Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Reading Roundup: BioFuels Edition

Reading Roundup is a regular feature of WebEchoes. It exists to limit the number of "read this" posts with minimal commentary on my part.

There's enough news about biofuels clogging up my list that this special edition of Reading Roundup will focus on just that topic.

World’s First Commercially Viable Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Online 2009 : Gas 2.0
Range Fuels has received funding to build a production scale cellulosic ethanol plant, panned to come online in 2009. I wonder where and what feedstocks are planned for this plant?

Algae: 'The ultimate in renewable energy' -
Biodiesel from Algae. Not a new idea, but this looks like a new technique for growing it that allows for more efficient use of space. I didn't notice anything about what the required inputs, beyond nutrients, were, or any estimates of the cost per gallon produced. Though neat to see that different algaes could produce fuels for different engine types. Also didn't see any analysis of the GHG impact. Presumably lower than others, depending on inputs.

Algae Spotlight: Inventure Chemical « Earth2Tech
More on algae as a source for biofuels. This one about a company commercializing technologies for other companies to use. The article also notes the startup of an algae based plant on April 1

New study quantifies differences in biofuel crops, impact on environment - AutoblogGreen
Top honors goes to....algae and fast growing trees! Both a non-food stocks, and can be grown in areas that aren't required for food production, and don't really require much input (fertilizer, etc).

WorldChanging: Taking Aloft With Sustainable Biojet
Virgin, Boeing and other airlines are looking ahead at how to reduce the carbon produced by airlines (as well as increasing efficiency and reducing fuel use). And Boeing, supplier to the airline industry seems to be leading the way by examining alternative fuels as well as making their newest planes lighter and more efficient. I find it interesting also to see that one of the key goals of industry is to make sure to use fuels that are produced in a sustainable way by taking into account land use issues, in addition to predictable issues of cost and availability and probably future emissions costs.

I don't think we should be looking to replace all our current gasoline/diesel needs with organic replacements, but there will surely be a place in our world for these products, for those applications that aren't easily electrified/battery powered, or require guaraneed power delivery such as hospitals.