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    grandma's Avatar
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    There was a time when I felt that corn ethanol was a bad idea --- why power our cars with food -- and thought that solutions like switch grass were a better alternative. Now, I think that it would be better to let the cows eat that grass and use the corn for fuel.

    It's grandma, but you can call me sir.

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    It's perfect! and it would give us something to do with all that useless corn...


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    You know... I might have to rethink my stance on this...


    However there may be the downside that farmers may switch from other crops TO corn, thus making the cost of other veggies go up.


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    hmmm... you're probably right about that. And we don't really need any MORE corn being grown.


    I bet the technology to use it as fuel will have the unintended side effect of getting corn into our air... then there would be no way to avoid it! (joking, I know better : )


  5. #5
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    Corn is not in any way economically viable as a fuel. We should just not grow corn period. Algae and hemp both beat it for biofuel feedstock production. The US political system is just owned by corn, due to the large companies that produce it, and the fact that the Iowa primary is first.


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    Darienx19 -- not so far fetched -- did you see king Corn . Supposedly they are able to tell the percentage of carbon in your hair that comes from corn. So the CO2 that comes from the process would end up in the veggies and in us. I guess? And maybe it even matters? I don't know?


    Nick, Corn isn't an economical way to grow food either --- farms would loose money if it weren't for government subsidies. They keep planting it because it is guaranteed money. More you plant the more money the gov't give you.


    At any rate I agree with you about the economics of ethanol -- I was more struck by my change in attitude about what is important to our food supply. I am skeptical about algae being viable -- where would you grow it? Hemp -- talk about political mine fields the US is afraid of hemp. And again, it might be better to feed the hemp to ourselves and livestock than to use it as a fuel. Corn is a garbage crop, us it as fuel.

    It's grandma, but you can call me sir.

  7. #7
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    The southwest US works well for any kind of solar -- algae are basically mini solar cells that you then process for their lipids. You can then process the lipids like you would vegetable oil and make biodiesel, or process them more extensively via thermal cracking and Fischer-Tropsch to make whatever alkanes you want on the other side. This process is already in use at pilot plants, and the Air Force has certified kerosene made this way for some of their planes, particularly the B-52. It's a priority for them to have a fuel supply that isn't dependent on foreign countries.


    It just needs to be scaled up and enhanced -- true of any industrial/chemical process at the pilot stage, but it certainly becomes viable with oil at $80-100/barrel.


    And I'm of a significantly libertarian leaning (even if the party itself is nuts), don't have to tell me about all the ridiculous farm subsidies.


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    Nick, This is so off topic we should take this discussion elsewhere --- but it's the scale up that I don't see. Are you going to flood Arizona to grow algae? Flood it with what? The Colorado river? The ecologic impact is enormous for that scenario. Besides some nice Omega 3 rich algae sounds really good to feed to livestock, I'd like some of those eggs

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    If you're going to post something with the topic of Alternative energy don't tell someone their off topic when they bring up something else. There are dozens of alternative fuel and energy sources out there. Corn is well, terrible as a fuel source, it uses more resources to produce a gallon of ethanol then it does to drill and process a gallon of oil. From an alternative, environmental, and sustainable stand point. Corn as a fuel source is worse than oil. Besides why not just use hybrids, or use diesel. Or make a diesel hybrid. Then make a diesel hybrid that can use bio-fuels or turn it into a grease car. That would be a huge MPG ratio. Also, if you're going to talk about alternative energy how about geothermal plants? Solar panels on every building, wind turbines for the winter season, or wave generators. So, for a topic on alternative energy, does anyone else know of any new ideas?


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    Sorry Nick.


    Relosa, the point was really about food not so much about energy. It occurred to me that my thought process was changing such that I more highly valued grass for it's importance to the food supply than corn, when not so long ago it was the other way around.


    Bio diesel hybrids are great idea -- I believe BWM has one in prototype phase. Again, a great use of all that non-edible corn.

    It's grandma, but you can call me sir.

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