American Elephants


A Graphene Heating System Would Dramatically Reduce Home Energy Costs. by The Elephant's Child
June 7, 2015, 7:03 am
Filed under: Energy, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

A couple of years ago, in August of 2013, I wrote about the new wonder material, graphene, a more glamorous cousin of ordinary pencil lead, and the rush to file patents for potential uses. As of May that year, there had been more than 9,000 patents filed.

Dr. Geim wanted thin graphite to study its electrical properties. A doctoral student suggested using cellophane tape.”They used the tape to peel off layers of graphite until they got to a layer so thin it was transparent. Not only did it not fall apart, it was strong, flexible and possessed astonishing electrical properties.”

A startup called Xefro in the United Kingdom is working in the unheralded area of energy savings, where nanomaterials are making the biggest inroads. A graphene heating system could dramatically reduce home energy costs. This is the first time graphene has been used as a heating element. Depending on the kind of heating system currently used in a home, the company estimates that their graphene-based heating system could reduce energy costs by anywhere from 25 to 75 percent.

Xefro uses graphene-based ink that can be printed on a variety of materials and into just about any configuration. The system takes advantage of graphene’s minimal thermal mass so the heat can be turned on and off quickly, and leverages graphene’s large surface area so that energy isn’t wasted in heating up the heater itself.

Traditional heating systems are very inefficient in that they require heat to be transferred to multiple materials: for example, heating up water to heat up a radiator which heats up air and then finally heats up objects in a room, according to Harper.

The full article is here. I should have paid a lot more attention in physics!



It’s All Falling Apart. Chapter Nine by The Elephant's Child
June 7, 2015, 6:43 am
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Regulation | Tags: , ,

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has made nearly $17 billion in disability overpayments in the last decade, according to an audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG),

Some beneficiaries were able to receive benefits for ten years, even though they were not eligible in the first place. The OIG based its estimate of $16.8 billion overpayments on a sample of more than 1,500 Americans who received benefits since 2003, finding nearly half were overpaid. Over a ten year period from October 2003 through February 2014, SSA assessed overpayments for 44,5 percent of sampled beneficiaries.

The Social Security Administration has been able to recover approximately $8,1 billion, though they are still working on recovery of another $6.3 billion in benefits.

Most recipients of overpayments received benefits for fourteen months. Most earned too much, or were actually able to work which made them ineligible. The findings did include 216,070 payments to fugitives or prisoners and 209,643 payments to dead people.

Responding to the audit on behalf of the agency, Frank Cristaudo, counselor to SSA Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, disputed that all payments were improper. He said federal law requires the agency to continue paying beneficiaries who may be medically ineligible until after they appeal, a process that can take years.

“We appreciate OIG’s follow-up work from the previous review,” Cristaudo said. “While the report does not contain any recommendations, we suggest some further clarification of the text of the report.”

“During our review of the preliminary findings, we suggested that the OIG clarify the characterization of payments made during the appeal of a medical continuing disability review (CDR) determination to cease benefits,” he said. “We are required to continue payments for the duration of an appeal, and these payments are later deemed overpayments if we uphold the CDR cessation on appeal. These payments are clearly not ‘improper’ as that statute requires that we make the payment.”

The simple reason that so much, and so many agencies seem to be falling apart, is that bigger government means bigger bureaucracy — not better government, as the Left believes. The people in government are not special, but just ordinary human beings like the rest of us. Even the most intelligent graduates of the very best schools can hold crackpot ideas in their heads, be careless with figures, fail to check their work, be secret alcoholics, or just be bad at math. They may be there in that cubicle because they know someone in charge, or be someone’s brother-in-law. The bigger the bureaucracy the worse things get. The more levels of administration — the slower things move.

Free markets, free people,  and smaller, more responsive government that doesn’t try to do so much.




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