Category Archives: ethanol

Food Riots Lead to Increased Push for Food Security

In response to the violent food riots in Haiti, Yemen, Egypt, and the riots that have taken place over the past year in Mexico, West Bengal, Camaroon, Burkina Faso and Senegal, French Agriculture minister Michel Barnier is urging the EU to take action immediately against biofuels sourced from edible crops. Four of France’s ministers also insist that similar food riots are on the brink in some 30 other countries.

A demonstrator ate grass in front of a U.N. peacekeeping soldier during a protest against the high cost of living in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Political leaders from poor countries contend that biofuels, which Western countries have been encouraging, are driving up food prices and starving poor people, making biofuels a new flash point in global diplomacy.

Meanwhile, today marks the official enforcement of the 2.5% biofuels mandate UK-wide.

[BBC News; NYTimes, Daily Kos; Celsias]

Biofuels Compared in National Geographic

Really dope article and interactive on biofuels in the October 2007 issue: biofuels_ft_hdr.jpg

Corn ethanol (U.S.):

  • $0.68 greater than retail price for energy equivalent of gasoline.
  • 1.3x greater energy output than fossil fuel energy input required for production.
  • 22% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline.

Sugarcane Ethanol (Brazil):

  • $1.03 less than retail price for energy equivalent of gasoline.
  • 8x greater energy output than fossil fuel energy input required for production.
  • 56% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline.

Biodiesel (Germany):

  • $0.58 greater than retail price for energy equivalent of petroleum diesel.
  • 2.5x greater energy output than fossil fuel energy input required for production.
  • 68% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum diesel.

Cellulosic Ethanol (U.S.):

  • Still in R&D stages (no cost comparison).
  • 2 – 36x greater energy output than fossil fuel energy input required for production.
  • 91% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline.

Algae (U.S.):

  • “High hopes hang in bags of algae outside the Redhawk power plant near Phoenix, Arizona. Researchers say the fast-growing green scum, fed by power plant exhaust, could soak up carbon dioxide while cranking out 5,000 gallons of biodiesel an acre each year – at least in theory.”

We at green.MNP encourage you to go read, play, learn & enjoy!


Fiber Optics and Algae


Our ninjas over at architecture.MNP recently brought us this post on Parans SP2, a technology that channels natural sunlight through fiber optic cables into the indoors. Interestingly, this reminded me of a technology that utilizes the same light-sequestering concept to grow algae from CO2. Algae, as many of you may know, has been deemed by some to be the future of the biofuels industry. Not only will algae eat up CO2 (and NOx) from power plants, ethanol plants or any other CO2 producing industry, but it is an ideal [non-edible] source of oil for making biodiesel. The stuff can also be fermented to make ethanol, gasified to make methane/syngas or dried to make solid biomass.


GC Clean Tech Corporation bought the rights to a technology developed by Ohio University’s Ohio Coal Research Center for a bioreactor that uses fiber optic cables to concentrate light and direct it into a chamber. Inside the chamber are stacks of plates designed such that the algae has maximum surface area to grow on. The CO2 source is also directed into the chamber for the algae to feast on. This sick video does a much better job of describing the process than I.


GS-CleanTech is currently partnered with an ethanol production facility and hopes to use their carbon quenching technology.

Surviving the Climate Crisis

The Nation has a new issue out, with much of it dedicated to climate change and energy issues. Most of the articles are all available free of charge on their website (some are subscription only).

Topics include carbon offsets, green utilities, climate change, carbon taxes and trading, air travel, China, and more.

Follow the link below for more:

[The Nation]

Wow: Carbon Monoxide emissions to be made into Ethanol

LanzaTech, the New Zealand-based developer of a process using bacterial fermentation to convert carbon monoxide into ethanol, has secured US$3.5M in Series A funding, led by Khosla Ventures and supported by two existing New Zealand based investors.

The technology could produce 50 billion gallons of ethanol from the world’s steel mills alone. The technology will also contribute to the production of biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks, as it can convert syngas—comprising hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide—into ethanol.

We have proven in our laboratories that the carbon monoxide in industrial waste gases such as those generated during steel manufacture can be processed by bacterial fermentation to produce ethanol. Garnering the financial and strategic support of Khosla Ventures is a significant validation of our approach, and we welcome Khosla Ventures Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Doug Cameron, to our Board of Directors.
—Dr. Sean Simpson, Chief Scientist and Founder of LanzaTech


Producing Renewable Fuels From Renewable Energy

In the fall of 2008, XL Dairy Group, Inc. will begin operations at its Vicksburg, Arizona, facility as a self-contained biorefinery designed to produce high-grade ethanol, biodiesel, milk and dairy products, and animal feed — along with 100% of the energy required to run the plant.

The $260 million Vicksburg BioRefinery will use proprietary technology to generate ethanol with an energy efficiency ratio of 10:1. The ratio means that for every British Thermal Unit (Btu) unit of fossil fuel energy needed to produce ethanol and biodiesel, XL Dairy Group will produce 10 Btu units, nearly ten times the efficiency of a traditional dry-grind ethanol plant.

To achieve that efficiency, and generate cost savings of $0.30 to $0.35 per gallon in ethanol production and $0.50 cents per hundred weight of milk, the company will convert waste streams from the 7,500 dairy cows as well as from the fractionation, biodiesel and ethanol processes into energy to power the entire project with recycled, renewable energy.


Biofuels Index Would Aid Consumers, Market

With all the confusion out there, this could certainly be useful:

The debate over whether biofuels like ethanol are better for the environment than fossil fuels has left many consumers confused and unsure where to fill their gas tanks.

Much of this confusion could be eliminated with a biofuels rating system that would reflect the positive or negative environmental impacts of a particular fuel, according to a group of University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

A ratings system, like the Michelin stars for hotels and restaurants, would take into account all environmental aspects of biofuels processing and production, from the way biofuel crops are tilled and fertilized to the kinds of energy — coal, natural gas or biomass, for example — used to process them.

Such a system would not only help consumers make decisions about where to fuel up but, perhaps more importantly, stimulate competition among fuel producers to market the greenest fuels possible, driving the less-green biofuels out of the marketplace in favor of ones that really serve the planet.


Biofuels threaten cheap beer in Germany

If rising tortilla prices in Mexico due to ethanol production doesn’t concern you, this might.  As one of my coworkers said, “best reason yet to oppose ethanol”

Brewers say they have no choice but to pass along the higher costs of barley, which has nearly doubled in price in a year. There was a poor harvest last year but many fields have been dedicated to biofuel production this year. Experts say the amount of land for barley is decreasing about five percent. With so much land going to biofuels, the beer makers want the government to stop offering subsidies.


E85 Worse For Environment Than Regular Gas?

The AP‘s Seth Borenstein is reporting that there’s a Stanford study out this week using some kind of a computer model to claim burning ethanol’s worse for the environment than burning straight gasoline. His model indicates an extra 20 people would die each year if “…all vehicles in the United States ran on a mostly ethanol fuel blend by 2020.”

Read the article for yourself: