Re: Alternative Fuels, the Dark Side and other things...

On Jun 11, 6:04 pm, Don Lancaster <d...@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
hhc...@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
Over the weekend CNN aired an interview with and expert on agriculture
-- The subject being eEthanol.

During the interview, he cited the fact that nearly all Ethanol is
today being produced from our domestic corn crop, and in 2006
accounted for 30% of the total corn market, and anticipated that
should the demand for Ethanol continue to grow, it will soon account
for 50% of our domestic corn production.

The result is that the price of a bushel of corn has risen faster than
the price of crude oil, to the extent that it will shortly impact the
price of all corn based food products, including animal feeds and just
about even food sold in supermarkets, from corn flakes and dog food,
to beef, pork and chicken. Consequently, he believe that the cost of
food will begin to outpace the price of Ethanol adulterated gasoline
at the pump.

That's the dark side of Ethanol, reminding us that nothing comes for
free. Something to keep in mind.

Shifting gears, I have seen virtually no alternative fuel discussion
even mention the exploitation of gas hydrides, which are mined from
the seas and, at least according to the Discovery Channel, are capable
of providing massive amounts of energy. It was not made clear how
exactly you would harvest this stuff, or the problems, but it would be
interesting to read informed discussions about whether gas hydrides
are a potionally a viable energy source, or simply like hydrogen, a
product of wishful thinking by non-scientists.

Finally, I have to wonder why Methanol receives very little discussion
in alternative energy group? Methanol, as most of us are aware is
commonly called 'Wood Alcohol' and is generally produced by the
destructive distillation of wood, but it can be produced through the
destructive distillation of many other types of biomass (leaves, plant
stalks, grass clippings, and even weeds.) Also, IIRC, no fermentation
steps are required to produce it, and it is coverted into energy by
burning, just as is Ethanol. Still, rather than having our yard waste
end up in a landfill, wouldn't it be an attractive idea to covert it
into a usable energy source? More discussion is needed on this

I post this simply because I consider them to be topics worthy of
informed discussion, rather than the sill debates on 'cars that run on
water' and many of the other silly topics posted on this newsgroup

Harry C.

What is really, really sad about all this is that the net energy of
ethanol from corn is either negative or utterly and laughingly
negligible, depending upon who you believe.

Instead, switchgrass which grows wild on marginal lands returns over 7X
and bagasse which returns around 5X are infinitely better candidates as
ethanol feedstock.

Sadly, there is no corporate sponsor for a free growing weed. And the
sugar lobby strictly prohibits importation of bagasse.

Ethanol from corn is monumentally and criminally stupid.

More at

Many thanks,

Don Lancaster voice phone: (928)428-4073
Synergetics 3860 West First Street Box 809 Thatcher, AZ 85552
rss: email: d...@xxxxxxxxxx

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The land, machinery, chemicals and talent used to grow bio-fuels is
better used to grow food especially since 40,000 people per day world
wide die of hunger. This could be ended tomoroow if we put only a
tenth of the resources toward that end that we do wasteful stupid
things like ethanol.

A better approach is to use concentrating PV cells to reduce the costs
of solar panels and to use low cost electrolysis to create hydrogen
with 85% efficiency or more..All at a very reasonable cost of $0.09
per peak watt (combied electrolyzer solar collector)

These systems operate best in sunny desert regions, leaving the
farmlands and fields to growing food.

Far better to use water sent to CPV panel arrays in the desert to be
decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen. Use the hydrogen to make ammonia
by combining it with nitrogen in the air. Make also a small amount of
hydrazine to assist in its eventual autocatytic reduction. Hydrazine
is made by joining two ammonia molecules together and discarding a
hydrogen (which is reused).

The ammonia/hydrazine mix is pumped to the nation's stationary power
stations by pipeline and decomposed to nitrogen and hydrogen at each
power plant. The hydrogen is then burned to create electricity
without any pollutants whatever..

For coal fired plants the coal is hydrogenated with more hydrogen
produced at the plant to form hydrocarbons which are then sold to
existing vehicles.

1,100 million tons of coal is burned in the US to make elctricity each
year. This may be replaced with 178.3 million tons of hydrogen -
eliminating 3,750 million tons of CO2 emissions. The stranded coal is
converted to 7,700 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel and jet
fuel. Sufficient to meet ALL America's needs without any imported or
domestically produced oil at all! In fact with domestic production in
hand, the US becomes here an oil exporter! And now has some measure
of control of the price of oil independent of OPEC, and a means to
balance its trade with other nations.

For growth in demand new sources of transporation fuel may be
developed. For example, a portion of the hydrogen delivered to each
power plant may be used to recharge boron based polymer films that
absorb the chemical to create H3BNH3 polymer. A plastic that is 20%
by weight hydrogen. At 0.78 specific gravity, this plastic film
stores hydrogen twice as densely as liquid hydrogen.

To produce the hydrogen from the film requires heating the film to
170C and the hydrogen (which is 20% by weight) evolves from the film.
The hydrogen emitting film is then passed between electrodes. The
film forms an electrolytic membrane within a fuel cell - a flowing
electrolyte fuel cell - to generate energy and water vapor. A 15 kg
film stores 102 kWh and produces a controllable amount of electricity
at power levels up to 100 kW and may be throttled to as little as 100
Watts using electrodes totalling 2 sq m. Each cannister costs $500 -
the electrodes, $10,000 - and the cannisters may be recharged for as
little as $10

Efficiencies range from 60% at high currents to 90% at low currents.

The process of recharging the film is simple. The spent film is
rewound and sent for recharging. The film cleaned and is heated to
over 320C where the nitrogen is evolved from the polymer.. The film
is then treated and recharged with ammonia to form a hydrogen rich
boron based polymer again and reused.

One 15 kg cannister measuring 20 cm diameter and 100 cm length drives
a typical EV 485 km. Cannisters are more safely handled than gasoline
and pose no health fire or explosion risk as gasoline does. they may
be sold at any auto supply, or home improvement store. A variety of
sizes exist for a variety of portable eletronic and electric devices.

Standard battery sizes built around this same concept, but with the
film disposed of after each use and MEMs based transport and control
mechanisms, provide batteries that have unlimited shelf life, and 150x
times the energy density of Lithium-Ion batteries.

To drive all this change requires that we collect solar energy on a
massive scale, and use it to make massive quantities of hydrogen.

To achieve this end 12 million acres of low cost solar panels are
installed in a 1951 mile strip at the US Mexico border - forming an
array 5 miles deep there. This strip creates enough hydrogen from
water sources at the border to supply the US with hydrogen fuels just
described at a cost of $12 per barrel equivalent. Ammonia/Hydrazine
pipelines run both North and South feeding changes in the economies of
everyone in North America.

Since this facility is not intended primarily as a barrier to border
crossing, it need not run right next to the border. It may for
example run north of the three Indian nations that exist across the
border. It may also have a large number of well trained facility
guards in adequate number to assist persons wishing to transit over
the facility at several points.

Since water is processed throughout the length of the facility,
seawater from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean and with
Mexico's help, the Gulf of California is desalinated and used to
create hydrogen. Excess fresh water is used by communities and farms
along the border. Polluted water flowing from Mexico to the US is
cleaned using abundant energy from the facility.

A strip 20 miles wide would permit the US to supply the entire world's
present energy needs in the form of Ammonia and ship them from ports
located on both the East and West coasts of Mexico. Pipelines
directed south provide ammonia based power for all of central America
as well as fertilizer..

Beyond the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of the US and Mexico, a
sister facility in the Atacama Desert in Chile, with water ariving
from the Pacific Ocean may be added to support growth in energy demand
worldwide, with pipeline delivery throughout South America and exports
across the pacific to Asia from Chile, and exports from Brazil to
Additional facilities in the Great Victorian desert provide ammonia
and fresh water throughout Australia, Indonesia,and SouthEast Asia.
Facilities in the Gobi and Takla Makan deserts provide fuels for Japan
and China. .

The Thar desert provides additional fuels and fertilizers for India as
it grows. The Kalihari Desert provides additional capacity to Africa
as it develops too.

The Sahara and Arabian deserts form natural backdrops for developing
additional energy for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Turkey becomes the central supplier of Boron worldwide and is the heir
apparent to the old and declining oil wealth as a result.