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Friday, January 25th 2008

MOONEY'S MALTA
Not only do we have €1000 to be won today - just answer a simple question between now & 16:20 to make your day so much better - but one of our five daily winners this week will also win a fantastic 5* holiday to Malta! Click here for more details...

Congratulations to Mary Moore from Dun Laoighre, Co. Dublin on winning Mooney's Malta!

UCC BLACKBIRDS
Professor John O'Halloran takes a call to keep us up to date with the progress of UCC Christmas tree nesting blackbirds. The chicks have hatched!



















These wonderful photographs were taken by award winning photographer Richard Mills.

Leo Oosterhagel - Director of Dublin Zoo
In this mad world of Bebo and Playstations you might be surprised to learn that in 2007, Dublin Zoo had the busiest year in its 176 year history as 905,000 visitors made their way through its gates. We were joined by Leo Oosterhagel, Director of Dublin Zoo.

One of Dublin Zoo's elephants Jasmine is expecting some time around March so that will be very exciting.
Keepers suspect that Ashanti, one of the rhinos, may be pregnant. Samples of Ashanti's droppings have been sent to a laboratory for hormone testing and results are expected in the coming weeks. If all goes well there should be a baby rhino born in Dublin Zoo by the middle of the year. We will keep you posted.

The Kaziranga Forest Trail, reminiscent of the great Kaziranga National Park in India, was opened by Bertie Ahern in June. It not only gives the herd of Asian elephants a wonderful new habitat but, as visitors follow the meandering trail, they are unwittingly immersed into the animal's world - glimpsing the family in near natural surroundings. Elephants are amazingly curious creatures and we have provided them with a convoluted space that they can explore and investigate. Its make for a very stimulating habitat.

Dublin Zoo are planning transform the African Plains into the African Savannah. The focus now is redesigning enclosures to mimic more closely the natural habitat of the animals and for the animals to live in more natural groupings. Visitors will be able to penetrate further in to the areas but at the same time not compromise the need for the animals to be able to retreat if they want to get away from our visitors.

Dublin Zoo is open all year round and the opening times are dictated by the hours of daylight so check the website www.dublinzoo.ie before you go or give the zoo a call on: 01 474 8900

ARE BIOFUELS GOOD OR BAD?
We are a car dependent nation - just listen to this small fact.In 1990 Ireland had a population of 3.5 million people and 800,000 private vehicles. In 2005 with a population of 4.2 million people we had 1,700,000 private vehicles. A sobering thought especially given that the oil is running out and the question remains as to how we will power these vehicles.
Dr Jerry Murphy, Lecturer in Transport Engineering in UCC's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will be giving a talk next week on the optimal biofuel strategy for Ireland and he is in our Cork studio to give us a sneak preview of the issues he'll be discussing.
Biofuel (also called agrofuel) can be broadly defined as solid, liquid, or gas fuel consisting of, or derived from biomass.

To convert biomass energy specifically to liquid fuels, two strategies are used:

To grow sugar crops (sugar cane, and sugar beet), or starch (corn/maize), and then use yeast fermentation to produce ethanol (ethyl alcohol).
To grow plants that (naturally) produce oils, such as algae, or jatropha. When these oils are heated, their viscosity is reduced, and they can be burned directly in a diesel engine. The oils can also be chemically processed to produce biodiesel.

The discovery and use of fossil fuels: coal, gas and oil, have dramatically reduced the amount of biomass fuel used in the developed world for transport, heat and power.

Residues provide for the cheapest biofuel and typically the most environmentally sound fuel as a waste stream is removed from the environment and a fossil fuel is substituted for.
It is suggested that grass silage provides for the most land efficient biofuel for use in Ireland.
Imported palm oil from tropical countries such as Thailand and Indonesia are superior in terms of gross and net energy production per hectare than ethanol or biodiesel from rape seed in Ireland.
Biodiesel from rape seed oil yields a poor gross energy return per hectare. However on a net energy basis it appears to be superior to ethanol from wheat, when fossil fuels are used to satisfy parasitic demands.

NOTE: The lecture takes place at UCC's Boole Lecture Theatre 4 at 8pm on Wednesday, January 30th.

NIALL MARTIN BIOFUELS - ETHENOL
Niall Martin converted his 2 litre petrol Subaru Forester to run on ethanol last year and this is what he had to say about it!

1. I will explain where the ethanol comes from - it's made from milk actually! It is a by product of the Dubliner Cheese - what happens is they ferment the whey, and then distill it . Maxol buy it and the Government does not charge duties on it so it sells cheaper than petrol - typically 96c a litre at the moment, with petrol at 1.19. I save about 23c a litre - however you don't get as many miles per gallon when your running ethanol so the economic saving is minimal.

2. Ford, Saab and Volvo sell Flexi-fuel models - cars that can run on petrol or ethanol, so you can put any amount of either in the same fuel tank. My retro fit kit does the same. The computer chip tells the engine how much either is in the tank and adjusts the engine accordingly. The kit cost about 500 Euro.

3. Maxol sells E 85 (that is 85% ethanol and 15% petrol) at 26 filling stations countrywide. No one else is yet retailing it. If you were to use 100% ethanol your car might be a bit slow to start on cold mornings. As it is I find that it's always good to have a few euro of petrol in the tank so the car starts immediately during winter. Maxol also sell E5 which any car can take. There have been a few teething problems with the tanks at filling stations but everything seems ok now.

4. At the moment everything is hunky dory, we are self sufficient in ethanol, but things could start to become a bit trickier as we move to importing ethanol. Ethanol demand worldwide has been exploding so it is postulated that ethanol crops (corn, barley, sugar beet, grasses etc) will be grown instead of food crops depriving Africa in particular of food. I have a friend who kept pigs in Wexford who has got out of pigs because the price of barley has risen so much due to demand of the cereals for bio fuel, so you can see there are knock on effects - there are no easy solutions to this CO2 crisis!

5. I discovered yesterday that my very eco friendly car will not qualify for lower car tax. The new car tax regime starts in July on new cars and on its current emissions it would be paying just €100 in car tax but this year it will be over €500 so really there's very little incentive for people to retro fit their car - retro fitting is a good idea because you can change a large proportion of the car fleet over to lower emissions easily without waiting a decade for everyone to buy a new car.



MOONEY'S MONEY WINNER
And we congratulate Eilish Walsh from Thurles, Co. Tipperary on not only winning €1000 of Mooney's Money, but also entering our draw to win a 5* holiday to Malta! To find out how you could win €1000 tomorrow, click here...