Government assistance to alternative transport fuels

If, like me, you have often read about how the incoming excise on alternative fuels is going to make it difficult for the fledgling industry to compete against fossil fuel the following article may provide some clarity. It is a few years old so if anyone has a current version please let me know.

Government Assistance to Alternative Transport Fuels.pdf

Commonwealth of Australia 2006: Government Assistance to Alternative Transport Fuels (PDF)

In basic terms LPG, CNG, LNG, ethanol and biodiesel are excise free until 30 Jun 2011. From then on excise gets applied at different rates through to 2015 depending on the type of fuel. Click the image above to read more.


Orbital technology to be used in Brazilian flex-fuel engines

Perth based Orbital Corporation has announced that its FlexDI™ technology has been selected for a new family of high efficiency heavy duty flex-fuel engines currently being developed in Brazil. The technology will be used by Sygma Motors on two engineering programs for Vale Solutions in Energy.

The application of the FlexDI™ technology will commence with an engine test and development program supported by Orbital with a total value of $A1.6m. Also included in the scope is co-development of a spark ignited ethanol combustion system to be used in a demonstration program, and targeted for retrofit of existing diesel engine applications.

Applications include ethanol and CNG flex-fuelled internal combustion engines in the 80 to 1500 hp power generation class in Brazil. Vale Solutions in Energy intends to utilize these engines, primarily in the resources sector, in support of a clean energy strategy.

The companies will also cooperate on possible flex-fuel original equipment and retrofit applications for transportation, either with spark ignition FlexDI™ or diesel pilot ignition, for ethanol and CNG fuelling of heavy duty engines, and for the light duty commercial vehicle sector.

Sygma believe that they will be able to achieve spark ignited operation with ethanol that matches or exceeds that obtained with advanced high efficiency natural gas reciprocating engines of equivalent size.

Source: Orbital Corporation via iStockAnalyst

Koreans patent seaweed to ethanol

The Korea Institute of Industrial Technology has filed an International patent application for a method of producing biofuel using sea algae.

This is the first time I’ve attempted to read a patent and I’ve got to tell you that most of it makes no sense whatsoever. However, some of it is in plain English.


The present invention relates to a method of producing biofuel, more specifically a method of producing biofuel comprising the steps of generating monosugars from marine algae, or from polysaccharides extracted from marine algae by treating the marine algae or the polysaccharides with a hydrolytic enzyme and/or a hydrolytic catalyst; and fermenting the monosugars using a microorganism to produce biofuel. The method of producing biofuel of the present invention solve the problem of raw material suppliance since it uses marine algae as a raw material for biomass, and reduce the production costs by excluding lignin eliminating process that has been required by the conventional method using wood-based raw materials, resulting in economic and environmental advantages.

Description of the Related Art

Compared with other type of land biomass, marine algae are growing very fast (4 – 6 harvest per year is possible in subtropic region) and easy to cultivate using wide arable area of the ocean without using high priced materials such as irrigation water, land, fertilizer, etc. Utilization of marine algae takes advantages of simple production processes for biofuel because it does not contain lignin that has to be eliminated. In addition, the amount of annual CO2 absorption ability of marine algae is 36.7 tons per ha, which is 5 – 7 times higher than that of wood-based. Therefore, if E20 (gasoline containing bioethanol by 20%) is used, the annual greenhouse gas reduction rate will be approximately 27%, which will reduce carbon tax approximately 300 billion Korean Wons, if converted into money value.

Sounds good to me as long as we don’t do the same thing to the oceans that palm oil plantations are doing to rain forests.

If you understand the technical aspects of this particular technology and can translate it into something most of us can understand you can find the patent here. Feel free to contact us with a translation.

Source: New Scientist

NSW Maritime warns on ethanol blends in marine engines

On the back of the NSW Government announcing mandatory use of  ethanol blended fuel (previous post) NSW Maritime has released a statement advising all boat owners to check with a local dealer about the suitability of ethanol blend fuels for their marine petrol engines.

NSW Maritime cites the follow risks:

  • Ethanol can affect some fibreglass fuel tanks because of its potential to act as a solvent;
  • Ethanol can affect older fuel lines, seals and gaskets; and
  • The fuel can separate into the petrol and ethanol components if condensation forms in the tank or where the fuel is stored for extended periods.

Whilst some boat owners have tried to do the right thing in their quest to reduce their carbon footprint by choosing the greener option, NSW Maritime advises boat owners to check with their engine and boat dealer about the appropriate fuel choice.

Source: NSW Maritime

Reading: Fuel for thought

While digging around the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) web site I discovered Fuel for thought, a publication by the Future Fuels Forum 2007. This June 2008 publication informs us how the Future Fuels Forum thinks transport fuels will pan out in our future with modelling from now to 2050.  It is an interesting document and I suggest you read it if you are at all interested in the future of transport fuels in Australia. Click the cover page below to download the PDF (1.5Mb).

challenges and opportunities (PDF)

CSIRO 2008: Fuel for thought - The future of transport fuels: challenges and opportunities (PDF)

Apart from being relatively easy to read and informative for those of us without a scientific or economic background it provides great insight into the conservative information upon which our governments are making decisions that impact your future and mine. It isn’t all conservative mind you. The modelling for a continuing rise in demand for oil and a sharp decline in supply shows we could pay as much as $8 per litre for petrol in the not too distant future and the authors do stress the urgency with which alternatives for oil must be found.

While the document was written before the global financial crisis really started to bite the bulk of it remains relevant. If you do read it I’d like to know what you think so please leave a comment.

CSIRO investigates energy efficiencies for Australian grain growers

CSIRO scientists have been investigating potential opportunities in energy efficiency, regional biodiesel self sufficiency and bioenergy production for Australian grain growers. The research is explained in an article entitled Bioenergy opportunities for grain growers in the December issue of Farming Ahead magazine.

The article explains that there is potential for Australian grain farms to improve energy efficiencies, become self-sufficient in biodiesel and use stubble for energy production. Nitrogen fertiliser was found to be the most energy-intensive input. When combined with diesel fuel use the two account for about 70 percent of total energy inputs when conventional farming methods are used. Amongst others, the researchers examined the use of crop rotation using legumes to replace nitrogen fertilisers and on-farm or regional biodiesel self sufficiency to remove the need for diesel use.

The article concludes that it is possible for grain farmers to significantly reduce their energy inputs but these reductions will require trade-offs in the amount of grain produced. The authors say it is physically possible for most grain farms to achieve self sufficiency in biodiesel but the economics of farm and regional scale biodiesel production are not favourable at the moment.

Locally produced four-cylinder Holden due in 2010

Holden and the Prime Minister held a combined press conference today at the Holden plant in Adelaide to announce the production of a new front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder car at the Elizabeth plant. The new car will be designed and engineered at Port Melbourne in Victoria and will commence production in the third quarter of 2010.

The car will be produced as a result of a co-investment agreement between the Federal Government, Holden and the South Australian Government. The Federal Governement will contribute $149 million under the $6.2 billion New Car Plan for a Green Future which is designed to transform the Australian automotive industry to produce fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles. It is understood the South Australian Government will be contributing $30 million.

The new car will be built on the General Motors global Delta small car platform. The initial models will feature direct-injection petrol and diesel engines. Hybrid engines and engines powered by alternative fuels, including LPG and E85 and CNG, have been mentioned as possibilities for future models.