Biofuels from land crops pollute up to 3x more, algae a potential solution

…The EU proposed a default value of 107g CO2 equivalent per megajoule of fuel (CO2/mj) for oil from tar sands, as compared to 87.5g CO2/mj for crude oil. Following is a list of the equivalent values for biofuels:

• Palm Oil – 105g
• Soybean – 103g
• Rapeseed – 95g
• Sunflower – 86g
• Palm Oil with methane capture – 83g
• Wheat (process fuel not specified) – 64g
• Wheat (as process fuel natural gas used in CHP) – 47g
• Corn (Maize) – 43g
• Sugar Cane – 36g
• Sugar Beet – 34g
• Wheat (straw as process fuel in CHP plants) – 35g
• 2G Ethanol (land-using) – 32g
• 2G Biodiesel (land-using) – 21g
• 2G Ethanol (non-land using) – 9g
• 2G Biodiesel (non-land using) – 9g

…calculating the carbon emissions of a biofuel must also include the natural forests and wetlands that are destroyed in the construction of plantations to grow the crops…

Perhaps the answer will be in the development of biofuels from algae and seaweed.


Shipping Lines Working with US Navy to Cut Emissions with Biofuels

Maersk (MAERSKB) is conducting tests with companies including Man Diesel & Turbo SE and two Danish universities to develop clean fuels tailored for ships and has worked with the U.S. Navy to run vessels using fuel produced from algae, encountering “very few problems,” said Jacob Sterling, head of climate and environment at Maersk, which is based in Copenhagen.

“The beauty of biofuels is that they work with the engines as they are today,” Sterling said in an interview. “There is a very, very strong link between reducing emissions and reducing costs.”

The efforts represent some of the most advanced work in the shipping industry to restrain greenhouse gases as the European Union works to broaden its carbon cap-and-trade system. Shipping accounts for about 3.3 percent of CO2 emissions, said Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. That’s more than the 2 percent to 3 percent produced by airlines, now included in the EU rules.

Maersk is a “frontrunner” among companies seeking to drive down pollution, said Ana Davila Martinez, consultant for corporate distribution and logistics at Heineken NV. (HEIA) The Dutch brewer is among brands including Adidas AG (ADS), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)and Volkswagen AG (VOW) that select their shipping supplier based on sustainability, Sterling said….

Alternative fuels made from feedstocks such as algae give the U.S. Navy “increased insulation from a volatile petroleum market,” said Pamela Kunze, special assistant in public affairs in the Navy secretary’s office. Solazyme Inc (SZYM). supplied fuel for the test Maersk did with the U.S. Navy.

“The use of alternative fuels in our ships provides increased energy security and mitigates the operational risks,”Kunze said in an e-mail.

Hat tip to james castiglione



Global Warming Linked to “Superjet” Winds, Severe Weather

Two talks at a scientific conference [in December 2011] propose a common root for an enormous deluge in western Tennessee in May 2010, and a historic outbreak of tornadoes centered on Alabama in April 2011.

Both events seem to be linked to a relatively rare coupling between the polar and the subtropical jet streams, says Jonathan Martin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

But the fascinating part is that the change originates in the western Pacific, about 9,000 miles away from the intense storms in the U.S. midsection, Martin says.

The mechanism that causes the storms originates during spring or fall when organized complexes of tropical thunderstorms over Indonesia push the subtropical jet stream north, causing it to merge with the polar jet stream.

The subtropical jet stream is a high-altitude band of wind that is normally located around 30 degrees north latitude. The polar jet stream is normally hundreds of miles to the north.

Martin calls the resulting band of wind a “superjet.”…

Martin also suggests the altered position of the subtropical jet stream may be linked to global warming.

“There is reason to believe that in a warmer climate, this kind of overlapping of the jet streams that can lead to high-impact weather may be more frequent,” Martin says.

That idea can be tested, Martin adds.

“Historic weather data should tell us whether there has been a change in the frequency of these overlapping events, and whether that might be linked to a change in high impact-weather events. It’s an interesting lead that could help us understand one possible mechanism by which a warmer climate could lead to an increase in severe weather,” he says….

Science Daily  @ScienceDaily

Satellite Views of Shrubbery Show Warming World

Scientists have used satellite data from NASA-built Landsat missions to confirm that more than 20 years of warming temperatures in northern Quebec, Canada, have resulted in an increase in the amount and extent of shrubs and grasses.


“For the first time, we’ve been able to map this change in detail, and it’s because of the spatial resolution and length-of-record that you can get with Landsat,” says Jeff Masek, the program’s project scientist. He’s based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md….

The study, focusing on Quebec, is one of the first to present a detailed view of how warmer temperatures are influencing plant distribution and density in northern areas of North America.

“Unlike the decline of sea ice, which is a dramatic effect that we’re seeing as a result of global warming, the changes in vegetation have been subtle,” Masek says.

Computer models predict the northward expansion of vegetation due to warmer temperatures. “They predict a dramatic change over the next 100 years, and people have been wondering why we weren’t seeing these changes already, Masek says.

The difference between the computer predictions and real-life vegetation may have to do with all the other factors that come into play with plants, like the availability of water and sunlight; the type of terrain; competition from other plants for soil, resources and space; and plant predators like caribou.

Science Daily    @ScienceDaily

CAMPAIGN 2012: Energy industry dollars flow to Romney – but renewable energy sticks with Obama

CAMPAIGN 2012: Energy industry dollars flow to Romney

The energy industry is beginning to coalesce around Mitt Romney as its preferred candidate for president, according to an E&E Daily review of contributions to the various presidential candidates and political action committees associated with them. Much of the money this year is expected to flow into so-called SuperPACs, which can receive unlimited contributions from companies, unions or individuals because of the controversial Citizens
Supreme Court ruling.

(Still, renewable energy interests are likely to continue funneling dollars to Democrats, including the president. Declan Flanagan, CEO of Lincoln Renewable Energy LLC, gave $5,000 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012. Ed Cunningham, an executive at U.S. Renewable Energy Group, gave the fund $35,800, FEC records show.) (login required)


Continued Fallout for Sierra Club over its Gas Industry Ties

The Sierra Club’s admission of past financial ties to the natural gas
industry left a sour aftertaste with many environmental activists Friday. Some
praised the organization for finally coming clean. But to others, the
revelation that the Sierra Club had accepted $26 million from gas interests
tied to Chesapeake Energy until 2010 is a symptom of what’s gone wrong in
recent years with the nation’s largest grassroots environmental group. Bob King

POLITICO Morning Energy >>


Ontario government supports algae at St. Mary’s Cement for emissions reduction

Toronto-based Pond Biofuels is piloting a unique algae production system at St. Mary’s Cement with support of the Ontario government. The system uses LED and solar lighting, and will reduce greenhouse gases by absorbing dirty smokestack emissions.

Biorefining Magazine



Algae production breakthrough tied to “water layering”

water molecular levels (near the surface of water) are not limited to one to two solid levels as the common belief holds, but rather water is layered in some 2 to 3 million strata and water is not merely ordered by two to three tightly bound surface-level layers and a bunch of random molecules floating in the rest of the body of water. Because water is “layered,” as he said, the tension in the water acts more like a liquid crystal, or a fourth phase—one unlike the liquid, gas and air phases. So in the case of the cloud or the piece of Jell-O, the surface tension commonly thought to be only two to three molecule levels deep actually extends out much wider in a crystal-like structure, and, in the case of Jell-O, allows the water to “stick” to the ingredients like a large crystal infused with coloring and flavoring.

What does Pollack’s water theory have to do with algae? According to the theory, the layering in water occurs because of variances in charges and pH levels at the individual molecule level, all altered by radiant (sun) energy, all of which creates an exclusion zone between the surface of water and the rest of the bulk water. That exclusion zone has different water properties than the surrounding water, essentially creating a separate compartment in the body of water. Biomat has applied this theory to its work in developing shipping container-based algae growth systems.

“We focus on the water, not the algae,” said Miguel Cizin, CEO and co-founder of Biomat. To do that, the Biomat process attempts to induce a form of energy in the water—possibly infrared light—that charges the water to create the exclusion zone compartments, which Cizin said provides an atmosphere that helps algae grow faster and without the need for chemicals.

Biorefining Magazine

$200 million fund for Russian clean energy development

The Tatarstan Cleantech Fund (TCTF) is to back companies developing anything
from energy efficient housing materials to electric buses, as long as they base
their operations in Russia, and particularly the central region of

It has targeted the Yelabuga region in Tatarstan as the ideal destination for
overseas firms to base their projects, as it is a special economic zone with
benefits such as tax breaks.

“Yelabuga can compete in some cases with the world’s lowest cost
manufacturing locations such as China,” said Daniel T. Colbert,
the TCTF’s lead partner.

WAM, a Germany-based fund manager that has operated in Russia for more than a decade, said it had attracted 100 million euros from the regional government of Tatarstan to back companies, and hopes to raise a further 90 million euros from private investors.

Ten million euros will come from its own pocket.”There was a clean-tech bubble in 2006 and a lot of money was lost,” said WAM founder Jochen Wermuth. “Clean-tech valuations are now much lower as the bubble has burst.”




NASA study: more solar heat is trapped on earth than is released in space

“…despite unusually low solar activity from 2005 to 2010, the planet continued to absorb more energy (half a watt more per square meter) than it returned to space during that time period….

“…carbon dioxide levels need to be reduced to about 350 parts per million to restore the energy budget to equilibrium. They say the most recent measurements put CO2 levels at 392 parts per million and those concentrations are expected to keep rising.

“…NASA researchers say their newest estimate is an improvement because they had access to better measurements of ocean temperature.”


USA Today