Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

The US Military Going Green, Again Leading By Example…

Green isn’t just for camouflage any more. The US military recognizes the need to become more efficient, less dependent, and more sustainable.

From a green economy perspective, this legislation could not be more important. The military’s huge demand for energy translates into enormous market pull. By creating a market for biofuels and green technology, the military can spur further research and drive down the price of clean energy to levels that would be competitive with traditional energy sources. According to analysis presented at a congressional briefing on the Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, section 526 sends positive signals to the green energy sector by reassuring clean energy producers that their investments will be met with steady demand from the DoD. Such stability is critical for any burgeoning industry.

Read the rest at the Epoch Times.



Free Clean-Fleet & Vehicle Expo next Tuesday

NIRPC is sponsoring a ONE day expo. Valuable information is available to transportation professional regarding the latest clean fuels and engine technologies that will improve air quality in Northern Indiana.

Where: Porter County Expo Center – 215 East Division Road Valparaiso, IN 46383 ( Get Directions )

When: Tuesday June 8th (10 am- 3 pm) Lunch will be severed at noon.

This event is FREE however advanced registration is requested by Friday June 4th.

Please contact SSCC at 219-365-4289 or southscc@comcast.net



Military Continues to Test Alternative Aviation Bio-Fuels

Some additional information regarding how the DoD is exploring options to ween the military away from petroleum based fuels.

On Earth Day, 22 April, the US Navy conducted a test flight of an F/A-18 Super Hornet at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, run on a 50-percent mixture of a fuel refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The flight of the Green Hornet, as it was called, followed an Air Force test a month earlier of an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, fueled with a similar blend.

Both events had the purpose of testing the performance of biofuel/petroleum mixtures with an eye toward the eventual certification of the fuels for routine use. They also demonstrate the efforts of the Department of Defense to increase its use of renewable energy, not only for environmental reasons but also to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on overseas sources of petroleum.

The DoD spends $20 billion a year on energy and incurs $1.3 billion in additional costs for every $10 per barrel increase in the market price of oil, according to a report recently released by the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate. In addition to vulnerability to price fluctuations, the DoD’s “reliance on fossil fuels also compromises combat effectiveness by restricting mobility, flexibility and endurance on the battlefield,” said the report. “Transportation of fuel to the combat theater is a significant vulnerability as fuel convoys are targets in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Read the rest…

Source: ISN Security Watch



Pressure-cooking Algae into a Better Biofuel

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Heating and squishing microalgae in a pressure-cooker can fast-forward the crude-oil-making process from millennia to minutes.

University of Michigan professors are working to understand and improve this procedure in an effort to speed up development of affordable biofuels that could replace fossil fuels and power today’s engines.

They are also examining the possibility of other new fuel sources such as E. coli bacteria that would feed on waste products from previous bio-oil batches.

“The vision is that nothing would leave the refinery except oil. Everything would get reused. That’s one of the things that makes this project novel. It’s an integrated process. We’re combining hydrothermal, catalytic and biological approaches,” said Phillip Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the U-M Department of Chemical Engineering and principal investigator on the $2-million National Science Foundation grant that supports this project. The grant is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This research could play a major role in the nation’s transition toward energy independence and reduced carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector,” Savage said.

Read the rest…



Fuelishness! Feed: Fuel Economy still the Next Big Thing; Study: Fuel Costs Must Double; Biofuel-Fed A-10 Warthogs; Oil Prices Continue 2-month Climb

  • Still the next big thing: Fuel economy — “We’re all in a race again,” he said. “From the standpoint where we [as manufacturers] kept bringing out new products to meet emission targets, now we’ll be aggressively focusing on fuel economy.”
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  • Study: Fuel costs must (at least) double to reduce GHG emissions — The team concludes that the only way to change the status quo in America — to reduce GHGs 17% by 2020 — is to adopt a mix of stringent rules that substantially increase fuel costs and increase vehicle mileage. To do this, the Harvard study suggests starting with a $0.50 a gallon tax in year one and adding another half-buck tax a year until the tax reaches $3.36 per gallon in 2020.
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  • Air Force Debuts Biofuel-Guzzling Warthog — In a bid to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, the Pentagon has been looking to new energy alternatives. Under the Air Force’s current energy plan, the goal is to acquire 50 percent of the domestic aviation fuel from an alternative blend by 2016. Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, said in a statement the goal was to encourage a major shift in the way the service powers its aircraft. “Our goal is to reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture and mindset of our fuel consumption,” he said.
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  • Oil rises above $84, extending 2-month rally — Oil prices have jumped from $69 a barrel in early February on investor expectations that a gradual recovery in the U.S. economy this year will eventually boost crude consumption.


Breakthrough Engine Technology Turns the “Gasoline-Ethanol Equation” Upside Down

Alternative-fuels like bio-diesel (from algae) and ethanol/methanol (cellulosic ethanol)  would allow us to quickly displace a great quantity of petroleum while continuing to utilize our existing distribution infrastructure.

Ethanol-fuel vehicles have existed for decades, and have been used with great success in sugar-cane ethanol rich Brazil since the 1980′s. Known as “Flex-Fuel” this technology allows a greater combination of ethanol mixed with gasoline (up to 85% ethanol) to be used safely in a standard internal combustion engine, while adding as little as $100 to the cost per vehicle in upgraded fuel system parts. (The current estimate is that there are approx. 7.5 million Flex-Fuel vehicles on American roads today… you may be driving a Flex-Fuel vehicle and not know it.)

One of the biggest problems with Flex-Fuel and ethanol in general is the “decrease in MPG” blamed on ethanol “containing less energy” than an equal quantity of gasoline. You’ll suffer a loss in MPG (but a substantial gain in MPGG) by using ethanol-blends in Flex-Fuel engines because gasoline engines are not designed to take advantage of one of the particular strengths of alcohol-blended fuels – tolerance for higher compression ratio.

Engines designed to be fueled with higher-octane alcohol blends are designed with higher compression ratios, able to squeeze more energy out of the fuel, improving efficiency and producing a greater amount of power. Ricardo recently announced they have developed an engine that takes advantage of the physics, and have developed an ethanol-fueled engine with superior efficiencies…

Ricardo says this engine, which it dubbed the Ethanol Boost Direct Injection engine, or EBDI, is tuned to make the most out of ethanol’s properties where it has an edge on other fuels. Ethanol has a higher octane rating than diesel or gas, so it’s more likely to ignite at just the right point in the engine’s combustion cycle. Diesel and gasoline can sometimes ignite earlier or later than intended, causing knocking noises in the engine. Automakers compensate with knock detection systems, but those can cut an engine’s efficiency.

Ricardo will be testing this new engine in a heavy-duty GMC truck, expecting an 18% improvement in efficiency with the new ethanol-powered engine over the stock gasoline engine.

The engine runs best on a blend with gasoline that is 30% to 50% ethanol, but, Ricardo says, can run on anything from all gas to all ethanol. Ricardo is bringing a GMC Sierra 3500HD pickup to the Washington, D.C., auto show this week that will be outfitted with its V-6 ethanol engine. On gas, it says, the GMC truck gets about 12.7 miles per gallon. On all ethanol, it would get about 12.1 mpg, the company says. But with an optimum blend, it says the engine could get 15 mpg.

Join in the discussion by commenting here, or jumping over to our Facebook Community and add your thoughts!



Fuelishness! Feed: Test Drive Taurus SHO w/ EcoBoost; Bioethanol Volvo Wins; Hybrids Offset Little Oil; How Much Is That Hybrid In The Window?

  • Test-drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO w/ EcoBoost – The EcoBoost V6 readily delivers on Ford’s claim that it produces V8-levels of power, and it also does it with V8 linearity. Torque reaches peak at a very low 1500rpm and rides a plateau all the way to 5250rpm, thanks to the diminutive size of the Honeywell GT15 turbos which max out at 12 pounds boost, and the high 10.0:1 compression ratio that’s only possible because of the direct injection. In other words, there really is no turbo lag whatsoever. (This ain’t your Momma’s Taurus!)
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  • Bioethanol Powered Volvo Posts Wins at Swedish Touring Car Championship – The Swedish Touring Car Championship is the first production car championship race to allow the use of bioethanol or E85. With the use of the alternative fuel, Volvo’s race cars produces 80 percent less carbon dioxide emissions compared to gasoline-powered vehicles participating in the championship.
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  • Study: Hybrid Cars Won’t Save Much Oil – In a report, the analysts point out that even under high-growth assumptions, where hybrids account for a third of all new car sales in 2020, the savings would be just 200,000 barrels of oil a day, or just 1 percent of the nation’s current oil demand.
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  • Detroit needs a buyer for its efficiency drive – Research from Walter McManus, director of the Automotive Analysis Division of the University of Michigan, suggests the big three carmakers — GM, Ford and Chrysler — could boost their gross profits by $3 billion (£1.8 billion) a year and increase sales by the equivalent of two assembly plants by embracing new government standards on fuel economy.


GP Elec Levallois – The first 100% electric city-course Grand Prix

Levallois City Council approved plans for the organization of the first GP Elec Levallois.

The Grand Prix and surrounding events will take place on the 4, 5, and 6 of June 2010. It will be an amazing showcase of electric vehicles. Levallois city council approved Mobygreen’s plans for the event after months of planning and preparation in secret.

The course will take high-powered TESLA cars and electric racing prototypes around a 3km course (1.8 miles) through the city. The course has 8 bends, a tunnel, and an 800 meter straight.

The cars- although high powered- will be quiet, making the event free of sound pollution and something completely new for the public. Their cheers will be louder than the cars’ engines.

In the spirit of an old-fashioned grand prix it is completely free to the public. Spectators will have the chance to see the cars up close after each race.

The Grand Prix will host a Sustainable Mobility Salon in the city’s square, where the public will be able to learn more about electric vehicles, environmental concerns, and innovations in transportation. The salon will have events for children and adults, including electric go-karts, children cars, and an eco-educational garden.

GP Elec is a free, eco-friendly event.

To find out more, visit the website at www.gp-elec.com

About Levallois

Levallois is located in the north-western suburbs of Paris, France. The city has a strong relationship with industry, as seen by the gear wheel on its coat-of-arms. The history of Levallois is inseparable of that of the automobile. The establishment of companies such as Clement-Bayard, Delage, and Chapron gave way to the importance of auto manufacturing

in the city. The Citroen ‘2cv’which will remain legendary, forever etched into automobile history, was produced for 40 years in Levallois. Today, the City of Levallois supports strong message of environmental protection-including all sectors of the automobile industry.

About Mobygreen

The company’s name embodies its driving force- to deliver ‘green mobility.’ The two founders, Franck Moritz, a young entrepreneur, 33 years old, whose concern for the environment manifests in his business ; and Phillipe Poincloux, 57 years old ,entrepreneur and Team Manager of Team Luc Alphand Aventures, strive to raise awareness of environmentally-friendly development.

For more information, download complete press release.



Lotus Tests the Two-Stroke “Omnivore” Engine

Lotus_Omnivore_Engine_270x404

Source: CNET Green Tech

Last year, Lotus announced the development of its Omnivore engine, the name denoting flex fuel capability. Today Lotus released test results for the engine, along with the kind of detail on how it operates only an engineer could love. These test results cover the first phase of testing the Omnivore engine with gasoline. Presumably, testing with fuels derived from alcohol and other sources are in the next phases.

In Lotus’ lab, the Omnivore engine brought in 10 percent better fuel economy than current direct injection engines, which are the most efficient on the market.

Two-stroke engines have twice as many “power strokes” at any given RPM when compared to the common four-stroke engines, making them more powerful and naturally efficient. (The engine is not “wasting” as much energy moving the piston up and down in power-robbing intake and scavenging strokes.) Two-strokes are smaller and lighter when compared to four-stroke engine of similar horsepower, and have fewer moving parts that simplifies the inner workings, making them cheaper to build and maintain.

In the past, the problem has always been pollution – it was considered near-impossible to build a two-stroke engine that could meet modern emission standards. Apparently Lotus is solving this problem:

Omnivore also uses a two-stroke, rather than a four stroke cycle, but still manages to turn in emission levels equivalent to modern production engines.

This Lotus prototype engine uses an ignition system called “homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), meaning that instead of igniting its fuel charge with a spark plug, the compression of the cylinder causes the charge to ignite, similar to a diesel engine.”

More good news – the prototype is a flex-fuel engine, which would allow the owner/operator to choose what kind of fuel preferred to power it with – fossil-fuel gasoline (and diesel?) or bio-mass alcohol (ethanol/methanol) or a combination of the two.

Flex-fuel engines already exist, the problem with the current crop is that they are engineered as gasoline engines, and re-programmed to also run on alcohol blends – meaning that mechanically they are still designed for the lower compression ratios required to run on modern gasoline blends. Alcohol fuels have “less energy” per gallon than gasoline, but can run at a much higher compression ratios, allowing a properly-built alcohol engine to “gain” additional efficiency and reduce the “MPG” gap with gasoline.

The Lotus engine can apparently modify it’s compression ratio thanks to what they call the “puck” – or the “variable compression mechanism…at the top of the cylinder which dynamically changes the displacement depending on running conditions.”

Once again innovative engineering is proving that there still are many ways to improve fuel efficiency with the internal combustion engines, and there are no technical reasons we can’t be driving cars that get 60+ MPG regularly. The “fuel efficiency flat-line” from the mid-1980′s until just recently was due to something else – not because it was “technically impossible” to build more efficient engines.



500th Tesla Roadster Delivery

August 26, 2009 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Electric Vehicles (EV), Tax Credits · Comment 

Last month, Tesla announced its 500th delivery. The lucky customer was Martin Tuchman, who uses his Roadster as his primary commuter car. He’ll enjoy far lower lifetime ownership costs thanks to the lower cost of electricity vs. gasoline. The Roadster is exempt from sales, use and luxury taxes in New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington and Arizona. Numerous states, including California, are considering similar tax waivers. Quebec and Ontario just became the latest regions to offer rebates – up to $10,000 per car. Colorado, Oregon, Georgia and other states have generous rebates, too. All US owners get a $7,500 federal tax credit.



Let’s get real about alternative energy

Let’s get real about alternative energy
By David MacKay

CNN.com, 5/13/2009

We need to introduce simple arithmetic into our discussions of energy. We need to understand how much energy our chosen lifestyles consume. We need to decide where we want that energy to come from, and we need to get on with building energy systems of sufficient size to match our desired consumption. Our failure to talk straight about the numbers is allowing people to persist in wishful thinking. Assuming we are serious about getting off fossil fuels, the scale of building required should not be underestimated. Small actions alone will not deliver a solution. The author goes on to break down the numbers associated with American and European energy usage, along with the numbers associated with energy production from renewables. Focusing attention on the numbers may make it possible to develop honest and constructive conversations about energy. It’s not going to be easy to make an energy plan that adds up, but it is possible. We need to get building.

David MacKay is a professor of physics at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the book “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air.”

Link to full text in primary source.



Fuelishness Marathon! – Part 4: Cellulosic Ethanol Could Have “Unintended” Environmental Consequences; $25 Billion For Green Cars;



Fuelishness! Marathon – Part 3: What is cellulosic ethanol; Algae Farming; Most Efficient Way to Travel 350 Miles

  • What is cellulosic ethanol and how does it fit with green cars? : There is a lot of controversy surrounding biofuels. Various studies have shown that crop-based biofuels contribute to global warming more than they help prevent it, that ethanol is no better than gasoline, and that South East Asian rainforests are suffering for biofuels, to name just three. The most dramatic recent claim was that ethanol was the worst type of renewable energy.
      
  • Algae Sizzle and Algae Steak : Bionavitas “Light Rod” idea called Light Immersion Technology that looks like a giant tapered optical fiber that places light at depth into algae cultures. Ingenious as ideas go, with a near stunning amount of coverage on Wednesday the idea might get some financial and research legs. What has been left out is the details about the light. The photos seem to leave out the top of the rod or fiber or just show a shaft, whose top area sets the amount of light; no matter how deep it is distributed. The idea solves a problem in algae culturing, getting light deep so that the culture isn’t just a thin layer at the sunlit surface.
      
  • How Many Gallons of Fuel Does it Take to Travel 350 Miles? : GOOD Magazine, in collaboration with Robert A. Di Leso, Jr., explores fuel use by various modes of transportation. In what is essentially a fancied up bar chart, we see how many gallons of fuel it takes for a passenger to travel 350 miles by cruise ship, Amtrak, Boeing 737, Sedan, hybrid, etc. A couple of non-fuel modes of transportation are included as well using caloric conversions. It’ll take about 48 Whoppers with cheese to walk 350 miles. Good to know, especially since I was planning on walking 350 miles today. Totally kidding. I’m walking 360. Like a circle.


Fuelishness! Marathon – Part 2: Plug-In Charging Stations; Mille Hybrid-Powered Race Recovery Vehicle; Omnivore Concept Engine

  • Raleigh, N.C. to Install Plug-in Hybrid Charging Stations : Like the San Francisco-based program, drivers will access the charging stations through key-cards. In Raleigh, this means simple credit card access at a cost of about 2.5 cents per mile, while the SF-based program uses chargers provided by Coulomb Technologies at no cost, but are only available to members of the car-sharing programs City CarShare and Zipcar.
     
  • Miller Industries Adds Eaton Hybrid-Powered Race Recovery Vehicle To Fleet : The debut of the colorful white and green vehicle as part of Miller’s 12-truck fleet at the famed Daytona International Speedway was so successful that Miller announced plans to have it added to the company’s fleet of race recovery vehicles that will be operating throughout 2009. Miller supplies race recovery trucks for a large number of NASCAR events.
     
  • Geneva Preview: Lotus to unveil Omnivore concept engine : The Omnivore is specifically designed to take advantage of varying fuels and modern electronic control capabilities. Like most research engines, this is a single cylinder design that allows the Lotus engineers to more quickly make changes and study the effects. This is also a two-stroke design with an air assisted direct injection system provided by Orbital Corporation of Australia. Those interested in two-strokes may remember Orbital from the early nineties when a number of manufacturers were investigating two-stroke engines. The concept engine uses a mono-block layout with a single hunk of metal comprising the cylinder block and head and no poppet valves. Instead the ports are exposed by the piston’s motion. Variations in timing between intake and exhaust are achieved by valve in the exhaust port that traps the exhaust.


Is Ford the “Greenest American” Car Maker?

The Ford Motor Company isn’t looking for a handout – they’ve managed to keep their business running the old fashioned way, they’ve kept their finger on the pulse of American car buyers.

Years ago they developed a “sustainability” plan, long before it was a political topic. Near-term elements of Ford’s sustainability plan include improving today’s gasoline engines to make them more fuel efficient with reduced emissions:

  • The Ford Fusion is now America’s most fuel efficient mid-size sedan for both hybrid and conventional gasoline models 
  • The four-cylinder Ford Fusion S is now certified at 34 mpg highway and 23 mpg in the city, topping the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord 
  • The new Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrids deliver up to 41 miles per gallon in the city – eight miles per gallon better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid. In addition, the base Fusion with its 4-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission is EPA certified with best-in-class fuel economy of 34 mpg on the highway 
  • The Ford Focus with its 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and manual transmission delivers 35 mpg on the highway, 5 mpg better than Toyota Corolla’s 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 2 mpg better than Honda Fit’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, both also with manual transmissions 
  • The all-new 2009 Ford F-150 – which is Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year – achieves 3 mpg more than the Toyota Tundra pickup on the highway and 1 mpg better in the city with its 4.6-liter V-8 engine, compared to Toyota’s 4.7-liter V-8. The F-150′s larger 5.4-liter V-8 achieves 2 mpg better on the highway than the facing Tundra engine 
  • The 2009 Ford Escape with its new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission achieves 28 mpg on the highway, the same as Toyota’s RAV4 and 1 mpg better than the Honda CR-V, both with 4-cylinder engines, too 
  • The Ford Expedition achieves 20 mpg on the highway, beating both of the Toyota Sequoia’s V-8 engines by as much as 3 mpg on the highway

And Ford’s plans for the near future:

  • A new battery electric commercial van in 2010 
  • A new battery electric small car in 2011 to be developed jointly with Magna International 
  • Next-generation hybrid vehicles, including a plug-in version in 2012 

Some other links to Ford documents with additional information about the their plans and progress:

What do you think – has Ford proven itself to be the Most American Car Maker?

The Greenest American Car Maker?



100+ Miles Per Gallon of Gasoline (MPGG)

One of the common arguments against ethanol/methanol  is that we “don’t have enough arable crop land to produce enough ethanol to replace our projected demand for oil without starving to death first”.

In a way this is true, but it misses the point. We don’t have to replace all oil with alcohol (or anything for that matter), we just have to displace enough of it to reduce the strategic value of oil, making oil a plentiful commodity instead of an economic weapon. 

Here’s an interesting idea from FFV Club of America that illustrates how Flex Fuel technology can effectively increase your “miles per gallon of gasoline” to over 100 MPGG.

I get 100+ miles per gallon of gasoline (MPGG) using E85, so I use less gasoline and more domestically produced alternative fuels.

When using E85 in my FFV I can get 100+ MPGG (miles to the gallon of gasoline). After all, the challenge is about gallons per gasoline not only miles per gallon. For example. The 20 gallon fuel tank on my Dodge minivan takes 17 gallons of ethanol and 3 gallons of gasoline (E85). I normally average about 20 miles per gallon and go about 400 miles on that tank full. Even if I assume a 20% loss in mileage (truthfully I do not check or care, I just use E85 when I can) I go about 320 miles on those 3 gallons of gasoline or about 106 MPGG. Now that is progress and I have one of the highest miles per gallon of gasoline cars on the road!

In essence, you’re going much further on each gallon of petroleum-based gasoline but “cutting” it with biomass-based alcohol.

I like this so much I’m adding the capability to measure and track “MPGG” using FuelClinic in a future update.

Daydreaming: Imagine the kind of MPGG possible if the existing gasoline-hybrids like the Toyota Prius were also Flex Fuel capable (they are not). Taking the daydream one step further, how about a plug-in flex-fuel hybrid… (Need to stabilize E85 in storage, to prevent moisture from being absorbed, but otherwise – it’s possible today to build such a vehicle.)

Calculating MPGG also helps debunk another frequent argument against alcohol-blends that, gallon for gallon, drivers will actually see a decrease in mileage using ethanol/methanol vs. straight gasoline.

Note: It is true, generally speaking, that in existing gasoline powered automobiles you will get “fewer miles per gallon” using ethanol/methanol, but only because gasoline powered cars are engineered to efficiently use lower-octane gasoline as a fuel. If cars were engineered to take advantage of the higher octane/higher compression ratios possible with ethanol, the efficiency would rival that of gasoline. There’s nothing “wrong” with alcohol as a fuel, just ask IndyCar Racing,  it’s just not apples-to-apples to compare fuel efficiency in engines that are not tailored to take advantage of the different properties of each fuel.

If the goal is to reduce oil consumption, control oil prices, cut carbon emissions, and help ourselves and our nation economically, then thinking about the ability of your Flex Fuel car to “off-set” oil by a substantial margin with each mile you drive makes each fill-up a little more satisfying.

What do you think about MPGG, ethanol/methanol, or Flex Fuel technologies?

Would measuring mileage by MPGG make refueling a little more satisfying to you, or am I just nuts?

As always, your comments are important and greatly encouraged. :)



“Sorry, I was hungry,” it says.

January 29, 2009 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Science, Uncategorized · Comment 

Robotic Technology Inc. has won a DARPA contract to build the EATR (Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot)… an autonomous robot that “hunts” for “food” when it needs energy… What could go wrong?

The purpose of EATR is to develop and demonstrate an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling – in other words it needs to “eat.”

According to researchers, the EATR system gets its energy by foraging, or what the firms describe as “engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable.”

I can see it now: One day you walk out to start you car only to find this robot sucking your tank dry. “Sorry, I was hungry,” it says.”

While this is very interesting, even more interesting is the power-plant at the heart of this thing, the Cyclone.

In Phase I, Cyclone will build and deliver within six months the engine with a biomass combustion chamber for demonstration purposes. Cyclone believes that its radial six-cylinder, 16HP Waste Heat Engine (WHE) system is ideally suited for this application. In Phase II, Cyclone would build and deliver the biomass trimmer/gatherer and feeder system to work with its engine power source.

Cyclone likens its engine to a modern day steam engine, designed to achieve high thermal efficiencies “through a compact heat-regenerative process, and to run on virtually any fuel – including bio-diesels, syngas or solar – while emitting fewer greenhouse gases and irritating pollutants into the air.”

“Cyclone brings to this project one of the most advanced external combustion engine technologies we have seen,” stated Dr. Robert Finkelstein, President of RTI in a release. “In terms of power-to-size ratio, scalability and fuel flexibility, the Cyclone engine is ideal for a self-sustaining, autonomous intelligent robotic vehicle designed for unique military or civil applications.”

I’ll be baak.



Producing Sugars from Cellulosic Biomass

Michigan State University has submitted a patent application for “a process for increasing production of sugars from cellulose in a plant biomass using ammonia after swelling of the biomass with water and enzymatic hydrolysis is described. The sugars are preferably fermented to an alcohol, particularly ethanol as a fuel for vehicles.”

Biomass is roughly translated into nearly any organic material – including the parts of plants we harvest but do not use as food or feed.

A process by which whole plants are harvested as a biomass and processed together as one unit so that sugars are generated and then optionally fermented to an alcohol which comprises:(a) soaking the biomass in water for a period of time so as to increase the water within the biomass and to enhance sugar production from the biomass;(b) treating the plant biomass with concentrated ammonia under pressure in a closed vessel and then relieving the pressure to provide a treated plant biomass with recovery of the ammonia;(c) hydrolyzing the treated plant biomass in the presence of water to sugars using a combination of enzymes which hydrolyze cellulose, hemicellulose and other carbohydrates in the biomass to produce sugars; and(d) optionally fermenting the sugars to produce the alcohol.

Such a process would allow ethanol fuel manufacturers to grow a wider variety of crops that could be used as fuel stock in fermenting ethanol and methanol fuels – as well as possibly turning harvested scraps, lawn clippings, and other biomass into fuel stock. This could potentially remove some of ”food-related” arguments from the opposition of alcohol-based fuel technologies, and encourage a wider mandate and adoption of flex-fueled vehicles. 

The growing U.S. appetite for petroleum, together with demand growth in China, India, and the rest of the world, has pushed prices to new highs. The United States uses over 20 million barrels of petroleum per day, of which 58% is imported. Prices of oil are significant and continue to rise. Bioethanol is one of the low cost, consumer-friendly ways to reduce gasoline consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. It is a clean fuel that can be used in today’s cars. One of the many attributes of bioethanol is that it does not contribute net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere

Additional Details…



Citizens for Energy Freedom

By making America a flex-fuel vehicle market, we will effectively make flex-fuel the international standard, as all significant foreign car makers would be impelled to convert their lines over as well. Around the world, gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels made from any number of sources, including not only current commercial crops like corn and sugar, but cellulosic ethanol made from crop residues and weeds, as well as methanol, which can be made from any kind of biomass without exception, as well as coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash. By creating such an open-source fuel market, we can enormously expand and diversify humanity’s fuel resource base, protecting all nations from continued robbery by the oil cartel.

To save America we need to break the oil monopoly. To break the monopoly, we need to create fuel choice. As the economic disaster unfolds, and Middle East power grows by billions daily, there is no time for further delay. Therefore, we call upon the US Congress to take patriotic action and pass the Open Fuel Standard Act now.



Will Improving Gas Mileage Now Help or Hurt the “Green” Movement in the Long Term?

November 3, 2008 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Do-It-Yourself, Eco-Driving, Fuels · 1 Comment 

I believe that improving energy efficiency is the “low hanging fruit” in this energy crisis – and obviously should be the first step in any reasonable plan to fix the way we power civilization.

I attended an Energy Freedom Conference last weekend in Chicago with the idea that energy conservation (esp. fuel conservation thru eco-driving techniques learned using websites like FuelClinic.com ) is a key component to helping solve our problems.

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I was surprised by the several attendees I talked with who believe improved fuel efficiency was not to our long-term best interest, saying it may help to reduce prices but at the same time would reduce the public’s interest (and long-term investment) in actually fixing the problem with alternative fuels, etc…

I’m curious what others here think – does energy conservation work to our advantage, or does it actually hurt the green movement in the long term by reducing investment?

Comments are open, but moderated to reduce spam.



Remarks by Governor Sarah Palin on Achieving Strategic Energy Independence

October 29, 2008

ARLINGTON, VA — Governor Sarah Palin today will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery in Toledo, OH, at 9:00 a.m. ET:

Thank you all very much. I appreciate the hospitality of Xunlight Energy, and all the people of Toledo. The folks at Xunlight are doing great work for this community and our country.

Every day, when there are no cameras around to draw attention to it, this company and others like it are engaged in the great enterprise of energy independence. And what we see here is just a glimpse of much bigger things to come. Solar power is one of many alternative energy sources that are changing our economy for the better. And one day they will change our economy forever.

All who work in pursuit of new and clean energy sources understand that America’s energy problems do not go away when oil and gasoline prices fall, as they have in recent weeks. Oil today is running about 64 dollars a barrel — less than half of what it was just a couple of months ago. And though this sudden drop in prices sure makes a difference for families across America, the dangers of our dependence on foreign oil are just as they were before.

The price of oil is declining largely because of the market’s expectation of a broad recession that would lower demand. This is hardly a good sign of things to come, and should only add to our sense of urgency in gaining energy independence. When our economy recovers, and growth once again creates new demand, we could run into the same brick wall of rising oil and gasoline prices — and now is the time to make sure that doesn’t happen. In Washington, we can view this period of lower oil prices as just one more chance to make excuses — and on the problem of energy security, we’ve heard enough excuses. Or we can view it as an opportunity to finally confront the problem.

In reality, volatile oil prices are just the most immediate consequence when foreign powers control our energy supplies. They are an economic symptom of a strategic problem. And prices will stabilize only when we have reached the great goal of energy security for America.

Achieving this objective will require a clean break not just from the energy policies of the current administration, but from thirty years’ worth of failed policies in Washington. As in other challenges that confront our nation, we must shape events, and not simply manage crises. We must steer far clear of the errors and false assumptions that have marked the energy policies of nearly twenty Congresses and seven presidents. Some tasks will be the work of decades, and some the work of years. And they all will begin in the term of the next president.

For our part, John McCain and I are determined to set this country firmly on a path toward energy independence. America has the resources to achieve this vital goal. We certainly have the ingenuity. And if John McCain and I are elected, we will supply the political will to finally get it done.

In my experiences in Alaska, I have seen what American ingenuity can achieve if given a chance. As governor of a huge energy-producing state, and as chair of our state’s oil and gas conservation commission, and chairman of the nation’s Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, I’ve also seen how political pressures, special interests, and corporate abuses can work against the clear public interest in expanding our domestic energy supplies.

Alaska is the one of the most resource-rich places on earth. Yet for many years, our state’s oil and gas wealth was the carefully guarded preserve of the political establishment — the good ol’ boys — rewarded by a few big oil companies and through an oil services company that liked things just the way they were. As you may have seen in the news this week, Alaska’s senior senator is not the first man to discover the hazards of getting too close to moneyed interests with agendas of their own.

For the people of Alaska and their representatives, it had been hard enough to persuade Congress to authorize construction of the original Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. And when Congress finally acted in 1973, it approved the pipeline over the “No” votes of five senators, including a freshmen senator named Joe Biden.

For the next three decades, there had been talk of building another pipeline to transport cleaner, greener natural gas down to the Lower 48. But that’s all it ever amounted to — talk. And one of the main obstacles was big oil itself — ExxonMobil and other companies.

They should have been competing to invest in a new means of delivering their product to market. Instead, they wanted a higher price than fair competition would yield. They were holding out for more billions of dollars — in public money. No one in good conscience could pay them what they wanted to build that pipeline. And that’s how we found things when I became governor: No progress, no pipeline, no gas revenue for Alaska, no added energy security for America.

So we introduced the big oil companies and their lobbyists to a concept some of them had forgotten — free-market competition. They had a monopoly on power and resources, and we broke it.

The result is, finally, progress on the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history — a nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence. When the last section is laid and its valves are opened, that pipeline will lead America one step farther away from reliance on foreign energy. That pipeline will be a lifeline — freeing us from debt, dependence, and the influence of foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.

We’ve shaken things up in Juneau. Whatever the good ol’ boys are running these days, it’s not the State of Alaska. And that’s the kind of serious reform that we need in Washington, because the stakes for our country could not be higher.

Energy security is one of the great questions in this election. It tests our ability to confront and solve hard problems in Washington, instead of constantly putting things off. And it brings together so many other issues — from the value of our pay checks to our nation’s most vital interests abroad. Americans blame Washington for doing next to nothing about our energy problems, and they are right.

Abroad, we see Russia with designs on a vital pipeline in the Caucasus. Its strategy is to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon. And there, as elsewhere, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.

To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world’s oil supplies … or that terrorists might strike at a vital refining facility in Saudi Arabia … or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries … we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas.

In the worst cases, some of the world’s most oil-rich nations are also the most oppressive societies. And whether we like it or not, the money we pay for their oil only makes them more powerful and more oppressive. Oil wealth allows undemocratic governments to crush dissent and to subjugate women. Other regimes use it to finance terrorists around the world and criminal syndicates in our own hemisphere.

By relying upon oil from the Middle East, we not only provide wealth to the sponsors of terror — we provide high-value targets to the terrorists themselves. Across the world are pipelines, refineries, transit routes, and terminals for the oil we rely on. And Al Qaeda terrorists know where they are.

As if all this weren’t bad enough, there is also the damage that our dependence on foreign oil inflicts on our economy. Over the years, trillions of dollars have flowed out of our country, often to nations or regimes hostile to our country. Through this massive transfer of wealth, we lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year that would be better invested in American enterprises to create American jobs.

All of this explains why, as Senator McCain has said, energy security is not just one more issue on the candidate questionnaire. Energy security is the sum total of so many problems that confront our nation. It demands of us that we shake off old ways, negotiate new hazards, and make hard choices long deferred. And three decades of partisan paralysis on energy security is enough. It’s time we meet this challenge in a way consistent with the character of our nation, and that starts with producing more of our own energy.

In a McCain administration, we will authorize and support new exploration and production of America’s own oil and gas reserves — because we cannot outsource the solution to America’s energy problem. Every year, we are sending hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country for oil imports, much of it from OPEC, while America’s own oil and gas reserves in America go unused. And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we’ve got lots of both.

As a matter of fairness, we must assure affordable fuel for America by producing more of the trillions of dollars’ worth of our oil and natural gas. On land and offshore, we will drill here and drill now!

Another essential means to energy independence is a dramatic expansion in our use of nuclear energy. In a McCain administration, we will set this nation on a course to build 45 new reactors by the year 2030. And we will set the goal of 100 new plants to power the homes and factories and cities of America.

This task will be as difficult as it is necessary. We will need to recover all the knowledge and skills that have been lost over three stagnant decades in a highly technical field. We will need to solve complex problems of moving and storing materials that will always need safeguarding. We will need to do all of these things, and do them right, as we have done great things before.

One of the efforts that will assist in securing our energy future is the development of clean-coal technology. And here we have another big disagreement with our opponents. Last month Joe Biden told a voter — and I quote — “we’re not supporting clean coal.” He says clean coal’s a good idea for China — but sorry, Ohio, Joe Biden says it’s not for you.

That’s just nonsense, and there’s plenty more of it in Senator Biden’s record. He’s against drilling off our coasts, for environmental reasons. But he says that offshore drilling holds real promise for the island nation of Cyprus — as if the environmental safeguards of the Cypriots are more rigorous than our own. And so far as he and Senator Obama are concerned, nuclear power’s okay, too — but only for France and other European nations. Our opponents seem to have all sorts of solutions for the energy needs of other nations — now if only they’d focus more on what America needs.

It’s worth asking why Senators Obama and Biden are opposed to the very same production methods in America that they advocate for other nations. Usually, the answer we hear is that they fear environmental harm from domestic production, especially in the case of offshore drilling. But there’s a big problem here, even if we take their argument on its own terms. Technology has made production far cleaner than was once thought possible — by use of such methods as horizontal drilling, carbon capture and storage, and enhanced recovery. And those cleaner, safer technologies are far likelier to be used in the United States and Canada than by China, India, or other developing nations.

So policies that forego domestic production don’t protect our environment. They simply accelerate and reward dirtier and more dangerous methods of production elsewhere, in countries that apply few if any environmental safeguards. While our opponents like to posture as defenders of the environment, in practice their refusal to support more domestic production does more harm than good.

As for our coal resources, America has more coal than the oil riches of Saudi Arabia. Burning coal cleanly is a challenge of practical problem-solving and human ingenuity — and we have no shortage of those in America either. So, in a McCain administration, we will commit two billion dollars each year, until 2024, to clean-coal research, development, and deployment. We will refine the techniques and equipment. We will deliver not only electricity but jobs to some of the areas hardest hit by our economic troubles.

And in the end, with or without the green light from Joe the Six-Term Senator, we will make clean coal a reality. For the sake of our nation’s security and our prosperity, we need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers.

To meet America’s great energy challenge, John and I will adopt an “all of the above” approach. In our administration, that will mean harnessing alternative sources of energy, like wind and solar. We will end subsidies and tariffs that drive prices up, and provide tax credits indexed to low automobile carbon emissions. We will encourage Americans to be part of the solution by taking steps in their everyday lives that conserve more and use less. And we will control greenhouse gas emissions by giving American businesses new incentives and new rewards to seek, instead of just giving them new taxes to pay and new orders to follow.

On energy policy, our opponents are always talking about things we cannot do, because our own government won’t let us. When you look over the energy plans of Barack Obama and his allies in Congress, it’s just a long, labored agenda of inaction. And it’s the same agenda of inaction we could expect under the one-party rule of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. They’re always talking about things we can’t do in America, energy we can’t produce, refineries we can’t build, plants we can’t approve, coal we cannot use, technologies we cannot master. As John McCain has observed, for a guy’s who’s slogan is “Yes, we can,” Barack Obama’s energy plan sure has a whole lot of “No we can’t.”

Again and again, our opponents say that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems — as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.

No, we can’t “drill our way out of the problem” entirely. But this is America, the most resourceful country on earth, and we can drill, and refine, and mine, enrich, reprocess, invent, build, conserve, grow, and use every available means to regain our independence.

The mission of energy security will demand great things of our country. It will require commitment, resolve, and political courage. And John McCain is a man who knows something about hard missions, about overcoming dangers and keeping faith with his country. The stakes are high, and complete success will not come quickly. But I can promise you this: Unless we begin this mission now, the only change we’ll see is a change for the worse. And when we do succeed in the hard work ahead, our children will live in a more prosperous country, in a more peaceful world. Thank you all very much, and God bless America.

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Turning Oil into Salt

October 28, 2008 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, E85 Flex-Fuel, FuelClinic, Fuels, Oil Industry · 3 Comments 

I’m home from the Energy Freedom Summit in Chicago with so much material and information that it’ll take me weeks to digest, understand, summarize, and disseminate it to you. Let me start with a “sound-bite” sized summary of the theme of the conference…

Once was a time when nations went to war over salt. Seriously.

Until the 19th century salt was a strategic commodity much like oil is today. Salt was required to preserve meat – and preserved meat was required to allow armies to march. Salt was required for societies to grow beyond traditional collectives, and salt was required to store, transport, and sell meat that could not be consumed immediately. Wars were indeed fought over salt, and those nations with large salt reserves had tremendous political and economic prosperity – and power over those who needed their salt – much like countries with oil do today.

So, what happened to change the world, and strip salt of it’s strategic importance?

New technologies were invented which made salt unnecessary for food preservation. The invention of electricity, refrigeration, canning, and other preservative technologies forever changed the world, and salt became just another freely traded commodity like we are accustomed to today.

You can still preserve your meats with salt if you wanted to, but most choose to refrigerate it.

Today we find ourselves in a 19th-century dilemma again, where oil has replaced salt as a global strategic commodity, and where the trade in this commodity is tightly controlled in order to weild political and economic power.

Oil’s strategic value stems from it’s monopoly in the transportation sector. This monopoly gives the petrocrats that control OPEC and the bulk of world oil reserves unacceptable power over the global economy.

Set America Free Coalition

How exactly can we “turn oil into salt”. The answer is surprisingly simple and familiar – by using technology to provide fuel choice thru Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV) and plug-in hybrid w/ FFV engines or new 100% electric vehicles (EV).

re_ethanol-e85pump.jpg“Future-Proof” Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) keep to a liquid-fuels based technology that is no different from the norm today. The element of “choice” is created by allowing drivers to decide what type of fuel to consume, with options ranging from straight gasoline (no change from existing habits) to a variety of blends of alcohol/gasoline like E25, E85, M50. FFV technology does not restrict auto manufactures in any way – they can make any variety of vehicle they’d want, from scooters to Hummers.

Plug-in Hybrids w/ FFV engines (similar to the Prius Plug-In) move the hybrid technology forward by decoupling the vehicle from the gasoline pump. With a plug-in hybrid, you can choose to recharge your car using your residential electricity. For distances greater than your battery capacity, your hybrid will switch to using it’s FFV engine, where you’ll have the same fuel options of non-hybrid FFV’s.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) (like these from an auto show earlier this year) are quite different and have no engine and require no liquid fuels on board. Instead they have bigger and better batteries and electric motor(s) which meet commuting needs of most Americans, and are recharged at home or at specialized recharging stations around town. This option allows a “no-oil” choice, as your car is recharged by the power grid. (The power grid is of course fueled somehow, in the U.S. usually natural gas, hydro-electric, coal or nuclear.)

At this point, when there are a variety of ways to power your vehicle, gasoline will have to compete with other forms of fuel that are not completely controlled by “big-oil”. As in Brazil, market forces will control costs and create a vigorous new-energy economy. Consumers decide what fuel to buy, based on a variety of reasons they get to determine.

When consumers have a choice and a real alternative to replace 100% gasoline, oil will no longer be a strategic commodity and it will be forced to be valued competitively, just like salt.



Energy Freedom Summit – First Impressions

Today and tomorrow I’m in Chicago attending the Energy Freedom Summit, organized by the Set America Free Coalition. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this summit, not knowing much about the organization until just two months ago.

 My first impression after today’s panels; I’m impressed with the knowledge, experience, focus and pace of this organization – they have a laser-lock on what they intend to do, and are efficient in getting the message out as powerfully as possible.

The panels are impressive leaders in their fields, from geo-political security experts to plug-in hybrid magazine editors. I’m taking many notes.

The attendees are an ambitious and eclectic group of people from a variety of backgrounds who are interested in understanding and solving the current energy crisis. Authors, government officials past and present, entrepreneurs, concerned citizens fill the conference hall – about 150 in all.

I’ve met several authors, a frog farmer, a history professor, a few lawyers, and several “regular joes” who are attending in an effort to ”do something” about this problem. 

I’m not yet sure where I fit in here, but I keep talking to people, and am learning quite a lot.

(Update 10/27/08 – I’m home from Chicago, with enough new information to fill this blog for weeks. I’m currently writing a few entries, and will begin posting them as they are completed.)



Algae to Fuel

June 30, 2008 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Bio-Diesel, Fuels, Oil Industry, Oil Refining · Comment 



Prototype Generators Run on Garbage

June 22, 2008 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Fuels, Power-Grid · Comment 

There are two prototype garbage-chewing generators helping power Camp Victory in Iraq. They’ve been in operation since early May, and run on a pseudo-propane that is created by burning plastics and fermenting food wastes. 

It still requires some diesel fuel, but only 5% of a conventional powerplant, and allows the military to save fuel, reduce the need to transport fuel, reduce the amount of garbage that needs to be disposed of, and reduces risks to troops and contractors by reducing the frequency of convoys trucking fuel and garbage around Baghdad. 

tger_on_station.jpg

About 50 percent of the diesel that the military burns in Iraq is devoted to transporting more fuel. And about half of that gets poured into generators and stoves. Which is not just a huge waste of time, money, and effort. It’s also a security issue. “Those convoys that carry fuel are also known as targets,” Army biotech scientist Dr. James Valdes tells a group of bloggers. “So our logic was that at a forward operating base, could we use the garbage to make fuel and thereby get rid of the garbage and help to keep the convoys off the streets.”



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