Jason Barton

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Archive for the ‘DOE’ tag

DOE Announces up to $11 Million for Biofuels Technology Development

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A colleague recently asked about the tradeoffs between ethanol and methanol, and why there isn’t more methanol in our fuel supply, given some of its purported benefits. I responded that that discussion is looking backwards at two less than ideal fuels, and that biomass-based drop in replacements for gasoline will most likely be available in not much more time than it would take to make a switch from ethanol to methanol.

There is already enough reluctance about ethanol, a fuel that has only about 70% the energy content by volume as gasoline and is not transportable within existing pipelines. Methanol has similar drawbacks, and, as the announcement below illustrates, government and industry both are looking at different technologies that will work with existing infrastructure, including pipelines and current engines.

The technology described below is thermo-chemical rather than biochemical. In other words, pyrolisis basically involves burning biomass to create a syngas that has different applications. This process is thermo-chemical, unlike fermentation used to produce ethanol and methanol, which involves live yeasts and is therefore bio-chemical.

These are the two main platforms that the DOE is pursuing in hopes of transitioning from petroleum, coal,  natural gas, and other fossil fuels, to renewable biomass energy for both our electrical grid and our transportation fuels.

There is much hope for these technologies, and many existing applications for both platforms, but don’t be misled, neither is a panacea for our energy needs. We will need to continue using fossil fuels for decades to come, and as technologies improve, solar, wind, geothermal, and, perhaps the most important and cost-effective, energy efficiency,  will all be important in our future energy matrix.

May 28, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $11 million in funding over three years for research and development in the area of thermochemical conversion of biomass into advanced biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure. The objective of this funding is to improve the conversion of non-food biomass to liquid transportation hydrocarbon fuels via pyrolysis, a process that decomposes biomass using heat in the absence of oxygen to produce a bio-oil that can be upgraded to renewable diesel, gasoline, or jet fuel. This funding opportunity is part of the Department’s effort to accelerate development and deployment of sustainable, renewable biofuels that significantly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 28th, 2010 at 2:50 pm

EPA Again Names CEMEX USA 2010 ENERGY STAR(R) Partner of the Year

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March 2, 2010, 8:15 a.m. EST

HOUSTON, Mar 02, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named CEMEX USA a 2010 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for outstanding energy management and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. CEMEX’s accomplishments will be recognized at an awards ceremony later this month in Washington, D.C. on March 18, 2010.

CEMEX USA, an ENERGY STAR partner since 2004, will be honored for strategic energy management and a commitment to save energy across its entire operation that resulted in significant energy and financial savings. This is the second year in a row that CEMEX USA has been named Partner of the Year. In 2009, CEMEX reduced its overall energy intensity by 2.2 percent as a result of its Energy Management Program using ENERGY STAR guidelines. Over 1.1 million MMBTUs were saved through such measures as commissioning two new cement lines using state-of-the-art vertical roller mills for finish grinding, replacing and repairing compressed air systems, and upgrading plant lighting. This energy savings resulted in cutting 107,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions and is equal to providing electricity to 14,900 American homes for one year, or avoiding emissions from about 19,700 passenger vehicles.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

March 2nd, 2010 at 7:40 am

DOE Delivers Its First, Long-Awaited Nuclear Loan Guarantee

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By PETER BEHR of ClimateWire
Published: February 17, 2010

The Obama administration yesterday pledged a conditional $8.3 billion loan guarantee to support the construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia, which would be the first new U.S. nuclear plants in more than three decades. More commitments are on the way, officials said.

Administration climate adviser Carol Browner said yesterday that the Energy Department’s preliminary commitment to Southern Co. and its partners in the $14 billion Plant Vogtle development was hopefully “the first of many new nuclear projects.”

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

February 17th, 2010 at 7:05 am

Renewables in Vogue at Obama’s DOE

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Published: February 2, 2010

Nuclear, solar and wind power are the popular kids in the Energy Department schoolyard this year, while oil, gas and coal have been sent to detention.

When he sent his proposed spending plan to Congress yesterday, President Obama recommended subsidizing new nuclear plants with loan guarantees and shoveling more money at wind and solar research.

But when the administration’s budget cutters got to the oil patch, they found a target-rich environment with plenty of programs and tax breaks they wanted to cut.

Read the entire article here.