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#214109 - 02/26/12 03:45 PM from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour
Schlack Offline
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Registered: 07/22/04
Posts: 9551
Loc: Ireland
“Kitchen Stove” Biorefinery Goes from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour

Quote:

The California biofuel company Cool Planet BioFuels has announced the successful test of a pilot biorefinery that can convert an acre of the giant grass miscanthus into gasoline at the rate of 4,000 gallons per acre. You read that right – the process yields straight, drop-in quality gasoline that is chemically identical to its petroleum-based cousin.


Now im generally against the idea of using agricultural land for fuel instead of food - and indeed the additional carbon footprint of many biofuels, but this seems like a great leap forward.
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#214114 - 02/26/12 04:32 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
numan Offline
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Registered: 08/06/08
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Forty-two gallons in a barrel. About a quarter of the petroleum is turned into gasoline. World consumption of petroleum is about 80 million barrels per day, or about 1.25 trillion (1.25x10^12) gallons per year. That means that it would require about 125,000 sq. miles of cropland (a little less than the area of California) to meet world gasoline demand -- spread out over the entire world, of course.
A daunting prospect.

On the other hand, Miscanthus giganteus tolerates many kinds of soils, is moderately drought resistent, and can tolerate cold and snow. So it might grow on land that is unsuitable for food crops.
It would still require a lot of land. What effect would that have on ecosystems?
Moreover, it would require fertilizers. Most fertilizers today come from petroleum -- SIGH.


Edited by numan (02/26/12 06:07 PM)
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#214115 - 02/26/12 04:39 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
Ardy Offline
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Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 11573
Loc: San Jose, Ca USA
there is no doubt in my mind that thsi si an extremely important technology that will provide a significant part of future energy demands.

That said, I doubt that time i now, as was implied by the breathlessly enthusiastic PR news release


Edited by Ardy (02/26/12 04:39 PM)
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#214116 - 02/26/12 04:39 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
numan Offline
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Ethanol Produced from Perennial Grass Could Offset 20% of Gas Use with 9.3% of Cropland
Miscanthus: "still in its infancy"

Quote:
As Long readily admits, Miscanthus still has a ways to go before it becomes a viable alternative to gas, let alone corn ethanol....
Keep in mind that this Miscanthus is completely unimproved, so if we were to do the sorts of things that we’ve managed to do with corn, where we’ve increased its yield threefold over the last 50 years, then it’s not unreal to think that we could use even less than 10 percent of the available agricultural land. And if you can actually grow it on non-cropland that would be even better.

Since the grass grows from perennial rhizomes, once it has been established, one need not re-plant it year after year. That is a considerable advantage over maize.
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The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools -- Herbert Spencer

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#214118 - 02/26/12 04:59 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Ardy]
Schlack Offline
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Registered: 07/22/04
Posts: 9551
Loc: Ireland
Originally Posted By: Ardy
there is no doubt in my mind that thsi si an extremely important technology that will provide a significant part of future energy demands.

That said, I doubt that time i now, as was implied by the breathlessly enthusiastic PR news release


No arguments here.
_________________________
"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."
(Philip K.Dick)


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#214123 - 02/26/12 05:45 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: numan]
Ted Remington Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 4890
Originally Posted By: numan
'
Seventy-two gallons in a barrel. World consumption of petroleum is about 80 million barrels per day, or about two trillion (2x10^12) gallons per year. That means that it would require about 0.8 million sq. miles of cropland ( about a quarter of the land area of the United States) to meet world petroleum demand -- spread out over the entire world, of course.
A daunting prospect.

On the other hand, Miscanthus giganteus tolerates many kinds of soils, is moderately drought resistent, and can tolerate cold and snow. So it might grow on land that is unsuitable for food crops.
It would still require a lot of land. What effect would that have on ecosystems?


There are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil, not 72. The consumption of 88 million barrels of petroleum is not the same as 88 million barrels of gasoline.

"1 barrel of crude oil = 42 US gallons (159 liters or 35 imperial gallons). It produces from about 21 percent to 35 percent of gasoline or petrol, plus many other products such as kerosene, etc."

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_gasoline_can_be_made_from_one_barrel_of_crude_oil#ixzz1nWw8C98w
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#214125 - 02/26/12 05:48 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
numan Offline
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Registered: 08/06/08
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Oops! That's what I get for relying on my memory!

Thanks for the correction, Churl. I shall amend my original posting.
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The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools -- Herbert Spencer

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#214126 - 02/26/12 05:56 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: numan]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline
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Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 10490
Loc: Downey, California
Originally Posted By: numan
That means that it would require about 0.8 million sq. miles of cropland ( about a quarter of the land area of the United States) to meet world petroleum demand -- spread out over the entire world, of course.
A daunting prospect.


But then again an enterprising individual with a few extra acres of land could indeed set up his own little neighborhood coop where members could avoid the price hikes by making their own fuel, yes?
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to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?"

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#214127 - 02/26/12 06:09 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
numan Offline
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Registered: 08/06/08
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I think they might be defeated by their lack of economies of scale. On the other hand, they might be ingenious in their use of fertilizers.
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The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools -- Herbert Spencer

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#214135 - 02/26/12 07:43 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline
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Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 10490
Loc: Downey, California
Chances are pretty good that I will end up living very close to this company as we are scouting homes in that exact area (Camarillo, Ventura, Santa Paula etc) so it might be interesting to see how all this shapes up.

It would be nice to be able to pull up to an N100 fuel pump and pay less.
I love competition, it's an all American idea and the petroleum industry needs competition.
_________________________
"Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek,
to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?"

---Benjamin Bratton

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#214137 - 02/26/12 08:20 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Jeffery J. Haas]
itstarted Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/27/03
Posts: 6354
Loc: Florida/Illinois

Miscanthus
The University of Illinois has been the leader in the study of Miscanthus. The above links to a short plain talk description of the potential use for ethanol. It's a 5 minute video.
Interesting for anyone wanting to learn a little more. A very hardy grass, requiring little or no fertilizer, and no annual planting. The grass is initially planted with shoots, and harvested late in the season. Farmers can store the baled grass to "time" the transport to the refinery. (It's not quite as simple as growing it in your back yard.)
It apparently is about twice as efficient as switchgrass, which has been the big alternative to corn.

My question would be, where the acreage will come from. Without Government subsidy, corn is a much better $$$ yield.

My guess is that the original posted article may be a little optimistic with respect to the timetable. Politics.



Link to Illinois University website on Miscanthus

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#214139 - 02/26/12 09:02 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
pondering_it_all Offline
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Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 4262
Loc: North San Diego County
Even if you just convert crop waste, 1000 gallons/acre is nothing to sneeze at! I bet an awful lot of farm operations would jump right on it, if they can turn their crop waste into fuel for their equipment.

In Southern California, we also generate lots of brush and weed waste because we need to keep large areas of land fire-resistant. Almost all of that waste is ground up and just disposed of by spreading it on the cleared land. A small fraction of the mulcht is collected and made available at little or no cost for use in landscaping projects. Since it is already being ground up, this conversion process would cost almost nothing to operate.

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#214140 - 02/26/12 09:03 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: itstarted]
numan Offline
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Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 10853
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Originally Posted By: itstarted

A very hardy grass, requiring little or no fertilizer, and no annual planting.

It does not require fertilizer in a state of nature. If you are constantly harvesting it, I guarantee that it will require fertilizer. You can't get something for nothing. [I know! I know! Another example of my antipathy to a fundamental tenet of Americanism! · · wink ]


Edited by numan (02/26/12 09:03 PM)
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#214145 - 02/26/12 10:53 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: itstarted]
Greger Offline
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Registered: 11/24/06
Posts: 11848
Loc: Florida
Quote:
My question would be, where the acreage will come from.

And my answer would be to grow it in the median strips and along all the highways.

*edit*...Okay, I looked at the video...maybe it's a little too tall for that.


Edited by Greger (02/26/12 10:57 PM)
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#214154 - 02/27/12 12:52 AM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: numan]
itstarted Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/27/03
Posts: 6354
Loc: Florida/Illinois
Quote:
It does not require fertilizer in a state of nature. If you are constantly harvesting it, I guarantee that it will require fertilizer. You can't get something for nothing.


Apparently you know much more than the researchers... What part of the articles and studies do you disagree with?

Quote:
The importance of fertilizer to increasing harvestable yield is still not clear. Although productivity is often higher on more fertile soils (Clifton-Brown et al., 2001), frequently higher yields are realized on poorer soils if other environmental conditions, such as temperature, are favorable (Heaton et al., 2008a). Numerous studies have investigated yield responses to nitrogen (N) fertilizer with varying results (Lewandowski et al., 2000), frequently showing no significant yield increase, even after several years of biomass removal (Christian et al., 2008). Yield increases have been most commonly seen on sandy soils under irrigation, for example (Cosentino et al., 2007), with responses less clear under water limitation. In Ireland, a stand growing on marginal land for 16 years showed a response to potassium fertilization but not to N (Clifton-Brown et al., 2007) suggesting other nutrients may limit yield before nitrogen. The apparent N use efficiency of giant miscanthus is thought to result from effective internal cycling of the N, i.e., N taken up by the crop during active growth is translocated to the rhizomes during senescence, where it is stored and then used again during the following year’s growth (Heaton et al., 2009).


The strength of the argument for Miscanthus is that it requires little if any fertilizer, that after three years of growth, requires no pesticides, and that a stand of the grass will last 20 years, without reseeding (Rhizomes). It is also noted in most of the studies, that the root system is beneficial in maximizing the use of water, and reducing runoff.

Miscanthus is currently being used in pelletized form for wood furnaces in this area, and is said to be carbon efficient.

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#214162 - 02/27/12 04:16 AM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
pondering_it_all Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 4262
Loc: North San Diego County
With 300 million of us in this country, I think we have a ready source of nitrogen in the form of sewage. We dump enormous amounts of it into the oceans and rivers. There are public health (and yuck-factor) reasons for not using human sewage to fertilize crop plants. But nobody would object to using it on a fuel crop.

The other main plant nutrients are potassium and phosphorous, both of which could be substantially reclaimed from the ashes left behind in any fuel conversion process. (Nitrogen might well end up as N2 gas, which would be more difficult to recycle from the process. That's where the sewage comes in.

Or you just plant a legume crop every now and then, which will fix nitrogen out of the air into the soil.

I think the main limiting factor is the availability of water: Without irrigation, Miscanthus would only grow in areas that get enough rain for "dry land" farming. Which leaves out most of the southwestern US.

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#214167 - 02/27/12 07:50 AM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: pondering_it_all]
logtroll Offline
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Registered: 04/25/10
Posts: 6180
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
Of course, Greger's freeway idea has the potential for using rainwater that falls on the impervious surfaces to be directed at the growing surfaces. If some hazard is implicit in the height of the grass, then we reduce the speed limit for safety, with the additional benefit of a 10% reduction in fuel use. That would be worth more than the fuel produced.
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#214252 - 02/27/12 04:35 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: logtroll]
itstarted Offline
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Registered: 01/27/03
Posts: 6354
Loc: Florida/Illinois
Originally Posted By: logtroll
Of course, Greger's freeway idea has the potential for using rainwater that falls on the impervious surfaces to be directed at the growing surfaces. If some hazard is implicit in the height of the grass, then we reduce the speed limit for safety, with the additional benefit of a 10% reduction in fuel use. That would be worth more than the fuel produced.

Sadly, except in the case of cash crops, the feasibility of tending roadside crops is nil. As far as I know, only Japan, where rice is often farmed up to the road edge, has built a road system that allows this. Driving across the farmlands in Illinois or Iowa or other midwest states is where one get the sense of "acreage", and the relative size of farmable land.

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#214259 - 02/27/12 06:23 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Schlack]
Ted Remington Offline
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Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 4890
I never cease to be amazed when I drive the rural parts of eastern NC. I had no idea there were that many soybean plants in the whole world!
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#214265 - 02/27/12 07:03 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: itstarted]
Greger Offline
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Registered: 11/24/06
Posts: 11848
Loc: Florida
Quote:
the feasibility of tending roadside crops is nil.


Hell, Bob, they tend the grass there constantly. And have you noticed the number of concrete walls going up on each side of the freeways? It seems feasible to me that this grass could be grown along thousands of miles of Highway, not directly on the right of way where it would prevent cars from pulling over but a little farther out from the roadway. It doesn't need a great deal of tending, just needs to be mowed and bailed and hauled away occasionally.
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#214279 - 02/27/12 07:48 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Ardy]
Mechanic Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/19/11
Posts: 802
Well it [ cellulose to gas ] will - possibly - fuel a lot of Coleman lanterns to dispell the dark in our children's mud/wattle hutments !

At least one of the OA's touted C - E debacles recently went "tits up" admitting defeat in creating a viable energy market product due to "technical difficulties", (even with extravagant subsidies) ! IOW it seems the yeasts wouldn't co-operate with the "master's voice" from D.C. ! >Mech

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#214281 - 02/27/12 07:55 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Mechanic]
rporter314 Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/18/03
Posts: 4810
Loc: Highlands, Tx
gee mech are you suggesting that since there is now no science which can efficiently and economically produce any alternative energy source we should abandon all research immediately and resume our gluttonous addiction to oil until it runs out and we all die in the cold

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#214285 - 02/27/12 08:16 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Greger]
itstarted Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/27/03
Posts: 6354
Loc: Florida/Illinois
Quote:
It seems feasible to me that this grass could be grown along thousands of miles of Highway, not directly on the right of way where it would prevent cars from pulling over but a little farther out from the roadway. It doesn't need a great deal of tending, just needs to be mowed and bailed and hauled away occasionally.


Sounds easy, Mark, ... but it's not done with mowers, but with harvesting equipment... combines and other balers, stackers, shredders, transfer trucks etc... that would never fit on the rights of way... even if there were no ditches or side roads, utility interruptions etc.. When you see them harvest corn, or Soy Beans, on flat land, and high speeds, and realize the volume of the harvest, it's hard to conceive of how any other method could be cost effective. Contiguous acreage is the current key to profitibility. Harvesting is high tech... GPS guided, computer planned, and with Just in time coordination... for transport. There is no room for old fashioned individual farmers with 5 or 10 acres. At harvest time, the teams usually work on three or four hundred acres at a time. A friend of mine owns 2000 acres and leases another 2000... the Harvest is completed in about 10 days.

Harvesters

BTW... as far as practicability, and a "proven" method of conversion in reasonable quantities, I tend to agree with the studies at U of Illinois... that the practical implementation is some years away. That doesn't mean that it should not pursued, but that it must be part of the solar, wind, thermal, tidal mix. Important that we don't replicate the corn-ethanol debacle. I've stayed pretty close to the algae method, and while it works... the models have yet to come close to being cost efficient. No silver bullet.

The broad stroke suggestions that China, India, and emerging nations will overwhelm supply in the neartime... 5 or 10 years, may be overstated. There is much industry propaganda that is belied by the facts, and the straight-line growth predictions are impossible.


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#214297 - 02/27/12 09:13 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: itstarted]
Greger Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/24/06
Posts: 11848
Loc: Florida
Around here the hay fields are fairly small so I mostly see small scale equipment. None of it really bigger than the mowers they use to cut the grass. A hay mower and a round bailer is all ya need.
Then that's followed up by a loader and a hay trailer behind a truck. Two passes on each side of the road and contractors could do the work at night when traffic is low....It could be done I'm tellin' ya!

Yeah I know, it's not knowing what you don't know that kills you. wink
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#214304 - 02/27/12 09:50 PM Re: from Grass to Gasoline in One Hour [Re: Greger]
logtroll Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/25/10
Posts: 6180
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
Much of the economy of scale mentality is myth. You buy a million bucks worth of machinery and you gotta keep that sumbich moving. High shipping costs and the reversal of the corporate dominated global economy is already making scaling down doable.

I'm in the biomass business and know that the ressurection of "old" technologies often solves problems that biggernbetter can't touch. The secret is in feedstock supply chain optimization, and not necessarily in maximization.
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