[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.]
Clean Energy Fuels to distribute biomethane vehicle fuel to fleets and public stations
October 03, 2013
Clean Energy Fuels Corp., North America’s largest provider of natural gas for transportation, is commercially offering a biomethane vehicle fuel—Redeem—made from waste streams such as landfills, large dairies and sewage plants directly to fleets around the country and at 35 public Clean Energy stations throughout California. Redeem will be available in either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) form.
Andrew J. Littlefair, president and CEO of Clean Energy, said that the company’s goal is to produce and to distribute 15 million gallons of Redeem in the first year. Clean Energy’s natural gas fueling infrastructure includes 400 fueling stations throughout the nation; the company is developing multiple biomethane production facilities that are expected to produce Redeem.
Volvo Trucks to begin limited production of DME heavy-duty trucks in NA in 2015; customer trials; Oberon partnership
June 07, 2013
|Volvo VNL D13 with DME. Click to enlarge.|
At an event in Sacramento, California, Volvo Trucks announced that it will commercialize dimethyl ether (DME)-powered heavy-duty commercial vehicles in North America, with limited production beginning in 2015. Volvo also revealed ongoing customer field testing of DME trucks in the US (with Safeway and Martin Transportation), as well as its partnership in the customer trials with startup DME producer Oberon Fuels. Oberon Fuels is the first company to announce plans to commercialize DME fuel production in North America. (Earlier post.)
DME offers diesel-quality performance with a high cetane number and low auto-ignition temperature, but burns cleanly without producing any soot. It is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, and can be made from a variety of sustainable domestic sources, as well as from North America’s abundant supply of natural gas. The carbon intensity of the DME will vary with the feedstock, but with the use of bio-gas (biomethane) from an anaerobic digester as input into the Oberon process, DME can provide up to a 95% CO2 reduction compared to diesel. Volvo has been testing Bio-DME in Sweden since 2009. (Earlier post.)
PNNL solar thermochemical reaction system can reduce fuel consumption in natural gas power plants by about 20%; future potential for transportation fuels
April 11, 2013
|PNNL’s thermochemical conversion device is installed in front of a concentrating solar power dish. Photo: PNNL. Click to enlarge.|
A new concentrating solar power system developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) can reduce the fuel consumption of a modified natural-gas combined-cycle (NGCC) power plant by about 20%. The system converts natural gas into syngas—with higher energy content than natural gas—using a thermochemical conversion device installed in front of a concentrating solar power dish. The power plant then combusts the more energy dense syngas to produce electricity.
PNNL’s system uses a mirrored parabolic dish to direct sunbeams to a central point, where the thermochemical device uses the solar heat to produce syngas form natural gas. About four feet long and two feet wide, the device contains a chemical reactor and several heat exchangers. Concentrated sunlight heats up the natural gas flowing through the reactor’s channels, which hold a catalyst that helps turn natural gas into syngas.
Researchers develop high-rate, high-yield bacterial process to convert methane to methanol
March 22, 2013
|Cartoon of the process. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at Columbia University have developed a biological process utilizing autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) for the conversion of methane (CH4) to methanol (CH3OH). A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
In fed-batch reactors using mixed nitrifying enrichment cultures from a continuous bioreactor, up to 59.89 ± 1.12 mg COD/L (COD = chemical oxygen demand, an indirect measurement of organic compounds in water) of CH3OH was produced within an incubation time of 7 h—approximately 10x the yield obtained previously using pure cultures of Nitrosomonas europaea. The maximum specific rate of CH4 to CH3OH conversion obtained during this study was 0.82 mg CH3OH COD/mg AOB biomass COD-d—1.5x times the highest value reported with pure cultures.
Audi to introduce natural gas A3 Sportback g-tron at year’s end; CO2-neutral e-gas
March 01, 2013
|Audi A3 Sportback g-tron. Click to enlarge.|
Audi will introduce the compact A3 Sportback g-tron—which can be powered by the CO2-neutral Audi e-gas, synthetic methane generated from eco-electricity in the Audi e-gas project (earlier post)—at the end of the year. The e-gas fuel will be produced in the power-to-gas plant in Werlte, Germany.
The five-door car consumes on average less than 3.5 kilograms per 100 km of compressed natural gas (CNG) or Audi e-gas. CO2 tailpipe emissions are less than 95 grams per km (153 g/mile) in gas mode. When the A3 Sportback g-tron is powered by Audi e-gas, no more CO2 is released than was chemically input in its production beforehand, creating a closed loop. When the energy required to build the e-gas facility and wind power generators is included in a comprehensive analysis, CO2 emissions under e-Gas operation are still less than 30 grams per km (48.28 g/mile).
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.)
California Energy Commission to award up to $2.45M for renewable natural gas for transportation fuels
January 05, 2013
The California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) has released a Program Opportunity Notice (PON-12-506) for the award of up to $2.45 million to accelerate research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of advanced technologies to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) transportation fuels.
Examples of acceptable feedstocks include but are not limited to: waste-based biomass (both pre- and post-landfilled); agricultural residues; purpose-grown fuel crops; woody biomass and forest residues; animal manures; food waste; municipal solid waste (MSW); and sewage. Pathways by which renewable natural gas is to be derived for proposed projects can include fermentation; thermochemical processes, or any other means of producing RNG.
Univ. of Washington and partners working to engineer microbes for conversion of methane to lipids for processing into liquid intermediates for diesel or jet fuels
January 03, 2013
In a $4.8-million project funded by ARPA-E (earlier post), the University of Washington, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Johnson-Matthey, and Lanza Tech are working to develop optimized microbes to convert methane found in natural gas into lipids for further processing into an intermediate liquid for diesel or jet fuel.
The University of Washington is taking the lead and focusing on genetically modifying the microbes. NREL will be in charge of fermentation to demonstrate the productivity of the microbes, both the natural organism and the genetically-altered varieties. NREL will also extract the lipids from the organisms and analyze the economic potential of the plan.