Posts Tagged ‘alternative fuels’
Robert Fulton, the 19th century engineer of steamboat fame, didn’t invent the technology. He just improved it to make steamboats faster and commercially viable. Some day soon, distant descendent Robert Fulton III of Cedar City, UT hopes to make the same claim for making alternative fuels more effective and profitable.
Fulton works for Compact Contractors for America (CCA), a Southern Utah-based company that is developing dry process biofuels from algae, camelina seed, and other non-fossil fuel sources. Dry process biofuels are essentially powders that can be injected and combusted in jet turbines and other engines. April 29th, CCA will exhibit and demonstrate the fuel at the Milford Renewable Energy Fair hosted by the Southwest Utah Renewable Energy Center.
“Dry process fuels have been around for a long time, at least since the first pulverized coal power plants,” Fulton said. “Running engines on burnable powders as opposed to liquid fuel is nothing new. What we’re trying to do is to identify the most effective feedstocks, rendering and fuel-injection processes to make dry process biofuels scalable to commercial and military operations.”
The advantage dry process biofuels may have over liquid biofuels is a more streamlined and potentially less expensive preparation process, Fulton said. Dewatering the feedstock takes less energy, and no catalytic “cracking” is needed to create a liquid fuel. According to Fulton, CCA is focused initially on the aviation market, and in particular on providing dry process fuels for unmanned military vehicles.
“The military is very open to finding new alternative sources of fuel that promote our country’s energy independence,” Fulton said. “We’re trying to capitalize on that interest.”
USTAR recently funded a $39,000 Technology Commercialization Grant at Southern Utah University (SUU) to assist CCA in testing different algae strains and camelina feedstock. Initial tests have been promising, according the SUU chemistry professor Renwu Zhang. In general, the processed strains provided ample combustion heat with only minor residue.
Out-of-state experts have also tested CCA’s processed strains. Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Lab faculty member Thomas Cawley recently tested samples for injection system delivery. The CCA material showed promise for high-pressure combustion use and appeared to have little moisture sensitivity, meaning the end product is less likely to clump or jam in commercial use.
In a related effort, Montana State University has provided camelina meal samples to Southern Utah University for testing on CCA’s behalf. Combustion testing results yielded great potential for a camelina-based dry fuel.
The most recent milestone CCA has achieved is the signing April 24th of a research agreement with SOLIX Biofuels, Inc. of Colorado. SOLIX will provide algae samples for larger-scale, production tests. “SOLIX is well known nationally,” Fulton said. “Working with such an established commercial player is pretty exciting for us.”
From connections to university experts to market assessment and branding, Fulton speaks well of his interaction with USTAR. “The grant funding has been critical in allowing us to move forward, and having state support for SUU’s testing project has positioned us well with outside companies such as SOLIX.”
“USTAR has also provided some invaluable feedback on our business plan, and has helped us target the military aviation market. That advice alone has helped focus our efforts more effectively,” he said.
CCA’s exhibit at the Milford Renewable Energy Fair will be at Milford High School from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Thursday, April 29th. For more information on the fair, visit www.swatc.edu/renewableenergyfair.shtml. For more information on CCA, contact email@example.com or visit his site at http://algaeaviationfuel.com/. Originally Published by USTAR 4/29/2010 http://newmedia.innovationutah.com/2010/04/29/powdered-algae-biofuel-on-display-at-milford-renewable-energy-fair/
According to president Obama, the Pentagon isn’t seeking “homegrown” alternative fuels just to protect the environment, but to “protect America’s national security.” The Navy is embarking on a radical plan to reduce its dependency on oil. In 10 years, it wants to be able to power all its planes, vehicles and ships using a 50 percent alternative fuel.
The Navy isn’t alone. The Army too is developing combat vehicles designed to run on fuels like biodiesel and ethanol. The Defense Department has invested $2.7 billion this year alone to improve energy efficiency, reported President Obama. “Here at home, as politicians in Washington debate endlessly whether to act to reduce our oil dependency, our own military has determined that we can’t afford not to,” he said.
In short, over the next several years, global oil dynamics may change the planet forever. And America will not be immune.
The United States imports a whopping 56 percent of its daily oil needs—over 10.9 million barrels per day. That is more than the total daily production of Saudi Arabia. But even this number underestimates America’s vulnerability to oil shock. That is because America imports close to one fifth of the world’s available oil.
And this dependence on foreign oil supplies is set to get worse. America’s oil fields are rapidly going dry. Algae fuel is rapidly advancing now, it is no longer a future fuel, it is the right now fuel. Utah based Compact Contractors for America, LLC has developed a fuel based on algal biomass, not oil. Penn State has tested the new algae based fuel and confirmed it does work in combustion engines the military currently uses to protect our country and way of life. Dry Processed Algae Jet Fuel is the now fuel.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) helped to develop the internet and satellite navigation systems, has taken industry insiders by surprise. A cheap, low-carbon fuel would not only help the US military, the nation’s single largest consumer of energy, to wean itself off its oil addiction, but would also hold the promise of low-carbon driving and flying for all.
Darpa’s research projects have already extracted oil from algal ponds at a cost of $2 per gallon. It is now on track to begin large-scale refining of that oil into jet fuel, at a cost of less than $3 a gallon, according to Barbara McQuiston, special assistant for energy at Darpa. That could turn a promising technology into a market-ready one. Researchers have cracked the problem of turning pond scum and seaweed into fuel, but finding a cost-effective method of mass production could be a game-changer. “Everyone is well aware that a lot of things were started in the military,” McQuiston said.
Never underestimate the ability of the not-so-sexy solutions–algae grown and turned into fuel, flywheels or pumped storage to help time shift supply to better meet electricity demand, taking simple efficiency steps, etc.–to deliver some impressive contributions to our energy and environmental challenges once we feel sufficient urgency to take them. In fact, I expect algae fuel to play a much bigger part in our future transportation alternatives than the car companies’ (and semi-informed technophile’s) favorite hobby horse, hydrogen.
As for the claim of $3/gallon jet fuel from algae in “just months”, consider me highly skeptical, to put it mildly. I’m sure that the claim is a reference to being able to hit that price point, not real world production in any significant quantity. Even so, it’s one hell of a claim, and it’s either a gross overstatement of what DARPA’s been up to, or it’s a revelation that they’ve pulled a techno-rabbit out of their hat.