Fueling innovation | April 15, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - April 15, 2011

Fueling innovation

Valley companies work to develop fuels made of corn stalks and wood chips

by Sue Dremann

Rick Wilson, CEO of Cobalt Technologies, opened a tiny vial of clear liquid, and a slightly sweet, alcohol scent wafted forth. It didn't smell even remotely like jet fuel, which it was.

This story contains 1573 words.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.


Posted by recycle, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 15, 2011 at 9:52 am

Biofuels work great when they are made from bio waste from the food and lumber industries. Growing new crops for biofuels is not so hot since farming requires a huge amount of resources (fertilizer, water, energy).

Posted by Tax-Me-More, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2011 at 9:28 am

Assuming that electricity is an "alternative" fuel, people need to get ready for new taxes for the use of all alternative fuels--

Oregon's electric car owners shocked by proposed bill that would tax their cars:

Web Link

And .. don't forget the surcharges for the "entitled class" .. like Caltrain riders.

Posted by recycle, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

The biggest "entitled class" is automobile drivers. Gasoline prices, public streets, bridges, highways, freeways are all heavily subsidized by tax dollars. And I'm talking about income taxes and property taxes. Only a small portion of the government funding for road projects comes from gasoline taxes and car registrations. Even then, some idiots are trying to cut taxes on gasoline and cars and increase the tax load on the general public.

Posted by Bob Wenzlau, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2011 at 8:19 am

Bob Wenzlau is a registered user.

In our urban areas, lets also keep focus on the biologic conversion of municipal organic residues to fuel sources. These are the organics that go down the train or into the various compost or waste bins. Organic waste is the predominant resource urban areas possess.

The problem now is that urban organic management is an energy hog - consuming huge amounts of energy resources with consequential climate impact.

With our urban-generated organics the concept of benefit is different compared to the article's focus on remote farmed organic fuels. In an urban setting, most organics consume significant energy to affect their "disposal". The sewage plant, likely the city's largest utility consumer, expends electricity and natural gas as it "treats: sewage, and "disposal" of yard trimmings use gas and diesel in their future hauls toward their remote compost.

The prize in the urban area is not how much energy is generated from urban organics, but how much energy expenditure is avoided. The benefit is calculated in the energy swing - from large energy consumer to modest energy generator.

Stanford is encouraging Palo Alto during the long-term strategy on their waste water treatment to embrace anaerobic processes across the entire treatment system. The Palo Alto Green Energy and Compost initiate focuses only on the biologically generated sludge, but Stanford was showing the entire treatment train could be a resource. For Palo Alto this is huge, and extended across urban areas is an exciting prospect.

Some further follow-up on this can be found on a recent post

Web Link

Again, I appreciate the Weekly highlighting the technology revolution occurring here, and only wanted to broaden the area of attention.

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