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Edible oil turns into bio-diesel

Refayet Ullah Mirdha, Financial Express (Bangladesh)
Prices of edible oil have registered an upward trend worldwide due to increase in the price of petroleum products and production of bio-diesel with palm fruits, market operators said.

Many oil import dependent countries including Bangladesh have been the worst affected by the soaring price of fuel oil.

Petroleum consuming countries are currently desperately looking for alternative sources of energy as the price of fuel is soaring beyond a tolerable limit.

The price of crude oil has now hit a record high of nearly $75.5 a barrel in international markets and it might reach $100 in the future as earlier predicted by market analysts.

This has forced the consumers, especially the European countries, to make efforts for depending more on bio-diesel than before. Bio-diesel is produced from palm and soybean seeds as an alternative. Palm tree and soybean are largely grown in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil and the USA.

But the use of palm fruits and soybean seeds for production of bio-gas has threatened to destabilise the edible oil market.

Bangladesh, which largely depends on imports to meet its edible oil requirement, fears a rise in the prices of palm oil in both international and local markets for the diversification of its use.
(11 July 2006)

Aw, Shucks
Ethanol ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, new study says

A new study casts serious doubt on ethanol’s status as a green wonder-fuel. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers lay out a series of grim findings about corn-based biofuel. Runoff from large-scale corn cultivation contaminates waterways with nitrogen, phosphorus, and pesticides. As a motor fuel, corn-based ethanol generates just 23 percent more energy than is required to make it. And finally, corny ethanol reduces greenhouse-gas emissions by a slim 12 percent over gasoline. The study found that soybean biodiesel outperforms the corny stuff, but that “neither can replace much petroleum without impacting food supplies.” The best biofuel bet would be still-in-the-lab cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass or other woody plants, but most researchers agree that even widespread cellulosic ethanol production would have nowhere near the output to replace gasoline. Researchers also said that people are just going to have to get used to driving less, and quit bitching and moaning about it. No, wait, that was us.

straight to the source:
The Vancouver Sun, Scott Simpson, 11 Jul 2006
USA Today, Associated Press, H. Josef Hebert, 10 Jul 2006
New Scientist, Bob Holmes, 10 Jul 2006
(11 July 2006)

Green Energy: A Second Coming

Andrew K. Burger, TechNewsWorld
The younger generation is taking part in finding workable solutions to the myriad problems related to the production, distribution and consumption of energy. Universities across the country are expanding and introducing a host of alternative- and renewable-energy programs and projects.
(12 July 2006)

Focus on biofuels is foolish

Julia Olmstead, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
…Corn and soybean production as practiced in the Midwest is ecologically unsustainable. Its effects include massive topsoil erosion; pollution of surface and ground water with pesticides; and fertilizer runoff that travels down the Mississippi to deplete oxygen from a New Jersey-sized portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

Improving fuel efficiency in cars by just 1 mile per gallon — possible with proper tire inflation — would cut fuel consumption equal to the total amount of ethanol federally mandated for production in 2012.

Therefore, rather than chase phantom substitutes for fossil fuels, we should focus on what can immediately both slow climate change and reduce dependence on oil and other fossil fuels: cutting energy use.

Julia Olmstead, an Iowa State University graduate student in plant breeding and sustainable agriculture and a graduate fellow at the Land Institute, in Salina, Kan., wrote this for the institute’s Prairie Writers Circle. It was published by The Providence Journal.
(12 July 2006)

It’s Corn vs. Soybeans in a Biofuels Debate

Biodiesel produced from soybeans produces more usable energy and reduces greenhouse gases more than corn-based ethanol, making it more deserving of subsidies, according to a study being published this month in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, done by researchers at the University of Minnesota and at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., points to the environmental benefits of the biodiesel over ethanol made from corn, stating that ethanol provides 25 percent more energy a gallon than is required for its production, while soybean biodiesel generates 93 percent more energy.

The study’s authors also found that ethanol, in its production and consumption, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 12 percent, compared with fossil fuels. Biodiesel, they said, reduces such emissions 41 percent, compared with fossil fuels.
(12 July 2006)

Indonesia to spend a massive US$ 22 billion by 2010 to promote biofuels

OPEC member Indonesia, a future Biofuels Superpower, has given more details about its previously announced bioenergy crash program (earlier post). The country plans to invest a massive Rupee 200 trillion (€17.3 bn / US$22 bn) over the next five years to promote the use of alternative fuels using crops such as palm oil, cassava, jatropha and sugar cane for the production of biodiesel and ethanol Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said.

About $6 billion will be spent securing 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres) of land, in an as-yet-unspecified location, and the rest will fund factories, roads and other supporting services, he said. Plant-based fuels can be mixed with gasoline, diesel and kerosene, now subsidized by the government…

The government plans to spend about 51 trillion rupiah over the next five years to develop land for more oil palm, rubber and cocoa plantations to spur growth an d create jobs, Supra Tamtama, deputy director for estate crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, said on June 29. Three-quarters of the funds will be for palm oil, he said.

Biofuels will account for 10 percent of the content in fuel products, Purnomo said Thursday. Based on this year’s usage, that’s equivalent to 4.1 million kiloliters , he said on July 3.
(13 July 2006)
Monbiot on palm oil: The most destructive crop on earth is no solution to the energy crisis