The Evolution of Labor Day

Power-PlantThe origins of Labor Day, which takes place the first Monday of September in North America, are somewhat uncertain. The holiday originated in Canada, born out of the worker’s rights movement there in the 1870s. By the 1880s, it had spread across the border, and the first organized Labor Day celebration in the U.S. was held in New York City in 1882.
Throughout the 1880s the honoring of Labor Day gradually made its way throughout the U.S., until it became a federal holiday during the administration of President Grover Cleveland in 1894. Rather than being a day of rest for the worker, however, Labor Day was initially a day of activism. Early celebrations relied on parades and festivals centered around union organizations and their workers. Homage was paid to the rights of these workers and their incredible importance in the growing industrial economy of the country.
What is certain is that since then, the world of work has changed dramatically. The American worker is migrating from the factory to service and knowledge work. Union membership is falling. More and more of us work for small businesses, or even ourselves, instead of large corporations. Read More about The Evolution of Labor Day

Continental Gives Flight to Algae-Jatropha Jet Fuel

continentallogoContinental Airlines (s CAL) completed a 90-minute test flight this afternoon using biofuel derived from algae and jatropha. The twin-engine Boeing 737-800 flew out of Houston with one engine operating on a 50-50 blend of biofuels and conventional jet fuel, and the other using all conventional fuel for comparison. Although biofuel-powered test flights took off last year — beginning with Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic run and culminating with Air New Zealand’s trial last week — Continental’s flight today represents the first biofuels test in the U.S. with a commercial jet.

After swooping over the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana, the Boeing returned to Houston’s international airport at 1:45 p.m. Boeing spokesperson Terrance Scott told us the engine with the biofuels mix ran more efficiently than the control engine: “It blew it out of the water,” he said. Continental officials told reporters on the ground that the biofuels-mix engine burned 3,600 pounds of fuel, compared with 3,700 pounds of fuel for the all-conventional engine, the Houston Chronicle reports. That means the biofuels-mix saved a whopping 100 pounds of fuel, or 0.03 2.7 percent of the regular load. (Update: We made an error in the original math, and have corrected it.) (Scott said density differences between the two fuels would not account for the savings.) Read More about Continental Gives Flight to Algae-Jatropha Jet Fuel

Air New Zealand Takes Off With Jatropha Biofuel

Air New Zealand has completed what it says was the first commercial test flight using biofuel made from the jatropha plant. Jatropha, which produces seeds that contain inedible lipid oil, can be grown on land that’s not usable for food crops, making it a potentially more environmentally friendly feedstock for biofuel than other plants.

The airline worked on the test project with partners Boeing (s BA), Rolls-Royce and Honeywell International‘s (s HON) UOP unit, along with support from biofuel developer Terasol Energy. There were four pilots and two engineers on board for the 2-hour test flight today, which was conducted over the Hauraki Gulf area on the North Island, with a blend of half jatropha biofuel and half jet fuel used to power one of the four Rolls-Royce RB211 engines on an Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400.

Over the past year, Virgin Atlantic and Continental Airlines (s CAL) also announced biofuel test plans, but some environmental activists criticized the flight, pointing out that only a small amount of biofuel was actually being used. Virgin Atlantic’s test flight in February had only 5 percent biofuel in its tanks, with the biofuel made from coconut and babassu palm oil.
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