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Bioelectricity better than biofuels for transport

Jeff Tollefson, Nature
Vehicles propelled by biomass-fired electricity would travel farther on a given crop and produce fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than vehicles powered by ethanol, researchers report today.

Burning biomass to produce electricity is generally more efficient than converting it into ethanol. And electric vehicles — although often more expensive to make and maintain than many vehicles with internal combustion engines — are also more efficient at converting that energy into motion.

In the current study, the researchers, led by Elliott Campbell of the University of California, Merced, modelled the entire system all the way from crop cultivation to vehicle propulsion, comparing cumulative greenhouse-gas emissions for both biofuels and bioelectricity. They found that the bioelectric route came out ahead of both corn ethanol and advanced cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass.
(7 May 2009)
The report in Science (subscribers only): Greater Transportation Energy and GHG Offsets from Bioelectricity Than Ethanol .

The quantity of land available to grow biofuel crops without impacting food prices or greenhouse gas emissions from land conversion is limited. Therefore, bioenergy should maximize land-use efficiency when addressing transportation and climate change goals. Biomass could power either internal combustion or electric vehicles, but the relative land-use efficiency of these two energy pathways is not well quantified. Here, we show that bioelectricity outperforms ethanol across a range of feedstocks, conversion technologies, and vehicle classes. Bioelectricity produces an average 81% more transportation kilometers and 108% more emissions offsets per unit area cropland than cellulosic ethanol. These results suggest that alternative bioenergy pathways have large differences in how efficiently they use the available land to achieve transportation and climate goals.

U.S. Drops Research Into Fuel Cells for Cars

Matthew L. Wald, New York Times
WASHINGTON — Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, once hailed by President George W. Bush as a pollution-free solution for reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, will not be practical over the next 10 to 20 years, the energy secretary said Thursday, and the government will cut off funds for the vehicles’ development.
(7 May 2009)

Flush with Camaro orders, GM workers on OT

Grace Macaluso, Canwest News Service
In a rare bright spot amid a darkening automotive landscape, workers at the General Motors’ Oshawa operation are being asked to work additional shifts to meet “huge” demand for the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.

“We’ve agreed to work the first week of our summer shutdown as a result of the huge demand for that product,” Chris Buckley, president of CAW Local 222, saidWednesday. “The company has also scheduled seven Saturday overtime shifts beginning June 13, which in all likelihood will grow as we continue to build this car.”

Buckley said demand for the neo-muscle car is outstripping supply. “Right now they have a large demand on order to fill the consumers’ wishes out there.”
(7 May 2009)
EB contributor Bryan Swansburg writes:
This should put a profitable GM in a perfect position for the bright green future of energy depletion and hyper-efficiency…