Corn based biofuels, while serving as a cornerstone of the previous administrations' green house gas mitigation strategies has largely been discredited. recent papers have even brought into question the carbon impact of feedstocks such as switchgrass which were considered more promising:
"Most prior studies have found that substituting biofuels for gasoline will reduce greenhouse gasses because biofuels sequester carbon through the growth of the feedstock. These analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuels. Using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gasses for 167 years. Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%. This result raises concerns about large biofuel mandates and highlights the value of using waste products. "
from www.sciencexpress.org / 7 February 2008 / Page 5 / 10.1126/science.1151861
Perhaps the only remaining promising source of biofuels is algae grown in the oceans. This can be a part of the solution although like almost all alternative fuels will never n be a complete solution. This projects will focus on the development of small commercial scale system that can extract biofuel from algae for home heating.
Two colleagues who will be helping are currently cultivating algae(Chlorella) in a small bioreactor to extract the oil and make bio-diesel. Funding is in place to build a greenhouse and cultivate 1000 gals of algae in Washington County, with the intent to make 400 gal of biodiesel in a growing season. This diesel will be used for home heating. The harvester must be able to harvest the algae from 600 gal or so every three days, and then we'd need a comparable sized press to extract the oil from the algae. Kitchen table units currently exist as well as 10,000 gal units designed to produce 2,000 gal of diesel per week (for around $500,000). The system needed for this project would cost several thousand and could be used in a backyard or small industrial facility.
The final test for this project will be to demonstrate fuel use in the research diesel engine at Maine Maritime or in an appropriate fuel oil furnace.
1. Review of current systems including mechanical and ultrasonic technologies
2. Basic design of the device, throughput size and materials
3. Detail design of a system
4. Parts list and complete drawing package
5. Fabricated test system
6. Operational results for a system used in a room
# Project Team Selection Complete: September 8, 2008
# First Revised Milestones Submitted: September 10, 2007
# Design Notebook Initial sign-off: September 17, 2007
# First performance data on existing design: September 22, 2007
# Initial model outline for the system: September 25, 2007
# System Schematic: October 2nd
# First web page goes live with introductory page and menu on left. Page must include resumes, individual photos and milestones: October 15, 2008, 2 pm.
# Milestone review: November 10th , 2008
# Detail design: November 10th
# Parts list and orders prepared
# Draft Midterm Report: December 3rd, 2008
# Midterm Report due as a PDF posted as a completed web page: December 16th, 11:30 am
# Test System Complete: March 10 - 15, 2009
# Lab Cleanup & Infrastructure Project Completed: Maine Day, April 29, 2009
# Open House -- Review of Projects, April 30, 2009, Afternoon
# Final Web Page submitted, for review during final exam period: Monday May 6th, 2009 Noon,