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Nature_and_Environment.31

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Forget Alcohol fuel

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.1}: Day Brown {daybrown} Mon, 18 Oct 2004 00:58:35 CDT (9 lines)

Ever try to grow corn? Its a *heavy* feeder. The way they grown corn
now takes 5 gallons of petrochemicals to produce 2 gallons of ethanol.
Do it organically, and it'll play out the soil quick.

What we need, is a high speed double wide rail system ya can park a
car on, so that the car only hasta go from the home to the terminal
and from the train to the office or shopping center or whatever. That
way, battery power would be feasible. Course the tracks we already
have would be able to carry golfcarts to use in an urban loop.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.2}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Fri, 22 Oct 2004 02:33:20 CDT (2 lines)

But why use corn to make alcohol?? Potatoes can be used, sugar beets
can be used and of course several grains.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.3}: Richard Witty {gisland} Fri, 22 Oct 2004 06:28:19 CDT (24 lines)

It brings up a good question though.

All energy "generation" is really energy transformation for different
purposes. The energy already exists, and in all but nuclear energy
and geo-thermal originates in some form from solar energy.

So, the creation of a fuel for portability, or electricity for higher
kinetic uses, is really a transformation of energy.

And, by the laws of thermodynamics, all energy transformation is less
than perfectly efficient, in fact outputs heat (the most diffuse form
of energy).

So, what is being asked is "what is the most efficient means to
transform solar energy (through photosynthesis in this case) into
other usable forms?"

Energy isn't the primary criteria that modern society uses to
reference efficiency. All efficiency in the West is referenced in
terms of money.

So, the most efficient energy transformation isn't the form that
outputs the least heat. But, the form that takes the least $/BTU from
transformation to delivery.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.4}: {redleader} Mon, 25 Oct 2004 21:31:29 CDT (28 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

   My thinking is that these biofuels such as alcohol and/or
biodiesel could be made from non-compostable agricultural waste. For
example ethanol could be made out of the corn stalks (which usually
are burned rather than composted because of the corn boring worm)
instead of using the corn itself, which would be grown for food.

   Also any potatoes or beets that are for any reason not fit for
human consumption would be an option. At the moment much of this
stuff is burned or goes to waste.

   In addition to using waste fryer oil, fats skimmed from milk or
soy to make lower fat products, or oil from any oil seed not fit for
human consumption, are all possible sources. If hemp were grown as a
paper source, the seeds could also be used for biodiesel oil. And
some new crops if we can introduce any might produce a food along
with other parts that can be fermented for ethanol, extracted for
oil, and/or some other use.

    Probably the most exciting prospect for biodiesel is the
suggestion of using seawater to, at a very low cost in energy, land
and water, grow and harvest diatomous algae. And these diatoms are
about 50% oil by weight. So this could be a huge biodiesel boon.

    Unlike ethanol fuel the advantage of biodiesel, involves very
high fuel mileages. (Ethanol actually brings the efficiency down a
bit.) I think most ethanol from crops would be best used for
biodiesel manufacture and/or aircraft fuel (where it actually is
pretty efficient).

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.5}: {bshmr} Mon, 25 Oct 2004 22:47:29 CDT (4 lines)

Converting a lot of soil into product, so to speak. Makes soil the new
finite resource to track petroleum to scarcity.

Though I concur with much of {redleader}'s post.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.6}: Richard Witty {gisland} Tue, 26 Oct 2004 06:44:45 CDT (27 lines)

I don't know the chemistry of bio-diesel. Oils vs alchohols.

Another important consideration is to match the fuel to the use, and
then to localize the use of the energy.

If a large quantity of fuel can be made cheaply, it can still be
wasted. (If $ are the reference of "efficiency").

For example, I live in a house in which electricity is the primary
heating source. Physically, its absurd to use electricity to heat.
The only advantage is the degree that heating can be localized and
controlled. All electricity (except photovoltaic and fuel cells) are
first generated from motion. The sources of motion can be wind,
moving water, or most often from the expansion of steam created by
either burning fuels or nuclear.

Burning fuels, to make heat (much wasted where heat is not needed,
actually a harm), to make steam, to move turbines (friction wasting
heat where not needed), to generate electricity, to transport
electricity (much electricity loss), to make heat (much wasted).

We could save a large % of energy consumed at all, by good design,
considering using high kinetic energy (electricity, movement) only
for those purposes that require it, and low kinetic energy (heat)
where it is needed for those purposes, with a LOT of attention to
localizing the release of heat (insulation), getting double duty from
it (cogeneration).

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.7}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Wed, 27 Oct 2004 04:20:31 CDT (21 lines)

Agree that electricity is not a very efficient source of heat.
It would probably be better to use the fossil fuel to heat directly.

Just had two clean burning wood stoves installed in our house
yesterday. Good source of heat in the winter and it is also nice to
have a fire going and to see the flames behind the windows.
Reported efficiency of the ovens are in the 70-80% region, so we do
expect to see a reduction in our electricity bill this winter.
But as a purely economic exercise it will probably take many years
before the investment is equal to the saved electricity. Wood do have
a cost of its own when you have to buy it. We got ours at NOK 0,55
per KWh (USD 0.085/KWh), but we also have some "free" wood as left-
overs from our rebuilding of the house.

Next year we can have wood in exchange for work (felling and cutting)
but when you figure in fuel and driving cost - I'm not sure the price
will actually be much lower... But it is sociable and healthy
exercise!

Wood heats several times, first when you fell it, then again when you
cut it, and again as you carry it and finally when you burn it! ;)

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.8}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Wed, 27 Oct 2004 05:04:08 CDT (17 lines)

Did a few sums, and with some conservative numbers we will break
even on the stoves vs. electricity in some 60 years...
At the moment we have had lots of rain and as the water magazines
have plenty of water the el. price is just 30% higher than what we
bought wood for, but last winter it was just about double that cost
(and the break even would be in 22 years...).

We changed all our el. ovens last year for new ones with an
electronic thermostat with night and daytime power save functions.
We already see a 15% reduction on power used over a year compared
to whay the previous owners of the house used. We assume we keep the
house at a fairly similar temperature (ours may be a bit lower).
Break even on that investment is just 3-5 years. Power saved comes
at full price vs. alternate power which is of course just the
difference in price (no value placed on environmental gains).

Even renewable recources comes at a variable price.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.9}: Richard Witty {gisland} Wed, 27 Oct 2004 05:52:45 CDT (4 lines)

Unfortunately, wood heat also comes with an environmental price, even
the best stoves.

Particulates, and carbon monoxide.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.10}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Wed, 27 Oct 2004 09:38:02 CDT (3 lines)

It sounds like you have good quality wood stoves, Helge. I remember 20
years ago heating a big house with wood and all the problems I had
with creosote buildup. The technology has really improved.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.11}: Richard Witty {gisland} Wed, 27 Oct 2004 19:37:57 CDT (4 lines)

Definitely better to use a high quality well-engineered stove.

But even the best stoves put out a lot of toxins. "If every one used
one"....

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.12}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Wed, 27 Oct 2004 20:07:08 CDT (1 line)

So you live in Massachusetts without heat? That's truly admirable.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.13}: Richard Witty {gisland} Wed, 27 Oct 2004 20:59:30 CDT (5 lines)

Natural gas, oil, and electric emit FAR FAR less particulates and
carbon than wood.

In the country "if everyone used one", it wouldn't harm much. In my
small town of 20,000, we'd be choking.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.14}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Thu, 28 Oct 2004 06:02:14 CDT (24 lines)

In the area where I live "everyone" uses wood, at least on occasion.
Thay is of course not entirely true - but a high percentage here
has the ability to burn wood, as indicated by the some 60 different
wood merchants around - many very local.

Oslo is about half a million citizens, and in the Oslo Fjord
area there are about 1,5 mill. Virtually all private houses have
a fire place or wood burning oven. Many apartments also, but during
the 70's and 80's a lot of appartment buildings was built without
chimneys thereby having electricity as the only possible heat source.

Yes, there are negative sides to using wood - as nearly every other
energy available. But at least it is renewable and does not add to
the CO2 burden. The area and mass of wood here is not shrinking,
but there is some import from the Baltic and Poland of wood - and
I don't know the mass/area situation there.

CO is negative - of course - but it is an unstable gas and will
end up as CO2 after not all that long.

Particles is a matter, but again the "afterburner" technology of
new ovens also reduces particle emissions by adding air to the hot
unburnt gasses resulting in a secondary combustion. This is what
gives the high efficiency and lowered emissions.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.15}: {gisland} Thu, 28 Oct 2004 06:26:01 CDT (0 lines)
{erased by gisland Thu, 28 Oct 2004 06:26:18 CDT}

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.16}: Richard Witty {gisland} Thu, 28 Oct 2004 06:29:02 CDT (11 lines)

I'm sure you have some very bad days in some of your valleys then.

If the Connecticut River Valley is any indication, in which on some
days the CO and particulates (smoke) settle in the valley, and just
don't move.

If wood-burning is the norm, it would be very unlikely that everyone
has expensive, ultra-highly efficient wood-burning stoves.

The really good ones really are very cool. I just can't imagine a
large city with wood-burning stoves though.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.17}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Sun, 31 Oct 2004 14:59:33 CST (10 lines)

Not too uncommon i Northern Europe. London is well known for it's
proliferation of fire places and stoves (some buring coal of course).

Yes, we do have occasinal bad days in the winter, especially associ-
ated with inversions (temperatures get warmer with altitude instead
of lower). Wood borning is only attributed to parts of that problem.
Automotive fuel and other sources of fossil fuel emissions have a
fair share of the result and the fine mealy dust given of by driving
with studded tyres on black roads (no ice/snow) is the major source
of particles in the air.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.18}: Richard Witty {gisland} Sun, 31 Oct 2004 16:23:41 CST (5 lines)

"fine mealy dust given of by driving
with studded tyres on black roads (no ice/snow) is the major source
of particles in the air."

Yuck.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.19}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Sun, 31 Oct 2004 16:27:18 CST (2 lines)

I use traction tyres instead. This winter there will be a pay
scheme to make users pay extra to drive with the studded ones.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.20}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Tue, 02 Nov 2004 17:07:49 CST (HTML)

The after burner effect of current technology wood stoves.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.21}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Tue, 02 Nov 2004 17:08:31 CST (1 line)

Cool picture!

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.22}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Wed, 03 Nov 2004 02:15:18 CST (1 line)

Quite hot actually! ;)

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.23}: {redleader} Tue, 09 Nov 2004 16:58:32 CST (9 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

   Frankly, I'm not a big fan of using wood to heat your house. Not
only is there the air pollution, but even more obviously it requires
trees to get any quantity. 'Nuff said, with the latter point.

   One very efficient way to use electricity to heat or cool things
it to get a heat pump. They have an extremely high efficiency ratio
with the proper maintenance. They can also double for both heating
and cooling-as a back up to any passive or active solar heating and
cooling features you can tack on of course!!!

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.24}: {redleader} Tue, 09 Nov 2004 17:01:07 CST (8 lines)
{name removed by chiles Mon, 21 Jan 2008 11:52:51 CST}

   People overheat and overcool their homes. Here is Seattle it can
get fairly cold at certain times of the year (like right now), and I
survive without either heating or cooling at all.

   I find that simply body heat, and vigilance with doors and leaks,
goes a long way to staying relatively warm, even though I live in a
pretty primitive apartment building with atrocious passive solar
properties.

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{Nature_and_Environment.31.25}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Tue, 09 Nov 2004 17:03:49 CST (HTML)

Heating a house with wood isn't a problem if you live where the wood is. Our home in Colorado has a woodstove as its only active heat source, the bulk is provided by passive solar, but it is in the middle of 44 acres of mixed forest and meadow and the forest needs tending, thinning and care, which provides plenty of wood.

It is also an self-powered home (solar) so using electricity is not an option when it comes to heat. It is at 9000 feet so cooling isn't an issue.

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