[permaculture] Svar: Re: David Blume and "Alcohol Can Be A Gas"

christopher nesbitt christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org
Thu Oct 22 10:38:23 EDT 2009


Hi Gavin,

I am going to order the book, thanks to your excellent overview, and  
Toby's thoughts.

Thank you for putting this into a larger perspective!

Best wishes,

Christopher
On Oct 22, 2009, at 1:25 AM, Gavin Raders wrote:

>     Ok, time to jump in here!  Unfortunately, the vast, vast  
> majority of
> people (including most environmentalists and pro-sustainability  
> people)
> completely misunderstand ethanol production...it's history and its
> appropriate sources.  You really should read the book...sustainably  
> produced
> ethanol (it is actually possible) absolutely has a place as a value- 
> added
> product in 21st century permaculture in my opinion, far superior to  
> fossil
> fuels, tar sands, oil shale, liquefied natural gas, coal, and  
> nuclear power
> that are poised to remain the source of our energy production for at  
> least
> another generation unless something very dramatic happens.
>    In fact, energy production via ethanol used to be highly  
> decentralized.
> An incalculable number of small, pre-industrial farms in every part  
> of the
> U.S. (and across the world) produced their own ethanol fuel, and  
> fuel for
> the first couple generations of automobiles, within a system of  
> diversified
> food production as a part of a localized, poly-cultural, organic food
> system.  That is, until Rockefeller undertook a massive, behind the  
> scenes
> lobbying effort to make alcohol production illegal (the real reason  
> for
> prohibition), thereby eliminating the bulk of competition facing
> Rockefeller's Standard Oil company, which was using its waste from
> processing oil into kerosene to run internal combustion engines in
> competition with ethanol.  David Blume begins with this history in  
> his book,
> and it is fascinating.
>   He then goes on to lay out, from a permaculturalist's perspective,  
> some
> research on various methods for ethanol production, including from  
> various
> wastes.  One of the most exciting ideas, to me, is using cattails.   
> Similar
> to the incredible Arcata march in Northern California (a man-made  
> wetland
> fed by 18,000 people's blackwater, now one of the nation's largest  
> bird
> sanctuaries) a town or small city's blackwater can go through a solids
> filter and be sent into a large, man-made wetland, to further filter  
> these
> excess nutrients and use them to grow cattails at a very fast rate  
> (cleaner
> water as a result).  Unlike corn, cattails produce simple sugars very
> efficiently (simple sugars being what is eaten by yeast and turned  
> into
> ethanol), and can be harvested repeatedly to turn a town's human  
> waste into
> fuel.  Blume estimates (maybe on the high side) 10,000 gallons of
> fuel/acre/year, or more with multiple harvesting in a calculated way.
> Nonetheless, you turning poop into fuel, saving our waterways and  
> oceans
> this overload, and providing wildlife sanctuaries, green space, and  
> for
> abundant bio-diversity.  I've heard worse ideas.
>   And in the book, you'd also find (contrary to what Thomas stated and
> Trevor backed up), that once the sugars are turned into ethanol  
> thanks to
> yeast, you are still left with all the nutrients (proteins and  
> minerals),
> called "spent mash".  Farmer cooperatives in late 19th century germany
> allowed farmers to bring in their excess potato crop, and the farmer
> received back a portion of his ethanol, and most of his spent mash.   
> The
> farmer then used the liquid portion of the mash to fertilize his  
> land, and
> raised fat, mash-fed animals.  His alcohol provided heat, light, and  
> power
> for the new machinery.  It also turned something that rots easily  
> (potatoes)
> into a value-added product with its energy preserved.
>
> Its one of many dreams of mine to help work on one of those
> cattail/waste/ethanol wetland systems...maybe it will happen one day.
> Let me know if you have some ideas.
>
> Hope this was helpful.
> goodnight!
> gavin raders
> www.plantingjustice.org
>
>
>
> On Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 9:14 PM, trevor william johnson <john2116 at msu.edu 
> >wrote:
>
>> I feel there is a contextual misconception here.  What is
>> permaculture and what is not permaculture.  Its all defined by the
>> system in which it exists.  We must remember that sustainability/
>> fully interconnected interdependence (permacultures ideal goal) is
>> not a location, set goal or certain list of techniques.  It is using
>> the conditions of the system to support human life while also
>> supporting the earth, caring for each other and sharing the wealth
>> (permaculture ethics)
>>
>> Given that context correction...It cant be denied that the whole
>> premise of the book relies cars, tractors or other locomotive/energy
>> generating machine which most likely will not be part of long term
>> journey towards sustainability. But what is long term? There are
>> already a lot of mined metals out there that will be useful for a
>> long time. However as a stopgap measure in the meantime it is useful
>> to wean us off of more polluting energy sources.
>>
>> Thomas is quite correct in his assertion that what the alcohol
>> creation process uses as feed-stock is actually the necessary base
>> for a living and evolving soil food web.  If we break that cycle we
>> will only create work for ourselves.
>>
>> The lesson: dont throw the baby out with the bath water...and/
>> or...contextual permaculture jujitsu
>>
>> Trevor
>> On Oct 21, 2009, at 9:46 AM, Albert Johnston wrote:
>>
>>> I have read the book "Alcohol Can Be A Gas".
>>>
>>> I highly recommend this book for permaculturists. The point he makes
>>> over and over in the book is that feedstock should be waste from  
>>> other
>>> processes or selected permaculture crops such as Jerusalem  
>>> Artichoke.
>>> The protein and fat coproduced  used as feed for livestock,  
>>> earthworms
>>> etc.  Also the possibilities of using cattails in a waste treatment
>>> facility that produce large amounts of starch.
>>>
>>> I especially like the part about using the laws that protect  
>>> petroleum
>>> distrubutors to establish local ethanol producers as part of a local
>>> permaculture cooperative.
>>>
>>> Lately I have been pondering a new definition for permaculture. One
>>> way to define permaculture is ethical capitalism. Perhaps someone  
>>> can
>>> start a string on this thought.
>>>
>>> I am not a certified permaculturists so be kind on the feedback.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>
>>> On Oct 21, 2009, at 2:32 AM, "Thomas Paul Jahn" <tpj at life.ku.dk>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>> Sorry, but in my eyes this is not permaculture at all. As long as  
>>>> he
>>>> wants us make believe that we will be driving our cars and lorries
>>>> on alcohol in substitution for oil this is insane.
>>>> With large production of alcohol from crops we directly compete  
>>>> with
>>>> food. Using "waste organic material" (second generation biofuel)  
>>>> for
>>>> alcohol production is not an alternative either. After reading
>>>> Fukuoka it was clear to me that straw HAS TO BE used for mulch and
>>>> cannot be taken out of this direct cycling.
>>>> It should always be possible to generate some minor amount of
>>>> biofuel, so the methode in principle may be interesting. But not  
>>>> for
>>>> large production. Transportation will only go as human powered or
>>>> electric human powered hybrid.
>>>> cheers
>>>> Thomas
>>>>
>>>>>>> katey culver <newtribe at hughes.net> 21-10-09 2:23 >>>
>>>> On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 5:29 PM, Robert Waldrop <bwaldrop at cox.net>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> At the Financial Permaculture summit in 2008, one of the groups
>>>> worked
>>>> on a concept for a farmer-owned cooperative that would make fuel  
>>>> from
>>>> local production for use in local production...
>>>>
>>>> Additionally, prior to the event the hosts of the Financial
>>>> Permaculture
>>>> summit had brought David Blume to talk to the Chamber of Commerce  
>>>> of
>>>> Lewis
>>>> County (county where Financial Permaculture event was held) and
>>>> based the
>>>> Ethanol Production track of the workshop on the ideas promoted in
>>>> David's
>>>> book.  The people who came to lead that track are the principles in
>>>> the
>>>> company Pesco-Beam.  You can see work on ethanol production at
>>>> http://www.pescova.com/biofuel_production/ethanol_production.shtml
>>>>
>>>> They have been in the ethanol production business since 1980 and
>>>> have a
>>>> permaculture perspective.  They were loaded with good energy and
>>>> great
>>>> information.  I think they are very approachable so i would
>>>> recommend a
>>>> phone call to them to talk if you are interested in the pursuing  
>>>> this
>>>> avenue.
>>>>
>>>> Katey
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> Katey Culver
>>>> www.earthandstraw.com
>>>>
>>>> On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 5:29 PM, Robert Waldrop <bwaldrop at cox.net>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> At the Financial Permaculture summit in 2008, one of the groups
>>>>> worked
>>>>> on a concept for a farmer-owned cooperative that would make fuel
>>>>> from
>>>>> local production for use in local production with some surplus
>>>>> available
>>>>> to be sold to the community, another useful product being the
>>>>> "brewers
>>>>> grains" which would go to dairies in the area, all of whom would  
>>>>> be
>>>>> in
>>>>> the cooperative too.  I think at that level, alcohol production  
>>>>> from
>>>>> biomass makes economic, energetic and permacultural "sense".   
>>>>> Giant
>>>>> factories using corn to make ethanol for use across a continent is
>>>>> clearly not a net-energy activity.  Corn is probably one of the
>>>>> worst
>>>>> things to make into alcohol.
>>>>>
>>>>> Bob Waldrop, OKC
>>>>> http://www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org
>>>>>
>>>>> Leo Brodie wrote:
>>>>>> Do any of you have any thoughts or experience with David Blume  
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> his
>>>>> advocacy of alcohol (aka ethanol) as fuel? He touts himself as a
>>>>> permaculturist (he owns the domain permaculture.com), and does
>>>>> speak in
>>>>> terms that make some ecological sense (local production, re-
>>>>> applying the
>>>>> mash back to the soil), but I'm not sure it all adds up.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> He makes it sound like alcohol burns completely clean, but I've
>>>>>> found
>>>>> academic research (e.g
>>>>> http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/patzek/BiofuelQA/Materials/
>>>>> ClimateHealth.pdf
>>>>> )
>>>>> that says otherwise.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I'm asking because I have never heard any mention of his work in
>>>>> Permaculture circles, but if his claims have any merit we should  
>>>>> be
>>>>> trying
>>>>> this stuff.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Thanks in advance,
>>>>>> Leo Brodie, Seattle
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_____________________________
Christopher Nesbitt

Maya Mountain Research Farm
San Pedro Columbia, Toledo
PO 153 Punta Gorda Town, Toledo
BELIZE,
Central America

www.mmrfbz.org






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