Weekly Blog Wrap Up

Biofuels & Climate Change

There’s a lot going on in the blogosphere about the world of biofuels this week. Yesterday, the World Wildlife Fund released a report,which according to NCTechnews.com,

“concludes that industrial biotechnology can provide dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and provide strong progress toward a green and sustainable economy. WWF calls for increased political backing for the industry to leverage the positive environmental effects. The findings are based on peer-reviewed research from Novozymes, the world leader in bioinnovation, as well as contributions from experts and WWF”

Renewable Energy World writes about the “The Algal Advantage.” Algae is big because,

“The big pay-off in algae biofuels will be as drop-in replacements for gasoline or jet fuel. Successful test flights have already been run on mixtures of petroleum and algal-based jet fuels. Chisti says, “generally, only a portion of the crude algal oil is suitable for making biodiesel, but all of it can be used to make gasoline and jet fuel.” For this, the fatty acids in the algal oils are refined by hydrogenation and hydrocracking.”

Algae is also big because, Sapphire Energy has developed a car that runs on algae derived fuel, that can cross the country on just 25 gallons of fuel. The Singularity Hub writes about the car, called Algaeus and has this to say,

“According to the press release, the coast to coast trip will be a ten day journey (September 8 -18) that culminates in the nationwide premier of the new movie Fuel by Josh Tickell of Veggie Van fame. See the trailer below. While the media coverage of the movie is sure to be hyperbolic, I’m much more interested in the premises behind Sapphire Energy. This San Diego based company hopes to use its algae-based fuel to work in the three major petrol markets: gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. They plan on ramping up production to a rate of than 2 million gallons of diesel per year in the next two years. That’s a small blip on the petroleum market, but a blip that is arriving much sooner than many expected.”

Still in the world of biofuels, Green Tech writes about making better biofuels,

“Research on nuclear energy and hydrogen has yielded what backers say is a technology that could replace U.S. oil imports with biofuels made from agricultural by-products.
Scientists at Idaho National Laboratory have been working for the past year and a half on a process to convert biomass, such straw or crop residue, into liquid fuels at a far higher efficiency than existing cellulosic ethanol technologies.”

“The key advantage is that bio-syntrolysis would extract far more energy from available biomass than existing methods, said research engineer Grant Hawkes. Using traditional ethanol-making techniques, about 35 percent of the carbon from wood chips or agricultural residue ends up in the liquid fuel. By contrast, the bio-syntrolysis method would convert more than 90 percent of that carbon into a fuel, he said.”

The New Energy World Network, picks up the story with a post about Continental airlines,

“Biofuels are increasingly being seen as a viable alternative to conventional jet fuel in the US, according to Continental Airlines’ managing director for Global Environmental Affairs, Leah Raney. The Houston-based carrier has also been implementing its green initiatives across its ground services fleet in its major hubs in Houston, Newark and California by switching to electric vehicles and related infrastructure and using biodiesel in cold weather locations.”

Do you like dates, the fruit, not the social activity? Can you imagine those little packages of sweetness being turned into biofuel? They can in Iraq.

According to the Bioenergy Site,

“Iraq’s prime minister has approved a project by a United Arab Emirates-based company to make biofuel from dates that would otherwise be wasted because they have started to perish, Iraqi officials said on Sunday.”

“Faroun Ahmed Hussein, head of the national date palm board, said the Emirati company would produce bioethanol from dates that farmers cannot export because they are starting to rot. It would be used domestically at first, then possibly later exported.

He declined to name the company, estimate the cost of the project or say how much bioethanol it was expected to produce.

He said Iraq produces 350,000 tonnes of dates annually, a sharp fall from 900,000 tonnes produced before the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein but still more than the 150,000 tonnes it currently consumes. Some are fed to animals, he said.

“They can’t export the left over quantities owing to their poor quality,” Hussein said. “Farmers will be happy to sell their rotten dates instead of throwing them away.”

And finally the world of biofuels winds up with a serious policy issue, that is a “Greater Distinction Needed for Biofuels as Fuel Component under Cap and Trade,” writes 25x’25, they go on to say,

“As Congress continues its debate on comprehensive climate legislation, any measure adopted must adequately recognize and incentivize the extensive benefits biomass and the production of biofuels can provide to address global climate change. The 25x’25 Carbon Work Group has recently reemphasized the need for policy makers to modify pending cap-and-trade provisions to more clearly recognize those agricultural and forestry practices that can contribute to climate change regulation and make those practices eligible as offset projects. Policy makers also should make clear in a final climate change bill that biofuels, including the biofuel component of fuels blends, are not obligated under the emissions cap and are a preferred alternative to fossil carbon-based transportation fuels.”

That’s it for this week. See you next week.

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One Response to Weekly Blog Wrap Up

  1. Aureon Kwolek says:

    CARB and EPA Way Off on Biofuel Carbon Score

    New regulations in the Renewable Fuel Standard are based on a comparison between biofuel emissions vs petroleum fuel emissions. In the end use, both EPA and CARB ignore where the carbon-CO2 came from.

    A gallon of biofuel displaces burning another gallon of petroleum fuel. Consuming petroleum dumps massive amounts of “New Carbon” into the atmosphere. Biofuel does not. We simply recycle CO2 that was already there.

    Both types of fuel have energy inputs that produce emissions. The EPA has ethanol at 50% less than petroleum fuels. It’s actually much better than that, because the EPA is not factoring-in energy intensive Canadian Tar Sands, oil shales, deep water offshore drilling, and foreign oil shipped thousands of miles – burning dirty bunker fuel.

    It also costs the United States 12 to 15% of its entire defense budget to protect foreign oil (Rand Report). That’s in the range of 70 to 100 billion dollars a year, paid for by the American Taxpayer. A good percentage of that goes to the military burning of jet fuel, diesel fuel, and more bunker fuel – to protect our foreign oil supply. The EPA omits this from the footprint of petroleum, and so does CARB.

    CARB and EPA ignore the massive deforestation caused by Canadian Tar Sands, estimated to be roughly 35 million acres, over 1/3 the size of our entire corn crop, and growing to the size of Florida. By the way, the American Taxpayer is subsidizing Canadian Tar Sands oil production, through the Foreign Oil Development Tax Credit.

    Burning petroleum fuels is causing CO2 to accumulate in the atmosphere. The EPA excludes this from their calculations, because this would make biofuel far superior. Their agenda has been to distort both the footprints of biofuel and petroleum. Using an unproven land use theory, outdated information, underestimating and overestimating, inconsistent standards, and omissions – the EPA makes biofuels look much worse than they actually are, and petroleum based fuels far better than they actually are.

    CARB and EPA make no distinction between the release of “Recycled CO2” vs “Newly Mined Carbon” in crude oil brought up from underground.

    When you burn petroleum based fuels, and when you burn biofuels, you Do Not get the same carbon result. Petroleum adds more and more New CO2 to the atmosphere, and biofuel recycles CO2 that was already there.

    The EPA and CARB have totally omitted this from their end-use comparative analysis.

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