Fueling the future


Fueling the future
  1. Fueling the future
    eurekalert.org
    (University of Pittsburgh) The Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science recently published research by a team from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Oklahoma investigating the full life cycle impact of one promising 'second-generation biofuel' produced from short-rotation oak. The study found that second-generation biofuels made from managed trees and perennial grasses may provide a sustainable fuel…
    Science

IMAGE: This is a schematic showing the stages modeled in the biomass-to-fuel life cycle assessment. This image first appeared in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science, Issue... view more 

Credit: Vikas Khanna

PITTSBURGH (May 19, 2017) ... Numerous studies have raised critical concerns about the promise of corn ethanol's ability to mitigate climate change and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Some of the studies have suggested that after a full life cycle assessment--meaning an analysis of environmental impact throughout all stages of a product's life--biofuels like corn ethanol may not offer any greenhouse gas emissions reductions relative to petroleum fuels.

The Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science recently published research by a team from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Oklahoma investigating the full life cycle impact of one promising "second-generation biofuel" produced from short-rotation oak. The study found that second-generation biofuels made from managed trees and perennial grasses may provide a sustainable fuel resource.

"Multistage torrefaction and in situ catalytic upgrading to hydrocarbon biofuels: analysis of life cycle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions" ( DOI: 10.1039/C7EE00682A) took a novel approach to the production of second-generation biofuel while also comprehensively accounting for all of the steps involved in the full supply chain.

"Corn ethanol environmental impacts weren't really studied until after its commercialization," explained Vikas Khanna, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and corresponding author of the study. "The great thing about this project is it addresses full life cycle sustainability questions of new fuel sources before they come up later down the road."

In 2007, the United Nations called for a five-year moratorium on food-based (or first-generation) biofuels because of concerns that they would consume farmland and lead to worldwide food shortage. Dr. Khanna and his team's study used wood from oak trees, as they can be harvested year-round and reduce the need for large-scale storage infrastructure.

"Second-generation biofuels differ from first generation biofuels because they don't come directly from food crops like corn and soy," said Dr. Khanna. "They include woody crops, perennial grasses, agricultural and forest residues, and industrial wastes."

A significant metric for determining the efficacy of fuel is the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) ratio. The EROI of petroleum crude production remains high at about 11:1, meaning an investment of one unit of energy will yield 11 units of energy. However, the EROI has been steadily decreasing since 1986 and will continue to worsen as fossil fuels become more scarce and difficult to access. When researchers study potentially promising energy sources, they look for a ratio greater than 1:1. Corn derived ethanol, for example, has a EROI of 1.3:1. The study found the median EROI for multistage second-generation…

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  1. Cochlear Partners with Otoconsult NV on FOX Fitting Assistant

    Hearingreview.com - Science
    05.26 / 00:51 hearingreview.com
    Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), Sydney, Australia—reportedly the world leader in implantable hearing solutions—announced it has entered into an exclusive licensing and development agreement with Otoconsult NV, Antwerp, Belgium, for its artificial intelligence fitting assistant Fitting to Outcomes eXpert (FO…
  2. Will artificial intelligence help us solve every problem?

    Pbs.org - Science
    05.26 / 00:21 pbs.org
    Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: Now to another in our Brief But Spectacular series. Tonight, we hear from Sebastian Thrun. He’s an adjunct professor at Stanford University and the founder of Udacity, an online educational organization. He founded Google X, the semi-secret research facility that began development of Google’s self-driving car. SEBASTIAN THRUN, Founder, Google X: Artificial intelligence is to the human brain what the steam engine has been to the…
  3. Gadgets: Several decisions to be made before selecting new headphones

    Phys.org -Science news
    05.26 / 00:02 phys.org
    With the summer just about upon us, headphone season is in full force. If you're about to make a new purchase, don't get fooled with fancy marketing, colorful boxes or hype. Instead, consider these features when shopping around (the order of importance depends on you): wireless vs wired, earbuds vs over the ear, cost and sound quality (which would be No. 1 for…
  4. ScienceAlert Deal: This Kickstarter Success Is Redefining The Smartwatch Game

    Sciencealert.com - Science
    05.25 / 23:53 sciencealert.com
    Get a smartwatch you'll actually want to…
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    Natmonitor.com - Science
    05.25 / 23:36 natmonitor.com
    The argument over climate change needs to shift to how can the human race adapt to the upcoming…
  6. The Marijuana Debate Has Gone To Pot

    Natmonitor.com - Science
    05.25 / 23:36 natmonitor.com
    In the absence of more federally funded research, pernicious myths about cannabis will continue to hold…
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    Natmonitor.com - Science
    05.25 / 23:36 natmonitor.com
    Ordinary citizens are being bombarded by climate data from believers and deniers. How do we know what is…
  8. How Can Global Warming Cause an Ice Age?

    Natmonitor.com - Science
    05.25 / 23:36 natmonitor.com
    It's not just a Chinese hoax, but there's an actual mechanizm behind global climate. Here's how it…
  9. LSD: Should We Legalize It?

    Natmonitor.com - Science
    05.25 / 23:36 natmonitor.com
    Bolstered by new research, a campaign to exploit the health benefits of psychedelic drugs quietly gains…
  10. NCAR to host Air Quality Open House on May 3 in Boulder

    Www2.ucar.edu - Science
    05.25 / 23:32 www2.ucar.edu
    BOULDER, Colo. — The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is marking Air Quality Awareness Week with a family-friendly open house at its Mesa Lab in southwest Boulder from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3.A "brown cloud" of smog seen over Boulder, Colorado. (©UCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)The free hands-on event will provide opportunities for visitors to learn about air pollution: what it is, how it's measured, what its impacts are, and ho…
  11. Cannabis Chemical Could Help Children With Severe Epilepsy Disorder

    Newsy.com - Science
    05.25 / 23:19 newsy.com
    Watch VideoA chemical in marijuana might help significantly lower seizure rates in children with a severe epilepsy disorder.Researchers writing in The New England Journal of Medicine found that cannabidiol, also known as CBD, helped treat Dravet syndrome — a drug-resistant seizure disorder.Dravet syndrome can be pretty deadly in children. Up to 20 percent of children with the disorder die before they turn 20.The researchers tested 120 patients with Dravet syndrome. The s…
  12. myCSUNtablet Wins Apple Distinguished School Award

    Csuntoday.csun.edu - Science
    05.25 / 23:10 csuntoday.csun.edu
    In fall 2013, California State University, Northridge launched the myCSUNtablet initiative, which aims to provide CSUN students with engaging…
  13. Coastal Peru was Rest Stop for Early Americans, Archaeologists Say

    Sci-news.com - Science
    05.25 / 22:58 sci-news.com
    A Vanderbilt University-led team of archaeologists has made a remarkable discovery in Peru: thousands of 15,000- to 10,000-year-old artifacts, including stone tools, elaborate hand-woven baskets and the remains of maritime and terrestrial foods, from two mound sites in the Chicama Valley on the north coast of Peru reveal that early humans in the region were…
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    Sci-news.com - Science
    05.25 / 22:58 sci-news.com
    A new species of marine reptile from the Cretaceous period has been identified from fossils found on the eroded banks of the Volga River. Pliosaurs, also known as pliosauroids, were a type of short-necked plesiosaur: marine reptiles built for speed compared to their long-necked cousins. These creatures were not dinosaurs, but distant cousins of modern…
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    Sci-news.com - Science
    05.25 / 22:58 sci-news.com
    Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have discovered a new kind of galaxy which, although very old — formed less than a billion years after the Big Bang — produces new stars at a rate of more than 100 solar masses per year. The discovery could help solve a cosmic puzzle — a…
  16. In His Words: Mark Zuckerberg addresses Harvard Class of '17

    Phys.org -Science news
    05.25 / 22:58 phys.org
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a commencement speech at Harvard University on Thursday, 12 years after dropping out to focus on what's now the world's biggest social…
  17. Identifying pathogenicity of human variants via paralog-based yeast complementation

    Plosgenetics.org - Science
    05.25 / 22:50 plosgenetics.org
    by Fan Yang, Song Sun, Guihong Tan, Michael Costanzo, David E. Hill, Marc Vidal, Brenda J. Andrews, Charles Boone, Frederick P. Roth To better understand the health implications of personal genomes, we now face a largely unmet challenge to identify functional variants within disease-associated genes. Functional variants can be identified by trans-species complementation, e.g., by failure to rescue a yeast strain bearing a mutation in an orthologous human gene. Although orthologous…
  18. Two extended haplotype blocks are associated with adaptation to high altitude habitats in East African honey bees

    Plosgenetics.org - Science
    05.25 / 22:50 plosgenetics.org
    by Andreas Wallberg, Caspar Schöning, Matthew T. Webster, Martin Hasselmann Understanding the genetic basis of adaption is a central task in biology. Populations of the honey bee Apis mellifera that inhabit the mountain forests of East Africa differ in behavior and morphology from those inhabiting the surrounding lowland savannahs, which likely reflects adaptation to these habitats. We performed whole genome sequencing on 39 samples of highland and lowland bees from two pairs of …
  19. Human mutations in integrator complex subunits link transcriptome integrity to brain development

    Plosgenetics.org - Science
    05.25 / 22:50 plosgenetics.org
    by Renske Oegema, David Baillat, Rachel Schot, Leontine M. van Unen, Alice Brooks, Sima Kheradmand Kia, A. Jeannette M. Hoogeboom, Zheng Xia, Wei Li, Matteo Cesaroni, Maarten H. Lequin, Marjon van Slegtenhorst, William B. Dobyns, Irenaeus F. M. de Coo, Frans W. Verheijen, Andreas Kremer, Peter J. van der Spek, Daphne Heijsman, Eric J. Wagner, Maarten Fornerod, Grazia M. S. Mancini Integrator is an RNA polymerase II (RNAPII)-associated complex that was recently identified to have a…
  20. Drosophila DNA polymerase theta utilizes both helicase-like and polymerase domains during microhomology-mediated end joi

    Plosgenetics.org - Science
    05.25 / 22:50 plosgenetics.org
    by Kelly Beagan, Robin L. Armstrong, Alice Witsell, Upasana Roy, Nikolai Renedo, Amy E. Baker, Orlando Scharer, Mitch McVey Double strand breaks (DSBs) and interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) are toxic DNA lesions that can be repaired through multiple pathways, some of which involve shared proteins. One of these proteins, DNA Polymerase θ (Pol θ), coordinates a mutagenic DSB repair pathway named microhomology-mediated end joining (MMEJ) and is also a critical component for bypass or repair o…