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Old 01-24-2008, 05:17 AM   #1
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BioFuels - Panacea, or (PANIC) See Ya!!

http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science....ap/index.html


"Foremost among the concerns is increased competition for agricultural land, which Suzuki warned has already caused a rise in corn prices in the United States and Mexico and could lead to food shortages in developing countries."

Excessive water use a concern, as well...
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Old 01-24-2008, 06:06 AM   #2
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All plant-based biofuels are stupid political-showboating technological dead-ends. That goes for soy-biodiesel/corn-ethanol/sugar-ethanol etc etc. Hydrogen is even worse. The only viable options are algal biofuels and fuels that use some type of waste as the feedstock. That's presuming of course, none of those touted "free energy" technologies actually work and the 2nd law is still a law.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:48 AM   #3
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Yes, I'd agree. I think the only viable biofuel is one made from waste material and sold/used locally. Imagine bulldozing the rainforest, burning the brush, planting soy, harvesting the bean, pressing it into oil, and then shipping it to the u.s. to drive a vehicle. Not only bad for the environment, but quite possibly the least efficient method possible.
The price of grains have already increased due to demand for corn for ethanol production. Those of you who buy chicken feed know what I mean. Look at the price of wheat, tripled in the last 4 years. It's scary.
But I don't think we've heard the end of it. The big corps will ramp up production, and somebody is going to be making a lot of money, but it won't much help our dependence on foreign oil or global warming impact.
The answer is simple: economize and bring back public railways, but it will be a while before someone in power will suggest this...Remember it was GM and Standard Oil that bought up and tore out the tracks in the first place.
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Old 01-24-2008, 12:38 PM   #4
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That "somebody" making a lot of money is ADM (Archer Daniels Midland).
Wikipedia Entry
Price Fixing

If I was President, eliminating the sugar and ethanol import tarriffs would be one of my top priorities.

Algal Biofuel
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Old 01-24-2008, 03:17 PM   #5
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I posted this article under 'Alternative fuels'. I guess I didn't see this one.

Anyway, here's what I said...

Ok, they're basically saying that bio fuels will take up a bunch of resources. Two of the big ones are land and water. Although this won't necessarily be the case, thank God they're considering these hypothetical scenarios. The absolute worst thing we could do is bet all of our money on something we haven't thought through.

Personally I think that growing specific crops devoted to bio fuel is quite a dumb idea. What we need to do is harnest waste products from current crops. Corn husks contain glucose, cellulose, and other energy storing molecules. I can't remember the name of the publication I read this in, but it suggested that the husks be stripped prior to export. This would actually have a benefit of reduced shipping mass too.

I'm sure corn isn't the only product that contains currently unused material and I believe more research needs to be done in this area. Think about the idea here. You're not using more water or land or any other resources in the production of the natural material. It's going to be there no matter what.

I imagine there are acres upon acres of renewable resources that are deemed unacceptable every season. Here's another possible source of energy. Albeit relatively small, every bit helps.

I've said it time and again, we can no longer rely on a single source of fuel. Not only did it get us into trouble in the past, it's just not feasible.

Anyway, that's my take on the situation. Diversify and use what already exists but doesn't currently have a use. Heck, that's how we got hooked on gasoline in the first place. It was abundant and a true use couldn't really be found until the engine came about. If I remember correctly, H. Ford wanted to use ethanol, but gasoline was cheaper. Go figure.
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:40 AM   #6
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That would be a good idea to produce fuels from waste materials. We have to be careful with that too though, because "waste materials" have a lot of value to the soil, if they were left to rot on the surface, composted, or turned under shallowly. Organic matter increases draught resistance, ability to hold nutrients, drainage, and reduces soil loss to erosion. Modern day conventional corn farming doesn't take this into account, and the result is increasing dependence on chemical fertilizers and eventually lower yields.
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