Fuel choices, Global Warming & Polution

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Billy T, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member


    Where I live (Island of Hawaii), sugar-cane grows wild, and is a major weed problem because it grows so well. It was formerly farmed for it's sugar content, but because of competition from Australia, Brazil, and even Florida, it was no longer economical, and so abandoned as a food crop. The bagasse (crushed cane, minus its sugar juice) it produced was burned in power plants to produce our electricity. Now we import coal from Australia to replace the bagasse (and also burn diesel in other plants, and even 20% of our electricity comes from geothermal). That abandonment took place when gasoline was about $1.30/gallon. Much of the field land has been made into pasture for cattle, or for other high-value crops such as Papaya, Ginger, etc., and much has also been converted into fast-growing forest (Eucalyptus) for supposed future paper production. Who knows, maybe we'll be going back to sugar-cane to make ethanol!
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    In Sao paulo, Brazil at 7PM local CNNi (i for international edition) used all of its 30 minute program, called "Insight," to report on alcohol, mainly facts from Brazil's 30 years of experience with driving cars on it." I even learned somethng from it - namely VW of Brazil will not make any more gasoline engines here. All VWs will be "flex fuel" - any ratio of gas and alcohol and that the total cost of these engines is only $100 dollars greater (where I now buy my alcohol fuel it is exactly half the price of gas so I save more than $100 every 3 months filling tank with 100% alcohol.) US's "E85 cars" are still 15% gas.

    There was only one error in the program, that I noticed. I hope it is available in CNN of USA also - try to see it. (Error is one expert's statement that corn is most the most efficient source. - He was thinking of the those used in US. - For example, the net energy yield of sugar cane alcohol in Brazil is about 8 but only 1.1 with Iowa corn. Both corn and sugar cane are among the few crops that use the more efficient four carbon step photo sythensis process, but sugar cane is more efficient at removing the CO2 from the air so it is the most efficient even if only considering the capture of sun light and neglecting the huge fossil input (fertilizers etc) required to grow corn in Iowa's short summers. The residue from cane also makes both good fertilizer and acts as a pesticide. - Corn residue does not, but both can be feed to cattle.

    Program is full of facts - watch it if you can.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. MetaKron Registered Senior Member

    Hemp is still the best.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    For smoking*, yes. For fuel, no. If you want to argue, provide some facts, not just your view.

    PS I forgot to mention couple of other facts I learned from the CNNi show "Insight":

    By Brazilian law 20% of the area in production of sugar cane must be in native vegetation as habitat for birds and other native animals. I do not know all the details, but other laws require connections between these reserves as at least 50 meters, each side, along all stream banks can not be touched.

    I had a cattle farm (50 head of steers) and that was made very clear to me by neighbor after I straighten out a two U curves in a very small creek, but I was not fined, as I do not think the forest patrol noticed. You are not even allowed to cut down native trees on your own land. What I did, and most farmers do, is to cut a ring around the base of an isolated tree you want to remove, wait for it to die and fall over. (Some of the trees have semi toxic leaves - one of my cows died from eating them from the ground during a long drought when all were losing weight.) I “ringed” all of that type at the edge of my woods, about seven trees, after that. But if you do this to many and a clearing develops that they notice in their routine aerial photos, you are in big trouble. Big fine and possibly even jail time for repeat offenders. You can cut limbs from a big tree to use as fence posts, but not a small tree. Some small poor operators in the rural areas live by entering your land at night and cutting down a few trees they will later try to sell you as fence posts! I had to report this theft once as they took enough that I feared I might get into trouble. (Two days of paper work in two different offices!)

    Also in the CNNi program, one university-based presenter said that Brazil could supply the entire world with alcohol fuel without touching the Amazon forests, but personally, I doubt that. A lady expert in social assistance, following him, made interesting point when admitting that the price of food might be elevated if much of Brazil's agricultural land was converted to cane. - She observed that there is ample food for all of the poor in Brazil, but the poor farmers with a few cows and some chickens or a single-crop (typically beans) lack money to buy the basic things they do not produce, like cooking oil, flour, etc. It would actually help them greatly if food prices were to increase.

    As a social worker/expert she was all for higher farm / food prices to help the poor. I think she is correct. The small farmer, whose chickens scratch dirt for their food may give him a couple of dozen eggs to sell, but the big agri-business egg producer who keeps his chickens in cages in large building with conveyer belts bringing them soy meal so the do not waste any energy walking etc. produces eggs so cheaply that it hardly pays that small farmer to take his eggs to town unless he is going there for some other reason. Doubling the price of soybeans would help him a lot.
    *BTW, the inner most covering of a corn ear, is dried and used by these small farmers with the tobacco they all grow to make their own cigarettes. - They can not afford to buy paper for "rolling your own" cigarettes. - These cigarettes, made corn "paper" are called "palia" -(or only the "paper"?, I am not exactly sure what word "palia" refers to or how to spell it.) Many say they prefer these "palia cigarettes" to commercial ones, but that may just be their pride in action when not wanting to admit they have no money for commercial ones.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2006
  8. Absane Rocket Surgeon Valued Senior Member

    I am going to burn used tires for fuel. I'll pass my state's emmisions testing easy.
  9. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Tell us in Brazil where to send them. I forget the details of Brazil's "phase in used tire plan." I think now if you want to buy four new tires, you must turn one or two used ones back to the seller who can not dump or store them or in quanitity - or some such nonsense all in the name of the enviroment.

    I have not heard much about plan recently, but as I recall in a few years, to get a tire, you must give an old one with new cars an exception (for a while as I remember it, new cars were to come without any tires!) Idea was to make used tires desirable, not something to discard, but obviously plan not too well thought out.

    Anyway I think some of the people selling new tires and taking in old ones will be in touch with you soon and you should never be cold again. :bugeye:
  10. Kumar Registered Senior Member

    Burning woods, can be a natural fuel source, with us since long back. We might had been evolved/habituated to it. This may also have some beneficial effects. ??
  11. MetaKron Registered Senior Member

    One of the benefits is that you grow trees.
  12. Sci-Phenomena Reality is in the Minds Eye Registered Senior Member

    You will consider this "poll-lution" but I'm telling you, within a year our economy is going to completely fail or succeed as it never has before, we are in the Bi-Polar era. Top-secret technology is soon going to be released which is going to change the destiny of mankind and our earth, one day you'll wake up and you'll find that you aren't in Kansas anymore. After that I suspect a tornado of truth will sweep by and you'll either embrace it and fly, or reject it and get torn limb from limb.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2006
  13. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I notice the caps in your "Bi-Polar era." If you are referring to the announcement of BP and DuPont about bio-butanol, forget it. It is true that butanol has about same energy density as gasoline, while alcohol has about 70% less so you need to fill tank more often. Also true that all Detroit’s cars can run on butanol. Now butanol cost $6.80/gallon if purchased in 55 gallon lots (drums) and that is only if it is made from petroleum. Note that is tax-free price as it is sold mainly as paint thinner. Compared to the tax-free cost of gasoline, butanol is about an order of magnitude more expensive than gasoline.

    I think the today's announcement by BP and Dupont is just more smoke to replace the nonsense about "Hydrogen-Fueled cars." Too many people are becoming aware that hydrogen is an expensive, impractical, energy transport system, not a energy source and understanding that big oil has been supporting it because it is has no posibility of being a threat to their control of the global economy vis the liquid fuel supply. This bio-butanol is at least a feasible alternative, but more expensive than gasoline, so also not much of a threat. Their hope that they can significantly reduce the cost via new "bugs" working on bio sugar sources is just that, and probably less realistic than the similar hope that alcohol can be made from grass etc via new "bugs."

    Do not fall twice for the same PR trick. Alcohol is demonstrated to be practical and cheaper than gas and it comes from many places - not a just a few spots the oil companies can control.

    Forbe's report of BP announcement is at:


    and includes:

    "DuPont and BP, riding the global wave of enthusiasm for bio-based fuels, announced today that the two companies have developed a new biofuel called biobutanol that they say has 30% more energy density than ethanol.

    Insert by Billy T: "biobutanol" is identical with butanol - the new name is just PR. Using it as fuel generates 40% more CO2 than alcohol on an energy content basis and 100% more per gallon.

    "Biobutanol is higher performance in the engine, and that will translate into higher miles to the gallon," said DuPont (nyse: DD - news - people ) Chief Executive Charles Holliday....The two companies plan to introduce the first generation of biobutanol in the U.K. by the end of 2007. And they hope to roll out an improved second-generation biobutanol by 2010. DuPont and BP aim to make the fuel competitive with gasoline, even when oil is priced as low as $30 to $40 a barrel. In the U.K., the partnership will produce the new fuel by extracting fermentable sugar from sugar beets and converting that into a fuel, similar to the way ethanol is produced. ...."

    More infro on butanol vs. gasoline and alcohol at: www.butanol.com/

    and EEI holds some patents on better process. From there you can learn more at the home page link, but it is self serving also.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2006
  14. plakhapate Banned Banned

    Rain water potential energy can be converted to Electrical Energy.
    Especially Sky scrapers can easily generate electicity.

  15. andrew1234 Registered Senior Member

    This is in respect to this whole ethenol phenomena: Did you know that world hunger is human created? This is because humans want choices what I mean is this. In order to feed meat products to our people of this beautiful planet we must grow grain ie corn and feed that to our poultry, cattle etc. The only problem is there are ratios. In order to produce one pound of beef you have to use 9 pounds of grain. Whereas it only takes 3 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of poultry. Think of how many people eat beef (or chicken for that matter). Now think of how many people drive cars, purchase items in a store that is transported by a gasoline truck, think of how many people fly in air planes.

    All I am saying is that if we started depending on ethenol as our source of gasoline of the future then think of how many more starving mouths there will be.

    Am I way off on this or does this make sense?
  16. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    At the Concours de Elegance in Monterey, California last weekend a new car company emerged with a new electric car (century old technology, actually), the Tesla.

    They are claiming that it takes $3/full-battery-charge to charge up the batteries with electricity. The fully charged battery (with its high efficiency electrical motors compared to internal combustion engines) will take the vehicle about 250 miles. That's pretty good mileage! It seems that the waste and inefficiency of internal combustion engines, whether burning ethanol, bio-diesel, or gasoline, might well make such engines obsolete in the future. Also, the batteries in the Tesla are good for about 100,000 miles of usage, or better if kept fully charged most of the time. The current price of $20,000/battery pack should come down in the near future as mass-production ensues.

    The one draw-back is the time it takes to recharge the batteries. These vehicles are more suited for short range trips (to work and back) rather than long distance travelling, since a 'fill-up' could take hours. Perhaps capacitors, rather than batteries, will be developed with comparable energy storage, and much quicker re-charge capability.
  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I recall reading that some fish (catfish?) can gain a pound on only two pounds. When farm grown it is generally with short segments of drain pipe for them to live in - no energy spent on swimming (and in shallow water they are easily caught. - Just clamp your hands over end of pipe and dump into the mobile tank wagon.) Fact that they are cold blooded is also important (energy conserving).

    Certainly it is possible (and in fact occurring) for humans to breed in excess of their ability to produce adequate food, but the supply of food is not the real problem. the real problem is lack of education (and birth control). About 6 months ago, in Brazil a group og well meaning women mainly, went to the main research center of Aracrus paper co. (World's largest supplier and cheapest producer of short fiber pulp) and destroyed years of work. (This research center had more than double the yield per acre and reduced the time from planting till cut down to only 5 to 7 years.) The women were unhappy to see vast expanses of planted trees instead of crop lands when people were hungry. What they did not adequately think about, was the fact that the grocery stores are full of food for anyone with money to buy. What the hungry people needed was a job and income. - That the women were destroying as Aracrus is a big global player and exporter, earning vast sums and employing more "tree cutters" and planters every year.

    Birth rates fall with education - dangerously so in most of Western Europe. With education, people usually can get a good job. I am quite confident that if every one had the equivalent of 12 years in a good school system, then there would be a global population that can be very adequately feed and drive their alcohol powered cars (public transport is better than private cars and it is amazing how many taxi rides one can take with the money save by not owning a car) and eat well. - Perhaps not beef, but that is not healthy in the quantities most American eat it. If you don' t want to become a complete vegetarian, eat farm grown cat fish as concentrated protein. (Chicken on Sunday if you need a change.)
  18. DaleSpam TANSTAAFL Registered Senior Member

    That is a very real concern for corn or sugar cane based ethanol. Both of those are major food staples. I personally think that widespread ethanol fuel will not be reasonable until cellulosic ethanol becomes economically feasible. Then inedible plants and parts of plants can be used and the food supply will not be impacted. Luckily that is a pretty hot topic of research right now.

  19. Carcano Valued Senior Member

    I'm always hearing that this capacitor tech is right around the corner...for example:
  20. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Is this based on the continuation of the US’s etc. diet being high on the food "chain"?

    Andre was clearly suggesting (as was I with “eat cat fish, not beef” posts / facts) that some change in the eating habits is not only necessary, but desirable. Obesity is perhaps the major health problem in US today, if the related problems, like diabetes, heart problems, etc. (that would be less common if no one were obese) were factored out. (I am just guessing at this, but certainly obesity is a big and serious problem in US, striking at ever younger groups.)
  21. Carcano Valued Senior Member

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2006
  22. DaleSpam TANSTAAFL Registered Senior Member

    I think it is more of a question about economics than really a question of starvation. Generally, grazing land is not suitable for crops, so there is not much competition between the two types of agricultural real-estate. Cattle are fed on hay, feed corn, and other substances that are not suitable for human consumption. Hay grows on poor land that probably wouldn't be used for much else anyway, but the feed corn etc. grows on good quality land that could easily be used to grow food. This is where the competition with ethanol would come in under the non-cellulosics model.

    A large portion of the good land would be used to grow corn for fuel. This would reduce the supply of good land available for human and animal corn. Human and animal feed corn would become more expensive which would also raise the price of the fuel corn. More expensive cattle feed would make beef prices more expensive also. They would settle into some set of higher equilibrium prices between food and fuel, but who knows where those prices would be.

    All of this, of course, is solved by cellulosic ethanol. You can grow various grasses for fuel on land that is currently not used for anything.


    PS Even though catfish is more efficient from a food-in to food-out perspective it is still more expensive than beef here. Perhaps the capital investment is larger?
  23. swivel Sci-Fi Author Valued Senior Member

    Seems like it would be wisest to use up all of our cheap fuel first. Like oil, coal, natural gas, etc...

    Moving to a more expensive alternative will just mean cheaper natural fuels for the rest of the developing world. It is a losing proposition for whatever country moves away from oil, and a win for everyone that stays pat.

    And since productivity levels show no sign of leveling off, whatever research and development we do today will be much cheaper and easier at a later date. Let the laptop manufacturers, who already have an economic incentive to improve battery technology, subsidize the future research.

    I think we are forcing economic decisions due to pressure from extremists, rather than due to reason, or pure economics.

Share This Page