[Vision2020] Ethanol Progress?

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Sat Apr 1 20:53:10 PST 2006


It seems wishful thinking has no limit...And how human a trait this is!

I received a response indicating that I knew (and so my post on this subject
was intentionally misleading?  Please!) that bio-fuels do not add CO2 to the
atmosphere when burned, because the CO2 uptake from the atmosphere when the
biomass used to produce the bio-fuels was growing, equals what is emitted in

I was waiting for this response.  Thank you!

Please excuse me for pointing out the obvious fact that energy is required
to harvest and produce bio-fuel, and if there is any fossil fuel used in
this process...Current industrial agriculture in the USA runs on fossil
fuels.  I feel ridiculous pointing this out...Everyone knows this.

Some analysts have done the math and concluded that bio-fuels require more
energy to produce than is gained from burning them.  But lets assume there
are bio-fuels that can be produced with energy output potential exceeding

If you could establish a bio-fuel production/delivery/burning system to
integrate this fuel into the US fleet of cars and trucks (remember this
includes powering the transportation system to move the bio-fuels to every
"gas" station in the USA, for example) that is totally powered by the
bio-fuels being produced, or powered combined with other non-polluting
renewable energy sources, resulting in a significant (defining what
"significant" means in this context is critical) gain in bio-fuel energy for
other uses besides running the production/delivery/burning cycle, then you
might be able to claim that bio-fuels are a practical economical fuel that
does not add any CO2 to the atmosphere, but other problems remain.    As
world population increases by billions (hopefully not, but very
probably), is it workable to take the huge amounts of agricultural land that
is required to produce massive quantities of bio-fuel, and devote them to
non-food production?

Apply this to China, if you will, as they bulldoze ahead with massive
increases in oil and coal burning, contributing to global warming,
with 1.3billion to feed, demanding that they replace agricultural
production for
food for bio-fuel production.  Good luck.

Someone also gleefully announced that if we only installed enough wind
generators and/or solar panels, the USA could totally (sic) rely on these
alternative sources to completely replace fossil fuel use in our economy.

Consider just the energy requirements to power the fleet of diesel trucks
running 24/7 in the USA, essential for the flow of goods to maintain our
economy.  Could all of the diesel trucks sustaining our economy be powered
by wind and solar?

The electricity generated by these technologies would have to be utilized to
either produce (oh wait, I forgot we could put sails on trucks to blow them
down the road), among possible examples, bio-fuels or hydrogen, etc. for
internal combustion, hydrogen (very powerful fuel cells) for electric
trucks, or be stored via battery technology (is this economical or
technologically practical given current technology?), also for
electric trucks. There may be other methods of energy storage developed
that can store electricity more efficiently and reliably than current
technology.  Indeed, solving energy storage problems will be required no
matter what energy technologies replace fossil fuels.

But if you do the math on the quantities of energy required, and the energy
storage problems inherent in energy technologies like wind and solar, that
are not reliable portable energy storage sources, such as fossil fuels,
which are inherently a convenient portable energy storage fuel, that can
produce lots of energy turned on and off at will, you will discover that
powering a diesel truck by wind or solar alone is a daunting problem.

Let's get real here, and consider the fossil fuel energy required to
power the USA's gigantic globally positioned military, all commercial
aircraft, and the fleet of cargo ships maintaining the global economy, all
critical to the greatly US based integrated global economic system, thus
to maintaining the USA's economic system.  We can maintain this massive
system demanding gigantic quantities of portable economical energy by
replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar and bio-fuels?  Why, "the future
looks so bright, I gotta wear shades," as that satirical mocking song goes.

I won't attempt in more detail to make the case that wind, solar or
bio-fuels will not, in large measure, here in the USA, or on a global scale,
solve the energy/fossil fuel depletion/global warming equation, given
that this case has already been made by those who know a gazillion times
more on the subject than I do.

Very few credible experts that I have read think that the USA's or the
global energy needs now being supplied by fossil fuels can be completely or
even mostly replaced by wind, solar, and bio-fuels, without dramatic
negative impacts.  Well, that is, unless we enacted a very severe reduction
in energy consumption per capita, a result many would view as a "dramatic
negative impact," a hard sell given that the US will demand increases in
absolute levels of energy consumption to maintain our current lifestyle and
grow the economy.

More info on what alternative energy sources can realistically replace
fossil fuels is given below, from sources that should give pause to anyone
thinking we can transition to alternatives to fossil fuels such as
bio-fuels, wind and solar, without serious negative impacts on the US and/or
global economy, or before the climate change problem becomes severe, if it
has not already.

Consider this approach, suggested at one of the links below:

"Finally, Williams explores time scales and costs of implementing the
fusion­hydrogen energy system. In 1998 the U.S.A. spent $ 1.87 billion to
study global change. Williams suggests that the initial program for the
development of the fusion-hydrogen power system will require 5-10 years and
will cost about $ 200 billion. In the tenth year the first fusion reactor
will be operative and will start paying back the original investment. He
advocates a dedicated development pro­gram, similar to several previous
successful engineering programs; examples are the Manhattan project, the
harnessing of nuclear energy, and the development of rocket and space
technology. He considers the issue of cost nearly irrelevant, be­cause
within the next 30-50 years the depletion of fossil fuels will raise energy
costs anyway."





Ted Moffett

On 3/30/06, Ted Moffett <starbliss at gmail.com> wrote:
>  All:
> While biofuels offer benefits over oil/gasoline to power cars,
> trucks, machines etc., burning biofuels does add CO2 to the atmosphere,
> contrary to what is asserted in this blog.  Also, do the math on how much
> land and energy inputs would be needed to grow enough bio mass to generate
> enough bio fuels to maintain current US energy needs that are now obtained
> via fossil fuels.  It is doubtful biofuels are a dominate solution to either
> fossil fuel depletion or greenhouse gas emissions.  The "feel good"
> implication many suggest in the push for biofuels is that this is a
> realistic solution to the depletion of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions.
> While biofuels can offer alternatives and benefits over fossil fuels, they
> will not solve the problems.
> What are the current realistic or possible future solutions?  Let's list a
> few:  nuclear fission (if fusion can be made practical, what a
> breakthrough!), biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal, ocean tides, hydrogen
> (fuel cells: generating enough hydrogen cheaply, and safely storing and
> transporting hydrogen, are major problems.  Hydrogen for fuel cells can come
> from fossil fuels, a more efficient use of fossil fuels than burning them
> directly, but still maintains dependence on this limited resource.)
> Read analysis below:
> http://www.i-sis.org.uk/BFOA.php
> -----------------
> If technology can be developed that can cheaply remove/store CO2 emissions
> from fossil fuel burning, this would be a major breakthrough, of course:
> http://www.tonducorp.com/IGCC.htm
> "IGCC plants have an additional advantage not available through
> traditional combustion technology. IGCC plants can be designed to capture
> CO2 and make it available for disposal. These "greenhouse" gasses are
> rapidly becoming a concern for their potential impact on global warming. In
> a coal or gas fired power plant, CO2 can only be removed after combustion
> which is not economically feasible. However, CO2 may be removed before the
> syngas is fed to the gas turbines in IGCC plants. This is currently being
> done at gasification plants operating in refineries that remove CO2 to get
> pure hydrogen."
> ----------------
> The hard truth is that now, I mean right now, not in some vague time in
> the future when we later we will solve the problems, we need immediate
> reductions in absolute CO2 emissions, to head off a potential global
> disaster from climate change, unless you suggest playing Russian Roulette
> with the environment, and depleting a valuable resource needed by future
> generations for their economic success.  And it appears obvious that the
> hard answer to this hard truth is to reduce human activity that burns fossil
> fuels (Wal-Marts global manufacturing and supply chain runs on fossil
> fuels), which, yes, may likely, well, lets just say will certainly reduce,
> economic activity.  Despite all the feel good messages that we can have our
> cake and eat it to (hybrids and biofuels will save us), meaning continue to
> increase rates of energy use in the US economy, while China and India, with
> 2 billion in population, also increase their energy consumption, and still
> solve the energy/climate/fossil fuel equation, this global Juggernaut of
> irresponsible squandering of irreplaceable fossil fuels will be viewed in
> the future as one of the most short sighted and foolish periods in human
> history, and a stellar example of how the mechanisms of the "free market"
> did not offer a timely response to the scientifically understandable
> laws involved in energy consumption vs. future energy needs, and the impacts
> of fossil fuel use on climate change.
> Now, I'm off to drive my CO2 belching car... A dodo bird of technology.
> Ted Moffett
> On 3/30/06, Art Deco <deco at moscow.com> wrote:
> >
> >  *Wired*  *http://wiredblogs.tripod.com/cars/*
> >
> > Ethanol Hybrid Passes on Gas
> > *Now Playing:* Korn
> > *Topic:* Concept Cars
> > GM today unveiled a Saab concept vehicle that runs on ethanol and
> > battery power.
> >
> > When combining the power sources, the car can produce three times as
> > much torque as a gasoline vehicle and it cuts the 0-60 speed by almost two
> > seconds, according to GM. The BioPower Hybrid can be switched to city mode
> > to run purely on electricity for short trips.
> >
> > The vehicle has two electric motors, including one in the back to drive
> > the rear wheels. Saab is currently selling a flex-fuel version of the
> > BioPower in Sweden. The Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept convertible is on
> > display at the Stockholm Motor Show
> >
> > So to say goodbye to C02 and fossil fuels we just need a few thousand
> > switchgrass farmers.
> >
> > Posted by jggsf 7:32 AM PST | post your comment (0) | link to this post
> > <http://wiredblogs.tripod.com/cars/index.blog?entry_id=1447645>
> >
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