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Thread: Biofuels

  1. #11
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Mar 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    - Inefficiency of producing most types of biofuels (with the exception of biofuels produced from sugar rich materials such as sugar cane and sugar beets)- many types are so inefficient to produce that outside sources of power are needed to produce the ethanol, defeating the purpose somewhat by using "unclean" power to produce "clean" power.
    Ha! Complex problem!

    Ethanol production is slightly more efficient than biodiesel's when you look at production per surface... But Biodiesels have a far better energy balance, I mean, they require less external sources of energy to be produced (and thus, pollute less).

    If, for instance, we compare corn ethanol and rapeseed biodiesel (most common in Europe):

    1) You would require three acres of rapeseeds to produce the same quantity of gallons an acre of corn would do.

    2) But, biodiesel combustion is more efficient than ethanol (1.4 factor)

    3) And the energy balance of rapeseeds is three times better than corn

    4) And corn crops devastate soils, while rapeseed can grow almost anywhere, with very little amount of fertilizers (if any).


    Curiously, the US government has chosen very inefficient ways to produce both ethanol and biodiesels. As a matter of fact, Corn ethanol or Soy biodiesel are among the worst possible choices, so I'm wondering why... Let's say the US oil lobby would not want to see cheap biodiesels coming too soon, and thus spend huge sum of money to convince people that biodiesels are a very bad idea.

    Sugar cane (like in Brazil) is much more efficient than corn: it produces two times more ethanol per surface, and the energy balance is 6 times better!!!
    Among biodiesels, only palm or coconut oil can compete with Sugar cane. But since the biodiesel combustion produces more heat/gallon, the overall result is much more interesting.

    There are also two very interesting paths with biodiesels:

    A) One is the Jatropha. It doesn't produce as much biodiesel/surface than palm trees (while its efficiency remains far higher than rapeseed), but it can grow anywhere, even in very dry areas with no fertilizers at all!
    Thus, we could use a lot of currently unused spaces or wastelands with Jatrophas.

    B) The second Idea is algae fuel, as previously mentioned. Algaculture is in theory incredibly efficient (26 times better than soy biodiesel!!!), but it's still quite high tech and thus, very costly.
    Again, the oil lobbies are doing their best to slow down these researches.


    Anyway. What's interesting is to notice that the most interesting plants involved in ethanol/biodiesel production only grow in tropical climates.
    Thus we arrive to a paradox, because on the other hand, temperate climates are far better suited for plants grown as food.

    For temperate countries, trying to develop bio-fuels is not a very interesting idea, but for mankind as a whole, it is. Hence, the solution can only be global and involves a north/south cooperation between countries.
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  2. #12
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
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    I don't really have enough knowledge on this subject to add anything, but I wanted to say that it's something I'm interested in and I'm really enjoying reading what everyone has to say. I hope the discussion continues.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
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  3. #13
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
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    I asked a lot of questions about the ethanol industry (and even got to tour a plant!) while in Brazil after my initial disappointment that the "alcool" on gas station signs wasn't something that I could consume

    The interesting thing was that the production process produced enough extra energy, that they converted into electricity, that they could power the ethanol production plant and parts of the surrounding town with electrical power!

    The downside of this were that a lot of rain forest is being cut down to plant sugarcane, which sort of partially defeats the purpose of creating ethanol to help cut down on CO2 emmissions because the rain forest is a valuable carbon sink (a part of the world that converts CO2 into oxygen on a rather large scale). By cutting down the rainforest to make ethanol, we'd be keeping things more or less even and causing runoff and erosion in the process! Plus- most farmers burn the sugarcane field after harvest, which also produces CO2

    Other crops would be an interesting idea though- especially if they could be grown in regions that are basically considered useless- like along interstates and such!
    “The phrase 'Someone ought to do something' was not, by itself, a helpful one. People who used it never added the rider 'and that someone is me'.” - Terry Pratchett

  4. #14


    revive! little thread, revive!

    Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. Announces Preliminary Approval for $2.3M Research and Development Grant

    On April 9, 2008, Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRE) (AMEX: GPRE) received preliminary approval from the Iowa Power Fund for a $2,315,407 grant to fund research and development of algae-based biofuel feedstock production. The award is subject to negotiation and completion of definitive agreements among Green Plains, GreenFuel Technology Corp. and the State of Iowa.

    Green Plains' proposal was submitted in cooperation with GreenFuel Technology Corp., a Massachusetts-based firm with expertise in algae-based biofuels. The grant will allow Green Plains and GreenFuel Technology to conduct a 195-day test to determine the viability of algae production at Green Plains' ethanol plant site in Shenandoah, Iowa. The project is expected to utilize the plant's carbon dioxide to produce approximately eight kilograms of algal biomass per day. If the test is successful, the project could be expanded for feasibility and commercialization.

    "Algae production complements ethanol production," said Wayne Hoovestol, Chief Executive Officer. "The algae project involves recycling heat and water, while mitigating carbon dioxide. Additionally, there is strong evidence to suggest that Iowa has ideal environmental conditions for commercial algae production."

    Algae offers potential as an alternative feedstock for biodiesel. According to GreenFuel Technology, oil yields from algae are estimated at several thousand gallons per acre, while oil yields from soybeans are approximately 65 gallons per acre. No genetically modified organisms are involved in the proposed production process. By-products include feed ingredients and biomass for energy generation.

    "GreenFuel Technology has run several projects at major power plants in the United States," said Cary Bullock, Vice-President of Business Development for GreenFuel Technology. "However, we are especially excited about the Green Plains project because of the natural synergies between the algae and ethanol industries. The Green Plains project provides an opportunity to use an operational ethanol plant to further the body of knowledge of algae-based biofuels."

    "Green Plains thanks the Iowa Power Fund and Office of Energy Independence for their support," said Hoovestol. "We thank Governor Chet Culver for his visionary leadership in promoting biofuels. And, we thank the community of Shenandoah, Iowa, for its tireless support of Green Plains."

    About Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc.

    Ethanol is a high-octane fuel that is blended with gasoline to provide superior engine performance as well as help to reduce harmful tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Ethanol has also become a prime source of value-added income for American farmers.

    Green Plains, based in Omaha, Nebraska, has the strategy of becoming a vertically-integrated, low-cost ethanol producer. Green Plains operates a 50 million gallon corn ethanol plant in Shenandoah, Iowa. A second 50 million gallon corn ethanol plant is under construction in Superior, Iowa. The Superior plant is scheduled to begin production later this spring. Green Plains has grain storage capacity of approximately 19 million bushels and provides complementary agronomy, seed, feed, fertilizer and petroleum services at various sites in the Corn Belt.

    About GreenFuel Technology Corp.

    Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, GreenFuel Technology Corp. is a privately-held venture-backed firm. Founded in 2001, GreenFuel recycles carbon dioxide from flue gases to produce biofuels and feed. Harvesting algae for biofuels enhances domestic fuel production while mitigating carbon dioxide.

    This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Such statements are identified by the use of words such as "anticipate," "estimate," "expect," "project," "intend," "plan," "believe," and other words and terms of similar meaning in connection with any discussion of future operating or financial performance. Such statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to various factors, risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results, outcome of events, timing and performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Green Plains may experience significant fluctuations in future operating results due to a number of economic conditions, including, but not limited to, competition in the ethanol industry, risks associated with plant construction and technology development, and other risk factors detailed in Green Plains' SEC filings. Additional information with respect to these and other factors, which could materially affect Green Plains and its operations, are included on certain forms Green Plains has filed with the SEC. Green Plains assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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