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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Some questions about biofuels:

I've been reading up on this subject for quite a while now, and my favorite site is Journey to Forever. Frankly, if there's a better website out there on this topic, I haven't seen it. However, I do have some lingering questions, and if anyone who visits this blog regularly knows anyone with the answers, I'd be interested to find out. The questions are as follows: To create ethanol from any raw feedstock (cane sorghum, sugar beets, etc.), how many units of water are required to produce a unit of ethanol? After distillation, can that water be reclaimed and used for other purposes (drinking, etc.)? How many BTU's per unit of ethanol are required for the fermentation process? Are there non-petrochemical denaturants or stabilizers for ethanol? Would a mild gelling agent reduce vapor loss of ethanol, and would this cause more problems for an internal combustion engine? Is there an environmentally-friendly bactericide to prevent losses of stored biodiesel? Finally, which engines can run on butanol, which can be made with both cellulose and starch/sugars? I'm strongly in favor of biofuels, and I can envision the day when the United States becomes a net exporter of fuel and energy, much like the Middle East is today, only with much better human rights. I just don't know all the answers.


1138 said...

ethanol is a hopeless technology
too much energy input with too little gain
without petrochemical input it disappears as functioning technology

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

I don't entirely agree, but I think algaculture is probably the best route for that and biodiesel. My support is, as it has long been, on the latter, but the internal combustion engine is not just going to vanish, which makes either ethanol or butanol the frontrunner.