Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Ethanol Boondoggle

I.ve commented several times at Kuru Lounge and other blogs on the stupidity of using food crops to make ethanol for fuel. Now I see that the rising cost of staple foods as well as meats, poultry and dairy products has gotten the attention of the UN and EU.

I never did see how anyone could be stupid enough to think that ethanol made from grains or soybeans could possibly be a candidate for a renewable fuel. The world's population is growing and all of those new people are going to want food. The biggest population growth is happening in countries that already have problems feeding their existing population. We already have famine in parts of Africa, India isn't exactly a land of plenty and China is converting vast quantities of it's farm land to industrial use.

How anyone could, even in their wildest dreams, think ethanol would be a viable alternative to oil is beyond comprehension. To make a gallon of ethanol using current processes requires the energy equivalent of two gallons of oil. Not a very good return on investment in my book. Yet Al Gore is out there preaching the glories of ethanol and our government has mandated that ethanol will constitute 20% of our fuel for vehicles by 2015, maybe it's 2020, but the mandate is there.

Methanol, on the other hand, is areadily availabe. All we have to do is trap it pressurize it and burn it. Or, we can liquify it for the convienence of pumping it into our gas tanks. Methane naturally occurs with decomposition of organic matter such as garbage, sewage, etc. These are sources of methane that we have in abundance and will have even more of as the population increases.

As the population grows, more cattle will have to be raised, more pigs will be grown and they will create an abundant supply of methane with their waste. Livestock produces huge quantities of methane just with their farts but the mother lode (or should that be mother load- pun intended) is their fecal material. If you have ever been close to a pig farm or a cattle feeding lot, that awful stench you will encounter could very well power your car in the future.

If we want to be really efficient, we can collent methane from the sewage processing plants that treat human excrement. That horrible odor all of us have encountered at some time is a beautiful energy plum just waiting to be plucked. Just think about it the more you eat, the further you can drive.

The beautiful part of methane is: it comes from stuff we want to dispose of, it is usable as a vapor or liquid, capturing it at it's sources would remove most of the stench associated with landfills, feed lots and pig farms. You can make it yourself, hell, you are already making it. I'll bet that at least 97& of the world's humans will produce some methane in the next hour.

Methane is a pretty powerful gas. Top Fuel Dragsters use Nitromethane to achieve speeds over 300 miles per hour in under 5 seconds. If you have ever burned a fart at a party you know it is highly combustible and a good one can shoot flame about 2 feet.

Our Government keeps going round and round on an energy policy and we keep on getting more dependent on oil. If I were in a position to dictate an energy policy, it would be that we will capture every bit of methane from sewage treatment plants, underground sewers, land fills, feeder lots, etc. The captured metane would be processrd for use in cars and trucks and ever person would be given a fart bottle to capture his methane production.

What would result from my plan would be a sweeter smelling world, there would be no worries about fuel prices, less land would be spoiled with landfills and Al Gore would be stuck with a gazillion carbon credits.

Chuck

2 Comments:

Blogger Chad said...

Cant say I disagree, but I am holding out for my hobo to biodiesel program.

8:54 AM  
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