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Biofuels
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Here's an interesting program on biofuels. The 3 major sources of biofuels are compared; corn, grass and organic waste.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18800996

Posted on: 2008/2/10 20:13
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Padraic
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Re: Biofuels

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Yes and most biofuel analysis don't include the impact of fertilizer production and cleanup of the waste effluent. Not to mention the other impacts like planting and harvesting.

Last year when someone I work with was talking up the benefits of corn ethanol I did a quick analysis. If you plant corn in all the arable land in the US you only get enough energy to run our automobiles for about 45 days. And as I mentioned above I didn’t include the fertilizer and waste treatment.

Biofuels are a way of converting solar energy into chemical energy that then gets converted into mechanical energy when burned in an engine. A very inefficient process. Oil and coal are similarly chemical energy that was converted from solar energy over periods of many millions of years. (And yes even less efficient than biofuels.)

So to have truly renewable energy sources we would need to produce as much energy each year as we use. Almost impossible with the technologies we have today.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 8:22


Re: Biofuels
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Quote:

tabasco_joe wrote:
Yes and most biofuel analysis don't include the impact of fertilizer production and cleanup of the waste effluent. Not to mention the other impacts like planting and harvesting.

Last year when someone I work with was talking up the benefits of corn ethanol I did a quick analysis. If you plant corn in all the arable land in the US you only get enough energy to run our automobiles for about 45 days. And as I mentioned above I didn’t include the fertilizer and waste treatment.

Biofuels are a way of converting solar energy into chemical energy that then gets converted into mechanical energy when burned in an engine. A very inefficient process. Oil and coal are similarly chemical energy that was converted from solar energy over periods of many millions of years. (And yes even less efficient than biofuels.)

So to have truly renewable energy sources we would need to produce as much energy each year as we use. Almost impossible with the technologies we have today.


Well...so I guess thats it....why even try.

We used to say the same thing about film in the printing industry. Turns out the people who got in on the ground floor were the ones who survived the evolution of the industry. Now there is no film (or very, very little) and the people who didn't retrain are left holding the bag.

The evolution of science based technoligiesare an expensive process but usually in the long-run the benefits outweigh the risks.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 9:09
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Re: Biofuels
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Tabasco,

Did you listen to the program? The commentator makes the same points you do. The grain and switch grass ideas were criticized because of it. The waste gasification, however, shows great promise because it's material we need to produce anyway. The waste biofuel is produced from food waste and other organic waste that we would need to produce (such as food, scrap lumber, paper, packaging... etc.) Plus, it is much more productive, since the energy that is needed to produce it can be created from the inputs themselves (after a bit of a startup "spark")

In any event, the program gives an interesting overview of where we are on the development of these technologies. As Maurice points out, in the history of everything that does work is a long period of time where it didn't.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 9:25
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Re: Biofuels

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We pay enough subsities to an good number corporate and other farms NOT to produce corn and other crops...if we' just make them do what they are supposed to be doing, farming, then there would be enough to sustain this kind of endeavor...will the price of corn go up? Probably...in my mind its still better to pay American farmers to grow corn then to not grow corn...its also WAY better than paying foreign governments and companies for their oil....

Posted on: 2008/2/11 10:10


Re: Biofuels

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Quote:

Maurice wrote:

Well...so I guess thats it....why even try.

We used to say the same thing about film in the printing industry. Turns out the people who got in on the ground floor were the ones who survived the evolution of the industry. Now there is no film (or very, very little) and the people who didn't retrain are left holding the bag.

The evolution of science based technoligiesare an expensive process but usually in the long-run the benefits outweigh the risks.


I'm not saying we shouldn't put some effort into alternate energy sources. But they should be practical and we should have reasonable expectations. Biofuels are only a supplimental source of energy. The physics just doesn't support anything more.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 10:17


Re: Biofuels

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Quote:

tomgamber wrote:
We pay enough subsities to an good number corporate and other farms NOT to produce corn and other crops...if we' just make them do what they are supposed to be doing, farming, then there would be enough to sustain this kind of endeavor...will the price of corn go up? Probably...in my mind its still better to pay American farmers to grow corn then to not grow corn...its also WAY better than paying foreign governments and companies for their oil....


Well your right about the fact that politics and subsidies, either for growing or not growing, are not based on sound problem solving. It is simply based on buying votes.

How much more are you willing to pay to run your car and heat your house to keep your money from going to foreign entities? Two or three times as much? Oil and coal still rule because the price per BTU is far less than other sources. It's only when a source is identified that has similar cost per BTU on the same scale that breaks the dependence.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 10:28


Re: Biofuels

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$1 Billion dollars in oil profits leave the United States everyday. Shame.

I don't know anything about the science behind the fuel situation.

Seems to me it must not be good business or you would have Wall Street and Private equity investing in them. That's when you can tell companies get legs.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 10:35
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Re: Biofuels
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Quote:

tabasco_joe wrote:

How much more are you willing to pay to run your car and heat your house to keep your money from going to foreign entities? Two or three times as much? Oil and coal still rule because the price per BTU is far less than other sources. It's only when a source is identified that has similar cost per BTU on the same scale that breaks the dependence.


tabasco,

It's a good program, realy you should listen to it. The waste gasification manufacturer estimates that the cost of the waste biofuel would be a $1/gallon.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 10:56
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Re: Biofuels

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Gents,
Biofuels are a loosing game. You need to invest huge amts of resources to get the material, and invest huge amts of resources to refine it and at the end of the day is a less efficient fuel than what is currently out there. What perhaps is the most daming is that it takes out of play prime land currently being used for food production. It is not an issue now but it will be by the time that we need the fuel.

We have some other ideas. One is recycling existing crap. check out http://www.deltaenergy.com/

They are a spin off from my company. The have a process that takes used tires (and there are millions of them) and through a simple chemical process it spits out carbon black (a marketable product) steel and oil. The oil is currently being used as fuel for industrial operations. It can also be used in home aplications.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 11:00


Re: Biofuels

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2006/9/11 11:41
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Quote:

Padraic wrote:
Quote:

tabasco_joe wrote:

How much more are you willing to pay to run your car and heat your house to keep your money from going to foreign entities? Two or three times as much? Oil and coal still rule because the price per BTU is far less than other sources. It's only when a source is identified that has similar cost per BTU on the same scale that breaks the dependence.


tabasco,

It's a good program, realy you should listen to it. The waste gasification manufacturer estimates that the cost of the waste biofuel would be a $1/gallon.


I'll listen to it in entirety tonight when I have more time.

Posted on: 2008/2/11 11:06


Re: Biofuels

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I like the idea of waste gasification, and I like the idea about energy from used tires, but as far as corn ethanol goes, I can't say my conscience would be able to get on board with burning what is essentially a food product. I can imagine that if food prices continue the spike they have seen in the short time ethanol has been popular that there will be people starving for lack of food while the rest of us would be driving around burning food. Just my opinion.

Boyer

Posted on: 2008/2/14 7:37


Re: Biofuels

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I'll second your thought Matt. Make ethanol from switchgrass or something, not form corn.

Posted on: 2008/2/14 7:58
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Re: Biofuels
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Matt,

That's one of the main issues everyone has with ethynol. That's why I was excited about the waste gasification described in this program.

Posted on: 2008/2/14 10:06
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Re: Biofuels

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Not sure if you guys watch Dirty Jobs or not but a year or so ago they had an episode about biofuels. The guy used grease that he collected from restaurants and converted it into a diesel fuel. He was producing it at a cost of 50-75 cents a gallon. He was collecting the grease from a mexican fast food joint for free, pouring it through a filter to get out the solids then going through some heating and mixing in a chemical to get out the nasties. The only thing change to the diesel engine is changing the rubber fuel line to a clear plastic polyethylene tubing because the biodiesel eats through the rubber. He was running his newer model VW diesel station wagon and a mid 80's datsun truck on it. I put a couple links at the bottom for info and cost on the system. McDonalds and other places will probably give it away for free because they are currently paying someone to dispose it for them.

Here is a breakeven analysis

system = $2000
waste oil= free
current cost of diesel (3.40-3.66) average 3.50
cost per gallon, we'll be conservative with $1.00
save 2.50 per gallon
breakeven at $2000/ $2.5 saved/gallon= 800 gallons
average diesel tank ~40 gallons (truck)
#tanks to break even =800/40= 20 tanks

The time depends on vehicle mpg.


http://www.homebiodieselkits.com/hobikit.html

http://www.greasecar.com/article.cfm?aid=19

Posted on: 2008/2/14 11:14
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