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Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 6:23 AM

This writer has noted, through own bench-level experimentation, that Renewable Resources in the form of plants and vegetation would be the best bet for developing Sustainable Materials and Energy, for all communities in the world.

It is estimated that every ton of "green biomass" (roughly consisting 27% organic matter; 72% moisture; and about 1% inorganic matter) could generate 75 Kg of methane gas (with 937, 500 K-cal Heat value/ energy value), 130 Kg of non-polluting CO2 (convertible into about 800 Kg "Carbon Sink Engineered" Products), 63 Kg of superb Bio-fertilizer (dry weight), and about 400 Kg reclaimable water. If instead we were to convert the cellulosic matter in the vegetation into Ethanol, we would have about 90 Kg "proof" alcohol (having energy value of about 601, 706 K-cal) and about 120 Kg "extracts". We note here that, even if we were not to consider the "extras" in the methane gas systems the base energy available in this process-conversion is greater by a factor of 50%.

The comments of CR4 Engineers are welcome

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#1

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 6:42 AM

But you could create the methane a thousand times faster by employing organisms thereby increasing the exploitve capabilities and spacial requirements, and possibly reducing the need for crop perfection by maintaining the process with the happiest consumers that appreciate differing levels of chemicals, some more some less. Then you could actually select fast oxygen producing plants with high carbon consumption thereby putting these bench level tests to shame.

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#3
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 7:07 AM

Hello Brett Johnston

Thank you for your input.

Our main theme is Sustainability. And, when considering this aspect, this writer would always consider the point-of-view of the 80% poor people in the world, the majority of these communities living in tropical countries such as Nigeria, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Haiti, Philippines and even India. Further, The average per capita of the poorest people (who form about 63% of world population) in the world is estimated at less than US $300 (a wretched stage about which those in the developed nations would not be able to understand or even appreciate). Thus, in Sustainability concepts, this writer would totally exclude any hybridization or any specialized technology that is considered efficient and superior. It is not an affront or negative "mentality" against such really significant techno-economic developments, but we cannot afford such hybridization in the Poor nations.

It is suggested that you may please visit the writer's Blog, and also the CR4 Blog

Best wishes

Hari

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#5
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 7:36 AM

Those supposedly poor countries are abundantly rich equatorial zones with an enormous ability to harvest biological batches that rarely are equalled outside of these zones. What they should do is actually use that resource! Breeding the worlds microorganisms could be the most abundant farming they ever tried! It's quite possibly the fastest way to harness solar energy for use, just add loads of dirty tropical water. It's obvious the pandering to developed countries and their global methods will not always be in the best interests of regional economies.

The science of microorganisms never walks down tropical streets unless it carries itself!

Firstly I recommend overusing glass region wide and then public experimentation. Most significance will be lost immediately in a poor country because to the poor, life is the one thing seen in too vast quantities. Just lowering the sights seems hard now but aquaculture would never have arisen if China didn't.

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#9
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 8:22 AM

Your point is well taken. Most persons in the developed west do not have the perspective required to discuss sustainability at an authoritavive level. Thus, we are limited in our ability to make significant technological contributions (in the same manner that we would not expect a Bangladeshi farmer to develop a more efficient cattle feed lot system).

One of the things that we might ask of you, therefore, is to point us toward indigenous research programs that show promise. Which countries have ministries of agriculture that are particularly active in this area?

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#10
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 8:42 AM

Hello TVP45

Thank you for your observation.

While it may not be appropriate to go into the socio-political make-up of "indigenous" technology programs in the developing nations, this writer, along with a group, is attempting the herculean task of creating Sustainable Development oriented projects, through our Group: APIX-SEP

Please also visit the following blog site and note about some "concrete action plans": http://sustainabilityengineering.wordpress.com/

Our Objective is to Offer Open Source Engineering Design to all Developing nation entrepreneurs : http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/38754/Open-Source-Engineering-Design-Calling-Young-Engineers, and we Welcome you too so that you may contribute Technically, whatever you can

Regards

Hari

http://www.agro-biogenics.com

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#22
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 4:07 PM

Where is your documentation, in otherwords, prove it!

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#59
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/08/2009 2:51 AM

That logic is nonsense: if something is only true if you prove it than any future process that is an alteration of the past cannot exist therefore evolution cannot exist because it can't be proven to the past. If you say nothing exists as a true recognisable difference in your time then you are overlooking the ongoing process of change.

We already know methane production is not merely proven on a bench, it would coincide that a proper set of experiments would include not just synthetic production of naturally occuring products and optimizations of production systems are not always favorable to the previous highest optimization product.

The possible product lines exceed synthetic duel between two processed products!

Without payment or proper regulated association then I don't have to assume your request is worthy by the same token your trying to disregard my answers!

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#61
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/08/2009 4:03 AM

To keep on manufacturing the facts then is the solution?

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#63
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/08/2009 1:05 PM

bwire-

"Manufactured" facts are so much more fun than reality!

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#2

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/06/2009 6:57 AM

The Carbon sink engineered product and 120 kg of extract is not clear. Methane and fertiliser production is best for town level for use in cooking or heating fertiliser producing better vegetables. Alchohol be for district level for mixing in gasoline. But we need to be sure that both operations reduces carbon footprint.

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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/06/2009 7:20 AM

Methane vapor versus atomised alcohol mixtures? Ignition of mixtures! We could be here till next century testing the manifestations of one versus the other. Lets say neither reduces the carbon footprint unless the rate of plants grown exceeds the rate of plants burnt. But then you could argue it's the consumption of carbon versus the production of oxygen and the effect of chemical combinations produced versus their reduction and recycling as secondary materials.

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#6

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 7:41 AM

This is just for Starters!

We Define Sustainable Development and Sustainability Engineering, as follows:

"Sustainable Development is optimized socio-economic and environmental development, taking into cognizance the effects of TIME-ENTROPY phenomena, towards reducing competitive conflicts." This is further extrapolated to define Sustainability Engineering: the art, science, and technology of utilizing available resources and converting those into the material demands of the society, taking into cognizance the effects of Time-Entropy on the results and their implications to the environment, and thereby optimizing the use of renewable resources leading to the reduction of "competitive conflicts".

Further:

It is the life MISSION of this writer to utilize Sustainability Engineering toward countering the impacts of "competitive conflicts", and in this the first step may be seen as the Blog. And through this renewed discussion, the writer wishes to appeal to the enlightened members of CR4 to come forward and involve actively in these august Open Ventures, so that the future of the world could be correctly shaped by all of us engineers in CR4

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#7

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 8:12 AM

Personally, I've always felt that fermenting the biomass to produce biogas, and then using the undigested residue as compost to grow more biomass maks a whole lot more sense since you can eliminate the additional costly step of turning the cellulose into simple sugars to form ethanol . And of course, the CO2 released as part of the fermentation process can be removed by fast growing plants that can serve as the source of the biomass . So that's the kind of systems I design for Third World nations . And of course, it's a lot easier for them to operate than a ethanol system .

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#8
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 8:21 AM

Thank you DVader1000

Your experienced suggestion and observations have been noted

hari

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#11

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 8:56 AM

I have argued for the utilization of locally available bio-mass conversion to bio-gas through on site or collective biogas generators. Your experiments and the results have proved my suspicions, that biogas is the more productive use of resources. Thank you!

Questions: In areas where both biogas and ethanol production are feasible, could not the wastes (mash) from ethanol be used in biogas production? (I'm not a chemist, nor mathematician, so the molecular conversion is Greek to me.)

I have seen simple drawings and rough schematics of biogas generators in 'green' publications. Having no engineering background in this field, but with solid experience in mechanicals and technicals, I feel it would be easy enough to put something together. My concern is sizing, utilizing both animal and vegetable wastes from say the household up to the small animal farm. A separator for the diversion of liquid and solid wastes normally bound for the septic tank, and a shredder for the introduction of kitchen and yard waste, then a macerator, pumps, and attendant controls for the process. It is a big question, but is there a central website where I may find sizing and process engineering in terms that a reasonably competing tinkerer would understand?

I think it might be time to throw away proprietary concerns in favor of species survival.

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#12
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 9:26 AM

Thank you Tippycanoe

Our Project aims at a gamut of techno-socio-commercial operations, using all available Renewable vegetation resources (mainly agrowastes food wastes, animal wastes, weeds etc) to be converted into a combination of Methane gas + Energy & Bio-Fertilizer and various Other Products, as presented in the Project

You may also visit our CR4-Blog and all related discussions (including our website: http://www.agro-biogenics.com), and may we suggest that you too try to join our Open Source Engineering Group that aims at providing Complete "Knock-down" style Design of ALL our Project systems to developing countries (pl see this also)

Your question about the "mash" obtained in Ethanol process needs to be answered in the negative, as it is "spent" material that cannot take part in Methanogenic Reactions. But they could be used in other ways

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#13
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 10:39 AM

Thank you pyhramani,

Your project is commendable, and I am excited to know that the project will produce an abundance of benefits. Whereas the project is geared toward the collective centralization of resources, mine would be on a much smaller scale. I liked the 'teapot' digester shown on your banner, and am somewhat familiar with such a simple design.

I would like eventually to offer a digester in kit form, with the buyer supplying their own tank(s). Primarily converted propane, fuel, and farm tanks, with off the shelf components that could be converted for use in a small scale methane generator. Water collection is not a problem, ratio of solid/liquid I might glean from your project. Optimal operating temperatures are a concern here in the northeast U.S.A.

What would be most helpful to anyone who chooses to install a small Meth-Gen is information you or others may have on successful prototypes. This information is scattered, and would be a good project for some entity to collate into a coherent source for optimizing/sizing individual projects.

Namaste', Carl

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#15
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 11:31 AM

Hello Tippycanoe

Thank you for your study and comments

Please note the following:

1. Our Project would be to design "Knock-Down" system Open Source Engineering Designs (OSED) of certain Modules ... the smallest unit would be named: APIIX_30_Pilot. This Module is being planned to be set up, as per our earlier referred blog: http://cr4.globalspec.com/blog/97/APIX-Pilot-Plant-Design-Project-Recycling-Wastes

2. The said Module involves not only Methanogenic Reactor system, but also processes for removing CO2, H2S, and moisture from the biogas. The resultant products are: CO2 for further processes; Sulfur, Bio-Fertilizers.

3. The vegetation matter would be segregated into Cellulosic and non-cellulosic; the former would be converted into Composites resulting in many Engineered products of value, and the latter would be converted to methane

4. The methane gas would be burned in "Converted IC engines" to obtain Electricity through Generator coupling, and Heat is recovered through Heat exchanger system.

5. Although our Module Diagram does not show Food processing, we shall have food procesing in the village areas, where our project would be set up. These are to be carried out in very small batches in the different house holds of the village

6. The Module in question would consider the entire Renewable Resources in a n area of 30 ha (about 75 ac) in a village, and these would be the input raw materials. The practice of Self Regenerative Recycling (SRR) would make sure that all vegetation resources (both agricultural and other weeds etc) are grown again automatically

7. The Modular project is likely to generate about US $1, 000, 000 + in turn over, and offer jobs to about 150 local people

8. In the ultimate analyses, our idea is to consider this Module as Standard (with small modifications to suit various local conditions) and Offer Open Source Design to any group in developing countries, so that these could be set up in their nations, at their own destinations. Our involvement would be to supervise, help and supply materials not available locally (Please study the website: http://www.agro-biogenics.com)

9. Our Long term plan is to have "Combination Modules" to take advantage of Resources in an area of 1000 ha. This would need the combining of about 30 basic Modules and interconnect them

Our request and prayer is that as many Engineers and Scientists may please join our group, and involve in this Grand program..

The immediate requirement is to have the Complete "Knock=Down" level Designs for APIX_30_Pilot made ready

Please let us have your suggestions

regards

Hari

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#21
In reply to #15

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 2:58 PM

Hari, we have a full project designed for 3rd world countries that includes ethanol for fuel, waste to electricity, food and fuel crops, food processing plants, new sources of potable water, medical clinics and schools. These generate jobs and exportable products. Send a request to my address on the website www.ire-incorp.com and I will send the Powerpoint presentation...george

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#16
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/06/2009 11:34 AM

You might be interested in Mallinckrodt Inc. Apparently they are doing some large scale Land Fill Gas generation.

Many do seem to find biogas interesting, and then back away from it, as being "labor intensive". (Ed Weldon I believe mentioned this as a reason he rejected such processes.)

Another problem I have encountered, has been that in the US standard gas burning stove jets are designed primarily for natural gas, or propane.

Apparently stove warranties are voided when biogas that is not "cleansed" of impurities is used.

These little things stymie small scale biogas generator kits in the US, so far, from what I can tell.

Apparently biogas is making strides forward when large amounts of waste are involved.

Here in North Carolina where there is a great deal of pig waste, important pilot projects are being implemented.

I believe much of that work is being conducted by NC State, which is strong in engineering.

I also have heard of a genetically engineered yam, being developed specifically created to be used to generate gas. This yam is based on what we typically call a sweet potato, but is not much fit to eat as it has been altered.

Apparently from what I know in other parts of the world they are not quite so picky about what they will burn to cook or heat with.

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#18
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/06/2009 11:45 AM

Helli Transcendian

Welcome back again!

Please see this Blog entry, which would give you an idea of what has been happening

Regards

Hari

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#24
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/06/2009 10:53 PM

Thanks Transcendian, I am aware of the reluctance of some to supply their systems using manual labor. Many of us in this community and elsewhere are trying to reduce our carbon footprint. We have gardens, lawn clippings, small brush and leaves to add to our septic wastes. Due to the variety of both quantity and quality of ingredients, the design will be hopper fed and would be one less trip to the compost pile. Solids from the toilet would also be screw or gear fed from the liquid separator. The septic tank would be relegated to grey water and urine, and as a supply for additional water as needed. Automating the feeds proportionately from all three sources through a macerator, and controlled by multiple feeds from sensors to firmware.

So what I really need to know is in what proportion by weight or volume of the ingredients, and at what temperatures are these combined to produce optimal gas production/cu. ft, etc. From this knowledge I can go forward with sizing the components. I'm talking about a family of four up to the same family with 50-100 dairy cows, (equal weight, all farm animal waste).

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#38
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 1:09 PM

Typically what designs similar to what you want to do, keep it simple by concentrating on one thing as the base fuel.

I'm not much more than an idea guy that works in generalities, and goes for what is good enough, better than the alternative, accepts best I can, what is really available.

Since the majority of your gas producing potential waste is most reliably represented by what comes out of cows, you may want to focus your designs around what will make what you want, primarily from what they produce.

If you have a Dairy Farm, and a barn where the cows are milked, I would look there at what you typically have to do there to keep the place clean, and just put that in 55 gallon drums, and see what you get, adding drums to the set up, as you find out what you get from what you've got.

If you can mechanize it using solar, then all to the better.

If you can make gas jets that self adjust to whatever gas they are getting, that will fit in something from Sears, you'll make some money on that patent.

New York up that way can get pretty cold, so it is not like you have fresh garden clippings up that way all year round.

4 people can only do so much.

In the volume of Apix and the thread sustainable engineering came from there are links to a number of systems.

I particularly like the small ones based on standard 55 gallon steel or plastic drums. Since these are common.

For a "Kit" that you could ship cheaply to international buyers, hydralically inflated bladders would be possible as complete and turnkey.

I ended up on CR4 originally because I was doing research about batteries.

Integrating systems of sustainable energy is a trick for both the macro and micro potentials.[2] There are designs that will turn your septic tank into a battery, for instance.

We are aware of hydro that will produce power in creeks, and not harm fish as well. To close here I'd suggest you simply put the straw and cow dung in 55 gallon barrels, and see what you got, and then go from there.

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#42
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 1:59 PM

If you have a Dairy Farm, and a barn where the cows are milked, I would look there at what you typically have to do there to keep the place clean, and just put that in 55 gallon drums, and see what you get, adding drums to the set up, as you find out what you get from what you've got.

I don't but neighbors that do have dairy farms say they number herds according to the amount of wastes they can handle, meaning they can't abide it piling up.

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#48
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 3:38 PM

I said 4 people can only do so much.

If they have to move it out of the barn, and have to put it somewhere, then if they put it in gas generation barrels and that means they have to buy less energy in the form of gas, or from the grid suppliers, it will work for them.

In Maine I saw homes that were heated from the cows, by the way. You will not freeze to death if you live in a cow barn, even if you want to, and do nothing but milk them.

Hardly any technology at all involved.

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#53
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 4:19 PM

Yep in an area nearby there is a co-op where farmers contribute wastes that are managed within a huge bladder (digester) and the gas produced is used to generate power for the surrounding community. What a concept

You are correct in that the technology involved is low. In communities areas can be designated for collection of food and yard wastes. Mechanism for biodigestion is not over the tenth grade level of understanding and at least 5th grade for maintenance people. A system could devised to auger in fresh materials as fully processed material is augured out and maintain appropriate bio-degradation conditions within the digester.

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#54
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 4:31 PM

bwire-

I think a key aspect of the co-op you describe is that it is a localized project fort a limited community. A good deal of what is proposed as "alternative" energy seems only viable on a small scale- I have nothing against this, but I think is is wishful thinking that many of these systems can be scaled up or installed in significant enough numbers to address the global issues being bandied about these days- the energy crisis, global warming, etc. I have been known to promote solar voltaic, mini-hydro, even wind energy systems, WHERE APPROPRIATE. I have yet to encounter in this part of the world an agro community likely to generate enough biomass waste to result in significant energy production (other than the large industrial farming concerns, which generally have access to grid power and little interest in generating their own). A typical subsistence farmer in this part of the world, with maybe a half dozen or so chickens running about, a pig or two, and possibly a cow, trying to raise vegetables on a hectare or less of land, is not going to generate a lot of biomass waste. It is not clear to me what level of biomass waste availability is really required...

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#55
In reply to #54

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 4:40 PM

Absolutely correct as many as there methods each needs to be employed accurately and appropriately in each area and a biodigester may not be feasible in all areas.

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#82
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/10/2009 3:29 PM

yes, you are correct in one sense, the ability to scale up sense. but if you are keeping it at the simplest level, then it makes a lot of sense. third world countries are using small digesters to clean up their environment, (think pig shit running off onto the ground), and providing a small amount of flammable gas, so that they are not reduced to burning vegetation or animal dung for cooking heat.

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#57
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 5:50 PM

In an earlier thread http://cr4.globalspec.com/member?u=6665 gave this link in support, you will this project very interesting:

http://www.habmigern2003.info/biogas/Baron-digester/Baron-digester.htm

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#105
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 4:24 AM

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#106
In reply to #54

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 4:28 AM

A good deal of what is proposed as "alternative" energy seems only viable on a small scale- I have nothing against this, but I think is is wishful thinking that many of these systems can be scaled up or installed in significant enough numbers to address the global issues being bandied about these days- the energy crisis, global warming, etc.

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2005/10/coors_doubling_.html

http://www.mandadeals.co.uk/the-magazine/featured-deals/992817/nord-backs-belgian-biomass-project.thtml

http://eubionet2.ohoi.net/ACFiles/Download.asp?recID=4614

http://www.epa.gov/appcdwww/apb/bioen98.pdf

http://www.xcelenergy.com/Company/Newsroom/Pages/XcelEnergyAnnouncesLargestBiomassPlantintheMidwest.aspx

http://www.google.com/search?q=biomass+power+plant&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1

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#81
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/10/2009 3:22 PM

yes, i agree the technologie is low, but the equipment available to do it safely is not available at low cost. it is all geared to really large systems (read this as mostly community sized waste disposal systems feed from sewers. if you want a small compressor for compressing methane at a reasonable cost, you will have to build it yourself. it is not on the market. just about anything you want to do with it, is not available on the market. all of the same problems found in a small system, are found in large systems (natural gas production, large scale methane production), but the tools they use are soooooooooo expensive. the big kicker in all of the small systems is HS. it ruins most small equipment it comes into contact with. it is difficult to neutrilize in a small system. and if you can, the by product residues are very hazardous to deal with. this is why in small scale, about the only thing you can do is burn it, as is. this way the nasty stuff, which is really in very small proportions, gets incinerated as you are burning it to heat your coffee. my biggest problems have been trying to find equipment to pressurize it, control the pressurization, and regulators that work down to really low pressures. most regulators do not work below 10 psi. methane digesters work at 1 psi. see the problem. i finally did find one that works up to 100 psi and down to 0 psi, it costs $450 and i will probably have to buy one. the diaphram on it is about 14 inches across. at the moment i will be using water pressure and a steep hillside to pressurize my methane.

we should have a blog, just for methane digesters. it is the wave of the future, and possibly the salvation of our way of life.

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#89
In reply to #81

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/10/2009 5:00 PM

my biggest problems have been trying to find equipment to pressurize it, control the pressurization, and regulators that work down to really low pressures. most regulators do not work below 10 psi. methane digesters work at 1 psi. see the problem. i finally did find one that works up to 100 psi and down to 0 psi, it costs $450 and i will probably have to buy one. the diaphram on it is about 14 inches across. at the moment i will be using water pressure and a steep hillside to pressurize my methane.

For my own uses I'll prorabably use a bladder to facilitate pressurization.

I intend to use a compressor and regulators designed for NG. I'm looking at compressors that will pay for themselves 100 times before intensive maintenance is required; the cost is $4500-$6500. I'll continue searching for your $450 model too...

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#101
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 12:18 AM

Great information!

if you want a small compressor for compressing methane at a reasonable cost, you will have to build it yourself. it is not on the market. just about anything you want to do with it, is not available on the market. all of the same problems found in a small system, are found in large systems (natural gas production, large scale methane production), but the tools they use are soooooooooo expensive.

If it is expensive for you, it is probably very expensive for rural Indian farmers. Need I point out, yet again, that these costs are not mentioned in Hari's plan? (Sorry, last time!)

the big kicker in all of the small systems is HS. it ruins most small equipment it comes into contact with. it is difficult to neutrilize in a small system. and if you can, the by product residues are very hazardous to deal with.

HS is hydrogen sulfide? Hm. Can a compressor be built out of wood? Plastic? Rubber? Could a bicycle pump be adapted? They can do 120 psi. Could it be powered by a windmill, or a walking cow, or some hapless boy?

Don't some bacteria eat hydrogen sulfide? Could they be made part of the process? Perhaps the HS concentrations are too low for them to feed on. But could their little enzymes be extracted and synthesized?

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#108
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 10:52 AM

hello,

in methane gas from a digester, the concentration of hydrogen sulfide is normally around 10 ppm (parts per million). a little more or a little less depending on how much sulfer is introduced with your feedstock. most organic things have some sulfer in them. hydrogen sulfide starts being extremly dangerous when you can no longer smell it. that is around 300 ppm. by then it has destroyed your sense of smell (translate that to brain damage) at 800 ppm you are dead with just a wiff of it. inbetween, exposure means brain damage varying from slight to lethal. by brain damage, i mean you become a vegetable mentaly, forever.

this is why most third world country situations, they do not scrub the methane, they just burn it as is. the 10 ppm is either burned up or diluted by atmosphere and never gets to dangerous concentrations. but at 10 ppm, it will eat up conventional piston cylinder sets in a couple of months. i am toying with the concept of making a pump for methane similar to ones that pump blood. flexible hose, compressed sequentialy by three rounds that are rotating slowly, around a common center. this way the methane, (read hydrogen sulfide) never comes into contact with metalic parts of the pumping system. the reason for very slowly is that digesters get into big trouble if you pull a vacuume on it. they tend to suck oxygen in. then the digester has to change its process until the oxygen is used up and it can go back to anerobic digestion.

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#107
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 4:52 AM

GA artbyjoe:

Low tech doesn't necessarily equate to cheap or unsafe. Tanks for a community reserve could be made of wood planks banded and lined with plaster, clay or even plastic sheeting and with stand the 3-4 psi required. Picture a large bladder filled with Methane directly from a digester at an arbitrary 1psi, cap the bladder then cover a portion of the bladders surface with dirt; the pressure inside increases viola` low tech again.

If this bladder were to bear a depressed area could this depressed area be used to collect HS and then be a means developed to remove the HS, ya think...?

The bio-feed stock doesn't ordinarily need to be from sewer discharge primarily.

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#109
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 11:14 AM

hello bwire,

community reserve: it would depend upon the size of the community and the demands placed on the reserve. most third world digesters are not community sized. they are family sized. the peace core type people are showing third worlders in the tropics how to make digesters at a cost of about $40. made from plastic tubes. they double the tubes, they duct tape one end to the inlet pipe for the slurry. duct tape an outlet into the top for gas. they put a fence around it to keep the animals from getting to it.

they use the same plastic tube inside their house. usually in the rafters above them. the put a string around the middle and when the need a little more gas pressure for the stove, the tighten the string. that is their reserve.

for third world community sized units, the best is the pond method, with a plastic cover. that way, overpressurization just lifts the plastic a little higher.

as for hydrogen sulfide nuetralization, if i can remember correctly, the poor mans way is to plumb the gas thru a bed of material that absorbs the sulfer, releasing the hydrogen so that it can be burned. then when the sulfer has built up, you have to take it apart and remove the bedding material and replace it. i don't see this as being practical for a third world indiginous farmer. he is just going to burn the gas to cook his meals anyway.

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#110
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 1:39 PM

community reserve: it would depend upon the size of the community and the demands placed on the reserve.

Suggestion: to size a community digester primarily upon merits of efficiency regardless of community size. If the model of efficiency didn't provide for the entire community a second, third etc. digester(s) should be developed.

Indeed burn off the HS...minor sputters of yellow and green flame are to be expected even in supposed commercially pure NG supply

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#111
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 2:05 PM

HS is of little concern, it quickly oxidizes and is easily remove by passing the gas stream over iron filings.

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#113
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 5:54 PM

HS is of little concern, it quickly oxidizes and is easily remove by passing the gas stream over iron filings.

I am not a chemist, but I believe the iron filings would have to be free of rust. And iron would not stay rust-free in a hot moist climate. And the iron would have to be replenished periodically anyway. Do rural Indians have a ready source of fresh iron filings?

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#114
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/11/2009 8:21 PM

Let's send all our used Alkaline batteries to rural India, the rural farmers can use the Manganese dioxide to filter the H2S, used alkaline batteries aren't hard to find

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#130
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

11/16/2009 8:14 AM

Wilkerson make regulators 0 > 30 psi that may answer your problem. http://www.univer.com.au/atur.HTM

IF the gas is clean and 'dry'

But reading through this I think you all might have a look at "gasometer's" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_holder

Be aware that the weighted buoyancy collar (not really illustrated) is important to the top container floating stability. That understood - they are easy to make out of "junk", incredibly reliable and contaminant tolerant.

Another embodiment is the acetylene version used before dissolving in acetone was invented. Same principal, smaller version, more weight = more pressure (sub 15 psi)

A water U tube stand pipe is also a reliable solution and dead cheap. The limit is volume.

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#14

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 10:45 AM

The key is sustainability, which means we need to feed ourselves while producing both electricity and liquid fuels for energy. And we need to keep and maintain a clean environment. Both Methane and Ethanol fit into a sustainable solution. Eating generates wastes that can be best disposed of by generating methane by bacterial action, and the methane used to power electrical generation. Residue from the methanogenesis is used to grow various water plants as it is further degraded, until the final residues can be used for fertilizer. The water plants are harvested to make liquid fuels with a muti-microbe cocktail digestion. Unreacted lignins are burned to make more electricity and heat the distilling processes. The ash from the lignin is added to the fertilizer solution in the stillage from the ethanol production. No, it is not "perpetual motion", inputs are needed along the way.

Meat producers also generate those wastes, and there are additional non-food agricultural crops that can be used for ethanol. Check it out at www.ire-incorp.com. I'm george, and we license the technology.

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#17
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 11:40 AM

Hello George

I visited your website, and note what you plan or what you are already doing. Great job!

Please see this thread:

Best regards

Hari

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#19

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 1:36 PM

I would submit that direct combustion of biomass in a gas producing combustion system (GPCS) boiler is more sustainable than either methane or alcohol production, as it eliminates the energy used to make the conversion to either methane or alcohol.

Modern steam technology is much more sustainable in developing countries, and can provide road transportation, rail transportation, agricultural power, electric generation, etc. etc. Another advantage is that a GPCS boiler can be reconfigured to burn just about anything combustible, rather than being chained to a specific liquid fuel.

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#20
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 2:02 PM

Hello Mark Stockman

Welcome and Thank you for your observation, which is scientifically appreciated.

But, please note that Sustainability in any Developing nation (say, for example, India) would need that the Per Capita of the mass population needs to be increased. Here, for example, about 800 million people do not earn even the equivalent of $2 per day (450 million people's annual per capita being just about $150)

Such a situation would need that any such project would have to be redefined and designed to accommodate as many people as possible for increased Livelihood benefits (without gratis and other unsustainable aids). This, in fact, is being planned and Designed in our projects of APIX-30_Pilot, etc (please see this earlier thread)

Thank you again, and fully appreciating the scientific facts you have mentioned

Regards

Hari

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#27
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 1:14 AM

I am working on a sustainable energy project for economically distressed areas here in the USA. In these areas where there are few jobs, I want to create jobs in the forestry & agriculture industries, growing and harvesting biomass. Then I want the biomass products transported to market cheaply, by rail using biomass fueled locomotives (which my company is developing.)

The market for that biomass can be for home and commercial heating, electric generation (small or large scale) or a biorefinery, to extract all the useful chemicals in the biomass. There was a wood chemical industry in the US before the commercial use of petroleum.

Of course, someone will have to supply the tools for the forestry workers. And wood for tool handles and railroad ties. Steel for the tools, railroad rails, locomotives and cars. Iron ore and coke to make the steel. Coal to make coke.

Jobs will be created in harvest, transport, and all the other support industries. Since energy is a cost component of every consumer product, increasing the supply of cheap energy will create greater prosperity. That was the beauty of the Industrial Revolution. The tractor made the farmer more productive, which made food cheaper and more plentiful. The shoe factory made shoes cheaper, so that fewer hours of labor (represented as currency) were needed to buy a pair. Instead of working twelve or sixteen hours a day to earn the basics of survival, people could work an eight hour day five days a week and have food, clothing, shelter, and maybe a bit extra left over. That "extra" is what builds the consumer economy, which creates nearly unlimited jobs producing not what people need, but what they want.

"Down the road" we plan to design forestry equipment for large-scale biomass harvest which is powered by raw biomass instead of petroleum. The technology has existed for over a century- we can do it more efficiently today, with less pollution. But it still uses a relatively low level of technology, which can be obtained with less capital investment.

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#23
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 4:23 PM

Let is consider the needs, Mark. We need methane, alcohol, and the many be-products our organic wastes can provide. I am certain you are aware that the human being is, by far, the most wasteful animal on earth. WE throw out more energy than we can ever consume. What Hari (pvhramani) is talking about is to salvage a part of this waste we call trash, and to put it to good uses. Direct combustion is one of the most wasteful uses of energy. However, you are correct in one point, high pressure steam can be used to convert any organic material into methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide as well as other organic gases and liquids. The product is call syn-gas. But let us consider the most economical and the most productive methods and use the best. This is what Sustainability Engineering is all about. When suggest a method, please, let us first and foremost give the numbers, do the engineering, and show the process, the costs, and the products. In the mean time, you must consider the safety issues as well. I think what Hari has done is just that, so stop and think, what is the best way to use our waste and how can we best distribute our good to do the most good where is it needed the most.

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#25
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/06/2009 11:15 PM

May I suggest that those of us who are in the USA, take a look at the many research products our several government agencies and Universities have been quietly working on through the past decade or so and despite the budget cutbacks:

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/

http://www.energy.gov/energyefficiency/homes.htm

http://www.epa.gov/

http://www.epa.gov/

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

There are many more sites available, and most of them are also available to people outside the United States, too. As for the link provided by 'guest' from Greece, that site is excellent, and although it is like Agro-Biogenic in many ways, it is a commercial site. The Greece people who are doing this work are to be commended. The purpose here is to work together, Internationally, to do our part to help solve the crisis, economic, environmental, energy, water. These crisis are all irrevocably tied together. We cannot solve one without solving them all.

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#26

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 1:07 AM

Methane because no addition processing is required.

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#28

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 5:50 AM

Certain Reaffirmations, Clarifications and Interjections:

To begin with, the writer wishes to thank every one, who has taken time-off to involve in this discussion. And, barring one apparently inexperienced aberration, each one has presented appropriate and serious "knowledge input"

  1. Our entire discussions are toward arriving at appropriate answers and design parameters to bring out OSED (open Source Engineering Designs) arrangements that could be supplied world wide. The said OSED systems are currently being planned for APIX_30_pilot, as envisaged in our CR4 Blog
  2. The prime criteria that dictate our base thinking and analyses would be within the definition of Sustainability Engineering, as defined here: SUSTAINABILITY ENGINEERING: the art, science, and technology of utilizing available resources and converting those into the material demands of the society, taking into cognizance the effects of Time-Entropy on the results and their implications to the environment, and thereby optimizing the use of renewable resources leading to the reduction of "competitive conflicts". This definition differs from those of the UN MDG group, by looking at the world's Renewable Resources from a purely Biological perspective, within the realms of Physical and Chemical Laws/ Effects.
  3. Certain matters for the attention of Tippycanoe: The Methane gas Generation system and the Composites section in our APIX_30_Pilot are separated out and shown in the illustration here. This should help you to Design appropriate Methane Gas fermenter. The fermenters in the tropics may not need any heat input as the average temperatures in most such regions range between 40+ deg C (high) and 15 deg C (low). Further, the average pH value of the sludge inside the methane gas Generator is kept within a range of 7.5 to 8; the solids percentage being about 10% to 12.5%. The final sludge Bio-fertilizer would have about 2.7% to 3.33% solids. These may have to be slightly varied/ modified, as per local conditions and situations. It should also be noted that all organic wastes and unused "crop cuttings" and animal wastes are added into the Bio-Gas generator, after proper "mixing and pulping". The illustration does not show the logistics and other materials transportation systems, as well as the different auxiliary processes involved. The following Photo illustration may also be noted:
    1. Almost all villages in developing nations have huge volumes of un-categorized and un-utilized vegetation systems, which are called Weeds. A few are: Parthenium Pants, Water Hyacinths, various Grasses, and shrub plants. The photo illustration here is from an Indian village area (Note: The water that is seen is also wasted/ un-utilized). Our APIX projects would utilize all of these, and would regenerate these through what we call Self regenerative Recycling (SRR). In fact the Bio-Fertilizer + water that form the "sludge system" in the Biogas generator would be recycled back to these weed growth regions too. The average per annum per ha growth of such weed plants etc would be a whopping 45 Tons to 60 T (green weight, inclusive of the water content). Many dry regions may have lower levels of growth (between 10 T to 25 T)
    1. To the attention of Guest, George: Essentially, we work on the Concept that Renewable Plant/ animal Resources are the greatest in volumes, and they are the materials which we would utilize through Self Regenerative Recycling (SRR), toward solving the human problems. The ultimate objective is not merely to create some huge businesses to the business community, but to reduce the gap between the rich and poor, so that every able bodied person is economically Empowered. This would be done through making available full time Jobs to almost all LOCAL people, in every activity that we undertake. And, in fact, these very activities would finally be in the hands of the Local people ... not in the hands of the Multinationals and other Business tycoons. We would be the facilitators. We invite you and your group to work out how the two groups may associate, with the above Concept being given FULL preference. Our method would be to offer OPEN SOURCE ENGINEERING DESIGNS to the local community through Collaborative arrangements.
    1. To the attention of Mark Stockman: "I am working on a sustainable energy project for economically distressed areas here in the USA. In these areas where there are few jobs, I want to create jobs in the forestry & agriculture industries, growing and harvesting biomass. Then I want the biomass products transported to market cheaply, by rail using biomass fueled locomotives (which my company is developing.)." We wish to congratulate you for this commendable work. But, personally, my experiences are based on Indian conditions, which I believe is more or less the same (in general ecological terms) in almost all other tropical based developing/ under-developed nations (who number about 135 +), whose populations make up about 4.5 billion (India alone accounting for 1.2 billion). Perhaps chtank, who is Our THINK_TANK Chair (http://www.agro-biogenics.com/Contact.htm) would be able to comment/ suggest. Even so, perhaps we could collaborate/ associate, as Knowledge is the main commodity, finally needed for all of our works … and we extend our invitation to you.

The works being done by Mark Stockman indicate that the perception of Sustainable development would be totally different in different regions; especially the differences in views could be vast between the Developed nations and the under-Developed/ Developing nations. This necessitates a New Discussion subject on the Issue; Which we shall call: Perceptions on SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ...

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#30
In reply to #28

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 9:33 AM

pvhramani

From "one apparently inexperienced aberration": I like it! But here is where I'm getting the experience. And thanks to your schematic and input figures, my own project sounds even more do-able.

I will add this to 'sustainability': The Hudson River, and many other waterways are being threatened with water hyacinths. These and other 'Weeds' are subject to half hearted attempts at control, (I would love to have some 'Rue Muon' {water spinach} but it's import is banned for the same reason) slash from logging is left in the woods, etc. When the value of these is recognized by municipalities, we will have sustainability. Wood chip gasification was attempted in Margaretville, NY, but 'ran out of steam' when a simple hatch cover was inadequate, and the wood chips were too wet to use. Abandoned by short sighted officials who would not add another 3% to the budget to correct a nearly working system. We have here wastes from logging, sawmill, and dairy/meat production. Manure+sawdust+unused silo=compost. Value added is what will turn the recalcitrant reactionaries into supporters of the recovery and use of these plentiful materials. Your project has good hard figures to that effect. And that is where more emphasis needs to be put.

Officials get dizzy at any figures they can't put in their pockets. Let them see the dollar signs. I will do what I can from here, but if you have a simple 'Value Added' presentation, it would be much easier to promote this kind of sustainability.

Thanks to all who contributed to my growing experience.

Signing off, Carl

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#29

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 7:19 AM

PVHRAMANI,

Your question seeks clarification on whether Methane or alcohol production is sustainable.

The first choice is METHANE, since it is a gaseous by-product of anaerobic digestion of biomass, remember cow dung /gober gas production in a closed digester. This is the first choice of sustainability, because the process is simple and require least energy.

The second sustainability choice is alcohol, since it can be produced by distillation process of molasses[ as in the case of sugar production- molasses being a final reject process after sugar production, based on bio product sugar can]. The distillation process is a costlier and energy consuming process and hence the choice is for second option, but it is worth extracting because of its immense value.

Likewise based on anaerobic digestion sludge secondary option of alcohol may be possible, which depends on biomass input.

I think your doubt is answered based on cost of conversion.

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 10:02 AM

s.udhayamarthandan:

Let me give an answer to the implied question, "Your question seeks clarification on whether Methane or alcohol production is sustainable." The simple answer is YES! Both Methane and alcohol are sustainable. The solution does require, however, that food stocks are never used in the process of producing either of these two energy carriers. In fact, if one is to study the bio-digestion process, one would find that both products are produced withing the process. Now keep in mind, in the real world, no one in his right mind is suggesting that the consumption of fossil fuels be replaced, at least, not in the near term. The energy carrying gases and liquids produced via Bio-Digestion would supplement and compliment fossil fuels, thus helping to preserve and conserve this valuable non-renewable energy source.

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 10:18 AM

Let me add this to those of you wanting to get started with some sort of APIX type project in the USA. Please refer to my website, http://chtank.org. There are several SEPRojects listed, including MESS-SEPoject (My Earthbound Space Station - Sustainability Engineering Project), APIX-SEProject, HARP-SEProject (Houston Area Recycling Proposal - SEProject, and PAL-SEProject. You are free to use any and all of these projects as you see fit, so long as you do so within the guidelines set forth by Agro-Biogenics i.e., do it for the people and the national good. Additionally, study the Dept. of Energy and the EPA information, it is invaluable. You will even find President Oboma's initiative for this on one of the websites. Let's get busy! Remember President Kennedy's words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.", these words still ring true today. Our efforts to solve todays crisis deserves at least as much effort as it took to put man on the moon.

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#33
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 10:19 AM

Yes Tank!

The answer to "which is sustainable" is to be presented as: Both are Sustainable. And, as you rightly mentioned, we are not talking of any "replacement" or change-over from fossil fuels, merely because we develop such renewable based energy resources. On the contrary, what would finally make these More Sustainable is that these processes offer us many series of products and other benefits, which support all local communities in the tropics/ developing nations, where we have abundance in Renewable resources, in the form of Plants, vegetation, animals etc. Even Rain and sunlight form such resources.

Hari

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#34

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 11:38 AM

Friends!

Although we have made an overall assessment on the various economic benefits, in tune with environmental considerations, in vegetation materials and organic wastes conversions, a more scientific analyses would be called for.The criteria for such a deeper analyses could be as follows:

1. As already mentioned, at the Discussion start, every "green ton" of Plant/ vegetation materials would have the following approximate matter distribution: Organic matter = 27%; Water content = 72%; Inorganic matter = 1%

2. Organic matter could be further segregated as: Cellulosic matter = 45%; non-Cellulosic matter = 55%

Agro-biogenics would plan projects (initially) based on 50% of the Non-food Organic matters (both cellulosic and non-cellulosic) being converted to methane gas + other ingredients, and the balance 50% converted into Engineered Composites (products such as Houseware, Wood substitutes, and even Metal replacement systems in Transportation/ Auto/ Ship etc). While the methane gas generation system could be further processed for Combined Electricity and Heat power + bio-fertilizer + certain Chemicals, the Composites products systems form end products by themselves. The "sketch" details of these products systems are presented in our blog. Also see: pvh_blog

We now need to Conceive equivalent plans of action for corresponding systems that would convert these organic materials into: (a) Alcohol + other pproducts, and (b) Energy system by direct burning. Both these should also consider any conversion processes that would be auxiliary and additional to all of these

A most important aspect is that of the Number of Jobs, each of these conversion process systems would offer to local community. The number of local jobs in APIX_30_Pilot is 150.

Once we come out with such systematized plan and analyses, we could arrive at Optimum Design system, finally concluding: Which of these would be the most Sustainable

(NOTE: at the moment, although we have not made a detailed study and analyses, all indications are that the Methane gas + Composites route would be the Most sustainable)

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#35

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 11:40 AM

pvhramani-

One issue that I must take with attempting to utilize biomass as an energy source in the tropics is that, contrary to popular impressions, tropical soils are not all that productive, especially in the wetter areas. This apparently results from the rapidity with which organic residue and critical minerals are leached from the very, very thin top soil. Thus, there is limited productivity from the soils after clearing the natural vegetation. A typical cycle in this part of the world is that the rain forest is clear cut to provide land for agriculture. After four or five seasons, the land is no longer sufficiently fertile for economic farming other than grazing. Meanwhile, more forest is cleared to grow more rice, sugar cane, bananas, and such. Ultimately, biomass proves UNsustainable, because demand will far outstrip the land's ability to recover. How many millions of years of processing has it taken to convert biomass to high-energy-density fuels? And how quickly have we depleted the natural reservoirs of these fuels?

Anyone with any experience with indigenous communities that rely on traditional biomass fuels (fire wood, animal droppings, and such) for cooking and heating will note that the tremendous growth in populations has put a significant stress on the availability of traditional sources of fuels. Removing more biomass from the food chain for energy production is only going to create greater unsustainable stress on the soils.

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#37
In reply to #35

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 12:46 PM

Hello cwarner7_11

Welcome! ... and thank you for your very pertinent input

Here we need to mention that AGRO-BIOGENICS would utilize ONLY the non-food crop systems, agrowastes, shrub plant systems, grasses, weeds and parthenium plants. Further, the Objective of Agro-Biogenics is to wean the local communities away from "direct burning" of any available vegetation matter and organics. This would be made possible by offering the Electricity and heat generation that are planned through the conversion processes. Agro-Biogenis are not merely "suppliers of some intermediate products" but would be involved in "Total Solutions" to the basic Needs/ problems of the local communities.

It should be recognized that the available Biomass (non-food, slef regenerative and recyclable) in almost all tropical nations would be seen to be very huge. But as such these are NOT being either correctly assessed or being considered Resources. A recent study, for example in India, recognized that India's agricultural lands are infested with a weed called Parthenium (seee below, where the plant weeds infesting in the Banana Plantation are Parthenium plants). The farmers have found that they actually "coexist" with the original crops!

It is estimated that there are the equivalent of 4.2 million ha of Parthenium alone in India. While the Indian Agricultural scientists "saw" these only recently, this writer has been observing these as early as 1991, and the estimated average per annum growth rate is between 45 T to 60 T. Even if we have only 25% of these for practical utilization, India wouldhave not less than 60 million tons of parthenium weeds for energy and other agro-biogenic processes!

Please also read the Blog, which explains in detail how avillage region in India would change when APIX-SEP programs are initiated as planned by Agro-Biogenics

We have only considered just ONE such weed. Every tropical nation has many more such huge quantities of wastes. And, more over, the Total Tree stems/ plant stems of many vegetation systeems such as Banana, Papya, Tapioca (Casava), Colocasia, yams etc are presently thrown away and not used. Banana Plantations would offer not less than 150 (green weight) Tons per annum per ha as agrowastes!

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#40
In reply to #35

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 1:25 PM

Hello cwarner7_11,

If the by product of biomass methane production were introduced as humus to the tropical soils which are typically not productive this fruitless circle of events may be corrected.

What do you think...?

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#41
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 1:56 PM

Hello bwire

Thank you for a pertinent discussion point

To begin with, we need to recognize that the general impressions about tropical soil etc, are not very accurate. It is true that in many places the topography of the soil/ grounds system is such that nutrients would leach out during floods etc. But thousands years of Terraced Rice Cultivation is practiced in all of Asia, and the arrangement is very efficient from water usage, nutrient protection level etc. These cultivated fields are segregated into various small pots, as seen in the Illustration. Recently, various other excellent Scientific Farming practices have also been developed by Scientists in all these nations

Your idea that the Bio-fertilizer sludge matter that comes out after the Methane generation would be best used as soil enricher is correct. These are Nitrogen rich "natural fertilizer", Regenerating the same soil. This is what we call Self Regenerative Recycling

Thank you again

hari

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#43
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 2:07 PM

Aw shucks...Which manner of biodigestion are you most in favor of aerobic or anaerobic?

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#84
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/10/2009 4:06 PM

you are correct in knowing that the output slurry of a methane digester is nitrogen rich. this is because the process of turning waste into CH4 does not utilize nitrogen, therefore the nitrogen passes thru into the slurry.

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#47
In reply to #40

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 3:28 PM

Hello, bwire-

I am not sure there would be sufficient humus as a biproduct of the methane or alcohol processes to compensate for the loss of natural vegetation, but it would help, I am sure. In an area where topsoil depth is measured in fractions of an inch, and rainfall can exceed 200 inches a year, ANY land clearing is going to result in significant loss of nutrients, because one looses control over run-off. How much of the biomass removed can be returned to the soil, and what nutrients will be remaining in the humus? By the way, the cycle usually begins with the construction of a new road, which draws in the lumber men to new areas. When they have extracted all the commercially viable timber, the farmers move in, clear cutting and burning anything the lumber men left behind. These farmers will generally practice monoculture (rice, sugar cane, bananas, pineapple, corn, whatever they know how to grow) until the soil is no longer productive. Then the cattlemen move in, and the result is the desertification of the rainforest (cutting down the trees apparently has a significant negative impact on local rainfall- although I know of no formal study of this phenomenon, I have encountered a number of individuals of scientific persuation that have noted the apparent decline in rainfall as the forest disappears...)

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#52
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 4:09 PM

Yep I'm getting that too.

An answer only seems feasible if deforestation can become deemed economically prohibitive when conducted outside of a globally managed system.

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#83
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/10/2009 3:56 PM

hello cwarner7 11,

i agree with you and think it is important enough not to be off topic to this discussion.

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#44
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 2:11 PM

cwarner7 11:

That is exactly why we propose using the sludge to fertilize. What we take from the soil, we put back, it is that simple. Once the soil is replenished, the we have some very good fertilizer to put on the open market. Let's get real, here.

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#45
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 2:58 PM

Getting real here we need acknowledge that soil maitenance involves adding organic materials such as humus in addition to sludge.

I am sceptical of the general use of the term sludge. The sludge produced from digestion of medical and industrial wastes is not suitable for use in soil maintenance.

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#46
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 3:14 PM

Hello

Please Do read the last para: "......the Bio-fertilizer sludge matter that comes out after the Methane generation would be best used as soil enricher ... These are Nitrogen rich "natural fertilizer", Regenerating the same soil. This is what we call Self Regenerative Recycling" ...in this Thread

Also, we are NOT talking of any other system other than Vegetation systems and other animal/ human organic wastes (including Food wastes)..Medical, Industrial etc DO NOT arise!

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#49
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 3:58 PM

Also, Sludge is humus, or rather, high organic matter. Please take the time to study! The plants need organic matter plus organic nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and other Trace minerals. I suggest you take the time to attend some of the online college courses offered without fee for those not seeking a degree and wishing to know for the sake of knowing, places such as http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm or, perhaps, try Texas A&M if you want a degree.

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#50
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 3:58 PM
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#85
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/10/2009 4:09 PM

i agree. my digester does not make sludge. it makes slurry. easier for me to work with that way.

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#36

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 12:16 PM

Gentlemen, this all sound good at the academic level but don't forget that when you take everything out of the forest (wood, chips, branches and leaves), you remove all the nutrients for the next generation of trees.

If you do, make sure that you will bring the ashes / sediments from your process back to the harvested regions to avoid soil destruction. You don't want to turn forests into deserts the way it is done in the Amazon region.

Also, agro production is at best 50% energy efficient. It only takes the addition of a few more process steps to completely waste the small energy still available. Be very careful with strategies that involves transport and handling over large areas.

I personally believe that we have to start with the project that have a second benefit added. Example: Every city builds various waste treatment plants. Some have digester's to reduce the organic matter volume but few are collecting the gas it produces. Co-generation should be mandatory. In this case all the costs of gathering the raw material has to be spent anyway for sanitary reasons. Once the system operates, we could add the digestion of the garbage collection. This is especially feasible in areas where selective collection is implemented. The idea is to leverage the existing infra-structure. It takes a lot of logistic and trained people to operate these plants. Once that you generate the methane, you need to compress it and distribute it. This is easier to do once a reasonable volume is attained. Doubling the waste water treatment plant capacity to handle domestic wastes doesn't double its cost but saves a lot in garbage disposal. This alone might pay for the added digestion capacity.

Going to the "per household" level is not likely to work for most people. Most people have difficulty to maintain their AC or furnace. How are they going to do it for a fermenter and compressor? Also, smaller systems are less efficient as it is more difficult to maintain the operating temperature. What about safety? How do you prevent people from smoking by the digester? Who is going to fix the leaks? What if one of them explode in the backyard?

This will also apply to India. Some day they will stop using the Gange as a bathroom and build sewers. This will provide them with the needed infra-structure to take care of human wastes. As for the field (agriculture) waste, chop them and leave them in the field. You will save on fertilizers and reduce soil compaction. This is what nature intended.

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#39
In reply to #36

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 1:17 PM

Hello Friends

There is one benign and reverent request to all Honorable members of CR4, who are discussing in these "threads:

For heavens sake, Please.. Please ... Please... do READ and try to understand the different Technical and other related matters that are being presented after Years of Observations, study, Experimentation, trials, and ultimately a lot of irretrievable Sweat (if not blood) and money spent.

We, at Agro-Biogenics, would be very very happy to understand many things WE DO NOT KNOW, for we DO NOT claim even an atom of Knowledge in the Universe of Knowledge. But, surely, whatever we are presenting here are NOT OFF-THE CUFF and over the hat!

For example, here, at least some gentlemen, and some one who has self proclaimed to be a "certifying authority", have attempted to make "off-the-cuff" remarks, without reading and trying to understand even an iota of the different presentations (eg: blog references, site references, etc).

Any questions on specific matters, as were and are being discussed, would be really welcome.

This is a genuinely felt and sadly observed request.. PLEASE

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#51
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/07/2009 4:05 PM

Gentlemen, let us do our research, there are enough detractors around. The oil interests and many of the extreme right conservatives are doing their utmost to derail true progress, for what reason I can only guess. It is certainly not becasue the progress being made will not work. I will let you to =the guessing as to why some people still maintain the earth is flat and is the center of the universe. But, if you are at all interested in the latest research discoveries, I suggest you go to this site and subscribe: http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/matter_energy/

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#56

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/07/2009 5:08 PM

The ethanol seems to be a good choice for sustainable development. Above all, you can get hammered with it and clean yourself from this planet :). And now to be serious, none of these is good enough. Better try this: http://mb-soft.com/public3/globalzb.html A lot simpler, better, cleaner, and sustainable 100%.

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#58

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/08/2009 12:54 AM

The labour required to handle the ton of input for generation of 75 kg of gas is not simply available now a days. Even there is shortage of labour for farming work. The correct solution is to research on plants which can generate electricity directly or to find cheap solar power generators.

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#60
In reply to #58

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/08/2009 3:20 AM

Hello b v rao

Welcome to this Discussion thread!

The truth is that labor is getting dislocated, in view of NEED for livelihood benefits, resulting in "no availability of labor locally". For example, this writer's study of the Wood based Industries (more or less all over India) showed an interesting (and fantastic) phenomenon: that of an entire labor class in the Eastern States of India (Bihar, Orisssa, Assam, and parts of Andhra and West Bengal) migrating to such Industry centers. For example, a detailed study was made in a Place called Perumbavoor (in the Southern State of Kerala), where the total local Population (of the twonship) is about slightly more than 150, 000. There are over 500 Wood based industries (saw mills, plywood factories, and related industries). As one who had certain Techno-commercial interactions with the various Industries there, it was noted that almost the entire labor force in these Industries were from the above-mentioned states - the said labor force generally being young boys in the age group 20 to 28 (Perumbavoor alone has an estimated "migrant labor" of over 20, 000). Discussions with them brought certain "home truths" ...

(a) Almost all villages in States like Orissa, Bihar, Assam, etc have extremely poor living conditions, with very little livelihood possibilities.

(b) An average family consists of 6 to 7 members, and even though many have some Farm lands, returns in Farm work and the wages for labor are extremely poor (the local wage in Orissa State, for example, is about Rs.50/ per day = US $1! And work is available hardly for 100 days in a year)

(c) The Industries, such as Wood conversion plywood factories etc offer wages in the range Rs.75 to Rs.90 per day (often, the labor enjoying "over-time work + wages too), and these industries work almost all throughout the year

(d) At least two young boys from a family go to far away towns (in this survey, Perumbavoor being about 2000 km away from the home-towns of these boys!)

(e) Discussions with such migrant labor force gave definite indications that, if there were to be full time work and wages, locally made available, even at Rs75/ per day, almost the entire labor force would ONLY wish to stay in the local villages, instead of going so far away, leaving family, friends etc. The new places being as good as alien cultures - the language, the customs, the dresses, the food, and so on

Agro-Biogenics is not talking ONLY of some energy generation using the methanogenic route, through Renewable resources conversions; but the Processes are comprehensively designed to create a series of Industrial production systems, that would involve various inter-connected and inter-related techno-commercial end processes. Please study the following:

Agro-Biogenics

pvh_blog

APIX_Blog

Wastes conversion

Our final intention here is to take the most "optimum and sustainable route" to utilize all available renewable Plant/ vegetation resources (Non-food Agro based, Non-agro based weeds, shrubs etc) and practice a Self regenerative Recycling Process that would make sure that the environmental impacts are just minimal. The ultimate Objective is to support Local Labor, @minimum Rs.3, 500 per month (about US $72 all 12 months, against the current average "best" value of less than half that amount). The long term Objectives are presented in the links suggested before

It may also be noted that there is also good business sense, as the Industrial ventures could claim Carbon Credits, Tax benefits and many more such Government supports. But final Objective is to make these attractive enough even without all such doles and benefits from Government!

Regards

Hari

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#62
In reply to #60

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcoh

06/08/2009 1:03 PM

b v rao-

You note, " But final Objective is to make these attractive enough even without all such doles and benefits from Government!"

This is good- any program that relies on the Government dole is inherently unstable, and therefore unsustainable...

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#64

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/09/2009 3:47 AM

Why not harness hot air.

with the UN and world's politicians it is unlikely to be in short supply

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#65
In reply to #64

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/09/2009 9:02 AM

This is especially true with the defeated party. But they have been blowing hot air for the past decade, now it is steam.

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#66

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/09/2009 1:12 PM

Certain Useful Energy-Related Data on Some Fuels

We have various fuels and these are in many forms: Liquids, Solids, and Gaseous. The most used liquid fuels are Gasoline/ Petrol, Diesel, High density Fuel Oil, Kerosene and the like. These days Alcohols and various "mixed fuels" have also come into vogue. A few of the Solid fuels are: Coal, Anthracite, Wood, Dried vegetation matter, Lignin, etc. Some of the more important gaseous fuels are: Methane gas/ Natural gas, Butane, Propane, Syngas and the like. We may be bewildered by such varieties of fuels, not only in each category, but also in terms of their Heat values and Energy conversion potentials. The illustration below offers some data on the Heat energy/ Calorific Values of the various fuels, and also the Energy generation potentials in Combined Heat + Electric Power, using a few of the fuel systems.

Full Size Image is available here

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#67
In reply to #66

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/09/2009 1:40 PM

Hari, You need to expand the image, I can save it and expand it, but for this argument, in needs to come already expanded.

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#68
In reply to #67

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/09/2009 1:49 PM

Hi tank

I have given the link that shows the Full Size image...This site does not allow "expanded" images

Here you have that link again...IMAGE_LINK

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#69

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/09/2009 10:05 PM

Nobody has mentioned, or perhaps I just missed it, the cost in energy or dollars of collecting, storing and distributing methane vs alcohol, or how readily either fuel could be used with existing technology.

Sure, one ton of biomass might generate 75 kg of methane, but that methane will be floating around in a much greater mass of air. It has to be concentrated to a usable form. That takes energy and money. Is that part of the analysis? How does methane compare to ethanol in that way?

Further, how are the fuels stored? To reduce the size of the tanks required, one would typically compress methane. That consumes energy that is typically never reclaimed (the methane gets hot under compression, but that heat just dribbles away.) Again, that requires energy and money. How does ethanol compare?

Also, how are these fuels transported? It isn't clear to me if the plan is to use the fuel locally, or to sell it on the market. If it is the first, the transportation needs aren't as great, but still. Pipelines? Trucks? Rail? Compression tanks?

Lastly, how will it be used? Will it power internal combustion engines, or cook stoves, or large turbines? One fuel might be easier than another for a particular use. For example, ethanol might be easier to use in the engines already out there (it is easy to use in existing automobile engines, which is a major reason why we in the US have been so gung-ho on ethanol). If existing engines or stoves or generators have to be modified to use these fuels, is that cost part of the analysis? That might not be relevant if the goal is to lift poor farmers out of poverty, i.e., you are just going to sell ethanol or methane on the existing market, but it has to be part of a sustainability analysis, because it affects the rate at which those fuels will be adopted on a large scale.

Sorry if these questions have been answered elsewhere. I did look at the website at http://sustainabilityengineering.wordpress.com, but I only saw figures on the poverty levels and wealth disparities, projected productivity figures for the various products (like inorganic fillers), and the like. The above chart only lists energy contents of various fuels. Am I missing something?

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#70
In reply to #69

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/09/2009 10:39 PM

Sure, one ton of biomass might generate 75 kg of methane, but that methane will be floating around in a much greater mass of air. It has to be concentrated to a usable form. That takes energy and money. Is that part of the analysis? How does methane compare to ethanol in that way?

Further, how are the fuels stored? To reduce the size of the tanks required, one would typically compress methane. That consumes energy that is typically never reclaimed (the methane gets hot under compression, but that heat just dribbles away.) Again, that requires energy and money. How does ethanol compare?

Are you purposely reiterating or...

For example, ethanol might be easier to use in the engines already out there (it is easy to use in existing automobile engines, which is a major reason why we in the US have been so gung-ho on ethanol).

More like out of pure ignorance we take one gallon of oil to produce one gallon of ethanol and call it conservation. Using a food crop and adding to our national petroleum deficit while driving up the cost of food doesn't make sense.

Conventional stoves and engines need no more modification than a different nozzle or jetting, get your facts straight. Local production consumed locally eliminates most of your projections accuracy.

You do what you think is best I'm using Methane, I can supply the neighborhood with fuel and production won't stink.

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#72
In reply to #70

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 1:14 AM

(My original words in italics, bwire's in bold italics.)

Sure, one ton of biomass might generate 75 kg of methane, but that methane will be floating around in a much greater mass of air. It has to be concentrated to a usable form. That takes energy and money....

Further, how are the fuels stored? To reduce the size of the tanks required, one would typically compress methane...

"Are you purposely reiterating or..."

I am not reiterating, the two issues are not identical. One is the issue of the cost involved in making pure or nearly pure methane out of a dilute mix of methane and air. The other issue is the cost involved in turning methane at 15 psi to 3000 psi or so.

For example, ethanol might be easier to use in the engines already out there (it is easy to use in existing automobile engines, which is a major reason why we in the US have been so gung-ho on ethanol).

Conventional stoves and engines need no more modification than a different nozzle or jetting, get your facts straight. Local production consumed locally eliminates most of your projections accuracy.

If stoves and engines need only new jets or nozzles, then I am glad to learn that fact. I didn't know, which is why I said "might". However, I also understood that vehicles burning natural gas also needed new fuel lines, some kind of pressure regulator, and a very large compressed gas tank. ( :-) I didn't make any projections, but if I had, I would have provided some math to back them up.)

I don't know about stoves. If they are natural gas stoves, then I would imagine they hardly need any modification. But are natural gas stoves common in rural India? My understanding is that they use mostly simple (some might say primitive) charcoal stoves. If that is the case, how will they use the methane they produce? (If they don't use it, how will they sell it? Etc.)

Anyway, if methane is superior to ethanol in that way, that is fine. My point was that Hari, the OP, appears to have left that factor (the issue of how much existing technology would have to be replaced or modified to use his biofuels) out of his writings.

In particular, the OP's question was not whether methane or ethanol is better for any particular person such as me or you, bwire. Hari cares only about whether it is better for rural, tropical India. That is evident throughout his posts and his website. What is good for me or you might not be for him. My point was that he seems not to have asked certain important questions.

What do you think, guys? Am I doing okay?

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#80
In reply to #72

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 1:59 PM

Salutations karlc,

Good questions...

The type bio-digesters used in discussion anaerobic produce Methane/NG in the absence of oxygen.

the cost involved in turning methane at 15 psi to 3000 psi or so.

Requires much the same equipment as that to produce CNG.

In a somewhat primitive setting Methane/NG about 3-4psi captured in an inner-tube (inner tube from tire) connected to hose or reed/bamboo tubes to clay burner assembly and a suitable stove/oven is born.

vehicles burning natural gas also needed new fuel lines, some kind of pressure regulator, and a very large compressed gas tank

In automobiles 15lbs compressed Methane/CNG = about 50+ miles achievable in 1920's and newer pickups and cars; conventionally aspirated engines being the simplest to convert, a regulator actuated by throttle/accelerator pedal, low pressure hose and a pressure vessel.

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#86
In reply to #80

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 4:23 PM

The type bio-digesters used in discussion anaerobic produce Methane/NG in the absence of oxygen.

Aha! Very good. So we don't need to deal with the refining issue.

[Compressing methane] Requires much the same equipment as that to produce CNG.

That makes sense. But is Hari looking at the cost of purchasing and running that equipment? How would compressors be powered in rural India? Are electric or gas-powered compressors the best way to do it? Perhaps human or animal powered compressors would be better for rural India.

These are all questions that I at least would have expected to have been addressed somehow.

In a somewhat primitive setting Methane/NG about 3-4psi captured in an inner-tube (inner tube from tire) connected to hose or reed/bamboo tubes to clay burner assembly and a suitable stove/oven is born.

Wonderful! That is amazingly ingenious. So if methane is consumed locally using such stoves, there are low or no conversion (from wood to methane stoves) costs. That makes commercial sales of methane in rural India more viable.

I wonder though. If the scheme is to make and consume methane locally, how does that generate income? Hari wants to lift rural India out of poverty (and that is an important and laudable goal, no question), they have to make more methane than they can use. So it has to be transported to urban areas, presumably. How will that be done? How much will that cost? Etc.

In automobiles 15lbs compressed Methane/CNG = about 50+ miles achievable in 1920's and newer pickups and cars; conventionally aspirated engines being the simplest to convert, a regulator actuated by throttle/accelerator pedal, low pressure hose and a pressure vessel.

Good. But if Hari wants to sell his methane, how many potential consumers in his target market will want to pay for that conversion? Could be many, could be few.

Your facts are helpful, bwire. But my point is simply that there are huge areas missing from Hari's scheme, as far as I can see.

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#91
In reply to #86

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 5:07 PM

But my point is simply that there are huge areas missing from Hari's scheme, as far as I can see.

Yes they are missing but huge would not accurately describe them. The omissions are at best minor.

Rural India doesn't require commercially pure Methane initially.

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#95
In reply to #91

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 5:46 PM

Rural India doesn't require commercially pure Methane initially.

I agree, but Hari's website talks about rural Indian farmers generating 7 trillion (with a T) dollars worth of products. It seems unlikely that those farms could consume all those trillions of dollars of product themselves, locally. Also, how will they lift themselves out of poverty, as Hari intends, if they don't sell those products? They have to make more than they consume, and transport and sell it somehow. No?

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#97
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 9:34 PM

While huge areas may be missing from Hari's scheme, his purpose in posting was to open it up and have us help fill those gaps.

With the our combined knowledge, + a few sceptics who will pick some holes (sorry "identify problem areas"), it should be possible to enable Hari to kick it into a decent shape.

If it finally achieves a fraction of what it is planned to do, it will be well worth the effort.

I suggested methanol earlier as a derivative of CH4 because, as a liquid, it is easily stored. Methane storage is difficult.

The fact it can be used in existing motors with some mods is also a plus as you can use existing technology, which everyone is familiar with.

As far as I can see, fuel cells are still expensive and not yet developed enough to be a commercial reality except in limited areas, so for the immediate future, I still see the IC engine remaining important.

Eventually, if the fuel cells live up to their promises, electric may well be the way to go, but it is still some time in the future.

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#99
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 11:05 PM

sceptic, Siemens' 3-10kw unit is promised in the near future at $400.00 per kilowatt. That would be $1200.00 for 3kw to $4000 for a 10kw unit, about the price of a modern heat and air conditioner unit. Another source is Acumentrics at about $800 per kilowatt. Acumentrics may be available this year or next, I have not followed up with that since I like Siemens' approach a little better. But you have links you can follow up with. I believe, also, that there are units being developed in England and Australia, too, under the Google key word CHP. The use of methanol is a very good suggestion and methanol will work in a SOFC equally as well with an internal combustion engine or turbine engine. One of the areas that Agro-Biogenics is looking at is a simple Sterling Engine which might be cheap enough and simple enough to be built on-site to power a generator.

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#103
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Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/11/2009 12:32 AM

Hi chtank

Thanks for the references. I'll follow them up later.

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#71

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/09/2009 11:25 PM

If methane is to be made biologically, it will need to be converted into a transportable form (in most cases liquid) unless it is to be used locally more or less as made.

CH4 + CO2 are readily made into methanol.

With more difficulty and different catalysts it can be made into a petroleum of some sort. Some of the zeolite catalysts are sufficiently selective that quite specific fractions can be produced, eg octane or cetane. To do this requires a sophisticated refinery which then raises the problem and cost of transporting sufficient raw material to site to run it.

Fairly simple plant can do the change into methanol.

As I understand it, methanol cannot be run in unmodified engines and cannot be satisfactorily dissolved in petrol to enable a blended fuel. (Unlike ethanol).

In a suitable engine, methanol has a very high octane rating and energy content can be further boosted by partially "cracking" it before combustion using exhaust gas heat.

It has the further advantage that almost any waste organic matter can be used as raw material to generate the CH4/CO2 mix used as precursor. (Ethanol is much more fussy about it's feedstock).

Methanol can also be readily obtained from coal, giving a potential large scale source, with treatment of municipal wastes and agricultural wastes providing supplementary methanol.

The wastes from anaerobic digestion are basically high in potassium, but usually not especially high in nitrogen or phosphorus, although this varies according to feedstock and treatment regime. However, they are an excellent soil conditioner, doing wonders for the soil structure and improving fertility well beyond the minerals and nutrients they carry. Note that the lignin component of plants is little affected by digestion and may need to be decomposed by fungii or simply plowed into the ground and allow the native fungii to break it down into it's nutrients in situ.

It is not hard to make engines which will run readily on either petrol or methanol (or ethanol). The main changes are in the design (and especially materials) of the fuel system. The combustion end doesn't need significant change.

As methanol became more common, higher compression engines would start to be made which take advantage of the octane rating of methanol (I think of the order of 130 but I'm not sure) and thereby improve efficiency.

From the above, I wonder why we are not looking more at methanol as our future fuel.

Of course a lot of OPEC countries would be upset. The major oil companies wouldn't worry as they would probably already have moved into coal and methanol production anyway.

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#77
In reply to #71

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 9:29 AM

May I point out, sceptic, that rather using methanol or methane in an internal combustion engine, it is far better to use either in a fuel cell, preferred being a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell. The SOFC is more suitable for stationary power generation than for a mobile power plant, but the output can be used to charge batteries, in particular, the LiFePO4 battery, which is the battery of choice for all electric automobiles from Europe that are coming on the market in 2010. For power generation, the SOFC gives about 40% to 50% efficiency, far better than the best large fossil fueled power plants existing today. In addition, the SOFC';s deficiency can be increased by capturing the exhaust heat generated to drive a gas turbine (large plant), a sterling engine (small plant), the heat used to convert methane/CO2 into methanol or other liquid organic chemical, or, finally, be used for heating water, heating homes and offices, or cooking.

To answer an earlier question, in bio-digestion, the methane produced is NOT a mixture of methane and air, but rather is produced in the absents of air (oxygen). It is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide and some water vapor. The digestion takes place in water and in the process, some alcohol is produce and remains in the effluent. This alcohol can be distilled (vacuum still being the best) but unless solar energy is use (or perhaps the exhaust heat from a SOFC) it is not economically feasible to operate a vacuum still for this purpose. The young man who made the comment of bio-digestion producing a mixture of methane and air needs to review his high school chemistry or pay a bit more attention while in class.

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#87
In reply to #77

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 4:34 PM

To answer an earlier question, in bio-digestion, the methane produced is NOT a mixture of methane and air, but rather is produced in the absents of air (oxygen). It is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide and some water vapor. The digestion takes place in water and in the process, some alcohol is produce and remains in the effluent. This alcohol can be distilled (vacuum still being the best) but unless solar energy is use (or perhaps the exhaust heat from a SOFC) it is not economically feasible to operate a vacuum still for this purpose. The young man who made the comment of bio-digestion producing a mixture of methane and air needs to review his high school chemistry or pay a bit more attention while in class.

Thank you, bwire also mentioned this. I did indeed not pay enough attention in high school chemistry! But I had only encountered methane generation as a byproduct of some biological processes, not as an industrial process devoted to producing methane.

But the question remains: how do you turn that mixture of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor into commercially pure methane? Is that cost factored into the overall income projections? Hari's website talks about trillions of dollars of production (from methane, as well as other products such as fertilizer) from rural farms in India. If you use some kind of machine to refine methane, how is that machinery purchased and maintained, or even transported? Reasonably cautious investors and supporters would want to know.

(I am actually fairly old, though I might not sound it!)

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#73

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 2:10 AM

Lots of good discussion and sharing of opinions.

I have a question to the originators and others who may wish to comment.

Much of the material that I've seen relating to ethanol production has already selected a small portion of the vegetative matter (typically the grain) as its feedstock while the digester production of methane seems to use unsorted biomass.

Maybe the comparison should be yield of end fuel material per "sun drenched surface area of land used per time period considered" [Like a measure of productivity per hectare/year.] (presuming same level of solar irradiation.)

I suppose what I'm suggesting is that to make a valid scientific comparison we should be looking for an input to output ratio where the input can then be compared as a common denominator. A ton of feedstock for a fermenter may not represent the same solar inputs as a ton of feedstock for a digestor.

I understand that one reason for using grain as feedstock for fermentation is that it is "concentrated" protein/carbohydrate from the solar radiation and thus needs lees transport than general vegetable matter, but if there's (relatively) no transport distance then that's no longer an issue.

From my situation, I'm interested in a system smaller than the 30Ha unit proposed. If I could get a "turnkey" system in the 1 to 2 kW range where methane powered generator ran 24/7 then I've got something to compete with solar/wind/grid power supply and can return the waste materials to "on farm" usage and am allowed (in Australia) to sell my excess power back to the grid.

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#88
In reply to #73

Re: Which is More Sustainable – Vegetation to Methane Gas or Vegetation to Alcohol?

06/10/2009 4:38 PM

the problem with giving you the answer you ask for is that there are too many variables. also each of the variables has a scale, and the impact of that variable changes with the scale. best example, is temperature. it is the most important variable. in normal digesters, it is possible to extract all of the methane in as little as one month if the temperature is held in the range around body temp. say 85 to 101 F. if the temp drops consistently to 60 and stays their, it might take 6 months with the same system to extract the methane. if the temp nears freezing, the methane never comes out until the temp rises. then you have what is going on above the artic circle. the ground is thawing out for the first time and releasing massive amounts of methane.

this is just one variable.

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