Uses the metaphor of an energy fabric in order to discuss the perspective of viewing our lives, actions and the things in our lives from an energy point of view. The centrality of energy in our lives is explored through this metaphor and the importance for us to begin thinking more closely about our energy habits and how our lives depend on energy is examined. Energy and how we get it and how we use it is going to become a subject of increasing importance as the era of easy energy that has characterized the past century and a half draws to a close.
What is the meaning and importance of embodied energy as a measure of sustainability and why we need to develop widely accepted standards for embodied energy? This article explores this somewhat arcane concept that seeks to measure how much energy is “embodied” in a product or service; in other words how much energy is used throughout the entire life cycle of the thing being measured including the energy required by decommissioning, disassembly and deconstruction.
The great American car culture is literally running out of gas. Many leading petroleum geologists are warning us that the era of easy cheap oil is over and that we are facing a much steeper rate of depletion than commonly believed. There is nothing that can replace these vast stores of liquid fossil energy that is being pumped out of the ground and drives our car culture. Without cheap plentiful oil the American car culture will rapidly crumble. The impending demise of the car culture and the types of spread out low density living that it has fostered is perhaps the most profound socio-economic earthquake we will have faced in many decades. Will we wisely prepare and build out alternatives to this doomed way of life or we wake up one day unprepared and find that the pumps really have run dry? Talking about giving up on the car culture in America is quite the third rail — no one wants to give up their car — and discussion often veers off into irrational sound bite, talking point filled shouting matches. But the facts are the facts. Cars run on gas and the era of cheap easy oil is over… the world now stands at the top of the oil production curve… at the peak of production. It is like we are all sitting in some great roller coaster ever so slowly rolling perched right at the very top of the precipice. We do not have much time at all to begin re-inventing America and building a green economy that can carry us into the future; if we dilly dally and do nothing events will soon race ahead of us and force drastic sudden change upon us all.
Algenol Biofuels and DOW Announce Pilot Project to Produce Ethanol from CO2, Salt Water, Sunlight and non-Arable Land
Algenol Biofuels, a Florida biofuels startup and DOW Chemical Company announced a pilot-scale algae-based integrated biorefinery that will convert CO2 into ethanol. The patented technology developed by Algenol Biofuels uses CO2, salt water, sunlight and non-arable land to produce ethanol, which can be used as a fuel or as a feedstock, replacing natural gas in the production of plastic. The algae is grown in long plastic covered troughs, called bioreactors that are filled with salt water that has been saturated with carbon dioxide gas, which provides the carbon the algae needs for photosynthesis.
Energy Returned on Energy Invested (ERoEI) – also sometimes referred to as EROI — is a key energy accounting metric that measures the net usable energy that can be obtained from some potential energy source after all of the various energy costs necessary to produce usable energy from the potential energy source have been subtracted from the estimated life time energy production of the potential source.
It is rapidly becoming a rather widely quoted statistic, but remains poorly understood by many people who are starting to use it or are becoming exposed to it for the first time. ERoEI is deceptively simple and seems very straightforward, but it masks a complex underlying computation that is subject to some important and arbitrary decisions. These underlying assumptions and boundary decisions have profound effects on the resulting ERoEI figure. For this reason, if for no other, it is important that as wide an audience as possible become more educated about what ERoEI means and how the many assumptions that go into a particular ERoEI calculation can lead to significantly different ERoEI figures for the same energy system.
US Department of Energy Secretary Chu announced plans to provide nearly $800 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act targeted towards advancing biofuels research and development and for commercial-scale biorefinery demonstration projects. The $786.5 million in Recovery Act funding a mix of new funding opportunities and additional funding for existing projects, will be allocated over four main areas. Integrated pilot- and demonstration-scale biorefineries projects are to receive the bulk of the funding with the remainder going to commercial-scale biorefinery projects, fundamental research in key areas to advance cutting-edge conversion technologies, including generating more desirable catalysts, fuel-producing microbes, and feedstocks and to ethanol research.