Ethanol fuel without the need to use food crops
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  1. #1
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    Icon14 Ethanol fuel without the need to use food crops

    There is an interesting discussion on this process stemming from a Stanford University published paper.

    Stanford scientists discover a novel way to make ethanol without corn or other plants

    Stanford University scientists have found a new, highly efficient way to produce liquid ethanol from carbon monoxide gas. This promising discovery could provide an eco-friendly alternative to conventional ethanol production from corn and other crops, say the scientists. Their results are published in the April 9 advanced online edition of the journal Nature.
    “We have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure – a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction,” said Matthew Kanan, an assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford and coauthor of the Nature study.
    In Australia most ethanol is produced from Cane Sugar, but this new chemical process uses novel electrodes.

    Two years ago, Kanan and Li created a novel electrode made of a material they called oxide-derived copper. They used the term “oxide-derived” because the metallic electrode was produced from copper oxide.

    “Conventional copper electrodes consist of individual nanoparticles that just sit on top of each other,” Kanan said. “Oxide-derived copper, on the other hand, is made of copper nanocrystals that are all linked together in a continuous network with well-defined grain boundaries. The process of transforming copper oxide into metallic copper creates the network of nanocrystals.”
    Link to discussion on the paper;-

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    Making ethanol without the need to waste food crops | Watts Up With That?

    Some interesting contributions from highly qualified scientists and chemical engineers on the possible spin-offs in development of alternative fuels that would be convenient to either supplement conventional petroleum fuels or as suitable fuels of the future.

    I note that Hydrogen is also a by product of the process, but not the primary focus of the study and of course the basic need for an electrical supply to drive the process and if that could be either used to balance out renewable sources like wind and solar in conjunction with conventional power generation systems or better still devoted to making the fuel as its own by product or as one commenter suggested act as an massive energy storage system (Battery concept) this could overcome a major problem of energy availability when wind or solar cannot produce, (Night, overcast or windless days) could be a win, win, solution.

    I am sure that if the process is further developed it has potential for other domestic fuels, of course there are some who don't see the potential. Another point raised but not in relation to this chemical reaction process is a link to another process whereby Ethanol or proponol can be produced from Natural gas. There is currently an over production of Natural Gas (World Glut!).

    For those of us that want to keep our motors cars fuelled, it looks like in terms of alternatives we are faced with increasing rather than decreasing sources of useable Energy.

    Much better than using food crops like corn that could feed the hungry/poor of our world.

    Worth a read and some thought!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenfuego View Post
    There is an interesting discussion on this process stemming from a Stanford University published paper.
    In Australia most ethanol is produced from Cane Sugar, but this new chemical process uses novel electrodes.
    Link to discussion on the paper;-
    Making ethanol without the need to waste food crops | Watts Up With That?
    Some interesting contributions from highly qualified scientists and chemical engineers on the possible spin-offs in development of alternative fuels that would be convenient to either supplement conventional petroleum fuels or as suitable fuels of the future.
    I note that Hydrogen is also a by product of the process, but not the primary focus of the study and of course the basic need for an electrical supply to drive the process and if that could be either used to balance out renewable sources like wind and solar in conjunction with conventional power generation systems or better still devoted to making the fuel as its own by product or as one commenter suggested act as an massive energy storage system (Battery concept) this could overcome a major problem of energy availability when wind or solar cannot produce, (Night, overcast or windless days) could be a win, win, solution.
    I am sure that if the process is further developed it has potential for other domestic fuels, of course there are some who don't see the potential. Another point raised but not in relation to this chemical reaction process is a link to another process whereby Ethanol or proponol can be produced from Natural gas. There is currently an over production of Natural Gas (World Glut!).
    For those of us that want to keep our motors cars fuelled, it looks like in terms of alternatives we are faced with increasing rather than decreasing sources of useable Energy.
    Much better than using food crops like corn that could feed the hungry/poor of our world.
    Worth a read and some thought!!
    Hi Kenfuego
    It sounds good and not using food or arable land sounds good too

    But some cynical comments on ethanol. How will pollies make a "living" if there are no Gov handouts to get for their mates.
    There is no overproduction of natural gas Our pollies say we will run short of it next year if we do not allow drilling for coal seam gas here

    Solar and wind may be able to supply the energy but only if any one in control has foresight. Not bloody likely anywhere I look

    Where is the profit for Big Oil in this. No way

    jaahn

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenfuego View Post
    Much better than using food crops like corn that could feed the hungry/poor of our world.

    Worth a read and some thought!!
    That may be the problem .... too many people.

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBN View Post
    That may be the problem .... too many people.

    John
    Welcome to Aussiefrogs, Your Highness!

    I think you're reading off the same page as Prince Phillip, John!
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    Icon13 Not quite ready yet, I think..

    Doesn't look like the process is getting m ore than a luke warm reception, the chemists seem to be knocking the underlying process, the professors and practical scientists seem to feel there are spin offs that may make the research lead to a viable product - eventually..

    The optimist or pragmatic scientific view.

    rgbatduke says:
    April 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm
    The advantage that fossil fuels have is that the energy input process has already been done when we dig the stuff out of the ground. Can the cost of generating ethanol this way compete with the cost of refining oil? I seriously doubt it.
    At the conversion efficiencies they suggest in the top article, possibly. All it appears to require as input is electricity (plus water, catalysts, and sources of CO and/or CO_2 gas. One could indeed imagine setting up closed-system loops where the source of the CO/CO_2 is the burning of the ethanol produced, so that one is basically using the ethanol only as a means of energy storage.
    But the beauty of research is that nobody will implement this as production technology unless it IS able to find some economic niche where it is cost-advantageous. It might not be advantageous now, but in fifty years it might be. It’s just like our ability to synthesize gasoline or diesel out of coal — marginally unprofitable by design as long as it is cheaper to directly mine oil than to mine coal and convert it into oil, but as the relative scarcity of one rises compared to the other, that could change.
    The real problem with the process is that I’ll wager it doesn’t work very well given only the CO or CO_2 levels available in the atmosphere. I’m guessing that it works with a basically saturated CO level in the water. Concentrating the gas in the water to make a suitable catalytic feedstock (and then distilling out the resulting ethanol) are both going to substantially add cost.
    OTOH, maybe they’ll figure out how to make an integrated nano-material fabric that can be stretched into sheets and laid out in solar cells. As long as the sheet is kept damp and in the sun, it pulls CO_2 from the air, combines it with water on the sheet, and gives off ETOH, which floats up to the top of the panel and into a condenser coil so that all day long, ethanol accumulates at the bottom. Once again, rates and efficiencies are key, but a passive pay-once-use-forever catalytic sheet that produced liters of ethanol per square meter of collector per suitable time unit with nothing added but water, that would be an attractive thing.
    rgb

    Rud Istvan says:
    April 10, 2014 at 6:25 am
    There are a number of these developments, all with promise and limitations. Bioengineering includes Sapphire (algae) and Joule (Cyanobacteria). To solve water [problem in high insolation] areas, need bioreactors. And need CO2 as feedstock . Synthesis route include from methanol, methane and carbon monoxide. This appears a hopeful step away from Fischer Tropsch methods. There is another synthetic catalyst company able to make diesel direct from methane that will have a pilot plant next year.
    So lots of thought going into inventive ways to produce viable fuels, but lots of hurdles to overcome, still its good that they are setting their minds to alternatives and mindful of diverting food crops to ethanol production.

    Though from the thread the Corn farm lobby is hell bent on getting their way and the subsidies and tax breaks they need to continue with a lucrative alternative?? at any price and it seems they have the ear of the politicians in the USA! .

    Perhaps some middle ground will be reached in the emerging technologies that they can ethically adapt and work with each other.

    Ken

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    Ken - ethanol is made in Queensland by fermenting molasses - not from growing product instead of food crops. Sugar Mills have been recycling by-product from the production process for years. Bagasse (the leftover fibrous material once the cane syrup has been extracted has been used for years to power the sugar mill's boilers. The boilers have been supplying the typical mill's complete power needs as well as selling to the grid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2353 View Post
    Ken - ethanol is made in Queensland by fermenting molasses - not from growing product instead of food crops. Sugar Mills have been recycling by-product from the production process for years. Bagasse (the leftover fibrous material once the cane syrup has been extracted has been used for years to power the sugar mill's boilers. The boilers have been supplying the typical mill's complete power needs as well as selling to the grid.

    ABOUT CSR ETHANOL | Sucrogen BioEthanol
    Absolutely! never suggested anything different, Australia and Brazil both big producers, the Stanford process was addressing the USA corn ethanol program, that many see as poorly thought out, driving up corn prices, though some producers counter that the corn used to make ethanol is not a food product. The corn lobby of course wants more subsidies and support especially from the American President, so lots of spin and promotion on the issue.

    Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenfuego View Post
    Absolutely! never suggested anything different,

    Ken
    obviously, some of us mistook the meaning of the words

    "Ethanol fuel without the need to use food crops"

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    Icon10 So many cherry's to pick,,,,,,,

    Quote Originally Posted by alexander View Post
    obviously, some of us mistook the meaning of the words

    "Ethanol fuel without the need to use food crops"
    That's just the American headlines alexander, just read the article it doesn't take much comprehension on your part, though I suppose most will see where you are coming from.

    Pretty simple really, scientists inventing a process that may well provide for alternative ways to alternative fuels without compromising food supplies in the search for new fuels.
    Interesting potential now what did you think of the other processes and research as mentioned in the quote by Rud Istvan, I guess you would have read up on all those too!

    Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenfuego View Post
    Absolutely! never suggested anything different, Australia and Brazil both big producers, the Stanford process was addressing the USA corn ethanol program, that many see as poorly thought out, driving up corn prices, though some producers counter that the corn used to make ethanol is not a food product. The corn lobby of course wants more subsidies and support especially from the American President, so lots of spin and promotion on the issue.

    Ken
    I would say the use of corn particularly corn syrup in food is degrading the food to a level that it is becoming toxic and leading to the consumers ill health. Maybe using up all the corn for ethanol production would see a drop in diabetes, and the reduction in girth and weight of much of the population. Smaller and lighter people can allow downsizing from Ford F350's to Hyundia I30's with the commensurate savings in fuel economy (wherever that fuel is sourced from).


    John (Johnny crack corn, and I don't care)

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