A couple eco news blips show that Sweden is boosting its wind and ethanol intake. First up, Sweden’s Sekab just signed a deal with Brazilian ethanol exporters Cosan, Guarani, NovAmerica and Alcoeste to ship 115 million liters of anhydrous ethanol. Keeping up with the forward thinking Sweden tends to exemplify, the ethanol is manufactured according to strict sustainable social and environmental standards, including rights and safety measures for all employees in accordance with UN Guidelines, ecological considerations in accordance with UNICAs environmental initiative, and zero tolerance for felling of rainforest or slave labor.
Purchasing ethanol from so far away may seem a little counter-intuitive, but Anders Fredikson, VP of Sekab, says that this sustainable ethanol will reduce CO2 emissions from farming, production and transportation to Sweden by 85% compared with petrol. Plus, mills will receive 5-10% more for their traceable product than mills that do not adhere to the sustainability guidelines. Half of the 800 million liters of ethanol consumed by Sweden per year is supplied by Brazil, so going with sustainable ethanol will make a significant impact.
And so will wind farms. They’re currently working on putting up a massive land-based wind farm with a capacity of between 3 and 3.5 GW, with the 2 MW turbines to come from Enercon and Markbygden Vind AB. The project starts this fall and is to be in place by 2020. The farm will really be more of a collective. Covering about 173 square miles, a series of interconnected farms will house the turbines.
Sweden is pretty good at monitoring their impact and putting reigns on things that leave big footprints. So I’m glad to see them taking a few more steps towards sustainability both in what they bring in to the country and in what they create themselves.
Via Treehugger, Reuters, RenewableEnergyWorld
With the growing concern over farmland being used to produce crops that will be refined into biofuels instead of food, shortages of which are growing annually, researchers at the Carnegie Institute of Science have studied the potential for abandoned agricultural and pasture land to be used instead, and to see what that might mean for our bioenergy future. Since they estimate that there are 4.7 million square kilometers of such lands, the energy potential is enormous.
Their study, the Global Limits of Biomass Energy, sought to utilize satellite imagery, reports, productivity models and other data to estimate the amounts of energy that could be produced from these derelict plots of earth. Already, Brazil is fueling their vehicles with about 30% biofuel made from sugarcane - like what LGF plans to do in the US - but is such a thing really possible on a large scale in the US, or even worldwide? The answer seems to be both yes and no.
Some African countries, which use little fossil fuels and possess fertile grasslands, have the potential to produce nearly 37 times the amount of biomass energy than their current energy demands. The US, on the other hand, which has great potential to use abandoned lands since it has so much of it, in fact the most in the world, could only produce about 6% of national energy needs if 100% of the abandoned tracts were converted into producing biomass crops. Overall, about 8%, at best, of global energy demands could be met in this way.
So it is clear that biomass fuels are not the complete answer, but at least part of it. Hopefully it can supplement key industries or applications such as in the airlines, transport ships, and other highly polluting activities, leaving other renewables to power the balance.
via physorg Photo via DanieVDM
Seattle-based Inventure Chemical and Tel Aviv-based Seambiotic announced this week a joint venture to create biofuels from algae fed by a coal-fired power plant. Apparently, this is an idea growing in popularity. Seambiotic has developed a way to convert algae to biodiesel, ethanol, or specialty chemicals, and they’re testing their open-pond algae farm in Israel. The coal power plant and algae farm are working hand in hand to power one another – the flue gas emissions from the power plant will be used to grow the algae, which is in turn converted to fuel to either operate the plant, or be sold.
While it makes sense to use alternative, sustainable fuel sources to power industry, there seems to be a broken logic behind using that fuel to feed coal plants – one of the very energy sources from which we’re looking to separate ourselves.
I suppose the venture is worth a go, since we aren’t likely to get off coal in the very near future and so this provides ample opportunity to test out different methods of growing and creating algae-based biofuel. With how quickly other companies are jumping on the algae biofuel and biodiesel bandwagons and making research advancements, it seems possible that we’ll soon see lucrative ways to grow algae without coal, utilizing 100% clean techniques so we can wean ourselves off these unsavory power sources.
Via cnet, Photo via Seambiotic
The US military is looking to cut back on two things in Iraq: fuel consumption and trash. So they’re finally getting on board with alternative fuel sources, using the trash they don’t want to get the fuel for electricity they need.
In March, we let you know that trash-to-fuel generators were getting shipped to Iraq. Well, they've arrived and are being tested.
If you’ve ever worked for the military, you know they don’t speak English, but Acronymish. So, the generator is called TGER (“tiger”) and the acronym stands for Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery. The prototype, which uses a variety of technologies to run an electrical generator, will be tested until August. If it works, more are on the way to smaller camps and possibly to disaster relief sites.
Right now, the military burns the trash in incinerators, emitting icky emissions and eating up a lot of fuel, time, and human power since it takes quite a few people to run one. Also, cutting down on the use of diesel fuel is especially important since the trucks that haul the fuel are basically moving targets sure to make huge bangs. Decreasing casualties is a priority, and what better reason to get on to using waste as fuel?
The prototype accepts trash in a chute at one end, and the wet and dry wastes are separated. The dry trash is crushed, pelletized, and fed into a gasifier where the pellets are heated until they’re turned into synthetic gas, which then fuels the generator. The wet waste is converted with the use to enzymes into hydrous ethanol, which is then blended with synthetic gas to boost the generator’s output to 55 kw. There are hopes to improve the technology so that literally all trash goes in one end, and electricity comes out the other – kinda the goal we all have for waste-free living. And the improvements are needed, since start-up time is a full 6 hours, and takes up about 1 gallon of diesel fuel an hour. But once started, it is reported that it runs at 90% efficiency. I’m a little incredulous about that, but we’ll see what folks say at the end of August.
With folks like BlueFire and others already working on this, it seems like highly efficient, easy to use trash-to-electricity technology is on the cusp of being large scale reality.