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Repsol YPF Leads Biodiesel Research Project

24 April 2006

Repsol YPF, the Spanish-Argentine oil and gas group, is leading a four-year, €22 million (US$27 million) Spanish research project on biodiesel with 14 other companies.

Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, through the CDTI (Center for the Industrial Technological Development), the project is intended to support the introduction of biodiesel into the Spanish market by reducing production costs and increasing the availability of necessary local raw materials for feedstock.

Robert Bosch Spain—suppliers of automotive components including diesel common rail fuel injection systems—is participating in the project from the automotive sector.

During the first stage of the project, the partnership will work in the investigation and identification of new raw materials to produce biodiesel, including plants adapted to earth and climate of the Iberian Peninsula, marine seaweed, waste from slaughter houses, waste cooking oils and others.

Repsol YPF recently announced an agreement with Acciona Energía to invest more than €300 million (US$365 million) in the construction of up to six biodiesel plants in Spain, with a combined potential production capacity of more than 1 million metric tons per year (302 million gallons per year, or about 20,000 barrels per day). The companies expect the plants to come on-stream during the first half of 2007 through the second half 2009. (Earlier post.)

April 24, 2006 in Biodiesel, Europe | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)

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Glad to see it. I have become convinced that biodiesel with added alcohol is absolutely the way to go.

In time the market forces will prove it.

We don't NEED any other fuel.

I agree. Any plant-based fuel is fine by me, so long as there are no surprise increases in local pollution.

Of course, the positve energy output needs to be verified and the production process designed to ensure that we aren't just using perfectly good farmland to inefficiently convert oil into ethanol.

big ups for algae-diesel farms, both offshore and power plant fed

"We don't NEED any other fuel."

But for the fact that enough farmland does not exist to produce enough biodiesel and ethanol to feed the world's people and run the world's cars.

Bringing marginal lands into production for hardy fuel-only crops (switchgrass, jatropha) is a possible partial solution, but has its own potential drawbacks (loss of wilderness habitat). Bringing the sea into cultivation is also a possibility (algae), but a pretty embryonic idea, not to mention the potential impacts on that environment that would have to be controller. Solar and wind to electricity have promise, but how do you run a vehicle off that? Batteries, hydrogen and ultracaps all have their ups and downs. Electricity and hydrogen from nuclear plants can also be produced in large quantities, but there are significant public oppositing and long-term waste issues with that.

Conservation is also key, but not a cure all. The United States could converge on several European characteristics (size and efficiency of cars, availability and utilization rate of public transit, general walkability of neighborhoods), but even if we overcame some significant cultural barriers and got close, we'd still be burning more fuel than we could grow, at present rates.

Faced with large and systemic problems that stem from the very lifestyle that our country has collectively adopted over the past 55 years, I think it is simply wrong to say that any one technology is all that we need to fix things up.


Two technologies, alcohol and biodiesel is all we need to fix things up.

The technology exists. It's not being supported by our ""government".

Can you guess why?

"But for the fact that enough farmland does not exist to produce enough biodiesel and ethanol to feed the world's people and run the world's cars."

Not if you do it on farmland, growing corn, switchgrass or (insert your favorite energy crop here). The answer I believe is to use algae.
"...we found that to replace all transportation fuels in the US, we would need 140.8 billion gallons of biodiesel, or roughly 19 quads (one quad is roughly 7.5 billion gallons of biodiesel). To produce that amount would require a land mass of almost 15,000 square miles".
- http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html

Algae can also be grown at sea, in fact that is exactly what is happening in the "dead zone" in the gulf of Mexico. Perhaps we can start by harvesting the dead zone, taking a load of Mother Nature and recycling all the nutrients that caused the problem in the first place. Fuel as a nice byproduct, to pay for the clean-up.

Since the dead zone is as large as 7,728 square miles (see http://www.smm.org/deadzone/what/yearly12-8.html) the dead zone is in theory capable of producing just over 50% of all US transportation fuel!

Of course, biodiesel has some problems, as they recently found out in Minnesota. Perhaps a better solution would be to convert the algal biomass to hydrocarbons (i.e. identical to fossil petroleum fuels) via gasification/Fischer-Tropsch or TDP.

That proposition should be made to the algal oil co.Could algal blooms be harvested.Algae consume co2,we harvest the alge and make biodiesel.This could be a technology for an environmental clean up company.They get the fee for the clean up and sell the biodiesel,a twofer.

I love algae. It's really my favorite technology. Motor Trend had an article about algal biodiesel in March, I think. GreenFuel Tech keeps attracting investors. And their algae can be used to produce ethanol and biodiesel at the same time.

Biodiesel is accelerating with just the energy crops we already have. An 80-million gallon refinery broke ground in Indiana, 85 million in South Dakota, and 96 million in Oregon. The latter two will use canola, which has a better oil yield. The first two will start production by the end of next year.

This can't go fast enough for me.

Guys, I have bad news for you. Your vision for biodiesel as clean-burning, CO2-neitral, environmentally friendly and energy-independence solution is not correct.
1) combustion of biodiesel produces slightly less soot then high-sulfur diesel oil. From this year on US and Canada switched to low-sulfur diesel, so biodisel now is as smoky as diesel oil. But combustion of biodisel generates about 10-15% more NOx - most troublesome to control.
2) Cultivation of biodiesel crops requires amount of energy close to found in final product. Most of the energy comes from combustion of natural gas and coal to produce fertilizers and lime.
3) Tilling of farmland exposes organic-rich internal soil layers to air and promotes it oxidation with massive CO2 generation. Even worse is tilling-in remaining organic wastes: it generated anaerobic CH4, which is 20 times more powerful GHG then CO2.
4) Massive cultivation of energy crops will result in severe damage to ecosystems due to use of pesticides, land requisition, etc. Do not forget, then agriculture is by far the most intrusive into natural ecosystems side of human civilization.
5) Diesel engine is still much more dirtier then gasoline engine. That is exactly the reason why it is effectively prohibited to sale in US and Japan.
6) Native biodisel crops are by far inferior compare to palm oil grown oversea. Would you exchange fossil oil dependency from Muslim Saudia to palm oil dependency from Muslim Indonesia?

On your last point:

> Would you exchange fossil oil dependency from
> Muslim Saudia to palm oil dependency from Muslim
> Indonesia?

This is false logic. The choice, even if we ignore genetic or other improvements to "domestic" fuel crops, is between:

- Dependency on Muslim/unstable Persian Gulf

and

- "Dependency" on Persial Gulf *or* Indonesia *or* Brasil *or* some African producer *or* ... i.e. less of a seller's market.

Many (most?) proponents of biofuel in the US deliberately confuse the security aspect of not enriching feudal societies with old-fashioned agrarian electioneering/protectionism.


Andrey - You have been listening to that GREAT SCIENTIST

Rush Limbaugh !

Don't do it. The oil companies pay him millions every year to lie to you.

"2) Cultivation of biodiesel crops requires amount of energy close to found in final product. Most of the energy comes from combustion of natural gas and coal to produce fertilizers and lime.
3) Tilling of farmland exposes organic-rich internal soil layers to air and promotes it oxidation with massive CO2 generation. Even worse is tilling-in remaining organic wastes: it generated anaerobic CH4, which is 20 times more powerful GHG then CO2.
4) Massive cultivation of energy crops will result in severe damage to ecosystems due to use of pesticides, land requisition, etc. Do not forget, then agriculture is by far the most intrusive into natural ecosystems side of human civilization."
Not so fast, Audrey!

There are ways around these concerns:
1. You can grow algae in wastewater (aka sewage). This ensures free fertilizer, and has the nice byproduct of cleaning the water. After processing the algae, most of the nutrients remain in the byproduct, ready for recycling. So, in fact, you can reduce the amount of oil used for fertilizer production.
2. As I suggested above, one can harvest the dead spot in the Gulf of Mexico, again recovering nutrients as a byproduct and further reducing the amount of oil needed for fertilizer production.
3. No pesticides required, you'll be glad to learn.

"6) Native biodisel crops are by far inferior compare to palm oil grown oversea. Would you exchange fossil oil dependency from Muslim Saudia to palm oil dependency from Muslim Indonesia?"
Let's rephrase that for clarity:
"Would you rather allow Muslim Saudi Arabia to maintain its position of power or would you rather play them off against another country, even if it is Muslim Indonesia?"

NBC news tried and tested ester based fuel reformulator. Non-toxic, Non-hazardous enables fuel to burn more efficiently increasing mpg and reducing emissions. I’ve had good results in my gas van Currently using in my straight veggie oil car and will start to implement into my diesel 6.6 ford. Gasoline,
diesel, methanol, ethanol, LNG, compressed natural gas or bio-diesel works with all.

here is a real solution...

see link for new ethanol feedstock from algae...

it uses CO2 to grow...

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2006-01-10-algae-powerplants_x.htm

http://www.veridium.com/news.php?id=29

Pleased to see a discussion here. But consider this: if somebody two hundred years ago would say then eventually we will have problem of food overproduction and overeating he would be pronounced permanently crazy. Same with energy. We approaching (and rather fast ) energy abundance. And it will not come from one “final” solution, rather from combination of many technologies and efforts. Anaerobic digestion (I worked in the field) will surely be part of the mix. Food crop derived biofuel will never be economically competitive to more conventional fuel (with partial exception of waste derived fuel, such as cellulosic ethanol). The highest efficiency of sun light energy conversion at ideal conditions for some champion plant (I do not remember the species) to biomass energy is less then 3%. And this is without taking into account of energy consumption for cultivation, fertilization, harvest, and conversion to liquid fuel (using practically only small portion of the plant). Solar PV panel have 20% efficiency without all this troubles. My personal list of most immediate and promising technologies at hand include:

Cellulosic ethanol. Hybrid vehicles (with plug-in capability). Natural gas-to-liquid fuels. Smart homes with integrated heat pump HVAC/refrigerating/water heating and PV panels. Direct injection lean gasoline engines with NOx absorbers. And oil.

Who let that optimist in here?

"We approaching (and rather fast ) energy abundance."
And energy to cheap to meter, right? What are you smoking?

"The highest efficiency of sun light energy conversion at ideal conditions for some champion plant (I do not remember the species) to biomass energy is less then 3%. And this is without taking into account of energy consumption for cultivation, fertilization, harvest, and conversion to liquid fuel (using practically only small portion of the plant). Solar PV panel have 20% efficiency without all this troubles."
Except that you can convert biomass rather nicely into liquid fuels, which, as we know, are convenient to use and allows for rapid refueling. Unlike EV. And solar panels have problems of their own. At least plants regenerate themselves, unlike solar panels. And no, using practically all of the plant.

"My personal list of most immediate and promising technologies at hand include: Cellulosic ethanol. Hybrid vehicles (with plug-in capability). Natural gas-to-liquid fuels. Smart homes with integrated heat pump HVAC/refrigerating/water heating and PV panels. Direct injection lean gasoline engines with NOx absorbers. And oil."
1. Cellulosic ethanol: Does not avoid the physical properties of ethanol, including high vapor pressure (danger, emissions), hygroscopy (corrosion, EtOH can also not be pumped like gasoline for this reason), high energy demands of distillation (reducing overall energy efficiency).
2. Hybrid vehicles with plug-in capability: Fine
3. Natural gas-to-liquid fuels: Looked at US natural gas prices lately? The stuff is even more expensive than crude. And it is a pain in the neck to import.
4. Smart homes with integrated heat pump HVAC/refrigerating/water heating and PV panels: Fine
5. Direct injection lean gasoline engines with NOx absorbers: Marginal Improvement.
6. Oil: Yes, we just need to shift from crude-based oil to biomass-based oil (using gasification/Fischer-Tropsch or TDP). Much better than EtOH.

Nice blog and comments...

Rather than trying to make biodiesel from feedstock such as soy and palm oil which have other uses and have yields which are woefully low in the context of fuel requirements, I think the way to go is biodiesel from algae...recent research suggests that yield from algae could be over 200 times that from soy!

I found some more inputs on biodiesel from algae @ Oilgae.com

Hope this helps

Ec @ eIT

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