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Posts tagged “cellulosic ethanol”

By Robert Rapier on Jan 23, 2007 with no responses

My Reaction to the State of the Union

I think it’s great to set ambitious goals. It’s true that if you set stretch goals, but fall a bit short, you still probably did OK. But it is also important to set goals that have a reasonable chance of success, especially when the consequences of falling short are high. In President Bush’s State of the Union address tonight, he called for a 20% reduction in our gasoline consumption in the next 10 years. That’s a noble goal, and one that I fully support. For this goal, President Bush deservedly received a standing ovation. In fact, a 20% reduction would still have the U.S. using significantly more energy than the average European (we currently use about double the energy of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 21, 2007 with no responses

Key Questions on Energy Options

A question was recently posed to me: What is the most important question concerning ethanol production? That got me to thinking about important questions regarding not only ethanol, but all of our energy sources. There are a number of issues that we must carefully consider for any of our potential energy sources. In my opinion, they are: 1. Is the energy source sustainable? 2. What are the potential negative externalities of producing/using this energy source? 3. What is the EROEI? 4. Is it affordable? 5. Are there better alternatives? 6. Are there other special considerations? 7. In summary, are the advantages of the source large enough to justify any negative consequences? For the purposes of this essay, I want to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 19, 2006 with no responses

Cellulosic Ethanol Reality Check

I firmly believe we should be aggressively researching the potential of cellulosic ethanol. This was after all the topic of my graduate school work at Texas A&M. But I think the hype has gotten way out of touch with reality at this point in time. There is a reason that nobody today is making money with cellulosic ethanol. It is quite possible that they never will, and in this essay I will discuss the reasons for that. I did an interview with a major publication last week on the topic of cellulosic ethanol. I won’t divulge any details, because I don’t want to leak out anything before it is published. But during the course of the interview, I made the… Continue»

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 Sep 24, 2006 with no responses

CAFE Loophole

The ethanol bubble has been bursting a bit lately. I don’t say that with glee, because I hate to see people lose money, especially when it was due largely to misleading claims. (I say that even though 95% of the hate mail I get comes from ethanol investors). I hope the end of the irrational exuberance we have seen in the ethanol market will lead to a more fact-based look at which technologies are needed to replace or supplement fossil fuels, and what technical challenges must be overcome before that happens. There are certain things we can do to help ethanol along that I completely agree with. Because of the great potential, I think we need to heavily fund cellulosic… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 23, 2006 with no responses

Guest Post on Cellulosic Ethanol

The following is a guest post by Don Augenstein and John Benemann. They have many years of expertise in biomass conversion. This essay is in response to Vinod Khosla’s recent posting on ethanol. In my opinion, it is an excellent essay. First is the introduction by Don Augenstein. Introduction This post presents a perspective on ethanol from lignocellulose by my friend and co-worker, John Benemann. We have worked on, and been immersed in, biofuels and analyses of fuels from biomass processes for over 3 decades. We are to substantial degrees biotechnologists, as well as chemical engineers and have successful processes going today (methane from wastes. You can google Don Augenstein). We have worked long and hard on biofuels for entities… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 10, 2006 with no responses

Xethanol Story

Xethanol Debunked (Updated 8-11-06 to dissect XNL News Release) In case you didn’t see it, earlier this week the website posted a blistering exposé of Xethanol (XNL: AMEX): Xethanol Corp A recent press release from Xethanol describes the company as follows: Xethanol Corporation’s goal is to be a leader in the emerging biomass-to-ethanol and biofuels industry. Xethanol’s mission is to optimize the use of biomass in the renewable energy field and convert biomass that is currently being abandoned or land filled into ethanol and other valuable co-products, especially xylitol. Xethanol’s strategy is to deploy proprietary biotechnologies that will extract and ferment the sugars trapped in these biomass waste concentrations. Xethanol’s strategic value proposition is to produce ethanol and valuable… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 8, 2006 with no responses

Imagining the Future of Gasoline

The essay below was cross-posted to The Oil Drum. Mr. Khosla is opening up his ethanol ideas to public criticism, which is a good thing for all parties. We have been debating these issues via phone and e-mail for quite a while now, and it is time to open up the debate to a wider audience. Enjoy. ——————- One thing I strongly believe in is the issue of fairness. I enjoy a good scientific debate, and I find that the best debates are those in which opposing sides are honestly presented. With this in mind, below I present Vinod Khosla’s vision of our energy future. If you are like me, you will find aspects of agreement, and aspects of disagreement,… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 29, 2006 with no responses

A Conversation with Vinod Khosla

Introduction and Background In my recent essay Vinod Khosla Debunked, I challenged Mr. Khosla to a written debate on his recent ethanol claims. Mr. Khosla e-mailed me shortly after that essay appeared, and offered to discuss the matter by phone. I wanted to first make sure he understood my objections, so we exchanged several e-mails in which I spelled them out. Finally, he called this morning and we spent about an hour and a half on the phone. There was very little small talk – no chit chat, jokes, or laughter. We got right down to business. I took a lot of notes, and I will try to reproduce the conversation. He encouraged me to report on what we talked… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 24, 2006 with 3 responses

Vinod Khosla Debunked

Update: Vinod Khosla and I have discussed his claims. That conversation is documented here. Who is Vinod Khosla? When an influential person begins to affect energy policy decisions – decisions that will have a huge impact on all of our lives – we better take a critical look at the claims that person is pushing. You can’t discuss ethanol for long with an ethanol proponent without having them mention the endorsement of Vinod Khosla. If you don’t know who Khosla is, here are a couple of blurbs from his Wikipedia biography: Vinod Khosla is an Indian American venture capitalist who is considered one of the most successful and influential personalities in Silicon Valley. He was one of the co-founders of… Continue»