Friday, May 22, 2009

Air-fueled Battery Being Developed

The article says this is at least 5 years from being available, but it could be big for electric cars, laptops, and other devices with batteries. I could also be used for storing wind energy.
Air-fueled Battery Could Last Up to 10 Times Longer - Renewable Energy World: "A new type of air-fueled battery could give up to ten times the energy storage of designs currently available."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sewage could help solve coming phosphate fertilizer shortage

According to the article linked below, "peak phosphate" may be a more urgent issue for our world than "peak oil." Rock phosphate mined from a few dwindling reserves is vital in world food production. Researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed a method for extracting nutrients from municipal sewage in a form that is useable on farms. It could also provide a valuable revenue source for municiple sewage plants around the world. The sewage plant carries the sweet smell of valuable phosphorus: "'Phosphate production is going to peak around 2035 and then tail off,' Dr. Ashley said. 'If we don't do something we are looking at mass starvation.'"

Plans for cellulosic ethanol in Missouri

This biorefinery would turn a wide variety of waste products and energy crop feedstocks into cellulosic ethanol and other valuable chemicals. Production of ethanol would start out at 10 million gallons per year, with the potential of expanding to 40 million gallons.
Marshall Democrat-News: Story: Company CEO explains details of biorefinery processes, products: "Irshad Ahmed, president and CEO of Pure Energy Inc. the company that is spearheading the effort to build a biorefinery complex in Saline County, spoke on the specifics of operations at the complex during the Saline Green Project town hall meeting, including how to involve local farmers."

USDA studies Watermelons for Ethanol

USDA researchers are looking for a way to use blemished watermelons ususally left in the field. They estimate 20% of the total crop goes unharvested. They are also looking at other crops with simple sugars--such as sweet sorghum--that could be rotated with watermelons to supply biorefineries more consistently. This would be a vital part of making the plan work. Another important aspect is that valuable neutraceuticals could be extracted from the watermelons in addition to the sugars for ethanol. This would prabably provide the primary revenue stream.
Watermelons Tapped for Ethanol / May 20, 2009 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service: "On average, a 20-pound watermelon will yield about 1.4 pounds of sugar from the flesh and rind, from which about seven-tenths of a pound of ethanol can be derived."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Company plans to make biobutanol from dairy and wood waste

They plan to use gasification and then convert the gas to biobutanol. They say this will be more profitable than fermentation, even with a relatively small biorefinery. Biobutanol is easier to ship by pipeline than ethanol and has a higher energy density. The leftover material can be used as a fertilizer.
Company trying to turn waste into biofuel Statesman Journal: "Salem businessmen to turn dairy dung into butanol for vehicles"

Friday, May 08, 2009

Bioelectricity and liquid biofuels can work together

This study discussed at the link below finds it more efficient to generate transportation electricity from biomass rather than making the biomass into liquid biofuels for transpotation use. I don't doubt this, but I would suggest a combination is still the best in the form of a flex-fuel plug in hybrid. Without a huge an expensive battery array, a purely electric car simply does not have the range to satisfy most consumers. A small biofuel-powered engine running at a constant speed could extend the range quite efficiently. It would also allow quick refueling at fuel stations on long trips.
Also, I doubt the study considered direct injection of high octane biofuels. In this way, a small amount of ethanol or biobutanol can be leveraged to increase fuel economy tremendously. It only requires a small second fuel tank that would be filled infrequently. I suspect it would rival the efficiency of biomass electricity. It would be interesting to see that comparison.
Bioelectricity More Efficient than Ethanol for Transportation, Study Shows : Gas 2.0