Articles tagged with "biodiesel"
While it may be way too early to declare a final winner in the race to find replacement renewable liquid fuels for the jet fuel and diesel that power so many of the vehicles in the world, there are some indications as to the technology that just might end up coming out ahead.
The results starting to appear also show that sometimes there is a disconnect between what the Government wants and considers possible, and the real world. The concern over climate change (not peak oil) led many governments around the world to mandate that propulsion fuels include a growing percentage generated from a renewable source. Six years ago I was in St Louis for the Renewable Energy Conference with its great emphasis on cellulosic ethanol. President Bush came to bless the endeavor, and much was made of it being the time to start building plants. A short while thereafter, I started looking into the generation of biodiesel from algae, and brought up the logical suggestion, to me, of growing it underground. (That idea still gains me the occasional pat on the head). Some of the early reviews of the technology were not good, but nevertheless, the Defense Advances Research Projects Agency began funding the development of algae, particularly as a source for jet fuel.
Time passed, and the development of the new fuels took quite different paths. In order to encourage the change to renewable fuels, the EPA mandated that motor fuel include 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2009, 250 million in 2010, and 500 million by 2013. (This is on the way to a target of around 2 mbd by 2022.) Some of the original companies to seize on this opportunity started out with too great an ambition. Range Fuels, after some $156 million of Government loans from the Bush Administration, closed its doors this past year, unable to make the product it had promised. When it became obvious that the initial targets would not be met the mandated volumes were lowered, so that this year, for example, the industry target is 8.5 million gallons. But still the Government will fine companies, for not using a fuel that doesn’t yet exist in the volumes needed to meet those quotas.
Biodiesel, Biochar & Biodiversity in Costa Rica -- An Example of Small-Scale, Locally-Appropriate Action
This is a guest post by Ryan King. Ryan is a biologist, independent journalist, and community “eco-preneur” in Costa Rica. Below, he provides a brief introduction to decentralized biodiesel and biochar production in Costa Rica. His story will interest readers for at least two reasons: (1) he outlines specific and repeatable measures to address peak oil and climate change through the synergy of local energy production and carbon sequestration; and (2) he provides a working example of the benefits of increasing localized self-sufficiency. Ryan is expanding biodiesel, biochar, environmental projects through eco-hotels and sustainability projects, as well as looking for funding and experienced and non-experienced participants to contribute. He can be reached via email at email@example.com, or for further information visit www.ranchodiandrew.com, and www.flutterbyhouse.com .
As global change related to resource depletion and climate change becomes increasingly severe, the ineffectiveness of world governments as well as mainstream environmental organizations and movements is obvious. It appears that there are few immediate alternatives to relying on large, centralized initiatives in the realms of environment and energy. Instead of relying on these approaches, it seems the safest and most secure adaptive route is the introduction of decentralized, local alternative energy and environmental solutions. Below the fold, I discuss one such set of projects currently underway in Costa Rica. While some aspects of these solutions in Costa Rica may not be directly applicable to non-tropical climates, I think this example of locally-appropriate, small-scale but scalable action can be of value everywhere.
Domestic Biodiesel Production Plummets
One of my Top 10 Energy Stories of 2009 involved the actions taken by the EU against U.S. biodiesel producers. U.S. tax dollars had been generously subsidizing biodiesel that was being exported out of the U.S. European producers couldn't compete against the subsidized imports, so the EU effectively cut off the imports by imposing five-year tariffs on U.S. biodiesel.
This was a big blow to U.S. biodiesel producers, and was one of the factors leading to a disastrous 2009 for U.S. biodiesel production. But there were other factors as well, which I will describe in this post.
Posted by Robert Rapier on December 26, 2009 - 10:35am
Tags: biodiesel, china, climate change, ethanol, exxonmobil, geothermal, global warming, media coverage, natural gas, oil consumption, oil demand, oil prices, oil refineries, t. boone pickens, valero [list all tags]
1. Volatility in the oil markets
My top choice for this year is the same as my top choice from last year. While not as dramatic as last year's action when oil prices ran from $100 to $147 and then collapsed back to $30, oil prices still more than doubled from where they began 2009. That happened without the benefit of an economic recovery, so I continue to wonder how long it will take to come out of recession when oil prices are at recession-inducing levels. Further, coming out of recession will spur demand, which will keep upward pressure on oil prices. That's why I say we may be in The Long Recession.
This essay initially started out as "Pretenders, Contenders, and Niches." However, the section on pretenders grew to the point that I have decided to split that essay up. The first part, Renewable Fuel Pretenders, will cover some of the current media and political darlings. The second part, Renewable Fuel Contenders, will discuss some options that have received less attention, but in the long term are more likely to have staying power in my view. The final part on niches will discuss situations in which certain options might work in very specific situations.
One thing that probably goes without saying. Most pretenders don't believe they are pretenders. They are often completely sincere people who believe they have cracked the code, and thus they take exception to my characterization. The cellulosic guys, the algae guys, and even the hydrogen guys will insist that I have it all wrong. In fact, following the posting of this essay on my blog, I heard from all of them. I got numerous e-mails assuring me that they really had come up with the solution. What I have discovered in many of these cases is that people often believe this because they have no experience at scaling up technologies. They might have something that works in the lab, but this can instill a false sense of confidence in those who have never scaled a process up.
So what the heck is Camelina? Until I read that it was used as the greater source of the biofuel component for the test flight of the Japanese Airlines plane in February, I must confess I had never heard of it. So since it has obviously got some legs (there was a greater percentage of it than of the algae derived fuel) herewith some thoughts picked up as I wandered through some Web pages, seeking more information.
Posted by Gail the Actuary on August 22, 2008 - 10:43am
Tags: algae, algal biodiesel, bio, biodiesel, biofuel, biotechnology industry organization, cellulosic ethanol, ethanol, original [list all tags]
A few days ago I participated in a conference call (recording available here) about biofuels with an organization called Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). In this article, I will discuss some things I found interesting, including a new technique for making biodiesel that involves feeding biomass to algae.
The call had three speakers. The first, Jim McMillan of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory gave an overview of the current US biofuel situation. According to him, a lot of current interest is in cellulosic ethanol, since corn ethanol doesn't scale up very well. At this point, the cost of cellulosic ethanol seems to be double or more that of corn ethanol. The economics are still being clarified by demonstration projects. Until there is some sort of climate legislation that raises the price of carbon, it will be difficult to overcome the price gap.
Modelling Biofuel Production as an Infectious Growth on Food Production
Biofuel capacity or production as a fraction of food supply for three different cases, along with sigmoidal (ie logistic) projections, 1998-2018. Plum curves show US corn ethanol processing capacity in service or under construction as a fraction of ethanol potential of entire US corn crop. Brown curve shows actual production of US ethanol as a fraction of ethanol potential of US corn crop. Violet curve shows global biofuel production as a fraction of estimate of biofuel potential of entire global human food supply. Sigmoidal curves all have K = 1/3 (infection doubling time of three years), and cross the 50% line at 2008, 2010.8 and 2014.2 respectively. Sigmoids are scenarios, not forecasts. Actual biofuel production growth will depend heavily on oil prices and policy responses to increasing food prices. See text for sources and methods.
(Ed note: Stuart has been an important part of this team, but no, he is not "back." It has just been more than six months since he wrote this article, and it seemed like it might be a good time to revisit it.)
Posted by Prof. Goose on May 16, 2008 - 10:00am
Tags: authoritarianism, biodiesel, biofuel, consumerism, cooperatives, culture, ecofascism, environmentalism, ethanol, fascism, food, food riots, geno, grain, green capitalism, hunger, nationalism, natural capitalism, political science, politics, sustainability [list all tags]
This is a guest post by Alexis Ziegler. Alexis is a communitarian, builder, orchardist and environmental activist living in central Virginia. He is the author of a recently published book, Culture Change: Civil Liberty, Peak Oil, and the End of Empire. More information can be found at conev.org.
The rapid expansion of biofuel production worldwide has paralleled a dramatic rise in food prices. The expansion of biofuels has been supported by a wide spectrum of people, from environmentalists looking for "sustainable" energy to conservatives wanting to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. With food riots spreading, the U.S. remains committed to an expansion of biofuel.
Biofuels are part of a larger movement toward green capitalism, the idea that we can scale down our energy use through technologies that improve the efficiency of the consumer society. Biofuels are emblematic of the dark side of green capitalism, which is focused almost entirely on the well being of the global upper class. Biofuels are a form of nationalistic environmentalism that is creating a foundation on which more extreme nationalists will try to wed the racist tools of yesterday with a version of "sustainability" that will include the destruction of the global poor.
Real solutions are both impossibly difficult and simple. The cooperative societies in which most humans have always lived are capable of supporting a high standard of living with far less resources than the individualized, consumer society. Enlightened political leadership would be helpful, but we can create a sustainable society without it. Indeed, we have to.
In response to a recent query from an independent student newspaper in the UK, I wrote up an editorial piece on the politics of biofuels. That essay is reproduced below the fold. (The original can be found here.)
One of the intentions was to point out for European readers why the U.S. and the EU have begun to diverge on their biofuel policies. In the U.S. this is mostly a political issue, because our primary biofuel is home grown. In the EU, biofuels are mostly imported, so the EU can take a more objective view.