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Alternative Fuels Progress...And Some Myths  
User currently offlineExusair From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 684 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2213 times:

A few months ago we had a post asking what the future of aviation fuels held and some ideas floated included hydrogen and some other exotic fuels. While those types of powerplants are being looked at, the infrastructure for supplying such fuels has yet to be built and only adds to the cost of switchover which delays shortterm implementation.

I thought I'd mention what type of research has been ongoing and it seems the solution was discovered over 60 years ago in Nazi Germany, of all places. The shape of the war for Germany was directly related to their need for oil, the African offensive and the push into Romania and the Caucuses. Borne at home was a push for a fuel that was synthetic and could be used interchangably in the engines of their war machines.

Fisher-Tropsh was created for this purpose, the creation of a liquid fuel made from coal, and a process which has been refined over the years in South Africa of all places. South African firm Sasol has been producing a blend of fuel with Jet A and a coal derived kerosine. In fact its been used by carriers in/out of JNB for the past seven years at a 70/30 blend without any problems. Pratt and Whittney has been working with Sasol to produce and certify a 100% synthetic fuel, and approval is expected in the next month or two.

The USAF has been testing a 50/50 blend on a B-52 and it has found that the engines burn fuel at a lower temperature, which means longer intervals between overhaul as well as a more efficient engine. It also found the engines produce less carbon emission, up to 90% less according to research.

Information shared is from Air Transport World, May 2007 " Fueling The Future" by Jerome Greer Chandler.

Also found an interesting article regarding ethanol. Brace yourself because it is not what it is hyped up to be.....

Link:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/art.../05/the_many_myths_of_ethanol.html

11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKhobar From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2379 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2155 times:

Interesting, but there are enough inaccuracies to take the article with more than a pinch of salt. Perhaps the biggest inaccuracy is the blanket statement that ethanol comes from corn (implying that corn is the only source). It can, but not all of it does, and corn certainly isn't the most efficient source of it.

I am intrigued, however, by the claim that virtually "all studies show that the greenhouse gases associated with ethanol are about the same as those associated with conventional gasoline once we examine the entire life cycle of the two fuels." And it appears to have some truth to it as even NPR agrees:

"And in fact making and using ethanol does almost nothing to lessen the amount of greenhouse gases that warm the atmosphere."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5173420

Just a quick check reveals much of the problem to be corn. Ethanol supporters say the answer is cellulosic ethanol. They say it doesn't require forced irrigation or fertilizer, but I have to wonder - where would they then grow all the sugar cane or sawgrass without changing the existing environment?


User currently offlineKL577 From Netherlands, joined Oct 2006, 775 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2143 times:

Quoting Khobar (Reply 1):
Just a quick check reveals much of the problem to be corn. Ethanol supporters say the answer is cellulosic ethanol. They say it doesn't require forced irrigation or fertilizer, but I have to wonder - where would they then grow all the sugar cane or sawgrass without changing the existing environment?

There is no space for that, in fact bio-fuels are the nail in the coffin for the last tropical rainforests in Asia, Africa and America as well as eating out of the capacity to feed our envisioned 10-12 billion people in 2050. Branson's suggestion (in the earlier thread) to grow crops for biofuels in Africa is absurd. Land-use intensity for agriculture in many parts of Africa is already 100% in many parts of the continent.

It is impossible to satisfy our energy (and aviation fuel) needs from biofuels, and somebody needs to tell these politicians (and Branson) quick before the last pristine forests are cut to produce ethanol to fly a VS B787.


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8491 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2128 times:

Ethanol is a complete and utter joke. It does not save the environment and it does not save money. It does, however, make corn growers rich the more we use it. So of course they will go on and on about it.

How can coal release fewer hydrocarbons and co2 than kerosene? Seems unlikely. If it were so easy, we wouldn't bother with oil anymore at $70/bbl.

More to the point, there is plenty of energy already, and plenty of oil. We just insist on using too much of it for luxury purposes like personal cars. 90% or so of the world cannot have cars because they are too poor. There is not a public right to own a car. In fact, the costs of this pollution should be paid by car and jet owners. Otherwise, they are stealing natural capital from the human race as a whole, much like bank robbery.


User currently offlineKhobar From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2379 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2115 times:

Quoting KL577 (Reply 2):
It is impossible to satisfy our energy (and aviation fuel) needs from biofuels, and somebody needs to tell these politicians (and Branson) quick before the last pristine forests are cut to produce ethanol to fly a VS B787.

II don't think ethanol is a good fuel for aircraft - not without impacting the range/payload at least. And ethanol would do zip to counter the environmental impact of aviation.

Here's an interesting article, at least on the surface: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/02/range_fuels_to_.html


User currently offlinePoitin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2075 times:

Quoting Exusair (Thread starter):
Also found an interesting article regarding ethanol. Brace yourself because it is not what it is hyped up to be.....
l



Quoting Flighty (Reply 3):
Ethanol is a complete and utter joke. It does not save the environment and it does not save money. It does, however, make corn growers rich the more we use it. So of course they will go on and on about it.

How can coal release fewer hydrocarbons and co2 than kerosene? Seems unlikely. If it were so easy, we wouldn't bother with oil anymore at $70/bbl.

Ethanol can be made from just about any plant material you can think of, including wood. There are bacteria (ask any termite) that reduce cellulose to glucose which can then be made into ethanol.

While it is possible to fuel an airplane with ethanol, you have the interesting problem of the heat value per gallon of ethanol being so much lower than kerosene that you will reduce your range by 30 or 40%

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/solar.renewables/alt_trans_fuel/attf.pdf

See table A2 on page 40

So, yes, ethanol as a fuel is a joke, even if you could find the bio mass to make it. The only thing the government is doing by requiring ethanol to be mixed into gasoline is increasing the cost of meat, which is also made from corn.


User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 6, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2057 times:

When thinking of F-T keep thinking about 30% thermal efficiency of the FT process (that is your liquid products contain about 30% of the energy content of the feed coal) and think expensive process. SASOL has now switched part of its plant to methane feedstock imported from neighbouring Mozambique.

But yes, wartime Germany had it sorted out, just those pesky bombs kept on wrecking things!!


User currently offlineSEPilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 6897 posts, RR: 46
Reply 7, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2039 times:

Oil from coal, tar sands, and oil shale I believe are going to be the primary fuels of the forseeable future. The other hot possibility is synthetic oil from organic waste; there are several promising technologies for that being developed. Ethanol will take its place with snake oil, and Al Gore will be forgotten as soon as it becomes obvious that his hot air is the only human cause of global warming. Disclaimer: I have posted all I am going to post on the subject of global warming; anyone who wants to debate it off the forum can e-mail me or send me a private message.


The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
User currently offlineLaddb From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 220 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2031 times:

The reason Ethanol and bio fuels is so popular right now is that the plants used to turn the bio mass into ethanol are powered by coal or natural gas and reduces the dependence on foreign oil. As others have said, it does NOT lessen pollution and I'd argue that it probably increases stress on the planet. BTW, Sugarcane growing has had very negative impacts on the environment in Louisiana and Florida. Lake O in Florida is polluted almost entirely due to fertilizer runoff from the sugarcane industry.

Biomass, wind power, direct solar, hydroelectric, and all "renewable" energy sources obtain their energy from the sun, but over a short time period (ie., one growing season), thus are low density fuels that require huge amounts of real estate. They will never replace coal, oil and nuclear.


User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 4000 posts, RR: 34
Reply 9, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 1980 times:

Ethanol is very popular in Sweden as a car fuel. Especially because you don't have to pay the congestion tax in Stockholm if you drive an ethanol car. The fuel used is E95 which is 95pc ethanol and 5pc petrol. There are two problems. First the mieage per tank is much lower, you get 400kms to a tank instead of 600 kms with petrol. The other problem here in the frozen North is that ethanol cars do not start in the winter. When the temp goes below M5 deg C the ethanol fuel does not light up in the engine. You must fit a sumpheater to warm up the engine, and find a plug to plug it in to. This is OK if you are at home, but not many plugs out on the street!
So people buy ethanol cars for the tax rebates, and then fill them with petrol for 6 months of the year.


User currently offlineADent From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 1379 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 1975 times:

There are many biofuels out there and Ethanol from corn is a bad idea made popular in the US by ADM, Cargill, and the corn lobby.

BioDiesel from Canola (aka Rapeseed) gets you more than twice the amount of fuel per acre and there are better choices.

Ethanol from sugar (as Brasil does it) is not nearly as bad - but I guess sugar doesn't grow well in the US Midwest.

The US has a LOT of coal, so even with its low efficiency Jet Fuel from Coal may be the future in a world very short on oil.


User currently offlinePoitin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 1960 times:

Quoting TristarSteve (Reply 9):
Ethanol is very popular in Sweden as a car fuel. Especially because you don't have to pay the congestion tax in Stockholm if you drive an ethanol car.

You summarize the problems with ethanol as a fuel nicely. And why it is so popular.


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