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By Robert Rapier on Oct 22, 2006 with 1 response

Cellulosic Ethanol vs. Biomass Gasification

Introduction I have this neat new cellulose conversion process. I am looking for funding and working on a patent application. The invention is a personal cellulosic biomass reactor. In the first reaction step, the cellulose is partially converted to CO and H2 (syngas). In the second step, one could do many things with the syngas: produce methanol, ethanol, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, or combust it for heat or electricity. I chose the combustion for heat route, which occurs very rapidly following the 1st step. The combustion products are CO2 and water, but the CO2 that is released is equivalent to the CO2 that was taken up by the biomass while it was growing. It is therefore neutral with respect to Greenhouse Gas… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 18, 2006 with no responses

Environmental Irony in Virginia

I ran across an ironic article today from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In part, it read: Oct. 17–Virginia has one public filling station where motorists can fill up with E-85 fuel, and stations providing the gasoline alternative for government vehicles number just five. Yesterday, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine joined representatives of General Motors and state and federal agencies in launching the first E-85 pump in the Richmond area. The pump, connected to an 8,000-gallon tank, is at a state fleet-vehicle office on Leigh Street. Kaine touted the environmental and human-health benefits of a cleaner-burning motor fuel and praised the public-private partnerships that promote the fuel’s use. Bless their hearts. And then they follow up that sentence with: He then filled up… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 10, 2006 with no responses

Report: Brazilian Ethanol is Sustainable

For those who are expecting a Brazilian debunking, I am going to have to disappoint you. My previous debunking was not addressed at the issue of whether Brazilian ethanol is sustainable, but rather whether their example can be exported to the U.S. Whenever the topic of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol has come up, my response is generally that from what I have read, it appears to be a pretty good deal. Furthermore, I have never seen evidence to dispute the high EROEI claims of sugarcane ethanol. However, I will usually note that there are few comprehensive reports that have examined the process in detail, and I would feel more comfortable about the positive assessments if someone did such a study. My… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 9, 2006 with no responses

Fan Mail – Part II

Now, for the second installment – Jim Paris’ over the top rant in which he ignores everything I have been telling him – followed by a response to the points he raised. I did send him a direct e-mail response prior to writing this one, but I basically just blasted him for the willful ignorance he displayed in his response. I offered to address his points provided he gave me permission to post the exchange, but told him I was finished doing this solely for his benefit. Ultimately, after he said “no” to posting the exchange, I decided to post it anyway. An Analogy However, I still hope that Jim can learn something. If he doesn’t learn anything else, I… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 7, 2006 with no responses

Fan Mail – Part I

Warning: If you send me an e-mail, in which you proceed to waste my time and make a fool of yourself, consider it fair game for publication. When I get these e-mails, I have always asked permission for publication, but I will no longer extend that courtesy for flagrantly rude, over-the-top e-mails, like the exchange I am about to highlight. If I am going to waste time on this sort of stuff, others should be able to learn from the exchange. I don’t have time to answer too many e-mails in detail AND post essays to my blog and The Oil Drum. I get all sorts of e-mails, but inevitably get some that disagree with my position on some point… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 6, 2006 with no responses

The End of Fossil Energy

A couple of months ago, I received an e-mail from John Howe, author of the book The End of Fossil Energy and the Last Chance for Survival. He indicated his concern that the public is not getting the message on Peak Oil, and he asked if I would be interested in receiving a copy of his book. I accepted his gracious offer, which I received in the mail a few days later. A couple of weeks later, I read it on a flight to San Francisco. There is something in the book for just about everyone, but I would especially recommend it as an introduction to the topic of Peak Oil. I told John I would post an essay here… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Sep 29, 2006 with no responses

Another Khosla Critic

A reader recently e-mailed me the following link from Reason Online: An Open Letter to Vinod Khosla This letter to Mr. Khosla, from a fellow Indian émigré, echoes a number of points I have made regarding Mr. Khosla and California’s Proposition 87. Some excerpts: Now you have become the prophet of alternative fuels that, you believe, are going to revolutionize the energy industry, much as the internet revolutionized communications. You are impatient to cut by half President Bush six-year timetable to bring cellulosic ethanol produced from farm waste to the market. But, with all due respect, even a man of your stellar track record can’t simply will markets to do his bidding; an economy is not a machine that can… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Sep 27, 2006 with no responses

Ammonia and Biofuels

The following is a guest post by Dave Bradley, who has some very good technical essays on wind power here. Dave introduced himself to me via e-mail several months ago, and after exchanging a few e-mails in which we covered many technical issues, it became clear that we share a number of very similar interests. One of Dave’s essays that caught my attention involved the very interesting idea of using excess wind power to make methanol, ethanol, or even ammonium nitrate fertilizer. But Dave doesn’t just throw an idea out there; he gets into the important technical details. I mentioned this paper in my essay on Compressed Air Energy Storage. Dave explains in the following essay how we could use… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on with no responses

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Khosla

Note: I am not trying to be disrespectful to Mr. Khosla with this title, nor am I implying that he is a bad guy or a monster. The title is meant to capture his penchant for inconsistent arguments on the same issue, almost as if the issue was being argued by two different people. Mr. Khosla has been much in the news lately. In the upcoming issue of Wired, he again repeats the claim that it is twice as efficient to produce ethanol as it is to produce gasoline: “A typical corn ethanol plant produces 1.3 to 1.8 BTUs for every BTU of fossil fuel input, including the energy required to grow the corn. (Gasoline has half the efficiency of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Sep 25, 2006 with no responses

Man Builds 105 MPG Car

I don’t think you would want to take it out on the interstate, but it’s pretty cool to see people working on stuff like this. $2,500 DIY Cars Tired of high gas prices? For $2,500 and 1,000 hours, you can build a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon. In a world where the price of oil is trending towards infinity, large companies are quickly seeking alternative energy sources for transportation. Jory Squibb decided he’d build his own fuel-miser, and set about creating it from second-hand motorcycle parts. The resultant vehicle, christened MOONBEAM, gets 80-85 mpg around town and under economy run conditions (max 40 mph) delivers 105 mpg. Two scooters for the bits cost US $500, and the… Continue»