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Sam
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i would argue that food is also a biofuel and land has been deforested and degraded for food production for thousands of years. furthermore, recent deforestation projects may not capture significant energy from the destroyed biomass, compounding the issue. now we pump fuel out of the ground to produce and process food. we are far removed from the actual impact of our energy consumption practices. low-tech biofuels could help rural communities in industrialized nations change this while demonstrating low-input community design.
The FFV's that are in use are not necessarily near E85 stations. Thats because most of our ethanol comes from corn in the midwest and most of our FFVs are on the coasts. Distribution is a major issue for biofuels. But biomass resources to produce biogas and syngas are available in most places, these could be catalytically upgraded to liquid fuels or used for CHP/trigen systems for electricity/light manufacturing and/or food storage.
The FFV's that are in use are not necessarily near E85 stations. Thats because most of our ethanol comes from corn in the midwest and most of our FFVs are on the coasts. Distribution is a major issue for biofuels. But biomass resources to produce biogas and syngas are available in most places, these could be catalytically upgraded to liquid fuels or used for CHP/trigen systems for electricity/light manufacturing and/or food storage.
OK so with solar thermal plants the energy problem is solved, I can buy that. Maybe transport too, but we have to consider the extraordinary amount of resources to build all those batteries - that has an ecological cost too. Then, will we produce food with electricity too? Or with our bare hands? (I'm all for it but it ain't gonna happen for all of us tomorrow). Otherwise your talking about major retrofit or replacement a whole lot of equipment that runs on petroleum products. To me there's no doubt that biological resources must play a role in weaning us off petroleum/coal products that our society relies on for more than just energy. Solar thermal systems are definitely a huge part of the solution and could be even be linked up with biofuels processes.
climate scientists are engaging in very complex modeling of our earth ecosystem, with an extraordinary amount of data. nonetheless, the models will have flaws, just like your weatherman is not always going to be right. to think that these climate models are going to be exact is bogus (they are general models to predict weather trends). there will still be snowstorms. bottom line is that some of the most educated people in the world engage in some form of modeling and are successful in doing so. in any modeling exercise, it is important to realize the limitations - we cannot possibly model everything. but, any one who has used models before can tell that they are can be valuable for understanding the dynamics of physical systems. the reason models are used is because performing the physical experiment required to observe those dynamics is impossible due to technical and/or financial constraints. in essence, climate scientists see the industrial revolution as an experiment from which they can obtain data about how anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions could affect the planet's climate. sure, they can't measure everything and predict everything, but the scientific valor of their results is pretty sound as these models are undoubtedly derived from first principles (physical laws of the universe, mass/energy balances, etc.). do we really believe that all of these climate scientists are making full careers of just generating bunk data and models? it is more realistic to believe that these folks are applying their knowledge and experience to try to understand the extremely complex dynamics of earth's climate, just as the rest of us do the same in our own respective professional pursuits. sure there are probably some that are looking to profit from their work, but most of us are just trying to put food on the table and a roof over our heads.
when anyone says "the economics don't work out" on any waste reduction/reuse projects, we need a strong innovative private sector that is solving these problems, not just trying to maintain the status quo. obviously our large companies invest in R and D, but how much of that is addressing the issue of reduce waste rather than increased revenues? as resources become scarce/regulated the companies/peoples/nations that have focused on these problems will be successful.
Burning gaseous fuels (hydrocarbon or biomass derived) is clearly best way to use an internal combustion engine. This study shows that the effects of burning liquid and solid hydrocarbon fuels are beyond just CO2 emissions and don't even take into account mercury and other ecosystem effects. We should seriously start to question the promise of battery electric technology where are all those chemicals going to come from anyway? And where will they go when the batteries die. If companies can develop processes to recycle battery chemicals into new batteries, then there is some hope, but we need to consider the costs of constructing and maintaining energy transfer equipment (engines, batteries, fuel cells, turbines, etc.).
H2 could be derived from the methane or from an associated gasification process. Another critique would be in regards to catalysis: are there any precious metal catalysts and what are their lifecycles? What infrastructure is required beyond what they have pictured in their PFD?
Kelly - if they told you that then you'd have a target of how to make something better - heaven forbid. Needless to say, companies should be more diligent and open about both the economic and ecological costs of their doing business, whether it's a "green" process or not.
Building on Alex's point, it looks like a lot of liquid fuels, which due to their larger structure, burn less completely than gaseous fuels like biogas and syngas. There definitely needs to be a balance between catalytic processes for solid->gas->liquid->energy and non-catalytic processes for solid->gas->energy. Liquid fuels are great, but are they always necessary and net energy effective?