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Posts Tagged ‘bio-fuels’

Interest in EVs Gaining Ground

by on Feb.10, 2009

Interest in electric vehicles, like Chevy's Volt, is charging up

Interest in electric vehicles, like Chevy's Volt, is charging up

A new study from Maritz Automotive Research Group suggests consumer interest in new automotive technology is continuing to grow, particularly when it comes to electric vehicles.

Maritz’s Automotive Research Group has been tracking awareness of alternative fuels in its annual New Vehicle Customer Study (NVCS) since 2005, and the data show electric power growing as a primary alternative fuel among the current choices. Approximately 9 percent of consumers, who bought or leased a new vehicle in 2008, judge the electric-powered vehicle as the alternative fuel that was most appealing. As measured by the Maritz survey, the appeal of the electric vehicles has grown from 3.4 percent in 2006, to 6.6 percent in 2007 to 9.4 percent.

Another finding of the survey, which has held up in each of the past three years, was that interest is higher among those who purchased or leased a car rather than a light truck, suggesting a natural market divide could develop as more electric vehicles come on the market.

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Greener Ethanol a Step Closer to a Pump Near You

Nation's largest ethanol supplier has cellulosic pilot plant up and running in South Dakota

by on Feb.09, 2009

poets-projectThe holy grail of renewable fuels is a commercially viable process for converting cellulosic materials into convenient, combustible liquids that can power cars and trucks. The longstanding challenge is breaking down cellulose into smaller molecules that can be re-assembled into ethanol or other fuels.

Cellulose is the stuff of which plants are mostly made, and it’s comprised of a long, tough chains of sugar-like compounds that God created (or nature evolved, if you will) for the express purpose of resisting breakdown.

With their multiple stomachs, cows break down cellulose just fine. The problem is that they (more specifically, the enzymes in their guts) are rather slow about it compared to the rate at which it needs to be digested to supply any meaningful portion of the 160 billion gallons of gasoline we guzzle each year. Those enzymes and the biorefining processes that use them are still quite pricey compared to what it costs to refine petroleum, unless oil gets (and stays) much more expensive than it is today.

Nonetheless, progress is being made. A notable development was recently announced by POET Energy, the nation’s largest ethanol producer. POET has taken its cellulosic ethanol process out of the lab and into a pilot plant now up and running in Scotland, South Dakota, a small town about an hour and a half southwest of Sioux Falls.

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Shift to Alternative Fuels Continuing

Recession, low gas prices can't halt switch.

by on Feb.06, 2009

Making a better case for alternative fuels

Making a better case for alternative fuels

Recession or not, the auto industry, or at least elements of it, are setting course for a greener future.

Ricardo Inc. of Van Buren, Mi., the American arm of the British engineering firm Ricardo plc, has announced it has developed technology that optimizes ethanol-fueled engines to a level of performance that exceeds gasoline engine efficiency and approaches levels previously reached only by diesel engines.

The technology, called Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection or EBDI, takes full advantage of ethanol’s best properties – higher octane and higher heat of vaporization – to create a truly renewable fuel scenario that is independent of the cost of oil.

“Developing renewable energy applications that can lead to energy independence is a top priority at Ricardo,” said Ricardo President Dean Harlow. “We’ve moved past theoretical discussion and are busy applying renewable energy technology to the real world. The EBDI engine project is a great example because it turns the gasoline-ethanol equation upside down. It has the performance of diesel, at the cost of ethanol, and runs on ethanol, gasoline, or a blend of both.”

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One More Brew for the Road?

Sierra Nevada brewers want to tank up.

by on Feb.04, 2009

Some might call it a tragedy - Sierra Nevada turns beer to ethanol

Some might call it a tragedy - Sierra Nevada turns beer to ethanol

How about one more for the road? The folks at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has an interesting alternative to those who hate to see our corn crops turned into bio-fuel. Working with California-based E-Fuel, which developed the world’s first home ethanol production system, the brewer will help to turn its beer leftovers into a liquid you pour into your fuel tank, rather than your belly.

Before you start screaming, “Oh, the humanity,” understand that the process will rely not on beer itself. You won’t have the option, at the pump, between lager, pilsner and heffeweisse. It’s the stuff found at the bottom of the barrel, about 1.6 million gallons a year of unusable beer yeast, which is otherwise sold off to farmers to feed some lucky – if hung over – livestock.

Normally containing about 5 to 8 percent alcohol, E-Fuel’s new methods will transform the sludge into ethanol, which can be mixed with gasoline, in various dilutions, to run many of today’s flex-fuel vehicles.

Tomorrow's beer-powered beer truck?

Tomorrow's beer-powered beer truck?

“Creating ethanol from discarded organic waste is an excellent example of how the MicroFueler can help eliminate our reliance on the oil industry infrastructure. This is especially true when considering Americans reportedly discard 50 percent of all agricultural farmed products,” said Tom Quinn, E-Fuel founder and chief executive officer. “Using a waste product to fuel your car is friendlier to the environment and lighter on your wallet, easily beating prices at the gas pump.”

A test run will begin by mid-year and if it proves out, those beer trucks delivering Sierra Nevada products to your local liquor store just might be running on beer byproducts before the end of 2009.