Category Archives: Energy Balance

New engines maximize ethanol’s power and MPGs

Most drivers like the power, price and renewable benefits of E85, but are looking for ways to increase MPGs. Engines designed with gasoline as the primary fuel are not maximizing ethanol’s potential, which can often lead to mileage penalties. However, new  technology from manufactures like Ricardo is geared toward running efficiently with ethanol’s higher octane rating.

In a recent interview with Fleet Owner magazine, Robert Kozak, president of Atlantic Biomass Conversions pointed out that, “Such engine designs tap into the positive ability of ethanol to resist early ignition, thus regaining much of the previous fuel economy loss,” Kozak explained. “Higher octane ethanol makes an internal combustion engine operate more efficiently – up in the 30% to even 40% range – while it’s also priced lower than gasoline, on the order of 10 to 15%, because of its lower Btu or energy content.”

The goal is to produce direct injection engines that perform equal to if not more efficiently than current gasoline engines. And this is what Ricardo engine product group has developed in their ethanol boosted direct injection platform.  According to Rod Beazley, director of Ricardo, Ethanol’s higher octane rating allows the fuel to withstand compression rates closer to that of diesel engines. The higher the compression rates the better an engine can translate energy into power.

These first steps toward boosting ethanol efficiency in heavy-duty engines opens the door for continued technology innovation and helps solidify ethanol as a desirable choice for drivers.

Read more from Fleet Owner.

Michigan Sheriff’s Fleet Saves with E85

Low price at the pump combined with limited MPG-loss combine for significant savings.

Huron County Sheriff’s Office began an experiment last March that had the department testing blends of Ethanol from E50 to E85. The goal: saving the county money through its fleet of 12 flex-fuel vehicles.

Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson found that as long as ethanol prices are less per gallon than the price at the pump for unleaded fuel, it would result in a significant cost savings. “As it turns out, our patrol fleet, which is mainly Chevrolet Impala cars, averaged between 1.5 miles to 2 miles less per gallon on E85 as opposed to unleaded,” said Hanson.

The Department also experimented with E50 and found that there was just about a one mile per gallon difference.

“When we basically went and took a pencil to it, it was determined that as long as pricing patterns remained the same, E85 would be the better choice,” he said. “Obviously, we are going to have to continuously monitor price differences in order for the county to benefit.”

If the price difference (with unleaded fuel costing significantly more) remains the same between E85 and unleaded, Hanson said the department stands to save nearly $1,000 per 25,000 miles.

“When you take into consideration our office puts on more than 400,000 patrol miles in a year, our county could benefit from the use of ethanol,” he said.

But access to the fuel can be an issue. Because Bad Axe and Harbor Beach do not have ethanol stations, Hanson said those patrols vehicles that start out of Bad Axe and Harbor Beach will frequently be forced to use unleaded fuel.

“Our deputies are being encouraged to purchase ethanol if they are in the vicinity of an ethanol station and their vehicle could use fuel,” said Hanson. “It would be pointless to specifically drive several miles in order to just buy ethanol.”

Full Story

Next generation biorefinery breaks ground in Boardman, OR

With production expected to begin next year, Colorado-based ZeaChem has broke ground on a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Boardman, OR. The plant will use ZeaChem’s core technology, to produce ethyl acetate, a salable chemical intermediate that can turn poplar tree waste into cellulosic ethanol. The biorefinery is expected to produce up to 250,000 gallons per year.

“Breaking ground on ZeaChem’s biorefinery in Boardman is a significant milestone,” said Jim Imbler, president and chief executive officer of ZeaChem. “As a leader in this industry, ZeaChem is committed to producing economical and sustainable advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals, creating jobs, and being a good neighbor in the community.”

ZeaChem is receiving $25 million in stimulus money for the plant that will create 300 direct and indirect jobs.

Read Press Release.

Buick Regal joins 2011 Flex Fuel Vehicle lineup

Add another flex fuel capable model to the list. All 2011 Buick Regals will be flex fuel ready starting this fall. The retooled 2.0-liter direct injected turbo engine is designed with alternative fuel in mind. The new design will increase fuel efficiency while using Flex Fuel E85.

As technology continues to improve, future engines will maintain the same level of fuel efficiency whether using flex fuel or petroleum gasoline.

Read more from autoblog.com.

See a list of all Flex Fuel Vehicle models.

Enterprise’s shuttle fleet to run biodiesel

Enterprise, the largest vehicle rental company in North America, announced plans to fuel their entire airport shuttle fleet of more than 600 buses on biodiesel. Most shuttle buses will begin by using a B5 biodiesel blend, while in nine regions, buses will use a B20 blend with the intention of converting the entire bus fleet to B20 in the next five years.


By switching to biodiesel, the Enterprise fleet will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of retiring 40 shuttle buses and will reduce petroleum use by 420,000 gallons–in the first year alone.

In California, Propel Fuels and Enterprise have formed a partnership aimed to educate Enterprise customers on the availability and benefits of alternative fuels, and to fuel Enterprise’s rental cars with renewable E85.

Read more from Enterprise.

UC Davis research shows sustainable biomass energy potential for California

A recent article published in California Agriculture illustrates the potential for sustainable biomass energy crops in California.  California Agriculture is a peer-reviewed journal reporting research, reviews and news from the University of California and its Agriculture and Natural Resources division.

Article Abstract
Biomass constitutes a major renewable energy resource for California, with more than 30 million tons per year of in-state production estimated to be available on a sustainable basis for electricity generation, biofuels production and other industrial processing. Annually, biofuel production from these resources could exceed 2 billion gallons of gasoline equivalent, while providing opportunities for agricultural and rural economic development. Continuing research and large-scale demonstrations now under way will test alternative technologies and provide much-needed information regarding costs and environmental performance. Biomass can help meet state goals for increasing the amounts of electricity and fuels from renewable resources under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), and can similarly help meet national biofuel targets under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Internationally consistent sustainability standards and practices are needed to inform policy and provide direction and guidance to industry.

>> Read More

Article Authors
Bryan M. Jenkins, UC Davis
Robert B. Williams, UC Davis
Nathan Parker, UC Davis
Peter Tittmann, UC Davis
Quinn Hart, UC Davis
Martha C. Gildart, UC Davis
Steve Kaffka, UC Davis
Bruce R. Hartsough, UC Davis
Peter Dempster, UC Davis

Production advances create fuel from forest waste

Fuel sourced from waste derived feedstock is the gold-standard in sustainable energy production. And the pine forest waste left over from Georgia’s paper industry will soon be turned into fuel.

Range Fuels’ cellulosic ethanol production facility aims to utilize the limbs, needles and tops of timber typically left out in the woods as an entirely new source of fuel. A technology that is a perfect fit for the State of Georgia that has an abundance of forest-derived feedstocks.

“This is zero carbon footprint fuel” says David Aldous, Range Fuels’ CEO.

The Soperton, Georgia-based plant held ground breaking ceremonies in 2007 and is scheduled to be producing this fuel in 2010. The project is permitted to produce 100 million gallons of fuel per year.  In addition to vehicle fuel, the plant will generate renewable power from energy recovered during the process of converting biomass into fuel.

Watch Video from WSBTV.