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Bio-diesel Made from Sewage 322

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the gas-that-really-smells dept.
tito writes "A New Zealand company has successfully turned sewage into modern-day gold. New Zealand Herald is reporting that a Marlborough-based Aquaflow Bionomic yesterday announced it had produced its first sample of bio-diesel fuel from algae in sewage ponds. It is believed to be the world's first commercial production of bio-diesel from 'wild' algae outside the laboratory - and the company expects to be producing at the rate of at least one million litres of the fuel each year from Blenheim by April."
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Bio-diesel Made from Sewage

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  • by flafish (305068) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:45AM (#15316383)
    sewage coming out of the tailpipe or french fries?
  • by casings (257363) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:46AM (#15316386)
    Finally we are going to be able to use our waste to ease some form of our lives.

    I can already think of a slogon- "Waste makes haste"
    • by myth24601 (893486) on Friday May 12, 2006 @09:18AM (#15316755)
      Really adds a new dimension to the term "tail pipe emissions."
    • So... instead of an oil shortage, we'll seen have a waste shortage?
      • So... instead of an oil shortage, we'll seen have a waste shortage?

        In this world? With our media and our politicians? Hollywood alone could fuel a small galaxy.

      • You seem to be incorrectly assuming that anyone, anywhere, is suggesting that we entirely switch over to this for our oil needs.

        In fact, in terms of oil dependency this is almost entirely useless. If my waste was pure gasoline coming out of my body with the same mass, I'd still be right on the edge of being able to supply my own driving needs. So it's not going to get us off of oil.

        However, a "waste shortage" sounds like a good thing to me. Much better than a surplus, no?

        It's just one of many steps towards
        • It's just one of many steps towards increasing the efficiency of our society. Long-term, we're going to beat the oil shortage by decreasing our energy usage,

          We could reduce our [petroleum based] energy usage to zero - and we still wouldn't have beaten the shortage. (Hint: Petroleum is used for much more than energy - much, much, much, much more.) The rising consumer prices aren't just about rising gas prices.

          Rising oil prices means the feedstocks used to produce fertilizers get more expensive. (Which

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:47AM (#15316388)
    How much is that compared to the oil consumption of New Zealand? How many of those factories would be needed to be independent of crude oil and would that be feasible?
    • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:57AM (#15316420) Homepage Journal
      How much is that compared to the oil consumption of New Zealand? How many of those factories would be needed to be independent of crude oil and would that be feasible?

      NZ consumes around 151,900 blue barrels a day [cia.gov] that's around 8815 million litres a year. So this plant will be able to provide around 0.01% of NZ's fuel.

      But, there is going to be no single replacement for fossil fuels, there's going to be many (and this is just the first plant).

      I wish Aquaflow Bionomics Corporation's [bio-diesel.co.nz] home page was a little more professional looking, but this is most certainly good news!
      • It is a small percentage, granted. But it is interesting that Belnheim is small town of around 30,000 people, so producing 1 million litres from such a small population can be useful when scaled up to 4 million people (the population of NZ).

        I say good on them, its good seeing some real innovation in alternative fuel production. Its not going to solve the worlds energy problems, but all contributions to that lofty goal are worth it.
        • producing 1 million litres from such a small population can be useful when scaled up to 4 million people


          Some simple math (4000000/30000*0.01) will show you that even scaled to the full population of NZ it would supply only 1.33% of the country's oil consumption. Not really significant, IMHO.

          • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday May 12, 2006 @09:17AM (#15316743) Journal
            Not really significant,

            So, lets see; they reduce their waste problem, they lower their oil usage, and even lower their co2 emissions. Well, it appears to be headed in the right direction, rather than in wrong.

            • Not to mention that this is a private enterprise, so they'll be making money and stimulating the economy at the same time -- and only need to be mildly profitable for a slew of like-minded ventures to spring up across the globe. Not unlike the thermal depolymerization plant in the states, the first is practically just a demonstration of the feasability. The real money is when 20 identical plants spring up somewhere, and then another 100 down the line. Combining recycling and fuel production is a fabulous
              • Re:Direction (Score:3, Insightful)

                by malsdavis (542216) *
                Indeed, this seems to be the mistake most people make regarding nearly all renewable energy generation techniques (which apart from hydro-electric, only make up a tiny fraction of power generation). Most of the plants built up until today have been little more than feasibility projects.

                But - as is starting to be seen in some European countries - significant cheap energy contributions can be made when the technology begins to mature and get the sort of level of massive investment traditional energy generatio
      • The current output maybe low, but the plant is a new concept, using new processes and has only just been set-up.

        The first refinery (apparently built in 1856 at Ploieti, Romania http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_refinery#History [wikipedia.org]) probably outputed even less petroleum to begin with.
    • Let's look at it this way: how is New Zealand profiting from their sewage lines? How much does New Zealand save up by implementing these kind of plants in their sewage lines?

      Even if New Zealand only produces 0.5% of their oil consumption through this method, can you imagine how is that translated into real money? Plus, producing something instead of importing it makes the country richer, not only financially but also in technically, which means that the country profits by these projects in multiple fronts.
    • So, the sewage output of a town of 26,000 people can produce 1 million litres of usable fuel. As it was stated above, NZ consumes around 8.8 billion liters of fuel per year. With a population of 4.1 million, that is ~2150 liters of fuel, per person, per year. This plant is producing around 38 litres per person. So they've covered roughly 2% of the fuel use per person. Granted, 2% isn't much, but it is locally produced (removing most of the transportation inefficiencies) and I'm sure it isn't as optimal
  • to burrito gas powering cars instead of just stinking them up.
  • Hmmmmmmmmmn, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:48AM (#15316392) Homepage Journal
    As well as creating diesel from waste products, the process cleans water:
    Creating fuel from the algae removes the problem while producing useful clean water, said Mr Leay. The clean water can then be used for stock food, irrigation and, if treated properly, for human consumption.
    In spite of this, I'm sure a million slashdotters are going to bleat about this not solving the fuel crisis, giving us their back of napkin calculations that show you'll need to cover the entire surface of the united states with algae ponds to replace fossil fuels, etc.

    Remember folks - there is not going to be a single replacement for fossil fuels, but many (and lets not forget the other half of the equation - reducing our energy consumption).
    • by bhima (46039) <Bhima@Pandava.gmail@com> on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:02AM (#15316436) Journal
      Covering the entire surface of the United States with shit eating algae sounds like a step in the right direction... can we start in Washington?
    • Remember folks - there is not going to be a single replacement for fossil fuels

      Hmmmm. Alge infestation is a serious problem for inland waterways here in Australia.

      • Re:Hmmmmmmmmmn, (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:21AM (#15316484) Homepage Journal
        As Australia consumes 50 billion [cia.gov] litres of oil yearly, and this plant produces 1 million litres of oil yearly, I'd say you're going to need a lot of waterways clogged with algae!

        On a side note - I believe the Australian waterways are clogged with blue-green algaes? [sfwmd.gov] (The same neon-blue blooms you see in many US waterways). It's a big problem - but I'm not sure blue green algaes are suitable for this method of biodiesel production.
        • but I'm not sure blue green algaes are suitable for this method of biodiesel production.

          Neither am I but as you point out multiple solutions are going to be needed in the long term. Its a complicated way to run things but thats life.

          Maybe an algae scoop on a river could generate enough energy to pump water through pipes (cutting down on evaporation) while increasing the total amount of usable water.

          This is a great idea which lends itself to elegant (if small scale) energy projects.

          • Maybe an algae scoop on a river could generate enough energy to pump water through pipes (cutting down on evaporation) while increasing the total amount of usable water.

            A great idea! Or even a portable version - that could be driven to wherever there is a problem bloom, to clean that waterway!
    • As well as creating diesel from waste products, the process cleans water...

      Correct you are, I was searching around for that local government's PDF on their sewage ponds. I was wondering what the area of pond was exposed to air and whether or not this had any ill effects on residents. What I found was an interesting abstract from the Assets & Services List of the Marlborough District [marlborough.govt.nz] and from P.04/05.665:

      In a report presented by Mark Wheeler he advised that residents in the Dillons Point and Har

      • A few years back, I toured a waste treatment facility in Tennessee for a college class. They aerated their ponds with fish. The motion of the fish swimming around was sufficient, required no electricity, and the fish helped keep down the mosquito population. They also controlled the bugs around the ponds with bats at night and purple martins by day, then sprayed the nitrogen-rich water on a stand of trees when it left the last pond, letting the trees and soil do the last round of filtration before it went b
    • The UNH Study (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zobeid (314469) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:15AM (#15316466)
      The UNH Biodiesel Group calculated that algae farms in the Mojave Desert alone could supply enough fuel to replace all the gasoline used in the USA. That was just an example to show the land-area requirements. In practice you would want algae cultivation spread out around the country. (The availability of waste feedstocks around the country is one reason.)

      I like biodiesel as a long-term solution for several reasons. . .

      Because an air-breathing engine draws much of its "fuel" mass from the air, it starts with a large advantage in energy density, and it will be hard for other energy sources -- batteries, supercapacitors, flywheels -- to ever compete.

      Unlike hydrogen, we already have the infrastructure in place to handle, store and distribute biodiesel, and millions of vehicles that can already run off it, and the capacity to economically produce millions more of them.

      Producing it from algae mimics the process by which petroleum originally formed, over the eons. It might seem unrealistic to produce enough biofuel on a year-by-year basis to replace the *millions* of years worth of petroleum that we routinely burn without thinking anything of it. . . But the natural processes that created petroleum were haphazard, and hardly what anyone would call efficient.

      If you replace haphazard processes with specially selected (maybe genetically engineered) strains of algae kept in controlled conditions, with concentrated feed of nutrients and sunlight, the production capacity could be immense. So yeah, I think it can be done.

      We might not ever see dirt-cheap fuel again, but I'm optimistic that we can come up with petroleum alternatives at a level that allows our economy and industry to keep on functioning.
      • by Xichekolas (908635) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:43AM (#15316582)

        According to the UNH study and Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the yield of algae farms is about 5000 to 20,000 gallons per acre of pond per year. This number varies mostly due to the pond conditions, strain of algae used, and oil collection method employed.

        However, it is worthwhile to note that even the low end (5000 gallons per acre per year) is over 100 times better than soybeans (50 gallons per acre per year) or rapeseed (about 120 gallons per acre per year)... which are the two dominant crops providing biodiesel in America and Europe today.

        To supply the entire US fuel needs would require as little as 0.3% of US land area to be covered by algae ponds. This translates to about 28,000 square kilometers, or about 11,000 square miles. To put this in perspective, that is about 1/8th the size of Kansas... and well less than the area devoted to Soybeans currently.

        • I am as interested in how this could scale down as well as scale up. Sure, economies of scale can give us certain efficiencies, but having the ability to do this on the personal level makes for more personal independence and less reliance on corporations.
          • by jackbird (721605) on Friday May 12, 2006 @09:43AM (#15316877)
            Well, filling a 15 gallon tank on two cars weekly for a year = 1560 gallons. So at 5000 gallons per acre per year, if all the open space of a large half-acre suburban lot were devoted to your personal sewage farm, you could just squeak by. Plus you'd save on home security bills, what with the giant moat of fecal slime surrounding your house. And you'd reduce tension with the neighbors, because you'd welcome your neighbor's dog crapping in your yard.
      • The UNH Biodiesel Group calculated that algae farms in the Mojave Desert alone

        Where would you get the water? Before you answer "from the sewage of LA", the Mojave desert is uphill from LA, you would have to pump water up there. Even Imperial valley and the Salton sea would not be practical for this since they are quite a long distance from LA, with mountains in between.

        I think more practical locations for this in the USA would be states in the Southeast, which have a wet climate.

        • The report you point to suggests the Salton Sea, which is a large, accidentally created, body of salt water, replenished by the Colorado River. The nice thing about using land in the Mojave is that the land in question is not currently used for agriculture -- it is, after all, a desert -- and so wouldn't be taken out of production.
      • Re:The UNH Study (Score:4, Informative)

        by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday May 12, 2006 @09:51AM (#15316933)
        If you replace haphazard processes with specially selected (maybe genetically engineered) strains of algae kept in controlled conditions, with concentrated feed of nutrients and sunlight, the production capacity could be immense. So yeah, I think it can be done.

        In fact, that is what a company called GreenFuel Technologies wants to do. Put up a couple of hundred acres of special vertical tanks (maybe derived from metal tanks used by large commercial breweries) and feed the tanks full of oil-laden algae with the exhaust gases from a coal-fired or natural gas-fired plant. This results in VERY fast growth of the algae and also absorbs 40% of the CO2 gas and 86% of the NOx gases, with the final exhaust gases having way below the Kyoto Protocol mandates for coal-fired powerplant emissions. Just a single 200-acre setup could produce an astonishing 15 million gallons of biodiesel fuel/heating oil per year, and the "waste" from the processing of the algae could be used to make animal feed, plant fertilizer or even make ethanol! :-)

        If we set up such "farms" of algae tanks next to every large coal-fired or natural gas-fired plant in the USA we could make enough biodiesel fuel/heating oil to drastically reduce the need for refining diesel fuel or heating oil from crude oil. Given modern catalytic "cracker" technology at most US refineries this means more of the crude oil can be used to make gasoline and/or kerosene motor fuels.
      • Re:The UNH Study (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fear the Clam (230933)
        On the local level, can you image how much better the American economy could be if all the money that went into buying foreign fuels and a whole bunch of the money for the military was kept right here in the USA? Heck, imagine if only 10% of the money we spend now to secure "American interests" abroad were spent instead on paying down federal debt, a basic level of universal healthcare, educational grants, science research, and heck, maybe even helping out less-fortunate countries that really need it, as op
    • by HangingChad (677530)
      In spite of this, I'm sure a million slashdotters are going to bleat about this not solving the fuel crisis, giving us their back of napkin calculations that show you'll need to cover the entire surface of the united states with algae ponds to replace fossil fuels, etc.

      Then their back of the napkin calculations would be wrong. To replace all the transportation fuels we use in the US, about 25% of what the world uses, would require roughly 15,000 square miles of the Sonora Desert, which is around 120,000

    • Algae biodiesel (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hlh_nospam (178327) <[concealedhandgun] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday May 12, 2006 @09:25AM (#15316793) Homepage Journal
      Algae farming actually has the potential of replacing all diesel and gasoline usage in the US using only a tiny fraction of the land area available. There are several cost/benefit analyses of this on the 'net, such as this one [americanen...ndence.com]. Estimates of algae-biodiesel yield range from 10,000 to 20,000 US gal/acre/year. Soy-diesel has a lower yield, but has some other economically beneficial by-products. Biodiesel is the most promising energy technology I have seen to date. Compare biodiesel to ethanol -- the producers of ethanol find it more economical to burn fossil fuels in ethanol production than the ethanol -- DOH! With the current price of dinofuel around $3/gal, biodiesel is also suddenly cost-competitive, and for about $3000, you can buy a home biodiesel production facility [journeytoforever.org] that can manufacture 40 gallons/week at a cost of about 50 cents per gallon plus whatever you have to pay for the oil, and about 2 hours/week in ongoing labor.
  • Nothing new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:49AM (#15316394)
    You can produce bio-diesel from a vast diversity of lifeforms as long as they contain lipids. The real question is to know if a source can be economically viable.
    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:23AM (#15316489) Homepage Journal
      You can produce bio-diesel from a vast diversity of lifeforms as long as they contain lipids

      Humans contain lipids.

      • Re:Don't tell me (Score:2, Interesting)

        by aadvancedGIR (959466)
        Humans contain lipids.

        In particular the ones living in countries that massively use low MPG trucks to commute, it can't be a coincidence.
      • /me runs out and patents SoylentFuels.org
      • "Biodiesel Green... is... PEOPLE!"
      • Biodiesel is people! IT'S PEOPLE!!!
      • by Ranger (1783) on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:03PM (#15319629) Homepage
        You can produce bio-diesel from a vast diversity of lifeforms as long as they contain lipids

        Humans contain lipids.
        So they'll start putting liposuction centers next to a biodiesel refinery?

        This could solve the obesity crisis and energy crisis at the same time! Instead of driving around on your fat ass, you'll be driving around on your ass fat! So how much of this untapped resource is there? Let's see:

        • How many obese people are there in America?
        • What is the average weight of extra fat that people have?
        • Multipy the two numbers together we get the number of pounds of fat.
        • How many pounds of fat can we safely extract via liposuction per person per year?
        • Then we get the number of convertable pounds of fat per year.
        • How many pounds of fat does it take to produce one gallon of biodiesel?
        • Multiply that gallons per pound with the number of pounds available and we get the number of gallons of lipodiesel per year.

        Should Middle East cut off the tap, it will become the patriotic duty of every overweight person to donate their fat for biodiesel production. We'll no longer have an obesity crisis. We'll have a Strategic Lipid Reserve.

    • You can produce bio-diesel from a vast diversity of lifeforms as long as they contain lipids.

      "Soylent diesel is made from PEOPLE! It's PEOPLE!!!!!!"
      • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Friday May 12, 2006 @09:04AM (#15316689) Journal
        Then fill up the tank with premium, because I want to associate with only quality people.
        • Re:Nothing new (Score:3, Informative)

          by bhtooefr (649901)
          On a serious note, I usually fill my Jetta up with a premium diesel that I have been told is 50 cetane (opposite of octane, and with diesel, the higher, the better - 40 cetane is normal), and is one of the better premium diesels in the country.

          (I've been told it's BP Diesel Supreme, which is refined right here in Ohio, and made from 0% Middle Eastern oil. :))

          And, I plan on running homebrew biodiesel in the future, as well. :)
  • 1 million litres? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zeronitro (937642) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:56AM (#15316416)

    1 Million litres may be a decent start, but it sure isn't much. There's a corn-fuled ethanol producing plant in Kansas that produces 26 million gal of ethanol a year, and that hardly makes a dent (src: popular mechanics). (and yeah I know bio-diesel has a higher BTU then corn-based ethanol, but it still wouldn't reach even close to the output of another alt fuel plant).

    If we were smart we would pull a brazil and start producing more corn to use as ethanol. They will be oil-independent by next year. Sugar-based ethanol is something like 8 times more efficient then corn-based. Shows what we know right?

    • By oil-independent, do you mean using no oil, or not importing it?

      They are already only importing light crude. (They produce heavy crude and apparently need to mix it with light crude for certain applications.)

      If you mean that they will be using NO oil, I find that very very hard to believe. (Especially considering they just put in a new rig and plan to put another in place by 2010.)
    • Re:1 million litres? (Score:5, Informative)

      by awilden (110846) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:31AM (#15316527)
      I think you mean switch to sugar cane since it's 8x more efficient than corn. Corn is what we already have, and sugar is what Brazil is using right now.
    • Re:1 million litres? (Score:3, Informative)

      by TykeClone (668449) *
      There's a corn-fuled ethanol producing plant in Kansas that produces 26 million gal of ethanol a year

      That's a small one. I live less than 20 miles from one that is currently making 100 million gallons per year - and it will be doubled in capacity within the next year.

    • The thing about this is that it doesn't take up any extra land. We already have sewage outfalls and treatment plants, so stick this algae on top and farm them off. As long as you generate more fuel than you use in the farvesting process, that's free fuel with no lose of acres.
    • Blenheim has around 26,000 people. 1,000,000 litres isn't bad for that population. If you take it as a constant and appy it to Auckland you get ((1,000,000/26,000)1,000,000) roughly 38,461,539 litres.
    • If we were smart we would pull a brazil and start producing more corn to use as ethanol. They will be oil-independent by next year. Sugar-based ethanol is something like 8 times more efficient then corn-based. Shows what we know right?

      To "pull a Brazil," the USA would have to do a lot of things, and I don't think producing more corn would be one of them.
      First, as the parent post notes, getting ethanol from sugar cane, as Brazil does, is much more efficient than getting ethanol from corn. With corn, d

    • Re:1 million litres? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bourne (539955) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:32AM (#15317273)
      1 Million litres may be a decent start, but it sure isn't much. There's a corn-fuled ethanol producing plant in Kansas that produces 26 million gal of ethanol a year, and that hardly makes a dent

      I'm not sure I see your point. You're saying we'd need to find 26 municipalities with wastewater treatment plants to convert to algae farms, which would be part of the requisite wastewater treatment solution as well as producing fuel, in order to match one plant which requires farmers to go out and actively produce feedstock for at added expense? That's more than just 'decent' in my book. And imagine what your municipality would say if you told them they could offset the costs of fuel and wastewater treatment at the same time - ka-ching!

      If we were smart we would pull a brazil and start producing more corn to use as ethanol. They will be oil-independent by next year. Sugar-based ethanol is something like 8 times more efficient then corn-based. Shows what we know right?

      Taking advantage of existing feedstock (read: waste) beats growing feedstock for most efficiencies. And if you want to look for more viable biodiesel feedstocks, there's a wide number - rapeseed, mustard, jatropha, and palm oil. See the table at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. Note that algae wins hands down over crops.

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:58AM (#15316423)
    An inventor, Mr. Simpson from Springfield, has invented a new car seat [google.com]to be used in conjunction with the vehicles that will run on sewage bio-diesel.
    Simpson said, "It's just a prototype right now, but it has been my lifelong dream to contribute something truly my own to this bio-movement."
  • Hooray! (Score:5, Funny)

    by thelonestranger (915343) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:58AM (#15316424)
    My car already runs LIKE shit, now it can run ON shit as well.
  • E85 won't save money (Score:2, Informative)

    by EBFoxbat (897297)
    Not that this is the reason for using it... but most cars on the road now that can run e85 will not be savign money. e85 is a bit cheaper and your milage is a bit less. The savings (there is some) will be very little. The implications of cutting our oil consumption (from gasoline) by 75 % is HUGE. It's just not a financial thing.
    • How much money can we save by forgetting that the middle east exists? Even if E85 were no cheaper per mile than gasoline, the savings from not counting on a bunch of psychopaths to support our economy should be impressive.
  • Was there ever a greater incentive to overtake the vehicle in front of you?
  • Where 'zactly do you think oil comes from? a similiar process by nature.

    what about our umpteen to the millionth descendants, (or the coackroaches descendants) who need the oil our sewage was to provide to them 50k years from now.. but harvesting not only existing oil, but pre-oilotic algae now-- we are dooming their technological re-evolution!
  • I can see the farmers smiling and laughing at what we have all known for years. They now have proof that the more beans you eat the more bio fuel you can produce. So, quit lighting your farts and put them to good use.
  • The Obvious (Score:2, Funny)

    by Analogy Man (601298)
    This has the be the shittyest idea I have ever heard!
  • by dorbabil (969458) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:38AM (#15316553)
    TDP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerizat ion [wikipedia.org] produces light crude, not biodiesel. It'd work just fine on sewage, in addition to pretty much anything else that contains any lipids, plastics, gums, rubbers, etc. Long carbon chains, basically. I keep my eye on the company and technology, and am extremely disapointed that the only commercial plant up and running so far is only pumping out approximately 800,000 gallons per year from waste (turkey offal) that's not actually waste because the US government hasn't outlawed using animal products as animal feed.
  • There is an interesting article about hybrids, pointing out that, among other things, Diesel engine hybrids have the capability of being more fuel efficient than current gas engine hybrids, and that, as batteries continue to evolve, the possibility arises of using all the batteries of hybrids to store electricity, acting as a load balancer for conventional generation. (Most of the time your car is idle in the garage - connect it to the mains and it becomes part of a load balancing network.)

    Why is this excit

    • You can certainly make a hybrid with a diesel engine. . . However, they don't gain as much efficiency. Gasoline engines perform best at a certain output level, and a hybrid system is able to balance the load on the engine. Diesel engines work well over a range of output levels, which is one reason they are more efficient to begin with, but also means you don't gain as much from hybridizing them.

      AS for using the batteries in your electric or hybrid cars to balance the load on the electrical grid. . . I
  • by RoffleTheWaffle (916980) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:55AM (#15316643) Journal
    Okay, so we all know a million liters of fuel isn't much in the grand scheme of things. Worldwide, many billions of gallons and tons of assorted fossil fuels are consumed, which means that a million gallons a year from one facility is pretty small potatoes when stacked up against the fuel demands of the world.

    I think we're forgetting that the fuel need not leave town, though. Locally produced bio-fuels could supply limited geographic areas with at least some quantity of cheap fuel, which at least helps whoever lives there. It doesn't have to travel, meaning it retains much more of its value since less energy and effort has to be spent to move it from point 'A' to point 'B', and since a township produces it, a township reaps the benefits, immediately benefitting the local economy. It's like the farmer's market for gas, yaknow?

    I have to wonder if anyone here has ever heard the phrase, "Think global, act local." I also have to wonder if anyone here considers that it's pretty stupid to rely on just one source of fuel. Let me lay it out for you, here - we already have an absolutely massive bio-fuel 'portfolio', detailing dozens of ways that businesses and communities can produce useful quantities of bio-deisel and ehtanol, but using just one or two of them probably isn't going to be enough to take oil out of the picture, especially if only a few people give it a shot. Right now, we need to take what we can get, and the ability to produce fuel in the process of purifying wastewater is something nobody should overlook. If nothing else, the cost of water purification could be offset by fuel sales, potentially reducing utility costs.
  • by twfry (266215) on Friday May 12, 2006 @09:00AM (#15316668)
    The following national geographic article describes a company that started this type of thing years ago. They built a plant next to a turkey farm to convert byproducts to oil. My understand is it worked, but was not as efficient as they hoped.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/11/11 25_031125_turkeyoil.html [nationalgeographic.com]

    What some people on slashdot should be interesting to know is Bush proposed some tax credits for this company in 2004 to help with R&D. It got shot down by the Democrates who literally made fun of Bush and called them "Turkey Credits".
    • That plant is a customer of mine. I have equipment there. And yes, they use turkey waste as their fuel (there is a turkey plant down the street). It works. I can't say whether it scales well but that plant - in Carthage, MO - seems to be doing just fine.

      BTW, thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that article before. Its a great explanation of the process.
      • I have been curious to find out how the process is working and if there are plans to build more plants else where. Since they are near you, do of any news sources with information on how they have been doing and how much oil they're outputing.
  • HEMP for bio-diesel (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anon-Admin (443764) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:15AM (#15317113) Homepage Journal
    I still think that HEMP is the way to go.

    From 1 acre of hemp you can produce

    1300 gal of bio diesel
    The equivalent amount of paper as 10 acre's of trees
    The equivalent of 5 acres of cotton in cloth.
    Hemp Seed flower (For cake, bread, etc)
    and
    Pulp products that can replace cardboard and many plastic products.

    This is from the different parts of the plant. That means that you get ALL of them at the same time. Not just growing corn for fuel and throw away the rest.
    • However, from another comment on the same story...

      "According to the UNH study and Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the yield of algae farms is about 5000 to 20,000 gallons per acre of pond per year. This number varies mostly due to the pond conditions, strain of algae used, and oil collection method employed."
  • by ScrewTivo (458228) on Friday May 12, 2006 @10:23AM (#15317173) Homepage
    Can't beleive this got accepted when my submission yesterday got rejected. here it is Note: 3.5/gal/day of Diesel from 1 Pig!
     
    Once it is rejected you can't recall it, that is not good. But here is the link: UI researcher makes crude oil from pig manure [belleville.com]
  • In some locations in the U.S., waste vegetable oil (WVO), like the kind left-over from frying the fries, is no longer freely available. Now, Instead of restaurants paying for disposal of WVO, some are paid for it.

    Which raises the question of what will happen if the diesel-from-sewage thing catches on. Will we be paid for generating sewage? Could this be a profession?

     
  • Why is it with every story like this, there's a steady contingent of people who post, "Pffft! Well, that powers the country for one billionth of a second! Nice try, losers!"

    Everything starts somewhere. Remember, at some point in history, there was one oil well.

  • So how long before I can hook one of these up to my septic system and power my TDI Passat?

    I'll be inviting friends over just so they can borrow my bathroom!

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