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Biotech Technology

Using Winemaking Waste For Making Fuel 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the drink-and-drive dept.
Tator Tot writes "Grape pomace, the mashed up skins and stems left over from making wine and grape juice, could serve as a good starting point for ethanol production, according to a new study (from the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry). Due to growing interest in biofuels, researchers have started looking for cheap and environmentally sustainable ways to produce such fuels, especially ethanol. Biological engineer Jean VanderGheynst at the University of California, Davis, turned to grape pomace, because winemakers in California alone produce over 100,000 tons of the fruit scraps each year, with much of it going to waste."
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Using Winemaking Waste For Making Fuel

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  • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:11PM (#41760351)

    Who knew a process by which the ultimate goal is to produce ethanol would be a good starting point to produce ethanol?

    • Isss'a mirrracl! *hic*

    • Damn right. Burn the alcohol, lol. Make like 190 proof wine and torch that stuff.
      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        And then after they have been used to produce more ethanol (which probably is contaminated by some other things than ethanol which would make it less pleasurable to drink) the remains can be dried and then burned to produce even more energy - like heat for the distillation. The ashes can then in turn be taken back to the wineyard and used as fertilizer.

        Step by step to create the full cycle. And don't forget that the same procedure can be used with other kinds of waste - like what comes from when producing c

        • Just notice that a lot of potential energy is wasted and literally goes down the drain at every household. But it's partly because energy still is too cheap compared to the cost to utilize the energy from waste.

          There is very little alcohol that goes down the drain 90% of alcohol it broken down by the liver and only 5% goes down the drain. On top of that there is less then 0.1% alcohol in the urine of an intoxicated person.

          • Just notice that a lot of potential energy is wasted and literally goes down the drain at every household. But it's partly because energy still is too cheap compared to the cost to utilize the energy from waste.

            There is very little alcohol that goes down the drain 90% of alcohol it broken down by the liver and only 5% goes down the drain. On top of that there is less then 0.1% alcohol in the urine of an intoxicated person.

            Bear Grylls will reclaim his wasted alcohol.

    • Re:You dont say? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by niftydude (1745144) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:01AM (#41761477)

      Who knew a process by which the ultimate goal is to produce ethanol would be a good starting point to produce ethanol?

      True that. I'm far more impressed by the people who realized that you could make dresses from wine making waste. [cnet.com]

    • Well there is more to the point. Energy is getting so expensive that there is a growing economical incentive to be efficient with your waste products (AKA Wasted energy)

    • by Golddess (1361003)
      Sounds more like they found or are looking into a way to produce even more ethanol from the by-product of an existing ethanol-producing process.

      (Yeah yeah, *whoosh*.)
  • Grappa (Score:5, Informative)

    by donscarletti (569232) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:18PM (#41760397)
    Folks have been making pomace brandys [wikipedia.org], like grappa [wikipedia.org] for centuries. This suggestion is just to put it into an engine rather than drinking it, which many people who have tasted it would approve of.
    • Yeah, grappa was the first thing I thought of, too. This is just a silly idea. The yields from grappa-making are pitifully low - which helps explain why that stuff's so expensive.

    • Re:Grappa (Score:5, Informative)

      by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:26PM (#41760845)

      "...rather than drinking it, which many people who have tasted it would approve of."

      Then you never had a good one.
        Try one of these:

      http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/grappa+rossi+d+asiago+muscat+rosa+italy/1/-/-/r [wine-searcher.com]

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        Or Grappa di Frascati! A bit rare on the market.

      • by tinkerton (199273)

        On the other hand the good ones tend to cheat by starting from the whole grape. the rule is 'The wetter the better' . Talking about the pomace here.

    • by Formalin (1945560)

      Yeah, komovica is the first thing that came to mind - it's very similar to grappa.

      All the seeds and whatnot are quite woody, so there is less room for error distilling this stuff. (the wood makes methanol).

      I thought they normally fed it to pigs, if not making liquor.

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        If you are going to burn the liquid it really doesn't matter if it's pure ethanol or if you also have some methanol in it. The vehicle burning it won't mind either.

    • by riprjak (158717)

      You can have my Grappa when you take it from my cold, dead hands; HIPPIE!

      Use corn, thats easy to grow and would just be wasted on feeding poor people otherwise!

    • by Pax681 (1002592)

      Folks have been making pomace brandys [wikipedia.org], like grappa [wikipedia.org] for centuries. This suggestion is just to put it into an engine rather than drinking it, which many people who have tasted it would approve of.

      INDEED, in the places where wine has been made for thousands of years there are no waste products uses include as mentioned Grappa but also getting the grape pumice, mixing it with ash and using it as fertiliser, also it's used in the making of port wine to make the brandy which is added to fortify the base wine and there are other uses to it as well.
      Seems that California for all it's over zealous recycling bollocks cannot see the value that European wine producers have seen for thousands of years!

    • by griffjon (14945)

      Having just spent two weeks in Italy, drinking grappa after nearly every meal ... I approve this message.

    • My uncle has a bunch of vines and he makes wine by himself, and then he makes some grappa.
      Granted, it's not a lot of stuff and he makes that for his own pleasure only.

      It happened when I was a lot younger I was there while he was distilling some grappa.
      He used the "old" direct-flame method, and a few minutes after the grappa started dripping out of the alembic I saw him grabbing the can and throwing the content away.
      Noticing my curiosity he promptly explained: "That was pure alchool. You have always to throw

  • by hessian (467078) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:18PM (#41760399) Homepage Journal

    I am not opposed to gathering up all the organic waste that we can, fermenting it and making alcohol. Nor am I against flushing all toilet and livestock waste into giant fermentation tanks to capture the methane energy.

    However, I don't think this is a "solution" to the problem of energy in the future. It will produce some, but not all of our needs, and there will be significant energy inputs required to make it work.

    I am more interested in throwing all of our spare money, time and energy into long-term solutions, like cleaner nuclear reactors, better fuel cells, solar sails and even personal methane harvesters.

    • by rossdee (243626)

      solar sails ???

      I think you meant solar cells

      Solar sails may work as a slow method of transportation in space (Wind from the Sun) but are not going to work on earth.
      (Or even for interstellar probes, even if some think thats a Cazy Eddie idea)

    • by Nyder (754090)

      I am not opposed to gathering up all the organic waste that we can, fermenting it and making alcohol. Nor am I against flushing all toilet and livestock waste into giant fermentation tanks to capture the methane energy.

      However, I don't think this is a "solution" to the problem of energy in the future. It will produce some, but not all of our needs, and there will be significant energy inputs required to make it work.

      I am more interested in throwing all of our spare money, time and energy into long-term solutions, like cleaner nuclear reactors, better fuel cells, solar sails and even personal methane harvesters.

      Too bad the "spare" money is going to military...

      • Simple solution: pass a bill to force the military to use only green fuels from 2022 onwards.
        Well, relatively simple.
    • by Ironchew (1069966)

      However, I don't think this is a "solution" to the problem of energy in the future. It will produce some, but not all of our needs, and there will be significant energy inputs required to make it work.

      The era of plentiful natural fossil fuel reserves will end. With that in mind, we have to start thinking about liquid fuels like ethanol as energy storage. It will take significant energy input to make any highly-energy-dense substance, but we can use that process to capture vast amounts of energy (solar, nuclear fission, fusion?!?) for use in those internal-combustion clunkers.

      That said, we will be far more worried about the abysmal efficiency of internal combustion engines if we think of the fuel as chemi

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:35PM (#41760897)

      I am not opposed to gathering up all the organic waste that we can ...

      Is it really waste? Isn't this stuff used as fertilizer or animal feed?

      We may need to offset the ethanol benefits with the need to turn to big chemical and big agriculture for more fertilizer and feed.

      • I'm glad to see you make this point. Grape pomace with its associated yeast lees is an excellent material for composting, being ideally friable and high in available energy. It accelerates the composting of less suitable materials, and goes a long way in encouraging a healthy compost ecosystem. I'm not sure that it's stable enough to recommend as animal feed in general, but I'm no expert. If it's near to hand and can be consumed within a few days, there could be value in it, though it would ideally be pu
    • I am not opposed to gathering up all the organic waste that we can, fermenting it and making alcohol.

      I know a few people who could benefit from this process.

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      If we're going to solve our energy problem, we need to do the following:

      1. Start to seriously look at producing oil-laden algae on a HUGE scale to refine into motor fuels and ethanol.
      2. Develop safer, more advanced nuclear reactors such as the liquid fluoride thorium reactor, a molten-salt fuel nuclear reactor that is vastly safer than today's uranium-fueled reactors and generates very little radioactive waste per reactor.
      3. Develop more advanced batteries based on dry-electrode lithium-ion, lithium-air and

    • Here in my country, the grape leftovers are fed to pigs. They get slightly intoxicated sometimes, but the meat is more tender and better tasting afterwards.

      Drunks, beware of the food crysis.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Drunks, beware of the food crysis.

        I don't think I've ever been drunk enough to eat a game! [wikipedia.org]

  • drop in the bucket (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iggymanz (596061) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:19PM (#41760405)

    so the 100,000 tons, times 2000 pounds per ton, divided by 13 (as per article only half the yield of dry corns 26 lbs. per gallon ethanol), gives 15 million gallons of ethanol. the USA uses 380 million gallons of gasoline per day.

    • Right on. That is the first thing I thought. Thank you for doing the math and confirming it.

      Also, when can we get around to getting ethanol out of the gasoline? Until we can get back gasoline, don't forget to drain your lawnmower/weed whacker of fuel over the winter, or it might not work come spring due to corrosion from ethanol.
      • by grcumb (781340) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:24AM (#41761335) Homepage Journal

        Thank you for doing the math and confirming it.

        Agreed. When it comes to wine making, scientific correctness should always be our first priority. The moment I saw this headline, I thought, "I hope someone can Bacchus up on this!"

        /me ducks and runs....

      • by Larryish (1215510)

        There is one gas station here in town that sells pure gasoline, no ethanol or other additives.

        The price is typically 10 cents per gallon over the price of ethanol fuel, but I buy it anyway.

        For small engines, you don't want anything but the good stuff.

      • by kryliss (72493)

        It's not a very good idea to put ethanol fuel in small engines.

    • by Nyder (754090) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:38PM (#41760551) Journal

      so the 100,000 tons, times 2000 pounds per ton, divided by 13 (as per article only half the yield of dry corns 26 lbs. per gallon ethanol), gives 15 million gallons of ethanol. the USA uses 380 million gallons of gasoline per day.

      Ya? and that means 15 Million less gallons of gas that would be used.

      It's a start, combined with other things, would help make a dent in the usage of gas/oil.

      I guess you want to wait till gas is $20 a gallon before we start using other fuels? Maybe you do. I don't drive, so I don't buy gas, so really, I don't care much, but it's this attitude that everything has to be big to be effective that is annoying.

      Much like no one is going to make a WoW beater, no on is going to come up with a solution that can totally get rid of the use of gas/oil. But we can find a bunch of renewable resources that together can help a lot.

      • by kkwst2 (992504) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:19PM (#41760801)

        Oh come on.
        1) as pointed out above, this is less than a drop in the bucket. I would not call that a dent.
        2) It is completely unclear if this would generate any net energy. A case can be made that many of these more inefficient biofuel processes consume more energy than they produce. How does that help.
        3) Most importantly, things like this distract from the ONE thing that has a real chance at reducing our dependance on oil, which is nuclear. Solar and wind might help a little, and maybe biofuels can help with energy storage, but what is described here is not a significant part of any real solution.

        You can talk about little steps here and there, but it is magical thinking. If we want to get serious about reducing gas usage (I'm not getting into whether this is the right thing, that's a whole separate topic), then nuclear has to be a huge part of the solution.

        • by jeff4747 (256583)

          1) as pointed out above, this is less than a drop in the bucket. I would not call that a dent.

          So is a single oil well or a single coal mine or a single power plant. By your logic, they should each be shut down because they're such a tiny part of the whole.

          2) It is completely unclear if this would generate any net energy

          It doesn't have to. It's not an energy source, it's an energy storage system. It's a way to transfer energy from fixed sources into mobile energy consumers.

          ) Most importantly, things lik

          • I look forward to your explanation of how you plan to power your car with nuclear power. I really, really hope you're not going to claim we should put reactors in cars.

            That concept is old. Boy am I glad they never put it into production. [wikipedia.org]

          • by Kreigaffe (765218)

            gasoline is king. diesel's actually really good too -- higher energy density and all that, and it's less combustible.

            nuclear's pretty plentiful. we throw down on some serious cutting-edge shit and we'll have a glut of cheap energy -- the nuclear waste sitting around all over? can be used to make more power! LOTS more, more than the process that created the waste generated.
            just take that excess energy and poof it into some wacky hydrocarbon chains, you've got gas. it's better than ethanol. less chance

      • Actually you do care even if you don't drive ... unless you are a farmer.

        If you are not a farmer/rancher just how do you think food gets to the city and suburbs? Or manufactured goods? Trains *may* get things to a regional distribution center but from there to local stores it is pretty much heavy trucks which use diesel. Petroleum costs are reflected in the price of food and manufactured goods.

        FWIW, the Pickens Plan is interesting in that these heavy trucks could be converted to natural gas. Their rou
      • by Gertlex (722812)

        This is too small of a fix to be worthwhile, most likely. 15 million gallons... per YEAR is 0.01% of 380 million * 365 days.

        I have to imagine there are so many alternative things to invest in that would make more than a 0.01% dent.

      • so the 100,000 tons, times 2000 pounds per ton, divided by 13 (as per article only half the yield of dry corns 26 lbs. per gallon ethanol), gives 15 million gallons of ethanol. the USA uses 380 million gallons of gasoline per day.

        Ya? and that means 15 Million less gallons of gas that would be used.

        It's a start, combined with other things, would help make a dent in the usage of gas/oil.

        I guess you want to wait till gas is $20 a gallon before we start using other fuels? Maybe you do. I don't drive, so I don't buy gas, so really, I don't care much, but it's this attitude that everything has to be big to be effective that is annoying.

        Much like no one is going to make a WoW beater, no on is going to come up with a solution that can totally get rid of the use of gas/oil. But we can find a bunch of renewable resources that together can help a lot.

        I'd like to know where you got your conversion from gallons of ethanol:gallons of gasoline. Because last time I checked, ethanol contained less energy per gallon than gasoline, equating to less efficiency; thus 15 million gallons of ethanol does less than 15 million gallons of gasoline

        http://www.hho4free.com/gasoline_vs_ethanol.htm [hho4free.com]

        http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2011/01/the-great-ethanol-debate/index.htm [consumerreports.org]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel#Ethanol-based_engines [wikipedia.org]

        I sure hope you know something I

      • by macbeth66 (204889)

        I don't drive, so I don't buy gas, so really, I don't care much...

        Ah, but you see, you should care. Regardless of how much fuel you, personally, use, fuel contributes to the cost of everything you buy. Those Birkenstocks don't get delivered to your local store by storks. Even if they were, you'd have to feed them. That food has to be harvested... blah, blah, blah... I'm boring myself now, so I'm gonna go for a little drive.

        • by xtal (49134)

          Food is very, very cheap in the developed world. Even if energy costs went up by an order or magnitude it would not be a major problem.

          Transport costs are a bigger deal as is electricity production. We need to start building nuclear plants. Yesterday. The sooner politicians start grooming the public to accept this, the better.

      • I don't drive, so I don't buy gas, so really, I don't care much, but it's this attitude that everything has to be big to be effective that is annoying.

        $20 gas is still going to hurt you, as the price of transporting everything will cost that much more. The price of everything will go up.

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          I don't drive, so I don't buy gas, so really, I don't care much, but it's this attitude that everything has to be big to be effective that is annoying.

          $20 gas is still going to hurt you, as the price of transporting everything will cost that much more. The price of everything will skyrocket.

          FTFY

      • There are no 100% solutions to our energy problems.

        This is a 4% solution.

        You only need 24 more 4% solutions to get to 100%.

      • by Solandri (704621)
        You can't convert all the waste into ethanol. Grape pomace is about 3-4% alcohol, so of that 100,000 tons of waste only about 3500 tons of it will be converted into ethanol. Probably less since there's probably a large amount of solid waste matter as well. So that's 500,000 gallons of ethanol produced by this per year vs. 139 billion gallons of gasoline consumed a year. I won't even bother factoring in ethanol's lower volumetric energy content vs gasoline. It's already a drop in the bucket.
    • by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:50PM (#41760623)

      And? It's essentially free, other than the cost of the actual process. Free raw materials might make it economically viable *now*.

      No single solution is going to solve our problems. Even biofuel in general isn't a complete solution. But do the math for this, plus dozens of other types of biofuels, plus geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal, wind, solar, hydrogen fuel cells, and potentially nuclear fission and fusion. See if those can replace coal, oil and natural gas.

      • by Freddybear (1805256) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:25PM (#41760833)
        It won't stay free if it's an economically viable source of energy. Just like restaurants which used to pay to dispose of used fry oil now charge for it.
      • by gman003 (1693318)

        To extend on GP's title,

        Yes, it's just a drop in the bucket. But given enough drips, the bucket will fill.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Our fossil fuel use also dwarfs the production of any particular oil well. By your argument, each well should be evaluated in isolation, found insignificant, and shut down.

    • by martyb (196687)

      so the 100,000 tons, times 2000 pounds per ton, divided by 13 (as per article only half the yield of dry corns 26 lbs. per gallon ethanol), gives 15 million gallons of ethanol. the USA uses 380 million gallons of gasoline per day.

      If the yield is half that of corn, and you need 26 lbs. of corn for one gallon of ethanol, then you'd need 52 lbs. of this waste for one gallon of ethanol. So, divide by 52 instead of 13. This would reduce the yield you calculated by 4.

      This could still (pun intended) be used by

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:23PM (#41760433)

    There is no way to ever produce enough to replace gasoline. Right now 40% of our corn stock is, by federal law, ground up and turned into Ethanol, and it manages to offset about 15% of gasoline. We could turn our entire yearly production of grown food into ethanol production and still fall short. It isn't a sustainable technology, no matter how much waste, byproduct, etc., is produced. There simply isn't enough land to make it. Oil took millions of years to create, and was formed from the organic waste of the entire planet. We'll have depleted that million-plus year stock in just under 100 years.

    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      The problem here is that you are only counting food biomass, and extrapolating a definitive conclusion from it that ethanol in general cannot provide 100% fuel requirements.

      Yearly, a single suburban home will produce several hundred pounds of lawn clippings, the primary components of which are cellulose and water. Other sources are ornamental tree trimmings, and waste paper pulp products.

      Even if cellulosic ethanol cannot be efficiently industrialized, there re other processes to convert carbohydrates into c

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:34PM (#41760887)

        Yearly, a single suburban home will produce several hundred pounds of lawn clippings, the primary components of which are cellulose and water. Other sources are ornamental tree trimmings, and waste paper pulp products.

        I think you flunked earth sciences. The lawn needs those things; It composts and reduces to fertilizer for the next year. Same with leaves and such. The reason our crop yields are falling and most of our cities are basically slabs of clay with a few inches of top soil over the top is because we're constantly trimming, mowing, and raking away all the nutrients that the plants need to survive and replacing it with pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, and all manner of chemicals that are dangerous to us.

        I'm not discounting the source: I'm simply pointing out it's already marked for a different use, courtesy mother nature. Ethanol is a supportive technology, like solar, wind, or hydroelectric. But it can't replace the fuels in our vehicles because there's no way to produce enough of it to completely offset oil. In fact, all the alternative energy technologies that are commercially feasible can't do it. It's called energy density, and so far we haven't been able to find a fuel that has both high energy density and a low conversion cost that can match dead dino fuel. Some of them have reached the point where they may be useful for daily commutes in an urban environment, but there is nothing yet created that I can put 80 pounds of it in my car and drive 400 miles, and then stop, wait for 5 minutes to refuel, and then continue. The few technologies that offer decent conversion efficiency and energy density usually have significant drawbacks. Natural gas, for example, has to be compressed to several hundred PSI in order to get a reasonable amount into a car. At those pressures, a hairline fracture in the tank will not only destroy the car, but anyone within a hundred feet of it... I'm not sure I like the idea of riding a bomb to work every day. That's just one example; there are many others, but they all suffer from the same physics problem: Energy density and conversion efficiency.

        • by wierd_w (1375923)

          Naw, didn't fail earth sciences. Just pointing out what is routinely done. (People routinely discarded lawn waste before the widespread use of mulching mowers. I remember the 1980s quite well.)

          The issue is indeed what you state; density. You can convert biomass into syngas very easily, just seal the canister and heat it with a solar concetrator. But the resulting syngas has only half the energy density of natural gas.

          You can take the syngas, add more energy, and get methane.

          You can take the methane, add mo

        • A "hairline crack" in a correctly designed pressure vessel will do nothing but leak. Otherwise known as leak-before-break. It will only explode (from the pressure, fatigue, corrosion) if it is poorly designed. Now of course the danger from ignition of the leaked gas is another issue, but that is an issue we already have with gasoline since gasoline fumes are extremely flamable.

          I'd post a link but all the good articles seem to be .pdf and I figure it is bad form to post a link to a document. Search "leak

          • The problem is that most sealed canisters and containers aren't mobile. Cars are.. and they tend to get crushed and damaged on a somewhat regular basis. While the container may fail slowly due to fatigue, corrosion, etc., the fault mode I'm concerned with in a vehicle is a several thousand joule point impact, which will typically rupture all but the sturdiest of containers, leading to catastrophic failure. It is possible to build a high pressure vessel that can withstand the forces in a high speed collision
      • Yearly, a single suburban home will produce several hundred pounds of lawn clippings, the primary components of which are cellulose and water. Other sources are ornamental tree trimmings, and waste paper pulp products.

        You probably won't produce enough fuel from those lawn clippings to make up for the cost of running the lawnmower in the first place.

        You'd be better off replacing the grass with something like thyme, which requires less water, doesn't grow as high (doesn't need to be mowed as often, or at all, depending on whether your city has stupid laws), and which is resistant to weeds like dandelions (meaning you won't need the nasty herbicides people put in their lawns, either).

    • by pnot (96038) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:38PM (#41760545)

      There is no way to ever produce enough to replace gasoline.

      Who are you arguing with? Neither TFA nor TFS makes that claim. It's a description of a technique for turning a particular class of waste into a useful product, not a turnkey solution to the energy crisis.

      • by swb (14022)

        The problem with these kinds of ethanol stories isn't that they claim they can replace all the energy -- you're right, they never make this claim outright.

        The problem is that they perpetuate the fiction that ethanol is any kind of an energy solution outside of some post-apocalyptic story where some last-man-on-Earth type runs a wood-fired still to produce tiny quantities of alcohol for his last-motorbike-on-Earth.

        The ethanol industry wants to keep inundating us with all this "free" stuff that can be turned

      • by houghi (78078)

        This is slashdot. People here tend to think in OR and not in AND statements.
        Perhaps this is a fault of the US political system where people think it must be either D OR R. Anything else is not plausible.

        (You can mod me down, I have karma to burn)

    • Nothing is ever "sustainable". Oil isn't "sustainable", coal isn't "sustainable", solar panels aren't "sustainable", wind isn't "sustainable", nuclear isn't "sustainable". But what everyone who is focused on sustainability ignores is that technology changes and habits change. If we ever do start running out of a resource there is much more motivation to create real solutions to get around it. We aren't going to wake up one morning, check on Facebook and see that the world's oil supply is gone and there's no
    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      The problem is that we need something that can produce ethanol on a scale not possible now.

      And the potential solution is oil-laden algae. Not only does large-scale production of oil-laden algae produce a LOT motor fuels (diesel fuel, gasoline, heating oil and kerosene), but the "waste" from algae processing into motor fuel can be turned into ethanol rather easily.

  • It is called Grappa (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:23PM (#41760435)

    Very old technology. Tastes like nice jet fuel. See Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, Or. for a good example.

  • Routine byproduct (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:33PM (#41760507) Homepage

    That's routine for anything that's a fermentation process. California's biggest cheese factory has a sizable ethanol output. Anheuser-Busch is trying to find some way to turn brewery waste into something useful.

    It's a marginal business, You start with huge volumes of soggy biomass and try to extract something useful without using too much energy. Then you're left with a smaller amount of soggy biomass that's even less useful than what came in. That has to go somewhere.

    There's a vast amount of agricultural waste available at low, low prices if you can find some way to use it. Straw, bagasse (the leftover part of sugar cane), nut hulls, brewers's mash, corn husks, cobs, and stalks - it's out there in bulk. The hope of cellulostic ethanol conversion was to convert some of the cellulose into fuel. So far, it doesn't pay, and it's hard to even get out more energy than goes in. Work continues.

    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      Not true. You can do it if you don't mind working with potentially toxic gasses.

      Syngas, for instance.
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syngas [wikipedia.org]

      basically, load the soggy biomass into a crucible furnace, seal it down tight, point a solar concentrator at it, collect the gas. Profit.

    • I know the mash left over from beer production goes into animal feed- I doubt the grape stuff goes to waste either.
  • Over looked sources (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Grayhand (2610049)
    You can add in regular grape juice pulp to that mix. Just image all the over ripe fruit that your average super market throws out a week and add that in as well. The fundamental problem is we designed our society to run on casually wasting resources. Nature wastes nothing, in effect we waste everything. Traditionally we had one source for waste, the dump. Nature recycles all waste while recycling is blow off largely as a hyppie/tree hugger invention. The two best sources for methane are chicken and pig wast
  • facts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by swell (195815)

    Since they don't provide any useful facts, allow me to insert pseudo facts to fill the gap.

    First, the words 'especially ethanol' ring a bit hollow due to the low fuel efficiency and great cost in terms of equipment, raw materials, etc relative to petroleum. Reserve the word 'especially' for biodiesel- a much more promising but still long term project.

    Now if we start with 100k tons of grape stuff and push our imaginations to the extreme, let's suppose that will support 100k vehicles. That would be 2% of the

  • Grape pomace, the mashed up skins and stems left over from making wine and grape juice, could serve as a good starting point for ethanol production

    No shit guys. It's called Grappa [wikipedia.org], and the Italians have been doing it for centuries:

    Grappa is an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35%-60%

    My wife says it tastes like jet fuel, but it's an acquired taste. :-P

    Did someone think they've discovered something new?

  • When my high school physics teacher said science was an enabler, I never expected this.
  • It's the perfect combination of drinking and driving!

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:48PM (#41760945)
    Even if you are only getting half the alcohol as corn this is a waste product so it's not taking anything away from the food supply. This would offset 50,000 tons of corn just for California alone. Remember grapes are commonly grown all along both the east and west coasts from California to Washington state and from Florida to coastal Maine. The total supply has to be several times that. We're talking several hundred thousand tons that would offset easily a 100,000 tons of corn. The scary thing is I just did the math and 14 million tons of corn are used for ethanol. Recycling waste is important but it won't offset 1% of the corn used now. This isn't because corn is superior, it's a poor source of ethanol, but the massive corn subsidies mean the only practical source for ethanol is corn. Sorghum is a better sugar crop, it grows on poor soil and uses little water. Replace all the corn being grown for ethanol with sorghum and you use less water and less fertilizer and probably get twice the ethanol. Sadly there's no massive sorghum lobby. Other waste sources are maple sugar production, honey production and apple pulp and peels as well as other fruit waste. We can probably replace 10% of the corn from other sources then if we switch to better sources like Sorghum we could double the ethanol output without reducing the food supply. When they say biofuels are no replacement they ignore the fact that the northern states can grow sugar beets as well as some types of sorghum. Increase flowering plants and raise more bees and the honey can be used for biofuels. With some creativity and effort we could replace half the petroleum with either ethanol or methane based bio-gas. Increase efficiency by a 100% which is possible and we no longer need fossil fuels. This ignores electric cars running off wind and solar. We can fix the mess we just need the will.
  • by r1348 (2567295) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @11:55PM (#41760989)

    We call it "grappa", half nation runs on it.

    • We call it "grappa", half nation runs on it.

      +5 Informative.

      At least the judge in the earthquake case was ripped to his tits on the stuff.

    • by Inda (580031)
      I ate Italian here in the UK a few months back, and very nice it was too. There was a large group of us and the owner brought us a large bottle of grappa after our meal.

      How can you drink that crap?

      Wait, I know the answer.

      "Bring us the good stuff!" we said, and he did.

      The downside? The crap stuff was free, the good stuff cost us plenty :)
      • by r1348 (2567295)

        Well grappa is an acquired taste ;)
        Also, there are thousands of different grappas distilled in Italy, maybe you just got a bad one...
        The secret is not to go for shots, but sip it slowly.

  • It has already been done with a product called Vin Diesel [petroldirect.com]. Sort of ;)
  • ...I don't know... Grappa ...something I would prefer. Highly flamable but oh so much better tasting!
  • Some people hold wine itself is just a waste by product of grape juice making, when a few batches of them ferment and get spoiled.

    They all say Americans are the worlds best businessmen. But they are nothing compared to the French who have convinced the whole world that their spoiled milk and rotten grape juice is gourmet food.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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