Friday, August 22, 2008

Byogy Synthetic Gasoline, Nuclear "Batteries" etc

Brian Westenhaus provides a more in depth look at Byogy's intriguing synthetic gasoline-from-biomass process.
The Byogy process is a stack of processes starting with pre-treating the “energy crop” such as municipal waste in the Byogy plan. Then the crop is fed to a fermentation process or the waste is headed on to gasification. From fermentation the main products go on to the thermo chemical process with the leavings like minerals, water and carbon products recycled back in and hard residuals passed on to the gasification process.

The gasification process outputs hydrogen, syngas and likely CO to forward on to the thermo chemical process. Gasification uses heat and Byogy plans to channel the used available heat back into the fermentation output stream preheating the feedstock....The fermentation process looks to be headed to a methane output for the Ethylene from Concentrated Liquid-phase Acetylene – Integrated, Rapid and Safe or “ECLAIRS.” This process is an innovation in that the methane is reformed up to first acetylene, then adding back in the hydrogen to get to ethylene in the liquid state. From there the ethylene is oligomerized up to gasoline or higher such as diesel or jet fuel. _NewEnergyandFuel
Brian goes on to look at the economics of the process, and at the implications of providing a price floor to oil, and of adding a large new source of methane to a market that is learning how to exploit the smallest hydrocarbon.

Brian also recently looked at the Hyperion "nuclear battery", expanding on a previous post by Brian Wang. If Hyperion can get the efficiencies close to what the two Brians suggest, the $25 million price tag for the 25 megawatt mini-reactor would be an excellent deal indeed. Safe, scalable nuclear fission may be closer than we think!

In other energy news, heavy equipment operators are experimenting with biodiesel blends, as well as electrical substitutes for diesel engines in heavy equipment.

Struggling forestry companies are betting that biomass to fuels/electricity will be their answer to shrinking profit margins.

Kenyans are turning to biodiesel from croton seeds--from the tropical croton tree. The most prolific sources of biodiesel feedstock come from tropical oilseed trees. But clever genetic scientists are learning how to tweak the genomes of crops so that cold weather crops can produce abundant oils.

The intensity of the scientific effort going into creating economic bioenergy sources, as well as the intense competition on the commercial front spurred by high oil costs, suggests that we are on the cusp of a new energy age. If we do not let Luddite politicians such as Pelosi, Boxer, Obama, Reid, Salazar etc. starve us of the energy we need, or let tinpot dictators such as Putin, Ahmedinejad, Chavez, etc. put Europe and the free Far East in thrall to their overpriced oil, society should ride the current wave without too much damage.

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