Interesting Bio-fuel solutions


Guest Post by Maria Kruk, an author for

Search of new renewable energy solutions has embraced most of the countries recently. Indeed, growth of oil and gas prices and shortage of fuel deposits contributed a lot in referring to alternative power facilities, such as solar stations, wind farms and tidal power systems. However, these are the prerogative of those lands possessing suitable climate conditions and favoring national policy. On the contrary, the other states have many benefits for biofuels production, converting wastes and unnecessary materials into promising energy resources. Some examples testify on how creative and effective new technologies might be.

Germany is a vivid example of how biofuels might invest in national energy balance. For several decades German scientists have been working on biofuel technologies, and some of the concepts alerted governmental attention. To date, economic discussions are engaged in related issues, which are focused on how to make biofuels cheaper.  One of the received results is directed on car fuels production out of agricultural and wood wastes. The released technology features synthetic gasoline made of sawdust and straw, including two major stages: gathering basic material straightforward on farms and timber factories and gasoline production on the plant. Its price is expected to be 0,5 Euro per liter and the first supplies are scheduled on 2012.

Wageningen University and Research Centre in Ukraine is working on the concept of thermal and electrical energy from biomass gathered in Chernobyl restricted zone. It is appropriate to mention that this country still copes with consequences of tragic events of April 26th 1986, when there was a huge explosion on the local nuclear plant. However, biomass is offered to be cultivated on the lands cleared from radioactive effects.  All in all, the idea of any activity in Chernobyl zone is quite unpleasing and it might influence negatively on reputation of Ukrainian businessmen. Many scientists conclude that this area should be a testing ground for scientific experiments and investigations for many decades in future.

In contrast, Ukraine can boast of certain biomass advancement. It is the first country in Eastern Europe to establish a production of mobile industrial facilities that convert organic wastes into fuel pellets. These biofuel complexes, called “Forward”, are embedded on the truck platforms. Forward’s average capacity is about 2 tons per hour. The other advantage of these mobile platforms is their cost, which twice cheaper than foreign equipment – 300 thousand dollars.

During recent decades many countries in Europe opened huge biodiesel plants, using different primary materials. One of them is located in Spanish port Ferrol with a total capacity of 200 thousand tons of biodiesel fuels per year. It produces biodiesel from refined and unrefined vegetable oil, mainly soybean and canola oils. Giant biomass recycling plant was put in commission in Kalundborg city in Denmark. This facility performs several important tasks, which include recycling wheat straw, corn stalks and cobs, sugar bagasse and grass; usage of waste steam in biomass production and manufacturing lignin biofuel. Palm oil and rapeseed oil and animal fats are used in three biofuel plants in Rotterdam, which belong to Neste Oil Corp (Finland).  Their total capacity is 800 thousand tons of biodiesel annually.


Book or Kindle?

How Many Trees Will the Kindle Save?

The festive season during late 2011 could have been called the gadget season as tablet computer owners increased from 10% to 19% of the US population from mid December 2011 to early January 2012. The same figures applied to owners of eBook readers – Amazon don’t and won’t say exactly how many Kindles they sold. Some people bought both. An incredible 29% of people (up from 18%) now own at least a tablet or an eBook reader – that’s almost one in three of the entire population according to the figures from

So how many trees are being saved by Americans reading books on either their dedicated eBook reader or via software on their tablet computer?

How many trees to make a book?

There isn’t an easy mathematical equation to definitely show how many trees are needed to make a book because there are too many unknown figures in the equation. Trees vary in size both in height and width, even within the same species. Books vary in size in both size and length – number of pages, making it impossible to give a simple answer to the question, but some experts have taken averages into account to show some results.

How far does one cord go?

You may not have heard of the measurement cord, but one cord of dense hardwood, air-dried, produces 942 copies of a 100 page hardcover book. TAPPI, who provided the figures, based their results on roughly 15 trees with a 10 inch diameter to make up one cord. If you click on the link you will find out more about the tree to book making process.

Working backwards, that means each tree makes around 60 100-page books, but as the average novel appears to contain around 300 pages, each tree makes about 20 books. If you have been reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy concerning his heroine Lisbeth Salander, you will know that each tree will provide just over 3 sets of the trilogy. 65 million of you have bought the set so let us hope more now have it in the shape of an eBook file rather than downing a full forest to provide for the book’s paper.

The cost of maintaining a Kindle

The cost of books bought – mostly as paperbacks from your grocery store – is close to the cost of downloading an eBook from your favorite online store, be that for your iPad, your Kindle, your Nook or Sony reader. However, there has been a surge in books available in eBook format at anything from 99 cents to less than three dollars. Your local Wal-Mart won’t sell you a paperback at less than 4 dollars.

There has been a general encouragement to read more books because they are priced so cheaply in the electronic version. As eBook readers mostly store at least 1,000 books, it will be easier to take enough books on vacation without affecting the ever dwindling baggage allowances. Therefore, the eBook reader will save you money over the traditional paperback purchase in weight allowance alone. More importantly, your carryon baggage can be considerably lighter as each paperback weighs more than an eBook reader and most avid readers carry at least two in fear of having nothing to read.

The lowering of weight on the airplane per passenger will reduce the weight of the airplane which means they will gain more miles to the gallon of air fuel. You should not wait around to collect your cheaper ticker based on this assumption.

Your Kindle or other eBook reader still needs to be charged. That costs electricity even if you charge from your laptop computer. It may only be a trickle, but there are several million more trickles going out through the system since the festive season. However, this needs to be balanced against the costs of making a paperback which uses more energy than charging an eBook and the time spent online downloading a new book or two.

Who wins?

Even if you balance up the cost of making the eBook reader and the cost of charging the gadget, a lot less energy is being used compared to the process of making paperbacks. You will still buy paperbacks, but only if your choice of downloading provider doesn’t have the book in its store.

Demi Relf is a self-confessed bookworm but always felt guilty about the paper she was consuming. After a decade of reading only second hand books on her organic latex mattress, she can now read books without endangering a single tree.

Bio-Fuels are bad part 3: Ethanol

ethanol is bad

In addition to causing more green house emissions in the process of creating ethanol from corn and not getting better gas mileage, apparently ethanol causes expensive damage to engines, the fuel pump in particular.  Which makes perfect sense considering that alcohol can be corrosive to plastic and rubber.

So when you see a picture of corn on the side of the gas pump, it’s a bad sign.

Detailed Article

save the rainforest

If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks,” warned Holly Gibbs, of Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment.



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.


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