June 30, 2012
Comparative genome study finds ancestral fungus may have influenced end of coal formation; potential resource for biofuel production
|Scanning electron micrograph of wood being decayed by the white rot fungus Punctularia strigoso-zonata. (Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota) Click to enlarge.|
Coal deposits—the fossilized remains of plants—were formed during a 60-million year period from around 360 to 300 million years ago. A team of 71 researchers from 12 countries, including researchers at the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), has proposed a new factor that may have contributed to the end of this Carboniferous period—named after the large stores of what became coal deposits.
The evidence, presented in the journal Science, suggests that the evolution of fungi capable of breaking down the polymer lignin, which helps keep plant cell walls rigid, may have played a key role in ending the development of coal deposits. With the arrival of the new fungi, dead plant matter could be completely broken down into its basic chemical components. Instead of accumulating as peat, which eventually was transformed into coal, the great bulk of plant biomass decayed and was released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
Mitsui OSK Lines, Ltd. (MOL) has completed the hybrid car carrier vessel Emerald Ace, designed to generate zero emissions while berthed, at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) Kobe shipyard.
The GREET team at Argonne National Laboratory has released a new version of the GREET fuel cycle model. The Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model simulates the energy use and emissions output of various vehicle and fuel combinations, and is widely used in lifecycle analysis.
US-based Green Automotive Company has signed an agreement to acquire UK-based Liberty Electric Cars Limited (earlier post). Liberty Electric Cars is a electric vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing company.
The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Brazilian National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO) and the European Commission’s Directorate C (Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency) are organizing the 4th International Conference on Biofuels Standards to be held 13–15 November 2012 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Petrobras announced that its average domestic and foreign oil and natural gas output in May was 2,601,223 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed), up 1.9% on the figure for April.
June 29, 2012
|Fit EV. Click to enlarge.|
The battery-electric 2013 Honda Fit EV (earlier post) will be available for lease beginning 20 July 2012, with a three-year lease price of $389 per month. The Fit EV received the highest fuel-efficiency rating given yet by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with an adjusted combined mile-per-gallon-equivalency rating of 118 MPGe, with a fuel consumption rating of 29 kWh per 100 miles. (Earlier post.)
The Fit EV will be available for lease-only in key markets in Oregon and California, after which availability will expand to six East Coast markets in early 2013. The Fit EV’s three-year lease price of $389 per month works out to a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $36,625.
Rockwood Lithium opens new lithium production facility in Nevada; announces global price increases for lithium salts
Rockwood Lithium has opened its expanded manufacturing facility in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Rockwood is leveraging a $28.4-million investment from the Recovery Act to expand its North Carolina lithium production facility as well as its production operations in Silver Peak, Nevada.
Solazyme announces successful commissioning of integrated renewable oil production biorefinery in Peoria, Illinois
Solazyme, Inc. announced the successful commissioning of its first fully integrated biorefinery (IBR) in Peoria, Illinois, to produce algal oil. Solazyme has been running routine fermentations at commercial scale since 2007 and began running fermentation operations at the Peoria facility in Q4 2011. Solazyme uses heterotrophic microalgae—i.e., they grow in the dark (in fermenters) by consuming sugars.
At its Powertrain Engineering Center in Torino, Italy, GM is harvesting the 300 kWh of energy from its test benches—equipment that tests various measures of a running engine—to power all of the facility’s computers.