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  #1  
Old 09-14-2007, 09:36 AM
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"Factory" biodiesel an environmental con job?

I've seen a number of articles in publications such as New Scientist and on the BBC web site discussing the fact that the processing of newly grown agricultural products into biodiesel and ethanol is actually worse for the environment that using dino diesel.

Now this report from the OECD no less discussing the same thing.

http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070914.wibreguly14/BNStory/robColumnsBlogs/home

This does not criticize the conversion of waste products such as food or wood waste into bio fuels, as the Germans do, or WVO use, but it certainly criticizes the trend to grow corn and canola for fuel production.

If this is all true then I may as well stick with the cheaper dino diesel
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  #2  
Old 09-14-2007, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 300sdToronto View Post
I've seen a number of articles in publications such as New Scientist and on the BBC web site discussing the fact that the processing of newly grown agricultural products into biodiesel and ethanol is actually worse for the environment that using dino diesel.

Now this report from the OECD no less discussing the same thing.

http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070914.wibreguly14/BNStory/robColumnsBlogs/home

This does not criticize the conversion of waste products such as food or wood waste into bio fuels, as the Germans do, or WVO use, but it certainly criticizes the trend to grow corn and canola for fuel production.

If this is all true then I may as well stick with the cheaper dino diesel
I think anytime you start playing around with a food/animal feed source there are some serious concerns and unforeseen consequences. Not only is corn being diverted for ethanol production, but fields that would have otherwise been planted with something else are being used for corn/ethanol production as well.
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Old 09-14-2007, 11:05 AM
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also, corn is a VERY heavy eater, the plant will completely deplete the soil of nutrients in 2 years. Rotation is needed with cover crops and mulching needed to keep the soil healthy. (anybody ever hear of the dust bowl?) IF corn production goes full swing, to producing fuel, several steps may be left out of the average farmer's routine resulting in soil conservation efforts being needed.
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  #4  
Old 09-14-2007, 11:13 AM
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Just to point out that the article cites ethanol, specifically corn-based ethanol production, as a "con job".

Nowhere does it mention biodiesel, or other biofuels.
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  #5  
Old 09-14-2007, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Douglas.Sherida View Post
Just to point out that the article cites ethanol, specifically corn-based ethanol production, as a "con job".

Nowhere does it mention biodiesel, or other biofuels.
Corn based ethanol is a con job as it takes more energy to make the ethanol than you get back out of it. Sugarcane based ethanol like the Brazilians use gives more energy back than it takes to make so it is a good way to go. We should all be driving our gassers on RUM and our Diesels on rapeseed based bioD, which I believe gives the highest oil yields (better than soy, etc)
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  #6  
Old 09-14-2007, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LUVMBDiesels View Post
Corn based ethanol is a con job as it takes more energy to make the ethanol than you get back out of it. Sugarcane based ethanol like the Brazilians use gives more energy back than it takes to make so it is a good way to go. We should all be driving our gassers on RUM and our Diesels on rapeseed based bioD, which I believe gives the highest oil yields (better than soy, etc)
++

My bioD is a byproduct of glycol production
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  #7  
Old 09-14-2007, 11:37 AM
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The main criticism is with ethanol. It takes a large amount of heat to distill it to a pure enough form to use as fuel. In other words it takes about 3 gallons of ethanol to make four gallons. Biodiesel is different, it takes about one gallon of biodiesel to produce 10 gallons. Although alternative heat sources (solar, geothermal,nuclear) could be used to distill it that energy could be used for other things.

Another problem with biofuels is acrolein emissions. Acrolein emissions are notably higher when using biofuels in engines when compared to petroleum based fuels. Acrolein is also a by product of distillation although it can be controlled in a production process. In short, we will not all be able to use biofuels due to the increase in acrolien emissions, however that doesn't mean that some of us can't.
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  #8  
Old 09-14-2007, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by winmutt View Post
++

My bioD is a byproduct of glycol production
That's the way to go... getting two products from one process.

Are you making antifreeze?

How much BioD do you get from the process? In other words, is it in commercial quantities?
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  #9  
Old 09-14-2007, 12:27 PM
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I think corn based ethanol is bad. Still, I look at it and other bio fuels as stepping stones or intern steps. For ethanol, I would say cellulose production or other waste stock. Possibly waste from biodiesel production.
For biodiesel, I hear rapeseed (canola oil) is a bit better than soy oil. Still, I think if you mechanically press out the oil is soy bean, you can still use the mash for feed. It give less yield than chemical processes. I think if alge porduction will work, than there's at least a partial answer.
As far a Brazilian sugar cane or Jathropa from Indonesia, I question what the enviromental impact is from rain forest devistation.
Tom
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  #10  
Old 09-14-2007, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vstech View Post
also, corn is a VERY heavy eater, the plant will completely deplete the soil of nutrients in 2 years. Rotation is needed with cover crops and mulching needed to keep the soil healthy. (anybody ever hear of the dust bowl?) IF corn production goes full swing, to producing fuel, several steps may be left out of the average farmer's routine resulting in soil conservation efforts being needed.
The price of fertilizer has jumped 10% in the past 2 months alone (thanks to the increased use of Nitrogen for corn production).
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  #11  
Old 09-14-2007, 01:04 PM
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Some insightful replies here.

I think the key messages are that

(1) intensive farming uses high (and often hidden) energy inputs and if not done very carefully, runs the risk of soil degredation and pollution run-off

and

(2) the source of biofuels needs to be looked at critically. Some are a net improvement in terms of resource use compared to fossil fuels and some are definitely much worse in overall impact on our planet!

Now I have to debug my cruise control as the AC and heat are fixed! Cheers all....
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  #12  
Old 09-14-2007, 01:47 PM
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Its all politics.....the government has always subsidized corn production and assisted in finding new uses for it including the big push 35-40 years ago to us corn syrup fructous as a sweetner in everything including cranberry juice.
You can thank them partially for the obesity and diabetes in this country!

Corn is not the answer for a biofuel.....as some have already said.. the yield is too low! 10% at best for biodiesel production. Sugarcane in SouthAmerica
has a 200 to 300% yield for biofuels....but that is a different climate and growing environment that lends itself to crops like sugarcane.

We need to pursue the development of new crops and hybrid plants that are compatible with our climates and soil types in the US that have a high yield potential for biofuels. Corn is only good for Cow feed and summer picnics!
And I think soy beans should be only looked at as a transitional source.....the "Soy Bean Lobbyists" won't like to hear that either!

Sorry for the rant!
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  #13  
Old 09-14-2007, 01:54 PM
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at least soybean improves the soil rather than depleting it. the legume status of the plant draws nitrogen from the air and leaves more than it takes! no idea if the plant is as good or better or worse than corn or any other type of plant at making fuel.
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  #14  
Old 09-14-2007, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by vstech View Post
at least soybean improves the soil rather than depleting it. the legume status of the plant draws nitrogen from the air and leaves more than it takes! no idea if the plant is as good or better or worse than corn or any other type of plant at making fuel.
vstech...good point! It could be incorporated into the crop rotation in certain parts of the country to restore/fix nitrogen in the soil that would be depleted by the higher yield "fuel crop" grown in the previous season. Peanuts (another legume) could be used the same way. The added benefit is that the soy bean or peanut crops used to restore the soil could also be used for biofuel production but it would be at a lower yield than the main fuel crop.
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Last edited by F18; 09-14-2007 at 02:34 PM.
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  #15  
Old 09-14-2007, 03:05 PM
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those are some pretty grand assertions. Anyone have links (that's an objective source), sources for their information?

I'm certainly no fan of corn based ethanol, but not of misinformation either..there's A LOT of it out there.
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