With the weather expected to cooperate, several local teams will be back in action today, on several different sporting fronts.In prep tennis, Del Norte High is scheduled to host the Humboldt-Del Norte League doubles tournament, with Arcata looking to close out a near perfect season.The Tigers, who are undefeated as a team this spring with 13 wins, took four of the six singles league titles two weeks ago, and will be looking to carry that momentum into today’s action.Elsewhere in prep …
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Bean prices bounced off the recent trading lows this week. While this was positive for farmers, there still remain several unknowns. Dry weather throughout the Midwest has many in the trade concerned and wondering what summer time weather will be like and if yields will suffer. Also, it’s uncertain how many acres farmers will plant this spring. This may ultimately mean some speculators will exit their short positions with some profit now and look for other opportunities down the road.With farmers generally not selling, basis and short-term corn spreads have narrowed throughout the Midwest until late this week. Then the corn market moved to the top of a narrow 10-cent trading range, which encouraged some farmers to sell some of their grain. I expect small fluctuations like this to continue in the short-term but I’m not expecting there will be a big rally unless something catches the market completely off guard. It’s still a long time until summer weather markets can affect these markets. Why I don’t care about volatility valuesRecently some advisors and experts have been talking again about the importance of volatility in the option market and that farmers should consider it within their marketing strategy. They explain that “because volatility is the lowest it’s been in 10 years that it’s not a good time to sell options and instead farmers should be buying them.”I usually find that these “experts” are always looking for reasons to recommend buying options. Generally, I think buying options is usually the least advantageous avenue for farmers and their rationale of “market volatility” doesn’t change my mind. Unfortunately, when these experts describe market volatility’s impact, it can easily get complicated, which can mislead farmers into thinking volatility is more important than it actually is to a farmer’s marketing strategy. What is market volatility?For grain markets, volatility is basically the expectation of the upcoming pricing movement of the market. For example, if there are many unknowns, like in the summer when it’s unclear when and how much it will rain throughout the Midwest, there is significant price movement potential (i.e. volatility) up or down. On the flip side, during harvest there is typically lower volatility because there are fewer unknown issues that can impact price movement.Higher volatility will generally mean options have higher values relative to future prices. Lower volatility would mean options values should be lower compared to futures prices.There are several factors that affect the value of volatility on options including the time left before the option expires, actual value of the option and the amount of market unknowns. Normally option volatility is measured by standard deviation, which is stated as a percent of value.Yes, it’s extremely complicated. To put it into very simple terms, 12% volatility is widely seen as being extremely low, whereas anything over 30% is considered very high. In 2011 and 2012 volatility levels exceeded 30%. From 2013 to 2015 volatility ranged between 18% and 25%. Over the last six to 12 months, volatility has been under 15%, and in January it went below 10%. Why market volatility can be misleadingUsually when “advisors” discuss low volatility they seem to only reference short-term values, which doesn’t provide a complete picture. A very near-term option may have low volatility today, but an option with a longer time value left will have higher volatility because of more potential price movement from market unknowns. For instance, as short-term option’s volatility fell below 10% on the Feb options, the July option volatility was trading over 15% and Dec was almost 17%. In general, what we have been seeing with volatility has been that it usually decreases as time narrows. How the importance of volatility can be overblownOnce again the difference between the goals of farmers and speculators has an impact on the importance of volatility. For example, let’s say an option has six months of time left and it moves 2 cents in value. That 2-cent movement could probably shift the volatility by 4% points, which may mean a shift from a low to mid-range level. A farmer wouldn’t generally be any more motivated to buy or sell an option from just a 2-cent movement in the value of an option because they’re usually trading less than 10 options at a time. Speculators and fund traders on the other hand are trading hundreds or thousands of options at a time. With that many options, 2 cents makes a big difference on their bottom line, hence market volatility is a bigger factor to them. What can we learn from market volatility?Market volatility is a great measure of what traders are expecting from the market over time. Low volatility essentially means that most market participants think the market is going nowhere. High volatility means there is more uncertainty and potentially more price movement possibilities.These loose guidelines can be helpful in planning and making decisions in market strategy. Just because there is low volatility doesn’t mean that high volatility or higher prices are just around the corner. Price could continue to be stuck in an extremely tight trading range for another year.
By KHALIL SHAHYDWhen her furnace started acting up, Alicia Dickenson knew her family had a problem. “I’m not going to have money for a new furnace,” the Ohio resident told her local paper. “How am I going to make it through the next winter?” When Dickenson found out that she qualified for home weatherization — including an upgraded, more efficient furnace — her relief was immense. “Huge,” she said.Dickenson’s home is one of about 7 million low-income residences that have been improved through the federal government’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Weatherization services provide physical improvements to homes in order to reduce energy consumption and provide greater safety within homes. For 40 years, this program has helped cash-strapped families make it through not just one winter, but many winters ahead. Under President Trump’s new budget proposal, however, this tremendously successful program would be eliminated, threatening to leave poor families in the cold.Many low-income and vulnerable households have few residential options but to rely on poor housing quality that result from residential segregation, long-term neighborhood disinvestment and deferred maintenance of the housing stock. These homes tend to be energy inefficient, impacting the stability of families due to high utility bills and recurring illnesses from inadequate indoor air quality. Struggling families sometimes spend more than 20% of their incomes on electricity and heat — far more than the national average of 2.7%. Is Weatherization Cost-Effective?Weatherization Funding Has Been SlashedCalifornia’s Ongoing Weatherization Odyssey Weatherization Assistance Program: Getting the Facts StraightWeatherization: Low-Cost, High-Return Energy Upgrades Khalil Shahyd is project manager for the urban solutions program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. This post was originally published at the NRDC Expert Blog. All things considered, big returns on investmentWhen we invest in weatherization our whole society benefits. Boosting energy efficiency also means we avoid the cost of building out expensive energy infrastructure like power plants and transmission lines, reducing everyone’s energy-related utility cost. And everyone’s health improves when we help stabilize the climate and reduce the amount of hazardous mercury, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter spewing out of power-plant smokestacks and furnaces. Every year WAP cuts America’s climate pollution by two million metric tons.Recent analyses of WAP data show that the energy savings alone more than recoup costs by a factor of 1.4. When you factor in other gains, such as improved health and fewer fires from faulty space heaters, WAP generates $4 in benefits for every dollar invested.Despite these widespread benefits to the nation as a whole, the potential of energy efficiency in low-income housing is largely overlooked. Nearly 10 million people live in affordable multifamily housing, and about half of these residences were built 50 years ago. Increasing energy efficiency in these homes could cut electricity use as much as 32%. In states like Michigan, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, the cumulative benefits top $1 billion by 2030. This is an area that needs more investment, not less.Weatherization assistance is more than a lifeline for poor families — it’s a smart investment in energy efficiency that creates local jobs, eliminates the need for expensive new power plants, reduces pollution, and saves money for taxpayers nationwide. The Trump Administration may not believe in global warming, but it is supposed to recognize a great investment when it sees one. More details of the president’s budget will be revealed in May, but it’s clear that a “starvation” budget that freezes out struggling families should never get past Congress. RELATED ARTICLES Long waiting lists for helpA community service group in Maine says it received nearly 8,000 calls about heating assistance last year. In many states, waiting lists for weatherization can number more than 1,000 in some rural counties and much higher in many urban centers. Until significant budget increases were passed as part of the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), weatherization assistance programs were seen as emergency services and were never funded adequately to meet the needs for services.Leveraging state and local resources to complement federal weatherization funds can help to extend services to more people. Energy Efficiency for All, a 12-state campaign partnering environmental and efficiency advocates with advocates for affordable housing, is doing just that, leveraging utility efficiency investments to better serve affordable multi-family housing communities.Across the country, only about 35,000 homes can enroll in the WAP. They are the lucky ones. Their homes are more comfortable, less drafty, stay warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and save residents an average of $283 every year on energy costs. For people who live with “skinny” budgets every day, that savings frees up funds for other necessities — food, health, school supplies.But the benefits of the program don’t stop with those families. Weatherizing homes in places like Coalport, Pennsylvania, or St. Louis, Missouri, requires a local, skilled workforce to pinpoint where homes are losing energy and find ways to make them more efficient, whether it’s by insulating attics and walls, weatherstripping and caulking, or replacing outdated equipment.In a typical year, the program supports 8,500 jobs, and even launches people on new career paths. Jasmine Romero, a young Native American woman from New Mexico, trained in weatherization at a local community college. She’s gone from living in her car to being on track to become the first female weatherization quality control inspector/auditor in the state. For these people, a cold winter can bring hard choices: Heat or medicine? Utilities or groceries? Or hidden dangers: “Space heaters involved in 79% of fatal home heating fires,” when building heating systems are inadequate.
Explore further Citation: Using platinum-molybdenum carbide to catalytically release hydrogen to power a fuel cell (2017, March 31) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-03-platinum-molybdenum-carbide-catalytically-hydrogen-power.html As the planet continues to heat up, scientists around the world seek ways to power automobiles in a way that are as economical as gasoline. Such efforts have led to electric vehicles, hybrids, cars and trucks running on natural gas, ethanol and other fuels, and of course, the ever-elusive hydrogen fuel cell. In this new effort, the researchers suggest they may finally have found a way to make the last option viable.Currently, there are a number of ways to obtain hydrogen for use in fuel cells, but thus far, none of them have proved economical enough to supplant the use of gasoline as the primary fuel for automobiles around the globe. In this new effort, the researchers suggest they may have come up with a process that could make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles more practical.The process involves using a new catalyst, platinum–molybdenum carbide, to drive a reaction that results in the production of H2 and releases carbon dioxide. The team reports that the process can be done at temperatures from 150 to 190 C° and avoids the use of caustic materials. They claim it is five times as efficient as other techniques that use methanol. They also claim that a car with a 50 liter tank of methanol and just six to 10 grams of their catalyst could power a Toyota Mirai for approximately 690 km. Also, it would cost just $15 for the methanol and $320 for the platinum, which the team suggests, might be recyclable.The group acknowledges that a process that releases carbon dioxide is not ideal, but note that many hydrogen-producing industrial processes do so, as well. They acknowledge that platinum is extremely expensive, but point out that current catalytic converters have approximately one to four grams of recyclable noble metals that could conceivably provide a source. (Phys.org)—A team of researchers from several institutions in China and the U.S. has developed a way to use platinum–molybdenum carbide to catalytically release hydrogen from methanol and water to power a hydrogen fuel cell. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes the new method to produce hydrogen for possible use in a fuel cell. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: Lili Lin et al. Low-temperature hydrogen production from water and methanol using Pt/α-MoC catalysts, Nature (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nature21672AbstractPolymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) running on hydrogen are attractive alternative power supplies for a range of applications1, 2, 3, with in situ release of the required hydrogen from a stable liquid offering one way of ensuring its safe storage and transportation4, 5 before use. The use of methanol is particularly interesting in this regard, because it is inexpensive and can reform itself with water to release hydrogen with a high gravimetric density of 18.8 per cent by weight. But traditional reforming of methanol steam operates at relatively high temperatures (200–350 degrees Celsius)6, 7, 8, so the focus for vehicle and portable PEMFC applications9 has been on aqueous-phase reforming of methanol (APRM). This method requires less energy, and the simpler and more compact device design allows direct integration into PEMFC stacks10, 11. There remains, however, the need for an efficient APRM catalyst. Here we report that platinum (Pt) atomically dispersed on α-molybdenum carbide (α-MoC) enables low-temperature (150–190 degrees Celsius), base-free hydrogen production through APRM, with an average turnover frequency reaching 18,046 moles of hydrogen per mole of platinum per hour. We attribute this exceptional hydrogen production—which far exceeds that of previously reported low-temperature APRM catalysts—to the outstanding ability of α-MoC to induce water dissociation, and to the fact that platinum and α-MoC act in synergy to activate methanol and then to reform it.