Posts tagged “biofuels”
I spend a lot of time thinking about the trade-offs involved with different energy options. Take petroleum, for instance. It offers great convenience, and has been relatively inexpensive for decades. Cheap petroleum has enabled numerous people a level of mobility that had never before been possible. Some of the downsides, though, are that we get air pollution, oil spills, and resource wars. And because of U.S. dependence on petroleum, we find ourselves increasingly at the mercy of regimes hostile to U.S. interests. And when prices go up, money flows out of our economy into theirs. However, we have been willing to live with those trade-offs. The same trade-offs hold true for renewable energy, and I actually spend a lot more… Continue»
Those were the words of Helena Chum, a research fellow at NREL on the topic of advanced biofuels. Forbes just published an article on this: Biofuels Battle: Chemistry Versus Biology A lot of the subject matter and the companies discussed will be familiar to regular readers. There are 1,865 biofuels companies out there, and sometimes it seems that there are at least 1,865 different ways of turning every manner of biological material into fuel for a car, truck, train or plane. The problem is finding a way of doing this alchemy on the scale of millions of gallons a year at a cost that comes somewhere near the price of gasoline without leveling the world’s forests, sucking the world’s fresh… Continue»
My ideal microbe for biofuel production would consume garbage, excrete gasoline, and die if it escapes into the wild. Excretion of longer chain hydrocarbons like gasoline would enable a less energy-intensive separation, because the product would phase out of water. LS9 is exploring this sort of pathway via microbes, and Virent is trying to do the same thing catalytically. It is quite a challenging problem, but should be technically viable. And a company that can achieve an edge in this space could really dominate the biofuels arena. As I have said, it is difficult, but Holy Grail research. Today a new and quite novel approach was announced in the Journal of the American Chemical Society: Synthesis of Methyl Halides from… Continue»
I just learned today that the two presentations I made at this year’s ASPO conference are now available. The slides are pretty self-explanatory, but they only served as background for the talk so people could read through them as I made my points. I intend to write up my notes and post them as time allows. First up, the slides I presented on the energy information agencies: The Energy Information Providers Here is a sample slide from that presentation: Second was my presentation on biofuels: Biofuels: Facts and Fallacies A couple of sample slides from that presentation: If they make the video available, I will post that link as well.
I am scheduled to deliver two presentations at this year’s ASPO conference in Sacramento. You can see the agenda overview here. I will be speaking on the EIA, IEA and CERA on the 21st, and then I have a presentation on biofuels scheduled for the 23rd. For the first talk, the draft of my slides is heavily slanted toward the EIA. I will discuss what they do well (in my opinion they are the best source of energy data around) and what they historically haven’t done so well (forecast). I will also devote some space to This Week in Petroleum. For the biofuels talk, my slides are roughed out. Below is the outline. If you think I missed something important,… Continue»
I mentioned it earlier in a post, but now the full text of the World Bank report blaming biofuels for 75% of the rise in food prices has been posted: A Note on Rising Food Prices I don’t have time to critique it right now, but wanted to call attention to it since many had questions about how the conclusions were reached. So, you now have access to it.
First up, Vinod Khosla: On the Record: Vinod Khosla On biofuels: I have no question that in 10 years, there’s no way oil will be able to compete with biofuels. Even in five years. Now it will take a long time to scale biofuels, but I’m the only one in the world forecasting oil dropping in price to $35 a barrel by 2030. I’ll put it on the record: Oil will not be able to compete with cellulosic biofuels. If you do it from food, the food will get so expensive you can’t make fuel out of it. Let’s focus our energy on the research and development and innovation that allows us to produce a $1-a-gallon fuel. There’s no question… Continue»
I have mentioned LS9 here on several occasions, because I think what they are trying to do is pretty cool. They are trying to engineer bacteria that can consume biomass and excrete hydrocarbons. I have said before that I think someone will crack this problem sooner or later. Then today I just ran across this story: Anything that grows ‘can convert into oil’ Company finds natural solution that turns plants into gasoline After three years of clandestine development, a Georgia company is now going public with a simple, natural way to convert anything that grows out of the Earth into oil. J.C. Bell, an agricultural researcher and CEO of Bell Bio-Energy, says he’s isolated and modified specific bacteria that will,… Continue»
After missing about 10 API conference calls in a row, I finally found time yesterday to participate in one on biofuels. Participants per the API web site were: Devil’s Advocate of Copious Dissent, Nate Hagens of The Oil Drum, Bruce McQuain of The QandO Blog, Robert Rapier of The Oil Drum and R-Squared, Geoff Styles of Energy Outlook, Gail Tverberg of The Oil Drum, and Brian Westenhaus of New Energy and Fuel. Let me first say that I felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone. The API was defending ethanol against an angry mob of bloggers who thought it was a bad idea. Nate Hagens actually asked “Did I hear you right? The API supports ethanol?”… Continue»
I was pointed to an interesting discussion today about the possible impact the biofuels mandates are having in the UK: Already paying the hidden cost of biofuels? The complaint, originating in Wales, reads: I know we are. This weekend I made inquires about ordering this year’s fertiliser for our holding. The answer was, quite frankly, shocking. Our local supplier usually has a stock of 4,000 tonnes for local growers (we just want one tonne of that…). This year, howewver, their total allocation is being pegged at 640 tonnes. The rest, it seems, has been shipped to the USA for the biofuel industry. The silos and bunkers are empty. And, to add insult to injury, the meagre amount that the supplier… Continue»