Meeting demand is key to achieving federal renewable fuel volume mandates WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — A new paper by Iowa State University economists Bruce A. Babcock and Sebastien Pouliot identifies a bottleneck of too few fuel stations…
While Chrysler’s alt-fuel plans for the future—and its integrity—seem uncertain at best, its cross-town rival General Motors is trying to make good on its fuel efficient pledges in a different way. This includes (finally) offering a Hummer with E85 flex-fuel capabilities, as promised in 2007.
Oh, and for those who are wishing for a Volt sub-brand, keep wishing. GM has no plans of spinning off the Volt as a brand of its own (as Toyota might do with the Prius). That won’t stop the General from spreading its hybrid drivetrain across other models, however.
In a breakthrough discovery announced today, scientists have found that a bit of E. coli could help put biofuel waste products to good use, and increase profits for the producers too.
Glycerin, a common biodiesel waste product, has become so abundant amid the rise in biofuel use that producers often have to pay to dispose of the chemical. Researchers at Rice University discovered that when combined, E. coli and glycerin produce succinate, a useful chemical that can be sold at a profit.[social_buttons]
A University of Minnesota study found that using higher blends of ethanol (20%) blended into gasoline did not cause damage or cause performance problems when used in standard gasoline engines.
Over half the gasoline sold in the US is already blended with 10% ethanol (E10), but higher blends were thought to run the risk of causing engine damage. Higher blends of ethanol, up to 85% (E85), will only work properly in engines converted to accept the fuel.
Using 40 pairs of vehicles commonly found on American roads, a year-long research effort found that increasing ethanol blends from 10 percent (E10) to 20 percent (E20) in a gallon of gasoline provided an effective fuel across a range of tests focusing on driveability and materials compatibility.
Mr. Wagoner addressed a variety of issues, including the Coskata ethanol announcement, the future of the Hummer brand (hint: smaller), the risks associated with producing the Chevy Volt, and the impotency of CAFE standards. In case you wanted to hear it straight from the top, here you go:
Download Breakfast with Rick Wagoner
General Motors says they’re committed to ‘diversifying away from petroleum.’ That sounds like something President Bush would say, but reducing our nation’s dependence on oil was a message repeatedly proffered to me by GM officials throughout the course of the auto show. I’m calling it GM’s grand vision for U.S. transportation energy independence, they call it their ‘Advanced Propulsion Roadmap.’ Either way, GM plans to implement this by investing in a range of new and diverse technologies. It looks something like this:
Increasing Engine Efficiency
The first step is to increase vehicle efficiency and improve emissions by continued advances to the internal combustion engine (ICE). Believe it or not the ICE is still a work in progress. Take ‘cylinder deactivation’ for example, which drops a V6 to a V4 when the extra capacity is unnecessary. One potentially notable technology coming out of the auto show was Ford’s ‘Ecoboost’, which uses gasoline-turbocharged-direct-injection (GTDI) technology to increase fuel efficiency up to 20%. These are diesel engine principles—which are typically 30% more efficient—now being applied to gas models.
Everyone loves new technology, but what about a most basic consideration: vehicle size? This doesn’t seem to be on the radar for several auto manufacturers. It’s not listed on GM’s chart either, even though the Hummer brand announced it will be following that trend (see earlier post on the ‘2nd Greenest Hummer on Earth’).
LIVE FROM DETROIT AUTO SHOW: GM ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH BIO-BASED ETHANOL PRODUCER COSKATA BIOFUELS TO RAPIDLY COMMERCIALIZE AND DISTRIBUTE ETHANOL FOR FLEXFUEL VEHICLES.
At noon today, General Motors announced an undisclosed equity share in Coskata, Inc., a renewable energy company with the means to produce low-cost ethanol from virtually any carbon-containing feedstock including biomass, municipal solid waste—even used car tires. GM believes Coskata has the premier technology for rapidly implementing ethanol production technology worldwide. Click here for a video of the announcement.
GM already has a vested interested in ethanol, with 2.5 million FlexFuel model vehicles already on the road (15 models planned for 2009), and plans to make half their fleet ethanol-ready by 2012. The partnership is a win-win situation as Bill Roe, President and CEO of Coskata puts it: “GM is enabling Coskata to produce the next generation of biofuels – without using a food source – making it economically viable and commercially available.”
GM will test Coskata’s ethanol at the Milford Proving Grounds by late 2008, followed by completion of a 40,000 gallon per year commercial demonstration facility by the end of the year. A larger, 100 million gallon per year facility is currently being sited for construction in the U.S.