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...

Dodge Doubles 1500 Ram Diesel Production

2014-10-27 Chrysler said this week that it would double production of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickup, increasing the model’s share of all Ram pickups from 10 to 20 percent. Ram is currently the only light truck manufacturer in the US to offer a diesel engine in a light-duty pickup. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel comes with a 240 horsepower 3-liter diesel V6 with a fuel efficiency rating of 28 miles per gallon. Their are very few of these trucks on the lots across the nation – most are sold before the Dealers take delivery. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Chevy, GMC, and Ford are all announcing the release of new light and mid-sized pick up trucks with advanced diesel engines. The U.S. Migration is well...

U.S. Clean Diesel Car Sales Up 25% in 2014

Diesel passenger car purchases continue to increase, which is great news for the biodiesel industry.  Diesel car sales in the U.S. increased by more than six times the rate of overall car sales during the first six months of 2014 — a 25 percent increase from last year — according to Edmunds data and the Diesel Technology Forum. Diesel sales in 2014 show six consecutive months of increases: +6.8 percent in January; +4.5 percent in February; +39.5 percent in March; +60.4 percent in April; +26.8 percent in May and +8.8 percent in June. “Sustained and mostly double-digit increases in sales each month over a four-year period prove that U.S. consumers are embracing the benefits of clean diesel technology and its proven, high fuel efficiency, great driving performance, and long-term value,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. Clean-diesel vehicles are about 30 percent more efficient than those with gasoline engines, says the DTF, and the group expects automakers to introduce even more diesels to help meet federal fuel-efficiency standards that mandate a 54.5 mpg corporate average by 2025. Current clean-diesel offerings in the U.S. include 27 models of cars and SUVs, nine vans and 10 pickup trucks. Click here for a list of the clean diesel cars and pickups available in the U.S....
XanaFlow Increases MPG and Lowers Emissions

XanaFlow Increases MPG and Lowers Emissions

We all have been bombarded with scores of late-night TV ads for gadgets that increase MPG in our vehicles for decades…  “Just add this little piece of plastic into your air in-take and you will get 20% better MPG”.  “Pour this elixir into your tank and poof – no more smoke out your tail pipe”. The reality is that it now costs over $1B USD to take an engine from concept into production.  The world market is unforgiving and ruthlessly competitive.  Engine design specialists now must study computer science for years before they can wield the advanced tools of an engine designer … Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), CAD to CNC milling machines and even then, they must also become intimate with the vast number of variables of Material Science – Metallurgy, an in-depth knowledge of the chemistry of the fuels and the Laws of Thermodynamics.  Yet, the best and most honest engine designers, will tell you that CFD results can be off by orders of magnitude from real-world testing, that CNC milling machines can’t always do what is desired, that material science is plagued with QA and virgin vs. recycled metals issues and the look-up tables for the environmental thermodynamics as they relate to engine design are changing as the result of Climate Change. Our 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 dually was getting about 17mpg on the highway prior to the XanaFlow install and 22mpg after or about a 30% mpg improvement. Our 2014 Chevy Cruze diesel was getting about 46mpg highway prior to the XanaFlow install and we are now seeing over 60mpg after or about a 44% mpg...

Senators propose 12-cent fuel tax increase

By JOAN LOWY WASHINGTON – Two senators unveiled a bipartisan plan Wednesday to raise federal gasoline and diesel taxes for the first time in more than two decades, pitching the proposal as a solution to Congress’ struggle to pay for highway and transit programs. The plan offered by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would raise the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal gas tax and 24.4 cents-a-gallon diesel tax each by 12 cents over the next two years, and then index the taxes to keep pace with inflation. The increase would be applied in two increments of 6 cents each. The plan also calls for offsetting the tax increases with other tax cuts. Senators said that could be done by permanently extending six of 50 federal tax breaks that expired this year, but they indicated they would be open to other suggestions for offsets. The plan was immediately embraced by industry and transportation advocacy groups seeking a long-term means to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent. However, it would require a lot of heavy lifting from Congress in the politically charged atmosphere of an election year to pass such a plan before late August, when the trust fund is forecast to go broke. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has indicated he’s looking for means to shore up the fund for about the next six months while working on a long-term plan. That would move debate on a gas tax increase or some other revenue-raising scheme until after the midterm elections in November. Revenue from gas taxes and other transportation user fees that for decades hasn’t kept...
2014 Mercedes E250-45mpg EPA Hwy Rating

2014 Mercedes E250-45mpg EPA Hwy Rating

2014 E250 BlueTEC Sedan Gets 45 MPG EPA HWY Rating 2014 E250 BlueTEC. (PRNewsFoto/Mercedes-Benz USA) The newest Mercedes-Benz E-Class – the 2014 E250 BlueTEC sedan – has achieved an impressive estimated EPA rating of 45 miles per gallon on the highway and 28 mpg around town. The first diesel E-Class to be available with 4MATIC achieves best-in-class fuel efficiency for a midsize luxury sedan and for the entire industry in the same size range. When equipped with optional 4MATIC all-wheel drive, its fuel mileage numbers are still an impressive 42 mpg highway and 27 in the city. No other diesel sedan offers a better EPA fuel economy highway estimate. High-Tech Four Cylinder with Balance Shafts: It’s clear that the big news for 2014 is the high-efficiency turbodiesel engine that powers the E250 BlueTEC. The all-aluminum, in-line four-cylinder engine makes use of four valves per cylinder and dual overhead camshafts with vane-type variable valve timing, producing 195 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. To smooth out the inherent vibration of an in-line four-cylinder engine, two Lanchester balance shafts spin at twice crankshaft speed in sophisticated, low-friction roller bearings. During normal operation, the advantages of this two-stage turbocharged system can be felt – no turbo lag, fast throttle response, a broad torque curve across the entire engine speed range and noticeably improved performance. What’s more, the 369 lb-ft of torque is readily available at 1,800 rpm. BlueTEC Refinements; Fuel pressure for the BlueTEC direct fuel injection system is 2,000 bar or 28,400 pounds per square inch, which makes possible even more power and lower exhaust emissions. Higher ignition fuel pressure means...