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Fueling a Revolution : Biodiesel moves almost into mainstream in Bay Area
The San Francisco Chronicle ^ | Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Michael Cabanatuan

Posted on 02/22/2007 7:16:14 AM PST by Reeses

About a year ago, Paul McNees chose to change his life by changing his fuel.

...

"I just couldn't justify filling up that tank with gasoline anymore for a multitude of reasons," said McNees, 43, citing global warming and the war in Iraq. "This has been great. It's totally cleaned out the engine. It runs great, has a lot more power. It sort of smells like french fries -- it doesn't have that noxious diesel smell."

...

Nationally, biodiesel consumption is up sharply -- from 500,000 gallons in 1999 to more than 75 million gallons in 2005. In the Bay Area, the number of customers filling up at Berkeley's Biofuel Oasis -- one of the region's few public biodiesel stations -- has climbed from about 200 three years ago to about 1,800 today.

...

Much of biodiesel's appeal stems from the fuel's ability to perform as well as petroleum diesel while emitting fewer exhaust materials that cause smog, particulate pollution and global warming. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, pure biodiesel emits 67 percent fewer unburned hydrocarbons, 48 percent less carbon monoxide and 47 percent fewer particulates but 10 percent more nitrogen oxides.

Yet, despite its benefits and growing popularity, biodiesel might not be the fuel of the future because, as demand grows, the amount of land needed to produce the oils could become untenable, experts say.

...

Researchers are looking for more productive, and sustainable, sources of biofuel -- including algae. They're focusing primarily on four types of high-oil algae -- diatoms, green algae, blue-green algae and golden algae -- that could be cultivated in farms or ponds. Oils could be extracted using chemical solvents, enzymes, expeller presses, osmotic shock or ultrasonic shock waves.

(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; US: California
KEYWORDS: algae; biodiesel; diesel; energy
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-66 next last
Long but good article on biodiesel, likely to become our primary transportation fuel. Algae grows in ocean saltwater. Petroleum originally comes from saltwater algae. California has hundreds of miles of Pacific Ocean coast, practically unlimited farmland, water, and sunshine for fuel algae production. And it's close to where the fuel is needed.
1 posted on 02/22/2007 7:16:16 AM PST by Reeses
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To: Reeses

2 posted on 02/22/2007 7:17:43 AM PST by Reeses
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To: Reeses
Nationally, biodiesel consumption is up sharply

Thanks to the 2005 Energy Bill, the growth of alternative energy markets has been phenomenal...and totally unmentioned in Republican campaigns for the most part.
3 posted on 02/22/2007 7:18:53 AM PST by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: Reeses
that could be cultivated in farms or ponds.

There's some unwritten law that 70% of Earth's surface can't be used by man. The leftists don't want technology-based solutions. What they really want is control over our lives to feed their narcissistic egos and placate their envious torment.

4 posted on 02/22/2007 7:24:04 AM PST by Reeses
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To: Reeses

""I just couldn't justify filling up that tank with gasoline anymore for a multitude of reasons," said McNees, 43, citing global warming and the war in Iraq. "This has been great. It's totally cleaned out the engine. It runs great, has a lot more power."

Mr. McNees is putting biodiesel in a gasoline engine, according to this quote, lol.


5 posted on 02/22/2007 7:26:16 AM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: Reeses
"I just couldn't justify filling up that tank with gasoline anymore for a multitude of reasons," said McNees, 43, citing global warming and the war in Iraq. "This has been great. It's totally cleaned out the engine. It runs great, has a lot more power. It sort of smells like french fries -- it doesn't have that noxious diesel smell."

So, did he switch from a gas to a diesel vehicle, and then to biodiesel? Or is he running fry grease in a gasoline engine?

More snappy reporting from the highly-educated MSM.

6 posted on 02/22/2007 7:27:07 AM PST by Disambiguator
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To: Reeses
From the article:

"Yet, despite its benefits and growing popularity, biodiesel might not be the fuel of the future because, as demand grows, the amount of land needed to produce the oils could become untenable, experts say."

I don't ever see a warning about this issue when the subject is ethanol, which is supposed to cover much of the US in new corn fields.

7 posted on 02/22/2007 7:28:15 AM PST by willgolfforfood
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To: Reeses
What is the cost comparison to the consumer?
8 posted on 02/22/2007 7:30:03 AM PST by lormand (Michael Wiener - the tough talking populist moron, who claims to be a Conservative)
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To: Reeses
 California has hundreds of miles of Pacific Ocean coast, practically unlimited farmland, water, and sunshine for fuel algae production. And it's close to where the fuel is needed.
 
California also has millions of barrels of oil a few miles offshore, easy to get to. Florida has huge clean burning natural gas deposits, Massachusetts has hundred of miles of windfarm optimum coast but all of those will get used about the same time the enviro-whackos allow a million acres of algae farming off the California coast.

9 posted on 02/22/2007 7:30:04 AM PST by azcap
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To: Reeses

Someone was telling me that you can use vegetable oil in a regular engine? Is it that simple? Much of her science is totally bogus, so I took this with a grain of salt. And frankly, if it's big in Berkeley, I am really suspicious (having lived there for a number of years).


10 posted on 02/22/2007 7:30:50 AM PST by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: P-40

Because of its high energy content, the same biodiesel can be used in jet aircraft as well as piston aircraft, trains, ships, boats, everything. It should be the top research direction. Hydrogen and ethanol for transportation use isn't as practical.


11 posted on 02/22/2007 7:31:26 AM PST by Reeses
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To: RegulatorCountry
Mr. McNees is putting biodiesel in a gasoline engine

Could be some sort of super-secret Flex Fuel engine. :)
12 posted on 02/22/2007 7:31:55 AM PST by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: Reeses

OK, cancel the questions. I could jsut read the article ....


13 posted on 02/22/2007 7:34:35 AM PST by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: Reeses

How long before we are warned of the dangers of inhaling second-hand transfats?


14 posted on 02/22/2007 7:35:26 AM PST by Bob Buchholz
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To: Reeses
Hydrogen and ethanol for transportation use isn't as practical.

LNG might be, especially in a gas turbine hybrid.

15 posted on 02/22/2007 7:35:40 AM PST by Carry_Okie (Grovelnator Schwarzenkaiser: Making fascism fashionable in Kaleefornia, one charade at a time.)
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To: azcap

What's outstanding about algae farming is it creates a closed loop system for CO2. We can use as much fuel as we want and there will be no net gain of CO2 in the atmosphere. I agree the leftists will put up a massive fight. They don't want solutions, they want to take our SUVs away.


16 posted on 02/22/2007 7:36:24 AM PST by Reeses
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To: Reeses
Everything I ever wanted to know about biodiesel, except...
The important stuff like...
How much does it cost?

Oils could be extracted using chemical solvents, enzymes, expeller presses, osmotic shock or ultrasonic shock waves.
Where does this come from, and is it solar powered? How much to these auxiliary "precesses" cost? What are the byproducts?

47 percent fewer particulates but 10 percent more nitrogen oxides.

Isn't his the nastiest stuff when it comes to the ***dreaded*** ozone hole? Won't cancers skyrocket?

Biodiesel appealed to the marginal members of society who would get it for free!
Bet that isn't happening much these days!
So many questions...
So few real answers.

17 posted on 02/22/2007 7:39:20 AM PST by Publius6961 (MSM: Israelis are killed by rockets; Lebanese are killed by Israelis.)
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To: bboop

Vegetable oil won't work in a spark ignition (gasoline0 engine. It will work in a diesel, but not for long unless further refined to remove the sugars.


18 posted on 02/22/2007 7:42:33 AM PST by Mr. Lucky
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To: lormand
What is the cost comparison to the consumer?

It currently sells for $3.65 a gallon in the high cost restrictive Bay Area. You get much more mileage out of it though than 10% ethanol gasoline. The price will come down as the technology to produce it improves and economies of scale kick in. As soon as it does the Middle East sand and dookie litterbox will cease to be a factor in American prosperity.

19 posted on 02/22/2007 7:43:30 AM PST by Reeses
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To: Reeses

The graphic above shows the prodution process using water to "wash" the biodiesel. This produces a unwanted "dirty" by-product. Our company has recently worked with a company called Greenline Industries which has a waterless system which is a very atractive aspect of their system. Check them out at this site:

http://www.greenlineindustries.com

What is interesting is that biodiesel can be made from almost any vegetable oil and is considered to be non-toxic and does not have the Haz-Mat issues that normal fuel has.


20 posted on 02/22/2007 7:44:22 AM PST by Herkyman
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To: bboop

You can use straight vegetable oil (aka SVO) in a diesel engine. It requires installing a separate tank for the SVO and some "switches". You start the engine using regular diesel and after the SVO tank is hot enough, switch over to that and then switch back over to diesel just before shutting off engine. Some companies made the "switching" process more automatic. You can go to www.greasecar.com to get more info.


21 posted on 02/22/2007 7:45:49 AM PST by trappedinnj
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To: Publius6961
Biodiesel appealed to the marginal members of society who would get it for free!

You must be thinking of used fry oil. That is the only widespread free source that I know of.

Biodiesel was selling for about twenty cents a gallon lower than regular diesel last I checked. If you are in an area that mandates the low sulfur diesel, the difference is larger from what I have seen.

And if you have a diesel engine...remember the low sulfur stuff doesn't lubricate very well...so buy the additive.
22 posted on 02/22/2007 7:46:23 AM PST by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: Reeses

"Hydrogen and ethanol for transportation use isn't as practical."

The best way to transport hydrogen is in - a hydrocarbon like gasoline. Safer, higher density, liquid so low pressure. The energy balance on ethanol is horrible.


23 posted on 02/22/2007 7:52:35 AM PST by FastCoyote
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To: FastCoyote

CA does not allow the sale of any new diesel autos..so I guess this is only available to the select few who illegaly import them or buy used cars out of state.
CA blocks diesels due to the soot causing cancer.
Until that issue is cleared up..no more new diesels for CA.


24 posted on 02/22/2007 7:57:18 AM PST by Oldexpat
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To: Oldexpat
Until that issue is cleared up..no more new diesels for CA.

Are they allowing in the 2007 diesel engines? Between that and the redesigned exhausts, they are pretty clean.
25 posted on 02/22/2007 8:03:00 AM PST by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: Reeses

Is Biodiesel not a hydrocarbon? The typical petroleum product would have a C(n)H(2n+2) structure. Is the stoichiometry that different for Biodiesel that there can be a resultant 48% reduction in CO2?

Doesn't the concept that fuels which are 'grown' are 'carbon neutral' require one to conclude that the earth's plant life can soak up any additional CO2 produced by any means? Isn't that CO2 soaked up in additional plant life regardless of whether or not we then convert that plant life back into a fuel?


26 posted on 02/22/2007 8:07:18 AM PST by posterchild (Ad astra per aspera)
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To: Reeses
"...Middle East sand and dookie litterbox..."

LOL

27 posted on 02/22/2007 8:07:44 AM PST by lormand (Michael Wiener - the tough talking populist moron, who claims to be a Conservative)
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To: RegulatorCountry
Mr. McNees is putting biodiesel in a gasoline engine, according to this quote, lol.

The country would be a much better place if we could persuade more liberals to do the same.

28 posted on 02/22/2007 8:19:05 AM PST by sionnsar (†trad-anglican.faithweb.com†|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: Reeses
Where I grew up in southwest Michigan, there are lakes that were originally 60+ feet deep, and now are little more than swamps. The muck is mainly dead vegetable matter. I wonder if that could be a huge source of biodiesel. It would restore some great fishing and boating, so it would be worth it even if it was a break-even proposition.

I assume it's not anywhere near cost-effective at this time, because searching the Internet I see no interest in it.

29 posted on 02/22/2007 8:36:54 AM PST by FlyVet
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To: Reeses
As a 30-year mechanic, I love diesel engines and the idea of running bio-diesel is very attractive. But as usual the devil is in the details.

I did some research lately and I won't bore everyone with the math. But the fact is that if we converted every acre of farm land in the US to production of rapeseed (canola), which is one of the highest oil yielding plants that is also suitable to be grown in all climatic areas of the US, it would NOT amount to enough bio-diesel to replace even the amount of diesel we currently use in this country.

That is if we use ALL of our farmland to produce bio-diesel!

We obviously won't be able to do that.

The salt water algae is interesting, but even if the greens were to allow it, I highly doubt that all of the California coast would be suitable for growing that crop. So the question there is: What are the requirements for algea-culture and is there enough SUITABLE ocean to grow it in?

There are other issues as well, but as far as I can see, the best we can hope for with bio-diesel or ethanol is to supplement petroleum and other technologies. That in it's self, though, is a valuable consideration because it can be used to offset much of what we import from the middle east, which means we would be giving fewer dollars to the Mussies who seek to destroy us!

That's the realistic view.

Goodbye farm subsidies hello bio-diesel!
30 posted on 02/22/2007 9:05:47 AM PST by Liberty Rattler (Don't tread on me!)
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To: Reeses
Biodiesel on the surface looks like a good source of energy, but once you use anything higher than B20 ( 20% biodiesel)
I understand that the emissions are much higher than a regular diesel engine.
31 posted on 02/22/2007 9:16:03 AM PST by bamaintx
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To: Reeses
"Long but good article on biodiesel, likely to become our primary transportation fuel."

Those are your words, so, in light of the facts in the article, to wit:

Yet, despite its benefits and growing popularity, biodiesel might not be the fuel of the future because, as demand grows, the amount of land needed to produce the oils could become untenable, experts say.

and,

They're focusing primarily on four types of high-oil algae.....that could be cultivated in farms or ponds. Oils could be extracted using chemical solvents, enzymes, expeller presses, osmotic shock or ultrasonic shock waves.

The terms "might not" and all the coulda, woulda, shouldas, together with those coulda, woulda, shouldas being as yet unproven economically do not make this report identify a "likely" alternative, at this point.

Too much theoretical at this point, in spite of your hype and spin with "likely"; so do you have an investment in some firm you hope will profit from the idea?

California has hundreds of miles of Pacific Ocean coast, practically unlimited farmland, water, and sunshine for fuel algae production. And it's close to where the fuel is needed.

You don't really know California do you? I grew up there.

It does not have "unlimited farmland". In fact, since almost every naturally great acre of farmland in California is presently farmed (or in the path of development), other farmers seeking land have flooded the desert between Arizona and the urban areas of Southern California with Colorado river water. But, since it is not a natural process, with 100% irrigated farming on a totally flat plain, the land becomes poorer and more toxic every year (salt simply builds up).

Except for the Pacific Ocean water, usable water, is hotly contested across the state. Southern California has none. It gets all its usable water from far east at the Colorado River and from a canal that runs all the way from the Sacramento Valley to just north of San Diego. Of course the Northern half of the State thinks the Southern half is stealing more water than it is due, and Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico all think California gets more Colorado river water than it is due. Its not plentiful, its precious, every drop; and between the current landowners and water authorities every drop is allocated and accounted for. Anyone wanting to add to the "productive" use of water for farms in California is going to have to compete and contend with everyone else who already has their water rights established. So, water is not going to be cheap, and if this new idea expects to use more of the deserts of California for its farms, that water that is available will become even more expensive.

Now the lovely liberal "greens" in Massachusettes won't let anyone put wind farms off their pristine coast, so do you really think the Hollywierd crowd is going to let anyone force them to sail their sail boats and yuaghts through algae farms?? I don't think so, and they are certainly not going to let those farms anywhere near the beaches.

As they say: California Dreamin.

32 posted on 02/22/2007 9:24:29 AM PST by Wuli
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To: willgolfforfood

What we need are high-rise greenhouses where 100 acres of corn, etc. could be raised on a foot print as small as a baseball field.


33 posted on 02/22/2007 9:26:34 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Reeses

Good news--Big Oil is investing in biodiesel. Looks like a winner and unwholesome profits forever.


34 posted on 02/22/2007 9:27:13 AM PST by RightWhale (300 miles north of Big Wild Life)
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To: Liberty Rattler
I did some research lately and I won't bore everyone with the math.

I'd find the math to be very interesting. What part of your petroleum needs would be decreased with 5% of our farmland used, etc. Please post.
35 posted on 02/22/2007 9:27:29 AM PST by posterchild (Ad astra per aspera)
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To: bamaintx
but once you use anything higher than B20 ( 20% biodiesel) I understand that the emissions are much higher than a regular diesel engine.

No, they're lower. But fuel mileage suffers a bit, and some engines have problems with rubber seals swelling and the like.

36 posted on 02/22/2007 9:31:17 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Oldexpat

Did you know that California has been below the national average for all cancer deaths for fifty years?

http://cancercontrolplanet.cancer.gov/atlas/timeall.jsp?ac=1

Click on above link and enter California in the box; try your own state.


37 posted on 02/22/2007 9:36:25 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: posterchild

You are behind the curve, modern thinking is that old oil from the ground is new CO2 and bad, but new oil from current crops doesn't have to be counted because it is from the CO2 presently in the air and emissions are a net zero.

I guess the actual measurements will have to be adjusted for this if they don't show a true reduction over time.


38 posted on 02/22/2007 9:40:16 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Reeses

Thus, my tagline.


39 posted on 02/22/2007 9:43:08 AM PST by stephenjohnbanker (Misery loves miserable company.......ask any liberal. Hunter in 08!)
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To: Old Professer

True, oil from the ground contains CO2 long ago 'sequestered.' What is the difference between that 'old' CO2 becoming new plant life vs having 'new' CO2 becoming new plant life? I agree that in the former case there is an aggregate increase in surface CO2 (as opposed to the Carbon being sequestered in the earth) compared with the latter case where the surface CO2 is constant. My question is, that if in the latter case the burning of current plant life will result in future plant life (surface sequestering of carbon) why is it such a stretch to not presume that the former case (where 'old' carbon is pulled out of the ground) will not follow the same carbon cycle and result in more plant life (surface sequestering)? If the 'Carbon' we pull out of the ground is 0.3% of the whole natural carbon cycle, we will have 0.3% more plant life. Much of this additional plant life will return the the soil. Is it really relevant that it is not deeper in the ground?


40 posted on 02/22/2007 9:53:01 AM PST by posterchild (Ad astra per aspera)
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To: posterchild

To the argument, it is crucial; to the reality it remains to be seen if we can produce enough new plants to measure a decrease in the rate of increase; if not, we must conclude that burning fuel is not the direct cause of the increase, or adjust the measurement to disguise the failure.


41 posted on 02/22/2007 9:57:20 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Old Professer

"What we need are high-rise greenhouses where 100 acres of corn, etc. could be raised on a foot print as small as a baseball field."

Yup, and we could use even more hydrocarbon fuel to drive the generators that provide the light that grows the corn. :)


42 posted on 02/22/2007 10:13:23 AM PST by FastCoyote
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To: posterchild

Since you asked, here are my notes on the subject.

The estimated transportation fuel and home heating oil used in the United States is about 230,000 million US gallons (870 million m³) (Briggs, 2004). Waste vegetable oil and animal fats would not be enough to meet this demand. In the United States, estimated production of vegetable oil for all uses is about 23,600 million pounds (10,700,000 t) or 3,000 million US gallons (11,000,000 m³)), and estimated production of animal fat is 11,638 million pounds (5,279,000 t). (Van Gerpen, 2004)

Rapeseed = 110gal/acre

Fuel used in the US:

139.9 billion gal gas in 2005

38.3 billion gal diesel in 2005


38,300,000,000 / 110 = 350,000,000 acres needed to replace diesel usage with rapeseed based bio-diesel.


Total farmland in production in 1992 in US is 435,000,000 acres (USDA 1992) Note this was in '92 see below for current acres in production. ( I don't know what amount good farm land is available but out of production, I do know, however, that vast tracts of good farm land are being converted to developments all the time. My numbers are rough but my only goal is to put the magnitude of the issue in perspective.)

These are very rough numbers that don't take into acount other petroleum products besides motorfuels and may not take into account home-heating fuel.

http://www.fas.usda.gov/info/fasworldwide/2006/07-2006/BiofuelsOverview.htm

http://www.nass.usda.gov/census/census92/atlas92/html/m081.htm

Total planted farmland down to 318,610,000acres in 2006 according to --

http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/Acre/Acre-09-12-2006.txt

Now you-all can do what ever calculations you want.

As you can see, since there is a shortfall in available acerage for growing bio-diesel, then 5% of the crop land,if used to grow rape seed, would yeild less than 5% of the total diesel currently used.

Now, there are other potential oil producing crops that have a higher oil yeild, but the type of farm land suitable for growing them is much more limited. If only those lands were used to produce only high yeilding crops, then the equation would be different. But the bottom line is still that bio-diesel cannot be considered a replacement for petroleum but only a suppliment.


43 posted on 02/22/2007 10:15:59 AM PST by Liberty Rattler (Don't tread on me!)
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To: Reeses

It seems to me that if we require them to cut down on combustible fuel use in India and China, then people in the US will not need to be concerned with these problems.


44 posted on 02/22/2007 10:17:02 AM PST by Sam Franklin (So what have we learned?)
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To: Liberty Rattler

Thanks. Nice to see that math that journalists never seem to get around to doing:)


45 posted on 02/22/2007 10:24:14 AM PST by posterchild (Ad astra per aspera)
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To: Liberty Rattler
This is why I find using cottonseed oil a great idea. We are not planting cotton specifically for the oil and are using the byproduct of the seed. it would be interesting to see how many other "secondary" use oil crops we could use to produce biodiesel and not plant specifically for the oil.
46 posted on 02/22/2007 12:09:31 PM PST by Herkyman
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To: Campion
i belive if you go and check many of the large diesel manufacture ( big diesel engines, 8 liters and larger) like the one that is the opposite of dog you will see that they recommend not to use more than B5 in their engines.
This is due to a few reason, power, performace, longevity, maintenance, fuel economy, and emission all suffer.
47 posted on 02/22/2007 12:41:13 PM PST by bamaintx
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To: Herkyman
OK, I posted my notes.

Now you tell me. How much cotton seed is currently being produced and what is it being used for? How much is available for making bio-diesel? And, how much of a dent will that make in the total fuel budget of our country?

I'm all for utilizing the resources we have efficiently. But we have to look at the big picture.

For example, in the case of "waste vegetable oil", when I was young, I worked for a number of fry-resturants. The used fry oil was never wasted but was collected by the tallow company and used to make soap, glue, and who knows what other products. The fact is that it was a by-product to us but not "waste" at all. If all "waste fry-oil" were to get made into bio-diesel, where are we to get soap from?

The devil is in the details, FRiend.
48 posted on 02/22/2007 12:47:48 PM PST by Liberty Rattler (Don't tread on me!)
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To: Reeses
They don't want solutions, they want to take our SUVs away.

Al Gore can give his up first.

49 posted on 02/22/2007 3:26:50 PM PST by pray4liberty
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To: Liberty Rattler
The fact is that it was a by-product to us but not "waste" at all. If all "waste fry-oil" were to get made into bio-diesel, where are we to get soap from?

From the same source.

How is biodiesel made?
Biodiesel is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products -- methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin (a valuable byproduct usually sold to be used in soaps and other products).

50 posted on 02/22/2007 4:08:41 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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