Gleaning the Forests for Jet Fuel

Dean Sigler Announcements, Biofuels, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Three congresspeople flew on wood-waste fumes this week, aboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 on its way from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEATAC) to Washington, DC.  It was the first commercial flight to “to be powered by a blend of renewable jet fuel made from forest residuals.” Waste Products Replace Fossil Fuels Alaska, Boeing, and SEATAC have partnered on including biofuels in the mix since early 2015, as reported here.  Later that year, United made flights out of Los Angeles International (LAX) using a blend of fossil-based jet fuel and biofuels made from farm and municipal waste.  Keeping waste out of landfills and producing a lower carbon-footprint fuel has several benefits.  In the case of forest waste, those branches, limbs and …

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 …

A broader Overview of Biofuels

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Are biofuels truly “green?” Gizmag this morning has an entry on Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, which has just released a report showing that biofuels may not always be as green as we would like to think. Further, they note that gasoline, including that coming from shale oil sands (as in Keystone XL pipeline oil) may be cleaner than certain crop-derived combustibles. The headlines may stoke controversy, so it’s worthwhile to examine the short-form charts and press release, and compare the impressions gained from a quick glance with those from reading the 113-page study itself. Empa’s press release headline and lead give the impression that things are grim in the green world. The headline “Most …

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 …

Big Birds Flying Green Economy Class (Part One)

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

While the world waits for the 10X battery, a safe, long-range source of flight for our post-Green Flight Challenge fliers, we will probably have to go aloft powered by some bio-fuel derivative or combination of  “traditional” fossil fuels and biofuel. Major players in the airline industry are responding to the probability that things will get a bit thin in finding ready, cheap sources of sweet crude, and are taking on not only the issue of using green energy, but of flying more efficiently – ala Green Flight Challenge practices and Voyager-type voyages.  This interest by the big players in the industry will probably be good for continuing fuel sources for general aviation, too. With more activity than can be imagined …

A Seraph in the Earthly Sphere

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

A Seraph is a six-winged angel in the first sphere of the celestial hierarchy, and while the earthly form in Richard Ike and Ira Munn’s vision may have fewer wings, it is no less inspired. In part, it’s inspired by biomimicry, imitating nature in its forms and even its structure.  The  airfoil-shaped profile of the fuselage “reduce[s] drag and optimize[s] aerodynamic efficiency, the blended-wing-body and lifting body (flying fuselage) maximize lift and produce minimum drag, according to Seraph’s web site. Seraph explains, “Flight with the Seraph will be made possible by two factors, lift generated by airfoil and lift generated by vortex.  The later factor is a return to a principle originally explored by Leonardo Da Vinci.”  Their site further …

Give Up Smoking Today, Get Better Mileage

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Critics of biofuels often cite the contrary use of foodstocks for producing ethanol, for instance, as a process that will lead to food shortages, and consequently higher prices for fuel and food. One researcher and his graduate students are investigating a way to convert waste such as orange peels and old newspapers, and social and health irritants such as tobacco plants, and turn them into a cheap, clean fuel. Dr. Henry Daniell is head of the Biotechnology Graduate Program forthe Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. His primary fields of research include developing low-cost methods of delivering pharmaceuticals to patients in need and even vaccines to combat terrorist bioweapons. Involvement with plant-based …