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Posts Tagged: "biofuel"

Toxic algal blooms of today could become the biofuels, fertilizers and antibiotics of tomorrow

At the time of an NIH study in 2011, algae-based biofuel production costs using conventional technologies were anywhere from $300 USD to $2,600 USD per barrel, much higher than the production costs of petroleum, which have since dropped dramatically in recent years. The economic disincentive associated with algae exploration when compared to petroleum is very real, but not the only challenge. Challenges preventing increased biofuel production from algae resources include the need to find more efficient algae harvesting techniques, more cost-effective oil extraction and effective use of land and water. Conquering these challenges should reduce the cost per barrel, but much research is still to be done. Despite the challenges that lie ahead, scientists and innovators remain optimistic.

Sustainable, green aviation and the pursuit of fuel alternatives

Fuels derived from biomass are not the only option being pursued to solve the problem of switching away from petroleum-based fossil fuels, or at least getting more mileage from those fuels. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140339367, titled Efficient Low Carbon Emission Airplane Integrating Jet Fuel and Cryogenic Fuel Systems, would protect a hybrid fuel airplane having at least one cryogenic fuel tank conforming to the airplane body’s outer mold line as well as a jet fuel tank located in the airplane’s wing. This configuration, developed by the Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) of Chicago, IL, would introduce the use of cryogenic fuels, which are fuels that require storage at extremely low temperatures in order to remain in a liquid state. Cryogenic fuels could be attractive for the airline industry because they create low emission levels and possess a high energy density per mass unit of fuel. One challenge, however, is that cryogenic fuels require large volume tanks because they have a low volumetric energy density per liter. It is because of these benefits and challenges that Boeing is pursuing alternative airplane designs to accommodate for the use of cryogenic fuels.

Aviation industry looks to cut polluting emissions through alternative fuels and batteries

A lot of research and development into alternative fuels for aircraft has focused on biofuels, which has also been an area of focus of automakers. Last January, Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) announced a series of developments in creating green diesel that cuts carbon dioxide emissions in half compared to conventional fossil fuels. The company also unveiled a breakthrough in the effective biofuel conversion of halophytes, shrub like plants indigenous to the Middle East which grow in seawater found near desert terrain.

Biofuel Innovations Look to Sustainably Fuel the Future

Although the consequences posed by climate change could be dire, there’s no reason to believe that human ingenuity and innovation cannot provide a path forward to answer these challenges… Methods of developing fuel from biological sources on the earth is often a less energy-intensive process than mining for oil or natural gas deep below the earth’s crust, further reducing the production energy required and, subsequently, the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. Private sector investment in biofuels has been increasing. In 2012, bio-based chemicals and biofuels were responsible for $96 billion in U.S. business-to-business economic activity, according to the National Research Council. Near the end of March, Colorado-based Red Rock Biofuels recently announced a $200 million biofuels refinery that it would be operating in Lakeview, Oregon; the facility will refine pine needles and sawdust into a jet fuel that will be used by Southwest Airlines.

Shell Oil provides surprising developments in renewable energy along with oil and gas tech

Shell maintains a significant investment into research and development within its own corporation. The company’s 2014 fourth quarter earnings report showed that Shell invested $428 million into R&D during that quarter, increasing their expenditures over 2013’s fourth quarter R&D costs of $363 million. During the entire 2014 fiscal year, Shell spent $1.2 billion on R&D. Decades-long investment into natural-gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies on behalf of Shell has recently resulted in the development of a clear base oil derived from natural gas, a cleaner burning fossil fuel. Shell has also committed millions of dollars in just the past few months on educational initiatives and academic research, such as the $3.5 million it contributed to the University of Houston last October for energy and engineering education programs.

Chevron develops energy system innovations from hydrofracking to biomass

Chevron pioneers many innovations in energy systems and related fields and in recent years has focused on ocean bottom sensing tech for deepwater fields, waterflood surveillance data tools for oilfields as well as heavy-duty engine oils. The company also supports technology developments pursued by open innovation initiatives like the Cleantech Open, a clean technology innovation and small-business development organization of which Chevron is a global member. In 2013, the corporation posted expenditures of $685 million on other exploration expenses, which includes R&D spending.

University Research Leads to Biofuel Breakthrough

Exciting new innovations being patented and licensed by American universities may provide some effective answers to issues that have been vexing biofuel developers for years. Wilkerson described the breakthrough in Science, explaining that poplars can be specifically designed for deconstruction. “Poplars are dense, easy to store, and the flourish on marginal lands not suitable for food crops, making them a non-competing and sustainable source of biofuel,” said Wilkerson. According to Jennifer Gottwald, a licensing manager with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the basic technology applied here to poplar trees could used in a variety of other plant life, even grasses.

Diary: Reporting Live from the 2010 BIO International Convention

Wednesday was my day to walk through the BIO Exhibit Hall. I had already decided to blow off the Al Gore “media availability.” I am not sure exactly what that is, but as near as I can tell it meant I would get to listen to the first 5 minutes of Al Gore’s keynote address. I’m not a big Gore fan, and there were so many cool innovations to learn about. I love to talk shop and nothing quite captures me like innovation, innovators and those who speak the language of business. So… sorry Mr. Vice President, this nerd decided to join the other nerds in the Exhibit Hall. The decision to skip the Gore media availability was sealed when I learned of an tech transfer iPhone app that needed some investigation. Hey, I can’t help it, I’m an electrical and computer engineer at a BIO Convention?!?! I needed some computer angle somewhere!