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« China May Switch to Non-Food Fuel Crops for Production of Ethanol | Main | FutureGen Engineering and Construction Management Firm Selected »

June 13, 2007


The technology: acid hydrolysis

What's supposed to be so new about this?


What's new? The COST! The YIELD! 30% additional product on the same input........

This is a huge advancement.


This is great. I'll bet the US corn stalk is not far behind. JohnBo

barry hanson

"This means the fuel is cost-competitive with oil at US$42 a barrel,"

Just a comment on this analogy...the refinery loses 20% of the energy in the barrel of oil in the refining process, this brings the $42 oil to $52.50 right off the bat.

Then, of course, there is the matter of acquiring the oil and protecting access to it...this brings the cost per barrel to somewhere in the vicinity of $350 per barrel...but that's another story.


Dump the USDA sugar program, which restricts production, and do a JV with Dedini and Cosan in Louisiana (400,000 acres of sugarcane now, and expandable).


So what happens to all this (uneconomical) corn that now is being planted for ethanol? Another massive US government bailout program?


So they got a 30% yield increase in sugar cane, in the tropical rainforrest.

Good for them.

Why should I care?

That means the 11% efficient solar panel generates 200/4.65 = 50 times more usable energy a year than the sugar cane does. And as you can now get 22% efficient solar panels that would go up to 100 times.



“We calculate that the land will need to grow [biofuel] crops for 70-300 years to compensate for the CO2 emitted in forest destruction.”


Even if Brazil doubled their output it wouldn't be much.

12.7 million gallons
As compared to 25.4 million gallons
As compared to 146 BILLION gallons of gasoline consumed each day by the US.



What a lot of people ignore about Brazil is that

Diesel accounts for over 50% of transportation fuel. Gasoline provides 26%. Ethanol, by volume, comes in at 17%. But because ethanol has lower energy content, the actual energy contribution is around 10%.


Each year the U.S. produces 11 barrels per person, compared to 3.35 barrels per person for Brazil. In order to achieve energy independence, the gap between demand and production must be closed. Brazil has to close a gap of 0.85 barrels per person per year (4.2 - 3.35). The U.S., on the other hand, has to close a gap of 16 barrels per person per year. The U.S. gap in production/demand is almost 19 times greater than the production/demand gap in Brazil.

Clearly, the U.S. has quite a large gap to close.
Not only do we use more energy per person, but the population of the U.S. is 110 million greater.

The real lesson from Brazil is that energy independence can be achieved by slashing our energy usage. It is simply not realistic to expect the U.S. to achieve energy independence with biofuels - unless we sharply curb our consumption.


Bagasse is trash in the sugarcane industry. While it used in co-generation it is inefficient as a fuel in co-generation. THey burn the fields prior to harvesting in the US, they do not do this Australia, to limit the trash received at the mill.

Just using Bagasse (trash) and this method they could produce 6 billion gallons of ethanol per year. This is twice the US ethanol production in the US in 2005. If you add the fact they may stop burning cane and what that does to the environment it would be a huge gain. While ethanol is not the long term answer why waste the potential.



The U.S. uses 146 billion gallons of gasoline a DAY, huh? Are you sure about that?


Yeah typo.
Meant to say a year.


I think another important aspect of this is the long-term relative leveling of the playing field in "fuel" generation, and the resulting change in the balances of power in the fossil fuel arena. If you can now make ethanol relatively cheaply from - in essence - agricultural leftovers, pretty much anyone can do it.

Hypothetically, if this goes off in a big way, how long does it take to impact the economies of oil-rich countries in the Middle East, or Venezuela?


... Kinda sad how people are reinforced to think that soil is the magic source of nutrients that never runs dry.

That what isn't harvested is "trash".

About as advanced as saying "Electricity comes from the wall"

Jake Black

No question that fuel sources should be levelled. No question that we have a responsibility to do it NOW.

But, we also need to work on the house -- our home -- are we personally efficient? What about our personal consumption. For examples, 20% of electrical power can potentially be saved by a simple device -- called DIGITAL THERMOSTATS. It costs around $98.00 for the top model.

Pitch in and buy it today: http://thermostats.idtenergystore.com


The point that is missing here is that IRRESPECTIVE of the production of Biofuel Ethanol (from sugar cane or the grain crops) we do not exploit the benefits of utilising the waste materials that are thrown away and discarded across the world through Municipal Waste/Garbage amd in Agriculture/Farming and the likes. As an example Sao Paulo city could increase the quantity of Ethanol fuel the state produces by 15% alone just by converting the Biomass in its Municipal Waste to Ethanol! Consider that analogy for Beijing, or Shanghai, or Kuala Lumpur or Mumbai or Seoul Regional Metropolitan area (to quote just a few of the largest cities) or indeed the smaller ones such as Dublin or Liverpool or Malta or Porto and indeed the smaller areas still. It is now practicable and possible to convert the Biomass (from Municipal Solid Waste and the Sewage Sludge) from within these areas in an environmentally acceptable way which is economically affordable (at a cost that could be lower than a third to a quarter of the thermal destruction processes.)
The Technology is here and is being used on a number of plants scheduled for completion by 2009.


Converting corn to ethanol is a looser because first you have to convert the starch to sugar. Spinning energy from hurricanes and various other winds sounds good to me... Now if only someone could figure out how to use all that insufferable heat they have in the south and west every summer. Imagine converting so much solar energy to electricity or hot water that the ambient temperature went down one degree...after all, dissimilar metals release electricity when in contact under heat...

Pat S

Great comments. I read the original post and can only think about the positive aspects that this recovery process can bring to farmers and cane processors throughout the third world.

Any process that recovers usable products and potentially reduces the process of field burning is net positive for all concerned.

Trying to gauge and correlate the benefits of this development strictly to first world producers is misplaced brinkmanship. Clearly this process yeilds big dividends for many third world countries where resources and standards of living are much lower.

I witness the annual pre-harvest cane crop burns in Thailand (where most burns begin evenings and are done thoughout the night).

The burning is done to expedite stalk handling, improving truck loading times, and reduce trucking costs by increasing truck hauling capacity for harvested cane. Pre-harvest burning clears lands of snake populations that makes harvesting a safer practice. Pre-harvest burning also encourages growth of a second crop - without the need to replant. This represents major labor and cost savings for many farmers.

The recovery of additional products from the sugar cane, improves processor earnings, and could offer price incentives to farmers not to burn before harvesting.

This pre-harvest buring It is a major release of C02 and smoke particulates into the environment. This takes place in a very concentrated fashion. One can see fields being lit off before sunset - from 12 to 15 km

Reducing these wasteful practice and recovering alcohol represents a real win - win.

Thanks for reading

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Failure doesn't mean you are a failure,
It does mean you haven't succeeded yet.

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Biofuels still have a long way to go in terms of industrial production.

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When considering the kind of protection the house needs, pay particular attention to vulnerable spots.

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But experts from industry and environmental groups say that without loan guarantees and other incentives, the nascent industry will fail to emerge from the current demonstration phase to produce commercial-scale quantities of ethanol.

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