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Biofuel Infrastructure

A senario of tax incentives and a new cycle.
(+3, -3)
  [vote for,

Biofuels have yet to really take off in this country. This is for a number of reasons, one big one being ethanol produced from corn is actually the stupidest way of making ethanol (switchgrass is probably the best, but that's another story.) So, a way to make biofuels viable whould be a promgram of tax encentives that would improve the overall economy. Take a former industrial area that has fallen by the way side. Let's say it's in the state of Maine. The state would introduce incentives for manufacturing businesses to return to the area, factories that would produce CO2 as a byproduct, like so many of our modern factories do. This would bring jobs to the state. But where are these incentives paid back? Cut to the top of those smoke stacks on the factories. On top would be huge "petri dishes," if you will, that grow algae. It is proven that CO2 gas vastly accelerates algae growth. This algae is periodicaly harvested and trucked away. Now, you might think all this extra CO2 from factories is an unfortunate byproduct; but growing algae above it can reduce the smoke stack's emissions by 40%. This algae is trucked to a biofuel palnt where it is converted into biofuel. (Algae can be grown on these smoke stacks, though not as much.) After being turned into a biofuel, the dried algae can actually be ground into more ethanol; none is wasted. Wind power would be used to produce these biofuels. This program would increase jobs in the state, cut manufacturing's emissions 40%, and provide a functioning, growing, and viable output of biofuels to the public.
Cam1234, Jan 08 2007

The science is behind it. http://thefraserdom...lgae_used_to_c.html
[Cam1234, Jan 08 2007]


       //the dried algae can actually be ground into more ethanol//   

       neat trick, how does it work considering ethanol is a liquid.   

       Oh buy the way yur spellin sucks.
jhomrighaus, Jan 08 2007

       Believe me neither Ethanol nor E85 are the future. Even if they are renewable, they are corrosive and provide worse fuel economy than their gasoline equivalents. The future is vegetable oil. It is renewable, can be mixed with or used as a substitute for diesel in diesel engines, and provide the same great fuel economy.
acurafan07, Jan 09 2007

       //Biofuels have yet to really take off in this country.//

Unless 'this country' happens to be Brazil. Please note that we don't necessarily know where you are.

Instead of the state introducing incentives (translation: using tax money to subsidize), why not keep the state out of it altogether and let market forces operate?

[acurafan]: The trouble with vegetable oil is that it has a much higher cloud point than petroleum; it tends to clog filters, which is why it's typically used as a 5% blend.
angel, Jan 09 2007

       [cam1234] I am a strong believer in the power of tax to change behaviours. I believe that if government make it enough of a tax incentive, then biofuels will become a viable proposition as they are in countries such as Brazil.   

       The idea of absorbing CO2 into Algae and then using that algae as a biofuel is *not* a clever idea. The issue we have with CO2 is that, for millions of years, the geocarbon (coal, gas etc) and the biocarbon (plants and animal life) have been in rough equilibrium. Buring fossil fuels (converting geocarbon into biocarbon) has upset the balance horrendously and is contributing to global warming.   

       What we need is ways of converting biocarbon back to geocarbon - in effect, sequestration. Your idea here, I think, is another geocarbon into biocarbon option which simply won't help.   

       Once again, I admire the energy you dedicate to energy generation and the environment - this must be the 5th or 6th of yours I've read - but none of your ideas address the fundamental issue of converting biocarbon into geocarbon. I hope you'll give that some thought.
jonthegeologist, Jan 09 2007

       [Lt_Frank] I agree with you, but [cam1234] is just suggesting the further release of new geocarbon, albeit with an attempt to recycle some of it.
jonthegeologist, Jan 09 2007

       It also displaces an equivalent amount of geocarbon that would otherwise be burnt as transportation fuel. This would drastically alter the emission _rate_ of CO2, and allow natural systems time to mop up the rest.   

       A percentage of algae harvested could be sunk in ocean trenches or other geosequestration sites to make up the balance. It has to be cheaper than the other proposals for carbon capture and storage.   

       Personally I think this makes biofuels a winner. The existing infrastructure of the distribution system and vehicles would require trivial modifications compared to widespread adoption of either hydrogen or electricity for transport. And of the available sources for liquid biofuels, algae looks like the front runner.   

       However, [Cam1234] I read The Energy Blog too. Where's the idea in your idea?
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 12 2007

       //algae harvested could be sunk in ocean trenches or other geosequestration sites//   

       Then we wait a few million years ... Bingo! Fresh new fossil fuels.
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 13 2007

       [+] I can't see any harm in this. Some algal strains can produce vegetable oils directly, while the algae can indeed be used as a feedstock for fermentation to produce ethanol.   

       At first, the CO2 would come from fossil fuels, but as oil prices rise I suggest that the factories would start to use the biofuels they produced to lower their overall energy costs.   

       As far as I can see, this idea uses roof space that would otherwise be unused, and uses it to produce biofuels we otherwise wouldn't have, using gases that would otherwise be harming the environment - but mine is the first bun?   

       [edit] jh, the author appears to have corrected his/her spelling almost completely.
david_scothern, Jan 13 2007

       turns out the most efficient way of using biofuel energy, like ethanol from corn/grass/waste plant material etc. is to just burn the plants in a highly efficient power station. if we all used bi-directional plug-in hybrids, the power storage "grid" would be our cars. the power station can get over 60% efficiency (the latest and greatest), whereas ethanol is lucky to break even. algae is best for making biodiesel - feed the leftovers to cows.   

       [BunsenHoneydew]: really, really like the idea of killing algae and sinking it to some remote ocean trench. brilliant! millions of tons of carbon could be easily taken out of the loop this way. sure, it'd mess with the local ecosystem, but we're doing that on a global scale anyway.
TIB, Jan 13 2007

       Why thank you :)   

       If you choose the right ocean trench, it probably won't have a local ecosystem at the bottom.   

       From what I've read, the same process can yield both oil and ethanol.   

       However, this is something I'd rather see retrofitted to existing plant, rather than new, purpose built plant. All new plant should be using renewables from the get go.
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 14 2007

       Sequestering Geocarbon, I could care less, I'm cold and I like plants to grow well. But this is the greatest idea since sliced bread, Bravo. Alge produces like 100 or 1000 times as much (I forget which but not exagerating) biomass than rowcrops like corn. We'll just put a canal in from the end of the Mississippi westward to west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and have fIelds of clear pipes with rivers of alge directly pumped with concentrated industrial CO2 emmissions flowing through. Biodiesel, yummy.
MercuryNotMars, Jan 16 2007


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