Friday, September 19, 2008

Bioenergy Gold Rush: Biomass, Algae, etc

The bioenergy gold rush is taking place in the laboratories and agricultural test fields of the world. The beneficiaries will be local and regional areas with the leadership and human capital capable of taking initiative and building the appropriate infrastructure in a timely fashion.

University of Wisconsin researchers have devised a new way of making bio-petroleum from sugars. This opens the way for a scaling up of production of bio-petroleums once cheap and economical sources of sugars are available--such as lignocellulosic derived sugars.

Algal biofuels remain tantalizingly out of commercial reach, although a Bill Gates investment in Sapphire Energy puts that firm over the $100 million mark in financing. Here is a brief summary of the state of the art in algal biofuels.

A large number of biomass crops are competing for "best biomass feedstock" including switchgrass and miscanthus. Camelina, sorghum, hemp, and a number of fast growing trees and shrubs are also in the running.

Gasification remains one of the frontrunners for efficient conversion of biomass to energy and fuels. Spanish researchers have devised an innovative method for BTG, or biomass to (syn)gas. From syngas, almost any type of liquid fuel can be synthesised.

Different biofuel and bioenergy crops grow best in different environments. Thinking small--on a local and regional scale--allows one to match resources with needs. Trying to solve all problems with one solution is foolish, and worthy only of lawyers , politicians, academics, and journalists.

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Blogger Eshenberg said...

In northern regions climate doesn't allow to grow grow crops enough productively to produce bio fuel without loosing money unless there are some some kind of genetically modified crops to withstand the climate all year long and make at least 2 full harvests per year.
Algae require allot of land mass to produce bio fuel effectively and that is almost impossible for small countries.

5:39 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

The most important ingredient for bioenergy is sunlight.

Algae can be grown in seawater--no land needed! Just stack shallow metal trenches vertically, or put them in a slow vertical spiral, let gravity bring the maturing algae to you for processing.

Northern crops such as rutabagas, beets, and other root crops are being modified to produce oils, starches, sugars, and plentiful biomass.

Sunlight is the secret ingredient. The Baltic countries get a lot of summertime sunlight. Seize the day.

4:46 PM  

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