Orhan Karsligil's Ideas, Thoughts and Collection of Resources

Feasibility of BioFuels

Okay everybody is talking about Biofuels. All big companies are investing in biofuels. Some do it to look nice and use it as a PR stunt (most oil companies), knowing that the current attempts will not even make a dent in their market share or profits, some others do it because it might be profitable in the short term locally, but globally I need to see proof of its feasibility.

First of all you need to build either hundreds of large (very very large) plants to process the biowastes, or crops. You need to transfer them in (constantly), you need to store them, process them, ferment them in huuuggeee tanks, then filter them, purify them, get rid of the waste and transfer the product to the market. You will need to control these plants very gently, since you will be using organisms you need to make sure temperatures do not swing much (it gets cold in midwest where the crops are easy to get), you have to maintain and mix carefully to keep things going (either huge tanks or huge number of tanks…). Or you can build thousands of smaller plants that can handle local crops. Then capital costs will skyrocket. Even if you can streamline the plants by standardizing on parts, can you imaging recalling 200,000 biofuel plants because of faulty valves? Also grass grows for half of the year, what are they going to use for the rest of the year? At some point you will need to tap into the food stock. It will increase the food costs, which in affect will have a worse effect on low income population then high fuel costs. You can do without driving but you cannot do without eating. As I said somebody has to show me in clear math how this would work.

I would be more interested using garbage and landfills as organic source for biofuels. It is produced constantly. There is an abundance of it. Nobody needs it, everybody is trying to get rid of it. You can use that and the CO2 from the air to convert it to biofuels… Less garbage, less CO2, less dangerous wastes and you also get biofuels. I even have the name for the company: GARBAGAS!

Update: Apparently there is already a company doing this. Not using biotech but old style chemical engineering techniques:

Update 2: Okay there is more news on this topic. More people are looking into alternative sources for biofuels. Instead of using/abusing corn more research is done on creating gasoline directly from other types of wastes. Check newhere and here.

I think in the next 18 months there will be a very big change of direction in Biofuel research. Especially change in administration might change policy. I also expect big oil companies getting little more nervous about the new high throughput alternatives.


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