Posts filed under ‘Permaculture’

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!

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November 19, 2008 at 9:32 pm 3 comments

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

The Forbidden Fuel

This Lawns to Gardens post can be read here. I figure it’s a good way to help people discover the Peak Oil social network I have set up.

* Note – The article was written by Tad Montgomery, an ecological engineer living in Brattleboro, Vermont.

March 23, 2008 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

Chickens: The New Family Dog?

Chickens as pets urban living trends

By Randy White
Editor Lawns to Gardens

Move over Rover, and make way for the new family pecker.

Yes folks, we have arrived at a crucial turning point and marker of change. If you plot major Peak Oil and system change events in terms of time, we have a new historical marker to add to the chart. The Age of Urban Chickens has returned!

I wish I knew about raising chickens. Here is a blog that knows everything about it. But what I do know is many Portlanders are now entering the “Chicken as a Pet” market, creating new job opportunities along with it.

After all, when the economy is tanking the way it is, people are looking for ways to sustain themselves. Chickens scratch up the ground, poop on your lawn, and give you free eggs. What pet can give you more? The best part is that the cat may chase it around but can’t really do anything to it since the chicken can peck back. Like my friend Mark says “It’s like any great disfunctional family.”

My neighbor happens to be a man who has skills in woodworking. In this crap economy, he could easily start building and selling custom chicken coops. I know this because there are people, right now, willing to shell out between $100 – $300 for a chicken coop, depending on features.

Features, you ask? That’s right. This is the coolest time ever to be alive, because as Peak Oil kicks in, entrepreneurs and engineers get to redesign civilization in real time. With all the low-cost technologies that make it easy for engineers and artists to build prototypes at a low cost, there are going to be some awesome new things that people build while we reorganize our hyper-local human ecosystems.

By that, I mean that in order to functionally navigate the downward slope of the energy crash, we need to be fun and creative. Life could really suck if we let it and don’t grasp onto this opportunity to reorganize our lives for the better. So imagine the kind of creative chicken coops that people like my neighbor will be building (from scrap and reclaimed materials, of course).

Prefab chicken coops

Smart builders can make the coops include dual functioanlity, such as adding in a a storage shed or make it a portable Rave station as this example shows:

There is no limit to our creativity. All we need to do in order to save ourselves are a few simple things. Here they are, in order:

1) Take the top 20 artists from Burning Man
2) Pair them with the top engineers of our day
3) Fund their projects such as cool, low cost chicken coops that serve multiple functions

And think beyond existing demand. Marketers today are thinking like today. Uh uh. Think like tomorrow. Right now.

While you do that, I’m going to think up names to call my chickens.

March 21, 2008 at 2:55 pm 5 comments

How Do We Convert Suburbia Into Earthships?

Just wonderin.

November 10, 2007 at 2:43 am Leave a comment

PERMACULTURE & PEAK OIL: Beyond ‘Sustainability’ (Video)

Here’s a chance to learn more important stuff today.

I completely concur with Permaculture co-founder David Holmgren that we MUST start thinking beyond sustainability. We need to think RESILIENCEand PRESERVATION. Sustaining our modern culture is no longer an option.

August 1, 2007 at 10:09 am 3 comments

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