OT: A product from my University

CLIFFORD ILKAY clifford_ilkay at dinamis.com
Thu May 29 14:22:22 EDT 2008

Rob Brandt wrote:
> Depends on the crop used, and location.  In Brazil the ethanol is 
> produced IIRC with a particular variety of sugar cane that won't grow up 
> here.  Canada using wheat waste is a great idea, but how much is 
> produced?  Ethanol was considered cheap to make here in the US too, 
> until usage was mandated at a certain level.  It *was* cheap because 
> they were using surplus corn to make the smaller quantities.  Now that 
> it's mandated, a lot more is needed, there is no more surplus corn, food 
> prices have skyrocketed because farm production has shifted towards corn 
> for ethanol, there still isn't enough, and ethanol doesn't appear to be 
> the bargain it once appeared to be.

Actually, it may be a good thing that commodity prices have now 
increased to the point where farmers can make a good living. Perhaps we 
can now stop subsidizing them. (Dream on.)

> Bottom line, it all depends on how much you need and if you have the 
> farm capacity to to produce enough sugar in some sort of bio crop to 
> meet your needs.  I don't know anything about Canada's ethanol 
> consumption or wheat production relative to the US.

On a per capita basis, Australian and Canadian wheat production leads 
the world but on the basis of total production, they are seventh and 
sixth in the world, respectively. See 
Canada is the third largest exporter of wheat in the world though, after 
the U.S. and Australia.

> I'm surprised that 
> wheat waste (chaff?) makes a good ethanol source because it's relatively 
> low in sugar compared to sugar cane and corn.  If it does, and the US 
> isn't doing it, it should.

Apparently, the preference is to make biobutanol, not ethanol because 
it's easier to transport, it's not hygroscopic, and it packs more energy 
for the same volume. This article 
<http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/PRBpubs/prb0637-e.htm> from 
the resource page for the conference my son attended 
<http://www.saskschools.ca/%7Eics/program.html> casts doubt on the 
spectacular claim that every car in Canada could be powered by fuel made 
from biomass but this is an area of intense research so with a 
combination of more fuel-efficient vehicles and more efficient 
production techniques, it could be feasible. A direct quote from that 

"The energy yield from ethanol or biodiesel depends on the feedstock 
used. For instance, one hectare (ha) of sugarcane grown in Brazil 
produces almost twice as much ethanol as the same area of corn grown in 
Canada. It would take slightly less than 2 ha of wheat or 0.6 ha of corn 
grown in Canada to run a car entirely on biofuel for one year,(3) while 
0.3 ha of sugarcane grown in Brazil would provide enough biofuel for the 
same level of consumption.

By using 16% of its total corn production in 2006, the United States 
replaced 3% of its annual fuel consumption with biofuels. According to 
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), if 100% of the total U.S. corn 
production were used, that figure would rise to 20%.

According to an article in the New Scientist,(4) Canada would have to 
use 36% of its farmland to produce enough biofuels to replace 10% of the 
fuel currently used for transportation. Brazil, by contrast, would need 
to use only 3% of its agricultural land to attain the same result.

In order for Canada to reach its biofuel target of 5% of fuel 
consumption by the year 2010 (about 2.74 billion litres of ethanol and 
0.36 billion litres of biodiesel), the AAFC estimates that 4.6 million 
tonnes of corn, 2.3 million tonnes of wheat and 0.56 million tonnes of 
canola will be required. If all these feedstocks were grown 
domestically, they would represent 48-52% of the total corn seeded area, 
11-12% of the wheat seeded area and about 8% of the total canola seeded 
area in Canada.(5)

It is very likely that the proportion of farmland required will decrease 
with improved yields and the cultivation of marginal soils, if the 
demand for biofuels raises the price of feedstocks. However, the need 
for feedstocks will remain high if the demand for biofuels increases. 
Therefore, there is concern about the rationale for allocating farmland 
to energy production rather than food production. Some observers believe 
that there is already competition between the two markets: according to 
the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the rising 
demand for ethanol derived from corn is the main reason for the decline 
in world grain stocks during the first half of 2006.

The idea of finding feedstocks that are less demanding to produce is 
becoming more popular. Scientists are looking for better ways of 
producing ethanol from non-food crops and from biomass containing 
cellulose.(6) The development of an efficient cellulose-to-ethanol 
technology may promote the use of raw materials such as agricultural 
residues, straw and wood chips. Iogen, an Ottawa-based company, has 
built a demonstration plant and has been producing cellulosic ethanol 
for several years now.

Biobutanol is another possibility, as it is produced from the same 
feedstocks as ethanol, but has the advantage of delivering more energy. 
The technologies exist, but they must be made more economically 
attractive if they are to displace biofuel production from conventional 
agricultural products. Once these technologies have been implemented, 
biofuels will be more likely to enable a significant reduction in our 
dependence on fossil fuels."

It will be interesting to see if some of the things that are now 
considered pseudo-science, like zero point energy, attracts greater 
interest and funding. Back to experimenting with my Tesla coil and zero 
point module.

Clifford Ilkay
Dinamis Corporation
1419-3266 Yonge St.
Toronto, ON
Canada  M4N 3P6

+1 416-410-3326

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