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Biofuels - Jan 27

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Sainsbury's to send unsold food to UK biomass plant

Grocer announces plan to divert 42 metric tons of wasted food a week to power homes in Scotland before rolling out the plan across the UK this summer.

The UK's third largest supermarket chain, Sainsbury's Supermarkets, announced plans today to use its unsold food in Scotland to power a biomass plant near Motherwell, about 15 miles southeast of Glasgow.

The chain's 28 stores in Scotland send 42 metric tons of waste to landfills each week. The effort would divert the waste and produce enough power for a town the size of Inverness, which has a population over more than 50,000. The chain said each metric ton could power 500 homes.
(21 January 2009)
I suppose it's better to burn food for energy rather than having it rot in a landfill ... but not much. The sheer waste just boggles the mind, in a world where people are going hungry. -BA

The High Price of Clean, Cheap Ethanol

Clemens Höges, Spiegel (Germany)
Brazil hopes to supply drivers worldwide with the fuel of the future -- cheap ethanol derived from sugarcane. It is considered an effective antidote to climate change, but hundreds of thousands of Brazilian plantation workers harvest the cane at slave wages.

In the middle of the night, the plantations around Araçoiaba in Brazil's ethanol zone are on fire. The area looks like a war zone during the sugarcane harvest, as the burning fields light up the sky and the wind carries clouds of smoke across the countryside.

The fires chase away snakes, kill tarantulas and burn away the sharp leaves of the cane plants. In the morning, when only embers remain, tens of thousands of workers with machetes head into the fields throughout this region in northeastern Brazil. They harvest the cane, which survives the fire and which is used to distill ethanol, the gasoline of the future.
(22 January 2009)

Trees, Grass May Produce Ethanol Without Poisoning Gulf

Within five to seven years fast growing trees and grasses might become economically viable alternatives to corn as a source of renewable fuel ethanol, reducing the need for pollutants that now cause a massive "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Ethanol from cellulose, whether from trees or other sources, will be the way to go in the very near future," says Dr. Gopi Podila, a University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) biologist who has been conducting research on high-yield trees for more than a decade. "Trees are cheaper to raise than corn, have a competitive yield and they don’t need as much of the fertilizers that are causing all of the problems in the Gulf.

Adapted from materials provided by University of Alabama Huntsville.
(19 Jan, 2009)

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