Category Archives: Energy

JAL Flight Brings Aviation One Step Closer to Using Biofuel


Tokyo, January 30, 2009: Today, Japan Airlines (JAL) became the first airline to conduct a demonstration flight using a sustainable biofuel primarily refined from the energy crop, camelina. It was also the first demo flight using a combination of three sustainable biofuel feedstocks, as well as the first one using Pratt & Whitney engines. The results of the flight are expected to conclusively confirm the second-generation biofuel’s operational performance capabilities and potential commercial viability.

The approximately one and half-hour demo flight using a JAL-owned Boeing 747-300 aircraft, carrying no passengers or payload, took off from Haneda Airport, Tokyo at 11:50am (JST). A blend of 50% biofuel and 50% traditional Jet-A jet (kerosene) fuel was tested in the No.3 engine (middle right), one of the aircraft’s four Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines. No modifications to the aircraft or engine were required for biofuel, which is a ‘drop-in’ replacement for petroleum-based fuel.

The JAL cockpit crew onboard the aircraft checked the engine’s performance during normal and non-normal flight operations, which included quick accelerations and decelerations, and engine shutdown and restart. A ground-based preflight test was conducted the day before the flight to ensure that the No. 3 engine functioned normally using the biofuel/ traditional Jet-A fuel blend. Captain Keiji Kobayashi who piloted the aircraft said, ‘Everything went smoothly. There was no difference at all in the performance of the engine powered by the biofuel blend, and the other three engines containing regular jet fuel.”

Data recorded on the aircraft will now be analyzed to determine if equivalent engine performance was seen from the biofuel blend compared to typical Jet A fuel. The initial analysis of the data will take several weeks and will be conducted by team members from Boeing, Japan Airlines, and Pratt& Whitney.

The biofuel component tested was a mixture of three second-generation biofuel feedstocks: camelina (84%), jatropha (under 16%), and algae (under 1%). Second-generation feedstocks do not compete with natural food or water resources and do not contribute to deforestation practices. The primary benefit of using biofuels in a commercial jetliner is their ability to reduce greenhouse gases throughout their entire lifecycle, while also helping to improve the environmental performance of commercial aviation and the planes that are flying today.

JAL Group President and CEO, Haruka Nishimatsu applauded the flight saying, “Today is an extremely important day for Japan Airlines, for aviation, and for the environment. The demonstration flight brings us ever closer to finding a ‘greener’ alternative to traditional petroleum-based fuel. When biofuels are produced in sufficient amounts to make them commercially viable, we hope to be one of the first airlines in the world to start powering our aircraft using them.”

Boeing Japan President, Nicole Piasecki said, “We are hopeful that within the next 3-5 years, commercial aircraft will begin flying revenue passenger flights using sustainable next-generation biofuels. There are remaining hurdles to overcome, including gaining the support of regulators, airports, fuel distributors and others, as well as increasing the production of environmentally and socially responsible fuel sources. Our industry is already working to secure its fuel future supply by establishing firm sustainability criteria to ensure that the environmental impacts and carbon dioxide emissions from biofuels are significantly lower than fossil fuel-based kerosene fuels.”

The fuel for the JAL demo flight was successfully converted from plant-based crude oil to biofuel, then blended with typical jet fuel by Honeywell’s UOP, a refining technology developer, using proprietary hydro-processing technology. Subsequent laboratory testing by Boeing, UOP, and several independent laboratories verified the biofuel met the industry criteria for jet fuel performance.

Jennifer Holmgren, General Manager of UOP Renewable Energy and Chemicals said, “We have proven that we can produce renewable jet fuel from sustainable resources that is a drop in replacement eliminating the need for costly changes to the fuels infrastructure and transportation fleet. This technology can be utilized to begin making an impact on the aviation fuel supply in as little as three years.”

“Ground-based jet engine performance testing last year by Pratt & Whitney of similar fuels further established that the biofuel blend either meets or exceeds the performance criteria that is in place for commercial aviation jet fuel today”, added Greg Gernhardt, Asia Pacific Region Vice President, Pratt & Whitney Commercial Engines & Global Services.

Sustainable Oils, Inc., a U.S.-based provider of renewable, environmentally clean, and high-value camelina-based fuels sourced the camelina used in the JAL demo flight. Terasol Energy sourced and provided the jatropha oil, and the algae oil was provided by Sapphire Energy. Nikki Universal, a joint venture of UOP and JGC, supplied the biofuel used in the flight, which had been produced in the U.S by UOP.

Also known as gold-of-pleasure or false flax, camelina is good candidate for a sustainable biofuel source, given its high oil content and ability to grow in rotation with wheat and other cereal crops. The crop is mostly grown in more moderate climates such as the northern plains of the U.S and Canada, and originally hails from northern Europe and Central Asia. Test plots are also underway in Malaysia, South Korea, Ukraine and Latvia.

“There are currently a few thousand acres under management, with an expectation of hundreds of thousands of acres within three years. Within 5 years, projections are for between 100 million and 200 million gallons of camelina-based sustainable jet fuel,” said Tom Todaro, CEO of Sustainable Oils.

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The Energy Debates: Hydrogen Vehicles

General Motors.

Diagram of the fuel cell and hydrogen tanks in the Chevy Equinox. Credit: General Motors.

By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

The Facts

Imagine a car that had water come out its tailpipe instead of pollutants. That is the promise of vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Hydrogen fuel cells react hydrogen with oxygen to generate an electric current that in turn can drive an electric motor. The only tailpipe emission would indeed be water.

There are no hydrogen cars commercially available from any major company, and their cost is currently too high to make them close to entering showrooms. Yet buses powered by hydrogen are now seen in many cities across the United States. A number of automakers are also leasing hydrogen cars to customers for short periods of time to test their performance, said Spencer Quong, senior vehicles analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science advocacy group.


The emissions from the hydrogen cars themselves are clean, possessing none of the dirty mix of toxins and carbon dioxide (the major global warming gas) that the burning of gasoline spews forth. The cleanliness of hydrogen is in large part why government and industry support for hydrogen vehicles has reached billions of dollars.

Hydrogen cars, like other cars that run off electric motors, are more efficient than conventional vehicles — roughly twice as efficient as those that rely on gasoline. They are also quieter than regular cars, and their electric motors give full torque when they accelerate, without the delayed revving-up that happens when you step on the gas pedal in a gasoline-engine vehicle.

Hydrogen cars have ranges much like conventional cars. Today’s electric vehicles that rely on batteries, on the other hand, can put in roughly 100 miles before they need recharging.


Hydrogen cars face a host of challenges. While hydrogen fuel cells only emit water, current methods of large-scale hydrogen production often extract it from natural methane gas, generating substantial amounts of carbon dioxide in the process.

Scientists instead would like to generate hydrogen by using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. However, currently fossil fuels provide nearly two-thirds of the electricity generated in the United States, according to the Department of Energy, which means a hydrogen economy could still emit toxins and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Eventually, if the electric grid becomes more environmentally friendly by adding on wind, solar and other renewable forms of power, so too would hydrogen vehicles grow even greener. However, if hydrogen vehicles were to completely replace the more than 250 million passenger cars in the United States, a dramatic increase in the nation’s electricity generation would be necessary.

Hydrogen cars would need an infrastructure of refueling stations and fleets of tankers. The fuel tanks of hydrogen cars also need further development. Currently hydrogen is stored at high pressure aboard most prototype cars, and it takes a significant amount of energy and money to pressurize the gas, which detracts from the efficiency of the hydrogen economy. Researchers are striving to engineer ways to store hydrogen aboard vehicles at lower pressures, using materials such as carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides, with the aim of significantly reducing the costs of a hydrogen infrastructure.

Converting the United States to hydrogen “would certainly be a major challenge, but you could imagine it done over time,” Quong said. “What’s done in California is really smart — they focus on setting up fueling stations where they know vehicles are going to be, like in Los Angeles, and then scatter other stations across for longer drives.”

Although hydrogen vehicles might conjure up images of the Hindenburg going down in flames, “hydrogen is no more safe or less safe than a gasoline vehicle, just different,” Quong said. If a hydrogen storage tank ruptures, all the gas goes into the air, as opposed to gasoline, which spills all over the ground. Hydrogen is odorless and invisible, so researchers are working on sensors to detect any leaks and avoid any problems.

What do you think?

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Mulai 15 Desember Premium Rp5.000/Liter, Solar Rp4.800

Minggu, 14 Desember 2008 – 17:58 wib, Amirul Hasan – Okezone

JAKARTA – Pemerintah kembali menurunkan harga bahan bakar minyak (BBM). Penurunan kali ini berlaku untuk jenis premium menjadi Rp5.000 per liter dan solar menjadi Rp4.800 per liter. Penurunan tersebut dimulai pada Senin 15 Desember 2008 pukul 00.00 WIB.

“Dengan ini saya umumkan harga minyak turun, premium menjadi Rp5.000 per liter dan solar menjadi Rp4.800 per liter,” ujar Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, di Kantor Presiden, Jakarta, Minggu (14/12/2008).

SBY mengungkapkan, penurunan tersebut dilihat dari harga minyak dunia yang cenderung turun. “Namun demikian harga minyak ini sulit diprediksi, maka kita kalkulasikan ini dan disesuaikan dengan subsidi dalam APBN kita 2009,” tambahnya.

Namun sayangnya, harga minyak tanah tidak mengikuti penurunan solar dan premium, alias tetap bertengger di angka Rp2.500.

Keputusan menurunkan kembali harga BBM itu dibahas dalam rapat terbatas yang diadakan oleh Presiden SBY. Penurunan BBM terakhir kali berlaku untuk jenis premium pada 1 Desember, dari Rp6.000/liter menjadi Rp5.500 per liter. (ade)

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San Francisco Bay to be electric car capital

San Francisco Bay to be electric car capital

• Plan predicts 1m petrol vehicles replaced by 2015

• Charging points to be on offer throughout cities

by Bobbie Johnson in San Francisco and Alok Jha

The Guardian, Saturday November 22 2008

Officials in California have unveiled ambitious plans to turn the San Francisco Bay area – home to 7.6 million people – into one of the world’s leading centres for electric vehicles.

If it succeeds, the strategy will see billions of dollars poured into a power infrastructure that will turn the region away from fossil fuels and persuade millions of people to switch to green transport technology.

The plan, which will see the bay area become the first region of California to switch its transport systems entirely away from traditional fuels, is being supported by local government as well as the state’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“California is already a world leader in fighting global warming and promoting renewable energy,” he said. “This partnership is proof that by working together we can achieve our goals of creating a healthier planet while boosting our economy.”

Globally, cars generate about 20% of the world’s output of carbon dioxide and California’s cars account for 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing around 1m petrol cars with electric cars by 2015, as is proposed under the new plans, will make a big difference.

At least $1bn is expected to be spent on improving green transport infrastructure to make the bay area – encompassing the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, as well as Silicon Valley – the leading centre for electric vehicles in America, and potentially around the world.

The electric transportation company Better Place will build a network of kerbside charging points across cities in the area and create the equivalent of filling stations, where electric car owners will be able to replace their flat batteries for fully charged ones. With a full charge on one of Better Place’s batteries, a typical car will be able to travel 100 miles, ideal for commuting around urban areas.

The local government will also work to harmonise standards across the region so that drivers of electric vehicles can travel the length and breadth of the bay area without worrying about finding the right kind of charging station.

Most users of the Better Place system would pay a monthly subscription for unlimited access to the company’s services. Visitors with electric cars could also use the charging points for a one-off fee.

“You can plug in any car,” said Jason Wolf, the California business manager at Better Place. “In California, everyone who’s bought Teslas, everyone who has bought plug-in hybrids or electric cars that are not in tight relationship with us, will be able to plug into our network.”

Speaking at the launch yesterday, Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, said: “If we’re going to get serious about advancing climate-action plans, we’ve got to get serious about getting into the business of alternative transportation.”

California, the world’s eighth largest economy, has some of the most progressive climate-change legislation. The state aims to reduce greenhouse gas levels to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The plans will put California on a footing with other countries leading the attempt to introduce electric cars, including Israel, Denmark and Australia. Last month, the Britain pledged £100m to speed the commercial introduction of electric and low-carbon road transport to the country.

Wolf said the first cars in the California scheme would be deployed in 2010.

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Gas prices seesaw

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NEXT to the weather and taxes, many of us who commute to work have come to believe that there’s nothing we can do about traffic, either. Even so, the first thing many commuters say when they get to work or return home is their observation on their commute, and it usually isn’t pretty.

But a funny thing happened as gas prices approached $5 a gallon this summer: Commuters’ comments changed from the unprintable to the unbelievable. Commutes tended to be shorter and freeways less congested as commuters garaged their Hummers and switched to mass transit in record numbers. People were actually thinking good thoughts about Caltrans.

But …

As gas prices dipped to the $2 level and lower – prices many of us never thought we’d see again – commuters are taking to the freeways again, and not minding filling up the tanks of their SUVs, either.

For the Blue Line, which runs from Long Beach to downtown L.A., there were nearly 85,000 average weekday boardings a day in September, before gas prices began their steep decline. In October, there were about 80,600 daily boardings, which could explain why the Harbor Freeway is such a mess. MTA bus ridership was down about 30,000 average weekday boardings in October from the previous month.

But the news isn’t all bad. Despite declines in ridership in October, the number of MTA bus, subway and light rail boardings are up between 4 and 9 percent over October, 2007, leading us to believe that not everyone

is firing up their Hummers.

Better news yet is the number of motor vehicle deaths has declined.

Last year, 41,059 people were killed on the nation’s roads. Experts are predicting that this year’s toll will be about 37,000, the lowest in four decades. In June alone, U.S. motorists drove 12.2 billion fewer miles than a year ago.

Urban policy experts and some newspaper columnists were hoping that $4 gas prices would continue, for a lot of reasons. The use of mass transit, for one; the impetus for auto makers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles for another – with the difference in price between $2 and $4 gas going for road repair, mass transit and pollution control.

The shame of it is that as gas prices rise again – and they surely will – that money will wind up in the pockets of oil companies and Mideast sheiks, instead of being invested in road repair, mass transit and pollution control.

If there is a bright spot for the economy in this familiar tale of seesaw gas prices, it’s that consumers have more money in their pockets to spend this holiday season.

Retailers are standing by.

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Mobil di Atas 2.000 cc Sebaiknya Tak Gunakan Premium

JJAKARTA – Pemerintah mengimbau, pemilik kendaraan pribadi dengan kapasitas mesin di atas 2.000 cc, tidak menggunakan bahan bakar bersubsidi atau premium.

Menurut Direktur Jenderal Minyak dan Gas (Migas) Evita Herawati Legowo, penggunaan premium oleh kendaraan pribadi di atas 2.000 cc menyebabkan tujuan penurunan harga premium bersubsidi tidak tercapai.

“Tujuan penurunan harga premium itu adalah untuk mengurangi belanja transportasi, terutama untuk kalangan menengah ke bawah. Ini yang akan kami sosialisasikan. Kendaraan pribadi di atas 2.000 cc yang masih menggunakan premium, (itu berarti) menyalahi aturan,” tutur Evita.

Untuk membatasi konsumsi BBM bersubsidi di tanah air, pemerintah saat ini tengah membahas kembali penggunaan kartu pintar (smart card). Departemen Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral dan BPH Migas sedang membahas konsep pembatasan konsumsi tersebut.

Di tempat terpisah, PT Pertamina (persero) memprediksi penurunan harga premium bersubsidi sebesar Rp500 per liter akan menyebabkan kenaikan konsumsi premium. “Kalau premium harganya turun, volume juga pasti meningkat. Logikanya kan begitu. Ditambah saat ini akan mendekati hari besar seperti Natal dan Tahun Baru,” ujar Achmad Faisal Direktur Pemasaran dan Niaga Pertamina.

Dia memprediksi, hingga akhir 2008 konsumsi premium mencapai 18,6 hingga 19 juta kiloliter, sedangkan solar 11 hingga 12 juta kiloliter.


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e=mc2: 103 years later, Einstein’s proven right

AFP/File – People walk past a giant sculpture featuring Albert Einstein’s formula “E=mc2” in front …

Thu Nov 20, 6:56 pm ET

PARIS (AFP) – It’s taken more than a century, but Einstein’s celebrated formula e=mc2 has finally been corroborated, thanks to a heroic computational effort by French, German and Hungarian physicists.

A brainpower consortium led by Laurent Lellouch of France’s Centre for Theoretical Physics, using some of the world’s mightiest supercomputers, have set down the calculations for estimating the mass of protons and neutrons, the particles at the nucleus of atoms.

According to the conventional model of particle physics, protons and neutrons comprise smaller particles known as quarks, which in turn are bound by gluons.

The odd thing is this: the mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is only five percent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95 percent? The answer, according to the study published in the US journal Science
on Thursday, comes from the energy from the movements and interactions of quarks and gluons.

In other words, energy and mass are equivalent, as Einstein proposed in his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905.

The e=mc2 formula shows that mass can be converted into energy, and energy can be converted into mass.

By showing how much energy would be released if a certain amount of mass were to be converted into energy, the equation has been used many times, most famously as the inspirational basis for building atomic weapons.

But resolving e=mc2 at the scale of sub-atomic particles — in equations called quantum chromodynamics — has been fiendishly difficult.

“Until now, this has been a hypothesis,” France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) said proudly in a press release.

“It has now been corroborated for the first time.”

For those keen to know more: the computations involve “envisioning space and time as part of a four-dimensional crystal lattice, with discrete points spaced along columns and rows.”

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