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(Wired)   Not exactly Mr. Fusion, but close enough   ( divider line
    More: Interesting  
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19600 clicks; posted to Main » on 14 Feb 2004 at 2:15 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2004-02-14 03:25:33 PM  
The Georgia Guidestones

This link presented as a courtesy for people whose intarweb thingie didn't come with a search engine.
2004-02-14 03:25:41 PM  

But where is all this ethanol going to come from in the first place? They would have to factor that into the overall efficiency of this kind of power source.

It's going to come from US agriculture, specifically corn farmers. It states that right in the article. Go figure, I wonder how much money the farmers invested this time.

It's not a matter of what "fuel" to extract hydrogen from, its a matter of what the highest bidder wants to use.

Well, look at the bright side. At least our tax dollars can stop going to pay farming corporations to NOT grow crops.
2004-02-14 03:26:03 PM  
Arthen: Tell that to the drunk bastard doing the Funky Chicken after five martinis and half a bottle of Cuervo.
2004-02-14 03:26:50 PM  
No, ethanol is merely a way of transferring sunlight energy into stuff we can use. It doesn't neccessarily have to be produced using the energy-expensive (and oil reliant) means that we currently employ. A little less intensive of energy, a little more intensive of land area and labour, and bingo.
2004-02-14 03:27:35 PM  
OK please follow me it takes 1.2 times the amount of energy expended to produce ethenol than it release from burning . . . this is seperate from energy it recieves from the sun. This is from the amonia(natural gas) and pesticides(petroleum) required to grow it. Please think about it.
2004-02-14 03:30:33 PM  
Arthen: Then what do you suggest we do? Hmm?
2004-02-14 03:30:46 PM  
Ethenol is a waste of natural gas and petroleum. Using it pulls attention from viable alternatives, alternatives that we will need energy sources to impliment. Didn't you ever wonder why energy companies are so willing to promote it? It's simply a PR friendly avenue for fossil fuel use.
2004-02-14 03:32:03 PM  
I, for one, welcome our new corn-growing overlords.
2004-02-14 03:33:05 PM  
arthen. See my comment. Poke holes in it if you can. I'd love to see you.
2004-02-14 03:34:03 PM  
jwrebholz : Heh, I think the "doomsday stuff" does play a big hand in this. The US government has been supplying money and arms technology to mideast nations and groups for decades, namely Al Quaida\Osama Bin Laden and Iraq\Hussein. They were investments in oil.

9/11 assuming it wasn't set up and was truly conducted by Al Quaida terrorists was a direct result of this.

9/11 was the pretext to turning the covert war into an overt war. The Afghan war was revolved around installing a massive oil pipeline that the Al Qaieda's were trying to prevent (or temporarily prevent, by attempting to demand more money from the US). Iraq was nothing more than an oil war (which Bush never admitted because he knew it wouldn't reduce oil prices, just increase oil profits for his buddies).

//Enough conspiracy ranting
2004-02-14 03:34:43 PM  
I'll get a laptop, attach it to my exercise bike, move into a tent with a solar powered space heater, and ill be set.

u better not cross the white chalk line around my tent though, cause that means i get to make u into dinner
2004-02-14 03:35:23 PM  
What we need is to STOP F-UCKING WASTING ENERGY RIGHT NOW how much oil do you think one piece of shiat m1a1 abrahms main battle tank requires per day? A battalion? Water purification for our troops? The profits from capturing Iraq in oil won't even cover the basic infrastructure of the country much less pay for our policing of it. Next we need to revolt against the Exon mobile control of our government system and redirect our energies away from mother farking tax breaks for SUV ownership and look away from fossil fuels and farking moonshot fussion solutions.
2004-02-14 03:36:32 PM  
yah but they look so cool blowing stuff up
2004-02-14 03:38:09 PM  
Nice flame, arthen, but how does that address the fundamental problem that a well researched, well-founded and early-started ethanol based fuel economy can?
2004-02-14 03:38:43 PM  

In order to make land arable and suport crops we need to fertilize it. Right now the majority of our fertilizer is amonia derived from natural gas. In order for the crops to survive to maturity they must be soaked with pesticides derived from, you guessed it, petroleum. Based on proven non fossil fuel reliant technology the earth can support a lil less than 2 billion humans food-wise not to mention how you plan on powering your PC.
2004-02-14 03:39:52 PM  
Ethenol will never be a source of energy for combustion power. period. not possible. It is a parasitic tech.
2004-02-14 03:41:37 PM  
Chemists - what's the mechanism for getting H2 out of saturated carbon chains?

There isn't one. You can abstract protons (H+) from certain alkyl groups with sufficiently strong bases, but unless you're using hydride (H-) you don't get hydrogen gas, and hydride requires some preparation and expense to make. Pretty much the only thing you can do with hydrocarbons is halogenate them through a radical reaction.

That's just beaker chemistry, though, and there's probably a rule-exception reaction that's slipped my mind.

I've been trying to work out the mechanism for generating H2 gas from ethanol in aqueous solution. It's a catalytic process according to SciFinder, and produces a number of byproducts, including methane, CO2, CO, ethane, ethylene, acetaldehyde and ethanol. I think the ideal reaction is to re-form ethanol and start the process again.

Fatsikostas, Athanasios N.; Kondarides, Dimitris I.; Verykios, Xenophon E. Steam reforming of biomass-derived ethanol for the production of hydrogen for fuel cell applications. Chemical Communications (Cambridge, United Kingdom) (2001), (9), 851-852.
2004-02-14 03:41:51 PM  

Do you, in fact, have any familiarity with physics at all? It is impossible to get a 1:1 power conversion. It will *always* take power to make power. This is basic Newtonian laws, 101. It takes more power to create gasoline than is produced in your car. It doesn't take any power to suck up sunlight, but you get about a 10:1 conversion rate because of loss in photovoltic conversion.

About the only thing which MIGHT have a positive conversion rate would be an atomic power pile. At which case you only have the risk of an A-bomb going off to worry about.

No matter what source of fuel we're using, as long as we're burning something (IE, anything BESIDES Mr. Fusion), there is always going to be a net loss in power.
2004-02-14 03:43:05 PM  
Sorry if I got a bit worked up and stepped on any toes, the whole stuation would be a beautiful sketch of casandras frustration, if it wasn't me. I'm shooting up and jacking off to some porn . . . see you all in my fantasies (-=
2004-02-14 03:44:10 PM  
Ok this is as simply as i can state it. if you burned the gasoline required to grow the corn you would get farther than if you used the ethenol the gas was wasted to produce. Understand yet?
2004-02-14 03:44:43 PM  

Wow. Did you start writting that the second the article was submitted? It took longer to read your post than the article.

You raised some good points, but I'm still not convinced. I would like to see some study on the energy it takes to pump, refine, and distribute oil versus grow, distill, and distribute ethanol. Ignoring infrastructure it seems that oil is much more efficient for the sole reason that we don't have to create it, just pump it out. Very interesting though.
2004-02-14 03:45:16 PM  
And yes I have some familiarity with physics or so my doctorate from pitt seems to indicate.
2004-02-14 03:45:25 PM  
yeah we only got till 2015 to have flying cars, self-drying jackets and floating skateboards. im gonna be really pissed if we're all driving around geo metros powered by french fries wearing jackets made out of corn and cruising around on skateboards made out of newspapers
aka recycled world
2004-02-14 03:46:04 PM  
Bullshiat. You haven't made a definitive argument for that. I have made a well-researched, and directed argument saying just the opposite. The best you can offer on the subject are meaningless, short diatribes griping about how we should all get up off our farking butts and do something-you-don't know what. It's not a parasitic tech. It doesn't _require_ oil to produce. We produce with oil now, because that's what our technology has developed around. We develop technology around creating ethanol without oil and it will happen. Plants have grown without oil for billions of years, quite happily, and ethanol has been a by-product of thier decay since their inception.

See my comment about fertilizer coming from the plants we're deriving ethanol from.

earth can support a lil less than 2 billion humans food-wise -- we have enough food for everyone now. On top of that, in 1867, it was a well known fact that human beings couldn't exceed 35 mph without going insane or blowing up

You do not have to soak foods with pesticides. How do you think you can go out to the store and buy ORGANICALLY GROWN bread?

Try again, dude. You're not even close.
2004-02-14 03:47:09 PM  
The really frustrating part of all this is the fact that Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe and we can't figure out how to make use of it.

Stupid Humans
2004-02-14 03:47:15 PM  
And yes, I have some familitiarity with physics, and chemistry, and farming, and biology, or so my rural Arkansas background and PhD from IIT would seem to indicate.
2004-02-14 03:51:02 PM  
Ethenol will never be a source of energy for combustion power. period. not possible. It is a parasitic tech.

I might actually listen to you if a) you could spell ethanol correctly and b) you read the article. It doesn't talk about burning ethanol. It uses ethanol and water in a *catalytic* process to produce hydrogen gas. Go look up the definition of catalysis.

As for the fertiliser and pesticides coming from petroleum, big deal. We can make ammonia through the haber process from nitrogen and hydrogen, and the hydrogen can come from the catalytic ethanol process. Failing that, we can use nitric acid instead, and we can make that from air and water. As for the pesticides, we have two options. We can either use biological sources for the pesticide precusors or we can hearken to the hippies and do it "organically."
2004-02-14 03:51:58 PM  


You're not even worth further response.
2004-02-14 03:54:25 PM  
What we need is a study on how large of a crop of corn an average household needs to distill enough ethanol to power itself for a year using this new Mr. Fusion wannabe. *whew*

May be a hassle to do...but it could beat being pwn3d by big oil.
2004-02-14 03:54:33 PM  
And yes I have some familiarity with physics or so my doctorate from pitt seems to indicate.

Obviously you skipped the required English courses. Where the hell is Pitt, anyway?
2004-02-14 03:57:06 PM  
I think some of you turned off your brain once you read ETHANOL. Ethanol is not the energy producer for this machine, the hyrdogen derived from the ethanol is. HYDROGEN, not ETHANOL. They have apparently also found how to make lots of hydrogen from a smaller amount of ethanol. This article does not say that they are planning on using the ethanol only, just what hydrogen they get out of it. The article makes no mention of the amounts per each they have currently gotten this to.

Stop badmouthiing all forms of new energy, one of them might be the ticket.
2004-02-14 03:58:14 PM  
Bondith. Yes, you're right, we can use the haber process, although it is more expensive, energywise. It would be interesting to do a viability study.

Also, the catalyst is a rhodium catalyst -- one of the most expensive you can create. It's not a perfect technology, but it's a step in the right direction, and in my opinion, a proof of concept that we can get to where we need with this. We basically lack infrastructure. This is, IMHO, actually a good thing, because this means we can develop it right this time. No hub-and-spoke, no money hording mass-distributors. Local farms producing local fuel for the most part, with mass-distributors providing the excess merely.
2004-02-14 04:05:09 PM  
Also, the catalyst is a rhodium catalyst -- one of the most expensive you can create.

My SciFinder search turned up all sorts of catalysts, most of which used 2nd and 3rd ror transition metals like Rhodium, Ruthenium, Platinum and Palladium, or lanthanides like Lanthanum or Cerium. Sometimes nickel or aluminium were tossed into the mix as well, but most of them used pretty rare metals.
2004-02-14 04:09:52 PM  
Every method of obtaining energy will consume some energy in the process. It's all just an equation:

[Energy_to_drill + Energy_to_transport + Engergy_to_refine] - Gross_energy_oil = Net_energy_oil

[Energy_to_grow + Energy_to_transport +Energy_to_distill] - Gross_energy_ethanol = Net_energy_ethanol

As long as Net_energy_ethanol > 0, and is approximately = to Net_energy_oil, I am happy.
2004-02-14 04:11:05 PM  
Aluminum catalytic conversion is an amazingly useful thing. You should check out some of the whitepapers (may be available or not from the site) at

Aluminum catalytic conversion of PCBs, nuclear waste, chemical waste -- even old tires. One of the creators is a family friend, so consider it a plug, but they have govt. approval, and even in late-stage (and optimistic) negotiations with the Yucca Mtn Nuclear Waste Repository people.
2004-02-14 04:16:18 PM  
Arthen:What I mean is the hydrogen did not explode or cause the explosion.

Observations of the incident show evidence inconsistent with a hydrogen fire: (1) the Hindenburg did not explode, but burned very rapidly in omnidirectional patterns, (2) the 240-ton airship remained aloft and upright many seconds after the fire began, (3) falling pieces of fabric were aflame and not self-extinguishing, and (4) the very bright color of the flames was characteristic of a forest fire, not a hydrogen fire (hydrogen makes no visible flame). Also, no one smelled garlic, the scent of which had been added to the hydrogen to help detect a leak.

The Hindenburg fabric was found to be made of a cotton substrate with an aluminized cellulose acetate butyrate dopant. The observations of the fire listed above, in fact, are consistent with a huge aluminum fire. (The brightness of the space shuttles rocket boosters are an example of aluminum-based combustion.) So, it was the extreme flammability of the Hindenburgs fabric envelope which caused the disaster and not the lifting gas inside.

You can find this information here

2004-02-14 04:17:24 PM  
Ha, if ethanol is the next big thing in energy once the oil dries up, the Great Plains will be the source of most of the world's fuel. If the world is sick of U.S. hegimony now, wait 50 years. Gives me a power-hungry chubby.
2004-02-14 04:19:07 PM  
Having several acres of is interesting for me to think about growing corn and making hooch to provide power for my home.

"Kids....this is how you shuck corn."

Although, if it takes, say, 10 acres of corn for a single household to become self sufficient for a year, it may be too much to handle.
2004-02-14 04:24:35 PM  
Whohoo! I finally got an article posted.
It's only been about four years.

And damn you, funnier headline having guy.

As far as the article goes, it seems like it
might be a good step toward figuring out how
to get a hold of some hydrogen. As far as it being
a waste, imagine if a hundred years from now if
we worked on hydrogen fuel cells as hard as we
have on ICE's how efficient they could be.
2004-02-14 04:26:04 PM  
Suck on this, Peak Oil
2004-02-14 04:26:31 PM  

Talk about your irony! Highly flammable gas surrounded by a cotton substrate with an aluminized cellulose acetate butyrate dopant, and yet it was the aluminum that caused the fire.
2004-02-14 04:30:19 PM  
um, WooHoo, not WhoHoo
2004-02-14 04:30:30 PM  

You say that midland America will be doing most of the manufacture in 50 years... well now I'm going to do a bit more future viewing.

In 50 years time, the temperature will go up 2 degrees. When this happens, the middle of America will turn to a dustbowl, and the good land will be in Siberia and Canada. Either way, America is buggered.

/I'm slightly kidding but this is what I was taught in geography when we did global warming. Good job I didn't take it to seriously, or I'd really need a tin hat
2004-02-14 04:30:37 PM  
Why did the article fail to mention hydrogen can be made from water. HELLOO?

Anyone can make a device to perform electrolysis of water, hydrogen comes out one side, oxygen out the other.

It takes electricity to do this, but there is nothing to say a bank of solar sells or a wind/water turbine can't be the electrical source.
2004-02-14 04:31:30 PM  
Aluminum catalytic conversion is an amazingly useful thing. You should check out some of the whitepapers (may be available or not from the site) at

Looks intriguing, although the prose could use a good editing. There seem to be a few chemically incorrect statements, but they can be attributed to typos or to a non-chemist web designer (describing n-propanal as an alcohol, for example. I suspect they meant propanol.)

Other than that, it's an interesting process.

I assume information on the actual process itself is proprietary, which is a bit of a nuisance. It's the downside to corporate research, I suppose.
2004-02-14 04:37:06 PM  
Ethanol is a negative net energy crop. It is a red hering promoted and developed to assuage public concern. Ethenol is a misguided PR campaign for potrol as petrol is required to produce it.
2004-02-14 04:38:35 PM  
The haber process consumes more energy than petrol . . . you still have yet to present how ethenol can possibly be a SOURCE of energy.
2004-02-14 04:39:21 PM  
My SciFinder search turned up all sorts of catalysts, most of which used 2nd and 3rd ror transition metals like Rhodium, Ruthenium, Platinum and Palladium, or lanthanides like Lanthanum or Cerium.

I found another reference that just uses nickel, along with small amounts of aluminium, magnesium and titanium. Those are all fairly common, the last three being among the top ten most abundant elements in the earth's crust.
2004-02-14 04:40:57 PM  
1 kilowatt of power, nearly enough for an average home

No way near enough for even a single room. I have 2-3 Kilowatt heaters in every room, my microwave uses 0.9 killowatts.

The only great thing about this is that it uses plant based ethanol and so is carbon neutral.
2004-02-14 04:45:41 PM  
you still have yet to present how ethenol can possibly be a SOURCE of energy.

First off, it's ethAnol. Secondly, no I haven't, and I don't have to since I never claimed it was.

The touted benefits of ethanol-blended gasolines and other biodiesel fuels isn't better efficiency, it's the fact that they burn "cleaner". The compounds found in gasoline are massive things, and often don't combust completely - that is, chunks of unburned molecule and CO come out the tailpipe along with the CO2. Ethanol's a smaller molecule and already partially oxidised, which means it burns more efficiently.
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