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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 16:34:11

I see viable solutions on the horizon!

Energy Independence: Biomass

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 21, 2005 — Relief from soaring prices at the gas pump could come in the form of corncobs, cornstalks, switchgrass and other types of biomass, according to a joint feasibility study for the departments of Agriculture and Energy.

The recently completed Oak Ridge National Laboratory report outlines a national strategy in which 1 billion dry tons of biomass – any organic matter that is available on a renewable or recurring basis – would displace 30 percent of the nation's petroleum consumption for transportation. Supplying more than 3 percent of the nation's energy, biomass already has surpassed hydropower as the largest domestic source of renewable energy, and researchers believe much potential remains.

"Our report answers several key questions," said Bob Perlack, a member of ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division and a co-author of the report. "We wanted to know how large a role biomass could play, whether the United States has the land resources and whether such a plan would be economically viable."

Looking at just forestland and agricultural land, the two largest potential biomass sources, the study found potential exceeding 1.3 billion dry tons per year. That amount is enough to produce biofuels to meet more than one-third of the current demand for transportation fuels, according to the report.

Such an amount, which would represent a six-fold increase in production from the amount of biomass produced today, could be achieved with only relatively modest changes in land use and agricultural and forestry practices.

"One of the main points of the report is that the United States can produce nearly 1 billion dry tons of biomass annually from agricultural lands and still continue to meet food, feed and export demands," said Robin Graham, leader for Ecosystem and Plant Sciences in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division.

The benefits of an increased focus on biomass include increased energy security as the U.S. would become less dependent on foreign oil, a potential 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an improved rural economic picture.

Current production of ethanol is about 3.4 billion gallons per year, but that total could reach 80 billion gallons or more under the scenario outlined in this report. Such an increase in ethanol production would see transportation fuels from biomass increase from 0.5 percent of U.S. consumption in 2001 to 4 percent in 2010, 10 percent in 2020 and 20 percent in 2030. In fact, depending on several factors, biomass could supply 15 percent of the nation's energy by 2030.

Meanwhile, biomass consumption in the industrial sector would increase at an annual rate of 2 percent through 2030, while biomass consumption by electric utilities would double every 10 years through 2030. During the same time, production of chemicals and materials from bio-based products would increase from about 12.5 billion pounds, or 5 percent of the current production of target U.S. chemical commodities in 2001, to 12 percent in 2010, 18 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2030.

Nearly half of the 2,263 million acres that comprise the land base of the U.S. has potential for growing biomass. About 33 percent of the land area is classified as forest, 26 percent as grassland, 20 percent as cropland, 13 percent as urban areas, swamps and deserts, and 8 percent as special uses such as public facilities.

The report, titled "Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply," was sponsored by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renwable Energy, Office of Biomass Program. Lynn Wright and Anthony Turhollow of ORNL, Bryce Stokes of the USDA Forest Service and Don Erbach of the USDA Agriculture Research Service are co-authors of the report. The complete report is available at:
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 16:47:01

World's First Biomass-To-Ethanol Plant

GAINESVILLE---A breakthrough biotech "bug" developed by a University of Florida scientist will help produce 20 million gallons of ethanol fuel annually at the world's first commercial biomass-to-ethanol plant.

Ground breaking for the $90-million facility being built by BC International Corp. in Jennings, La., is set for Tuesday (10-20). The plant, expected to be operational in 18 months, will be the first to convert organic waste biomass into ethanol, a form of alcohol used as an industrial chemical and as a clean-burning fuel.

The plant's technology and operating system is based upon genetically-engineered bacteria developed by Lonnie Ingram, microbiologist with the UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Ingram's microorganism produces a high yield of ethanol from biomass such as sugar cane residues, rice hulls, forestry and wood wastes and other organic materials.

"Until we developed this new technology, the chemical makeup of biomass prevented it from being used to make ethanol economically," Ingram said. "Biomass is a much cheaper source of ethanol than traditional feedstocks such as corn and cane syrup.

"The new technology will allow ethanol to become economically competitive with fossil fuels for the first time," he said. "Until now, all the world's ethanol has been produced by yeast fermentation, which converts sugars into ethanol, carbon dioxide and other by-products."

The UF bioconversion technology, which became landmark patent No. 5,000,000 by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1991, was the world's first genetically engineered E. coli bacteria capable of converting all sugar types found in plant cell walls into fuel ethanol for automobiles.

Ingram's research is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy. BC International Corp., based in Dedham, Mass., holds exclusive rights to use and license the UF-engineered bacteria, dubbed "KO11" by the firm.

"Instead of using corn or grain to make ethanol fuel, they'll be used to feed people," said BCI Executive Vice President Clinton Norris. "With this new technology, we can provide a source of energy by utilizing waste from farm crops -- not the crops themselves. In this way, we're helping solve the problems of hunger and our endangered environmental resources."

The energy department, which is providing cost-sharing support for the new BCI facility in Louisiana, is promoting the new technology to increase the nation's energy independence and protect the environment.

"This is an important step in the development of sustainable technologies for an integrated bioenergy industry -- using biomass for the production of electricity, fuels and chemicals. It demonstrates the exciting results that can occur when government and industry work together to develop and deploy new technologies," said Bill Richardson, secretary of the energy department. "It is fitting that BC International Corp.'s path-breaking ethanol facility will be launched on the 25th anniversary of the oil embargo, which was the major impetus in the search for alternative sources of energy."

Currently, the United States consumes about 120 billion gallons of automotive fuel each year. Fuel ethanol from corn is blended with 10 percent of this gasoline to improve octane ratings and burn cleaner.

"There are enough agricultural and timber residues to completely replace gasoline in the U.S. and in many other countries," Ingram said. "Brazil has used pure ethanol as a primary fuel for more than 20 years."

Ingram genetically engineered the organisms by cloning the unique genes needed to direct the digestion of sugars into ethanol, the same pathway found in yeast and higher plants. These genes were inserted into a variety of bacteria that has the ability to use all sugars found in plant material but normally produces acetic and lactic acids as fermentation products.

His ethanol genes served to redirect the digestive processes in these bacteria to produce ethanol at 90 to 95 percent efficiency.
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 16:49:58

'Tree-power' Could Be Future Energy Source

OVERTON – A wood-fueled electricity generating plant may be in your future.

In fact, the future is 'now' in some Scandinavian countries, said Dr. Darwin Foster, Texas Cooperative Extension forestry program leader.

"In Sweden, they're already bundling up what we're leaving in the forest after a timber harvest and using it as bio-fuel," Foster said.

"Bio-fuel" is all-inclusive term that includes any renewable resource used to generate energy. As with ethanol distilled from small grains byproducts and methane from animal-waste, wood refuse is another renewable energy source. The key word is "renewable," Foster said.

"As compared to fossil fuels which take hundreds of millennia to create and are not renewable," he said.

Using forest bio-mass – limbs, bark, tree tops – as a bio-fuel is not unheard of in the U.S. Forest product manufacturing concerns already burn wood residue in steam boilers. The steam is used to drive electrical generators and supply part of the energy needed to run the plant.

Other mills use "black liquor" – the lignin-rich residue of the pulp and paper industry – for heat, steam and electric power generation.

But currently, in both examples, the residue used is created at the plant during the manufacturing process, not recycled from the harvest site as many European countries do, Foster said.

"In one of our meetings, a forest product manufacturer indicated that about 12 percent of the volume delivered to their plant wound up as residue,"he said. "It's mostly bark, but there's some fines (sawdust) too. But it's just a drop in the bucket as far as their energy needs go."

But the use of forest bio-fuel is not limited to energy production of forest industry plants. With prices of natural gas, crude oil and other non-renewable sources rising, scientists are looking at using bio-fuels for residential consumption, Foster said. At least one company in Texas, Green Mountain Energy in Austin, has turned this from science fiction into science fact. Green Mountain uses wood residue to generate a part of the electricity it produces and sells to Austin area clients. "The potential is huge," Foster said.

In the United States and many other countries, tree tops are left at the harvested sites. Though the tonnage is huge, these tops are considered "unmerchantable" and are left where they fall to bio-degrade or are burned or chipped to speed up the process. The tops are left in the field because they are considered too bulky and too small in diameter to be worth the cost of hauling to a processing plant.

But the Scandinavians have shown harvesting this potentially huge energy source is economically feasible – at least in Europe. But can it be so in the United States?

Science and preliminary economic studies say forest residue can be an economically viable energy source. What's required is for everyone involved in the forestry industry – foresters, plant operators, forest landowners, energy producers and educators – to rethink how they do things, Foster said.

Armed with a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foster and his colleagues in Extension Forestry and the Texas A&M University department of forest science plan to develop education modules on forest bio-fuel production, harvest and utilization. Foster expects the modules will be comprised of not only printed material, such as brochures and handbooks, but also Web pages and multi-media CD-ROMs and DVDs.

Specifically, the training modules will address:

* An overview of how forest residue is already used in Southern forests;

* How to manage forests, old and new, for enhanced bio-fuel production;

* How to harvest and process forest residue for bio-fuel and other products;

* How to utilize biomass for bio-energy, bio-fuels and bio-based products;

* The socio-economic impacts and community development issues; and

* How to develop environmentally sustainable biomass production systems for bio-energy and bio-based products.

The last subject – environmental sustainability – may be expanded to educate the public, Foster said. Some people might not understand the environmental benefits of burning forest residue to produce fuel.

But the economic benefits are two-fold, he said. First it is a truly renewable resource. Trees are efficient at turning sunlight, moisture and a few basic nutrients into bio-mass. Using forest residue as bio-fuel also will utilize a resource that is being left to rot in the field.

But another important issue is carbon sequestration. Trees "breathe" in carbon dioxide, one of the major greenhouse gases. The trees "breathe out" oxygen and sequester the carbon as part of the biomass.

"Carbon is the 'C' in CO2," Foster said.

True, burning the residue emits carbon dioxide, but as most of the harvested forest mass would be used for lumber, furniture and paper, there would still be a net sequestration of carbon.

Another common concern, Foster said, was that harvesting forest residues could cause nutrient deficiencies and retard future re-forestation efforts.

But studies have shown, residues can be harvested without loss of regrowth productivity as long as a few simple precautions are taken, he said. These precautions include not taking 100 percent of the residues, avoiding harvesting on sensitive sites, and not removing residues after every harvest. In some areas, returning most of the nutrients as ash to the harvest site might be possible, he said. "The whole point of this program is to work to reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels," Foster said.
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 16:53:44

Biomass Waste: Replacement For Gasoline

Using "Pac Man" Enzymes, Cornell Researchers Explore Way To Turn Biomass Waste Into Replacement For Gasoline

SAN FRANCISCO -- Worried by rising gas prices? Top off the tank with paper pulp. Fill 'er up with maple chips. Drive down the freeway using cheese whey. As average U.S. gasoline prices soar beyond $1.80 a gallon, proponents of using bio-based fuels and chemicals are gaining momentum. Gasoline-replacement research in the past has focused on ethanol derived from corn, but now agricultural engineers are beginning to understand how biomass waste also can be used as a substitute for petroleum.

Larry Walker, Cornell professor of agricultural and biological engineering, and his students are using enzymes to break down solid biomass waste into a renewable energy form. In a talk at the American Chemical Society national meeting today (March 29) at the Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, Walker said there is sufficient biomass waste available to supply all of the organic chemicals that are consumed annually in the United States and still have enough waste left over to convert to auto fuel.

"We need renewable resources, and energy flow. How do we develop alternatives to petroleum-based products? We do this through plant materials," said Walker. "Bio-based fuels are recyclable. Fossil-based fuels are not."

Although waste biomass is a cheaper raw material than oil, there is a catch. The cost of converting this raw material to energy is the major constraint to commercialization, according to Walker. The plant biomass is chemically diverse, and it must be separated then converted into desired products. The challenge, he explained, is to develop industries proficient in using this raw material and to develop more cost-effective enzymatic and microbial processes that convert these materials into industrial chemicals and energy.

Walker explained the principles behind biomass fuel: Carbon dioxide is taken in by the plant through metabolism, and carbon enters plant cells where it is converted into cell walls. About 279 million metric tons of plant waste is generated in the United States annually from industrial, commercial and agricultural production. The key to using this resource lies in employing enzymes to break down the woody, fibrous part of the material into fermentable sugars.

Caroline Corner, Tina Jeoh and Hyungil Jung, graduate students in agricultural engineering in Walker's Cornell laboratory, are studying the use of enzymes from thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria to break down the cellulose in plant waste. The bacteria produce six enzymes, called cellulase which attack the biomass through a process called hydrolysis. This allows the enzymes to process the cellulose, into fermentable sugars, permitting scientists to produce fuel or industrial chemicals. Walker likens the action of the cellulase enzymes in breaking down the fibrous lignins (the binding in plants) to a "tag-team Pac Man moving along the cellulose fiber."

Said Walker: "In essence we would use plants to make organic compounds - carbon compounds - once made from petroleum, actively taking the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere through plant tissue."

Not only do plants represent a renewable source of organic compounds but there also is considerable organic waste produced that could be a carbon source for bioindustries. For example, corn stover (much of it used as fodder) accounts for 100 million metric tons of biomass waste produced annually in the United States, and newsprint biomass waste accounts for 11.2 million metric tons. Urban tree residue - leaves, Christmas trees and broken branches - accounts for 38 million metric tons.

The research of Walker and his students, "Integrating cellulase molecular mechanisms into a heterogenous reaction system," will be presented at 6 p.m. in Center Hall A of the Moscone Center. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 17:12:46

Microbial Fuel Cell

Microbial Fuel Cell: High Yield Hydrogen Source And Wastewater Cleaner
Using a new electrically-assisted microbial fuel cell (MFC) that does not require oxygen, Penn State environmental engineers and a scientist at Ion Power Inc. have developed the first process that enables bacteria to coax four times as much hydrogen directly out of biomass than can be generated typically by fermentation alone.

Dr. Bruce Logan, the Kappe professor of environmental engineering and an inventor of the MFC, says, "This MFC process is not limited to using only carbohydrate-based biomass for hydrogen production like conventional fermentation processes. We can theoretically use our MFC to obtain high yields of hydrogen from any biodegradable, dissolved, organic matter -- human, agricultural or industrial wastewater, for example -- and simultaneously clean the wastewater.

"While there is likely insufficient waste biomass to sustain a global hydrogen economy, this form of renewable energy production may help offset the substantial costs of wastewater treatment as well as provide a contribution to nations able to harness hydrogen as an energy source," Logan notes,.

The new approach is described in a paper, "Electrochemically Assisted Microbial Production of Hydrogen from Acetate," released online currently and scheduled for a future issue of Environmental Science and Technology. The authors are Dr. Hong Liu, postdoctoral researcher in environmental engineering; Dr. Stephen Grot, president and founder of Ion Power, Inc.; and Logan. Grot, a former Penn State student, suggested the idea of modifying an MFC to generate hydrogen.

In their paper, the researchers explain that hydrogen production by bacterial fermentation is currently limited by the "fermentation barrier" -- the fact that bacteria, without a power boost, can only convert carbohydrates to a limited amount of hydrogen and a mixture of "dead end" fermentation end products such as acetic and butyric acids.

However, giving the bacteria a small assist with a tiny amount of electricity -- about 0.25 volts or a small fraction of the voltage needed to run a typical 6 volt cell phone -- they can leap over the fermentation barrier and convert a "dead end" fermentation product, acetic acid, into carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

Logan notes, "Basically, we use the same microbial fuel cell we developed to clean wastewater and produce electricity. However, to produce hydrogen, we keep oxygen out of the MFC and add a small amount of power into the system."

In the new MFC, when the bacteria eat biomass, they transfer electrons to an anode. The bacteria also release protons, hydrogen atoms stripped of their electrons, which go into solution. The electrons on the anode migrate via a wire to the cathode, the other electrode in the fuel cell, where they are electrochemically assisted to combine with the protons and produce hydrogen gas.

A voltage in the range of 0.25 volts or more is applied to the circuit by connecting the positive pole of a programmable power supply to the anode and the negative pole to the cathode.

The researchers call their hydrogen-producing MFC a BioElectrochemically-Assisted Microbial Reactor or BEAMR. The BEAMR not only produces hydrogen but simultaneously cleans the wastewater used as its feedstock. It uses about one-tenth of the voltage needed for electrolysis, the process that uses electricity to break water down into hydrogen and oxygen.

Logan adds, "This new process demonstrates, for the first time, that there is real potential to capture hydrogen for fuel from renewable sources for clean transportation."

The Penn State researchers were supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Penn State Huck Life Sciences Institute and the Stan and Flora Kappe Endowment.
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Unread postby Cyrus » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 18:09:10

Is this for real?
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 18:21:23

Cyrus wrote:Is this for real?


It all looks real to me. The original sources are listed at the bottom of those links. Maybe somebody here can debunk it, that’s what I’m waiting to see myself but from what I know about history …. If there’s a profit to be made I think we will see this in play very soon.
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Unread postby 0mar » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 18:23:17

The problem isn't technical viability, but rather scalability.
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Unread postby Cyrus » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 18:29:51

The problem isn't technical viability, but rather scalability.
\

As in mass production would be a challenge?
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 18:36:33

0mar wrote:The problem isn't technical viability, but rather scalability.


This quote is from the first artical: "Currently, the United States consumes about 120 billion gallons of automotive fuel each year. Fuel ethanol from corn is blended with 10 percent of this gasoline to improve octane ratings and burn cleaner.

"There are enough agricultural and timber residues to completely replace gasoline in the U.S. and in many other countries," Ingram said. "Brazil has used pure ethanol as a primary fuel for more than 20 years."


Are you talking about here as in the United States or other places in the world?
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Unread postby 0mar » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 19:24:36

BiGG wrote:
0mar wrote:The problem isn't technical viability, but rather scalability.


This quote is from the first artical: "Currently, the United States consumes about 120 billion gallons of automotive fuel each year. Fuel ethanol from corn is blended with 10 percent of this gasoline to improve octane ratings and burn cleaner.

"There are enough agricultural and timber residues to completely replace gasoline in the U.S. and in many other countries," Ingram said. "Brazil has used pure ethanol as a primary fuel for more than 20 years."


Are you talking about here as in the United States or other places in the world?


After we used our stores of timber and biomass, we'd import biomass. It changes nothing. There is no way we can replace petroleum sustainably.
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Unread postby killJOY » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 19:25:57

Well then they'd better get crackin. Peak is next year.

And I don't want to see any petroleum-based agricultural products used on those crops, ya hear?
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Unread postby killJOY » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 19:41:57

biomass could supply 15 percent of the nation's energy by 2030.
Oh.



There are enough agricultural and timber residues to completely replace gasoline in the U.S. and in many other countries
Guess I'll go out and buy that Yukon...



Using forest bio-mass – limbs, bark, tree tops – as a bio-fuel is not unheard of...
True. The Easter Islanders burnt every bit of theirs and look where it got them.


Walker said there is sufficient biomass waste available to supply all of the organic chemicals that are consumed annually in the United States and still have enough waste left over to convert to auto fuel.
Not to mention JESUS ACTUALLY ROSE FROM THE DEAD.

The tone is heartening. But ultimately it sounds like the the last gasps of hope of the desperate. Imagine the Easter Islanders as the last trees were felled: "That's OK, we can BURN EVERYTHING."
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 19:45:29

0mar wrote:
After we used our stores of timber and biomass, we'd import biomass. It changes nothing. There is no way we can replace petroleum sustainably.


Quote from the first article: "One of the main points of the report is that the United States can produce nearly 1 billion dry tons of biomass annually from agricultural lands and still continue to meet food, feed and export demands," said Robin Graham, leader for Ecosystem and Plant Sciences in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division.”

This is waste from agricultural lands in the United States alone and is sustainable year after year. This is just one technology and if we add in coal/nuclear powered electric cars and everything else in the pipeline I don’t think there is going to be any problem now from what I see. Canada is nearly all tree crop and we have plenty to add to the agricultural lands waste.
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Unread postby killJOY » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 19:50:38

You HAVE TO READ THE HIRSCH REPORT, DUDE.

http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/portal/in ... 7&Itemid=2
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Unread postby BigBear » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 19:54:54

The present size of the U.S. bio-mass is directly porpertional to the amout of fetilizers and pesticides used to achieve these amounts. Both fertilizers and pesticides are produced from natural gas--which is in decline--a decline that will hasten as it is used more and more to replace lessening oil production. Bio-mass fuels will be used like the tar sands will be used--but never in the amounts needed to sustain society --worldwide--as we presently know it.
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 19:54:59

killJOY,

Quote: "Currently, the United States consumes about 120 billion gallons of automotive fuel each year. Fuel ethanol from corn is blended with 10 percent of this gasoline to improve octane ratings and burn cleaner.

"There are enough agricultural and timber residues to completely replace gasoline in the U.S. and in many other countries," Ingram said. "Brazil has used pure ethanol as a primary fuel for more than 20 years."



Corn & trees re-grow ya know? Trees are crop where I live and they replant them as soon as they cut existing ones, they leave most of the tree laying on the ground to rot as they do it.
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Unread postby killJOY » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 20:02:17

"In terms of renewable fuels, ethanol is the worst solution," Patzek says. "It has the highest energy cost with the least benefit."

Ethanol is produced by fermenting renewable crops like corn or sugarcane. It may sound green, Patzek says, but that's because many scientists are not looking at the whole picture. According to his research, more fossil energy is used to produce ethanol than the energy contained within it.


http://www.energybulletin.net/5062.html

It ain't "killJOY" for nuthin.
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Unread postby BiGG » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 20:18:03

killJOY wrote:
"In terms of renewable fuels, ethanol is the worst solution," Patzek says. "It has the highest energy cost with the least benefit."

Ethanol is produced by fermenting renewable crops like corn or sugarcane. It may sound green, Patzek says, but that's because many scientists are not looking at the whole picture. According to his research, more fossil energy is used to produce ethanol than the energy contained within it.


It ain't "killJOY" for nuthin.



That is completely debunked in the second article from what I see, check it out!

Quote debunking killJOY’s link: Ingram's microorganism produces a high yield of ethanol from biomass such as sugar cane residues, rice hulls, forestry and wood wastes and other organic materials.

"Until we developed this new technology, the chemical makeup of biomass prevented it from being used to make ethanol economically," Ingram said. "Biomass is a much cheaper source of ethanol than traditional feedstocks such as corn and cane syrup.
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Unread postby Cyrus » Thu 28 Apr 2005, 20:37:02

BIGG, you are being WAAAAAAY too optimistic from what I can see. By the time a project like this could come online, oil would already be in steep decline, thus an energy shortage and decreased metal extraction, and..you get the picure. Also id like to point out it said 15% by 2030...well by 2030 oil will be a trickle and may I ask where the other 85% of energy will come from. It isn't going to be oil! This maybe could have worked 20 some years ago..but I think we are too far down the line for this to help much. As someone said earliar, just like the tar sands.
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