Non-Food ‘Cellulosic’ Ethanol Could Be Price Competitive With Gasoline By 2016.

Cellulosic ethanol production.According to research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), ethanol produced from non-food materials (inedible parts of plants, woods, and grasses) will be price competitive with corn-based ethanol and gasoline by 2016. It’s a second generation biofuel called cellulosic ethanol and for years, figuring out how to cost effectively produce ethanol from non-edible plants has been a challenge. From BNEF:

“The survey collected data and predictions on the production costs of 11 leading players in the cellulosic ethanol industry. All use a technique, commonly called enzymatic hydrolysis, to break down and convert the complex sugars in non-food crop matter, and a fermentation stage to turn the results into ethanol. The results showed that in 2012, the cost of cellulosic ethanol production was $0.94 per litre, around 40% higher than the $0.67 per litre cost of producing ethanol from corn, which dominates the US biofuel market and is competitive with US gasoline. By 2016, respondents thought the price of cellulosic ethanol would match that of corn-based ethanol.”

Why is the move to cellulosic biofuels so important? From BusinessGreen:

“Cellulosic biofuels are widely regarded as critical to the development of the biofuels industry, as they allow developers to produce fuels from waste material or fast-growing grasses removing the need for energy crops that have been blamed for eating into agricultural land and driving up food prices.”

Another benefit of cellulosic ethanol is that its production can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 85% over reformulated gasoline according to a study conducted by Michael Wang of the Argonne National Laboratory. Starch-based ethanol made from corn reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 18-29% over reformulated gasoline. [BusinessGreen and BNEF]


Panasonic Hopes Its Artificial Photosynthesis System Will One Day Convert Factory Released CO2 Into Ethanol.

Watch the video. I’m not even going to try to explain how Panasonic’s Artificial Photosynthesis System works. [DigInfo]


Sorry Louis and Billy Ray: Climate Change Might’ve Gotten A Hold Of The Crop Reports Before You Could.

Corn Crops in drought conditions.Trading Places movie posterThe movie Trading Places struck a chord with audiences when the two main characters, Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), swap out the orange crop report data with doctored information forcing the commodity trading Duke brothers into bankruptcy. Fast-forward 29 years, change the crop to corn and soybeans, and the crop report might not be necessary because in 2012, the forecasted data could’ve been trumped by climate change.

Of course, pinning the drop in agriculture production solely on a climate change caused drought might be a mistake but the facts are undeniable: July 2012 was the hottest month on record and one period during the predicted hottest recorded year. Corn and soybean production is expected to hit their lowest yield since 1995 and 2003 respectively. The effects of the drought will trickle down to all areas of food production as the price of soy beans and corn increases, so will the cost of feed and any products that are made from these crops.

What to do?: Hoarding isn’t an option. Our recommendation would be to work your way down the food chain more often. I’m no baker or chef but my guess is choosing to eat less processed, pre-packaged foods and meat products would be a good start. Another way to limit the effects of higher costs is to drive less. Gasoline contains up to 15% corn-derived ethanol and as the cost of production goes up, so does the price of fuel.

So Louis and Billy Ray, consider yourselves lucky. You received the crop report data before the Duke brothers during a time that it meant something. It’s unfortunate but now we can walk outside and feel the “hot” bad news before it even makes it to the crop report. [NY Times via Grist]


China VS US: CO2 Emissions From Fossil Fuels Is The Most Depressing Infographic We’ll Post Today

US vs China: CO2 Emissions from fossil fuel consumptionThis graphic doesn’t require much of an explanation. Unfortunately, it’s what you’d expect when you add half a billion monied consumers. [Sightline. Graphic by Good Measures]


Might As Well Start Driving NOW As If Gas Costs $5+ Per Gallon

Metered driving.The NY Times Green blog posted an article, What Next for Gas Prices?, in which fuel prices were tracked and shown to have risen $.13 in one week and $.30 over one month. From Feb 1 – Mar 1 2012 in Seattle, gas prices have risen by almost $.50 and is now selling for over $4.00 per gallon. The price of gas has become a huge political issue that could determine the results of the 2012 US Presidential election.

What’s Jubbling’s take? We think you should ignore the politics and drive as if gas already costs $5/gallon. Heck, make it $10/gallon. It’s a very simple mindset change but one that most people wouldn’t consider. Do you really need to make that quick trip to the grocery store to buy beer when you already have a fifth of vodka? Improvise and find ways to avoid the impulse drives because in your mind, it cost you $100+ to fill your tank. It’s a mental cushion that is similar to setting your watch ahead by 15 minutes so you always feel late.

Carpooling, grouping your needed trips into one or driving a hybrid are all great. But finding ways to drive less is the key because the imagined $5+ per gallon of gas in your tank is not a sunk cost. It’s a meter that is running and dropping the value of the gasoline in your tank every time you drive your car.