So in contemplating my thumbs down on bio-fuels, I realize I haven’t been fair by not mentioning where using bio-fuels would be a great idea. 

For example I was reading about these little machines that are being marketing as a home bio-fuel producers. The idea is that people will throw their excess alcohol into this machine and it will be converted to ethanol by what is basically just a mini distillery. This is not a good idea. First of all who has significant amounts of alcohol left over? I know I usually finish a beer I open.  Even if they could be exclusively marketed to frat-houses I imagine the frat boys would just drink the pure ethanol the machine produces

       A good use of the same technology is exemplified by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company who makes a great IPA among other things.  They will convert their excess bio-waste into ethanol and use that to fuel all their delivery trucks. Brilliant!

There are a great many waste products that could be fermented and distilled into fuel and utilizing that kind of synergy would not only save these companies money but could take a chunk out of fossil fuel demand.


Sierra Nevada


Triple Pundit



…in the long term

They are really good only as a quick temporary fix, tape when what we really need is glue.  When you do the math, there is simply not enough land (even counting all the forests we have yet to clear) to make this a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

It is also unlikely that we will reach a break even point any time soon in regards to the costs of production vs. those of  global demand. This means that we can only produce bio-fuels using fossil fuels at the cost they are now.  When the prices of oil and coal go up as they inevitably must, it may become impossible for the bio-fuel industry to avoid operating at a loss.

There are many negative environmental factors as well but these are all mostly under debate so I will leave those for a later date.  Bio-fuels will be a useful tool for the transition from fossil fuels to something else but are not useful as they are not truly sustainable.


Steel Insulated Panels


My father is building a house in Mass out of steel. The walls are made of super insulated steel panels supported by a steel fram and jointed with foam.

He was a little delayed in getting the heating system going but apparently all he need is four space heaters to heat a five thousand suare foot house to 60 degrres while it is -2 F outside.

This was amazing to me because I used to spend enormous amounts of money on oil heat and space heaters and I was still not that warm. 

Here is some general info about these panels: PATH Case Study

Here is the blog on the steel house: Strategy to Design

Into the water


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