Bruce E. Dale, MSU: “Our current narrative about the way the world works is broken”

Bruce E. Dale in his lab at MSU
Bruce E. Dale in his lab at MSU

“They are on a journey of no return anyway. They are a “mining” industry, and all mines eventually become exhausted. The question is whether some or all of the petrochemical industry will realize this fact and act to change their feedstocks and practices so that their businesses can continue long term based on sustainable feedstocks and sustainable practices.” To say it – in this exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista – is Bruce E. Dale, a highly-ranked academic in the Top 100 People in Bioenergy (Bioenergy Digest). Professor Dale received his doctorate in chemical engineering from Purdue University in 1979. He is currently University Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at Michigan State University. He serves as Editor in Chief and Founding Editor of Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining. Dale has won the Charles D. Scott Award (1996), the Sterling Hendricks Award (2007) and the Award of Excellence of the Fuel Ethanol Workshop (2011). He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (2011) and a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers (2016).

His research interests are cellulosic biofuels, the relationship between energy and societal wealth, life cycle assessment and the design of sustainable systems for producing fuels, chemicals, food and animal feed.

Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

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EU current policy suppresses measures that could greatly contribute to climate mitigation

Berlaymont, European Commission's Headquarter in Brussels
Berlaymont, European Commission’s Headquarter in Brussels

We receive and publish with pleasure this comment by James Cogan related to the land use impacts of biofuels comsumption in Europe. James is a technology, industry and policy analyst collaborating with PNO Innovation in Brussels and with a number of public and private organisations with stakes in the future of biofuels and transport energy.  We are delighted to promote the debate.

On March 10 2016 the European Commission was obliged to release an essential report on the land use impacts of biofuels consumption in Europe as determined by the Commission’s own policy on the matter. The Commission has had the report since the Summer of 2015. The report goes a long way to answering the question of how much better are biofuels for the environment than continued use of fossil fuels. In recent years some parts of the Commission have been sharply critical of conventional biofuels yet unable to produce evidence as to why. Reaching a fact-based consensus on the matter is essential for transport decarbonisation for 2030.

So what are the implications of the report findings for EU and member state transport energy planners who urgently require robust and practical guidance?

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Leonardo Di Caprio: “Climate change is real. Let us not take this planet for granted”

 

“Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship with the natural world,” Di Caprio said. “A world that we collectively felt in 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history. Our production team needed to go to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow; climate change is real, and it’s happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity; and for the indigenous people of the world; for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this; for our children’s children; and for all the people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. Let us not take this planet for granted; I do not take tonight for granted.”

US study: biofuels from the leftovers of harvested corn plants worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

“Removal of corn residue for biofuels can decrease soil organic carbon  and increase CO2 emissions because residue C in biofuels is oxidized to CO2 at a faster rate than when added to soil. Net CO2 emissions from residue removal are not adequately characterized in biofuel life cycle assessment”. A $500,000 study – paid for by the U.S. federal government and released last Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change – concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7% more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

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