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Pretty much anyone with an eco-agenda is making their voice heard at the COP 15 United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen. Delegates from 192 countries are attending and throwing their two cents into the communal pot, including Brazil, which is in Denmark to defend ethanol. In fact, representatives from Brazil say that biofuels are "the only real alternative to fossil fuels," especially for developing countries.

For Brazil, this has been put into action. For the past 30 years, Brazil has been shifting away from gasoline to an ethanol-based transportation system and is now the world's leading maker and exporter of the biofuel. Thus far, the Brazilian authorities say, Brazil has reduced emissions by 800 million tons of CO2 thanks to ethanol. Another benefit, the delegates claim, is that ethanol micro-distilleries can help reduce poverty. Not everyone agrees with this statement.

[Source: Guardian]
Photo by over_kind_man. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.


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  • 40 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's not the only alternative to so called fossil fuels, but in the short term it's the most important, and I will elaborate:

      1) It is possible to convert the vast majority of current ICE units on the roads and in powerplants to run on ethanol and/or biodiesels. Those that can't be converted to ethanol can probably be converted to biodiesel. This allows for, in the short term, the use of locally grown fuel and the independence of the energy market from the oil cartel, which is a part of the oligopoly that is steering the world into a controlled chaos so they don't lose their perch to emerging competition.

      2) Electric motors are better, but the time and investment required to get to them is too high to get it done in the short term, and while we let this transition go naturally we could make things better with ethanol and biodiesel. One is a short term solution and the other, electrics, are long term technological optimization. We can do them both at the same time, with ethanol predictably getting a head start but in the long term getting phased out. But we could get rid of big oil in a few short years. And they are a cancer that SHOULD go.

      3) We should never had started oil in the first place, it's an inferior fuel and was only adopted due to a massive con job done by old man Rockefeller.

      4) Brazil is proof of concept, and do realise that there are many crops usable for ethanol, not just sugarcane. Also the crops used don't have to be food crops and that most agricultural land is not currently used. That we have hunger on the planet is an abomination that has more to do with the dynamics of big business (run by eugenicists) and the sociopathic musings of the IMF (run by eugenicists) than it has to do with any natural limitation.

      My concept of a real green revolution, not just a climategate colluded global taxation scam showing off a few token techs, is the use of biofuels to replace big oil in the short term, while at the same time focusing on an electric economy in the long term, where perhaps the ethanol gets put into generators rather than ICE's, as well as solar and wind and battery technology taking up a bigger slice of the energy pie.

      And, if we use the political power breaking the monopoly would give us, we could go after patent laws and release all the vastly superior technology the big oil atavists have been hiding for over a century.

      You, even the ones paid to say the opposite, know this makes sense and is the RIGHT approach to the energy situation. No need for dirty fuels, anywhere.

      Cheers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jonathan King, the notion that ethanol takes more energy or fuel to make than it yields is championed mainly by David Pimentel, who is notorious for several reasons.

        One is that he is an outlier among other writers on ethanol. As you can see here,
        http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/pdfs/43835.pdf (page 4) he and his collaborator are virtually alone in their conclusions, and his methodology is constantly corrected

        http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/pdfs/brief_comparison_pimentel_patzek.pdf

        Second is that, is that like many cranks, he is not a credentialed and respected expert in the field he writes in (he is a mere insect entomologist rather than an engineer, let alone a specialist in energy) and has had his papers forcefully refuted in the refereed literature. Not that that prevents oil cartel funded think tanks from spamming them out into public discourse long after they have been discredited.

        Indeed (and third) his collaborator Patzek is an oil industry man.

        Fourth, he is on the record holding many fringe views such as opposing pet ownership (calling dogs and cats "invasive species" to North America) as well as all modern agriculture (including the Green Revolution that has saved billions from starvation), and wants to reduce the world population by government policy by at least half, and to reduce Americans' standard of living by at least half. And that's just what he's willing to say in public.

        Fourth, his "greatest hit" paper in 2002 claiming to prove ethanol is a net energy consumer is absurd. If it were true ethanol would cost a fortune and would need subsidies of more than its retail price to be remotely competitive, which it does not either in the US or Brazil - so the claim is a humiliating failure of basic numeracy. The specifics of the paper were torn apart within a year in the refereed literature by Butler and other actual experts in chemical engineering, who highlighted its numerous errors and fatal flaws such as Pimentel using decades-old statistics (always to ethanol's detriment) or his assuming that all ethanol corn is irrigated (only 16% of corn is, and nearly no ethanol corn is - which alone destroyed his calculations) etc. etc.

        The issue was finally settled as much as any subject can reasonably be settled in science by the January 2006 edition of the most prestigious peer-reviewed journal in the world, "Science" ("Nature is the other). The paper was a comprehensive survey of all previously published peer reviewed papers in the world on the subject, the results of which prove that even with Pimentel's fatally flawed assumptions, one gets five gallons of ethanol for each gallon of petroleum expended to make it, and with better-supported, mainstream data and assumptions, one gets at least ten and even twenty gallons of ethanol for each gallon of petroleum expended. That should be a stake through the heart of this myth, but it staggers on, kept "alive" by oil cartel propaganda.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A couple of clarifications to my post and replies to other comments:

        1) I advocate both biofuels and electrics, the first in the form of new flexfuel cars and bolt on conversion kits with ECU reprogramming. From an engineering pov it's a simple task to convert any ICE to alcohol or biodiesel, with the major problem being the intolerance of aluminium engines to alcohol. But aluminium blocks are still a minority, and if they happen to be diesel they can burn biodiesel. Electrics can be conversions too, but mostly they will be new cars. It will take longer for people to adopt the electrics and the ICE cars still have 20 or more years in a lot of them and there are millions, so I see a transitional period where we have lots of biofuel and a few electrics up to a point where we have lots of electrics and a few biofuels.

        2) Hydrogen is not economical or technologically viable, plus it is a high tech centralized fuel dependent on big business patent. The economy of hydrogen would be elitist and we have enough problems with those guys as it is.

        3) Why go Nuclear when solar energy is 1000w per m2 per hour? And those places that don't have solar have wind. Just stop the damn chemtrailing, it's getting in the way of our sun.

        4) Some people a priori disregard conspiracy theory. I submit that they are victims of pavlovian conditioning from the mass media which also creates peer pressure. I further submit that there is only two vectors to understanding history: the coincidental and the conspiratorial. Both have their relevance, but to not accept that conspiracies are part of human life is to live with your head in the sand.

        Cheers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You make a number of good points.

        I agree that hunger is not caused by biofuels or any shortage of foodstuffs (indeed the US and EU pay farmers not to produce even more food since there's such a huge surplus), but disagree with you as to what does cause hunger. The prime reason is poverty, much of it caused by conflict or bad public policy (socialism, import restrictions), and exacerbated by the oil cartel's heavy tax on the world economy, which falls heavily on the poor.

        I also agree that alcohol fuel should replace petroleum in the short term as we wait and see whether battery electric vehicles truly become practical, versatile, and affordable enough for the mass market. I disagree that we should burn ethanol for electric power, preferring to expand nuclear fission (for advanced, high security countries anyway) and intensively research fusion for the future.

        I disagree with conspiracy theories purporting that "big oil" has been hiding miracle technology. Such fantasies are a distraction and discredit our efforts. The real conspiracy is an open one: OPEC, whose reason for being is to constrict petroleum production below market demand in order to artificially raise the price. The international oil companies, since 1970 or so, no longer control the world oil market and merely supply OPEC with expertise and act as middlemen, making their 8% or so margin, before passing on OPEC's product (with its OPEC-set price) on to us; thus "big oil" is not the real problem and should not be our focus.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The problem is that it takes too much energy to produce ethanol than you get out of it. What are you running all the tractors and harvesting equipment on? If you run all your harvesting equipment on the ethanol you produce you will have very little/nothing left to sell. Then there is still energy wasted to get that ethanol to the pump. Brazil has an energy positive ethanol production system with sugar cane but sugar cane does not grow everywhere. Harvesting ethanol from corn is not energy positive. Until an energy positive method of producing ethanol is developed (cellulosic? remains to be seen) ethanol is not the solution.

        My concept for a green revolution is range extended electric vehicles in the near term to allow people to start driving electrically even before the charging infrastructure is in place. Range extenders should be flex fuel engines for the case that energy positive ethanol production is achieved. My long term vision is solar panels on the roofs of every building, large solar thermal plants and a few nuclear plants for base load.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The technology for an electric market is here already."

        Well, except for maybe cheap, lightweight batteries that can be recharged quickly. Those are still a little ways off...
        • 5 Years Ago
        While i kind of agree with your model i have one problem with it.

        The technology for an electric market is here already. All that needs to happen is that production needs to get moving.

        A switch to ethanol wouldn't happen over night, and thus it has the same problems as the electric market: We would need to speed up production.

        Perhaps i read incorrectly but it sort of sounded like you said that we should focus on one until technology gets better and then focus on the other. Let me offer you a more dynamic model where we focus on them both. If we continue to ramp up production on EV's and ER-EV's NOW while still increasing production and use of biofuels, electrics will still win in the end, but as you mentioned earlier, we will get off of oil more quickly.

        Thats just my 2¢
      • 5 Years Ago
      One thing you can rely on is... Car manufacturers are on the side of ethanol, bio fuel and the like. Any thing to keep that revenue coming in from the ICE. Oil companies should be a fan of ethanol also as they may be able to dominate that supply also.

      Yes much more corn is produced per acre but it is inedible. It's not even corn anymore as we new it just 20 or 30 years ago. You can't harvest it and eat it. It is used for corn syrup and feed stock. What you get in quantity you loose in quality. There use to be 10 different kinds of corn all of it more nutritious than today's corporate corn.

      My belief is corn ethanol and bio fuels are supported by big oil and car companies just like hydrogen and all so they can keep the current infrastructure and revenue streams intact. Any thing to keep those inefficiant ICE cars on the road. I would much rather the subsidies go for EV's than hydrogen, ethanol or bio fuels.
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk

        If you take a look at the ev album a little closer you will find that 99 percent of the 2,600 some odd EV's are home built.

        I don't like the problems I have had with my particular car but it has never left me stranded. (Unlike my new 2005 Silverado did) and yes I could have built mine. The motor, controller, trans (though I would not recommend it) are all for sale on a website, electro automotive.

        When Ford had a total of less than fifty cars on the road do you think all of them worked perfectly?

        If I built the car it would not be as clean as it is. Toyota won't give you the electric signal that it takes to fool the cars computer which is intact in the build such as, fuel gage, temp gage, alt, check eng and others. The company that built mine had to figure out how to fool the computer with dummy signals. There are people in our electric vehicle association that could figure it out, it just takes money.

        The batteries alone were $18,000 for the conversion. The components above from electroautomotive are approx 12-13k. These do not count the Air Conditioning parts or heater components, DC to DC converter, battery box, or labor. Let's not forget about the $15,500 for the ICE car itself with the options I ordered. You tell me if I would have saved any money doing it myself?

        A side not pertaining to above. The sales person told me that the batteries cost $18,000 and I believe that they would have cost that if I as a individual would have purchased them. A 35kwh pack from Kokum for 18k, yes probably. I think the company who did the conversion gets them cheaper than 18k or they loose much money on each conversion.

        Since I have never built one before I think I would convert a 99 used civic for starters and work my way up.

        I have purchased many cars in my life and seven of them were new. Of all the cars purchased I have had the least buyers remorse over the electric Yaris even with it's glitches. My new 2005 Silverado left me stranded twice and had to be towed into the shop three times in the first six months. They finaly figured out the battery was discharging on its own randomly and replaced it.

        One thing that is very good, the company stands behind there warranty.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXUSftdXg5k
        • 2 Months Ago
        "The oil companies would tell me to pay more for hydrogen and I would have no choice."

        Wrong. Hydrogen can be produced by a number of processes from a number of sources. No one provider would be able to corner the market.

        "By bypassing EV's and going striaght to hydrogen fuel cells..."

        Nobody's doing that, you're paranoid. Even though the majority of the automaker plan on producing FCVs, they also have plans to produce BEVs - it is obvious that the BEVs are already coming to market, and that FCVs are still about five years to a decade out.

        "The money is the only reason we have regressive technology advances ..."

        WTH is "regressive technology advances"?

        "I don't blame auto companies for not wanting EV's as I don't see how they will make half the money off of them comparatively speaking."

        At least you are beginning to accept reality. The price of batteries has until recently made BEVs (any EV) way too expensive - they still are much more expensive than an average car. They have many limitations that most consumers will not accept. Some of those limitations will certainly be overcome, but the automakers simply don't think there's a huge market for pure BEVs - which is why they are pursuing ER-EVs of various flavors and FCVs.

        "Yes the auto makers want to keep the exclusive, "only we can build it mentality".

        Back to my earlier point, nobody is going to prevent EV enthusiasts like yourself from building (or paying someone else, in your case) a one-off EV conversion. If you'd pull your head out of your butt you'd realize that more EVs, regardless of who builds them, is a good thing.



        • 2 Months Ago
        Actually, the OEMs are pretty steadfast behind hydrogen:

        The world's carmakers are rallying around to urge fuel firms and governments to develop an accessible and affordable hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. The call is being made thanks to the development of fuel cell vehicles, these green machines requiring hydrogen to provide the electricity to power their motors.

        Among the firms pushing for a new fuelling network are Kia Motors Corporation, Hyundai Motor, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Honda Motor Co Ltd, the alliance Renault SA and Nissan Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation. All have signed a joint 'Letter of Understanding' addressed to all oil and energy companies and governmental organisations to push forward the development of hydrogen refuelling stations in each region, ahead of the carmakers' launch of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs).

        The carmakers stated that a network is required by 2015 to provide fuel for their new vehicles, suggesting that the existing network should be expanded out from metropolitan areas and along transport corridors."

        http://uk.cars.yahoo.com/10092009/36/car-makers-call-hydrogen-infrastructure-0.html

        http://www.finchannel.com/news_flash/Oil_&_Auto/46561_Automobile_Manufacturers_Stick_up_for_Electric_Vehicles_with_Fuel_Cell/

        • 2 Months Ago
        Who built your EV for you, EVsuperhero? Who built the motor, and the battery? Was it you, in your garage?

        How much did you pay for your 2-seater Toyota Yaris that goes 0-60 in 12 seconds, has a 133 mile range, and exhibits this during its first year:

        "2/15/09 Technicians came to fix battery management screen.

        4/15/09 Techs return to fix what was not complete on last repair.

        5/5/09 Smoke come comes from console in between seats where gear selector is located. Similar to a lit cigarette.

        5/15/09 Tech comes to repair area where smoke came from.

        6/1/09 Air conditioner stopped working. EV Innovations instructed me to remove a air conditioning component (aluminum box) and ship it to them to test. Before shipping it, I plugged the box back in and tried the air conditioner and it worked. Reinstalled box and the air works great. I expect a connection came loose.

        7/5/09 Car shipped back to NC for repairs due to leaking gearbox.

        9/4/09 Received car, have not driven it yet but it looks like the car is not leaking trans fluid. When charging the car at 110 the car will only draw 2 amps, this equates to 2 miles per hour in range. To charge after going 100 miles range it would take 50 hours. Rendering charging at 110 virtually useless. At 220 the car draws 11 to 12 amps which equates to 16 miles per charging hour in range. To charge after going a 100 miles it would take 7 hours and 15 minutes using 220."

        http://www.evalbum.com/1892

        I do admire your enthusiasm for the EV, but you of all people should understand that your EV's life story would be absolutely ruinous to the reputation of a major automaker, possibly invoking Lemon Laws.

        I like the new start-ups, esp. Fisker, but most car buyers want to buy cars from the same companies that they already like, and not worry about issues like your EV exhibited...


        • 2 Months Ago
        Yes the auto makers want to keep the exclusive, "only we can build it mentality".

        Right now you have the ICE. Only a major manufacturer can make the engine block. You can buy many modification parts and replace many parts with higher performance parts but the original block and whole engine is manufactured by a major auto company.

        Next you will have the fuel cell. Again only a major company can manufacture it.

        With EV's. People can build them in there garages and order a EV motor from many different places. This at a time when EV's comprise less than 1 percent of all vehicles. Imagine how many cheap electric motors would be available when and if they mass produce them. The ICE is relatively inexpensive because of mass numbers of them

        The auto companies want to keep the exclusiveness of their cars so you must first buy what there selling and then you may be able to modify. They want to exclusively do the maintenance on there fuel cells. EV's take away much of that exclusive income not to mention the fuel used once they are built "ie" solar panels.
        • 2 Months Ago
        "The auto companies want to keep the exclusiveness of their cars so you must first buy what there selling and then you may be able to modify. They want to exclusively do the maintenance on there fuel cells."

        These accusations are baseless. Nothing will prevent small companies from continuing to build kits and conversions - you seem to underestimate the modularity of fuel cell systems. You might even prefer them to batteries.

        I'd be more worried about government interference into the modifications I can do to any vehicle that I own.
        • 2 Months Ago
        I might like fuel cells better than batteries but what would kill me is paying the oil companies who would control the supply of hydrogen. The oil companies would tell me to pay more for hydrogen and I would have no choice.

        Put solar panels on your house and you are insulated against price increases to fuel a EV for ever.

        Auto companies want to protect there profit margins for ICE. Little profit margin for a electric motor comparatively speaking. (see separate post below for further explanation)

        By bypassing EV's and going striaght to hydrogen fuel cells they are protecting profit margins for a long time to come as with new technology like this it will take a long while for aftermarkets part manufacturers to figure out the new technology and produce after market parts for it. (not baseless at all) The money is the only reason we have regressive technology advances or very small improvements to existing ICE. No money in EV's if they are structured after conventional selling methods.

        Leaf is going to make money by treating cars as computers. Each new model will go a little further and have newer lighter batteries or innovative technology like computers you will want to upgrade to the newest thing. Cars already are this way a bit but with EV they will want to do more of this to make money from them. I don't blame auto companies for not wanting EV's as I don't see how they will make half the money off of them comparatively speaking.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Feel free to research the figures yourself, but here's what a USDA "GAIN Report number BR6001", "Brazil Sugar Ethanol Update - February 2006" says:

      Quoting the Brazilian Agencia Nacional de Petroleos:
      2005 consumption, in billions of litres:
      Diesel 35.821
      Gasoline 15.878
      Ethanol 9.376

      This is close to what the Wikipedia page on ethanol fuel in Brazil claims, quoting a report from the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy: that ethanol accounts for 14.9% of transport sector consumption, by energy equivalent.

      Brazil still consumes 2 million barrels of oil per day. The United States consumes nearly 10 times that much.

      Ethanol is, at best, a small part of any move to alternatives. There isn't a hope in hell of producing enough ethanol to power the BRAZILIAN transport sector, let alone the U.S. transport sector, let alone the rest of the world.

      harlanx6
      • 5 Years Ago
      If you can figure out who all the stake holders are here it is most likely a duel of misrepresentations for personal or corporate gain, kind of like politics in general. Kudos to the Brazilians for becoming an exporter of energy rather than an importer. It is bound to raise their standard of living even though it might make the oil producers howl. We are really slow on the uptake here (US). Imported energy is killing us.j
        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        "It's not really whether we import our energy. It's that we are using petroleum, which funds our enemies' propaganda and military efforts.."

        Yeah, Canada is a serious threat to the US way of life - they canceled "Corner Gas"!!

        I despise your political posturing; it only draws attention away from the REAL reason the world is moving away from burning fossil fuels:

        It's the CARBON. Not the fact that some (a very small minority) extremists like to blow things up (they've always existed, and always will). No matter what the US, or other Western societies, use as fuel, there will be conflict. Diamonds, drugs, sex slaves, counterfeit goods... there are plenty of ways to fund terrorism.

        Fossil fuels, as well as alcohol fuels, when combusted in a heat engine, produce all sorts of nasty byproducts. Only batteries and hydrogen offer the potential of *no* tail-pipe emissions.

        harlanx6
        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Imported energy robs us of the resources needed to evolve our society to renewable energy, and cripples our economy. Economy first, then we will have the necessary resources to deal with our many other problems.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        It's not really whether we import our energy. It's that we are using petroleum, which funds our enemies' propaganda and military efforts - we are funding a war against ourselves. Since oil is fungible, even buying domestically drilled, refined, and sold gasoline enriches the bad guys, since that takes that oil off the world market, makes it that much more scarce, and enables them to charge that much more for the oil they do sell.

        In other words, while our rising dependence on foreign and specifically OPEC oil is a visible and obvious problem, the real problem is oil itself.

        By contrast, buying imported Brazilian or Haitian ethanol is not going to harm our national security or economy. It's the commodity, not where it's from, that matters most.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Brazil certainly has accomplished great things (going from 80% dependence on foreign oil to zero, in contrast to us going from 35% to 60%, since 1980) and has much to teach us. And it is true that alcohol fuels are the most practical and affordable alternative.

      But, important as it is now, and should continue to be in the future, ethanol is not the only real alternative. Methanol, with an M, should also play a central role, indeed must do so for alcohol fuel to become the worldwide standard and norm.

      Nobel Chemistry Prize winning author Dr. George Orlah's book "The Methanol Economy" has many good ideas, but Dr. Orlah has also criticized ethanol and asserted that only methanol makes sense as the fuel (and plastic feedstock) of the future.

      Can't we [alchohol advocates] all just get along?

      Fully flex-fueled vehicles don't care what sort of alcohol you put into them, running happily on any mix (or no mix) of methanol, ethanol, or gasoline. Or even other alcohols such as propanol or butanol.

      I envision a future wherein methanol is the "bargain" fuel - requiring more frequent fill-ups but costing the least per mile, and ethanol is the mid-range fuel, with perhaps propanol, butanol, or bio-gasoline serving as the relatively rare and expensive long range fuel. In short, a methanol-ethanol tag team is necessary; neither can succeed without the other.
        • 2 Months Ago
        "Also, Mark_BC, ethanol is irrelevant to deforestation. Essentially no ethanol cane is grown in the Amazon basin, since the soil is too wet and rots the roots. Instead the cane is grown hundreds of miles to the south, in Brazil's equivalent of our Great Plains. The "razing the rainforest for ethanol" meme was so powerful and persistent, though, that the government actually banned ethanol cane in the Amazon, hoping to break through the fog of myth with a dramatic statement. More like a stunt, really, since it's pointless, like Russia banning banana plantations in Siberia. Sadly, it's clear that even such extreme measures have not overcome the deafening oil cartel FUD campaign."

        That is grossly overly simplistic. Firstly, Brazil has (had) lots of rainforest in land outside of the Amazon basin. It has a few scattered remnants of the once great "Atlantic rainforest" in the south east that is all development and cane farms now. And why do you assume that only soaking wet Amazon rainforest has ecological value? What about the natural areas that have a dry season? Suddenly they aren't important anymore? Just because the US literally destroyed virtually all of its natural grasslands for agriculture doesn't mean that it is acceptable for others to mistreat their natural areas this way.

        The idea that sugar cane is not grown on land previously supporting rainforests is a little absurdly idealistic. I toured Queensland and Colombia and I can say that this is blatantly false. And by growing sugar cane in areas other than the Amazon basin, all this does is force the destruction of the Amazon to grow other crops, to maintain the same level of food production that the sugar cane displaces. Huge swaths are being cleared for soy agriculture.

        I'll have a look at the references you gave me, but I am highly skeptical of the idealistic scenario you are describing where thoughtful, environmentally friendly land owners will be careful to ensure that no transportation ethanol displaces food production or causes deforestation.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Also, Mark_BC, ethanol is irrelevant to deforestation. Essentially no ethanol cane is grown in the Amazon basin, since the soil is too wet and rots the roots. Instead the cane is grown hundreds of miles to the south, in Brazil's equivalent of our Great Plains. The "razing the rainforest for ethanol" meme was so powerful and persistent, though, that the government actually banned ethanol cane in the Amazon, hoping to break through the fog of myth with a dramatic statement. More like a stunt, really, since it's pointless, like Russia banning banana plantations in Siberia. Sadly, it's clear that even such extreme measures have not overcome the deafening oil cartel FUD campaign.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As a reply to Mark_BC:
        Carney is not on the site commenting to simply enlighten you. Please go forth and read books. Read as many as you can get your hands on regarding energy and alternative energy. Many of the answers you seek will be in the books. Here are my short answers to your questions. I hope they inspire curiosity.
        No farmland is required to grow enough ethanol crops to supply all of the US energy needs.
        Non-flexfuel automobile engines can run on E-85 today with no modifications.
        Farmers can feed 25 people per acre on an organic vegetarian diet.
        Your local librarian awaits.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Here are the technical advances that Carney refuses to accept regarding hydrogen:

        http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/pathways_success_hfcit.pdf

        I don't have a problem with Carney supporting alcohol fuels, even though they have been shown to cause cancer at the same rate as burning gasoline.

        I do not understand why he still posts "The Hydrogen Hoax" nonsense which has very little basis in reality. Hydrogen has been produced, stored, transported, and used industrially for decades - proving that it can be handled. New sources and methods of producing hydrogen are dramatically bringing down its cost, and there is no doubt among educated engineers and technicians that it will be a major energy carrier used extensively by future society.

        As for no free hydrogen on Earth - well, how about INSIDE the Earth. Deep bore drilling has produced incredible amounts of hydrogen gas "...with the mud flowing out of the hole described as "boiling" with hydrogen."

        "Because hydrogen is formed inside the mineral grains in the rocks whenever molten rock cools below 600 degrees centigrade, Freund adds, “It’s my assertion that in all these large volumes of igneous and metamorphic rock that form Earth’s continents, every mineral grain is a potential source of hydrogen. It’s not very much hydrogen per unit volume rock, but very large in total mass.”

        The hypothesis is still viewed with skepticism, admits Freund, a professor of physics at San Jose State University in California, and his physics-oriented approach has had trouble getting accepted among geologists, but it is “undisputed that hydrogen is available throughout the rock column. Whether you sink a drill 3 to 5 kilometers down in the Canadian Shield, or near the San Andreas fault, or in Hawaii, you will find hydrogen everywhere. The hydrogen is so common that nobody reports it, yet we have it everywhere. So nobody has gotten serious, and asked, where does this hydrogen come from?”

        http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/articles/deep-hydrogen/
        • 5 Years Ago
        PabloKoh, I'm interested to learn from you what my "real" purpose in being here is, since you are gifted with insights into others' motivations.

        I wish that E85 would indeed work fine unmodified in all current non flex fuel cars (I'm sure enthusiasts can be found to supply anecdotal evidence that it works fine in theirs). Recent cars tend to have fuel tanks and lines that are indeed far better able to handle alcohol than those of decades ago, and electronic fuel injection also dramatically simplifies the task of switching fuels. But a "sniffer" that determines the "richness" of the exhaust, and thus the proper proportion of fuel to air, is still highly useful if not vital, and there is the little matter of EPA certification.
        • 2 Months Ago
        That's the only link Carney has been able to produce over the last year of drivel he's been spouting off.

        Unfortunately for him, the author of that link has his own self-interests and agendas...much like Carney.

        The facts remain that progress in material breakthroughs and advances in material science will develop both the battery and hydrogen fronts.

        Anyone who buys Carney's BS that producing enough of the fuel he proposes is either sustainable or politically safe is a nutjob.

        And for the record, I've never said other technology research should not be conducted and implemented. It should...as should hydrogen. Carney keeps insisting that and through constant lying, he thinks people will for his farce and agenda.

        Sorry Carney, your link is useless...it's a joke at best. Come and talk to some of the engineers I work with who are pushing the forefront of material science and use of battery and H2 technology.

        Your short-term vision is no good to anyone but yourself. The fact thay you have YET TO LEARN is the source of your shortcomings.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mark_BC, maybe the following figures will be helpful to you:

        http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/in-defense-of-biofuels

        "Agriculture is not a zero-sum game. As illustrated in the bar chart below, there are roughly 2,250 million acres of land in the continental United States. About 1,600 million of those acres are arable. Roughly half of that land (800 million acres) is farmland, but only about a third of that (280 million acres) is actually being cultivated. Only about 85 million of those farm acres are presently growing corn, and just a fifth of that land—about 17 million acres—is growing corn that becomes ethanol. In short, there is plenty of farmland in the United States that could be used to grow more corn—or more of the other staple crops needed to meet domestic or international demand. Even more importantly, agricultural technology is constantly advancing. U.S. corn yields per acre have risen 17 percent since 2002, and the state of Iowa alone today produces more corn than the entire nation did in the 1940s. Applied globally, such improved techniques can multiply world agricultural yields many times. In fact, they have risen by a factor of six since 1930—which is why, even though the world’s population has tripled since that time, there is a lot more food for everyone today."

        The book "Energy Victory" goes into great detail, on pages 148-156, about cultivating ethanol, including a table of 15 crops (other than corn and sugarcane) that can yield worthwhile quantities of fuel per unit of land, with specific yield figures for each. In addition, there is an enormous quantity of discarded produce, such as Ecuadorian bananas that do not reach the market and simply spoil, that can be made into ethanol and put to good use.

        Furthermore, methanol can be made from any inedible biomass without exception, including crop residues, such as the stems, cobs, and leaves from corn, significantly increasing per-acre alcohol fuel yields. Another biomass source is the enormous tonnage of weed plants such as kudzu and water hyacinths that have to be cleared anyway. Yet another is waste such as rice bran, and the otherwise environmentally problematic "black liquor" from paper mills (bark, sawdust, chips, and other woody material is also great - in fact methanol was once called "wood alcohol"). Urban trash and even human and animal sewage are other major sources - no chance of a shortage there. Methanol can also be made from natural gas (the current, cheapest method) or coal, both of which are abundant, although neither really counts as biomass as the term is popularly used.

        You're right that converting to alcohol would require a new generation of vehicles. So did the switch from leaded to unleaded gasoline. A simple mandate that all new cars sold be fully flex-fueled (having full alcohol compatibility as a standard feature, like seat belts) would get the process going and would cost automakers only about $130 per car. Since about 10% of cars on the road are new that year, within 3 years, 4 at the most, there would be a critical mass of cars on the roads such that gas stations would begin routinely offering alcohol fuel, if only to protect themselves from being undercut by nearby rivals, since methanol in particular is very cheap, and ethanol can be too, relatively speaking, if we drop our tariff and perhaps institute wise tax policies. Within two presidential terms, alcohol fuel would become the norm, with gasoline being increasingly a relic of antique car hobbyists. Frankly, this should have been done in the early 90s, as soon as modern flex fuel technology emerged, but it is stil vital now.

        BEV tech is interesting, but many people west of the Mississippi River drive long distances, with big gaps between power outlets, not to mention poor nations. A cheap Tata Nano style car running on methanol is a much more practical way to accomodate exploding world demand for cars than still-pricey BEVs. The prices may come down, but that's in the future, whereas we know that methanol is cheap now and that low price is scalable given the vast resource base.

        Switching to methanol-derived DME diesel fuel would also let construction equipment, big tractor-trailor trucks, trains, ships, etc. break free of petroleum, but that will not happen without methanol being a much bigger presence.

        Scandinavia is an anomaly with an exceptionally functional culture (and perhaps the harsh winters' natural selection for hard work and deferred gratification) helping it resist the effects of socialism's perverse incentives; but the worldwide record of socialism is dismal, as nearly everyone post 1989 knows. Not merely the nearly la
        • 2 Months Ago
        You seem to have misunderstood the quote. Freund is saying that his theory is met with skepticism because his approach is different than the leading theories among geologists.

        However, even though they don't know the what process creates the hydrogen, it is “undisputed that hydrogen is available throughout the rock column. Whether you sink a drill 3 to 5 kilometers down in the Canadian Shield, or near the San Andreas fault, or in Hawaii, you will find hydrogen everywhere. The hydrogen is so common that nobody reports it, yet we have it everywhere. So nobody has gotten serious, and asked, where does this hydrogen come from?”

        The hydrogen exists, the question is what is producing it. And, how can we access it to use as fuel?


        I posted a link to a partial list of the developing hydrogen technologies that answers your challenge, if you'd care to read it. I assure you, hydrogen can be stored, it can be transported, and it can be handled safely.

        I'll challenge you: What produces fewer toxic oxides and carcinogens, burning alcohol (any kind) in a combustion engine, or using hydrogen in a fuel cell?

        Your focus is obviously on financially depriving "your enemies" by not buying their product, but you ignore the environmental damage that alcohol fuels still inflict. You've been told by others, you're thinking too much short term, not enough long term.
        • 2 Months Ago
        CARNEY:

        The only weak link here is you....repeating yourself with that delusional website I think has me beat by a long shot.

        LETSTAKEAWALK:

        Don't expect much out of Carney...he'll just put up his site again and never admit to the fact that advances in other areas are moving along quite well. Everything stands still for him except his own beliefs and agendas.

        It's a good thing we overcame the same types of people back in the days when we thought driving over 15 MPH would have killed you...or when we tried to break the sound barrier...or developed cell phones the size of bricks, cost a few grand, and a couple of dollars a MINUTE...back in the 70's. Carney should go back to the stone age living because most of what we use today was WAY out of reach of everyone's budget a mere 30 years ago.

        Again, near-sightedness never made for particularly good innovation.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The link that so annoys Nozferat is here:

        http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-hydrogen-hoax

        Nozferat is a hydrogen believer. I have yet to learn from him what technical advances we can anticipate that will change hydrogen's basic physical characteristics, such as:

        Having the smallest molecules of any substance, able to leak through the tiniest flaws in any seal, gasket, joint, or spigot, and indeed able to diffuse straight through and embrittle solid steel;

        Being the least dense substance in the entire universe, thus requiring the lowest temperature of any substance to become a liquid, in turn requiring extreme energy expenditure past the point of diminishing returns, and/or the most pressure, making its containers highly explosion prone or extremely heavy;

        Not being available in free form anywhere on Earth, since all hydrogen on Earth has already been oxidized or is bound up into hydrocarbons;

        Being flammable at an extremely wide range of concentrations in the air (from 4 to 75%) compared to the far more narrow range of gasoline and the even narrower range of alcohol; as well as needing a mere twentieth of the spark that gasoline requires for ignition (hello, random background static!); thus being extremely dangerous;

        etc.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Can you provide some numbers which detail how much farmland would be required to convert over to biofuels for the majority of our transportation needs?

        "Electric motors are better, but the time and investment required to get to them is too high to get it done in the short term, and while we let this transition go naturally we could make things better with ethanol and biodiesel. One is a short term solution and the other, electrics, are long term technological optimization."

        It is my understanding that converting the automotive fleet over to flex fuel vehicles would require a whole new iteration of vehicles. How is this "short term"? Why don't we just instead focus on bringing EV's to market and bypass alcohol, since we don't have a large enough infrastructure in place to crank out such huge volumes of alcohol right now anyways, whereas everyone already has a plug in their garage?

        Brazil certainly has accomplished a great deal of deforestation.

        "I disagree with conspiracy theories purporting that "big oil" has been hiding miracle technology."

        So it is mere coincidence that Chevron controlled the patent on NiMH batteries up until recently, and that EV's were out in the market 6 years ago, but then as soon as Chevron got control of the patent, they magically vanished, and all the new EV's coming out since have been powered by lithium ion batteries?

        "I agree that hunger is not caused by biofuels or any shortage of foodstuffs (indeed the US and EU pay farmers not to produce even more food since there's such a huge surplus), but disagree with you as to what does cause hunger. The prime reason is poverty, much of it caused by conflict or bad public policy (socialism, import restrictions)"

        While there may not be a shortage of food in the US, overall in the world there is. We should be protecting our farmland because food will soon be in great demand as the developing world develops and their ecological footprint goes from 2 ha per person to 5 (as they gain the economic power to demand to eat meat), and as a result the required agricultural output for the planet will concurrently double or triple.

        I would like to challenge your assertion that socialism causes poverty. Would you care to compare the economic performance and poverty rates of Sweden vs. the US over the last 2 years?
        • 2 Months Ago
        Letstakeawalk, I hadn't heard about those "advances", but really, aren't they pretty weak tea? One scientist who admits that his claims aren't accepted by mainstream science?

        I didn't dispute that methods of storing and transporting hydrogen are well-known - in fact it's from such real world experience that we know what a huge expensive pain it is.

        You left my other challenges unresponded to.

        Nozferat, your "response" is even weaker, just arm-waving, name calling, and no facts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Uh, that increase from 35% to 60% foreign oil content has more to do with how domestic oil production has tanked due to its peak production happening around 1975-1980 than anything else.

        Not that renewed offshore drilling will help that by more than 5% or anything. I'm just saying.

        What really needs to happen of course, is to remove dependance on oil altogether, foreign or not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        MARK_BC.

        Don't listen to Carney...he's got his own agenda going.

        He incessantly keeps putting up that sham of a link regarding hydrogen because he can't see beyond the length of his arm as far as future developments go.

        His arguments are ultra short term at best...at worst...just a sham.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Mark_BC, I did not realize you opposed our Midwest being the breadbasket of the world. I guess we should all just starve. There are pro-human and anti-human environmentalists in the world; you have revealed which you are.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Okay the above was a bit harsh.
      Instead lets put faces on the treatment of the workers and the environmental effects of
      Cane farming in Brazil with this award winning documentary:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1jMOVLI14o
      • 5 Years Ago
      Brazil must be trying to put on a fair face after this news:
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091209/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_brazil_police_killings

      When You get too old to work the Cane then apparently They gun You down rather than let You starve.
      Third world Humanitarianism,there.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Letstakeawalk sorry I did not answer your question.

      "Who built your EV for you, EVsuperhero? Who built the motor, and the battery? Was it you, in your garage?"

      I see your point about the motor and batteries not being built in a garage.

      What do you think the profit margins are on ICE's being produced? Now imagine if electric motors were massed produced in the same quantity. Which one would have a higher profit margin? The one that has hundreds of parts that have to be assembled or the one that has five parts?

      IMHO it is ICE profit margins that are being protected. The electric motor if massed produced simply would not command the profit that ICE do. My engine cost approx $3,500 now with no mass production. Cheaper than most new or rebuilt ICE's. My motor will go a million miles with zero maintenance. Where is the profit in that for BMW?

      The batteries have 1,500 cycles if discharged to 80% or a 120 miles average on my pack. 2,500 cycles if discharged 25% approx 40 miles. Where is the profit in that?
      Oh, I guess there is allot of profit in that. Still if we mass produce these also in ICE mass production numbers they can come down to a 4000 dollars level for my pack allowing a potential 300,000 miles for 10k in batteries and motor. The motor would be good for 600,000 more miles. Not to mention there are other uses for old packs and they just don't die suddenly if your willing to have a little less range more miles can be accumulated on a pack. They said they could change the electrolyte in mine and revive them. This would not make them new again but would boost range on a old pack.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Paging Carney...
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