Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

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    Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Casa Grande company may be on the frontline of an agricultural revolution



    What that means is that the emerging company's Algae Development Center in Casa Grande will soon be the site of a 40-acre commercial production site that could help revolutionize agriculture.
    ...
    Work continues at the algae center in Casa Grande, where the company has a patent pending on the XL Super Trough it developed here. The Super Trough is expected to go into production on a full-sized, 40-acre plot here in November, a size XL officials consider ideal for algae biomass production.

    "It's an actual site so we can demonstrate, running it at a commercial level," Cloud explained. "We expect farmers will take the 40-acre size" and operate multiple-trough fields. Visitors from around the world are expected for a November field day at the site. Eventually, the company hopes to sell the system to farmers for commercial production and wants to begin delivery by January. Installation costs should be about $25,000 per acre.
    ...
    XL also plans to develop a 400-acre algae farm and processing facility near Vicksburg in western Arizona, 100 miles due west of Phoenix near Interstate 10. More than 20,000 tons of biomass could be processed at the proposed facility, and the company has more than 2,400 acres to expand production.
    ...
    "There's a tremendous amount of capital being invested in algae development right now. Our focus has been to demonstrate that you can produce algae economically using proven farm practices. We believe people just need the right tools to produce algae. We want to offer our trough technology to other growers so they can grow algae as well."

    Making Algae

    The XL Super Trough uses a miniature greenhouse-type process to produce the algae in laser-leveled, 18-inch-deep, 1,250-foot-long troughs.

    Mechanized equipment installs specially designed plastic liner sheets with integrated aeration and lighting systems along 6-foot-wide troughs. An optional plastic sheet called "mulch" can be installed on top of the trough to make it a closed system and increase algae production during cooler temperatures.

    There are no moving parts, and the only connection points are at the ends of the troughs. Fortified water is pumped clear through the 40-acre field in 24 hours at a rate of 2,000 gallons per minute. Half of the flow - 1,000 gallons per minute - is then diverted into the harvest system, and 950 gallons of that is recirculated into the fields. Fifty gallons of algae concentrate is pumped into harvesting and can be transported to a central processing plant.
    CleanTech Biofuels, Inc. Announces It Is Evaluating Sites for First Municipal Solid Waste to Ethanol Plant

    ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In order to expedite the process for the construction of a small commercial plant, CleanTech Biofuels, Inc. (OTCBB: CLTH) announced today that it has begun identifying and evaluating sites for its first commercial facility. CleanTech is seeking to work with municipalities and waste haulers in locations with favorable tipping fees (fees paid to accept trash), feedstock supply, transportation logistics, and governmental financing possibilities to implement its technology to convert municipal solid waste (curbside garbage) into ethanol.
    ...
    We believe that our combined technologies will enable the production of ethanol from cellulosic waste streams at a lower cost than from grain or other agricultural feedstocks. Our combined technologies will avoid the immense consumption of water and farmland that plague grain ethanol producers, with the added benefit of recycling garbage and reducing the amount of waste disposed of in landfills by as much as ninety percent.

    BlueFire: Making ethanol at the landfill

    BlueFire Ethanol wants to set up a series of small ethanol refineries at the world's finest landfills. The company will convert organic waste--paper, vegetable scraps, etc.--into fuel and then sell it locally. The business revolves around the idea that the feedstock is worthless. Landfill operators pay about $6 a ton to get rid of their trash. By converting it to ethanol the operators eliminate this cost and can qualify for carbon credits. BlueFire operates the ethanol refinery and then sells the fuel.

    The first plant, a 3.6 million gallon a year facility that will grow to 12 million gallons a year, will go up in Lancaster, Calif. Later, the company hopes to open larger facilities in Europe and Southeast Asia.

    Unlike some ethanol refiners, BlueFire's process does not rely on cutting-edge science. The company breaks down organic matter in an acid bath to obtain the cellulose, and then converts the sugars into ethanol. Still, producing the ethanol costs about 30 percent to 40 percent less than the cost of producing corn ethanol, said Chief Executive Arnie Klann. The lignin, a tough fiber extracted from plants in the acid process, is used to operate the equipment.

    Farm Bill is good for advanced biofuels says BIO

    The Farm Bill passed today (15th May) by the US Senate will, says the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) encourage biofuel producers to move more rapidly to commercialize advanced biofuels and help farmers transition to growing energy crops for a sustainable biofuel industry.
    ...
    The Farm Bill includes an important new incentive for the development of cellulosic biofuels, which hold tremendous promise as a home-grown alternative to fossil-based fuels. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that became law last year calls for production and use of 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2022. But because the technology for producing cellulosic biofuels is emerging, government assistance is necessary to help companies reach the commercial scale called for in the RFS. The Farm Bill contains a new, temporary production tax credit for up to $1.01 per gallon, available through December 31, 2012, with an estimated cost of $403 million over the ten-year budget window.

    The bill also includes loan guarantees to assist the construction of commercial biorefineries for production of advanced biofuels. It also creates a Biomass Crop Assistance Program that will help farmers transition to growing cellulosic energy crops for these biorefineries. Lastly, it continues funding research and development into making advanced, low-carbon biofuels cost-competitive for consumers.

    "The farm bill energy title will accelerate the commercialization of cellulosic biofuels technologies and will help ensure abundant fuel and food resources are produced by the nation’s farmers and fuel producers," said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section.

    Mesa Power Places World's Largest Single-Site Wind Turbine Purchase Order
    Purchase is step one in T. Boone Pickens' plans to build world's largest wind farm near Pampa, Texas

    DALLAS, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Mesa Power LLP, a company created by legendary energy executive T. Boone Pickens, has placed an order with General Electric to purchase 667 wind turbines capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 300,000 average U.S. homes.

    The agreement represents the first phase of the four-phase Pampa Wind Project that will become the world's largest wind energy project, with more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for 1.3 million homes. When all phases of the project are completed as projected in 2014, the wind farm will be five times as big as the nation's current largest wind power project, now producing 736 megawatts.

    Pickens said he expects that first phase of the project will cost about $2 billion, and that electricity from the project will be on-line by early 2011. When complete, the Pampa Wind Project will cover some 400,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle.

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Great finds as usual Ron.

    Looks like the Alternative Energy sector is really starting to take shape with a variety of promising technologies that can produce in the volumes that will make a difference and most using non-food based sources.

    I still think this industry will allow investors to make money like they did from the internet boom of the 1990's, wonder which new company will be the next Cisco, E-Bay or Google?

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Great stuff, thanks. But I have to quote this again, with emphasis added, because I think it's hilarious:

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFire: Making ethanol at the landfill
    BlueFire Ethanol wants to set up a series of small ethanol refineries at the world's finest landfills.
    I'm picturing some snobbish academic that considers himself a connoisseur of only the very best garbage dumps.

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    I sure hope many of the new ideas out there work out at the commercial level. Lots of great ideas and lots of possibilities. It would be great to greatly reduce or eliminate our need to import energy.
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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Doing the math on those windmills brings them to $3 million each at over 1 megawatt each. What does a megawatt-hour sell for?

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Quote Originally Posted by shabodah View Post
    Doing the math on those windmills brings them to $3 million each at over 1 megawatt each. What does a megawatt-hour sell for?

    This page speaks of 750 kilowatt (0.75 megawatt) windmills, and says the average annual yield is 1,806,750 kilowatt hours.
    http://www.ntu.org/main/press_releas...2&org_name=ntu

    At $0.10 per kilowatt hour, that's $180,675 in electricity per year.

    These windmills are MW windmills, so 1 MW / 0.75 MW = 1.33. Assuming a 1.33 increase in annual energy yield, that's 2,402,978 kilowatt hours per year and $240,297 in electricity per year.

    $3 million in installation costs divided by $240,297 is about 12.5, so it would take twelve and a half years to pay for itself.

    The bad news is, that's a long time for the installation costs to pay off. The good news is, everything after 12.5 years is almost free. You only need to cover repairs.

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    I think the first link HoosierRon provided is the most interesting.

    They claim 5-10 times the yield of other crops for biomass. Assuming they mean ethanol, at worst case yield that's corn yield 354 gallons per acre times 5 = 1770. The best case I found online was for sugar beets, at 714 gallons per acre. Multiply that by ten, and you have 7140.

    $25,000 installation cost for a 1770 gallon annual yield is a hard sell, at least to me. You aren't getting 1770 gallons of ethanol from that, you're getting biomass that can be converted, at some additional cost, to ethanol. Even if you get the equivalent of $1 per gallon from your yield, it takes over 14 years to pay for itself plus your annual costs in maintaining it, harvesting, supplying water, and so forth.

    On the other hand, 7140 gallons per acre per year changes things a lot. Assuming the farmer gets $1 per gallon equivalent, that pays for itself in less than 5 years. After the system is paid off, it would probably be, by far, the most profitable crop in the world outside of illegal drugs.

    One square mile farmed that way would be 640 acres * 7140 = 4.57 million gallons of fuel per year. The US currently uses about 146 billion gallons of gasoline per year. Ethanol has about 70% the energy density of gasoline, so to offset 146 billion gallons of gasoline we would need to use about 211 billion gallons of ethanol. That would require just over 46,000 square miles to offset. That's $740 billion to install, and a total area of 1.5% the surface of the continental US. That's enormous, but not impossible... and the amount of money required is huge, but likewise not impossible.

    Assuming they can get somewhere near their optimistic projections, they are sitting on US energy independence.
    Last edited by Michael_S; 05-17-2008 at 07:16 PM.

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    I think the first link HoosierRon provided is the most interesting.

    They claim 5-10 times the yield of other crops for biomass. Assuming they mean ethanol, at worst case yield that's corn yield 354 gallons per acre times 5 = 1770. The best case I found online was for sugar beets, at 714 gallons per acre. Multiply that by ten, and you have 7140.

    $25,000 installation cost for a 1770 gallon annual yield is a hard sell, at least to me. You aren't getting 1770 gallons of ethanol from that, you're getting biomass that can be converted, at some additional cost, to ethanol. Even if you get the equivalent of $1 per gallon from your yield, it takes over 14 years to pay for itself plus your annual costs in maintaining it, harvesting, supplying water, and so forth.

    On the other hand, 7140 gallons per acre per year changes things a lot. Assuming the farmer gets $1 per gallon equivalent, that pays for itself in less than 5 years. After the system is paid off, it would probably be, by far, the most profitable crop in the world outside of illegal drugs.

    One square mile farmed that way would be 640 acres * 7140 = 4.57 million gallons of fuel per year. The US currently uses about 146 billion gallons of gasoline per year. Ethanol has about 70% the energy density of gasoline, so to offset 146 billion gallons of gasoline we would need to use about 211 billion gallons of ethanol. That would require just over 46,000 square miles to offset. That's $740 billion to install, and a total area of 1.5% the surface of the continental US. That's enormous, but not impossible... and the amount of money required is huge, but likewise not impossible.

    Assuming they can get somewhere near their optimistic projections, they are sitting on US energy independence.
    Even with the funding and land its going to take years, maybe even decades to build this stuff up isn't it?
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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    PA Dweller,
    Yes. But if those numbers are right - and that's a big if - it would make 100% replacement of all petroleum in the US with domestic ethanol possible. That's an incredible step in the right direction.

    And just as importantly, it looks like it's cost effective. There are already many ways to generate petroleum replacements in US, but the hard part is finding the ones that costs less than importing foreign oil. This could be it.

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    I think the first link HoosierRon provided is the most interesting.

    They claim 5-10 times the yield of other crops for biomass. Assuming they mean ethanol, at worst case yield that's corn yield 354 gallons per acre times 5 = 1770. The best case I found online was for sugar beets, at 714 gallons per acre. Multiply that by ten, and you have 7140.

    $25,000 installation cost for a 1770 gallon annual yield is a hard sell, at least to me. You aren't getting 1770 gallons of ethanol from that, you're getting biomass that can be converted, at some additional cost, to ethanol. Even if you get the equivalent of $1 per gallon from your yield, it takes over 14 years to pay for itself plus your annual costs in maintaining it, harvesting, supplying water, and so forth.

    On the other hand, 7140 gallons per acre per year changes things a lot. Assuming the farmer gets $1 per gallon equivalent, that pays for itself in less than 5 years. After the system is paid off, it would probably be, by far, the most profitable crop in the world outside of illegal drugs.

    One square mile farmed that way would be 640 acres * 7140 = 4.57 million gallons of fuel per year. The US currently uses about 146 billion gallons of gasoline per year. Ethanol has about 70% the energy density of gasoline, so to offset 146 billion gallons of gasoline we would need to use about 211 billion gallons of ethanol. That would require just over 46,000 square miles to offset. That's $740 billion to install, and a total area of 1.5% the surface of the continental US. That's enormous, but not impossible... and the amount of money required is huge, but likewise not impossible.

    Assuming they can get somewhere near their optimistic projections, they are sitting on US energy independence.
    "Algae fuel yields have not yet been accurately determined, but DOE is reported as saying that algae yield 30 times more energy per acre than land crops such as soybeans [Soy: 59.2-98.6 gpa in Indiana], and some estimate even higher yields up to 15000 gpa ." source

    So it looks like your 1,770 estimate would be the rock bottom possibility.

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    PA Dweller,
    Yes. But if those numbers are right - and that's a big if - it would make 100% replacement of all petroleum in the US with domestic ethanol possible. That's an incredible step in the right direction.

    And just as importantly, it looks like it's cost effective. There are already many ways to generate petroleum replacements in US, but the hard part is finding the ones that costs less than importing foreign oil. This could be it.
    I agree with what you say and feel this alternative fuel should be funded and researched. However, I am worried that it won't replace oil fast enough. Gas where I am is nearly $4, in another few years gas here will cost as much as it does in Europe. By then the country will be in really bad shape.

    I love this alternative but they really need to put the pedal to the medal and make enough of it to replace most oil in the next few years, not a decade. This might not be possible however even with unlimited funding. This is my primary concern.
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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Quote Originally Posted by PA Dweller View Post

    I love this alternative but they really need to put the pedal to the medal and make enough of it to replace most oil in the next few years, not a decade. This might not be possible however even with unlimited funding. This is my primary concern.
    10 years ago, the U.S. made 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol per year. Last year it made 5 times that (6.5 billion gallons). It is estimated that in 2008, it will make 8 billion gallons. Over a dozen cellulosic ethanol plants are under construction.

    I'd call that pedal to the metal.

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_S View Post
    PA Dweller,
    Yes. But if those numbers are right - and that's a big if - it would make 100% replacement of all petroleum in the US with domestic ethanol possible. That's an incredible step in the right direction.

    And just as importantly, it looks like it's cost effective. There are already many ways to generate petroleum replacements in US, but the hard part is finding the ones that costs less than importing foreign oil. This could be it.
    Remember, we don't need a 100% oil replacement to make an enormous impact of the state of affairs in this country. A smaller, more attainable 20% oil offset would have a huge impact. If tomorrow, this country reduced its oil consumption by 20%, it wold send the oil market into an instant tail spin.

    The ideal goal is not 100% replacement of liquid fuels. Any liquid fuel alternative is an interim solution to electric vehicles, which pull from the grid - which will of be course powerd by solar, wind, nuclear, natgas and coal....not a drop of oil.

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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Quote Originally Posted by HoosierRon View Post
    10 years ago, the U.S. made 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol per year. Last year it made 5 times that (6.5 billion gallons). It is estimated that in 2008, it will make 8 billion gallons. Over a dozen cellulosic ethanol plants are under construction.

    I'd call that pedal to the metal.
    I am sorry, I know I have seen the number a few times but I forget. How many gallons of oil does the US use per year? Does 8 billion gallons even begin to cut into our oil usage? Maybe I am wrong, but to me this alternative seems to taking forever.

    For years now I have heard about alternative fuels but have yet to see any come into play. I don't see it, I can't buy it, I don't hear any news of any local gas stations offering the fuel in the near future, etc. It’s great that they are building the plants but when can I buy the fuel without driving a ridiculous distance?

    Maybe it isn’t a concern I have about making the fuel, but more of a concern of distributing the fuel.
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    Re: Alternative Fuel and Energy News Roundup

    Quote Originally Posted by PA Dweller View Post
    I am sorry, I know I have seen the number a few times but I forget. How many gallons of oil does the US use per year? Does 8 billion gallons even begin to cut into our oil usage? Maybe I am wrong, but to me this alternative seems to taking forever.

    For years now I have heard about alternative fuels but have yet to see any come into play. I don't see it, I can't buy it, I don't hear any news of any local gas stations offering the fuel in the near future, etc. It’s great that they are building the plants but when can I buy the fuel without driving a ridiculous distance?

    Maybe it isn’t a concern I have about making the fuel, but more of a concern of distributing the fuel.
    This year we will replace just over 5% of the U.S. gasoline consumption with ethanol. But since we import about 60% of our oil, we will be replacing 10% of the imported oil. That is about what we get from Saudi Arabia.

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