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Maxximus World Records Highlight Power of LNG

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April 13, 2012 | USA, Los Angeles CA

Maintaining the crown as the world’s fastest street-legal car, the Maxximus LNG 2000, the brainchild of financier Bruce McMahan and Indianapolis-based designer Marlon Kirby, has now set world records for both LNG (liquefied natural gas) and LPG (propane). By utilizing proprietary technology, the Maxximus team say they have revolutionized the next generation of green vehicles that provides “legendary” versatility for using both natural fuels and reducing our dependence on foreign fuel sources.

The Maxximus LNG 2000 achieved both records at the South Georgia Motorsports Park, with LNG records broken in January and LPG records broken in march.

The table below displays the results. Note the outstanding 0 – 60 mph (0 – 97 kph) in just 1.96 seconds.

MAXXIMUS LPG LNG
0 – 60 mph 2.6 seconds 1.96 seconds
0 – 150 mph 9.21 seconds
Speed in 1/4 mile 134 mph 159.9 mph
Speed in 1/4 mile 215.5 kph 257.3 kph
1/4 mile elapsed time 10.28 seconds 9.63 seconds

The car can run on LNG, CNG and LPG with on demand adjustments.

Centaur Performance Group is owned by financier and philanthropist Bruce McMahan, who states, “When it comes to automobile performance, natural gas is at the forefront of people’s thinking. By using both LNG and LPG instead of gasoline, Centaur is taking up the charge in doing all it can to reduce America’s dependence on foreign fuel sources.”

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“Natural gas is a lot more attractive given the situation in the market, and there isn’t a car on the market that currently utilizes both LNG and propane. It’s the ultimate win-win for everybody,” commented Kirby.

In addition, Centaur is also developing a consumer-targeted line of vehicles called the Centaur Dragonfly that can be powered by four fuel types — gasoline, LNG, LPG and CNG (compressed natural gas).

(This article compiled using information from a Centaur Maxximus Motion press release)

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On Energy Policy, Navy Secretary Is Either Dishonest or Misinformed

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Lachlan Markay
March 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

In response to a congressional inquiry regarding a Navy purchase of expensive biofuels, Secretary Ray Mabus made numerous claims that are either factually incorrect or misleading regarding federal energy policy and the nation’s oil reserves.

Mabus was responding to concerns raised by Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Mike Conaway (R-TX) regarding a Navy purchase of 450,000 gallons of biofuels – the largest-ever federal purchase of such fuel – at $15 per gallon. That is more than three times the price of conventional diesel fuel.

The company providing the fuel, Solazyme, is advised by an energy consultant who helped write the alternative energy portion of president’s stimulus package.

“The math is clear,” Mabus told Lamborn in a letter dated March 23. “Opening up every possible source of oil available to us still would not provide enough to supply all our needs.”

That statement is categorically untrue. The United States has 1.4 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, more than the proven reserves (note: reserves, not recoverable resources) of any other nation, and more than the entire non-North American world combined, according to a study by the Institute for Energy Research.

It is true that the U.S. has only two percent of the world’s oil reserves, a statistic that Mabus cited in his letter in highly misleading fashion. But that measure only accounts for oil that is recoverable at current prices and under current law. In other words, if all government-owned land were open to oil development, that two percent figure would skyrocket.

What’s more, Lamborn did not suggest that all of the military’s energy should be met using oil. The issue is how best to determine what mix of energy sources should be used. The Obama administration apparently believes that bureaucrats, not market forces, are best suited to make that decision, despite evidence that the market is better suited to the task.

Mabus also touted one of the White House’s favorite talking points on energy production. “President Obama’s ‘All of the Above’ energy strategy clearly advocates increasing domestic oil production as much as possible,” Mabus wrote. “In fact, domestic oil production has risen and foreign oil imports have declined in each of the last three years.”

But as Scribe has reported, oil production on federal lands – lands over which the president has authority – is at a nine-year low. The increase in oil production that Mabus cites is due primarily to activity on privately-owned land.

As for oil imports, the decline Mabus cites is primarily attributable to decreases in domestic demand brought on by the economic downturn, and policies put in place by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, according to independent energy analysts.

Mabus went on to cite the potential price shocks that result from changes in global oil prices, claiming, “every dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil costs the Navy an additional $30 million.”

But unless oil prices rise so rapidly that the per-gallon cost of fuel reaches $15 – the price paid for the biofuels that spurred Lamborn’s letter – even these price shocks cannot cost the Navy as much, per gallon of fuel, as the biofuel purchase in question.

Indeed, Mabus insisted, “a competitively priced and domestically produced liquid fuel that can be dropped in as a replacement to diesel or aviation gas can give us greater energy independence.” But Lamborn’s issue is precisely that the biofuels the Navy purchased are not “competitively priced.” They are many times the price of conventional fuel.

Mabus attempted to deflect that obvious point by noting that alternative energy remains expensive because “we have not provided the type or level of incentives for alternative fuels that we provide the oil industry to encourage exploration and production.”

Again, this claim is untrue. Most of the incentives enjoyed by the oil industry are enjoyed by a multitude of other businesses. They include standard tax write-offs for operating expenses, and tax breaks offered to all manufacturing or natural resource extraction companies. Alternative energy sources, meanwhile, enjoy specific and targeted subsidies aimed at benefitting certain technologies, industries, or companies.

The level of benefits afforded the oil industry is in fact below that given to the alternative energy sector. Tax breaks for oil companies – again, the primary source of federal support – pales in comparison to tax breaks given to alternative energy companies, as a recent Congressional Budget Office report pointed out.

Those facts aside, “every American would be better served by getting rid of all energy subsidies,” Heritage energy policy expert Jack Spencer told Scribe. “The fact is that the federal government doesn’t need to waste taxpayer money to bring new energy technologies on line.”

Spencer noted that if Mabus is correct and oil prices skyrocket to unaffordable levels, market forces would naturally offer a foothold for biofuels and other renewables without making the purchase of economically uncompetitive fuel sources necessary.

The Navy’s biofuel purchase, and Mabus’s defense of it, is part of an ongoing mission “that needlessly bleeds scarce resources away from core missions to advance a political agenda is untenable,” Spencer noted in a report on the effort.

“The White House is pushing the idea that the alternative energy industry would get the kick start it needs if the military will just commit to using them,” Spencer added. “But the assumptions behind this argument are flawed, and the strategy would increase demands on the military budget while harming national security.”

Here is the full text of Mabus’s letter: Mabus Letter

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This Enormous Mass Of Floating Antarctic Algae Can Be Seen From Space

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Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience | Mar. 7, 2012, 8:48 PM

An enormous algae bloom off the coast of Antarctica is so huge and colorful that it can easily be seen from space.

A stunning photo of the monster algae bloom was released March 4 by the Australian Antarctic Division.

The bloom hugs the coast of eastern Antarctica and has been present since mid-February. Marine glaciologist Jan Lieser of the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center (ACE) in Australia said in a statement that the event is remarkable.

“We know that algal blooms are a natural occurrence down south —it’s just a part of the Southern Ocean,” Lieser told Australian website The Conversation. “But I’ve never seen one on this scale before. It’s been going on for about 15 days now, so it’s maybe about two-thirds or three-fourths of the way through the cycle.”

The bloom stretches about 124 miles (200 kilometers) east to west and 62 miles (100 km) north to south. The image of this gigantic bloom was taken by the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument aboard NASA’s Earth-orbiting Terra satellite; together with the Aqua satellite, Terra views Earth’s entire surface every one to two days, acquiring data in several wavelengths of light.

On Feb. 27, MODIS spotted another Antarctic phytoplankton bloom, this one off the coast of the Princess Astrid Coast.

Algae blooms like these are triggered when a combination of sunlight and nutrients create fertile conditions. In the Southern Ocean, iron is the limiting nutrient, according to ACE. When iron concentrations are high enough, algae blooms follow.

This particular bloom is thought to be made up of phaeocystis, a single-celled algae well-known in polar areas. Algae also live on land in the Antarctic, sometimes in concentrations high enough to color snow banks red, green and orange. Australian research vessel Aurora Australis is venturing near the Antarctic bloom so scientists can collect samples of the algae.

Algae is the base of the ocean food chain, and in the Southern Ocean, as is the case elsewhere, they take up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide as they photosynthesize and grow. But massive blooms occasionally cause trouble. Some species of algae produce neurotoxins that are deadly. Humans who eat shellfish that have fed on Alexandrium catanella, the algae responsible for “red tides,” can die of paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Some researchers even suspect that algae poisoning contributed to all five of Earth’s great mass extinctions, which killed off between half and 90 percent of all animal species when they occurred. According to this controversial theory, there were increased levels of algae in at least four of the five mass extinctions in Earth’s history. A cataclysmic event such as a volcanic eruption or asteroid impact could have stressed the algae, causing them to release more toxins and further harm the ecosystem.

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

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Australia: Shore ASCO to Build Darwin Marine Supply Base

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ShoreASCO Consortium, which includes Asco Holdings, Macmahon Contractors and Capella Capital has been awarded a contract to design and construct the world-class Darwin Marine Supply Base, worth approximately $110 million.

Macmahon Contractors will construct the base which will include three marine berths with water, fuel, chemical and drilling mud connections, hard stand and lay down areas, warehousing, waste management facility, storage capacity for drilling muds, chemicals, water and fuel, office space and associated facilities.

Chief Executive Officer of Macmahon, Nick Bowen, said the project was a fantastic opportunity for Macmahon and continues the Company’s delivery of major infrastructure in the Northern Territory. “The supply base will bolster Darwin and the Territory’s reputation as the port of choice for servicing the needs of the offshore industry and is opportunity for Macmahon to establish another piece of major infrastructure, critical to supporting the Territory’s growth,”

The base will be operated by ShoreASCO for up to 20 years. Construction is expected to start in April 2012 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.

Paul Henderson, the current Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Australia has welcomed the signing of the contract, saying the construction would begin in the coming months on the base which would cement Darwin’s position as a major oil and gas hub.

The Minister revealed that Oil & Gas majors have already shown interest in the Marine Supply Base: “Already major players have come on board to take advantage of our world class Marine Supply Base with ConocoPhillips to use if for their existing operations, INPEX confirming they will using  the base during their multi-billion gas development and Shell confirming they will use it to  service their floating LNG plant in the browse basin.”

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DOE sees rationing as US acts vs Iran

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BY JOHN LOURENZE POQUIZ

The Department of Energy is readying its contingency plan in the event that the problem in Iran escalates and results in a local fuel supply shortage.

Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug said that the DOE is looking at mechanism where the government would ration fuel consumption in the event supplies become tight.

“We are reviewing our contingency plan. Part of that is cutting down consumption,” Layug told Malaya Business Insight.

“We would have a mechanism where people would be given allocations on the oil they consume. It’s a form of rationing,” he added.

Layug said that the Philippines sources only less than 1 percent of its requirements from Iran.

He said, however, local fuel supply would be threatened if the Strait of Hormuz, which is adjacent to Iran, would be blocked.

The strait is the only passage for ships carrying petroleum from major oil-exporting countries on the Arabian peninsula.

Layug said that because of the supply threats, world oil prices have been going up in past weeks, influencing local pump prices.

“In terms of Iran, (we source a) very small (amount). Less than 1 percent. But more importantly, ever since Iran test-fired its missiles (last week), the international market has gone up,” he said.

“In fact, for the past few weeks, the major reason for the price hikes is Iran. Prices in the international market have gone up,” he added.

Last week, oil firms raised the prices of their unleaded and premium gasoline products by P0.90 per liter. The price of regular gasoline went up P0.60 per liter, while diesel rose P0.30 per liter.

The sanctions approved by President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve have highlighted the importance of Iranian oil supplies to East Asia’s energy-hungry economies. They have led to a clash of interests between Washington and key commercial and strategic partners over efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

China, the biggest buyer of Iran’s oil, has publicly rejected US sanctions aimed at Tehran’s energy industry, while American allies Japan and South Korea are scrambling to find a compromise to keep critical supplies flowing.

Beijing is buying less Iranian crude this month, but analysts say China is unlikely to support an oil embargo. Instead, they say, the smaller purchases might be a tactic aimed at obtaining lower prices as the West squeezes Tehran.

“We are considering our response and are closely discussing the matter with the US,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry official, Kazuhiro Kawase, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying Friday.

A South Korean foreign ministry spokesman said this week Seoul is in talks with Washington aimed at “minimizing the negative impacts” of sanctions. South Korea imports 97 percent of its oil and depends on Iran for up to 10 percent of its supplies.

China’s foreign ministry rejected the sanctions this week and called for negotiations, leaving unclear whether Beijing might defy Washington, straining relations between the world’s biggest and second-biggest economies.

“Sanctioning is not the correct approach to easing tensions,” said a ministry spokesman, Hong Lei. “China opposes the placing of one’s domestic law above international law and imposing unilateral sanctions on other countries.”

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is due to visit Beijing and Tokyo next week for talks that officials say will include the sanctions.

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Mandating the impossible: The EPA and cellulosic ethanol

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January 3, 2012 | Posted by Ken Cohen

Here’s a New Year’s resolution worth making: Let’s not mandate the impossible.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency did just that last week, setting new quotas for 2012 that will require the nation’s refiners to add 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol to America’s fuel supplies.

The only catch: America doesn’t have the cellulosic ethanol to meet that standard.

Cellulosic ethanol is intended to be an advanced alternative to corn-based ethanol. By deriving it from inedible plant matter such as switchgrass, wood chips, and wheat straw, the hope is that cellulosic ethanol could supplement our transportation fuels in a way that is more efficient and has fewer harmful impacts on the environment and food prices than corn-based ethanol.
In practical terms, cellulosic ethanol still faces significant challenges. The scientific community and American industry have yet to find a way to make the fuel cost competitive.

As the National Research Council stated last month in a lengthy study on biofuels, “Currently, no commercially viable biorefineries exist for converting cellulosic biomass to fuel.”

This technological fact hasn’t stopped the EPA from setting impossible standards in the past. It mandated cellulosic ethanol quotas in 2010 and 2011, which failed abysmally, according to the EPA’s own data. (See chart.) In other words, the EPA’s decision makers should know better by now – and choose a new course of action.

Congress gave the EPA discretionary power to set what is called the Renewable Fuel Standard to take into account the state of investment, innovation, and capabilities of the biofuels sector. When lawmakers passed the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007, they set lofty goals that many throughout the broader economy knew were impossible to meet.

Congress set a goal of producing 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by the year 2022. Of that 36 billion gallons, nearly half (16 billion gallons) was supposed to come from yet-to-be-discovered breakthroughs in non-corn based ethanol.

That’s why the EPA was given flexibility. So, who will be paying for the impossible-to-reach EPA standards in 2012? The American economy and the American consumer.

Under the current law, refiners (and, indirectly, consumers) have to pay a fee for failing to blend cellulosic ethanol into existing fuel supplies. Meanwhile, because there is no alternative but to pay the fee, it has quietly turned into a revenue-raising device that contributes nothing to energy, growth, or jobs.

What should EPA and Washington do? It’s easy. Stop picking winners and losers in the marketplace – and let industry compete and do what we do best, which is to invest and innovate to bring real and affordable energy to consumers in a safe, secure, and environmentally responsible way.

As the president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association said, “Instead of imposing an unreasonable biofuels mandate, which would raise energy costs and impact fuel supplies, government should allow consumer choice and the free market to determine the mix of energy sources to best meet our nation’s needs.”

Rather than mandating the impossible, lawmakers and regulators should instead resolve to let markets work.

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USA: Wartsila, Shell Ink Cooperation Deal to Promote LNG as Marine Fuel

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Wärtsilä, the marine industry’s leading solutions provider, and Shell Oil Company have signed a Joint Co-operation Agreement aimed at promoting and accelerating the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel. The agreement was signed in August 2011 and will run for several years.

Supplies of low cost, low emissions LNG fuel will be made available to Wärtsilä natural gas powered vessel operators, and other customers by Shell. The Joint Cooperation Agreement will focus first on supplies from the US Gulf Coast, and then later expand their efforts to cover a broader geographical range.

Gas fuelled marine engines are seen as being a logical means for ship owners and operators to comply with increasingly stringent environmental legislation. This agreement aims at increasing and easing the availability of natural gas for marine engine use, as well as developing the supply chain and infrastructure to facilitate the bunkering of LNG fuel. The two companies will jointly move these developments to marine markets in order to enhance its rapid introduction and use.

Wärtsilä has been at the forefront in the development of dual-fuel engine technology, allowing the same engine to be operated on both gas and diesel fuel. This dual-fuel capability means that when running in gas mode, the environmental impact is minimized since nitrogen oxides (NOx) are reduced by some 85 percent compared to diesel operation, sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions are completely eliminated as gas contains no sulphur, and emissions of CO2 are also lowered. Natural gas has no residuals, and thus the production of particulates is practically non-existent.

In addition to the environmental benefits that LNG fuel offers, the shipping industry is increasingly looking to gas as a means of reducing operating costs. With fossil fuel prices, and especially the cost of low carbon marine fuel, likely to continue to escalate, gas is an obvious economic alternative. In promoting gas propulsion, the two companies aim at reducing client risk, thereby accelerating market demand.

It’s an exciting time for the industry to have Shell, a major player, committed to increasing the availability of clean natural gas as a marine fuel. The marine community is becoming increasingly aware of the benefits provided by Wärtsilä natural gas engines as a means of reducing both costs and the environmental footprint. Natural gas engines represent a rare win-win, capturing emissions reduction and operational savings,” says Christoph Vitzthum, Group Vice President, Wärtsilä Services.

Drawing from decades of experience in the development and application of natural gas engines for both the power generation and marine industries, Wärtsilä is the global leader in this advanced technology. “Clean, safe natural gas represents a true shipping paradigm shift; years ago it was sail to steam, then came the move from steam to diesel, and now it’s a new era for gas propulsion,” says Jaakko Eskola, Group Vice President, Wärtsilä Ship Power.

We are pleased to work with Wärtsilä to move forward with this significant step in introducing LNG-powered vessels into the US market, providing a clean, abundant and affordable fuel option,” said David Lawrence, Shell’s executive vice president Exploration and Commercial.

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