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America to Ethanol: "The Honeymoon's Over, Baby, Get to Work."

For a while there, it seemed like everyone could agree on ethanol: Subsidies for farmers, carbon-neutral fuels, and energy independence brought people together for a common cause. That is, until frenzied production pushed ethanol prices into a tailspin, and the rising demand for corn sent food prices soaring. Worst hit are those in the developing world, who rely on cheap corn for their daily meals, and farmers who feed their livestock with the grain.

Now people are starting to the cure worse the disease? And the answers aren't easy to levitra cheapest get at. Corn ethanol consumes a quarter of a gallon of gas for every gallon created. Industries that depend on corn are hurting under higher prices, and a glut in ethanol production is actually keeping prices unmanageably low.

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent and viagra low price in-depth article on the cialis generic possible future of ethanol, as well as some other bio-fuel contenders. The obvious answer from EcoGeek's perspective is that corn ethanol isn't going to save the world and, in fact, might end up hurting the environment. As we turn more land over to farming corn, we destroy habitat and create an even more unsustainable demand for water.

Already, the midwest is running low on natural supplies of good choice buy levitra online no prescription water, and growing corn (and converting it to ethanol) is a very water-intensive project. We should be happy that 10% of gasoline now sold in a lot of places (including my state) is ethanol. But we're not going to be able to move beyond that.

It was a speedy change, and it gives me hope for the possibility of more speedy changes...particularly if we can figure out how to make cellulosic (non-food-crop) ethanol economically viable.

Via The Wall Street Journal


Carbon-Neutral Hydrogen From Microbes

We recently wrote about how hydrogen production is a costly endeavour for our water supply, as well as the electrical energy needed in producing it, effectively making traditional methods of manufacture a near-impossibility. In steps Bruce E. Logan, professor of enivronmental engineering at Penn State.
Logan suggests the use of microbial fuel cells run on cellulose to produce the hydrogen from natural processes rather than converting it to ethanol, a costly endeavour. By using bacteria in a microbial cell with acetic acid (vinegar), a common acid produced by the fermentation of cellulose or glucose, electricity, about 0.3 volts worth, was produced. The bacteria consumed the acid, releasing electrons and protons which were captured by a cathode and annode rig, which allowed for current. When they added 0.2 volts into the mix, hydrogen gas was produced. Admittedly the amounts produced were very small, but the efficiencies here are large and they are quick to viagra available in india point out that "this process produces 288 percent more energy in hydrogen than the electrical energy that is added to the process."

World's First Pure Biodiesel Flight

While the price of levitra in canada aviation industry is talking about new designs for future aircraft and lightening the load on current ones, Green Flight International has been pursuing the fight against emissions by researching into the possibilities of buy low price cialis using biodiesel to power flights in lieu of petroleum-based fuels... and their research has paid off!
They just announced that they have completed their first jet flight with their engines (for most of the flight) running purely on biodiesel. The details so far are sparse, but here's what they are saying:
The experimental test flights were conducted starting with a blend of jet fuel and biodiesel. The engine data was measured and budget cialis the performance was evaluated and found acceptable for continued use, eventually resulting in the landmark flight using 100% renewable biodiesel fuel. According to Chief Pilot Carol Sugars who wrote and conducted the test program, “As we gradually increased the amount of biodiesel in the fuel blend, the data confirmed that the aircraft continued to perform well, giving me the dose viagra confidence to transition to 100% biodiesel.” Flight tests were conducted up to an altitude of 17,000 feet showing no significant difference in performance compared to conventional jet fuel.

They have also announced that they plan to fly around the world in the near future running on 100% biodiesel. This is certainly a great feat in the aviation industry, but of course being biodiesel, the fuel still comes with its own environmental and economic impacts, though it's certainly a way better alternative than using oil.


Mutant Algae: The Next Hydrogen Source

Could algae be a key to our future energy needs? Anastasios Melis, a University of hydrochlorothiazide levitra California biology professor, thinks so. Already looked at to replace non-renewable oil, algae also has the ability to create hydrogen. Melis is cialis next day delivery pushing this idea further by creating mutant algae that, he hopes, can increase algae hydrogen production by threefold. The mutant algae use sunlight more efficiently, boosting both hydrogen and oil production.

The trick is to produce algae with less chlorophyll, allowing sunlight to reach the inner algae layers. Their work has allowed them to reduce the amount of chlorophyll in the algae cells from 600 molecules to 300 with 130 as the target. Traditionally most of sun's energy is used to convert our friend CO2 and water into glucose and oxygen. Eighty kilograms per acre per day of hydrogen could be created if all the energy went towards hydrogen production. Milas notes that it is highly unlikely to get algae to produce only hydrogen, but the good news is that even at a 50% conversion rate hydrogen would cost about $2.80 a kilogram.

Via Technology Review


Welcome to the Corn Ethanol Backlash

Nothing can break down faster than a technology supported 100% by government, 50% by industry and 10% by reason. Which is why the ethanol industry in America is suddenly looking to buy cheap viagra prescription online be on shaky ground. It seemed like a godsend a couple years ago: Replace foreign oil by helping local farmers and levitra to order reducing greenhouse emissions! WHERE DO I SIGN!

Politicians loved it, and so subsidies were thrown at producers and ethanol is cheap cialis 50mg booming. Unfortunately, it turns out to not be the it's great! info levitra silver bullet that everyone hoped it would be. And featured this week in three of the four magazines I receive in print form are stories pointing out some of the weaknesses of our current bio-fuels situation.

The Economist published a story entitled (no, I'm not kidding) Ethanol Schmethanol, which points out some of the limitations of the fuel itself, while National Geographic's cover story "Green Dreams" bemoans the inefficiency of the current ethanol system. Finally, WIRED's cover story hits on much the same topic, but from a more technical perspective, with a focus on cellulosic ethanol and switchgrass.

Long story short? Corn ethanol isn't working. It's inefficient, reduces supplies of actual food which actual people need to actually eat, and increased demand is only leading to the destruction of the last untouched American prairie lands. But solutions might be on the way in the form of cellulosic ethanol, which is much more energy efficient (though more expensive) to produce, as well as alternate forms of biofuels that are more energy dense and gasoline-like than ethanol (namely butanol.)

So don't give up on biofuels yet...but certainly, beware of corn ethanol. If the burst in legislation surrounding it teaches us anything, it's that our government can act on generic viagra overnight good ideas. We just have to hope that they continue to support alternative biofuels that are more intelligent and actually have science (and logic) behind them.

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