Biomass to Fuel?

Solar, wind, hydro and other non-fossil sources of electricity.
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sydeskater   1 µW

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Biomass to Fuel?

Post by sydeskater » Apr 21 2018 8:59am

Solar, wind, geothermal abounds, but is there anyone with a good solution for biomass, not just burning it, but converting biomass to fuel at this point. It seems some have tried but with not much success.

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Dauntless   100 GW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Dauntless » Apr 21 2018 11:09am

You mean like biodiesel? The diesel engine was created to run on that, but the convenience of fossil fuel won out. Farmers used to make alcohol they could burn out of wastes on their land, burning some of it to distill the rest, but that becomes less and less convenient in society. If success is measured in convenience, it's not going to win out. But you can buy ready made systems to make biodiesel. They used to run trucks on gas vapors collected in a bladder on top, but so much trouble, eh? Worked just fine. When I was a kid I experimented with a pressure tank full of organics and a fire underneath, then it would run out of a line to a cooler catch tank and condense in there. I never really came up with a good engine to run on this pure alcohol, but I had my own lawnmower to play with and I could mix with gas, as was done during World War II. It's not as good as pure gas, so much for convenience.
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Cephalotus   1 kW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Cephalotus » Apr 21 2018 12:33pm

If you use 1 ha photovoltaik you can get 50-100 times more driving distance with an BEV compared to the biofuels you get out of 1ha used in a car with combustion engine.

In a world with unlimited resources biofuels would be an option.

On planet Earth they could be an interim solution for airplanes.

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jonescg   1 GW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by jonescg » Apr 21 2018 8:47pm

I think liquid fuels will still be essential for farming and agriculture. There's no way a farm can produce a few thousand tons of wheat on solar+battery powered tractors. So biodiesel makes sense in this instance. Smaller farms growing high value produce (horticulture, flowers, medicinal plants etc) could easily get away with an electric tractor.

But for these guys - liquid fuelled ICE tractors will continue to dominate the farms:
NSW farm.jpg
NSW farm.jpg (225.11 KiB) Viewed 731 times

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Hillhater » Apr 22 2018 5:58pm

I would add ocean going shipping to the list of liquid fuel dependant systems.
Current and forseeable battery systems cannot provide the energy density required for that either.
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sydeskater   1 µW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by sydeskater » Apr 25 2018 5:13pm

Dauntless wrote:
Apr 21 2018 11:09am
You mean like biodiesel? The diesel engine was created to run on that, but the convenience of fossil fuel won out. Farmers used to make alcohol they could burn out of wastes on their land, burning some of it to distill the rest, but that becomes less and less convenient in society. If success is measured in convenience, it's not going to win out. But you can buy ready made systems to make biodiesel. They used to run trucks on gas vapors collected in a bladder on top, but so much trouble, eh? Worked just fine. When I was a kid I experimented with a pressure tank full of organics and a fire underneath, then it would run out of a line to a cooler catch tank and condense in there. I never really came up with a good engine to run on this pure alcohol, but I had my own lawnmower to play with and I could mix with gas, as was done during World War II. It's not as good as pure gas, so much for convenience.
This is news to me. Biodiesel is corrosive to diesel engines and at most you can only mix up to 20% - which is really pushing it. I was wondering if there are any viable solutions for making 100% ASTM certified diesel from biomass? Thanks for your reply though.

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Chalo   100 GW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Chalo » Apr 25 2018 5:29pm

Hillhater wrote:
Apr 22 2018 5:58pm
I would add ocean going shipping to the list of liquid fuel dependant systems.
Yeah, they never did figure out how to ship stuff by sea before liquid fueled engines, did they?
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Chalo   100 GW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Chalo » Apr 25 2018 5:40pm

sydeskater wrote:
Apr 25 2018 5:13pm
Biodiesel is corrosive to diesel engines and at most you can only mix up to 20% - which is really pushing it.
What makes you think that? I know that really old diesel engine can have seals that are incompatible with biodiesel, but those are the exception. When I lived in Seattle, my wife used B99 in her '80 Mercedes most of the time. She had no engine problems at all for as long as she owned that car.
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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Hillhater » Apr 25 2018 6:05pm

Chalo wrote:
Apr 25 2018 5:29pm
Hillhater wrote:
Apr 22 2018 5:58pm
I would add ocean going shipping to the list of liquid fuel dependant systems.
Yeah, they never did figure out how to ship stuff by sea before liquid fueled engines, did they?
Oh yes, ..i remember now.....coal ! :roll:
Or we could go back to wind power !
.......i wonder why we ever dropped that idea for efficient reliable freight /passenger transport ? :roll:
Perhaps we should resort to a few thousand "low paid employees". Using oars ?
Now what is your best suggestion ?
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billvon   1 MW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by billvon » Apr 25 2018 6:23pm

Hillhater wrote:
Apr 22 2018 5:58pm
Current and forseeable battery systems cannot provide the energy density required for that either.
I have no problem forseeing the sort of battery system (combined with solar and/or wind) that could provide that energy - but it's 30-40 years out at current rates of energy density and cost improvement.

In the meantime there are still alternatives - direct wind and nuclear, to give two examples (both of which have been used before.)
--bill von

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by jonescg » Apr 25 2018 9:47pm

Modern sea-container ships travelling slower than ever before:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... -emissions

Almost as slow as sailing ships. Granted they can carry a lot more stuff, but super efficient electric / wind assisted shipping seems entirely feasible to me.

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Hillhater » Apr 26 2018 1:41am

jonescg wrote:
Apr 25 2018 9:47pm
Almost as slow as sailing ships. Granted they can carry a lot more stuff, but super efficient electric / wind assisted shipping seems entirely feasible to me.
Perfectly feasible technically, ..sail, kite, rotor, etc . and have been built recently for freight and cruise ships.
http://www.nsrsail.eu/wp-content/upload ... L_2015.pdf
..But they are not practical or economic when most commercial shipping travels at 25-30 knots.
Nuclear is the answer , but some countries do not allow nuke powered vessels in their waters, and god forbid we let countries like Liberia register or control Nuke powered vessels
New (safe) Nuke Technology is required to prevent its attraction to undesireables
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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Punx0r » Apr 26 2018 2:39am

The IMO is targeting 50% reduction in CO2 for commercial shipping by 2050, but this has been criticised as being unambitious. Analysis showed a 90% reduction should be possible. As stated above, slower speeds (comparable to sailing vessels) make a huge difference.

I did laugh a while ago when I saw a solar-powered ship project described as "the world's first ship powered by renewable energy!".

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by jonescg » Apr 26 2018 3:01am

Hillhater wrote:
Apr 26 2018 1:41am
Nuclear is the answer ...
Nuclear is an answer, but it might not be the best answer. One of the upshots of a tightly regulated nuclear industry is that you know exactly where the material is at all times (within reason). Your typical fleet of Filipino seamen will be the cheap part of the crew now that a nuclear engineer needs to be on board...

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by billvon » Apr 26 2018 2:38pm

jonescg wrote:
Apr 26 2018 3:01am
Nuclear is an answer, but it might not be the best answer. One of the upshots of a tightly regulated nuclear industry is that you know exactly where the material is at all times (within reason). Your typical fleet of Filipino seamen will be the cheap part of the crew now that a nuclear engineer needs to be on board...
I could see SMR's being used by specific shipping lines who want the reduction in fuel cost and potential higher speeds nuclear can provide, while being able to pay the much higher construction and operating costs. Cruise ships, for example, already have very high operating costs (big crew) and could afford the additional cost - since their income is high.

One option would be to have the government (or a government overseen contractor) build and crew such vessels, while leasing them to shipping companies. That was the model used by our one (and so far only) nuclear powered cargo ship, the Savannah.
--bill von

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Hillhater » Apr 26 2018 7:25pm

Punx0r wrote:
Apr 26 2018 2:39am
......Analysis showed a 90% reduction should be possible. As stated above, slower speeds (comparable to sailing vessels) make a huge difference...
Unfortunately, slower speeds also destroy the economics of the freight shipping business.
Basicly ships earn their income proportional to distance travelled and tonnage moved.
Lower speeds reduce the annual distance covered, and the number of working trips (less annual tonnage).
For shipping,..bigger and faster is more profitable.
Liquid gas would help with the CO2 factor, but it still increases costs.
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Chalo   100 GW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Chalo » Apr 27 2018 1:56am

Hillhater wrote:
Apr 26 2018 7:25pm
Unfortunately, slower speeds also destroy the economics of the freight shipping business.
Basicly ships earn their income proportional to distance travelled and tonnage moved.
Lower speeds reduce the annual distance covered, and the number of working trips (less annual tonnage).
For shipping,..bigger and faster is more profitable.
And yet, fuel is their largest operating cost-- often a majority of the operating cost. You'd think that eliminating it would also have an effect on the bottom line. Or, conversely, you wouldn't think because it hurts.

Many goods don't need to move fast if they can move slower more cheaply. Iron ore, phosphate, and petroleum are examples. They don't spoil or get undermined by fashion cycles.
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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Hillhater » Apr 27 2018 5:50am

Chalo wrote:
Apr 27 2018 1:56am

And yet, fuel is their largest operating cost--

Many goods don't need to move fast if they can move slower more cheaply. Iron ore, phosphate, and petroleum are examples. They don't spoil or get undermined by fashion cycles.
Actually, the largest operating cost for large, modern , shipping is finance costs...More than double any othrt factor.
So the more cargo they carry each year, the better....speed and size again !
You shouldnt have to think too hard to remember why sail was superceeded by steam etc.! :roll:
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Chalo   100 GW

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Chalo » Apr 27 2018 1:01pm

https://www.morethanshipping.com/fuel-c ... -shipping/

Sail worked for cargo long after steam had taken over passenger service, the same way ships still work for cargo even though air has taken over passenger service. In fact, there were commercial sailing ships running cargo well into the age of air travel (even though they had the disadvantage of needing more personnel than steam ships at that time).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS_Sedov

Improvements in mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, automation, and meteorology will bring back sail cargo better than ever, once people decide they'd rather not kill themselves for a dollar.
This is to express my gratitude to Justin of Grin Technologies for his extraordinary measures to save this forum for the benefit of all.

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by billvon » Apr 27 2018 1:13pm

Hillhater wrote:
Apr 26 2018 7:25pm
Unfortunately, slower speeds also destroy the economics of the freight shipping business.
Not at all. Some commodities (foods, high tech) are indeed schedule dependent. But oil? Ore? IKEA furniture? White goods? Cheaper, slower shipping means that companies save money on goods that are not time-dependent - and that is a good thing for them.
Basicly ships earn their income proportional to distance travelled and tonnage moved.
Lower speeds reduce the annual distance covered, and the number of working trips (less annual tonnage).
More slower, cheaper ships solves that problem.
--bill von

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Re: Biomass to Fuel?

Post by Punx0r » Apr 27 2018 1:25pm

Hillhater is correct, slower cargo ships (certainly the current kind) are indeed a bad thing for the operators. They cost a lot of money to build and have a finite lifetime so they want to amortise that fixed cost across as many tonnes of cargo as they can and I understand it outweighs the increased fuel cost of running quicker.

That situation may well reverse if/when bunker oil gets banned and/or carbon taxing is applied to their fuel or exhaust emissions.

That said, sea freight is very cheap. It probably wouldn't hurt much if it increased a bit due to slower sailing speed.

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