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Posts tagged “btl”

By Robert Rapier on Jan 27, 2011 with 65 responses

Vinod Khosla and the Gasification/Fermentation Debate

Vinod Khosla Prognosticates Vinod Khosla is once more offering up his prognostications on the future of the energy business: What Matters in Biofuels? Given the likely continued dominance of the internal combustion engine, cellulosic and sugar-derived fuels offer one of the lowest risk advances to quickly and affordably achieve low-carbon transportation. I predict that long before 2022, half a dozen technologies within and outside our portfolio will be market competitive and will blow away the cost structure of corn ethanol. In the same article, he offers his view on those he deems energy Luddites: The old fashioned bias among traditionalists, mostly Luddites unfamiliar with the vibrant new research especially in startups, is that Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FT) of liquid hydrocarbons from… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 5, 2009 with no responses

Merica Acquires Majority Stake in Choren

Today it was announced that my new company, Merica International, has acquired Shell’s stake in Choren Industries. This is something we have been actively pursuing for some time. This transaction gives Merica a great deal more flexibility than we had previously. The primary reason for the acquisition is that it gives us freedom to pursue the projects we want to pursue. While I have the greatest respect for Shell, our interests obviously would not always align with theirs. We are first and foremost a bioenergy company, and that is not their core business. Further, if Choren wanted to make any major capital expenditures, it hinged on getting Shell’s agreement. As Shell is in a major cost-cutting mode, a lot of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 5, 2009 with no responses

Energy Potpourri

I am at the 2009 Gasification Technologies Conference this week, with a pretty full schedule. But there are three stories that I wanted to quickly hit. One is a follow-up on the previous cellulosic ethanol post, one is about Paul Sankey’s new report on peak demand, and the last is on a technology that ExxonMobil has reported on here at the conference that I felt was quite interesting. There will probably be no more new posts from me until the weekend. I only got away with this one because I decided to write instead of network (which I hate to do anyway) during free periods today.When Technologies Are Mandated I don’t care too much for mandates. I think they are… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 21, 2009 with no responses

My Point Exactly

I missed this story when it came out last week:Hydrocarbon biofuels’ promise tops that of ethanol, gasoline John Regalbuto, a chemical engineer at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and director of the NSF catalysis and biocatalysis program, wrote in Science that biomass-derived fuels are not far from being part of the energy mix as a replacement for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Hydrocarbon fuels can be directly produced from the sugars of woody biomass — forest waste, cornstalks or switchgrass — through microbial fermentation or liquid-phase catalysis, he wrote. They can be produced by pyrolysis or gasification directly from the woody biomass. And they can be produced by converting the lipids of nonfood crops and algae. “The drawback to using… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 18, 2009 with no responses

Rentech Making Waves

The following story posed a bit of a dilemma for me. In my new role, there will be potential conflicts of interest in some of the stories I may post, and until I elaborate on what I am doing, I am trying to avoid posting anything that might fall into that category. When I first saw this story earlier today – and in fact received the press release from Rentech (RTK) – my first thought was that this sort of fell into that category. Why? Two reasons. First, Rentech’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Harold Wright is my former manager and a friend. Second, in my new role I have interests that are of the same nature as… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 9, 2009 with 1 response

The Long Recession

Sometimes people ask me what I think will happen as a result of peak oil. Well, it depends. We could see alternatives – natural gas, ethanol, GTL, CTL, etc. – fill the gap of falling oil supplies for a while. It just depends on how quickly production falls. But if the alternatives are not up to the task, then I think what we will see – borrowing terminology from The Long Emergency- is The Long Recession. Here’s how it would work. As economies heat up, demand for oil increases. This puts upward pressure on oil prices, which can ultimately cause a recession such as the one we are in now. Historically, spiking oil prices tend to consume disposable income and… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 12, 2009 with no responses

Rentech Announces BTL Plant

Still on vacation, but an interesting announcement yesterday by Rentech: Rialto Project Our proposed Rialto Renewable Energy Center (Rialto Project) will be located in Rialto, California. The facility is designed to produce approximately 600 barrels per day of pure renewable synthetic fuels and export approximately 35 megawatts of renewable electric power. The renewable power is expected to qualify under California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program, which requires utilities to increase the amount of electric power they sell from qualified renewable-energy resources. The plant will be capable of providing enough electricity for approximately 30,000 homes. Rentech has entered into a licensing agreement with SilvaGas Corporation for the biomass gasification technology for the Rialto facility. Rentech’s proprietary technology for the conditioning and… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 17, 2009 with no responses

Renewable Diesel Primer

Given the recent news that biodiesel has caused buses in Minnesota to malfunction in cold weather, I thought this would be a good time to review the differences between diesel, biodiesel, and green diesel. In order to explain the key issues, I am going to excerpt from the chapter on renewable diesel that I wrote for Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems: Benefits and Risks. First, what happened in Minnesota? Biodiesel fuel woes close Bloomington schools All schools in the Bloomington School District will be closed today after state-required biodiesel fuel clogged in school buses Thursday morning and left dozens of students stranded in frigid weather, the district said late Thursday. Rick Kaufman, the district’s spokesman, said elements… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 2, 2008 with no responses

The Lowdown on Miscanthus

Now that Blogger has determined that I am in fact a real person (see this note for an explanation), I am back in business. I notice the Barack Obama is now in favor of my proposal for allowing drilling and using that to fund alternative energy. Just glad I could help. Call me if you need an energy secretary who detests politics and doesn’t respond to direction very well. More on that proposal in a later post, but first there was some topical alternative energy news from a couple of days ago. A new report from researchers at the University of Illinois suggests that using Miscanthus as a feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production would be far superior to switchgrass: Miscanthus… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 3, 2008 with no responses

Visit to New Choren BTL Plant

Figure 1. Choren BTL Production Process. (Source: Choren) Introduction I had to dig way back in my Gmail archives to figure out how it was that I first interacted with Choren. I had written several articles on biomass gasification in 2006, and when I announced that I would be moving to Scotland in early 2007, I received an e-mail from Dr. David Henson at Choren. David, at that time in Business Development at Choren and now the President of Choren USA, said he had been reading the blog, and he extended an invitation to visit the biomass-to-liquids (BTL) plant that Choren was building in Freiberg, Germany. While I tentatively planned to visit several times while I was living in Scotland,… Continue»