Day: August 22, 2011

Univ. of Michigan researcher recommends shifting the basis of fuel carbon regulation from lifecycle analysis to ABC accounting

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

In a new paper published in the journal Climatic Change, Dr. John DeCicco of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment posits that attempting to regulate fuels using a lifecycle analysis (LCA)-based approach—as is currently done by California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the US Renewable Fuel Standard—is inappropriate and ultimately unworkable as far as environmental effectiveness is concerned.

Instead, DeCicco proposes a method using annual basis carbon (ABC) accounting to track the stocks and flows of carbon and other relevant greenhouse gases (GHGs) throughout fuel supply chains. Such an approach makes fuel and feedstock production facilities the focus of accounting, he suggests, while treating the CO2 emissions from fuel end-use at face value regardless of the origin of the fuel carbon (bio or fossil). ABC accounting would avoid an automatic credit of biogenic carbon in biofuels, and minimize and accumulation of carbon debt due to indirect land-use change, he says.

Full citation for the research paper: DeCicco, John (2011) Biofuels and carbon management. Climatic Change doi: 10.1007/s10584-011-0164-z

Abstract: Public policy supports biofuels for their benefits to agricultural economies, energy security and the environment. The environmental rationale is premised on greenhouse gas (GHG, “carbon”) emissions reduction, which is a matter of contention. This issue is challenging to resolve because of critical but difficult-to-verify assumptions in lifecycle analysis (LCA), limits of available data and disputes about system boundaries. Although LCA has been the presumptive basis of climate policy for fuels, careful consideration indicates that it is inappropriate for defining regulations. This paper proposes a method using annual basis carbon (ABC) accounting to track the stocks and flows of carbon and other relevant GHGs throughout fuel supply chains. Such an approach makes fuel and feedstock production facilities the focus of accounting while treating the CO2 emissions from fuel end-use at face value regardless of the origin of the fuel carbon (bio- or fossil). Integrated into cap-and-trade policy and including provisions for mitigating indirect land-use change impacts, also evaluated on an annual basis, an ABC approach would provide a sound carbon management framework for the transportation fuels sector.

Alligator fat could look good in the gas tank, researchers say

Read the full story from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

According to new research by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, future truck drivers could rev up their engines with biodiesel made from the unlikeliest of sources: gator fat.

Each year, about 15 million pounds of alligator fat is produced by the alligator meat-processing industry and dumped into landfills. Alligators are harvested from the wild and from alligator farms for their skin and meat.

Researchers said the fat, traditionally discarded, might have value.

This post at Treehugger includes a short summary of the original research article and comments on the ethical implications.

The full citation for the research article is: Srividya Ayalasomayajula, Ramalingam Subramaniam, August Gallo, Stephen Dufreche, Mark Zappi, Rakesh Bajpai. “Potential of Alligator Fat as Source of Lipids for Biodiesel Production”. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2011; : 110729082356010 DOI: 10.1021/ie201000s.

Abstract: A large amount of alligator fat (AF) is produced by alligator meat processing industry and disposed in landfills or discarded as waste. The AF can be used as a potential feedstock for biodiesel production due to its high lipid content. In this work, recovery of lipids from the AF tissue was studied by solvent extraction as well as by microwave rendering. Microwave rendering resulted in AF oil recovery of 61% by weight of the frozen AF tissue obtained from producers. The fatty acid profile of the lipid showed that palmitic acid (C16:0), palmitoleic acid (C16:1), and oleic acid (C18:1) were the dominant fatty acids accounting for 89–92% of all lipids by mass; 30% of the fatty acids were saturated and 70% were unsaturated. The biodiesel produced from AF oil was found to meet the ASTM specifications of biodiesel concerning kinematic viscosity, sulfur, free and total glycerin, flash point, cloud point, and acid number.

Smith School lifecycle study highlights importance for algae-derived biodiesel of co-product utilization and optimizing and decarbonizing every step of the supply chain

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

Currently, algae-derived-biodiesel is up to 2.5 times as energy intensive to produce as conventional diesel, which restricts the current financial and environmental feasibility of algae production, according to a new life cycle analysis by a team from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford.

However, biodiesel from advanced biomass has an inherent environmental advantage of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction that can be realized once every step of the production chain is fully optimized and decarbonized, the researchers said. In a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, the team said these steps include smart co-product utilization; decarbonization of the electricity and heat grids as well as indirect energy requirements for fertilizer; transport; and building material. Only if all these factors are taken into account is the cost of heat and electricity reduced and GHG emissions fully mitigated, they suggested.

LanzaTech, Harsco ally to develop ethanol from steel gas process

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

Worldwide industrial solutions company Harsco Corp. and LanzaTech have formed a strategic alliance to promote the capture and reuse of steel mill flue gases as an environmentally significant and beneficial source of energy.

The alliance agreement, signed 16 Aug. at Harsco’s world headquarters in Pennsylvania, taps into Harsco’s leadership serving the worldwide steel industry, in combination with LanzaTech’s proprietary bioenergy technologies for reducing the carbon footprint of integrated steelmaking operations by converting waste gas to ethanol and high value chemicals. Together, the two companies will jointly develop plans to present the LanzaTech biotechnology to Harsco’s major steel mill customers and explore potential business relationships for installing and operating commercial facilities at selected sites throughout the world.

ANSI report on electric drive vehicle standards calls for better coordination and harmonization, public-private partnership

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the US voluntary standardization system, has submitted to the US Department of Energy (DOE) a report outlining priority areas where standards and conformance activities are needed to facilitate the safe, effective, and large-scale deployment of electric drive vehicles (EDV) in the United States.

Three on biofuels from Chemical & Engineering News

The cover story for the August 15, 2011 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, entitled ” Examining Biofuels Policy”, takes a look at the history and evolution of U.S. biofuel policy. There are two accompanying articles.

The first, “Biofuels: An Ethical Framework”, enumerates the five principles for ethical production of biofuels, as outlined in a report by the U.K.-based think tank Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCB). The full report is available at www.nuffieldbioethics.org/biofuels-0. Alena Buyx, the assistant director of the secretariat at NCB, and Joyce Tait, the chair of NCB’s working party on biofuels, briefly explained the five principles for ethical biofuel production in a Science article (DOI: 10.1126/science.1206064).

The second, “Generations: Biofuels Are Grouped According To Commercial Maturity”, describes different types of biofuels and classifies them as first-, second-, or third-generation.

%d bloggers like this: