ConocoPhillips and Tyson have an agreement to convert Tyson's pork, beef, and chicken fat into diesel fuel. They will use a hydrotreating process and blend it with normal diesel production. As I recall, all of Tyson's fat will yield only 15,000 barrels/day of diesel...a drop in the bucket but every little bit helps.
Solar power and energy are used almost synonymously by the press and general public. But to an engineer they are distinctly different. Power is the capability to do work, and energy is the quantity of work done. For example, the quantity of energy created by a generator with a power rating of 10 KW is the connected load (which can range from 0 to 10KW) multiplied times the time the generator runs in hours to give kw-hours. Power is measured in kw and energy is measured in kw-hrs. A PV array is solar powered (the array has a kw rating) but collects solar energy measured by a meter that multiplies powerXtime and accumulates kw-hrs. If you are still confused, don't worry, you have lots of company.
I wanted to avoid higher math but you are right Mr. Breza. Energy=Work = the integral of dP X dT. In a PV array the power=watts=(volts X amps) none of which are constant due to cloud passage, shading, and sun angle. The integration of instantaneous power (watts) X delta time (hours) is done in the kw-hour meter to give the amount of energy produced. Mr. New has the right equation Power=Work/Time or transposed Work=Power X Time, but then he mixes units. Enough said.
Correction: Energy=Work = the integral of P X dT.
In the early 1800's when the norhteast relied on biofuels for the economy, the land was clearcut of all trees leaving no primordal forest. Take a look at paintings from the period. My family ancestors had a thriving charcoal business. With the advent of oil, re-forestation began. History says biofuels can help, but they are not the answer, we are too energy hungry.
I agree with you, Greg. I've been puzzled by some of the acronyms. I'm an editorial judge for an engineering magazine and proper writing etiquette is to spell out what you are saying the first time followed by the acronym in parentheses. Then the acronym can be freely used, e.g. compressed air energy storage (CAES).
Its nice to see a century old idea come of age. Thomas Edison had the idea of concrete prefabs in 1908 and many are still standing and inhabited in New Jersey. Like solar, it takes a while to catch on.
Might the whole process be more efficient and cheaper to just dry the biomass in the sun and burn it directly as fuel as the first settlers moving west did? They used dried cow chips for cooking and heating. Does anyone have data on this?
In my work I find that even engineers cannot keep units of power and energy straight. It can lead to gross errors in calculating the dollar value of the energy produced by generating equipment.
This is a tribute to the inefficiency of government. Spend millions on subsidies and research grants to promote a tecnology and then kill it with taxes.
Commercial ammonia production comes from natural gas, steam, air and heat. see http://www.bicyclesource.com/images/ammonia.pdf for a good description of the process.The only advantage may be that ammonia is an efficient storage medium for the hydrogen. I agree with Nick that it is not renewable and is not greenhousse gas friendly as it produces significant CO2. Ammonia does occur biologically, just walk into a chicken coop in the summer, but I know of no commercial bio-ammonia production.