206 Articles
40-year-old discovery may hold key to cellulosic ethanol production

About 40 years ago, Iowa State Chemistry professor John Verkade based his doctoral dissertation on a chemical compound, and only realized a few years ago that it may very well hold the key to breaking down the cellulose that forms the structure of a plant's cell walls.

The Economics of Climate Change: British Stern Report make waves

There have been countless reports regarding global warming and its relation to greenhouse gases, but one recent British study in particular is getting more notoriety than most. The basic premise of the report isn't necessarily groundbreaking. It says that at our current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will have a severe impact on the global economy. It concludes that the cost for not only governments but also businesses and consumers would be significantly less if we were to tak

Making biodiesel from peanuts, for peanuts

From soy we can produce about 50 gallons of biodiesel per acre whereas peanuts can yield as much as 123 gallons on the same amount of land. So why then does the U.S. generate the majority of its biodiesel from soy? The answer lies within the value of peanut oil on the global market. It's more valuable than soy which makes the conversion to biodiesel an unattractive option.

Got oil? Oil industry looks to advertising to save its reputation

Despite Big Oil's recent run of record profits, they're still very concerned with the diminishing state the industry's image. The Wall Street Journal ran this article (subscription required) which reports that the American Petroleum Institute (API) is engaging in a "full-fledged, open-ended [advertising] campaign" and has turned to Harris Interactive, the same company that is entrusted to keep America's milk consumption on the ups. API president Red Cavaney has said that they "will spend what's

MINI to offer a common-rail Cooper

If you live in the States, the thought of a diesel-powered Mini may come as a bit of a surprise, but they've been available for a few years in Europe in the form of the Mini One D. You'll find that most reviewers are pleased with the mileage of the 1.4-liter Toyota-built diesel, but none are particularly excited about the scant 74bhp.

Toyota to take a stake in Isuzu for engine and emissions collaboration

Today, Toyota and Isuzu announced a collaboration which will be made possible by the former purchasing a 5.9 percent stake (100 million shares) in the latter. The two companies said in a public statement that the deal will allow them to work together in the research and development in three areas of green car technology. According to Automotive News (subscription required), Isuzu will take the lead in the development of small diesel engines and diesel emissions control while Toyota spearheads al

IPC says biofuels need clearer classifications to ease international trade issues

We normally discuss biofuels in the context of easing our nation's dependence on foreign energy sources. However, as global demand for biofuels rises, that context may soon shift towards supplying international demand. In a recent study, the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IPC) reported that uncertainties in classifications may be a primary factor in limiting the international trade of biofuels. Robert Howse, lead author of the paper and a University of Michigan law pro

VeraSun to produce biodiesel from ethanol co-product

There has undoubtedly been a lot of noise from both sides of the ethanol argument. Putting it simply, proponents of the biofuel see it as a way to ween the country off foreign oil while critics question its sustainability and energy balance. Friday's news from VeraSun, the nation's second largest ethanol producer, is surely bound to mix things up.

Follow-up on Agni's hydrogen/biodiesel/solar/electric car (we were wrong, but how could we have guessed this?)

A few weeks ago, we reported on a press release from Agni Inc., an alternative energy technology company, that announced the registration of the design rights for a car that could run on hydrogen, diesel, biodiesel, grid-electricity and the sun. Unfortunately, the press release was short and left many questions unanswered, so the car remained a bit of a mystery. We contacted Agni directly to obtain additional information and just a few days ago they were finally able to get back to us with a mor

The 2 Million Mile Haul: Decker embarks on ambitious biodiesel study

Dale T. Decker, industry and government relations director for Decker Truck Line Inc., has got a new pet project: testing the potential of biodiesel. Now when a company states it's going to conduct real-world testing, you rarely get an accurate control group and conversely, lab conditions offer only theoretical insights to the real world. That's apparently not good enough for Decker.

Toyota may expand Prius model range

As Toyota, the king of hybrids, embarks on its ambitious plan of selling 1 million hybrid vehicles worldwide annually before 2015, you have to wonder just how they're going to do it. We've already heard that they eventually plan to offer a hybrid version of all its cars, but will that be enough? How about squeezing more out of the marketability of the Prius nameplate?

Yahoo! and Environmental Defense simplify the green car buying process with Green Ratings

If only we could put everything on a linear scale, it would be so much easier to see if one thing is better or worse than another. Yahoo! teamed up with Environmental Defense to do just that for the "greenness" of automobiles. It's a similar concept to J.D. Power and Associates' Automotive Environmental Index, however, Yahoo! and Environmental Defense chose to use a 0 to 100 point system in which the higher the rating, the greener the car and they're posting it on Yahoo's automotive website buil

Non-profit offers cash incentives for employees who purchase fuel-efficient vehicles

In the face of waning hybrid vehicle tax credits (at least for Toyota), the non-profit organization American Jewish Committee began providing cash incentives for its employees to purchase high-mileage cars with their Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Bonus Program. Depending on vehicle model, bonuses of either $2,500 or $1,500 will be paid out to workers at AJC who have purchased one of the following vehicles: Toyota Prius, Camry Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight, Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Marine

VW unveils a high-temperature fuel cell and says it runs more efficiently

The Associated Press is reporting that last Tuesday researchers at Volkswagen unveiled the first viable high-temperature fuel cell (HTFC) for passenger vehicles. In theory, the benefits of an HTFC over the more common low-temperature fuel cell would allow it to run more efficiently while demanding less from the environment.

Half of British motorists believe the perfect car would be a diesel or a hybrid

You've undoubtedly heard the term 'design-by-committee' (usually in a negative context), but when's the last time you heard someone say 'design-by-survey?' A British online buying guide called New Car Net (www.newcarnet.co.uk) spent two months searching for the ideal car by asking motorists to choose elements of existing vehicles they liked best. The categories included body shapes, engine power, safety features and accessories.

DOE grants California funds to set up E85 fueling stations

There are over 300,000 flex-fuel cars in California, yet just one E85 fueling station. Doesn't make much sense, does it? Moving to address the imbalance, the Department of Energy has granted funding to a group that includes CALSTART, GM, Pacific Ethanol and United Oil among others to begin the construction of an ethanol infrastructure in the Golden State.

USPS to use digital maps to find more efficient delivery routes

I'm not entirely sure just how much our editor Sebastian will like this general comparison, but when discussing transportation and energy issues both he and the somewhat controversial environmentalist George Monbiot like to say that despite all of the advances in alternative energy sources, there is simply no substitute for minimizing your vehicle/energy usage. In that vein, the United States Postal Service will be implementing a new digital map system to calculate more efficient delivery routes

GM's new green strategy to focus on plug-in hybrids with "I-car" project

Bloomberg is reporting that they received word from auto industry insiders that GM's yet-to-be-publicly-announced, new, green strategy will include improved gas engines, hybrid pick-ups, fuel cell vehicles and that the centerpiece of the plan will be plug-in hybrids.

EU's End-of-Life-Vehicle directive increases responsibility of motorists as well as manufacturers

Auto Express is reporting that the European Union's End-of-Life-Vehicles (ELV) directive is now in full force. The biggest direct effect on motorists is that it makes the last registered owner of a car responsible for its proper disposal at an approved facility that uses environmentally friendly measures.

Study shows Americans pay billions for ethanol subsidies

A recent study conducted by the Swiss-based group called Global Subsidies Initiative revealed the total cost of the tax breaks and subsidies that go into U.S. production of ethanol to be in the whopping range of $5.1 to $6.8 billion for 2006. It estimates that U.S. tax payers shell out about $17 per million BTUs. For comparison, a 1989 study calculated oil and natural gas subsidies at less than 40 cents per million BTUs after adjusting for inflation.

China looks towards an alternatively fueled future

Considering the rate at which China is industrializing, the thought of just how much oil they'll consume in future years is staggeringly high. With that in mind, Feng Fei, director of the industrial economics research department with the Development Research Center of China's State Council, announced that by 2025, 50 percent of China's cars will run on fuels other than gasoline. At this point, the alternatives appear to include diesel, biofuels and hydrogen.

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