Making Algae More Productive

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Blog has looked at several algae-to-fuel manufacturers in its postings, and the U. S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado adds its name to that growing list, but not in the usual commercial way.   NREL claims to have developed a “unique bioreactor,” otherwise known as their Simulated Algal Growth Environment (SAGE) reactor, which controls light and temperature to test different strains of algae and simulates various locations in the United States where particular spores would be most prolific. NREL’s hope is to use SAGE to “produce algae that could someday compete with renewable diesel, cellulosic ethanol, and other petroleum alternatives as transportation fuel.” “It does so by revealing the intricate biochemical rearrangements that algae …

Cost Competitive, Sustainable, and Boeing Likes It

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Green Air Online reports on “what could be a significant breakthrough,” Boeing’s identification of “green” Diesel as a new source of sustainable aviation biofuel.  Green Diesel is similar chemically to current aviation biofuels, emits “at least” 50 percent less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel over its life cycle, and could be blended directly with existing fossil-based jet fuels.  Similar to petrodiesel, this fuel has some specific definitions that distinguish it from “biodiesel.” According to Advanced Biofuels USA, “Renewable Diesel, often called “green diesel” or “second generation diesel,” refers to petrodiesel-like fuels derived from biological sources that are chemically not esters and thus distinct from biodiesel.  Renewable diesel is chemically the same as petrodiesel, but made of recently living biomass. “…Renewable …

Algae to Crude While You Wait

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Engineers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington have beat nature by millions of years in turning algal glop into crude oil,  cooking a “a verdant green paste with the consistency of pea soup” into oil, water, and a nutritious batch of byproducts. Douglas Elliott, the laboratory fellow leading PNNL team’s research says, “It’s a bit like using a pressure cooker, only the pressures and temperatures we use are much higher.  In a sense, we are duplicating the process in the Earth that converted algae into oil over the course of millions of years. We’re just doing it much, much faster.” “Faster” means an hour or less, researchers having combined several chemical steps normally associated with …

Jonathan Trent and the Omega Project

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Jonathan Trent, a NASA researcher, presented his OMEGA Project at the CAFE Foundation’s 2010 Electric Aircraft Symposium. It promised a simple and practical way to grow oil-rich algae using effluent from city waste, and processing it with sunlight and wave motion in a continuous process. Such a system would clean wastewater, reduce CO2, and provide non-food-stock-based biofuels for transportation. OMEGA, “Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae”, is now a more complex system as Dr. Trent and at least three research teams develop the technology in the San Francisco Bay Area and at Santa Cruz on the nearby California coast. In this TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) lecture from 2011 Dr. Trent gives an update on the process and how it can …

Dennis Bushnell: Envisioning a Plausible, Positive Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Consider that Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Benjamin Santer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicked off the first day of the 2011 Electric Aircraft Symposium with a highly-detailed examination of the issues surrounding climate change.  That required an equally adept presenter to expound on possible solutions for worldwide problems, and EAS 5 delivered with Dennis Bushnell, NASA’s Chief Scientist at Langley Research Center. According to one biography, he is “responsible for Technical Oversight and Advanced Program formulation for a major NASA Research Center with technical emphasis in the areas of Atmospheric Sciences and Structures, Computational Sciences and Systems Optimization for Aeronautics, Spacecraft, Exploration and Space Access. He has 43 years’ experience working in the leading edge of …

Bagging Algae – Pollutants into Energy

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

For the Fourth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 23 and 24 in Rohnert Park, California, Dr. Jonathan Trent was an ideal kickoff speaker. His work with NASA Ames Research Center on converting pollutants into algae-based biofuels could have long-term effects on cleaning up our planet’s air and water, and provide byproducts that will help to feed the 900,000,000 who go hungry every day.  As he notes, “Unless we go electric, we must move to low-carbon fuels.” The problem is not a new one.  As musical satirist Tom Lehrer wrote in his 1960’s plea for emissions control, “Pollution, Pollution,” “The breakfast garbage that you throw in to the bay/They drink as lunch in San José.” Dr. Trent, a PhD. in Marine …

Biofuels, But at What Cost?

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Jasmine Green, writing in Care2 Causes.com (“The future of Biodiesel Fuels“) , explains that all is not as it seems in the quest for clean fuel alternatives. Many of the biofuel plants noted in this blog (see “EQ2 Has a High Fuel IQ”, February 11, 2010) are indeed being grown and are producing oil for fuel, but, as reported in Care2 Causes, at a cost to the overall environment. Citing Treehugger.com, she notes that Brazil is seeing ranchers being displaced to make way for the planting of oil-bearing plants, and that ranchers move further into the rain forest and deforest the area to raise cattle. This indirect deforestation contributes, according to Ms. Green, to 41 to 59 percent of all …

EQ² Has a High Fuel IQ

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

EQ² offers analysis services for clients around the world, their web site introduction citing their goals. “EQ² is a leader in sustainability risk management and environmental inventory systems using accurate environmental measurement and management processes to quantify, benchmark and report an organisation’s risks in regulatory compliance, operational impacts and financial costs.” Among their clients are airlines seeking advice on long-term prospects for alternatives to rapidly-diminishing fossil-derived jet fuels.  Their white paper,  Sustainable Flying: Biofuels as an Economic and Environmental Salve for the Airline Industry, besides having a provocative title, gives some hope for future development of these alternatives. One part of the paper explores the development money put into biofuels and finds that it tracks the rising and falling costs of …

Growing Your Own Battery

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

While Dr. Cui at Stanford works on perfecting his painted paper battery, reseachers in Sweden are growing algae that does well as a paper battery. Maria Stomme of the University of Uppsala says that the growth of Cladophora, an otherwise stinky beach slime, “Creates new possibilities for large-scale production of environmentally friendly, cost-effective, lightweight energy storage systems.” The algae, according to LiveScience.com, “makes an unusual kind of cellulose typified by a very large surface area, 100 times that of the cellulose found in paper. This allowed researchers to dramatically increase the amount of conducting polymer available for use in the new device, enabling it to better recharge, hold and discharge electricity. Despite the relative ease of making this rechargeable paper, …