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Posts tagged “algal biodiesel”

By Robert Rapier on Feb 28, 2009 with 2 responses

More Reality Checks for Algal Biodiesel

I have to admit, when I first heard about algal biodiesel, I thought it was really an incredible concept. As time went by and I learned a bit more, reality sank in. The reality was brought on by Krassen Dimitrov’s analysis of Greenfuel Technologies and their algae claims, as well as conversations I have had with John Benemann, who has been involved in algal biodiesel research for many years (and was co-author of the close-out report of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program.) Krassen’s analysis raised some eyebrows when he suggested that algal biodiesel would have to sell for $20.31 a gallon to be economically viable. That number was so far out there, that many people just dismissed… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 24, 2008 with no responses

Oil Watchdog on Fuel from Algae

I have gotten out of the habit of visiting Oil Watchdog whenever I want a bit of energy-themed comic relief. They are so ‘over the top’ and transparent that it really hasn’t been necessary to debunk them. As I have documented before, on the one hand they accuse oil companies of not supporting alternative energy or donating any of their profits. Yet where oil companies are funding alternative energy and donating to colleges, they are accused of ‘greenwashing’ and attempting to control university research. You can see some of the articles I have written documenting their intellectual dishonesty and inconsistent ‘reporting’ here. As you can see, they will even take a rumor (“I absolutely can’t vouch for the truth of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 12, 2007 with no responses

Answering Questions – Part II

OK, I think this finishes off the questions. Thanks to all who asked a question. I think this has been a productive exercise, and I hope you find my answers useful. I may do this again at some point, but for now, I am back to posting and then lurking. The Questions Jeff Sutherland asked: It seems to me that electricity is going to be the key energy source in the future….Biofuels, like ethanol, if produced with electrical equipment seems like a good method to store energy….What do you see as the best option for a transportable form of energy in the future? Answer garsky asked: A couple of posts ago you mentioned some things you were doing to prepare… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 20, 2007 with no responses

Current Status of the Renewable Diesel Chapter

Most sections are pretty well filled in. Below is what the outline looks like. I still have this weekend to work on it. What am I still missing? I am not quite satisfied with all of the titles. For instance, in “The Potential”, I do a thought experiment that I think demonstrates that thoughts of biofuels displacing major amounts of petroleum are completely unrealistic. So, “The Potential” isn’t quite right, but I have had writer’s block on that one. My idea for that section was to basically show how much petroleum equivalent we could produce by planting the entire arable world in rapeseed. Any better ideas for demonstrating this? I started to go back to first principles and calculate using… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 14, 2007 with 2 responses

Algal Biodiesel: Fact or Fiction?

The following is a guest post by John Benemann. John has many years of expertise in biomass conversion, and previously co-wrote a guest piece on cellulosic ethanol. On the subject of biodiesel from algae, he literally wrote the book. I originally wrote an article over a year ago in which I mentioned the potential of algal biodiesel. I still believe, as I did then, that biodiesel (or more broadly, renewable diesel) is a far superior fuel to ethanol for reasons I outlined in that essay. However, over the past year, the more I learned about the prospects of biodiesel from algae, the more it started to look to me like cellulosic ethanol: Technically feasible? Yes. Commercially feasible? Nowhere close, and… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 28, 2006 with 2 responses

Biodiesel: King of Alternative Fuels

OK, maybe not the king yet. But if we judge based on the merits, biodiesel is head and shoulders above ethanol. Let’s take a closer look at it. Biodiesel has a couple of huge advantages over ethanol. First, it is not miscible in water, so you don’t have the huge input of fossil fuels that is required to separate ethanol from water. This makes the energy balance far better than that of ethanol. A poor energy balance is my primary objection to ethanol (especially grain-ethanol). The second major advantage biodiesel has is that it has over 1.6 times the BTU value of the same volume of ethanol. A gallon of biodiesel contains approximately 121,000 BTUs/gallon (about the same as gasoline),… Continue»