Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Biomass

A rendering of the building that will house the UBC Bioenergy Demonstration and Research P...

A first-of-its-kind biomass-fueled, heat and power generation system has been developed by a partnership between Nexterra Systems and General Electric, and is heading to the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC) next year. The Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Project will meet around six percent of the total annual demand for electricity and up to 25 percent of the university's campus requirements for steam. UBC has just announced that the project has secured a substantial federal and provincial cash injection.  Read More

Agave has been identified as a potential new biofuel crop (Photo: Stan Shebs)

Agave is a very hardy, useful plant. It grows in hot, arid conditions, and has found use in the production of beverages, food, and fiber. Now, it looks like it could have yet one more use – a Mexican botanist believes it could be an excellent biofuel feedstock. Not only does it grow quickly, but global climate change shouldn’t adversely affect it, and it doesn’t compete with food crops.  Read More

Lignin (blue) in a regular Arabidopsis stem at left, and in a modified plant's stem at rig...

Biofuel derived from crops such as switchgrass certainly holds promise, although some critics maintain that such crops use up too much agricultural land – land that could otherwise be used for growing food crops. A genetic discovery announced this Tuesday, however, reportedly allows individual plants to produce more biomass. This means that biofuel crops could have higher yields, without increasing their agricultural footprint.  Read More

NEC has developed a new bioplastic from non-edible cellulose and cardanol that's said to b...

NEC has announced the development of a new biomass-based plastic produced by bonding non-edible cellulose with cardanol, a primary component of cashew nut shells. The new bioplastic is said to achieve a level of durability that makes it suitable for use in electronic equipment and boasts a high plant composition ratio of more than 70 per cent.  Read More

Biochar – a charcoal created by pyrolysis could offset 12 percent of human greenhouse ga...

According to a new study, as much as 12 percent of the world’s human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be sustainably offset by producing biochar, a charcoal-like substance made from plants and other organic materials. That’s more than would be offset if the same plants and materials were burned to generate bioenergy, says the study. Additionally, biochar could improve food production in the world’s poorest regions as it increases soil fertility.  Read More

The new method for processing agricultural waste and any available biomass into biofuels t...

Biofuels are seen as a more environmentally friendly fuel source than petroleum-based fuels, but transporting the bulky biomass used to produce them is expensive because of their volume. It’s much more economical to transport the liquid fuel after it has been processed but this isn’t possible if the processing facilities are located far from the source of the biomass. A new method to process agricultural waste and other biomass could enable the creation of mobile processing plants that would rove the Midwest to produce fuels where the biomass is sourced.  Read More

A GlidArc reactor, which uses plasma technology to create clean biofuels (Photo:

The same process that illuminates big-screen plasma TV’s can now create ultra-clean fuels, according to a scientific report presented earlier this week. According to Prof. Albin Czernichowski from France’s University of Orleans, a device called a GlidArc reactor has successfully been used to create clean fuels from waste materials, utilizing electrically-charged clouds of gas called “plasmas.” One of the fuels is a form of diesel that reportedly releases ten times less air pollution than conventional diesel.  Read More

Tires could be made with much less crude oil, thanks to the development of BioIsoprene (Ph...

According to the American Chemical Society, seven gallons of crude oil go into each one of approximately a billion car tires that are produced every year worldwide. Today, however, scientists announced a development that could drastically reduce oil usage in tires. It involves isoprene, a hydrocarbon that is currently obtained as a by-product from refining crude oil, and that is a key ingredient in the production of synthetic rubber. Using sugars from renewable sources such as sugar cane, corn or switchgrass, the scientists have been able to create a “green” isoprene, trademarked as BioIsoprene. They expect it could start being used to produce tires within five years.  Read More

Engineers at University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to convert 95% of the energy...

Engineers at University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to convert 95% of the energy of cellulosic biomass into jet fuel using stable, inexpensive catalysts, basic equipment and minimal processing. The end hydrocarbon product is so similar to jet fuel that it is ready for application by present internal engine designs.  Read More

Dr. Henry Daniell has developed a cheap way to produce ethanol from waste materials (Image...

While it may not quite be the Mr. Fusion energy reactor Doc Brown uses to convert household scraps into power for his time-traveling DeLorean, scientists have found a way to turn discarded fruit peels, newspapers and other waste products into cheap fuel to power the world’s vehicles. Its developer says the new approach is greener and less expensive than the current methods available to run vehicles on cleaner fuel and is part of his goal to relegate gasoline to a secondary fuel.  Read More

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