Friday, August 11, 2006

Biofuels - can anyone agree?

I'm currently doing research on tariff rates for various biofuels. This means breaking down the biofuels into their various components. For some background information about each specific type, I turned to Wikipedia for a brief overview. I'm beginning to see why biofuels aren't more prevalent: no one can agree about ANYTHING in the area of biofuels.

Take ethanol fuel, the most commonly used type of biofuel (I think - but who knows given the confusion). Wikipedia's comment section on ethanol fuel is a perfect example of this scientific uncertainty. Disagreements range from whether ethanol is actually renewable, to how much energy it takes to make ethanol from various biological products, to how much pollution ethanol creates.

This isn't limited to Wikipedia - in most of the overviews and articles I've read about biofuels, the estimates of how efficient various biofuels are vary for each individual biofuel from almost non-functioning to the most efficient thing ever.

If the world governments and energy companies would bother investing properly in research on biofuels and other renewable energy options, we might actually learn something and advance in our search to find alternative fuel sources. Instead, research is limited and results are wildly divergent, adding to the general skepticism felt by most Americans (and others globally) about the long-term potential for non-petroleum products.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask yourself why any established corporate parasite, terrified of innovation and risk, would bandy about a possible "alternative" except as PR?
Ethanol is a god-damned lie, not because of "controversy" or being "complicated," but because there is actually no such thing as ethanol. When you put "ethanol" into your car, you're actually fuelling it with gasoline, but a 2% additive that enables our gruesome over-subsidized corn industry to pack away even more waste product sugar.
Hydrogen is a god-damned lie, not because of complicated questions, but because there are five insurmountable miracles that must occur before it can be a fuel source: there is an excellent book called The Hype About Hydrogen that describes this, and the film Who Killed the Electric Car is also very good in outlining this.
We have had electric cars since before we had gasoline. We have had fully viable modern electrics that were punitively destroyed by a jealous corporate monolith eager to stamp out risk. We could significantly free up fuel supplies in minutes by using Diesel engines as they were intended, with fast food grease.
In light of this, ask yourself why born oil man Bush has photo-ops with a fantasy hydrogen fuel pump that would be ten times the terrorist target that relatively non-flammable gas is now? The powers that be screwin' up don't want you to have nice things.
Here's where racism gets useful: while the lazy Americans are eager to see their country descend into third world status, sacrificing their future for another yacht today, the Japanese have been very aware of the tremendous consumer desire for a car that isn't an insult.
The Japanese originally shot ahead of GM with fuel efficiency in the seventies and eighties, and in the 2000s we have seen the Toyota Prius and the Honda freaky-looking one prove not everyone wants to waste money they don't have on a HMMWV they can't drive. There will be innovation, and it will come from the East. America died sometime in the sixties, growing cold in the seventies and positively vampiric in the eighties.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re Japanese cars:
In a military bookstore going out of business the owener described a friend, one of the original Marine Raiders, who only drove Japanese. Well, the owner was the kind of guy Harrison Ford played in Mosquito Coast, wouldn't have a roll of duct tape unless it was from the USA, and wanted to know how someone nearly killed by the Japanese could buy their cars. The guys says it's actually for that reason: he'd seen plenty of Mitsubishi motors take a licking and keep on ticking, and thought several times while ducking Zero fire, damn, that's a well-built machine.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with the topic but is very true:

"The Associated Press reports U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has phoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to ask if there are any Feragammo mahogany lizard pumps in size 9 narrow available in the Tel Aviv branch of the boutique, said a source close to the Israeli government."
res ipsa loquitur | 08.11.06 - 2:06 pm |@

2:54 PM  

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