CR4® - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®


Previous in Forum: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change   Next in Forum: Multitasking Solar
Close
Close
Close
54 comments
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 146

Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 10:30 AM

A new report from World Resources Institute questions bioenergy as a sustainable energy source and points to competition for cropland by bioenergy plants as a possible cause for food shortages and high food prices in some parts of the world. Investments actually may have been counterproductive, the report suggests. Have a look at the report and share your thoughts on implications for energy engineering and sustainability!

Register to Reply
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Liverpool, NY
Posts: 862
Good Answers: 116
#1

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 10:52 AM

Not only that, but we are already having major problems in many areas providing adequate water just for growing what we do now (competing with urban water supplies, environmental concerns, etc.), so increasing cropland for bioenergy can only make that worse.

__________________
To get the right answers, first you need to ask the right questions.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#3
In reply to #1

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 4:45 PM

Don't forget fracking as a major water hog.

How much water is used during fracking ... - Gasland

Try 2-8 MILLION GALLONS per well.

That poisoned water is then pumped back into the ground.

But, don't worry. The oil companies assure us that it doesn't hurt them.

Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 20
#17
In reply to #3

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 8:27 AM

The next big thing for industry is desalination. This will provide water to growing countries and is expected to be big business. I'm waiting to see how this will be implemented and what regulations are dictated other than water quality.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Eastern Arizona mountains on Route 666 about a mile from God's country
Posts: 1677
Good Answers: 121
#18
In reply to #17

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 9:37 AM

Yes, I agree, but what will we do with all of the salt generated by the water desalination process?

We cannot eat it nor feed it to animals.

We will not be able to use it to de-ice our highways and roads because of Global Warming.

We cannot simply dump it back into the ocean as that will upset the natural salt content of the water at the point of injection which would/will be hazardous to animal & plant life.

If we create dedicated landfills for disposal of salt at/for every desalination plant where will they be located, where will the land come from, and how negative will the impact to the surrounding eco system be?

If we remove water from the oceans and desalinate it in large quantities maybe the process will offset the rising ocean levels created by Global Warming?

How will removing large quantities of salt from the ocean affect the animal and plant life in the oceans if we do not find a way to return the salt to the ocean in a non-harmful way?

These and many other environmental issues must be addressed logically and effectively before we do something bad to our oceans that we cannot reverse.

__________________
They said; "Brain size?" I heard; "Train size?" so I said: "I'll take a small one, thank you."
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#20
In reply to #18

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 1:01 PM

Maybe we could just put it in salt mines....we have them all over the place that have been mined for over 100 years, lots of storage space....

http://scribol.com/anthropology-and-history/the-giant-salt-city-1200ft-beneath-detroit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_mining

....but please stop putting it on nuts....yuk!

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 840
Good Answers: 33
#22
In reply to #18

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 1:14 PM

That exact problem occurred many years ago , with one of the Arabian Peninsula countries, and resulted in poisoning an area in the Red Sea with over- salination from depositing the remaining residue offshore. Also, the "salt" is laden with minerals that make it very expensive to remove .

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#51
In reply to #22

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/05/2015 2:39 PM
__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#52
In reply to #51

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/05/2015 3:22 PM

New Lithium (not Lithium ion) batteries are just over the horizon, with the first lab models being reported.

In the meantime, Sodium ion batteries could not be made due one problem or the other (probably less output), but recently (within the last year), I saw a report of a quantum leap in the efficiency and re-charging cycle of these to the point that they could become competitive. Especially since sodium salts are everywhere, easy to purify, etc., and cheaper than lithium as a base chemical. Seawater has so much calcium and magnesium that these are usually of interest to those who mine seawater for the minerals: Global Seawater Extraction Technologies does just that, and provides a lot of fresh water to the nearby Mexican resort town, and possibly to a new wafer fab (distilled water of high quality) there also, that I heard was planned.

http://www.gsetech.com/

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#53
In reply to #52

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/05/2015 6:07 PM

Found this....

"The LiSX (TM) process is an advanced solvent extraction technology developed by TBT that efficiently extracts lithium from brine and various waste streams. This revolutionary 'total solution' combines lithium processing and recovery capabilities in an integrated process that eliminates the use of traditional large-scale evaporation ponds, resulting in a processing time of less than 12 hours with a remarkable 99% lithium recovery. Utilizing a small footprint with low energy and water requirements, the LiSX(TM) process allows for reinjection of the brine back into the ground after the lithium is extracted, resulting in a sustainable practice that is environmentally favorable and more competitive as compared to traditional methods. The LiSX(TM) process is versatile and may be rapidly reconfigured to produce various customized high-purity (>99.9%) lithium end-products, including carbonate, chloride and hydroxide.

The process has been successfully tested at TBT's facility in Israel using numerous feed streams including lithium-rich brine and waste material streams including spent Li-ion battery material. Subject to successful testing, this technology will be a significant step towards a truly sustainable 'cradle-to-cradle' lithium battery industry. "

http://www.pureenergyminerals.com/pure-energy-commences-testing-of-proprietary-lithium-extraction-technology-by-tenova-bateman-technologies/

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#54
In reply to #53

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/06/2015 12:18 PM

Now that is really something great. I wonder how long before they tailor it for other ions? The potential to each of these industries that depend on sodium, magnesium, calcium, etc. is huge, with enormous benefits in energy savings, and a cleaner process. Great Stuff!

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#40
In reply to #3

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/03/2015 8:18 AM

Frack water has to be majorly treated or at least filtered to a fine state to even physically allow it to be pumped back into formation due to problems with reducing porosity at the injection point.

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 146
#4
In reply to #1

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 5:35 PM

Competition for water resources is a growing issue, to be sure. Thanks for raising the point.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#2

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 1:05 PM

Using crops as a biofuel source was never meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution, but more a tool to regulate and support farming as an industry...and also as a vehicle to fund research and development of ethanol production from sustainable grasses...This then would be area specific and time and scope variable....The hope and expectation is that it will lead to the use of grasses that require less water and energy to grow and harvest for biofuel....these crops grown on what is currently considered waste land that is unsuitable for conventional crop production...

To properly regulate the food supply it is helpful to have an overcapacity built into the supply end of the system....this because production varies from year to year, but people are always hungry....but overproduction in good crop yield years drives prices down via supply-demand equation....having an alternate use for crops supports pricing keeping farmers wages on a more even keel and helps to make farming a more viable business decision for young entrepreneurs, thus adding to the stability of the food supply....Hedging can only do so much....

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 146
#5
In reply to #2

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 5:39 PM

So there's a public policy aspect to the issue as well. There's an interesting source of friction that sometimes exists at the point where public policy meets engineering. Urban planners 40 years ago wrote about the notion of "wicked problems" and I've kept that notion at least at the back of my head.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#6
In reply to #5

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 5:57 PM

Not public policy so much as the public money aspect.

It's time for America to end ethanol subsidies - The Week

One of the key reasons for the growth in ethanol production has been government subsidies for ethanol - $45 billion in tax credits giving 45 cents to ethanol producers for every gallon they produced between 1980 and 2011. This was a strange subsidy considering ethanol's inefficiency as a fuel, and given the fact that unlike other renewables, burning ethanol continues to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#7
In reply to #5

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 6:34 PM

You have to admit the farming industry today is much stronger than it was pre-ethanol....This really is a vast discussion that would take forever to have in this forum....There was a whole host of reasons why this policy was implemented, including the need for a new oxygenator, reducing farm subsidies, failing farms, using a carbon neutral source for fuel, reducing gas prices, reducing imported oil/energy security, a bridge to ethanol from grasses technology....

http://www.agmrc.org/renewable_energy/ethanol/ethanol-gasoline-crude-oil-and-corn-prices-are-the-relationships-changing/

http://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2013/10/ethanol-prices-drive-corn-prices.html

http://www.card.iastate.edu/policy_briefs/display.aspx?id=1155

We're getting closer...

"Today, almost all ethanol-at least in the United States-comes from converting corn kernels into fuel. But because farming corn requires lots of energy and fertilizer, corn ethanol doesn't actually do much to reduce petroleum use or greenhouse gas emissions. Several companies are working to convert agricultural waste-known as cellulosic biomass-into ethanol. But they've had a hard time making it as cheaply as corn ethanol, because it's costly to break down biomass into sugars that microbes can ferment. Now, researchers in the United States have engineered a microbe that both breaks down cellulose into sugar and ferments it to produce ethanol.

The newly engineered microbes aren't yet as proficient at making ethanol as yeast, which converts corn kernels to fuel. But if the researchers can boost the bugs' ethanol output by just another 20%, it could give cellulosic ethanol producers a new way to drop their costs and displace ethanol made from corn."...

http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2014/06/unusual-microbe-engineered-convert-grass-gas

"The U.S. produced nearly $14 billion in corn ethanol in 2011, when 10 percent of the country's gasoline supply came from the biofuel. While corn ethanol production has soared since 2000, critics argue that it uses good farmland that might grow food crops. Switchgrass on the other hand can be grown on marginal lands reserving farm land for the production of food. "

http://growinggeorgia.com/features/2014/06/research-makes-switchgrass-ethanol-cheaper-produce/

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#8
In reply to #7

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 6:44 PM
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#9
In reply to #8

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 7:20 PM

Well I think energy prices are what's driving food prices more than anything....sure we use corn for ethanol, but we're growing more corn, we have increased acreage of corn to nearly 100 million acres...and what happens when grass to ethanol becomes cheaper to produce than corn based ethanol? ....which will surely happen...

...and we have steadily increased the yield per acre...

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 7:31 PM

No doubt that transportation costs have gone up causing all foods to be more expensive.

But, corn is used as a staple food for many who don't own cars.

I'm paying $5.00 for a quart of oil. That sucks, too.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#11
In reply to #10

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 8:57 PM

There is a great deal of energy used in the growing and harvesting of corn....

"Corn producers use most energy products (gasoline, diesel, natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, and electricity) directly in planting, harvesting, and drying their crop. There is also considerable energy embodied in the commercial fertilizers applied to enhance plant growth. Table 1 and Table 2 provide a summary of new USDA data on energy components and totals."...

..."Overall, 65,285 BTU/bu (British thermal unit per bushel) were required for corn production in 1996, whereas 41,029 BTU/bu were required in 2005."...

So we could make a guesstimate of around ~1.3 gallon of petrol for each bushel of corn produced...and again roughly, 130 bushels per acre...and then delivery to consumer....it adds up...

http://www.usda.gov/oce/reports/energy/2008Ethanol_June_final.pdf

....and you could switch to blended synthetic....

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#12
In reply to #11

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/29/2015 9:04 PM

Synthetics may be a better choice.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#14
In reply to #11

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 2:22 AM

correction ~ .3 gallon petrol equivalent for every bushel of corn produced.... ~18%

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#41
In reply to #9

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/03/2015 8:38 AM

Look guys, there is only so much fresh water % out of all the water on the planet.

Yes, we are growing more corn, but guess what? Corn is about the most water intensive crop (other than maybe rice) that there is. Farmers in West Texas in recent years have shifted further and further south in the % acreage committed to corn production, away from cotton (also a bit water intensive, but not as bad). Here, the water tables in the Ogallala Aquifer were already in decline, and have been for a number of years, according to various sourced including National Geographic, and the High Plains Underground Water District. Bottom line, we are cutting the sustainable right out from under our babies feet.

Algae does not particularly care about salt concentration (as long as comparable to seawater. There are plenty of aquifers (deeper water) that contain higher brackish level of minerals than the well water in the OA. Algae is way more productive than any row crop or sown grain crop can ever be, in sheer quantity of biomass, and that can nearly all be converted to bio-crude without even having to completely dry the recovered biomass. That means no more ethanol to pollute ground water supplies, and with a high recycling rate of water for algae production, far less demand on the natural resource. Farmers can surely be subsidized to produce the algae. If the algal oils (up to 45% of the biomass) are recovered, the remaining biomass is high carbohydrate, high protein animal (or people) food, as long as management practices control the introduction and culture of toxic strains of algae, bacteria.

This is just a matter of QC. If a production lot # is contaminated, or shows a toxin, then send it to bio-crude production, all is not lost. We are smart people, and this can be managed just as herds of cattle or sheep are managed. In the meantime, corn production would relax back to more sustainable levels, probably limited to areas where rainfall is sufficient, most of the time. Heck, corn can be produced without irrigation (on a good year) in West Texas, my grandfather did it all the time back in the 1910-1920 era, when large scale irrigation here was only a dream. The farmer has to know how to manage his soil moisture, which is a tricky subject for most. Yields of course, are quite a bit lower than with irrigation.

Once again, in terms of sheer tonnage, algal biomass will outstrip anything that has ever been done before, and will allow a tremendous expansion of food availability in the entire world, if that is indeed something we need to do (but I am not convinced this will bring or increase any stability in the world situation).

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Anthem, AZ
Posts: 367
Good Answers: 8
#25
In reply to #2

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 3:39 PM

Very good points! There is a "crop" in the southern states that we cannot get rid of; Kudzu. I would like to see a research project to feed Kudzu into a small plasma gasification system, which can be used to produce syngas, which can be further processed to produce gasoline (syngas by itself can be used to power some vehicles).

There is no shortage of Kudzu, and it re-grows so fast that the logistics of getting harvested Kudzu to a plasma gasifier should not be too costly.

Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 146
#26
In reply to #25

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 3:49 PM

Yes, kudzu is a real invasive problem to be sure! I wonder if the plant's heat value is too small to make it a viable option. And my understanding is that biomass rapidly becomes uneconomic if it needs to be trucked more than 50 miles to a processing facility.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: srilanka
Posts: 2728
Good Answers: 5
#13

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 12:42 AM

To produce fuel or electricity we need not sacrifice valuable food sources or even water.

__________________
pnaban
Register to Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Project Managers & Project Engineers - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 631
Good Answers: 33
#15
In reply to #13

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 5:55 AM

Sorry pnaban you are absolutely incorrect.

It takes food and water to produce ANYTHING.

__________________
Hey Isaac, catch! ...oops, that's gonna leave a mark...
Register to Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Project Managers & Project Engineers - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 631
Good Answers: 33
#16

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 6:04 AM

Bioenergy is a good energy source if produced from our food waste, not our food source.

40% of landfill waste is biodegradable and 60% of that is from food waste.

Anaerobic digestion[composting] produces methane which can be harvested for energy uses.

Aerobic digestion[composting] produces compost which can be harvested for more food production.

There are more and more manufacturers of various types of equipment to expedite and facilitate both of the above processes.

And yes, as mentioned before, composting human remains will become more and more popular. It is not for everyone but may as well get used to it because people are already doing it and there will be more and more...

__________________
Hey Isaac, catch! ...oops, that's gonna leave a mark...
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#21
In reply to #16

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 1:10 PM

You cannot put human remains in the food loop....prion contamination leads to prion related diseases....mad human disease...a sure path to the zombie apocalypse...

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/prions/

http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/bse/WHO_CDS_CSR_APH_2000_3/en/

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - DIY Welding - Wannabeabettawelda

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
Posts: 4207
Good Answers: 237
#19

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 11:25 AM

I will say no, that we have not erred in using bioenergy but where we have erred is where we FORCE the use of bioenergy, because then, and only then do we skew the natural balance of resources and the economy.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#23
In reply to #19

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 2:14 PM

Do not the positive results outweigh the negative? There is never a Perfect solution... Ethanol as a replacement oxygenator replaced MTBE's.... a 10% reduction in foreign oil demand....a boon to the farming industry(always a good thing)....funding and demand for grass to ethanol cost effective innovation....remember, when this tech is developed we will no longer use corn or cropland to produce ethanol...ultimately leading to cheaper gas, and a new technology producing job growth...a carbon neutral sustainable source for fuel....possibly leading to replacement of current gasoline use in transportation....I think so...

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - DIY Welding - Wannabeabettawelda

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
Posts: 4207
Good Answers: 237
#24
In reply to #23

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 3:33 PM

I agree violently with you. I agree that ethanol is a better oxygenator than MTBE with its host of problems. I agree that reduction of foreign oil imports is good. What I disagree with is forcing the bioenergy use. Resources and markets should dictate the optimum solution within the confines of the law. Mandating ethanol use in gasoline as opposed to requiring some level of oxygenates is where I deviate. You can mandate a result without mandating the method.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#27
In reply to #24

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 3:59 PM

When a profitable path to innovation does not exist we must sometimes create one....Yes people would like to do something because the results will be better for mankind in the end, but without a profitable path to get there on a scale as large as this, it would never happen....That means for the good of society as a whole, the government must step in and make a profitable path, in the least painful way as can be conceived....When we are producing ethanol from grasses at $1 a gallon, and the mandate is no longer necessary, will it have been worth it? I say yes, a profitable new industry will have been created, homeland security will have been increased, prices for energy will have been further stabilized, we will have an abundance of corn, the bedrock of society's nutrition, reduction in air pollution, and so on....

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 146
#28
In reply to #27

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 4:09 PM

What's interesting to me in all the comments thus far is the tradeoffs that are inherent in all of our energy decisions. Nuclear is carbon free, but comes with a spent fuel to contend with. Coal is cheap and plentiful, but presents air, water and ground issues. Natural gas reduces carbon emissions but availability can be an issue, particularly when residential demand trumps power plants on cold days of the year. Renewables can be remote from demand centers and take up a lot of land for the amount of energy they produce. Oil produces a host of geopolitical issues, but is the globe's economic lifeblood. The variety of responses in this thread speaks to the complexity, and I'm fascinated to see the discussion unfold.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 840
Good Answers: 33
#31
In reply to #28

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/31/2015 10:44 PM

Very few discussions on the total cost of solar, from initial mining of rare earths , transportation of such, disposal of impurities, etc, and of the recycling of of silicons and recycling of rare earths, etc. The major established industries, such as oil, coal and gas, have been around for a long time, and are able to provide the actual exploration, delivery, refining and disposal costs… These costs are often not built into the renewable costs, as they are too new, and have not been fully evaluated.. Plus, the values of these products are skewed by political favoritism, funding and the fact that China holds most of the Rare earth ming deposits….What if that shuts off, in a pissing match?

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#29
In reply to #27

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/30/2015 8:20 PM

Noble idea for sure.

How about we mandate that all land now planted in tobacco be converted over to corn.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#30
In reply to #29

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/31/2015 12:32 AM

That would only be a few hundred thousand acres.....and just drive the price of tobacco up....would probably be a boon to Cuba's economy...

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 458
Good Answers: 6
#32

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

01/31/2015 10:48 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/23/business/patents-5-millionth-us-patent-for-ethanol.html

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#33

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/02/2015 1:54 PM
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 146
#35
In reply to #33

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/02/2015 4:13 PM

Lyn, thank you for posting the link to the brief we are running at Engineering360 on the topic. We included a live link to the report itself so readers can have a look for themselves at the entire report.

Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#34

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/02/2015 3:25 PM

I thought we warned people about the fact that using crops for ethanol (1) steals food out of the mouths of little baby calves, and people that like tortillas (me included), and it (2)spends more energy to produce that the fuel value that results!

What a ridiculous polluting waste this whole ethanol thing is.

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#36
In reply to #34

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/02/2015 9:38 PM

When we first started using corn for ethanol we had 30 mil acres of corn planted, now we have just under 100 mil acres and only 35% is used for ethanol.....that then means that we have doubled corn production for food in the US in the last ~12 years or so....as well as producing 10% of the gasoline used, from corn....that means that we have used the profits from corn sales to increase production to feed more mouths, be they human or other....so the result is exactly the opposite....

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#37
In reply to #36

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/02/2015 9:56 PM

If I were the former member kramarat, I would demand that you back up your statement with factual documentation.

I'll just say, can you prove substantiate that?

"that means that we have used the profits from corn sales to increase production to feed more mouths" sounds like a Monsanto commercial!

You have a TALL job ahead to convince the forum that profits are "used to feed more mouths".

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#38
In reply to #37

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/03/2015 12:03 AM

Well actually I think I mixed up the presentation, but the facts do hold roughly accurate, that being that the yield per acre has doubled in the last 20 years or so, and the planted acreage has increased something like 30 mil acres, now if you work out the figures you can see that modern farming methods including genetically enhanced breeds are responsible for increased crop yields, that, together with increased corn acreage has more than made up the difference of the 35% now being used for ethanol......the only thing that might have decreased, which varied anyway, and is/was probably temporary, was the government giveaway of overproduced corn...which the government was forced to buy to support the market in bumper crop years...

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#39
In reply to #38

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/03/2015 6:17 AM
YearCorn ( $/bushel )
19952.56
19963.55
19972.60
19982.20
19991.89
20001.86
20011.89
20022.13
20032.27
20042.47
20051.96
20062.28
20073.39
20084.78
20093.75
20103.83
20116.01
20126.67
20136.15
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#43
In reply to #39

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/03/2015 10:55 AM

I expect to see prices drop due to lower oil prices....You have several forces at work here, inflation, energy costs, labor costs, supply and demand(this is a worldwide market), weather, and other misc controlling factors....

http://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/latest.pdf

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#44
In reply to #43

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/03/2015 11:14 AM

Yes but,

"Corn used to produce ethanol is raised 25 million bushels."

A million bushels here, a million bushels there, pretty soon, we're talking about real corn.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19490
Good Answers: 1141
#45
In reply to #44

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/03/2015 1:10 PM

Well it's the dadburn moonshiner's, corn liquor production is shooting thru the roof....

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#42
In reply to #38

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/03/2015 8:40 AM

doubled at the expense of using up the available water resource.

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#46
In reply to #37

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/04/2015 1:09 PM

"feed more mouths" nobody said which mouths, so here we go:

www.alginol.com

I think they can make more algae tonnage per acre of land used (and nonarable land at that), thus they can make more ethanol, plus they also make gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from the leftover bits (non-sugar based bits). Or turn it all into pig food. Or turn it into cattle food, or sheep, or goat. It can be also made into people food, but they won't call it Soylent Green, probably not even Algalent Green.

I reall would like to own about 1000 acres of this in the Arizona flats where it used to be (or still is) cotton production, as some really good water resources available there. Also forgot to mention algal culture requires much less water than corn, since it's all in the bag, Jack! The water can be recycled to re-use on the next batch also.

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#47
In reply to #46

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/04/2015 1:39 PM

Well, cotton farming has given way to development.

And there are massive fissures in the desert due to water table recession.

I once found a hunting dog trapped in one of those.

The water table has dropped over 50 feet (I last checked 20 years ago) in the desert east of Phoenix.

We've become more reliant on CAP water, which is more expensive.

There is no good answer.

Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#48
In reply to #47

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/04/2015 2:30 PM

Here in West Texas and on into Eastern New Mexico, there is what is referred to as the Santa Rosa formation, it is considered a brackish source of water, and is generally at least 100-200' deeper (or so I recall) than the Ogallala aquifer. Is this CAP water you mentioned similar to this?

I once saw a map of the western states that revealed immense resources of brackish to salty water in these states at depth (probably still above oil and gas). Algae production using the bagged culture does not require immense water consumption as does row crop agriculture. As I understand it, algae are not greatly particular as to salt content of the water, although I am sure there are optimal ranges and limits.

One other key point: Forward Osmosis (OASYS company) expects to reach $20MMUSD revenues this year. As I recall, they have a process for desalination using draw solution that requires only a low grade thermal energy input to pull the thermolytic salt apart in the vapor space, and every bit of the draw salt is recycled, with the product being fresh water for drinking. The water recovery % can be quite high, since the suspended matter and salts are not being pushed into the membrane by pump pressure on the feed side.

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40066
Good Answers: 1598
#49
In reply to #48

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/04/2015 4:36 PM

Water Supply - Central Arizona Project is a 300 mile long canal system that carries Colorado River water south through Arizona to south of Tuscon. Built in the late 70's.

I watched them build the siphon that carries this water under the Salt River east of Mesa. Quite a project. It carries 1.5 million acre feet/year.

My father, a socialist democrat from Arkansas, went ballistic when Barry Goldwater pitched the idea to build this canal back in the 60's.

Register to Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 13899
Good Answers: 155
#50
In reply to #49

Re: Have We Erred in Backing Bioenergy as a Sustainable Energy Source?

02/05/2015 2:24 PM

Why now would a socialist democrat go ballistic over water? Do they only drink vodka? Or was it just because B.G. pitched the idea in the first place?

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Register to Reply
Register to Reply 54 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Brave Sir Robin (2); C-Mac (2); calasus40 (1); Charlie Greenwood (1); James Stewart (9); lyn (12); Massey (2); PeterT (1); pnaban (1); SHOCKHISCAN (1); SolarEagle (16); wagman262 (5); WoodwardDL (1)

Previous in Forum: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change   Next in Forum: Multitasking Solar

Advertisement