Hydrocarbon biofuels

The MIT Tech Review has a story about a new process for turning plant sugars into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Another interesting aspect of this story that the byproducts of the process can be used to create other industrial chemicals and plastics.  This further reduces independence on fossil based oil products.

The process under development will “employ chemical reactions instead of microbial fermentation. They use catalysts at high temperatures to convert glucose into hydrocarbon biofuels. The process works thousands of times faster than microbes do because of the higher temperatures, so it requires smaller, cheaper reactors, Dumesic says. The catalysts and reformer systems that they use are similar to those used in oil refineries, which would also make the process simpler.”

Simple is good.

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A breakthrough in more efficient solar cells?

It looks it could be.  12 year old William Yuan has a project entitled “A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light.” 

The kicker here is that his system harnesses UV light as well as visible light. Current solar cells only work off the visible light. 

The trick will be finding a partner who won’t screw him.

The Tesla Sedan

Tesla Motors announced their second model, the Type S. They are following up thier popular roadster model with a sedan.  The Type S is planned to sell for about $60,000. That’s half the price of their current Roadster model.

The Type is also a purely electric car with a projected range of 200 miles on a single charge.

Home brewed fuel

This is a post I made back in June on another one of my blogs.

The Times of London has a story on a California based company that is working on bio-tech produced oil, that should be “carbon negative” to produce. 

These slightly modified industrial yeast cells take in biomass, such as wheat straw or wood chips, and “excrete a substance that is almost pump-ready.”

There are still issues on how this can scale up to industrial levels, but even a lot of small plants can produce fuel to allow a city to run its municipal vehicles (police cars, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles) without worrying about the rising market price of foreign oil breaking their budget.

Just bringing a few of these plants online should cause the market price to respond in a downward manner. The start of construction of the plants would probably have that effect.

The fact that uses modified yeast lead me to thinking about home brewing. If this process can be made as simple as brewing beer, then home brewing gas can’t be far away. Say that you could brew 20 galleons of gas in your basement a month. That’s a tank of gas. So, imagine if 20 or 30 million car owners bought one less tank of gas a week. Call it 25 million, 20 galleons a pop, so that’s 500 million galleons of gas a month that isn’t be imported or pumped from an area that environmentalists don’t want oil drilling. At the current average pump price of $4.09 a galleon, that over $2 Billion that isn’t going to “Big Oil” or Middle East dictators.

Actually went smoothly this time

I upgraded my rev 1 iPhone to the 2.1 firmware Sunday.  Unlike the last time, this process went smoothly.

Yet another etext reader

Another dedicated etext reader platform is due to join the ranks of the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle.

This one, put out by Plastic Logic, it is based on the e-Ink technology that has been out for years.  The drawo of this reader is that is larger (8.5″ x 11″) and more “rugged” than a Kindle or Sony Reader.  No buttons either, it uses a touch screen technology to flip pages.

No word yet on what formats it will support, how etext will be loaded on it or what kind of DRM it will have.

HP Palmtop 200LX

When I speak of PDA tech, I know of what I speak. 🙂 This is a picture of my first PDA. Before that I was a DayPlanner geek. This is actually a nifty bit of technology for the early 1990s. It has a 186 chip and I can get to a DOS prompt with it.