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LOL Environmentally friendly killing machines

Discussion in 'General' started by Booga, 2 Nov 2010.

  1. Sloth

    Sloth #yolo #swag

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    Could you cite some of those? I admit that I don't follow Mexican corn prices, nor UK wheat production, and it'd be nice to get some more background on where you're coming from with those before joining this discussion.

    Algae bioreactors have a spiffy page on Wikipedia to read, and I've already read a bit about them being used to absorb CO2 emmissions from power plants, so that side's covered.
     
  2. Pieface

    Pieface Modder

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  3. Sloth

    Sloth #yolo #swag

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    That article seems to counter what you've been arguing. That's 3.5 million tons of excess wheat, no one's going hungry.

    Unless you want to argue that whoever would normally buy it as an export is going hungry. But then you're walking down a very slippery slope. More on hunger later.

    It also goes to say that higher prices of crops is a good thing, and makes some sense in doing so. I have to agree with it, really. Would you rather blow your money on oil companies or on agricultural industries which help developing nations? My money's on agriculture.

    I'm normally quite lenient about sources (I use Wikipedia, afterall), but that also has nothing to back up its facts and is a bit too biased to take on faith. Not saying they aren't true just because of that, but I'll leave those bits alone until I can get around to seeing where Biofuel Watch got them.

    The quotes are the only things which cite their source so I'll build this off of Lester Brown's quote. Brown states "The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed on person for a year". Now that's a striking figure. Certainly makes me question the ethics behind biofuel. But then I have to ask, and Nexxo's already brought this up, how about rather than even buying an SUV in the first place you consider how much food that money could buy? This is the attitude that really gets me riled up about environmental/hunger concerns. It's terribly easy for activists to draw the line of acceptable pracitices right at their own feet so, magically, everything they do in their current comfortable lifestyle is protected. We all love our cars so we don't even consider options that deprive us of them.

    I hate to use this bread and butter argument, particularly because it's so personal and aggresive, but what have you done to help the hungry people of the world? Donated some cans of soup at a food drive, then went home to your warm and dry home with full refrigerator and pantry? I won't judge you, I do the exact same thing. The fact that any of us are here shows that we're more interested in buying a PC for our own benefit than donating that money to starving people around the world. I only wish to say: be aware of the times when your caring suddenly stops because it infringes on your own quality of life.

    That is for everyone, and I like to keep myself reminded of it as much as possible, as a 40 mile a day driver with a gasoline powered car who leaves his PC on overnight and uses an electric heater to unnecessarily warm his room because bundling up in the cold isn't as comfortable.
     
    Last edited: 3 Nov 2010
  4. Pieface

    Pieface Modder

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    First source, I have another source to state how due to the wheat problems in Russia, and how Biofuels will be using them, it has driven the price of wheat far too high, and has caused riots in Mozambique, and there have been issues with subsidy in Egypt. But as I say, I can't get them off my University portal. Price rises do not help other countries, in fact the opposite. Also, the first source is extremely biased, as it's not a reporter writing the article. It's the president of the Farmers Union, so he's not exactly going to tell the true extent of the problems that can occur.

    And fair enough about the second, it can be looked at as not very reliable, although there are many out there that are similar in the same vein. Such as DEFRA (Governmental body) Who throw out documents stating how great biofuel is. This is simply because it's a bit of propaganda. They can reach their Kyoto quota, at the expense of Environmental issues elsewhere, and social issues. That's the main problem with Biofuels. The fact that it's used as political propaganda to say "Hey, look how we're saving the world".

    And the last one is right. I don't dedicate my life (Well sort of) to helping out world hunger. But I am studying about it constantly in Uni at the moment, and you look more in depth during lectures etc behind the scenes (if you get what I mean) behind what is in the media, and the governmental documents. It's not environmentally friendly (As the topic originally dictated), and it's full of social impacts.
     
  5. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    While were at it... The point of the machine being able to use bio-fuel is that you can throw whatever you have handy in the tank.
    It sucks being grounded because you're out of premium.
     
  6. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    I'll agree that we've gotten off to a bit of a mixed start with biofuels.

    On the one hand, using waste vegetable oil to produce bio-diesel was a great idea.

    Using food crops to produce ethanol was not.

    That said, I think we've mostly learned from our mistakes and the processes we're using now are much better. As we go forward and the demand increases new technologies will come to the fore. Every new industry has a few mis-steps when it's starting.

    And you're right, with the current food supply and food security issues, using food crops for fuel is unsustainable.

    There are a couple of new technologies I'm excited about. One is plasma reduction where you feed, well, pretty much anything into a plasma arc and it is broken down to it's constituent atoms. The resulting gas combusts and produces more power than went in to run the arc. Not only is this good for power production, but it consumes and breaks down any sort of waste, no matter how hazardous.

    The other is Fischer-Tropsch diesel. In this process organic material is heated in a lack of oxygen which produces carbon monoxide. The CO is is then reformed to produce diesel fuel. The beauty of the FT process is once again that you can feed it almost anything. In Germany they are using managed forest lands to produce wood which is then converted to diesel. These are not virgin forests, but rather land which has been in production for hundreds of years.

    Over here we have lots and lots of forest land like that and with the current price of timber it's not worth much. If this land was managed for biomass production for conversion in a FT process, locally produced biofuels using a low value input could be a boon to the area. Unlike lumber prices which are highly cyclical, the demand for diesel is going nowhere but up.
     
    Last edited: 5 Nov 2010
  7. Elledan

    Elledan What's a Dremel?

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    I like the way you're thinking, Cthippo :) As you said it could be huge boon for timber companies, especially in the US, saving a lot of jobs in the process. It's more a question of why it hasn't been done yet (lobbying from mighty oil companies?) than whether it's a good idea.
     
  8. profqwerty

    profqwerty What's a Dremel?

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    Ah but then people will start complaining about deforestation! What is it, something like 4 acres a minute are being harvested from South America? I wouldn't say it'd save a *lot* of jobs, watching these Discovery Channel programs it seems like 5 people with suitable machines can eat through 100s of trees a week.

    From what I've seen, it's really the USA/Canada that have the problem, the fuel here's like 10% ethanol, in UK/France it's up to 5% IIRC, and then up to 5% biodiesel (practically non existant here). And then quantity of fuel used is significantly more too (although interestingly American fuel is much lower octane than the UKs)

    Ethanol also burns nicer than straight petrol, so that could be another reason for it...
     
  9. JCG

    JCG What's a Dremel?

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    The US uses AKI while Europe uses RON, US 90 is about the same as our RON 98
     
  10. profqwerty

    profqwerty What's a Dremel?

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    Ooooohhhhhhhhh right ok that makes sense, my bad :)
     
  11. Sloth

    Sloth #yolo #swag

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    I'm assuming the best ones are the ones you can't get, too. My school does the same thing, they pay for a research tool that provides access to various articles, but the really good ones are restricted when accessing from a home PC that doesn't have a paying account.
    When good science goes bad :(

    But that's not specifically the fault of biofuels. Chopping, or more likely burning, down rainforest for room to grow crops is certainly a bad way of going about it, as is repurposing food crops, but shouldn't be a reason to condemn the entire science behind them. The idea of taking unused biomass and converting it into fuel in a process that releases less total greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere while also reducing dependence on limited fossil fuels is a sound concept.

    What sort of returns are they getting roughly per square unit of land? Would be interesting to see what Washington/Oregon could pump out for the country.
     
  12. SuicideNeil

    SuicideNeil What's a Dremel?

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    Man-made forests that are planted and harvested, not natural woodland or forests being destroyed. ;)
     
  13. Pieface

    Pieface Modder

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    Sloth. Palm Oil isn't rainforest being destroyed to make room for crops. It's destroying the tree's for the purpose to gain the Palm oil from them directly. They use the tree's directly as the crop. And rainforest doesn't just grow back sadly.
     
  14. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    I'm not sure, but I'll look into it. I seem to recall reading that this process alone was meeting something like 30% of Germany's diesel needs.

    I don't think it's a case of opposition over here so much as no one has heard of it. There is also an issue of cost as an industrial scale F-T diesel plant costs in the neighborhood of a billion dollars. From what I've read they work best if placed next to an oil refinery or pulp mill which already produces large amounts of steam and has it's own power supply. I got interested in this when I was looking at buying a lot in Oil City (long story there) and what it could do for the economy of the Forks area.

    My idea was to get the local technical college involved in building a pilot scale plant and when you have a free diesel day people will start paying attention. The raw material, at least for small scale use, is free in the massive slash and waste piles at every logging site. It might not be a huge number of jobs, but it would be more than now, which is almost none.

    EDIT: Here's a .pdf with some good information on the first of the industrial scale plants:
    http://www.biofuelstp.eu/spm2/pdfs/Matthias_Rudloff.pdf

    Another on development plants in Europe:
    http://www.biofuelstp.eu/btl.html
     
    Last edited: 5 Nov 2010
  15. Elledan

    Elledan What's a Dremel?

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    Very informative, Cthippo :)
     
  16. steveo_mcg

    steveo_mcg What's a Dremel?

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    The 5% ethanol in EU fuels acts as the oxygenate to make the fuel burn cleaner, its less to do with cutting down on the fossil fuel component of the petrol and more to do with cutting down the old oxygenate (MTBE) which is really nasty if it gets in to the water table./
     
  17. BRAWL

    BRAWL Dead and buried.

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    I know this seems a really utopian way of looking at things, but why do we always do these things on landlevel? Why not lower?

    Imagine huge unground 'warehouses' with ambient temprature, humidity and enviromental controls to grow this kind of crop, or a genetically enhanced crop to create more <chemical that makes ethonol> (Sorry seems a cop out, I'm at work and my brain needs a 15 minute break on another topic other than numbers...). Surely this would be a positive idea?

    I know this kind of thing could never happen simply because it's a "Having your cake, smoothering it with chocolate sauce and scoffing it down" way of looking at things. I just think it'd be one of the few ways forwards?

    Huge warehouses, Jobs created locally for the enviro controls for everyone from plumbing and electrics to management and admin, this takes off our lovely reliance on the fossil fuels and stuff... but hey like I said, a very utopian way of looking at things.

    People always think "We've got x and y landspace" as far as I see, I like the add the "z" for depth... if we thought like that and worked abit harder for stuff we could have enough crops to, said I said "Having le cake and scoffing it".

    +shrugs+ my two pounds (sterling with inflation) and two pence.
     
  18. Elledan

    Elledan What's a Dremel?

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    I still say we start building cities down instead of up for a change. Who wouldn't want to live in a huge underground city? Never have to check the weather forecast! :D
     
  19. Pieface

    Pieface Modder

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    Because it's extremely expensive to do such a thing. You've got to pay for UV Light, heating, humidifiers, all water etc. Nevermind the fact building.

    I do wonder though. Biofuels could be our use of GM crops. If we won't eat it.
     
  20. BRAWL

    BRAWL Dead and buried.

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    Indeed, money has ALWAYS been the bigger holder of humanity moving forwards in my eyes, the sooner that goes kaputski the better for us all I reckon.

    I've always had the idea that we have such a HUGE area underground to develop cities, warehouses, transport links, food growth centres etc. Money is always the object but the overall benefits towards our race as a whole would be fantastic, especially the food side of it, power wise, surely geo-thermals could be used if we build in certain area's etc?

    How off topic is this going? :lol:
     

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