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Old 07-29-2005, 04:40 PM   #1
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Ethanol: A Waste

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050729/...ethanol_plants

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"People are saying we need more (ethanol)," said Edward Murphy, director of refining and marketing at the American Petroleum Institute. "Whether or not that continues in the long term is, I think, politically questionable."

Recent research by a Cornell University professor says ethanol uses about 30 percent more energy to produce than it puts out.

"It's an absolute waste," said Dr. David Pimentel, a professor of agricultural sciences. "The only reason we're doing this is because of politics and big money."
Of course, this isn't new news. People have joked about this for the last few years, and everyone knows that it amounts to pork for our long-ailing farmers.

That doesn't mean that "biofuel" is a waste, however. The matter is "efficiency." A plant native to North American prairies, switchgrass, grows faster and needs less fertilizer than corn, along with growing on land that is often unfit for other crops. Additionally, it works also as animal feed, further reducing pressure on farmland. Increasing all automobile efficiency to that of a hybrid vehicle and switching to switchgrass, it is thought that you could meet 2/3 of U.S. transportation fuel demand with no additional land.

But ethanol is politically popular, so don't expect our pandering politicians to change their tune anytime soon.

Melon
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Old 07-30-2005, 02:55 PM   #2
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Re: Ethanol: A Waste

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Originally posted by melon
That doesn't mean that "biofuel" is a waste, however. The matter is "efficiency."
What do you think of biodiesel ? I would love to find a viable fuel alternative that's better for our environment than gasoline, and if it can be made from garbage (like making biodiesel fuel from used cooking oil, readily available at every fast food restaurant throughout the world), so much the better.
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Old 07-31-2005, 09:52 AM   #3
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right now, im working at an energy company, so theyve briefed my on this stuff, and the truth is when the performance of biofuels are compared to those of improved (environmentally&performance wise) carbon based fuels, the winner is always the traditional fuels. its a no brainer. it is underperforming & only available to diesel engines. however, the real hope is in the development of engines that use hydrogen for fuel. biodiesel needs substantial improvement before it can even compete against traditional fuels. affordability is another concern. if all the cars in the world were to switch to biodiesel right now, we would need to DOUBLE the worldwide fields for the crops that are used. its simply unfeasible. however, everyone is aware that the oil will run out sooner or later, so many of the energy companies are spending billions of dollars to develop alternatives. all in all,hydrogen seems to be our best bet right now.
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Old 07-31-2005, 05:23 PM   #4
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forget oil, what if we HALVED the amount of vehicles?
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Old 07-31-2005, 05:32 PM   #5
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i always wondered what would happen if the gov't stepped in and said that all new production consumer vehicles must be electric hybirds by "insert date here." you know, maybe 5 years ago that could've said "in 10 years." it seems relatively reasonable.
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Old 07-31-2005, 10:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
forget oil, what if we HALVED the amount of vehicles?
That would be nice, wouldn't it? I'd like to see a lot fewer of those ugly, gas-guzzling, ego-wanking H2s and other SUVs on the road. I would definitely like to see a viable mass-transit system in my town (who wants to wait half an hour for a bus in 115ºF heat?!)

IIRC, during the energy crisis of the late 1970's, the shift was towards smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, as well as buses, bicycles, etc. Now it seems the opposite is happening: the more gas prices go up, the more gas-guzzlers are on the road. I don't understand it either.
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Old 08-01-2005, 07:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sue DeNym


That would be nice, wouldn't it? I'd like to see a lot fewer of those ugly, gas-guzzling, ego-wanking H2s and other SUVs on the road. I would definitely like to see a viable mass-transit system in my town (who wants to wait half an hour for a bus in 115ºF heat?!)
My mom complains endlessly about our public transit system being shit, but the truth is, people would rather have 2-4 cars per family then use tax $$$ to improve the transit systems.

Honestly, I think anyone who complains about gas prices should be required to purchase their own land and either grown their own corn or drill for their own oil b/c I find it rediculous attached to their vehicles people can be. I really have no sympathy, even when people start the "but how would I get to work?" rant. I've never had access to a car so all my life I've had to plan working and living arrangements around alternate forms of transportation. I wouldn't even notice waiting for buses in 115 degree heat b/c as it is now, our busses suck and I WALK to work and back in the heat and it really doesn't bother me one bit b/c I've never known anything else.

My mom also likes to rant about trucking and how we have this great railroad infrastructure already and yet peopl want their things delivered yesterday so instead of being more efficient and using trains, we use 50 different semis instead.
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Old 08-02-2005, 02:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sue DeNym
What do you think of biodiesel ? I would love to find a viable fuel alternative that's better for our environment than gasoline, and if it can be made from garbage (like making biodiesel fuel from used cooking oil, readily available at every fast food restaurant throughout the world), so much the better.
Biodiesels and even compost biodigester facilities that reconstitute waste into viable fuel is a good idea on the surface... but it only serves to perpetuate habit to a ridiculous degree. The mechanism of recycling oils and waste into fuel requires three fundamentally "unenvironmental" requisites:

1. Energy Input for reconstitution (either through hydro, coal, or nuclear power stations, depending on your region), which for the most part results in the production of waste emissions... and I will not simply site the often negated global warming phenomena (damn those geologists and their ozone accuracy). The fumes and heavy water run-offs from energy plants impose an immediate burden on wetlands (natural water purifiers), and clouds of particulate from high density stacks may throw carcinogenic materials into large metropolitan areas (see Hong Kong on a "foggy" day).

2. A replenishable source: GARBAGE and FAST FOOD. It's a little incongruous to request that folks change an element of their lifestyle to improve their environment by emphasizing the use of a physically detrimental element. For biodiesel to feasibly work as a long-term plan, people would have to continue (at an exponentially increasing rate) their consumption of high fat and high oil foods from low efficiency fast food vendors (the more waste oil the more biodiesel capital). So, it's all well and good that in a biodigestion scenario our environment will be less inhibited by carbon dioxide/monoxide emission, but people in that future will require more oil changes than their car.

3. Smell. If you have been near a biodiesel automobile... it's like the world's largest scale dutch oven. Keep your distance and your SARS mask handy.

It's a good start... but the balancing of lifestyle change for biodiesels is not worth the limited "positive" result. Besides, the peddling of garbage as an environmental cash-crop is at its core a flawed idea. Reduce the product and then reduce the waste... it's simple Le Chatelier.

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Old 08-02-2005, 08:18 AM   #9
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Yes.

I know what you're thinking.

I did spell cite wrong.
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Old 08-02-2005, 08:44 AM   #10
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Ohoh! I've got an idea!

Instead of riding around in cars all the time, we can start going around town in big monorails like in BATMAN.
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