[permaculture] Re: Biodiesel (Not Biogas)

storm emstorm at sonic.net
Wed Mar 6 19:02:34 EST 2002


I don't consider myself an expert on this by any means, but I have a few
questions about plant based substitutes for petroluem based fuels.  I call
them questions, rather than criticisms, because I am open to information
that helps me see through what otherwise seems problematic to me now.  I'd
love to find out that there are good alternatives, so please feel free to
fill me in if I'm missing something.

I see the advantage of a fuel that can be grown annually rather than pumped
from the ground and created on the scale of millions of years.  But this is
not the only goal of a sustainable fuel source.

Is there a qualitative difference in the exhaust between diesel and
biodiesel?  Will this still cause polution and global climate change?  I
would guess both burn hydrocarbons and therefore are much the same.  Any
chemists out there?

By the time you subtract the fuel it takes to grow the plant matter and to
produce the fuel, is there any left over for other uses?   It seems most
suppliers of any quantity may use petroleum based fuels to grow/produce the
fuel, and therefore this could be a very inefficient way to feel good about
one's own vehicle when in fact there is no real gain.  It's kind of like
running an electric car on electricity made from inefficiently burning
coal; you may think you car is running clean, but you may in fact be
causing more problems than you are solving.

If we find an easy, cheap and clean substitute to oil/gasoline, what
incentive will there be to move away from an auto based society?  There are
many other problems with auto lifestyles than just the polution, climate
change, and military infrastructure to protect oil interests and profits.
Do we really want to make it easy for people to each have their own car?
And what about the other 5 billion people that will want their cars?  

While biodiesel may be an interesting transitional phase, I don't see it as
a long term solution to most of the problems we have now with cars and oil.
 The only advantage I can see is that it can be produced locally and on a
dramatically shorter time frame.  I come from a sustainability framework
and want to avoid solutions that cause a half a dozen other problems.  It
seems that we need solutions that solve several problems at once, stacking
functions.

Eric Storm



> Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 11:33:37 +1100
> From: Paul Osmond <P.Osmond at unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] BIOGAS
> 
> Invicta, a major bus company in the state of Victoria, Australia, has just
> started a trial of canola oil as a substitute for petroleum diesel in its
> bus fleet. And here at the University of New South Wales we are in the
> process of designing a mobile (to fit on the back of a twin axle trailer)
> biodiesel plant to process used cooking oil from the university's food
> outlets and to link in with teaching programs in the Chemical Engineering
> and Photovoltaic Engineering. The idea of a mobile plant is also to be able
> to tour around to schools, events etc to promote the concept.
> 
> Cheers, Paul Osmond
> 
> 
> 
> At 20:58 5/03/02 +0100, you wrote:
> >In Germany Biodiesel is produced on large scale from rapeseed oil. I have
> >just seen a big tanker truck with the stuff. I think there are some gas
> >stations where you can buy it. I heard it is cheaper than the stuff made
> >from petroil.
> >
> >Andreas

> Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 02:10:47 -0000
> From: <soilfirst at dojo.tao.ca>
> Subject: [permaculture] Biodiesel (Not Biogas)
> 
> This (the previous email below) sounds cool.  I used to work for
California's 
> first institutional worm composting company, Berkeley Worms, which
composted 
> food waste from University of California dorm kitchens by feeding it to 
> worms.  We ran our truck (a dairy feed mixer that we used to mix the
compost 
> while we drove from site to site) on 20% biodiesil.  I mentioned the
ecology 
> center earlier. Our recyclign trucks fun on 100% biodiesil-- made from 
> soybean oil wastes. We're working on a community biodiesil"gas station" but 
> this will take quite some time.  These fuels emit a significantly lower 
> portion of particulant pollutants than petrol based feuls.  Plus, you can 
> make them at home. 
> 
> Those interested should look into the "Veggie Van," too.  I am not an
expert 
> in Biodiesil, but it is interesting and a damn better alternative than
petrol.
> There's a gaggle of links on the web, just search for them.  
> Tim Krupnik
> 
> 
> Invicta, a major bus company in the state of Victoria, Australia, has just
> started a trial of canola oil as a substitute for petroleum diesel in its
> bus fleet. And here at the University of New South Wales we are in the
> process of designing a mobile (to fit on the back of a twin axle trailer)
> biodiesel plant to process used cooking oil from the university's food
> outlets and to link in with teaching programs in the Chemical Engineering
> and Photovoltaic Engineering. The idea of a mobile plant is also to be able
> to tour around to schools, events etc to promote the concept.
> 
> Cheers, Paul Osmond




More information about the permaculture mailing list