environment,energy,greenhouse,gas,carbon,dioxide,global,nuclear energy,clean energy,emissions,global climate change,environmental impacts, Nuclear Energy Can Save US: Ethanol From Corn Will Not Do.

Nuclear Energy Can Save US--America�s 100 nukes equal four million barrels of oil per day.

Billions of lives and civilization itself may be at risk from the Global Warming & End of Cheap Oil, Crisis. Rising sea levels and rising oil prices could be the end of civilization as we know it. The problem is so huge that the most powerful answer, many nuclear plants, must be deployed. Currently, America‘s 100 nukes deliver the energy of four million barrels of oil per day. Wind and solar cannot do the job, and may delay the real answer too long. Still, all kinds of clean energy, plus conservation, plus reducing deforestation, will be needed to help the poor half of the world, and for civilization to survive through this century.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Ethanol From Corn Will Not Do.

For America to run our automobiles on food, is such a silly idea that it boggles my mind. Instead of being a Win-Win situation, it is a Tiny Win-Loss-Loss program.
The world faces a dual-crisis, the End of Cheap Oil, and Global Warming. This is especially true for America. Oil production will peak in coming decades. Oil sands in Canada hold trillions of barrels of oil, but getting it out requires huge amounts of energy. We can’t let that energy be coal, exaggerating the greenhouse problem. Canadians plan to use nuclear plants. Getting oil from rock (called shale), will take even more energy; nukes or other clean energy must be used for this. Cheap oil production, (i.e. oil wells) will peak; the nations that have it will hoard; prices will rise ever higher; and this could destroy our economy. The intention of ethanol is to counter this with home-grown fuel for our cars. However, it can only provide a small saving on import costs, and we sacrifice food to do it. This is only a Tiny Win.
David Pimental, a leading Cornell University agricultural expert, has calculated that powering the average U.S. automobile for one year on ethanol (blended with gasoline) derived from corn would require 11 acres of farmland, the same space needed to grow a year's supply of food for seven people. Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion into ethanol, 131,000 BTUs are needed to make one gallon of ethanol. One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTUS. Thus, 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that actually is in it. Every time you make one gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs .Congress now calls for 37 billion gallons (only 15% of 2006 need) of ethanol from corn, by 2017. Thirty-seven billion gallons equal 800 million barrels, or 2.2MBPD of oil, or energy of 54 nukes. If processes improve, so that conversion is energy neutral, 54 nukes would probably give enough energy for the conversion. If, instead, 54, one-gig coal plants are built, millions of tons of CO2 will be discharged; we will trash the environment. We should build nukes for direct production of hydrogen for cars, from natural gas or water, and leave our food supply alone.
America has only 400 to 460 million acres of arable land on which to grow food. In 1900 this was 6 acres per American. Since our population has increased, we now have only 1.5 acres each. In the same way that oil experts are debating when cheap oil production will peak, agronomists are trying to gauge which coming decade will see America’s food surplus disappear, and we become a net importer.
PS: Brazil may be in better shape for oil independence, since ethanol from sugar takes less energy, and they have many fewer cars to run. They also have more land available for growing sugar; but what if they destroy more of their rain forests to do it?
PPS: Ethanol from some other, non-food plants, might eventually make sense.

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