HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Bill USA » Journal
Page: 1

Bill USA

Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

When Millions Of Lost Bush White House Emails (From Private Accounts) Triggered A Media Shrug

This is good.....and the Bush administration admitted to 22 staffers using private email accounts, under the Republican National Committee's account, maintained on the servers of private companies (e.g. Google) hosting emails services. ---- on private companies servers ...no security doubts there! -- NO SECURITY.


Methanol at MIT: Industry Influence Charged in Project Cancellation

..This article confirms my suspicions that the Oil industry has been thwarting any efforts to demonstrate that ethanol or methanol is a viable fuel for cars and trucks (with some modifications of the engines). The Oil industry already knew this. The oil industry didn't want any other fuel entering the market that would reduce their revenues and weaken their ability to control pricing of gasoline. That's why it was imperative to keep the effectiveness of ethanol or methanol as a fuel for cars and light trucks from being demonstrated.


Cambridge, Massachusetts. Academic institutions in theory provide a testing ground for
ideas which is somewhat insulated from the push and pull of the world outside. But, as
they take advantage of the energy R & D dollars now so tantalizingly available from
government and industry, these institutions may risk compromising or appearing to
compromise their academic independence. The cancellation of a research project on
methanol (methyl alcohol) as a substitute motor fuel for gasoline at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology’s Energy Laboratory offers a case in point. In the opinion of the
scientist who initiated and led the project, it was killed because the laboratory yielded to
influence from the oil and automobile industry.

Authorities at MIT deny that outside influence had any bearing on the decision, and they
say that the project--which was to involve the testing of a blend of methanol and gasoline
in 200 faculty and student cars--was terminated because it was technically weak and
inappropriate for a university. Yet the attendant circumstances, which include the active
involvement of an Exxon employee as well as the fact that the laboratory had received $1
million in grants from Exxon and Ford, put the termination in an ambiguous, and perhaps
suspicious, light.

The project in question began some 18 months ago at a time of considerable debate over
the feasibility of using methanol in automobiles. Several academic researchers were
touting methanol’s potential, and among them Thomas B. Reed of MIT’s Lincoln
Laboratory was perhaps the most vocal. Spokesmen for several oil and automobile
companies, notably Exxon, Chevron, and General Motors, were contesting the feasibility
of methanol fuels.

Reed, a 49 year old chemist who holds 10 patents and whose specialty is crystal growth
and high temperature processes, had in his spare time experimented extensively with his
own automobiles and those of his colleagues. He found that adding about 10 percent
methanol to a tank of gasoline improved performance, gave better mileage, and reduced
pollutant emissions. Results similar to Reed’s have since been reported by West
Germany’s Volkswagen, ow generally acknowledged as the leader in methanol research.
In this country, however, oil and automobile companies have continued to report that
methanol-gasoline blends cause drivability problems1.


I think the Oil industry is particularly fearful of anybody taking actual cars tuned for alcohol blends and running them on ethanol or methanol. They know that engines can be set up to handle alcohol blended fuels and with proper equipment and settings, achieve comparable or better fuel efficiency with alcohol fuels as with gasoline. (Methanol has been used in racing for decades and there is no question it could be used (as well as ethanol) blended with gasoline to increase supply of fuel and lower GHG emissions (methanol can be made from agricultural or forestry waste and thus would be a renewable fuel). Research that confines itself to modeling and computations on paper is acceptable to the oil industry but NOT real world demonstrations of ethanol or methanol (blended with gasoline or 'strait') as a fuel in cars and trucks.

I only know of a few cases where straight forward tests were done of ethanol andor methanol and they showed that it's possible to achieve comparable fuel efficiency with ethanol or methanol as with gasoline.

THe Ethanol Vehicle Challenge 1998 - 14 teams of College Engineering students competed to optimize Chevrolet Malibus to run on ethanol. All the teams produced cars that achieved better fuel efficiency than the stock Malibu on gasoline in the city driving test. The three top teams achieving efficiency improvements of 13% to 15% overall. Note these improvements in fuel efficiency were achieved without downsizing. Alcohol fueled (incl blended with gas) engines can be supercharged or turbocharged producing much higher power outputs than gasoline so boosted and thus you can use a smaller engine and achieve greater fuel efficiency gains over low octane gasoline.

Fuel Freedom Foundations study involving ethanol and methanol (Is The Gasoline Gallon Equivalent An Accurate Measure Of Mileage For Ethanol And Methanol Fuel Blends?) --- FFF wanted to see if the Government's official method of estimating a cars fuel efficiency based on the Heat content of ethanol compared to gasoline's (this is called the Gasoline Gallon Equivalent). Several different Flex Fuel automobiles of years 2007 through 2012 were tested after their Engine Control Modules were 'reflashed' to alter ignition timing to take advantage of Ethanol's higher octane than gasoline. On average the cars on ethanol achieved 17% better fuel efficiency than the GGE. Some cars did better than others. A 2011 Chevrolet Impala 3.9 L V6 FFV running on E85 achieved 25.7% better fuel efficiency than the Government's GGE estimate. A 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt 2.2 L FFV on E85 achieved 37% better fuel efficiency than the Government's GGE estimate.

___ Note these improvements in fuel efficiency were achieved without downsizing. Alcohol fueled (incl blended with gas) engines can be supercharged or turbocharged producing much higher power outputs than gasoline so boosted and thus you can use a smaller engine and achieve greater fuel efficiency gains over low octane gasoline.

I guess the oil industry couldn't stop ALL research into alcohol's advantages as a fuel. Three MIT scientists have designed an Ethanol Boosted Highly turbo-charged engine which achieves 30% better fuel efficiency than a comparable powered ICE using only 5% ethanol, directly injected, and 95% gasoline (the gasoline can be blended gasoline and ethanol). The engines superior power output enables considerable downsizing which contributes to the fuel efficiency gain.

By the time these scientists did their research the Oil industry's disinformation campaign on ethanol had been so successful, the Oil industry was no doubt confident that nobody would listen to them anyway. So Big Oil let them have their little old revolutionary engine. They knew virtually nobody would listen to them as they 'knew' that ethanol was the molecule from Hell by that time.

California's Methanol Fuel Experience
The State of California has had an experimental methanol program that ran for 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s. From all we have learned thus far, it makes you think California is a separate country. The assessment of both state officials and of Ford motor company was that is was successful. This was in an age when vehicle on-board computers where primitive, and fuel injection was just a feature of the most advanced cars. Still all issues where successfully accommodated.


In 1981, Ford delivered 40 dedicated methanol fueled Escorts to Los Angeles (LA) County. Four refueling stations were installed throughout the county, including two in underground garages. The experience gained with these initial refueling stations added considerably to the knowledge base required for methanol-cornpatible infrastructure, as well as identifying the ventilation requirements for underground installations. The 200-mile driving range of the vehicle also made it clear that four stations were inadequate to cover the territorial driving requirements of LA County. But the drivers of the vehicles loved the performance, offering 20 per cent more power than their gasoline-powered cousins and a 15 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.

Combining renewable methanol with ethanol and blending these with gasoline would enable us to reduce GHG emissions from cars and light trucks faster than any other approach we have - you can replace the fuel cars burn faster than you can the cars that burn it. But, we can't have the molecule from hell cutting into Oil Industry sales and profits, now can we?

I'd laugh if the consequences of this ignorance weren't so disastrous....

Turning CO2 emissions into plastic with algae? It may not be as crazy as it sounds


Jianping Yu, a research scientist with NREL's Photobiology Group, is leading a team of researchers who are working with these organisms. In his lab, they have been able to make ethylene directly from genetically modified algae.

The researchers were able to accomplish this by introducing a gene that coded for an ethylene-producing enzyme -- effectively altering the cyanobacteria's metabolism. This allows the organisms to convert some of the carbon dioxide normally used to make sugars and starches during photosynthesis into ethylene. Because ethylene is a gas, it can easily be collected.

Making ethylene doesn't require many inputs, either. The basic requirements for cyanobacteria are water, some minerals and light, and a carbon source. In a commercial setting, CO2 could come from a point source like a power plant, Yu said.

If this alternative production method becomes efficient enough, it could potentially replace steam cracking, the energy-intensive method currently used to break apart petrochemicals into ethylene and other compounds. Because the algae take in three times the CO2 to produce a single ton of ethylene, the process acts as a carbon sink. That would be a significant improvement over steam cracking, which generates between 1 ½ and 3 tons of carbon dioxide per ton of ethylene, according to the researchers' own analysis. The captured ethylene gas can then be transformed for use in a wide range of fuels and products.

Going solid-state could make batteries safer and longer-lasting

New research paves the way for rechargeable batteries with almost indefinite lifetimes, researchers say

[div class="excerpt"style="width:auto;"]

Illustrations show the crystal structure of a superionic conductor. The backbone of the material is a body-centred cubic-like arrangement of sulphur anions. Lithium atoms are depicted in green, sulfur atoms in yellow, PS4 tetrahedra in purple, and GeS4 tetrahedra in blue. Researchers have revealed the fundamental relationship between anion packing and ionic transport in fast lithium-conducting materials.
Image: Yan Wang

Now researchers at MIT and Samsung, and in California and Maryland, have developed a new approach to one of the three basic components of batteries, the electrolyte. The new findings are based on the idea that a solid electrolyte, rather than the liquid used in today’s most common rechargeables, could greatly improve both device lifetime and safety — while providing a significant boost in the amount of power stored in a given space.

The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials in a paper by MIT postdoc Yan Wang, visiting professor of materials science and engineering Gerbrand Ceder, and five others. They describe a new approach to the development of solid-state electrolytes that could simultaneously address the greatest challenges associated with improving lithium-ion batteries, the technology now used in everything from cellphones to electric cars.

The electrolyte in such batteries — typically a liquid organic solvent whose function is to transport charged particles from one of a battery’s two electrodes to the other during charging and discharging — has been responsible for the overheating and fires that, for example, resulted in a temporary grounding of all of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jets, Ceder explains. Others have attempted to find a solid replacement for the liquid electrolyte, but this group is the first to show that this can be done in a formulation that fully meets the needs of battery applications.

Solid-state electrolytes could be “a real game-changer,” Ceder says, creating “almost a perfect battery, solving most of the remaining issues” in battery lifetime, safety, and cost.

... now, keep in mind this is cutting edge research and there is a lead time before a lab result makes it to a commercial reality - if it doesn't run into some prohibitive costs hurdles or technical problems in scaling this up from lab to industrial scale. But with these considerations in mind, this is indeed very interesting news on the research front.

Researcher uses vibrations to identify materials’ composition - it's better than tunneling electron


A researcher now at the University of Central Florida has developed a new method for identifying materials’ unique chemical “fingerprints” and mapping their chemical properties at a much higher spatial resolution than ever before.

It’s a discovery that could have promising implications for fields as varied as biofuel production, solar energy, opto-electronic devices, pharmaceuticals and medical research.


For more than two decades, scientists have used atomic force microscopy—a probe that acts like an ultra-sensitive needle on a record player—to determine the surface characteristics of samples at the microscopic scale. A “needle” that comes to an atoms-thin point traces a path over a sample, mapping the surface features at a sub-cellular level.


A team led by Tetard has come up with a hybrid form of that technology that produces a much clearer chemical image. As described Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, Hybrid Photonic-Nanomechanical Force Microscopy can discern a sample’s topographic characteristics together with the chemical properties at a much finer scale.

abstract: Opto-nanomechanical spectroscopic material characterization in Nature: Nanotechnology
The non-destructive, simultaneous chemical and physical characterization of materials at the nanoscale is an essential and highly sought-after capability. However, a combination of limitations imposed by Abbe diffraction, diffuse scattering, unknown subsurface, electromagnetic fluctuations and Brownian noise, for example, have made achieving this goal challenging. Here, we report a hybrid approach for nanoscale material characterization based on generalized nanomechanical force microscopy in conjunction with infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy. As an application, we tackle the outstanding problem of spatially and spectrally resolving plant cell walls. Nanoscale characterization of plant cell walls and the effect of complex phenotype treatments on biomass are challenging but necessary in the search for sustainable and renewable bioenergy. We present results that reveal both the morphological and compositional substructures of the cell walls. The measured biomolecular traits are in agreement with the lower-resolution chemical maps obtained with infrared and confocal Raman micro-spectroscopies of the same samples. These results should prove relevant in other fields such as cancer research, nanotoxicity, and energy storage and production, where morphological, chemical and subsurface studies of nanocomposites, nanoparticle uptake by cells and nanoscale quality control are in demand.

[div class="excerpt" style="width:390px;"]Figure 2: Experimental set-up of HPFM

Various photon sources (via the photoacoustic channel) and multiple waveform generators (via the PZT, lead zirconate titante) supply mechanical energy to the sample and the probe to generate a time (t) domain signal S(t) that can be detected by the position-sensitive detector (PSD) and analysed in the frequency (ω) domain. S(t) will carry the amplitude modulation of period T (frequency Ω) imposed by the external cavity (EC) QCL or the interferometric amplitude modulation imposed by the pulses (labelled I[sub]1[/sub], I[sub]2[/sub]) from the broadband source through the ZnSe.


MIT scientists develop technique to boost yeast's ethanol production - by 80% (that's no typo, 80%)

Different environment helps yeast tolerate high levels of ethanol, making them more productive

Yeast are commonly used to transform corn and other plant materials into biofuels such as ethanol. However, large concentrations of ethanol can be toxic to yeast, which has limited the production capacity of many yeast strains used in industry.

“Toxicity is probably the single most important problem in cost-effective biofuels production,” says Gregory Stephanopoulos, the Willard Henry Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT.

Now Stephanopoulos and colleagues at MIT and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have identified a new way to boost yeast tolerance to ethanol by simply altering the composition of the medium in which the yeast are grown. They report the findings, which they believe could have a significant impact on industrial biofuel production, in today’s issue of the journal Science.

Ethanol and other alcohols can disrupt yeast cell membranes, eventually killing the cells. The MIT team found that adding potassium and hydroxide ions to the medium in which yeast grow can help cells compensate for that membrane damage. By making these changes, the researchers were able to boost yeast’s ethanol production by about 80 percent. They also showed that this approach works with commercial yeast strains and other types of alcohols, including propanol and butanol, which are even more toxic to yeast.

link to Science article: Engineering alcohol tolerance in yeast

Go to Page: 1