A U.S. startup company says it has developed a technology to convert plastic waste into a highly refined, low-sulphur oil, an innovation company officials say could provide a domestic source of fuel and keep untold amounts of plastic out of landfills.
Researchers have discovered that the Agave plant, used in making tequila, may be an excellent source of biofuels, with two agave species producing yields of biofuels that far surpassed the yields from biofuel feedstocks such as corn, wheat, soybean, and sorghum. Reporting in the journal Global Change Biology Bioenergy, scientists said that 14 studies confirmed (more…)
The enthusiasm is building — we’re just a few months from the U.S. launch of the first electric vehicles aimed at mainstream consumers. Nissan is touting the success of the registration program for its upcoming Leaf EV, boasting 13,000 orders for its vehicles.
It is hoped across the industry (and in Washington DC) that sales of EVs will revive the American auto industry. While Pike Research believes that sales of EVs will grow relatively quickly, EV sales would likely grow much higher if it weren’t for our relatively cheap gasoline.
China will be the global leader in EV sales, with more than a quarter million of EVs sold in 2015, according to our projections at Pike Research. Sales of EVs in Europe – even with fewer homes with convenient access to home charging – are expected to outpace the American market.
The algae industry converged on San Diego this week for Algae World Summit 2010. There was significant buzz among the conference participants surrounding the use of algae as a biofuel. Massive investment by private investors and the federal government have spurred interest in algae, but many of the speakers reinforced the fact that complex issues surrounding the growth of algae remain.
It was highlighted that for ideal growth of algae, sunlight, water, temperature, and access to CO2 are all taken into account. What may be ideal territory for sunlight may not be the ideal territory for water and vice versa. (more…)
Growing algae for biofuels is an energy-intensive process that can generate more greenhouse gases than the process sequesters, according to a new study.
Examining the life cycle of algal biofuels, researchers from the University of Virginia found that the process emits high levels of greenhouse gases because algal production requires using large amounts of fertilizer.
The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year. With 200 ethanol distilleries in the country set up to transform food into fuel, the amount of grain processed has tripled since 2004.
The United States looms large in the world food economy: it is far and away the world’s leading grain exporter, exporting more than Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Russia combined. In a globalized food economy, increased demand for food to fuel American vehicles puts additional pressure on world food supplies. (more…)
Between 1950 and 2008 more cars were added to our roads virtually every year as the total fleet expanded steadily from 49 million to 250 million vehicles. In 2009, however, 14 million cars were scrapped while only 10 million cars were sold, shrinking the fleet by 4 million vehicles, or nearly 2 percent. With record numbers of cars set to reach retirement age between now and 2020, the fleet could shrink by some 10 percent, dropping from the all-time high of 250 million in 2008 to 225 million in 2020.
The United States, with 246 million motor vehicles and 209 million licensed drivers, is facing market saturation. With 5 vehicles for every 4 drivers, the 4-million-vehicle contraction in the U.S. fleet in 2009 does not come as a great surprise. In a largely rural society, more cars provided mobility, but in a society that is now over 80 percent urban, more cars provide immobility.
The headline on Tuesday’s editorial in Investor’s Business Daily – “Get the Frackin’ Gas” – is both clever and on the mark. The publication gets into trouble, however, when the body of its editorial veers into mischaracterizing ProPublica’s reporting on the environmental risks that need to be dealt with to produce the huge amounts of natural gas available underground in the United States.
Here is what is beyond dispute: The gas is highly desirable as a fuel, because it burns relatively cleanly and produces less greenhouse gas per unit of energy than oil or coal. There is lots of it obtainable within the U.S. using an enhanced version of an old drilling technology, called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – much more than was widely supposed just a few years ago. That means using natural gas to power cars and electrical generation doesn’t require sending huge sums abroad, weakening the dollar and strengthening countries that aren’t particularly friendly to ours – Russia, Iran and Venezuela among them.
Climate change not only presents difficult challenges for the energy industry, but also raises serious concerns about food security as loss of topsoil and desertification reduce arable land around the world. Within this climate, genetically-modified crops (GMOs) will play a crucial role in supporting increased development and population growth.
GMOs are organisms, such as plants and animals, whose genetic characteristics are being modified artificially in order to give them a new property. Last month, Monsanto, the world’s leading seed producer, announced that it expects African countries to increase plantings of GMOs in order to boost food security and economic development in the face of climate change. Africa is the only continent where per-capita food output is falling, which also raises concerns about introducing fuel-dedicated crops. GMOs could increase yields for both food and fuel, but international and regional rules governing GMOs represent a significant barrier to increased international trade.
U.S. researchers have demonstrated a technology that uses the sun’s heat to convert carbon dioxide and water into the building blocks of traditional fuels, a reverse combustion process that may emerge as a practical alternative to sequestration of CO2 emissions from power plants.
The prototype “Sunshine to Petrol” system, developed by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, uses concentrated solar energy to trigger a thermo-chemical reaction in an iron-rich composite located inside a two-sided cylindrical chamber.
The iron oxide is designed to lose an oxygen molecule when exposed to 1,500 degree C heat, and then retrieve an oxygen molecule when it is cooled down, essentially converting an incoming supply of CO2 into an outgoing stream of carbon monoxide.