Saturday, March 25, 2006

Carbon impurity with biofuels

There's a growing movement towards biofuels which may turn into a real strong adoption of them by our society. Theoretically that's a good thing, as the fuel is derived from renewable plant sources. But there's room for many unexpected problems buried in the details. Often it seems we solve one problem and create 10 others.

Carbon cloud over a green fuel An Iowa corn refinery, open since December, uses 300 tons of coal a day to make ethanol.

The story is that some of the ethanol refineries in Iowa are using Coal for part of the refining process. Ah, it's a refinery, and that generally means heating and distilling liquids. The article discusses how it's usual for the refinery to use natural gas, but some of them are using coal. Either way they're relying on some fossil fuel for production of the biofuel.

In effect the biofuel carries along with it some carbon burden from the fossil fuel.

Another issue is how this shows we haven't completely weaned ourselves from fossil fuel, even with biofuels.


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