Mazda made a game-changing fuel efficiency breakthrough other carmakers have spent decades working on

As soon as 2019, Mazda will have a petrol-driven car in production that is cheaper to run than a Tesla Model S.

The Japanese carmaker has announced it is ready to reveal a combustion engine using compression technology Ford, General Motors and Hyundai have been trying to get into production for the best part of a decade.

It’s called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition and it uses the same sparkless technology used by diesel engines, without the high emission rate.

At low revs, the SkyActiv-X employs sparkplugs to ignite petrol, but it switches to compression ignition at high revs. Mazda claims it can handle the switch without engine damage.

If its claims of a “20-30%” increase in fuel efficiency are true, then the 2019 Mazda3 – the model most likely to get the first SkyActiv-X engine – could be running on as little as 3.5L per 100km.

At today’s fuel prices in Melbourne, that’s $19.25 for 500km, which is about the maximum range of a full battery in Tesla’s Model S.

Trump May Have to Boost Biofuel as Court Deals Blow to Oil

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration may have to reconsider its proposal from earlier this month to curb biofuel use after a U.S. appeals court in Washington ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have the authority to cut quotas while citing inadequate domestic supply.

Issued Friday, the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel comes amid conflicting legal challenges to actions taken by the EPA. Some factions claim the agency set renewable fuel requirements too high, while others said they’re too low. Shares of ethanol producers rose on the news while refinery stocks declined.

U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote that EPA isn’t allowed "to consider the volume of renewable fuel that is available to ultimate consumers or the demand-side constraints that affect the consumption of renewable fuel by consumers.”

How Clean is Electric Vehicle?

July 9, 2017 - Utilization of clean energy resources is desired to prevent further damage to environment. Around 20% of the global energy consumption occurs in the transportation sector. This sector also accounts for one-sixth of worldwide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and a significantly higher (one-third) in the United States. Around one-third of the transportation sector energy consumption moves the cars worldwide, which accounts for significant CO2 emissions. In addition, the number of cars worldwide is expected to double from 0.9 billion in 2016 to 1.8 billion in 2040. Since majority of these cars have internal combustion engines (oil-powered) vehicles (OV), efforts are in place to utilize clean energy resources to prevent further environmental damages. To minimize CO2 emissions due to cars, electrical-powered vehicle (EV) have recently gained traction, and consequently the number of EV cars is expected to grow 100 times from 1 million at present to 100 million in 2040.

Porter Stansberry: Oil $500? – Why you should know about this trend now…

This week Porter and Buck sit down with legendary Texas wildcatter and CEO of Chisholm Exploration, Cactus Schroeder, and talk all things oil. Tune in and hear why Porter thinks oil prices will eventually go to $500. Stansberry Research’s resident resources editor, Flavious Smith, sits in on the interview. He and Porter share their view on the upcoming super cycle in oil. Learn why this trend in oil will produce a mass amount of wealth and why you should be educated at the bottom of the cycle and not the top!

Synsel securing financing for two $300 million wood-based biorefineries

July 18, 2017 - In Illinois, Synsel hopes to finalize financing in the next few months for two $300 million wood-based biorefineries in Ontonagon, Mich. and Lumberton, Miss. that are meant to produce synthetic gasoline, diesel and aviation. The Ontonagon project aims to repurpose the mothballed Smurfit-Stone Paper Mill that was closed in 2010 but the Lumberton site was not identified. The licensor of the technology that will be employed at the biorefineries was only identified as a major oil and gas company.

SynSel Energy Inc. to open biofuels plant in Ontonagon

July 17, 2017 - ONTONAGON, Mich. — By JAN TUCKER

Ontonagon has been selected as one of two initial sites in the U.S. for the construction of an advanced biofuels plant. SynSel Energy, Inc., is partnering with a U.S.-based financier and Lost Bowl Development, LLC, to develop the $300 million biorefinery at the site of the closed Smurfit-Stone Paper Mill in Ontonagon. A second identical $300 million plant will be developed by SynSel in Lumberton, Miss. Each site is expected to produce about 250 direct and indirect jobs.

The Smurfit-Stone Paper Mill closed in 2010 and was just one more setback for Ontonagon County after the closure of the White Pine Mine and Lake Shore shipyard. As a result Ontonagon County has consistently had one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

Electric Cars Are the Future? Not So Fast

Though they’re no longer ugly, impossibly expensive and impractical, electric vehicles need to out-innovate fossil fuels if they are ever to displace the internal combustion engine. 

Skepticism of electric cars melts a bit more with each new announcement from the likes of Tesla, which last week launched production of a mass-market vehicle, and Volvo, which days later promised to phase out gasoline-only engines by 2019.

But that progress comes with two big caveats: First, it has relied on extensive public subsidies and, second, it has done little to reduce planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide. If electric cars are ever to displace gasoline engines without government putting its thumb on the scale, they must not only keep innovating but outrun fossil fuels where productivity also keeps advancing.

The federal government offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 each for the first 200,000 electric or plug-in hybrid cars a manufacturer sells. Throw in state tax credits, subsidies for recharging infrastructure, relief from gasoline taxes, preferential lanes and parking spots and government fleet purchases, and taxpayers help pay for every electric car on the road.

What happens when the credits go away? When Hong Kong slashed a tax break worth roughly $55,000 for a Tesla in April, its sales ground to a halt. In Georgia, electric vehicle sales plummeted 80% the month after a $5,000 tax credit was repealed.

Shell goes carbon negative, signs commercial-scale deal with SBI

If you think about it, the world of combustion engines could really use a carbon-negative story that goes father than electric cars and their entirely mythic but potent “zero emissions” storyline.

Shell might have just won that race.

Yep, they’re going carbon negative. Petroleum fuels emit 94 grams of CO2 per megajoule of energy. Shell’s latest deal with SBI Bioenergy gives it access to a fuel that emits Minus 14.

That means the atmosphere gets less carbon, with every mile you drive. You motor your way to a global emissions solution.

And, offering something that electric vehicles never will — a technology that claws us back from the carbon precipice instead of a technology class that lets us dangle there forever.

The Simple Reason Why Renewables are Surging (It’s Not the Government)

June 21, 2017 - After last year’s election, a number of pundits had predicted that a Trump victory would usher in a new age for coal and crude oil in the U.S.

Renewables, like solar and wind, would be used as alternatives only in certain regions of the country – or so these pundits suggested.

Well, it’ hardly worked out that way, even with the more recent decision to cut the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.

Renewables are soldiering on, and the reason is simple (and market-based)…

June 15, 2017 - Biofuel makers hope for increase in mandate

Canadian biofuel producers are already gearing up for what they believe will be a doubling of the country’s ethanol and biodiesel mandates in the near future.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is consulting with provinces and territories about developing a clean fuel standard to reduce greenhouse gases by increasing the use of low carbon fuels.

It has prepared a discussion paper that outlines how the standard would address a range of fuels including liquid, gaseous and solid fuels. It would go beyond transportation fuels and include fuels used in industry, homes and buildings.

The objective of the standard is to achieve 30 megatonnes (Mt) of annual reductions in GHG emissions by 2030.

June 20, 2017 - Corn better used as food than biofuel, study finds

Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use. For the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs.

Civil and environmental engineering professor Praveen Kumar and graduate student Meredith Richardson published their findings in the journal Earth's Future.

Read more at:

LCFS vs RFS: As two contend for the Renewables Heavyweight Championship, who is the Greatest?

There are 4 primary differences.

1. An RFS creates a standard, and any fuel that meets that standard can compete in that market. Once a fuel has met the low-carbon standard, it becomes entirely about fuel price — a $3.00 cellulosic fuel that reduces carbon by 60% will get market share over a $3.10 cellulosic fuel that reduces carbon by 100%, because both fuels meet the cellulosic standard. In an LCFS, all fuels get credited according to the carbon reductions of their pathway. So, there are no “motivational dead zones” when it comes to pushing harder on reducing carbon

2. An LCFS sets carbon volumes, not fuel volumes. Under an LCFS....

20 oil? $200 oil? Does it matter?

For the world of renewable fuels — the only significant carbon legislation on the books, it really doesn’t matter what the oil price is. The RFS creates a separate market for renewable fuels and they compete against each other as alternatives within that market.

It’s not unheard of. California, for example, has a separate market, anyway, because of the requirement to produce reformulated gasoline, a unique type of anti-smog fuel. To use another example, Colorado and Wyoming utilize 85-octane regular unleaded fuel, instead of 87-octane as we see elsewhere around the country. There are distinct fuels markets for different reasons, and the renewable fuels market is one of them.

Grassley to Reintroduce Biodiesel Tax Credit Bill

A biodiesel tax credit bill is being reintroduced in the Senate today. The prime sponsor is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. He says the measure changes the tax incentive from a blenders credit to a producer’s credit.

He says his legislation will keep foreign biodiesel producers from accessing the U.S. credit.

Grassley says biodiesel benefits the U.S. economy, while protecting the environment.

Grassley’s legislation comes on the heels of the U.S. biodiesel industry challenging Argentina and Indonesia for flooding the U.S. market with their biodiesel.

Great Leaf Forward: The Top 10 Trends driving the Canadian advanced bioeconomy

Although the bigger players — China, the US, Brazil and the EU take most of the headlines in the advanced bioeconomy, Canada is definitely “boxing above its weight class” these days, as the saying goes. In particular, in the areas of innovative project deployment and policy support, Canada has been shining, and in many ways the causes for that are linked.

The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to renewable drop-in fuels

The Digest had a well-received webinar on drop-in renewable fuels, featuring Drop-in Fuels 2020 author and in-demand industry consultant Will Thurmond on hand to detail the very latest in a wide array of approaches to making infrastructure-compatible, high-blend renewable fuels — from renewable diesel to renewable jet and biogasoline. The slides from that presentation are here below.

Air Canada takes off with biofuels tests

In Canada, Air Canada just revealed its participation in the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research project, a research project led by the National Research Council of Canada to test the environmental benefits of biofuel use on contrails.

A reduction in the thickness and coverage of contrails produced by the jet engines of aircraft could reduce aviation’s impact on the environment, an important beneficial effect of sustainable biofuel usage in aviation.

Countries doing the most (and least) to protect the environment - #1 Most - Finland

Finland passed in 2014 a visioning document that sets carbon-neutrality as a goal by 2050. The Nordic country is well on its way. Approximately 24% of all energy consumed in Finland is from alternative or nuclear sources, one of the largest shares of any country and not far from the nation’s goal of 38% by 2020. Clean energy has a positive effect on both the health of the planet and its citizens. An estimated 3.5 billion people worldwide are exposed to unsafe air quality, which was responsible for one in every 10 global deaths in 2013. In Finland, just 0.1% of the population is exposed to unsafe air pollution annually, nearly the least of any country world-wide.

Convert low-value biomass into a high-value liquid asset with RTP™ Technology

Envergent Technologies, a UOP joint venture with Ensyn, offers a practical and commercially proven path to green energy. RTP™, or rapid thermal processing technology, is a fast thermal conversion process used to convert cellulosic biomass feedstock, usually forestry or agricultural residuals, into RTP green fuel—a light, pourable, clean-burning liquid biofuel.

This fuel provides a sustainable, cost-effective and virtually carbon-neutral alternative for heat, power generation and, with further refining, transportation fuels.

Diamond Green Diesel expanding to 275M gallon capacity to meet booming renewable diesel demand

March 19, 2017 - In Louisiana, the Diamond Green Diesel facility in Norco will expand its annual production capacity of renewable diesel from 10,000 barrels per day to 18,000 bpd (275 million gallons per year), using Honeywell UOP’s Ecofining process technology.