Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
The week before last was the culmination of a labor of love for Sunil Paul and Claire Tomkins with the launch of the Gigaton Throwdown in DC after 18 months of hard work, researching and – as I witnessed first hand – coralling the efforts of other researchers.
What is the Gigaton Throwdown?
The Gigaton Throwdown Study was launched as a Clinton Global Initiative in 2007. It was started as a project to educate and inspire entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers to think big about solving the climate crisis. It was an effort to answer Sunil’s question, “What does it take to make a difference with clean energy technology?” (more…)
Thursday, June 18th, 2009
While the slumping economy has delivered a gut shot to the CleanTech sector, many optimists are confident that a new wave of investment is coming. Even so, one must wade through a torrent of sobering news to arrive at such a conclusion.
A quick peak at recent headlines tell the story. Cleantech.com reported that venture investment in the CleanTech sector dropped 41 percent in 1Q09 compared to the last quarter. And Biofuels Digest has run a series of articles about highly regarded biofuel startups succumbing to market forces (here and here).
Monday, June 1st, 2009
HCL CleanTech Ltd., a biofuels start-up based in Tel Aviv, announced today a $5.5 million Series A financing led by Khosla Ventures, Burrill & Company, and angel investor Zohar Gilon.
HCL CleanTech has developed a proprietary technology to make an old, industrially proven German process converting lignocellulosic biomass to fermentable sugars economically attractive. According to the company, it is these fermentable sugars which are considered the gateway to advanced biofuels (biobutanols, biodiesel, jet fuel etc) and biochemicals (bioplastics etc). (more…)
Friday, May 8th, 2009
This article is part of a series on the Stimulus Update. Previous posts:
– Smart Grid Funding Guidelines Released
- Inching Towards Smart Grid Funding Guidelines
- EE and Conservation Block Grant Funds Releases
- Next Generation Electric Vehicles Funds Released
- Energy Efficiency Funds Released
- Climate Change, the Stimulus Bill, and how CleanTech will benefit
As part of an ongoing effort to reduce US dependence on foreign oil and address the climate crisis by increasing the use of domestic renewable fuels, Secretary of Energy Chu announced Tuesday plans to provide $786.5 million in ARRA funding to accelerate advanced biofuels research and development, and to provide additional funding for commercial-scale biorefinery demonstration projects.
The funding is available through ARRA’s Research and Development program and will be awarded through competitive grants from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Can you make lemonade from algae?
Figuratively, yes. A bunch of students from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University have a business plan to use algae to treat wastewater and make biofuels.
It’s a double play, like taking lemons and making a cool, refreshing drink. Or maybe even a three-pointer, since these are rival schools.
The students, calling themselves Team Algal Scientific, were recently awarded the first-ever Clean Energy Prize from U of M and DTE Energy.
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Came across a report from the Congressional Research Service (pdf) on biofuels. Dated Jan. 5, 2009, it’s a decent summary of federal incentives (pre-stimulus).
cursed thing, via flickr
Some numbers: There are 24 U.S. programs that support biofuels, mostly ethanol and biodiesel. They were established over the last 28 years and are administered by five government agencies: Environmental Protection, Agriculture, Energy, IRS, and Customs and Border Protection.
If policy drives business, it looks like there are 101 reasons to develop cellulosic biofuels (from plant waste rather than people food). There’s a $1.01 per gallon credit from the IRS for producers.
The appendix has a summary by agency. Something to chew on.
The Pew Center also has a guide to state incentives.
Check out our links page for these and other great CleanTech Links
Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Courtesy of BP
Exciting news on the cellulosic ethanol front. The promise of next-generation biofuels is moving from the lab to the factory.
BP has announced a joint venture with Verenium to make cellulosic ethanol from grass and other non-edible plants.
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
Courtesy U. of Minnesota
Exit up ahead: A University of Minnesota study has concluded that corn-based ethanol is no better than gasoline.
The Star Tribune says ethanol may even be a bigger polluter, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter. Cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass and other plant materials is far better for human health, the scientists say.
But the Renewable Fuels Association claims the study is flawed. Among other things, it assumes that grassland will be taken out of the federal Conservation Reserve Program to make more corn-based ethanol. The RFA says most of the increase in corn production in the U.S. has been through higher yields rather than conversion, and there’s no peer-reviewed evidence for the study’s methods. (see the pdf).
Friday, February 6th, 2009
The search for alternative transportation fuels just got a little easier.
The U.S. Department of Energy, now headed by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, has rolled out an “Alternative Fueling Station Locator.” In other words, if you’re driving a vehicle that runs on biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas or propane, this tool can help you find it .
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
Cellulosic ethanol has been hailed as the next frontier in renewable fuels. After all, most ethanol in the U.S. comes from corn, a staple product in the food chain. Use more corn for ethanol, and you’re bound to drive up food prices. If you’ve seen “King Corn,” you know the score. Corn ethanol also has its problems with energy inputs versus energy outputs. In other words, the benefits can be sketchy.