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Officially Unofficial Alternative Fuels Thread

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CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Harvey
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
Originally posted by: Harvey
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
Originally posted by: Harvey

Burning any fuel containing carbon produces carbon dioxide. A fuel that doesn't is hydrogen, which oxydizes hydrogen to produces only water vapor.
yes, their statement is off, but so is yours unless you can come up with a zero co2 emitting source for energy to produce hydrogen.
I was talking about the physics and chemistry of the fuel, and my point was only that their SwiftFuel is not "carbon neutral."

All things considered, their fuel may be a good idea, but in making that determination, I think it's important to have a true understanding of the advantages they claim. The rest is academic.
And that's the part I was agreeing with you about. The part I disagreed with is your hydrogen comment. It's just as misleading as their claim.
Then you've failed dismally in your attempt to disagree with me. :)

I agree with you that generating hydrogen is costly. It requires power. The laws of physics tell us that, even with a theoretical 100% efficient conversion system, you can only get back as much energy by burning it as it takes to separate it, and there is no 100% efficient conversion system so the process, itself will expend some energy.

It doesn't necessarily require energy from a source that generates CO2. For example, hydro-electric power wouldn't, but it's a bit inconvenient to carry the river and the dam with you in the trunk. :p

The same is true for rechargable electric cars. The power that is supposed to recharge the plug-in car has to come from somewhere... like your friendly local power plant that uses whatever technology they happen to use.

Getting back to what I said, SwiftFuel may be a good alternative to petroleum derived fuels. It may be cleaner. It may be cheaper. It may not compete with food-based fuels. My ONLY point was that, in the article, they claimed it's carbon neutral, and it isn't.

Don't sweat it. We disagree about enough that you don't have to force this issue. :cool:
That's all well and fine but it doesn't change what you stated, which I disagreed with by stating - "unless you can come up with a zero co2 emitting source for energy to produce hydrogen." So IF you have a "green" source of energy to "make" hydrogen then you could be correct but that is a big IF.

But yes, we agree that it's misleading for them to claim carbon neutral.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
67,136
3,834
126
For palehorse:

The Eco-Marathon is an annual competition sponsored by Shell, in which participants build special vehicles to achieve the highest possible fuel efficiency. The Eco-Marathon is held around the world with events in the UK, Finland, France, Holland, Japan, and the USA.

The events are entered by a range participants from enthusiastic amateurs to university teams and major motor manufacturers with a variety of designs. The only two motor manufacturers to have any success in the event have been Ford[1] and Honda.[citation needed]

A world record was set by a French team in 2003 called Microjoule with a performance of 10,277 miles per gallon (MPG) (3,638 km/L). The current record is 12,665 MPG (4,483 km/L), set in 2005 by the PAC-Car II.
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[edit] Cellulosic ethanol
Main article: Cellulosic ethanol
Sugars for ethanol fermentation can be obtained from cellulose.[22][23] Until recently, however, the cost of the cellulase enzymes capable of hydrolyzing cellulose has been prohibitive. The Canadian firm Iogen brought the first cellulose-based ethanol plant on-stream in 2004.[24] Its primary consumer so far has been the Canadian government, which, along with the United States Department of Energy, has invested heavily in the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. Deployment of this technology could turn a number of cellulose-containing agricultural byproducts, such as corncobs, straw, and sawdust, into renewable energy resources. Other enzyme companies are developing genetically engineered fungi that produce large volumes of cellulase, xylanase, and hemicellulase enzymes. These would convert agricultural residues such as corn stover, wheat straw, and sugar cane bagasse and energy crops such as switchgrass into fermentable sugars.[25]

Cellulose-bearing materials typically also contain other polysaccharides, including hemicellulose. When hydrolyzed, hemicellulose decomposes into mostly five-carbon sugars such as xylose. S. cerevisiae, the yeast most commonly used for ethanol production, cannot metabolize xylose. Other yeasts and bacteria are under investigation to ferment xylose and other pentoses into ethanol.[26]

On January 14, 2008, General Motors announced a partnership with Coskata, Inc. The goal is to produce cellulosic ethanol cheaply, with an eventual goal of US$1 per U.S. gallon ($0.30/L) for the fuel. The partnership plans to begin producing the fuel in large quantity by the end of 2008. By 2011 a full-scale plant will come on line, capable of producing 50 to 100 million gallons of ethanol a year (200?400 ML/a).[27]


[edit] Prospective technologies
The anaerobic bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii, recently discovered in commercial chicken wastes, can produce ethanol from single-carbon sources including synthesis gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that can be generated from the partial combustion of either fossil fuels or biomass. Use of these bacteria to produce ethanol from synthesis gas has progressed to the pilot plant stage at the BRI Energy facility in Fayetteville, Arkansas.[28]

Another prospective technology is the closed-loop ethanol plant.[29] Ethanol produced from corn has a number of critics who suggest that it is primarily just recycled fossil fuels because of the energy required to grow the grain and convert it into ethanol. There is also the issue of competition with use of corn for food production. However, the closed-loop ethanol plant attempts to address this criticism. In a closed-loop plant, the energy for the distillation comes from fermented manure, produced from cattle that have been fed the by-products from the distillation. The leftover manure is then used to fertilize the soil used to grow the grain. Such a process is expected to have a much lower fossil fuel requirement.[30]

Though in an early stage of research, there is some development of alternative production methods that use feed stocks such as municipal waste or recycled products, rice hulls, sugarcane bagasse, small diameter trees, wood chips, and switchgrass.[31]


[edit] Testing

Near infrared spectrum of liquid ethanol.Breweries and biofuel plants employ two methods for measuring ethanol concentration. Infrared ethanol sensors measure the vibrational frequency of dissolved ethanol using the CH band at 2900 cm-1. This method uses a relatively inexpensive solid state sensor that compares the CH band with a reference band to calculate the ethanol content. The calculation makes use of the Beer-Lambert law. Alternatively, by measuring the density of the starting material and the density of the product, using a hydrometer, the change in specific gravity during fermentation indicates the alcohol content. This inexpensive and indirect method has a long history in the beer brewing industry.


[edit] Purification
Main article: Ethanol purification
Ethylene hydration or brewing produces an ethanol?water mixture. For most industrial and fuel uses, the ethanol must be purified. Fractional distillation can concentrate ethanol to 95.6% by weight (89.5 mole%). This mixture is an azeotrope with a boiling point of 78.1 °C, and cannot be further purified by distillation.

In one common industrial method to obtain absolute alcohol, a small quantity of benzene is added to rectified spirit and the mixture is then distilled. Absolute alcohol is obtained in the third fraction, which distills over at 78.3 °C (351.4 K).[11] Because a small amount of the benzene used remains in the solution, absolute alcohol produced by this method is not suitable for consumption, as benzene is carcinogenic.[32]

There is also an absolute alcohol production process by desiccation using glycerol. Alcohol produced by this method is known as spectroscopic alcohol ? so called because the absence of benzene makes it suitable as a solvent in spectroscopy.

Other methods for obtaining absolute ethanol include desiccation using adsorbents such as starch or zeolites, which adsorb water preferentially, as well as azeotropic distillation and extractive distillation.



[edit] Grades of ethanol

[edit] Denatured alcohol
Main article: Denatured alcohol
Pure ethanol and alcoholic beverages are heavily taxed, but ethanol has many uses that do not involve consumption by humans. To relieve the tax burden on these uses, most jurisdictions waive the tax when an agent has been added to the ethanol to render it unfit to drink. These include bittering agents such as denatonium benzoate and toxins such as methanol, naphtha, and pyridine. Products of this kind are called denatured alcohol.[33][34]


[edit] Absolute ethanol
Absolute or anhydrous alcohol generally refers to purified ethanol, containing no more than one percent water. Absolute alcohol not intended for human consumption often contains trace amounts of toxic benzene (used to remove water by azeotropic distillation). Generally this kind of ethanol is used as solvents for lab and industrial settings where water will disrupt a desired reaction.

Pure ethanol is classed as 200 proof in the USA, equivalent to 175 degrees proof in the UK system.


[edit] Use

[edit] As a fuel
Fuel type MJ/L MJ/kg Research
octane
number
Ethanol 23.5 31.1[35] 129
Methanol 17.9 19.9 123
Regular Gasoline 34.8 44.4[36] Min 91
Premium Gasoline Min 95
Aviation gasoline
(high octane gasoline, not Jet fuel) 33.5 46.8
Gasohol
(90% gasoline + 10% ethanol) 33.7 93/94
Autogas (LPG)
(60% Propane + 40% Butane) 26.8
Liquefied natural gas 25.3 ~55
Diesel 38.60 45.41 25
Volumetric energy density of some fuels compared with ethanol:[37]

Main article: Ethanol fuel
The largest single use of ethanol is as a motor fuel and fuel additive. The largest national fuel ethanol industries exist in Brazil (gasoline sold in Brazil contains at least 25% ethanol and anhydrous ethanol is also used as fuel in more than 90% of new cars sold in the country). The Brazilian production of ethanol is praised for the high carbon sequestration capabilities of the sugar cane plantations, thus making it a real option to combat climate change.[38]

Henry Ford designed the first mass-produced automobile, the famed Model T Ford, to run on pure anhydrous (ethanol) alcohol -- he said it was "the fuel of the future". Today, however, 100% pure ethanol is not approved as a motor vehicle fuel in the US. Added to gasoline, ethanol reduces ground-level ozone formation by lowering volatile organic compound and hydrocarbon emissions, decreasing carcinogenic benzene, and butadiene, emissions, and particulate matter emissions from gasoline combustion.[39]

Prior to the development of electronic fuel injection (EFI) and computerized engine management, the lower energy content of ethanol required that the engine carburetor be rejetted to permit a larger volume of fuel to mix with the intake air. EFI is able to actively compensate for varying fuel energy densities by monitoring the oxygen content of exhaust gases. However, a standard EFI gasoline engine can typically only tolerate up to 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. Higher ethanol ratios require either larger-volume fuel injectors or an increase in fuel rail pressure to deliver the greater liquid volume needed to equal the energy content of pure gasoline.

Today, more than 20% of the Brazilian fleet of cars on the streets[40] are able to use 100% ethanol as fuel, which includes ethanol-only engines and flex-fuel engines. Flex-fuel engines in Brazil are able to work with all ethanol, all gasoline or any mixture of both. In the US flex-fuel vehicles can run on 0% to 85% ethanol (15% gasoline) since higher ethanol blends are not yet allowed. Brazil supports this population of ethanol-burning automobiles with large national infrastructure that produces ethanol from domestically grown sugar cane. Sugar cane not only has a greater concentration of sucrose than corn (by about 30%), but is also much easier to extract. The bagasse generated by the process is not wasted, but is utilized in power plants as a surprisingly efficient fuel to produce electricity.

World production of ethanol in 2006 was 51 gigalitres (13,000,000,000 US gal), with 69% of the world supply coming from Brazil and the United States.[41]

The United States fuel ethanol industry is based largely on corn. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, as of October 30, 2007, 131 grain ethanol bio-refineries in the United States have the capacity to produce 7.0 billion US gallons (26 GL) of ethanol per year. An additional 72 construction projects underway (in the U.S.) can add 6.4 billion gallons of new capacity in the next 18 months. Over time, it is believed that a material portion of the ~150 billion gallon per year market for gasoline will begin to be replaced with fuel ethanol.[42]

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires that 4 billion gallons of "renewable fuel" be used in 2006 and this requirement will grow to a yearly production of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.[43]


A Ford Taurus "fueled by clean burning ethanol" owned by New York City.In the United States, ethanol is most commonly blended with gasoline as a 10% ethanol blend nicknamed "gasohol". This blend is widely sold throughout the U.S. Midwest, and in cities required by the 1990 Clean Air Act to oxygenate their gasoline during the winter.


[edit] Controversy
Further information: Food vs fuel
It is disputed whether ethanol as an automotive fuel results in a net energy gain or loss. As reported in "The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: an Update,"[44] the energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) for ethanol made from corn in the U.S. is 1.34 (it yields 34% more energy than it takes to produce it). Input energy includes natural gas based fertilizers, farm equipment, transformation from corn or other materials, and transportation. However, other researchers report that the production of ethanol consumes more energy than it yields.[45][46] In comparison, sugar cane ethanol EROEI is at around 8 (it yields 8 joules for each joule used to produce it).[citation needed] Recent research suggests that cellulosic crops such as switchgrass provide a much better net energy production than corn, producing over five times as much energy as the total used to produce the crop and convert it to fuel.[47] If this research is confirmed, cellulosic crops will most likely displace corn as the main fuel crop for producing bioethanol.

Michael Grunwald reports that one person could be fed 365 days "on the corn needed to fill an ethanol-fueled SUV".[48] He further reports that though "hyped as an eco-friendly fuel, ethanol increases global warming, destroys forests and inflates food prices." Environmentalists, livestock farmers, and opponents of subsidies say that increased ethanol production won't meet energy goals and may damage the environment, while at the same time causing worldwide food prices to soar. Some of the controversial subsidies in the past have included more than $10 billion to Archer-Daniels-Midland since 1980.[49][neutrality disputed] Critics also speculate that as ethanol is more widely used, changing irrigation practices could greatly increase pressure on water resources. In October 2007, 28 environmental groups decried the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), a legislative effort intended to increase ethanol production, and said that the measure will "lead to substantial environmental damage and a system of biofuels production that will not benefit family farmers...will not promote sustainable agriculture and will not mitigate global climate change."[50][51]

Recent articles have also blamed subsidized ethanol production for the nearly 200% increase in milk prices since 2004,[52] although that is disputed by some[citation needed]. Ethanol production uses the starch portion of corn, but the leftover protein can be used to create a high-nutrient, low-cost animal feed.[53]

In 2007 the United Nations' independent expert on the right to food, called for a five-year moratorium on biofuel production from food crops, to allow time for development of non-food sources. He called recent increases in food costs because of fuel production, such as the quadrupling of world corn price in one year, a growing "catastrophe" for the poor.[54] In February 2007, riots occurred in Mexico because of the skyrocketing price of tortillas. Ethanol has been credited as the reason for this increase in food prices [1]. The demand for corn has had a rippling effect on many corn-based products, like tortillas. The effects of ethanol and the increasing cost of food have also been felt in Pakistan, Indonesia, and Egypt [2].

Oil has historically had a much higher EROEI than corn produced ethanol, according to some[citation needed]. However, oil must be refined into gasoline before it can be used for automobile fuel. Refining, as well as exploration and drilling, consumes energy. The difference between the energy in the fuel (output energy) and the energy needed to produce it (input energy) is often expressed as a percent of the input energy and called net energy gain (or loss). Several studies released in 2002 estimated that the net energy gain for corn ethanol is between 21 and 34 percent. The net energy loss for MTBE is about 33 percent. When added to gasoline, ethanol can replace MTBE as an anti-knock agent without poisoning drinking water as MTBE does. In Brazil, where the broadest and longest ethanol producing experiment took place, improvements in agricultural practices and ethanol production improvements led to an increase in ethanol net energy gain from 300% to over 800% in recent years.[citation needed] Consuming known oil reserves is increasing oil exploration and drilling energy consumption which is reducing oil EROEI (and energy balance) further.[55]

Opponents claim that corn ethanol production does not result in a net energy gain or that the consequences of large scale ethanol production to the food industry and environment offset any potential gains from ethanol. It has been estimated that "if every bushel of U.S. corn, wheat, rice and soybean were used to produce ethanol, it would only cover about 4% of U.S. energy needs on a net basis."[56] Many of the issues raised could likely be fixed by techniques now in development that produce ethanol from agricultural waste, such as paper waste, switchgrass, and other materials, but EIA Forecasts Significant Shortfall in Cellulosic Biofuel Production Compared to Target Set by Renewable Fuel Standard.[57]

Proponents cite the potential gains to the U.S. economy both from domestic fuel production and increased demand for corn. Optimistic calculations project that the United States is capable of producing enough ethanol to completely replace gasoline consumption.[citation needed] In comparison, Brazil's ethanol consumption today covers more than 50% of all energy used by vehicles in that country.

In the United States, preferential regulatory and tax treatment of ethanol automotive fuels introduces complexities beyond its energy economics alone. North American automakers have in 2006 and 2007 promoted a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, marketed as E85, and their flex-fuel vehicles, e.g. GM's "Live Green, Go Yellow" campaign.[58] The apparent motivation is the nature of U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which give an effective 54% fuel efficiency bonus to vehicles capable of running on 85% alcohol blends over vehicles not adapted to run on 85% alcohol blends.[59] In addition to this auto manufacturer-driven impetus for 85% alcohol blends, the United States Environmental Protection Agency had authority to mandate that minimum proportions of oxygenates be added to automotive gasoline on regional and seasonal bases from 1992 until 2006 in an attempt to reduce air pollution, in particular ground-level ozone and smog.[60] In the United States, incidents of methyl tert(iary)-butyl ether (MTBE) groundwater contamination have been recorded in the majority of the 50 states,[61] and the State of California's ban on the use of MTBE as a gasoline additive has further driven the more widespread use of ethanol as the most common fuel oxygenate.[62]

A February 7, 2008 Associated Press article stated, "The widespread use of ethanol from corn could result in nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the gasoline it would replace because of expected land-use changes, researchers concluded Thursday. The study challenges the rush to biofuels as a response to global warming."[63]

One acre of land can yield about 7,110 pounds (3,225 kg) of corn, which can be processed into 328 gallons (1240.61 liters) of ethanol. That is about 26.1 pounds (11.84 kg) of corn per gallon.


[edit] Ethanol Fuel Cells
Main article: Direct-ethanol fuel cell
Ethanol may be used as a fuel to power Direct-ethanol fuel cells (DEFC) in order to produce electricity and the by-products of water (H20) and carbon dioxide (CO2).[64] Platinum is commonly used as an anode in such fuel cells in order to achieve a power density that is comparable to competing technologies. Until recently the high price of platinum has been cost prohibitive. A company called Acta Nanotech has created platinum free nanostructured anodes using more common and therefore less expensive metals.[65] A vehicle using a DEFC and non-platinum nanostructured anodes was used in the Shell Eco-Marathon 2007 by a team from Offenburg Germany which achieved an efficiency of 2716 kilometers per liter (6388 miles per gallon).[66]

 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
101,400
5,413
126
Originally posted by: 5to1baby1in5

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 buy up the competition in its infancy.
fixed.

'big oil' is funding energy startups all over the place right now. every single one of them wants to patent as many cheap fuel processes as possible and make money off the patent monopoly.
 

Jeff7

Lifer
Jan 4, 2001
41,604
17
81
As long as they don't take away from food crops to grow fuel crops, fine.
Doing so has already done enough to screw with the price of basic foodstuffs.

I'd sooner see more research devoted to battery research, for the use of electric cars.
 

frostedflakes

Diamond Member
Mar 1, 2005
7,929
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.
Not necessarily. There is a lot of R&D being done on algae that may be able to offer orders of magnitude more oil per acre than traditional crops. The best part is that these algae farms could be placed on "useless," arid land (deserts in the southwest, for example) and would have no effect on our food supply.

I also don't see why a good chunk of our energy needs couldn't be provided by waste material -- food scraps, used cooking oil, etc. Offset the rest with high efficiency algae. Sounds very doable to me. :)

Also, your point about them being derivatives of oil is no longer applicable if we transition completely to a biofuel economy. Even corn ethanol, which is an extremely inefficient biofuel feedstock, has an EROEI of 0.8 (I've read as high as 1.2 from some places, but I don't know if I buy that). By the way, the only people pushing corn ethanol are the farming lobbyists and uninformed. I'd hope anybody with a lick of sense would realize that there are much better alternatives. Brazil's ethanol program is estimated to have an EROEI of 8:1 or higher. Obviously sugarcane isn't the solution for us, but it proves that using the proper methods and feedstock, biofuels can offer very favorable energy surpluses.

And something kind of interesting about ethanol, because somebody eventually brings up the lower gas mileage. Even though it has a lower energy density than gasoline, it has properties that allow it to be burned much more efficiently than gasoline. For example, it is much more resistant to pre-ignition than gasoline, allowing for significantly higher compression. There was an EPA study where they modified an ICE to take full advantage of alcohols, and I believe they were able to achieve efficiency on par with NA diesel engines (over 40%; most gasoline engines are about 30% efficient I believe). An engine designed for ethanol (as opposed to current E85 engines, which basically change a few hoses to make them "work" with ethanol) should be able to achieve much better fuel economy than our current gas engines.
 

Oceandevi

Diamond Member
Jan 20, 2006
3,085
1
0
Could we not use the grasses that only need dirt and rainfall, hell I see the grass here along the highways get 4 feet high before they come and chop it all down. Thats bio mass right? Fucking tons of it right there off the highway.
 

Oceandevi

Diamond Member
Jan 20, 2006
3,085
1
0
Originally posted by: 5to1baby1in5
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.
what they mean is that using biomass from the surface is better then using oil from below ground which is added to the surface total. This make sense? the oil below is pretty much isolated until drilled. The stuff up here can me modified but it is already a part of the system.
 

Oceandevi

Diamond Member
Jan 20, 2006
3,085
1
0
Originally posted by: K1052
Originally posted by: Specop 007
Originally posted by: Xavier434
Specop, I think what you really need to understand is that coming up with an effective way to use biofuels is something that is going to take a lot of time as well as trial and error. I fully understand why you do not support them right now given the current results of our progress, but you really need to be more patient. Even if it turns out that biofuels do not end up playing a part in the final solution to the problem at hand, it is well worth putting in the effort that this country is doing. With each failure that we come up with also comes experience and knowledge. Hopefully, that experience and knowledge will eventually lead to good results.

Also, I understand that there are additional way to try and solve this issue, but I don't believe in putting all of my eggs in one basket. It is a good thing that solutions are being explored from multiple angles.
Well, let me just say this.
I've done a lot of readin on biofuels. At one time I was pretty optimistic about them as well. Having come from farm country and seen just how crazy ethanol plants are in regards to grain usage and water usage as well as having done a lot of readin about biofuels i can tell you right now, up front. Biofeuls will not say us. If they do I fear the cure is worse then the disease, as we'll end up driving ourselves through a great desert known as the US of A as we've tapped all available water to make the fuel.

But I'm glad some are still optimistic about it. :)
Conventional ethanol production from corn is extremely water intensive, there is no doubt about that. However that particular technology is not what we're talking about here.
Rainfall would keep many plants alive, but irrigation would speed the growth up I assume.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: frostedflakes
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.
Not necessarily. There is a lot of R&D being done on algae that may be able to offer orders of magnitude more oil per acre than traditional crops. The best part is that these algae farms could be placed on "useless," arid land (deserts in the southwest, for example) and would have no effect on our food supply.

I also don't see why a good chunk of our energy needs couldn't be provided by waste material -- food scraps, used cooking oil, etc. Offset the rest with high efficiency algae. Sounds very doable to me. :)

Also, your point about them being derivatives of oil is no longer applicable if we transition completely to a biofuel economy. Even corn ethanol, which is an extremely inefficient biofuel feedstock, has an EROEI of 0.8 (I've read as high as 1.2 from some places, but I don't know if I buy that). By the way, the only people pushing corn ethanol are the farming lobbyists and uninformed. I'd hope anybody with a lick of sense would realize that there are much better alternatives. Brazil's ethanol program is estimated to have an EROEI of 8:1 or higher. Obviously sugarcane isn't the solution for us, but it proves that using the proper methods and feedstock, biofuels can offer very favorable energy surpluses.

And something kind of interesting about ethanol, because somebody eventually brings up the lower gas mileage. Even though it has a lower energy density than gasoline, it has properties that allow it to be burned much more efficiently than gasoline. For example, it is much more resistant to pre-ignition than gasoline, allowing for significantly higher compression. There was an EPA study where they modified an ICE to take full advantage of alcohols, and I believe they were able to achieve efficiency on par with NA diesel engines (over 40%; most gasoline engines are about 30% efficient I believe). An engine designed for ethanol (as opposed to current E85 engines, which basically change a few hoses to make them "work" with ethanol) should be able to achieve much better fuel economy than our current gas engines.
"EROEI of 0.8" - Completely false. That is from the thoroughly debunked Pimental BS. Any reputable study has put it well above 1.(from 1.1 to 1.45+)
Just sayin'...
 

Kerouactivist

Diamond Member
Jul 12, 2001
4,655
0
76
I may be totally wrong here but sorghum is quite abit different from corn...It will grow in place where corn or soybeans really doesn't do well...At least i remember my grandpa growing sorghum in pasture land that wouldn't sustain corn production (basically cattle pasture...which is an inefficient use of land to begin with )...doesn't that make a difference or am I totally off base....

Also, i'm not a vegetarian but to see meat double in price (and/or increase due to increased competition from livestock v. sorgham) really wouldn't bother me at all as long as other proteins didn't increase...

 

frostedflakes

Diamond Member
Mar 1, 2005
7,929
1
0
Originally posted by: Oceandevi
Could we not use the grasses that only need dirt and rainfall, hell I see the grass here along the highways get 4 feet high before they come and chop it all down. Thats bio mass right? Fucking tons of it right there off the highway.
Hopefully we'll be starting to do a lot more of this in the near future. Cellulosic processing plants are starting to be demonstrated, and a lot of companies are looking to build commercial-scale ones in the next few years.

Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
"EROEI of 0.8" - Completely false. That is from the thoroughly debunked Pimental BS. Any reputable study has put it well above 1.(from 1.1 to 1.45+)
Just sayin'...
My mistake, it looks like you're right, newer studies point to a positive return. But still, the EROEI is not that impressive, and corn ethanol is a poor solution for many other reasons.
 

smack Down

Diamond Member
Sep 10, 2005
4,507
0
0
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
Originally posted by: frostedflakes
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.
Not necessarily. There is a lot of R&D being done on algae that may be able to offer orders of magnitude more oil per acre than traditional crops. The best part is that these algae farms could be placed on "useless," arid land (deserts in the southwest, for example) and would have no effect on our food supply.

I also don't see why a good chunk of our energy needs couldn't be provided by waste material -- food scraps, used cooking oil, etc. Offset the rest with high efficiency algae. Sounds very doable to me. :)

Also, your point about them being derivatives of oil is no longer applicable if we transition completely to a biofuel economy. Even corn ethanol, which is an extremely inefficient biofuel feedstock, has an EROEI of 0.8 (I've read as high as 1.2 from some places, but I don't know if I buy that). By the way, the only people pushing corn ethanol are the farming lobbyists and uninformed. I'd hope anybody with a lick of sense would realize that there are much better alternatives. Brazil's ethanol program is estimated to have an EROEI of 8:1 or higher. Obviously sugarcane isn't the solution for us, but it proves that using the proper methods and feedstock, biofuels can offer very favorable energy surpluses.

And something kind of interesting about ethanol, because somebody eventually brings up the lower gas mileage. Even though it has a lower energy density than gasoline, it has properties that allow it to be burned much more efficiently than gasoline. For example, it is much more resistant to pre-ignition than gasoline, allowing for significantly higher compression. There was an EPA study where they modified an ICE to take full advantage of alcohols, and I believe they were able to achieve efficiency on par with NA diesel engines (over 40%; most gasoline engines are about 30% efficient I believe). An engine designed for ethanol (as opposed to current E85 engines, which basically change a few hoses to make them "work" with ethanol) should be able to achieve much better fuel economy than our current gas engines.
"EROEI of 0.8" - Completely false. That is from the thoroughly debunked Pimental BS. Any reputable study has put it well above 1.(from 1.1 to 1.45+)
Just sayin'...
You mean any study paid for by the farm lobbyists.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: frostedflakes
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
"EROEI of 0.8" - Completely false. That is from the thoroughly debunked Pimental BS. Any reputable study has put it well above 1.(from 1.1 to 1.45+)
Just sayin'...
My mistake, it looks like you're right, newer studies point to a positive return. But still, the EROEI is not that impressive, and corn ethanol is a poor solution for many other reasons.
No, it could be much better and it has been getting better with better technologies and better hybrids. Sorghum could possibly be a replacement due to it's better field density, however it doesn't have byproducts useful for feed and other things like corn ethanol(not saying it outweighs the benefits though). Obviously there are potentially better ways to produce ethanol but none are mature/proven enough for prime time. And the "corn lobby" is NOT preventing these as some suggest. The industry will change with the technology and has stated it will move to better/more efficient production when proven.

Edit - I looked up sorghum again and the sweet variety does have a grain byproduct that could be used for animal feed just like a DDG although it's not quite the same.


...................................


Originally posted by: smack Down
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
"EROEI of 0.8" - Completely false. That is from the thoroughly debunked Pimental BS. Any reputable study has put it well above 1.(from 1.1 to 1.45+)
Just sayin'...
You mean any study paid for by the farm lobbyists.
Have you looked at any of the studies? Obviously not.
 

frostedflakes

Diamond Member
Mar 1, 2005
7,929
1
0
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
Originally posted by: frostedflakes
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
"EROEI of 0.8" - Completely false. That is from the thoroughly debunked Pimental BS. Any reputable study has put it well above 1.(from 1.1 to 1.45+)
Just sayin'...
My mistake, it looks like you're right, newer studies point to a positive return. But still, the EROEI is not that impressive, and corn ethanol is a poor solution for many other reasons.
No, it could be much better and it has been getting better with better technologies and better hybrids. Sorgum could possibly be a replacement due to it's better field density, however it doesn't have byproducts useful for feed and other things like corn ethanol(not saying it outweighs the benefits though). Obviously there are potentially better ways to produce ethanol but none are mature/proven enough for prime time. And the "corn lobby" is NOT preventing these as some suggest. The industry will change with the technology and has stated it will move to better/more efficient production when proven.
I'm not so much against corn ethanol for the very near future, I understand that there are federal quotas for ethanol that must be met, so there's probably not much of a choice at the time -- we need to make ethanol *now* and the tried and tested way to do so is with corn starch. The sooner we start transitioning to cellulosic biofuel, though, the better.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: frostedflakes
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
Originally posted by: frostedflakes
Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
"EROEI of 0.8" - Completely false. That is from the thoroughly debunked Pimental BS. Any reputable study has put it well above 1.(from 1.1 to 1.45+)
Just sayin'...
My mistake, it looks like you're right, newer studies point to a positive return. But still, the EROEI is not that impressive, and corn ethanol is a poor solution for many other reasons.
No, it could be much better and it has been getting better with better technologies and better hybrids. Sorgum could possibly be a replacement due to it's better field density, however it doesn't have byproducts useful for feed and other things like corn ethanol(not saying it outweighs the benefits though). Obviously there are potentially better ways to produce ethanol but none are mature/proven enough for prime time. And the "corn lobby" is NOT preventing these as some suggest. The industry will change with the technology and has stated it will move to better/more efficient production when proven.
I'm not so much against corn ethanol for the very near future, I understand that there are federal quotas for ethanol that must be met, so there's probably not much of a choice at the time -- we need to make ethanol *now* and the tried and tested way to do so is with corn starch. The sooner we start transitioning to cellulosic biofuel, though, the better.
I agree. It's not a permanent solution nor a "total" solution but as it sits now, it's better than nothing.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
Hey moonbeam, thanks for that info.. it was definitely worth reading!

Here's an interesting option...
Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol
Silicon Valley is experimenting with bacteria that have been genetically altered to provide 'renewable petroleum'

?Ten years ago I could never have imagined I?d be doing this,? says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. ?I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to ? especially the ones coming out of business school ? this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.?

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs ? very, very small ones ? so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls ?renewable petroleum?. After that, he grins, ?it?s a brave new world?.

Mr Pal is a senior director of LS9, one of several companies in or near Silicon Valley that have spurned traditional high-tech activities such as software and networking and embarked instead on an extraordinary race to make $140-a-barrel oil (£70) from Saudi Arabia obsolete. ?All of us here ? everyone in this company and in this industry, are aware of the urgency,? Mr Pal says.

What is most remarkable about what they are doing is that instead of trying to reengineer the global economy ? as is required, for example, for the use of hydrogen fuel ? they are trying to make a product that is interchangeable with oil. The company claims that this ?Oil 2.0? will not only be renewable but also carbon negative ? meaning that the carbon it emits will be less than that sucked from the atmosphere by the raw materials from which it is made.

LS9 has already convinced one oil industry veteran of its plan: Bob Walsh, 50, who now serves as the firm?s president after a 26-year career at Shell, most recently running European supply operations in London. ?How many times in your life do you get the opportunity to grow a multi-billion-dollar company?? he asks. It is a bold statement from a man who works in a glorified cubicle in a San Francisco industrial estate for a company that describes itself as being ?prerevenue?.

Inside LS9?s cluttered laboratory ? funded by $20 million of start-up capital from investors including Vinod Khosla, the Indian-American entrepreneur who co-founded Sun Micro-systems ? Mr Pal explains that LS9?s bugs are single-cell organisms, each a fraction of a billionth the size of an ant. They start out as industrial yeast or nonpathogenic strains of E. coli, but LS9 modifies them by custom-de-signing their DNA. ?Five to seven years ago, that process would have taken months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,? he says. ?Now it can take weeks and cost maybe $20,000.?

Because crude oil (which can be refined into other products, such as petroleum or jet fuel) is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, it does not take much fiddling to get the desired result.

For fermentation to take place you need raw material, or feedstock, as it is known in the biofuels industry. Anything will do as long as it can be broken down into sugars, with the byproduct ideally burnt to produce electricity to run the plant.

The company is not interested in using corn as feedstock, given the much-publicised problems created by using food crops for fuel, such as the tortilla inflation that recently caused food riots in Mexico City. Instead, different types of agricultural waste will be used according to whatever makes sense for the local climate and economy: wheat straw in California, for example, or woodchips in the South.

Using genetically modified bugs for fermentation is essentially the same as using natural bacteria to produce ethanol, although the energy-intensive final process of distillation is virtually eliminated because the bugs excrete a substance that is almost pump-ready.

The closest that LS9 has come to mass production is a 1,000-litre fermenting machine, which looks like a large stainless-steel jar, next to a wardrobe-sized computer connected by a tangle of cables and tubes. It has not yet been plugged in. The machine produces the equivalent of one barrel a week and takes up 40 sq ft of floor space.

However, to substitute America?s weekly oil consumption of 143 million barrels, you would need a facility that covered about 205 square miles, an area roughly the size of Chicago.

That is the main problem: although LS9 can produce its bug fuel in laboratory beakers, it has no idea whether it will be able produce the same results on a nationwide or even global scale.

?Our plan is to have a demonstration-scale plant operational by 2010 and, in parallel, we?ll be working on the design and construction of a commercial-scale facility to open in 2011,? says Mr Pal, adding that if LS9 used Brazilian sugar cane as its feedstock, its fuel would probably cost about $50 a barrel.

Are Americans ready to be putting genetically modified bug excretion in their cars? ?It?s not the same as with food,? Mr Pal says. ?We?re putting these bacteria in a very isolated container: their entire universe is in that tank. When we?re done with them, they?re destroyed.?

Besides, he says, there is greater good being served. ?I have two children, and climate change is something that they are going to face. The energy crisis is something that they are going to face. We have a collective responsibility to do this.?

Power points

? Google has set up an initiative to develop electricity from cheap renewable energy sources

? Craig Venter, who mapped the human genome, has created a company to create hydrogen and ethanol from genetically engineered bugs

? The US Energy and Agriculture Departments said in 2005 that there was land available to produce enough biomass (nonedible plant parts) to replace 30 per cent of current liquid transport fuels
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
UPDATE
Another article on bacteria...

Startup Uses Bacteria to Make Synthetic Gas, Could Knock Off Ethanol

Earth's oldest lifeforms may soon be driving our cars

Tired of ethanol? So is a Silicon Valley startup named LS9. It's looking to knock off the growing ethanol market and put an end to the fossil fuel era with cheap microbial synthetic gas.

The need for such progress is pressing. Currently, the ethanol industry in booming thanks to it being a "low hanging fruit" in that it is relatively easy to produce from a chemical standpoint. However, the demand for sugar crops to make ethanol is driving up food prices.

Meanwhile, faced with high gas prices at the pump, more and more people are switching to ethanol. Those who don't are hit with both high food prices and high gas prices. While long-term solutions like cellulosic ethanol promise a possible eventual solution, there's no sign that they are ready for the market.

LS9 looks to take advantage of this state of crisis and use it to leverage its own unique solution. LS9 has created special genetically engineered yeast and E. Coli bacteria. These friendly microbes can take biowaste and weeds (instead of sugar) and use "previously undiscovered metabolic pathways" to convert the sugar components of cellulose into long chain hydrocarbons, resembling crude oil.

Such hydrocarbons are advantageous over ethanol in that they pack a high energy density at a low weight. They could also be used to make plastic or other petroleum products and be refined using traditional techniques. The process, according to LS9 is carbon neutral, minimizing its environmental impact. And its energy efficient -- 65 percent less energy is required than in standard commercial ethanol production.

The company is being extremely secretive about how it modified the microbes -- about the only details available are that it appears that the microorganisms take fatty acids and break them down into hydrocarbons, which are then excreted. From a chemistry standpoint, this likely involves either breaking off the hydrocarbon chain of triglycerides from their glycol backbones and then decarboxylating them, or cutting a hydrocarbon chain off at an unsaturated carbon bond, effectively splitting the fatty acid chains in two.

If it can live up to its bold claims, the biggest challenge LS9 faces is scaling its top-secret formula up to an industrial production level. They current have several reactors, the largest of which can make 1,000 liters of fuel. However to satisfy the millions of oil barrel demand, this would need to expand incredibly.

Whether LS9 can scale its product and keep costs down will likely make or break it. It faces tough competition from the fuel cell industry and microbial hydrogen. However, even if it can't find a home in the biofuel production business, it may still hold significant potential for relatively uncharted bioplastics market.
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,408
2
81
Now why should I be skeptical of a husband and wife team, or billy bob, or some unknown has solved out energy crisis, seemingly always when gas hits record highs, while the best universities and PhD scientists in the world can't?

They are pretty vague on details (wonder why?) at their site so I can't comment really.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
Originally posted by: Zebo
Now why should I be skeptical of a husband and wife team, or billy bob, or some unknown has solved out energy crisis, seemingly always when gas hits record highs, while the best universities and PhD scientists in the world can't?

They are pretty vague on details (wonder why?) at their site so I can't comment really.
I seem to recall that a couple of "best university in the world" dropouts sparked the personal computer revolution from their own garage. :D

Being skeptical is perfectly reasonable, but you never know...
 

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