Archive for October, 2008


on hiatus

October 23, 2008

I am off to Hawaii for the rest of the month.  I will be back posting on Monday, November 3.


Energy Security

October 22, 2008

A plan proposed by Dr. Hamid Arastoopour of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

More on energy security by Jatin Nathwani.

These are both from the North America 2030:  An Environmental Outlook conference hosted this past summer by the Joint Advisory Committee of the Commission on Environmental Cooperation.


Gas prices fall below $3 per gallon

October 21, 2008

For the first time since February, the national average of gasoline prices has fallen below $3.00 per gallon. Here in Los Angeles, I haven’t yet seen it below $3.20 for regular, but I still expect it to be in the $2s for even premium blends by spring . . . and to stay there or lower for a while.  The last time crude oil reached a peak annual price of nearly $100 per barrel (adjusted for inflation), in 1979-81, it immediately began a long descent all the way down to a low of around $14 per barrel in the 1990s.  The decline will neither be that sustained nor go that low, but prices will be low for the rest of the decade, at least.


Gas 2.0: “US Unable to meet EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standards”

October 20, 2008

Gas 2.0 poses the above as a question, but it seems to me likely that it should be a simple statement.  From the report:

We would need approximately 200 large scale facilities to meet the standards, each one capable of producing about 100 million gallons a year, but of the 13 biofuel projects that are being planned, only four of them are of a commercial scale.

A softening economy and collapsing oil prices will shrink the needed investment beyond even these meager efforts.  Political mandates and wishful thinking cannot bend reality.


The Water Inefficiency of Ethanol

October 16, 2008

Gas 2.0 has a post spotlighting some particulars on ethanol production – by some calculations, it takes up to 1000 gallons of water to create 1 gallon of ethanol.

Ethanol advocates will dispute these calculations, but by whatever measure, ethanol is water intensive, as are many other alt-fuels.  In a post I did a month ago on alt-fuel possibilities, I sided with those that use the least water.  Fourth-Gen fuels are the most interesting but,also, the ones furthest from productive development.

From Popular Mechanics’ description of Fourth Gen Fuels:

Scientists have genetically engineered algae not just to turn CO2 into oil, but to continuously excrete that oil directly into the surrounding water. Since oil floats, harvesting it becomes simple work compared with the energy-intensive drying and extraction traditionally used for typical algae, which store oil within their cell walls. As with second-generation methods, the oil can then be processed into biodiesel.



California Fires

October 15, 2008

In addition to this blog and my “day job,” my wife and I run a horse ranch here in Southern California.  The fires caused a mandatory animal evacuation that ran right up to the borders of our property, so we also evacuated in a precautionary move.  Hence, the lack of a new post today.  Probably won’t be a new one tomorrow (Wednesday), either.


“Pro-poor” crops for biofuels

October 13, 2008

“Pro-poor crops” are crops “that can be grown with limited resources by small-scale farmers, can be converted to biofuel with existing cheap technology, and can simultaneously provide food, fuel, and livestock feed.”

This post from Gas 2.0 nominates sweet sorghum and cassava as two pro-poor biofuel crops.  I would add jatropha to the list.  In fact, I’d put it at the top of the list due to its versatility.  More on jatropha here.  I will have more to say about this in the future.