Saturday, December 8, 2007

A biomass solution to US oil and electricity "issues"

I can't remember or find how I got a link to this really long and interesting article. Though i suspect it was in the comments to a GristMill article.

The author argues for a closed cycles system of generating electricity and providing fuel for vehicles in a carbon neutral and possibly carbon negative cycle. He does a good job of tackling and suggesting existing technologies as well as that would need to be developed or improved for the cycle to work. Additionally, he makes some policy proposals for how to drive the development of this cycle in an economically generous way.

Here's the cycle:
Big things the system is relying on:
1) cellulosic feed stocks to feed the system
2) PHEV and Electric passenger vehicles
3) ethanol as the sole liquid fuel for vehicles
4) Algae to convert gaseous CO2 to C, O2 and "beer" for producing ethanol
5) fuels cells based on carbon
6) Generation of charcoal for long term sequestration

I won't claim that its perfect, or that I think he's completely right, but its certainly interesting, and could quite possibly be a part of the solution could be used. I have no idea the development status and current ability to deploy some of the technologies he mentions, such as solid-oxide fuel cells, direct-carbon fuel cells, and the Ford/MIT ethanol-injection engine. Assuming he is correct, there is a market for all of the outputs from a reactor/process built to do this (electricity, ethanol, charcoal, heat), it would be interesting for someone to build the pieces that are ready now and test the process out.

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