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

From: Al Koop <koopa@gvsu.edu>
Date: Wed Dec 13 2006 - 15:20:41 EST

The question about ethanol production coming to save us was recently
raised. I guess it time for another one of my intermittent energy
posts.

There is indeed a debate going on about the efficiency of alternative
energy sources, especially ethanol. Tad Patzek and David Pimental
are on the doomer side, while the business community puts out its
rosy scenarios. But from my reading, the optimistic forecasts are
not really all that positive for ethanol use even if all the "ifs"
materialize. I do think Patcek and Pimentel have been too
pessimistic, but I don't see the world using significant amounts of
biomass to replace gasoline or diesel. Here is a recent article
written by Tad Patzek:

http://www.venturebeat.com/contributors/2006/11/05/why-cellulosic-
ethanol-will-not-save-us/

I also think that the question of getting the biomass to processing
plants is not an insignificant factor in the process. Oil is a
liquid that is taken from highly localized points and transported
through pipelines, while the cellulose has to be collected from
scattered areas all over the place and delivered by ??? to the
plants. Do you have smaller more inefficient plants all over the
place to minimize transportation costs or more efficient large plants
where the transportation costs of raw material are higher? I would
bet against biomass except for obvious botique uses like rrecycling
restaurant cooking oil and various types of waste on farms; I think
its use right now is mostly a political gambit.

For anyone who wishes to follow energy related issues I think the
best internet site today (by far) is The Oil Drum:

http://www.theoildrum.com/

There is more material there every day than almost any normal person
can read. The site is dominated by those who think that oil
production will peak sometime between 2005 and 2012, with a few
optimists suggesing we might last until 2020. Right now there is a
pretty intense argument about whether we have peaked already or
whether it will be a few years down the road. For sure there is more
data there than you will find anywhere else, and many of the authors
of the articles have experience in the oil industry.

Al Koop

>>> "Don Winterstein" <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 Fri Dec 15 01:56:40 2006

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