Daily Archives: January 25, 2013

Advanced, Non-Food Biofuels Come of Age

Read the full post from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

For the better part of a decade we’ve heard how imminent plants would soon yield significant volumes of advanced, non-food biofuel. So far, almost none of this production has been realized.

Here is a small sample of the industry’s tribulations: A BC International plant in Louisiana was supposed to produce commercial volumes of non-food biofuel by the early 2000s, but after several changes of name, ownership, and/or technology, the plant never did. Iogen, backed by Shell via joint venture, had intended to produce at commercial scale five years ago, but plans seem to have fully stalled, with layoffs in April 2012 and cancellation of a new plant in Manitoba. And Coskata, a Khosla Ventures company, was conditionally granted a $250 million USDA loan guarantee in early 2011, only to give up in 2012 on cellulosic fuel as a feedstock (abandoning the guarantee) and instead focus on natural gas.

As a result of the lack of advanced, non-food biofuel production, the EPA has dramatically revised downward its cellulosic biofuel blending requirement for oil companies under the current Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). Those annual reductions have grown from 95 percent in 2010 to 98.3 percent in 2012, when the EPA cut a 500MMgal requirement down to just 8.65MMgal. What’s more, even these reduced volumes haven’t always materialized. For instance, between July 2010 and October 2011, no volume of cellulosic biofuel was sold into the general market.

But there are signs that 2013 will be the year that the advanced, non-food biofuel spigot finally opens, with several plants nearly built or already producing initial product.

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Biofuels


ACS Environmental Chemistry Division Fall 2013 meeting call for papers

Share your research results and progress in your research at the 246th ACS National Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, September 8-12, 2013.  Abstract submissions welcomed January 21 – March 18, 2013: Follow the link ( ) to sign in using your ACS ID and password, or you may create an ID on the abstract submission webpage.

For more information about the division’s topical areas of interest, visit

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Chemistry, Green chemistry


Sustainable Living in Your Headphones

Read the full post at New York Times Gadgetwise.

The new collection of headphones from the House of Marley incorporates materials like canvas and bamboo fiber over a frame of aluminum and steel so you can feel better about yourself while listening to music.
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Green products, Sustainable design


How Behavioral Economics Could Save Both the Fishing Industry and the Oceans

Read the full post at the HBR Blog Network.

It’s frightening enough that 87% of the world’s assessed fisheries are fully or over-exploited. But it is even scarier to consider how little we know about the condition of most of the world’s fisheries, because four-fifths of them have never been scientifically assessed. A recent study in the journal Science is providing fresh insights into thousands of fisheries where data has not been previously available. These “data poor” fisheries make up 80% of the world’s catch — and many are on the brink of collapse.

Despite the dire news, there is a bright spot in the study. The authors conclude that the ocean is nowhere near a lost cause and with the right management tools, the abundance of fish could increase by 56%. In some places, the study says, fisheries yields could more than double.

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Agriculture, Publications, Water, Wildlife


Grand Calumet River delivers toxic load to Lake Michigan

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

The Grand Calumet River system winds for 13 miles through a Northwest Indiana industrial landscape that could almost be described as post-apocalyptic.

Alongside the several branches of the slow-moving waterway, a steel mill, gypsum plant and other heavy industry spew plumes of steam into the air while vines and shrubs grow inside vacant crumbling brick buildings.  A fragment of the partially demolished Cline Avenue bridge still stands, twisted rebar and chunks of concrete hanging from each end. A rusty abandoned motorboat bobs half-sunken next to a soiled brown floating absorbent boom.

The Grand Calumet has long been known as one of the nation’s most polluted rivers. It is one of 43 federal Areas of Concern targeted for remediation in the Great Lakes region. For many decades before the 1972 Clean Water Act, countless industries dumped contaminated waste into the river with abandon.  Gary, East Chicago and Hammond discharge untreated sewage and storm water into it.

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Great Lakes, Pollution


The Grand Calumet’s road to recovery

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Great Lakes Echo earlier looked at the toxic brew that Indiana’s Grand Calumet River carries to Lake Michigan. Now here’s a look at the multi-million dollar investment in its recovery.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Moves toward Net-Zero Buildings

Download the document.

This fact sheet is an overview of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s net-zero energy visitor’s center at the Assabet River National Wildlife.


Energy Savings and Economics of Advanced Control Strategies for Packaged Heat Pumps

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building Technologies Program (BTP), evaluated a number of control strategies for packaged cooling equipment that can be implemented in an advanced controller, which can be retrofit into existing packaged heat pump units to improve their operational efficiency. This report documents the results of that analysis.

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Energy efficiency, Publications


Biomass Gasification Technology Assessment: Consolidated Report

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Harris Group Inc. (HGI) was commissioned by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to assess gasification and tar reforming technologies. Specifically, the assessments focused on gasification and tar reforming technologies that are capable of producing a syngas suitable for further treatment and conversion to liquid fuels. HGI gathered sufficient information to analyze three gasification and tar reforming systems. This report summarizes the equipment, general arrangement of the equipment, operating characteristics, and operating severity for each technology. The order of magnitude capital cost estimates are supported by a basis-of-estimate write-up, which is also included in this report. The report also includes Microsoft Excel workbook models, which can be used to design and price the systems. The models can be used to analyze various operating capacities and pressures. Each model produces a material balance, equipment list, capital cost estimate, equipment drawings and preliminary general arrangement drawings. Example outputs of each model are included in the Appendices.

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Biomass, Publications


Survey of Whole House Programs in Midwestern Climates

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Existing single family whole home energy efficiency programs in cold weather climates, focused on the Midwest, were analyzed in detail to understand program design, including requirements, processes, incentives and outcomes, focusing on savings and participation. The report presents information about specific programs, aggregated program trends and observations, and recommendations for future cold weather climate whole home program design and implementation. This study makes several recommendations to whole home program designers and implementers on improving the cost-effectiveness and reach of whole home programs.

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Green building, Publications


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