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(SFGate)   Remember 99 years ago, when Israel's first president came up with a way to make a better biofuel than ethanol? No? Well, fortunately a bunch of scientists do   (sfgate.com) divider line 74
    More: Cool, biofuels  
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8802 clicks; posted to Geek » on 17 Jan 2013 at 8:35 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-17 03:46:54 PM

Dansker: dennerman: I always hated the idea of Biofuels. I mean, whoever thought, "Let's burn food for fuel!" was a good idea should be removed from their position and made to feed the hungry for at least a year.

Biofuels do not have to be made from food stuff. You can use grasses, garbage, or, as TFA suggests, eucalyptus.



I wonder if a business that picks up lawn waste (grass clippings, leaves, etc.) and sells it to a bio-fuels producer would be a monry-maker?
 
2013-01-17 04:04:37 PM

Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: /All energy is ultimately solar energy


Well, except for nuclear and geothermal.
 
2013-01-17 04:07:57 PM
ww1.hdnux.com
Harvey Blanch, chief science and technology officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute, holds the fridge door open so that plants can enjoy the light in Emeryville, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
 
2013-01-17 04:09:56 PM

Fizpez: That was an expensive fill up! Might I as why you burned all that n-butanol up? My assumption was it was going to be "disposed of" anyway at some insane cost to your company by a waste disposal company and you took one for the team - but damn that's an expensive 1/2 tank of gass.


yah, it was expired and scheduled for incineration-disposal. it was all sealed and capped still. it's a beautiful solvent, man. almost as beautiful as n-heptane, but i'd never try to use n-heptane as a fuel of any kind - - too precious.
 
2013-01-17 04:17:31 PM

OgreMagi: This reduced the food crops which increased prices and that hurt the lower classes in Mexico the most.


Meh. Mexico has lower unemployment, a stronger economy, and a lower debt to GDP ratio than the U.S. As well as approximately 270 billion metric shiattons of fallow arable land. I humbly suggest we let Mexicans worry about Mexico while we work on our own problems.
 
2013-01-17 05:28:44 PM

ThrobblefootSpectre: Mexico has lower unemployment, a stronger economy, and a lower debt to GDP ratio than the U.S.


And yet there's not a chance in hell I'd move there.

Says something about the value of those metrics as indicators of national health.
 
2013-01-17 05:38:33 PM

give me doughnuts: Dansker: dennerman: I always hated the idea of Biofuels. I mean, whoever thought, "Let's burn food for fuel!" was a good idea should be removed from their position and made to feed the hungry for at least a year.

Biofuels do not have to be made from food stuff. You can use grasses, garbage, or, as TFA suggests, eucalyptus.

SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE KOALAS!


Damn it, beat me to it.
 
2013-01-17 05:40:28 PM
You know whats odd? Over the past few months with all of this Israel vs. Palestine business going on, the sheer number of "Israel did something amazing!" and "Look at Israel!" articles are kind of irritating me.

I mean, the guys in Israel's PR department are working overtime and really getting their country out there in the news. I don't see nearly the same amount of articles from elsewhere. But just the fact that I'm being virtually inundated by the pro-Israel stuff is a bit off-putting.
Its hard to describe.
 
2013-01-17 06:05:55 PM

DuudeStanky: You know whats odd? Over the past few months with all of this Israel vs. Palestine business going on, the sheer number of "Israel did something amazing!" and "Look at Israel!" articles are kind of irritating me.

I mean, the guys in Israel's PR department are working overtime and really getting their country out there in the news. I don't see nearly the same amount of articles from elsewhere. But just the fact that I'm being virtually inundated by the pro-Israel stuff is a bit off-putting.
Its hard to describe.


To be fair, old Chaim did this stuff... what, 33 years before there even was an Israel for him to be President of?  So Israel doesn't really get any of the credit, any more than, say, the United States should get credit for all the cool shiat Benjamin Franklin came up with in the first 70 years of his life.
 
2013-01-17 06:26:59 PM
Also, Thorium.

Very provocative viewing.
 
2013-01-17 07:37:23 PM

kakarot251: Also, Thorium.

Very provocative viewing.


God I hate this crap about thorium. "Oh, it's too good to be true!" "GE and Westinghouse destroyed it 50 years ago" "It'll solve all of our problems!"

Here's something to think about: the Chinese, Indians, British, South Africans - along with any other developed nation has had nearly a lifetime to create even a small, operational and affordable thorium plant. Surely GE, Westinghouse, the US military, or whoever thorium advocates point to oppressing the technology in the US, don't have a multi generational reach to every nation in the world, hiding this "neverending, super clean, world changing power" from us.

Face it. We tried thorium in our Fast Flux reactor in Hanford. It was never finished, because the technology doesn't work at scale or affordably.
 
2013-01-17 08:19:08 PM
The patent for it ran out in 1937.

and some more details about it:

http://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Clostridium_acetobutylicum
 
2013-01-17 09:15:31 PM

ThrobblefootSpectre: Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: /All energy is ultimately solar energy

Well, except for nuclear and geothermal.


All those radioactive elements were produced in supernovae. Hence, nuclear is solar. Unless by nuclear you mean fusion strictly with light hydrogen. And all the rocks that make up our planet were, at one point, part of a star.
 
2013-01-17 09:17:18 PM

poot_rootbeer: Israel had a president 99 years ago? During Palestine's Second Aliyah?

/the first died in a place crash


That confused me too. There was no such thing as an "Israel" 99 years ago. It was created by England after WWII.
 
2013-01-17 09:30:29 PM

Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: All those radioactive elements were produced in supernovae. Hence, nuclear is solar.


The term you are grasping at is stellar. The remnants of a supernova are stellar material, not solar.
 
2013-01-17 09:53:47 PM

ThrobblefootSpectre: Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: All those radioactive elements were produced in supernovae. Hence, nuclear is solar.

The term you are grasping at is stellar. The remnants of a supernova are stellar material, not solar.


Semantics. You going to insist we start calling photovoltaic cells "stellar panels" now?
 
2013-01-17 10:10:08 PM

Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: Semantics. You going to insist we start calling photovoltaic cells "stellar panels" now?


I'm sorry I pointed out you were wrong. Okay?
 
2013-01-17 10:14:59 PM

Fizpez: Just once I'd love to read one of these that ends with: "The team has already secured $2B in funding and construction of several industrial scale plants will begin in different states within three months."

Five to ten years.... it's always friggin five to ten years.... except fusion... they've settled on 50 years as their mantra.


This might make you feel better.  http://gigaom.com/2013/01/17/2013-could-be-a-make-or-break-year-for-a l gae-fuel/
 
2013-01-17 10:37:32 PM

Soulcatcher: Maybe someone will figure out a way to make biofuel out of the plastic water bottles that will be covering every square inch of the planet 15 years from now.


Soulcatcher,

That is already figured out, the question is at what point does is become economical. The basics are as follows:

Plastic bottles (along with paper and other organic waste and even coal) can be fed through a gasifier at around 2500 degrees or more, which almost instantaneously breaks it down into a variety of "gasses" (known collectively as "process gas" or "syngas".) That syngas can be cleaned up slightly (to remove sulphur and other impurities) and used directly much like you would natural gas (or propane/methane). However, you could also capture its key components like CO2 and Hydrogen and recombine them in a manner which produces a liquid fuel which can be fairly easily refined into high grade diesel and/or a gasoline substitute. There are a couple of choices of how to achieve that, including the Fischer-Tropsch process and now it appears that some companies are experimenting/commercializing catalysts which can convert the syngas directly into liquid fuels.

Again, the real issue here isn't the lack of knowledge of how to do it, it is the question of the economics of cost of gathering and processing the "feed stock" relative to the value of the amount of fuel that can be created from the process. Where the cost is likely to be at the tipping point, very soon, towards it being economically viable is at municipal waste facilities around the country. Given the cost of "tipping fees" (what landfills typically charge to dispose of waste on their property) and the relatively low cost of separating out the "high value" items (highest gas producing products) such as plastics, tires, waste paper (dry) to gasify, it is fast becoming a viable option for many municipalities.
 
2013-01-17 10:56:21 PM

fickenchucker: OgreMagi: lawboy87: BTW, this whole "FOOD CROPS" for ethanol is over-hyped as well. The vast majority of corn grown in the US (for at least the last 70 yrs or so) was never intended for human consumption. It is known commercially as "dent corn" (from the small "dent" in the kernel's top of most species) and is grown almost exclusively for animal feed and/or ethanol production.

I think the problem was farmers switching from food corn to dent corn because there were higher profits from government subsidies and the growing biofuel market.  This reduced the food crops which increased prices and that hurt the lower classes in Mexico the most.

Came here to say this.

To say "it was dent corn" is disingenuous. Eatin' corn was switched to dent corn, and dent corn became expensive for animals.


NO, NO and NO!!!!

Neither of you know what you are talking about. Dent corn has traditionally made up a huge percentage of the corn crop in the US. (Compared to "table/sweet corn" which is grown for human consumption) The vast majority of corn (dent) grown has ALWAYS been grown for Animal feed.

Here's some info from Iowa State University's Agronomy Extension program concerning corn production in the US.

2007 - 93,600,000 Acres of "Dent Corn" planted nationwide
2007 - 380,000 Acres of "Table/Sweet" Corn planted nationwide.

BTW, according to an archived version New Jersey Agriculture Dept Publication from 1971, it showed at that time -

1971 - 60,000,000 Acres of Dent Corn planted nationwide
1971 - 640,000 Acres of Table/Sweet Corn planted nationwide.

As mentioned above, the dent corn used for ethanol purpose still leaves behind plenty of solids, which are sold by the distillers as animal feed as well. So it is actually a dual purpose crop.

In other words, for a long, long time in the US it has been a farming practice to put about 100 times or more acreage under seed for Dent/Field corn than for Table/Sweet corn. The primary reason is that animal feed demands a huge amount of corn and the typical cow is going to eat a significant amount more corn per year than the typical human.
 
2013-01-18 12:07:21 AM

lawboy87: Here's some info from Iowa State University's Agronomy Extension program concerning corn production in the US.

2007 - 93,600,000 Acres of "Dent Corn" planted nationwide
2007 - 380,000 Acres of "Table/Sweet" Corn planted nationwide.

BTW, according to an archived version New Jersey Agriculture Dept Publication from 1971, it showed at that time -

1971 - 60,000,000 Acres of Dent Corn planted nationwide
1971 - 640,000 Acres of Table/Sweet Corn planted nationwide.


So are you saying we've already passed Peak Corn?

/Grew up not far from where "Silver Queen" originated.
//Wish I could get supersweet white corn where I live now.
 
2013-01-18 01:37:02 AM
I am going to harness the secret of self bio-luminescence and harvest the plankton that swims around me, then I will poop out my own fuel*

/*patent pending
//5 years in the making
/// 5 years down the road
 
2013-01-18 06:04:56 AM
ethanol from food crops is a stupid, stupid idea.
 
2013-01-18 11:43:10 AM

lawboy87: In other words, for a long, long time in the US it has been a farming practice to put about 100 times or more acreage under seed for Dent/Field corn than for Table/Sweet corn. The primary reason is that animal feed demands a huge amount of corn and the typical cow is going to eat a significant amount more corn per year than the typical human.



Of course total volume went up over the years, and of course there has always been more dent corn. This is a drive-by comment thread. Who wants to read a 10,00 word screed on the farm industry?

Boiled down to its barest essence, ethanol is still pressure-pricing the entire food industry, from vegetables that weren't grown in favor of corn, to beef that has to pay more for animal feed. Ethanol is a HUGE boondoggle to placate the midwest farm vote, of which both parties are guilty and for which they need to be flensed.
 
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