The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
The Forum - On Line Opinion's article discussion area



Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Main Articles General

Sign In      Register

The Forum > Article Comments > All the options under the sun > Comments

All the options under the sun : Comments

By John Mathews, published 14/7/2006

Biofuels is a solution to greenhouse gas emissions and is more appealing than Howardís nuclear option.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. ...
  7. 9
  8. 10
  9. 11
  10. All
Sounds good, in reality it won't work. Number one problem is government obsession with maintaining the monopolies of multinational oil companies at our expense.

Ethanol's only good to a point, considering the current effects of cane growing on the great barrier reef, having more of the same will only lead to more enviro degradation. Approaching it as John Matthews proposes is stupid in the extreme, solving nothing, only creating more problems and keeping the price of fuel at exorbitant levels.

The only approach is promoting the growing and production of biodiesel crops, which is not only better for engines, but doesn't pollute, uses many different crops and can be processed on site or locally. This would reduce transport costs, increase farm incomes dramatically and improve the environment.

Virtually all seed producing plants provide usable oils. Wild radish (a weed) produces about 48% usable oil, when converted using common drain cleaner and ethanol or methanol, it becomes a better fuel than petro diesel. With little pollution, better lubricity, cleaner operation, longer engine life and very little change in power. It also replaces fossil lubricants, by-products can be used in plastics, soaps, chemicals and as stock feed, It's biodegradable and won't effect water or the environment, isn't caustic and not flammable as ethanol and petro fuels are. Our Native flora producers huge amounts of oils that are easily obtained without effecting nature.

Our government has scrapped research, subsidies and stuck this new industry with regulations and taxes that make it more expensive than fossil fuels, when the reality is we can produce and distribute it locally for less than 80c a litre.

It appears to me that John Mathews is an apologist for the elite, this article is another attempt to discourage us from removing monopoly control from the oil conglomerates. A professor of strategic management, give me a break, the only strategy in this article is to push an agenda he knows has no hope of getting off the ground.

Governments don't support anything, other than full control by their masters, multinational corporations
Posted by The alchemist, Friday, 14 July 2006 10:17:25 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Well...yes and no, John Matthews.

Certainly bio-fuels is a better option, both financially and socially, than the nuclear one.

Bio-fuels have a part to play in the energy mix of the future, but let's not get too starry eyed about the role agricultural crops can play.

It is claimed that if Australia converted all of its export grain crops into alcohol we would supply one fifth of this nationís transport energy in one blow. Sounds great, until we learn that Australia is one of the few nations in the world having a large net surplus of exported food.

At present agricultural lands the world over are under stress from the demands placed on them for food production. So are natural forests, being decimated to make create more arable land.

Now what will happen if we place huge, competing demands on agriculture, to supply crops for energy supply?

Sooner or later we discover there is no free lunch in energy supply. We find that there is a major downside to every choice we make.

So long as our per capita energy consumption is way, way above sustainable levels, we in Australia should get off this mindless, masculine power trip. Shifting from one energy source to (even arguably more benign) ones does not confront the real global energy crisis we have before us.

Dependence on energy is our addiction. Oil has been our drug. Withdrawal has to be our starting point. Satiating our dependence with other fuels should not be our prime focus.

Good on you for your cheerful certainty, John. By all means promote bio-fuels. But, in doing so, please donít turn a blind eye to its gross limitations.
Posted by gecko, Friday, 14 July 2006 11:17:19 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Well, it's easy to wave one's hands in the air and allege that a particular technology is the solution to all our problems. But where are the numbers?

Mathews comments "the bio-reactors could use crushed cane as their energy source, so there is no net energy consumption."

One would certainly hope that a purported fuel source was a net producer of energy (ignoring the free energy input from the sun). So it sounds as if Mathews thinks that the only energy inputs are those required for running the reactor. There are many others, such as the energy required to move the feedstock from where it's grown to the reactor, and to move the fertiliser output back to the fields. Then there's the energy to run the farm gear required to plant, fertilise, and the harvest the feedstock. Next we have the energy required to build the bio-reactor, the farm equipment, and the trucks that move the feedstock and fertiliser around. The list goes on.

Even if the net result is a positive energy production, something that still seems to be an open question, these energy inputs reduce the net energy production, which in turn increases the cost of the energy produced. If the economics of biofuel really stood up that well, we'd be running our cars on ethanol now. I notice that we're not.

The same lack of rigour is visible in Mathew's criticism of the economics of Nuclear power. By suggesting that the power stations require a subsidty during construction, and during production, Mathews is double counting. The most detailed study todate indicates that a subsidy is required to address the startup risks, but that the underlying cost of production is very competitive.

BTW, Mathews should learn the difference between "ml" and "Ml". I doubt he really meant millilitre. Getting it wrong could be a typo. Twice indicates ignorance.

Sylvia Else.
Posted by Sylvia Else, Friday, 14 July 2006 11:45:31 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Just looking at sustainable food supply in isolation (leave personal transport out of the picture for now).

My notional understanding is that pre-oil farmers had to devote one quarter of their farmland to feeding their motive power - horses, bullocks.

I also read that for every calorie of food energy consumed, a well managed farm (pre-oil) could produce 10 calories of food energy for distribution. If so, that was a worthwhile "profit".

Now I am told that we squander far more calories of oil energy (ancient sunlight) than is produced by our crops, no matter that our modern farming is "intensive". In other words, we may have been operating at a loss for decades, subsidised by free oil energy (yes, it was free, because we didn't have to create it).

Questions:

1. Using mechanised farming equipment, what proportion of our arable land will required to produce the fuel to farm the rest?

2. Can we go on farming "intensively" in the present manner?

3. Should we be addressing the crucial matter of food before worrying about personal transport?

4. Should there be major research into these fundamentals undertaken by a de-politicised CSIRO?

- any experts out there at all? Hello!
Posted by Chris Shaw, Carisbrook 3464, Friday, 14 July 2006 12:45:10 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
It seems odd to conflate nuclear energy largely for electricity with biofuels for vehicles, though I think connections will emerge over time. I won't hazard a guess as to Australia's biofuel potential but I wouldn't put it more than a third of current petroleum use. The reasons are acreage conflict with food production, the need for water, oil input to fertiliser and the fuel needs of tractors and tankers to get a final product to the bowser. Ironically that means that as oil depletes then ethanol production in particular will decline in lockstep unless the energy inputs can be done 'in house'. BTW I'm experimenting with field of canola to make home made diesel. However low carbon electricity including wind and nuclear could make that biofuel go further via plug-in hybrid cars. That implies more nuclear electricity but less overall fuel use. Given the insatiable demand for fuel the alternative route would likely be coal based liquid fuels with much greater greenhouse emissions.
Posted by Taswegian, Friday, 14 July 2006 1:17:08 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Could somebody explain why burning ethanol would produce less atmospheric CO2 than burning coal or petrol....
Posted by Narcissist, Friday, 14 July 2006 1:42:54 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. ...
  7. 9
  8. 10
  9. 11
  10. All

About Us :: Search :: Discuss :: Feedback :: Legals :: Privacy