[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Study finds biodiesel use in HD trucks in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits
November 07, 2013
Results of a study by a team from Health Canada and Environment Canada suggest that the use of B5 and B20 biodiesel fuel blends (5% and 20% biodiesel, respectively) compared to ULSD in on-road heavy-duty diesels in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits/costs across Canada, and that these were likely to diminish over time.
Health Canada is the Canadian Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health; Environment Canada is the Federal agency tasked with, among other things, protecting the environment. An open-access paper on the study has been accepted for publication in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Univ. of Illinois team argues that renewable fuel standard needs to be modified, not repealed
October 16, 2013
A policy analysis by two University of Illinois researchers argues that Congress should minimally modify, not repeal, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In the study, law professor Jay P. Kesan and Timothy A. Slating, a regulatory associate with the Energy Biosciences Institute, argue that RFS mandates ought to be adjusted to reflect current and predicted biofuel commercialization realities; that its biofuel categories be expanded to encompass all emerging biofuel technologies; and that its biomass sourcing constraints be relaxed.
In the paper, to be published in the NYU Environmental Law Journal, Kesan and Slating contend that the RFS can serve as a “model policy instrument” for the federal support of all types of socially beneficial renewable energy technologies.
Study finds biodiesel blend reduces total particle mass in emissions but may have greater adverse health effect per mass than diesel
October 10, 2013
Findings from a study by researchers from the Department of Medicine and the School of Engineering at the University of Vermont suggest that the addition of biodiesel to diesel fuels will reduce the total particle mass of PM emissions—but that the biodiesel blend particles may contribute to greater biological effects per mass than B0, leading to potentially greater health risks.
As reported in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team first characterized exhaust particles produced by combustion of pure petrodiesel (B0) and B20 (20% soy biodiesel/ 80% B0) fuels using the same engine and running conditions, and then conducted experiments in two human cell lines representing bronchial epithelial cells and macrophages as well as in female mice. (Studies in cells alone do not necessarily reflect the integrated response of a whole animal, they noted.)
Study finds HTL algal biofuels offer 50-70% lifecycle CO2 reduction compared to petroleum fuels; EROI and GHG comparable to or better than other biofuels
September 20, 2013
A new life cycle analysis by a team led by researchers at the University of Virginia has concluded that biofuel produced from algae via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) can reduce life cycle CO2 emissions by 50 to 70% compared to petroleum fuels, and also has energy burdens and GHG (greenhouse gas) emission profiles that are comparable to or better than conventional biofuels, cellulosic ethanol and soybean biodiesel.
HTL algae-derived gasoline has a considerably lower GHG footprint and a better EROI relative to conventional ethanol made from corn on a per MJ basis, the team found. The data suggest that a shift to algae-derived gasoline could have immediate climate benefits even using existing technologies, the authors noted. In addition, given expected technological improvements, the benefits of algae-derived gasoline will likely improve.
European Parliament backs 6% cap on land-based biofuels, switchover to advanced biofuels; no mandate
September 11, 2013
In a vote on draft legislation, the European Parliament has backed a cap on the use of biofuels produced from starch-rich crops, sugars, oil and other crops grown on land and a speedy switchover to new biofuels from alternative sources such as seaweed and waste. The measures aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the turnover of agricultural land to biofuel production.
According to current legislation, member states must ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10% of energy consumption in transport by 2020. In the adopted text, MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) say land-based biofuels should not exceed 6% of the final energy consumption in transport by 2020. (The proposal by the European Commission on which the draft legislation was based had suggested an even lower 5% cap.)
U Wisc. study explores effects of biodiesel-gasoline blend in diesel engine
August 01, 2013
One high-efficiency combustion concept under investigation is gasoline compression ignition (GCI)—the use of gasoline-like fuels to deliver very low NOx and PM emissions as well as high efficiency in a diesel compression ignition engine. (Earlier post.) A challenge to be overcome with this approach is the higher resistance to autoignition of gasoline fuels.
A team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Engine Research Center now reports in a paper in the journal Fuel on the effects of biodiesel-gasoline blends compared to neat gasoline using a partially premixed, split-injection GCI combustion strategy.
Study investigates impact of operating conditions and load on soot particle number distribution for diesel and biodiesel
July 27, 2013
A team led by researchers from Brunel University (UK) has investigated the exhaust soot particle number size distributions obtained from the combustion of diesel and biodiesel (rapeseed methyl ester, RME) in a high speed direct injection (HSDI) diesel engine under different engine operating conditions: fuel injection pressure, injection timing, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and engine load.
Among the findings they reported in their paper in the journal Fuel was that under most of the engine operating conditions examined, RME emitted lower soot particle concentration than diesel under both nucleation and accumulation modes. The presence of oxygen in the fuel has the potential to lower the exhaust particle number concentration in diesel engines, they concluded.
Full genome map of oil palm indicates a way to raise yields and protect rainforest; single gene controls oil palm yield
July 25, 2013
A multinational team of scientists has identified a single gene, called Shell, that regulates yield of the oil palm tree. The Shell gene is responsible for the oil palm’s three known shell forms: dura (thick); pisifera (shell-less); and tenera (thin), a hybrid of dura and pisifera palms. Tenera palms contain one mutant and one normal version, or allele, of Shell, an optimum combination that results in 30% more oil per land area than dura palms.
The fruit and seeds of the oil palm are the source of nearly one-half of the supply of edible vegetable oil worldwide, and are one of the more promising sources of biofuel. The discovery, the product of a multiyear effort to provide a high-quality full genome map of the oil palm plant and to scour the sequence for genes of importance to both science and industry, has major implications for agriculture and the environment. The international team’s work is detailed in two papers published in the journal Nature.
ITOCHU invests in Flint Hills/Benefuel biodiesel project in US
June 05, 2013
Japan-based ITOCHU Corporation has invested in a 50-million-gallon/year, next-generation (inedible feed stock base) biodiesel fuel (BDF) project, which Flint Hills Resources LLC (FHR), a leading US refining, biofuel and chemicals company, and Benefuel Inc, developer of a solid-state biodiesel catalyst and process (earlier post), are jointly developing in Beatrice, Nebraska.
Benefuel and FHR have an exclusive agreement to develop and operate US-based biodiesel projects using Benefuel’s ENSEL technology. The joint venture—Duonix, LLC—is actively developing the first project, which is a retrofit of the 50-million-gallon-per-year facility in Beatrice, Nebraska. The facility was acquired by FHR out of bankruptcy and has since been transferred to Duonix. The Beatrice plant will continue to be operated by FHR.
EIA: US consumption of alt fuels up 13% in 2011; E85 second behind natural gas; medium-duty vans had greater impact than LDVs
April 09, 2013
|Consumption of alternative fuels by vehicle type, 2011. Replacement fuels—i.e., E10 and biodiesel—are categorized separately. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.|
Overall consumption of alternative transportation fuels in the US increased almost 13% in 2011 to a total of 515,920 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons, compared to 457,755 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2010, according to the latest Alternative Fuel Vehicle Data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In alternative-fueled vehicles, consumption of ethanol (E85) increased 52% from the prior year’s consumption, an increase from 90,323 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2010 to 137,165 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2011. EIA attributed this to the increase in overall inventory of E85-capable vehicles. In 2011, E85 became the second-most consumed alternative fuel, behind natural gas (220,247 thousand-gasoline-equivalent gallons), and outpacing LPG (124,457 thousand-gasoline-equivalent gallons).
Navigant forecasts global 6% CAGR for biofuels to 2023
March 29, 2013
|Total Biofuels production by fuel type, world markets: 2013-2023. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.|
Navigant Research forecasts global biofuels production will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% between 2013 and 2023, despite slower than expected development of advanced biofuels pathways (such as cellulosic biofuels); an expected expansion in unconventional oil production in key markets such as the United States; and a decline in global investment for biofuels in recent years.
In contrast, Navigant expects the CAGR for fossil-based gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel to be 3.1% over the forecast period. The research firm projects that total biofuels production will reach 62 billion gallons by 2023 or 5.9% of global transportation fuel production from fossil sources.
California ARB considering regulations for alternative diesel fuels; focus on biodiesel
March 23, 2013
The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding a public meeting on 23 April in Sacramento to discuss regulatory concepts for establishing fuel requirements for alternative diesel fuels (ADF), including biodiesel, renewable diesel and other emerging diesel fuel substitutes.
ARB’s goal is to conduct public meetings leading to the development of a regulatory proposal for consideration by the Board this fall. Staff anticipates the regulatory concepts would involve new alternative diesel fuel provisions, as well as amendments to the existing diesel fuel regulation to accommodate the new ADF requirements and to update outdated provisions. This effort is not directed at other existing transportation fuel programs, such as those for compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, or electricity.
California Energy Commission awards more than $5.5M for green transportation projects and $1.8M for 20 energy research projects
March 21, 2013
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved $5,580,773 for clean-energy transportation projects including biodiesel production, power control electronics for medium-and heavy-duty battery electric vehicles, and buydowns for propane vehicles. The awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.
In addition, CEC awarded $1,815,274 to fund 20 energy research projects in the areas of transportation, electricity, and natural gas. Funds for these projects—which span areas as diverse as a new crossover valve for the split-cycle Tour Engine (earlier post) to a new solar thermal storage device capable of integration with utility scale solar thermal power plants—come from Commission’s Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program.
California ARB considering four new low-carbon fuel pathways; Neste renewable diesel and sugarcane molasses ethanol
March 20, 2013
California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted four new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) pathways to the LCFS web site. (Earlier post.) Among the new pathways to be considered is the production of renewable diesel from Australian tallow at Neste Oil’s Singapore plant. Others are sugarcane molasses ethanol from Guatemala; mixed feedstock to biodiesel from Texas; and a new ARB-staff-developed pathway for North American landfill gas.
The Low Carbon Fuel Standard, approved in April 2009, requires that suppliers of transportation fuels meet an average declining standard of carbon intensity (CI) —expressed in grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule of fuel energy (g CO2e/MJ)—that will provide a 10% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions for all fuels used in California by 2020. The CI of a fuel is determined by the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation, processing and consumption of a fuel (its pathway).
California Energy Commission awards more than $17M to support alternative fuel and infrastructure projects
February 14, 2013
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved $17,223,593 for eight projects including alternative fuel production, plug-in truck demonstrations, EV charging station deployment, and infrastructure planning. The awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. This program is slated to invest approximately $90 million during this fiscal year to develop new transportation technologies, as well as alternative and renewable fuels. It is paid for through surcharges on vehicle and boating registrations, and smog check and license plate fees.
These awards also assist in fulfilling Governor Brown’s executive order directing state government to support the rapid commercialization of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in California, with a 2025 target of having 1.5 million ZEVs on the state’s roads. The order also requires the installation of sufficient infrastructure to support 1 million ZEVs in California by 2020. (Earlier post.)
SG Biofuels signs deals in Brazil to develop Jatropha as an alternative energy crop
January 29, 2013
SGB, Inc. (SG Biofuels) has signed agreements in Brazil with Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), the country’s leading agricultural research institution, and with Fiagril, one of the country’s leading biodiesel refiners, to advance the development of Jatropha as a next-generation energy crop.
SGB’s strategic research partnership with Embrapa will combine the company’s breeding and genomics platform, including the world’s largest and most diverse library of Jatropha genetic material, with Embrapa’s leadership in the advancement of new technologies that have increased agricultural productivity in Brazil. Embrapa has identified Jatropha as one of the most promising new energy crops in Brazil.
Study finds biodiesel from algae, yeast and bacteria can displace both petroleum diesel and soybean biodiesel
November 23, 2012
|Diesel engine torque output as a function of the engine speed (rpm) for the tested fuels. Credit: ACS, Wahlen et al. Click to enlarge.|
Biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester) derived from oleaginous microbes—microalgae, yeast, and bacteria—can effectively displace both petroleum diesel and biodiesel produced from plant oils, according to the findings of a new study by a team from Utah State University.
The researchers, who reported their results in a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, examined the properties, engine performance, and emissions for biodiesel produced from the microalgae Chaetoceros gracilis; the yeast Cryptococcus curvatus; and the bacterium Rhodococcus opacus.