Town Would be First to Ban Fracking in Texas
Natural gas money has been good to the Texas city of Denton: it has new parks, a new golf course and miles of grassy soccer fields. The business district is getting a makeover, and the airport is bustling, too. For more than a decade, Denton has drawn its lifeblood from the huge gas reserves that lie beneath its streets. The gas fields have produced a billion dollars in mineral wealth and pumped more than $30 million into city bank accounts.
But this former farming center north of Dallas is considering a revolt. Unlike other communities that have embraced the lucrative drilling boom made possible by hydraulic fracturing, leaders there have temporarily halted all fracking as they consider an ordinance that could make theirs the first city in the state to permanently ban the practice.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/town-would-be-first-ban-fracking-texas
Your Car Could Run on Coffee
New research from the Univ. of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies shows that waste coffee grinds could be used to make biodiesel.
Oil can be extracted from coffee grounds by soaking them in an organic solvent, before being chemically transformed into biodiesel via a process called “transesterification.” The study, recently published in the ACS Journal Energy & Fuels, looked at how the fuel properties varied depending on the type of coffee used.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/your-car-could-run-coffee
FAA OKs Commercial Drone Flights
The Federal Aviation Administration said today that it has granted the first permission for commercial drone flights over land, the latest effort by the agency to show it is loosening restrictions on commercial uses of the unmanned aircraft.
The BP energy corporation and drone maker AeroVironment have been given permission to use a Puma drone to survey pipelines, roads and equipment at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, the agency says.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/faa-oks-commercial-drone-flights
Feds Didn’t Inspect High-risk Oil Wells
The government has failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental damage, congressional investigators say.
The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, highlights substantial gaps in oversight by the agency that manages oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands. Investigators says weak control by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management resulted from policies based on outdated science and from incomplete monitoring data.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/feds-didn%E2%80%99t-inspect-high-risk-oil-wells
Cleaning Technology Needs to Catch up to Fracking
If fracking is to be a viable option for energy production, the industry must find a way to deal with the naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) that are released as a byproduct of the process. These radioactive materials and their environmental consequences must be accounted for.
Radioactive substances occur naturally within the shale rocks that contain gas resources. These include uranium and thorium, and their decay products such as radium and radon. While the uranium and thorium are immobile, over millennia the radium has dissolved into the water trapped in the pores of the rocks when they were formed, along with high concentrations of dissolved minerals.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/cleaning-technology-needs-catch-fracking
Mississippi, Louisiana Residents Ready for Oil Rush
Residents living above an oil-rich shale formation that stretches across southwest Mississippi and Louisiana have been waiting on a boom for years. A steady trickle of drilling is already boosting the rural region’s economy, and spending by two oil companies could make 2014 the year that many other locals finally cash in on the oil far beneath their feet.
Already, Max Lawson has spent hours watching the round-the-clock work of shoving pipe into the ground in his back pasture. The process began two years ago when Encana Corp. built a big gravel pad, but didn’t take off until late last year when a convoy of 200 trucks carted in a drilling rig and other equipment to bore into the earth looking for oil.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/02/mississippi-louisiana-residents-ready-oil-rush
Researchers Convert Sugarcane to Cold-tolerant, Oil-producing Crop
A multi-institutional team reports that it can increase sugarcane’s geographic range, boost its photosynthetic rate by 30 percent and turn it into an oil-producing crop for biodiesel production.
These are only the first steps in a bigger initiative that will turn sugarcane and sorghum – two of the most productive crop plants known – into even more productive, oil-generating plants.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/02/researchers-convert-sugarcane-cold-tolerant-oil-producing-crop
Hempseed Oil Packed with Health-promoting Compounds
Long stigmatized because of its “high”-inducing cousins, hemp — derived from low-hallucinogenic varieties of cannabis — is making a comeback, not just as a source of fiber for textiles, but also as a crop packed with oils that have potential health benefits. A new study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, details just how many healthful compounds hempseed oil contains.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/hempseed-oil-packed-health-promoting-compounds
‘Milking’ Algal Cells Proves Efficient
Biofuel researchers have dramatically improved microalgae hydrocarbon productivity by using non-destructive extraction, akin to “milking” algal cells as opposed to the conventional harvest and destruction.
The algae species Bortyococcus braunii is known for its oil production however its slow growth rate for a conventional growth/harvest has made it unattractive for commercial production.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/%E2%80%98milking%E2%80%99-algal-cells-proves-efficient
Literally Laundering Money Can Save Billions of Dollars
A dollar bill gets around, passing from hand to hand, falling on streets and sidewalks, eventually getting so grimy that a bank machine flags it and sends it to the shredder. Rather than destroying it, scientists have developed a new way to clean paper money to prolong its life. The research, which appears in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, could save billions and minimize the environmental impact of banknote disposal.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/literally-laundering-money-can-save-billions-dollars
Startup Commercializing Catalysts for Refining Oil
After working at a software company for four years, MIT alumnus Andrew Dougherty MBA ’01 was itching to do something entrepreneurial in the energy industry. Browsing the website of MIT’s $50K (now $100K) Entrepreneurship Competition, he found an exact match for his interests: an invention by MIT postdoc Javier García-Martínez that used nanotechnology to improve the efficiency of oil refining.
Refining of crude oil traditionally uses porous materials called zeolites as catalysts. When hydrocarbon compounds enter a zeolite’s micropores, they break down into transportation fuels and gas. But because of their pore size, the standard zeolites used for refining can’t diffuse the largest hydrocarbons. García-Martínez had designed zeolites with pores that were 10 times larger. This technology would allow refineries to, for example, process more barrels or run heavier (and less expensive) crude oil feeds, leading to greater yields and profits.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/startup-commercializing-catalysts-refining-oil
Military Looks to Increase Actions in Arctic
The U.S. military is looking for ways to expand operations in the vast waters of the Arctic as melting ice caps open sea lanes and other nations such as Russia compete for the lucrative oil and gas deposits. But the effort will take money and resources to fill the broad gaps in satellite and communications coverage, add deep-water ports and buy more ships that can withstand the frigid waters or break through the ice.
There are no cost or budget estimates yet. But by the end of this year, the Navy will complete plans that lay out what the U.S. needs to do to increase communications, harden ships and negotiate international agreements so that nations will be able to track traffic in the Arctic and conduct search-and-rescue missions when needed.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/military-looks-increase-actions-arctic
Neutron Scattering Technique Reveals Structure of Fuel Deposits
Gas and oil deposits in shale have no place to hide from an Oak Ridge National Laboratory technique that provides an inside look at pores and reveals structural information potentially vital to the nation’s energy needs.
The research by scientists at the Department of Energy laboratory could clear the path to the more efficient extraction of gas and oil from shale, environmentally benign and efficient energy production from coal and perhaps viable carbon dioxide sequestration technologies, according to Yuri Melnichenko, an instrument scientist at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/neutron-scattering-technique-reveals-structure-fuel-deposits
Offshore Fracking More Common than Believed in California
The oil production technique known as fracking is more widespread and frequently used in the offshore platforms and man-made islands near some of California’s most populous and famous coastal communities than state officials believed.
In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach - some of the region’s most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions - oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades, according to interviews and drilling records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/offshore-fracking-more-common-believed-california
BP Could Have Stopped Deepwater Horizon Spill Sooner
BP could have ended its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico sooner if it had built a capping stack before the 2010 blowout of its well off the coast of Louisiana, a company executive said under cross-examination at a trial over the deadly disaster.
James Dupree, who led BP’s efforts to seal its Macondo well, said engineers didn’t have the equipment they needed to attack this particular well at the time of the blowout and had to formulate several possible solutions “on the fly.” After several other methods failed, BP ultimately used a capping stack to seal the well 87 days after the blowout. During cross-examination by a plaintiffs’ attorney, Dupree said it would have been relatively inexpensive for BP to build a capping stack before the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/bp-could-have-stopped-deepwater-horizon-spill-sooner