July 31, 2008
The US Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) plan to award 10 grants totaling more than $10 million to accelerate fundamental research in the development of cellulosic biofuels.
The grants will be awarded under a joint DOE-USDA program begun in 2006 which aims to accelerate fundamental research in biomass genomics to further the use of cellulosic plant material for bioenergy and biofuels. DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research will provide $8.8 million while USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service will provide $2 million. The funded projects are:
The Office of the Mayor and the Department of the Environment of the City and County of San Francisco are reviewing opportunities have issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit information and conceptual ideas from commercial vendors, service providers, non-profit organizations and other interested parties capable of assisting San Francisco and the Bay Area in becoming a leading region for early adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and full-battery electric vehicles.
Researchers at MIT Develop New Water-Splitting Catalyst That Works Under Benign Conditions; a “Giant Leap”
Researchers at MIT—Prof. Daniel Nocera and Dr. Matthew Kanan—have developed a new water-splitting catalyst that is easily prepared from earth-abundant materials (cobalt and phosphorous) and operates in benign conditions: pH neutral water at room temperature and 1 atm pressure. A report on their discovery was published online 31 July 2008 in the journal Science.
The cobalt-phosphorous catalyst targets the generation of oxygen gas from water—the more complex of the two water-splitting half-cell reactions required (H2O/O2 and H2O/H2). Another catalyst generates the hydrogen. Although the new catalyst requires further work, it opens a very promising pathway for the development of systems that use artificial photosynthesis to store solar energy on a large scale in the form of O2 and H2 for subsequent use in a fuel cell.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide $36 million for 15 projects aimed at furthering the development of new and cost-effective technologies for the capture of carbon dioxide from the existing fleet of coal-fired power plants. Research areas supported in the award include membrane technology; solvents; solid sorbents; oxycombustion, flue gas purification; oxycombustion boiler development; and chemical looping combustion.
Membranes. Membrane-based CO2 capture uses permeable or semi-permeable materials that allow for the selective transport and separation of CO2 from flue gas. Research projects in this area will address key technical challenges to the use of membrane-based systems such as large flue gas volume, relatively low CO2 concentration, low flue gas pressure, flue gas contaminants, and the need for high membrane surface area.
Nuvera Fuel Cells will unveil a hydrogen refueling station in Massachusetts on 11 August. The station, located at company headquarters in Billerica, is separate from a Nuvera hydrogen refueling system in place at Logan Airport as part of a Federal Transit Authority (FTA) hydrogen bus project. (Earlier post.)
|Thermotoga maritima (green/yellow rods) growing in co-culture with Methanococcus jannaschii (red spheres). T. maritima ferments sugars to hydrogen and M. jannaschii converts hydrogen to methane.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $1.6 million to a team led by North Carolina State University to learn more about the microbiology, genetics and genomics of thermotogales—extremophile bacteria that produce large amounts of hydrogen with unusually high efficiencies. (Earlier post.)
An earlier project funded by the DOE found that one representative of this order, Thermotoga neapolitana, consistently obtained accumulations of 25-30% hydrogen. Thermotogales are found in areas which are naturally hot—including volcanic sediments, hot springs and brines from deep oil wells.
US production of fuel ethanol reached 18.543 million barrels (778.8 million gallons US) in May 2008, up 47% from May 2007 and up 10% just from the preceding month, according to the latest Oxygenate Production report from the US Energy Information Administration.
|In field trials in Illinois, researchers grew Miscanthus x giganteus and switchgrass in adjoining plots. Click to enlarge. Credit: University of Illinois|
Researchers at the University of Illinois have concluded that the perennial grass Miscanthus×giganteus could produce enough ethanol to offset 20% of current US gasoline use, while requiring 9.3% of current agricultural acreage. By contrast, using corn or switchgrass to produce the same amount would require 25% of current US cropland.
The findings come from side-by-side trials of Miscanthus and switchgrass established for the first time along a latitudinal gradient in Illinois. The results of the trials appear this month in the journal Global Change Biology.
July 30, 2008
|Wright is making both single-deck and double-deck series hybrid buses.|
Engine development and engineering services provider Roush Technologies is supporting Northern Ireland-based Wrightbus in optimizing its new series hybrid drive which uses a Ford 2.4-liter diesel engine as the genset. An earlier generation of the Wrightbus hybrid drive used a GM 1.9L engine. (Earlier post.)
The Wrightbus program involves optimizing the series hybrid drive systems through a detailed analysis of generator load patterns. Roush engineers have been able to recalibrate the engine to operate at its peak performance throughout the drive cycle by using smart charging and load control technology. Overall engine performance is significantly improved when compared with normal applications.
Hydrogen Energy International LLC, a joint venture of BP Alternative Energy and Rio Tinto (earlier post), is filing an AFC (Application for Certification) before the California Energy Commission for a proposed hydrogen fuel production facility and power plant with carbon capture and storage in Kern County, California. The project had originally been targeted for Carson, California (about 20 miles south of Los Angeles). (Earlier post.)