Be a Supporter!

Fix America with BioFuels

  • 555 Views
  • 18 Replies
New Topic Respond to this Topic
AcetheSuperVillain
AcetheSuperVillain
  • Member since: Jan. 17, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Blank Slate
Fix America with BioFuels Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 07:35 PM Reply

America has a lot of problems these days, but there's a single solution that would attack pollution, joblessness AND reliance on foreign oil:

BioFuels

Huge strides have been made in the field of biofuels, foremost being the ability to distill Ethanol and Butanol from cellulose, the primary organic compound in all plant life. While old BioEthanol could only be distilled from the tiny sugary seeds of its feedstock, throwing the rest away, Cellulosic BioFuels can not only generate fuel from the entire plant, but from any source of cellulose, including simple prairie grass or garbage like paper and sawdust.

While Nuclear, Solar, Wind and Water power work great at generating grid electricity, there is no easy alternative to gasoline for vehicular fuel (cars, planes, boats, etc). Not only do Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Electric Batteries underperform compared to gas, implementing them nation-wide would require a massively expensive infrastructural overhaul. However, Ethanol, as a combustible liquid, is very similar to gasoline and more importantly, already in use. Many states actually require all gasoline to contain at least 10% ethanol (E10), and most vehicle models are manufactured as "flex-fuel" vehicles, capable of running anything between E10 and E85 (85% ethanol) mixtures. Over 2500 stations in the USA are already equipped to sell E85. The technology is nothing new either; the famous Model T was capable of running on 100% ethanol. And Butanol goes one better, being close enough to gasoline that it can be used in existing vehicles and fueling stations without any modifications. (Although Butanol is toxic and may face EPA restrictions)

Originally, Ethanol crops were disdained for taking farmland away from foodcrops, causing soil and water erosion and requiring green-house gas emitting tractors and combines, but distilling Ethanol from cellulose removes all these problems. Cellulose is present in all plant life, so there's no need to grow exotic, high maintenance species like fuel corn. Sawgrass, the primary feedstock candidate, grows naturally throughout the United States, doesn't require fertilizer, extra water, farmland or much attention and absorbs as much CO2 from the atmosphere while alive as it will emit as a fuel. Some suspect that using waste paper as feedstock would also cut down on green-house gasses because they naturally decay into methane, which has a higher green-house effect than gas or ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol is estimated to produce 90% less (only 10% as much) green house gasses as gasoline over its fuel life-cycle.

While America has all but run out of its natural oil reserves, the country is still an agricultural powerhouse, more than capable of producing enough ethanol to meet the needs of its citizens, commercial fleets and hi-tech military vehicles. According to one study, America could cover 30% of its fuel needs with garbage alone, enough to replace our imports of oil from Saudi Arabia. Rather than import fuel, America could export finished ethanol to countries without the industrial technology to handle large distilleries or cellulosic feedstocks to countries that cannot grow the necessary biomass on their own, not to mention cars, planes, ships and military vehicles that run on biofuels. Of course, shifting the American fuel infrastructure will require decades of changes and a lot of money, but building a fuel distillery, changing a fuel line or upgrading a fuel station is work that can only be performed by Americans, so it's money that will be spent by America for America.

However, the BioFuel Revolution is not an opportunity just waiting for us to reach out and take it. The world is full of rapidly industrializing countries and diminishing fossil fuel reserves. Every second we sit idle, some other country is beating us at what should be our own game. Brazil produces and operates the world's largest fleet of ethanol vehicles. China has a cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility designed to deliver 3 million gallons of ethanol per year. Novozymes, the leading pioneer of cellulosic enzyme technology, is headquartered in Denmark.

America, we need to attack the biofuels and bring this issue to the forefront of our national discussion! Spread the word. Make sure your preferred Presidential candidate, congress people and local government authorities know that you care and vote for the people who will lead America to glory.

(Since this isn't a school paper, I haven't organized all the sources, but you can find a lot of this info from a google search or links on wikipedia. Most of this info is stuff I remember from a report I made in 2010, but today I suddenly feel pissed off about it. Romney and Obama will be receiving a copy soon. )


Ace the SuperVillain

BBS Signature
Ravariel
Ravariel
  • Member since: Apr. 19, 2005
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Musician
Response to Fix America with BioFuels Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 08:32 PM Reply

While Ethanol is certainly a good alternative, it is not without it's flaws. The main two being that it cannot be piped due to it's miscibility with water, and competition between fuel sources and food sources that would necessarily arise. There are also reports that ethanol combustion results in significantly volatile compounds like formaldehyde, which result in increased ground-level ozone and local smog. It may be a good stopgap to help us not feel the pinch of decreasing oil reserves, but it is not a good permanent solution. The best solution, of course, is a non-internal-combustion engine in most cars, be it fuel cell, solar or battery-powered. Hopefully rising fuel prices will put the squeeze on governments and private companies to start funding more research in that area.


Tis better to sit in silence and be presumed a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

AcetheSuperVillain
AcetheSuperVillain
  • Member since: Jan. 17, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 09:36 PM Reply

At 4/22/12 08:32 PM, Ravariel wrote: While Ethanol is certainly a good alternative, it is not without it's flaws. The main two being that it cannot be piped due to it's miscibility with water, and competition between fuel sources and food sources that would necessarily arise. There are also reports that ethanol combustion results in significantly volatile compounds like formaldehyde, which result in increased ground-level ozone and local smog. It may be a good stopgap to help us not feel the pinch of decreasing oil reserves, but it is not a good permanent solution. The best solution, of course, is a non-internal-combustion engine in most cars, be it fuel cell, solar or battery-powered. Hopefully rising fuel prices will put the squeeze on governments and private companies to start funding more research in that area.

Like I said, cellulosic biofuels don't compete with food crops. They can work with grass, which doesn't require arable land, or garbage, which isn't grown on farms at all, or even the garbage created from food crops, for example, you can eat the corn kernels and throw the husk, stalk and cob into the distiller.

Ethanol is harder to pump, but it's not impossible. Brazil has a working ethanol pipeline (or will this year). I think you can pump Ethanol through copper pipes like they do with Alcohol, but I don't know much about the brewing process to be honest, and I know that fuel grade Ethanol would have way more ethanol content than a beverage. I'll have to look this up.

As for formaldehyde, quick research suggests that it's only slightly more dangerous than gasoline, since you're trading carbon monoxide for formaldehyde. It looks like you can filter formaldehyde out of the air, but it was only declared to be a carcinogen in 2011, so the technology might be new. I'll have to look into this too.

For fairness, Ethanol also can't start in cold weather, but I think you could fix this with a modern electric hybrid engine. Since Ethanol has less fuel density anyways, a hybrid engine is probably the best bet for competing with gasoline.

I agree that more technological solutions to Ethanol will someday appear, but I don't think we should hold out for Hydrogen or Battery power to work. During the Cold War, people assumed we'd have jet packs, full on VR and cold fusion by 2012, where instead we've got GPS, Twitter and the Prius. We know that Ethanol works, and that it's made definite progress in the last decade.


Ace the SuperVillain

BBS Signature
Ravariel
Ravariel
  • Member since: Apr. 19, 2005
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Musician
Response to Fix America with BioFuels Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 10:24 PM Reply

At 4/22/12 09:36 PM, AcetheSuperVillain wrote: Like I said, cellulosic biofuels don't compete with food crops. They can work with grass, which doesn't require arable land, or garbage, which isn't grown on farms at all, or even the garbage created from food crops, for example, you can eat the corn kernels and throw the husk, stalk and cob into the distiller.

Maybe so, but on a political level, this is unlikely to be the course that American Ethanol production would take. The Corn Lobby knows that it's one of the best, and largest sources of Ethanolable material in the US, and also is the most powerful agricultural lobby (why do you think we use corn syrup instead of sugar to sweeten everything here?). And the instant Corn farmers are looking towards fuel uses of their crops, we will see sharp rises in prices of every food that uses corn (and that's a lot of them). Secondary sources, such as trash and grasses (Hemp, oddly enough, is a great source of this, but good luck getting that in mainstream production) will have a hard time competing with what will likely be a ton of government subsidies (like they don't get enough already... but who wants to pay $5 for a potato? I digress) headed to the corn industry.

I agree that more technological solutions to Ethanol will someday appear, but I don't think we should hold out for Hydrogen or Battery power to work. During the Cold War, people assumed we'd have jet packs, full on VR and cold fusion by 2012, where instead we've got GPS, Twitter and the Prius. We know that Ethanol works, and that it's made definite progress in the last decade.

True, I don't think "holding out" for a future technology will be in any way beneficial, but I see a lot of people talk about ethanol like it's the second coming of burnable Jesus, claiming it can solve all our oil problems. I like to nip the over-enthusiastic ones in the bud. Like I said, it's a good stop-gap for easing the pain of the downhill side of peak oil, but I worry that if we get too involved in it's production, we will lengthen the time until we have truly environmentally stable solutions.


Tis better to sit in silence and be presumed a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

AcetheSuperVillain
AcetheSuperVillain
  • Member since: Jan. 17, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels Apr. 22nd, 2012 @ 11:16 PM Reply

Actually, I think Cellulosic Ethanol may be the perfect way to distract the corn lobby. They'd likely support it at first since it's good ol' ethanol, but then once a plant is built, it's up to the proprietors to decide how to run it, and even with subsidies, it's hard to imagine corn competing with grass. As much corn as we may produce, there sure is a shitload of grass.

but I worry that if we get too involved in it's production, we will lengthen the time until we have truly environmentally stable solutions.

I have the same worry about Hydrogen and Battery power. Or rather than the environment, petroleum is not politically or financially stable, which is ultimately more important. While a carbon-neutral product is nice, CE is already about as inexpensive to refine as gasoline, and will get cheaper as the infrastructure and technology continue to develop. (Although since both are heavily subsidized, I have no idea if they're really that equal) Furthermore, it can be domestically produced. Even if we don't generate enough to fuel the whole country, we should definitely make enough ethanol to fuel our military, as that is a massive security issue.

And actually, I didn't mention it, but I expect national overhaul Ethanol production to go hand in hand with Vertical Farming technology. A vertical farm is a sky scraper greenhouse that works as a closed system, recycling whatever it can and ignoring the climate and pollution of the outside world. Unfortunately, much of that technology is still far off.


Ace the SuperVillain

BBS Signature
joe9320
joe9320
  • Member since: Aug. 20, 2008
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 08
Gamer
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 6th, 2012 @ 05:24 AM Reply

Dude.

What the fuck? We need the land to grow food, and we should be diverting more to food than to fuel! I believe that the current generation of biofuels eat up arable land in which the food is now put into cars. We need more research so that we can find a new way of getting biofuel.


I still like Riven Riven Riven Riven Riven Riven Riven Riven Riven Riven Riven Riven!

BBS Signature
Camarohusky
Camarohusky
  • Member since: Jun. 22, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Movie Buff
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 6th, 2012 @ 11:38 AM Reply

At 5/6/12 05:24 AM, joe9320 wrote: Dude.

What the fuck? We need the land to grow food, and we should be diverting more to food than to fuel!

We don't need the land as much as you think we do. The govdernment still pays farmers not to grow crops. They do this to the tune of billions of dollars.

We have quite a bit of room for expansion.

X-Gary-Gigax-X
X-Gary-Gigax-X
  • Member since: Dec. 3, 2005
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 26
Art Lover
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 6th, 2012 @ 01:06 PM Reply

I am all for all natural, straight from mother nature energy alternatives. Such as petroleum and coal.

Th-e
Th-e
  • Member since: Nov. 2, 2003
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 23
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 6th, 2012 @ 11:59 PM Reply

Renewable resources are a decent source of power without hurting the environment, but as of now, there are too many complications to make them feasible today. From what I have heard, even the use of poop as fuel has its complications, so it will be a while before we can feasibly make renewable energy come out of our asses.

Right now, from what I see, the near future for America will be in natural gas. It is abundant in this country, and it is not nearly as polluting as coal...though it probably will still anger extremist tree huggers...

No matter what is used as a source, we cannot really get anything without giving something back in return.


Feel no mercy for me. It will only cause you to suffer as well.

bismuthfeldspar
bismuthfeldspar
  • Member since: Mar. 2, 2012
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 04
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 7th, 2012 @ 07:59 AM Reply

What matters is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, not how touchy feely biofuels are to wheatgrass sipping hippies

do you have any charts, price tables, estimates, quotes or anything of that sort?

AcetheSuperVillain
AcetheSuperVillain
  • Member since: Jan. 17, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 7th, 2012 @ 04:42 PM Reply

At 5/6/12 05:24 AM, joe9320 wrote: Dude.

What the fuck? We need the land to grow food, and we should be diverting more to food than to fuel! I believe that the current generation of biofuels eat up arable land in which the food is now put into cars. We need more research so that we can find a new way of getting biofuel.

DUDE,

Cellulosic biofuel feedcrops don't need any arable land. This IS the new research that finds a new way of getting biofuel.

What matters is $$, not how touchy feely biofuels are to wheatgrass sipping hippies
do you have any charts, price tables, estimates, quotes or anything of that sort?

You are exactly right, and yes I do.

POET LLC has the goal of dropping the price of cellulosic ethanol to less than $2 per gallon. The technology is developing quickly, for example, POET's pilot plant in South Dakota dropped from 4.13$/gallon in 2008 to 2.35$/gallon in 2009. ( http://www.ethanolproducer.com/articles/6155/poet-reduces-co st-of-cellulosic-ethanol-production ) I'm assuming this is cost to customers and not the cost to produce and 1 gallon of ethanol or E85 does not go as far as 1 gallon of gasoline, but even so, with gasoline prices as high as $4 at the pump, they have to be at least equal.

However, gasoline and ethanol are both subsidized enormously, which skews the results a bit and means that the cost to the American Government is also worth considering. The true cost of gasoline is something like 12-15$ per gallon ( http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/05/increasing-gas-prices-su bsidies/ ) ( http://www.progress.org/gasoline.htm ) and can fluctuate dramatically due to oversea conflicts and such that the USA cannot control. I'm having a little trouble finding the true cost of Cellulosic Ethanol, but in Jan 2011, POET CEO, Jeff Broin, said they would be happy to abandon their subsidy and compete with gasoline on a level playing field ( http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2011/01/po et-ceo-jeff-broin-ethanol-willing-to-give-up-subsidies-for-l evel-playing-field ) . They might actually be able to achieve 2-3$/gallon without any subsidies.

Now is not actually a good time for me to do this kind of research, so I'll come back with more facts later.

And remember that besides tree-hugging, switching to Cellulosic Ethanol large scale means we wouldn't have to import petroleum from any country, even Canada. Very important to our national security when you consider the amount of fuel an F-22 or M1A1 consumes.


Ace the SuperVillain

BBS Signature
TucoM
TucoM
  • Member since: May. 9, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 03
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 10th, 2012 @ 12:19 AM Reply

At 5/7/12 04:42 PM, AcetheSuperVillain wrote: POET LLC has the goal of dropping the price of cellulosic ethanol to less than $2 per gallon.

Given the efficiency of ethanol (Or lack of, thereof), that translates to about $4.00/gallon of gasoline.


BBS Signature
Saren
Saren
  • Member since: Sep. 11, 2009
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 07
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 12th, 2012 @ 09:50 AM Reply

no this idea is stupid in my opinion it is all just a costly distraction made up by liberals


Just chillin'

AcetheSuperVillain
AcetheSuperVillain
  • Member since: Jan. 17, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 18th, 2012 @ 02:38 PM Reply

At 5/10/12 12:19 AM, TucoM wrote:
At 5/7/12 04:42 PM, AcetheSuperVillain wrote: POET LLC has the goal of dropping the price of cellulosic ethanol to less than $2 per gallon.
Given the efficiency of ethanol (Or lack of, thereof), that translates to about $4.00/gallon of gasoline.

But remember, the true cost of gasoline is $12-15 per gallon. It's still a helluva lot cheaper.

At 5/12/12 09:50 AM, Saren wrote: no this idea is stupid in my opinion it is all just a costly distraction made up by liberals

Of course, scientific data is always made up by liberals.

But there are plenty of conservative reasons to produce next-gen biofuels. Military vehicles run on fossil fuels, so if our supply line gets cut off, our fighting force will be seriously compromised. Why pay shitloads of money to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico and Canada for their oil, when we could be paying American farms and factories instead?


Ace the SuperVillain

BBS Signature
Camarohusky
Camarohusky
  • Member since: Jun. 22, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Movie Buff
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 18th, 2012 @ 03:29 PM Reply

At 5/12/12 09:50 AM, Saren wrote: no this idea is stupid in my opinion it is all just a costly distraction made up by liberals

Yes, cause only liberals want the economy to do better and have more security.

AcetheSuperVillain
AcetheSuperVillain
  • Member since: Jan. 17, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 18th, 2012 @ 04:25 PM Reply

Given the efficiency of ethanol (Or lack of, thereof), that translates to about $4.00/gallon of gasoline.
But remember, the true cost of gasoline is $12-15 per gallon. It's still a helluva lot cheaper.

^Actually, this segways into somewhat obscure argument. One of the largest barriers to alternative energy is the gasoline subsidy. If biofuels can remove this subsidy, it opens the doors for other alternative fuel technologies to start truly competing fairly.


Ace the SuperVillain

BBS Signature
Ravariel
Ravariel
  • Member since: Apr. 19, 2005
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Musician
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 18th, 2012 @ 05:37 PM Reply

At 5/18/12 04:25 PM, AcetheSuperVillain wrote: ^Actually, this segways into somewhat obscure argument. One of the largest barriers to alternative energy is the gasoline subsidy. If biofuels can remove this subsidy, it opens the doors for other alternative fuel technologies to start truly competing fairly.

Except, if we look at this one step farther, we run into serious problems. If, for some reason, ethanol production (and it's inherent drawbacks) makes enough of an impact on the economy to challenge, and ultimately remove, subsidies, then what happens?

1) Gasoline reverts to it's "real" price, be it $8.00/gal or more.
2) If what you say is true that ethanol can be manufactured for the equivalent of $4.00/gal, then there is a massive power and economic shift.
3) The Oil industry collapses overnight (remember, the US uses as much oil per day as the next 5 top-consuming countries combined, and nearly a quarter of all oil worldwide) as we switch wholesale to Ethanol.
4) The Middle East (and Canada) shits itself and god only knows what happens.

Gasoline subsidies, much like farm subsidies, artificially boost individual's estimations of their own wealth. When those are stripped (especially if they are stripped suddenly), the shockwaves could be economically catastrophic. I agree that subsidies are unhealthy and harm us in the long run, making it more difficult to set real prices, and artificially shifting the focus of employment away from agricultural and the less-glamorous jobs. These things are all tied together in a way that would be impossible to untangle in order to remove a subsidy, even if we feel that it is an overall detriment.

Again, this is a shift that will have to occur gradually, to a point where we can phase out subsidies, as we purchase less oil (by such actions, forcing down prices worldwide) and let the major oil producers down slowly so they can find new, profitable, industries to take the weight off of their monoculture moneymaker.


Tis better to sit in silence and be presumed a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

DoctorStrongbad
DoctorStrongbad
  • Member since: Oct. 20, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 55
Blank Slate
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 19th, 2012 @ 03:25 AM Reply

BioFuels sounds like a great idea. They could really help America.


I have a PhD in Troll Physics
Top Medal points user list. I am number 12

Camarohusky
Camarohusky
  • Member since: Jun. 22, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Movie Buff
Response to Fix America with BioFuels May. 19th, 2012 @ 08:29 AM Reply

At 5/19/12 04:22 AM, Austerity wrote: They could find a cure for cancer or AIDS and it wouldn't be released if they can't make money off of it. Likewise if the big corporations cannot make money off of biofuel then you won't see biofuels until all the oil/gas runs out.

Who's kidding themselves here? The companies will make money off of whatever becomes the main fuel. Demand is so high that even razor thin margins could translate into very hefty profits.

I want the government to take care of the R&D (through government research as well as grants) so that when it becomes an economic commidity we at least won't have to factor the cost of much of the R&D and some of the production pre-economy of scale into the end consumer pricing.