Lahey 1 Writer’s memo: Final Draft I believe I have added an additional 10-12 hours towards completing this paper. I did not use the peer feedback provided in class for this assignment, I did have friends and family look over it, as well as ask the TA’s questions whenever they arose. I found it was mostly helpful with grammatical/”local” aspects rather than “global” aspects. I personally did not find the model essay in the FI Reader to be very helpful, as it seemed to follow a different format than I was going for. I used a thesaurus when needed, did a significant amount of extra research, and frequently revisited my work to ensure I was always improving the essay. I feel very confident about my CASM’s and overall analysis of my three sources. I am a bit concerned that my consensus on the opposing source was not opposing enough, although I did concede to my opposing source. I feel quite confident about the organization, flow, spelling, and grammar of my essay. However, I am worried about my word count being too high. With more time, I would shorten my essay. I also believe I would’ve used a different first source, as I later found much stronger sources, yet felt it was too late to apply them since I had already submitted my CASM for source one weeks ago. I believe this would add at least four to five hours to the task. More than anything, I am worried about not having provided enough of my own analysis, and having done the works cited correctly, so feedback on that would be great. Overall, I am really hoping for an A or B for this piece! Lahey 2 Abby Lahey Professor Lam UNIV 111 3 December 2014 Biomass to Hydrogen: Fueling the Future As Americans continue to cringe at ever-increasing gas prices, wars in the Middle East wage on, and discussion of global warming grows louder and louder, it is no surprise that the desire for renewable energy is mounting. Research suggests that of the numerous renewable energy resource options, hydrogen produced via biomass may be the best option. In regards to producing hydrogen, biomass is the quickest and most economically feasible choice. Scientists widely agree that, because of its potential, biomass produced hydrogen will become a leading fuel source as soon as the technology to efficiently store hydrogen is established. In the next two decades, the application and production of converting biomass into hydrogen fuel will take the first concrete steps towards replacing fossil fuel energy in the United States. To better analyze the benefits and potential of hydrogen fuel via biomass, it is important to understand what biomass is, how it can be converted to hydrogen, and the pros and cons of hydrogen as a fuel source. According to the UK Forestry Commission (UKFC), biomass is biological material derived from living organisms. The organic material is established into an energy source, resulting in biomass fuel. This fuel is considered clean and renewable because organic waste residue will always exist, and it is carbon neutral—meaning it maintains a closed carbon cycle with no net increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (UKFC). Biomass can be converted into hydrogen either biologically or thermo chemically via gasification, pyrolysis, Lahey 3 biophotolysis, and/or fermentation, among others (Balat and Kirtay 7418). Economically, the production of hydrogen from biomass is already competitive today as it provides the advantages of gaining independence from oil imports, keeping net product within the country, stabilizing pricing levels, peace keeping, and improving the atmospheric carbon dioxide balance by approximately 30% (Balat and Kirtay 7418). This energy is also environmentally friendly, as much of the biomass materials used for hydrogen production would normally be stored in a landfill as waste. These materials include, but are not limited to: olive husk, tea waste, crop straw, black liquor, municipal solid waste, crop grain residue, pulp/paper waste, petroleum basis plastic waste, and manure slurry (Balat and Kirtay7418). The cons of hydrogen production via biomass are not a result of negative impact, but of the required yet currently unattained technology to create, maintain, and store the produced hydrogen. Alongside this, there is also adverse prospects that this new fuel source would not transition well into public use, would require new policies from the government (with respect to regulations, taxes, etc.), and from an economic standpoint, would require significant market adaptations (Ball and Wietschel 625626). However, research suggests a hydrogen based fuel economy does not appear to be a matter of “how” so much as “when”. According to Aleksander Zidanšek et al. in the article, “Climate Changes, Biofuels and the Sustainable Future”, stimulated research and production of renewable energy sources are now being implemented as a result of climate change, increasing oil prices, impending oil peak, creeping energy security measures, foreign exchange matters, and general environmental, social and economic issues (6980-6981). Creating a hydrogen-based economy using energy from biomass, solar, wind and other renewable sources and/or nuclear energy has become a goal for the future (Zidanšek et al. 6981). The most successful chance for biofuel to compete with fossil Lahey 4 fuels would be to produce hydrogen from waste biomass. However, due to the current inability to store hydrogen in large amounts, the prices of these biofuels cannot yet compete with oil and gasoline (Zidanšek et al. 6982). When it becomes possible to store large amounts of hydrogen, the production prices of for biofuel will quickly fall below the prices of the fossil fuel competitor (Zidanšek et al. 6982). Zidanšek et al. conclude that in order to increase the chances of these discoveries taking place, solutions should be made on a medium-term basis frequently, until it is possible to move to a more permanent position in the economy (6983). Expanding from this research, it is suggestive that in the next twenty years, with the development of improved hydrogen storage systems, we will definitely see a great spike in the manufacturing and utilization of biomass produced hydrogen fuel in the United States. Researchers Havva Balat and Elif Kirtay also conclude the positive impacts of Hydrogen fuel created via biomass will immerge as a significant competitor to fossil fuels in the near future. Biomass can be used to produce hydrogen sustainably. Hydrogen is a secondary energy source, meaning it has to be manufactured similarly to electricity (Balat and Kirtay 7416). Recent research on environmentally friendly energy have centered concentration on the replacement of common fossil fuels with biomass energy. Biomass meets energy requirements and has the greatest potential for the future. Biomass gasification also maintains the fastest and most fiscally responsible path to the production of renewable hydrogen (Balat and Kirtay 7418). The positive, lasting impact of bioenergy includes but is not limited to: contribution to reducing poverty in developing countries, meeting energy requirements in all needed forms at all times minus expensive conversion devices, remaining CO2-neutral and even acting as a carbon sink, and helping to restore unproductive and degraded lands (Balat and Kirtay 7418). As CO2 levels rise and the climate continues to change, and as our fossil fuel supplies continue to dwindle, the Lahey 5 need for renewable energy increases. Although there are major challenges in transforming biomass into hydrogen, the necessity of new energies predicts a spike in biomass development in the next decade, becoming a dominant technology by the end of the 21rst century. Although the future of converting biomass into Hydrogen as a means of renewable energy would be extremely beneficial, the challenges facing these new technologies suggest the timeline for these developments could be extending. Michael Ball and Martin Wietschel, in continuation of their previous article, further explored the challenges of biomass produced hydrogen fuel in, “The Future of Hydrogen—Opportunities and Challenges”. While there is much research and statistics that suggest we will see this energy source emerging as a dominant fuel source in the future, it is debatable whether we will see this be accomplished in just two decades. These skepticisms especially maintain strength with regards to hydrogen fuel’s role in the transportation industry. Looking to the past as a great indicator of the future, we recognize that energy systems and technologies are slow to evolve (Ball and Wietschel 625). Despite the increasing demand for hydrogen fuels, it could still take decades to develop and instill these technologies. Seeing that hydrogen is most widely being introduced as a vehicle fuel poses three main challenges: developing cost-competitive and efficient fuel cells for vehicles, designing safe tanks to store hydrogen onboard with an acceptable driving range and developing an infrastructure for hydrogen production, distribution and refueling Ball and Wietschel 625). This forces both the technologies which produce hydrogen, as well as the technologies which convert hydrogen to undergo severe fundamental transformations. Furthermore, significant structural economic changes would also have to take place as a means to adapt to the manufacturing, distributing and trade involved in the production of hydrogen energy (Ball and Wietschel 626). As a result, hydrogen is unlikely to emerge as a frequent fuel source without notable policy Lahey 6 change through the government alongside decisive and favorable support and incentive from the public (Ball and Wietschel 626). While it is likely and hopeful we will see a “hydrogen economy” in the future, it is unlikely these changes will take place entirely within the next two decades, particularly with respect to the transportation industry. That being said, research disputing biomass produced hydrogen as an energy source for other means appears extremely minimal, further encouraging the projected increase in production over the next 20 years. Despite the potential setbacks with respect to the transportation industry, hydrogen fuel created via biomass still appears to yield great potential as an energy source of the future. It is completely acceptable that the cost, safety, political, and industrial issues, as presented by Ball and Wietschel, of firmly establishing hydrogen-fueled transportation devices could significantly extend the timeline of these developments. However, considering the exponentially growing need for renewable energy sources in the United States, the indisputable efficiency, and the projected positive impacts of converting biomass into fuel, it is more likely than not that we will see the first concrete steps towards replacing fossil fuel energy. Weighing the opposing articles of Ball and Wietschel against the work by Zidanšek et al., as well as the article by Balat and Kirtay, the progression of hydrogen via biomass energy will absolutely experience a rise. As stated by Zidanšek et al., climate change, increasing oil prices, impending oil peak, creeping energy security measures, foreign exchange matters, and general environmental, social and economic issues have set us in a race to develop renewable energy sources (6980-6981). Of the numerous renewable energy sources we see today, hydrogen is by far the most efficient and, as concurred by Zidanšek et al., is competitive to fossil fuels when converted from biomass (6983). Balat and Kirtay furthered this when noting biomass gasification upholds the quickest and most fiscally accountable route to the production of renewable hydrogen while also meeting energy Lahey 7 requirements, giving it the greatest potential for the future (7421). Should that not be reason enough, the lasting, positive impacts of this new energy, concluded by Balat and Kirtay, are beyond numerous and beneficial to all. Ball and Wietschel may be correct about a slower path to hydrogen-fueled transportation, but that will not stop the huge advancement we can expect to see for the conversion of biomass to hydrogen as the leading renewable fuel source in the next two decades. With increasing statistics all pointing to hydrogen produced via biomass as the most sustainable choice for new, clean, renewable energy in the future, the hopes of implementing a hydrogen-based economy look bright. Hydrogen produced biomass has concretely been proven to be the swiftest and most economically responsible move. Once the technology to efficiently store hydrogen is established, the United States will be able to smoothly transition to a society run on hydrogen and other renewable energies. These advancements and projections are proof that the first legitimate steps of replacing dominant fossil fuel energy in the United States with biomass and hydrogen fuels will be achieved in the next two decades. Lahey 8 Works Cited Balat, Havva, and Elif Kirtay. “Hydrogen from Biomass— Present Scenario and Future Prospects.” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 35.14 (2010): 7416-7426. Web. 3 Dec. 2014 Ball, Michael, and Mark Wietschel. “The Future of Hydrogen—Opportunities and Challenges.” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 34.2 (2009): 615-627. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. BIOMASS Energy Centre. UK Forestry Commission, 2011. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. Zidanšek, Aleksander, Robert Blinca, Anton Jeglič, Skender Kabashid, Sadik Bekteshid, and Ivo Šlause. “Climate Changes, Biofuels and the Sustainable Future.” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 34.16 (2009): 6980-6983. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.