Stories tagged salt

Mar
14
2011

Buzzketeers, it's a big problem.

A ginormous, hulking, frozen, messy problem.

See, here in St. Paul, we've had a very snowy winter. (As of today, it has been the seventh snowiest winter on record. And the snow season isn't over yet.) When the City plows the streets, they have to put the snow somewhere. And one of the places they put it is the parking lot of the St. Paul Saints Midway Stadium, on Energy Park Drive.

The result?
Mt. Midway: Looking NNW from the few open parking spaces off Energy Park Drive. See those little bamboo fronds at the peak? Who needs Hawaii?
Mt. Midway: Looking NNW from the few open parking spaces off Energy Park Drive. See those little bamboo fronds at the peak? Who needs Hawaii?Courtesy Liza Pryor

The 550-spot parking lot is completely -- and I mean COMPLETELY -- covered with snow. It's 30, even 50, feet deep. And it goes from Energy Park Drive north to the train tracks, and from the stadium west to the end of the property. It's impressive, peeps.

It goes on...: and on...and on...I'm standing on the snow pile, with the peak with the tree to my left (west) looking north toward the train tracks.
It goes on...: and on...and on...I'm standing on the snow pile, with the peak with the tree to my left (west) looking north toward the train tracks.Courtesy Liza Pryor

And here's the problem, friends: the St. Paul Saints season opener is May 8th. And there's no way all this snow is going to melt before then. Baseball needs its parking lot back.

More pictures of Mt. Midway.

So how can we get rid of the snow? Trucking it away isn't an option, and minimal use of fossil fuels is a good thing. Buzzers, it's time to go all Mythbusters here and submit your ideas. If you've got a good one, you might get to see it in action.

Feb
14
2009

Lithium is harvested from salt water: Lithium is recovered from brine pools in Chile.
Lithium is harvested from salt water: Lithium is recovered from brine pools in Chile.Courtesy ar.obrien

Where does lithium come from?

Demand for lithium needed for lithium ion batteries is exploding but the world supply is very limited. The main producers of Lithium minerals are Chile, Argentina, the USA, China, Australia and Russia. Three fourths of the world's lithium reserves are in South America.

Bolivia has most of the world's lithium

More than one third of the world's known lithium is in Bolivia.

The U.S. Geological Survey pegs Bolivia's deposits at 5.4 million extractable tons. The U.S. has 410,000 tons, while China has 1.1 million and Chile has 3 million. Daily Tech

Bolivians reject exploitation

The Bolivian government is headed by President Evo Morales. A new Constitution that Mr. Morales managed to get passed last month could give native Bolivians control over the natural resources in their territory.

“The previous imperialist model of exploitation of our natural resources will never be repeated in Bolivia,” said Saúl Villegas, head of a division in Comibol that oversees lithium extraction. “Maybe there could be the possibility of foreigners accepted as minority partners, or better yet, as our clients.” New York Times

The trouble with lithium

A study by Meridian International Research points out the trouble with lithium (click link to read 22 pg PDF) in powering the world's future fleet of electric vehicles.

Analysis of lithium's geological resource base shows that there is insufficient economically recoverable lithium available in the Earth's crust to sustain Electric Vehicle manufacture in the volumes required, based solely on Li Ion batteries.

The alternative battery technologies of ZnAir and NaNiCl are not resource constrained and offer potentially higher performance than Li MoralesIon."

Lithium supplies are very limited

If Bolivia wants to cash in on their lithium reserves, they need to move before better alternatives come to the market.

"We have the most magnificent lithium reserves on the planet, but if we don't step into the race now, we will lose this chance. The market will find other solutions." said Juan Carlos Zuleta, an economist in La Paz. Detroit News

Mar
20
2007

Vibrations create cool patterns

Vibrating surfaces create sound waves. In the video below a plate of metal is vibrated with higher and higher frequencies. Salt spinkled on top of the plate can only stay where the surface is not vibrating. The nonvibrating areas are called nodes. Distance between nodes is shorter for higher frequencies.Standing waves
Standing waves
The patterns you see are known as standing waves. We have an apparatus like this at the Science Museum of Minnesota on the third floor. You might also try to make standing waves in a stretched slinky.

Try doing this yourself

I once stretched rubber from a large balloon over the front of a large car speaker. Using an amplifier and frequency generator, I was able to make similar patterns in salt sprinkled on top of the sheet of rubber. You could try an electric keyboard to produce the different frequencies of sound.

Want to see a longer video?

If you have time here is a link to part 1 of some extraordinary film clips of Hans Jenny experiments from the 1960's and early 70's(28 minutes).