Mazda's 'Skyactiv-3' Engine Could Be As Clean As Some Electrics With 56% Thermal Efficiency

Mazda has been vocal about its plan to continue developing internal combustion engines despite a major industry push towards electrification and EVs. The company displayed its innovative Skyactiv-X engine last year, and now Automotive News reports that a next-generation motor—called Skyactiv 3—will offer efficiency levels that could yield overall CO2 output similar to that of some EVs. 

With Mazda’s Skyactiv-G engine having been out for a while now, and Skyactiv-X coming soon—that’s the one with the innovative Spark Controlled Compression Ignition technology—the company is apparently working to further increase internal combustion engine efficiency with a new generation of Skyactiv called “Skyactiv-3.”

What’s the real story behind Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ bankruptcy, crude oil, and the Renewable Fuel Standard?

On Jan 21st 2018, Carlyle-backed Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), the largest refinery complex on the U.S. east coast at 335,000 barrels per day, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, blaming Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance costs. In the week since the filing, the Washington Examiner reports several other small refiners have piled on, asking the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the Renewable Volume Obligations under the RFS.

The governors of Pennsylvania and Delaware weighed in as well, writing letters to the EPA requesting to have the refineries in their states receive hardship exemptions from RFS obligations “The whole reason we’re filing for Chapter 11 is that this is a massive expense,” said CEO Gregory Gatta in telephone interview with Bloomberg on Jan 22nd.  He went on to state that in 2017, meeting the amended federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) regulatory burden cost Philadelphia Energy Solutions more than twice as much as payroll and about 1.5 times more than its average annual capital expenditures. Since 2012 the refinery has accrued $832 million in credits.

Kimberly-Clark closing 2 Wisconsin plants, cutting 600 jobs

Kimberly-Clark is planning to close plants in Neenah and nearby Fox Crossing, resulting in the loss of about 600 jobs, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday. 

“As part of the recently announced global restructuring program, which is occurring within the next three years, Kimberly-Clark has today confirmed it has informed employees at the Neenah (WI) Cold Spring Facility, (located in Fox Crossing) and the United Steelworkers Local 2-482 leadership, of its proposed plan to close this facility," spokeswoman Brook Smith said in an email.

Research challenges the popular belief that biofuels are better for the environment

The European Union is raising the bar for renewable energy goals, but some climate change experts say the new targets could do more harm than good.

A new report from MIT Sloan professor John Sterman supports the growing argument that burning wood pellets for power is worse for the climate than burning coal, because of the short-term effects and the "potentially irreversible impacts that may arise before the long-run benefits are realized."

The Sun Also Ryzes: Ryze Renewable secures financing, heads for commercial-scale advanced biofuels in Nevada

Today, we’d like to share news that a new biorefinery for diesel and jet fuel has finalized $112.6 million loan, backed by a USDA loan guarantee.

This is Ryze Renewables, which will construct its biorefinery in Storey County, Nevada. The  new refinery is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2019. Production capacity has not been confirmed, but latest reports based on permitting applications pegged the capacity at 40 million gallons per year

Wood Is Not a Carbon-Neutral Energy Source

Treating it as such – and supporting it with subsidies, as the UK and many other EU member states do – is a flawed path to climate action.

Chatham House’s recent paper, Woody Biomass for Power and Heat: Impacts on the Global Climate, highlights how the use of wood for electricity generation and heat in modern (non-traditional) technologies has grown rapidly in recent years, and has the potential to continue to do so. EU member states’ national targets for renewable energy generation agreed in 2009 have helped ensure that the EU is now the world’s largest producer and consumer of wood for energy. And although other member states use wood more extensively for heat, the UK is the EU’s largest user for electricity generation, mostly sourced from the US and Canada.

The wildfires in California just keep shattering records this year

(CNN)This year's rash of catastrophic wildfires didn't just destroy neighborhood and livelihoods -- they also annihilated records. And the destruction's not over. The Thomas Fire, which has torched the equivalent of Dallas and Miami combined, is still raging in Southern California.

The Biggest Texas Oil Fields Producing Today

Texas is the nation's largest oil-producing state, accounting for about 25% of the total. Fueling that output is a combination of legacy oil fields and new shale discoveries, especially those in the Permian Basin of west Texas, which alone contributes 14% of the total U.S. oil output.

While there are thousands of oil fields spread across the state, many don't produce that many barrels of oil each month. Instead, the bulk of the state's production comes from just two monster oil fields: the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford shale. Here's a closer look at why these are the two largest oil-producing fields in the Lone Star state.

EIA revises 2017, 2018 bioenergy, wood heating forecasts

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the December edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, revising its 2017 and 2018 forecasts for bioenergy production and residential wood heating.

The EIA currently predicts wood biomass will be used to generate 117,000 MWh per day of electricity this year, falling to 114,000 MWh per day next year. Generation from waste biomass is expected to increase, from 57,000 MWh per day this year, to 60,000 MWh per day next year.

SynSel Energy, Inc. Partners With a Private Lender to Fund 2 Biorefineries

August 19, 2017 – SynSel Energy, Inc. announced that they have executed a Term Sheet and Commitment Letter from a private lender to provide $600M in construction funding to build two $300M SynSel Biorefineries.  One plant will be located in Ontonagon, Michigan and one plant will be located in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  SynSel CEO Tim Tawoda described the private lender's structure as a “non-traditional construction loan that requires the creation of a $75M Good Faith Account (GFA) for each biorefinery to meet lending covenants.”  Mr. Tawoda further stated that the private lender has voiced an interest in funding 100 SynSel plants across the US and that the initial $600M construction loan will close 60 days after the GFA is funded. The loan covers all pre-construction and construction activities.

The GFA is like a letter of credit, except there is no scenario in which the funds can be surrendered to anyone but the owner of the account. The GFA is not collateral or security, but it does carry a fixed return to the GFA owner. The private lender is a true business partner in that SynSel will be splitting plant profits with the lender – hence the lender is motivated to provide funds at favorable terms for as many projects as SynSel can develop. These plants are going to have a dramatic impact to the economic viability of these 2 very distressed rural communities.”

EV's Dirty Secret: The Daily Mail Exposes Cobalt Mining - The Human Tragedy Behind Lithium Battery Production

Early this morning London time, England's Daily Mail news outlet updated a story they previously published in August, titled "Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car."

The story details the unspeakably atrocious conditions of "mining" for cobalt in Africa. If you think the images and videos of diamond mining in Africa are bad, you ain't seen nutin' yet.

China is winning electric cars 'arms race'

China is outmaneuvering the U.S. and other countries in the global scramble for a vital element for electric cars.

As demand for the vehicles surges, Chinese companies have been doing deals around the world to secure supplies of lithium, a silvery-white metal mined from rocks in Australia and brine pools in South America.

China is the top market for electric and hybrid cars, accounting for roughly half of global sales, and the government is pushing the development of the industry within its borders. That calls for a lot of lithium, a key component of the vehicles' batteries.

Norway Idea to Exit Oil Stocks Is ‘Shot Heard Around the World’

Norway’s proposal to sell off $35 billion in oil and natural gas stocks brings sudden and unparalleled heft to a once-grassroots movement to enlist investors in the fight against climate change.

The Nordic nation’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund said Thursday that it’s considering unloading its shares of Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and other oil giants to diversify its holdings and guard against drops in crude prices. European oil stocks fell.

Poet at 30: How a South Dakota business grew from one refinery into a biofuels behemoth

30 years ago, Jeff Broin was a young man who with his family had just purchased a bankrupt refinery in Scotland, South Dakota.

The country's agriculture sector was just recovering from what became known as the "farm crisis." Thousands of farm families lost their land, beset by weakened markets, low commodity prices and snowballing debt.

Affordable, drop-in hydrocarbons from wood: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to CRI/GTI’s IH2 process

The IH2 process was developed by Gas Technology Institute (GTI) of Des Plaines, Illinois—a research, development, and training organization serving energy markets.  GTI experts invented, tested, and patented IH2 technology and are providing ongoing commercialization support. Twelve US and seven international patents have been issued on the technology. CRI Catalyst Company of Houston, Texas has been granted exclusive worldwide licensing rights.

CRI’s Alan Del Paggio gave this illuminating update on IH2 technology at ABLC Next in San Francisco.

Ottawa looking into low-carbon fuels as it develops new clean fuel standard

The federal government is looking into the potential for low-carbon fuels in Canada as it develops a new clean fuel standard that some say could do more to cut emissions than a carbon tax.

Natural Resources Canada has recently issued two new tenders, one looking for research on the ability of mining, oil and gas, forestry and other industries to switch to alternative fuels. The department is also looking for a study of liquid drop-in biofuels that could replace diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

Credit Suisse looks to make an impact with new investment wing

ZURICH (Reuters) - Credit Suisse has set up a new department to nurture socially conscious investing, the latest effort by a major bank to cater for growing demand for so-called impact investing.

The move was announced by the Swiss bank’s chief executive Tidjane Thiam in a memo to staff seen by Reuters.

Impact investments are made into “companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return,” the Global Impact Investing Network says on its website.

Data surprise: Biofuels still beating electrics on cost, emissions

Electrics are improving on emissions and cost, but not enough to make driving an electric car the smart choice for consumers looking to save time and reduce environmental impacts. According to a new analysis, biofuels still reign. If you’re driving an electric car, you’re driving the grid, and the grid isn’t all that green, yet.

Why the Surprise?

How is this possible? Didn’t this landmark study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that, over a 15-year vehicle lifetime, a battery electric vehicle would reduce emissions by half compared to conventional gasoline-based vehicles. However, there are two myths buried in the assumptions in the survey.