Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bio-Energy Future Promising On Several Fronts

It will take time for a world energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels to convert to renewable fuels. We must develop a medley of renewable approaches, including bio-energy, solar thermal/PV, wind, ocean, geothermal, hydro, etc. Bio-energy is one of the most widely applicable baseload renewables.
A Washington, D.C.-based company is in the preliminary stages of developing a $250 million plant in California to make jet fuel out of garbage, manure and tree bark. Solena Group hopes to build the plant in Gilroy, Calif., and will use raw material from municipal, agricultural and forestry waste supplied by Norcal Waste Systems, one of California’s largest municipal waste and biomass collectors.

Solena's process uses 6-8 plasma torches at 5000 degrees C in a large reactor that they call the "gasification island". The company also says it can then use the syngas to power a combined-cycle gas turbine to produce electricity or feed it into a Fischer Tropsch reactor to produce aviation-grade liquid diesel fuel. Solena claims that this process converts biomass to gas at up to 90% efficiency. __NextEnergy
Solena's process is interesting, and may be feasible in California by wrapping itself up in green laurel. On a more immediate front, Range Fuels expanded its funding from $100 million to $166 million for a plant in Georgia converting cellulosic waste to ethanol via gasification.
The money will be used to build the first phase of its ethanol plant in Soperton, Ga., which will use forestry waste as a feedstock. The plan is to complete a 20 million gallon-per-year plant next year that uses a gasification process. __Cnet
My preferred bioenergy approaches include gasification of bio-waste, and cellulosic electricity--burning processed biowaste in place of coal. European companies Sud-Chemie and Linde are collaborating to create 2nd and 3rd generation bio-energy plants using waste and cellulosic feedstock in place of food. No doubt the collaboration will be incorporating gasification along with advanced catalytics.

This newsrelease looks at efforts in British Columbia to improve algal biodiesel yields along with creating more economic production methods. While algal biodiesel is capable of producing oil yields far above other oil crops, the production costs are still far too high to support a commercial market for algal biodiesel.

Merrill Lynch together with the Renewable Fuels Association have stated that a US EPA waiver of the Renewable fuel standard would lead to immediate US gasoline price hikes of between $0.45 and $1.10.

While the clueless Senators in this article may believe they are helping reduce food prices by their frantic hysteria, they would actually be causing higher gasoline prices--and thus higher food prices--if their grandstanding were to actually have any effect.

The bottom line dictates the action. And the basic truth is that politicians are by nature corrupt. And you know what we at Al Fin Energy propose (only half-jokingly) to do with corrupt politicians? Pyrolysis.

Watch your step, politicians. We have our eyes on you.

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