Exotic Source of Biodiesel

Exotic Source of Biodiesel

Recently, alligator fat was identified as a source to produce biodiesel. Every year, about 15 million pounds of alligator fat are disposed of in landfills as a waste byproduct of the alligator meat and skin industry. Studies have shown that biodiesel produced from alligator fat is similar in composition to biodiesel created from soybeans, and is cheaper to refine since it is primarily a waste product. The report at the latest meeting of the American Chemical Society follows up on an earlier study on the potential use of gator fat as a source of biodiesel fuel. It’s cool research, but there is obviously a limited amount of alligator fat lying around. Using fat from such common sources as chicken, pork and beef could be much more practical for commercial implementation, according to Thomas Junk, Ph.D. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, whose earlier alligator fat study used a batch reactor and says the gator improvement came because they switched to a flow reactor to process the fat. “We set up a flow reactor, and the reaction converting alligator fat to biodiesel happened within a few minutes. That’s important for commercial manufacturing, where you want to produce as much fuel as quickly as possible.” Living the great U.S.A. always provides options – you can choose between putting a “Tiger in your tank”, a “Dinosaur in your tank”, or a “Gator in your...
Alaska is no longer Arctic

Alaska is no longer Arctic

If you’ve ever met an Alaskan, you know talking about disappeared sea ice and dead polar bears might get yawns or a semi-concerned shrugs.  A few degrees one way or the other has never been a significant impact to their lives. However, 2014 was one of the warmest years on record for America’s wintriest state. It was also the warmest for the Bering Sea and Anchorage’s warmest since 1926. In fact, for the first time in recorded history, the temperature never dropped below zero in Anchorage for a whole calendar year. This is a big deal as it resulted in a green Christmas – seriously Anchorage did not have any snow on the ground on Christmas Day and no one remembers that ever happening in the past. At a certain point, even the most die-hard Climate Change deniers will have to pay attention to these new normals.  In the southern states, there are projections of 135F within the coming decades. Crops don’t grow, gasoline powered cars simply do not run well and the energy to cool people down is not available to support the ever growing population.  It is logical to believe that people will begin to migrate north so Alaska will likely become quite crowded over the coming...
Awesome Neander Motorcycle

Awesome Neander Motorcycle

What has become the most popular form of power for cars in many regions of the world is now finally possible for motorcycles: a high performance turbo-diesel engine. This turbo-diesel engine, with its unparalleled acceleration characteristics, low fuel consumption and high top speed, is a game changer for the future of motorcycles. This engine design solves the issue of the almost show-stopping, 150 year challenge of radical vibration below 4 cylinders.  This is the world’s first production turbo-diesel motorcycle. Diesel...

What is Food? Harry Blazer

By Harry Blazer I would like to thank Nazha Aschenbrenner for giving me the opportunity to provide my perspective on Investment in Agriculture for Sustainability and Food Security (sovereignty) since I was not available to moderate the session at the 2014 AIM Conference. First some definitions. We define food as primary ingredients or that, which is made from primary ingredients, using processes that do not alter the fundamental integrity, wholesomeness and healthfulness of the primary ingredients used. A primary ingredient is water and also a natural (non-synthetic) nutrient with a fully-disclosed, one-word ingredient statement, which is neither genetically modified nor produced using GM technologies. We define food sovereignty as self-sufficiency in the production of all nutrients including water and wholesome, healthful and nutritious: a) land-based foods, i.e. fruit, vegetables, grains, livestock and b) water-based foods i.e. fish/seafood; and distribution of those nutrients to the population as required – in sufficient quantities for the population to thrive. We define sustainability as that which at worst is benign and preferably beneficial to the quality of air, water and soil. Sustainability can also be viewed through three lenses: a. Material – where rate of use < rate of replenishment, with the goal of emulating as much as possible Nature’s closed-nutrient-loops where there is no “waste”, since the waste products of one process become the feed stock for another. b. Energy – All secondary sources of energy, even so called renewable sources, are derived from our sun. So the closer we can get to the direct use of the sun’s energy, the more sustainable we are likely to be. c. Economic/Social – the key...
Reviving Algae from the (Almost) Dead

Reviving Algae from the (Almost) Dead

Bill Scanlon, NREL November 03, 2014 Tucked away in darkness and almost dead, algae can emerge from a frigid and foggy environment to live again — and perhaps even become the seeds for a new beginning that can provide biofuel for a clean energy future. NREL Research Technician Nick Sweeney inoculates algae being grown in a tent reactor. Algae brought back to active states from cryogenic tanks need aerobic environments to meet their full potential as biofuels. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL At the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and at dozens of other labs nationwide, algae are like a junior high kid with great promise: slow to arise, but packed with energy for the long haul. It may take years, but eventually the great expectations can be reached. A gallon of fuel made from algae currently costs about quadruple the cost of a gallon of conventional diesel. But looking long term, algae are an inexhaustible resource that if used as a substitute for fuels would slash the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — and costs are dropping. Resurrecting Algae a Delicate Task Unlike resurrecting zombies — or teens — awakening a dormant algae sample takes precision and care. At NREL, that task often falls to Research Technician Nick Sweeney. “We do cryogenic resurrection of algae from our library of strains,” Sweeney said. “We get calls from other labs, universities, private companies, or from our own researchers requesting a particular strain. “It’s not as simple as pulling something frozen out of the freezer; the protocol is to slowly bring it back to a state where its...