The Truth About Cars » Bio-fuels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:30:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Bio-fuels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/bio-fuels/ Beer-based Ethanol is the Best/Worst Idea for Car Fuel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/beer-based-ethanol-bestworst-idea-car-fuel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/beer-based-ethanol-bestworst-idea-car-fuel/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 18:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135474 A New Zealand chemist has found a good use for spent yeast normally discarded after brewing beer, Popular Mechanics is reporting (via AutoFocus). It’s not the first time beer-based ethanol has been used to power cars, but New Zealanders can fill up on 98-octane (!) booze-fuel for a limited time. The mix is 90 percent gas […]

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A New Zealand chemist has found a good use for spent yeast normally discarded after brewing beer, Popular Mechanics is reporting (via AutoFocus).

It’s not the first time beer-based ethanol has been used to power cars, but New Zealanders can fill up on 98-octane (!) booze-fuel for a limited time. The mix is 90 percent gas to 10 percent beer ethanol.

(Note: I covered parts of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver and remember the Coors-powered cars in Denver and think it’s the best imaginable use of Coors Light)

New Zealand-based brewery DB Exports calls their fuel “Brewtoleum,” but they have a much more clever marketing campaign.

Alcohol and motors are nothing new: Top Alcohol dragsters, most cars on the road in Brazil and corn-fed ethanol in the states.

But for beer-producing states in the United States (California, Michigan, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon and the other 45 states in the union) the spent yeast conversion could justify keeping whatever it is that Anheuser-Busch makes these days around for longer.

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Hillary Clinton Throws Support Behind Ethanol While In Iowa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/hillary-clinton-throws-support-behind-ethanol-iowa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/hillary-clinton-throws-support-behind-ethanol-iowa/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1046370 During a campaign tour stop in Iowa, Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton threw her support behind corn ethanol. Autoblog reports Clinton met with a number of Democrats at a private affair in Marshalltown, Iowa Thursday, including America’s Renewable Future co-chair Patty Judge and Iowa Corn Growers board member Bruce Rohwer. Judge stated via a press release […]

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Hillary Clinton Boarding Chevrolet Scooby Van In New York

During a campaign tour stop in Iowa, Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton threw her support behind corn ethanol.

Autoblog reports Clinton met with a number of Democrats at a private affair in Marshalltown, Iowa Thursday, including America’s Renewable Future co-chair Patty Judge and Iowa Corn Growers board member Bruce Rohwer. Judge stated via a press release that Clinton “was extremely receptive” about ethanol, and felt encouraged “by by her comments about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).” Rohwer added that he was able to thank Clinton for her support, and believed future conversations on the topic would be “just as positive.”

Clinton has supported RFS since at least 2007, when she first made a go for the presidency, though The Daily Beast found that in a 2002 joint letter with Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California and Barbara Boxer of California, then-Senator Clinton described legislation that would bring ethanol into the United States gasoline supply as being “the equivalent of a new gasoline tax” forced upon consumers; she would vote against ethanol 17 times during her time in the U.S. Senate.

Clinton’s re-enforcement of her current stance follows support of ethanol by most Republican hopefuls, as noted during a GOP candidate gathering during last month’s Iowa Ag Summit.

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Virginia Tech Transforms Corn Stover Into Hydrogen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/virginia-tech-transforms-corn-stover-hydrogen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/virginia-tech-transforms-corn-stover-hydrogen/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043722 Just as corn kernels have found their way into gas tanks, corn stover could soon end up in fuel cells. A team of Virginia Tech researchers used previous research by Professor Percival Zhang and his team into xylose to turn corn stover — husks, stalks and cobs — into hydrogen through a genetic algorithm model […]

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Corn Harvesting

Just as corn kernels have found their way into gas tanks, corn stover could soon end up in fuel cells.

A team of Virginia Tech researchers used previous research by Professor Percival Zhang and his team into xylose to turn corn stover — husks, stalks and cobs — into hydrogen through a genetic algorithm model to increase both enzymatic generation and breakdown rates by a factor of 10 and three, respectively.

The result is a reduction in both time, capital costs and facility size as far as hydrogen production goes. Lead author Joe Rollin — a former student of Zhang’s, who is also a co-founder with Rollin on a biofuel startup — says the new process can be carried out in a facility the size of a standard gas station, lowering one of the hurdles for widespread hydrogen production and distribution:

We believe this exciting technology has the potential to enable the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles around the world and displace fossil fuels.

The project was partially funded by Shell’s GameChanger initiative, as well as the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Technology Transfer program, and was carried out by Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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Gov. Scott Walker’s Changing Ethanol Stance Sign Of Greater Issue For GOP Hopeful http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gov-scott-walkers-changing-ethanol-stance-sign-greater-issue-gop-hopeful/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gov-scott-walkers-changing-ethanol-stance-sign-greater-issue-gop-hopeful/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1024265 Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s flip-flop on the issue of ethanol may be just the tip of an iceberg that could affect his chances for the 2016 GOP hopeful. Autoblog reports several memos linked to the still-unofficial campaigns of the other GOP presidential candidates have noted Walker’s shifts on positions on issues like ethanol, immigration et al. […]

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Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s flip-flop on the issue of ethanol may be just the tip of an iceberg that could affect his chances for the 2016 GOP hopeful.

Autoblog reports several memos linked to the still-unofficial campaigns of the other GOP presidential candidates have noted Walker’s shifts on positions on issues like ethanol, immigration et al. The broad pattern of flip-flopping, as well as his status as an unknown among his state’s voters, means he’ll have a hard go at convincing Republicans that he is their candidate for President of the United States.

On the issue of ethanol, he once denounced the mandate of adding the corn-based variant into gasoline in his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, citing the harm such mandates would impose on “Wisconsin’s working families.” While his team says he still supports that stance, Walker was among those at the 2015 Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines, Iowa to support the federal renewable fuel standard that allows corn ethanol to be added into gasoline.

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Republican Presidential Hopefuls Discuss Ethanol In Iowa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/republican-presidential-hopefuls-discuss-ethanol-iowa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/republican-presidential-hopefuls-discuss-ethanol-iowa/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020145 A handful of Republican presidential hopefuls converged upon Iowa last weekend to discuss the pros and cons of ethanol. Autoblog reports U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jeb Bush of Florida, and Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin debated ethanol and the federal […]

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A handful of Republican presidential hopefuls converged upon Iowa last weekend to discuss the pros and cons of ethanol.

Autoblog reports U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jeb Bush of Florida, and Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin debated ethanol and the federal standards linked to them at the 2015 Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines.

While most of the hopefuls supported keeping the standards as they are or increasing them, Cruz was the only one to reject the notion, comparing the program to “corporate welfare.” He added that private businesses could continue to successfully compete in the marketplace “without going on bended knee to the government.”

Cruz’s remarks follow a recommendation by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce a proposed increase in corn-based ethanol use in gasoline, stating that the biofuel can only go so far when blended with petroleum-based fuels. Meanwhile, both sides of the aisle object to the reduction, citing the economic damage that would hit Iowa — the largest producer of said ethanol in the United States — if the reduction were to go forward.

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Feinstein-Toomey Bill Seeks To Push Other Biofuels Over Corn Ethanol http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/feinstein-toomey-bill-seeks-push-biofuels-corn-ethanol/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/feinstein-toomey-bill-seeks-push-biofuels-corn-ethanol/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1017954 With one attempt shot down thus far, two U.S. senators are issuing a standalone bill to reduce the use of corn-based ethanol at the pump. According to Hemmings Daily, the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015 introduced by Dianne Feinstein of California and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania would call for a modification of the […]

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E10 + 100 Percent Gasoline at the Pump

With one attempt shot down thus far, two U.S. senators are issuing a standalone bill to reduce the use of corn-based ethanol at the pump.

According to Hemmings Daily, the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015 introduced by Dianne Feinstein of California and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania would call for a modification of the Renewable Fuel Standard that would push other biofuels, such as biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, over corn-based ethanol. Feinstein explains:

Our infrastructure has a ceiling for the amount of corn ethanol that can be used, and we’re rapidly approaching it. Companies are physically unable to blend more corn ethanol into gasoline without causing problems for many gas stations and older automobiles.

The Feinstein/Toomey bill joins four others seeking similar action, including three in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Hawaii that would seek to eliminate the mandate of E10 sales altogether.

Meanwhile, ethanol supporters like the Renewable Fuel Association, the National Corn Growers Association and the Advanced Ethanol Council oppose the bill as an assault on the RFS, and call upon the Environmental Protection Agency to increase ethanol use further, despite the EPA’s acknowledgment regarding the limits to blending ethanol with gasoline.

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T&E: First-Gen Biofuel Use In EU Face 6 Percent Cap By 2020 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/te-first-gen-biofuel-use-eu-face-6-percent-cap-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/te-first-gen-biofuel-use-eu-face-6-percent-cap-2020/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008250 Much like in the U.S., biofuel is an ongoing concern in the European Union, where those opposed recently gained a victory in restricting its use. European sustainable transportation group Transportation & Environment announced the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee decision this week to cap the amount of biofuel introduced into the continent’s fuel supply, restricting first-gen […]

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Total Biofuel Airport Tanker in France

Much like in the U.S., biofuel is an ongoing concern in the European Union, where those opposed recently gained a victory in restricting its use.

European sustainable transportation group Transportation & Environment announced the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee decision this week to cap the amount of biofuel introduced into the continent’s fuel supply, restricting first-gen fuels to just 6 percent of the overall supply by 2020. The cap is over the 4.5 percent introduced in 2011.

The cap not only affects food-based biofuels like ethanol, but the energy crops used to make them — and compete for space with food crops. T&E notes the cap correctly identified land use as the “key environmental challenge” regarding first-gen biofuels, and applaudes the Environment Committee for strengthening sustainability criteria for advanced biofuels derived from municipal waste and residues.

The release adds that in 2011, EU member states spent €6 billion ($6.8 billion USD in today’s dollars) subsidizing the biofuel industry; the cap would effectively kill such subsidies after 2020.

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US Ethanol Exports Reach Near-Record Levels In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/us-ethanol-exports-reach-near-record-levels-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/us-ethanol-exports-reach-near-record-levels-2014/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994874 Of the 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States in 2014, a near-record 836 gallons were exported. Per a report by the Renewable Fuel Association, those exported gallons went to 51 countries around the world, with the top five importers being Canada, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Philippines and India. The amount of […]

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2008 Chevrolet Corvette E85 Indy 500 Pace Car Concept

Of the 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States in 2014, a near-record 836 gallons were exported.

Per a report by the Renewable Fuel Association, those exported gallons went to 51 countries around the world, with the top five importers being Canada, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Philippines and India. The amount of U.S.-made ethanol exported in 2014 comes second to the amount in 2011, when 1.2 billion gallons were sent abroad.

While most export markets continue to flourish, producers saw a continued reduction of exports to the European Union in 2013 and 2014, the result of tariffs against U.S. ethanol.

On the other side, ethanol imports into the U.S. market fell 79 percent in 2014 from 400 million gallons to just 84 million. The figure is the second-lowest on record, behind the 18 million gallons imported in 2010. The majority of the imported ethanol was Brazil, which sent 60.8 million gallons to the U.S. last year, down 83 percent from 2013’s shipment of 348.2 million.

The industry group hopes to add more markets for U.S. ethanol in 2015, having gone on trade missions in Panama, China, Peru, Japan and South Korea in 2014 to help encourage importation, and vowing to “keep at it until all countries understand the value of U.S produced ethanol.”

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Ethanol Advocates Conduct Pre-Election Ad Campaign Blitz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ethanol-advocates-conduct-pre-election-ad-campaign-blitz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ethanol-advocates-conduct-pre-election-ad-campaign-blitz/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936970 In less than a week, the B&B will head out to the polls to decide the direction the United States will take for the next two years. Big Ethanol, too, is interested in the direction taken. AutoblogGreen reports Fuels America, an advocate for the fuel source, is conducting a major advertising campaign to persuade the […]

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Ethanol Pump

In less than a week, the B&B will head out to the polls to decide the direction the United States will take for the next two years.

Big Ethanol, too, is interested in the direction taken.

AutoblogGreen reports Fuels America, an advocate for the fuel source, is conducting a major advertising campaign to persuade the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency not to make cuts into the Renewable Fuels Standard, the mandate that makes E85, E10 and every other blend possible.

The blitz — which kicked-off last week — is being carried through Beltway media such as Politico, RollCall and WTOP-FM, and will continue until November 5.

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Report: Global Fuel Consumption To Decline 4 Percent By 2035 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/report-global-fuel-consumption-decline-4-percent-2035/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/report-global-fuel-consumption-decline-4-percent-2035/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 10:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=884393 Though peak oil usually refers to when production reaches the highest point it’ll ever see before coasting back down to the same level once experienced in the 1800s, a new report reveals a different oil peak will come in the next few years: the total product consumed worldwide. Autoblog Green says a report from Navigant […]

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Though peak oil usually refers to when production reaches the highest point it’ll ever see before coasting back down to the same level once experienced in the 1800s, a new report reveals a different oil peak will come in the next few years: the total product consumed worldwide.

Autoblog Green says a report from Navigant Research, titled “Transportation Forecast: Global Fuel Consumption,” claims worldwide consumption will begin to fall after 2021, where 367.3 billion gallons of fuel will be used that year. By 2035, the total fuel used then will have fallen 4 percent to 348.1 billion gallons.

The cause of this decline? Not peak oil, but a combination of alternative fuels and environmental concerns related to the use of petroleum, according to analyst Scott Shepherd:

The anticipated effects of climate change are driving international cooperation on mitigation efforts, including reducing oil consumption in the transportation sector. Markets for both vehicles and fuels have gradually begun to respond to these efforts, and alternative fuels -‑ including electricity, natural gas, and biodiesel ‑- are beginning to have an impact on global oil demand.

In addition, Navigant acknowledges improvements to the traditional ICE and vehicles in general in fueling the eventual decline in global fuel consumption.

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EPA Sets Lower 2013 Cellulosic Ethanol Use Requirement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/epa-sets-lower-2013-cellulosic-ethanol-use-requirement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/epa-sets-lower-2013-cellulosic-ethanol-use-requirement/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:30:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809314 Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency put in place 2013 requirements for cellulosic ethanol for automotive use in the United States at 810,000 gallons, an amount far short of the 1 billion gallons Congress desired seven years earlier when the Renewable Fuel Standard Act came into force. The Detroit News reports production of the […]

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Ethanol plant

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency put in place 2013 requirements for cellulosic ethanol for automotive use in the United States at 810,000 gallons, an amount far short of the 1 billion gallons Congress desired seven years earlier when the Renewable Fuel Standard Act came into force.

The Detroit News reports production of the fuel has fallen short of expectations, prompting the agency to set required production for 2013 to what was actually produced “due to the reduced estimate of anticipated cellulosic biofuel production in 2013 that was announced shortly after EPA signed its final rule by one of two companies expected to produce cellulosic biofuel in 2013.”

The reduction comes on the heels of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in favor of the American Petroleum Institute, stating the EPA had overstepped its authority by mandating refiners buy more fuel — 17 million gallons for this year alone — than what was produced. API official Bob Greco applauded the decision, calling upon the agency to base future mandates on reality instead of prognostication:

EPA should base its cellulosic mandates on actual production rather than projections that — year after year — have fallen far short of reality. For four years running, biofuel producers have promised high cellulosic ethanol production that hasn’t happened. EPA must also reconsider its unrealistic proposal to mandate 17 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2014.

Despite lower production numbers and delays in bringing ethanol refineries online, the Obama administration is pushing ahead with the RFS, which requires 21 billion gallons of biofuel — including 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol — to be in use annually as a way to wean the nation’s dependency on foreign oil resources.

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US Energy Department Unveils Four-Year Strategy For Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/us-energy-department-unveils-four-year-strategy-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/us-energy-department-unveils-four-year-strategy-plan/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:15:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798026 The U.S. Department of Energy unveiled last week a four-year plan that would advance the goal of energy security by building upon as many alternative sources as possible, further reducing dependence on imported petroleum. Autoblog Green reports the 27-page plan illustrates the proposed aims of the DOE to double the amount of energy produced by […]

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The U.S. Department of Energy unveiled last week a four-year plan that would advance the goal of energy security by building upon as many alternative sources as possible, further reducing dependence on imported petroleum.

Autoblog Green reports the 27-page plan illustrates the proposed aims of the DOE to double the amount of energy produced by renewables, improve battery technology, usher in advances in biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells, and push further electrification of vehicles.

In addition, the DOE also has strategies ready for testing the nation’s nuclear deterrent for safety, security and overall effectiveness, as well as boosting the tools needed to bring improvements on the nation’s security infrastructure.

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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Pulls 28 MPG Highway http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/2014-ram-1500-ecodiesel-pulls-28-mpg-highway/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/2014-ram-1500-ecodiesel-pulls-28-mpg-highway/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 16:32:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=733673 Truck Mountain may still be held by the soon-to-be-lightened Ford F-150, but the fuel-efficiency battle in the valley below is already underway, thanks to Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel pulling the highest mile-per-gallon highway rating of any light truck in the United States at 28 mpg. Through an announcement made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s FuelEconomy.gov website, […]

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2014 Dodge 1500 EcoDiesel

Truck Mountain may still be held by the soon-to-be-lightened Ford F-150, but the fuel-efficiency battle in the valley below is already underway, thanks to Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel pulling the highest mile-per-gallon highway rating of any light truck in the United States at 28 mpg.

Through an announcement made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s FuelEconomy.gov website, the 1500 EcoDiesel also nets 20 mpg in the city to create a combined rating of 23 mpg; the four-wheel drive variant offers 27 mpg on the highway, 22 combined.

Fighting alongside its brother, the 1500 HFE’s 3.6-liter V6 gasoline powerplant puts out 25 mpg on the highway, 18 in the city, and a combined rating of 21 mpg.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles began assembly in late January at their Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Detroit, with deliveries expected by dealers — who will be allowed to place their orders February 7 — later this month. Once on the lot, expect to pay $30,465 to start, just $2,850 more than to purchase a 1500 that could answer the question about whether or not it has a Hemi. Trim levels available with the powerplant include Tradesman, SLT (both excluding short-bed/regular cab combos), Outdoorsman, Big Horn, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn.

The light-duty diesel pickup — the first to be offered since General Motors sold such trucks in the mid-1990s — is powered by a 3-liter V6 made by FCA subsidary VM Motori S.p.A. in Italy, and produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of stump-pulling torque, which is sent through a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic to the bed and bonnet.

Aside from being fuel efficient, the 1500 EcoDiesel is also green thanks to its ability to use B20 biodiesel, and its urea-enhanced exhaust treatment system. The system, which comes with a particulate filter and selective catalyst reduction as well, reduces smog-producing nitrogen oxide emissions, allowing the truck to be compliant with pollution standards in all 50 states. The urea used to treat the exhaust must be replaced every 10,000 miles.

As far as sales are concerned, FCA has high hopes for demand of the 1500 EcoDiesel. Ram boss Reid Bigland estimates that up to 30 percent of 1500 sales will be diesel-powered.

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Audi Invests In Synthetic Gasoline From Sugar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/audi-invests-in-synthetic-gasoline-from-sugar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/audi-invests-in-synthetic-gasoline-from-sugar/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 08:33:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=729082 Audi’s bio-fuel initiative is expanding into France through an investment by the automaker to Global Bioenergies, whose bio-isooctane could be the replacement for petroleum gasoline when the time comes to make the switch. The bio-fuel is made from fermented sugar through genetic modification of E. coli bacteria to produce isobutane gas without poisoning the yeast […]

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Audis at an Oil Pump

Audi’s bio-fuel initiative is expanding into France through an investment by the automaker to Global Bioenergies, whose bio-isooctane could be the replacement for petroleum gasoline when the time comes to make the switch.

The bio-fuel is made from fermented sugar through genetic modification of E. coli bacteria to produce isobutane gas without poisoning the yeast utilized in the fermentation, an issue currently experienced in ethanol production. The longer-lasting process works with feedstocks like corn and sugarcane as well as straight sugar, and can also be adapted to use biomass such as high-glucose wood chips.

At the pump, bio-isooctane can go directly into a vehicle without modification to the engine and fuel-delivery system, or can be blended with petrogasoline in the same manner as E15 and E85. The biogasoline may also come with a lower price per gallon or litres, as the fuel can be produced much quicker and cheaper than ethanol and other bio-fuels.

For the moment, Global Bioenergies is building two working proof-of-concept production plants in Germany and France, whose total annual output is expected to be 100,000 litres. Audi’s investment will be used to help in the rollout of the new fuel as part of the automaker’s branded e-fuel strategy, with bio-isooctane completing the triad with Audi’s investments in ethanol and biodiesel for their complete lineup of vehicles.

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Gasoline Power To Dominate U.S. Highways Through 2040 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/gasoline-power-to-dominate-u-s-highways-through-2040/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/gasoline-power-to-dominate-u-s-highways-through-2040/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 13:30:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=684682 The green warriors who hoped EVs and hybrids would be the dominate force on the highways of America may need to wait a bit longer: the United States Department of Energy predicts gasoline will be the fuel of a generation until at least 2040. In fact, the DOE’s Energy Information Administration states in a report […]

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The green warriors who hoped EVs and hybrids would be the dominate force on the highways of America may need to wait a bit longer: the United States Department of Energy predicts gasoline will be the fuel of a generation until at least 2040.

In fact, the DOE’s Energy Information Administration states in a report issued earlier this week that 78 percent of all vehicles on the road in 2040 will still burn fossil fuels, though more efficiently; the EIA predicts an average of 37.2 mpg at that point in time. While 42 percent of all vehicles will use some form of advanced fuel-saving technology, plug-in hybrids and full EVs will each account for only 1 percent of sales.

As for the pump, the EIA believes a gallon of gas will rise to the equivalent of $3.90, with diesel tagged for $4.73. The agency also predicts 30 percent increase in miles traveled from 2012 through 2040, and overall fuel consumption in the nation’s transportation sector to fall by 4 percent.

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For First Time, E.P.A. Proposes Cutting Renewable Fuel Standards’ 2014 Ethanol Requirement for Gasoline Blends http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/for-first-time-e-p-a-proposes-cutting-renewable-fuel-standards-2014-ethanol-requirement-for-gasoline-blends/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/for-first-time-e-p-a-proposes-cutting-renewable-fuel-standards-2014-ethanol-requirement-for-gasoline-blends/#comments Mon, 18 Nov 2013 14:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=653906 While ethanol producers have been lobbying to increase the blend of that alcohol in standard gasoline to 15%, many in the auto industry have opposed that increase, saying that it could damage cars. Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has, for the first time, proposed reducing the ethanol requirement in the nation’s fuel supply. Actually, […]

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While ethanol producers have been lobbying to increase the blend of that alcohol in standard gasoline to 15%, many in the auto industry have opposed that increase, saying that it could damage cars. Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has, for the first time, proposed reducing the ethanol requirement in the nation’s fuel supply. Actually, what they are proposing is a smaller increase in the overall use of ethanol, which means that the national standard may not be raised to E15.

Enough ethanol is being produced to meet the EPA’s current requirements. Most of that is used to make E10, a 10% ethanol / 90% gasoline mix, and E85, which is 85% ethanol. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the Renewable Fuels Standard mandate increasing the amount of ethanol used in the national fuel supply, but the EPA is facing what has been called the “blend wall”. If any more alcohol is mixed into regular gas it will push the overall blend above 10%, which could create problems with the fuel systems of cars.

The requirements project a use of 15-15.52 billion gallons of ethanol and the EPA is recommending that refiners and blenders use a total of 15.21 billion gallons, within the lower range of the projections.

Says the EPA:

[The] EPA is proposing to adjust the applicable volumes of advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel to address projected availability of qualifying renewable fuels and limitations in the volume of ethanol that can be consumed in gasoline given practical constraints on the supply of higher ethanol blends to the vehicles that can use them and other limits on ethanol blend levels in gasoline.

The move was praised by the oil industry and criticized by ethanol makers and farmers.

Biofuel supporters were even more disappointed than those backing corn ethanol, with the EPA proposing to significantly reduce the cellulosic biofuel standard. Producers haven’t been able to make anywhere near the original standards.

The EPA said, “Based on an assessment of the available volumes of cellulosic biofuels, EPA is proposing to set the cellulosic biofuel standard at 17 million gallons, significantly lower than CAA target of 1.75 billion gallons (PDF).”

These are proposed changes in the rules. There will be a period for public comment followed by hearings before any of the proposals are given the force of law.

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Oregon Considers Per-Mile Tax On Fuel-Efficient Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/oregon-considers-per-mile-tax-on-fuel-efficient-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/oregon-considers-per-mile-tax-on-fuel-efficient-vehicles/#comments Fri, 04 Jan 2013 15:51:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472333 “Everybody uses the road and if some pay and some don’t then that’s an unfair situation that’s got to be resolved,” said Jim Whitty, manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding. Ah, yes. As with any number of current governmental activities, the rationale for per-mile taxation will be […]

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“Everybody uses the road and if some pay and some don’t then that’s an unfair situation that’s got to be resolved,” said Jim Whitty, manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding.

Ah, yes. As with any number of current governmental activities, the rationale for per-mile taxation will be fairness.

With the recent American election safely delivered into the appropriate hands, there’s no longer any need to sugar-coat the facts of life in the United States, is there? So let’s not. The unemployment rate is dipping because many people have simply given up and have either stopped looking for work or have dropped off the five-year cliff beyond which the Bureau of Labor no longer considers people unemployed – as if being unable to find a job for five years and one day was somehow equivalent to swanning one’s way off to Sun City, AZ. Meanwhile, we’re reassured that the middle class hasn’t disappeared — it just looks like the lower class now.

This modern life, this grey parade of single mothers and hopeless, underemployed men listlessly piloting the oldest automotive fleet in the country’s history between 29-hour-a-week “part-time” jobs, dismal food, and lonely evenings lit only by the constant flickering of the Internet as the one-percenters and rich kids of Instagram breeze past in an ever more obscene panoply of tasteless, pumped-up hyper-SUVs and bluff-faced, BMW-based Rolls-Royces. It’s not just bad for morale. It’s bad for taxes. And if some of the nation’s proles have the nerve to swing a loan for a more fuel-efficient car in the hopes of simultaneously preserving scarce resources and making a long-term positive economic impact in their own lives… well, something will have to be done.

The Statesman-Journal reports that Oregon has started a pilot program to study the implementation of a per-mile travel charge. This was apparently done in response to stricter CAFE standards and concerns that a smaller fleet of more fuel-efficient vehicles would impact gas taxes, which are already declining as more and more people just stay home.

Under the pilot, about 50 participants in Oregon paid 1.56 cents per mile and received a credit for the gas tax they paid at the pump. Participants, which mainly included transportation officials and lawmakers, chose from five plans with different ways to track miles driven and pay their bill.

They could report miles driven using a smartphone application, a geographic positioning system device or a reporting device without GPS.

Participants could also pay a flat annual charge or opt out of using a gadget in the vehicle to record miles.

The existing state gas tax is thirty cents per gallon, so this program would effectively return revenues to the days when the notoriously thirsty Ford Explorer was simultaneously doing 400,000 units or more a year and punishing the buyer of each one with real-world fuel mileage in the 15-mpg range. If you’re wearing a tinfoil hat right now, you’ve no doubt considered a likely implementation scenario where the flat fee will be based on a very high annual mileage and payable in a high-three-figure lump sum, while the privacy-eroding GPS-tracking device will be easy to use and the most affordable choice.

Insofar as this program deliberately encourages people to hold on to older, less fuel-efficient vehicles, the Obama administration will surely have an opinion on Oregon’s antics. The state’s famously liberal urban residents might also have a strong opinion about a program that seems targeted at electric and plug-in vehicles. One question perhaps not covered in the pilot program is this: If a young man lets a pair of valets put two hundred miles on his father’s vintage Ferrari, will running it in reverse on a pair of jackstands result in a tax refund?

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Peak Oil, Meet Plateauing Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/peak-oil-meet-plateauing-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/peak-oil-meet-plateauing-demand/#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2012 15:17:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462998 TTAC is no stranger to the topic of Peak Oil, but the theory has fallen by the wayside with the recent explosion in unconventional oil and gas. A study by the British think tank Chatham House argues that the biggest issue facing oil and gas producers in the coming century isn’t Peak Oil, but Peak […]

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TTAC is no stranger to the topic of Peak Oil, but the theory has fallen by the wayside with the recent explosion in unconventional oil and gas. A study by the British think tank Chatham House argues that the biggest issue facing oil and gas producers in the coming century isn’t Peak Oil, but Peak Demand (summary here).

The crux of Chatham House’s argument rests on the reformation of the transportation industry – a desire for fuel-efficient automobiles, the expanding use of biofuels and government regulation mandating reduced carbon emissions has all led to a slackening demand for oil.

Those factors, combined with the rise in “unconventional” supplies, like shale gas could have drastic effects on the oil and gas industry. In 2009, 95 percent of energy used in the global transportation sector came from petroleum. In 2030, Chatham House estimates this number could be as low as 60 percent. One interesting component of this actually comes from China. Chatham House argues that because their fueling infrastructure isn’t so tied into “legacy” fuels like gasoline, there is significant potential for them to be on the leading edge of alternative fuel adoption.

The report cites the increasing adoption of fuel-efficient vehicles like hybrids, Generation Y’s reluctance to drive cars and the potential for CNG powered automobiles as some of the largest drivers of peak demand phenomenon. Among the unintended consequences of reduced driving would be a significant drop off in tax revenues for municipalities that levy a gas tax. Reduced sales of fuel would naturally reduce revenues.

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Biodiesel From Sewage Is Cheaper Than Ever http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/biodiesel-from-sewage-is-cheaper-than-ever/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/biodiesel-from-sewage-is-cheaper-than-ever/#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2012 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458550 It’s not often publicly remarked upon, but the emphasis on biofuel capacity in the United States has a bit of an international political component to it. American farms exported well over 100,000 metric tons of corn and oilseed in 2010. Some major portion of that production was sent to oil-rich areas which are short on […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

It’s not often publicly remarked upon, but the emphasis on biofuel capacity in the United States has a bit of an international political component to it. American farms exported well over 100,000 metric tons of corn and oilseed in 2010. Some major portion of that production was sent to oil-rich areas which are short on food. The E85 boondoggle can be viewed as a simple declaration to those nations: we can burn your food in our cars, but you can’t eat your oil.

America’s pretty good at producing another item besides food, however, and if early research is any indication, it could be used to run a significant portion of the nation’s car and truck fleet.

According to an article in Chemical & Engineering News, a new process developed by a team led by South Korean scientist Eilhann Kwon makes it easier to extract lipids from… well, you know:

Kwon and his colleagues found a cheaper feedstock for biodiesel production: sewage sludge, the semisolid material left over from wastewater treatment. This sludge is a rich source of lipids, the starting material for biodiesel. Most of sludge’s lipids come from bacteria living in it.

Kwon and his team used n-hexane to extract lipids from sludge pellets from a wastewater treatment plant in Suwon-City, South Korea. Compared to published yields of lipids from soybeans, the sludge produced 2,200 times more lipids per gram of feedstock. Sewage sludge is also a cheaper lipid source than soybeans, Kwon says. Each liter of lipids that the researchers extracted from sludge cost $0.03, while previously published data shows each liter from soybeans costs $0.80.

However, impurities including free fatty acids in the lipids extracted from sewage sludge would interfere with the conventional catalytic process for making biodiesel. So Kwon’s team developed a noncatalytic method that would work in the presence of free fatty acids and other impurities in the feedstock…

To test their idea, the team continuously fed methanol and the extracted sludge lipids into a reactor containing porous activated alumina and heated the reactor to 380 °C. Adding carbon dioxide to the reactor improved the reaction’s yield. The researchers’ method converted about 98% of the sludge lipids to biodiesel.

And there you have it. There’s nothing new about the idea of converting sewage sludge to energy: see this article for an early set of ideas on the topic. Furthermore, sewage sludge already has a cash value: you may be eating some of it right now. This new process maximizes the biofuel return, however, and makes it an attractive choice for future energy.

Will the day come when solar-powered home centrifuges generate biofuel from every toilet in the household? Well, it’s certainly no less likely to happen than, say, a national power infrastructure that would allow everyone in America to charge their Volt or Leaf on 220volt juice without browning-out the whole country every evening.

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Ask An Engineer: Natural Gas For Dummies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/ask-an-engineer-natural-gas-for-dummies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/ask-an-engineer-natural-gas-for-dummies/#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2012 15:49:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450553 Westport Innovations has just signed a second deal with General Motors to produce light duty natural gas engines, and it’s probably not the last time we’ll be seeing these kind of partnerships forming. Natural gas vehicles have been explored previously on TTAC, but the technology hasn’t been fully explored in-depth, aside from some well-informed comments […]

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Westport Innovations has just signed a second deal with General Motors to produce light duty natural gas engines, and it’s probably not the last time we’ll be seeing these kind of partnerships forming. Natural gas vehicles have been explored previously on TTAC, but the technology hasn’t been fully explored in-depth, aside from some well-informed comments in various articles.

As a fuel for vehicles (light duty as well as commercial vehicles), natural gas has a number of attributes which fit well with our current political narratives and economic realities

  1. Natural gas is 30-50% cheaper than diesel per unit of energy
  2. Abundant domestic supply
  3. Environmental benefits (lower GHG and tailpipe emissions)
  4. Significant reduction in CO2, CO, UHC, NOx, SOx and PM emissions versus conventional gasoline and diesel engines.

Natural gas can be used across the full spectrum of spark ignition (gasoline type) and compression ignition (diesel type) engines with the appropriate enabling technologies. While spark ignition natural gas engines have been available for quite some time (such as the NG powered Honda Civic), compression ignition natural gas engines have required further development. The difficulty is that while natural gas burns cleanly, it is less likely to auto-ignite (octane rating of 120-130), unlike diesel, which has a lower octane number. This quality of natural gas is advantageous for a spark ignition engine as it prevents detonation and allows for higher compression ratios, but makes it detrimental for a compression ignition engine.

Westport has devised a dual-fuel direct injection system to enable natural gas substitution in a compression ignition engine. The fuel injector at the heart of this system is able to inject both liquid diesel and gaseous natural gas in precisely metered quantities directly into the cylinder. In this system, the diesel fuel ignites as a result of compression as it would in a regular diesel engine. The combusting diesel fuel initiates the natural gas combustion. 93-95% diesel substitution is achievable according to public documentation. This innovation is directed at the heavy-duty diesel market which includes everything from transport trucks to locomotives.

One of the main criticisms is the lack of infrastructure surrounding natural gas. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is easier to store and transport than liquefied natural gas (LNG) so it is the optimal choice for light duty applications. LNG has a greater volumetric energy density but is more expensive to store, transport and ultimately use in a vehicle as it must be kept cold and pressurized to remain a liquid.

Vehicles like the Civic Natural Gas have a reduced range relative to a gasoline Civic, but commercial vehicles, like transport trucks, are emerging as one of the prime candidates for natural gas engines. Large transport trucks are a significant contributor to green house gas emissions and are on the road enough to make the conversion cost effective – though LNG, rather than CNG, would be the fuel of choice. A relatively small number of LNG filling stations placed along major transport corridors could meet their fueling needs and present a great way to thoroughly evaluate the technology. Less complex CNG stations could be added if the decision was made to target light duty vehicles.

Going “all in” on CNG/LNG is a little premature at this point, but the adoption of natural gas as a transport fuel is a good first step in reducing our emissions while other alternative technologies reach maturity. More in-depth discussion is always welcome in the comments.

“Ask an Engineer” is hosted by Andrew Bell, a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast. Andrew has his MASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto, and has worked on Formula SAE teams, as well as alternative fuel technologies in Denmark and Canada. Andrew’s column will explore engineering topics in the most accessible manner possible.

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Will Natural Gas Prevent Us From Reaching A Better Place? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/will-natural-gas-prevent-us-from-reaching-a-better-place/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/will-natural-gas-prevent-us-from-reaching-a-better-place/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 16:56:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434384 A brief piece in the Wall Street Journal’s “Dealbook” discussed the potential of natural gas powered vehicles, largely as a way to stop falling prices for natural gas. One hope for many natural gas producers reeling from collapsing prices is wider adoption of natural-gas-powered cars. The biggest hurdle so far: lack of infrastructure to refuel […]

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A brief piece in the Wall Street Journal’s “Dealbook” discussed the potential of natural gas powered vehicles, largely as a way to stop falling prices for natural gas.

One hope for many natural gas producers reeling from collapsing prices is wider adoption of natural-gas-powered cars.

The biggest hurdle so far: lack of infrastructure to refuel them.

But Steven Mueller, CEO of Southwestern Energy, says if 10% of passenger cars were powered by natural gas, gasoline prices would fall by $1.60/gallon and gas producers would get 4 billion cubic feet/day in demand.

The global supply of natural gas is way up, thanks to shale deposits in the United States and other locales. Currently, the Honda Civic GX is the best-known CNG vehicle on sale currently. Buses, taxis and other commercial vehicles have been running on CNG for years, but Dodge is set to introduce a Ram Tradesman that can run on CNG – other work trucks have been converted to run on natural gas by their owners (at significant expense), but this looks to be one of the first OEM-engineered work trucks with this capability.

An NPR report (sponsored by a natural gas lobby group) touched on President Obama’s visit to a big rig factory, some of which were powered by natural gas. Obama proposed – you guessed it – tax incentives for alternative fuel vehicles, including natural gas. Natural gas vehicles aren’t that popular around the world, but have a certain following – Brazilian Fiat Siena taxicabs, LPG powered Volvos and the famous Panther platform Crown Vics and Town Cars that serve as taxi and livery cars in Toronto all exist, albeit in very small numbers.

Natural gas could potentially be a “black swan event” for the auto industry, a cheap, clean-burning fuel that could allow for both domestic energy independence and the continued hegemony of the internal combustion engine. Drivers wouldn’t have to worry about foreign oil, range anxiety or battery bricking.

The obvious problem is the lack of infrastructure. Natural gas filling stations are scant, to put it mildly. But there are rumblings (so far unsubstantiated – but keep watching TTAC for more info) that building filling stations, be it for hydrogen or other fuels, is easier and cheaper than trying to develop serious long-range, quick charging, sustainable and affordable battery technology. If this turns out to be true, then it suggests that electric cars will be forever relegated to “second car/commuter car” status.

A final note: Israel, home of Better Place and their battery swapping stations, is said to have enormous shale oil and gas deposits (so much for the joke about the Israelites wandering for 40 years and finding no oil). Aside from the obvious geopolitical implications, what kind of future would that leave for the Better Place program?

 

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Kanpai! Toyota Turns Wood Into Booze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/kanpai-toyota-turns-wood-into-booze/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/kanpai-toyota-turns-wood-into-booze/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2011 19:16:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=413373 One of the biggest complaints about biofuel is that food is turned into fuel while people go hungry. Price hikes for staples have been blamed on ethanol production, especially subsidized ethanol production. Ethanol is usually made from sugarcane, corn, and beets. Grapes find their way into fuel tanks instead of wine glasses, rice is often […]

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One of the biggest complaints about biofuel is that food is turned into fuel while people go hungry. Price hikes for staples have been blamed on ethanol production, especially subsidized ethanol production. Ethanol is usually made from sugarcane, corn, and beets. Grapes find their way into fuel tanks instead of wine glasses, rice is often driven instead of eaten.  Woodscraps and agricultural residue would be less of a moral and financial hazard if converted into fuel. However, it proved resistant against yeasts. Today, Toyota took reporters to a lab in Aichi and showed off a yeast that wood-scraps, dead leaves, straw etc find highly irresistible.

That genetically altered yeast will happily turn otherwise inedible plants and fibers into ethanol. That yeast has such a great appetite for scrap that Toyota hopes to soon “achieve production-cost parity with other liquid fuels such as gasoline.” The yeast on steroids is thought to be ready for deployment by 2020 and should help reduce CO2 emissions while driving.

My forebears were German brewers, and my Weihenstephan-trained father taught me that CO2 is a byproduct of fermentation (it’s the fizz in beer), but that’s another story. In the meantime, Toyota should rush this stuff to America, it will find a ready market here.

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Where Are Our Green Car Priorities? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/what-is-americas-fuel-economy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/what-is-americas-fuel-economy/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2011 17:04:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=402839 As a relatively pragmatic person who generally chooses the imperfect-yet-achievable path rather than agonizing over the perfect-but-unattainable goal, this chart [from a fascinating Boston Consulting report, in PDF here]  frustrates me. I understand why Americans choose hybrid-electric cars as their most favored “green car” technology, but from their it gets fairly crazy. EVs are fantastic […]

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As a relatively pragmatic person who generally chooses the imperfect-yet-achievable path rather than agonizing over the perfect-but-unattainable goal, this chart [from a fascinating Boston Consulting report, in PDF here]  frustrates me. I understand why Americans choose hybrid-electric cars as their most favored “green car” technology, but from their it gets fairly crazy. EVs are fantastic on paper, but in the real world they’re still far too expensive, their batteries degrade, they have limited range, oh and did I mention that they’re freaking expensive? Biofuels, America’s third-favorite “green” transportation technology can be fantastic in certain limited applications, but the ongoing ethanol boondoggle proves that it will never be a true “gasoline alternative.” Finally, at the bottom of the list, Americans grudgingly accept only relatively slight interest in the two most promising short-term technologies: diesel and CNG. Neither of these choices is radically more expensive than, say, a hybrid drivetrain and both are considerably less expensive and compromised than EVs at this point. So why are we so dismissive of them?

And here’s how deep the irony goes: America is, apparently, far more sensitive to lifetime costs, and is particularly concerned with upfront costs. So if 56% of Americans are not willing to pay any extra upfront for a “green car,” and only 38% are willing to pay more upfront if it pays off over time, why do 64% claim to be interested in EVs? After all, the battery-powered cars that are currently on the market cost considerably more upfront (on average) than comparable hybrids, diesels and CNG cars. Even the most hard-core EV fans admit that buying an electric car now makes no financial sense, and even hybrids must be driven a huge number of miles to pay off its upfront premium compared to a comparable gasoline or CNG car. American consumers had some of the highest “don’t understand” response rates across the board, but when you break down the data you can’t help wondering if there should have been a few more.

But don’t blame Americans. After all, we’re so well-protected from our energy externalities (a topic I covered recently when I called for a serious push to increase gas taxes), that we couldn’t possibly be expected to know or care about fuel-efficient technologies as our $8/gallon-paying bretheren across the pond and around the world. As this chart shows, the US government lags other developed nations and regions in its fuel economy standard… but even this isn’t the real story. After all, the current argument being made by automakers is that they will be forced to put more cost into future CAFE-compliant cars which consumers will not find worthwhile if gas prices don’t rise. Which brings us back to the real issue:

The problem, it seems, is that America still sees “fuel efficient” cars and “green” cars as being fundamentally different. Just look at the rise of high-priced cars that are green for the sake of being green, and offer no chance paying back their additional costs compared to comparable cars that are simply “fuel efficient.” Fisker’s Karma is “green,” while a 335d is “fuel efficient.” Chevy’s Volt is “green” but the Cruze Eco is merely “efficient.” Tesla’s Roadster is “green” but a Lotus Elise is amazingly efficient. I could go on, but the point should be fairly clear: because “green” has become such an aspirational marketing trope, and because we are still so insulated from the price motivation that drives nearly everyone else on earth to save fuel, we can’t even evaluate the “green car” options out there in a way that makes any sense. In my mind, this is a troubling sign of the market failure that comes from hidden externalities… and as a believer in market solutions, I hope American consumers can start looking at alternative drivetrains with more objectivity in the near future.

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Senate Votes To Repeal Ethanol Tax Credits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/senate-votes-to-repeal-ethanol-tax-credits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/senate-votes-to-repeal-ethanol-tax-credits/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2011 15:32:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=399203 Cracks continued to in the ethanol industry’s once-impregnable political vanguard, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Senate has voted to roll back the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) as well as import tariffs on foreign-produced ethanol. This rollback of multi-billion-dollar ethanol credits failed earlier in the week, when the Detroit News reports […]

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Cracks continued to in the ethanol industry’s once-impregnable political vanguard, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Senate has voted to roll back the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) as well as import tariffs on foreign-produced ethanol. This rollback of multi-billion-dollar ethanol credits failed earlier in the week, when the Detroit News reports automakers came out in opposition of a bill that would have required that 95% of all cars built in the US be capable of running 85% ethanol by 2017. The Senate did fail to pass a repeal of a government ethanol blending mandate that underpins the VEETC, however, and funding is moving forward for ethanol blending pumps. Still, the Senate’s repeal of VEETC alone means taxpayers could save over $5b per year on subsidies, and as one expert puts it

“Looks like we’re going to be relying on the biofuels mandates to make sure blenders use biofuels, rather than bribing them to use it with $6 billion,” [Bruce Babcock, professor of economics and the director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University] said.

In fact, Babcock thinks killing the subsidy could help ethanol because it would come out from the stigma of being a subsidized industry. And removing the subsidy may strengthen support for the mandate, and the tariff on imports.

Over to you, House of Representatives…

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: E15 Ethanol Is Coming Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-e15-ethanol-is-coming-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-e15-ethanol-is-coming-edition/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2011 15:36:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=398121 Reuters reports that White House has approved a label for E15 ethanol blends, which warn motorists not to use the higher blend if their vehicle was built before the 2007 model-year. What Reuters won’t show you is the final label design that was approved… was it the EPA’s proposed design (above), or one of the […]

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Reuters reports that White House has approved a label for E15 ethanol blends, which warn motorists not to use the higher blend if their vehicle was built before the 2007 model-year. What Reuters won’t show you is the final label design that was approved… was it the EPA’s proposed design (above), or one of the ethanol lobby’s proposed alternatives (see gallery below). Clearly there’s a bit of a difference between the two, and the EPA was under quite a bit of pressure to not go with the orange-and-red “CAUTION!” version. In documentation from hearings on the E15 labeling issue [PDF], you can read executives and lobbyists expounding at length about the fact that ethanol is good for America, and that labeling shouldn’t discourage the use of E15. Which it doesn’t…. in 2007 and later vehicles. And if you check the EPA’s docket on the issue, you’ll find plenty of good reasons for preventing “misfueling”.  Luckily few gas station owners are likely to invest in E15 pumps anyway, so you may never actually see this label in the wild.

Picture 219 Picture 220 Yay!

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