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A crude artist rendition from LS9 depicts their reactor designs which use special microbes to produce oil, resembling fossil fuels. The oil can be made into plastics or refined.  (Source: LS9 Inc.)
Earth's oldest lifeforms may soon be driving our cars

Tired of ethanol?  So is a Silicon Valley startup named LS9.  It's looking to knock off the growing ethanol market and put an end to the fossil fuel era with cheap microbial synthetic gas. 

The need for such progress is pressing.  Currently, the ethanol industry in booming thanks to it being a "low hanging fruit" in that it is relatively easy to produce from a chemical standpoint.  However, the demand for sugar crops to make ethanol is driving up food prices

Meanwhile, faced with high gas prices at the pump, more and more people are switching to ethanol.  Those who don't are hit with both high food prices and high gas prices.  While long-term solutions like cellulosic ethanol promise a possible eventual solution, there's no sign that they are ready for the market.

LS9 looks to take advantage of this state of crisis and use it to leverage its own unique solution.  LS9 has created special genetically engineered yeast and E. Coli bacteria.  These friendly microbes can take biowaste and weeds (instead of sugar) and use "previously undiscovered metabolic pathways" to convert the sugar components of cellulose into long chain hydrocarbons, resembling crude oil.

Such hydrocarbons are advantageous over ethanol in that they pack a high energy density at a low weight.  They could also be used to make plastic or other petroleum products and be refined using traditional techniques.  The process, according to LS9 is carbon neutral, minimizing its environmental impact.  And its energy efficient -- 65 percent less energy is required than in standard commercial ethanol production.

The company is being extremely secretive about how it modified the microbes -- about the only details available are that it appears that the microorganisms take fatty acids and break them down into hydrocarbons, which are then excreted.  From a chemistry standpoint, this likely involves either breaking off the hydrocarbon chain of triglycerides from their glycol backbones and then decarboxylating them, or cutting a hydrocarbon chain off at an unsaturated carbon bond, effectively splitting the fatty acid chains in two.

If it can live up to its bold claims, the biggest challenge LS9 faces is scaling its top-secret formula up to an industrial production level.  They current have several reactors, the largest of which can make 1,000 liters of fuel.  However to satisfy the millions of oil barrel demand, this would need to expand incredibly.

Whether LS9 can scale its product and keep costs down will likely make or break it.  It faces tough competition from the fuel cell industry and microbial hydrogen.  However, even if it can't find a home in the biofuel production business, it may still hold significant potential for relatively uncharted bioplastics market.



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Missing a unit...
By jordanclock on 6/17/2008 5:16:51 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
They current have several reactors, the largest of which can make 1,000 liters of fuel.


1,000 liters of fuel... per what? Day? Week? A unit of time would help a lot to put this into perspective.




RE: Missing a unit...
By Motoman on 6/17/2008 5:24:14 PM , Rating: 2
Oh...and on the main topic of this article, I'm all for it...sounds pretty great, granted that they can scale it up and make it work economically. Using weeds and other unwanted biomass is one key thing to keep in mind...rather than use up existing food crops or start growing more dedicated crops to use for fuel.


RE: Missing a unit...
By MrBlastman on 6/17/2008 5:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
According to another article I read on this today, they would have to create a plant the size of the whole city of Chicago to produce enough oil to meet the demand of the United States.

Not an easy task at all.

Still, I think this is a positive step in the right direction. How feasible I do not know - considering that many industries have matured to such a degree that they fully utilize all biomass/waste products in some form or another. What will be left over in the end for this?


RE: Missing a unit...
By nbachman on 6/17/2008 5:47:07 PM , Rating: 5
I would bet if you took every Ethanol plant in the US and put them in the same place they would take up a lot of room as well.

Who says they have to build one big plant, and not a bunch of smaller ones?


RE: Missing a unit...
By jackedupandgoodtogo on 6/17/2008 5:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just fill up the underground caverns left by sucking all the oil dry and use them as giant reactors?


RE: Missing a unit...
By seamonkey79 on 6/17/2008 10:59:39 PM , Rating: 2
...because, since oil is abiotic, it will refill those holes over time unless it's constantly pumped out. So, basically, you'd have these plants in places that you'd have to pump oil out of in order to keep from flooding.

Plus they're miles deep, dope.


RE: Missing a unit...
By FreeTard on 6/18/2008 4:05:22 AM , Rating: 5
I'm at work punching holes in the ground right now.

We are 1600' deep and already producing. I have seen some "miles" deep, but also remember that there is just as much shallow as there is deep. Look at Northern Canada, where they can basically strip mine the oilsands. It's not a big lake of oil in a cavern, it's holes in rocks. We look for porosity, and don't drill until we fall in.

Nobody is really a dope, but it's not like the episode of The Simpsons, where they just drilled down with a straw and it started spraying out the top of the derrick.


RE: Missing a unit...
By FreeTard on 6/18/2008 4:47:59 AM , Rating: 5
One other thing, the holes that we do make while drilling, are more likely to fill back up with salt water, than oil. Once the well no longer produces that is.


RE: Missing a unit...
By seamonkey79 on 6/18/2008 9:01:00 AM , Rating: 2
<cough cough> jest <cough cough>


RE: Missing a unit...
By GotDiesel on 6/18/2008 1:04:12 PM , Rating: 2
LMAO.. oil does not "sit" in vast underground caves...
it resides in the pores of rock.. so what you suggest is not possible..


RE: Missing a unit...
By dever on 6/19/2008 2:24:09 PM , Rating: 2
The real problem is ethanol is now a government leach. The lefties have made it into the "evil" big coorporation that they denounce. The "evil" derives from the fact that it's shielded from competition by forcing citizens to fund the few unscrupulous business men who take advantage of such handouts.

If ethanol production had been left to the free market, it could easily be usurped by better, cheaper, more economical, cleaner alternative energy sources that enter the market.

But instead, they now suck at the teet of public welfare and will fight like hell for every dollar stolen from your pocket.


RE: Missing a unit...
By jdogi on 6/17/2008 6:04:06 PM , Rating: 4
Assuming that Wikipedia is correct, and Chicago is 234sq miles, I am fairly certain the the ~150 oil refineries in the US consume more than that much real-estate.

We could just build it on the moon. That wouldn't be any more crazy than trying to build all of the capacity in one location.

It would make the most sense to distribute them to where the fuel demand and the resources are located.


RE: Missing a unit...
By surt on 6/17/2008 7:01:13 PM , Rating: 2
It would be slightly more crazy, as the transport costs will really eat into your overall efficiency.


RE: Missing a unit...
By MykC on 6/17/2008 7:32:35 PM , Rating: 2
If a solution existed to eliminate the US's dependency on foreign oil that require construction of a facility that was the size of Chicago, I think they would consider it when oil hits X per barrel.


RE: Missing a unit...
By Ticholo on 6/17/2008 9:26:48 PM , Rating: 3
I think oil is already at X per barrel :P


RE: Missing a unit...
By Hypernova on 6/17/2008 11:22:54 PM , Rating: 4
Last I heard we are already at Z.


RE: Missing a unit...
By fifolo on 6/18/2008 8:34:01 AM , Rating: 4
After my last fill up, the experience was more like XXX.


RE: Missing a unit...
By Macelind on 6/18/2008 1:44:50 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
more like XXX
quote:


Kinda like prison sex without lube?

I know last time I filled up the gas tank, it felt as if I had been bent over.


RE: Missing a unit...
By hadifa on 6/18/2008 6:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
Look at the bright side, a cutting edge graphic card may ONLY costs as much as a fill up!


RE: Missing a unit...
By deeznuts on 6/17/2008 7:44:48 PM , Rating: 2
As of now, don't think of "replacing" but of supplement.

What about this newfangled Jatropha curcas


RE: Missing a unit...
By gsellis on 6/17/2008 8:52:47 PM , Rating: 2
OK. And the farmland to grow sugar beets or corn added to this formula take up how much acreage?


RE: Missing a unit...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/17/2008 9:57:08 PM , Rating: 4
> "they would have to create a plant the size of the whole city of Chicago to produce enough oil to meet the demand of the United States"

That doesn't sound bad, considering that to meet the energy demands of the US with solar power would require an area the size of 100 Chicagos.


RE: Missing a unit...
By EricMartello on 6/17/2008 10:40:42 PM , Rating: 5
Well, we have New Jersey. Let's put the plant there.


RE: Missing a unit...
By BladeVenom on 6/17/2008 10:52:13 PM , Rating: 2
They'd just mess it up.


RE: Missing a unit...
By weskurtz0081 on 6/18/2008 3:39:37 AM , Rating: 2
Well, how much space do Oil refineries take up in order to meet US demand? I can promise you, it is a VAST amount of space.... Texas City, is not really anything more than a refining city.


RE: Missing a unit...
By 67STANG on 6/17/2008 6:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, this is great news. Hopefully this will lower gas prices so I can take my mustang out of storage in a few years...

I say the government should invest billions in this to ramp it up by the first of next year.


RE: Missing a unit...
By Hawkido on 6/17/08, Rating: 0
RE: Missing a unit...
By 67STANG on 6/17/2008 6:58:56 PM , Rating: 2
True, but they have to factor that against the increased competition they'll surely be facing in 2010. There will be many more players by then.


RE: Missing a unit...
By TheDoc9 on 6/17/2008 7:40:37 PM , Rating: 3
the article reads like they didn't make some kind of genetic monster out of the e.coli, fortunately for us. It seems like they just manipulated the e.coli to use other forms of food and in the process the oil is created. It doesn't say where in the process, be it enzymes to digest the food, or actual waste from the e.coli. Would be interesting to know though.


RE: Missing a unit...
By Hawkido on 6/18/2008 1:56:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the article reads like they didn't make some kind of genetic monster out of the e.coli, fortunately for us.


Define monster...

If you take a ubiquitous lethal bacteria that is usually kept in check by our biology and change what is eats... how sure are you that is will not decimate our crops if it now eats plant matter. What if now it can eat through the mucous lining in our intestines...

imagine if you just alter the common wolf spider to where it is just alittle more venomous, or just 50% larger...

If you look at mythology, all the monsters are just minor variants of common everyday critters. kind of like that car commercial that is running now where just a little change makes a rather large difference. (Couch potato to Professional athlete just by putting a bowling jersey on and adding a bowling ball.)

I am not saying it will be a monster... but how many life saving drugs were taken off the market last year becaus ethe either killed people or critically damaged vital organs? How long were they on the market before we discovered the harmful effects of long term usage?

We currently use alot of genetically engineered crops (wheat, corn, etc) how long till a plant disease learns to destroy them? Once it does how fast will it decimate our world wide crops? Do we have enough food supplies to ride out a full year without corn, wheat, or rice?

Once you make everything the same you start suffering from the same illnesses.

Or in this case once you start changing something so common as E. Coli, and it gets out in the wild... (reactor rupture and contents leak into ground water) it would be too late to contain it. Sounds kinda like the Andromeda Strain plot.

I am not fear mongering, just postulating. Since the variant is "Secret" and they are making money(or trying to) off the properties of this genetically altered strain. Just how closely will they be looking for consequences of an outbreak? Anyone read Prey? (it involved E. Coli and nanomachines that utilized its ubiquitous nature)


RE: Missing a unit...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/18/2008 12:25:58 AM , Rating: 5
> " they wish to keep the process a trade secret, so they don't have to face the patent expiration in 7 years (I think it is 7 years)..."

17 years. Unfortunately, too often when someone makes a claim like this, they're just looking to scam venture capital dollars.


RE: Missing a unit...
By phazers on 6/18/2008 11:52:11 AM , Rating: 4
Actually, 20 years from the date of filing. And that can be extended if the Patent Office takes too long to internally process the application.

Since most mammalian lifeforms including humans have a colony of E. Coli in their guts, producing approx. half a liter of farts per day, there are gonna be a lot of willful patent infringers out there :).

Some interesting methane facts from http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/03/19/78...

On average, a fart is composed of about 59 percent nitrogen, 21 percent hydrogen, 9 percent carbon dioxide, 7 percent methane and 4 percent oxygen. Less than 1 percent of their makeup is what makes farts stink.
• The temperature of a fart at time of creation is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Farts have been clocked at a speed of 10 feet per second.
• A person produces about half a liter of farts a day.
• Women fart as much as men.
• The gas that makes your farts stink is hydrogen sulfide. The more sulfur rich your diet, the more your farts will stink. Some foods that cause really smelly farts include: beans, cabbage, cheese, soda and eggs.
• Most people pass gas about 14 times a day.


RE: Missing a unit...
By GotDiesel on 6/18/2008 1:08:36 PM , Rating: 2
ROFL...


RE: Missing a unit...
By Yojimbo on 6/17/2008 10:59:16 PM , Rating: 2
well, they are gonna have to get the "weeds" from somewhere? what are they going to do, send mexican laborers to gather them from the roadsides? of course they will have to use land to grow these weeds. in order for it to have a dent in consumption, it would be grown just like food crops are grown, and probably competing for the same land. that's the most economical way to grow plants.. take advantage of our modern farming techniques. as i saw on a bumper sticker outside a university mines and metallurgy building "if it can't be grown it's gotta be mined" or in this case "if it can't be mined it's gotta be grown."


RE: Missing a unit...
By Motoman on 6/17/2008 11:35:51 PM , Rating: 3
I hear you. I am keen on not creating net new farmland, or diverting existing farmland, to grow fuel. But if it's literally ditch weed or maybe agricultural by-products, then that's a win in my book.

Who wants to calculate how much generic plant biomass is lining our country's road systems that's not doing anything for us at the moment? Instead of just mowing it once in a while, bale it up and take it to the weed refinery.


RE: Missing a unit...
By Klober on 6/18/2008 9:20:50 AM , Rating: 5
Well, instead of diverting massive amounts of farmland to growing weeds, this could be the start of widespread clippings collection. Everyone mows their grass, clips their trees and bushes, etc. We already have the infrastructure setup to collect trash and recycling. I think it would be a relatively small step to start collecting yard clippings as well. That could end up being a huge amount of "free" biomass they could use to make this synthetic fuel. This would remove the added expense of having to replant/fertilize/water/harvest the weeds (or whatever) required for production, which in turn means cheaper fuel. Heck, maybe based on your clippings contribution you could get some kind of credit towards this fuel. That would definitely be extra motivation to put forth the effort to make your clippings available for collection.

Just my 2 cents.


RE: Missing a unit...
By tastyratz on 6/19/2008 8:32:17 AM , Rating: 2
That is an excellent idea. Individual useful waste is a large process to meter and would likely not be feasible. Dont forget Grass is in itself a very hearty weed by definition.
Realistically we could all have an extra bin for recycling and the towns can collect them, who then receive subsidy and kickbacks from the "oil" companies - this in turn could increase town or state revenue remarkably and decrease taxes overall. If it didn't it could increase state budget for better roads/schools/etc. This would likely remain state and not federal so the money would be more likely to be put to good use.


RE: Missing a unit...
By modestninja on 6/18/2008 11:59:23 AM , Rating: 4
Does this mean weed prices are going to skyrocket too? Those poor stoners... Haven't they alreas suffered enough from high food prices?!?


RE: Missing a unit...
By alphadog on 6/18/2008 1:58:26 PM , Rating: 2
How does solar fit into your limited mined/grown worldview?


RE: Missing a unit...
By feraltoad on 6/18/2008 11:37:50 PM , Rating: 2
The best part would be I could mow my lawn, and it wouldn't be a complete waste of time. Well, I guess showing off my Speedos is worth something.


RE: Missing a unit...
By bugzrrad on 6/17/2008 6:22:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
1,000 liters of fuel... per what? Day? Week? A unit of time would help a lot to put this into perspective.


1,000L per parsec


RE: Missing a unit...
By Amiga500 on 6/17/2008 6:32:56 PM , Rating: 2
If its based off the same information as another article I read on it - that is 1000 litres per WEEK.

Which isn't too bad for at a proof-of-concept stage.


Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/17/2008 5:27:30 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
However, the demand for sugar crops to make ethanol is driving up food prices.

I've still yet to see any concrete evidence that points to ethanol as the source of the price hike in food.

The price of fuel has doubled in two years and blaming ethanol is a pretty lame attempt to pass blame when the real culprit is staring you in the face. Higher fuel costs to plant, higher fuel costs to cultivate, higher fuel costs to ship the food to distribution plants, higher energy bills at the processing plants. Ethanol has no bearing on any of these key issues.




RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Hawkido on 6/17/2008 6:19:11 PM , Rating: 2
The recent Phase up in minimum wage probably has some to do with the increase in cost of living (inflation) and will continue till the Min wage increase is complete (2010?)


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Ringold on 6/18/2008 4:08:30 PM , Rating: 2
That would be seen in core inflation, which has been tame.

Where the ratcheting up in minimum wage might have shown up is that jump in unemployment, mysteriously, right after high school students graduated and joined the workforce in May -- or tried to. Higher minimum wage + soft economy = happy labor unions, sad teenagers.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By ahow628 on 6/17/2008 7:00:55 PM , Rating: 4
For beer brewers, the effect is quite visible. There has been more and more hops shortages as farmers chase after the subsidies created by ethanol. "You mean I can get paid extra money for growing corn for fuel instead of corn, soybeans, wheat, hops, and barley? Sign me up!" I think it is pretty obvious that food prices are hinging directly on ethanol and it's subsidies.


By PhantomKnight on 6/18/2008 9:16:40 AM , Rating: 1
I know this may sound harsh, but since when do we need more beer??? Here in Australia we are using sugar canes for ethanol. Again how is the shortage of sugar going to harm us. If I remember correctly, we already consume WAY too much sugar anyway. So in effect, aren't we just helping ourselves??? We also, apparently, have a binge drinking problem. But I do think that less beer could pose a problem. Anyway thats just my thoughts. This tech does seem like the way out, only if it is possible to start supplementing our oil soon. Also here in Australia, our government charges an excise AND a tax (GST). http://www.apco.com.au/petrolCosts.html A little off topic but anyway.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 9:29:24 AM , Rating: 2
As far as I recall all the major beer producers own their own hops farms. The other major factor in beer production is the loss in greenback value when trading for imported hops. The third is the fuel price for just about every step in the process of producing beer. Ethanol is hardly the silver bullet you are making it out to be.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By JustTom on 6/17/2008 7:03:25 PM , Rating: 2
How can an increase in demand absent a similar increase in supply NOT lead to increased prices? Every analyze I've seen points to ethanol mandates as a major component of food price increases. Most of the foods not directly impacted by ethanol production have seen much smaller increases in price.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By masher2 (blog) on 6/18/2008 12:31:51 AM , Rating: 3
> "I've still yet to see any concrete evidence that points to ethanol as the source of the price hike in food"

Then you haven't been looking. Farmers have migrated en masse to corn production, lowering production for other crops. Furthermore, the increased cultivation of corn has led to increased demand (and thus higher prices) for everything from fertilizer to farm machinery.

Finally, since corn is used as feedstock for farm animals, the price increases there translates directly to higher meat prices.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 7:39:58 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Farmers have migrated en masse to corn production, lowering production for other crops.

I don't see us running out of food at the supermarkets so this isn't true.
quote:
Finally, since corn is used as feedstock for farm animals, the price increases there translates directly to higher meat prices.

I know you are much smarter than that masher. They reprocess all the corn used to make ethanol back into food products. It doesn't raise any prices for animal food stock.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By DigitalFreak on 6/18/2008 8:36:32 AM , Rating: 2
You are an idiot


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Klober on 6/18/2008 9:41:16 AM , Rating: 3
Here's a fact for you that may help to put things into perpective. 30% of the US supply of corn is being used to produce ethanol for 3% of the US annual miles driven. Maybe it's just me, but that seems a) a huge number that is definitely going to cause price increases in everything associated with corn, and b) a massively inefficient alternative that we are not going to be able to keep up with - EVER. We would have to increase corn production in the US by 10 times - just to meet ethanol demand - not to mention the corn we still need for everything else. Without clear-cutting the rest of the forests in the US I don't believe we have enough land to even consider this. And if we did decide to go this route - aka stupidity - I don't think corn would be available at a price any of the general public could afford.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By masher2 (blog) on 6/18/2008 9:51:40 AM , Rating: 2
> "I don't see us running out of food at the supermarkets so this isn't true"

I think you missed out on the entire concept of supply, demand, and free-market price balancing.

In the absence of government meddling (and a few temporary imbalances, usually caused by emergency conditions) no product will *every* run out, no matter how tight supply gets. As supply drops, prices rise automatically to suppress demand for that product, until people wish to buy no more than is now available.

This happens on everything from corn and milk to crude oil and SUVs...and indeed, rising prices are always indicative of either rising demand, lowered supply, or some combination of both.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 10:03:16 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry mash but in this case it is neither demand or supply or a combination of either. Its fuel costs. Plain and simple. It just costs more to produce and get it to your table. It really is that easy.

Not to mention increased minimum wages to pay people to pick food crops. And on top of that the fall in the greenback effects sale prices on exported food.

Supply is still there and the demand only increase in the food market with population growth.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By masher2 (blog) on 6/18/2008 10:43:41 AM , Rating: 1
> "fuel costs. Plain and simple. It just costs more to produce and get it to your table"

Fuel costs make up less than 10% of the total price of nearly all food crops. A doubling of fuel prices therefore would mean a 10% rise in price. Yet some crops have doubled or even tripled in price, even though fuel has only risen less than 40%.

So much for that theory.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 11:00:45 AM , Rating: 4
No that doesn't disprove anything. Cherry picking one or two crops and extrapolating across the whole industry equates to a load of BS. Take the industry numbers as a whole and recompute. Your argument is a lame duck.

And you need to do some more research into the differences between food crops vs cash crops. We still pay farmers to not produce on their land. That's dedicated food crop production right there. There are no supply and demand issues. The farmers are repositioning secondary crops that are used as cash crops to ethanol. These crops play little to no role in the food industry.

You can rotate the argument all you want but the fact is ethanol is playing a rather limited roll in food prices when compared to the hundreds of alternate factors that regularly change the price of food like...

Mother nature: last year we had sever drought across the Midwest. This year we have torrential rains and flooding. Fires all across Florida and California last year severely damaged key crops.

Fuel prices: From farm equipment to transportation trucks and from processing plants to supermarket distribution facilities fuel is killing.

Wages and workers: A new story every day on illegal immigrants being pulled out of food processing facilities. Employers facing big fines. No other choice but to hire legal workers that are federally mandated at a wage far in excess of what these companies were paying illegal aliens.

And on and on and on... Blaming ethanol is short sided and only leads to bad speculation and overlooks the real reasons for the rise in food prices. We need to place the blame where it actually exists so the problem can be rectified instead of grasping at straws without any real logic behind it.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Klober on 6/18/2008 12:21:06 PM , Rating: 1
Ignorance is bliss SandmanWN - or so they say at least.

First of all, food crops vs cash crops has nothing to do with the subject of fuel prices vs ethanol causing the increase in food prices - they're all crops and take up land, which brings me to my next point... Second, we only have a limited amount of land on which to plant crops, which means the more we start using the crops from said land for ethanol the lower supply will be for everything else requiring those crops. And, so you know, just because you see a bunch of "barren" land without crops doesn't mean it's not being used, it's called crop rotation. Speaking of rotation...

You can rotate the argument all you want but the fact is ethanol is playing a rather major role in food prices when compared to the alternate factors that regularly slightly change the price of food like...

quote:
Mother nature: last year we had sever drought across the Midwest. This year we have torrential rains and flooding. Fires all across Florida and California last year severely damaged key crops.

These types of events happen every single year. I lived in MN during the flooding. It's not that the flooding only happens occasionally, it's that it only occasionally floods really bad . Whether it's drought/flooding/bugs/fire/whatever, it happens every single year, so how can you say it's having a significant impact all of a sudden. You can't, the price increases are caused by the recent drastic increase in demand for corn and soybeans because of ethanol production.
quote:
Fuel prices: From farm equipment to transportation trucks and from processing plants to supermarket distribution facilities fuel is killing.

As masher stated, fuel prices account for a relatively small percentage (we'll say X%) of food prices, therefore as fuel prices go up Y% the food price will only go up X%*Y%=Z% (ie. gas goes up 50% and gas costs account for 10% of food prices, then the increase in food prices will be .5*.1=.05 or 5%).
quote:
Wages and workers: A new story every day on illegal immigrants being pulled out of food processing facilities. Employers facing big fines. No other choice but to hire legal workers that are federally mandated at a wage far in excess of what these companies were paying illegal aliens.

Again, this goes with the Mother Nature argument - this happens every single year, why all of a sudden such a large impact on food prices when it hasn't dramatically effected prices previously. Well, same answer as before, it's not the "Wages and workers" - that occurs consistently - causing the sudden price increases, it the sudden increase in demand for corn and soybeans for ethanol production.

And on and on and on... Blaming everything else, while refusing to acknowledge ethanol is primarily to blame, is viewing the world with blinders on which prevents us from tackling the real issue and coming up with a realistic solution. We are already placing the blame where it actually exists so the problem can be rectified - would you like to join us?


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 12:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
(ie. gas goes up 50% and gas costs account for 10% of food prices, then the increase in food prices will be .5*.1=.05 or 5%).

Gas prices have gone up over %100 in the past two years. Lets plug those numbers into your overly simplified and naive equation. (1*.1=.10 or 10%) Well looky there!!! Even someone as thick as you can prove yourself wrong.

Simple question. If we erase ethanol production from the face of the globe right now do you think the price of food would do anything other than rise just like its doing right now?

Ignorance is bliss for sure. Your honest belief that ethanol is the singular cause of the rise in food price is the most ignorant bliss that could possibly be obtained.

If you can't tell the difference between food crops with federal mandates and regulations vs cash crops then you really haven't the slightest clue at all.

Fuel prices account for a major chunk of the prices. There is no way you can differentiate the two no matter what BS you pull out of your little magic hat. It costs more to go to work on a daily basis and you don't seem to think gas prices cause the price of your groceries not to sky rocket?

quote:
These types of events happen every single year. I lived in MN during the flooding. It's not that the flooding only happens occasionally, it's that it only occasionally floods really bad . Whether it's drought/flooding/bugs/fire/whatever, it happens every single year, so how can you say it's having a significant impact all of a sudden.

Really bad? Isn't that exactly whats going on here? Are you supporting me or trying to disprove me? You say it happens every year but this year is exceptional and then you say it isn't a contributing factor. Are you nuts? We aren't talking about a neighborhood flood that happens once a year. We are talking about a major flood affecting the entire Midwest which is adversely effecting just about every community/farm/state downstream from the Midwest. Are you naive enough to think this is a yearly occurrence or has zero impact?


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Klober on 6/18/2008 2:03:27 PM , Rating: 1
I'm sorry you aren't willing to put forth the time and effort to actually READ my post before replying, but here is a summary of where your absence of thoroughness has failed you again (I'll go point by point):
quote:
Gas prices have gone up over %100 in the past two years. Lets plug those numbers into your overly simplified and naive equation. (1*.1=.10 or 10%) Well looky there!!! Even someone as thick as you can prove yourself wrong.

Or, consequently, prove you wrong and myself right. First off, let's get to your misleading numbers you made up to prove yourself right - since the same period in 2006 (2 years ago as you stated in your comment) gas prices have risen ~40%, not the 100% you have falsely claimed. Verifiable at http://www.randomuseless.info/gasprice/gasprice.tx... and http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx . Now, about the equation - I'd like you to explain exactly how it is "overly simplified and naive". If gas accounts for X% of the food prices, and gas goes up Y%, that is precisely the equation you would use to come up with the final cost increase for food. Apparently numbers aren't your thing, so I'll forgive you. Luckily for you, numbers ARE my thing.

And if we could erase ethanol production completely I do think you are incorrect that food prices would just continue to rise. I believe they would stay steady for a while, with a possible slight drop.

You may want to re-read my post a few more times. I know it takes you a while, I can wait. I never said "singular cause", I only alluded to ethanol playing a "major role" and being "primarily to blame" for the rise of food prices. You make it seem like I think ethanol is the singular/only reason for the prices increases, where I clearly acknowledge there are other reasons when I state "alternate factors that regularly slightly change the price of food".

Again, you're back to food crops vs cash crops, and again I say what does that distinction matter for the discussion at hand?

You are correct that I don't believe gas prices cause the price of our groceries to sky rocket. You are, however, incorrect in believing that they "account for a major chunk of the prices" - for this, study up and then go back to my equation.

For the last point you made, I'm sorry that I may not have written the paragraph very well, but reading comprehension FTW SandmanWN. I never said the flooding "isn't a contributing factor", I said that something along those lines happens every year pretty consistently whether it be flooding/drought/fire/bugs/whatever, and the fact that it happens consistently means that it does not account for the sudden and dramatic increase in the price of food. And yes, like I said, I lived in MN during the flooding back in '99-'00, so I know EXACTLY what happens and the consequences of it.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 3:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
Fantasy land continues for poor feeble minded Klober.

Skipped over your lame self made website. Nice load of BS numbers there. Who are you kidding anyway with that laughing stock of BS.

Gas Buddy shows a 78% increase since late '06 to current day. Bummer for you.

quote:
where I clearly acknowledge there are other reasons when I state "alternate factors that regularly slightly change the price of food".

quote:
And yes, like I said, I lived in MN during the flooding back in '99-'00, so I know EXACTLY what happens and the consequences of it.

Somebody please wake me when Minnesota actually starts producing a sizable portion of the food crop. Zzzz...

Lets take Florida for example. Summer of Katrina. Orange Juice and other fruit crops decimated. OJ prices double. If a single state such as Florida can lose a portion of its crops and detrimentally affect the entire industry when hurricanes are a normal factor there how can you be so completely naive and stupid not to think a flood that encompasses just about every state between Iowa and Illinois not to be a contributing factor. The idiot scale just went off the charts.

The food vs cash crops was a point I was making to masher which you conveniently butted in on and raised some highly idiotic points about nothing and then lost yourself in a maze of your own BS.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 3:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
78% increase in Canada rather.

2.13 '06 to 4.20 present. Im not sure Vern but that looks a little like a 100% to me.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Ringold on 6/18/2008 4:17:31 PM , Rating: 2
You must be a Mid-West farmer, Sandman, because virtually every industry expert and economist the world over, including the UN and World Bank, disagree with your dribble so far. Even Fidel Castro, a Marxist, warned early on that ethanol would create the current situation. The only people that bother to even defend food-for-fuel are Mid-West politicians and bought-and-paid-for economists from Mid-West universities. It's not even a liberal v. conservative issue! There is bipartisan agreement that the facts (whether or not you bother to seek them out) are clear. It's farmers vs. non farmers.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 5:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't think your proof/rebuttal for this to be Fidel Castro and the U.N.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Schrag4 on 6/18/2008 5:18:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Lets take Florida for example. Summer of Katrina. Orange Juice and other fruit crops decimated. OJ prices double. If a single state such as Florida can lose a portion of its crops and detrimentally affect the entire industry when hurricanes are a normal factor there how can you be so completely naive and stupid not to think a flood that encompasses just about every state between Iowa and Illinois not to be a contributing factor.


So, fuel prices didn't double the price of OJ? I thought you said supply doesn't affect prices?

I think you're pretty much the only person I've ever heard argue that ethanol production doesn't have a major role (if not the biggest role) in the increase of food prices. But go on and call me an idiot...

Oh, and that 'single state' you mention produces easily 3/4 of all oranges grown in the US. It would seem you're trying to mislead people. But I'm sure you're right and we're all wrong...


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 5:25:56 PM , Rating: 2
Start from the top man you missed half the conversation.

He stated that natural disasters didn't cause the recent price increase in food because they are expected. I showed it was wrong with the Florida '05 season.

Masher stated there were supply issues but the simple fact is there are no food shortages now so supply isn't the cause of food prices. In fact the prices of citrus is dropping drastically. Its back to prices of 4 years ago. So you tell me how ethanol can create this effect?


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 6:37:29 PM , Rating: 2
Common guys its not rocket science. Why are foods in sectors that cannot produce crops suitable for ethanol production also on the rise? Why are prices in foods that are imported costing more?

Fuel, wages, exchange rates! Think people! Ethanol has been subsidized and gaining popularity since the 80's. How does it randomly cause the food price hike over the past two years when the only correlation in the world is a 100% rise in the price of fuel! How is this shocking to anyone?!?!


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2008 12:09:32 AM , Rating: 2
> "Why are foods in sectors that cannot produce crops suitable for ethanol production also on the rise?"

We've already explained this to you. Ethanol production means increased demand not only for agricultural land, but for everything else associated with farming -- fertilizer, farm machinery, etc.

While your theory is "interesting", to say the least, it runs 100% counter to the stated opinions of every major economist, agricultural analyst, and even the UN itself. Demand for ethanol is having a crushing impact on world food prices.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By iowafarmer on 6/19/2008 1:38:41 AM , Rating: 2
I've been forced to compete in an international market for fertilizers and chemicals. China and India almost cornered the market on P and K this year, booking their needs early. It's my understanding in China almost 3x the fertilizer is used per acre compared to USA fertilizer use.

I guess you've been tracking the fall of the US $. The fall of the US $ and rise in price of crude oil is obviously the fault of ethanol.

The market is going to do it's job and price corn too high to be used to produce ethanol, just be patient.

The government is worried about this years soy and corn production, turning the 34 million acres in crp loose to grazing and haying. There is also talk of turning the crp loose to raise grain, too bad it's too late for this year. Too bad there isn't a strategic grain reserve.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Klober on 6/19/2008 11:50:15 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, we used to have a strategic grain reserve. Unfortunately the decision was made to both sell off the grain and donate it to humanitarian efforts. While I support humanitarian efforts to a point, I think the effort should come on an individual basis instead of using my hard-earned dollars to support it. And the selling it off was just plain dumb. These were our emergency supplies in case of trouble, and now we have basically nothing. No cheese, grain, butter, dry milk, nothing - it's all gone. So much for saving for a "rainy day". :(


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Klober on 6/19/2008 1:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
To preface this post, you got a brief respite yesterday SandmanWN, as I had a well-worded response almost complete when IT decided to remotely reboot my system to install a security update, causing me to lose everything. Probably the reason my previous 2 posts were rated down – the readers didn’t have any true facts to base their opinion on (since you kept accusing mine of being false based upon your skewed and made up figures) and so had no choice but to believe your huge steaming pile. However, I remember most of my points, so I am posting now. Just to be clear, this will be my last reply to you, SandmanWN. If the facts I’ve put forth so far have not brought you to reality then I don’t believe anything will. On to the post…

I need not defend myself against your “poor feebleminded Klober” comment (notice feebleminded is one word) as many people have seen my posts and know better. I, however, would not say the same about you considering the average score of your posts. You do realize the ratings are not based on the binary system, right? 0s and 1s are bad.

“Lame self made website”? In the time it took for my previous response there’s no way I could have created those numbers (for anyone that looked at the site you’ll see the massive quantity), posted them to a website, and had it linked to by others. Also, there’s no way it could have become the #1 search result on Google in that amount of time. For my references I did a standard search on Google using the terms “gas price history chart” (without quotes). The randomuseless.info site was the #1 result, and the gasbuddy.com site was #3.

On to your next comment about the supposed 78% increase using the numbers from my reference. Well, in this case, I’m afraid you invalidated your argument right from the start. You stated a “78% increase since late '06 to current day”, and while that may be true, everyone knows that the price of gas fluctuates depending on the time of year. By comparing late ’06 to current you are comparing apples to oranges, or apples to pears at best. If you go and check the prices going from this time period ’06 to current you will find my figure of ~40% increase in fuel prices to be accurate from both sites. But keep up with your FUD.

You asked for it, so - WAKE UP!!!! Apparently you don’t know much about our country’s agriculture even though you pretend to be an expert. Let’s take a look at some facts and figures (you do know what those are right, because I have yet to see any come from you). The following chart is total land area from highest to lowest taken from http://www.netstate.com/states/tables/st_size.htm :

1 Alaska 570,374
2 Texas 261,914
3 California 155,973
4 Montana 145,556
5 New Mexico 121,365
6 Arizona 113,642
7 Nevada 109,806
8 Colorado 103,730
9 Wyoming 97,105
10 Oregon 96,003
11 Idaho 82,751
12 Utah 82,168
13 Kansas 81,823
14 Minnesota 79,617

Notice how Minnesota is the 14th largest in land area? Yes, I did land area since that’s all we care about, can’t grow crops in lakes – I could have made it look better by using overall area but I like to stick to the relevant data. And I’m sure you also know with your massive agricultural knowledge that Minnesota is almost entirely farmland. But let’s take a look at another, more relevant to our current conversation, chart. This one is actual crop land area, taken from http://www.nass.usda.gov/Census/Create_Census_US.j... (choose “Total cropland (acres)” at Step 2 and choose “All States, United States” and hit Add in Step 3 to arrive at the chart I reference):

United States 434,164,946
Texas 38,657,710
Kansas 29,542,022
Iowa 27,153,291
North Dakota 26,506,477
Illinois 24,171,260
Minnesota 22,729,158

Wow, #6 out of 50 states for crop land. Minnesota has over 5% of the total crop land in the US, with only 5 states surpassing it. So, what exactly do you consider a sizable portion of the food crop? And yes, that's a rhetorical question.

I seem to remember you bashing masher for “Cherry picking one or two crops and extrapolating across the whole industry” and yet you try to pull the same thing here. The orange crop is about as skewed as you can get considering the industry, and the large percentage of that industry as a whole, operated mainly out of Florida. Hypocritical? You can rationalize it however you want, but just as you stated when you flogged masher for supposedly doing it, this “equates to a load of BS”. Don’t you hate it when your own words bite you in the rear?

Going by your comment I will consider the cash vs food crop thought dead, as it looks like we both have come to the same conclusion that it doesn’t apply to this discussion. As for whether or not I “raised some highly idiotic points about nothing and then lost myself(fixed to make sense) in a maze of my(fixed to make sense) own BS” is up to the readers, but I think my points substantiated by facts will speak for themselves.

For everyone else, I apologize for the wall of text, but I wanted to make sure it’s plain to see that my points are based in facts, not some made up or skewed figures (like the other side of this discussion).


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/19/2008 9:35:49 PM , Rating: 2
LOL your proof comes down to google ranks, land mass, and grammar.

LAME DUCK!


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By Klober on 6/20/2008 4:59:52 PM , Rating: 2
I'm truly sorry that out of my entire post that's all you could understand. Next time I'll try to limit myself to smaller words, and numbers you can count on your fingers and toes, just for you. :)


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By SandmanWN on 6/23/2008 9:14:59 AM , Rating: 2
Or you could just try getting factual evidence from credible sources maybe? But that would mean actually trying to use critical thinking skills which it doesn't seem you posses. Or you can continue to Google expert your way through life.


RE: Its fuel prices not ethanol
By iowafarmer on 6/18/2008 10:38:12 PM , Rating: 2
US farmers are raising fewer acres of corn, more of soy and more of wheat in 08 than in 07. I've pointed out the links of interest before, you can look up the information from here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_... you will have to look at historical reports to find some of what you are looking for. And as for meat production livestock farmers have been overproducing for awhile and have been taking it on the chin. Now would be a good time to stock the freezer with meat before corporate livestock producers overcorrect production and supply gets short and prices skyrocket.

I feel production of corn and soy will be an eye opener this year, the floods, wet and cool weather in the midwest are more than a passing news story. I see a bidding war in the near future for this years short soy and corn production. Ethanol production may not be profitable in the near future, depends on where the price of oil and ethanol goes from here.

Here is a monster commodity price quote link:
http://www.farmfutures.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=3138...

The ethanol - gasoline RBOE spread was recently about $1 and is narrowing rapidly!!!! It should be remembered ethanol is displacing the need for some much needed new refining capacity.

Higher prices lead to more production, lower prices to less. However mother nature trumps all.


But then again...
By Motoman on 6/17/2008 5:21:32 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Meanwhile, faced with high gas prices at the pump, more and more people are switching to ethanol. Those who don't are hit with both high food prices and high gas prices.


...if I'm not mistaken, the lower energy density of ethanol makes for a loss of about 30% of your mileage anyway. So even if you are using E85 fuel, you're not doing yourself any favors in terms of fuel prices. Assuming gas is $4.00 a gallon, E85 would have to be $2.80 a gallon to break even on fuel cost (assuming the accuracy of the 30% figure).

Naturally, E85 is nowhere near that cheap...so people using it are shooting themselves in the (lead) foot.




RE: But then again...
By SandmanWN on 6/17/2008 5:33:35 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Assuming gas is $4.00 a gallon, E85 would have to be $2.80 a gallon to break even on fuel cost (assuming the accuracy of the 30% figure).

Funny you say that, down the street here its $2.80. And 30% is more of a worst case in efficiency. A lot of the newer E85 cars are getting closer to 15-20%.


RE: But then again...
By Denigrate on 6/17/2008 5:48:48 PM , Rating: 5
Remember to factor in your tax dollars when looking at E85 as the entire ethanol industry gets massive subsidies from our tax dollars. This is the only reason ethanol is viable from an economic standpoint.


RE: But then again...
By sxr7171 on 6/17/08, Rating: 0
RE: But then again...
By SandmanWN on 6/17/2008 7:06:01 PM , Rating: 5
E85 gets tax dollars, hybrids get tax rebates, big oil gets tax discounts. Almost every form of energy gets some form of tax relief. Really, the tax thing is a moot point.


RE: But then again...
By TheDoc9 on 6/17/2008 7:47:08 PM , Rating: 2
how about the increase in cost of food - corn and everything that it's used in. Cornstarch, chicken/animal feed, and there are surely others. Coupled with the price of oil it's only made things worse...Luckily something will give eventually, reminds me of the tech industry in 99-2000.


RE: But then again...
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 9:38:56 AM , Rating: 2
The increase in food prices is in direct correlation to fuel prices. Fuel is needed for every single aspect in the production and transportation of food. Higher fuel prices, higher food costs.


RE: But then again...
By JeffGrant on 6/18/2008 10:19:57 AM , Rating: 2
http://gas2.org/2008/02/28/ethanol-industry-pays-o...

I think ethanol gets a pretty bad rap, and personally I'd prefer cheap butanol http://www.butanol.com/, but at least E85 is here now (in dallas anyway). I'm tired of sending my cash overseas.


RE: But then again...
By Ringold on 6/18/2008 4:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
big oil gets tax discounts.


I've tried to get trolls to prove that statement with links to valid data sources, not liberal blogs or left-wing media news posts (careful not to quote the AP!). It hasn't happened yet. "Big oil" pays its taxes. Feel free to look at their financial statements, and compare that to the rates your average company pays.

The point is there should be no tax favoritism at all, including for ethanol.


RE: But then again...
By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 5:13:02 PM , Rating: 2
The corporate tax rate is 35% for a company making 18Milion+. Oil tax rate has been at 18% for every record I can dig up on short notice and they certainly make more than 18 Million a year.

The Senate passed a bill in February to change the oil tax rate to the typical rate and use that tax revenue to fund wind and solar but it failed the House.

Now Congress is trying to push an adjustable tax rate that increases when a certain profitability is reached.

Not sure what other proof you want?


RE: But then again...
By Motoman on 6/17/2008 8:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
...that's pretty staggering. Here, regular unleaded is at $3.87 right now, and E85 is $3.21. I think that's about 17% off.

...so if a newer E85 car is indeed getting a mileage penalty of only 15 to 20%, then this is a wash.

Not counting the subsidies the government is putting into E85 to make it cost-competitive.


RE: But then again...
By nbachman on 6/17/2008 5:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
I have a FFV, and with the drop in mileage I have calculated the break even point to around $.50 a gallon less.

On the highway anyway
87: 18-19 MPG
E85: 14-15 MPG


RE: But then again...
By 67STANG on 6/17/2008 6:02:04 PM , Rating: 2
In California, they use it all of the gas here (in much smaller percentages) for emissions regulations. So... we get less fuel economy with every fill up. But at least they counter that by also charging us the most per gallon in the lower 48 states.... sigh.


RE: But then again...
By Einy0 on 6/17/2008 8:52:28 PM , Rating: 2
Same here in MA, 10% Ethanol. Better than that other crap they used to add to it though. Not only did that hurt gas mileage but polluted ground water too...


RE: But then again...
By rudy on 6/18/2008 1:23:04 AM , Rating: 2
you are right in the sense that at least around here they are charging a price for E85 that basically makes it the same cost as gas to run your vehicle 1 mile, so you have to fill up more often and gain nothing. Basically its failing.


Main Issue
By drebo on 6/17/08, Rating: 0
RE: Main Issue
By DarkElfa on 6/17/2008 5:50:33 PM , Rating: 2
What they ought to do is is approach congress, ask for federal funding and tell them that once the massive facility is built, they can supply the entire nations gas... forever, case closed.


RE: Main Issue
By Schrag4 on 6/17/2008 6:07:42 PM , Rating: 2
And don't forget that it's carbon neutral. Why wouldn't this fall into the 'green' category?


RE: Main Issue
By drebo on 6/17/08, Rating: 0
RE: Main Issue
By Schrag4 on 6/17/2008 9:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, so please point out what I'm missing. The carbon dioxide that gets released when it 'burns like gasoline' ultimately is consumed by plants, such as the weeds that made the fuel in the first place. Doesn't that mean that it's not just carbon neutral in production? And yes, I understand that it has to be transported, but wouldn't you just use more of the same fuel for that?

I think the point is that we're not releasing more carbon from crude oil, trapped beneath the surface of the Earth. Now I'm no global warming alarmist. However, this sounds exciting to me because we can become independent from oil producing nations. Right now we're slaves to oil.


RE: Main Issue
By masher2 (blog) on 6/17/2008 9:58:41 PM , Rating: 2
It's carbon neutral entirely. In production, it's a carbon sink, in combustion it's a carbon source. The two balance.


RE: Main Issue
By Yojimbo on 6/18/2008 4:02:32 AM , Rating: 2
but everything is carbon neutral. it's not like the planet is gaining or losing carbon unless aliens are importing/exporting or someone is doing massive fusion or fission experiments. the issue is the form of the carbon. the thought is that the carbon in the form of carbon dioxide may have bad effects. so instead of taking carbon from oil and turning it into carbon dioxide you are taking carbon from forms which are a more vital part of the active carbon cycle. now i don't know which is "better" or "worse", to tap more "inert" carbon and thereby increase the amount of carbon circulating around or to draw from a source of active carbon and reduce the amount in that part of the cycle, but the result in both cases is an increase in carbon in the form of carbon dioxide gas.


RE: Main Issue
By Yojimbo on 6/18/2008 4:06:27 AM , Rating: 2
just to clear up any ambiguity: by my last phrase i don't mean there's a net increase in carbon, but rather an increase in carbon dioxide gas.


RE: Main Issue
By masher2 (blog) on 6/18/2008 9:55:35 AM , Rating: 2
> "but everything is carbon neutral"

No. The phrase doesn't imply neutrality in total carbon (which indeed cannot change) but rather atmospheric CO2.

When a weed (or any other plant) grows, it subtracts CO2 from the air. When it dies and rots -- or when we use its stored chemical energy to create (and then burn) a hydrocarbon -- that CO2 is released back into the atmosphere.

That makes the entire process carbon neutral, i.e. no change in atmospheric carbon dioxide.


RE: Main Issue
By Yojimbo on 6/18/2008 1:19:11 PM , Rating: 2
well that makes more sense, thanks. but i still hjave a problem with it. if carbon-dioxide neutral is the definition of "carbon neutral", then surely processing to the usable form takes energy. So unless they need amounts of co2 themselves in the processing or they are relying on this energy being provided by something else which doesn't cause a net increase in carbon dioxide, how can it be "carbon neutral"?
if it's the latter, theoretically it could be carbon neutral, but in practice it's not.. and how is it different from ethanol production on this issue?


RE: Main Issue
By jdogi on 6/17/2008 6:06:57 PM , Rating: 2
It's carbon neutral.


RE: Main Issue
By JustTom on 6/17/2008 6:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I have a tough time believing that customers will be receptive of a product like this, despite the fact that it is entirely synthetic simply because of all of the FUD that's out there surrounding petroleum fuels.


And yet people still drive gasoline vehicles. If this technology can deliver petroleum products at a cost savings people will buy it.


friendly?
By ioannis on 6/18/2008 4:09:00 AM , Rating: 2
since when is E.Coli friendly? :-P Then again, 'friendly' to whom/what?

I prefer the algae based solutions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyoKTbxerpQ

1/10th of the state of New Mexico covered by this algae-based oil production, can cover all oil demands of the US.




RE: friendly?
By masher2 (blog) on 6/18/2008 10:01:21 AM , Rating: 2
> "since when is E.Coli friendly?"

Given you have a few hundred billion of them inside your gut right now -- and have had your entire life -- I'd say it's pretty friendly.

There are a few strains that occasionally cause health problems, but in general e. coli is a benign, and indeed necessary inhabitant of the human body.


RE: friendly?
By alphadog on 6/18/2008 2:12:03 PM , Rating: 2
That's a pathetic over-simplification.

There are quite a number of strains of E.Coli. Some live symbiotically in your belly, some will make you sick, some can even kill through a virulent form of food poisoning.

So, no, it's not necessarily friendly. Anyone who's studied basic biology should know this...


RE: friendly?
By geddarkstorm on 6/19/2008 1:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
You kinda shot yourself with your own words :P. Some live symbiotically in your intestines: do you know what they do? Oh yes, they process your food! Oh, did you also know that if your intestinal flora, that is the E. coli and other species of bacteria in your guts, die out, that you will die? Yep, your intestinal ecosystem is a necessity if your continued life. Lose them, and if the doctors can't get E. coli recolonized in you, you'll suffer a grueling death over a week or so.

So, not only are MOST strains of E. coli beneficial for us, they are necessary for us to survive. There is only one really toxic strain, due simply to a byproduct it makes that happens to be poisonous to us, not because it's intentionally pathogenic. Anyone who studied basic biology should know this.

So then, saying E. coli is unfriendly is like saying all dogs no matter the breed are unfriendly simply because a bull dog mauled someone once.


RE: friendly?
By ioannis on 6/20/2008 3:10:06 AM , Rating: 2
good point.


Another use...
By cenobite9 on 6/17/2008 6:52:09 PM , Rating: 2
...for all of that useless kudzu that grows around my area. Millions and millions of acres of it!!! Some folks in East Tennessee have already produced ethanol from it so why not synthetic gas? It grows up to a foot a day in and on just about anything so it renews itself fairly quickly.




RE: Another use...
By Davelo on 6/17/2008 7:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
These friendly microbes can take biowaste and weeds


There goes the price of weed! ;)


RE: Another use...
By gsellis on 6/17/2008 8:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
They could use Solyent Green instead then.


RE: Another use...
By nvalhalla on 6/17/2008 10:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
That would be hilarious if it ran on weed.

"Your honor, I'm not a drug manufacturer, I'm a weed farmer!"


This tech faces the same hurdles
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 6/17/2008 5:46:03 PM , Rating: 2
as celluosic ethanol. It doesn't really matter which one wins, as long as we stop paying billions to other countries for energy.




RE: This tech faces the same hurdles
By Sazar on 6/17/2008 5:58:25 PM , Rating: 1
We could also stop wasting resources and develop better public transport and drive less, but I fail to see that happening in a rush.


By Schrag4 on 6/17/2008 6:04:19 PM , Rating: 4
You're probably right, I don't forsee a rush to lower our quality of life either.

As has been beaten to death over and over at DT, public transportation works for a few large cities in the US that are quite dense, but for the majority of the US it just doesn't make sense. Most of us need cars to get around...


For City Slickers and Kids on Computers
By Machinegear on 6/18/2008 12:39:46 PM , Rating: 2
I keep reading articles on this site and posted comments that share a similar theme: corn based ethanol is an uneconomical alternative fuel and higher food prices are a derivative of increased ethanol production. Both assertions are false.

1.) Corn based ethanol is an uneconomical alternative fuel
Compared to what? Foreign oil is king so logically this must be the primary source for comparison. Is everyone with this false assertion including the costs of wars in Arabia in their equations? Or are they just looking at the direct cost of gas printed at the pump? It doesn't take much grey matter between your ears to comprehend that our current dependence on foreign oil is costing us a boat load in cash, and lives. We aren't in Iraq for corn and I never knew anyone being killed from detasseling. Corn based ethanol is an economical alternative fuel.

2.) Higher food prices are a derivative of increased ethanol production
Have you been to Heaven? How about Iowa? The freak'n state is an endless corn field. Because of this uniformity, Iowan farmers have the luxury of their own daily state-wide radio programs covering topics like weather, crop yields, commodity prices, etc. Typically boring, but I listen in sometimes and I have learned a few things. One, rising corn prices are not significantly increasing food prices. Take a high corn based product like cereal (which Iowa makes too) and you have about 5 cents of corn per box of corn puffs. If corn prices DOUBLE, you have 10 cents of corn per box. The increased price for corn based food is marginal at best. The real cause for increased food prices is the increased cost of diesel to truck the food from the Heartland to your city grocery store. Common sense. The farmers get it. General Mills and other local food producers get it. For some reason many consumers don’t. My advice, get out a little. What you read on the internet and the commentary you see on TV is mostly irrational drivel. When you see oil at $135 per barrel and diesel at $5, start realizing the fuel costs to truck grain to the processors (ex. Cargill) is going to be high and passed along to the consumer.

Lastly, somewhat related to the discussion so I want to include: the Iowa floods. Bad deal yes. Many people affected yes. But staying on topic, the crops that were damaged will again only have a marginal affect on food prices. 86 million acres of corn was planted nationally this year and initial projections show just a 3% crop loss due to the flood. So expect your morning corn puffs to go up in price by no more than one penny as a result, if at all. If your cereal goes up anything more than that, get serious in questioning why and stop believing what talking-heads say over and over again.




RE: For City Slickers and Kids on Computers
By Ringold on 6/18/2008 4:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
When poor, rural areas of the world have farmers bringing their crops to market via donkey power and still face vastly higher food prices, I'd say something in your "it's all diesels fault" theory is awry. On top of that, last time I looked citrus prices were down about 10% year over year, despite higher fuel costs. Strange that orange groves, essentially immune from being converted to corn fields, don't exhibit the behavior of the rest of the food commodity markets, nor do they appear to suffer much from this fuel price problem.

Interestingly, you don't at all try to deny that when about a third of the corn crop is consumed for ethanol that huge extra demand drives prices up, as well as encourages farmers to switch to corn from other crops, thus driving their prices is up.


By SandmanWN on 6/18/2008 4:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
FYI, and Im sure you know this, but Citrus is only coming down because it was artificially high after the 05/06 hurricane seasons which devastated the Florida citrus crops. Its returning to 03/04 prices as it should. Don't equate BS in your argument.


By amanojaku on 6/17/2008 6:40:12 PM , Rating: 2
Did anyone else think of South Park?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Dawn




By Smartless on 6/17/2008 7:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yep but I also thought of this one, though only slightly related.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smug_Alert%21


food to poo to gas
By Iridium130m on 6/17/2008 5:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
sounds like a better plan then food straight to gas. Hopefully there is truth and practicality to this.




e 85 and this
By fearsjohn on 6/17/2008 8:11:42 PM , Rating: 2
i think this is a good idea and it would be nice if it worked. the best way for this to work though instead of one big plant would be one smaller plant in each state or region that way you have limited transport fees to a minium.

and as far as e-85 goes i like it. i have a mustang that i am building and switching of to e85 not because it is cheaper but because it allows me to make more power in my car without the worry of detonation. the motor should be able to make a thousand horses at the wheels fairly easily on e85 which would not be attainable on 93 octane. so there are other reasons to switch to e85 besides cost. oh yeah it e85 is suppose to be cleaner as well.




Smaller plants
By Plugers on 6/17/2008 8:46:36 PM , Rating: 2
if we put 1 in every decent sized city and could all drop off our organic waste there for free it would cut distribution costs.

Maybe the landfills / garbage Co.s could get in on the action and reduce the volume of waste going in there buy either building a small plant or selling organics by the ton to these plants.




what?
By monkeyinthemiddle on 6/18/2008 12:03:43 AM , Rating: 2
no mr. fusion jokes?




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