[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.]
Kyoto team develops two-stage process for direct liquefaction of low-rank coal and biomass under mild conditions
May 11, 2015
Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan have proposed a novel two-stage process to convert low-rank coals or biomass wastes under mild conditions to high-quality liquid fuel. A paper describing the process, which combines a degradative solvent extraction method they had developed earlier with the liquefaction of the resulting soluble, appears in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
One of the issues hampering the development of direct liquefaction of low-grade carbonaceous resources—such as low-rank coals and biomass wastes—to produce liquid fuel is their oxygen content. In low rank coals, cross-linking reactions among oxygen functional groups form large-molecular-weight compounds at temperatures lower than the liquefaction temperature; the oxygen-functional-group-derived cross-links may change to stronger carbon−carbon covalent linkages, suppressing the formation of light hydrocarbons.
Lux: alternative fuels in China could replace up to 483B GGE in 2020; coal-to-ethanol conversion offers near-term potential
April 14, 2015
China’s shift toward alternative fuels in order to cut its reliance on imported oil is creating large opportunities, notably in natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and in the conversion of coal to ethanol, according to a new report from Lux Research. China is seeking to reduce its imports of oil from the current 50% of domestic demand. Further, its plans to limit coal-fired power plants due to pollution problems, means that oversupplied coal is available for conversion to alternative fuels.
Lux Research analysts evaluated China’s alternative fuels landscape to assess opportunities and identified potential domestic partners across diverse feedstocks, technologies and fuels. Among their findings:
DOE awarding about $16M to four projects for advanced gasification systems; focus on coal
November 06, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected four projects to receive funding for next-generation gasification systems. Awardees will receive approximately $16 million to advance the gasification process, which converts carbon-based materials such as coal into syngas for use as power, chemicals, hydrogen, and transportation fuels.
Gasification plants have the potential for greater power generation efficiency and environmental performance than conventional coal-fired plants, and serve as the basis for integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) advanced power generation and co-production plants capable of 90% CO2 capture. The funded research projects will focus on developing technologies that can significantly reduce the cost of producing hydrogen-rich syngas derived from fossil fuels, enabling coal resources to both improve US economic competitiveness and provide global environmental benefits, DOE said.
Rice BN-doped graphene quantum dots/graphene platelet hybrid material can outperform platinum as fuel cell catalyst
October 13, 2014
|Preparation procedure for the BN-GQD/G nanocomposite. Credit: ACS, Fei et al. Click to enlarge.|
A team at Rice University has created a hybrid material combining graphene quantum dots (GQDs) and graphene platelets that can—depending upon its formulation—outperform platinum as a catalyst for fuel cells.
The material showed an oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) of about 15 millivolts more in positive onset potential—the start of the reaction—and 70% larger current density than platinum-based catalysts. The materials required to make the flake-like hybrids are much cheaper, too, said Dr. James Tour, whose lab created GQDs from coal last year. A paper on their new work is published in the journal ACS Nano.
DOE to award $9M to promote consensus on future fossil energy technologies
July 20, 2014
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy will award $9 million over five years to organizations to assist it in building domestic and international consensus on future fossil energy technologies (DE-FOA-0001111). The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) anticipates two awards being made: the first for $7 million in the area of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and fossil-fuel-based Clean Energy Systems (CES); the second for $2 million in the area of international oil and natural gas.
One of the key missions of the Office of Fossil Energy is to “ensure the nation can continue to rely on traditional resources for clean, secure and affordable energy while enhancing environmental protection.” In pursuit of this, the Office provides outreach and education to many stakeholders, including the general public, in order to allow them to make educated choices about energy.
UCS analysis finds Hyundai-Kia with best sales-weighted new vehicle environmental performance in US in 2013
May 27, 2014
|Click to enlarge.|
In its sixth sales-weighted analysis of emissions from 8 major automakers’ 2013 model year vehicles, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) latest Automaker Rankings report found that Hyundai-Kia unseated Honda as the “Greenest Automaker.” Honda came in second, with Toyota, Nissan, and Volkswagen in a three-way tie for third place.
For the first time since UCS began the Automaker Rankings report in 2000, all eight major automakers reduced their average greenhouse gas (GHG) and smog-forming emissions compared to their fleet averages from 1998, the model year examined in the first report. The Automaker Rankings report examines the emissions of both global warming and smog-forming pollution from of the automakers. Due to strong federal and state emissions standards, the average new car has gotten 43% cleaner since 1998.