Menu

U.S. Biofuel Boom Running on Empty

As nations around the world begin to plan for Copenhagen to discuss the next generation Kyoto treaty, it is increasingly obvious that they will be ineffective.

Chief among the reasons for this ineffectiveness is that with the price of oil at its current state, it is simply not cost effective to use alternative fuels that will dump less CO2 into the atmosphere. The oil producing nations are probably not maintaining crude at this level to doom the planet to disaster, they are simply smart business people that are providing their “drugs” to the “addicts” at a price and in a way that will insure that no one can ever move off.

READ MORE

Heat2Power

There are a variety of techniques and tools that allow an internal combustion engine to capture more of its energy and direct it to moving your car down the road as opposed to sending that energy out of your exhaust.  Most of these tools are difficult to use and maintain.  They simply are not ready for primetime.  However, with the virtual collapse of the automotive manufacturers in the US, it is not likely they are going to be increasing their R&D on getting more performance out of the engines that they make.  It is an unfortunate reality that cars are sold on other things than their efficiencies.

READ MORE

Cyclone’s Waste Heat Motor

Engadget – June 4, 2008

Cyclone Power Technologies is actively talking about their motor that can gather energy from waste heat. It can also grab energy from non-waste heat and use it to create electricity or propel a vehicle. It is another tool in the arsenal to increase the efficiency and flexibility of our power generation. More effort like this needs to be made available to really reduce our reliance on foreign oil and to reduce our emissions.

Engadget had a video of the motor on their site which I have reproduced below.  But first, let’s look at how this think works.

According to the company website:

READ MORE

Diesel-powered Loremo promises to hit 150 miles per gallon

Engadget – February 21, 2008

I realize that there has been a lot of discussion on automobiles lately but I also know that a good number of my regular readers are concerned with the automotive industry and its impact on the environment.

Some people believe that switching to diesel for our liquid fuel would be a more appropriate and cleaner alternative to using gasoline.  I am not sure that the chemistry really works out but I hope that the industry continues to evolve.

I originally found this article on Engadget but the original story comes from MSN and that is where the following excerpts come from.

READ MORE

Biofuels May Hinder Antiglobal-Warming Efforts

Wall Street Journal – February 8, 2008

This is a different twist over what I usually propose.  In general, I am for increasing our use of ethanol and other biofuels to reduce our CO2 production as well as to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels from the Middle East. Most people are aware that one of the downsides to this issue is the pressure on food that results. This article points out that the conversion of non-agrarian land to crop land will result in a net spike of increased carbon dioxide release.

READ MORE

Chevy Fuel Solutions: The View from Thailand

GMNext – December 18, 2007

Regardless of your stance on global warming, I am sure that we can all agree that using our resources appropriately is very important. GM Chevrolet has introduced a vehicle to the Thailand market that will use natural gas as a fuel and this seems to be exactly what is needed in today’s evolving marketplace.

Obviously, one of the problems that needs to be solved is a distribution model for the fuel. One of the benefits to our current fuel sources is that there are only 3-5 major fuels (several octane levels and diesel) and they are all handled in approximately the same way from a transportation and storage viewpoint. Adding another fuel that is shipped and stored with entirely different technology would complicate supply chain issues.

READ MORE

What Will the Car of the Future Look Like?

Wall Street Journal – November 19, 2007

This is a very interesting article about the challenges of manufacturing cars that would be better for the environment by using less petroleum. The impetus for the article was Presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton’s push to double fuel economy by 2030.

The article starts out with a claim that Bill Clinton and Al Gore did nothing to increase federal fuel-efficiency standards and I am not confident that this claim is based on true fact. I cannot find evidence of my memory of the situation but I seem to remember that the Clinton administration did try to increase the standards.

READ MORE

Little Green Lies

BusinessWeek – October 29, 2007

BusinessWeek must be one of the most venerable periodicals in the business community. Few magazines can acclaim to the level and depth of business discussion. Most CEOs and business leaders read or at least skim the magazine on a regular basis.

As their cover story, BW decided to cover the idea that "going green" was a good thing for business.  I have discussed this issue before and it was good to get BW’s opinion and coverage on the story.  Their perspective is quite interesting.

READ MORE

Plugging In to the Future

Wall Street Journal – August 6, 2007

Great article this morning in the Wall Street Journal on a plug-in add-on for the Toyota Prius. Evidently, with this aftermarket plug-in, the Prius can be plugged into the wall and then run about 40 miles with just electric power that was pulled from the grid.

There may be some safety problems with the current design (these are the types of batteries that Dell recently had trouble with) but the progress is very heartening! Most people in the US would probably have to change their lifestyle and commute to really make a hybrid worthwhile but it is a definite start.

READ MORE

From Wales, a box to make biofuel from car fumes

Reuters – July 19, 2007

If this works out, it is very cool. This is a double whammy – capture emissions and grow algae for the production of bio-diesel.  While the process of making bio-diesel can be quite expensive, from an energy perspective, if we can rapidly increase the growing of the raw materials then it could make a big difference.

I tend to be a little skeptical on this since it seems like there is a “revolutionary” process announced every 3-4 months.  Many of these processes make great headlines but then die away quickly as the real analysis sets in.

READ MORE