Wesley Clark, Army General (ret.) and former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO; Chairman, Rodman & Renshaw
Archive for the 'biofuel' Category
The Gigaton Throwdown Initiative comprised of investors, entrepreneurs, executives and academics investigated what it would take to reach gigaton scale for 9 technologies currently attractive to investors, including alternative liquid fuels. Here’s what they had to say about the need for fuel flexibility to be a standard feature as a market enabler for fuel competition:
“If flex-fuel capability were required of all new vehicles starting in 2012 at a cost of $70 per vehicle, 128 million new flex-fuel vehicles would be produced by 2020, and the total cost would be approximately $10 billion spread over 10 years”
“Because of the low cost of converting new vehicles ($70 per vehicle), new vehicle flex-fuel requirements would be the most economic strategy for ensuring flexible fuel options and driving private investment in infrastructure to support more widespread deployment of biofuels.”
“A large-scale expansion of ethanol production will require coordination with car manufacturers to expand the FFV fleet. Sales of [light duty vehicles] in the U.S. were 16.1 million in 2007. It is unlikely that FFV deployment can be accomplished through pure consumer choice given the chicken-and egg relationship between vehicle deployment and the need for sufficient density of vehicles to support private investment in fueling infrastructure. As noted previously, new vehicle flex-fuel requirements would be the most economic strategy for driving private investment in infrastructure to support more widespread deployment of biofuels.” Gigaton Throwdown report (p.35, 36, 39)
News from Saudi Arabia, whose royal family owns 25% of the world’s oil reserves:
A prominent Saudi scholar warned youths studying abroad of using ethanol or other fuel that contains alcohol in their cars since they could be committing a sin, local press reported Thursday.
Truly a case of life imitating parody. The biodiesel/bacon sin alert can’t be far behind.
Craig Frear starts with an overview of agricultural biomass resources for biofuel production in Washington state. Larry Mason continues to talk about forests as a source of raw material for biofuels production. Kristiina Vogt discusses linking biomass to biofuels as a logical energy solution. Jake Eaton concludes with an assessment of producing biofuels from sustainable tree farms.
Biomass Magazine reports: “A professor of eco-management at the University of Washington is working on a way to overcome all the issues involved in transporting disaster debris. Rather than bringing the biomass to a centralized plant hundreds or thousands of miles away, Kristiina Vogt supports the concept of mobile disaster units to convert woody debris to fuelâ€”methanol specificallyâ€”on-site. She has been working to promote this idea in Indonesia and a few Latin American countries. â€œWhen Katrina hit, I got a lot of phone calls from people interested in getting a mobile system out there because a lot of the wood was down, but nobody could access it,â€ Vogt says. “
A recent Japanese study titled “Biomethanol Production and CO2 Emission Reduction” concludes:
This study demonstrates that the practical oxidation reaction during gasification of readily available biomass materials could be optimized for methanol production, yielding ca. 40 to 60% of dry weight. This opens the way to utilization of a wide range of harvested plant material low in sugar and starch, including byproducts of other processing operations such as sawdust, bran, straw and husks of rice. Sawdust, rice bran and rice husks are particularly attractive biofuel resources since factories
already produce large quantities.
The potentially positive economic impact of biomethanol production on Japanese farming and social systems from planting grasses and trees in unutilized land is immense. Reduced CO2 emissions, recycling of abandoned upland and paddy field and woodland in mountainous areas, and recycling of wastes of agricultural products would all be possible by promoting biofuel production systems based on this new method of gasification. This
technology is particularly attractive since biomethanol can be produced from a wide range of biomass raw materials.
Another interesting presentation:
North Carolina Animal WAste as a Potential Resource for Reducing CO2 and Methane Emissions—note the diagram showing production of methanol from biogas. If new cars were flex fuel vehicles warranteed to operate on ethanol, methanol, and gasoline, that methanol could then be used directly to fuel cars.
One more, hot off the press, by Kristiina Vogt et al:
Bio-methanol: How energy choices in the western United States can help mitigate global climate change: “As a gasoline substitute, bio-methanol can optimally reduce vehicle C emissions by 2â€“29 Tg of C (23â€“81% of the total emitted by each state). [...]In the state of Washington, thinning â€œhigh-fire-riskâ€ small stems, namely 5.1â€“22.9 cm diameter trees, from wildfire-prone forests and using them to produce methanol for electricity generation with fuel cells would avoid C emissions of 3.7â€“7.3 Mg C/ha. Alternatively, when wood-methanol produced from the high-fire-risk wood is used as a gasoline substitute, 3.3â€“6.6 Mg C/ha of carbon emissions are avoided. If these same â€œhigh-fire-riskâ€ woody stems were burned during a wildfire 7.9 Mg C/ha would be emitted in the state of Washington alone. Although detailed economic analyses of producing methanol from biomass are in its infancy, we believe that converting biomass into methanol and substituting it for fossil-fuel-based energy production is a viable option in locations that have high biomass availability.”
Senators Salazar, Cantwell, Brownback, Collins, Dorgan, Landrieu, Johnson, Ben Nelson, and Lieberman sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell, urging that assistance to automakers “be predicated on an agreement to increase the percentage of new cars and trucks configured as Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) – vehicles with the ability to use any percentage of gasoline and ethanol or methanol.”
The Senators noted:
“In 2006, the Big Three automobile manufacturers committed to making at least 50 percent of their new vehicles FFVs by 2012. We respectfully request that, during any negotiations over providing additional federal assistance, you insist that the CEOs of the Big Three reaffirm their earlier commitment and also agree to meet a second milestone of 80 percent FFVs by 2015.
“By integrating such goals into their future plans now, automakers will be able to make the necessary changes to production lines without undue disruption or appreciable additional cost. We note that the marginal cost of manufacturing a FFV is less than one hundred dollars per vehicle, while the resulting fuel cost savings to consumers from increased fuel competition could be hundreds or thousands of dollars over a vehicle’s lifetime.
“[...] we favor the adoption of Senate Bill 3303, the bipartisan Open Fuel Standard (OFS) Act, which would apply these FFV requirements to all manufacturers of new cars sold in teh United States.”
Read the entire letter here.
E. Thomas McClanahan in the Kansas City Star:
A group called Set America Free, with backing from both sides of the political spectrum, has put together a list of suggestions, which seems a good starting point for debate.
Supporters of the group include both Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
To me, the groupâ€™s key point is that we should make greater use of technologies that exist today, rather than do nothing while we wait for those that require further development.
That means, among other things, we should make more cars that can run on ethanol. A flexible-fuel vehicle capable of running on either gasoline or ethanol or different ratios of both requires only a different fuel-control chip and different fittings in the fuel line to accommodate ethanol. Additional cost: About $100.
I know. Ethanol is in bad political odor right now, but Iâ€™m not necessarily talking about corn ethanol. If weâ€™re serious about energy diversification, we should drop the tariff on imported sugar ethanol.
Today, up to two-thirds of Brazilâ€™s autos run on ethanol, primarily made from sugar. When the next energy crisis hits, a flexible-fuel vehicle fleet would be a nice ace in the hole.
We also need more hybrids, powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity, as well as what might be termed super-flexible cars: flexible-fuel, plug-in hybrids.
These would run on gasoline or ethanol, as well as electricity produced by the carâ€™s generator and captured braking energy. At night, its batteries could be recharged with the plug-in feature.
Powering more of our vehicle fleet with electricity would shift more transportation uses away from exclusive dependence on oil. Electricity can be provided by a range of sources, including coal and nuclear, and, yes, wind â€” although itâ€™s still not clear how much difference wind power will make.
Set America Free Coalition member Zubrin was theÂ keynote speaker at theÂ 24th annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo:Â
Robert Zubrin, author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil, gave a compelling account of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries strategic will to power through the constriction of global oil supplies. In 1972, the United States spent $4 billion on oil imports, or 4.5 percent of the U.S. defense budget. In comparison, 35 years later, the United States spends $650 billion on imported oil. As Zubrin put it, â€œ$650 billion isnâ€™t just money, itâ€™s power.â€ Whatâ€™s bad for wealthy countries like the United States is crushing for developing countries such as Kenya, he said. OPECâ€™s â€œslow chokeâ€ on oil supplies is smarter than a complete shutoff due to the military consequences the United States would exact on such a move. To hammer home Dinneenâ€™s point about oil interests controlling editorial content of major media outlets, Zubrin said the Saudis partially own the Wall Street Journal. He quipped the paper should be renamed the Wahhabi Street Journal. â€œOPEC is taxing the industrial world into depression,â€ he continued. The United States could open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but it would do little good. â€œThatâ€™s a desperation card,â€ Zubrin said. â€œItâ€™s not the way to go. Oil is trump right now, so how do we change the trump suit?â€ His answer is mandating all vehicles sold in the United States to be flex-fueled, giving consumers a fuel choice. A flexible-fuel vehicle mandate would end the chicken and egg dilemma, and would make E85 pumps appear rapidly across the country. â€œThis would crash the oil price to $50 a barrel,â€ he told the crowd. â€œThis is how you smash OPEC.â€ His plan states that, once the U.S. farmers have produced all the ethanol they can, trade barriers should be abolished, beginning the importation of ethanol from friends in Latin America and elsewhere to help them reap the prosperity now enjoyed by OPEC countries. â€œIt would be a terrific financial engine for world development,â€ Zubrin said. â€œInstead of selling Citibank to Saudi princes, we can be selling tractors to Africa. â€¦ We cannot afford to leave this power in the hands of the enemies of freedom.â€