Re: [asa] UN Downgrades Man's Impact On The Climate

From: Jim Armstrong <jarmstro@qwest.net>
Date: Wed Dec 13 2006 - 11:18:10 EST

But does it not seem unlikely to be able to hit an overall figure
anything like the 40% direct solar energy conversion efficiency recently
reported? JimA

Don Winterstein wrote:

> The important thing about this recent Bus. Week article is that it
> doesn't concern such intensively farmed crops....
>
> To clarify, the really important difference between use of corn and
> soybeans and use of cellulose is not that corn and soybeans are
> intensively cultivated while prairie grasses are not. It is that
> cellulose constitutes a far larger fraction of all plant material than
> the starches, sugars and oils currently being used from corn and
> soybeans. So if you can figure out an efficient way to use cellulose,
> you have a vastly larger reservoir of useful plant material at your
> disposal and the consequent possibility of making a serious dent in
> oil imports.
>
> The solution to this problem is a biochemical one and hence--unlike
> getting useful energy from fusion--within the realm of near-term
> possibility. The amazing things that biochemists have done gives
> confidence that they'll be able to solve this as well. The solution
> will have a major effect on agriculture and the rest of the economy.
>
> Don
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Don Winterstein <mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>
> To: asa <mailto:asa@calvin.edu> ; Ted Davis
> <mailto:tdavis@messiah.edu>
> Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 7:29 AM
> Subject: Re: [asa] UN Downgrades Man's Impact On The Climate
>
> The advance publicity for Pimentel talks about intensively farmed
> crops such as corn and soybeans. There's long been a concern that
> these won't be economical long-term--although I've read that those
> who are producing the ethanol from corn say their processes are
> economical by a sufficient margin.
>
> The important thing about this recent Bus. Week article is that it
> doesn't concern such intensively farmed crops but plants
> like switchgrass and the Asian grass miscanthas, which don't need
> to be cultivated but only harvested from existing or new
> prairies. Also, waste paper, wheat straw, etc. Anything with
> cellulose or hemicellulose. The corn and soybean processes in
> contrast make use of sugars and oils. The big problem at the
> moment is finding an efficient way to break down cellulose into
> its constituent sugars. The article discusses several
> alternatives that are being explored.
>
> There certainly will be important problems they're probably
> minimizing at the moment. For example, how many times can you
> harvest grass before you have to apply fertilizer?
>
> Don
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Ted Davis <mailto:tdavis@messiah.edu>
> To: Dawsonzhu@aol.com <mailto:Dawsonzhu@aol.com> ;
> asa@calvin.edu <mailto:asa@calvin.edu> ; dfwinterstein@msn.com
> <mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>
> Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 6:28 AM
> Subject: Re: [asa] UN Downgrades Man's Impact On The Climate
>
> >>> "Don Winterstein" <dfwinterstein@msn.com
> <mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>> 12/11/06 9:03 AM >>>writes:
> Don't forget too, that there are other looming issues such as
> energy.
>
> The current issue of Business Week (Dec. 18) states in an
> article entitled
> Put a Termite In Your Tank, "If efforts [involving 'bio
> breakthroughs' for
> digesting cellulose] can be scaled up efficiently, America's
> forests,
> agricultural waste, and 40 to 60 million acres of prairie
> grass could supply
> 100 billion gallons or more of fuel per year--while slashing
> greenhouse gas
> emissions. That would replace more than half the 150 billion
> gallons of
> gasoline now used [by the US] annually...."
>
> Lots of "ifs" there, but still a rather remarkable statement.
> Pilot
> facilities are already being built.
>
> Ted responds:
> A couple of months ago, I heard a lecture by David Pimentel
> that all but
> rejected this approach as unrealistic, both economically and
> in terms of
> energy production. Advance publicity is here:
> http://www.dickinson.edu/news/nrshow.cfm?981
>
> Ted
>
>
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Received on Wed Dec 13 11:19:19 2006

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