21 January 2008

Two Eras of Oil Creation on Earth

Era I: During periods of intense global warming--90 million and 150 million years ago--large quantities of algae were produced. As the planet went through geologic transformation, the large algae deposits were buried under massively heavy layers of rock, and transformed by time, heat, and pressure into petroleum.

Era II: During the 21st century CE, blessed by mild temperatures and relative wealth, humans learn to grow algae themselves. Humans then convert the algae to oil, using fairly simple chemical techniques.
...PetroSun BioFuels Refining has entered into a joint venture to construct and operate a biodiesel refinery near Coolidge, Arizona. The feedstock for the refinery will be algal oil produced by PetroSun BioFuels at company owned and operated algae farms to be located in Arizona....The refinery will have an annual production capacity of thirty million gallons and will produce 100% renewable biodiesel. PetroSun BioFuels will process the residual algae biomass into ethanol....Petrosun claims that Independent studies have demonstrated that algae is capable of producing in excess of 30 times more oil per acre than corn and soybean crops.

The biorefinery and algae farm complex will generate all of its own electrical and heat requirements, utilize non-potable or saltwater, consume no fossil fuels and will be carbon neutral. The joint venture anticipates that all permits will be approved and construction on the biorefinery should commence during the third quarter of 2008.

Since producing algal biodiesel is more efficient than maize (corn) biodiesel, it is anticipated that industrial production of biodiesel will shift away from food crops such as maize. Algae can be grown on sewer plant effluent, which does not deplete crops or cropland. Consequently, and with good conscience, industry is preparing for larger scale use of biodiesel.
Safeway announced today that it has converted its entire California and U.S. truck fleet to cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel.

The biodiesel initiative makes Safeway one of the first major retailers in the United States to convert its entire fleet of more than 1,000 trucks to cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel. The decision by Safeway will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 75 million pounds annually, the equivalent of taking nearly 7,500 passenger vehicles off the road each year.

As humans learn to do in a short time what took nature hundreds of millions of years, the problem of sustainable energy will be solved. Although near-term "Peak Oil" appears to be a fantasy, basic prudence suggests that a renewable energy approach is preferable to one that depends upon non-replenishable stocks.

Approaches to sustainable energy other than liquid biofuels which are very promising, include concentrated full-spectrum photovoltaics, and geothermal.
The organic Rankine cycle-based power system is an advanced binary cycle system that is driven by a simple evaporation process and is entirely enclosed, which means it produces no emissions. The only byproduct is electricity, and the system’s “fuel” -- geothermal hot water -- is a renewable resource.

PureCycle geothermal systems have been in operation since 2006 at Chena Hot Springs Resort in Alaska, as a U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies demonstration project. It is the first geothermal project in Alaska and the lowest temperature geothermal resource (165° F) ever used for commercial power generation.The PureCycle system makes it possible to tap into a significant new domestic renewable energy resource because it operates at previously unusable low temperatures -- from 165 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Image credit to Energy Blog and Biodiesel America

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Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

"Although near-term "Peak Oil" appears to be a fantasy, basic prudence suggests that a renewable energy approach is preferable to one that depends upon non-replenishable stocks."

Not to mention stocks which are putting money in the hands of those who are trying to kill us and eradicate our culture.

I understand that biodiesel production produces glycol as a bi-product which has created a glut in the glycol market but they have discovered or developed a strain of a certain bacterium which can convert it into ethanol. Two fuels from one source. I am not yet convinced that biofuels as a transportation energy source are superior in the long run to electricity given the recent improvements in batteries, ultra capacitors and such but even if electric vehicles win out, biofuels could still find applications in decentralized power generation or many other uses. Chemistry is an exciting field these days with custom designed and evolved enzymes, new catalysts and nanofilters possibly replacing energy intensive distillation for water and ethanol and such changing the economics of many industrial processes.

Monday, 21 January, 2008  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

As far as geothermal goes, the new materials (stronger, lighter components, better motors and such) being developed and techniques like using microwaves to fracture rock more efficiently ahead of drills might very well make deeper geothermal resources more exploitable. Some of the same technologies being pursued for oil extraction could benefit the economics of geothermal.

Monday, 21 January, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Good points, Baron. No one wants to pay groups of people to kill them. That's true for the oil sheiks as well as the Chinese military (via WalMart).

Glycerol be converted to a number of hydrocarbons and alcohols, with the proper catalysts or enzymes.

Oil technologies are being driven by higher oil costs. But those discoveries can be spun off for use in cleaner, renewable energies.

Geothermal, as you mentioned, and others.

Monday, 21 January, 2008  

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