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« Land for Largest Field of Switchgrass for Bioenergy Acquired | Main | Sungri Claims 5-7 cents per kWh for CSP Solar Technology »

May 02, 2008



GM will invest in anything to keep the internal combustion engine and the sales of high dollar trucks and SUVs, going, even if its only a facade. We need some leadership in this country. We need to stop the ethanol industry from spreading false hope and growing. We need to stop relying on Internal Combustion Engines. Its time to develop electric cars. If I was a leader, I would impose a 25% tax on oil company profits and put it into electric car research. We need to make that switch. Its time.


me2......I second your comments. And GM wonders why Toyota has now passed them in world sales. GM has no vision.


Electric cars sound great, but the real question is what energy source you would use to power the electric car?

Bob Wallace

We have the ability to charge a very large number of electric cars during off-peak hours.

IIRC a study by Oak Ridge Labs reported a number along the lines of 84% of cars could be electric and it would be possible to charge them at night using existing generation facilities.

Obviously that would be largely using 'non-green' electricity at this point in time, but we wouldn't make an overnight transition away from ICEs. We would continue to add green electricity to the grid as we add electric vehicles to the road.


Thanks for the info….I am trying to put together a list of what celebs are doing to help the environment. Ed Begley Jr. is having a sweepstakes where he flys you to Hollywood and gives you tips on how to go green ( http://www.earthlab.com/life/livingwithed/ ) Pretty crazy stuff. Obviously there are many others. Drop me a link if you have any on the top of your head. Thanks again for the info!


Thanks for the info….I am trying to put together a list of what celebs are doing to help the environment. Ed Begley Jr. is having a sweepstakes where he flys you to Hollywood and gives you tips on how to go green ( http://www.earthlab.com/life/livingwithed/ ) Pretty crazy stuff. Obviously there are many others. Drop me a link if you have any on the top of your head. Thanks again for the info!

Carl Hage

A noteworthy post-- more indications that a triving business awaits the near future, converting waste biomass to fuel.

As noted, biofuel won't be enough to meet transportation needs at the current levels of consumption. I believe in electric power, and even at current expensive photovoltaic prices, it's cheaper than gasoline, and the area required is 100x less than growing biomass.

Don't forget about energy efficiency, though. The biggest gains-- probably about 50%, will come from reducing fuel consumption. The Rocky Mountain Institute calculates "negabarrels" of oil can be freed for $12/barrel. The book Winning the Oil Endgame provides details. Reducing weight is a key strategy, and it's theoretically possible to use carbon-fiber at the same cost as steel. On this linked article there is a picture of the Toyota concept car-- same size as a Prius, but 3x lighter and 2x fuel efficient.

I hear lots and lots on alternative energy sources, but not so much on energy efficiency, even though it's already cost effective and there are huge opportunities in scale.


You are absolutely correct that there is an enormous potential for energy effeciency in the United States, but the average person does not care about energy effeciency.

I am aware of a company that installs Energy Management Systems in buildings. You would be amazed at the amount of buildings that have energy management systems disabled by building operators while the buildings are empty at night and weekends with the AC and Heat running continuously.

A lot of the tools are already in place to reduce our energy usage, but you have to have people that care about using the equipment.

Carl Hage

Denis says, the average person does not care about energy effeciency ....

I would add ... or know about energy efficiency.

So the moral is that we don't need to develop new technology-- it's just a matter of motivating people to apply it. There are many sources that show it's cost effective, so that's not the problem.

Motivating people can be hard, but if that's understood, it can be addressed.


Denis and Carl,


Notice a main point here is building owners are loosing money if heat use is not controlled properly. Many old building have heat systems that do not allow control and monitoring. This is one solution.
If the building owners want to allow their managers to blow their profit margin out the window, ...well what can anyone do? Some owners however will jump on this.


The buildings that I am referring to are buildings that already have an energy management system in place.

Individual buildings will have different reasons for 24/7 operation with no regard to occupancy, but there are some general trends.

In the Government sector (Federal, State, City) there may be Operation and Maintenance contract issues that are preventing people from making the correct decisions regarding energy. You may also see people that aren't trained properly, or don't feel they are paid enough to care, and managers that don't really understand energy.

In the Industrial sector you see a lot of people that know what the right thing to do is regarding energy, but their bonus structure is much more closely related to production issues.

On the plus side, I have seen managers in the Industral Sector, reduce their companies energy bills by millions of dollars per year and I know of some Government buildings that have exceptional maintenance and energy management practices.

There are definitely financial incentives for people to do make the correct energy choices, but there are very few building managers that I am aware of that have their annual bonuses tied to energy consumption. As a result, managers really have to passionate about energy to push the organization to do the correct thing.

too many italics

is there some way to keep italics from spilling over to the next comment?


regarding the buildings & efficiency..
One problem is that often the renters actually pay the utilities heat & electricity not the owner. So its often in the builders interest not to spend the extra cost in higher efficiency building during the construction phase even though it will ultimately save the renters money in the long run.


Cellulosic ethanol will never be a GHG solution. According to recent studies it emits one and a half times the cO2 of gasoline.

GM has everything it needs to go plugin hybrid, in fact they keep on touting the "Volt". It's not happening.

The Toyota plugin hybrid hypercar is excellent, but not in production.

The Audi plugin hybrid is mass produced, but not available in the US.

The stalling and diversion into ethanol and other gas guzzling boondoggles continues.

Plugin hybrid bikes are popping up all over from do-it-yourselfers and even some manufacturers.

This and car conversion looks like the only alternative for now. The new Firefly Oasis battery should be available soon. Putting a 350 pound, affordable battery that stores the effective energy in a gallon of gas, right on the market.

Save 350 pounds off the weight of your front wheel drive car by removing metal and replacing it with carbon fiber and foam, and the weight doesn't matter. Get another 100 pounds out to balance an electric motor for the rear wheels and you could have a pretty good, inexpensive plugin hybrid with a 40 mile range on batteries.

The next step? Scrap the old gas motor and it's components and substitute a 15 hp flex fuel generator that can run on gasoline or methane.

This is all feasible right now. Or will be as the Firefly battery comes out. to bad the oil boys will not let the better batteries be mass produced. Lithium ion power toll batteries are great, but still really expensive. They are great for plugin bikes though.

This energy revolution is going do-it-yourself now. At the beginning of the PC revolution this occurred too. kits to build your own computer.

I think kits will be the route this time around. Kits of adaptor parts to turn you car into a plugin hybrid hypercar.

Bob Wallace

"Cellulosic ethanol will never be a GHG solution. According to recent studies it emits one and a half times the cO2 of gasoline."

The CO2 emitted by fossil fuels is safely stored underground until we extract it and burn it.

The CO2 emitted by biofuels is recycled from the atmosphere through the plant and back into the atmosphere. It's pretty much 'carbon neutral' and perhaps even 'carbon negative' to the extent that some CO2 is likely to be sequestered in the soil by the plants roots.


The Chevy Volt isn't here yet.

The plug-in Prius and Toyota's X/1 which gets 600 miles on a charged battery and four gallons of fuel aren't here yet.

And the Firefly Oasis battery isn't here either.

Guess we'll have to wait and see on all of them....


It would be interesting if GM would start using Algae as well as a fuel.

Here is the video: http://www.greenenergytv.com/Browse/Top.aspx?1472348255#1472348255


All of the cellulosic biomass resouces the ethanol refiners are proposing are not remotely close to output of the this company's latest pilot.

They are not using food stock or useable farmland and reusing 95% of the water required. How is this not the answer to completely replacing the diesel & jet fuel we are currently getting from oil? Algae sequesters carbon dioxide when growing to make up 2/3 of its weight, getting us much closer to a closed loop resource. Of course this is only a temporary solution until we replace internal combustion engines, but it would get us much closer to carbon neutral on these fuels. This company already has completed an 1/8 acre pilot that translates to enough biomass to produce 33,000 gallons of fuel per acre, per year.


Valcent Products has also solved the problems of shading and scalability.


Getting do-it-yourselfers to pull weight out of their vehicles to offset battery weight isn't a great idea. Car companies have enough to worry about with increasing safety and crash requirements without customers light-weighting their vehicles to save on running costs.

Go on, take the metal out of your front end and use a battery - and when you collide with a tree you can use the fuel consumption savings to pay for your hospital stay...


Mascoma, one of the best-financed cellulosic ethanol start-ups, has raised $100 million in equity investments and received over $100 million in state and federal grants.Marathon Oil, the fourth-largest gas and oil refiner in the U.S., has invested in two other ethanol manufacturing plants. By the middle of this year, Marathon Oil will open its own facilities to blend the ethanol with gasoline, the primary use for ethanol at this point.



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Rick L.

Cool beans for GM. Great idea. Thanks a bunch Rick L.


A waste of time and money. Switchgrass can be made into methanol, note the M, today, with no need for further research.

GM should just make its flex fuel cars REAL flex fuel cars by including methanol in the standard. Since methanol is the simplest alcohol fuel, anything that can run on it can also run on ethanol and all the others too. But cutting off methanol is pointless.

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This is good news, GM is making a vital investment to ensure diversity in our energy mix. Mascoma has developed a single-step cellulose to ethanol process that apparently requires fewer enzymes and other additives.

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may be its GM last chance to stay on track...

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Mascoma was founded in 2005 based on technology developed by Drs. Lee Lynd and Charles Wyman in Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Together, the two have more than 50 years of research into biofuels derived from wood chips, switchgrass and other naturally occurring feedstocks known as cellulosic biomass.

This is what every body need.


Great idea. thanks for sharing....

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We need to stop the ethanol industry from spreading false hope and growing..............

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Let's not forget the spin-off biomass plastics, which opens up a whole other ball game.

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It turns non-food plants into ethanol....Great work...


Good ideas...Thanks...

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I hear lots and lots on alternative energy sources, but not so much on energy efficiency, even though it's already cost effective and there are huge opportunities in scale.

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It is always good to use bio energy. Hope they can find a universal bio energy source for all industry.

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In order to fulfill their objectives they should invest a lot of money and efforts. But the fruit will be great if they can be successful in implementing bio energy as a source of energy.

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GM is going to have a hard competing w/ Tesla once the Tesla S is out IMO.

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How come the internal combustion engine took a very short amount of time to develop, and the whole electric process struggles?

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It's still a good energy source.

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This is still a long way off from flying cars! All kidding aside, have there been any further developments on this? Regardless of how the ethanol is made, is going to make a difference? My Jeep does *horrible* when I put gas with ethanol in it.

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