Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ethanol's high octane can help boost fuel economy

One of the ways to boost fuel economy in cars is to use turbo boosting. This way, a smaller engine using less fuel can output the same power as a larger engine. But turbo boosting and higher compression ratios necessitate the use of higher octane fuels. Ethanol can provide that higher octane, thus giving it a value beyond what its BTU content would indicate. Most current flex-fuel vehicles do not take advantage of ethanol's unique properties like higher octane.
Study Finds Automakers to Need Higher Octane Fuels to Meet New Mileage and Emission Standards BioFuels Journal:
At a blending octane rating of 113, ethanol and higher ethanol blends are uniquely poised to help automakers achieve stricter fuel economy and emissions requirements.

While most measure a fuel’s mileage based on British Thermal Units (BTUs), new engine technologies designed to meet higher fuel economy standards like turbo-boosted, downsized engines will require the higher octane level that higher level ethanol blends offer.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ethanol plant to convert to biobutanol

Biobutanol has long been considered as the next step in biofuels because it can be used at higher perecentages in existing cars and works better with existing infrastructure. But it is only now beginning to show potential on a large scale as an ethanol plant in Redfield South Dakota will soon be converted to making biobutanol from corn kernels. They expect to get 40 million gallons of butanol from the same 18 million bushels of corn a year that had been converted into 50 million gallons of ethanol. Animal feed should continue to be an important byproduct also produced by the plant.
Redfield, SD, ethanol plant to convert to biobutanol:
Butanol has traditionally been used as paint thinner, cleaner and adhesive, but as a fuel additive it contains more energy than ethanol and could be blended into existing cars at higher percentages. Hitchcock said he expects the plant to be more profitable selling fewer gallons of the new product.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Car Batteries Tweaked for Power Storage

Axion Power International, a U.S. company, is the maker of a slightly re-designed battery that has been deployed for grid storage. If widely adopted, this kind of storage could enhance the usefulness of intermittent renewable energy such as wind or solar. It could be a valuable emergency backup for hospitals and similar facilities as well.
Car Batteries Could Give Power Storage a Jump - Bloomberg:
The battery is three to four times less expensive than its lithium and nickel-metalhydride counterparts and lasts “four to five times longer” than traditional lead-acid batteries.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Algae farming ramps up in Iowa

Algae farming takes advantage of warmth and CO2 from an ethanol biorefinery. These by-products are rarely harnessed in most ethanol production. It could mean important new revenues for ethanol producers.
BioProcess Algae and Green Plains Renewable Energy Break Ground For Algae Production Facility in Shenandoah, IA Grainnet:
The horizontal reactors have been successfully running outdoors since the fall of 2011 and this marks the next step in the project to commercialize algae focused on markets for animal feed, fuel, omega-3 products and high-value nutraceuticals.