What a great series of postings. The biofuels issue is extremely 
complex and full of so much nuance that vigorous discussion and 
consideration of all the issues are absolutely vital.

I'm pretty sure we've talked about this before, but it's 
interesting to run the numbers to see how much we would reduce oil 
consumption in this country by converting ALL of our current corn 
crop (or even this year's banter crop) into ethanol. From there, 
it's equally interesting to see what sort of fleet mileage 
standards would achieve the same result in terms of reducing oil 
consumption. To be clear, I'm not at all advocating an "either, 
or" solution, but just trying to provoke thought.

Also, it is interesting to think about which is in danger of being 
depleted first, world (or even US) oil reserves or the "fossil 
aquifers" used for irrigating corn in much of the great plains. I 
personally don't know if there is a definitive answer to this 
question, but also don't hear it talked about all that much, 

Admittedly, I have a very hard time thinking of corn ethanol as 
being all that much more sustainable than oil, but am interested 
in hearing good arguments on its behalf. The one I personally find 
most compelling is national security in the sense that we very 
well could, in the short to medium term, become somewhat less 
dependent on foreign oil sources through domestic ethanol 
production. Beyond that, perhaps it is a transitional technology 
that can pave the way for the development of cellulosic ethanol 
conversion technologies produced through much more sustainable 
source material?

Jason Evans
Ph.D. Candidate, Interdisciplinary Ecology
School of Natural Resources and the Environment
University of Florida
(352) 466-4549 - home office
(352) 328-1199 - cell

BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology Society

On Mon Apr 02 12:05:47 EDT 2007, Hala Chaoui <[log in to unmask]> 

> hi all,
> I'm a researcher in Penn State and Dr. Wilkie was nice enough to 
> add
> me to your mail list a few months ago. I learned a lot from
> everybody's messages btw! I work here on biofilters, and others 
> in my
> lab focus on bioenergy. One of the alternatives to corn-based 
> ethanol,
> it seems is switchgrass (or other plant substrate) ethanol. This
> process (still being researched) includes pre--treatment with 
> enzymes,
> or fungi producing the enzymes, to break down the fibers in the 
> grass
> into cellulose (to then be fermented). Other pre-treatments are
> ensilage. Using grass to produce ethanol requires more research, 
> and
> possible a different engineering design for teh reactors.
> My personal impression is that decision makers sometime 
> substitute
> needed research with political muscle. It's a colonizer's 
> solution,
> and an unsustainable one, to use other countries' resources to
> survive, and it's always at the "colony's" expense. One of the
> alternative things about biofuels could be that unlike fossile 
> fuels
> they would be produced in a socially and politically sustainable
> manner, without creating unfair exploitation or dependence 
> between
> countries, which all leads to political tension.
> Hala
> -- Hala Chaoui, PhD, EIT
> Postdoc, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department
> Penn State University
> On 4/2/07, Frank Leslie <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> This food/fuel fight reminds me of my father telling me about 
>> his mother saying,
>> "Eat your dinner -- just think of the starving Armenians who 
>> would be happy to
>> get it!".
>> He said he was a lot older when he realized that eating more in 
>> the US didn't
>> mean that the Armenians would get more food.
>> True, the price of food here will go up as demand for biofuels 
>> increases. That
>> will convince more farmers to plant; corn acreage is higher this 
>> year.
>> Let's also think of places like New York City, where nothing 
>> edible is grown. If
>> transportation there fails because current fuel becomes so 
>> expensive that the
>> trucks and trains no longer bring it in to be sold, the denizens 
>> of NYC will
>> have to leave unless organized crime sells food because the 
>> profits will be
>> higher than with drugs.
>> Perhaps a more holistic consideration is needed prior to blindly 
>> fighting
>> biofuels. What do you propose instead? Florida is now 
>> considering high
>> production of ethanol from biomass. Only the enviros are 
>> opposing it. Florida
>> imports over 90% of all its fuels. There's a 200 MW hydro plant 
>> near Tallahassee
>> (enviros oppose large hydro) and some solar hot water heating. 
>> Ever notice the
>> summer thunderstorms we have here that block the sun? The rest 
>> is fossil and
>> nuclear.
>>  Ideally, wastes should be reduced by putting an economic value 
>> on as much as
>> possible.
>> Frank
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Bioenergy and Sustainable Technology Society 
>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>> Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 11:43 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: Freeze the use of biofuels
>>        Turning food into fuel is quite a heavy issue. Maybe we 
>> have a societal
>> virus, and are spiraling into anthropological self-destruction?
>> --Or perhaps (hopefully) we have just developed quite a strange 
>> way of
>> perception, excluding ourselves from our environment, our place 
>> within the
>> ecological cycle. Waste it seems is the real issue.  Our wastes 
>> are not looked
>> upon as having any value at all, whereas in an ecosystem ones 
>> biological waste
>> is another's dinner.
>> But how does this relate, how can we turn our wastes into fuel?
>> Put it back in the cycle!
>> 1. Archaea. can turn animal feces, among other organic wastes 
>> into methane gas
>> (yes humans are animals) There are already LNG and CNG cars 
>> capable of running
>> on methane gas.
>> 2. Algae. can use the elemental nutrients found within our 
>> sewage waters coupled
>> with the power from the sun (photosynthesis) to produce lipids, 
>> which can be
>> turned into biodiesel.
>> ~Just two ways to bring our excessive excrement back to the 
>> biological base.
>> -scott J.E.
>> On Thu Mar 29 00:54:40 EDT 2007, Rob Brinkman
>> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >      With rising oil prices aren't there also going to be price
>> > increases in food due to all the petroleum used to produce 
>> crops?
>> >  The essential problem is not biofuels it is uncontrolled
>> > population growth, as well as wasting of all forms of energy.  
>> He
>> > is campaigning for a ban he will never get, there are far more
>> > powerful and influential forces than he who support biofuels,
>> > largely for their own financial self-interests.  I think 
>> Monbiot
>> > would have more influence to argue for restrictions on the 
>> worst
>> > unsustainable agricultural practices and for more efficient use
>> > of all fuels.  There are real issues to be concerned with, the
>> > best way to address them is to focus on those issues and not
>> > attack biofuels all together.
>> >
>> > Rob Brinkman
>> >   ----- Original Message -----   From: Fueling Station   To:
>> > [log in to unmask]   Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 7:28 PM
>> >   Subject: Re: Freeze the use of biofuels
>> >
>> >
>> >   he is a bit extreme in his views, but thought provoking
>> > nonetheless.
>> >
>> >   David Adams
>> >   The Fueling Station
>> >
>> >   Puneet Dwivedi <[log in to unmask]> wrote: Dear All,
>> >   I found this interesting article. Just thought to share with
>> > all of you.
>> >   Regards
>> >   Puneet Dwivedi
>> >   PhD Student
>> >   SFRC, UF
>> >
>> >   Link :
>> >
>> 1
>> >
>> >
>> >      ---------------------------------
>> >   The fish are biting.
>> >    Get more visitors on your site using Yahoo! Search 
>> Marketing.
>> >
>> >
>> --