Biofuels, Fuels and Chemistry

Transportation is one of several major sectors that contribute to climate change. Globally, the sector's 25% share of man-made carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions is similar to its share of energy consumption. Because liquid fuels are so well suited for powering cars, trucks, boats and aircraft, transportation is uniquely reliant on oil, which is the natural resource most well suited for producing liquid fuels. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The U.S. Department of Energy today announced that Margaret Wooldridge, a University of Michigan Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mechanical Engineering, is one of six 2013 recipients of the prestigious E.O. Lawrence Award, the agency’s highest award for mid-career scientists. Created in 1959, the award celebrates contributions in research and development that support the Energy Department’s science, energy and national security missions.

There is significant momentum behind natural gas extraction efforts in the United States, with many states embracing it as an opportunity to create jobs and foster economic strength. Natural gas extraction has also been championed as a way to move toward energy independence and a cleaner energy supply. First demonstrated in the 1940’s, hydraulic fracturing is now the predominant method used to extract natural gas in the U.S.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shale gas is changing the American energy economy at a breakneck pace, and its rapid, widespread domestic utilization is redefining the questions our government must address about energy security, policy and the environment. Shale gas as an energy source poses a huge potential boon to American manufacturers of all stripes, but the relationship between the shale gas boom and U.S manufacturing competitiveness needs clearer understanding.

Monday, April 30, 2012

ABSTRACT. Public policy supports biofuels for their benefits to agricultural economies, energy security and the environment. The environmental rationale is premised on greenhouse gas (GHG, "carbon") emissions reduction, which is a matter of contention. This issue is challenging to resolve because of critical but difficult-to-verify assumptions in lifecycle analysis (LCA), limits of available data and disputes about system boundaries. Although LCA has been the presumptive basis of climate policy for fuels, careful consideration indicates that it is inappropriate for defining regulations.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The climate benefits of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel have been debated for many years. Attempts to compare these fuels with one another and fossil-derived fuels such as gasoline and diesel confront many uncertainties, not all of which can be resolved through further data analysis. By scrutinizing the greatest sources of uncertainty and grounding analysis in the areas of high certainty such as combustion chemistry and the terrestrial carbon cycle, this paper sheds light on this challenging subject and points the way toward new strategies for addressing CO2 emissions from transportation fuels.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Since 2005, the United States has embarked on a steady expansion of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, widely touted as a win-win proposition for energy security and the environment. However, the promised breakthroughs in biofuel technology have greatly lagged the rapid ramp-up of production mandated by Congress while adverse side effects of the policy have become ever more clear.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nathaniel Szymczak, the Dow Corning Assistant Professor of Chemistry and an Energy Institute Faculty Affiliate, was named a 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation research fellow, along with two other U-M scientists. The award comes with a $50,000 research boost. 

Read more about his award here


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