Biodiesel in the news, Oct. 28, 2006

Posted in General at 4:28 pm by Dennis Brown

First the good news:

Largest U.S. biodiesel plant to open in Washington State

Orlando International Airport to use biodiesel fuel

Decatur Georgia County gives land for biodiesel

Now the bad news…

While other states are welcoming biodiesel processing plants with open arms, in Harvey, Louisiana, one resident said “In the end we don’t need more chemicals on the other side of Fourth Street… We need more green space, not Green Earth fuels.” showing how little they understand or care about biofuels in general. Read the article titled Backers of biodiesel plant fail to sway Harvey residents and see why it is so hard to invest and help the residents of hurricane ravaged Louisiana.

Southeast Missouri biodiesel plant to pay penalty

and finally, Other News (not biodiesel)

Solar start-up snags $35 million as CIGS ignites



Must See Biodiesel Related Videos

Posted in General at 8:42 am by Dennis Brown

This is the permanant page for biodiesel related videos. Each will open a new window so you don’t lose your place here.

* Motorweek Discusses Biodiesel (8 minutes)

* Odd video compilation of Daryl Hannah promoting biodiesel (4 min. 38 secs, mediocre quality). She runs biodiesel in an El Camino, which I find extra cool.

My Top Pick Videos

* Trucks Episode – Making biodiesel (11 min. 33 secs.) Nice video explaining what biodiesel is and a VERY GOOD tutorial on how to make it yourself. This is a must see for anyone new to biodiesel.

This video talks about Freedom Fuel America, who links to dealers who sell complete kits for making your own from used vegetable oil. The kit is about $3000 from Biodiesel Solutions, who also sells other products related to biodiesel, including other kits. The kits make as little as 2 or as many as 40 gallons per batch for about 70 cents a gallon, not counting the initial cost of equipment.



News Link Update

Posted in General at 10:12 am by Dennis Brown

Biodiesel in the news so far this month. This is not an exhaustive list, just what has caught my eye thus far in October 06.

The Register has two recent articles, including Ericsson Goes Green and an odd report where a German inventor denies turning cats into biodiesel.

Reuters is reporting that oilseed processor Bunge plans two biodiesel plants in Spain. Reported Oct. 2nd 2006.

Scotsman.com recently reported another biodiesel plant going online in Grangemouth, Scotland. Keep in mind, we pay MORE tax for diesel than gas, whereas most of Europe pay LESS tax for diesel than gasoline, although still higher than we pay for either. Regardless, they are investing £60 million, which is over $112 million US dollars, according to this site. I would fully expect Europe to take the lead in biodiesel production because fo these tax advantages, as well the fact that a large portion of the cars in Europe are diesel, once again due to tax advantages.

ADM makes the news with an article on The Motley Fool titled ADM Wins Biodiesel Bet. It shouldn’t come as a shocker to see ADM involved in biodiesel, as they have the potential to become the future Exxon of the biodiesel world. It also links to this article which covers Shell Oil and others entry into biodiesel. (Warning, articles may require registration. I suggest using the email address, not@given.com, which seems to just let you log in without a password. If you need a password, try “password”.)

It appears that many companies are TALKING about biodiesel, but the main players who are investing the real money tend to be smaller companies or entrepreneurs willing to take a risk. Likely, Big Oil will be last in line to actually have significant production, although since they own the delivery infrastructure, they surely won’t miss out on making a dollar with biodiesel. Of course, this is one of the good things about biodiesel, it is so new, there is opportunity for new people to make a difference, whether they are farmers, chemists or venture capitalists.


Biodiesel & Algae

Posted in General at 7:02 am by Dennis Brown

My brother-in-law Lee was asking me about algae “farming” for biodiesel production, so I decided to add a few links. Keep in mind, some algae are considered more animal than plant, so maybe the term should be “ranching” or perhaps “algae husbandry”. Anyway, these links were combined into a single post to make it easier to find the data, so here they are:

1. Aquatic Species Program at Wikipedia

2. Algaculture at Wikipedia

3. Growth Media for Algae from the University of Texas

4. Biodiesel page at Wikipedia

5. US Dept. of Energy Report on Algae for Biodiesel (PDF file)

6. From Algae to Biodiesel is a report from students researching the idea.

Of course, there are many more, but these provide a nice starting point. On a personal note, I don’t think that biodiesel from algae is going to solve all the world’s problems, but i *DO* think it offers the highest potential for a suppliment to our exisiting petro diesel infrastructure. This is because algae can produce 5,000 to 20,000 gallons of oil per acre, which is many times more than ANY know plant, and it can be done at different scales, even for someone who wants to “farm” less than an acre.

One of my interests is in finding out how well a diesel generator will run on straight oil from algae, (not converted to biodiesel) or a blend of bio or petro diesel and algae oil. This has the potential to make a tremendous impact not only in major power generation, but for personal power generation as well. The methods for extracting the oil from algae are simple (a press) and growing algae isn’t exactly rocket science, although you do need a proper medium in the water for maximum growth potential. Interesting stuff.

The biggest advantage is that if we tried to make biodiesel from soybeans replace all the gasoline we use in the US, we would have to plant every square mile with soy and still not have enough. They say with algae, it would take 3% of the land mass in the US, which is a bit more realistic. At the very least, it offers the chance to suppliment current fuel, using existing infrastructure, and lets individuals create their own fuel without large tracts of land.



Stupid Media

Posted in General at 4:24 pm by Dennis Brown

Jeez, you would think that the nation’s finest journalists could get it right, especially when it comes the 101s of biodiesel. No wonder people are confused. Let me give you an example from the ABC News website post I just found here. It was written by Becky Worley.

There is a lot of confusion about biodiesel, so here’s the skinny: Biodiesel is a blend of traditional diesel (aka dino-diesel) and vegetable oil.

No, biodiesel is NOT a blend of petro diesel and veggy oil. Go read about transesterification, Becky. She didn’t even mention B5 or B20… blends, so I could tell this was going to be ugly.

You can switch back and forth between biodiesel and regular diesel if you have to. The only difference when using biodiesel is you may have to switch your oil filter more often.

No, you might have to change it ONCE when you switch to biodiesel because it will clean all the garbage left from petro diesel. Once you change to a blend or pure bio, you will probably change it LESS often. Again, she doesn’t understands what biodiesel is, even though she is authoring a report on it. She also didn’t mention potentially longer engine life, but I wouldn’t have expected that since the jury is still somewhat out on that issue. Oh, and you don’t really “switch back” anyway. The engine doesn’t know the difference from petro diesel, biodiesel or a blend.

Some people modify their diesel engines to run a fuel called straight vegetable oil. These are the folks who back up to a McDonald’s and take all its fry grease. SVO and biodiesel are different animals in the same family. Biodiesel is a lot less hassle than running an SVO vehicle.

I wasn’t aware that Mickey D’s was having to put locks on their grease traps, but whatever. SVO and biodiesel are different animals, biodiesel is what you get after you process SVO. I almost fainted when I read the one line that was accidently correct, that it is less hassle to run biodiesel than SVO, although the concept of gel point and such completely escaped her. I don’t think she understands you can take old McGrease, lye and alcohol and make biodiesel either.

She goes on and spews a bunch more of this. (read for yourself) I don’t think she had any malice intended, it just appears she went to a single blog or asked someone waiting for a bus for her entire research. The stuff she got wrong wasn’t even hard to find info for. Any responsible journalist would have done more research before publishing something that was this misleading, even if by accident.


« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »