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Officially Unofficial Alternative Fuels Thread

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,521
0
76
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pu...t_20080606_005036.html
Excerpt:
Enter SwiftFuel, the Splenda of motor fuels because it is made from ethanol yet contains no ethanol. SwiftFuel is the invention of John and Mary Rusek from Swift Enterprises in Indiana. To your airplane SwiftFuel looks and tastes just like gasoline. It has an octane rating of 104 (higher than the 100 octane fuel it replaces) yet contains no lead or ethanol. SwiftFuel mixes with gasoline, can be stored in the same tanks as gasoline, and be shipped in the same pipelines as gasoline. It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint and does nothing to increase global warming. Its emission of other polluting byproducts of burning gasoline are significantly lower, too. SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.

Oh, and based on an average $1.42 per gallon wholesale cost for the ethanol used as its feedstock, SwiftFuel costs $1.80 per gallon to produce, meaning that it ought to be able to sell for $3 per gallon or less no matter what happens in the Middle East.

Heck of a deal.

The ethanol used to make SwiftFuel can be any type, according to Mary Rusek, president of Swift Enterprises. The pilot plant they are building in Indiana will, interestingly, make ethanol from sorghum, not corn. The Ruseks claim that sorghum, which isn't a typical U.S. crop, can produce six times the ethanol per acre of corn, turning on its head the argument that ethanol production consumes more energy than it produces. China, the third largest producer of ethanol after Brazil and the U.S., is switching entirely to sorghum for its ethanol production.

The FAA is already testing SwiftFuel with the goal of approving it for use without modification in all aircraft, leaving the platform unchanged while improving its impact on almost any scale. Hopefully by the 2010 cutoff for tetraethyl lead SwiftFuel will replace the 1.8 million gallons of 100LL aviation fuel used every day.

"But what about cars?" I asked Mary Rusek. "We don't say much about that," she replied. "The aviation fuel market is tiny and has a real need we can fulfill so everyone wants us to succeed. Cars are different and we don't want to make any enemies."

I hope that SwiftFuel is a success. I hope it fulfills all Mary Rusek's claims. But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it. Yet I don't think many of us would be surprised if that is exactly what happens.
I find it very disturbing that in this day an age, innovators STILL feel threatened by Big Oil -- to the point where viable alternatives are not openly discussed or offered up to the whole public.

1) What do you guys know about Swiftfuel, or other ethanol derivatives?

2) How difficult would it be to grow Sorghum in large amounts here in the U.S.?

3) Is this truly a viable alternative for cars as well, or is there a difference in the distribution, storage, or combustion process that would prevent that?

I need to read up on more alternatives... I'm tired of the silence.

EDIT: Maybe we can use this a starting point for an Unofficial Alternative Fuels Thread... just a thought.
 

Arkaign

Lifer
Oct 27, 2006
20,682
1,227
126
IIRC, converting farmland to the process of growing fuel isn't efficient enough or scalable enough to adequately supply a large enough % of our vehicle needs in this country. It also puts added stresses on food prices and agricultural by-products.

That said, it's a really cool OP, and it's always good to look into alternatives.

My two favorite solutions to this mess :

Ethanol to Hydrogen reactors for Fuel-cell purposes (google it)

Thorium Reactor networks for a future fully-electric transportation system (clean, almost infinitely renewable).
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,521
0
76
The Ruseks claim that sorghum, which isn't a typical U.S. crop, can produce six times the ethanol per acre of corn, turning on its head the argument that ethanol production consumes more energy than it produces.
Couldn't those farmers who are currently paid to NOT grow anything, and those who DO grow corn used for ethanol, switch over to sorghum instead? If it's truly that much more efficient than corn, why the hell would anyone stick with corn as a source?!
 

StageLeft

No Lifer
Sep 29, 2000
70,150
2
0
It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint
Bullsh*t.
SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.
Bullsh*t.
But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it.
Conspiracy theory FTW.
 

K1052

Lifer
Aug 21, 2003
37,531
12,067
136
Interesting, curious to know more about the actual chemical properties of the fuel.
 

Xavier434

Lifer
Oct 14, 2002
10,377
1
0
I'm just glad that there are people out there who are actively trying to come up with solutions like this. Eventually, someone is going to strike gold.
 

RightIsWrong

Diamond Member
Apr 29, 2005
5,649
0
0
Originally posted by: Skoorb
It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint
Bullsh*t.
SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.
Bullsh*t.
But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it.
Conspiracy theory FTW.
Wow. A very convincing, thought provoking rebuttal. You've certainly changed my mind on the subject.

Just so I'm clear why I am going to take your word over theirs on the technology....what is the technical reasons that theirs is "bullshit" again?
 

PokerGuy

Lifer
Jul 2, 2005
13,650
199
101
If it sounds too good to be true........

And even if the swiftfuel could really be used and was economically feasible, the problem is still that you end up converting farmland into a source of raw materials for fuel, meaning food prices will go way up if you do it on any significant scale.

Looking for new alternatives is always a good idea, the conspiracy theories I can do without though.
 

techs

Lifer
Sep 26, 2000
28,561
3
0
Originally posted by: palehorse
The Ruseks claim that sorghum, which isn't a typical U.S. crop, can produce six times the ethanol per acre of corn, turning on its head the argument that ethanol production consumes more energy than it produces.
Couldn't those farmers who are currently paid to NOT grow anything, and those who DO grow corn used for ethanol, switch over to sorghum instead? If it's truly that much more efficient than corn, why the hell would anyone stick with corn as a source?!
Stuck in the 70's? Farmers are not paid to not grow corn, or almost any other crop.
The practice ended in the 1980's. What farmers get is a price support that guarantees them a minimum amount for their crop. And this is often does not cost anything in years when prices are high.
What benefits the farmers in crop price supports is the government promise of the money allows the farmer to get loan at a reasonable rate to grow the corn or other crop.


 

kage69

Lifer
Jul 17, 2003
19,051
12,030
136
Interesting, although some of it sounds a lil fishy.


To your airplane SwiftFuel looks and tastes just like gasoline

What airplane was the author thinking of I wonder?
 

Specop 007

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2005
9,454
0
0
People really fail when it comes to understanding the difference between an alternative and a derivative.

Most biofuels are not alternatives to oil, they are derivatives of said cheap oil.

You really think its going to be cost efficient to produce biofuel when diesel is 10 bucks a gallon? What are we going to do, farm with horses to raise grains to make fuel?

Biomass? Like our trash, old tires and turkey guts? Yeah, still derivatives of cheap oil. And even if you can find a way to keep production and supply costs down to make your biofuels you still end up painting yourself into another corner.

The water usage in making biofuels in any meaningful quanitity is *huge*. If someone could figure out how to biofuel our way out of an energy crisis we would quickly be faced with a water crisis.
 

Specop 007

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2005
9,454
0
0
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
Originally posted by: Skoorb
It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint
Bullsh*t.
SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.
Bullsh*t.
But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it.
Conspiracy theory FTW.
Wow. A very convincing, thought provoking rebuttal. You've certainly changed my mind on the subject.

Just so I'm clear why I am going to take your word over theirs on the technology....what is the technical reasons that theirs is "bullshit" again?
Nothing available today has the grunt of good ole gas.

Think about it. 1 gallon of gas can haul 5000 pounds of steel at 70 miles an hour 20 miles. 1 gallon! Otherwise, its well known ethanol (biofuels) dont contain the energy that petroleum does. Thats very common knowledge to those following it. Google it, you should find the proof in less time then it took you to post.

EDIT
Here, I'll do it for you so I dont sound like a dick.

Click
 

K1052

Lifer
Aug 21, 2003
37,531
12,067
136
Originally posted by: Specop 007
People really fail when it comes to understanding the difference between an alternative and a derivative.

Most biofuels are not alternatives to oil, they are derivatives of said cheap oil.

You really think its going to be cost efficient to produce biofuel when diesel is 10 bucks a gallon? What are we going to do, farm with horses to raise grains to make fuel?

Biomass? Like our trash, old tires and turkey guts? Yeah, still derivatives of cheap oil. And even if you can find a way to keep production and supply costs down to make your biofuels you still end up painting yourself into another corner.

The water usage in making biofuels in any meaningful quanitity is *huge*. If someone could figure out how to biofuel our way out of an energy crisis we would quickly be faced with a water crisis.
Depends on what the feedstock source and process is. For example if Coskata's claims are even close to true that they can produce ethanol for $1-$1.5 per gallon from any source of cellulose, that merits very close attention. Supposedly the process requires something like 15% of the water used by conventional ethanol production.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
67,523
4,198
126
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
Originally posted by: Skoorb
It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint
Bullsh*t.
SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.
Bullsh*t.
But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it.
Conspiracy theory FTW.
Wow. A very convincing, thought provoking rebuttal. You've certainly changed my mind on the subject.

Just so I'm clear why I am going to take your word over theirs on the technology....what is the technical reasons that theirs is "bullshit" again?
You are not prepared to understand them. Just take his word for it.
 

Specop 007

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2005
9,454
0
0
Originally posted by: K1052
Originally posted by: Specop 007
People really fail when it comes to understanding the difference between an alternative and a derivative.

Most biofuels are not alternatives to oil, they are derivatives of said cheap oil.

You really think its going to be cost efficient to produce biofuel when diesel is 10 bucks a gallon? What are we going to do, farm with horses to raise grains to make fuel?

Biomass? Like our trash, old tires and turkey guts? Yeah, still derivatives of cheap oil. And even if you can find a way to keep production and supply costs down to make your biofuels you still end up painting yourself into another corner.

The water usage in making biofuels in any meaningful quanitity is *huge*. If someone could figure out how to biofuel our way out of an energy crisis we would quickly be faced with a water crisis.
Depends on what the feedstock source and process is. For example if Coskata's claims are even close to true that they can produce ethanol for $1-$1.5 per gallon from any source of cellulose, that merits very close attention. Supposedly the process requires something like 15% of the water used by conventional ethanol production.
And again....

EVERYTHING existing today is a product of cheap oil. Take away cheap oil and, well, nothing is cheap. So any new technology that claims to use our trash, our biomass, our whatever and make gas on the cheap is bullshit and overlooking the underlying principles that determine product costs.

Its like this. Houses cost more, because the plumbers charge more, because copper costs more. Pretty easy to see that relation isnt it?

Well now look at biofuels...

Cheap oil -> Product (Be it grains, biomass or trash) -> Biofuel.

people are pushing biofuel as a cost effective replacement to oil, forgetting the source used to make biofuels is itself tied to the price of oil!
 

K1052

Lifer
Aug 21, 2003
37,531
12,067
136
Originally posted by: Specop 007
Originally posted by: K1052
Originally posted by: Specop 007
People really fail when it comes to understanding the difference between an alternative and a derivative.

Most biofuels are not alternatives to oil, they are derivatives of said cheap oil.

You really think its going to be cost efficient to produce biofuel when diesel is 10 bucks a gallon? What are we going to do, farm with horses to raise grains to make fuel?

Biomass? Like our trash, old tires and turkey guts? Yeah, still derivatives of cheap oil. And even if you can find a way to keep production and supply costs down to make your biofuels you still end up painting yourself into another corner.

The water usage in making biofuels in any meaningful quanitity is *huge*. If someone could figure out how to biofuel our way out of an energy crisis we would quickly be faced with a water crisis.
Depends on what the feedstock source and process is. For example if Coskata's claims are even close to true that they can produce ethanol for $1-$1.5 per gallon from any source of cellulose, that merits very close attention. Supposedly the process requires something like 15% of the water used by conventional ethanol production.
And again....

EVERYTHING existing today is a product of cheap oil. Take away cheap oil and, well, nothing is cheap. So any new technology that claims to use our trash, our biomass, our whatever and make gas on the cheap is bullshit and overlooking the underlying principles that determine product costs.

Its like this. Houses cost more, because the plumbers charge more, because copper costs more. Pretty easy to see that relation isnt it?

Well now look at biofuels...

Cheap oil -> Product (Be it grains, biomass or trash) -> Biofuel.

people are pushing biofuel as a cost effective replacement to oil, forgetting the source used to make biofuels is itself tied to the price of oil!
If the biofuel process is signifigantly energy positive it isn't based on cheap oil since the raw material is supplied the vast majority of its energy by the sun, assuming you use a biological farmed feedstock.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
67,523
4,198
126
Originally posted by: K1052
Originally posted by: Specop 007
Originally posted by: K1052
Originally posted by: Specop 007
People really fail when it comes to understanding the difference between an alternative and a derivative.

Most biofuels are not alternatives to oil, they are derivatives of said cheap oil.

You really think its going to be cost efficient to produce biofuel when diesel is 10 bucks a gallon? What are we going to do, farm with horses to raise grains to make fuel?

Biomass? Like our trash, old tires and turkey guts? Yeah, still derivatives of cheap oil. And even if you can find a way to keep production and supply costs down to make your biofuels you still end up painting yourself into another corner.

The water usage in making biofuels in any meaningful quanitity is *huge*. If someone could figure out how to biofuel our way out of an energy crisis we would quickly be faced with a water crisis.
Depends on what the feedstock source and process is. For example if Coskata's claims are even close to true that they can produce ethanol for $1-$1.5 per gallon from any source of cellulose, that merits very close attention. Supposedly the process requires something like 15% of the water used by conventional ethanol production.
And again....

EVERYTHING existing today is a product of cheap oil. Take away cheap oil and, well, nothing is cheap. So any new technology that claims to use our trash, our biomass, our whatever and make gas on the cheap is bullshit and overlooking the underlying principles that determine product costs.

Its like this. Houses cost more, because the plumbers charge more, because copper costs more. Pretty easy to see that relation isnt it?

Well now look at biofuels...

Cheap oil -> Product (Be it grains, biomass or trash) -> Biofuel.

people are pushing biofuel as a cost effective replacement to oil, forgetting the source used to make biofuels is itself tied to the price of oil!
If the biofuel process is signifigantly energy positive it isn't based on cheap oil since the raw material is supplied the vast majority of its energy by the sun, assuming you use a biological farmed feedstock.
Not to mention that you are replacing oil so you can use the cheepo to make the cheepo, no? Heheh!
 

GarfieldtheCat

Diamond Member
Jan 7, 2005
3,708
1
0
Wow, I thought this was going to be about another "swiftboat" type smear attack on Obama afterI saw ther thread title.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
67,523
4,198
126
The problem, as I see it, is that in 2010, lead as an octane booster for gas must come out of aviation gas for piston engine planes, and ethanol, an octane booster ruins high compression engine parts, so these inventors, if they have invented anything real, have invented a way to turn ethanol into something less oxygenated and less damaging to rubber and still retards the combustion compression point of lower octane unleaded gas.
 

Specop 007

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2005
9,454
0
0
Originally posted by: K1052

If the biofuel process is signifigantly energy positive it isn't based on cheap oil since the raw material is supplied the vast majority of its energy by the sun, assuming you use a biological farmed feedstock.
We both know its not. But I'll play along for shits and grins. ;)

Ok, so we have a respectablly energy positive biofuel.

What about food prices? My cost for gas becomes something less then a minor annoyance if my food costs have tripled or more.....
 

StageLeft

No Lifer
Sep 29, 2000
70,150
2
0
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
Originally posted by: Skoorb
It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint
Bullsh*t.
SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.
Bullsh*t.
But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it.
Conspiracy theory FTW.
Wow. A very convincing, thought provoking rebuttal. You've certainly changed my mind on the subject.

Just so I'm clear why I am going to take your word over theirs on the technology....what is the technical reasons that theirs is "bullshit" again?
You are not prepared to understand them. Just take his word for it.
Thank you!

 

Xavier434

Lifer
Oct 14, 2002
10,377
1
0
Originally posted by: Specop 007
People really fail when it comes to understanding the difference between an alternative and a derivative.

Most biofuels are not alternatives to oil, they are derivatives of said cheap oil.

You really think its going to be cost efficient to produce biofuel when diesel is 10 bucks a gallon? What are we going to do, farm with horses to raise grains to make fuel?

Biomass? Like our trash, old tires and turkey guts? Yeah, still derivatives of cheap oil. And even if you can find a way to keep production and supply costs down to make your biofuels you still end up painting yourself into another corner.

The water usage in making biofuels in any meaningful quanitity is *huge*. If someone could figure out how to biofuel our way out of an energy crisis we would quickly be faced with a water crisis.
I don't believe that anyone is trying to replace our use of oil with the biofuels which are currently being explored. They are being researched and used as band aid solutions until we come up with something that really does work despite whether or not that "something" involves biofuels or not. In other words, they are trying to buy some time and ease some pain. Whether or not they are successful doing so is obviously up for debate but the point is that they are trying and that's a good thing.
 

5to1baby1in5

Golden Member
Apr 27, 2001
1,217
88
91
Originally posted by: Specop 007
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
Originally posted by: Skoorb
It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint
Bullsh*t.
SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.
Bullsh*t.
But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it.
Conspiracy theory FTW.
Wow. A very convincing, thought provoking rebuttal. You've certainly changed my mind on the subject.

Just so I'm clear why I am going to take your word over theirs on the technology....what is the technical reasons that theirs is "bullshit" again?
Nothing available today has the grunt of good ole gas.

Think about it. 1 gallon os gas can haul 500 pounds of steel at 70 miles an hour 20 miles. 1 gallon! Otherwise, its well known ethanol (biofuels) dont contain the energy that petroleum does. Thats very common knowledge to those following it. Google it, you should find the proof in less time then it took you to post.

EDIT
Here, I'll do it for you so I dont sound like a dick.

Click
The reason gasoline gets better gas milage than EtOH is because it is made of long chain molecules. The heat released by by oxidizing an average molecule of "gasoline" (actually a blend of hydrocarbons) is much greater than oxidizing a molecule of ethanol. Diesel provides even more energy.

The article states that their fuel is made from EtOH. My guess is that they convert EtOH into some type of ether or ketone.

I would say the statement that this is likely true:
SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.
I agree that this statement is likely B.S.:
It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint
Even if it does produce more energy that it consumes, you have to burn some or most of your product to create it (thus emitting CO2).

But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it.
If it is profitable and demand is high, then you can bet that large corporations and Big Daddy Warbucks are going to mass produce it. They won't kill it, but you can bet your ass they will squash the competition in its infancy.
 

Specop 007

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2005
9,454
0
0
If they are working biofuels over that much I have to wonder what the overalll EROEI is?

So, so lets assume they do have a bio product that packs more grunt then hydrocarbons. Do an energy comparison in production. How much energy is used to produce 1 gallon of gas put into my car versus what is produced to make 1 gallon of his gas.

Dont forget his gas, as I have said before, is aat least partially relying on the products of my gas.
 

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