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Old 01-06-2009, 11:54 AM   #1
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New hydrogen production method could reduce need for fossil fuels

http://www.physorg.com/news150472856.html

"This new production method uses ethanol which is produced by the fermentation of crops and is therefore carbon neutral meaning any carbon dioxide produced is assimilated back into the environment and used by plants to grow."

This is misleading. Most ethanol production is from corn, which has been shown to be quite inefficient... fertilizers, high water usage, and the fossil fuel to grow it. All of which have a high carbon footprint.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:17 PM   #2
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Depends what they're talking about, if you can tip 10% impure ethanol solution into a fuel cell, that's good, if it needs 100% ethanol, then it's meh... particularly as there are methanol cells already.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:49 PM   #3
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Once we can tap ethanol from algae, assuming it's commercially viable and doesn't have it's own consequences, ethanol might not be so bad.

I've heard of clear pipes attached to thermal power plant exhaust stacks, using the CO2 to grow algae for biomass production.... and carbon capture.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:53 AM   #4
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Algae can really do the job well, and can be grown/harvested in lots of convenient places/formats...especially in the waste stream. The exhaust stack idea hadn't occured to me, but here's what I posted in a similar thread back in May of last year:

Hey, here's an idea: How about we discuss algae as a fuel source in this thread!

There's a company in New Zealand growing natural algae on raw sewage and making biodiesel out of it. The algae cleans the sewage so that energy doesn't have to be spent to clean it.

http://www.aquaflowgroup.com/technology.html
Quote:
ABC harvests algae directly from the settling ponds of standard Effluent Management (EM) Systems and other nutrient-rich water. The process can be used in many industries that produce a waste stream, including the transport, dairy, meat and paper industries.

The two-step process firstly optimises the ponds' productive capacity, and secondly, determines the most efficient and economic way of harvesting the pond algae. Algae are provided with full opportunity to exploit the nutrients available in the settling ponds, thereby cleaning up the water. The algae are then harvested to remove the remaining contaminant. A last stage of bio-remediation, still in development, will ensure that the water discharge from the process exceeds acceptable quality standards.
They're making the algae into biodiesel, but I suspect that it wouldn't be much more effort to make it into ethanol.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
Hey, here's an idea: How about we discuss algae as a fuel source in this thread
Okay then. Google "algae to ethanol"
Take a look here:
http://www.oilgae.com/blog/2006/10/a...o-ethanol.html

There is a Yahoo group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/oil_from_algae/
Be sure to check the files section... lots of info and downloads.

~Flap
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:54 PM   #6
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Switchgrass to ethanol to hydrogen may be another way to go.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...anol-than-corn
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:54 AM   #7
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How about just solar to hydrogen? The East Coast Hydrogen Highway being developed by SunHydro is using this method.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:41 AM   #8
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Algae........blech..... what a miserable idea. Algae is FULL of water. It takes huge amounts of energy to extract a ton of dry algal biomass. The energy balance is much worse than corn.

It takes SUNLIGHT to make algae from CO2. Just like land crops. Can anyone tell me whether an acre of algae will produce more dry biomass than an acre of sun-dried hay?
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:38 PM   #9
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If I understand correctly, algae's advantage is that it doesn't require any energy or materials to be put into it until it's time to harvest it.
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Old 05-27-2010, 05:05 AM   #10
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HC is right. Removing hay removes lots of nutrients from the soil. Unless the nutrients are replaced (with organic or inorganic fertilizer), the yield of hay would decrease yearly.

The nutrients needed for algae to grow are often overabundant in aquatic ecosystems because of runoff from fertilized fields/yards as well as release from sewage treatment facilities (it is disinfected, but still contains many nutrients). This currently leads to nuisance algae "blooms" (population explosions) that stink when they finally crash/die and their decay lowers the amount of oxygen available for fish (ex. the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico where the Miss. River empties).

The nice thing about this idea is that we could use the algae for fuel AND reduce the nutrient problem in some lakes and rivers.

Culturing algae in rivers could likely reduce harvest/transportation fuel costs over the hay methods if the ethanol/biodiesel plant was located on the bank of that river so boats could be used for harvest and transport. Hmm, perhaps the algae could be grown in flexible "fields" surrounded by booms like are used to contain oil.
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