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When you run a zoo, we imagine there's a large quantity of animal excrement to dispose of. Fertilizer is the first thing that comes to mind. But there are only so many zoo gardens in need of nutrients. Sooner or later, you're faced with surplus of tiger turds, camel crap and snake, um, shizzle.

The U.S. Department of Defense has selected two companies, Diversified Energy and Velocys, to design a mobile biofuel manufacturing plant that would process organic waste from military installations. The plans are to use pyrolysis to create syngas to be used as biofuel for military vehicles and planes. The specifications also require these mobile plants to be able to produce the equivalent of 500 oil barrels per day.

GreatPoint, a company made by three enterpreneurs from Boston (Andrew Perlman, Avi Goldberg and Aaron Mandell) has announced that they have created a cheap method to obtain natural gas from coal. Obtaining gas from coal (called syngas) is not the latest technology around: At the end of the 19th century, many cities had gas lights and Germany had syngas-powered vehicles from the '20s until the end of WWII. During the Oil crisis in the '70s, the US Government funded research, until syngas became n

The headlines for this story indicate that a team from LSU, Oak Ridge National Lab, Clemson, Conoco-Phillips and the Department of Energy are trying to make ethanol a more efficient fuel. I don't know that this is the case, as it seems that what they are trying to do is manufacture ethanol from the U.S. supplies of coal. They appear to be doing this by generating syngas from the coal and then converting the gas to ethanol. The same syngas could potentially be a source for hydrogen as well, but a

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are working on a new method to create syngas from biomass which can then be burned directly to make electricity or converted to many different liquid fuels that we use today. There are already processes being used to create syngas, but this particular one might be the quickest and most efficient. Using "a 700 to 800 degree Celsius porous surface" along with the (very expensive) precious metal rhodium, their process breaks down the biomass in 70 millisec

As recently as January we reported on plasma vaporisation technology capable of turning organic waste material into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, a mixture called synthesis gas, or syn-gas, that can be used as a fuel or as a valuable feedstock in further chemical processes. The company in question then was U.S. based Integrated Environmental Technologies.