Biofuel Folly

Discussion in 'Conversations Forum' started by Junglekeeper, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Welcome to starvation by means of biofuels.
    This is another in a series of articles that denounce the use of biofuels because of its drawbacks. I think they make a good case. It seems policies are being made without regard to how they impact the overall economy. Wouldn't we benefit more from directing our effort into reducing consumption along with increasing the overall fuel efficiency of the vehicles on the road? It's rare, if ever, that a silver bullet exists to solve a given problem and this is no exception.
     
  2. Coastal

    Coastal Active Member

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    I wonder if that blurb was written by someone who benefits from the oil industry....they run the world after all.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Also destruction of rainforests and other natural habitats.
     
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    What's wrong with re-using existing bio-oils, ie the oils used in fast-food fryers? This is already being done with great success, using retrofitted diesel engines.
     
  5. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Reusing biofuel byproducts you have already is a good idea but producing new supplies is another matter. [thread=28817]Here[/thread] is a related thread (which I started last year) that started off discussing reuse then shifted to new production.

    Gwynne Dyer: Biofuel mania ends days of cheap food. Closer to home, local bakeries are experiencing increased costs for flour. And of course those costs are eventually passed onto consumers. There has been a significant increase in prices of baked goods.
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Nothing, except that it would probably provide about 0.001% of fuel requirements.

    Oh, it also needs careful (=expensive) cleaning before use. Fragments of potato, fish, etc., left in the oil don't do engines much good!
     
  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    All that cleaning it really entails is straining the oil through a sufficiently fine mesh...

    And 0.001% > 0%
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    What about things like plant waxes which will dissolve in oil, but could clog engine parts?
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm kind of playing devil's advocate here.... A properly retrofitted biodiesel engine runs hot enough to avoid cloggage by plant wax.

    So far as Ecuador is concerned, we produce more than enough corn to a) feed everybody and b) use for fuel. However, for the rest of the world, it's kind of a scary prospect to grow more for fuel than food.
     
  10. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Related but on the lighter side: An Inconvenient Kernel of Truth.
     
  11. Cactus Jack

    Cactus Jack Active Member

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    Much of the world's crops are irrigated from artesian sources that have built up much more slowly than we're draining them. Artesian water also introduces salt into the soil, which builds up and eventually renders the land barren. I don't think biofuels are a sustainable as its promoters suggest.
     
  12. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Well, for what it is worth, my brother works for AMOCO as a plant engineer and spent some time actually designing and overseeing some of their plant's construction. Now, keep in mind that the rest of the family consists of 5 more engineers, but are in other areas and are greatly concerned about the environment. So, one could imagine some of the conversations when we get together....

    The bottom line, is that petroleum products are in nearly everything we use today and it is likely, the most "bang for the buck" in terms of the amount of energy per dollar. This whole global warming issue appears to be a real concern for all of us and we all should do our part to slow it down. This "biofuel folly" is just that...it could turn out to do more harm than good. Dependance upon foreign oil is a serious political, domestic, and economic problem faced by many countries...so one could see the push for safe energy alternatives. I'm not convinced that biofuel is the answer. Solar, hydrogen, geothermal, and electro-magnetic power may, in some combination, be able to reduce pollution and produce sufficient power output. Those are not cheap either and may not be as "clean" as one may think either because it takes energy and production facilities to make the products in the first place.

    Conservation is the only way we are going to slow this "global warming" train down. The trouble is that it is difficult to convince people that all of this is truly effecting them on a daily basis. Most people simply do not care enough to make changes in their daily lives that will reduce their environmental impact. It may take some very serious and unpopular governmental regulations imposed upon energy producers and consumers to accomplish the goals. There is evidence to suggest that we have about 10-15 years to slow/stop the rise in global temperatures or else there will be some catastrophic results. Hang on to your hats, it may be a bumpy ride.
     
  13. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member 10 Years

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    The way to convince people is through a combination of additional taxes on polluting technologies & tax incentives for those fuel technologies that hold the most promise for the future. The problem is finding politicians with the skill & guts to implement such policies.
     
  14. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I'm just curious.

    Why is it that anytime anyone speaks of real economics or points out flaws in some of the current trend toward everything "green" does someone always call it "petroleum company propaganda"? Why can't we as lovers of our environment look at things from the facts and not solely from the point of "the oil companies are saying it just to make money"?

    I am a conservationist. I'm just not someone that looks at everything with a jaded point of view. I don't like what some oil products do to our environment, but not everything about oil products is horrible. When someone comes up with a viable way to do away with oil, I'll be in line. But until then, can't we use some common sense and reasoning?

    Thanks for posting this Junglekeeper. I found the newspaper article very interesting!
     
  15. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I just read another interesting article on this subject Junglekeeper. I used to live not far north of where the guy in this article lives. He is spending over 1/4 million dollars a year to run pumps to take water from a water table that is known to be shrinking drastically to produce more corn for biofuels. And he is apparently going to make a lot of money doing it! So we blame the oil companies for everything but we don't consider the damage to our environment caused by draining all the water out of the land in order to produce some biofuels. And that is just one farmer with 1000 acres. I used to have customers who planted 6 square miles!

    I was a banker in the area where this is happening and back in the mid 1970's the states of Colorado, kansas, Oklahoma and Texas were very concerned about the amount of water being sucked out of the land. And that was 30 years ago! The water will not last forever!

    Sorry, but I have trouble understanding the reasoning behind this one! Not to mention all the fertilizer that is being dumped on the soil that trickles into the water table in order to produce the corn in order to make the biofuel.

    I'm all for saving the planet. But at what cost to the enviroment some claim to be trying to save?

    http://www.alternet.org/water/79957/
     
  16. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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  17. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Clean water is another commodity that will be in short supply in the not too distant future. It's not surprising when the Earth's resources are treated as if there is an endless supply. Does it make sense to create communities with lush, green lawns and golf courses in the middle of a desert? It's unsustainable in the long term but that seems to be overlooked. There was a recent documentary that dealt with the impending water shortage in areas of California. Reality is just starting to hit home. With such abuses of our resources it makes one wonder if an apocalyptic future along the lines of The Road Warrior can be avoided.

    As Gwynne Dyer wrote,
    Unfortunately there are no simple solutions.
     

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