Posts filed under ‘Ethanol’

Dependence -VS- Independence

The big slick. What a mess, eh?

So many opinions about what we should do. So many fingers wagging. But unless you are completely off grid, growing all your own food, weaving your own fabric to make your own clothes, and have basically removed yourself from any consumer situation that takes in any way from the planet, you are guilty of this crime. Just like me.

We are all guilty of this crime against the planet, and like the titans of Washington and Wall Street, we will not prosecute ourselves. We humans love to outsource blame to others – because other people are the problem and are the ones who should change, right? 7,000,000,000 +/- humans on the planet, all with fingers pointing at one another. Craaaaaaaaaaaaazy. And yet so funny.

This explosion in-our-faces will not go away. It is a major wake up call, but people want to hit the snooze button and go back to watching CSI. Just like how all the networks went back to entertainment programming immediately after President Obama’s address to the nation, pleading and praying for change.

But when your economy depends on consumption, you can’t ask for conservation. It’s the paradox I testified about years ago when Portland was exploring disaster scenarios and how to mitigate the effects. Back in 2007, I wrote a blog post about advertising in the age of peak oil, and the problem of institutions clinging to antiquated models. (Check out the video on that post from a presentation I made at Clear Channel, at 45:00 in…)

And as much as businesses want customers to keep buying their stuff, income destruction will of course lead to less consumption. It’s just that people like to buy stuff. We built Bright Neighbor as a sustainability network that allows people to lend things to one another rather than consuming new things from stores, and it works great. But perceived Independence is an American value, and many people feel they are independent in choices by shopping at stores. The idea of dependence on neighbors they don’t know yet is a leap for sure. After all, you can’t deeply know or trust everyone. There are predators out there, yes. But a system to build social glue through resource sharing at the neighborhood and hyper-local community level is in place. We are doing what we can to expand Bright Neighbor to more cities right now.

So, in the long run, we all die. That bugs me! I like living, and want a good planet to pass along to my kid and other people’s kids as well. I find that the only way to maintain my own sanity in this crazy crazy world is to accept that it is indeed a crazy crazy world. It always has been. That’s why I have as much fun as I can every day trying to reduce my own personal impact. And I have a long way to go as a recovering oil addict, even after trying for years. There is no self-righteousness, just an attempt to do what I feel is right to try to liberate myself from dependence on oil.

How about you?

June 19, 2010 at 10:37 am 1 comment

Privacy Is The New Transparency

Bright Neighbor Walled Garden

To the folks on Mashable that think they know markets had better listen up. Privacy is the new Transparency.

Social innovation and technology are starting to stink. I am neck-high in communications technology development, and the abuse of it is making me just want to throw my gadgets away except for my i-pod so I can rock out to tunes while I’m gardening.

Facebook sucks, because you never know when someone is going to blackmail you with naked pictures.

Thurs., Feb. 5, 2009
MILWAUKEE – An 18-year-old male student is accused of posing as a girl on Facebook, tricking at least 31 male classmates into sending him naked photos of themselves and then blackmailing some for sex acts.

Seriously, things are getting out of hand. The watchdog group Privacy International is sounding an alarm about Google’s new phone tracking system, Latitude. “As it stands right now, Latitude could be a gift to stalkers, prying employers, jealous partners and obsessive friends,” Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, said in a new report.

So let me just lay it out on the line. Here are the hot trends that will be followed by money in 2009 – because my company is making money with them.

1) Walled Gardens & Private Clubs Will Soar
Walled Garden
It sucks to not know if the person who you are chatting with is real or not. I’m no fan of Ronald Reagan, but he had one thing right: Trust, but verify. Just like the real world, you are allowed into some clubs and not allowed into others. You will start to see a lot more “Pay To Enter” groups, clubs, and social networks, because privacy is something that people will still pay for. It’s no big secret that humans like to have fun and enjoy sex and drugs and other social taboos. It’s whether or not it hurts your relationships and ability to earn money that matters. And relationships are where it is at. So businesses that capitalize on private, licensed walled garden community technology as well as free, community supported social networks will win.

And I’m just kidding about Facebook sucking – Facebook rocks. I see it as a vital player in helping America deal with our upcoming liquid fuels crisis. President Obama will be issuing orders through it, and it’s not Facebook’s fault anyone can use technology to do harm if he or she is a bad person. My bet is that they mimic and monetize Bright Neighbor’s member verification process.

2) The return of activities based on Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs
Bright Neighbor
This economy sucks. But hey, mountain hiking is practically free! And bowling is cheap! And people like to gather in the real world! So we will replace lost jobs with activities that help shape up our country. We are angry Americans, pissed off that we are losing access to money, but still the spoiled brats of technology and oil culture. That means we aren’t going to roll over and die just because some old fogies in Washington can’t get their checkbooks balanced.

3) Hyper-Local Community and Permaculture Becomes Sexier Than Hollywood
Bright Neighbor Permaculture
Please Hollywood – no more computer generated action sequence movies for a while. Batman is a weird, weird guy. We need stories that show monetary incentives that rally Americans to pick up shovels and get digging – not geomagnetically blowing up stuff and talking to armed vampires. It’s time that we all start listening to local hippies and farmers that get to say “I Told You So”, even as globalists start to freak out at the prospect of their capitalist empire of global trade shattering.

Because even though it looks like we have extra oil now that the price has dropped, it’s not the price that is the concern – it’s the supply. If someone blows up an oil terminal, we will have a real liquid fuels crisis, and immediately could suffer energy and food shortages, leading to social, business, and military pissed-offedness in a world full of really, really big missiles and boom boom sticks.

So 2009 is the year to get to know your neighbors better, even if you don’t want to. And don’t just get to know them, start hanging out with them and put yourself in an uncomfortable place for a while to get used to it. Because in case you haven’t noticed, we are arriving in Hell’s lobby. We have to take evasive action to immediately build hyper-local trust networks because people’s willingness to do things for each other, and to trust one another, depends on how well they know each other and how often they see them.

This has been my mantra for a long time, and luckily we do have so many ways to communicate with one another. It’s whether we are doing the right activities that counts more.

One last trend to report… hacked road signs. The trend is growing!

Randy White Bright Neighbor

Randy White is the Founder of Bright Neighbor, a community self-sufficiency and technology company that specializes social collaborations and logistics to help communities adapt to the triple threat of economic, ecological, and energy collapse. A city dweller who has focused on reducing his impact on the planet while helping entrepreneurs forge new businesses, Randy’s expertise focuses on home-based self sufficiency opportunities. He will be speaking at the Pacific Northwest Better Living Show March 28th at the Portland Expo Center.

February 6, 2009 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

How To Profit From America’s New Shopping List

Barack Obama Shopping List

Hey America, if you are paying attention, you can make a lot of money right now!

President Obama just told us his shopping list for his three year plan (funny, it takes three years for fruit trees to produce). Obama is about to get a check for $825,000,000,000 dollars and he wants to buy all sorts of cool new things for America, such as:

10,000 school renovations – Great for all the folks who can help kids learn about chickens and growing vegetables and neat stuff like that

Improved local community communications networks – Hey, I sell those things!

75% of Federal building to be more energy efficient – You mean like ride sharing? Light bulbs? Turning computers off?

2.5 Million weatherized homes – Wow, whoever makes bricks and insulation from waste plastic bags & stuff will make a killing!

Double America’s renewable energy – Woo hoo! I sell hooch making machines! I’m gonna be rich!

Anyway, I am writing about this because the secret is, and always will be, to be a master of markets for things people really need. That means neighborhood collectives can team up and go legally harvest firewood and split it up among the community, where people volunteer their labor in exchange for good and services they need.

Money, as we know it, is just a means of representing value. What has real value to you? Probably the same things that have value to everyone else: Food, shelter, transportation, water, electricity, friends, resilient neighborhoods and communities, skills and stuff the community can use.

That’s the power behind Bright Neighbor. We offer a machine that helps fix community economies and ecology. Think about it this way…

Chickens are egg machines.
Gardens are fruit and vegetable machines.
Trees are fruit and nut machines.
Worms and mushrooms are soil fixing machines.

Bright Neighbor is a communications system, a carbon reduction machine, a money saving machine, and a community repair machine all-in-one. We have implemented it in governments, businesses, faith communities, private corporations, and with individual community organizers who want to fix their community. Our customer base now ranges in all of these markets, and if President Obama wants to buy any of these things, Bright Neighbor is one of America’s post-petroleum startups now open for business.

Three cheers for the Three Year Plan! I hope you make oodles of money.

- Randy White

PS: If you are interested in setting up a Bright Neighbor community communications system, please fill out this form.

January 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

David Blume Presentation in Portland, Oregon

This video is from when I brought David Blume to Portland before his book was published a couple years ago. Man, this dude has the total plan that can get us out of this Peak Oil and ecological destruction mess we are in.

Remember, we have to not only help secure food supplies, but also stop mankind’s madness. Three cheers for missions with purpose!

November 19, 2008 at 9:32 pm 3 comments

Hey America, We Never Really Needed Gasoline

Congrats America – you just bought yourselves a whole lot of bad debt! Yay for our collective wisdom, or lack of it. Wall Street and the big bankers of the world thank you very much.

Just a friendly reminder from your friend David Blume, the director of the International Institute for Ecological Agriculture who gave you the plan to avoid this mess in the first place:

We don’t need gasoline.
We never needed it.

Facts: Scientific and historical about gasoline and alcohol

1. The original automobiles ran on alcohol because when they were invented gasoline was not available.

2. John D. Rockefeller spent $4 million in early 1900 dollars (that we know of) to promote Prohibition, a ban on alcohol manufacturing in the US that started in 1919 just as the car industry was taking off.

3. When Prohibition was lifted in 1933, gasoline stations were ubiquitous and most engines ran on gasoline only.

4. Alcohol can be manufactured locally and on a community level from renewable plant material for $1 – $2 per gallon.

5. The growing of plant material for alcohol would have no effect on the price of food.

6. The growing of plants for fuel would more than neutralize the carbon created by burning alcohol for fuel.

7. In Brazil, over 50% of new cars sold can already run on 100% alcohol.

8. Producing alcohol from plant material is energy efficient and has a positive energy return (You get more energy out of alcohol than it takes to make it).

9. The oil companies aggressively promote garbage science to deceive the public into believing that alcohol fuels:
a) will cause starvation
b) are uneconomical
c) are net polluters.

10. Gasoline is a high toxic material.

11. It is entirely unneeded to fuel our cars.

12. Oil companies like Chevron have pressured PBS, commercial TV networks and other news media to keep this basic information from the public for decades – and the censorship continues to this day.

Remember this information when the gas shortages start, and pick up a copy of America’s playbook for digging out of this mess.

Our biggest challenge in the world right now is not our 401k’s… it is that there are nuclear armed countries whose people are starving, and they are descending into chaos. All the leaders of the world need to do is feed people and they can maintain order.

The highly armed nations of the world need to be fed, folks – because it sucks to die and countries that are armed with weapons of mass destruction will take others out with them as they go.

And to add to our own domestic national security problem here in the United States, Matt Simmons, one of the world’s foremost energy experts, says gasoline stocks are the lowest here since 1967 and refinery production is down following recent hurricanes. He warns that if there were a run on the “energy bank” by everyone topping off their gasoline tanks, the U.S. would be out of fuel in three days, and grocery shelves largely emptied in a week.

We do not have a very large alcohol fuel energy infrastructure in place yet, and there are bound to be emergency shortages of energy. You can live without electricity and gas, you would just have to get used to digging in the dirt. They survived collapse in Cuba, and we can do it here.

So let’s become less selfish REAL FAST. We can survive without money. But it will be easier as long as we have communities with local leadership, farming and people-organizing skills, electricity, the Internet, and barter systems. I think it would suck if the Internet went away.

Because if it did, I couldn’t watch this Stephen Colbert video.

October 3, 2008 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

Floyd Butterfield – A Natural Leader Grows The Alcohol Fuel Market

I first read about Floyd Butterfield in David Blume’s book “Alcohol Can Be A Gas“. Knowing the history of Alcohol in America will leave you feeling pretty duped by the oil companies. You can be sure that the alcohol fuel and permaculture revolution is well under way in America – the rest of Americans are just now starting to play catch up to reality.

In the first video, you get a quick introduction to Floyd.

The following video introduces their home-alcohol fuel still called the Efuel-100. While it is impressive, it has drawbacks in it’s feedstock and output limitations. Wait until you see the amazing still that Still Energy Solutions are about to introduce to the market. It’s time to make a lot of money while helping save the planet. Let new, earth-positive markets flourish!

And if my usually-correct hunch is right, I think this company’s stock is going to skyrocket in the next year.

July 26, 2008 at 11:55 am Leave a comment

Ethanol Smear Campaign Exposed By US Senator

The Truth About Ethanol

Stunning!

A US Senator has outed the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s well planned and executed smear campaign against ethanol.

Senator Chuck Grassley says “Ethanol and alternative fuels are being made the scapegoat for a whole variety of problems. Never before have the virtuous benefits of ethanol and renewable fuels been so questioned and criticized. The problem is, none of these criticisms are based on sound science, economics or even common sense.”

Senator Grassley has unveiled the the dirty, nitty-gritty details of the Grocery Manufacturers Associations’ smear campaign:

“Some of my colleagues here in the Senate have also gotten involved in this misinformation campaign. It seems there is a “group-think” mentality when it comes to scapegoating ethanol for everything from high gas prices, global food shortages, global warming and deforestation. But, as was recently reported, this anti-ethanol campaign is not a coincidence. It turns out that a $300,000, six-month retainer of a beltway public relations firm is behind the smear campaign, hired by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.”

WHOA!

Isn’t that what David Blume has been saying all along? Ask yourself – who runs the Grocery Manufacturers Association and why would those people not want you to know the truth about ethanol?

Oil is at $145 today. Last Independence Day weekend, drivers were paying just $2.95 a gallon for gas, about $1.15 less than today. Oil prices are up more than 50 percent since the start of the year. Prices rose by a similar amount in 2007 — but it took almost the entire year for them to make that trip.

Just this week alone, the price on a barrel of oil jumped 3.6 percent. So please keep in mind right now oil barons are laughing and spending your money on $80 million dollar paintings. Wake the hell up, folks!.

I happen to be involved with some folks brewing their own car fuel, and it’s actually pretty easy once you get the still up and running. Try sticking your nose into a vat of fermenting yeast sometime. POW!

July 3, 2008 at 1:30 pm 5 comments

Fixing Peak Oil Is Easy

That’s right, I said it. Peak Oil is a straw man argument.

If you want to understand what I mean, watch this alternate ending to “The Lord Of The Rings”. You will quickly understand.

See what I mean?

What it sums up is that fixing Peak Oil all comes down to the community’s decision to follow a smarter plan, act accordingly, and share collective resources and talents with one another. That is how you win.

Think about it this way. The “Lord of The Rings” movie everyone has collectively seen presents a story the way it was written. Everyone leaves the theatre thinking that was the way the story had to be. But Ho Ho! If J.R. Tolkien had written “The Fellowship Of The Ring” to actually follow the course in the alternate ending, people would have had a much shorter movie and still had a happy ending.

And this is our society’s problem. We love thrillers. The story of “Peak Oil” is currently being presented as a potentially cataclysmic global energy problem. It is not. Peak Oil is a communications problem among a spoiled, techno-zombie culture. We have communicated with one another for so long about the story ending, we can’t decide what our global population’s story of continuity should be.

In America, the lagging economy is driving a dramatic move back to basics and a reversal of decades-long trends of convenience. Roughly half of all consumers with incomes less than $55,000 per year say they have trouble affording the groceries they need, while nearly a quarter of those earning between $55,000 and $99,000 also say so. Among those with incomes over $100,000, 16% report having trouble. 42% of consumers say they have given up favorite food brands because of rising prices and economic concerns. Source: IRI Economic Trend Database/AttitudeLink, May 2008

Also, large numbers of Americans face the prospect of energy shutoffs during the coming months because of rising energy prices and stagnant wages.

And so communities around the world are going to have to grapple with dwindling resources at the community level. You will not get help from the folks at the top. Anyone over 30 knows that money drives politics, and money is presently tied up in oil. This will remain true until communities free themselves from the global money system and start basing values on things that matter, such as services you provide that benefit the entire community and that do not cause harm to the environment or other people.

I would argue that hemp does not cause harm to people. It is a renewable energy resource and medicine. It’s human laws and lawns getting in the way of nature that are stopping us from having enough food and fuel for everyone.

Because cars are cool. I like walking, but I still want to drive, damnit! And right now, I am making my own fuel – which can run in any car with a combustible engine. The oil companies took over the fuel market a long time ago, and they are defending their money with as much vigor as they can.

So until local communities start firing up moonshine and having their local farmers plant sorghum as a better feedstock alternative than corn, we aren’t really serious about fixing our problems. Until we each begin to learn about the soil food web, we aren’t serious about fixing the problem. Until we each accept one another’s faiths, and work together to improve earth’s life support systems, we are not serious about fixing the problem. If we aren’t willing to help more than just ourselves, our family, and our friends, we aren’t serious about fixing the problem.

It’s going to take collective action from each of us, as well as the truth to emerge about certain solutions that have been suppressed, to implement desperately needed changes. Changes that allow us to continue to live happy lives, eat better, and travel from one place to another. Changes that are possible, given that we take away so much power from corporations and weapons companies that run the world.

Unless communities immediately create renewable local food and water systems, it means even more war and death. Until a majority of us are ready to act on the advice of innovators with proof that we don’t have to be less than human to one another and that there is plenty of land to grow enough food to feed the entire planet, we will just keep on reading headlines about bombs dropping.

If you are ready to listen to a leader that offers real ways our children of tomorrow can be proud of the actions we take today, my company has created a proven path of how we can get there. It’s a positive, loving, and life-affirming alternate ending to the Story of Peak Oil, and I am launching it in Portland.

BONUS VIDEO!

June 26, 2008 at 9:01 am 10 comments

Why Oil Companies Need $150 Per Barrel Of Oil – The Case For Destroying The Rewable Fuels Standard

The following is a letter to the EPA written by David Blume that was just published in Renewable Energy World.

David Blume

by David Blume, Author

The purpose of the Renewable Fuels Standard is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, reverse the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, and eventually end the toxic releases from petroleum, coal, and other fossil fuels. The idea is to replace these fuels with clean alternatives like ethanol, which, unlike fossil fuels, are based on captured solar energy that is constantly renewed.

When the alcohol industry agreed to sacrifice the Clean Air Act’s oxygenate standard in exchange for its proposed Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), I was staunchly opposed. Advocates of the RFS said it was a more honest, direct way for us to work toward making our fuel renewable and American, and to wean ourselves from the toxic waste of the petroleum industry (otherwise known as gasoline).

Make no mistake about it: historically, gasoline has ALWAYS been a substance into which oil refineries dispose of whatever waste remains after making valuable products. Just as in the cattle industry, where half of the steer sells as US $15/lb. steaks and the other half ends up as cheap hamburger, in the petroleum business, half of a barrel of oil becomes gasoline. Quite frankly, no one wants to dispose of the 21 gallons of poisonous leftovers at the bottom of each barrel (just how much carcinogenic benzene, toluene, or xylene does anyone really need?)

The Clean Air Act’s oxygenate standard made sure that many of the toxic components in vehicle exhaust would be thermally decomposed (read: burned) to carbon dioxide, rather than remaining as Kevorkian carbon monoxide and a witch’s brew of volatile organics. Destroying these toxins in vehicle exhaust relies on the presence of plenty of oxygen to do the job, and alcohol is about 30% oxygen. Since the act was a regulation that had to do with our health, no discretion existed for waiving oxygenate. That standard was all that stood between Big Oil’s profits and hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from respiratory and cancer illnesses. It also was permanent-it had no expiration date.

But in a poor bargain, we traded a standard based on citizens’ health for one based on economic and environmental values, i.e., the Renewable Fuels Standard. The oil companies insisted that we couldn’t have both, but if we would let go of the oxygenate standard, they would not stand in the way too much on the RFS. Of course, they lied and then only permitted an RFS level that we were already meeting prior to passage of the legislation, so that the regulation had no teeth to increase our use of renewables (very clever of those oil companies).

Well, we did manage, over much opposition by Big Oil, to increase the RFS modestly above the existing level, and investment into the Midwest to make alcohol took off. Big Oil mistakenly thought it could keep the alcohol genie in the bottle…but much to its dismay, the genie escaped and started building distilleries in 2005-6.

Now at the time the bargain was made to trade in the oxygenate standard, I complained to everyone in congress and in the alcohol industry that the RFS would be very easy to waive. It was easy to predict all sorts of conditions where governors or the executive branch could say something like, “These environmental regulations are all well and good, but if they get in the way of economic interests, we just won’t be able to afford to do the right thing.”

“No, no,” the RFS advocates retorted, “we will make sure that a ‘no backsliding’ provision is written into the new legislation.” Well gee, that tidbit didn’t quite survive into the final draft. Now some oil-saturated governors are trying to use their statutory power to get the EPA to waive the standard, so oil companies won’t be forced to use farmer’s fuels.

Instead of cleaning up our air, dealing with Peak Oil, reducing dependence on foreign oil, and reversing global warming, we are doing exactly what I feared. We are talking about simply setting aside the RFS for reasons that ignore health, ignore national security, ignore our dependence, ignore our war to control Mideast oil, and ignore planetary climate stability in favor of simple short-term economic gains. The proposal is even more disingenuous, since the alleged economic gains are not even real. For instance, there is no shortage of corn, no matter what you read in the press. We just had the best crop in 33 years, and we are still trying to find silo space to store the huge surplus. We have increased the amount of animal feed we send around the world to record levels, which is a direct result of our increased alcohol fuel production. We use only cornstarch for alcohol, and all the non-starch parts of the corn become high-quality animal feed. More corn production for alcohol means more animal feed, which means more food. It’s simple.

Now that the data is coming in, we are seeing that in addition to the utterly nonexistent corn shortage, grain price increases have no basis in ethanol or the RFS whatsoever. In fact, the price increases result almost exclusively from the rising price of oil and greater demand for meat in China and other developing countries. If it were not for alcohol fuel, the price of gasoline would be even higher than it is today, and the net effect on a citizen’s pocketbook would be many times the alleged effect of ethanol on food prices.

This attack on the RFS has been planned since the day it was first passed. Because as we run out of oil, the fossil fuel industry plans to replace petroleum with more tar sands, oil shale, and coal to liquids. As the EPA, you are well aware that these fuels will increase greenhouse gas emissions scores to thousands of times the emissions from petroleum. They will also increase the pollution of our air with countless tons of metals and volatile gases, pollute what water is left after we drain the aquifers to make synfuels, and irradiate/poison the planet with radioactive particles and mercury from coal.

But for these environmentally foul fuels to be economically viable, the price of a barrel of oil needs to climb to about $150. Biofuels, on the other hand, can be produced realistically, ecologically, and sustainably for less than $70 a barrel, without any breakthroughs in technology. If biofuels, and in particular ethanol, increase in volume, the economic viability of all the alternatives that Big Oil wants to develop are in jeopardy. And that’s a good thing, since as the EPA, you know for certain that development of these fossil alternatives to petroleum are unbelievably incompatible with continuation of life on Earth as we know it.

No, the RFS is not a discretionary guideline to be set aside, as powerful economic interests and their tamed politicians dictate. The RFS is a health standard meant to protect all living things from the total degradation of our planet. You in the EPA are charged with the responsibility to act as a bulwark against corporate environmental irresponsibility, and doing the right thing requires more than standing firm on the RFS. Far from being waived, the standard needs to be increased annually, bear no expiration date, and remain in force until every single Btu of energy this country uses is renewable. Ultimately, that means an end to fossil fuels and an economic and energy system based on the sun.

A call to action:

The window to submit comment on this critical EPA waiver is closing June 23rd, submit written comments today, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0380, by one of the following methods: One the web at http://www.regulations.gov, follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments, by E-mail: a-and-r-docket@epa.gov or by fax: (202) 566-1741.

Learn more about David Blume’s Fight to Save The Renewable Fuels Standard.

David Blume is author of Alcohol Can Be A Gas and Executive Director of the International Institute for Ecological Agriculture.

June 19, 2008 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

Fuel For The Rich

Efuel100 Microfueler

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is time to kick farming into high gear and start producing sugary sweet hooch across America. And some entrepreneurs have just released a machine that opens the innovation doors to partially kick peak oil’s butt.

Introducing the Efuel100 Microfueler. Fuel for the very rich so they can still ride in their FlexFuel high-end vehicles.

This this is so rad, I can hardly contain myself. But at the same time, I am not too excited.

I have been working hard to promote David Blume’s work while ignorant journalists have been poo-pooing ethanol. Now, not only has the truth emerged that we can sustainably make alcohol fuel, but this amazing machine has been released to kick the home-brew fuel market into high gear. Sort of.

For a cool $10,000, you can join the ranks of big oil and start making your own fuel without doing any of the hard work like chasing down plans and building your own small scale ethanol still. You can simply buy this fabulous machine and PRESTO! You are on the road again.

The problem is that it is a membrane system, which means there can be no solids in the mash. This means you are limited to a complete liquid feedstock (namely bags of sugar). And if you sink in $10,000 for a fuel machine that makes alcohol fuel at a rate of let’s say $2.00 per gallon and can make about 35 gallons a week, it would take you many years to break even on your fuel investment.

But hey, if oil crashes, at least you can still get from A to B, right? As long as Costco still carries big bags of sugar. The good news is that David Blume is working on a larger scale still that will deliver the convenience of the EFuel100, but it will crank out many more gallons per week for less money using multiple feedstocks (he is looking for investors to help fund his venture).

Not that I believe we should continue as-is with our car culture. Riding a bike now and then feels great! And we must consume MUCH less per-person in America, and make intensely smart decisions. But before all of you Food VS FUEL hotheads go on a tirade, you need to know that alcohol fuel can be made from a hell of a lot more than bags of sugar and corn. Go and read the MANY posts on Lawns to Gardens sharing the truth with you. But let me sum it up:

1. Almost every country can become energy-independent. Anywhere that has sunlight and land can produce alcohol from plants. Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world imports no oil, since half its cars run on alcohol fuel made from sugarcane, grown on 1% of its land.

2. We can reverse global warming. Since alcohol is made from plants, its production takes carbon dioxide out of the air, sequestering it, with the result that it reverses the greenhouse effect (while potentially vastly improving the soil). Recent studies show that in a permaculturally designed mixed-crop alcohol fuel production system, the amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere by plants—and then exuded by plant roots into the soil as sugar—can be 13 times what is emitted by processing the crops and burning the alcohol in our cars.

3. We can revitalize the economy instead of suffering through Peak Oil. Oil is running out, and what we replace it with will make a big difference in our environment and economy. Alcohol fuel production and use is clean and environmentally sustainable, and will revitalize families, farms, towns, cities, industries, as well as the environment. A national switch to alcohol fuel would provide many millions of new permanent jobs.

4. No new technological breakthroughs are needed. We can make alcohol fuel out of what we have, where we are. Alcohol fuel can efficiently be made out of many things, from waste products like stale donuts, grass clippings, food processing waste-even ocean kelp. Many crops produce many times more alcohol per acre than corn, using arid, marshy, or even marginal land in addition to farmland. Just our lawn clippings could replace a third of the autofuel we get from the Mideast.

5. Unlike hydrogen fuel cells, we can easily use alcohol fuel in the vehicles we already own. Unmodified cars can run on 50% alcohol, and converting to 100% alcohol or flexible fueling (both alcohol and gas) costs only a few hundred dollars. Most auto companies already sell new dual-fuel vehicles.

6. Alcohol is a superior fuel to gasoline! It’s 105 octane, burns much cooler with less vibration, is less flammable in case of accident, is 98% pollution-free, has lower evaporative emissions, and deposits no carbon in the engine or oil, resulting in a tripling of engine life. Specialized alcohol engines can get at least 22% better mileage than gasoline or diesel.

7. It’s not just for gasoline cars. We can also easily use alcohol fuel to power diesel engines, trains, aircraft, small utility engines, generators to make electricity, heaters for our homes—and it can even be used to cook our food.

8. Alcohol has a proud history. Gasoline is a refinery’s toxic waste; alcohol fuel is liquid sunshine. Henry Ford’s early cars were all flex-fuel. It wasn’t until gasoline magnate John D. Rockefeller funded Prohibition that alcohol fuel companies were driven out of business.

9. The byproducts of alcohol production are clean, instead of being oil refinery waste, and are worth more than the alcohol itself. In fact, they can make petrochemical fertilizers and herbicides obsolete. The alcohol production process concentrates and makes more digestible all protein and non-starch nutrients in the crop. It’s so nutritious that when used as animal feed, it produces more meat or milk than the corn it comes from. That’s right, fermentation of corn increases the food supply and lowers the cost of food.

10. Locally produced ethanol supercharges regional economies. Instead of fuel expenditures draining capital away to foreign bank accounts, each gallon of alcohol produces local income that gets recirculated many times. Every dollar of tax credit for alcohol generates up to $6 in new tax revenues from the increased local business.

11. Alcohol production brings many new small-scale business opportunities. There is huge potential for profitable local, integrated, small-scale businesses that produce alcohol and related byproducts, whereas when gas was cheap, alcohol plants had to be huge to make a profit.

12. Scale matters—most of the widely publicized potential problems with ethanol are a function of scale. Once production plants get beyond a certain size and are too far away from the crops that supply them, closing the ecological loop becomes problematic. Smaller-scale operations can more efficiently use a wide variety of crops than huge specialized one-crop plants, and diversification of crops would largely eliminate the problems of monoculture.

13. The byproducts of small-scale alcohol plants can be used in profitable, energy-efficient, and environmentally positive ways. For instance, spent mash (the liquid left over after distillation) contains all the nutrients the next fuel crop needs and can return it back to the soil if the fields are close to the operation. Big-scale plants, because they bring in crops from up to 45 miles away, can’t do this, so they have to evaporate all the water and sell the resulting byproduct as low-price animal feed,which accounts for half the energy used in the plant.

By combining permaculture, smart agriculture and market forces, we can turn Peak Oil on its ugly head and not have to have a collapse. It will be interesting to see how many people actually buy these personal fuel units. In the meantime, get together with your neighbors and start to learn about how you can start making changes to deal with peak oil – whether you buy one of these machines or not!

May 15, 2008 at 1:18 pm 11 comments

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