Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

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How the Yeast in Your Bread Could One Day Be Fuel For Your Car

For years, soybeans have been the predominant base for biodiesel fuel in the United States. But the crop has a major limitation — it can’t grow everywhere, preventing its widespread adoption as a fuel. Hal Alper, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has come up with a replacement. It’s found [...]

One Way Carbon Emmissions are Making it Harder to Research Biofuels

Sr. Jerry Brand dircts UT Algae Culture Collection.

Back in the seventies and eighties, algae, a biofuel, was viewed as a possible path to energy independence. Federal money flowed to research, and science made some progress understanding how the stuff could be used.  Then, the money stopped flowing. For about 20 years. Now that researchers are taking another look at algae, they’re also [...]

The Downside of Using Algae as a Biofuel

UT Research Engineer Robert Pearsal looks into a vat of algae.

It seems like everyone’s talking pond scum these days. This year, people ranging from the President of the United States to this humble reporter, have spoken of algae’s potential in creating a carbon neutral biofuel. A recent study from the University of Texas showed how the tiny organisms could create 500 times more energy than [...]

Texas Company Says It’s Found a Way to Turn Wood Into Gasoline

A Texas company says they've figured out a commercially-viable way to turn pine tree wood chips into gasoline.

Got any dead wood lying around your yard? If a new Texas company’s claims turn out to be accurate, that pile could theoretically fuel your car soon. In the New York Times, Matthew Wald reports on Pasadena, Texas-based biofuel company KiOR. They say they’ve come up with a process to affordably, cleanly process wood chips [...]

Why the Next UT-A&M Rivalry Could Be Fought in the Lab

UT Research Engineer Robert Pearsal looks into a vat of algae.

Two teams, racing against the clock. A long-standing rivalry that up til now has been played on the football field. And at the end, the prize: gooey, stinky algae. While the University of Texas and Texas A&M University football teams no longer play each other after A&M left the Big 12 conference for the SEC [...]

Please Welcome Our New Algae Overlords

Dr. Robert Hebner has pioneered a method of extracting oil from algae.

Algae. It’s smelly, but a new study from the University of Texas at Austin says it could be a significant source of energy. A team of researchers found that, theoretically, it’s possible algae could produce 500 times more energy than it takes to grow it. That’s an important number, because the efficiency of fuel depends [...]

How Juniper and Mesquite Trees Could Help Fuel Texas

The leaves of a honey mesquite tree. Excess trees could be harvested and used as biofuels.

Scientists may have found something more than just rings in the heart of Texas’ Juniper and Mesquite trees – more than 8,000 Btu in renewable bioenergy per pound, according to experts at Texas Agrilife Research. That’s roughly equivalent to “medium grade subbituminous coal,” according to Agrilife. The Juniper and Mesquite trees now covering more than sixty [...]

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