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Energy Dept. to spend $250M on fuel study

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by thatK30guy, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. thatK30guy

    thatK30guy 1 ton status Premium Member

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    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The federal government will spend $250 million to help create two research centers that will focus on finding more efficient ways to produce cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced Wednesday during a visit to Illinois.
    "This is an important step toward our goal of replacing 30 percent of transportation fuels with biofuels by 2030," Bodman said in a statement. "The mission of these centers is to accelerate research that leads to breakthroughs in basic science to make biofuels a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels."
    Bodman made his announcement during a discussion of bioenergy with local officials, farmers and businessmen in Channahon that was hosted by Rep. Jerry Weller (news, bio, voting record).
    Universities, laboratories, nonprofit organizations and private companies around the nation can compete for the money by submitting proposals to establish and operate a center, the department said. The proposals are due by Feb. 1, 2007, and the choices will be announced next summer.
    The two winning organizations each will receive $25 million per year for five years, beginning in the 2008 federal fiscal year, to develop and operate the research centers, which are expected to be fully operational by 2009, said Raymond L. Orbach, undersecretary of energy for science.
    While corn and soybeans are widely used to produce ethanol and biodiesel for fuel, the new research centers will be charged with looking to efficiently break down other natural materials, or biomass — such as grasses, crop residue and animal byproducts — to help make fuel.
    Plants and plant wastes can be turned into fuel by using an enzyme to convert cellulose, the primary structural component of green plants, into sugar. The sugar is then fermented and distilled into ethyl alcohol, or ethanol.
    "It's looking at what we've learned from nature through microbial function to try to understand how nature does it, and then make it more efficient," Orbach said in a telephone interview.
    Farm states such as Illinois should benefit from the research because it could lead to new cash crops and markets for them, said Mazon-area farmer Jay Fillman.
    "When you do that basic research, that can really open up new opportunities and probably make it a more sustainable, economic driven industry, instead of being driven by the subsidies as it is right now," he said.
    And developing new raw materials for biofuels lessens the nation's dependence on food crops as the primary sources of ethanol and biodiesel, said Weller, R-Ill.
    "We have to diversify our sources of raw material, and that's why this research is so very, very important," he said. "There are other crops that can be developed from this research not only to provide good farm income in Illinois, but also to help us reduce our dependence on imported oil."
    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign might compete to host one of the centers, said Hans Blaschek, assistant dean at the university's College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The agriculture college and the university's Institute for Genomic Biology already are focusing research efforts on biomass energy and the DOE's announcement Wednesday is just the latest in a line of research initiatives on the subject, he said.
    "There is just an incredible amount of activity in this area. I've never seen it like this in 25 years," Blaschek said. "I think we here at Illinois can be competitive and hope to be competitive."

    What's your take on this? :rolleyes:
    ___
     
  2. TSGB

    TSGB 1 ton status

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    That the amount of farmland necessary to produce effective amounts of biofuels is impractical. I'm one of those people who are calling for a solution that hasn't been found yet. :rolleyes:
     
  3. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    how about puting that 250M into building a new nuclear power plant or oil refinery? oh guess thats crazy...
     
  4. ryan22re

    ryan22re 1/2 ton status

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    I think its a great idea. If we could improve the production of ethanol/biodiesel from corn/soybeans we'd be doing something. Brazil doesn't import any oil anymore, partly due to the fact that they can grow sugar cane which has more energy potential per acre than corn. 30% of the fuel they use in Brazil is ethanol derived from sugar cane.

    Think about this, lets say that they do find something or a process to make ethanol/biodiesel cheaper and more of it from less bio-products. If we could cut our dependency on foreign oils by 30-40% we'd be doing something. If brazil can produce that much ethanol/bio-diesel so can we.
     
  5. uao85

    uao85 1/2 ton status

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    Yeah I also think that its a great idea for them to be researching alternative fuels, it shows that the government is trying to do something about the dependency on fossil fuels. I am all for the whole biodiesel/ethanol deal catching on. Just like ryan22re said, Brazil doesnt import hardly any oil if any at all. That says something right there. On top of that, you all know of that 15% ethanol blend in all of our gas? Guess where its being imported from..................ding ding thats right, Brazil. Which is absurd IMO, how our govt pays farmers every year not to plant crops, and then turns around and makes us pay the premium to buy ethanol from Brazil. Gay.........I am glad they are actually looking to find answers within the US instead of looking elsewhere. Rant off, yes I think its a good idea and a big step forward. Too bad they couldnt implement it any quicker that 2030.

    Remington
     
  6. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    Actually, the real breakthrough with ethanol will be when they figure out how to (cheaply) get it out of ANY plant matter, not just corn. In the future, you will have a garbage can, a recycling bin(s) and a yard-debris can. The yard debris from every house and business in the country could make an ungodly amount of ethanol and raw materials would be free if you pick them up.

    Farming for ethanol-corn could work too... just use nuke plants to charge full-electric farming equipment and it could be done very energy efficiently. We have an ungodly amount of farming capability... might as well use it instead of paying farmers not to grow anything.

    j
     
  7. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    I'm sold on nuclear (:)) but a nuke plant I don't see doing squat to resolve our energy problem.

    Sure, maybe take some oil fired power plants offline, that might free up some refining capacity (no clue what percentage of power is oil fired, compared to say coal, nuke, hydro, etc) but the whole electric car concept IMO is a freaking waste of time. Assuming that's where we are headed in this conversation, since the fuels being researched seem to be pointed directly at auto use.

    As soon as batteries don't ever wear out, aren't constructed of hazardous material, don't weigh a bazillion pounds, get 300 miles+ runtime, and charge in about 15 minutes, electric cars will be practical.

    I'd love to see farmland gain the value it takes to keep it from being subdivided, if the energy derived from the land is more than it takes to refine it, I don't see a losing aspect.

    Of course, if the money we have spent on Iraq was instead diverted right up front to energy research, the middle east wouldn't be a concern, and Israel wouldn't even be fighting now. It's amazing what can be developed when large quantities of money are involved. Potential for waste too, but again, see example a, Iraq.
     
  8. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    I wub you Dorian, but can't let the above comment slide. There is only one way that "Israel wouldn't even be fighting right now" and that was if the terrorists that want to destroy Israel were dead. Those clowns have never cared about oil money (ain't no oil in Israel, Lebanon, Syria or Jordan)... its always been about killing Jews and taking control of the land. Yes, such terrorists do get $ from oil-rich clowns over there... but even without that source of income they would find other means. How much does a suicide bomber vest really cost anyway? Not like it takes billions of dollars in funding to keep a pretty good terrorist war going.

    As far as electric cars go, if they can perfect the hub motor, they can make viable electric cars. A commuter car only needs about 100 mile range to be viable. Most people don't drive more than 50 miles each way to work... or the grocery store.. or whatever. As far as charging goes, if it can be charged in 6 hours or so, it'd prolly be fine. Is there anyone who doesn't have their commuter car sitting at their house for more than 6 hours a day? The good thing about electric cars being charged off the grid is that power consumption is way lower at night than during the day. The grid isn't currently "stressed" at night time, so all would be good. We just need more nuke power and less enviro-wackos and we'll be on our way.

    Enviro-nazis are fun to laugh at. The dont want us to burn oil... or gas... or uranium or coal and they don't like damns either. That pretty much leaves you with solar and wind. Most places aren't windy/sunny enough and even if they were we'd have to cover our entire country with panels and windmills to have enough juice (talk about environmental damage!). The "environmentalists" say they care about the environment, but its painfully obvious that they don't. They are nothing more than capitalism-haters... super-left wing kooks and commies most of them. This is why they scream bloody murder when we try to drill for oil in the US... but don't even raise an eyebrow about super tankers carrying oil 10,000 miles to get here. Which is worse for the environment? Have to burn fuel to get the oil here... could be a spill in the ocean during the entire treacherous route... and in those 3rd world countries, do you really think their worrying about the enviroment at the wells? Hell no. No rules at all, just get the crude on the boat. Its obvious to anyone with a brain that drilling for oil here would be better for "mother earth" than drilling for it anywhere else... and yet the "environmentalists" stop us. What could the reason be...

    j
     
  9. grimjaw

    grimjaw 1/2 ton status

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  10. divorced

    divorced 3/4 ton status

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    :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
    I stopped watching when they claimed our gas burning is warming the earth... what a bunch of crap...
     
  11. grimjaw

    grimjaw 1/2 ton status

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    Skip forward, there is alot of good info. I love the carbon fiber car body panels.
     
  12. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Think of it this way. Who attacks, and supports those who attack Israel? (and us) Radical Muslims. Where do radical muslims the world over get their funding? Oil. I believe we are still the largest user of mideast oil, if we ELIMINATED that money going into those countries, they'd have nothing worth a damn to us, and our $$ at least wouldn't be going there. I can't believe China would pay even what we pay for oil. At least comparing what they sell products to us for to what their energy costs must be. :) At the very least you'd see huge changes in the mideast way of life, which could go bad for them, or good for us, or both! While the Taliban were nasty folks, without funding, (to train and move trained terrorists about the world) they were absolutely no threat to us.

    A lot of people can't afford the eco-cars, and a lot more people can't afford two vehicles. One for long distance travel and one for around town really loses a lot of potential buyers. I'm not saying I don't have multiple vehicles (one that gets good mileage, the others essentially toys) but I'm saying that not everyone has that luxury. Immense spending on research of these technologies might actually reduce the consumer cost.

    Hey, you sold me on nuclear, others can be sold too. Not all eco-friendly folks are absolutely blind to reason, advances in nuclear power production certainly make it a very viable option.

    You know as well as I do, that when things like rolling blackouts become commonplace, the idiots that claim "not in my backyard" that finally have to actually endure it, start opening up their minds to viable alternatives. People will still complain about paying for it, but I think you'll see less opposition as peoples AC doesn't work in the summer.:rolleyes:
     
  13. 4by4bygod

    4by4bygod 1/2 ton status

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    researching biofuels is like searching for a cure for cancer.. it gets to be more about milking the funding for longer periods of time..I know guys who work in fuel cell labs, and they're pretty much black holes that suck up money..

    IMHO there isn't much more to be discovered about biofuels.. they raise NOx levels, ( which increases smog ) and decrease mileage due to a lack of thermal energy.. money will keep being dumped into these technologies, until they get an answer they like.

    operations that use a significant amount of fuel and monitor their equipment are really scared about buiofuel mandates for these reasons and a bunch more. especially the ones in colder climates.. The mining indistry wants nothing to do with biofuels, and the trucking industry grudgingly accepted a 5% blend, but only 'cause a tax rebate results from its use.

    Biofuels are like affirmative action - it only flourishes where it's mandated and subsidized..

    A technology to get excited about is fischer - tropsch, or converting coal to diesel fuel or gasoline.. if the enviroweenies would let us use our own coal, we could really decrease our imported oil use.

    biofuel proponents fall into two categories.. those who sell it, and those who feel good about "doing something", regardless of the consequences..

    if biofuel use grows the way they want it to, get ready for ten dollar boxes of cereal.. the food manufacturers will have to pay extra for the sugar and corn if they want to compete with the fuel companies who also want it..

    Tom
     
  14. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    I think we are unfortunately already in that cycle...gas prices rising are just going to increase the costs of EVERYTHING. We still end up with all the pollution resulting from burning whatever we decide to burn...methane recovery from landfills is a somewhat novel idea, but again I just don't think there is much to be had there. Every little "free" bit helps, but bang for buck, it's not there.

    For the amount of energy derived, and amount of environmental upset, I really don't think anything can compete with nuclear ...if we can figure out other ways to put that power to use, we'd be set. (electric cars being a big start) At least long enough that even cleaner, more powerful alternatives can be found.
     
  15. 4by4bygod

    4by4bygod 1/2 ton status

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    I agree.. and I like nuclear as well.. too bad it's about as popular as coal - to - diesel right now.. if it isn't biofuels, nobody in power is going to support it.

    Tom
     
  16. TSGB

    TSGB 1 ton status

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    What bothers me about nuclear is the potential for terrorist attacks, whether at the station, or fuel/waste transport.
     
  17. Corey 78K5

    Corey 78K5 1 ton status

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    I can just see it now. In 15-20 years from now You will have a group of these big wig farmers sorta like OPEC that will hold the country hostage with bogus rate increases. Could a lot of these midwestern states become economic giants and force the hand of the federal government.
    Sorry but I just don't see anything to cheer about. Sure it all look rosie right now, but wait until the greed kicks in.
    Why cant we have electric cars that run off a power strip embedded in the road way that is powered by nuclear power. Sure it would only be good for those who drive on paved roads but that is pretty much 95% of how we drive everyday.
     
  18. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    if we quit buying oil from the mid-east tomorow, the emirs would still get their money. India, China, Europe and Japan want more oil than the mid-east has. There will always be the demand there, and it would go up if we quit getting oil from there.. because we'd be seriously tapping other sources which then could no longer meet the demands of above listed nations.

    Basically, short of conquering the mid-east and taking their oil, the oil powers in the mideast are going to continue making their billions no matter what we do.

    surprisingly, some enviro-wackos are actually starting to talk about going back to nuke power. It will take a democrap President to do it (only they can get away with it), but it's possible we'll steer our economy back in that direction. Many people believe that CO2 emissions will destroy the planet... some of those people want electricity... some of them think nuke power might be the answer. ;) :thumb:

    j
     
  19. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    nuke plants are a hell of a lot more robust than petro-chemical plants. One grenade in the right place at one of them and its time for a serious fire. Unless you get inside the containment bldg or something, one nade ain't gonna do nuttin' to a nuke plant. Besides, there is nothing that says a nuke plant couldn't be completely underground. That would mitigate the issues of plane strike, truck bomb etc etc.

    j
     
  20. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Not only that, but it seems to me that for the most part, nuke plants havne't been affected by natural disasters. Probably because of good planning for disasters before construction, and partly due to how well they are built.

    Of course there HAVE been mistakes, but you learn from those and move on.

    As to the oil comments, I think in *quantity* Europe is a small player. Japan too. India and China are two biggies that want to get bigger, but the fact is, what they use their oil for (that I'm aware of) is anything in the production of mainly export products. China and India make cheap stuff, that's why everyone buys from them. Do India and China really pay what we pay for oil? I see prices for crude, and don't see any notes saying "only the US is paying this much", since OPEC sets the prices, it just seems odd that countries with economies such as theirs can afford to pay the same for oil as we do, and continue to profit from making products there.

    In any case, I don't think ANYONE is capable at this point of simply stepping into the middle east and sucking all the oil out we are taking right now. Obviously it won't eliminate it, but what if we cut 25% of the middle easts income. Wouldn't that be a good thing? We wield economic power over them, the only problem is, we can't get off their drug yet. We have no bargaining chips if we can't survive without it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2006

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