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Kevin Cudby
New Zealand
Freelance Writer and Technology Consultant
Recent Activity
Mike Boeing or Neste really need to clarify what they mean by "high freeze point". Jet A1 is spec'd to minus 47 C for very good reason. From the practical perspective HEFA is near identical to FT. I suspect the marginal barrel of jet fuel by the end of this century will be FT (solar and/or nuclear). With both HEFA and FT you need to modify the raw kero to lower the freezing point. Oil companies know how to do this, and some are already doing it. (e.g. Shell's GTL FT jet fuel). I really don't think the airlines are so sensitive to fuel prices that they can't afford a few cents per barrel for isomerisation, to make their renewable fuel satisfy existing, proven, specifications. What do Nest and Boeing mean by "High"? A higher freezing temperature? Or a bigger negative number?
What was the motive? Why would a senior engineer put hundreds of thousands of people's livelihoods at risk? This guy was in charge of software for competing technologies. So - was the cheat device a trojan horse? Was the intention to put it out there in millions of vehicles and then blow the whistle? If so, why? To discredit internal combustion? To discredit diesel? To discredit software people?
These figures suggest people prefer road transport and cars. Policymakers must learn to respect that. Road construction will need to continue for some time after the world achieves population stability. IMO steady per capita economic growth will be adequate to maintain or improve the affordability of gasoline.
You don't mention the range of ethanol content in these tests. Did the researchers rule out engine lean-out as a cause of PM reduction?
Lad: This study repeats what I learned eight years ago while researching my book: "From Smoke to Mirrors". The world needs all technologies on the table. Carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels (Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, synthetic liquid methane) are essential for meeting the 2 degree limit. Biofuel opponents often use faulty assumptions to oppose biofuels. Climate stablisation demands a 100% reduction of CO2, but not N2O or methane - these gases are not comparable (The IPCC is wrong on that point, but that's another story). Here in NZ, forestry scientists propose to convert steep, poor-quality farmland to energy forestry. These sustainably managed forests would absorb an amount of CO2 equivalent to thirty years worth of CO2 emissions from ALL our liquid fuel consumption - and in a carbon-neutral world, the crude oil you get from these forests would be 100% carbon neutral. Liquid hydrocarbons can also be made with solar energy In the right locations (not NZ or Germany) you get good EROEI etc. I reckon this is the best way to use solar energy, because liquid fuels are so versatile. I agree with Nick Lyons - nuclear hydrocarbon production looks like an excellent idea. However, biofuels can be put into production now. Solar and nuclear hydrocarbon production awaits probably (IMO) a decade or so of experimental development - especially in the area of direct carbon capture. There is no reason to believe it will not work. But the process has not yet had enough development to justify multi-billion-dollar investment. The only way any of this can happen is if there is a sinking lid on NET global CO2 emissions, dropping to zero by 2080. Right now, the big problem is that obfuscators say "GROSS" CO2 emissions need to fall to zero. It's NET people - not gross! And, by the way, with moderate per capita economic growth and reasonable ICE development we should expect carbon-neutral gasoline to be more affordable at the end of this century that fossil gasoline is now. What's not to like?
Harvey - Not enough people are thinking about the potential for carbon-neutral diesel. Climate stabilisation requires a total cessation of NET CO2 emissions. Politicians appease the public by deploying token fleets of "zero-emission" vehicles. Real world transport needs real diesel, which is why I'm keeping a close eye on the evolution of solar crude oil processes - and they are looking better every year.
I agree that solar energy is a good bet. I do not agree it means the end of ICE. This analysis ignores at least two factors: 1. The cost-per mile ignores battery replacement cost. Li-ion battery production consumes vast amounts of energy. In a fossil fuel free world, that energy can't come from coal. 2. Once you bring solar energy into the equation, land area is no longer a constraint. Suppose, for example, that crude oil demand eventually stabilises at 18 billion tonnes per year, 4.5 times greater than current production. This would need solar energy collectors covering less than 0.63% of the earth's land area. If the land coverage factor is 30%, crude oil production needs only about 2% of world land area. With solar thermal, waster heat from crude oil plants could desalinate vast quantities of water. And the land between solar collectors could be used for horticulture. So, if land area is not a constraint, and if a BEV's lifetime energy consumption is comparable with that of a 21st century ICE, why favour batteries over internal combustion. The world needs different horses for courses. This is probably why car manufacturers are pushing all technologies - ICE, BEV, and HFC. As long as they have wheels they're all good as far as I'm concerned
I've been following solar crude oil developments since 2009. It's the only realistic option for satisfying future demand for transportation energy, which by the end of this century could be five times greater than it is today. By 2012 I had concluded that fuels made from solar crude oil will be more affordable at the end of this century than fossil fuels were in 2010. Why? We have good reason to think the fuel consumption of road vehicles, especially cars, can be cut in half, relative to a 2005 baseline. (Without downsizing, which is important, because cars are still getting bigger.) Economic growth through the 21st century should more than double average incomes. So, my greatgrandchildren in 2080 will be quite happy it their fuel is only three times more expensive (excluding inflation) than mine was, in 2005. In 2013 I thought solar fuels would be about 3.5 times more expensive than fossil. The Audi Sunfire project pegs the cost at about 2.5 times fossil (It's in the Sunfire video embedded above). Good enough, in my view, assuming a fifty to sixty year transition. Key point: Net CO2 emissions need to fall to zero. Not methane. Not N2O. Just CO2. Solar fuels satisfy that criterion. I'm with SJC: We can urge others to buy EVs while we keep driving around in ICEs. But if we really are serious about fixing the climate, we need to think about technology such as solar fuel. I'm laying out what I've learned over at
I think this is a fair assessment. Audi management are undoubtedly aware that solar fuel exploits a resource that is more than adequate to satisfy long-term demand for liquid fuels The Sunfire experiment exemplifies a pathway that "should" work. Each step in their process is based on known technology. What we don't have, yet, is a commercial-scale demonstration of direct capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon Engineering and the Sunfire partner (Climeworks) are working toward this goal. The big question will be: "What will it cost?" Based on Carbon Engineering's cost estimate, I calculated that solar gasoline should be at least as affordable in the late 21st century as fossil gasoline is today. Sunfire's cost estimate is considerably more optimistic than mine. If, as you suggest, Audi is pursuing an alternative route, in parallel with Sunfire, I think they are doing the right thing. If it's more economic than a "Sunfire-like" process, then it would be possible to accelerate the phase out of fossil fuels without crimping the world economy. Another possibility is that Audi wants iso-octane as a blendstock. Sunfire's gasoline fraction will have an octane rating of 80 or so. Boosting the octane rating adds cost. (Not a lot, but every little bit adds up). A low cost source of iso-octane might help reduce the cost of finished solar gasoline by reducing the need for isomerisation.
I suspect a pipeline would be better than railing crude oil. Post fossil fuel it could be used for transporting crude oil made from energy forestry.
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Feb 17, 2015