Alternative Fuels

  • Lebônê Dirt-Powered Battery Featured Article Lebônê Dirt-Powered Battery Lebônê Dirt-Powered Battery

    Lebônê Dirt-Powered Battery Challenge 500 million people in Africa live without power. How does it work: Ordinary soil contains large number of ... More »

  • Are Biofuels Crops Sustainable? Featured Article Are Biofuels Crops Sustainable? Are Biofuels Crops Sustainable?

    A Sustained Effort New crops produce biofuels, but are they sustainable? Established in 2007, Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Bioenergy Science Center (BESC)... More »

  • Fuels From an Ancient Crop Featured Article Fuels From an Ancient Crop Fuels From an Ancient Crop

    ?Main Image:  Chemical engineer Akwasi Boateng (right) and mechanical engineer Neil Goldberg (center) adjust pyrolysis process conditions while chemist Charles Mullen... More »

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Ethanol Biofuels in the United States Last Updated on 2011-06-16 00:00:00 Biofuels are a major source of renewable energy in the United States. Ethanol produced from corn starch accounts for 90% of the biofuels consumed, but only 5% of all light-duty motor transportation fuel consumption. Ethanol is blended with gasoline to increase octane and reduce emissions, and used as a substitute for gasoline to reduce consumption of petroleum-based fuels. Ethanol has the potential to provide many benefits. As an alternative to gasoline refined from imported oil, its use can improve U.S. national energy security, albeit marginally. Although the exact magnitude is subject to debate, ethanol is thought by many to produce lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared with gasoline. For this reason, its increased use is seen by many as playing a potential key role in reducing the contribution of the transportation sector to global climate change. U.S.-produced... More »
Algae Might Replace Some U.S. Oil Imports Last Updated on 2011-04-13 00:00:00 ?Main Image: A June 2010 photo shows raceway ponds in Southern California was taken by the QuickBird satellite. A PNNL study shows that 17 percent of the United States’ imported oil for transportation could be replaced by biofuel made from algae grown in outdoor raceway ponds located in the Gulf Coast, the Southeastern Seaboard and the Great Lakes. Credit: PNNL. Study: Algae could replace 17% of U.S. oil imports Choosing optimal growing locations limits algal biofuel’s water use High oil prices and environmental and economic security concerns have triggered interest in using algae-derived oils as an alternative to fossil fuels. But growing algae — or any other biofuel source — can require a lot of water. However, a new study shows that being smart about where we grow algae can drastically reduce how much water is needed for algal biofuel. Growing... More »
Molten Rock as a Source of High-Grade Energy Last Updated on 2011-02-16 00:00:00 Iceland Volcano's Molten Rock Could Become Source of High-Grade Energy Krafla volcano gives geologists unique, unexpected opportunity to study magma Geologists drilling an exploratory geothermal well in 2009 in the Krafla volcano in Iceland met with a big surprise: underground lava, also called magma, flowed into the well at 2.1 kilometers (6,900 feet) depth. It forced the scientists to stop drilling. "To the best of our knowledge, only one previous instance has been documented of magma flowing into a geothermal well while drilling," said Wilfred Elders, a geologist at the University of California, Riverside, who led the research team. Elders and his team studied the well within the Krafla caldera as part of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project, an industry-government consortium, to test whether geothermal fluids at supercritical pressures and... More »
Fuels From an Ancient Crop Last Updated on 2011-02-10 00:00:00 ?Main Image:  Chemical engineer Akwasi Boateng (right) and mechanical engineer Neil Goldberg (center) adjust pyrolysis process conditions while chemist Charles Mullen (left) loads the reactor with bioenergy feedstock. Source: USDA. New Fuels From an Ancient Crop Barley has been cultivated for thousands of years, yet it doesn’t always make the list when energy experts discuss potential biofuel crops. And bio-oil—a liquid fuel generated when heat breaks down plant matter—is still a low-profile energy alternative. But research by Agricultural Research Service scientists at the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, could give a big boost to producing bio-oil from barley feedstocks. As a renewable transportation fuel, bio-oil made from barley byproducts—or any other biofeedstock—has several advantages. The fuel... More »
Compatibility: Biofuels and Existing Transportation Infrastructure Last Updated on 2011-02-09 00:00:00 But Are They Compatible? New biofuels must be compatible with America's existing transportation infrastructure. The ultimate goal of ORNL's BioEnergy Science Center is, naturally, to produce biofuel—but not just any biofuel. To achieve the center's goal of helping to reverse the nation's dependence on oil imports, a successful biofuel will need to be a stepping stone that fits neatly into America's current fuel infrastructure as part of a path to a transportation system that rests far less heavily on petroleum products. The research performed by Distinguished Scientist Bruce Bunting and his colleagues at ORNL's Fuels, Engines and Emissions Research Center (FEERC) focuses on ensuring that new biofuels meet both requirements. The research, funded in large measure by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable... More »