1. Joined
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    07 Aug '15 15:359 edits
    This report into a study into the impact into biofuel crops would be fine if it wasn't for a misleading statement:

    http://phys.org/news/2015-08-emissions-biofuels-shortages.html

    The title says:

    "Cutting emissions through biofuels will lead to water shortages – study"

    Note it says "through biofuels will..." and not "through biofuel crops will..." i.e. crops grown specifically grown for biofuels and which typically, like most crops, require lots of irrigation.
    It then only talks about only those biofuels from biofuel crops and how the fact that the need to irrigate them will put pressure on water resources.
    The problem with that is that biofuel crops are not the only means by which biofuels can be made. What about biofuels from waste organic matter? That doesn't require irrigation! Although, admittedly, biofuels from waste organic matter is still largely in the research stage, it isn't all in the research stage and it will be just a matter of time before more of it will come out of the lab and into the real world and we be able to use most of our organic waste to make biofuels. But this link doesn't even mention that thus giving the false impression, I think, that all biofuels necessarily WILL require biofuel crops and thus potentially put large pressure on our water resources.

    it also says:

    "Climate change mitigation could actually increase water shortage in some areas rather than reduce it, according to new research."

    Well, as it is only biofuel crops that might cause that problem, if that is a problem, the solution is simple; don't grow them there! And if that means not growing them anywhere, all that would mean is, as biofuels from crops are not essential for going carbon neutral as there are many other renewables that can be used instead and we can make all our cars electric, just do climate change mitigation without biofuel crops -simple!

    P.S. I don't know why but I am prevented from editing out the spelling error I made in the title of my thread and yet I am allowed to make corrections to the rest of the post.
  2. Cape Town
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    07 Aug '15 16:11
    Originally posted by humy
    Note it says "through biofuels will..." and not "through biofuel crops will..." i.e. crops grown specifically grown for biofuels and which typically, like most crops, require lots of irrigation.
    I thought it was an american thing, but now I am not so sure. Do you have any stats as to where biofuels in Europe come from? I agree that they are wrong to talk as if crops are the only type of biofuel, but it would still be interesting to know how big a proportion they are currently.
  3. Joined
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    07 Aug '15 16:445 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I thought it was an american thing, but now I am not so sure. Do you have any stats as to where biofuels in Europe come from? I agree that they are wrong to talk as if crops are the only type of biofuel, but it would still be interesting to know how big a proportion they are currently.
    I don't have any stats on that but I once saw a documentary about waste frying oil from restaurants, which would have otherwise have to been dumped as environmentally hazardous waste, being reprocessed into biofuel that then went straight into people's cars and I was very impressed by that.

    Another thing I know is that, currently, the biggest barrier into converting most types of organic waste is finding a cost effective way of breaking down cellulose into sugars and then converting those sugars into biofuel. But there is a huge amount of ongoing research on that and, when they finally and inevitably crack that problem, just about any organic waste could then be used to economically make biofuels including waste wood,waste paper, lawnmower grass cuttings, garden weeds, waste food, crop debris, and just possibly even sewage!
    And what will be left over would be fertilizer which would at least partly replace the current chemical fertilizers which currently tend to have a high carbon footprint -so it would be excellent for the environment all round.

    When that happens, I wonder if enough biofuel could be made for all our current cars? Don't know how to estimate that.
  4. Cape Town
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    07 Aug '15 18:02
    Originally posted by humy
    I don't have any stats on that but I once saw a documentary about waste frying oil from restaurants, which would have otherwise have to been dumped as environmentally hazardous waste, being reprocessed into biofuel that then went straight into people's cars and I was very impressed by that.
    I have looked into that in the past. There are people that do that in SA. However there really isn't all that much waste cooking oil. Its worth doing but might maybe power a few hundred cars country wide.

    Another thing I know is that, currently, the biggest barrier into converting most types of organic waste is finding a cost effective way of breaking down cellulose into sugars and then converting those sugars into biofuel.
    There are probably better methods to come in the future, but a simple biogas digester works on most types of waste. My sister has been looking into it as she has lots of manure that could be used. However electricity in Zambia is quite cheap so it is difficult to make biogas economical. It can be used to run your stove and geyser and other heating needs but won't run the car. For that she really needs a cheap Chinese electric vehicle.

    I see from looking around on the internet that there are already large companies producing power from wood chips and other industrial waste. In the OK there is a bus that runs on human sewage biogas. I believe a number of European companies produce a significant amount of power from burning rubbish even going to the extent of importing rubbish to burn.

    However, I also noticed that there are a number of European producers of biofuels that do use crops grown specifically for biofuels - thus using both land and water.
  5. Cape Town
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    07 Aug '15 18:04
    Originally posted by humy
    When that happens, I wonder if enough biofuel could be made for all our current cars? Don't know how to estimate that.
    I personally think we should go electric and produce electricity from biofuels and other green sources.
  6. Joined
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    07 Aug '15 18:33
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    In the OK there is a bus that runs on human sewage biogas.
    I didn't know that (I assume "OK" is a misspelling of "UK" ).
  7. Joined
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    07 Aug '15 18:404 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I personally think we should go electric and produce electricity from biofuels and other green sources.
    I think I agree. One big attraction of that is that would result in less air pollution because, even if the green source is from burning biofuel, it is generally much easier to arrange to filter out the worse of the pollution out of the exhaust if it is coming out of a large power station rather than out of a car. In particular, the smoke particles can be relatively cheaply filtered out using electrostatic filters from a stationary power station -generally not an economical option for smoke from a car.
    Catalytic converters on cars only deal with much of the poisonous gasses but do nothing to filter out the smoke particles that are also responsible for thousands of deaths each year.
  8. Cape Town
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    08 Aug '15 08:201 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    I didn't know that (I assume "OK" is a misspelling of "UK" ).
    Yes.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/15/uk-first-poo-bio-bus-bristol-regular-service

    I see it uses household waste too.
  9. Joined
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    08 Aug '15 12:19
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Yes.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/15/uk-first-poo-bio-bus-bristol-regular-service

    I see it uses household waste too.
    I like the way they call it the "poo bus".
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