DailyDirt: Growing Biofuels For Sustainable Energy

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Biology has already figured out how to capture and use solar energy, so it makes some sense that we could try to re-purpose natural mechanisms to do our bidding and fulfill our energy needs. The trick is doing it on a scale that works economically. Plenty of scientists are working on ways to produce biofuels, but so far, the amount of biofuel used commercially is a rounding error compared to the volume of petroleum products that is burned. Still, here are just a few examples of biofuels that could be promising alternatives to burning dinosaur remains. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.


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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 8:27pm

    Bacteria that lives in your intestines being used to produce fuel directly could be a problem, I have serious doubts that people infected by it and pooping gasoline would be healthy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escherichia_coli

    :)

    On the front of biomass utilization, well I like the idea, mostly because it has the potential to also produce a number of useful byproducts, the problem with it today is that we don't have a closed system meaning not all byproducts are turned into something that will be used downstream, but it is getting there.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 9:05pm

    Wouldn't be awesome if people pooped gasoline?

    E. Coli lives in your intestines.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 9:57pm

    Corn subsidies should be stopped for so many reasons...

    Corn ethanol is just another way to prop up big agriculture businesses. Such a scam.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 10:40pm

    EROEI

    EROEI matters.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2013 @ 3:20am

    When I read articles about 'hopeful new biofuel technologies', I think about photosynthesis capable of converting ~1% of solar energy into biomass, that it took 300 million years of accumulated photosynthesis to create earth's total supply of fossil fuels, and that to replace this stock with some form of sustainable and usable energy generated by human ingenuity applied to photosynthetic yields will be quite a stretch.

     

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    limbodog (profile), Oct 24th, 2013 @ 7:43am

    I like the idea of algae farms being used to grow biofuels. They can take up minimal space (vertical tanks) and require a relatively small amount of energy input if done right (hell, they can feed on sewage). I see this as a somewhat inefficient, but worthwhile due to some side-benefits, system for creating supplemental fuels.

    But to take up crop space, and grow corn or soy specifically in order to burn it in your car? No, that's insane. Even if we ignore the issues with monoculture, soil degradation, compaction, fertilizer runoff, and energy consumption, it's still just a lousy source of energy with almost no side-benefits.

    *Some* of the other potential crops can be grown on marginal land not useful for growing much food, such as elephant grass etc., but, really, we need to stop burning things for energy. It's time to really push for alternative means of consumption as well as production.

     

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    Anon-Y-Mouse, Oct 24th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Bio fuels production needs to look at technologies that use unused resources rather than competing for already used ones.

    Plant wastes like stalks, hulls, etc. if edible, are more valuable as livestock feed. Yes, you'd be surprised at what gets fed to livestock. As an example pecan hulls are loved by cattle. Grind them up and use them as all or part of the roughage requirement. Bean stalks, like those left behind from growing green beans, are fed out immediately, or ensiled and used for winter feed. If it has feed value, chances are it is getting used by somebody to feed some type of livestock. The non edible plant waste can be put through a thermal depolymerization process to turn them into fuel and fertilizer.

     

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