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Biofuels - July 31

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Alcohol Can Be A Gas book is done!

David Blume, Alcoholics Unanimous Newsletter ~ July 2007
...after four years of constant work, the book is finally done and is now in the hands of the printer. The book contains a 700 word glossary and a very detailed index making it possible to easily naviagate the 596 pages. We ended up with 514 charts, photos, and illustrations.

..."Dave Blume has written the definitive opus on alcohol as a fuel. From the 30,000-foot view to the most minute technical detail, Alcohol Can be a Gas! makes a strong case for the practical, ecological, political, and economic sense in converting to ethanol. It's heartening to see the world's original "alcohol pioneer" stay abreast of the times with a book that has the promise to knock some sense into our insidious fossil-fueled economy. This book is much needed in this era of Peak Oil and fast-accelerating climate change." - John Schaeffer, President and Founder of Real Goods, and Executive Director of the Institute for Solar Living.

...The over-arching importance of this delightful book is that it demonstrates how beside the point is the current pseudo-debate about the net energy from corn ethanol. As Blume demonstrates, fuel alcohol must be an important component of our solar-based future. It can be made from a huge variety of feedstocks, including sugar beets and cane, nuts, mesquite, Jerusalem artichokes, algae, even coffee-bean pulp; there is no real scarcity of land to grow fuel. There is a scarcity of independent, original thinking--and Blume's book provides plenty of it, along with ample doses of amazing, startling, and sometimes scary information--ecological, technological, and political-economic. This is a vast, detailed compendium drawn from decades of experience by an alert, smart, and skeptical hands-on thinker. Blume has given us his biofuels bible, and we can learn from him and survive quite nicely, or follow what he calls MegaOilron into oblivion.- Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia, Ecotopia Emerging, and Ecology:A Pocket Guide
(30 July 2007)
Author David Blume is a permaculture instructor and long-time ethanol advocate.


LS9 promises 'renewable petroleum'

David Roberts, Gristmill
Picture a liquid fuel that is derived from the same feedstocks as cellulosic ethanol (switchgrass, sugar cane, corn stover) but contains 50% more energetic content and is made via a process that uses 65% less energy.

Unlike cellulosic ethanol, this fuel can be distributed via existing oil pipelines rather than gas-hogging trucks and trains, dispensed through existing gas stations rather than specialized pumps, and used in existing engines rather than modified "flex-fuel" engines.

In short, it is a biofuel that can be substituted directly and immediately for gas or diesel, on a gallon-for-gallon basis.

Sounds pretty good, eh? Too good to be true?

An outfit called LS9LS9 says it can create such a fuel, and that it can do so at a cost competitive with gasoline, without government subsidies. The company, which was founded in 2005, is making a few key announcements this morning.
(30 July 2007)


Poison plant could help to cure the planet

Ben Macintyre, UK Times
The jatropha bush seems an unlikely prize in the hunt for alternative energy, being an ugly, fast-growing and poisonous weed. Hitherto, its use to humanity has principally been as a remedy for constipation. Very soon, however, it may be powering your car.

Almost overnight, the unloved Jatropha curcushas become an agricultural and economic celebrity, with the discovery that it may be the ideal biofuel crop, an alternative to fossil fuels for a world dangerously dependent on oil supplies and deeply alarmed by the effects of global warming.

The hardy jatropha, resilient to pests and resistant to drought, produces seeds with up to 40 per cent oil content. When the seeds are crushed, the resulting jatropha oil can be burnt in a standard diesel car, while the residue can also be processed into biomass to power electricity plants.

As the search for alternative energy sources gathers pace and urgency, the jatropha has provoked something like a gold rush.
(28 July 2007)
Contributor SP writes:
When we finally get an article that doesn't promote biofuels with the "power your car" tag, then we might actually be getting somewhere...

I note that "costs" in the article are only crop establishment costs and not for example the "cost" of loss of biodiversity or habitat etc.

More Info from Purdue University
More Info from HEAR


The ethanol effect

Andrew Brod, News & Record of Greensboro
...the public debate about ethanol has been pretty one-sided. We hear a great deal about the potential benefits and very little about the costs. But in economics, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Benefits never come without costs.

...If we really care about weaning ourselves from our addiction to oil, we need alternatives that can stand on their own two feet, economically speaking. To this end, we should stop subsidizing ethanol prices and let the market do what it does best, which is to help us consumers sort out costs and benefits. Second, we should eliminate the tariff on foreign ethanol. These measures will make Iowa farmers fighting mad. But it's the only way we'll ever know for sure whether domestic ethanol, whether made from corn or cornstalks, is the real deal or just the latest government boondoggle.

Andrew Brod directs UNCG's Center for Business and Economic Research.
(29 July 2007)
Contributor writes:
An economist looks at the high costs of ethanol.

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