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Thread: Biofuel economy

  1. #1 Biofuel economy 
    Forum Professor
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    Apr 2009
    How is it likely that in a distant future majority of power on Earth will be generated from biofuels? Such as biofuel motor fuels, biofuel powered power plants and biogas stoves and home heaters? Will it likely win or loose competition with other technologies? Or which technologies will win in the long run, do you think?

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  3. #2  
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    Oct 2009
    Hard to say. Seems a race between coming up with an affordable biodiesel process and batteries with anywhere close to comparable energy density.

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  4. #3  
    Forum Professor Zwolver's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Biofuels are taking up land, employ many, can be taxed, and are generally better than fossil fuels, because they don't add CO2 from the soil to the air. However, they take up more land than a solar or wind farm would, generating the same energy.

    So it would only work on high subsidies.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  5. #4  
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    Jul 2010
    They can be the majority of energy used only if in the future humans stop being extravagantly wasteful and use a lot less energy than we do now. Maybe if we turn to simplicity, frugality and self sufficiency in a big way and use oil seed crops and digesters and woodlots to power a lifestyle of reduced energy use... hey, it is a vision that comes complete with ponies!

    Of course our distant descendants could turn out wiser, smarter, organised, efficient, ethical. May need to become something other than human to get there - the knowing better but doing it anyway thing needs a bit of evolution or bioengineering or medical intervention or something; we are capable of doing a lot better than we do now.

    I do think there will be continuing advances in modern takes on biofuels - gmo crops and algaes, improved yeasts for ethanol, more efficiencies. There will be important uses for combustible liquid fuels, but biofuels can't compete with solar and wind for electricity. EV's have shown they work just fine and batteries don't have to be as energy dense as fossil fuels to do it well enough. Batteries will get better and cheaper and more ubiquitous as the massive expansion of storage R&D flows through the pipeline; tech device makers want better, cordless tool makers, EV makers, energy equipment makers, power companies and government agencies all want better. The patent on the best new battery will be worth US$trillions and they all know it. I think that the state of science has never been better fitted to go after the best possible battery. Or batteries; doing stationary grid scale storage has different requirements to transport and can get away with being more energy dense.

    And then there is Hydrogen too, for steel making, for transport and as large scale energy storage. Possibly as a transitional fuel for gas plants. Biofuels aren't in the running.
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