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« Roadmap for Development of Cellulosic Ethanol Production | Main | Heating and Cooling from the Sun »

July 12, 2006

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Mel.

This is so weird. You get the idea that ethanol is doomed to be a total crap runaround and then... bang. You read something like this, and wonder what the hell the rest of the market is waiting for.

Cervus

And this process can likely be used to make butanol, which is much more suitable for gasoline engines as a total replacement.

hamerhokie

This kind of article generates questions.

1. What are they paying for their feedstock? Do they count on free waste? If they have to buy their feedstock, does it remain cost effective?

2. That last table is puzzling. Why would the cost of their product be dependent upon the cost of oil? If this process is more cost effective than the one used to make corn ethanol, as this implies, then why is the cellulouse ethanol process generally considered too expensive to be competitive?

mcr

James you have outdone yourself again.

Sounds very interesting to me provided that the reactor can be retrofitted / strain modified to generate (Bio)butanol ... this is going to overtake ethanol eventually in transportfuel applications - its inevitable due to BTU considerations and decreased water contents, pipelining etc (See James' previous post on this).

I still would like to see hard figures - was pleased to see those above.

Anyone got any ARKENOL/BLUEFIRE relevant patent applications AND patent NUMBERS???

WPO or US or EU (aka esp@cenet / EPO) NUMBERS?

POST THEM ON HERE IF YOU HAVE THEM

- they make useful further reading AND ARE PUBLIC DOCUMENTS (AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE).


ALSO,
What's the likely hood of a Dupont/BP/Bluefire linkup?

I say this considering the (UK) oil price hit $76 per barrel today (with the international situation)...

mcr

Hamerhokie said: "This kind of article generates questions.

1. What are they paying for their feedstock? Do they count on free waste? If they have to buy their feedstock, does it remain cost effective?

2. That last table is puzzling. Why would the cost of their product be dependent upon the cost of oil? If this process is more cost effective than the one used to make corn ethanol, as this implies, then why is the cellulouse ethanol process generally considered too expensive to be competitive?"

You are absolutely right. In all aspects.

I make the point that if I were a farmer and I saw my crops (likely) to be undercut by WASTE masses ... I'd have made sure I'd already bought into OR bought the actual biorefinery techology.

This is since I would have ownership on the techology that potentially gives VALUE-ADDED STATUS to my "waste" crop...

This is a simplistic arguement but true ... since CELLULOSE is the ONE OF THE MOST ABUNDANT (bio)chemicals on the planet... and available from a huge variety of sources...

amazingdrx

Even at this lower cost the liquid fuel will still be burned, which means that CO 2 will still cause global climate change even if all oil consumption were replaced by cellulosic feedstock.

And without signifigant new sources of biomass, like algae from solar collectors, water and land shortages will severly limit the percentage of oil replaced by this process.

And last but not least, the so called waste product cellulose will not go back into the soil and sequester carbon. Turning land that absorbs cO 2 into land that gives off all the cO 2 it is now storing as soil is depleted of organic matter through chemically based fuel farming.

Blinders are necessary to ignore all these factors.

Reducing the amount of liquid fuel that is needed through renewable electric transportation could make this the process that wins out though, once only a small percentage, say 10% of the present liquid fuel we use is needed.

hamerhokie

amazingdrx - CO2 is released by burning cellulose ethanol but even at E85 levels it is offset by the CO2 used to grow the feedstock, so it is considered carbon neutral. I don't know whether burning pure cellulose ethanol would be considered carbon negative.

As far as abundance of feedstock, between waste plant material, switchgrass, and whatever else is deemed economically useable, I don't think that will be an issue. Although I agree that electric transportation emphasis is the way to go for limiting need for biofuels.

mcr

Hamerhokie: "amazingdrx - CO2 is released by burning cellulose ethanol but even at E85 levels it is offset by the CO2 used to grow the feedstock, so it is considered carbon neutral. I don't know whether burning pure cellulose ethanol would be considered carbon negative."


AN ENTIRE LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS needs to be done here on these cellulosic-ethanol processes - because sometimes suprises do come up! That you don't expect...

I recently was previlaged to see some (as yet unpublished research - and I do recall at least one such biomass example was SIGNIFICANTLY carbon (emission) negative. Which you would not expect - WHEN COMBINED WITH LARGE SCALE ELECTRICITY GENERATION IN PARALLEL. Since avoidance of CO2 emissions when generating necessary process required energy could be achieved... than the coventional process...

However, I cant discuss it on here yet. But once it is published I'll give more details and we can all have a good look - once the author has had time to publish & have peer scrutiny.

Final point - although these biobased routes are energy intensive now (compared with conventional peterochems) ... that WILL COME DOWN as technology improves ... as the oil industry has - thats my opinion.

Engineer-Poet

Do you mean that the bio-fuel system is carbon-negative by itself (not counting the carbon-positive generation system which supplies its process heat), or that the system as a whole (generation and fuel production) becomes carbon-negative?

mcr

Engineer-Poet: "Do you mean that the bio-fuel system is carbon-negative by itself (not counting the carbon-positive generation system which supplies its process heat), or that the system as a whole (generation and fuel production) becomes carbon-negative?"

The generation and fuel production together (as a whole)... don't ask about specifics as the research itself has gone for referee-ing and is yet to be published.

The two specifics on the graph he showed where:
1. "Emissions in feedstock production (avoided emissions due to electricity already considered)"
2. "Emissions in peterochemical production"

As I understand it - the generation negates the need for fossil fuel CO2 production and higher emission...

The research is a chemico-economic FEASIBLITY analysis and takes into account many parameters including effects of carbon trading etc.

The other key thing is the HIGH ENERGY INTENSIVE PROCESSING ASSOCIATED WITH BIOMASS (AND COAL!) ... is offset by electric generation at the same time... in terms of emissions

BUT THE AUTHOR OF THE RESEARCH RIGHTLY MENTIONS ALL THE VARIABLES IN THIS - electricty price - therefore becomes a variable.


Or so I read.

This is all I am able to say until the author publishes - sorry...

amazingdrx

Maybe a new measure of carbon neutrality needs to be introduced to clear up these misconceptions? 3 levels of cO 2 related climate difficulty.

For instance: Renewable electricity from wind or solar charging a battery powered electric vehicle produces no CO 2. that is carbon neutral.

Ethanol burned in an internal combustion vehicle does release CO 2 that was captured by crops through photosynthesis (This disregards fossil fuel inputs to the crop and fuel production). Fuel farming also prevents soil from sequestering carbon further shifting the cO 2 atmospheric balance the wrong way.

Fossil fuel burned in a vehicle releases CO 2 stored by photosynthesis over eons. And is in no way carbon neutral. Producing the most severe greenhouse gas problems.

My argument is why not use the very best technology that sidesteps combustion completely. Stop the quibbling, go renewable electric.

Behind all the debate looms the huge tax dollar giveaway plan for agri bizz fuel farming, buying votes, science, and legislators.

hamerhokie

"Ethanol burned in an internal combustion vehicle does release CO 2 that was captured by crops through photosynthesis (This disregards fossil fuel inputs to the crop and fuel production). Fuel farming also prevents soil from sequestering carbon further shifting the cO 2 atmospheric balance the wrong way."

Three steps in the analysis:

1. Amount of CO2 it takes to produce x quantity of feedstock. This is the negative portion in the equation.

2. Amount of CO2 generated in the process to convert x quantity of feedstock to Y quantity of biofuel. If sequestered this figure should be ZERO. And it will probably always be sequestered.

3. Amount of CO2 released through burning Y quantity of biofuel.

Then balance the results of Steps 1 and 3. According to the sources I have read, For E85 the balance is essentially ZERO.

Engineer-Poet

Zero?  Is that the net emission or the net improvement?

IIRC, the best appraisals today say that E85 from corn reduces net CO2 emissions only about 15% relative to straight gasoline.  When the nitrate and phosphate fertilizers are all made using fossil fuels and the distillation is done with natural gas or even coal, it's hard to claim that even E100 (let alone E85) is carbon-neutral.

mcr

Yes ... but Switchgrass and other grasses ... (CELLULOSIC) don't need fertilizer apparently.

This is what the BlueFire Ethanol - Arkenol process mainly looks at if you read the article and Arkenol's PDF file presentation on their Japanese pilot plant.

Plus they also use residential waste as a mixed feedstock...

And anyway looking at the bigger picture I'd take an 85% CO2 cut relative to straight "gasoline" as you Americans call it anytime. The amount of energy required in real terms is coming down in ACTUALLY CREATING THE ETHANOL. There's still room for improvement also.

I take your point about "renewable electric" I keep telling you this is a partner technology / stepping stone to get to that "PERFECT POINT" you describe. Even if this is later and that in the meantime we use the fuel in these via reforming catalysts in HYBRID OR ELECTRIC VEHICLES (FUEL CELLS).

My main concern is parallel chemicals from biomass (to the fuel processing steps). One must not get too focused in - and always look for sister applications of the same technology.

~1/3 of the entire global economy is either dependent or related to the chemical industry. Fuel is important - but its not the complete picture.

Engineer-Poet

1.  What's the end-to-end efficiency of a system using alcohol in fuel cells?  DCFC's look like they can get close to 40% end-to-end.

2.  The process of carbonizing biomass for DCFC's yields byproducts which have substantial heat energy as well as fuel or chemical value.  BRI's process can ferment such byproducts to ethanol, condensed tars (like bio-oil from fast pyrolysis) might provide other useful chemicals, and the leftover CO2 could feed one of the algae schemes currently being proposed for powerplant exhaust.

The hydrolysis/fermentation schemes need added energy for distillation and don't yield the pyrolysis products which might be so useful to chemists.  You mention ethanol fuel cells, but that's a completely new technology so we have no reason to prefer a less-efficient system over a more efficient one.  It doesn't produce carbon in any form which could be easily sequestered.  The only "advantage" it has is that ethanol is compatible with petroleum-burning vehicles today.  This also means that most vehicles produced to burn E85 will be compatible with, and maintain demand for, petroleum... and that's exactly the thing we have to get away from.

mcr

I agree with all you say about "pyrolysis" being another useful technology. I do agree - I've read numerous relevant articles about the advantages of pyrolysis and gasification technologies in biomass. I don't argue against that at all. They have their function.

I HAVE THE FOLLOWING POINTS:

BUT THIS (FERMENTAION/MICROBIAL TECHNOLOGY) IS JUST ONE TOOL IN THE "GREEN CHEMISTRY" toolkit.

It's no good simply having one screwdriver!
"One size fits all" is NOT GOING TO WORK HERE IN THIS ENORMOUS PROBLEM!

We're talking about AN ENTIRE/WHOLE RANGE of REACTOR SIZES HERE - and needed applications/products needed.

Your talking about VERY LARGE CENTRALISED PLANTS...

I'm thinking more LOCAL LEVEL / SMALLER MODULAR REACTORS ... USING THE TERM "PROCESS INTENSIFICAION" ... or more relevant to my research "SCALE - OUT" (NOT! "SCALE UP" ... AN IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE!).

BOTH WILL HAVE USES DEPENDING ON THE LOCAL GEOGRAPHY!


HAVE YOU READ THE BLUEFIRE ETHANOL INC. ARTICLE ABOVE PROPERLY?

The system incoporates MEMBRANE REACTOR TECHNOLOGY. Something I work with in my research ... incidently.

USING (A SEMI-PERMEABLE DISCRIMINATING MEMBRANE) THIS NEGATES THE NEED FOR COSTLY DISTILLATION PROCESSES - AS SEPARATION OCCURS INSITU / IN PARALLEL TO THE REACTION WITHIN THE REACTION ...

THIS IS CLASSIC "GREEN CHEMISTRY" / "GREEN CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY".

I SUGGEST YOU REREAD THE ARTICLE AND LOOK INTO THESE TWO GUYS WHOM I KNOW PERSONALLY:

Prof. Andy Livingstone, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON, UK).

ALSO Keith Scott at Newcastle University (Newcastle, UK).

Both are interesting characters in this area of research (MEMBRANE REACTOR TECHNOLOGY AND NOVEL REACTOR DESIGN).

ALSO CHECK OUT:
Crystal Faraday
(Crystal Faraday is the UK's innovation centre for green chemical technology.)

http://www.crystalfaraday.org/

Engineer-Poet
Your talking about VERY LARGE CENTRALISED PLANTS...
I am?  That's news to me.  I didn't think I'd mentioned a size, but I was thinking about things as small as you see here.  Oh, fermentation of off-gas and algae capture of CO2 will probably be more cost-efficient on a scale of several farms, but small is definitely possible.

One of the beauties of the DCFC is that it doesn't inherently lose efficiency as it gets smaller.

HAVE YOU READ THE BLUEFIRE ETHANOL INC. ARTICLE ABOVE PROPERLY?

The system incoporates MEMBRANE REACTOR TECHNOLOGY.

That's nice.  How much does that improve the field-to-wheels efficiency of its ethanol product?  What are the limits?  What new technologies have to be developed to get there?  If you specify a system around it, how does it rate with regard to:
  1. Handling of varied feedstocks?
  2. Buffering of energy stocks?
  3. Pollution from both normal operation and fuel spills?
  4. Ease of carbon sequestration?

A system built around carbonization, fermentation of off-gas and feeding algae on the CO2 operates on a potentially very small scale, yields both solid and liquid fuel, can store both indefinitely or use the solid product for sequestration, and can sell the liquid for either fuel or chemical synthesis.  Field-to-terminals efficiency of the charcoal alone could hit 40%, ignoring any improvements from the algae side.

The US uses about 17.6 quads of gasoline per year; at 15% average drivetrain efficiency, that puts 2.65 quads of energy to the wheels.  Compare the potential product of 1.3 billion tons of waste biomass:  if it were converted to 325 million tons of charcoal (~300 million metric tons), it would yield about 7.5 quads of electricity.  Figuring losses in motors and such, that's still more than twice what we need to replace gasoline.  Can the Bluefire process replace all the gasoline used in the USA?  If not, why's it so great?

In-Vestor

Why did this company gone public on
pinksheet? What is the potential of this
co. I will appreciate any responses.
Thanks
In-Vestor

hamerhokie

E-P, I was speaking in terms of cellulose ethanol E85, not corn ethanol.

Jasmine Dey

why did you go public in pink sheet? When are truly filing with SEC? when is your stock down at $2.25? i'm glad to hear that have a chosen a lanfill out in the California.

Ssembonge

BFRE's licence with Arkenol allows for its CEO to have his cake and eat it. Arnold Klann, BFRE's CEO, is also the owner of Arkenol Inc. This relationship allows him to profit from BFRE even if it does not make any profits while he collects payments, royalties and fees associated with the commercialization and production of ethanol using Arkenol's technology. Although he has invested a lot of equity into both BFRE and Arkenol, he stands to gain the most from the exclusive licencing agreement between the two companies.

http://lovelymoney.blogspot.com/2007/05/making-cash-out-of-trash.html

Ilikewood

Interesting comment Ssembonge (and I would say quite correct)

I am personally involved in this research and have been to the Izumi (Japan) site several times. My picture is even included on their Powerpoint presentations as their "friendly staff of professionals", even though I don't work for either of the companies listed and was just part of another subcontracter picture.

The question has been raised about the viability of the strong acid vs. enzyme (weak acid) methods and how come the US is not pursuing the strong acid method in full effort....it all comes down to politics, sorry to say. The big energy research facilities have unilaterally agreed that the enzyme approach will be the way of the future and have invested all their time and effort in that direction.

I can't say for sure if the strong acid method of bio-ethanol is more economic than the enzyme method, but at least there is a working strong acid demonstration plant that is actually producing ethanol.

Rob Mida

E85 is not carbon neutral when looking at the entire life cycle. You have farming/harvesting equipment using diesel. Fertilizer using natural gas. Of course, switchgrass growers will initially claim they won't use fertilizer, but they will to increase their yields. It also doesn't take into account soil degradation, erosion, and compaction. This releases CO2 from dying soil microbes and the earth, not just the sequestered carbon from the atmosphere.

Similar problems will occur with cellulose that have happened with the first generation agrofuels. There are also the dangers of the GE enzymes, which in one study (I have source) the GE microbes created alcohol around the root system and killed all plants. Most research and funding is going into GE microbes and plants as this will be the only foreseeable way for this to be cost effective.

Also, as been brought up here - switching to plug-in hybrids, and a clean electrified transportation system is the only real solution so far. This would include using trains more, trucks less, and lots of redesigning our logistical systems. All these agrofuels (mostly funded by oil giants) just seek to delay (or the buzz word, 'transition') us to what will eventually be necessary.

As for this proposal, I'd like to know how much MSW or trash they will use. As been highlighted, farmers will sell their 'waste' which would be compost in non-monoculture farms, to this company. Urban trash is limited and only economic if in relative proximity. What will most likely happen, as it has historical precedence, is they will use dirty MSW as they can get paid for taking that in as a feedstock. Hazardous wastes, toxics, and heavy metals will then be present in the fuel, which will then be burned.

Dilution is pollution. Internal combustion is greatly inefficient in itself, then you have all the inefficiencies of agrofuels. The picture gets much much worse when you see how these policies, and that of the EU effect the 3rd world resources.

Why spend all this money in these technologies when we (at least some of us) already know what needs to happen?

Steeping stone!? please, these corporations have stepped on enough of us already.

Sohaib Naqvi

Can you help me out on my project on "Production Of Biodiesel" which i got as a part of the requirement for the completion of my degree??
Sohaib Naqvi
Chemical Engineering (Final Year),
NFC-IET Multan,
Pakistan.

Used Dump Trucks

Blue Fire Ethanol Interesting Concept

فيس بوك

im very interesting to learn about this

düzce haber

And this process can likely be used to make butanol, which is much more suitable for gasoline engines as a total replacement...

temporary internet miami

oh my god, I didn't know anything of this, awful..
but we keep, buying cars and contaminating more the environment

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