at ever higher voltages over ever larger areas. Though this provides a more efficient way to run the electricity networks, minimising power losses and wastage through overproduction, it has made them much more vulnerable to space weather. The high-power
grids act as particularly efficient antennas, channelling enormous direct currents into the power transformers.

The second problem is the grid’s interdependence with the systems that support our lives: water and sewage treatment, supermarket delivery infrastructures, power station controls, financial markets and many others all rely on electricity. Put the two together, and it is clear that a repeat of the Carrington event could produce a catastrophe the likes of which the world has never seen. “It’s just the opposite of how we usually think of natural disasters,” says John Kappenman, a power industry analyst with the Metatech Corporation of Goleta, California, and an advisor to the NAS committee that produced the report. “Usually the less developed regions of the world are most vulnerable, not the highly sophisticated technological regions.”

According to the NAS report, a severe space weather event in the US could induce ground currents that would knock out 300 key transformers within about 90 seconds, cutting off the power for more than 130 million people (see map). From that moment, the clock is ticking for America.

First to go - immediately for some people - is drinkable water. Anyone living in a high-rise apartment, where water has to be pumped to reach them, would be cut off straight away. For the rest, drinking water will still come through the taps for maybe half a day. With no electricity to pump water from reservoirs, there is no more after that."
Read more

Upcoming articles on this site will explain how you can prepare for
the worst and have one of the essential elements of life, potable
water, available for you and your family.

2012, Solar cycle 24, Water, NASA study, Solar flares, Potable water, Human water requirements, Power grid impacts water plants, Nothing is immune

Is there a predetermined amount of water we should drink each day?

From a report published in August 8, 2002 by Heinz Valtin of the Department of Physiology, Dartmouth Medical School.

"Despite the seemingly ubiquitous admonition to "drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day" (with an accompanying reminder that beverages containing caffeine and alcohol do not count), rigorous proof for this counsel appears to be lacking."

"In summary, this article is concerned with fluid intake for healthy adults in a temperate climate, performing, at most, mild exercise. Excluded were any special circumstances, such as illnesses, hot climates, and strenuous work or exercise."

"Finally, in view of the strong suggestive evidence cited above, I would argue further that for the time being the burden of proof that everyone needs 8 × 8 should fall on those who persist in advocating the high fluid intake without, apparently, citing any scientific support."

"In contrast to the need for final proof in support of 8 × 8, there is now strong scientific evidence that not all of the prescribed fluid need be in the form of water. Through careful experiments that passed peer review, Grandjean and colleagues have shown that caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, and soft drinks) should indeed count toward the daily fluid intake in the vast majority of persons (40). And, to a lesser extent, the same may be true for mild alcoholic beverages
(79a, 84), such as beer consumed in moderation. Yet, the interdiction of these two types of beverages continues to be emphasized by proponents of 8 × 8 (3, 10, 17, 26, 42, 43, 59). Since for many adults caffeinated and alcoholic beverages constitute nearly one-half (Table 2) or slightly more (38) of the daily fluid intake, lifting these two restrictions raises the "effective" mean daily drinking fluid intake of adult Americans from the seemingly paltry amount of ~900 ml to the respectable one of 1,700 ml. And the last figure, of course, does not include the water we derive from solid foods and metabolism (Table 3; Refs. 29, 46). Some think that even 1,700 ml may be as much as 1 liter in excess of what sedentary American adults need to drink to maintain physiological homeostasis (38).

Thus I have found no scientific proof that we must "drink at least eight glasses of water a day," nor proof, it must be admitted, that drinking less does absolutely no harm. However, the published data available to date strongly suggest that, with the exception of some diseases and special circumstances, such as strenuous physical activity, long airplane flights, and climate, we probably are currently drinking enough and possibly even more than enough."
Read the entire review

From reading the review it appears common sense rules. If you are thirsty, drink, and liquids containing water count. Obviously if you are in a hot climate or involved in strenuous activities you will require more water. Again, listen to your body. I was in Central America years ago doing physical labor and we were told to drink water every 20 minutes. I took their advice.

Potable water is water of quality high enough to be consumed without risk of harm.

Think you can go to an isolated stream lake or other water source and be safe? Those days are long gone. Even in past years one had to be careful of animal fecal matter entering upstream. Here are some contaminates that you should be aware of.

From Wikipedia:

"Parameters for drinking water quality typically fall under two categories: chemical/physical and microbiological. Chemical/physical parameters include heavy metals, trace organic compounds, total suspended solids (TSS), and turbidity. Microbiological parameters include Coliform bacteria, E. coli, and specific pathogenic species of bacteria (such as cholera-causing Vibrio cholerae), viruses, and protozoan parasites.

Chemical parameters tend to pose more of a chronic health risk through buildup of heavy metals although some components like nitrates/nitrites and arsenic may have a more immediate impact. Physical parameters affect the aesthetics and taste of the drinking water and may complicate the removal of microbial pathogens.

Originally, fecal contamination was determined with the presence of coliform bacteria, a convenient marker for a class of harmful fecal pathogens. The presence of fecal coliforms (like E. Coli) serves as an indication of contamination by sewage. Additional contaminants include protozoan oocysts such as Cryptosporidium sp., Giardia lamblia, Legionella, and viruses (enteric).[5] Microbial pathogenic parameters are typically of greatest concern because of their immediate health risk."

So now you may thinking, so what, I never go camping and I buy bottled water.Perhaps you think your municipal water system is safe and flooding is not a concern. However, power outages and damage to power systems are a real possibility.

Boulder CO problems in April 2007

Detroit MI August 2003

Widespread Oklahoma problems December 2007

In case you have not been paying attention.

"Solar Cycles

March 6, 2006“The NCAR team predicts the next cycle will be 30-50% more intense than the current cycle.”“Cycle 24 is likely to reach its peak about 2012"

March 10, 2006“This week researchers announced that a storm is coming–the most intense solar maximum in fifty years.”Dikpati’s forecast puts Solar Max at 2012"....Read more

"From a NASA-funded study by the National Academy of Sciences dated January 21, 2009:

“January 21, 2009: Did you know a solar flare can make your toilet stop working?
That’s the surprising conclusion of a NASA-funded study by the National Academy of Sciences entitled Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts. In the 132-page report, experts detailed what might happen to our modern, high-tech society in the event of a “super solar flare” followed by an extreme geomagnetic storm. They found that almost nothing is immune from space weather—not even the water in your bathroom.”

“The problem begins with the electric power grid. “Electric power is modern society’s cornerstone technology on which virtually all other infrastructures and services depend,” the report notes. Yet it is particularly vulnerable to bad space weather. Ground currents induced during geomagnetic storms can actually melt the copper windings of transformers at the heart of many power distribution systems. Sprawling power lines act like antennas, picking up the currents and spreading the problem over a wide area. The most famous geomagnetic power outage happened during a space storm in March 1989 when six million people in Quebec lost power for 9 hours:”"

"“According to the report, power grids may be more vulnerable than ever. The problem is interconnectedness. In recent years, utilities have joined grids together to allow long-distance transmission of low-cost power to areas of sudden demand. On a hot summer day in California, for instance, people in Los Angeles might be running their air conditioners on power routed from Oregon. It makes economic sense—but not necessarily geomagnetic sense. Interconnectedness makes the system susceptible to wide-ranging “cascade failures.”"

“To estimate the scale of such a failure, report co-author John Kappenmann of the Metatech Corporation looked at the great geomagnetic storm of May 1921, which produced ground currents as much as ten times stronger than the 1989 Quebec storm, and modeled its effect on the modern power grid. He found more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage
and 130 million people without power. The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with “water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on.”"....Read more

Future articles will provide ways of obtaining potable water when safe tap water or bottled water is not available.

The information provided above is believed to be accurate. Each person is unique. Check with your doctor if you have any questions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

NASA solar flares articles, Power grid disruptions, Survival electricity, Power outages, Generating AC electricity from power inverter and battery

Survival AC Power 101

Do you think you will have a power outage? I have experienced many power outages in my life. Most of them have been several hours. However, some of them have lasted for days. Several years ago my father was on oxygen. He had a machine that manufactured oxygen and of course used AC electricity. I took some comfort in knowing that we could always provide electricity for him. Power outages are a regular occurence whether due to lightening strikes, flooding or other natural disasters.

NASA scientists are predicting a large increase in solar flare activity by 2012. This increased solar activity can disrupt power distribution and communications. In 1989 6 million people lost power when a huge increase in solar activity caused a surge. All indications are that the next solar activity peak will be worse.To add to the suspense, scientists have discovered a breach in the Earth’s magnetic field ten times larger than anything previously thought to exist.

More information about upcoming solar activity

This article will explain how you can have AC electrical power for days if your power goes out. It also will provide a means to start your car if the car battery is not functioning. This solution will not run all your household needs but can provide light and power for small appliances.
Here is what you will need:

1. Power inverter. This converts DC current from a battery to AC current that your appliances need. Power inverters come in many sizes from low wattage such as 100 up to thousands of watts. Pick the size you need based on your budget and power requirements. Some appliances or tools require more watts and they will also drain the battery power source faster. Power inverters can be purchased at many stores such as Home Depot, Harbor Freight, Advance Auto, Walmart and many other stores.

2. Automotive battery jump start unit. This is a self contained battery. They are affordable and everyone should own one anyway. The beauty of this is that you will use this unit whether your power goes off or not. Take it with you on trips for peace of mind.

My story:

I bought 2 of these battery units years ago as gifts for relatives but did not buy one for myself, duh. One of the relatives has used the unit many times to jump a dead battery. As fate would have it, a few years later I was stopped at a fast food restaurant many miles from home and my car would not start. Fortunately a man in a pickup truck parked beside of me had one of these units and I was able to start my car. Needless to say, I bought a battery pack. Sometime after that the lightbulb came on in my head. I owned a power inverter and had a need to run a power tool at a site with no electricity. I ran a reciprocating saw from the inverter connected to a car battery.

Since I discovered the simplicity and low cost of this solution, I consider it one of the biggest "no brainers" in the world. Ok, we all need the battery packs if we drive a car. Even a small inverter can be useful in our everyday lives. I own a small one that I keep in the car for trips. It powers my laptop computer and has a capacity of 100 watts.

What are the options when the power goes out?

First assess how bad things are. If it is going to be a typical short outage, go ahead and run several items such as a light, small tv, radio or fan. If it looks like the power will be out for several days, then you must prioritize your battery usage. How ever the good news is you can normally connect the power inverter to a car to run appliances and even recharge the battery pack. That is the beauty of this solution.

Follow all manufacturer guidelines when using any of the devices and procedures above.