The New Polycrystalline Silliconomy

Does the middle class finally not want to destroy themselves?

Has the American middle class finally decided to stop fucking themselves?

The mainstream knows GREEN means GO as far as giving our dwindling manufacturing and engineering sectors a reboot. Old money — oil, gas, autos & the repubs — don’t like it. Gee, what a surprise??

The LA Times argues the obvious, but it’s nice to see that the idea of big green is catching on. There’s nothing new to see for those following the biz, but the reporting on the ground makes for good copy on the new Lean, Green Labor Machine.

[Hemlock, Michigan] is the home of Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. It makes a material crucial for constructing photovoltaic panels. And that has turned this snow-covered hamlet into an unlikely hotbed for solar energy.

On Dec. 15, the same week that General Motors Corp. and Chrysler begged $17.4 billion from taxpayers to stave off collapse, Hemlock announced a $3-billion expansion that could create hundreds of jobs. It’s a rare piece of good news for this battered Rust Belt state, whose 9.6% unemployment rate is the nation’s highest. (LA Times via Digg)

We are entering a new economy. One based on silicon. There are dangers: pot lung, heavy metal contamination (none of which are covered in the above article); but we must weather them if we are to survive.

There are also scam artists, just like in any other business. If you invest your money in a company that’s going to turn poo or trash into energy, then maybe consider the consequences–and this comment:

Having worked on boilers that use biomethane, [I can say] the crystals that form during burning don’t make you feel too good when you start getting exposed to them, and will probably start caking every surface you can dream of. Not to mention, that they form an almost ceramic type structure that’s surprisingly insulative. If components of the exhaust system need to be cooled, this ceramic will certainly undermine that goal. You can take an oxy-acetylene torch to some of these formations and it will not cut. (Niko B)

That’s pootastic! And, sorry, but you can’t just throw money at people who claim to be gurus and get rich. You have to invest a little wiser. I’ve been meaning myself to do a column on the shady area between reality and the snake-oil salesman in the green tech energy, but the LA Times beat me too it. At least they got a great first line:

These days, everybody’s an environmentalist.

Well, touché…

But that’s aint so bad, now is it?

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