Biodiesel

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Biodiesel

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Tue Apr 10, 2007 1:56 pm

A big biodiesel plant is under construction here on Oahu. Its being touted as a remedy for our dependence on foreign oil. The raw material for this stuff, palm oil, will come from Malaysia. Biodiesel currently costs about 30 cents a gallon more than regular diesel, so some enthusiastic legislators want to make it manditory here. The new taxes will come later.

The plant will employ about 50 people, so it will be a boon to our local economy. Profits will head back to the Seattle based owners.
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Postby jamiebk » Tue Apr 10, 2007 2:23 pm

According to people I met with from Chevron a while ago, they feel that palm oil is far superior to ethanol in many ways. First, it is readily available. Most of the "infrastructure" (processing plants) and equipment we already have in place will work with it. There will be little modification needed to motors etc. as opposed to ethanol which will require a redesign of most engines once the fuel percentage exceeds about 15-20%. It takes far less energy to produce it. It comes from more socio-economically stable regions. We only need to build storage tank farms to stockpile the stuff.

And besides, who would not rather smell french fries rolling down the road rather than diesel exhaust. I'm hungry already!
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Postby Haggis@wk » Tue Apr 10, 2007 4:57 pm

Hopefully palm oil won't be as egregious as corn but I fear the results will be similar to using corn to generate ethanol. no matter what you grow as the source of bio-ethanol you’re going to require artificially produced N

Unfortunately the maximum output of any modern commercial farmed crop in the U.S. without additional chemicals was met years ago. and as Robert Heinlein said, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

The great turning point in the modern history of commercial farm crops, which in turn marks a key turning point in the industrialization of our food, can be dated with some precision to the day in 1947 when the huge munitions plant at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, switched over from making explosives to making chemical fertilizer. After World War II, the government had found itself with a tremendous surplus of ammonium nitrate, the principal ingredient in the making of explosives. Ammonium nitrate also happens to be an excellent source of nitrogen for plants. Agronomists in the Department of Agriculture recommended spreading the ammonium nitrate on farmland as fertilizer. The chemical fertilizer industry (along with that of pesticides, which are based on the poison gases developed for war) is the product of the government's effort to convert its war machine to peacetime purposes.

F1 hybrid corn is the greediest of plants, consuming more fertilizer than any other crop. Though F1 hybrids were introduced in the 1930s, it wasn't until they made the acquaintance of chemical fertilizers in the 1950s that corn yields exploded. The discovery of synthetic nitrogen changed everything—not just for the corn plant and the farm, not just for the food system, but also for the way life on earth is conducted.

Today, there are some 45,000 items in the average American supermarket, and more than a quarter of them contain corn.

The amount of nitrogen required to keep production of corn (or any modern farmed food stuff) requires nitrogen and It has been less than a century since Fritz Haber's invention, (It's been said that 2 our of 5 people alive today is because of Haber; ironically he was also instrumental in Germany developing and using poison gas in WWI) yet already it has changed earth's ecology. More than half of the world's supply of usable nitrogen is now man-made.

More than even man made C, artificially produced N is profoundly affecting the world in manners that haven't been fully explained.

And guess what it takes to produce N? Yup, The heat and pressure required to "fix" N are supplied by prodigious amounts of electricity, and the hydrogen is supplied by oil, coal or, most commonly today, natural gas.

So, bio-ethanol ain't as green as some of it's supporters want to believe.

As Bobby H. said "TANSTAAFL"
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:33 pm

Haggis@wk wrote:As Bobby H. said "TANSTAAFL"

Where'd I put that polishing cloth? Where's my brass polish?

Hey, who swiped the cannon?
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Postby piqaboo » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:43 pm

Aint legumes great? Think we can talk the palm growers into crop rotation?
Legumes host nodules on their roots which are rich with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Now, how can we use the legumes as an oil source? Or perhaps press them to replace some coal? or.... eat them ???

Everything is a balance, and corn is a pig. So are some of the alternatives.
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Postby Haggis@wk » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:52 pm

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote:
Haggis@wk wrote:As Bobby H. said "TANSTAAFL"

Where'd I put that polishing cloth? Where's my brass polish?

Hey, who swiped the cannon?



That reminds me of my great grandfather who was a civil war vet. After the war he got a job for the town polishing the cannons on the courthouse lawn. After doing that for 25 years he finally saved up enough money, bought his own cannon and went into business for himself!!

Dad told that joke at every family reunion I can remember, just wanted to give it another airing in a new century.

RIP Dad!!!!!
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Postby analog » Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:58 pm

If I remember correctly what I read somewhere, probably one of Isaac Asimov's essays, Haber's synthetic ammonia was a solution to the 19th century logistical problem of shipping guano all the way from South America to Europe by square rigger.

1800's Europe was able, because of a small guano-based fertilizer industry, to populate itself beyond what its farmers could otherwise have supported during that century.

The trend continues today worldwide and at breakneck speed.

Now we've got the human food chain based on carbon energy, as Haggis has astutely demonstrated.
More than half of the world's supply of usable nitrogen is now man-made.


That's what is missing from the environmental rhetoric, consideration of what will happen to food supply if we do shut off combustion based energy.

The protesters are just clueless.
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Postby Haggis@wk » Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:53 pm

Haggis said:
"Agronomists in the Department of Agriculture recommended spreading the ammonium nitrate on farmland as fertilizer"


Actually the first suggestion from the agronomists ("agronomist" sounds like Latin for a complainer, "I'll do ya a treat, mate!!")
was to spread all the surplus N onto America's forests. I'm sure the crops would have eventually benefited but in my mind's eye I keep seeing a forest of Longleaf Pines reaching the heights of Sequoias and Sequoias becoming aviation hazards..


"sweek, squawk..Flight 710 this is Los Angles Control, maintain your heading and keep your altitude at 15,000 until you clear the Sequoias then descend to 5,000 and contact Los Angles approach…. Control out”

“Rgr control, just clearing the trees now at 12.5 and descending” Damn Bob I told you my grandfather wanted to chop down those damn things in the ‘50’s, I wish he had then…….Before you know it the Shuttle won’t be able to land at Edwards!!!!!
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Re: Biodiesel

Postby treebeau » Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:27 am

Giant Communist Robot wrote:...Its being touted as a remedy for our dependence on foreign oil. The raw material for this stuff, palm oil, will come from Malaysia...


GCR: Was that an intentional joke? Wasn't sure but the second sentence cancels out the first.

Regards,
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:33 am

Haggis, I've heard that story before. I'm pretty sure it was in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Regarding those trees and the fertilizer, I'm ever so glad they put the fertilizer on the farms instead. I still haven't recovered from all those trees they keep in the right half of the country. I'm a grassland/scrub/chaparral kind of girl, and all those trees weirded me out. They're a hazard and something otta be done about 'em.

Back in the last century, Crop Rotation was a subject touched up on in a General Science class. They 'splained how Piq's legumes, or alfalfa, or clover should be planted alternately with nitrogen-greedy crops to avoid depleting the soil. I'm fairly certain that the palm trees could have clover and alfalfa planted around them. We could even put sheeps or cattle in the palmtree grove to eat (and process and deposit) the clover and alfalfa and get milk and beef and wool and mutton out of the deal.

No goats, goats are a menace. They pull up the grass and climb the trees and eat the branches. If Lebanon didn't have goats and Romans, they'd still have cedar forests.
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Re: Biodiesel

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:10 am

treebeau wrote:
Giant Communist Robot wrote:...Its being touted as a remedy for our dependence on foreign oil. The raw material for this stuff, palm oil, will come from Malaysia...


GCR: Was that an intentional joke? Wasn't sure but the second sentence cancels out the first.

Regards,
Tim B.


Everything I wrote came directly from an article in yesterdays Honolulu Advertiser, except for where the profits are going and new taxes. I thought the juxtaposition was sort of entertaining as irony and showed their devious methods to get the public on board for another ripoff.

I think the phrase "reducing our dependence on foreign oil" is loaded with emotional appeal. If foreign oil is cheaper, it can only harm us econmically if we stop buying it. And as far as economic ties to nations that really hate us go, remember Malaysia is an Islamic country and there is no doubt where their sympathies rest. South America was also mentioned in the article as a possible future source for palm oil--here's another place gushing with love for the U.S. A small group of people can make a lot of money here---the Seattle based LLC and the state of Hawaii.
Its already law here that 20% of our electricity will have to be generated by renewable fuels. I think they were originally thinking sugar cane, but now it will be biodiesel. How does this benefit us? It means our power costs will go up. Who benefits here? Well, we've reduced our dependence on foreign oil. Yipee!
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Postby jamiebk » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:13 am

Ammonium nitrate (30.0.0 fertilizer) is too strong for palm and will burn them. Plams thrive better on natural fertilizers like fish emulsion, bone meal, or blood meal, making them perfect for "organic farming". The main problem with palm farming is the tempatation to hack down tropical forests in order to cultivate revenue producing palms (or anthing for that matter). In general, palms are an ideal crop. They do need a fair amount of water though and well drained soil to boot. Malaysia is the highest producer of Palm oil worldwide (so far). The grow well all over Southeast Asia.

Palm oil is easy to produce...it is milled rather than refined (like olive oil). It can be combined with regular diesel or used alone or mixed with ethanol ("thinning agent"). The Palm oil mill extract (POME) can be plowed back into the soil as fertilizer and soil treatment. Palm oil as a food source has many of the same characteristics as olive oil and is "heart friendly".

The stuff has been around for a long time...ever heard of Palmolive soap? It was introduced to America in 1898
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William Colgate started a candle and soap making company in New York City in 1806. By 1906, the company was making over 3,000 different soaps, perfumes and other products. For example, Colgate Dental Cream was introduced in 1877. In 1864, Caleb Johnson founded a soap company called B.J. Johnson Soap Co., in Milwaukee. In 1898, this company introduced a soap made of palm and olive oils, called Palmolive. It was so successful that that the B.J. Johnson Soap Co. changed their name to Palmolive in 1917. Another soap making company called the Peet Brothers Co. of Kansas City started in 1872. In 1927, Palmolive merged with them to became Palmolive Peet. In 1928, Palmolive Peet merged with Colgate to form Colgate-Palmolive-Peet. In 1953, the name was shortened to just Colgate-Palmolive. Ajax cleanser was one of their first major brand names introduced in the early 1940s
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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:26 am

jamiebk wrote: The main problem with palm farming is the tempatation to hack down tropical forests in order to cultivate revenue producing palms (or anthing for that matter).


It a done deal. The rainforests of west Malaysia have all been cut down and are now palm plantations. Soon they'll be eyeballing Sarawak.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:48 am

Here's a link on palm oil production:

Palm Oil Production

Apparently the palm oil trees don't grow well in the soil of Sarawak. Thailand is eyeing palm oil production, and is using Malay expertise in its exploration of the possibility. I would expect Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to follow suit.

Keep in mind that cultivation of the Indochina area was beginning under the French prior to World War II. I believe rubber was the primary crop in those days, but I could be mistaken. Many of those plantations were lost to rainforest in the decades of war that followed.

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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:42 pm

Question: If the oil palm grows successfully in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, would it be likely to grow well in Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and the rest of the Gulf Coast all the way down to the Yucatan? I seem to recall various people claiming there wasn't much difference between the climates of Vietnam and Georgia.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:52 pm

I think it has more to do with soil than climate, since the climate in Sarawak is not notably different than Malaysia.

Of course, with better living through chemistry, we should be able to chemically reproduce the nutrients that make the soil suitable for growth and produce them south of the border. I think Florida land would still be too valuable to make palm oil raising a profitable enterprise, since there are enough poverty-stricken countries in the tropics competing for the money.

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Postby jamiebk » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:59 pm

Shapley wrote:Here's a link on palm oil production:

Palm Oil Production

Apparently the palm oil trees don't grow well in the soil of Sarawak. Thailand is eyeing palm oil production, and is using Malay expertise in its exploration of the possibility. I would expect Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to follow suit.

Keep in mind that cultivation of the Indochina area was beginning under the French prior to World War II. I believe rubber was the primary crop in those days, but I could be mistaken. Many of those plantations were lost to rainforest in the decades of war that followed.

V/R
Shapley


Here's a dilemma...I have to agree with Shap :lol:

It's correct that a lot of the rainforest damage had already been inflicted in those areas. Primal rainforests have been replaced with various plantations. Replanting can occur there. Also, many leaders advocate reclaiming areas that have been heavily degraded and deforested.

According to articles I have seen...(from same link that Shap referenced above) "Retaining natural forest cover is particularly important near oil-palm plantations where forest serves as a refuge for predators of oil-palm pests and can help reduce soil erosion on hillsides and water catchment areas, while slowing and reducing water runoff".

Here is what one company is doing:

Golden Hope encourages reforestation in forested reserves, on steep slopes, and on land near catchment areas, using native species—especially those with commercial, medicinal, culinary, and ecological value. Regarding these planted areas, the company says it aims to "enhance their attractiveness and ability to sustain fauna diversity by planting food tree species already endemic in the areas" and "encouraging resting by migrating birds by building perches and retaining dead tall trees."

Their effort seem to be paying off: surveys have recorded 268 species of flora and fauna, including 87 birds and 11 mammals, in oil-palm plantations. While this is lower than those found in primary or even secondary forest areas, it represents an improvement over barren land or other monocultures.

Expanding on these concepts for concessions in other parts of Malaysia and Indonesia, governments should encourage the recovery of developed secondary forests for recreation, biodiversity, and carbon value. Through some sort of carbon-trading or "avoided deforestation" mechanism, it may be possible to compensate these firms for forest conservation efforts. Beyond this direct monetary incentive, secondary forests can yield sustainable forest products and other ecological services for plantation workers and local communities.


See?....even Shap can be ecologically minded! :wink:
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Postby Shapley » Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:31 pm

Much of the terrain in those regions is inaccessible and ill-suited to farming. This area is and probably will remain rainforest. Additionally, as Jamie noted, areas can be set aside for the retention of rainforest and other indigenous growth area, much as our national parks do here. Costa Rica is doing this now. Proper management will allow commercial use to co-exist with bio-preserves in these lands, it only requires that the governments of the areas make a commitment to do so, and that they have the ability to enforce the provisions they enact. This is one area that foreign governments are able to help without being heavy-handed - they can provide the resources to help enforce protections in those nations that choose to enact them.

Rainforests may be useful, even vital, to the environment, but they do not directly put food in the bellies of the people who live near them. For this reason, many of these people are willing to trade rainforest for cropland. If it is in our interest to preserve these areas, we have to do so in a manner that does not threaten the livelihood of the citizens of the those nations that they occupy. Here in America the early settlers razed the forests and killed the indigenous creatures that were seen as an impediment to their livelihood and survival. It took decades for us to learn that we had to leave room for nature in our world. These nations, too, will learn that lesson. I don't think we can force it on them, however.
They have as much or a right to eat and earn a living as we do, and they have the right to determine the course their nations will follow to allow then to achieve that. We can only ask and teach, and hope they make sound choices.

V/R
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Postby piqaboo » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:25 pm

I wonder which will pay better, oil palms or sugar cane, for FL farmers.
Because large parts of FL are already used for cultivation.

Lets say they swap over to oil palms. Probaby get a little price help from teh gov;t (they do for sugar), but the carribean countries would get our sugar market, and they can produce sugar much more cheaply than we do. This would lessen use of corn sweeteners, which would reduce cropland planted with corn, etc....
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Postby analog » Wed Apr 11, 2007 6:45 pm

[ where's icon for remove wet blanket from thread ].......
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