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Magnus Graham
Member
Username: Cellarman

Post Number: 239
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 09:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Does anyone know the figures on biofuel-
How much land to produce a gallon/litre of biodiesel/ethanol?
How much enery burned in the planet?
How many cars?
How many acres in the planet?

Are we all doomed?

Mag
keep it simple they've made beer for millennia
mash it boil it hop it yeast it drink it
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4197
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 01:14 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No, we are doomed.

--This space is STILL being left intentionally blank.-


 

Bob Wall
Advanced Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 769
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 01:53 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Drinking Uncle Al's Kool-Aid again Dan?
"If ignorance is bliss, this lesson would appear to be a deliberate attempt on your part to deprive me of happiness, the pursuit of which is my unalienable right according to the Declaration of Independence. I therefore assert my patriotic prerogative not to know this material. I'll be out on the playground."
-- Calvin
 

THM
Junior Member
Username: Thm

Post Number: 46
Registered: 09-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 03:21 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Interested in biodiesel/ethanol?

Look here,

Ethanol: http://journeytoforever.org/ethanol.html

Boidiesel: http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel.html
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1341
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 12:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

As I understand it, even if ALL the existing farm land in the US was devoted to growing corn to be made into ethanol fuel, we still wouldn't be able to grow all we'd need. Plus we'd still need corn from someplace for food and for animal feed. If the entire current corn crop were devoted to making ethanol fule, it'd only replace about 12 percent of the US's current fuel consumption.

Some scientists estimate it'd take 11 acres of corn to produce enough ethanol to power a car for 1 year. And since corn fields have to remain fallow every few years, that land will be out of commision from time to time, and no crops could be grown.

Some scientists also estimate that it take more energy to grow and process corn into ethanol than the energy available from the ethanol. One estimate, by a professor of agriculture at Cornell Univ, is that it takes 131,000 BTU's to produce and process enoguh corn to make 1 gallon of ethanol, which only has 77,000 BTU's. Other scientists disagree.

Also, the vehicles used to produce and transport corn don't run on ethanol right now. Very few are using biodiesel. then there's the potential increase in pesticide and nitrogen run-offs into our wate supply from the fields

Also, ethanol can't be moved in underground pipeline, as it picks up impurities. It has to be moved by truck.

Somehow, I think we'd end up buying our animal feed and fruits and vegetables from OPEC.

The other thing is that cars that now burn E85 don't get as good of mileage as they do on regualr gas. I think I read that a car that got 26 mpg on gas would only get 20 mpg on E85.

When the tax-breaks for ethanol fuel are removed, it'd cost more than gasoline.

I think corn-based ethanol fuel will play a part, but it's not the panacea that some think it is.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4199
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 01:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Long term, I believe that electric battery powered vehicles charges by nuclear energy ( preferably fusion) is where we will end up. Bio fuel, ethonal and hydrogen are never going to come close to replacing fossil fuels.

I would like to see somebody invent a battery exchange system where you pull into a "station" and exchange a dead battery for a fully charged one. This would give the range that is holding back electric cars.

--This space is STILL being left intentionally blank.-


 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6828
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 01:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm with Paul on this. Ethanol subsidies are a boon to farmers and a favorite of farm-state politicians but do not make economic sense except in a few specialized situations. We're better off using our corn as a food source, both for animals and humans.

There are other biofuel crops that require less energy to produce and can be raised on marginal land. These may have more application, although I predict the ultimate solution will involve wind energy (which could provide 25 percent of electricity) and hybrid electric/hydrogen-fueled cars.

(Message edited by BillPierce on March 29, 2007)
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1343
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 01:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My biggest problem with fission nuclear energy is that the way to deal with the "trash" is to bury it in a pit some place for 20,000 years. Not a good solution, in my mind. Some would argue that acid rain from coal burning is just as bad, and I can't argue with that. Hydro electric is far less harmful, but there aren't enough canyons to dam up.

Nuclear fusion sounds good in theory, but I think it's looooong way off from being practical. Probably won't be in our grandchildren's lifetime, maybe longer. It still has a ways to go. I think the longest fusion reaction to date was for a few seconds and put out less power than what was put in. It produced 16 milliwatts.

We'd be far less dependent on oil if people would buy cars based on what they need for basic transportation, instead of for ego-inflation.
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 2106
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 04:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Before you believe any stats on biofuels that either defeat the concept or make it the only way out of a dark future, understand that there is a ton of mis-information going around on both side. The truth as usual is somewhere in between.

Look to brazil who went from 90% foriegn oil dependence to 10% in a matter of years. It is true they did it and it is true a car running ethanol has more power and gets less milage but in reality people in brazil bring a calculator to the pumps and figure out what is the best buy. You can buy either gas or ethanol and they figure out the best mix for them.

From my perspective, ethanol fuel will finally create a free market system where the price of fuel is based on competition not on what the market will bare.

-Doug

(Message edited by doug_p on March 29, 2007)
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1585
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 04:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I live in the heart of some of the ethanol industry, we have plants popping up everywhere. Even the producers admit what Paul said. It's a losing proposition at this time. Now given the chance like any other industry costs could come down to the point of where it is profitable and no longer needs to be subsidized. It could get there, I'm not saying it will. I have fears that some politician in a desert/mountain state will decide he/she wants those subsidies for his/her hydroelectric dams and ethanol will lose its subsidies and die before it becomes profitable.

I struggle with this whole thing, because I don't want the government subsidizing it at all. But since our farmers are getting dicked around by the government so much on the prices of food crops and dairy to the point that they can't make a dime as it is, it's nice to see them be able to do something else with their crops and land.

I still think biodiesel has far better potential than ethanol. With how we love our fried food in this country we know we'll have a never-ending supply of a fuel source. There was an interesting story recently on biodiesel here. Seems some local guys were making it themselves for private use and the government realized they weren't getting their cut after the paper did a story on them. Sometimes any publicity CAN be bad publicity.

http://www.htrnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070325/MAN0101/703250443/135 7/MAN01
 

Joshua Coman
Member
Username: Crazyjae

Post Number: 176
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 05:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mangus:

Fuel ethanol can be and is produced from a variety of things, not just corn and/or food crops.

In Russia, there are several plants that make ethanol from trees (the process is called wood hydrolysis). There the product is sold/used both as fuel and as vodka.

Here in the US there are several plants that have been producing ethanol from cheese whey, waste sucrose, potato waste, food waste, rice hulls, straw, switchgrass and even solid waste from municipal sewer systems.

In Europe, miscanthus (a grass) has been used with success since the early 1980s.

With that said, as far as corn is concerned, it is figured that one acre yields 160 bushels.According to the National Corn Growers Association the current rate of conversion is 2.7 gallons of ETOH per bushel (~432 gallons per acre).

Corn, however, is not the most efficient crop to use for ethanol production. Corn is actually one of the least efficient crops (in reality, it's like the second least efficient crop). It is trees and grasses (switch grass and miscanthus) with the highest yield which can be anywhere from 1,000 gallons to 1,500 gallons of ethanol per acre.

As for the question about consumption per person, according to the State of California Energy Commission, the average US citizen uses 464 gallons of gasoline per year.
http://www.energy.ca.gov/gasoline/statistics/gasoline_per_capita.html

I know you are looking for global figures on consumption and you are looking for bio-diesel information-- sorry I can't help you there. You can probably find the global consumption information in the CIA World Fact Book.

The diesel thing is far more complicated and you'll need to refine the scope of what you are looking for as diesels have the ability to run on a variety of fuels including vegetable oil (straight and waste), methanol, methane, bio-diesel and blends of all those things. My local dump, for instance, is getting ready to run its fleet of diesel trash trucks and diesel buses on methane produced at the dump. Currently, the dump uses some of the methane it is producing to run large generators (also diesel) to off-set the county's electricity consumption. I forget the exact amount of power being produced, but, I do remember that it was several hundred kilowatts.
 

Magnus Graham
Member
Username: Cellarman

Post Number: 240
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 10:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The core question still hangs - can the planet gather enough energy from the sun to run heating, aircon, travel and barbecues?
Seems that if the Corn/ethanol point from Paul is true, we are pretty doomed.
I fear that Nuclear may be a bit like the massive memory expansion of 640kBytes to your PC that you never thought that you'd fill. I wonder how much nuclear can be made before the extra heat starts to physically warm the planet.

Seems we'll need to make Lager in winter and ale in summer (getting a rolling boil may be tricky on a lump of Uranium).

Oh! by the way 20mpg - I get 55 (Diesel and UK gallons but still...)

Mag
keep it simple they've made beer for millennia
mash it boil it hop it yeast it drink it
 

Magnus Graham
Member
Username: Cellarman

Post Number: 241
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 10:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Go back 50 years andthere were a lot less cars and we got about.
Go back 100 and one or two rich folks had them.
Methinks the industrial revolution may be over.
Back to home brewing 'cos the beer truck is not coming to your town any more.
Drink cask ale 'cos it is more environmentally friendly to transport.

Mag

In a more optimistic mood.
keep it simple they've made beer for millennia
mash it boil it hop it yeast it drink it
 

Steve Funk
Intermediate Member
Username: Tundra45

Post Number: 337
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 12:07 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree w/ most of what Paul said. I don't think corn is good for fuel production, I'd rather eat it. I do think cellulose based ethanol production is the key. Just think about how much cellulose it out there. It's all about the enzymes now. The process is proven, but lignin and other interfering compounds are problematic. I think it's only a matter of time and R&D dollars.
 

Bob Wall
Advanced Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 771
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 01:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Interesting sidebar from an aging tinhorn from south of Florida...

http://www.losangeleschronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=23055
"If ignorance is bliss, this lesson would appear to be a deliberate attempt on your part to deprive me of happiness, the pursuit of which is my unalienable right according to the Declaration of Independence. I therefore assert my patriotic prerogative not to know this material. I'll be out on the playground."
-- Calvin
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 2107
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 01:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I believe sugar cane is the way to go. Our governement already pays the cane growers a set rate per unit if they can not sell it or the market falls sort of that unit. It is a sweet deal (no pun intended) because there is no limit on production so the more they produce the more they make. They do not get paid to leave their fields fallow. In fact they grow corn on the fields after the cane is harvested as a filler crop bewteen harvest and planting of the cane. They grow so much that it bottoms the market here in Florida to the point that it would be a loosing effort even to harvest the remaining corn. Then they open the fields up to charities to go and hire their own harvesters to pick the corn. Of course it is a charitable contribution so it is a tax write off.

I don't believe for a minute that we can not produce enough produce to fuel our needs. But I also believe that we do not need to produce 100% of our fuel as bio-fuel. We have oil in the ground in Texas that is too "expensive" to pull out of the ground (think of it as a wealthy family's piggy bank). When the price is right it will come out of the ground. There are plenty of wells still operating in KY pulling oil. Those families don't know to leave it there for the future.

Free market buddy, we haven't had it in this country for a long time. I would love to see our farmers give the oil families a run for their money. If there is one group of people that can make things happen it is the farmers. I can see it now, a gas station with Gas, Ethanol, Bio-diesel (from recycled veg oil), Bio-diesel (from vegitable matter byproduct from ethanol production), Natural gas, Hydrogen, and good old diesel. Fuel cells are being developed to run on all of them. Turbine engines that can run on any of them (except hydrogen) have been around for decades.

I paint a pretty rosy picture. But the reality is somewhere between my free market picture and Pauls Doomed world picture.

-Doug
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1345
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 01:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I didn't say the world was doomed...

All I said was, corn as a source for ethanol-based fuel isn't the total answer, as some would have you believe. Right now, it needs a hefty subsidy to be competitive.

...hardly a free market, as far as corn is concerned.

Can sound engineering practices and good science make it better? Yup, I think so. Can sound engineering practices and good science produce other alternatives? Again, Yup, I think so.

Some of it is gonna require a huge mindset-shift amongst consumers, to get them to drive more fuel efficient vehicles. How many people really need a V-8 pickup truck or SUV anyway? not many of them. How many really need a 300 hp "performance" coupe? Again, not many. For a lot of people the car is all about image. For me, it's merely transportation, and I make my choice on reliability and fuel economy.

BTW, how much sugar cane is grown in the US annually? Just curious. I know it's working for Brazil. But I think they have a LOT more acreage growing sugar cane than we could ever have.

I don't think the climate of the US allows its cultivation north of Louisiana.

Corn and other potential sources for ethanol fuel have much wider growing zones in the continental US. Sugar beets grow ove a much wider range, too. Most of the sugar available to me at the grocery is from the upper midwest, and is sourced from sugar beets.
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 2109
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 03:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,
We have between 300,000 and 400,000 acres of sugar cane production in south florida alone. A fair percentage of those sugar cane fields also slip in a crop of corn each year between harvest and planting of the sugar cane. I know that there is sugar in LA and TX as well. I think the media is to blame for attaching corn to ethanol production. Ethanol and be produced from just about any crop with the right enzymes, we all know that from reviewing the list of strange adjuncts that can be added to a mash and converted.

You are right about the mindset thing. What might help people move to 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder vehicles is that fact that you get a fair bit more horse power out of ethanol than out of gas (I think something like 20% more). So if you are going to tow your boat to the ramp you might want to load up with ethanol on the mix and if you are going to drive long distance you might want to load up with gas in the mix (you get about 20% better mileage with straight gas).

I seem to remember an aweful lot of 4 bangers on the road in the late 70s and early 80s. Anyone remember the Toyota Starlette? A little 4 banger with not much pickup but 60 mpg on the highway!

Like I said I paint one heck of a rosy picture where we the consumer get to choose which fuel we use and the producers fight for our business. "Yeah, my gas is more expensive but you go further per gallon".

It may take government subsidies to get it started (hopefully not enough to make the business depend on the subsidies), but once it is going I see only an upside. Think about it, 100 billion spent in Iraq could probably convert every car in America to flex fuel (new fuel pumps, computer chips, and some seals and gaskets - cheap for some cars and rather expensive for others). With that kind of market suddenly there, ethanol plants would sprout up everywhere using anything cheap to brew it up.

-Doug
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1588
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 04:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Doug, where did you hear the figures on more hp out of ethanol? I've consistently heard LESS hp from ethanol, and my mileage with the 10% stuff has proven it. We used to have an '02 Camry with the 4 cyl and with "real" gas we could average low 30's on the highway. With the 10% ethanol crap we got mid 20's consistantly.
 

Steve Funk
Intermediate Member
Username: Tundra45

Post Number: 338
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 05:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I maintain that cellulose based fuel is in the foreseeable future. That, and Syngas will be the fuel products of future generations. Once big oil is hurdled, R&D money can be directed to improving design and efficiencies. The problem is our capitalistic market favors a product in high demand, not as much so for efforts that reduce demand for that product.
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 2110
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 05:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike,
My figures are just from watching a documentary on Brazil's change over. Think about it "Top Fuel - Alcohol Burning dragsters" Formula 1 cars burn Alcohol. If it burns hoter and creates more horse power than it will get less mileage.

Here is what a quick search on google turned up:
http://aaae.okstate.edu/proceedings/2005/Articles/556.pdf

It basically states that since you get less mileage with the ethanol but more horsepower, ethanol would have to be around 50% cheaper to be worth while. But that is based on a horse power per hour basis. I think it would be closer to 20% based on a road test becaus the extra horse power would allow the car to get to the efficient RPMs quicker.

That E10 must have had water in place of ethanol for your mileage to drop by 33% with just 10% of the gas being replaced by ethanol.

-Doug
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1346
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 06:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike,

Ford claims theat their Flex-Fuel vehicles have 5 percent more HP running E85 than they do running regular 87 octane gas. E85 is 105 octane.

I don't know if that's due to the ethanol or maybe it's due to using higher octane gasoline for the 15 percent of E85.

Doug,

The US consumes something in excess of 400 million gallons of gasoline & diesel fuel per day (about 170 billion gallons per year). Let's assume for arguments sake that 1 acre of sugar cane can produce 1000 gallons of ethanol (which is generous, since I've read that the ethanol yields per acre of corn vs sugar cane are about the same, that is closer to maybe 400 gallons per acre with current technology) . The 400,000 acres in southern Florida would yield a maximum 400 million gallons of ethanol (more likely a lot less). That's less than one day's supply since the miles per gallon from ethanol is about 70 percent that of gasoline.

Brazil, OTOH, burns only 10 billion gallons of fuel a year and has only 60,000 miles of paved roads. We have 4 million miles of paved roads in the US. Brazil is the world's leading sugar producer, more than 300 million tons annually, so they have plenty of cane juice left over for fuel production.

There's only about 300 million acres of crop land TOTAL in the US. And that's going down all the time from ubran sprawl.

That amount of land would produce maybe 140 billion gallons of ethanol per year AT MOST if all the land were planted in crops to totaly be used for ethanol fuel production. That's maybe 1/2 of what we'd need.

Then, what do we eat? Soylent Green?

No matter what our source for automotive fuel, we have to figure out how to lower consumption.

I'm getting ready to ride my bicycle to grocery store just now. The car isn't coming out of the garage today, and likely won't tomorrow or Sunday. That's my contribution...

(Message edited by pedwards on March 30, 2007)
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 2111
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 07:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,
I totally agree with you about the need to reduce usage. The need will drive the product. My ref to the late 1970s and early 1980s was to provide an example of the need driving the goods. My dad was so proud when he traded in his Grand Toreno for a Toyota corolla back in 1974 (I think is was 1974). He drove that car everywhere including a trip from CA to SC when he was transferred from HI to SC (army). We adjusted to the smaller sized car just fine. After 171,000 miles he went for a Toyota pickup which got in the upper 30s for mpg. Now, I am not even sure anyone sells a 4 banger pickup but they will.

A combination of switching to bio-fuels and technology (like fuel cells -which operate better on cleaner fuels) will get us where we want to go. I am sure there will also be tons of research in creating very high yield crops for bio-fuels.

Like I said the truth is somewhere in between.

-Doug
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1347
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 08:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Doug, I agree that we'll eventually figure something out.

We do have a long ways to go, tho.

I'm leary of the politicians who think corn-based ethanol fuel will save us tomorrow. Politicians aren't usually very good at life-cycle cost analysis, cost/benefit analysis or make/buy analysis, or at understanding what the scientists are really saying.

I decided to walk the two miles round trip to the grocery, as I'd already ridden 25 miles before lunch. Plus my wife and the dog wanted to go along. The dog needs a pack to help carry the load. I did score everything I needed, plus a sixer of an IPA from a micro up in Ft Wayne, IN - Mad Anthony's. One of my fav's around the state. Definitely a half-bubble off plumb. Their pub is, umm, "idiosyncratic"
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1590
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 12:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Doug, I was as astounded as you on the mileage drop. I was even stupid enough to fill up twice with it just to verify, and it was low again. No explanation for it. I stuck with regular gas after that.

On the other hand, now we have an Altima and it doesn't seem to care what kind of gas I put in it. The 10% stuff doesn't seem to bother it at all. My truck sucks gas no matter which fuel I run in it, that's why it sits in the garage most of the time and only gets about 5000 miles/year on it, only getting used when I actually need it. There's a concept, eh?
 

Joshua Coman
Member
Username: Crazyjae

Post Number: 177
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 07:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,

You are correct, we do need to find a way to lower consumption.

But I see your position on ethanol production as a bit myopic. Like I mentioned before, there are many methods to produce ethanol and not all of them require the use of food crops.

Were not talking about "new" methods that have just been invented either. Many of the methods have been around a few hundred years.

Take for example wood hydrolysis. There are several plants in Russia that currently make ethyl alcohol out of waste wood where it's used for fuel and also sold as vodka. There were two plants in the US (South Carolina and Louisiana) that made ethanol from waste pine sawdust between 1915 and 1920. Wood hydrolysis is simply the conversion of cellulose to sugar by using diluted acids. The process was discovered in 1803. There are quite a few sources for wood, some of them even involve using waste. Paper is one good source of wood fiber. There is plenty of newsprint, etc. that currently goes to landfills.

There are also plants here in the US that currently use waste from food, dairy and even sewage systems to manufacture ethanol.

So while it may be impossible to grow enough crops to create enough ethanol to meet the demand, it may very well be possible to meet that demand by using not only crops but a combination of other methods of production as well -- methods that utilize the waste stream that currently exists.

Besides ethanol, there are plenty of other fuels that can be created with waste products. Methane and bio-diesel are two very good examples. Diesels using Waste Vegetable Oil /Straight Vegetable Oil as fuel are even better as the only thing that needs to be done before the oil is fuel is a little filtration.

We are not talking about rocket science here. If the clowns in my county government can make their own supply of fuel, anyone can. Like I mentioned before, my county dump is currently using the methane being produced by the landfill to power a series of generators that are tied into the local power grid and used to off-set the county's electricity consumption. It's been such a successful program that all the county's trash trucks and buses are scheduled to switch over to using the methane created by the county's landfill as their only source of fuel this year. The ironic part is that the landfill was shuttered last year and, by all accounts, there is at least a 25-year supply of methane despite the fact that the landfill is no longer in operation.

Doug,

From everything I've studied, you get about 30% less mileage from ethanol.

I doubt that the E10 mike mentioned would have had water in it. Alcohol is water soluble, so when water gets into a fuel blend like that, it absorbs the alcohol, separates from the gasoline and floats to the top. Ethanol needs to be like 99.99% pure to mix with gasoline.
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1349
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Sunday, April 01, 2007 - 12:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Joshua,

I'm not taking the position you think. Maybe I've not been clear enough here, which is my fault. Rather I'm trying to counter the position of the people who see corn based ethanol fuel as the total answer. There are many who do.

And interesting result of the "rush to corn" is that more acreage is being planted in corn and less in soybeans (something like 10 percent less this year alone). And soybean oil is a major source for biodiesel.

As you've said, it's going to take a multiple-pronged approach. There is no one magic bullet.

While some people are now using waste vegetable oil to power their diesel vehicles, we only produce enough right now to replace maybe 300 million gallons. That sounds like a lot, but it's a small fraction of a percent of the annual US diesel fuel and kerosene demand (about 57 billion gallons per annum), assuming that all WVO got used as fuel. More likely about 1/3 to one-half of the used oil will find its way into the fuel arena.

Annual sales of Diesel Fuel (in billions of gallons) for the US for the year 2000:

On-highway: Diesel 33.13
Off-highway:
Farm 3.1
Electric Power 1.13
Military 0.23
Railroad 3.0
Total Fuel Oil and Kerosene 57.1

Total new vegetable oil production in the US is about 3 billion gallons. Soybean oils is about 2.5 billion gallons of that total. The rest is corn, peanut, sunflower, cottonseed and rapeseed oil.

Animal fats can be reclaimed, but right now most of that stuff gets used for the manufacture of soap, textiles, cleansing creams, inks, glues, solvents, clothing, paint thinner, rubber, lubricants and detergents. A bunch gets used as an additive to livestock feed, too.

Oh, and WVO has to be thinned, not just filtered, or the car has to be modified to have two fuel tanks, one of which has to have regular diesel fuel. WVO can't be used directly until the engine is warmed up. So the car has to be started on regular diesel fuel, then switched over to WVO once the engine is warm, then switched back to regular diesel before shutting the engine off. It's not an insurmountable problem, but exisiting cars and trucks have to be modified. Or the WVO/SVO has to be converted chemically to biodiesel.

Methan from landfills can indeed supply a source. Not everybody is blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with one in their city. Indianapolis burns most of it's refuse. But the incinerator generates steam that is piped downtown to heat many of the buildings in the winter.

Like I said, there's not one magic bullet.

It'll take an arsenal to power a village, to mis-quote Hillary.
 

dhacker
Advanced Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 841
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Sunday, April 01, 2007 - 12:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Where are we headed?

I think we've already seen the answer . . .

 

Tim Wi
Advanced Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 808
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 01:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Whatever the economics, I'm nervous about using a major food supply for fuel.

Primarily because we have only a few varieties of commercial corn. Corn fields are huge monocultures of genetically identical plants. As a plant ecologist, that makes me very nervous. It makes for a situation ripe for a single pest, a smut for example, to wipe out huge areas of food and fuel. (For an insect example, look what happened with the pine bark beetle in the east during the last drought. Huge monoculture plantations of pine on industrial forest were wiped out.) And corn requires huge amounts of fertilizer and water. It takes a great deal of energy to produce fertilizer and pump water - also, irrigation salinates the soils.

Solar and wind. This is where we must go I think. Ethanol at best is only a minor supplement to our present needs.

T
 

Okierat
Member
Username: Okierat

Post Number: 129
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 01:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

While I know the vast majority of oil we use goes for our transportation needs, the part that concerns me is just how dependent we are on oil. Look around you. What in your office/home is not petroleum based? Plastic, cosmetics, clothing.... clean out you house of items that are not petroleum baised and you have a very empty house. We have a long way to go overall.
 

Paul Erbe
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Username: Perbe

Post Number: 819
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 01:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Do not discount Nuclear power. To me it seems easier to figure out how to eliminate the waste product of nuclear reactors than it will be to restart the prairie ecosystem after we completely rape it to produce corn. NOt to mention the energy exended to produce the fertilizers and pesticides in the first place.

Lowering consumption means much more than just driving less and developing non fossil fuels. Buying things like bottled water for instance uses much more energy than installing a effective filter in your house.

(Message edited by perbe on April 03, 2007)
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4222
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 01:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tim, I really wish I could believe that solar and wind would be enough to even start to replace fossil fuels, but from what I have read, that is just not the case. They are great and I support them to the hilt, but they are not going to be able to do as much as we need. Nuclear is the only option that is really viable. It is not pretty or neat but it works.

Fusion is the long term answer. It is pretty and neat but out of reach for the moment.

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Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1596
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 02:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Between where I live and Lake Michigan there is a constant wind tunnel thanks to some weather phenomenon I don't claim to understand one bit. Because of that a number of people want to put in wind farms in that area. It keeps getting shut down because some freaks are worried it's going to disrupt the birds in the area.

These are the same people that complain we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but when someone throws out a clean energy option they kill it so we don't hurt the feelings of some stupid bird.
 

Paul Erbe
Advanced Member
Username: Perbe

Post Number: 820
Registered: 05-2001
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 02:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here is an article that discusses almost all of the options. It is touting Nuclear so of course it is slanted in that direction.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.02/nuclear.html
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6862
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 03:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The number of birds killed by wind turbines is a small fraction of those already killed by glass buildings, high voltage lines and communications towers. Building more wind farms obviously would increase the problem, but less so than the consequences of additional fossil-fuel power plants and global warming.
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1351
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 04:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wind energy has it's advantages. But right now, we only have enough wind farms to power 1.6 million homes, which is about 0.4 percent of the total annual electricity requirement for the US.

Wind farms take up a lot of land, and obviously need to be where there's a steady breeze. I do like seeing them out on the horizon when I'm in Iowa or Illinois.

They're another bullet in the arsenal...

I still have a problem with nuclear waste disposal. It seems like a big accident waiting to happen.
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1598
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 05:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We have a few small wind farms here already, one of them right along the highway between here and Milwaukee that only has three turbines. It sure is cool to see them whipping around when you drive by.

Bill, IMHO they are just using the bird kill as an excuse, it's purely a NIMBY thing just like when the Martha's Vineyard folks went after the proposed farm in the Nantucket Sound.

I got this earlier today, it looks like we have all been brewing the answer to our problem all along!


A 2006 study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year.

Another study found that Americans drink an average of 22 gallons of beer a year.

That means, on average, Americans get about 41 miles per gallon.
 

Tim Wi
Advanced Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 810
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 07:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dan sez: Nuclear is the only option that is really viable.

I can go along with that when looking at what's available today.

But...

Gasoline powered automobiles weren't such a hot deal in 1905 when there was only a couple hundred miles of paved road, and virtually no gas stations. Not really a viable alternative to horses at that time. But capitalism drove innovations and the building of infrastructure. Who rode horses 20 years later?

T
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4224
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 07:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Good point Tim, but holding things back with the hope that the "next great thing" is just around the corner is probably not a good bet.

I look at fusion as the "next great thing." I hope some bright boy somewhere has a light bulb flash over his head and it all comes together, but I won't be holding my breath until then.

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HEU Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Heu_brewer

Post Number: 256
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, April 13, 2007 - 07:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There is no free lunch when it comes to energy. We as a society will pay one way or another.
One type of nuclear fuel cylcle could look something like this

Convential fission plants, waste to reprocesing, Tranuranics of waste to an advance fission reactor, waste back to reprocessing
Fission products (relatively short lived half-lives) would be disposed of as waste. No long lived half lives.

Take depleted uranium now deemed as wasted, send into a production reactor to produce plutonium, reprocess waste, take plutonium and turn into mixed oxide fuel back up to conventional reactors.

Technology is available right now to do the above
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4262
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, April 13, 2007 - 07:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

HEU, do you where one could see a flow chart of this sort of cycle?

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HEU Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Heu_brewer

Post Number: 257
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, April 13, 2007 - 08:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fuel_cycle

Kind of, take the plutonium fuel cycle and the minor actinide fuel cycle and combine them. These figures leave out depleted uranium, but has an ore production to fuel production. Add depleted uranium (DU) to fuel production under a separate line. THe DU fuel would be put in a breeder reactor, to create power and plutonium. The plutonium would be recycled like the plutonium being shown in the diagram.

Breeder reactors and the closed fuel cylcle was killed off by Jimmy Carter, for non proliferation reasons.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4263
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, April 13, 2007 - 08:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am reminded that it is sometimes said that engineering is the art of compromise.

(Message edited by listermann on April 13, 2007)

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Mike
Intermediate Member
Username: Macker

Post Number: 411
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Monday, April 16, 2007 - 06:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

When the flux capacitor becomes a reality, all of our problems will be solved.
 

Joshua Coman
Member
Username: Crazyjae

Post Number: 178
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - 04:31 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

And interesting result of the "rush to corn" is that more acreage is being planted in corn and less in soybeans (something like 10 percent less this year alone). And soybean oil is a major source for biodiesel.

As you've said, it's going to take a multiple-pronged approach. There is no one magic bullet.


Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. Ironically, I've been out of the loop because of this exact topic.

I'm in the middle of building an off-grid home for my wife and I in the mountains of Northern Arizona. We're powered entirely by wind and solar and we are planning to harvest rain water for a majority of our water needs. We've also been talking about limiting our use of our gas powered vehicles and switching to diesel for a majority of our travel/commuting. We're debating buying a few older 90s'ish Mercedes Benz's, newer Jeep Liberty's and/or a Dodge Ram to add to our vehicle collection -- we just can't give up that Saab 9-3 convertible.

Since this is related to this topic, I'm sure you are probably going ask is it a lifestyle change? Only a bit. We'll have enough power for our two plasma TVs (a 42" and a 52"), our computer (satellite internet modem/computer/monitor), our cell phones, our kitchen (including a dish washer, and a commercial fridge (Bev. Air 26 cu. ft. En. Star). The only non-green (sort-of) thing we are doing is a tankless water heater and only for the frigid winter months -- we're incorporating solar water heating in the house for those warm summers. Our heat will come from a wood stove, radiant floor heating and in limited circumstances propane. And our kitchen stove (a 10-burner commercial) will be propane. Our total cost for building this home? Right now we are at $85 a square foot (only because we are going ultra-high-end with everything), not including the land or labor. Labor is free as my father is a general contractor. It's a 2,000 square foot modern with over 600 feet of glass wall in the living room and master bed. The idea that it costs $200-300 per s.f. is ridiculous -- that's just graft at a low level. The point is, it can be done, done well and without lifestyle change.

Back to the point.

It does take a multi-prong approach on a wide-scale level and it takes personal commitment.


Oh, and WVO has to be thinned, not just filtered, or the car has to be modified to have two fuel tanks, one of which has to have regular diesel fuel. WVO can't be used directly until the engine is warmed up. So the car has to be started on regular diesel fuel, then switched over to WVO once the engine is warm, then switched back to regular diesel before shutting the engine off. It's not an insurmountable problem, but exisiting cars and trucks have to be modified. Or the WVO/SVO has to be converted chemically to biodiesel.

This is only partially true. There are single tank SVO/WVO conversions that involve adding a pre-heater and replacing injectors. Elsbett Technologie is one company that manufactures these conversions. With these type conversions, it's just filter and go. No need to do anything more.


Total new vegetable oil production in the US is about 3 billion gallons. Soybean oils is about 2.5 billion gallons of that total. The rest is corn, peanut, sunflower, cottonseed and rapeseed oil.

Don't forget olive oil. Around here, in Sonoma County, I know quite a few people that burn refuse olive oil for fuel. Not that there is huge amount of olive oil production in the US, but, it comes back to the waste thing I've been talking about. The oil being burned around here non-saleable for one reason or another. Until a few years ago, several producers were paying to have it hauled off as waste where it went unused as it was disposed of. There are many instances where this type of industrial/commercial/agricultural waste can be converted to fuel but is not.
 

Magnus Graham
Member
Username: Cellarman

Post Number: 242
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Monday, April 30, 2007 - 10:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Maybe the question needs rephrasing...
Is there enough energy hitting the planet in the form of sunshine (the big bright thing) to be converted to vegetable matter (by photosynthesis) to be converted to combustable fuel to be burnt to heat, cool and drive the planet's current energy demands?
Are we exceeding the current input by burning the previous millenia's waste deposits (oil and coal)?
That is the bottom line.

In 50-100 years, I don't think we will think it worthwhile owning 2 cars, we will be happy and we will live in a smaller world and we will not have cheap imported goods.

I'm off to sleep now.
keep it simple they've made beer for millennia
mash it boil it hop it yeast it drink it
 

Magnus Graham
Member
Username: Cellarman

Post Number: 243
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Monday, April 30, 2007 - 10:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It will be an interesting world economy when nuclear or agricultural energies are all we have. Who will be the rich countries then?
keep it simple they've made beer for millennia
mash it boil it hop it yeast it drink it

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