Category Archives: Biofuels

Solar Electric Cars more efficient than most Biofuels

“The analysis considered land-use, greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel use, and took into account the production and use life cycles of both the fuels themselves and the vehicles they power. …all things considered, a pretty clear win for solar-powered electric battery vehicles.”



…this is an interesting study, however it is not considering a much more efficient ethanol crop, algae!

Check this out:

E. Coli Could Convert Sugar to Biodiesel

E. coli could convert sugar to biodiesel at ‘an extraordinary rate,’ say Stanford researchers

Researchers studying how biodiesel can be generated using E. coli as a catalyst have determined the bacteria have what it takes to produce high volumes of the fuel. Now they need to figure out how to tweak its cellular controls in order to kick it into high gear.


Algae-Based Fuel Alternative

Due to the current “oil crisis” situation more research has been focused on the use of renewable fuels. Researchers have found algae to be a new potential biofuel in their search for fossil fuel replacements. Algae may be the solution we’ve been looking for. This plant-like organism which has throughout time played a major role in our ecosystem can be processed into biocrude and refined to gasoline form. The government is placing focused attention on discovering more alternative sources of biofuels. Their main objective is to replace over hundreds of gallons of gasoline or more by the year 2010.

More than three-quarters of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced algae and cyanobacteria. Algae which comes in the form of golden, green, brown, red, and flagellates can be found as a single floating organism or large seaweed. It has a reputation of preventing pollution. Algae has been used in wastewater treatment centers, to protect lakes from fertilizer chemicals, as an alternative to toxic dyes, as nutritional supplements, as a superfood, and even in some common cosmetics.

What Makes Algae A Great Fuel Alternative?

There are several reasons algae is an excellent fuel alternative. Algae has the ability to produce oil naturally. Unlike other sources of biofuels algae does not need to follow the guidelines for a food crop so it can be produced in larger amounts for less. There is no fertilizer or watering requirements either so the process of growing algae is quite simplistic once the strain of algae to reproduce has been perfected. It is believed so far, through experimentation that algae as biodiesel can produce enough automotive fuel to replace the planet’s gasoline usage. Algae can be manufactured at operating oil refineries. This procedure is practiced at companies like LiveFuels and Solix Biofuels. Certain strains of algae that are high in carbohydrates and lacking in oil can be turned into ethanol and leftovers used as animal feed. Nothing has to go wasted when using algae. It can be grown in ponds or in standard laboratories in clear tubes.

Believe it or not algae as an alternative fuel is not a new concept. It was first introduced years ago in the 90’s. Scientists had discovered algae’s potential as a diesel fuel replacement but due to the low gas prices at the time the idea seemed unnecessary and the program called NREL was eliminated. Fortunately, the oil crisis has brought attention back on algae. According to scientist Eric Jarvis the algae research program NREL which was terminated in 1996 will restart their research this year in hope of being able to use algae as the new fuel.

Smart Energy Technology:

Turning Fungus into Fuel

A new method to create fuel has been discovered using a fungus to break down simple plant sugars. In an article issue of Nature Biotechnology, analysists directed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute stated that the genetic sequence of the fungus Trichoderma reesei has uncovered important clues about how the organism breaks down plant fibers into simple sugars. This new discovery could be the secret needed for industrial processes that seek a more efficient, inexpensive way to convert corn, switchgrass, and even cellulose-based municipal waste into ethanol. The fuel alternative ethanol is a more effective fuel source than standard gasoline. Joel Cherry, director in a collaborating institution in the study said, “The sequencing of the Trichoderma reesei genome is a major step towards using renewable feedstocks for the production of fuels and chemicals.”

The fungus T. reesei has an interesting history. This spidery-shaped fungus may play a key role in the future production of biofuels. Attention was brought to the fungus during the World World II era. Military officials noticed their uniforms and tents while stationed in the South Pacific were slowly falling to pieces. The destruction of the tent fabrics were the results of the hungry fungus T. reesei gnawing away at the material. This type of fungus hyphae can grow an average 5 to 10 um in diameter. Most strains of T. reesei possess a resistance to fungicides. The Trichoderma reesei genome or often referred to as T. reesei fungus is used in the food and textile industries for the production of cellulases. These cellulases aid in the process to degrade complex polysaccharides. Sometimes the enzymes are used in poultry feed to increase the digestibility of hemicelluloses from barley or other crops. There are even products containing this fungus to control certain plant diseases. T. reesei has a history of improving plant growth. Certain strands of the fungus cause deep roots of vegetation. The growth of deeper roots allows crops to become more resistant to drought. Saving and improving crops are part of the many benefits of the T. reesei fungus.

Although the fungus produces large amounts of degrading enzymes, it does not create more than several specific enzyme types. Producing only a few enzyme types proves that the T. reesei fungus has an efficient protein secretion system. It is possible to use this fungus to secrete enzymes which can later be purified and added into an aqueous mixture of cellulose pulp along with other materials to produce sugar. The sugar can then be fermented by yeast to produce ethanol which is a fuel alternative. Further research is being conducted to improve the process of converting cellulosic biomass to fuels. “The information contained in its genome will allow us to better understand how this organism degrades cellulose so efficiently and to understand how it produces the required enzymes so prodigiously,” said Joel Cherry. This new discovery sheds a positive light on the potential to utilize alternative fuels in the future.

Smart Energy Technology:

Your New Car on 6 Fuels – and only 20% Emissions

A Gmail conversation about choosing a new vehicle
that is cost effective and eco-friendly:

: I’m looking for a new car, any suggestions? I’m thinking Honda Hybrid Civic, or a Prius with 50 MPG.

8 minutes
4:31 PM me: ;)
4:33 PM honestly?
i think you need a diesel. they are awesome engines.
Jennifer: yeah
I haven’t even started looking at those because of gas milage
er cost of gas rather
I’d have to do a MPG V Cost comparison
me: you mean VEG mileage, jen?
4:34 PM Jennifer: oh, I do!
me: What is your budget?
Jennifer: about around 18,000 or less
me: oh wow
4:35 PM you could have the most pimped Greencar possible
Jennifer: I’ve got money saved, plus I’m trading in the bug, hoping to get 1,000 out of it at least, so I’ll only be paying on 11,000
4:36 PM me: i mean WOW it would be amazing
Jennifer: I’d have to look into the practicalities of doing that
4:38 PM me: what if it ran on 6 fuels, and cut emissions to only 20% of normal.
you start with a base vehicle
4:39 PM a kickin’ vw for instance
Jennifer: 6 fuels?
me: maybe a mercedes …there are many choices for high quality diesels for under 10,000 if it’s just a few years old.
4:41 PM Yes, 6. It is a diesel, and as it is a post mid-nineties model then the tubes are almost certainly biodiesel compatible. that is 2.
a vegetable oil kit is installed. this will be the primary operating fuel. 3.

5 minutes
4:46 PM me: now it gets interesting. to really cut emissions, and boost horsepower significantly, a hydrogen generator is installed. This is far simpler than it sounds. and safer. do a search on amazon and find the kid’s toy car that operates on the same premise – electrolysis. add electricity to water and hydrogen is free to be burned. this is fed into the air intake of the engine.
4:47 PM hydrogen is multiple times stronger than any typical liquid fuel
4:48 PM so only very small amounts of water – like a few ounces – are required to sustain the reaction for hundreds of miles.
4:49 PM Jennifer: really…?
me: this awesome injection boost makes the engine consume 40-60% LESS liquid fuel!! this is all fact.

4:56 PM me: and there are still 2 more energy sources at work. the electrolysis requires energy to sustain the reaction. conventional wisdom is, attach it to the battery, which is charged by the alternator during operation. this works, but it is drawing energy from the engine to do it, lowering efficiency and reducing the benefit of adding hydrogen injection. so instead of upping battery storage and the alternator, you employ 2 passive forces to supply power: a solar panel on the roof, and recurisve breaking – which is used on many hybrids today. a lot of kinetic energy is created when braking happens, and it is very simple to redirect that electrically.

5 minutes
5:01 PM me: out the tail pipe: veg oil has half the emissions as diesel, and the hydrogen replaces half of the normal veg usage. The ONLY emission from the hydrogen combustion is PURE water. (which actually might help nature?) plus with the increased efficiency, the fuels will more properly and totally combust, creating another 5-15% drop in emissions. you would have the healthiest car on the road.

8 minutes
5:09 PM me: so i have one question for you
5:10 PM Am i feeling luckY?
me: do you want to CHANGE THE WORLD?
Jennifer: I do change the world!
5:11 PM I’d need help, and a plan, and a car, for all of this

5 minutes
5:18 PM me: you could visit events and show it off. might want to have a webpage and blog about it. you could connect with people in an awesome way. newspaper, radio, tv, is easy to set up and fun.
5:19 PM me: your car could be the concept car that blows people’s minds.

14 minutes
4:53 PM Jennifer: I have some concerns initially. Who can install it? Also this needs to be something I can maintain on my own, or at least be able to pay someone to do it. You know?

5:39 PM me: installation: there are a few biofuel conversion places, or you could maybe find a University to help? This part could be a challenge, but I bet there is someone who can do it. maintenance on your side: you will put diesel or biodiesel from the pump into the primary tank. the car will drive regularly like this. then when you have the time and interest to collect vegetable oil, a very convenient filtration system would be available. or you could essentially buy it in bulk from Costco or whatever at that point because it will be burned half as much (hydrogen injection provides the other half of the energy). that may be intimidating, but it’s actually fun and easy to learn. i could help a lot with it, and there could be a storage tank that you could refuel from. if you did go recycled oil, that would be in my opinion the most sustainable choice, as you are not using virgin crops but a waste product. this ALSO means that your fuel costs would be essentially NOTHING. during startup and shutdown the vehicle would use a bit of diesel, or biodiesel (which can be homemade but is a chemistry filled pain in the rear). when the system was warm enough it would switch to veg. that system would require a filter change every 500-2000 miles. this will be easy to access and totally doable, or you could ask any mechanic to service it for you – it’s really not that hard, and maybe you know someone who could help you with it once a month or so.

6 minutes
6:00 PM Jennifer: I think I need to review what you just told me and think about it, I’m going to look over it tonight once I get home. Will you be online later so we can further discuss?
6:04 PM me: yes i’ll be online later. i should be getting back to work here. glad you’re considering it, this really interests me!
6:05 PM Jennifer: great! I’m interested in knowing what I can do to make this happen, if it makes sense for me. We’ll chat later. Thanks for everything and I’ll talk with you soon!
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