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Tristan R. Brown

 
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  • Can Ethanol Overcome The Blend Wall? [View article]
    Thanks for the comment, Marek. I'm afraid that I'm not aware of any such sources. The calculations are complicated by the fact that the actual amount of ethanol blended in each gallon of so-called E85 fluctuates wildly, making it difficult to determine with any precision how much of an effect it has on the mileage costs.
    Jul 29 11:30 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Can Ethanol Overcome The Blend Wall? [View article]
    rip, while I agree that the "food versus fuel" debate has been thoroughly refuted (as I've pointed out in past articles, the corn ethanol era has actually corresponded with a decline in cases of chronic hunger globally), the corn used to make ethanol does end up on the grill...indirectly. Feed corn is the most common ethanol feedstock in the U.S. and this would be converted to red meat were it not used to create ethanol. Of course, that's not to say that your underlying point is wrong given the incredible energy inefficiencies associated with beef production, but it does end up on the grill.
    Jul 29 11:27 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Can Ethanol Overcome The Blend Wall? [View article]
    The EIA's track record is quite poor at that timespan. It's possible that their models have improved since the last big review, although I doubt it.
    Jul 28 06:17 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Can Ethanol Overcome The Blend Wall? [View article]
    Thanks for the comment, Robert. Yes, I do consider it more likely that existing biobased diesel capacity is utilized to make up the difference (see my first article in this series), although there is insufficient feedstock at present to do this through 2015 (despite the 3 BGY in existing capacity). It's possible that RIN prices increase until all lipids feedstock is used for biobased diesel production, although I suspect the public outcry would be too much. That's why I considered ethanol as a scenario as well; it's still possible for FFVs to make up for the missing gallons, albeit less likely.
    Jul 28 06:15 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    " What is the energy return on investment? How much energy is required to make your bio fuels and how much do they provide?"

    I hate to get into EROI because it is ultimately an inferior metric that is generally just used by proponents of the petroleum industry (which ultimately scores better than virtually any alternative). I'm far more interested in the financial, monetary, and environmental costs, as well as the actual form and utility of the energy. I'd prefer a biomass-powered pathway that produces low-carbon, renewable hydrocarbons over its petroleum-based counterpart for those reasons, even if it doesn't compare as well on a strict EROI basis.

    That said, as stated above, many thermochemical pathways can produce renewable hydrocarbons without consuming any external sources of heat or electricity at the facility by using reactor process heat and combustible co-products. We aren't talking about coal-powered ethanol facilities here.
    Jul 28 12:51 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    Agreed. However, by comparing the non-petroleum alternatives, hopefully we can minimize the disruption that will inevitably occur when petroleum production is no longer capable of keeping pace with consumption. And during that analysis, someone will ultimately be correct when they "minimize the profound changes" of the technology that they identify as the least-disruptive alternative.
    Jul 28 12:43 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    You're welcome; I'm glad you found it useful. Thanks for the comment.
    Jul 28 12:37 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    UOP has licensed its process technology for a number of projects employing both lignocellulosic pyrolysis and lipids hydroprocessing pathways. It's a different business model than we frequently see in the sector, but UOP's work is widely adopted throughout it as a result.
    Jul 28 12:36 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    " A lot of cellulose conversion hardly produces as much energy as you put in in labor....."

    How are you defining labor?
    Jul 28 12:34 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    You require it, but the requisite energy is provided by the feedstock. Not all thermochemical products are easily converted to liquid fuels but they are easily converted to heat and electricity, which are then used to power the fuel production (and supply excess electricity to the grid). So no, these pathways don't require EXTERNAL electricity or sources of energy other than the biorenewable feedstock.
    Jul 28 12:33 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    Thanks for the comment, spooker. However, most cellulosic pathways require no energy inputs (and, like cane ethanol production, can even feed electricity to the grid). See, for example, KiOR's employment of a boiler for converting co-product char and coke to electricity.
    Jul 27 03:28 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    Thanks for the comment. However, biomass already converts sunlight into a hydrocarbon precursor for us.
    Jul 27 03:27 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    Thanks for the comment. I suspect that the U.S. energy landscape would look very different indeed if we accounted for all of petroleum's costs at the pump (as opposed to requiring taxpayers to absorb much of them each April).
    Jul 27 03:26 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    To quote the man himself:

    "(1) Foreign oil is your friend not your enemy; (2) You want to produce your own assets slow; … (3) The oil in the ground you’re not producing is a national treasure; … running out of hydrocarbons is like running out of civilization."

    http://read.bi/13lOzks

    Also, if you'd actually read my article, you would know that biorenewable hydrocarbons are already being produced on a commercial scale. 1.4 billion gallons in 2013, actually, between Dynamic Fuels, Diamond Green Diesel, Emerald Biofuels, and Neste Oil.
    Jul 27 03:23 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Science Lesson For Charlie Munger [View article]
    I don't disagree that Mr. Munger was arguing in favor of some types of alternative energy, although his statements seemed to be in favor of electrified transportation (a few years back he described 1st-gen biofuels as another "dumb" idea). As I point out in reply to the comment above your comment, however, his proposed plan of action is counter-intuitive in light of the other options available to U.S. policymakers.
    Jul 27 03:18 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
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