Archive for Biofuel
e360.yale.edu 11th April 2012
Quoted from source:
‘NASA has developed a system capable of growing large amounts of algae for biofuel production within a network of floating plastic bags, an innovation its developers say could ultimately produce a new fuel source. By pumping wastewater and carbon dioxide into four nine-meter plastic bags at a demonstration plant in California, researchers have shown that the system can grow enough algae to produce nearly 2,000 gallons of fuel per year under ideal conditions, according to a report in MIT’s Technology Review. If built near wastewater plants, the technology would overcome two of the challenges associated with large-scale algae biofarms — access to huge amounts of fertilizer and large areas of land. One significant challenge, however, is that the technology currently would require an enormous amount of plastic. For instance, a scenario capable of producing 2.4 million gallons of algae per year would also require five square kilometers of plastic bags, which would likely have to be replaced annually.’
www.nationalgeographic.com 19th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘When the Navy F/A-18 jet called the Green Hornet takes off over the Chesapeake Bay on Earth Day, it will aim to break a barrier that has proven far more durable than the speed of sound. The twin-engine tactical aircraft is prepared on April 22 to make a supersonic flight on biofuel—its tanks filled 50 percent with oil refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The test flight at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland will be a milestone in the Navy’s efforts to reduce its reliance on petroleum, and perhaps, in the elusive search for an alternative fuel for aviation. The event is meant to showcase the Pentagon’s efforts to increase use of renewable energy, not only as a climate change initiative but to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on foreign oil. When President Obama announced his offshore drilling and energy security plan last month at Andrews Air Force Base, he used the Green Hornet as a backdrop. As naval aviation’s biggest fuel consumer, the F/A-18 Super Hornet is a fitting test aircraft. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has set a that half of naval energy consumption will come from alternative sources by 2020. A “Great Green Fleet,” to sail by 2016, will include nuclear ships, as well as surface combatants with hybrid electric power systems using biofuel and biofuel-powered aircraft. But for now, the Navy is seeking only to certify its first blend of biofuel and petroleum, by showing it can be used for the Super Hornet’s full range of flight operations. That includes demonstrating that the alternative fuel can deliver the power needed to fly faster than the speed of sound (343 meters per second).’
Read more on the US military’s attempts to move away from fossil fuels in LMV’s published editorial ‘The Army of the Sun: the US Military’s Move Away from Fossil Fuels’.
www.guardian.co.uk 23rd November 2010
Indonesia has found a cunning way of felling its remaining areas of forest, replacing it with palm oil and biofuel crops, and then claiming $1 billion from the UN in climate aid, according to papers discovered by Greenpeace. The island nation is able to do this due to ambiguous terminology used in the UN’s ambitious forestry reform program REDD (Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation). Terms such as ‘degraded’ and ‘forest’ are not clearly defined meaning the Indonesian government can claim natural forest is ‘degraded’ and the replacement plantations are ‘forests’. Internal government documentation from Jakarta states that 60 million hectares, or an area five times the size of England, of forest are earmarked for development in the next 20 years. This includes 50% of the country’s Orangutan habitat and 80% of its carbon-rich peat land. Such development would lead to a trebling of paper pulp production by 2015 and a doubling of palm oil production by 2020. This comes despite Indonesia’s promise to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%. REDD is an ambitious policy that would pay countries to replant trees and restore land.
Read Greenpeace’s report here and please spread the word.
www.independent.co.uk 10th November 2010
The British government has admitted that its policy of doubling the amount of biofuels used in the country by 2020 will actually increase carbon emissions. The UK is signed up to an EU agreement that states that signatories have to source 10% of their transport fuel from biofuels by that date. The problem is that a large amount of land is needed to grow these fuel crops. It has been estimated that in order for the target to be met, an area of between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland needs to be cultivated. But the carbon dioxide given off by clearing the vegetation off this land will, potentially, be more than the savings made by replacing fossil fuels with biofuels. As Europe does not have enough land to satisfy this demand, the crops are mostly grown in other countries such as Brazil and Indonesia (pictured). A study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) has stated that the deforestation will produce as much as 56 million tons of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of between 12 and 26 million extra cars on European roads by 2020. Although the EU has banned biofuels bought from new land, i.e.: forested land cleared to grow them, biofuel companies have got around this law by buying up existing fields thereby forcing the farmers to clear land for their own means. This is known as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). The results of the IEEP study has caused the British government to reassess its position on the subject. Ministers are now urging the European Commission to rethink its plans on biofuels, a move welcomed by environmental groups.
e360.yale.edu 2nd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The conversion of the planet’s ecosystems into cropland — particularly in tropical rainforests — is stretching the Earth’s ability to store carbon, according to a new study. The demand for new agricultural land is growing most rapidly in the tropics, due to growing populations, changing diets, food security concerns, and a rising demand for biofuels. But not only is the crop yield weakest in those regions, the clear-cutting of tropical forest results in twice as much carbon released into the atmosphere per unit of land as in temperate regions, since the forests act as massive carbon sinks, according to the study published the Proceedings of the National Academies. “In terms of balancing the needs of food production and slowing carbon dioxide emissions, this is a tough tradeoff,” said Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and co-author of the study, which researchers call the most comprehensive analysis on the tradeoff between carbon storage and crop production. Researchers suggest a better alternative to clearing new cropland is more efficient use of existing farmland.’
www.guardian.co.uk 20th September 2010
The UK firm TMO Renewables has signed a 20 year contract with US firm Fiberight to use a genetically modified compost bug to convert household waste into biofuels. The contract is $25 million a year coming to the grand total of $500 million. According to sources within Iowa based Fiberight, the use of the enhanced organism, which can break down cellulose in waste far quicker, will increase efficiency in biofuel production by 35%. The bacteria, called TM242 can turn such waste as paper, cardboard, and household waste into energy in 24 hours. Although TMO has one biofuel plant in the UK, it has said that the decision to concentrate operations on the USA was due to biofuel production friendly legislation there. The company plans to open 15 plants in 5 years making a sizable contribution to the US government’s decision to have 17.1 million gallons of biofuel produced for cars by 2011.
www.guardian.co.uk 16th September 2010
The main award of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X prize has gone to vehicle that uses a regular combustion engine. The Edison 2 Very light car no. 98 burns a combination of ethanol (85%) and gasoline (15%) and won $5 million for its use of lightweight materials and its ‘superior’ aerodynamics. The main purpose of the competition is to create a car than can obtain fuel efficiency of 100 miles to the gallon. In total $10 million worth of prizes are distributed. The choice by Edison’s designers to stick with a combustion engine, rather than an electric one, was made purely because of weight. The Edison 2 weighs 376kg, about half a Smart car. With air-conditioning and a heater, a top speed of 100mph, and a recyclable and cheap bodywork, the car should be reasonably priced if it ever reaches the market place. One racer placed the figure of $20,000 on it. Another car designer, Team X-Tracer from Switzerland, picked up a $2.5 million award for creating a car with the highest ever fuel efficiency: 197 mpg (a Prius can manage 51 mpg).