Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

More "Miles Per Acre" From Bioelectricity Than Ethanol

Comments Filter:
  • Units? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mikya (901578) <mikyathemad.gmail@com> on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:05PM (#27864783)
    Miles per acre? What's that in rods per hogsheads?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by internerdj (1319281)
      Almost as useful as miles per gallon...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Put it in "H"!!!

    • Re:Units? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:20PM (#27865031) Homepage Journal

      I think it's pretty clear what they are saying: with bioelectricity you get more harvastable energy per acre of planting. Crops take space to grow.

      but.... then also see: http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1225951&cid=27864987 [slashdot.org]

      food crops->energy = ill advised

      • I eat algae, you insensitive clod!

        That being said, I'm sort of with you. I don't even think food crops should be used to feed people. Every thing started going wrong when efficient farming techniques ruined the world. Human lifespan and leisure time expanded so much that we were able to poison the world with our inventions, and overpopulate the world with our hungry progeny. Did you know that, before agriculture, cancer was almost unheard of? Heart attacks, too! We didn't live long enough!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evanbd (210358)
      Well, if you want to get all units-nazi about it, it's the annual output of an acre. So 15000 miles per acre per year (for the bio-electric option), or 321.7 microhertz per smoot [google.com].
    • In metric system, this unit is going to be m^-1. :-)
    • Re:Units? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:57PM (#27866903) Journal

      Miles per acre? What's that in rods per hogsheads?

      Miles per acre ca't be converted into rods per hogshead. However, you may find the following conversions useful:
      1 mile per acre is exactly 80 rods per rood.
      1 mile per gallon (US) is exactly 63 furlongs per firkin (US)
      Anything else you need can be computed from information at http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/index.html [unc.edu]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cenc (1310167)

        yea, but can they convert to pipes?

        That is the unit used to measure how long it took to cross a lake by the fur traders. How many pipes did they smoke? Would that not screw with their greenhouse gas calculations?

  • Ethanol -> lots of space to make fuel.

    Biomass to electricity -> not nearly as much space.
    • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:17PM (#27864983) Journal

      Comparing energy production density to Corn-based Ethanol is like stealing candy from a baby. Corn-fueled Ethanol has a tough time doing much better than just burning fossil fuels outright in systemic carbon footprint, and in some studies, is actually WORSE than strictly burning gasoline/oil.

      Yes, the average is a net improvement of anywhere from 25% to 70% return on investment, but even then, you have to consider the value of the farmland itself! We'd probably do much better by simply growing wild grass on prime farmland, harvesting it, and burying it, when looking in terms of carbon footprint!

      So saying that NNN technology is X% better than bioethanol is like saying that doing X is less painful than scraping off your penile foreskin with a cheese grater.

      Truthful, but not very useful. Come back when you have something that actually works. For example, what's the benefit of bio-electricity over Photo-voltaics? Now that the latter technology is down to (or better than) $1/watt [nytimes.com], this becomes a very, very tough technology to beat, and actually works better on craptastic, rocky soil off in the desert someplace with 3 inches of rainfall per year.

      Meaning, we can get back to using farmland for growing food, and stop with this silly "let's raid the kitchen cupboard to feed our guzzling SUVs!" craze that's been on for the last few years.

      • by Burkin (1534829) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:37PM (#27865325)

        So saying that NNN technology is X% better than bioethanol is like saying that doing X is less painful than scraping off your penile foreskin with a cheese grater.

        But I'm a masochist you insensitive clod!

      • Mod up the parent. Saying something is better than corn based ethanol is like saying "driving an Expedition to the corner store to pick up 1 gallon of milk, is more efficient than pouring gasoline in your toilet." While technically true, it isn't very informative.

        For non-Americans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Expedition [wikipedia.org] --- Notice lack of MPG or other economy rating.

        • by Rei (128717) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:00PM (#27865757) Homepage

          The real blow-it-out-of-the-water numbers are when you eliminate "bio" from the equation, period. Corn yields 300-450 gallons of ethanol per acre. Sugarcane, about 550-850 gallons or so. Switchgrass can theoretically yield over 1000 gallons per acre and algae 5000, although those numbers are likely to get way smacked down by reality (especially the algae numbers). But let's just go with them. CAFE average is ~24mpg, and you get less mpg on ethanol, but hey, let's just say our cars get 40mpg. The average driver goes 12k miles per year, so corn can support 1.3 drivers/acre, sugarcane 2.3 drivers/acre, switchgrass 3.3 drivers/acre, and algae a way-over-optimistic 16.7 drivers/acre.

          A compact linear fresnel reflector solar thermal generating station produces about 1MW nominal capacity for every 4 acres and has about a 20% capacity factor (in non-optimal sites). That's an actual MW per 20 acres, or 488,288,000Wh/acre-year. The Volt and Tesla Roadster both use about 200Wh/mi, so let's go with a more pessimistic 300Wh/mi after losses and with less efficient designs. That's 121.7 drivers per acre. I.e., it beats the pants off even the highly speculative numbers for algae. And it uses no water or fertilizer -- and we use *way* too much water as it is.

          If you want land efficiency, converting the sun directly to electricity and using that electricity directly rather than having the intermediary stage of "plants" is the way to go. And we farm too darn much of this planet as it is already.

          • by Rei (128717)

            Erm, not "no" water, but still "minimal" water. There's some initial water needed to fill the closed-loop system.

          • by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:05PM (#27865867) Homepage Journal

            Aglae can produce oil instead of ethanol. Oil that can be treated just like light sweet crude at the refinery, with a lot less impurities [so it's easier to refine].

            So to not do something stupid like Algae Ethanol and do Algae Oil the biggest advantage is it's a potentially carbon neutral drop in replacement that can be used in existing gasoline and diesel engines.

            If you can get efficient storage of electricity (like hopefully EEStor isn't full of it) a pure-eletric system will be better - but at the same time we can cut our greenhouse gas emissions massively by using Algal Oil as a drop in replacement for fossil oil.

            Now as gas/diesel demand drops down in about 50 years we can do other things with that algae production infrastructure I'd imagine.

            • by Rei (128717)

              Actually, the 5,000 gallons figure is for biodiesel, not ethanol. But again, that's just one company's figure, and they haven't produced anything close to that, so take it with a massive grain of salt.

              The biggest problem with algae is that it is, by its very nature, hydroponics. Hydroponics is expensive for even things where most of the costs are labor, like lettuce and tomatoes. You'll never see "hydroponic wheat" or "hydroponic corn", because it'd 10x the price. Yet that's exactly the sort of thing th

              • by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:25PM (#27866251) Homepage Journal

                Hydroponic Algae is several orders of Magnitude less complex than Hydroponic food crops.

                Algae is a free floating aquatic plant so a lot of the labor intensities go away in the blink of an eye, and it has a higher plant density than hydroponic corn.

                Hydroponic Wheat/Corn/etc is more expensive because it's wasteful and increases the energy costs associated.

                Need to separate your Algae from the water? Sieve.. isn't so simply for corn, etc as they have to sit in racks and only their roots are being bathed and all kinds of other complexities.

                All you need to grow hydroponic algae is water circulation, sunlight, carbon dioxide and some nutrients in the water [clean up fertilizer polluted water anyone?]

                and the "wear and tear" on transparent plastic tubes that simply have algae-bearing water running through them isn't going to be nearly as bad as other hydroponics.

                In short: bad comparison.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Rei (128717)

                  Algae is a free floating aquatic plant so a lot of the labor intensities go away

                  Hydroponics isn't expensive because of labor. The labor on a hydroponic farm is, if anything, lower than on a conventional farm. It's expensive because of the massive amount of plastic and steel that you need. You're talking endless *acres* of plastic. And all plastics suffer UV degradation to some degree.

                  Hydroponic Wheat/Corn/etc is more expensive because it's wasteful and increases the energy costs associated.

                  Hydroponic *e

                  • by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:54PM (#27866847) Homepage Journal

                    i know the phtysics of UV degrading plastics, but then again most of the applications im seeing aren't using your normal plastics. They seem perfectly capable of turning a profit.

                    As for yuor "blah blah combine" combines don't exactly work on HYDROPONIC CROPS...

                    Yes you have some valid points about wear and tear, but apparently all analysts and people experimenting with it think that at $50/barrel that Algal Oil is perfectly economically viable.

                    BTW: bioplastics.

                    • by Rei (128717)

                      As for yuor "blah blah combine" combines don't exactly work on HYDROPONIC CROPS...

                      Combines work on whatever you design them to work on.

                      but apparently all analysts and people experimenting with it think that at $50/barrel that Algal Oil is perfectly economically viable.

                      If "all analysts and people" think it's so viable, why have all these companies been having so much trouble trying to raise capital for the past several years, even in this incredibly pro-green environment?

                    • by LordKazan (558383)

                      because they havent had a problem?

                      there are several well funded startups and several actively running test sites,[snark] but apparently their operating with out funding [/snark] :P

                    • by Rei (128717)

                      Name one that's been able to raise the money for a commercial production venture (I.e., not just a little tiny pilot project). After all, they've been operating for years.

                      Name one that's cashflow positive.

                  • by chaim79 (898507)

                    What about using glass instead of plastic for the tanks and such, and only using plastic for easily-replaceable hoses?

                    • by Rei (128717)

                      Glass is more UV resistant, to be sure. But it also costs more. It also isn't quite as good at transmitting visible light.

                    • by LordKazan (558383)

                      I believe that is part of their plans for many of the large scale facilities. also what plastics they use can be cheap bioplastics

          • by john.r.strohm (586791) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:19PM (#27866111)

            Of course, the obvious NEXT questions are annoying things like:

            1. What kind of numbers do you get with nuclear and/or fusion reactors, instead of biomass reactors or cornfields?

            It is worth mentioning that the MIT Nuclear Engineering senior project recently was the engineering design of a fusion reactor to produce hydrogen for automotive fuel. One of the reasons given for producing hydrogen rather than electricity is that we don't have anything remotely resembling a power grid in the Northeast that could handle the output of a commercial-size fusion reactor.

            And their design was apparently conservative: you could build it, starting TODAY.

            2. How do you distribute the electricity from your biomass reactor or your solar field to the cars? See previous paragraph about power grid issues.

            • by Rei (128717)

              And their design was apparently conservative: you could build it, starting TODAY.

              Yeah. *Fusion*? Better tell ITER that they're barking up the wrong tree.

              And do we really want to get into the whole hydrogen boondoggle?

              How do you distribute the electricity from your biomass reactor or your solar field to the cars?

              Trivially. The US power grid is 92.8% efficient, and EVs stabilize the grid rather than destabilizing it (they're steady, predictable loads, and there's an increasing push to make them smart loads

              • by LordKazan (558383)

                And "charge packs" that stay permanently attached then "flood charge" EV packs also stabilize the grid [more reliably than EVs] because they're permanent fixtures. They can soak up excess production and compensate for excess load.

                Yes the grid needs some improvements for Green energy [especially solar and wind] but it's not that hard. Hydrogen engines are an interesting idea, but if we can get better energy storage technology like EEStor not being full of crap then Hydrogen engines will be obsolete before

                • by Rei (128717) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:45PM (#27866687) Homepage

                  Whether or not EEStor is real or not is becoming increasingly unimportant. When they first started pushing their (questionable) tech, conventional li-ion cells on the market were 160Wh/kg and most of of the stable ones were ~$1/Wh and under 100Wh/kg. Now conventional li-ion cells are 200Wh/kg with longer life, the stable ones are under $0.50/Wh and rapidly headed toward $0.35/Wh or so, and there have been literally dozens of lab breakthroughs that if any one of each anode and cathode tech were commercialized, would make li-ion cells have the claimed energy density of EEstor's EESU. So, honestly, I don't really care all that much about whether they're legit or not anymore.

                  Hydrogen is already obsolete. I mean, come on, 6 figures for a fuel cell stack strong enough to run a car? 1/3rd the efficiency of EVs, and that's *if* you use fuel cells rather than combustion? 5 year fuel cell lifespans, tops? Many more moving parts (including a compressor)? An explosive, ozone-depleting fuel that leaks through almost anything, pools under overhangs, has a ridiculously low ignition energy, burns in almost any mixture with air, rapidly undergoes deflagration to detonation transitions, etc? That has no better range than a modern li-ion EV? And takes 3 times as long to fill as the high end rapid-charging EVs and 1.5 to 2x as long as the low-end rapid charging EVs? Why exactly is this supposed to be appealing?

                  • by LordKazan (558383)

                    Yes I know battery technology is progressing, but super capacitors are cleaner and longer lasting so it would be better to use capacitors.

            • by mikeee (137160)

              How do you distribute the electricity from your biomass reactor or your solar field to the cars? See previous paragraph about power grid issues.

              Um, at night?

              But that's not the point; the problem is that shipping H2 around is a colossal PITA. It doesn't compress well, it leaks like crazy, and it's corrosive to many metals. Even if we had magical free hydrogen, the sensible thing would probably be to convert it to hydrocarbons; the loss from that will be less than from shipping the hydrogen around.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by evanbd (210358)

              And their design was apparently conservative: you could build it, starting TODAY.

              No one has demonstrated sustained useful greater than unity energy yields from fusion outside of bombs and stars. It is entirely possible that their design would work, but the track record of fusion attempts says its unlikely. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of fusion research, and I think it's worth spending money on. But, when the fundamental concept your engineering project relies upon has not been demonstrated in a manner that obviously scales to your project, calling it conservative is a st

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by lupine (100665) *

            You were very generous with 40mpg. The highest mileage a 2009 car gets on E85 is only a paltry 16 city 23 hwy, much lower than the 22 city 32 hwy on gasoline. Most new vehicles that burn E85 are trucks so the cafe average is probably closer to 13mpg, which would be worse if running on E100.
            http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byfueltype.htm [fueleconomy.gov]

            plants are only about 6% efficient(max) at converting sunlight into sugars & cellulose. Modern solar panels are around 20% efficient(very expensive space panels are at 40%)

          • by bwcbwc (601780) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:00PM (#27869177)

            Wait. Corn? Switchgrass? I thought bio-electricity was about breeding electric eels.

            Too bad "Put an eel in your tank" has a completely different connotation from "Put a tiger in your tank."

          • by jcr (53032)

            . Switchgrass can theoretically yield over 1000 gallons per acre and algae 5000, although those numbers are likely to get way smacked down by reality (especially the algae numbers).

            Algae should be able to do a whole lot better than that if it was grown in vats that allowed light in from the sides and had a modicum of active circulation. Or, if you really wanted to get elaborate about it, a system like this one [youtube.com] might make a real difference.

            -jcr

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Meaning, we can get back to using farmland for growing food, and stop with this silly "let's raid the kitchen cupboard to feed our guzzling SUVs!" craze that's been on for the last few years.

        For long term, sustainable energy near today's technological level, it would include both fixes. The biomass gives us the ability to create energy whenever we need it, solar panels provide electricity for the peak times of the day. Solar can't do it alone because of the problem of electricity efficiently; biomass gives us the ability to store chemical energy very easily. Neither one alone is the "one true solution". False dichotomies help no one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Judebert (147131)

        Not that I necessarily disagree with you, at least not in any substantive way... but I would really like some $1/watt solar cells. The ones you linked to are less than $1 per watt to produce, not cost to the consumer.

        • by dr2chase (653338)
          Would you like them enough to buy 20 acres of them? That might get you a price closer to $1/watt.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by evanbd (210358)
        They also compare cellulosic ethanol and other non-corn options. Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] has a better writeup.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So saying that NNN technology is X% better than bioethanol is like saying that doing X is less painful than scraping off your penile foreskin with a cheese grater.

        I'm guessing that the latter would be less painful than trying to get this past the corn lobby if it works best with another kind of crop.

      • "For example, what's the benefit of bio-electricity over Photo-voltaics? "

        Easy biofuel was about subsidizing farmers and giving seed producers the chance to print their own money (ie. Monsanto with their one time only frankenseeds). It was a political solution, not an engineering one.

      • You're operating under the impression that politicians are concerned about being productive rather than seeming productive.

        Personal solar panels do not re-elect anyone.

    • by Ashriel (1457949)

      Ethanol -> lots of space to make fuel.

      That's why you grow it vertically [icis.com].

    • But just wait... We've got to get all the faux news viewers to come on here and regurgitate false memes about how it won't work.

  • by JamesP (688957) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:08PM (#27864823)

    As a bunch of (electric) eels tied with electric cord??

    • by AJWM (19027) *

      Well, not necessarily electric eels, but something like that. Isn't bioelectricity the electric fields/currents within an organism? The stuff that EKGs and EEGs read, for example?

      I think from context (TFA doesn't define the term anywhere) that they're talking about electricity generated by burning biomass to turn generators, but it sure isn't clear.

      Or maybe this is like something from the Matrix.

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      As a bunch of (electric) eels tied with electric cord??

      Only if there are enough of them to fill a hovercraft.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lelitsch (31136)

      Yes, I was also disappointed that they use bioelectricity as a euphemism for "burning crops in a power plant". Wiring together a huge field of cucumbers stuffed with zinc and copper disks would have been so much cooler.

  • Oy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schmidt349 (690948) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:11PM (#27864867)

    The problem with using biomass to generate electricity to run cars is that you've got to get the electricity into the car and store it there, usually in a lithium-ion battery. That whole process probably diminishes your efficiency by an order of magnitude. If this guy's taken all that into account, well, so far so good. But I think we're going to need literally quantum advances in energy storage technology (think molten salts and carbon nanotube supercapacitors) before we can get fossil fuels completely out of our transportation system.

    The real advantage of producing ethanol right now is that you can just mix it into gasoline and sell the combination fuel (E85) for use in most post-2004 model year cars. It doesn't require a total revamp of the energy distribution network for vehicles.

    • Drop in replacements (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:23PM (#27865077) Homepage Journal

      We can get fossil fuels out of our energy system right now with drop in non-fossil replacements like Algal Oil [ see my discussion of it in this thread http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1225951&cid=27864987 [slashdot.org] ]

    • by Judebert (147131) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:43PM (#27865455) Homepage

      I'm driving a home-converted electric car right now. I didn't even choose my components for efficiency, and according to my kill-a-watt meter, I'm still running more than twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine.

      There have been several studies comparing overall efficiency, including power transmission losses. The EV wins every time.

    • Re:Oy. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:46PM (#27865493) Homepage

      But I think we're going to need literally quantum advances in energy storage technology (think molten salts and carbon nanotube supercapacitors) before we can get fossil fuels completely out of our transportation system.

      True, but if oil becomes very expensive and electricity very cheap but batteries still expensive, there are many ways to extend electrics and hybrids. Imagine long-distance lanes where the car is more like a one-car train driving "on the grid" only using the battery at intersections (to avoid the heavy crossings) and where you exit with full charge to get to your final destination. That would increase the range and possible user base hugely, you could actually take fairly long trips where such lanes exists etc. We manage it for electric trains and trams so I see no reason why we shouldn't manage it with cars. Will it work today? No. But give it another 50 years when we've REALLY exhausted most of the natural oil resources and things will change.

    • Re:Oy. (Score:4, Informative)

      by evanbd (210358) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:02PM (#27865793)
      They did take those things into account. That's why the study is interesting. It includes the conversion efficiencies of both the combustion engine and the power plant, the transmission losses of both the fuel and electricity (trucking the fuel around doesn't cost much fuel, but it's not zero either), and the lifecycle energy cost of the batteries. I'm not expert enough to say the authors did a completely correct job, but they certainly did a very thorough job.
    • Re:Oy. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CaseyB (1105) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:06PM (#27865895)

      But I think we're going to need literally quantum advances in energy storage technology

      You mean the absolute smallest possible advances?

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:14PM (#27864927)

    ...now all we need is a fuel that comes in the form of a long string, and we can finally express fuel efficiency as a dimensionless number.

    BTW, 20 miles per gallon works out to 3.4409911e+10 inverse acres. Or, to look at it another way, one gallon per 20 miles is 2.9061395e-11 acres, or about 0.12 square millimeters. That's the diameter of the imaginary thread of gasoline that your vehicle is gobbling, Pac-Man-like, as you drive down the highway.

    • by AJWM (19027) * on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:23PM (#27865091) Homepage

      Great, now I have this vision stuck in my head of a gasoline-soaked thread stretching out down the road, with a car spooling it up and wringing the gas out to fuel the engine. That's just weird.

      I salute you, sir.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      All that great dimensional analysis and then you say "That's the diameter of the imaginary thread of gasoline that your vehicle is gobbling."

      0.12 mm^2 is an area, so it is the cross sectional area of the thread of gasoline. If you want diameter, assuming the thread is a cylinder, you have to run it through the area of a circle formula:

      A = pi*r^2
      0.12/ pi = r^2
      r = 0.20 mm
      d = r*2
      d = 0.39 mm

      • D'oh! You're right, of course. I meant to say "size". Probably would've been better to go ahead and calculate the actual diameter, though, as you did.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nick Ives (317)

          No, you were right first time. Pac-Man is a two dimensional game and you gave mm^2 which is a two dimensional result!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wowbagger (69688)

      Ahh, but their forgot the time aspect of this: that acre of land produces only so much grass per unit time, so technically the units should be miles per (acre * year) or some such.

      In other words,

      d/(d*d*t) or 1/(d*t)

      So it really is an area swept through space-time rather than a line through space.

    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      I've wondered about that thread of gasoline but never bothered to do the math. Now someone has done it for me, thanks!

      All things aside, one has to admit that it's impressive that a 1.5 ton vehicle can be motivated to travel 70mph on such a small feed of gasoline.

  • by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:17PM (#27864987) Homepage Journal

    Food crops as energy sources was never a good idea, we didn't breed them for their modern harvestable energy content, and even if we did we'd be offsetting fuel crops. Algal Oil is a MUCH better biofuel solution as it can be build anywhere you have the following things:

    A) Land [cheaper the better]
    B) Source of Water [doesn't neccesarily need to be fresh or particularly clean, in fact fertilizer polluted water might even be a good thing]
    C) Source of Carbon Dioxide [clean CO2 .. so cannot pull it straight from the air, have to filter it.. but pretty much everywhere]
    D) Sunlight

    And it already works, we have "pilot plants" already cranking it out.

    Don't have to offset prime forest or prime agricultural - vast stretches of the semidesert southwest would be usuable.

    • by SnarfQuest (469614) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:27PM (#27865153)

      If you thought that ethanol production was an ecological problem, then you should rethink your beliefs. Ethanol from corn is a political gambit, government subsidies for corn/ethinol is just a way to but votes. It is not an economical process, in fact it is one of the worst possible ways to create ethanol, and only succeeds in raising the cost of food.

      • by LordKazan (558383)

        so.. you're agreeing with me?

        I said "Food crops as energy sources was never a good idea" and then talked about a vastly more viable alternative.... i'm confused as to what you're trying to say.

        • by AaxelB (1034884)

          so.. you're agreeing with me?

          I said "Food crops as energy sources was never a good idea" and then talked about a vastly more viable alternative.... i'm confused as to what you're trying to say.

          The point is, no rational argument will convince the politicians (or whoever's making the decisions) that algae is a better choice, even though it clearly is and we all know it, because the motivation behind ethanol from corn is not to create a viable alternative energy source, but rather to rub the backs of all the corn farmers and the states whose economies depend on them, in the hopes of garnering more votes.

          Wow, that was all one sentence. But anyway, you're entirely right about algae and we all agree w

          • by LordKazan (558383)

            Obama's EPA just gave several food-based biofuels failing emissions standards and disqualified them from funding. I live Des Moines, IA . Some pretty seriously butthurt farmers in the Des Moines Register online comments on Tuesday over that.

            Sure you won't get the state level politicians to dump soy diesel and corn ethanol, but if you get the national ones to do it then eventually it will be untenable for the state to keep supporting it.

            Corn ethanol is still a good anti-knocking fuel additive to my knowled

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160)

      Food crops as energy sources was never a good idea, we didn't breed them for their modern harvestable energy content, and even if we did we'd be offsetting fuel crops.

      Actually, food crops with a few exceptions (like spices) have always been energy sources. They're just energy sources for people and domesticated animals. I agree that algae oil is a better use than shifting food crops from high value human consumption to low value energy production.

      • by LordKazan (558383)

        Hence why I said "modern energy" was trying to imply technological energy.. or whatever we want to call it - not "food energy" for consumption by life forms :D

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by joib (70841)

      Algae might be a better biofuel compared to the alternatives in many ways on paper at least, but it's far from actually proven to work economically. E.g. the principal investigator of the $100 million NREL aquatic species research program has the following to say: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2541 [theoildrum.com]

  • pollution equal to 50 million cars annually. Just 15 of these ships = the entire worlds auto output (SO2/SoX) There are 19,000 ocean going cargo ships, granted of various sizes.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution [guardian.co.uk].

    While I'm not complaining about making car emissions cleaner lets start looking at making some of the current big offenders cleaner.

    • by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:29PM (#27865171) Homepage Journal

      Agreed... pump em full of Algal Oil produceed biodiesel... instant carbon neutrality [assuming all energy used for pumps, etc in the production plant is carbon neutral which can be done]

      That's the nice thing about using Algal Oil as a drop in replacement for fossil oil - it's chemically identical but all that carbon in it was sucked out of the atmosphere.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AnalogyShark (1317197)
      "Shipping is responsible for 3.5% to 4% of all climate change emissions" from same article

      It's not the carbon emissions that are the real problem with cargo ships, but the NO and SO pollution. As far as I can tell, these are not greenhouse gases so much as carcinogens. While, yes, they do need to be reduced, your post was very misleading in implying that the majority of air pollution and climate change comes from cargo ships. It doesn't.
  • okay, so i didn't read it yet, but i'll jump the gun and assume that they haven't considered making ethanol from hemp (cannabis). fuel per unit area of farm land goes way up from both corn and sugar cane and could really help put alternative fuels on the map.

    but we can't do that cause of the children (or something)

  • You mean acres of electric eels?

    Seems like my hovercraft is indeed full of electric eels.

  • A quick google search seems to say yes. http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=us+size+in+acres&fp=0_TDBcSQxa0 [google.com]

    Not that it would be simple. 350 million acres of farmland, 250 million vehicles, at least an acre per vehicle. So we either have to plant more, drive less, and/or eat less.
    • by dr2chase (653338)
      Or drive much smaller vehicles.

      A cargo [xtracycle.com] bike [bakfiets.nl] plus an electric [cleverchimp.com] assist [cycle9.com] will carry a load of groceries and/or a kid or two, and will do it with a daily range that is depressingly competitive with a lot of the e-cars being discussed nowadays (i.e., 40 miles -- 20 in a day on a human-powered cargo bike is a no-brainer). Wouldn't necessarily work in the boonies, but lots and lots of people drive in places that where 20-40 miles per day, most days, is enough.

      One hopes that I won't hear the same tired excuses
  • by Anenome (1250374) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:45PM (#27865473)

    Morpheus: "The human body generates more bio- electricity than a 120-volt battery and over 25,000 B.T.U.'s of body heat."

    Now we just need some poor saps to lock into an energy-harvesting pod while we jack their mind into The Sims 24/7... actually that sounds like a special kind of hell. Perhaps we can give them their choice. Some might choose to live in WoW 24/7... actually some choose to live in WoW 24/7 -already-... perhaps they would be the first to volunteer! It's like getting corporate sponsorship AND never having to shower again, WIN WIN!

  • You can make biofuel from algae using pond liners in the desert. You pump saltwater out there using thermal solar pumps, the algae comes from the air...

    This has the obvious advantages that you're not competing for space with food, and that the fueling infrastructure for diesel (and theoretically, butanol can be made from the remnants of the algae feedstocks left over after you separate the oil as well) is already in place and functioning.

    I want to see electric cars too, but until the batteries don't suck fo

  • Can someone explain why turning biomass into usable forms of energy is ever a good idea? After all, all biomass is really just a way to turn solar energy into fuel. It always seemed to me that it would be a heck of a lot more efficient to just set up a bunch of mirrors to heat water to power a steam turbine. Is growing corn, or switchgrass, or whatever that much cheaper?

    I also never understood why people were so concerned about turning biomass into ethanol. I was recently reading about a power plant that wa

  • TFA doesn't define the term or tell us exactly HOW to convert biomass to electricity. Ok, obviously you can burn the biomass and use the heat to generate electricity the traditional way, i.e. via steam and turbines... but how is that "bioelectricity"..? To me that's just a wood-fired power plant.

    According to Wikipedia bioelectricity refers to the various electric fields and currents generated in living tissue. If we could somehow harvest that directly (Matrix-style) then we could talk about "using bioele

  • ...fixed power plant more efficient than motor vehicle power plant.

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

Working...