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Predictions about 2012 have long been the topic of many stories and discussions from an eschatological belief standpoint (consider the Mayan predictions regarding the end of the world this year on Dec. 21). But we have a few major predictions of our own as we peer through the telescopic lens into the distant months of 2012 – from a green technology standpoint.
Here are five major events we believe will take place this year, affecting the green industry:
1. Butanol Will Be All the Rave. That’s right. Butanol is a substance that is similar to ethanol, which is blended with gas and used in vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The main difference between ethanol fuel and butanol fuel, however, is the way the fermentation of agricultural feedstock – such as corn grain and sugar cane – takes place along with alterations in the distillation process. The benefit of butanol fuel over ethanol fuel is that the production of butanol has the potential of being more efficient than that of ethanol.
2. More Airplanes Will Try Out Biofuels. As gasoline prices continue to soar and airlines need to find creative ways to save on fuel costs, more companies will consider aviation biofuels. These fuels are a suitable way for businesses in the industry to decrease their ecological footprints and actually were approved for use in the commercial sector in July 2011. Aviation businesses are striving to decrease carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, even as the industry is anticipated to represent 3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet by that year compared with only 2 percent currently.
3. Asia Will Offer More Green Alternatives. Sources of sugar cane used in the production of green fuels such as ethanol or butanol are strongly available in India, while cassava – another feedstock used to create these alternative fuels – is present in Asia’s Vietnam or Thailand. Palm oil in Malaysia and algae in Australia additionally provide alternative options for feedstock as Brazil’s South American stock of sugar cane is decreasing amid high demand for these crops.
4. Reusing Carbon Will Become the New Aim. Companies should begin to focus not simply on carbon, capture and storage concepts (CCS) – a technology that aims to keep large amounts of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air when fossil fuels are used – but businesses instead are concentrating on a new idea called carbon, capture and reuse. This refers to the need to not only capture but actually use waste carbon for low- to zero-carbon fuels. Efforts in this area will have a huge effect on fuel production, with the generation of billions of gallons of ethanol yearly being possible.
5. More Companies Will Join Green Forces. Companies in 2012 should become more willing to merge so that they can combine their monies and research expertise to complete green initiatives more effectively. For example, more automotive companies should join efforts to produce green technology vehicles, much like Toyota and BMW did late last year when researching lithium-ion batteries to use in electric cars.
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