>I disagree with your position. In the context of a discussion of
>sustainability, which implies perpetuity, we cannot afford to dismiss the
>who wants to live within a sustainable energy budget. Those of us who
>ignore the fact that we are living on mined energy, should at least have the
>ability to recognize the value of exploring alternatives that would allow us
>live within our means. From and energy budget perspective, this means
>ways of surviving on the solar energy that arrives on earth daily.
>Who knows, maybe more oil will be found, maybe we can stretch out our oil
>consumption for another one thousand years. After that what? Pehaps the
>requesting information on ethanol production is not too late, rather, he may
There are other reasons for ethanol production, such as to soak up crop
surpluses, or excess production capacity and use it to isolate the farm from
one variable cash outflow. The less cash needed to stay in business, the
longer before the farmer goes bankrupt in bad times. you can see that I am
not optimistic about the intention of the multinationals toward small
farmers. Moreover, in the case in question, we were replying to a man who
grows grain for livestock and could as easily feed mash. I'm not up on the
details, but he could come out ahead if the mash is more efficient than grain
at stimulating conversion of range grasses. In other words, if the increased
quality of the mash makes it easier to harvest energy as food from range
grass, the energy taken from the grain to produce ethanol could be free or
cheaper than at first glance. I need some experts in ruminant nutrition and
feed conversion to help me out here.
This needs to be balanced with the fact that the grain energy may be more
critical in winter though again not if mash helps the rumen release more
energy from hay. I also learned in private emails that this fellow will use
firewood, presumably cut on a sustained yield basis, from his place to supply
distillation energy. I didn't mention it, but harvesting distilled water as
part of the operation should be possible, and it is a valuable product. This
will also enable recycling a percentage of the distillation energy,
increasing efficiency. Given the severe cold reported, I speculate that we
may have a lot of clear-sky winters in this area, lending to solar energy to
supply distillation energy when available. I'm thinking of parabolic trough
reflectors focussed on a pipe containing the mash or whatever it is called.
This would be far less labor and would help convert a diffuse energy,
sunlight, to a concentrated, liquid fuel.
The main issue is the purity needed. It appears that fairly low technology
can produce a brew that is half acholhol and half water. You can't merely
double your capital investment to get out the other half. Purification is
always technically and energetically difficult. Nature may or may not abhor
a vacuum, but surely she despises purity.
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and now correspondence
permaculture training by email. Copyright, 1996, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O.
Box 2052, Ocala FL 34478 USA YankeePerm@aol.com
We don't have time to rush.