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The bad news about bio-fuels.....

The bad news about bio-fuels.....

The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Several news articles on this and more to found on Google...


Taking into account the emissions produced throughout the production process, the study found that jatropha would emit between 2.5 and 6 times more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.

But bio-fuels make money... we had another thread on the downside of bio-fuels before, but this study suggests some will actually aggravate the situation.
Of course, what bio-fuels do is compete with food crops and food prices rise.

Nestle chair blames bio fuels for food price rises...

Food prices means poorer people struggle in cultures where food is already a problem and it is suggested by some that food prices have contributed to the unrest in some middle eastern countries....



The turmoil raging across the Middle East has been ascribed to a host of political and economic problems, among them inflation fanned by rising food and energy prices.


...there's been a lot of commentary that says U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is at least indirectly responsible for Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya because food inflation was the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of social unrest.

The road to hell..... as they say but one questions whether the intentions were good....



RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Good thing they haven't figgured out that you can also make natural gas from corn.

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

I think that what the actual biomass is, is irrelevant.  No matter what plant it is, it would only be economical if if can be cultivated and controlled and easily harvested.  This puts ANY biofuel in direct competition for arable land that might otherwise be used for growing food.  This must eventually lead to scarcity or at least, less surplus, either of which will lead to higher food prices.  

Unless one is able to find some sort of biomass that can be grown in a desert environment that's also accessible, competition with food crops is inevitable.  Another alternative is to plant biofuel sources only on fallowed land, but there's probably a raft of reasons why that's not ideal, which would crank up the cost of the biofuel and make it less attractive.


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RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Biodiesel-growing algae would be raised in pools or ponds filled with brackish water located in sunny deserts. Evaporation could be captured to provide fresh water to grow crops. Win, win, win.

"The future is so bright I have to wear shades." smile

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Re: the WSJ story

They're making the same mistake of getting food (edible fish: carp, tilapia, sardines) involved in the process. Bad P.R.

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Seems most of the startups have set 5 million barrels a year as a near term goal. A few dozen such plants could account for 5% of US consumption in pretty short order (~5 years~), that seems significant progress to me.

One question I have is do the bio-diesels suffer the same energy content deficiencies as ethanol?

A gallon of E85 (15% gasoline 85% ethanol) has only 70% the energy of a gallon of regular gasoline.

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Producing Biofuels from land that is difficult to farm is easy, trees do it all the time. The dificult part is developing a liquid fuel that is compatable with one of the few engine types that use liquid fuel.

Here's a problem, engineers solve it.

Also the goverment at one time, and I suspect it still does, pay farmers to not produce crops in a reserve capacity. So is it still a reserve?

The easest fuel to produce is methane, which with modification is compatable with at least two engine types, but the is a storage problem. So we have a solution, but another problem.
At least with methane, it can compete directly with fossel fuels of the same type (or maybe someone just wants to make a fast buck at our expence).

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

And with no "food" involved. Good stuff!

"...3000 gallons of algae oil per acre per year..."

= 71 barrels per year per acre. Oh dear. Big Oil would call that a small spill. Hopefully it can be scaled up and made more intensive.

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Again, have a look at www.withouthotair.com and see how much energy we could POSSIBLY make, economics aside, and compare it to how much we actually consume right now.  Like the author intends, this simple engineering analysis takes the hot air out of most of these schemes and scams in short order.

We won't be replacing fossil fuels with biomass in a truly significant way without massive disruptions to the way we live right now.  I'm not just talking about food prices either.

Algae oil isn't going to pay for itself until oil is at least $300 per barrel, at which point any number of alternatives become quite attractive.  Covering acres of land with covered ponds is a very capital intensive process, which isn't even worth doing from an economic perspective if your product is a lot more valuable than biofuel.

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Gee, I never thought that much about that bubble thing in my fish bowl would amout to much.
And we can do that with with wind power on abanded oil platforms.

I don't honestly think this is because of just biofuels. And it would not matter if we used natural or man-made fretlizers. The issue is crop land run off.
And to some extent, crop land needs some wash of the salts from the soils.

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

I am against ag subsidies, too.  It's a bad idea all the way around.  The disintegration of the small farm is a weak link in our security, from what I've heard.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

If you want to talk about climate change then the big farms are responsible on a local scale.
Much of England was small farms with small fields.
Hedges are a haven for wildlife. The same for stone walls. Also small farms have left the margins fee to encourage wildlife.
Collectively the hedges and walls have made for a better climate within the fields.
The rise of the supermarkets and the industrialised farms has seen mile after mile of hedges removed to create huge fields suitable for massive machinery.

I liked small farms. I liked the hedges and the copses, the woodland that often divided the farms.
There is nothing so bleak as mile after mile of rape seed crops. The occasional field of yellow or lavender, the different fields of different crops create a patchwork of colour. The modern intensive farming is not at all pleasing. Still, it will all be housing estates soon under new legislation.



RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Many small farms diappeared because there was no way to make a profit. Just as shoe factories made small shoe shops obsolete. Part of this is because of taxes and fees, and part is because of the cost of machines and enviromential regulations.

Also gone here are the tree lines that were planted to reduce the effects of wind errosion. They want to plant fence to fence, and in the bar ditches.

Also gone is dry land farming, because you can make more money with more water intensive crops.

Just to few people who want to work hard for nothing. They all went fishing.

RE: The bad news about bio-fuels.....

Quote (cranky108):

Just to few people who want to work hard for nothing. They all went fishing.

That is a priceless comment.  :)

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC

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