Origin Oil

20 04 2009

Origin Oil, a California-based company, sounds like a frontrunner in biofuel technologies. Recently the company announced a new way to extract oil from algae, thereby making the process from plat to fuel faster and cheaper.

Origin Oil

Origin Oil has a video on its Web site, showing the new process.

“The company’s technology combines electromagnetism and pH modification to break down cell walls, releasing algal oil within the cells. The oil rises to the top for skimming and refining, while the remaining biomass settles to the bottom for further processing as fuel and other valuable products.”

Advertisements




Climate Bill Introduced By The House

2 04 2009

A new bill from the House Democrats, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, would create the first federal requirements to boost energy efficiency and ensure that a quarter of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources.

The bill, introduced on March 31, would cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 83 percent by 2050.

Henry Waxman

Henry Waxman

House Energy and Commerce Chairman, Henry A. Waxman (Calif.) and Rep. Edward J. Markey (Mass.), chairman of the subcommittee on energy and the environment, created the first draft of the bill.

Edward Markey

Edward Markey

“I think this bill is a game-changer that takes the best of industry’s and environmentalists’ ideas,” Markey said.





Italian Slime

30 03 2009

Algae

Algae

The green sludge that has clung to docks, boats and buildings throughout the old city of Venice, Italy is slowly becoming a saving grace instead of a nuisance.

Recently the city of Venice announced a 200 million euro project to build the first algae-fueled power plant.

“The algae will be cultivated in laboratories and put in plastic cylinders where water, carbon dioxide, and sunshine can trigger photosynthesis. The resulting biomass will be treated further to produce a fuel to turn turbines. The carbon dioxide produced in the process will be fed back to the algae, resulting in zero emissions from the plant.”

Algae into Fuel

Algae into Fuel





Rate My Biofuel

4 03 2009

United States:
Switchgrass

Switchgrass

Switchgrass

Soybeans

Soybeans

Soybeans

Corn

Corn

Corn

Brazil:
Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane

Europe:
Sugar Beet

Sugar Beet

Sugar Beet

Wheat

Wheat

Wheat

China:
Cassava

Cassava

Cassava

Sorghum

Sorghum

Sorghum

Southeast Asia:
Miscanthus

Miscanthus

Miscanthus

Oil Palm

Palm

Palm

India:
Jathropa

Jathropha

Jathropha

Learn more about: switchgrass, soybeans, corn, sugar cane, sugar beet, wheat, cassava, sorghum, miscanthus, palm oil and jatropha.





Obama: The Future is Green and Bright

25 02 2009

Last night, in an address to Congress, Obama once again stressed the importance of shifting toward a better environmental policy, based on the future development of, “wind power, solar power, advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars.”

Unfortunately this means that only about 5.5 percent of the stimulus package funds energy and environmental advancements.

Obama's Stilulus Package

Obama's Stimulus Package

Obama made some good points however, especially when he said, “We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.”

Germany is in fact very far ahead of the U.S. in terms of environmental standards. “In 2007 greenhouse gas emissions were down 21.3% in comparison with 1990 levels.

Solar Technology at Berlin-Adlershof

Solar Technology at Berlin-Adlershof

But, the only action Obama has taken in addressing environmental matters so far, was to ask for a, “legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.”

I think the carbon cap is a good idea, but I’m wondering how Congress will “drive” this “production”, and production of what exactly?





The Magic Bean

23 02 2009
Jatropha Curcas

Jatropha Curcas

The jatropha plant is a bushy hedge that grows seed pods that contain a great amount of oil. The seeds are harvested to make biodiesel, as well as many other products including, cosmetics, paper and soap.

Jatropha and its Seeds

Jatropha and its Seeds

Unlike other plants harvested for biofuels, jatropha flourishes in arid climates and soils. “This means growing jatropha never has to compete with growing food. Also, on a per acre basis, jatropha can yield up to 10 times the amount of oil as other sources of biodiesel. It is also a perennial, lasting up to 50 years without replanting.”

Jatropha has been planted in several countries such as, India, Costa Rica and the U.S. One Florida-based company, My Dream Fuel, was recently featured in Time Magazine for its production of the plant.

My Dream Fuel Founder

"My Dream Fuel" Founder

Perhaphs the only downside is that little is known about domesticating jatropha.





The War on Oil’s Cousin, Corn

18 02 2009

For the most part, corn and oil can be composed into very similar substances, except that corn can be made into edible syrup and oil cannot. Corn and oil can be refined to make both fuel and polymers for plastics.

Cash Crops

Cash Crops

Since the 1970’s corn has been turned into ethanol, a grain alcohol, to be mixed with refined petroleum (and other chemicals) to make today’s gasoline. You’ve probably noticed gas pumps that read “contains X percent ethanol.”

Gasoline Contains Ethanol

Gasoline Usually Contains Ethanol

Now, the incredible, edible corn is also used to make plastics.

However, is this a wonder crop, or is it causing more harm than good? The obvious benefit of corn plastic is that is it biodegradable. Within three months the polylactic acid plastic (PLA or bioplastic or biopolymer) will decompose if disposed in an open landfill. “Moreover, should you choose to burn it, you don’t have to worry about creating toxic fumes.” So if we all switched to making plastic from corn instead of from oil, we would have the chance to reduce CO2 emissions and our dependence on both foreign and domestic oil.

But, the combination of creating corn plastics and ethanol requires a whole lot of corn — which, theoretically would drive up the price of corn as a crop. Also, this much corn requires much more land than if it were simply harvested for food. But also, this much production would sustain and perhaps encourage the economy of many Midwestern states like Iowa.

According to one environmental journalist, Robert Bryce, the production of ethanol, not bioplastics, causes, “higher global food prices, increased air pollution from burning ethanol-spiked fuels, spreading dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico from a surge of fertilizer use, and strong evidence that growing a gallon of corn ethanol produces just as many greenhouse gases as burning a gallon of gas.”