Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood? Add Water (maybe)

This NYTimes article on a Georgia company's new way of turning wood chips into biofuel is encouraging - if it works out, it'd be great news for meeting Nevada County's energy needs and clearing our underbrush.
(and no, I have not tried to work out the math here.)


gzaller said...

The reporting on efforts like this gives a false hope that technology will allow us to have our cake and eat it too. I suspect the only possible practical use for cellulose is to combust it to make electricity. Otherwise forget it.

It is likely that the fuel industry is sitting on patents that would dramatically conserve fossil fuels and the economics of exploitation keep them hidden.

The most practical way to save fuel is still to not use it.

Anna Haynes said...

> "a false hope that technology [will let us continue]"..."only possible practical use for cellulose is to combust it"...

Greg, is there evidence to support your opinions, or are they just opinions?

> The most practical way to save fuel is still to not use it.

True, efficiency is the low-hanging fruit; but as a sole solution it won't fly, politically or practically. We need to move forward with new energy solutions; as we have in the past.

gzaller said...

I agree with you Anna that we should be able to support our points at least to some reasonable extent. I understand your point that this is a lot of work and probably not worth the effort in many ways.

I truly believe, though, it is important for everyone or at least a decided voting majority to have a realistic understanding of energy realities.

From what I can find out, there is still a debate about the ultimate efficiency of ethanol production from corn. Estimates range from negative to 25% efficiency. I did not find disagreement about that it is not cost effective and that it must be subsidized for it to be feasible.

Even though the potential efficiency of the process described for cellulose in this blog was not given I assume it is no better than ethanol production from corn.

Cellulose waste can be burned at an efficiency of 80%. It is used cost effectively today for heat and electricity generation.

Anna Haynes said...