Engineering Materials

Biofuel From Seaweed Saves Water, Land Area

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Jerry dycus
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Re: Low yields
Jerry dycus   10/19/2012 2:37:43 PM

   I, you can make as much syn gas as you want by heating yard wastes, etc to 1500F to get H2 and CO/syngas. So H2 is not expensive or hard to get.


  There is plenty of waste  here in Fla for free and they'll even pay you to take it!! Plus crop, forest wastes makes growing seaweed an expensive choice, source.


What is needed is a eff way to convert it to liquid fuels.  anyone know a viable process?  FT is so so because it wastes too much in CO2 and waste heat production though the heat could be turned into electricity.


Can one heat woody biomass with H2 under pressure and get sellable, useable HC's especially liquid ones preferably from propane to medium gasolines?

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My take on this situation
Jim_E   10/19/2012 9:22:21 AM
Here are my opinions:

- CAFE standards are not the answer, especially since vehicles that meet these standards aren't for everyone.  I'm glad that fuel effecient vehicles are available, but I surely don't want the government forcing me into a small, underpowered car.  I lived through the results of the first Carter administration, and am now living through the second Carter administration.  ;)

- Ethanol.  What's the point?  It absorbs water and can't be transferred via pipeline, is harmful to the fuel systems of most vehicles, and decreases MPG.  Then you have the government subsidies and all the garbage related to that, and the effects of diverting food crops to energy production.  I'd love be able to buy straight gasoline, but it's no longer available in Pennsylvania.

I think the answer might be related to technologies that can convert feedstocks directly into gasoline and diesel, like this: 



- As for the smart grid, I have no desire for that at home.  I actually implement DR (Demand Response) and SR (Synchronous Reserve) programs as a part of my job, and while it's a nice extra money saver for participating companies (the power company pays us to drop our load) at home it would just be uncomfortable.  I don't want the power company telling me that I need to turn off my heater or air conditioner at home, especially if I wasn't being paid nicely for it.


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Low yields
Ann R. Thryft   10/18/2012 12:22:30 PM
Alternative energy is one of the industries Design News covers. I think Nadine's points are well taken about using less energy. Americans have been wasting it for decades, compared to the simpler lifestyles of some other people on the planet. It's also the case, as we've mentioned several times in articles about alternative energy sources, including this one, that the model for these is quite different from the mono-model for petro-based fuels: "it's unlikely that any one sustainable and alternative fuel and energy source will single-handedly replace petroleum-based sources. Instead, it will likely take a mix." A parallel mix of strategies are going into efforts like the CAFE standards, as Chuck's slideshow showed:

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Re: Low yields
naperlou   10/18/2012 11:29:54 AM
NadineJ, you are exactly right.  In the electrical realm this has been happening.  Thus, you hear about a paradoxical situation in which rates may go up because people are using less.  This is due to the high fixed costs of electricity.

In the transportation fuels area we have a real problem.  The new CAFE standards are important.  The fact is that, all complaining about gasoline prices aside, many people still drive cars that get horrible gas mileage.  We recently had to replace our ten year old minivan.  My wife was looking at all the alternatives and ended up getting a small sedan.  Well, I heard her say the other day, as a large SUV went by, that those people were driving a car that got about 10 MPG in the city.  That's what large cars got in the 1970s. 

In the electicial utility world they call it Demand Side Management (DSM).  It was done with large customers first.  With SmartGrid technology it is being extended to households.  This includes information about usage, and variable pricing.  Perhaps we need to do something along those lines for automobiles. 

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Re: Low yields
NadineJ   10/18/2012 11:02:45 AM
Maybe, look at it from a different angle.  Instead of creating massive amounts of energy, let's decrease our usage.  Low yields wouldn't be as much as an isuue.  The possibility of local production would make a big difference as well.

Jimmy Carter was criticized for telling America to "put on a sweater" when it's cold instead of turning up the heat.  If we'd done that 30 years ago, we wouldn't need so many other energy options today.

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Low yields
naperlou   10/18/2012 10:14:28 AM
Ann, that is the problem with all these alternatives, low yield.  To make ethanol you need sugars!  The best feedstock is sugar cane.  Corn is a reasonable alternative, but not as efficient.  I find it interesting that you have all these articles about alternatives, here in Design News and elsewhere, and yet none of them amount to more than a few percent of what is needed.  Remember when President George W. Bush started talking about switchgrass?  He was roundly criticised.  Well, I have heard the Obama Administration talk about it.  Recently, the new fad was algae. 

In any event, an organic alternative will always have effects on the ecosystem.  Large scale cultivation, I mean large enough for energy needs, will have an effect on the oceans.  Whether this is good or bad, I do not know, but it will have an effect.

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