Sunday, July 05, 2009

New Alternative Energy Research Projects

Reliance on foreign sources of oil and gas and the long-term effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment have prompted scientists to look for alternative renewable energy sources for transportation use.

University of California-Merced

A study by Assistant Professor Elliott Campbell of the University of California-Merced, Christopher Field, director of the department of global energy at the Carnegie Institution and David Lobell of Stanford University, found that biomass converted into electricity produced 81 percent more transportation miles and 108 percent more emissions offsets compared to ethanol.

The scientists studied miles per area cropland and greenhouse gas offsets per area cropland. They considered a range of feedstock crops, mainly corn and switch grass. Switch grass is a perennial prairie grass that is resistant to bugs and disease.

They found that converting biomass to electricity rather than ethanol makes the most sense for the issues of transportation and climate. They did not examine the performance of electricity and ethanol such as water consumption, air pollution and economic costs.

Penn State

Dr. Bruce E. Logan from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Penn State developed a process by which it is possible to generate electricity using microbial fuel cells (MFCs) or to produce hydrogen gas using microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), by using waste water and biomass.

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are a new method of renewable energy recovery: the direct conversion of organic matter to electricity using bacteria. Producing hydrogen gas is possible at by electrohydrogenesis in microbial electrolysis cells (MECs). So, fuel cells produce electricity and electrolysis cells produce hydrogen.

Future Fuel Sources

Green Plains Renewable Energy
and BioProcessAlgae have reached an agreement with the Iowa Office of Energy Independence about $2.1 million R&D grant in support of the installation of photobioreactor units at the Green Plains Shenandoah ethanol plant. Water, heat and carbon dioxide will be recycled from the ethanol manufacturing process to support algae production.

The most expense in using algae is taking the water out of it. AlgaeVenture Systems has developed a process for dewatering algae without using a centrifuge. This step will reduce the cost of biofuel from $875 per ton to under $2.00!


Michael said...

That was an interesting read... I think if we are truly going to get the most out of manufacturing this fuel, or any fuel for that matter, we need to harness all of the energy from it, even the byproducts that are made in the process.

It is this kind of inovation that is going to make a difference. We need to find a way to use every potion effectively to benefit us, as opposed to having the end product benefit us and having a bunch of useless waste from the manufacturing process.

CyberCelt said...

@michael-Thanks for visiting and for your thoughtful post. Next time, leave your blog URL so I can visit.

Snow Man said...

Biofuel is considered to be an interesting way of alternate energy sources however not a major one. I would rather consider all the advantages of inner thermal energy of earth.

CyberCelt said...

@snowman-we do not all live close to places of geothermal activity. I agree we should use every alternative energy source.

John | English Wilderness said...

Very interesting, I wonder how this will develop. A lot of farmers in this area (Lincs, U.K.) are growing 'elephant grass' which I believe is for the local straw power station.

Chris said...

Great read. I do believe that we need to look at any and all forms energy. Glad to see companies that are "looking outside of the box". Now if we can just get a couple of these different methods to "stick". Would love to see more of an effort put into Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars ...


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