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les Nouvelles - December 2008


Present Choices For The Future Of Energy

Sergio Trindade

International Fuel Technology, Inc., Director, Science and Technology, Scarsdale, NY, USA

The following remarks were presented by Sergio Trindade at the LES (USA & Canada) and LESI Spring Meeting in Chicago, Illinois on May 7, 2008 in a Mini-Plenary: Choices, Choices and More Choices for Fuels in the Future.

The best choice for the fuel of the future is NOT to need any extra fuel! Technologies for demand management, efficiency improvement and conservation are presently available. It helps to look at energy from the demand side, that is, the demand for energy services: transportation, lighting, cooling, heating, rotary motion. The energy innovation portfolio to meet increased supply would be very different from the energy innovation portfolio to meet demand management, efficiency improvement and conservation overall. And the ensuing licensing market might require a different set of practitioners’ skills. It seems that irrespective of the energy innovation configuration, a talent shortage is affecting the green start ups. Over the history of humankind, energy services have been met from human and animal muscles; wood and wastes; solar; wind and hydraulic energy (including ocean waves and tides); coal; petroleum; gas; geothermal and temperature gradients; and nuclear. Their relative contributions to the total of energy sources consumed have varied in the past and will continue to vary in the future. Singling out the demand for transportation, heating and power, globally speaking, it becomes clear that diesel fuel is probably the petroleum distillate of highest demand and highest rate of growth. Stretching the availability of diesel fuel requires: (i) meeting demand for diesel energy services with less diesel fuel, that is, using technologies for improving fuel efficiency; (ii) adding biodiesel to the diesel fuel supply and maintain higher efficiency. In general, biofuels and biodiesel in particular, can provide a measure of relief from pressures on fuel demand. They should be produced and used sustainably to make their fullest contribution to the energy system. Nevertheless, it must be understood that the role of first generation biofuels, for many reasons, will be limited to replacing fossil liquid fuels, to the tune of 10-20 percent. Since tropical areas of the world are more likely to produce biofuels more sustainably (including economically) than temperate regions, a global understanding among countries that opens up markets—a Global BioPact—would go a long way to make biofuels respond to liquid fuels demand globally. It would also mitigate the food versus fuel issue and contribute to peace and harmony among nations. One of the issues with biodiesel storage and use is oxidation stability. There are technologies already available to address this issue (e.g. www.internationalfuel.com), which will find increasing licensing demand, as biodiesel markets expands. A whole new world of technologies is likely to evolve, which will reward the vision, the luck and the persistence of those who are willing to take risks and try for the future, and those who will license the successful technologies.

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