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Bio-fuel's, saviour or ecological disaster?


Guest Stephen Turner
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Guest Stephen Turner

I have my own views on this subject, but I would like to hear what other members think before weighing in.

To begin the debate a statement from Forum member George Monbiot.

" OIL PRODUCED FROM PLANTS SETS UP COMPETITION FOR FOOD BETWEEN CARS AND PEOPLE. PEOPLE- AND THE ENVIRONMENT- WILL LOSE."

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Guest Stephen Turner
I have my own views on this subject, but I would like to hear what other members think before weighing in.

To begin the debate a statement from Forum member George Monbiot.

" OIL PRODUCED FROM PLANTS SETS UP COMPETITION FOR FOOD BETWEEN CARS AND PEOPLE. PEOPLE- AND THE ENVIRONMENT- WILL LOSE."

Biofuels only from waste and waste products is reasonable.

Yes, I should have been more specific, I am not talking about reusables here, using old frying oil to run your car, but the planting of crops to replace oil, and the long term effect this activity will have on our Planet.

One statistic, A report from the Dutch consultancy Delft Hydrolics, shows that every ton of Palm oil results in 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or ten times as much as Petroleum produces.

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I have my own views on this subject, but I would like to hear what other members think before weighing in.

To begin the debate a statement from Forum member George Monbiot.

" OIL PRODUCED FROM PLANTS SETS UP COMPETITION FOR FOOD BETWEEN CARS AND PEOPLE. PEOPLE- AND THE ENVIRONMENT- WILL LOSE."

Biofuels only from waste and waste products is reasonable.

Yes, I should have been more specific, I am not talking about reusables here, using old frying oil to run your car, but the planting of crops to replace oil, and the long term effect this activity will have on our Planet.

One statistic, A report from the Dutch consultancy Delft Hydrolics, shows that every ton of Palm oil results in 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or ten times as much as Petroleum produces.

Welcome to the law of unintended consequences.

Here there is a great push for the production of ethanol from corn, a crop we grow in abundance. There has also been a huge upswing in the construction of distilleries to produce the stuff.

And…

The prices of ethanol are falling even with governmental price support,.

I think it simply a fad. Here today gone tomorrow. There is no real distribution system is place. The fuel itself is far less efficient than gasoline, and the current blend E85 more costly.

There are new models of cars and trucks that are flex fuel, that is able to use E85, but none of the older stuff will burn it. I’m certainly not going to trade my perfectly good 2003 and 2004 car, SUV and Pickup truck to purchase a flex fuel models.

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Another unintended consequence I read in the past two weeks (sadly I can't remember where) -

The drive to plant grain to produce ethanol is causing some countries to accelerate the destruction forests in order to have land for planting.

Just another example of trying to find a "One size fits All" solution gone astray. The bottom line is that where the use of grain makes economic / ecological sense - use it, where it doesn't - don't.

It should be obvious (but often isn't) the above statement is true for All alternate energy sources.

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Another unintended consequence I read in the past two weeks (sadly I can't remember where) -

The drive to plant grain to produce ethanol is causing some countries to accelerate the destruction forests in order to have land for planting.

Just another example of trying to find a "One size fits All" solution gone astray. The bottom line is that where the use of grain makes economic / ecological sense - use it, where it doesn't - don't.

It should be obvious (but often isn't) the above statement is true for All alternate energy sources.

Alternative fuels face a tough road. We still have ample supplies of crude, and its going to take about $100 a barrel pricing (IMO) to make any of the alternate fuel sources feasable and attractive.. I have a very hard time thinking that OPEC will allow crude to push to a price point that makes using something else attractive.

Perhaps progress will be made to make alternates more attractive from an price standpoint. I've no problem in the long run cutting the cord to the middle east. Can anyone say ANWAR and the coast of Florida?

Edited by Craig Lamson
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I have my own views on this subject, but I would like to hear what other members think before weighing in.

To begin the debate a statement from Forum member George Monbiot.

" OIL PRODUCED FROM PLANTS SETS UP COMPETITION FOR FOOD BETWEEN CARS AND PEOPLE. PEOPLE- AND THE ENVIRONMENT- WILL LOSE."

Biofuels only from waste and waste products is reasonable.

Yes, I should have been more specific, I am not talking about reusables here, using old frying oil to run your car, but the planting of crops to replace oil, and the long term effect this activity will have on our Planet.

One statistic, A report from the Dutch consultancy Delft Hydrolics, shows that every ton of Palm oil results in 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or ten times as much as Petroleum produces.

In Brazil, which IIRC is the worlds leading producer of the fuel, ethanol is made from sugar cane so it's not displacing staple food crops (Brazil exports most of its sugar a lot of what stays here is made into booze). There is the question of it leading to deforestation though. I don't know about sugar vs. palm oil but it is far more efficient than corn. The only reason the US uses corn rather than import sugar ethanol is domestic politics.

Ethanol isn't that much less efficient than gasoline car use about 25% more to go the same distance as with fossil fuel. Flex cars cost only marginally more than gasoline only models. Here at least it is more cost efficient to use ethanol than gas, the former used to be subsidized but no longer is so it is more cost efficient based on market prices. One thing that we fail to realize is that petroleum is highly subsidized in the sense that the US defense spending and foreign policy are largely tied to protecting access to that commodity. Cutting petroleum use would allow a cut in the former and alterations in the latter.

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  • 5 years later...

A bit hard to find an environment topic so this'll do I think:

Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks

Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science

How Donors Trust distributed millions to anti-climate groups

How Donors Trust distributed millions to anti-climate groups

The secretive funding network distributed $118m to 102 groups including some of the best-known thinktanks on the right

United States: Climate struggle heats up as Obama fails to act

Sunday, February 10, 2013

By Chris Williams

keystone-xl-pipeline-protest.jpg

For a moment he lost himself in the old, familiar dream. He imagined that he was master of the sky, that the world lay spread out beneath him, inviting him to travel where he willed. It was not the world of his own time that he saw, but the lost world of the dawn -- a rich and living panorama of hills and lakes and forests. He felt bitter envy of his unknown ancestors, who had flown with such freedom over all the earth, and who had let its beauty die.

-- Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars

Capitalism stands as a death sentinel over planetary life.

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  • 1 month later...

I guess you guys never heard of hemp...or hempseed oil for fuel, huh?

full article at http://www.hemp.com/hemp-university/uses-of-hemp/hemp-fuel/

Hemp biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as hemp. With over 30 million successful U.S. road miles hemp biodiesel could be the answer to our cry for renewable fuel sources. Learning more about renewable fuels does not mean we should not cut back on consumption but does help address the environmental affects of our choices. There is more to hemp as a renewable fuel source than you know.

Why Hemp Biodiesel?

  • Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine.
  • It can be stored anywhere that petroleum diesel fuel is stored. Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport because it is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a high flashpoint of about 300 F compared to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 125 F.
  • Biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as hemp.
  • Biodiesel is a proven fuel with over 30 million successful US road miles, and over 20 years of use in Europe.
  • When burned in a diesel engine, biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the pleasant smell of hemp, popcorn or french fries.
  • Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel in the US to complete EPA Tier I Health Effects Testing under section 211(B) of the Clean Air Act, which provide the most thorough inventory of environmental and human health effects attributes that current technology will allow.
  • Biodiesel is 11% oxygen by weight and contains no sulfur.
  • The use of biodiesel can extend the life of diesel engines because it is more lubricating than petroleum diesel fuel, while fuel consumption, auto ignition, power output, and engine torque are relatively unaffected by biodiesel.
  • The Congressional Budget Office, Department of Defense, US Department of Agriculture, and others have determined that biodiesel is the low cost alternative fuel option for fleets to meet requirements of the Energy Policy Act.

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Richard

Ethanaol made from cane sugar is a very eficient biofuel and has the advantage of being able to be used in a widerer variety of vehicles. Virtully all Brazilian cars and small trucks (except diesel ones) made in the last 5 years or so use "flex" technology meaning they can use gasoline, ethanol or any combo of the two. It does not displace food crops only 3% of Brazilian farmland is used for sugar and that includes it being being used for rubbing alcohol and other industrial uses, ethanol and sugar much of which is exported.

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Biofuel breakthrough turns virtually any plant into hydrogen

By Stephen C. Webster

Thursday, April 4, 2013 16:32 EDT

scientistlabgreen-shutterstock.jpg

Researchers at Virginia Tech announced Thursday that their latest breakthrough in hydrogen extraction technology could lead to widespread adoption of the substance as a fuel due to its ease of availability in virtually all plant matter, a reservoir previously impossible to tap.

The new process, described by a study in the April issue of the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie, uses a cocktail of 13 enzymes to strip plant matter of xylose, a sugar that exists in plant cells. The resulting hydrogen is of an such a “high purity” that researchers said they were able to approach 100 percent extraction, opening up a potential market for a much cheaper source of hydrogen than anything available today.

“The potential for profit and environmental benefits are why so many automobile, oil, and energy companies are working on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as the transportation of the future,” study author and Virginia Tech assistant professor Y.H. Percival Zhang said in an advisory. “Many people believe we will enter the hydrogen economy soon, with a market capacity of at least $1 trillion in the United States alone.”

The rise of such an alternative fuel could seriously disrupt the pollution-producing industries that run on oil and natural gas, and potentially spark a new industrial emphasis on growing plants with high levels of xylose in their cells. The environmental benefits of that potential future are twofold: the plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping in small part to address the climate crisis, and the resulting portable fuel only outputs water when burned.

Beyond hydrogen fuel cells in cars and industrial equipment, U.S. space agency NASA says that hydrogen in its super-cold liquid form makes an ideal fuel for space exploration due to its low molecular weight and extremely high energy output. If plants could be grown on a space station traveling to a distant solar system some day, it is possible future breakthroughs could lead to an onboard system that actually renders more fuel mid-flight.

Of course, there are potential downsides to Zhang’s enzyme cocktail, namely in the costs of production on a large scale, questions about disposal of the enzyme goo and remaining carbon, and the likelihood of endless legal battles over who owns patents on which enzymes or combinations thereof. Nevertheless, if the world is to move forward into a renewable energy future, this is still a pretty big step.

——

Edited by Steven Gaal
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