Team Up for Energy Victory

February 5, 2013 |

ACORE“Up with octane, down with aromatics, and embrace the needs of people and nature,” says ACORE’s legendary biomass guru. But less freak-out, more reach-out is needed, he cautions.

By Col. Bill Holmberg (ret.)
Biomass Coordinator, American Council On Renewable Energy

Advances taking place in the biofuels industry have an impact on many different aspects of society. Some of these advances provide changes that occur exponentially, while others require more time to create an impact that can be observed. But the continuing advances in the industry lead to constant transition.

The resulting changes range from large-scale issues, such as climate change mitigation, public health and the world oil market, to smaller-scale effects, including consumer choices, fueling stations, and pump labeling.

Although much is still unknown about the outcomes of these changes, it is likely that society will be competing in advancements in the following areas:

•  The field of transportation energy, rather than limiting our scope to the transportation fuels markets.
•  More focus on climate change mitigation by seriously limiting CO2 and black carbon emissions.
•   Health impacts from the emission of harmful aromatics, ultrafine particulates and polycyclic hydrocarbons.
•  The need for higher octane fuels to meet performance and mileage goals.
•  Advances in better land-use techniques and water availability.
•  The importance of sustainability, environmental and natural systems enhancement.

The market place will provide a way for competition to take place and for further advancements to be made. However, certain forces routinely turn to political, corporate and financial tools to gain market advantage. For competitors who are short in these powerful tools, it may be beneficial to team up in pursuit of specific goals, such as sustainability, improved health effects, higher octane, consumer choice, economic benefits, and job creation.

The biofuels industry has the ability to combine efforts to pursue common goals, but the industry is facing certain obstacles for reasons that are being exaggerated by most of the media and the political machinery. This calls for a shift in tactics and the development of allies.

There are certain goals that need to be reached in order to increase cooperation between different groups in the industry:

•     It is important to emphasize the value of corn as a C-4 plant to harvest carbon dioxide and nitrogen into the top and deeper soils, while increasing productivity, conserving water, and providing ethanol fuels and high protein animal feed.

•     In a coordinated manner and using every available tool, including court action, there needs to be a significant reduction in the level of aromatics in gasoline to bring down particulates, ultrafine particulates, polycyclic hydrocarbons and black carbon emissions from light duty vehicles. This change will result in a reduction of the amount of asthma, cancer, autism, and childhood diabetes cases, which cost society tens of billions of dollars annually.

•     Provide automakers with a 93+ octane fuel to encourage direct injected, higher compression ratio/turbo charged engines to improve performance and mileage.

•     Team up with all the alcohols to provide higher octane fuels and expand the market for the aromatic-free fuels by boosting FFV production and greatly expanding the number of fueling stations.

•     Work closely with the auto industry in determining alcohol blends that can be accommodated within an achievable time frame.

•     Reach out to the natural gas industries about their rising use of natural gas heavy duty vehicles; increasing its use in light duty vehicles; and, advancements of methanol as transportation energy in some nations with encouraged forward movement in the U.S. market.

•     Reach out to the electric vehicle industry, regarding the popularity of the industry and their rise in the transportation energy market.

• Work cooperatively with other transportation systems like trains, planes and boats to advance their industries and the energy they use to limit climate change and encourage sustainability.

The biofuels industry should also reach out to the other bioenergy industries in working more closely with the Land Grant University System, State Departments of Agriculture, the U.S Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Interior, EPA, environmental and wildlife organizations, as well as others, to ensure the increased production of corn and other C-4 starch and sugar crops, as well as grasses and woody biomass on millions of acres of lands that are contaminated, misused or under-utilized.

•     Work with a wide variety of government agencies at all levels and private sector organizations, as well as businesses and industries, to protect and advance water supplies, and to ensure the availability of clean water to meet national needs.

•     Bring to the forefront a higher level of national thinking that emphasizes full support of these proposed concepts that will create millions of jobs involving working with natural systems in natural environments to replace jobs being lost, to some degree, by advances in robotics and internet/computer technologies.

• Cooperation between the biofuels industry and the government is being exhibited through the development of the National Biomass Lend-Lease project, which allows biofuels to be produced specifically for military purposes. Hopefully, this project will encourage the expansion of military use of biofuels.

Most of these opportunities can be summarized by the simple statement: “Up with octane, down with aromatics, and embrace the needs of people and nature.”

A team that is capable of making these changes would be made up of:

•     The biofuels and other alcohol industries.
•     The auto industries.
•     The natural gas and electric power industries.
•     The agriculture and forestry industries.
•     Environment, wildlife and public interest groups.
•     Government advisors.

I would be naïve to think that all these groups will step forward and start working together. However, our nation needs their help, and there are specific tools and actions that need to be applied. To reach a recovery pace that will meet the needs of the future, will require some united actions from each of the groups listed above.

We also need the cooperative support of oil companies that should embrace the imperatives of sustainability, climate change and water availability. We, in turn, must accept the reality of the existing and projected market for oil-based products.

Together, we must all strive to formulate a collaborative process that will bring forth effective change. Our well-being and the strength of America depend on such actions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags:

Category: Top Stories

Thank you for visting the Digest.