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.”
Source: ISN Security Watch
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.
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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Fuelishness! Feed: Hummer now “Green” for Japan; Diesel Engine Biofuel Advances; Dolphin Wins Eco-Driving Challenge; Fuel Efficiency VS. The Tax Man in Washington State
- In Japan, the Hummer Is Now Officially Green — Starting this week, Japanese buyers of the hulking power machines from General Motors — which come with a 5.3-liter, 300 horsepower engine and roar to 60 miles per hour in eight seconds — receive a 250,000 yen ($2,780) subsidy under Japan’s new, looser fuel-efficiency standards for imported cars.
- Researchers develop “smart” diesel engine that runs on biofuel blend — Researchers from Cummings and Purdue University claim to have found a way to improve fuel efficiency in diesel engines that run on biodiesel fuel while cutting emission levels. The process involves an advanced “closed-loop control” approach for preventing diesel engines from emitting greater amounts of smog-causing nitrogen oxides when running on biodiesel fuels.
- Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne wins Audi fuel-efficiency driving challenge — The Audi Efficiency Challenge was designed to showcase the mileage and performance possibilities that Audi TDI clean diesel technology provides in real-world driving conditions.
- Fuel-efficient cars affecting Washington gas tax — Automobiles are more fuel-efficient, people are driving less and, increasingly, they are driving automobiles that aren’t powered by petroleum at all…”All of those things add up to the fact that we aren’t going to rely on the gas tax as being the mainstay of the future if we want to maintain, preserve and improve our transportation system,” said Paula Hammond, the state’s transportation secretary.
Take a look at this graph of average gas prices courtesy of GasBuddy.com and you’ll see that prices continue to rebound from the “crash” of 2008… which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.
Not much has changed as far as our “oil addiction” since the “crash”. Looking back, it seems that Cash for Clunkers was the only national attempt at dealing with oil’s monopoly since the collapse, and the merits of that program as an energy policy are laughable.
It took a global economic collapse to undercut the oil gouging, something we can not afford to repeat. (I continue to assert that the uncertainty of affordable fuels contributed to the economic tsunami that brought world markets to their knees that summer.)
What are we going to do to shift oil from a strategic political and economic weapon to just “another” commodity that must compete with alternative sources?
1. I’ve long been a proponent of Flex-Fuel vehicles, since they offer the simple option to use purely petroleum based gasoline or alternative alcohol-blended (up to 85%) gasoline replacement fuels. Manufacturers “promised” to add Flex-Fuel capabilities into much of their fleets by 2010, yet most only add the systems to the most inefficient models, taking “credit” for making their fleet more efficient instead. Having Flex-Fuel vehicles on the road in great numbers will be an incentive for stations to carry more alcohol-blends, and at the same time allow motorists to travel far and wide without worry that they won’t find a filling station specific to their vehicle while the network of supply is created by the opportunity to serve this demand.
2. Small efficient diesel engines are hot sellers in Europe – 50% of all new car sales across the pond are diesels. Why? Because they are clean, quiet, powerful, last a long time, and get upwards of 65 to 80 MPG every day of the week. Plus you can fuel them with bio-diesel, and reduce the amount of petroleum based diesel fuel. Again, you can travel far and wide, taking advantage of bio-diesel when available – an incentive for stations to carry the product. Since bio-diesel is made closer to home, distribution is cheaper, jobs are created locally, and competition controls costs.
3. Hybrids are great technology for getting slightly better mileage from a gallon of gas – but they are all still 100% petroleum-dependent. Flex-Fuel Electric or Diesel Electric hybrids would allow motorists to offset even more of their oil addiction to alternatives, not just kick the can down the road a little further.
4. 100% electric vehicles are still not a replacement for the family car in most cases. High costs, limited range, and long recharging times limit options and create a situation where drivers must change habits (and hardware) to participate. Plus there is the battery problem, making exotic metal ore addiction the replacement for oil addiction.
5. Conservation (aka: eco-driving) is first-aid remedy immediately available for free (better than free when you consider the money savings) available to everyone right now. With modest changes to your driving habits, you can increase your fuel mileage 5% to over 25% no matter what you prefer to drive (including Hummers and Hybrids). And while “ecodriving” sounds like “hypermiling” to some people, in fact eco-driving is easy, courteous, and safer driving. It does require you to pay attention to operating your car (shouldn’t you be?), but relieves you from the urge to compete against those other drivers around you, and instead compete against the gas pump.
In the end, as we approach the future still addicted to oil we limit our geopolitical power and remain at the mercy of markets we do not have much control over politically. We have been at war for years thanks to oil, with no end in sight. While our planets poorest nations are prime real-estate for several bio-fuel industries that could lead them from poverty to prosperity, the “powers that be” lobby and maneuver to protect their monopoly on your mobility.
What are you doing to make progress? What do you see as our future?
PUTTING economy driving into practise was the aim of a group of drivers who took part in a Wexford to Dublin charity challenge. The Charity Eco-Drive Challenge was won by a driver who achieved a fuel economy figure of 87 mpg while driving a Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style.
Organised in December by Ger Boland and Enda Newport from Ford dealer Boland’s of Ferrybank, Wexford, the Charity Eco-Drive Challenge saw six drivers tasked with driving from Wexford to Dublin (Stillorgan Park Hotel) and back to Wexford using as little fuel as possible.
Each driver’s fuel consumption was analysed and from the six drivers, Michael Forde of Curracloe, Co Wexford, came out on top with the most economic result of 87 mpg for the round trip. Among the six participants, the range of fuel consumption figures achieved went from Michael’s 87 mpg to 64 mpg.
To ensure fair play, each of the six participants drove the same route in identical Focus 1.6 TDCi models of the same age and similar mileage. The winning driver was given the option of nominating a charity to receive a donation of €1,000. Michael nominated the Wexford Women’s Refuge to receive an early Christmas present.
Speaking about his strategy for the challenge, Michael Forde said: “I wasn’t too concerned about maintaining a steady speed, the secret to eco-driving is engine revs.
“So long as I could keep the engine revs in the range of approximately 1500 to 1800, I knew that I would end up with a very respectable fuel consumption figure.”
Michael also highlighted tyre pressure as being another important element: “Most motorists don’t realise it but incorrect pressure settings mean more fuel used.”
The Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style with alloy wheels, air conditioning, fog lights and Bluetooth, is available for around €21,750.
Once again a modern factory-built diesel-powered automobile has achieved astonishing fuel efficiency numbers in a driving competition. This isn’t futuristic technology that is “just around the corner” or “not yet cost effective”, these are current versions of diesel-powered cars that roll off of assembly lines in other parts of the world every day – and are affordable to ordinary people.
So, why are we in the US not yet able to buy these ultra-efficient little diesel-powered cars (Ford Focus ECOnic, Mini-D) that are “old news” in other parts of the world (as of 2007 about 50% of new cars sold in Europe have diesel engines) and then choose to run them on modern bio-diesel fuels that are slowly coming to market?
Embracing modern diesel engine technology also avoids the chicken-and-egg problem that other alternative fuels suffer from… US-based drivers can fuel their zippy and efficient little diesel-powered cars and light trucks, easily getting better than 60 MPG every day on petroleum-based diesel, then get even “greener” when the bio-varieties gain investment and availability (thanks to the greater number of vehicles on the road that can consume their products).
Or you can brew your own bio-diesel – or buy from a local bio-diesel producer – more on that later…
AS an aside, Rudolph Diesel, the man who invented the engine design that still bears his name “was also a well-respected thermal engineer and a social theorist. Diesel’s inventions have three points in common: they relate to heat transfer by natural physical processes or laws; they involve markedly creative mechanical design; and they were initially motivated by the inventor’s concept of sociological needs. Rudolf Diesel originally conceived the diesel engine to enable independent craftsmen and artisans to compete with industry.”
Diesel was a brilliant inventor and understood exactly how competitive his engine would become, but did he realize that the industries his engine would “threaten” a hundred years later would be the oil industry and the tax man?
Source: The Motor Report
A MINI Cooper D (diesel) – piloted by trained ecodrivers Mark Whittaker and Paul Owen – has just set a new record for fuel efficient driving, by driving 2000 km on just over 72 liters (19 US gallons) of diesel fuel – achieving 3.5 l/100km (just over 67 MPG) average for that trip.
Mark Whittaker said the aim of the exercise was to highlight the potential for cutting New Zealand’s transport related emissions at little or no extra cost.
“In setting this record we are demonstrating that everyone can contribute to reducing emissions by choosing a fuel efficient car and employing simple ecodriving techniques,” Mr Whittaker said.
While Whittaker and Owen had originally targeted an average of 3.0 l/100km, the final 3.5 l/100km figure bested the country’s other top fuel miser – the third generation Toyota Prius – with which the Cooper D shares an official fuel economy of 3.9 l/100km.
The MINI Cooper D sports a fuel efficient and spunky small clean diesel engine and state-of-the-art start/stop technology similar to the new Ford Focus ECOnic we profiled a few days ago.
The Cooper D’s figures are thanks to a host of technological innovations borrowed from parent company BMW (including a start-stop system and a thrifty diesel engine from PSA).
BMW Group New Zealand Managing Director, Mark Gilbert said the fuel economy record proves how far diesel technology has come.
“The MINI has proven that new, small clean diesel engines have an important part to play in improving the fuel economy of the New Zealand vehicle fleet,” said Mr Gilbert.
“And the other clear message from this exercise is that it is not only what you drive, but how you drive, that counts,” he said. (Emphasis added)
That last bit sounds familiar! We certainly agree.
The bad news is that although it was mentioned last February that MINI was considering making the Cooper D available in the US, it has yet to become a reality according to our local MINI dealer. A message to MINI USA about the future availability of the “D” here in the US is awaiting reply – I’ll update you should we hear back. (If you’ve seen a “firm” scheduled availability date, please let me know.)
The future availability of the Ford Focus ECOnic diesel is also yet to be announced. In the past I mentioned my experience driving the SEAT with a small clean diesel a few years ago in Estonia… for now, you’ll still need to cross the pond to have this much fun driving at over 65 miles per gallon.
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.
Five years ago I visited family in Estonia, a country still digging out from decades of Soviet domination after World War Two. Estonia is an amazingly beautiful country full of “old world” charm and wonderful people. My cousin, who built heavy robotic equipment for the lumber industry , drove a SEAT hatchback with a small, quiet, and clean diesel engine that had tons of torque, ran on bio-diesel (available in most towns), and got better than 65 miles per gallon regularly. I was astonished.
We drove that spunky car all over the country, into Latvia, with the whole family, sometimes towing his little Russian-era boat. It was a joy to drive, and when we passed a field of soybean my cousin would smile at me and point, saying we were driving on sunshine – converted to oil in those plants. He said proudly “We are all green in Estonia. I am a green man.”
I wondered why I couldn’t buy a car like that back home in America.
Consider the new Ford Focus (available in Europe) with a little diesel engine, and upgraded starter, alternator, battery package that support their improved ECOnic start/stop technology – similar to a golf cart, the engine stops when the car is idle for a few seconds, and springs back to life when you press the accelerator to move ahead.
As with any Focus it is delightfully balanced and comfortable and the stop/start process in traffic is by no means intrusive or unduly noisy. In fact it is one of the better versions of the current crop of on/off engines.
The starter motor has been beefed up to cope with the additional use while developments have been made to the alternator to reduce friction and lessen the workload on the engine.
To improve fuel consumption further, kinetic energy built up as the car goes along is captured and used to recharge one of the two batteries which power the likes of the air conditioning or entertainment systems when the engine is off.
NOTE: While it’s generally a good idea to turn off your engine and reduce idling when not in traffic, we do NOT recommend turning your car off while in traffic – hybrids and stop/start equipped cars are designed to do this safely and automatically. Turning your car off (turning off the “ignition”) while in traffic is illegal in most places and puts you at risk if you need to move quickly to avoid a hazard.
The Focus also takes “driver feedback” to another level, with an on-board “eco driving coach” that will analyze driving habits and help encourage the driver to be more efficient.
On the road, the car monitors the driver’s technique examining gear changes, the smoothness of steering and use of speed.
The results are displayed on the instrument panel and highlight areas were improvements can be made. It also praises good eco-driving.
Eco-driver feedback systems are becoming more and more popular. FuelClinic is a type of feedback system, but isn’t real-time and doesn’t travel along with you in the car. Our new CarChip Pro does travel with you, providing real-time feedback when you accelerate too quickly, brake too aggressively, or exceed a pre-set speed limit. Other devices like the Rover from Cartasite provide similar feedback, and communicate wirelessly.
These uber-efficient diesels are not easily available in the US (you’ll need to look to Volkswagen if you want a diesel car here), nor is a ready supply of bio-diesel at pumps in many places – a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma.
Would you buy a small diesel-powered vehicle like the Focus mentioned? What if you could have your favorite make, manufacturer, and body style – but with a little-diesel option?
CHINO, Calif., July 29 /PRNewswire/ — J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. and SunEco Energy today announced the signing of a cooperative agreement, which could lead to J.B. Hunt becoming a significant purchaser of biodiesel made from natural algae oil using SunEco Energy’s proprietary technology.
The two companies conducted a series of successful tests using biodiesel made by SunEco Energy from 100 percent natural algae oil produced at the company’s pilot plant in Chino, California. These tests, using a 20 percent and 50 percent blend of algae oil with petroleum diesel, measured an 82 percent reduction in particulate emissions with no loss of power.
“Transportation fuel is virtually 100% oil-based,” said Gary Whicker, senior vice president of engineering for J.B. Hunt. “Finding alternative energy sources to put in our fuel tanks is good business for our company and our nation. SunEco’s innovative process to produce renewable fuel supplies from algae grown in American ponds is an intriguing new option. Our initial experience with their algae-based biodiesel is promising, and we are excited about the opportunity to work with SunEco Energy to move towards a lower cost, less carbon intensive, and more secure energy supply for our business.”
“We are very pleased that J.B. Hunt, a leading transportation company, took the steps to test our fuel in their trucks and are taking further steps to become a leader in the use of renewable fuels,” said Dan Gautschi, Chairman and CEO of SunEco Energy. “The SunEco technology has been in development for over five years, with an operating pilot facility over the past two years which has allowed us to continually produce barrels of oil rather than beakers, enabling us to provide oil for tests in a variety of applications.”
SunEco’s proprietary technology utilizes naturally occurring algae strains in a monitored environment to produce an oil product suitable for making renewable transportation fuels and other oil-based products, and, as a byproduct of the process, a high-quality animal feed supplement. SunEco is currently raising additional funding to enable the large scale deployment of the technology in U.S. and international markets, including a large development in the Imperial Valley region of California.
J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. focuses on providing safe and reliable transportation services to a diverse group of customers throughout the continental United States, Canada and Mexico. Utilizing an integrated, multimodal approach, J.B. Hunt provides capacity-oriented solutions centered on delivering customer value and industry-leading service.
SunEco Energy is committed to leading the deployment of commercially viable bio-products made from natural algae strains. The Company’s primary objective is to deliver reliable clean and sustainable energy products for transportation fuels and livestock feed, thus breaking the trade-off between food or fuel. Looking forward, the company intends to expand its product range to include a full scope of uses currently obtained from petroleum, such as, plastics, inks and dyes, as well as nutri-ceuticals.
AS more research comes in regarding new technologies for producing bio-fuels, imagining a future where we have a real choice about our transportation fuels becomes less of a day-dream and more of a reality.
Found at: The BioEnergySite
Researchers at the University of Nevada are looking at some less conventional materials to extract biofuels – spent coffee grounds.
In a paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food ChemistryNarasimharao Kondamudi, Susanta K. Mohapatra and Mano Misra Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Nevada, describe the process to extract the oil from spent coffee grounds and then transesterify the processed oil to convert it into biodiesel.
The production of energy from renewable and waste materials is an attractive alternative to the conventional agricultural feed stocks such as corn and soybean. This paper describes an approach to extract oil from spent coffee grounds and to further transesterify the processed oil to convert it into biodiesel. This process yields 10?15% oil depending on the coffee species (Arabica or Robusta). The biodiesel derived from the coffee grounds (100% conversion of oil to biodiesel) was found to be stable for more than 1 month under ambient conditions. It is projected that 340 million gallons of biodiesel can be produced from the waste coffee grounds around the world. The coffee grounds after oil extraction are ideal materials for garden fertilizer, feedstock for ethanol, and as fuel pellets.
Gives new meaning to ordering “high test” at the restaurant.
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.
Today’s economic doom-and-gloom pallet cleanser; a start-up biodiesel manufacturing company in El Paso Texas who just bought additional equipment to triple their biodiesel output, because they have more demand than they can currently meet.
Global Alternative Fuels, LLC of El Paso, Tex. has purchased an additional 10 million gallons of [biodiesel] capacity. Added to the existing 5 million gallon plant, Global Alternative Fuels is working to meet regional demand for sustainably produced biodiesel.
“El Paso is in a desert area, so we chose Greenline’s waterless biodiesel platform for our initial 5 million gallon plant,” said Carlos Guzman, Co-founder, President & COO of Global Alternative Fuels, LLC. “Once we discovered that 5 million gallons would not be enough to meet demand in our area, we asked Greenline to add another 10 million gallons of capacity…”
Global Alternative Fuels started producing biodiesel on January 3rd of this year and already has a need to increase capacity. “We have a buyer for every drop of fuel we make,” said Guzman. So, Greenline has begun work on increasing plant capacity to 15 million gallons and adding a feedstock blending unit. “The Greenline feedstock blending unit allows us to utilize multiple sustainable feedstocks including locally sourced animal tallow and Iowa soybean oil,” said Guzman.
Wow. That’s refreshing. :)
I’ve recently found a good source of links to main stream energy-related commentary and opionions at the OpinionSource.com website. This edition of Fuelishness! Feed will include some of the best discussion material from the past few weeks.
- NYT Op-Ed: But who will drive them? …with gas below $2 a gallon and recession-ravaged consumers hanging tight to their wallets, even the cheaper hybrids have to compete with cars that run on boring old internal combustion engines. The Prius was the flavor of the month when gas prices soared to $4. But in December, Prius sales plummeted 45 percent compared with the same month a year earlier — more than the 36 percent drop in all car sales…
- Honda Unveils a Cheaper Hybrid Challenger to Toyota’s Top-Selling Prius – It is smaller and less fuel efficient than the Prius, but it is expected to sell for as little as $18,000, about $4,000 less than the Prius. “It’s the first direct competitor to the Prius,” said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at the Power Information Network of J. D. Power & Associates. “And it’s from Honda, so I think it’s going to be a major success.”
- WaTimes Commentary: Oil and the economic crisis – Saudi Arabia said recently that oil prices should be at $75 per barrel, an idea other OPEC members have welcomed with enthusiasm. So when the group met recently, it decided to reduce output again, this time by more than 2 million barrels daily. However, the Saudis clearly did not want to assume all the reduction and insisted other producers, including Iran and Venezuela, not only approve the new cuts, but also implement them, which will lead to additional pressure on Venezuela’s already dwindling export volumes.
- ABG: First stage of Nevada algae biodiesel completed successfully – Researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno have been testing a pair of outdoor algae ponds to evaluate the viability of growing fuel algae in the region. The first phase was a success with algae growing in a pair of 5,000 gallon ponds even with overnight temperatures in the 20s.
- NYT Op-Ed: Geothermal future – [Can we replace coal with geothermal plants? -ed.] In 2006, a panel led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology surveyed the prospects for electricity production from enhanced geothermal systems. Its conclusions were conservative but very optimistic. The panel suggested that with modest federal support, geothermal power could play a critical role in America’s energy future, adding substantially to the nation’s store of renewable energy and more than making up for coal-burning power plants that would have to be retired.
As always, your comments are encouraged and appreciated.
When I was a kid, to get to school we walked 20 miles up broken-glass-and-lava covered volcanic hills, dodging poison dart frogs and angry hornets, while reciting the entire unabridged Advanced Quantum Mechanics for Forth Graders… now those wipper-snappers get days because of gelled bio-diesel fuel…
All schools in the Bloomington School District will be closed today after state-required biodiesel fuel clogged in school buses Thursday morning and left dozens of students stranded in frigid weather, the district said late Thursday.
Rick Kaufman, the district’s spokesman, said elements in the biodiesel fuel that turn into a gel-like substance at temperatures below 10 degrees clogged about a dozen district buses Thursday morning. Some buses weren’t able to operate at all and others experienced problems while picking up students, he said.
It looks like the Bloomington School District has taken a closer look at their bus problems from last week were un-related to bio-diesel fuel.
Citing an independent study, the Minnesota Department of Commerce reiterated today that biodiesel was not the culprit that caused school buses in Bloomington, Minn. to malfunction last week.
“The problems with school buses in Minnesota had nothing to do with biodiesel,” said Bill Walsh, Communications Director for the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “An independent investigation confirmed what we believed last week – when it gets to 20 degrees below zero in the Midwest, diesel engines have trouble operating unless they are properly maintained – whether or not they are using a biodiesel blend.”
From: Green Car Advisor
Audi today announced that its 2010 A3 2.0-liter TDI diesel hatchback will appear in dealer showrooms across the U.S. starting early next year.
The low-emissions, fuel-efficient car won’t be significantly different from the 2009 version, which Audi included in a herd of clean-diesel vehicles it drove across the land of the free last year.
The A3 got the best fuel economy of the lot, averaging slightly more than 45 miles per gallon over 4,000-plus miles.
Audi said it is targeting the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, both of which are hybrids. Some of the A3’s prospective buyers will also likely be considering the Mini Cooper and Volvo C30.
The A3’s powertrain will include a 140-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing of the front-wheel-drive vehicle won’t be announced until much later this year.
Audi said standard features will include hill-hold assist, Sirius Satellite Radio, leather seating surfaces, leather steering wheel and auxiliary audio input. Audi Magnetic Ride will be optional.
I needed to get some eye-candy out here on the blog… how about a purpose-built cop car that has a bio-diesel burning power-plant, built-in lights, machine-gun holders, and does 0-60 in 6.5 seconds?
Unlike conventional police cruisers, which are retrofitted consumer vehicles such as the Ford Crown Victoria, the E7 is the first car designed and built specifically for law enforcement.
“You would never send a pickup truck to go put out a fire,” Li said. “Why would you send a family sedan to go take care of a homeland-security issue?”
Flashing emergency lights are embedded in the E7’s frame, making the car aerodynamic and visible from all directions. The front seats are designed with extra space to accommodate a police officer’s utility belt…
…Li said the car’s 300 bhp forced-induction 3.0-diesel engine will deliver 420 lb-ft of torque and propel the vehicle from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, with a governed top speed of 155 mph.
He also said the E7’s engine, which can run on either ultra-low sulfur diesel or biodiesel, will have a combined fuel economy rating of 28 to 30 mpg â€” up to 40 percent more fuel efficient than conventional police cruisers.
That last point is important when you remember that earlier this year police were cutting patrols, mounting horses, or using bikes to try to control the skyrocketing impact of fuel on the operating budgets.
Watch the video report over at Fox.
Over the next few year you’ll see a change at your local gas stations as more alcohol-blended fuel pumps are installed across the nation. Alcohol-blended fuels like E85 are already available in some areas, and more are coming to market as more FFVs are sold in the United States.
US based manufacturers have committed to making 50% of their new autos FFVs by 2010 and and 85% by 2012. In addition, there is proposed legislation called the Open Fuel Standard Act which will mandate all cars sold in America meet the same goals, so this will mean that all imports sold in the US will meet the same FFV standard. (You can help support this legislation here.)
Since FFV is an widely available and mature technology (there are already millions of FFVs on the road in the US – you mayÂ be driving one), adding the capability to all new vehicles sold in the US doesn’t add notably to the cost of making new cars (usually about $100) – and provides a way for auto manufactures to “green-up” their product lines.
Drivers of FFVs will be able to choose what fuel to buy, based on price at the pump, performance needs, personal preference, etc. – just like shopping for any other commodity. You’ll be able to mix E85 with E10 (the current flavor of gasoline almost everywhere in the US) and newer alternative blends like E25 or M50. Using FFV technology, your car will automatically adjust your engines settings to run properly on any combination of gasoline and alcohol fuels.
Unlike more exotic alternative fuels like compressed hydrogen or natural gas, drivers of FFVs are not stuck on a virtual “energy island” of specialized refueling stations. You will be able to travel freely, just like today, as far and wide as you like – choosing your favorite blend of alcohol fuels as you go – or using straight gasoline where no other choice exists.
So if your next car has an engine that burns liquid fuel, makes sure it is “future proof” and check that it’s a Flex-Fuel Vehicle before you buy it, or else you’ll be left withoutÂ options at the pump when the alcohol-blended fuels hit the wider market.
Fuel or folly?
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
In the pantheon of well-intentioned governmental policies gone awry, massive ethanol biofuel production may go down as one of the biggest blunders in history. An unholy alliance of environmentalists, agribusiness, biofuel corporations and politicians has been touting ethanol as the cure to all our environmental ills, when in fact it may be doing more harm than good. An array of unintended consequences is wreaking havoc on the economy, food production and, perhaps most ironically, the environment.
InÂ the July issue of Popular Science, an article related to the previous post about Algae-based Bio-Diesel. Requiring only (an exact balance) of sunlight, carbon dioxide,Â and waterÂ – the search is on for the most productive variety of algae.
Algae has some important advantages over other oil-producing crops, like canola and soybeans. It can be grown in almost any enclosed space, it multiplies like gangbusters, and it requires very few inputs to flourishâ€”mainly just sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. â€œBecause algae has a high surface-area-to-volume ratio, it can absorb nutrients very quickly,â€ Sears says. â€œIts small size is what makes it mighty.â€
There are plans to use the pollutant carbon dioxide of various industrial process as the “food” for large algae farms, growing algae while “absorbing” the pollutant at the same time.
Â The proof is in the numbers. About 140 billion gallons of biodiesel would be needed every year to replace all petroleum-based transportation fuel in the U.S. It would take nearly three billion acres of fertile land to produce that amount with soybeans, and more than one billion acres to produce it with canola. Unfortunately, there are only 434 million acres of cropland in the entire country, and we probably want to reserve some of that to grow food. But because of its ability to propagate almost virally in a small space, algae could do the job in just 95 million acres of land. Whatâ€™s more, it doesnâ€™t need fertile soil to thrive. It grows in ponds, bags or tanks that can be just as easily set up in the desertâ€”or next to a carbon-dioxide-spewing power plantâ€”as in the countryâ€™s breadbasket.
Reportedly the worlds-first project under consideration by an airline.
Air New Zealand and airliner manufacturer Boeing are secretly working with Blenheim-based biofuel developer Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation to create the world’s first environmentally friendly aviation fuel, made of wild algae.
If the project pans out the small and relatively new New Zealand company could lead the world in environmentally sustainable aviation fuel.
It’s understood Air NZ is undertaking risk analysis. If everything stacks up it will make an aircraft available on the Tasman to test the biofuel…
Basically, it’s pond scum.
…The fuel is essentially derived from bacterial pond scum created through the photosynthesis of sunlight and carbon dioxide on nutrient-rich water sources such as sewage ponds.
Air NZ would most likely test the fuel on one engine while normal aviation fuel would drive the other engine. Fuel is held in cells on the aircraft that can be directed to a specific engine…
From: DesMoines RegisterÂ
The idea that vegetable oil could be used as an engine fuel has been around for more than a century. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that commercial production of biodiesel began in the United States. Production has skyrocketed from under 1 million gallons in 1999 to 91 million gallons last year.
Biodiesel can be produced from palm, canola, cottonseed and other vegetable oils or from animal fats, including beef, pork or poultry. Research has even explored using algae. But the primary feedstock in America has been soybean oil. Iowa led the nation in soybean production four of the past five years, topping Illinois in all but 2003. Likewise, Iowa leads the nation in biodiesel production capacity, edging Texas, according to a September compilation from the National Biodiesel Board.
Diesel engines have long been attractive as a more powerful, fuel-efficient alternative to similar-sized gasoline engines – delivering 30 percent to 35 percent greater fuel efficiency. But the soot and smell were turnoffs for most American drivers. Today’s diesel fuel has cleaned up its act. Petroleum-based diesel meets the same emissions standards as gasoline. And biodiesel, while slightly less fuel efficient than petrodiesel, reduces emissions of several greenhouse gases.
Biodiesel represents a tiny percentage of overall diesel usage, however, and widespread use likely will be stymied by limits on supplies of soybean oil and other feedstocks and by biodiesel’s relatively high cost without hefty subsidies.
Blends of biodiesel and petroleum are designated by B followed by the percentage of biodiesel. So B20 is 20 percent biodiesel, and B100 is pure biodiesel. Use of biodiesel in blends up to B20 requires no new equipment or modifications to your vehicle. Some care is urged with the initial switch to biodiesel, because it can loosen deposits that petrodiesel builds up in fuel systems.
Engine performance: Even 1 percent or 2 percent blends of biodiesel can improve lubricity of diesel fuels. The required move to ultra-low-sulfur petroleum diesel, which has poor lubricating properties, might create significant demand for biodiesel as an additive.
Like petroleum-based diesel, biodiesel has the ability to autoignite, quantified by a high cetane index – earning a somewhat higher number than conventional diesel, some studies show.
The biggest knock against biodiesel has been its cold-weather performance. As temperatures drop, both petrodiesel and biodiesel can form wax crystals that clog fuel lines and filters. At severe temperatures, diesel fuel turns into a gel and can’t be pumped. Biodiesel’s cold-weather performance is even worse than conventional diesel’s. Consumer perceptions weren’t helped when B2 users experienced plugging of fuel filters last fall in Minnesota, which as of 2005 required most diesel sold in the state to contain at least 2 percent biodiesel.
Distributors and drivers historically have overcome cold-flow problems with conventional diesel by adding kerosene or cold-flow additives, using fuel-line heaters or storing vehicles indoors. Biodiesel advocates believe that more experience with appropriate blends and strict quality control can address cold-flow problems.
Mileage: Pure biodiesel contains 8 percent less energy per gallon than typical petrodiesel, according to the Department of Energy. “If you are using B20, the difference in power, torque and fuel economy should be between 1 percent and 2 percent, depending on the diesel with which you are blending,” according to the DOE’s 2004 Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines. “Most users report little difference between B20 and No. 2 diesel fuel.”
Price: In mid-October, Krueger’s Amoco stations in Des Moines were selling B10 for $2.39 a gallon. The Iowa average for diesel was $2.50.5, according to AAA.
In 2005, U.S. plants produced 91 million gallons of biodiesel.
That’s only 0.15% of the 60 billion gallons of diesel used annually. (Comparatively, the United States used about 140 billion gallons of gasoline.)
Production is expected to more than double this year.
The state had six operating biodiesel plants as of mid-October, representing 93.5 million gallons of production capacity, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. Eight plants are under construction, and one plant is being expanded, which will increase production capacity to 223 million gallons. Other plants are on the drawing boards. As of September, Iowa’s production capacity represented 19 percent of the national total, according to a separate compilation from the National Biodiesel Board.
Computerized operating procedures result in the need for relatively few employees to operate each plant. As an example, Renewable Energy Group’s plant in Wall Lake, with a production capacity of 30 million gallons, employs about 30 people. There’s rollover economic impact, of course, as those employees spend their paychecks, as technicians service the plant and as the plant buys supplies.
There’s not necessarily a direct tie between the plant and nearby farmers. Some soybean oil used at the plant is shipped in by rail from out of state. A January study for the Iowa Soybean Association projected that biodiesel-fueled growth in demand would push up farm-level prices an average of 9.5 cents a bushel over the next five years. Iowa elevator bids for soybeans ranged from $4.71 to $5.12 a bushel in mid-October.
However, plants are built to accommodate a variety of feedstocks. So theoretically Iowa’s biodiesel plants could move away from soybeans if another feedstock proves cheaper.
In Europe, diesel engines power about half of new cars. Likewise, the European Union has raced ahead of the United States in biodiesel production, making nearly 13 times as much in 2005, according to Reuters News Service. Germany produced about half the European Union’s total. The EU, seeking to reduce its dependence on imported oil and cut auto emissions, has set targets for biofuels to replace 5.75 percent of transportation fuels in member states by 2010, according to Reuters.
Other major biodiesel players are Australia and China. China, with its widespread use of trucks, consumes twice as much diesel as gasoline, according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. It hopes to use biofuels to meet 15 percent of its transportation-energy needs by 2020. But production of biodiesel is lagging because it lacks feedstocks. China is a net importer of edible vegetable oils. Long term, it needs to plant oil crops such as rapeseed or produce biodiesel from animal fats.
Biodiesel reduces global-warming gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons, as well as particulate matter over a wide range of blends, regardless of feedstock used. Pure biodiesel can remove as much as 90 percent of these air toxics, and B20 can achieve 20 percent to 40 percent reductions.
However, biodiesel has been shown to increase nitrogen oxide. Research is ongoing into the extent that nitrogen-oxide emissions would increase ground-level ozone or whether blends with other materials could reduce the nitrogen oxide.
Another environmental plus: Because biodiesel is biodegradable, it can fuel ships and be pumped in sensitive environments without risking toxic spills.
Considerable research has probed whether renewable fuels burn more fossil fuels in their production than they give off when burned. A July report for the National Academy of Sciences found that biodiesel yields 93 percent more energy than the fossil energy invested in its production. That’s much better than ethanol, which has a plus-25 percent energy balance, and both are better than gasoline. The calculations include everything from the fertilizer used to grow the soybeans to the fuel used to plant, harvest and transport the crop.
Ideally, the world’s future fuel choices will be ecologically sustainable. The report for the National Academy of Sciences set these conditions for viable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels: “…A biofuel should provide a net energy gain, have environmental benefits, be economically competitive, and be producible in large quantities without reducing food supplies.”
Biodiesel rates better than corn-grain ethanol by yielding a better energy balance and greater reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions, the report found. Soybeans produce less runoff of nitrogen, phosphorus and pesticide than corn, and the conversion of biomass to fuel takes far less energy with soybean biodiesel than corn-grain ethanol. However, “neither biofuel can replace much petroleum without impacting food supplies,” the report said.
Price-competitiveness: Biodiesel production enjoys heftier subsidies than ethanol, and it remains questionable whether biodiesel can be cost-competitive with conventional diesel without them. Blenders receive a $1 federal tax credit per gallon of gasoline made from oil crops and animal fats, and there’s a 10-cents-a-gallon small-producer income-tax credit. (Comparatively, the federal tax credit for ethanol is 51 cents.) Government loans and grants also have financed plant construction. Iowa this spring approved subsidies as well, including a 3-cent-per-gallon credit and cost-share grants for retail infrastructure.
Engineers, plant operators and agronomists continue work to reduce feedstock and production costs and improve plant genetics to produce higher oil yields.
Related products also figure into the industry’s economics. Soybean meal – what’s left after soybeans are crushed to produce oil – is a high-protein animal feed that can be consumed by poultry, hogs and beef and dairy cattle. But it must compete for market share and price against the distillers dried grains produced by ethanol plants.
Also, a key byproduct, glycerin, is separated from the oil during processing. As the biodiesel industry has taken off, the market is awash in glycerin. Research that develops greater demand and higher prices for glycerin also could benefit industry margins.
Availability of feedstock: Demand for biodiesel is strong, and the overall U.S. market for diesel fuel is huge. But there simply aren’t enough oil crops and animal fats available to supplant much of it. For the 2005/06 crop year, biodiesel production accounted for 5 percent of soybean-oil use. That’s expected to rise to 13 percent for 2006/07, representing about 8 percent of U.S. soybean production in 2006, according to testimony by Keith Collins, USDA chief economist, before a Senate committee last month. It becomes a vicious cycle: Increased biodiesel demand is expected to push up prices for soybean oil, which in turn raises production costs, making biodiesel less price-competitive.
Information compiled by Carol Hunter, The Register.Read Original Article…
Honda Motors unveiled its latest development in diesel technology on September 25, putting the carmaker well ahead of the pack in the race to bring clean diesel vehicles to market. Its next-generation diesel engine uses a catalytic converter requiring no additives of any kind and will run cleaner through its new design…
…What sets Honda’s new technology apart is that its catalytic converter requires no outside chemicals whatsoever. As the exhaust hits the first layer of the unit, a small amount of NOx is converted to ammonia, which is then absorbed by a second layer. The second layer, now ammonia rich, then reacts with the remaining NOx and spits it out as harmless nitrogen…
…Honda designed the converter for use in its 2.2 iCTDi diesel engine, which has garnered widespread attention since its debut in the current model European Accord. The engine, which is remarkably quiet, is also much cleaner than most diesels right out of the gate. Thanks to a redesigned combustion chamber, a reduction in fuel injection time and other efficiency improvements, the engine already emits significantly less NOx. Add on the new technology the converter affords, and clean diesel could be right around the corner.
While European drivers may be seeing this technology sooner than we will, Honda estimates that their diesel vehicles will start hitting our shores in about three years. Couple this with their recent announcement concerning future diesel hybrid vehicles, and it looks as if Honda is pulling to the head of the clean diesel pack.
What do you think of when you hear the word “diesel”? The newer diesel powerplants might surprise you if you thought of noisy trucks spewing black smoke. Using new technologies, diesel engines for smaller vehicles are efficient, quite, and powerful – and create the opportunity to use bio-diesel fuels to replace or compliment your use of petro-diesel.
Source: Green Car Congress
The 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD, equipped with a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder, turbo common-rail diesel engine, offers 21% better fuel economy compared to a comparable gasoline-powered Liberty (3.7-liter, V-6 engine).
VM Motori provides the engine, an enhanced version of the four-cylinder diesel engine currently offered on this vehicle in Europe. VM Motori is owned in part by Detroit Diesel, a DaimlerChrysler company. VM has been supplying the Chrysler Group diesel engines since 1992 for minivans and Jeep products sold in Europe.
The 2.8-liter CRD engine delivers 160 hp (120 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque at 1,800 rpm, with 22 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, for a combined EPA rating of 23 mpg.