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biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy
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Ballard



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 8:38 am    Post subject: biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy Reply with quote

Turning plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a new Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study.

http://www.physorg.com/news4942.html
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isenhand



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What you are doing with biodiesel is converting light energy into chemical energy which is more usable than the light energy for the propulsion of a car. It is not necessary to use fossil fuels for that process. Agricultural machines, for example, could be automated and run on electricity from batteries that are recharged from the wind or the sun.

I think that what this report highlights more than anything is they way we do things in general is wrong, not just for agriculture but for transportation, housing and working.

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clv101
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think we should be diverting agricultural capacity from food production to fuel production. Feeding people is more important than feeding cars. The industrial mono-cropping agricultural system is collapsing as it is without the increased demand feeding cars would have. Topsoil erosion, fossil aquifer depletion and fossil fuel depletion all mean we won't be able to maintain current agricultural output over the next decades.
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Ballard



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to me that the most efficient devices for transport and agricultural production that use 'biofuels' would actually be horses and oxen.

I feel that there is no way that we can create an artificial system that could more efficiently convert 'biofuel' into 'work done' than has been produced already by millions of years of evolution (and a few years of breeding).

Our future will contain a lot more of these animals, and we will be returning to a lifestyle, which is much more like Dickensien England.
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isenhand



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
I don't think we should be diverting agricultural capacity from food production to fuel production. Feeding people is more important than feeding cars. The industrial mono-cropping agricultural system is collapsing as it is without the increased demand feeding cars would have. Topsoil erosion, fossil aquifer depletion and fossil fuel depletion all mean we won't be able to maintain current agricultural output over the next decades.


I think that highlights that the way that we are doing things at the moment is not efficient. The way that farming is undertaken at the moment is not very efficient and can be improved. We could produce enough food for ourselves and produce fuel as well but to do so we would need to change the way we do things, such as farm vertically rather than horizontally.

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DamianB
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This project is about 11 miles from where I live. No data on EROEI though. (I've e-mailed them)

Bio-refinery presentation
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hope the information copied below helps to answer your question.
Regards.
Christopher G. Standlee
Executive Vice President & General Counsel
Abengoa Bioenergy Corporation
1400 Elbridge Payne Rd, Suite 212
Chesterfield, Missouri 63017
Telephone 636-728-0508
Fax 636-728-1148

Claims that Ethanol has a Negative Energy Balance are Outrageous

Sioux Falls, SD ? July 19, 2005 ? The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE)
today set the record straight on the allegation that ethanol has a negative
energy balance. ?That claim is just outrageous,? said Ron Lamberty, ACE
Vice President / Market Development. ?The bottom line is that it takes
35,000 BTUs of energy to turn a bushel of corn into a gallon of ethanol,
and that gallon of ethanol contains at least 77,000 BTUs. What kind of math
is being used to turn this number into a negative??

Professors David Pimentel of Cornell University and Tad Patzek of the
University of California, Berkeley are claiming that it takes more energy
to produce a gallon of ethanol than the ethanol offers as a motor fuel.

Scientific studies have overwhelmingly found ethanol?s energy balance to be
positive, many of which can be viewed online at
www.ethanol.org/ethanolresearch.html. The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s
most recent numbers indicate that the corn-to-ethanol process provides a
net energy gain of at least 67 percent.

In a continuing effort to refute the perpetuation of these myths regarding
ethanol, Hosein Shapouri ? USDA economist and leading authority on
ethanol?s energy balance ? will give a special presentation on this topic
at next month?s ACE Ethanol Conference & Trade Show. His presentation will
take place on August 18 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning
at 9:30 am.

?This new study by Pimentel and Patzek is just the latest regurgitation of
Pimentel?s research from 1979. It is an amazing routine of mathematical
gymnastics to prove a political point, one that is no longer true,?
Lamberty said. ?Twenty years ago their information may have been correct,
but today it couldn?t be more wrong. Pimentel should be taking credit for
having helped create today?s truly efficient ethanol production process,
not using old numbers to shoot it down.?

Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President, added: ?Any objective
analysis of ethanol?s energy balance equation done in the last 20 years
will verify that ethanol contains much more energy than what is used to
produce it. The re-release of Pimentel?s antiquated study is a misleading
effort by foreign oil apologists to derail important ethanol legislation
working its way through Congress.?

Some insight into Patzek?s bias against ethanol can be found on his own
website: http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/patzek/index.htm. Patzek spent
nearly a decade working for Shell Oil Company as a researcher, consultant,
and expert witness. He is the founder and current director of the UC Oil
Consortium, an organization funded mainly by the oil industry to the tune
of $60,000-120,000 per year, per company.

?Tad Patzek is not a disinterested third party in this debate. It shouldn?t
be shocking that someone with such a background in the oil industry would
come out opposed to ethanol, a viable alternative to oil,? Lamberty said.

###

The Facts: ethanol?s energy balance
It takes only 35,000 BTUs of energy to turn corn into a gallon of
ethanol that contains 77,000 BTUs of energy.
Multiple research studies have shown ethanol?s energy balance to be
positive; the latest USDA research shows the energy balance to be at
least 67% positive.
Pimentel?s research dates back to 1979, and much of his corn farming
and ethanol data is decades old and outdated.
Pimentel gives minimal or no credit to ethanol?s co-products and
counts energy inputs back to a ridiculous degree ? even to the energy
needed for the truck to deliver the tractor to the farm to plant the
corn.
Most of Patzek?s materials are based on Pimentel?s previous research.
Patzek worked for the oil industry prior to teaching and is currently
the director of the UC Oil Consortium, a group that receives funding
from major oil companies to the tune of $60,000-$120,000 per year,
per company.
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fishertrop



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My take on ehanol and biodiesel is this:

1) Why would we want to produce ANY such fuels in the UK?
If it's part of strategy to use limited biofuel crops for limited fuel (such as emergency vehicels), and the North Sea is totally gone, then maybe I would see that as MAYBE workable.
I agree with clv101 that farming in the UK will be stretched to produce FOOD - what has transport fuel got to do with anything? expect for limited use as mentioned.

2) The ehtanol lobby in the US is like a mini -Exxonn, you cannot trust a single word they say. It's funny that they have SO much in common with the Oil industry, yet see them as "the enemy". They would say it took 1BTU to produce a gallon of ethanol - and have "facts" to prove it - if it helped them achieve their aims.
How many studies and fact and figures and committees have the oil industry produced that PROVES peak oil is a myth?

3) I think that the current farming techniques used to produce the raw materials for biofuels and the methods to make the energy to process these into fuel is both very inefficient overall (but a lot of costs will not be counted in studies) and that overall such fuels will NOT have a good EROEI (if any).

4) I do think tho that it might be possible to use farming methods and energy production methods that are renewable, safe and efficient and that THESE might be able to produce biofuel that balances the energy books.

With biofuels overall tho I usually can't see past the "farming is for food" and "why are we trying to prolong private motor car usage when it's one of the cornerstones of why we are in the mess we are in" points.
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heinbloed



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:55 am    Post subject: Bush - el Reply with quote

Calculating in " bushels , stones and gallons " is done to distract the ordinary people from reality. That's my opinion.
When someone - paid by the relevant industry- states that it is cheaper to make alcohol from corn and turn this alcohol into combustion power to get kilo Watts he takes the listener for stupid . Sorry , this is Europe here. US- corn grows in the Bible belt , has this something to do with such strange science ? People there can?t read and write properly .They vote for ? El Bush ( smiley).
We do not have to ask Darwin why such business never took off .
In plain words : Nothing comes from nothing .
A watt of input is reduced to less than a watt of output . Since the jobs are not done for free . Weed killers cost money. Harvestors and tractors cost money. Wage costs .Transport costs. Roads costs . Fertilizer costs .
Agriculture in the US/"modern" style costs live. It ruins bio diversity and our climate. It disturbs the world economy and causes death . By war and hunger , by diseases and pollution .Ask the Brazilians why they chop and burn down the rainforest . Mafia business.
It is cheaper , more economic so to speak , to replace fossil fuels in the power plant with bio fuels , turned directly into electricity, than going twice the same path by distillation. Keep the cars running on oil , rape seed or corn oil if necessary . As long as we have both - private transport AND electricity- the cheapest fuel would go into the power plant .And corn is cheaper than the alcohol made from it . Since there is no perpetual mobile . That is the reason why the steam trains do not exist any more . But the steam power plant is still smoking. And delivering money to it's investors.
Concentration of power costs power , energy . That is waste of resources, if we have the option we take the cheaper road .
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is probably the same study......what's interesting is that it doesn't take "fertilisers and pesticides" into account - which would make the resultant EROEI even worse!

http://www.copvcia.com/free/ww3/072505_world_stories.shtml#5

Quote:
But researchers at Cornell University and the University of California-Berkeley say it takes 29 percent more fossil energy to turn corn into ethanol than the amount of fuel the process produces. For switch grass, a warm weather perennial grass found in the Great Plains and eastern North America United States, it takes 45 percent more energy and for wood, 57 percent.

It takes 27 percent more energy to turn soybeans into biodiesel fuel and more than double the energy produced is needed to do the same to sunflower plants, the study found.

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AllanH



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2005 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of this thread seems to be concentrating on the production of biomass/biofuel to power vehicles, & I agree that that use isn't the best, though it is useful in reducing our current dependence on petrol. I don't think it comes down to grow food or grow biomass material as in many cases its different crops (carrots & potatoes or wheat vs miscanthus or oilseed rape) & this is to be welcomed as once petroleum derived fertilisers run out we'll need to go back to crop rotation & growing different types of crops in the samefield in different years anyway.

I can't really comment on the energy efficiency or EROEI of biodiesel/biofuel projects but they are growing in popularity in the UK. The insurer I work for has seen a steady increase in requests for cover for businesses producing biodiesel & we've had a few requests to cover community biomass projects (like the one below).

There doesn't seem to be any real discussion of the use of biomass/biofuel to power power stations to produce electricity for local areas. One such project is www.peninsulapower.co.uk. This seems to be the best use of biomass fuels (as opposed to biodiesel).

AllanH
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AllanH wrote:
I don't think it comes down to grow food or grow biomass material as in many cases its different crops (carrots & potatoes or wheat vs miscanthus or oilseed rape) & this is to be welcomed as once petroleum derived fertilisers run out we'll need to go back to crop rotation & growing different types of crops in the samefield in different years anyway.


With certain biomass crops - miscanthus and SRC (short rotation coppice) crops like poplar and willow - there is no rotation. The rhizomes or roots (stools?) stay in the ground for many years.

There will come a point where farmers, especially the industrially-minded ones, will be tempted grow crops for fuel rather than food because they can make more money at it. You can bet your **** that the government will use taxation and duties as this point is approached to dissuade them.
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Last edited by DamianB on Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DamianB wrote:

There will come a point where farmers, especially the industrially-minded ones, will be tempted grow crops for fuel rather than food because they can make more money at it. You can bet your **** that the government will use taxation and duties as this point is approached to dissuade them.


While will the government want to dissuade them? If every farmer did it so that there was no food, yes, but I would expect government to try to encourage a modicum of such behaviour if fuels began to run short,


Peter.
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right - it will be finely balanced - but morally I don't think they will allow some people to drive around in private cars while others are coughing up 70/80% of their income on food
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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DamianB wrote:
You're right - it will be finely balanced - but morally I don't think they will allow some people to drive around in private cars while others are coughing up 70/80% of their income on food


Morals and government, hmmm, no, can't see the connection Laughing


I suspect that the scenario you mention already happens, though only to an insignificant (and non-voting) section of the population.

I suspect that the rich and influential will always have a "need" for cars, which the government will be happy to sanction,


Peter.
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