Thursday, December 22, 2011

Range Fuels failure a lesson in picking biofuel technologies

The Macon Telegraph ( recently ran an article looking into Range Fuels, a failed cellulosic ethanol venture that received considerable government backing. According to the article, they really only produced test batches of methanol, not ethanol, before proceeding to commercial scale. Obviously this was a huge risk since the end goal was production of both methanol and ethanol. Enthusiasm outpaced common sense. Hopefully lessons were learned.
Range Fuels failure raises the question: How much risk should the government take with taxpayer dollars? - Local & State -
Range apparently never produced ethanol. It produced a test batch of methanol -- wood alcohol, which is a lot cheaper and less useful -- before it shut down almost a year ago.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Global Natural Gas Consumption Regains Momentum

Natural Gas is making a comeback, and increased use for automobiles could accelerate the trend.
Global Natural Gas Consumption Regains Momentum Worldwatch Institute:
Driven by surging natural gas consumption in Asia and the United States, global use of this form of fossil fuel rebounded 7.4 percent from its 2009 slump to hit a record 111.9 trillion cubic feet ­ in 2010, according to a new Vital Signs Online report from the Worldwatch Institute. This increase puts natural gas’s share of total energy consumption at 23.8 percent, a reflection of new pipelines and natural gas terminals in many countries.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Commercial scale cellulosic wood to ethanol in the works

In these tough economic times it is encouraging to see a 20 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol biorefinery being funded with majority private investment. This mans investors have some confidence that the Mascoma Consolidated Bioprocessing technology will make cellulosic ethanol profitable. The feedstock will be hardwood. The technology accomplishes hydrolysis and fermentation into a single step. The key is genetically modified yeast and bacteria, according to the Mascoma web site.
Ethanol Producer Magazine
Cellulosic ethanol technology developer Mascoma Corp. has finalized an agreement with petroleum refiner Valero Energy Corp. to finance the construction and start-up of its first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility, to be located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near Kinross.