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Author Topic: Biofuel breakthrough...  (Read 968 times)
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unbreakable
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« on: January 10, 2008, 06:36:20 AM »

I've always wondered why ethanol production seems so wedded to corn.  Aren't they testing a whole range of different crops to see what's best?

Maybe, maybe not.  But anyway... Grass Makes Better Ethanol than Corn Does

Quote
Farmers in Nebraska and the Dakotas brought the U.S. closer to becoming a biofuel economy, planting huge tracts of land for the first time with switchgrass—a native North American perennial grass (Panicum virgatum) that often grows on the borders of cropland naturally—and proving that it can deliver more than five times more energy than it takes to grow it.

Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the farmers tracked the seed used to establish the plant, fertilizer used to boost its growth, fuel used to farm it, overall rainfall and the amount of grass ultimately harvested for five years on fields ranging from seven to 23 acres in size (three to nine hectares).

Once established, the fields yielded from 5.2 to 11.1 metric tons of grass bales per hectare, depending on rainfall, says USDA plant scientist Ken Vogel. "It fluctuates with the timing of the precipitation,'' he says. "Switchgrass needs most of its moisture in spring and midsummer. If you get fall rains, it's not going to do that year's crops much good."

But yields from a grass that only needs to be planted once would deliver an average of 13.1 megajoules of energy as ethanol for every megajoule of petroleum consumed—in the form of nitrogen fertilizers or diesel for tractors—growing them. "It's a prediction because right now there are no biorefineries built that handle cellulosic material" like that which switchgrass provides, Vogel notes. "We're pretty confident the ethanol yield is pretty close." This means that switchgrass ethanol delivers 540 percent of the energy used to produce it, compared with just roughly 25 percent more energy returned by corn-based ethanol according to the most optimistic studies.

I've also heard somewhere hemp can produce a good yield for biofuel.  Assuming all the damn college kids don't smoke it on you.
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Canuck
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2008, 08:34:59 AM »

Interesting.  Corn is almost useless as an ethanol source as it takes almost as much energy to produce it.    What are the South Americans producing it with? Sugarcane?  Apparently that is much more efficient.
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2008, 08:53:14 AM »

we need to go back to horses.  I've always wanted a pony.
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unbreakable
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 04:36:51 PM »

Quote from: Canuck on January 10, 2008, 08:34:59 AM

Interesting.  Corn is almost useless as an ethanol source as it takes almost as much energy to produce it.    What are the South Americans producing it with? Sugarcane?  Apparently that is much more efficient.

Their method is really smart as well, since they are using their sugar cane waste.

There's actually a lot of biomass we in the US can probably reclaim.  Even with commercial corn, the stalks never get used.  What happens to that?  There was also some refinery set up (I think it's in New Jersey) which can process gasoline out of garbage.  I read they are getting the guts and junk from Perdue Chicken, throwing that in the refinery, and getting gas you can put in your car.  That one especially sounded promissing, since they said it wasn't hard to adjust the process to accomodate different waste products.
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2008, 05:16:08 PM »

Quote from: unbreakable on January 10, 2008, 04:36:51 PM

I read they are getting the guts and junk from Perdue Chicken, throwing that in the refinery, and getting gas you can put in your car.

The last thing I need is a Jeep with salmonella poisoning. slywink

I think electricity would be the way to go. Get away from using raw fuel and internal combustion.
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2008, 06:15:55 PM »

Quote from: Purge on January 10, 2008, 05:16:08 PM

Quote from: unbreakable on January 10, 2008, 04:36:51 PM

I read they are getting the guts and junk from Perdue Chicken, throwing that in the refinery, and getting gas you can put in your car.

The last thing I need is a Jeep with salmonella poisoning. slywink

I think electricity would be the way to go. Get away from using raw fuel and internal combustion.

I seriously wonder how much money it costs to operate that massive solar panel array in the middle east vs. how much power it generates.  Arizona has a mile or two of desert that we might be able to use to 'light up the town'.
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2008, 07:51:47 PM »

I think the lesson here is that grass makes everything better. icon_cool
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unbreakable
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2008, 07:55:06 PM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on January 10, 2008, 06:15:55 PM

Quote from: Purge on January 10, 2008, 05:16:08 PM

Quote from: unbreakable on January 10, 2008, 04:36:51 PM

I read they are getting the guts and junk from Perdue Chicken, throwing that in the refinery, and getting gas you can put in your car.

The last thing I need is a Jeep with salmonella poisoning. slywink

I think electricity would be the way to go. Get away from using raw fuel and internal combustion.

I seriously wonder how much money it costs to operate that massive solar panel array in the middle east vs. how much power it generates.  Arizona has a mile or two of desert that we might be able to use to 'light up the town'.

Darn, I need to find the articles.  There are a few big solar collectors going up, and there was also an article about how easy it would be to generate almost all America's energy from renewable sources.

Also, there was an interview on NPR with some guy who was an expert on energy.  It was really pretty interesting, and he said nuclear power isn't quite the great thing people have recently been thinking it is.  Apparently France, while generating almost all their power from nuke, has a huge waste problem.  Their "solution" is to ship it to Russia... which obviously isn't a solution we can use in the USA.  But he likewise had a great many good things to say about renewable energies.
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2008, 08:05:12 PM »

We just need a water engine. I actually have a water engine invented in my head..just need funds and a way.

You guys see the new compressed air cars? they have huge tanks of compressed air in them and can run at 70 mph for about 250 miles. Now idea how they do that that efficiantly.
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2008, 08:18:31 PM »

Quote from: Daehawk on January 10, 2008, 08:05:12 PM

We just need a water engine. I actually have a water engine invented in my head..just need funds and a way.

I can guarantee you funding if you get a perpetual motion machine invented in your head.
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unbreakable
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2008, 08:20:09 PM »

I need Mr. Fusion.

BTW, I saw some guy working on a perpetual motion machine.  The crazy thing is... he actually GETS funding!  Amazing.
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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2008, 12:12:38 AM »

Quote from: whiteboyskim on January 10, 2008, 07:51:47 PM

I think the lesson here is that grass makes everything better. icon_cool

Just don't inhale.  icon_wink
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2008, 12:26:33 AM »

Quote from: PaulBot on January 11, 2008, 12:12:38 AM

Quote from: whiteboyskim on January 10, 2008, 07:51:47 PM

I think the lesson here is that grass makes everything better. icon_cool

Just don't inhale.  icon_wink

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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2008, 12:41:50 AM »

Quote from: Caine on January 11, 2008, 12:26:33 AM

Quote from: PaulBot on January 11, 2008, 12:12:38 AM

Quote from: whiteboyskim on January 10, 2008, 07:51:47 PM

I think the lesson here is that grass makes everything better. icon_cool

Just don't inhale.  icon_wink



Yeah man... it's gonna be a Rembrandt!!
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2008, 01:49:26 AM »

best biofuel ever!

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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2008, 09:01:04 PM »

I've heard that Red Alder which grows like mad in the Pacific NW is one of the best sources for Ethanol. I remember when I worked in forestry in BC I'd sometimes see 5 - 10 year old clear cut sites where it was growing with a vengeance and squeezing out the conifer seedlings. If they went into full scale production in the Pac NW it could be a major boon to the whole region.
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unbreakable
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2008, 10:03:15 PM »

That's actually a really good point: weeds take no energy to grow.  Heck, we spend tons of energy trying to STOP them from growing.
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« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2008, 10:56:19 PM »

Quote from: unbreakable on January 11, 2008, 10:03:15 PM

That's actually a really good point: weeds take no energy to grow.  Heck, we spend tons of energy trying to STOP them from growing.

Unbreakable, if you're referring to the Red Alder I mentioned, it's actually a deciduous hardwood that's sometimes used as trim for cabinets. It just happens to grow as fast as a weed in the Pac NW due to the high amount of rainfall. I've seen stands of it up to 20' after just 7 years of growth. It'll grow to a respectable height too, unfortunately it has the nasty trait of suddenly falling over after about 50 - 60 years of growth.   paranoid
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unbreakable
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« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2008, 12:27:40 AM »

Wow, interesting.  I'll have to wikipedia that later.
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