More fuel for the ethanol-debate fire...

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by galaxee, Jul 1, 2005.

  1. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    Playing with bacterial genomes is good fun, in my humble scientific opinion. But how useful can this be? And then you'll get those who whine about how we could somehow 'taint" the environment with them... because anything genetically engineered will surely end the world.

    We already have yeast manipulation figured out for our beer production. Unicellular organisms can only do so much. And then there's the issue of keeping them alive which for E. coli isn't too tough... but in a high-ethanol environment I don't know how they'd do... And how do they purify it? Hm. That's a question for a hardcore chemist I guess.

    I wonder how those guys are doing it.
     
  2. Marlin

    Marlin New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(galaxee\";p=\"104717)</div>
    I have no idea. However if they can every figure out how to make some type of fuel out of Kudzu, that's certainly the plant to do it with.

    Galaxee, I would imagine that you are quite familiar with Kudzu, being from North Carolina, but for those who are unfamiliar with Kudzu...

    Kudzu is the bane of the South. The railroads imported it from somewhere like Africa or Asia about a century ago to use as ground cover along railroad tracks. The problem is that it performed the task way to well.

    It's a vine kind of like ivy, but has huge leaves about 12" in diameter. It grows up to a foot a day in length for a total of 60 feet a year. It can completely cover tall trees so thoroughly that you can't see the tree at all. I've seen it cover groups of 7 or 8 trees and it looks like one big 80' tall pile of Kudzu.

    Best of all, from an energy crop standpoint, it is virtually un-killable. You can cut it to the ground and it will grow back just as vigorously.
     
  3. Schmika

    Schmika New Member

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    I agree that we are not ready for mini-nuclear reactors in autos, but replacing coal and other fossil fuel electric plants with nuclear would do a lot for the nation.

    Because of past mistakes and general ignorance, American people are frightened of nuclear power. Let's face it, the media and thus the "masses" and politicians are clueless when it comes to long term energy planning.

    This country tends to react to crisis only. The good news is, when the crisis occurs, we ususally are the first to solve the problem.

    Until the crisis occurs, whether it is Soc Security going bankrupt, global warming melting the polar ice cap, or gas at $7 a gallon, etc, we just go on our merry way worrying about a missing teen in Aruba or a baseball player on steroids. (Or Tom Cruise's opinion on drugs)

    Luckily, when these crises (crisususss???) occur, a lot of smart people, many of whom are on forums like these, have good ideas ready to go so there is little lag time.

    My 0.02 worth.

    Karl
     
  4. JayClements

    JayClements New Member

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    Think of ethanol as a liquid battery; just a way to easily store and transport energy. Then using ethanol in a car becomes the equivilant of plugging in a battery to re-charge it. This is the same concept behing using hydrogen as a fuel, but vastly easier to achieve. The difference between energy used verses energy stored would have to be made up, but with the effeciencies of scale and experience the difference would shrink, and fortunately can be made up from a diversity of sources; some of those windmills are putting out as much as ten megawatts each.
     
  5. priusenvy

    priusenvy Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Jonnycat26\";p=\"104670)</div>
    Well, yeah, of course. That "somewhere else" for turning corn into ethanol is sunlight. If you remember sixth grade* biology, photosynthesis is 6H[sub:7883efff50]2[/sub:7883efff50]0 + 6C0[sub:7883efff50]2[/sub:7883efff50] in the presence of light and chlorophyll = C[sub:7883efff50]6[/sub:7883efff50]H[sub:7883efff50]12[/sub:7883efff50]0[sub:7883efff50]6[/sub:7883efff50]+ 6O[sub:7883efff50]2[/sub:7883efff50]

    So, has anyone read the articles about tapping the temperature differential in the ocean as a source of energy? Sounds like this already works today as a source of cheap air conditioning if you live on an island. Some people think in the future, giant floating platforms could tap this source to produce hydrogen.
     
  6. Jonnycat26

    Jonnycat26 New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(priusenvy\";p=\"104794)</div>
    Ah. I guess I was just refering to fertilizing it. And irrigating it. And then refining it. Then distributing it. And not to mention the infrastructure involved in moving the fertilizer around. And for powering the tractor. And for feeding the people involved. Etc.

    There isn't any free ride here.
     
  7. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    the thermal chimney concept for differences in the water temperatures are being investigated off the coast of India. the output is being used to partially run a desalinination pp;ant
     
  8. Bob Allen

    Bob Allen Captainbaba

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    About ethanol being a net loss fuel:

    That's true for now, but the age of "cheap" oil is over. All of the easily obtained oil has been used up, or will be very soon. More exotic means of extraction will be needed and these will be very energy intensive. At some point in the near future, as production "energy" costs rise, it will take a gallon of fuel to produce a gallon of fuel (zero profit). As reserves become even more depleted, it will take MORE than a gallon of fuel to extract and process a gallon of gasoline. THAT's when the house of cards comes down and we better have an alternative available.

    The UC Berkeley prof's point about ethanol is well taken. Gasoline will get to that point eventually, by which time we may have streamlined the production of ethanol (by using ethanol powered vehicles in farming and non-petroleum based fertilizers, etc) to make ethanol more viable than it is now.

    Brazil must have found a way ot making ethanol cost effective. Perhaps the net overall costs of getting petro fuels to Brazil are so high that ethanol is more competitive. I doub't Brazil would trade one form of national debt (to the Saudis) for another (producing ethanol at a loss).
     
  9. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    i was listening to a podcast of "Science Friday" and they had someone on there who claims that nuclear will be the only way to solve the energy problem.

    of course there was the con dude on the show that said we would have to build a reactor a week for 50 years to be able to satisfy projected needs for the world.

    currently France gets 70% of their power from the excited atom method. and they use a revolutionary concept... they created one design for the atomic glow plant and used the same one over and over. therefore there was no approval steps to be taken like we had here. (here each plant is designed from scratch...cool idea and only adds a one or two years and a few dozen million to the cost)

    now i will never admit that France is better than us in anything. Japan, ok i can admit they kick our bootie over several different things. but france??? no way.GO [email protected]!

    i had a friend who came back from there and the rage over there is fuel cell laptops. never charge them, just refill with butane... must be nice... how come we never get to play with any of the cool stuff?
     
  10. gschoen

    gschoen Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(JayClements\";p=\"104792)</div>
    Ethanol isn't a good choice for an energy storage medium since other techs in development have a better efficiency, currently and potentially, than ethanol. Fuel Cells are energy storage, as are plug in hybrids/electric vehicles. While these techs aren't ready for the big leagues yet, it would take awhile before ethanol production can increase. The plug in hybrid moves from prototype to production as battery tech gets better. If you assume overnight charging, the efficiency of this tech is great and the infrastructure already built (standard 120V vs. special chargers of yesterdays electric vehicles)
     
  11. JayClements

    JayClements New Member

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    >Ethanol isn't a good choice for an energy storage medium since other techs in development have a better efficiency...

    You are absolutely correct, however in the near term; we know how to make ethanol, cars are mostly going to be internal combustion based using a liquid fuel, and the infrastructure is in place to support transport and delivery of a liquid fuel.

    > Fuel Cells are energy storage, ...

    Fuel Cells convert hydrogen and oxygen to heat, water, and electricity. Hydrogen is where the energy is stored. ;)

    > The plug in hybrid moves from prototype to production as battery tech gets better...

    Yes, and I'm really looking foreward to buying one, but even plug in hybrids will have an ICE for a long time. I'm very interested in ethanol as a way to stop sending billions of dollars out of the country, and as a way to reduce pollution.
     
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