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View Diary: For electric power generation, the end of fossil fuel is in sight (215 comments)

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  •  GM and EPA (8+ / 0-)

    got a joint patent some years ago on a light transportation diesel engine (cars, 2-axle trucks) designed for 100% biodiesel. Current diesels would have to be retrofitted with different hoses/plastic/rubber components to operate on 50-100%, but that would happen over time if 50-100% were all they could get. Plus attrition on older diesels. After all, Rudolph Diesel invented his engine to run on peanut oil.

    Ships, trains, buses, tractors, combines, EDGs (Emergency Diesel Generators) in hospitals and other facilities, and the totality of our tractor-trailer shipping systems are already diesel. If cars and light trucks were also diesel, transportation wouldn't be an issue in the global climate change debates.

    We'd need a semi-radical new farm bill, though. Based on the raw materials used by producers. But if we weren't growing tens of millions of acres of corn for ethanol, land would be available for the preferred industrial crops. Better yet, that doesn't need to be food crops - they could be industrial crops. Like industrial hemp.

    We can go with most biomass per acre (hemp). Greatest high quality oilseed proportion (hemp). Greatest cellulose proportion as well (hemp) for plastics, paper and textiles. Hemp grows great on marginal land, needs no or very little fertilization (in proper rotation with green manures) or irrigation, and no herbicides because it grows as thickly as bamboo - like a weed!

    •  Renewable (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, BYw, elwior

      but not carbon-neutral.  All of these end up BURNING stuff, which doesn't solve the problem of putting carbon in the air.  I'd like to hear more about the loma prieta methods of controlled burning that leave most of the carbon as charcoal which can be plowed under as an excellent soil amendment.

      •  Emissions of a diesel engine 'burning' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior

        biologically-based oils have been evaluated. 67% less unburned hydrocarbons, 48% less carbon monoxide, 47% less particulates, 10% less nitrous oxide than petroleum diesel. NO sulfates, 80% less aromatic hydrocarbons, 50% less ozone.

        If biodiesel were combined with hybrid technology, emissions would reduce further. But if somebody comes up with a cleaner transportation engine I wouldn't mind a bit.

        BTW, charcoal isn't that great a soil amendment, cannot be "plowed under" in unlimited quantities without destroying the fertility of the soil. Given our ridiculous burden of coal ash (used for many years as 'inert filler' in agricultural fertilizers thus already "plowed under" as well as filling pits and ponds far and wide at great risk to communities), I'm leery of biomass for electrical generation. There's plenty of heat coming from the sun, if we've got to boil water to generate 'trons, use CSP. But development of kinetic energy sources is far more promising - no burning.

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