Energy From Biofuels Can Match Crude Oil Levels

The beauty of biofuels is that they don’t pollute. After that things can get ugly.

Jul 23, 2014 at 10:12AM

This article was written by -- the leading provider of energy news in the world. 

The beauty of biofuels is that they don't pollute. After that things can get ugly.

First, biofuel, an oil made from plant tissues, doesn't generate as much energy as an equal amount of crude oil. And the oil is difficult to refine because it contains too much water and is acidic.

That's about to change. Researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands report that they've developed a way to improve the quality of the oil even before it reaches a refinery. As a result, they say, biofuels can pack even more punch than crude oil and rivals the energy found in diesel fuel.

The Twente researchers say they've developed a catalyst of sodium carbonate on a sheet of aluminum oxide crystals. They add this catalyst to the biomass oil that's been heated in nitrogen to 500 degrees Celsius (932 degrees Fahrenheit). This can nearly double the biofuel's energy content from 20 million joules to between 33 and 37 million joules per kilogram.

The fuel can be improved further with the addition of cesium, an alkaline metal element, and sodium carbonate. "By doing so, we can, for instance, also reduce the aromatics, which are harmful when inhaled," Seshan said.

The technology is so promising that it has been chosen from dozens of projects to be tested in CatchBio, the Dutch research program involved in meeting the EU's requirement that at least 20 percent of fuel used on the continent must come from renewable sources by 2020.

In fact, the technology -- developed by Twente University professors Leon Lefferts and Prof Kulathuiyer Seshan -- is being tested by KIOR, a Texas renewable fuels company to produce 4,500 barrels of biofuel a day.

And there's more good news. Some biofuels have been criticized for encroaching on the world's food supply. Corn, for example, once was an inexpensive food crop, but its cost has soared because it is used to make ethanol.

But the biofuels being studied by the Twente researchers don't compete with the Earth's supply of vegetation that can be used for the human diet or animal feed. Instead they're derived exclusively from waste vegetation.

Of course there remains some bad news. Transporting raw biomass to a facility that turn it into oil is cumbersome and therefore expensive. Add to that, making the oil can be difficult – and, again, expensive. But research is continuing into how to simplify these procedures, such as using bacteria to break down impurities in wood fibers.

The technology developed at the University of Twente is being studied at two other Dutch schools, the University of Groningen and Utrecht University, as well as the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands. The Netherlands government says it is determined to lead the way in achieving the EU's 2020 energy objective.

Do you know this energy tax "loophole"?
You already know record oil and natural gas production is changing the lives of millions of Americans. But what you probably haven't heard is that the IRS is encouraging investors to support our growing energy renaissance, offering you a tax loophole to invest in some of America's greatest energy companies. Take advantage of this profitable opportunity by grabbing your brand-new special report, "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," and you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.


Written by Andy Tully at

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information