Biofuels energy balance.

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2,187
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Arizona
Thanks for the paper. I still don't understand who it is that thinks that 'bio'- fuels break even once ALL the inputs are factored in...
 
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Oshkosh, WI
Does anyone ever take into consideration the amount of energy needed to refine crude oil into gasoline? This helpful little tidbit always seems to be left out of the naysayer's rhetoric when they talk about "negative energy returns" on biofuels.
 

MolaKule

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Another Oponion from BusinessWeek via MSN:
quote:
...Michael Wang, a scientist at the Energy Dept.-funded Argonne National Laboratory for Transportation Research, says "The energy used for each unit of ethanol produced has been reduced by about half [since 1980]." Now, Wang says, the delivery of 1 million British thermal units [BTUs] of ethanol uses 0.74 million BTUs of fossil fuels. [That does not include the solar energy -- the sun shining -- used in growing corn.] By contrast, he finds that the delivery of 1 million BTUs of gasoline requires 1.23 million BTU of fossil fuels. ....What companies stand to benefit from increased ethanol use? There is a crop of American ethanol producers. ADM is by far the largest, pumping out about one-quarter of the U.S. total. MGP Ingredients (MGPI) is one of the many smaller companies involved. Verasun Energy and Aventine Renewable Energy, two other producers of note, have recently filed to go public. What can we expect to change in the future? At present commercial corn-based ethanol comes from corn kernels. One of the more exciting ethanol prospects on the horizon is cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from a number of plant by-products, including cornstalks. Although it's unlikely to be commercially available for at least a few years, cellulosic ethanol eventually could help substantially reduce costs. In other words, your car in the future could run on the refuse of farms across the U.S. Copyright 2006 BusinessWeek
 

MolaKule

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They keep pushing Brazil as the prime example of energy independence but what they don't tell you is that Brazil is also developing every oil field on land and in its coastal waters to extract petroleum as well.
 
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2,435
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Mizzou-land
Another thing that "they" don't stress is that Brazil has significant agricultural lands that are not only near the equator (lots of sun and no cold) but are also within a rain forest (lots of water). Sugarcane just doesn't do well in the northern states.
 
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Alabama
This is going to be interesting to see how biofuels work out. I have two friends that listen to talk radio and acceding to them any form of alternate fuel is a communist plot arranged by Jimmy Catrter and many other crazy things. LOL It just makes good sense to try to decrease our nations dependency on foreign oil. Who knows some day wars may even be fought over corn and sugarcane crops. If biofuel is not economically feasible it will no be around for long.
 
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2,187
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Arizona
The thing with all of the common types of fuels used is that they are ultimately solar energy storage mechanisms. "Biofuel" is precisely what crude oil and coal products are. Crude oil and coal are very old, extremely large solar energy storages. They are the only currently feasible method of harnessing sufficient solar energy to sustain current (and future) energy consumption at present levels and trends. To consider crude oil and coal as anything other than solar power is fooling oneself. By extension, to consider "biofuel" in any way other than as solar energy is the same.
 
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Mizzou-land
There is difference though. Use of fossil-based fuel releases carbon that is not currently in the carbon cycle. The result is increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The use of biofuels releases CO2 that is currently "in play" anyway. My reasoning falls apart when you look at geologic time though. As long as we continue to have tectonic motion, fossil carbon will eventually get belched into the atmosphere. On the other hand, using bulwnkl's logic, even nuclear energy is just solar energy originally stored in another star.
 

Shannow

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'Stralia
Rodbuckler, two schools of thought on this. one is that it's dead plant matter, and the other that it's polymerised methane produced by heat, carbonate rocks, and water. Both can be demonstrated, and I'd say both are probable sources of oil. I'm not sure of what mix is likely.
 
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Mizzou-land
I'll chime in that the abiogenic hypothesis (not from biology) is from the turn of the century and does not explain the types of chemicals found in crude. I strongly support the theory that all three fossile fuels (natural gas, crude oil, and coal) originate from biomass. However, an interesting discussion can be found at the following link. It is actually pretty good! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenic_petroleum_origin#Biomarker_chemicals
 
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2,187
Location
Arizona
quote:
Originally posted by GMorg: There is difference though. Use of fossil-based fuel releases carbon that is not currently in the carbon cycle. The result is increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The use of biofuels releases CO2 that is currently "in play" anyway. My reasoning falls apart when you look at geologic time though. As long as we continue to have tectonic motion, fossil carbon will eventually get belched into the atmosphere. On the other hand, using bulwnkl's logic, even nuclear energy is just solar energy originally stored in another star.
Your distinction (geologic short-term difference) is noted, but not germane to the energy source. Since we're using sub-surface biofuel to generate surface biofuel, using surface biofuel still adds CO2 to the air on a net basis. Your extension to solar energy appears true at first, but there is a very great depth to wade into that.
 
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