Tag: gas

A California Station Tests Out New Biodiesel Made In Part By Algae

By Ashley P. Taylor | November 21, 2012 11:55 am

spacing is important

Fancy putting a bit of the aquatic in your gas tank? Go to California. A new kind of biodiesel, containing 20-percent algae-based fuel, went on sale at gas stations in the San Francisco Bay area last week as part of a one-month pilot program. The fuel emits 10 percent fewer hydrocarbons, 30 percent fewer particulates, and 20 percent less carbon monoxide than other biodiesels according to its producer, Solazyme, reports Yale Environment 360. This is the first time that an algae-based fuel has made it into cars.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology

The Little-Known 2007 Energy Law That May Have a Big Effect on Oil Consumption

By Patrick Morgan | March 25, 2011 10:46 am

What’s the News: In a much-ignored speech last week (not ignored by Grist), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) argued that the U.S. could become less vulnerable to spiking oil prices if we used less of it (surprise!). The crux of the talk was a graph he showed of our country’s estimated petroleum imports, and specifically, the significant change inprojection between 2008 and 2011 (blue and red lines above). Our now-declining gas and oil imports are in part a result of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

How the Heck:

  • Our petroleum imports are projected to decline because the Energy Act included strategic changes to biofuel and fuel efficiency policies. For example, automakers are required to increase fleetwide gas mileage to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 and more money is being funneled into biofuel production.
  • As Bingaman said in his speech, the act will save the U.S. billions of oil barrels—more than the 23 billion that we now have in U.S. proven oil reserves.
  • The bottom line is that by including more biofuels into our gasoline and supporting alternative energies, we’ll require less petroleum and thereby rely less on the petrostates. The concept is simple, but it carries a wallop once you actually see the graph.

What’s the Context:

Not So Fast: Some green-tech writers think the EIA’s predictions are more fiction than fact. According to Chris Nelder at Green Chip Stocks, the EIA’s predictions often “present a picture of the future that looks like a continuation of the best parts of the past, with none of the bad parts.” The assumption that our oil imports will keep on declining hinges partly on technologies that haven’t been invented yet and the hope that all the policies included in the Energy Act come to fruition. The only thing you can’t argue against is that petroleum demands right now are much lower than we had expected, thanks in due part to the Energy Act. What’s more, the economy has largely sputtered since 2008, which tends to tamp down demand for energy. The graph might be more valuable if it showed oil consumption per unit of economic activity.

Image: EIA


Astronomers Display the Eclipse of a Star With Amazing Thermal Images

By Andrew Moseman | April 7, 2010 4:47 pm

This solar eclipse happens only once every 27 years, and John Monnier was there to see it.

Epsilon Aurigae is a star system about 2,000 light years from Earth. Astronomers have been able to see it for nearly two centuries, and noticed that it dims every 27 years or so. It made sense to assume that they were dealing with a binary star system, with a larger primary star and a smaller secondary star circling around the first. But that didn’t answer all their questions. Why, for instance, did the primary star normally appear dimmer than it should? And if there is a smaller star orbiting the main star, why can’t we see it? To explain that, astronomers developed the unlikely theory that a thick disk of dust was orbiting the smaller star in the same plane as the smaller star’s orbit of the larger star [UPI].

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MORE ABOUT: eclipse, gas, stars, telescopes

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