Archive for Biofuels

The Biofuel Emissions Debate: Comparing GHG emissions of various biofuel technologies and feedstocks

By Jason Macdonald

The carbon emissions mitigation and sequestration field is riddled with uncertainties, and biofuel emissions are no exception. While the debate over which carbon mitigation techniques are the most effective goes on in both the scientific and political spheres, the present analysis tries to pull together much of the established emissions literature for various biofuels and identify the discrepancies between them. The analysis attempts to determine the sources of these discrepancies and identify potential areas for future research to reduce this uncertainty. Greenhouse gas emissions are considered from a full fuel life cycle perspective.

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Can human activity count as clean energy?

By Dominic Pietro

Is it possible for the power generated by humans to be count as renewable energy certificates or carbon offsets? As the threat of climate change becomes increasingly severe, more and more novel solutions are being sought out to combat the problem. Bio-based carbon mitigation is an important and growing sector of carbon reduction strategies. So far though, the strategies focus on plant-based carbon sequestration and biofuels. The potential for plant-based carbon mitigation is high, but if we, as a country, or a world, want to seriously tackle global warming as much as possible, perhaps using human-based energy is a feasible option.

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Could sustainable forest management practices provide regular supply of feed stocks for cellulosic ethanol production at commercial scale?

By Mukesh Patir

The Renewal Fuels Standards (RFS) of US Energy Independence and Security Act 2007 requires replacing 39 billion gallons of gasoline use by 2022 with renewal fuels and of these 21 billion gallons is expected to come from cellulosic ethanol. The USDA provide loan up to $ 250 million dollars for research into renewal fuels and recently it has awarded loan to Range fuels to build a 100 million gallons cellulosic ethanol plant in Georgia using mostly woods and forest residues. Is it going to be sustainable or would intensive forest management practice be able to supply feedstock for producing ethanol?

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Pipes, Trains, and Trucks: How to move biomass cost effectively

By Harry Short

Bioenergy plants today are defined by supply chains that use truck-based transport. Such transport has high fuel use per biomass transported as compared to bulk transport modes such as rail or ship. One can easily imagine a future in which a significant percentage of biofuel production is cannibalized to feed the fuel demands of its truck fleet (Hill et al., 2006). This investigative review explores two alternative transport options, rail and pipelines, and attempts to update previous analyses by using higher fuel diesel costs.

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Switchgrass—On Corn Acreage or CRP?

By Kristen Johnson

The Department of Energy (DOE) has set the goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive by 2012, and by 2030, it aims to make biofuels displace 30% of the country’s projected gasoline use. Some of the primary types of feedstocks being considered to meet these goals are crop residues, perennial woody crops, and perennial grasses. Perennial grasses have been a particular focus, with switchgrass receiving the most attention. Switchgrass, a native tall-grass prairie species, is considered most promising because of its high yields, low inputs, and ability to adapt to a variety of conditions. But an important question concerning the sustainability of this feedstock is: where should this perennial grass be grown?

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The pros and cons of cane ethanol production in Jamaica

by Mike Buday

Due to a lack of fossil fuel reserves, Jamaica relies heavily on energy imports, despite an abundance of solar radiation, wind energy, fresh water, and arable land. Given its abundance of natural resources, Jamaica has the opportunity to pursue clean energy projects. In particular, Jamaica is in a good position to transform its existing sugar industry to facilitate the expansion of in-country cane ethanol production. This opportunity is fraught with obstacles and must be weighed against other possible pursuits. Land dedicated to growing cane is not available for other purposes and traditional methods of slash and burn cane harvesting lead to significant carbon emissions.

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An Exploding Market? Utilizing Waste Glycerol from the Biodiesel Production Process

By Sam Lines

The sharp rise in world biodiesel production has created a glut of glycerol, which is a by-product of the transesterification process. Glycerol has many commercial and industrial uses, and is generally considered a relatively valuable product, but the current glut has caused the bottom to fall out of the market. In order to both improve the economics of the biodiesel production process and put this waste stream to good use, new markets must be found. There are several ways in which this might happen, but biodiesel producers need to make this a priority if they are to reap the benefits of this unused resource. Read the rest of this entry »

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