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(Science Blog)   Scientists report on costs of using switchgrass for ethanol. Summary: Costs ~$60 per ton, yields 5x more energy than required to produce, creates ethanol for ~$.60 a gallon, and will never see the light of day on subsidized farms   (scienceblog.com) divider line 97
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4737 clicks; posted to Geek » on 06 Mar 2008 at 2:07 PM (6 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2008-03-06 12:38:13 PM
If they can produce ethanol for $.60 a gallon, switchgrass farms won't need subsidies.
 
2008-03-06 12:44:33 PM
It's the investment opportunity of a lifetime!
 
2008-03-06 12:45:25 PM
That is because there is no switchgrass growers lobby. Farking corn lobbies have really farked up this country.
 
2008-03-06 12:46:32 PM
5000_gallons_of_toothpaste: That is because there is no switchgrass growers lobby. Farking corn lobbies have really farked up this country

There is now and I'm in charge.

The money funneling line forms on the left.
 
2008-03-06 12:52:00 PM
Scrophulous Barking Duck: If they can produce ethanol for $.60 a gallon, switchgrass farms won't need subsidies.

You understand of course, that the study was of the farm cost of producing the feedstock for making ethanol. What the water, processing, fermentation, distillation, storage, and distribution of the resulting ethanol would cost in dollars or in energy is not included. Nor is the cost in energy or dollars of producing the seed for raising the switchgrass.

Nor does the study address the number of acres of otherwise useful cropland required to produce a given quantity of automotive fuel.
 
2008-03-06 12:55:57 PM
pandabear: Scrophulous Barking Duck: If they can produce ethanol for $.60 a gallon, switchgrass farms won't need subsidies.

You understand of course, that the study was of the farm cost of producing the feedstock for making ethanol. What the water, processing, fermentation, distillation, storage, and distribution of the resulting ethanol would cost in dollars or in energy is not included. Nor is the cost in energy or dollars of producing the seed for raising the switchgrass.

Nor does the study address the number of acres of otherwise useful cropland required to produce a given quantity of automotive fuel.


Switchgrass is a weed. It grows just about anywhere. You don't need to set aside valuable farmland to grow it. It doesn't need much water or fertilizer.
 
2008-03-06 01:53:57 PM
5000_gallons_of_toothpaste: That is because there is no switchgrass growers lobby. Farking corn lobbies have really farked up this country.

photos.imageevent.com
 
2008-03-06 02:13:00 PM
5000_gallons_of_toothpaste: Switchgrass is a weed. It grows just about anywhere. You don't need to set aside valuable farmland to grow it. It doesn't need much water or fertilizer.

My grandfather was a hay farmer. There's a little more to it than taking care of the lawn. If you start cutting it down, raking and baling it, and hauling it away, you will need to fertilize and overseed to replace what you are taking away. As TFA notes, they used existing commercial farms to get this yield--probably hay and alfalfa farms that were raising cattle feed.
 
2008-03-06 02:13:03 PM
5000_gallons_of_toothpaste: pandabear: Scrophulous Barking Duck: If they can produce ethanol for $.60 a gallon, switchgrass farms won't need subsidies.

You understand of course, that the study was of the farm cost of producing the feedstock for making ethanol. What the water, processing, fermentation, distillation, storage, and distribution of the resulting ethanol would cost in dollars or in energy is not included. Nor is the cost in energy or dollars of producing the seed for raising the switchgrass.

Nor does the study address the number of acres of otherwise useful cropland required to produce a given quantity of automotive fuel.

Switchgrass is a weed. It grows just about anywhere. You don't need to set aside valuable farmland to grow it. It doesn't need much water or fertilizer.


I've been saying for years that if science can perfect a process that can turn kudzu into ethanol, we'd be riding high.
 
2008-03-06 02:14:35 PM
Subsidized farming is what is wrong with our country (among other things, ie. imperialistic nature and all...)
 
2008-03-06 02:19:11 PM
ethanol. takes. a lot. of. energy. to. transport. for. chrissake. use. butanol. two. more. carbons. per. molecule. you. farking. idiots.
 
2008-03-06 02:20:56 PM
ptrifoliata2: ethanol. takes. a lot. of. energy. to. transport. for. chrissake. use. butanol. two. more. carbons. per. molecule. you. farking. idiots.

Show me a bacterium or yeast that turns warm water and plant matter into butanol, and you've got an idea there.
 
2008-03-06 02:23:01 PM
pandabear: Nor does the study address the number of acres of otherwise useful cropland required to produce a given quantity of automotive fuel.

We have more cropland than we know what to do with. That's why we pay farmers to not grow crops. If everyone tried to get value out of their farmland the price of commodities would tank and most farmers would go bankrupt.

And even leaving that aside, switchgrass can be grown on land of dubious quality. It's a colonizing plant; it doesn't need much.
 
2008-03-06 02:25:10 PM
pandabear: Scrophulous Barking Duck: If they can produce ethanol for $.60 a gallon, switchgrass farms won't need subsidies.

You understand of course, that the study was of the farm cost of producing the feedstock for making ethanol. What the water, processing, fermentation, distillation, storage, and distribution of the resulting ethanol would cost in dollars or in energy is not included. Nor is the cost in energy or dollars of producing the seed for raising the switchgrass.

Nor does the study address the number of acres of otherwise useful cropland required to produce a given quantity of automotive fuel.


Still way better than corn.
 
2008-03-06 02:30:03 PM
Yeah, whatever.

www.seafriends.org.nz
 
2008-03-06 02:32:33 PM
"and assuming a conversion efficiency of 80 to 90 gallons per ton,"
I was intrigued until the untested assumption was introduced.
The cost of growing switch grass seemed to be carefully measured but the cost of converting that to something useful seemed to then be pulled out of nowhere.
 
2008-03-06 02:33:25 PM
If we could run cars on bullshiat we could become energy independant every 4 years...
 
2008-03-06 02:33:38 PM
They could grow it in the median on highways and the interstate. That would be nice.
 
2008-03-06 02:35:21 PM
pandabear: You understand of course, that the study was of the farm cost of producing the feedstock for making ethanol. What the water, processing, fermentation, distillation, storage, and distribution of the resulting ethanol would cost in dollars or in energy is not included.

They address transportation costs and seed costs in the methods section of the actual study. Link

Nor does the study address the number of acres of otherwise useful cropland required to produce a given quantity of automotive fuel.

Yes they do: 5-11 Mg/ha using marginal cropland that would otherwise be used for growing oilseed.
 
2008-03-06 02:37:10 PM
I suck at the html. Second try: Link
 
2008-03-06 02:37:37 PM
its gotta be true..first paragraph mentions PNAS and ARS.
 
2008-03-06 02:38:43 PM
"yields 5x more energy than required to produce"

DNRTFA. Holy shiat.
 
2008-03-06 02:45:17 PM
Pandabear,

You obviously must not know about the Fischer-Tropsch and similar processes where plant materials are broken down into various products, including butanol. There is a much more efficient way to make ethanol (or butanol, which is my preferred "alternative" gas substitute) instead of using traditional fermentation. First you "gasify" the material into what is called "syngas" and then using a variety of alternatives, you further process the syngas into ethanol or butanol.

Here's a link to a company which is building plants currently utilyzing the process. I have had many dealings with them and their process utilyzes a couple of biological agents which can produce either ethanol or butanol, depending upon the particular strain introduced into the process. No water required, no emissions (no smell) and basically all the gases (such as hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, etc.) and ash which do not get converted have other commercial uses.

The traditional fermentation model just doesn't hold up to the gasification process from an economic or resource development process.
 
2008-03-06 02:46:28 PM
My bad, here's the link

Link
 
2008-03-06 02:47:58 PM
Once more, you'll have to cut n' paste


www.brienergy.com
 
2008-03-06 02:51:41 PM
icy_one Quote 2008-03-06 02:38:43 PM
"yields 5x more energy than required to produce"

DNRTFA. Holy shiat.


Problems is, oil produces 30x more energy than it takes to extract/transport and refine. Still, 5x is a lot better than most other alternative sources.
 
2008-03-06 02:53:31 PM
TheNewJesus: If we could run cars on bullshiat we could become energy independant every 4 years...

There are elections every year, and the national politicians don't corner the market on bullcrap. We could be energy independent permanently.
 
2008-03-06 03:03:47 PM
@YippeYay

not only that, it doesn't compete with food driving the cost of food up
 
2008-03-06 03:04:03 PM
canyoneer: Yeah, whatever.

Yes, but consider this...

i246.photobucket.com
 
2008-03-06 03:06:33 PM
5000_gallons_of_toothpaste: Switchgrass is a weed. It grows just about anywhere. You don't need to set aside valuable farmland to grow it. It doesn't need much water or fertilizer.

No, you can't make ethanol with varying quantities of switchgrass and 'other'. If you're going to raise the stuff, you have to carefully prep a field:

NEXT:
Roundup (petroleum)
Wait
Roundup (petroleum)
Wait
Lime (petroleum)
Fertilize (petroleum) (petroleum or ethanol)
Till, sow, and wait. (petroleum or ethanol)
Harvest (petroleum)
Wait
Harvest (petroleum)
Wait
Harvest (petroleum)
Go to Halloween party.
Wait..................
GOTO NEXT

And with any luck, you won't create a freaky artificial pestilence by altering the surrounding area's ecosystem which you'll have to address with even more petroleum pesticides...

Folks...these ideas were great, and half-heartedly tried, thirty years ago. Back then, it might have made a difference. Now, you're just wasting petroleum trying to figure out a way not to use petroleum while refusing to drastically reduce your energy consumption. Good luck with that.

Do you desire to be petroleum-free? Stop using it. Stop buying anything that wasn't made within ten miles of your house. You don't need oil; you just like it a lot.
 
2008-03-06 03:09:49 PM
I think industrial hemp has a higher energy yield potential
 
2008-03-06 03:12:48 PM
"The Corn Lobby" would make a great band name.
 
2008-03-06 03:13:12 PM
Mr. Xhin: I think industrial hemp has a higher energy yield potential

Even if it doesn't, nobody will remember that it didn't, so they'll be more Wow! That bird has teeth and it smiled at me.
 
2008-03-06 03:15:55 PM
Giblet: Stop buying anything that wasn't made within ten miles of your house.

So we should expect you to throw out your computer when exactly?
 
2008-03-06 03:17:54 PM
March_Hare: Second try: Link

That's interesting. 8 tons per hectare on average is roughly 4 tons per acre--about what you get with alfalfa, the hay crop I know best. Alfalfa is around $40 per ton cost and markets for $100, so this would have to market at about $120 to be competitive with alfalfa. But it gives just about twice the yield in EtOH per acre (of worse land) than corn.

lawboy87: Fischer-Tropsch and similar processes

Interesting.
 
2008-03-06 03:18:42 PM
Giblet:
Do you desire to be petroleum-free? Stop using it. Stop buying anything that wasn't made within ten miles of your house. You don't need oil; you just like it a lot.


Never going to happen. Well, not never... but do you have any idea how many common-place items are petroleum based?
 
2008-03-06 03:23:04 PM
jayhawk88: Giblet: Stop buying anything that wasn't made within ten miles of your house.

So we should expect you to throw out your computer when exactly?


I built my computer out of potatoes, bits of beer cans (25 micron technology) and discarded hoola hoops (water cooled).

If you want a petroleum-free life, you can have one. I'll happily guzzle your share to run my tractor, cuz walking behind a pair of mules with a plow is an entire galaxy of suck.
 
2008-03-06 03:28:32 PM
RoxtarRyan: Giblet:
Do you desire to be petroleum-free? Stop using it. Stop buying anything that wasn't made within ten miles of your house. You don't need oil; you just like it a lot.

Never going to happen. Well, not never... but do you have any idea how many common-place items are petroleum based?


Know any Amish?

Try to find some petroleum products, that can't be easily replaced by something else, on an Amish farmstead.

It can be done if you desire it. Many actually do.

In fact, MOST of the world does just fine with little or no petroleum at all. Americans use almost half of all oil production, despite having a small percentage of the total population.
 
2008-03-06 03:29:57 PM
The thing about switchgrass is that it is a native crop and it does not need fertilizer or extra water. You dont even have to kill the weeds in the area, till it under and plant this grass. It grows fast and does not spread quickly. It isnt as good as sugar cane but the corn lobby will not let sugar in since they have HFCS to substitute.
 
2008-03-06 03:30:17 PM
RoxtarRyan: Giblet:
Do you desire to be petroleum-free? Stop using it. Stop buying anything that wasn't made within ten miles of your house. You don't need oil; you just like it a lot.

Never going to happen. Well, not never... but do you have any idea how many common-place items are petroleum based?


Petroleum-free is a fantasy, but reducing our dependence on other countries for our supply of petroleum is certainly a goal worthy of accomplishing. Does anyone have some graphic that breaks down the percentage of oil we get, and what amounts of that go to what product (gas, fertilizer, plastics, etc)?
 
2008-03-06 03:33:51 PM
Drill ANWR. Drill off coast of Florida (before Cuba / Venezuela / China do).

Parallel to this, develop the hydrogen economy and nuclear / natural gas power plants to fuel it.

Done.

//CAN I HAS PREZIDENT NOW?
 
2008-03-06 03:35:39 PM
Giblet:

discarded hoola hoops (water cooled).

If I am not mistaken, aren't hula hoops made from plastic, a petroleum product?

Just wondering.
 
2008-03-06 03:47:09 PM
grandjedimasterbill: Giblet:

discarded hoola hoops (water cooled).

If I am not mistaken, aren't hula hoops made from plastic, a petroleum product?

Just wondering.


Hoola hoops are made of plastic, derived from petroleum.

Discarded Hoola hoops are made from Hoola hoops and no petroleum enters the equation.
 
2008-03-06 03:49:11 PM
Do people not think that the production of alternative, renewable fuel can't be made more efficient than it is today?
 
2008-03-06 03:49:38 PM
pandabear: That's interesting. 8 tons per hectare on average is roughly 4 tons per acre--about what you get with alfalfa, the hay crop I know best. Alfalfa is around $40 per ton cost and markets for $100, so this would have to market at about $120 to be competitive with alfalfa. But it gives just about twice the yield in EtOH per acre (of worse land) than corn.

True that, but remember this is a proof-of-concept study, so I wouldn't expect it to be a commercial success any more than the first airplane was. Expect improvements in things like crop genetics and an economy of scale to change things a bit.
 
2008-03-06 03:52:18 PM
Spindle: Petroleum-free is a fantasy,

Let's set our calendars, 20 years hence, to revisit this remark, share a chuckle, and reminisce about how cool personal cars were.
 
2008-03-06 03:53:40 PM
jonasborg: Do people not think that the production of alternative, renewable fuel can't be made more efficient than it is today?

I support renewable energy research but I don't support corn subsidies to do it. I say fund the research directly (and heavily) and if you want to give farmers welfare then do it separately without wrecking food supplies and supporting bad energy policy.
 
2008-03-06 03:58:57 PM
QU!RK1019:
canyoneer: Yeah, whatever.

Yes, but consider this...


Rookies.
www.robotpegasys.com
 
2008-03-06 04:05:05 PM
jonasborg: Do people not think that the production of alternative, renewable fuel can't be made more efficient than it is today?

It's not that at all.

It's just too late to mess with these ideas.

We should have been doing this stuff thirty years ago. We didn't. Whoops.

Now, we have to drastically reduce oil consumption FIRST and look for alternatives as fast as we can.

We won't do that of course because you can't stop people from driving their cars and you can't stop people from buying fresh California oranges in Maine.

So, we'll keep playing with alternative fuels...

...but at some point, probably VERY soon, oil supplies will falter. Almost immediately, there will be no food at your grocery store for you to buy with worthless dollars, and World War will quickly ensue.

People just don't care about alternative energy when they are on fire, bleeding, starving, and radioactive. Weird, but true.

So basically, just ignore what I said above. You can't prevent it now anyway.
 
2008-03-06 04:11:24 PM
SacriliciousBeerSwiller: QU!RK1019:
canyoneer: Yeah, whatever.

Yes, but consider this...

Rookies.


good point, but have you considered this?

www.textsure.net
 
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