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Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Tsykodul has a good post up On biodiesel. I have been very skeptical of biodiesel as an alternative to oil, but he makes some very good points. I particular, the concept of using aglae as the base crop, rather than soy is interesting. Soy has not seemed efficient enough, either as an energy collecter or in terms of the amount of land use required. Algae could overcome those limitations. I have long speculated that genetic enegineering will be the key to renewable energy with specially designed biological 'solar cells' and storage systems. My thoughts have been more toward a engineered hydrogen producing organism, but biodiesel, especially using customized fast growing algae designed for easy conversion to fuel may be even more viable.


Anonymous tsykoduk said...

I think that soy and rapeseed oils are a good starting point for commercial production. Allow those technologys to start to take hold, and the automakers to start pushing more diesel engine cars out the door. As Ford and GM start releasing full sized sedans that get 40 mpg, and sports sedans that get 50 - 60 mpg people will sit up and take notice. As there is more of a demand for Biofuels, the demand will push the development of algae based production, or what ever.

As soon as I get a garage to put it in, I think that I am going to explore making a biodiesel still. With fuel prices where they are, and the taxes that are being heaped upon them by the State, I think that making deals with some of the restrants near where I live for their used fry oil might just be the way to go.

But, right now that's about a year or so off.

4/20/2005 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous tsykoduk said...

using customized fast growing algae designed for easy conversion to fuel may be even more viable.

What about algae that you can just skim the fuel off of the top? With a wee bit of fiddling that should be possible!

4/20/2005 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Yeah, that or something close is what I was thinking too.

A lot of the current economic benefits of the soy biodeisel is because it is not widely used. If all cars were driven by soy power for example, the savings from reusing oil from restaurants would be proportionately nil.

4/20/2005 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous tsykoduk said...

Umm... yeah. :)

Acutally, if all cars were using biodiesel, and I could still get a restraunt to give me their waste oil, I would still save a ton on money. Using waste oil, I could make biodiesel for about 40 - 60 cents a gallon. I would not sell it, just use it for my vehicles.

Soy (or rapeseed) based biodiesels are not made from waste oil - they are processed from the plants themselves.

4/20/2005 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Cubicle said...

I still do not understand why ethanol has not taken off.

It is much cheaper than gasoline right now. I am not quite sure why it has not done well.

But I suspect that the reason ethanol has not done well will be the reason other fuels fail, for the time being.

The most imporant thing for any alt. fuel is that it use the existing infastrure. If it does not use that they transistion will be slow and painful.

I do not care if america weens itself off of oil completely, we just need some compeition between different technoligies to bring the prices down worldwide.

4/20/2005 06:12:00 PM  

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