Jason Barton

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Archive for the ‘DOE EERE’ 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

Secretary Chu Announces $187 Million to Improve Vehicle Efficiency for Heavy-Duty Trucks and Passenger Vehicles

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January 11, 2010

At an event today in Columbus, Indiana, Secretary Chu announced the selection of nine projects totaling more than $187 million to improve fuel efficiency for heavy-duty trucks and passenger vehicles. The funding includes more than $100 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and with a private cost share of 50%, will support nearly $375 million in total research, development, and demonstration projects across the country. The nine winners have stated their projects will create over 500 jobs, primarily researchers, engineers, and managers who will develop these new technologies. By 2015, the projects expect to create over 6,000 jobs—many in manufacturing and assembly.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

January 11th, 2010 at 11:05 pm