The Brown government has turned unenthusiastic on biofuels, with new Transport minister Andrew Adonis proposing that quotas for biosourced ingredients in ordinary motor fuel be moved back by some years. "Everyone agrees that to tackle climate change we must develop new and cleaner fuels. But we are clear that biofuels will only …
I think you've been reading the US press again. In Europe there's more demand for bio-diesel, not bio-ethanol. The pros and cons therefore change a bit!
Government by fad
Five minutes thought would have led to bio-fuel being dismissed as unsustainable except as a niche supplier and as part of a massively reduced overall energy requirement. Only a complete twat could have thought that using valuable (and increasingly so) agricultural land to provide go-go juice within current (and predicted) fuel demand levels was anything but laughable.
So hats off to Adonis for cancelling this nonsense.
Don't bother the plants or the plant-botherers
A better story is photovoltaic paint. When it comes around, everyone will be happy - bar the climate botherers and their overlords.
Well thank fuck for that.
Something vaguely intelligent coming out of a government - that's definitely going in my diary (which has had only three entries since 1972 as I only bother noting down earth-shattering events).
Having read all the bio-fuel quota hype and the counter arguments to the production of bio-fuel, I rather pessimistiocally expected that the twats in charge of various governments would ignore the warnings and go ahead with their quotas anyway. (In my defense, I /was/ working from some 30 years of awareness of how politicians behave and I view my "cynicism" to be warranted).
Good to see someone has actually listened to the "and where the fuck is all this biomass going to come from?" arguments.
Now perhaps other governments will follow suit and shit-can the bio-fuel idea until it can be achieved sustainably without turning all of the Third World into an uninhabited bio-fuel factory.
How about Methanol ?
Went to a talk recently, it seems Lotus Engineering have worked out all the steps required to make carbon neutral fuel that almost all current production (spark ignition) vehicles could run on with relatively minor design changes (older cars can be adapted but would no longer run on petrol), and that is compatible with the current fuel distribution system (ie tankers). If you use some of the methanol to make plastics (which eventually get buried) then you can even be carbon negative. OK, it will cost a bit to cover Montana with photovoltaic cells, but it doesn't need to be done all at once.
Oh yes, and it's safer too.
Shurely shum mishtake?
Methanol is perniciously corrosive and both poisonous and dangerously flammable. Sure, it's safer than Hydrogen Fluoride, but which fuel is it safer than? Hydrogen? Not really. Doesn't burn all that enthusiastically unless well mixed with air (which methanol vapour manages quite naturally thanks). Biodiesel? Certainly not. Lithium cells? Maybe, given their sometime propensity for conflagration... :)
"algae as a sustainable foodstock"
So, this is where the science-fiction hydroponic ships start their existence - as an alternative for food for livestock.
Logically, from feeding livestock we will probably go to feeding humans (hello Soylent Green), and then, when space travel has become viable but not yet practical, we will send off giant hydroponic vessels crammed to the gills with our excess overpopulation and set on course for some distant system where there may or may not be a colonizable planet suitable for human existence.
As time goes on, science will find a way to overcome the vast distance between stars in a practical manner, and we will end up getting to said star systems before the hydroponic behemoths do.
But then we'll be able to throw a party for their arrival, only to find that everyone on board had long since gone insane and killed everyone including themselves.
Yay for science !
"without turning all of the Third World into an uninhabited bio-fuel factory."
Well, it wouldn't be uninhabited, presumably you're thinking of places like Zimabbwe?
Yes, a smaller population living in a wealthy industrialised society should be avoided
at all costs, even if it results in desertification of the same places and starvation of the
hundreds of millions more people that will live there (in mud huts scraping a living off
the parched earth - gosh how romantic those funny tribes are!), briefly, before they all
starve to death in the crawling sand.
If you read the IRRI reports you'd have seen that the food crisis started well before any
talk of bio-fuel subsidies, it's just been masked by gradually diminishing government
Much better to see if we can hit 100 billion on the planet before all dying off in one giant
blinding flash of mass starvation than maintain a population of 2 billion forever in comfort.
Lots of money says Ethanol / Methanol is NOT the way to go.
Currently the USA is sending 1/2 of a trillion dollars per year to Saudi Arabia (the largest & fastest transfer of wealth from one country to another in the history of the world). The House of Saud are using this money to fund terrorism, buy up media companies and gain a controlling interest in all of the top 500 companies in the USA. Strangely, solutions to this problem are ignored or attacked in the big media.
As for the person who says that methanol is corrosive, flammable, poisonous etc. I suggest they take a nice long bath in a tub of gasoline. Or they might consider reading "Energy Victory" by Robert Zubrin.
Warm regards, Rick.
@ AC 09:17
I think you are confusing the growing of plants in the absence of soil with the concept of "Generation Starships" That use Hydroponics to grow food crops Of course you could be being deliberately obtuse or thick as I call it.
Really it's only jets that are hard to fit new fuels for. Using prop planes would reduce the complexity of switching flight over to a new fuel but that's a pyrrhic victory. Most flights could make do with zepplins; few really need the speed.