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November 10, 2006


cold growth

Does anyone know of a sugar cane that would grow in northern Minnesota? I know I can grow sugar beets, but is there a cane option?

Harvey D.

Cold growth:

Yes,biomass normally grows faster in wet tropical areas than on dry cold lands. However, this is not common to other sources of energy.

Clean energy such as wind, solar and waves are often more plentiful where almost nothing grows.

Southern patagonia and the norhern shores of Canada (and many other cold weather shores) have almost no agricultural value but have huge wind and waves energy potential. Not much grows on desert land but it has great solar energy potential.

Moderate climate areas can grow high quality food and it should carry on doing it. I prefer grapes and good wine to ethanol. Its a shame to use good agriculture land to feed inefficient ethanol/gas guzzlers.

david foster

What is the effect of intensive sugarcane cultivation on the land? If you use proper techniques, can you keep the process going indefinitely, or does it deplete the soil?

Regardless of its merits, sugarcane seems to be at a severe political disadvantage since it grows in only a relatively few states compared with corn.


There's a tariff on imported sugar which will just drive up the cost.  Then there's the impact of the fertilizers and pesticides, which are already bad.

Maybe the geneticists can make BT cane or whatever, but I'm not an optimist.


Sugar cane production destroys the soil david. Making fossil fuel derived fertilizer and chemical pesticides and herbicides necessary also. That contaminates the groundwater with cancer causing pollution.

The areas that have stored carbon in the soil for eons are being burned down then converted to sterile growing media for chemical agriculture, which burns the remaining cellulose out of the soil in a few short years. This whole process of agribizz farming has released thousands of years of carbon sink in a few decades.

And left us with chemically contaminated, tasteless food and dead soil. Wherte 20 feet of prairie soil once stored carbon as organic matter, the soil is now sterile. Poisonous with agri-chemicals when blown on drought winds due to global climate disaster.

A chemical dustbowl.

Meanwhile algae grown in solar collectors can produce 150,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre per year. Those collectors can be mounted on roofs and over parking lots instead of wrecking 1000s of square miles of land. And even all our farm land and conservation land devoted to biofuel could not supply uS enough with our present gas guzzling addiction.

Forget fuel farming, sugar cane is a disaster. Algae for liquid fuel, and electric plugin hybrid vehicles that only need 10% of the fuel we now use in internal combustion transport.

Harvey D.


In the long term, where would you get all the CO2 required to boost the algae growth?

Secondly, burning all this biofuel in an increasing number of inefficient ICE gas-fuel guzzlers would still produce too much CO2 and GHG.

Pure (clean) electric approach could produce less CO2 and GHG. PHEVs would be a one short (10 to 20 years) generation transistion to BEVs.


Wow! engineer poet, what about the huge water demands that intensive farming puts on the soil. Is it fair to blame fertilisers, which contain the nitrogen phosphorus and potassium found in animal-waster fertilisers for the damage to soil, when taking water out faster than it can be replaced must be the main culprit. It makes no sense to farm too intensively. Check this out for what US farmers think about water and the biofuels industry. https://www.icis.com/blogs/biofuels/archives/2006/11/water-water-every-where-but-is.html


Yep Harvey I agree,let's go pure electric, it can be done once battery or ultracap energy storage to weight ratio aproaches that of gasloine.

But until then, especially for air travel some liquid fuel will be needed. A move to fuel cell/microturbine backup for electric vehicles would reduce that fuel use to 10% of what it is now.

And that could be produced with algae in solar systems mounted on roofs and over parking lots, destroying no extra land with chemical agriculture.

In fact this design makes fuel from corn or sugar cane uneconomic.

The CO2 would come from fuel cell/turbine grid backup generators, running on the algae once the vegetable oil to make biodiesel is removed.

50% of the dry weight is left. And that powdered algae would run in a CeO2 solid oxide fuel cell. All emmissions then run through a turbine and into the solar system.

Even aircraft running on turbines powered by the exhaust gases and electric power from a solid oxide fuel cell could get 5 times the mileage. That means a lot less fuel weight. Then batteries can be added for cruising, the better the batteries in terms of weight, the less liquid fuel that would be needed.

Eventually only full power applications like takeoffs would need liquid fuel. i wish Branson would back this.

But I completely agree, without going as pure renewable electric as our technology allows, we couldn't grow enough fuel, nor would I want to. It destroys the land.

And no more ICEs, period! Only fuel cell backed up electric powered transportation. That ought to be a 10 year national and global goal. Think transition with the fuel cell/turbine powered by biofuels from algae.

And then even the fuel cells (only used for emergencies)mainly idled as renewables and storage eventually meets all energy demands.


Actually, we can grow enough fuel to replace gasoline.  And diesel.  And jet fuel, and coal and natural gas too.

The catch?  Of course there's a catch.  The catch is that we can't grow enough if we insist on using our lossy legacy systems (as I said before).  The efficiency of conversion from cellulose through ethanol to power delivered to wheels can be under 10%; this clearly Will Not Do.  The whole system has to be re-engineered from end to end.

I'm working on a piece about this.  I'll submit it to The Oil Drum when it's done (probably this week).  It's taking longer than I thought it would, but this is my first attempt at describing ideas in pictures instead of my usual words and tables.


I need to land making for the sugar cane books or datas.

Ishaan Bhalla

plz some one give me datas related to sugarcane.
as by using how much n which fuel,how much cane we get,in how much area ?

Henry Gorham

How high will the price of a barrel of oil go by year end?

Oil demand in China, India and other developing countries is once again on the rise. The production of light sweet crude form Libya has ceased because of its civil war. If the war is protracted, as many expect, that country’s much sought after sweet crude may not be available in the foreseeable future. Although Saudi Arabia claims to have stepped its production of oil to fill the void left by Libya, refiners cannot easily process the Saudi lower quality crude into the high quality, low sulfur oil that Libya had been producing.

On April 1, 2011, oil futures reached a two and one half year high with light sweet crude at $107.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude reaching $117.71 on London’s ICE Futures Exchange.

Civil unrest in other Arab and North African countries, where much of the world’s oil is produced continues to escalate. Could this unrest threaten oil production in these countries as well?

How high do you think the price of a barrel of oil will go before Year’s end?

Secotan: An alternative Energy Novel


Please apprise me some facts on the following:
1. Comparison of sugarcane and sugarbeet from energy production point of view.
2. What will be the future of sugarbeet in 2030?
3. Is sweet sorghum better than sugarbeet?

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