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Methanol preferred technologies M-85/E-85

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: GM and E85

Unread postby aahala » Sun 12 Feb 2006, 15:28:34

About one in eight bushels of US corn production is used in order to
produce ethanol equal to about 2-3% of gasoline consumption. The
math isn't very encouraging.

The price isn't much better. For the last 20 years, the wholesale price
of pure ethanol has been higher than the wholesale price of gasoline
about 90% of the time. This is on a gallon to gallon basis. Adjusted for
mileage, $1.75 ethanol equals about $2.60 gasoline.
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Re: GM and E85

Unread postby Tanada » Sun 12 Feb 2006, 18:59:09

aahala wrote:About one in eight bushels of US corn production is used in order to
produce ethanol equal to about 2-3% of gasoline consumption. The
math isn't very encouraging.

The price isn't much better. For the last 20 years, the wholesale price
of pure ethanol has been higher than the wholesale price of gasoline
about 90% of the time. This is on a gallon to gallon basis. Adjusted for
mileage, $1.75 ethanol equals about $2.60 gasoline.


So if we use 25% of the corn crop for Ethanol production we can get 6% Gasohol, so obviously we need more crop choices to make use of. While I hear all the claims for E-85 I think the bulk of ethanol production for the forseeable future will be soaked up in Gasahol production. Michigan now has one operating Ethanol plant and two more under construction with the Governor encouraging even more to be built. What this will do to the cost of corn for animal feed and export is anybody's guess, but if they manage to drive the price sky high we won't be shipping any more over sea's because at the cost to transport nobody will be buying it.

I am still puzzled (well not really) by the power of the Corn Lobby to out shout all the alternative starch crops, corn is far from the most starch productive crop grown in this state or the neighboring states. Michigan grows more chipping potatos than any other state, according to state government reports at least. A lot of potatos are rejected by the sorting machines and are left to rot in the fields, those could be economically gathered and added to the ethanol production stream but nobody seems willing to do so right now.
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Re: GM and E85

Unread postby jmacdaddio » Mon 13 Feb 2006, 00:02:05

It will be interesting to see the ethanol game play out. There will be enough ethanol to power cars, but there won't be enough for everyone to continue living the way we do now. Also meat prices will skyrocket if more corn goes away from feeding livestock and towards liquid fuel production. Gasp ... will we have a healthier population, eating less meat and walking and biking many more times that they do today? Budget woes solved .... fitter not fatter Americans makes health care costs go down and leaves us more money for military campaigns against corn-producing countries.
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Re: GM and E85

Unread postby The_Virginian » Mon 13 Feb 2006, 11:23:17

jmacdaddio wrote: fitter not fatter Americans makes health care costs go down and leaves us more money for military campaigns against corn-producing countries.


:lol: Amen Brother.

How many realize this is a step backward to times when agricultural recources were one of the top reasons for WAR?
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Re: GM and E85

Unread postby thegrq » Mon 13 Feb 2006, 13:40:13

GWB just happened to mention corn-based ethanol in his address last Tuesday .. conicidence?


I think it's funny that there was an article released by Science magazine pretty much the day before Bush's speach talking about how ethanol is energy positive. I think Bush learned his lesson after the energy bill in the summer...just before that bill was passed Pimentel released his article about how ethanol is energy negative.
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Olaf: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy"

Unread postby ThunderChunky » Wed 15 Mar 2006, 13:01:25

I dont know much about this other than what this articles states. Anyone here read the book or know any glaring problems with methanol as an energy source? I expect it to be good seeing as how its written by a nobel-laureate chemist.

[b]Book offers a viable alternative to fossil fuel[/i]
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/ ... 031506.php
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&quo

Unread postby backstop » Wed 15 Mar 2006, 14:41:15

TC -

many thanks for the link.

Yes, methanol is potentially a critically important liquid fuel option since, as this Nobel laureate author makes clear,

it can be produced from sustainable forestry and other biomass sources,

&/or from so-called "Stranded Gas" (reserves to small &/or isolated to be worth piping out),

&/or from recycled power station CO2,

and methanol can be stored, piped and pumped with a tiny fraction of the problems that hydrogen poses,

and is less prone to explosion than petrol and its fires can be put out with water,

and is exceptionally clean-burning with excellent combustion characteristics,

and can be used in spark ignition ICE, compression ignition ICE (90% cut), numerous gas turbines, and "Direct Methanol Fuel Cells."

My interest is in its evident potential to fund widespread sustainable reforestation, which would offer a range of serious secondary benefits.

While I know a bit about methanol, the index of this book shows that it's an overview that has been long awaited.

When it's arrived & I've had time to study it I'll try to do a review.

Regards,

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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&quo

Unread postby Caoimhan » Wed 15 Mar 2006, 15:02:41

There are some good plusses with methanol, and some minuses, too.

No solution is perfect, but methanol production seems like a good idea on the whole.

I wonder how the CO2&Water method of methanol production compares to the electrolysis method of producing H2, in terms of electicity use. If the EREOI is much better for methanol, I can't see a reason to use H2.
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&

Unread postby EnergySpin » Wed 15 Mar 2006, 15:39:41

Caoimhan wrote:There are some good plusses with methanol, and some minuses, too.

No solution is perfect, but methanol production seems like a good idea on the whole.

I wonder how the CO2&Water method of methanol production compares to the electrolysis method of producing H2, in terms of electicity use. If the EREOI is much better for methanol, I can't see a reason to use H2.

I really do not see any reason to use H2 except as feedstock for something else. The beauty of hydrogen does not lie in its use as fuel (unless or untill we solve the catalyst availability and storage problems) but in its versatility when it comes to the chemical industry and the ability to synthesize it from water.
When it comes to a putative methanol economy, one could use an electrolytic method to generate hydrogen and combine it with CO2 or a nuclear powered thermochemical water splitting cycle. In theory one does not even need biomass as a CO2 "donor"; one could get it from the atmosphere provided one is willing to pay a significant energy cost.
Bottom line: In the long term (20-30 years in the future), nuclear and renewable power generation technologies could close the gap between chemical forms of energy storage and electricity production. Methanol is as likely as methanol or (bio-)diesel to be the chemical storage options available to us and the technology to jump start such cycles has been available for at least 100 years.
For example a closed "chemical fuel cycle" based on electricity was realized early in the 20th century: hydrazine was synthesized electrochemically in order to be used as fuel for the German U-boats during WWI.
The space shuttle, which uses the same chemical compound as fuel, is essentially powered by electricity :-D
Depending on the energy mix that feeds the grid at Kennedy, STS is subsidized by cheap, dirty hydrocarbons or clean nuclear power.
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&quo

Unread postby Caoimhan » Wed 15 Mar 2006, 15:54:30

One good thing about the methanol, is that it really won't require much in infrastructure changeover. Methanol can be mixed immediately into gasoline blends, even with ethanol, I believe.

At first, while NG is still relatively cheap, I'm sure that it will continue to be the main feedstock for methanol. But as NG gets higher in price, the CO2/H2O method may be able to scale up. That's the big question... how fast can non-NG methanol production scale and to what degree?
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&

Unread postby EnergySpin » Wed 15 Mar 2006, 16:23:34

Caoimhan wrote:One good thing about the methanol, is that it really won't require much in infrastructure changeover. Methanol can be mixed immediately into gasoline blends, even with ethanol, I believe.

Hehe, basic property of alcohols: they mix well with each other.
Caoimhan wrote:At first, while NG is still relatively cheap, I'm sure that it will continue to be the main feedstock for methanol. But as NG gets higher in price, the CO2/H2O method may be able to scale up. That's the big question... how fast can non-NG methanol production scale and to what degree?

Well the first bottlenect I can think of, concerns electricity generation.....
But since you are a fellow nukie, read the following article:

[url=
http://www.iaea.org/inis/aws/htgr/abstr ... 67245.html]Methanol synthesis from recycled carbon dioxide and hydrogen from high temperature steam electrolysis with the nuclear heat of an HTGR[/url]

The following link is a tribute to Backstop who opened my eyes to methanol: it is a fairly complete assessment of methanol synthesis from renewable energy sources (electricity/hydrogen) and biomass/atmospheric CO2.

"The Methanol-Cycle" - Sustainable Supply of Liquid Fuels
I will quote a few numbers from this report:
The data of the described synthesis variant shows that upon a biomass
input of 2 t/h wood (from forestry), an electric power consumption of ca. 5 MWe at a produced methanol rate of 1.2 t/h is necessary.
....
However, upon a wood input of 2 t/h, an electrical power demand of nearly 13 MW, leading to a methanol output of ca. 2.2 t/h, is required.

....
The separation of CO2 from flue gases ....The whole energy chain including the necessary fossil primary energy use is shown on Figure 4. Up to the methanol supply, the energetic efficiency rate is ca. 46 % [10]. However, this efficiency rate can be considerably increased (by over 50 %) if instead of conventional methods (CO2 recovery with alkanolamines) future power plant technologies (coal gasification and CO2 separation before incineration), which minimize the energy rate of the CO2 separation process, are used....

If atmospheric CO2 is the source product for the methanol synthesis... the total energy balance of this process is significantly lower, i.e. ca. 38 %



So it would seem that one could use any source of electricity to synthesize methanol from water and air with a holistic EROEI of 0.38
Obviously these cycles are not practical unless we have access to cheap electricity OR high temperature processes. Both these requirements are met by nuclear ; if the material science aspect of GenIV research pans out, we could have our cake (electricity) and eat it (methanol), since the thermal output of the reactors will be used to split water via a HI thermochemical cycle.
In any case, methanol is a pretty good option if you ask me ... it might be even better than cellulosic ethanol but I have not run the numbers yet.
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&quo

Unread postby Caoimhan » Wed 15 Mar 2006, 19:02:07

The assumptions about H2 in that review assume that H2 would have to be transported either compressed (CHG), or liquified (LH).

It seems very likely to me, however, that CHG and LH will both be abandoned as Hydrogen storage, as metal-hydride storage is perfected. See
THIS PAGE for info about it.

If hydrogen can be produced without fossil fuels cheaper than methanol, this seems to be the best route to take.

I'm not sure how the math adds up.
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&

Unread postby EnergySpin » Thu 16 Mar 2006, 01:49:39

Caoimhan wrote:The assumptions about H2 in that review assume that H2 would have to be transported either compressed (CHG), or liquified (LH).

It seems very likely to me, however, that CHG and LH will both be abandoned as Hydrogen storage, as metal-hydride storage is perfected. See
THIS PAGE for info about it.

If hydrogen can be produced without fossil fuels cheaper than methanol, this seems to be the best route to take.

I'm not sure how the math adds up.

In order to produce methanol, one needs to produce hydrogen first. So we know that MetOH will be more expensive to begin with at the plant site.
However, it might be a much cheaper option overall since:
a) it can be used in the existing infrastructure with minor upgrades
b) no major (if any) advances are needed in motor technology compared to fuel cells
c) the fuel cycle does not depend on precious and rare metals. Unless we come up with non platinum electrodes (doubtful, but nano-tubes might hold the answer to that too), FCs will never become practical for the masses.

But irrespective of whether we go down the H2 route or the MetOH route, one thing is pretty clear: the "oil" companies of the 21st century will not be known by the names Texaco/Chevron/BP/Shell etc. Try TVA, DukePower/Cinergy etc etc
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&quo

Unread postby backstop » Thu 16 Mar 2006, 08:13:14

Caoimhan -

"The Methanol-Cycle" - Sustainable Supply of Liquid Fuels

The wide range of cogent objections to hydrogen as transport fuel seem to me to mitigate strongly in favour of methanol, particularly in view of the storage issue.

The metal hydrates storage plan is not only a lab-option at present, and shows no promise of being scaleable to the global tanker fleet capacity required, it also demands substantial energy inputs both for hydrogen insertion and extraction.

The still greater range of profound objections to unsustainable nuclear power would be exacerbated by the notion of building additional nuclear to generate methanol,
given the massive loss of primary energy involved. (The report above defines that loss from Hydro-power methanol as being around 56%).

Quite what the projected full-term full-spectrum £-costs of Nuclear methanol would be remains to be seen, but the fact that the nuclear lobby has never yet promoted this option doesn't add to its credibility.

Thus my expectation of whatever advances in transport fuels can be achieved globally rest on the spectrum of benefits of sustainable reforestation of non-arable land for methanol feedstock,
not least because even at this stage of development its costs are looking competitive with fossil oil.

regards,

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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&quo

Unread postby whereagles » Thu 16 Mar 2006, 09:26:05

wait a minute... isn't methanol rather.. ahem.. toxic?
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&

Unread postby JoeCoal » Thu 16 Mar 2006, 09:52:35

whereagles wrote:wait a minute... isn't methanol rather.. ahem.. toxic?


Wikipedia wrote:methanol is toxic (this risk has been hugely overstated; methanol poisoning invariably results from drinking illegal liquor; methanol volatilizes and biogrades rapidly in the environment.)


Not really -- you have to try hard to do any damage to yourself.

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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&

Unread postby Caoimhan » Thu 16 Mar 2006, 10:51:56

backstop wrote:Caoimhan -

"The Methanol-Cycle" - Sustainable Supply of Liquid Fuels

The wide range of cogent objections to hydrogen as transport fuel seem to me to mitigate strongly in favour of methanol, particularly in view of the storage issue.

The metal hydrates storage plan is not only a lab-option at present, and shows no promise of being scaleable to the global tanker fleet capacity required, it also demands substantial energy inputs both for hydrogen insertion and extraction.


Funny, I thought that insertion merely required a little pressurization, and extraction required a little heating... nothing too strenuous. Now, the manufacture of the metal hydrates might be an objection, but aren't they reusable nearly indefinately?

backstop wrote:The still greater range of profound objections to unsustainable nuclear power would be exacerbated by the notion of building additional nuclear to generate methanol,
given the massive loss of primary energy involved. (The report above defines that loss from Hydro-power methanol as being around 56%).


Make the methanol from natural gas, biomass, or CO2 & water... please pick one. If you want to avoid the fossil fuel route, the only viable option is nuclear to provide the energy for the process.

backstop wrote:Quite what the projected full-term full-spectrum £-costs of Nuclear methanol would be remains to be seen, but the fact that the nuclear lobby has never yet promoted this option doesn't add to its credibility.


Probably because electricity and H2 generation seem to be better options. Electricity can power mass transit and BEVs, and H2 can provide fuel for transportation where battery-electric is impractical.

backstop wrote:Thus my expectation of whatever advances in transport fuels can be achieved globally rest on the spectrum of benefits of sustainable reforestation of non-arable land for methanol feedstock,
not least because even at this stage of development its costs are looking competitive with fossil oil.


So this means you're in favor of biomass sourced methanol? While I agree with reforestation of non-arable land, can we produce enough methanol this way to replace our use of petroleum?

(Hehehe... time for me to use the "complete replacement of oil" straw man argument).

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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&quo

Unread postby backstop » Thu 16 Mar 2006, 11:45:40

Caoimhan -

I'm glad we seem to agree that the "complete replacement of oil" is a strawman argument.

Seems to me that "complete" here ignores the finite nature of the planet's surface area (for pie are squared) [4pi(R2)]
in assuming oil provides a continued exponential growth of transport energy. Plainly a non starter, i.e. unsustainable.

Yes I'm strongly in favour of reforestation of potentially vast areas of non-arable land for sustainable energy feedstock,
of which methanol may well be the most profitable output.

Yet in utilizing a finite area, once the technology matures it will predictably cease increasing its output,
and is never likely to supply the present level of transport energy, let alone an annual increase in perpetuity.

Clearly sustainability is about living within our means, rather than at our childrens' expense.

WRT the energy input for the conversion of woodgas to methanol, your assertion that nuclear power is the only option seems bizarre,
given that gasification is an exothermic process and the woodgas is also available for power generation.

On a technical note I would point out that nuclear power is itself a fossil energy and, given its 50-year contribution to nuclear proliferation,
is arguably by far the most perilous of the four classes of fossil energy.

Given that proponents of nuclear hydrogen are claiming a hydrogen yield at a mere $200 /bbl oil equivalent,
for nuclear methanol to be still less competitive than this would certainly explain why the nuclear lobby has not tried to use the latter
as yet another supposed justification for reviving the industry.

One critical advantage of Sustainable Forest Energies worth noting is their impact on excess atmospheric CO2.
This is not merely in potentially displacing fossil fuel usage (given an effective global treaty of the atmospheric commons)
but also both in banking significant quantities of carbon in the standing stock of trees and in ongoing soil growth,
as well as in halting and then reversing the present net global deforestation
that is responsible for about one third of annual man-made carbon emissions.

regards,

Backstop
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Re: Book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy&

Unread postby EnergySpin » Thu 16 Mar 2006, 12:35:27

backstop wrote:The still greater range of profound objections to unsustainable nuclear power would be exacerbated by the notion of building additional nuclear to generate methanol,
given the massive loss of primary energy involved. (The report above defines that loss from Hydro-power methanol as being around 56%).

Backstop, the same report said that using flue stream gas (much higher CO2 concentration that biomass), will result in losses of about 52%; using electricity to synthesise methanol from air + water leads to an energy loss of about 62%. This is not something unexpected if you ask me.
backstop wrote:Quite what the projected full-term full-spectrum £-costs of Nuclear methanol would be remains to be seen, but the fact that the nuclear lobby has never yet promoted this option doesn't add to its credibility.

Actually the cost was covered in the report I linked ....
Assuming that CO2 from air is used, the main component of the cost is electricity. Since large scale hydro and nuclear have comparable costs, the answer to your question may be found at page 10 of the link I provided yesterday:
Methanol from biomass: 0.25-0.35 eurocents/lt
Methanol from flue gas: 0.4 eurocents/lt
Methanol from atmospheric CO2: 0.6 eurocents/lt
Since the thermal content of MetOH is half the corresponding figure for gasoline (link), the prices should be doubled to give an idea of the cost of MetOH relative to gasoline.
So methanol from biomass or flue gas should be cheaper than gasoline, while methanol from atmospheric CO2 matches the current cost of gasoline (at least in Europe).
For the benefit of lurkers who are not accustomed to SI units, let's convert everything to gallons and US dollars, assuming that 1 gallon = 3.85 lts and 1 Euro = 1.2 USD
Methanol from biomass: 2.31-3.23 USD/ga
Methanol from flue gas: 3.7 USD/ga
Methanol from atmospheric CO2: 5.54 USD/ga
Since Methanol would be an indigenous source, and not shipped from Europe, it might be reasonable not to multiply the MetOH cost by the current euro/USD exchange rate. In such a case, the prices are reduced to:
Methanol from biomass: 1.93-2.7 USD/ga
Methanol from flue gas: 3.08 USD/ga
Methanol from atmospheric CO2: 4.62 USD/ga

Not bad, considering what 100+ oil will do to the gasoline price at the pump.

The largest component of the cost is due to electricity , ergo costs can (and will) go down when cheap abundant electricity is available, and will be fairly robust to oil price hikes (at least in the US).

Our only real options for cheap carbon neutral electricity are: nuclear and (offshore) wind in my book.
backstop wrote:the fact that the nuclear lobby has never yet promoted this option doesn't add to its credibility.

This couldn't be further from the truth .... but you are forgiven :roll: because the methanol option is usually discussed at the end of hydrogen papers (so one has to look really hard for it).
I provided a link from an 1992 abstract by the Japanese nuclear industry yesterday i.e.:
http://www.iaea.org/inis/aws/htgr/fulltext/25067245.pdf
If you are looking for something more recent, try a conference held at MIT last year:
http://web.mit.edu/canes/symposia/tokyo ... mmary.html

If I were to select one fuel that a) does not compete with farm land b) can be used to reforest land c) can be used by countries that do not have access to forests then Methanol would be the way to go.

Since I can hear the doomers crying: no oil was the most versatile fuel/energy option we ever had, we are screwed, methanol will not and cannot replace oil, let me compare the two options to see which one is the best:

GEOGRAPHIC AVAILABILITY
OIL: One needs favourable geology to produce it. Unfortunately areas with favourable geology do not have favourable international politics so....
METHANOL: One needs only water/air/electricity sources. Political problems include NIMBY's who object to wind farms and nuclear reactors, but I have high hopes for the US and the EU: when NIMBYism confronts the national traffic jam, guess who will win!


EROEI of the feedstock:
OIL: 30 and declining
Methanol: (the feedstock for methanol production is electricity, because air and water comes for free) => 40+ (wind), 60+ (nuclear, one pass fuel cycle), 4200 (nuclear with breeders)

EROEI of the distillate:
OIL: 7.4 (after distillation)
Methanol: 40 x 0.38 = 15.2. Assuming that biomass is used for feedstock, the efficiency becomes equal to: 40 x 0.52 = 20.4 !!

EFFICIENCY OF END USE:
Methanol is probably more efficient when used as fuel!
I can (and eventually will) put methanol in laptops/cell phones but I cannot do the same with gasoline :roll:

EASE OF USE:
About the same for both fuels ... actually methanol might be better given its ability to a) be used for solvent and reactant in many applications of synthetic chemistry

CARBON BUDGET:
MetOH is a clear winner on this one.

Game, set and match for Methanol methinks!
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