The high price of transportation fuels, coupled with energy security and environmental concerns, has generated significant investment from government and the private sector in developing and implementing new transportation solutions, best practices and incentives. Alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, with support from government programs, are helping our nation reduce dependence on foreign oil, prevent damage to the environment, and for the first time, provide corporate fleet managers and individuals viable and cost-effective commercial options. Liebman & Associates (L&A) can help you develop the right partnerships with government and industry to capitalize on the resources and technologies available for your business - right now.
Highway vehicles alone account for 55% of total U.S. oil use, more than all U.S. domestic oil production. To address our nation's "addiction to oil," government goals call for reducing U.S. gasoline usage 20% by 2017 and the Renewable Fuel Standard requires 36 billion gallons of annual renewable fuel supply by 2022. While federal and state governments have established a variety of incentives to encourage the widespread development, production and utilization of new fuels and technologies to help meet these targets, federal financial and technical resources are also immediately available to directly assist companies to achieve fleet goals.
Advanced vehicle technologies, such as hybrid-electric vehicles, idle reduction and global positioning systems, and auxiliary power, will enable U.S. citizens and businesses to accomplish their tasks while reducing consumption of gasoline and diesel fuels. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) can be used to dispatch electricity back to the grid when needed, and models for private and commercial fleets allow engines to be turned off during delivery and service stops while maintaining power for on-board equipment such as hydraulic lifts and HVAC controls. Technology advancements in batteries, power electronics (e.g. inverters) for electric traction drives, lightweight materials, combustion engine efficiency, thermoelectric energy conversion and power train systems will help improve the performance of these alternative vehicles to meet the demands of fleets and consumers alike.
Low-cost, abuse-tolerant batteries with higher energy (volumentric energy density), higher power, and lower weight (gravimetric energy density) are needed for the development of the next- generation of HEVs, PHEVs, and pure EVs. The needs of "regular" hybrid vehicles and PHEVs are similar, but not identical; PHEVs need to be able to store considerably more total energy in their batteries. Developing batteries that are rugged, long-lasting, affordable, lighter, hold a substantial charge, and work in all climates and seasons is still a major R&D challenge. Lithium-based batteries offer the potential to meet all three applications. Other innovative technologies like ultracapacitors and advanced lead acid batteries offer the promise of significantly lower cost with possibly similar performance to lithium ion batteries in high power applications.
Unlike other renewable energy sources, biomass can be converted directly into liquid fuels (biofuels) such as ethanol, biobutanol and biodiesel and into drop-in infrastructure-compatible renewable substitutes for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Low-cost feedstocks such as specially grown plants, algae and biomass residues can be used to produce cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels, which have a greater energy balance than corn ethanol and do not compete with food sources. Biorefineries convert biomass into fuels and bio-based co-products much like oil refineries and petrochemical plants do, but can be based on a variety of different conversion technologies and hybrid combinations.
Thermochemical conversion processes such as gasification, pyrolysis, and catalytic hydrotreating and hydrocracking technologies can convert a variety of biomass materials to intermediates (e.g. syngas and bio-oils) for subsequent conversion to fuels. Catalytic chemical reactions such as the Fischer-Tropsch process converts syngas to liquid hydrocarbons, which can be further upgraded into a variety of synthetic fuels. Many of these same processes can also convert natural gas, coal and coal-biomass mixtures into the same synthetic fuels as well.
Biochemical conversion processes turn agricultural residues, energy crops and other biomass into mixed, dilute sugars, and with further conversion, into liquid fuels. Much work is focused on reducing the biochemical conversion cost of producing liquid fuels by targeting key technology barriers in the unit operations processes, such as pretreatment, enzyme production, hydrolysis, and fermentation, as well as the technologies needed for successful integration into biorefineries.
The Deparment of Defense (DOD) is especially interested in the long-term prospects for the commercial-scale manufacture and supply of aviation and marine diesel biofuels, as a robust advanced drop-in biofuels market is an essential element of national energy security. Accordingly, the Department of the Navy (DON) has adopted a goal to replace one-half of conventional petroleum-based fuel use with domestically sustainable fuel alternatives by 2020. DON is coordinating with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support construction or retrofit of multiple domestic commercial or pre-commercial scale advanced drop-in biofuel plants and refineries.
DOE and USDA also collaborate on genomics-based research that will lead to the improved use of biomass and plant feedstocks for the production of fuels or renewable chemical feedstocks. This includes fundamental research on plants that will improve biomass characteristics, biomass yield, or sustainability.
Additionally, USDA focuses on the societal challenge to secure America's energy future through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to help achieve the long-term outcome of reducing the National dependence on foreign oil through the production of sustainable bioenergy. This program supports development of regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy, biopower and biobased products and promotes economic, environmental, and rural community sustainability.
L&A has helped its clients secure tens of millions of dollars from the federal government for advanced fuels and vehicles. Ask us to develop a specialized strategy for achieving your goals.