Friday, September 02, 2016

Biofuels aren’t nearly as green as you thought

Co.Exist, feat. John DeCicco

Biofuels might not be as clean as you thought, and they certainly aren’t carbon-neutral. The common thinking goes that crops used to make ethanol and biodiesel suck CO2 out of the air and turn it into a gas substitute. Then, when you fill up your car and take it for a spin, all you’re doing is releasing that carbon back into the atmosphere, not generating new emissions.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Research professor John DeCicco’s new study, which overturns the assumption that biofuels are carbon-neutral, was just published in Climatic Change. The below stories are related to that release.

Study: Biofuels increase, rather than decrease, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions (Read more)

University of Michigan News

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A new study from University of Michigan researchers challenges the widely held assumption that biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are inherently carbon neutral.

Contrary to popular belief, the heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas emitted when biofuels are burned is not fully balanced by the CO2 uptake that occurs as the plants grow, according to a study by research professor John DeCicco and co-authors at the U-M Energy Institute.

Friday, August 19, 2016

UMEI’s John DeCicco authors update of popular 2004 fuel cell reference article

Elsevier Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences

The updated piece, originally published in the Encyclopedia of Energy, defines and contextualizes fuel cell vehicle use and technology in the rapidly changing transportation landscape. It notes that “climate constraints are now the most compelling rationale for developing vehicles that use non-petroleum fuels, particularly carbon-free energy carriers such as electricity or hydrogen,” and forecasts the disruptive effect of coming connected and automated transportation technologies. DeCicco wrote the piece along with Masters Student Xinwei Li.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why utilities have little incentive to plug leaking natural gas

The Conversation, feat. Catherine Hausman

The Aliso Canyon leak in California earlier this year focused public attention on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Methane is the primary component of natural gas, and it is a potent contributor to climate change. In less than a year, the Aliso Canyon facility leaked methane equal to about four million metric tons of CO2, the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving over 800,000 cars in a year.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Climate Central, feat. Mark Barteau, John DeCicco

When Sarang Supekar describes how he thinks global warming will have to be stabilized, he talks in terms of sucking a lot of carbon dioxide out of the air and in a very short timeframe.

Supekar, a systems engineer at the University of Michigan, is part of a team developing a computer model that estimates how countries can stay within their carbon budgets, limiting their greenhouse gases so that the earth does not warm beyond the 2°C (3.6°F) threshold.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Clinton walks fine line on carbon tax

The Hill, feat. Barry Rabe

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is leaving the door open to supporting a carbon tax, hinting that the Democratic nominee could eventually back the controversial idea.

Statements from top campaign officials made during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia could endear her to environmental activists who are pressing her to adopt more of the progressive positions of primary rival Bernie Sanders — a vocal carbon tax supporter.

Friday, July 29, 2016

As corn devours U.S. prairies, Greens reconsider biofuel mandate

Bloomberg Politics, feat. John DeCicco

Environmentalists who once championed biofuels as a way to cut pollution are now turning against a U.S. program that puts renewable fuels in cars, citing higher-than-expected carbon dioxide emissions and reduced wildlife habitat.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

As part of the U-M Energy Survey’s ongoing reports regarding the affordability of energy, this brief focuses on the newest wave of data through April 2016. We measure American consumers' views of their energy costs with two affordability indices, one for home energy and the other for gasoline. Each index is based on the costs that consumers say they would find unaffordable compared to their actual energy costs—that is, their own home energy bills and the national average price of gasoline—during the month they were surveyed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Environmentalists who once championed biofuels as a way to cut pollution are now turning against a U.S. program that puts renewable fuels in cars, citing higher-than-expected carbon dioxide emissions and reduced wildlife habitat.

More than a decade after conservationists helped persuade Congress to require adding corn-based ethanol and other biofuels to gasoline, some groups regret the resulting agricultural runoff in waterways and conversion of prairies to cropland -- improving the odds that lawmakers might seek changes to the program next year.

"The big green groups that got invested in biofuels are tacitly realizing the blunder," said John DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute who previously focused on automotive strategies at the Environmental Defense Fund. "It’s really hard for the people who really -- shall we say -- hate oil viscerally, to think that this alternative that we’ve been promoting is today worse than oil."

Monday, July 25, 2016

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today has selected Argonne National Laboratory to lead a consortium of university, private sector and national laboratory partners for a new, medium- and heavy-duty truck technical track under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) Truck Research Utilizing Collaborative Knowledge (TRUCK) program.

The multidisciplinary consortium, includes Cummins Inc., Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, Ohio State University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Purdue University, and the University of Michigan. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Coal plant shutdowns are the beginning of the end of an era

Michigan Radio, feat. Mark Barteau

Consumers Energy in April closed seven of its coal-burning units.

DTE Energy plans to shut eight of its coal-burning units by the year 2023.

Mark Barteau is Director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute.  He says eventually, coal is going away because natural gas, wind and solar are more cost-effective - as well as being better for public health and the planet.