The old saying was a simple, “Need is the Mother of all Invention” In today’s world need is not enough because we have so few needs that haven’t been met in some way. The greatest need in today’s world is energy and we have solved this need by burning fossil fuels. Needless to say this was a bad choice, but the one available and the only one we had the technology to use for much of the past century. Now we are seeing the damage done to our planet by the use of these dirty carbon dioxide expelling fuels and our need is to find another source of fuels. This is especially true in a world hell bent on so-called advancement at any cost. The United States has been the biggest polluter up to this point, but today China and India are quickly catching up. Just at the time when the majority scientists have finally agreed that too much greenhouse gases are entering our atmosphere and destroying the shield protecting the earth from destructive ultraviolet rays from our Sun.
So, we have a new proverb for the 21st. Century: “ When Entrepreneurial money meets Needs we get Progressive Change.” President Bush in his State of the Union Speech this week brought up our serious need to wean ourselves from Middle Eastern oil. He mentioned ethanol as a viable alternative and had many scoffing. Well, it’s time for all you skeptics to take a look at what has been going on right under your noses. The 21st. Century proverb has been busy creating biofuels, that is renewable biofuels and with no harmful by products, power plants all over the country. And, especially in cattle and thus manure burdened, Texas.
Manure from cattle is an ever present problem for cattle ranchers so naturally as long as we have cows we will have manure and the harmful methane gas produced by cattle that can be used as a source of energy. Two biofuel companies announced this week in several business magazines that they are building ethanol plants powered by cow manure. Panda Ethanol said its plant, near Muleshoe, Texas, will produce 100 million gallons per year once it’s completed in about 18 months. And, E3 Biofuels is building a 25-million-gallon ethanol refinery in Mead, Nebraska that will begin production in December.
The Muleshoe plant will be Panda’s fourth cow-manure-powered ethanol plants. As it is being tied to the company’s Hereford, Texas plant this will be the largest biomass-fueled ethanol plant in the United States. It will also be one of the most fuel-efficient ethanol refineries in the nation. Manure sludge will be piped to the site where it will be gasify (methane released) to generate steam to be used to fuel the ethanol-manufacturing process. Of course ethanol is now being made from corn and some criticize that as using a food product. Well yes, but more corn can be grown than is now used for food certainly. The other criticism is the amount of energy and water needed to grow corn. First the water is not lost it is recycled. As for energy that too can be cut significantly by using the gasified manure residue as fertilizer. Absolutely nothing will be lost and much gained. First the environment and atmosphere destroying manure will be eliminated, then ethanol will be produced to ultimately replace gasoline and finally the last by two products from this process will be a wet pellet that can then be used as cattle feed and fertilizer to grow more crops. A win-win-win-win project.
The E3 Biofuels Mead, Nebraska plant will be the first plant to use what is called a closed-loop system. That is everything from the manure to the final by product are part of the refinery. E3 Biofuels will include a cattle feedlot next to the refinery making it easier and less expensive to get the manure, and then instead of using steam as others have done, they will use the methane gas recaptured from the cow dung for energy. “This plant they claim will make ethanol more than twice as energy efficiently as any other method of producing ethanol or gasoline,” say CEO Dennis Langley. “This is the new low-cost alternative for meeting America’s energy needs with domestically produced ethanol. E3 Biofuels’ system enables America to take a giant leap from the oilfields of the Mideast to the cornfields of the Midwest.”
New York state is developing another form of ethanol production. A $14.8 million grant from the state of New York has been awarded a company/college consortium to build a plant near Rochester that will turn paper sludge, wood chips and other agricultural waste into ethanol. This plant will be using microbes to extract the ethanol from the waste wood products.
And there is always solar power. Now that solar batteries have become more reasonable in price they are being used by home owners as well as businesses to produce electricity for their own use and then selling the excess electricity to power companies or net metering. FedEx’s solar-powered hub in Oakland, Calif., is set up for net metering. The main criticism for solar power is naturally coming from power companies themselves who see this as cutting into their own businesses and they claim will only cause them to have to raise their prices if they are forced to purchase the excess power from outside sources. These are lame excuses in my opinion.
In short the technology is available and is now becoming economically feasible because of advancements in producing the equipment necessary for these processes. The only thing stopping us from a cleaner environment and atmosphere is the current power brokers wanting to keep the status quo. And our own Duke Power is one of these. They are planning to begin construction on two huge coal fired electricity plants this year. You can get on the bandwagon and stop this madness by contacting your Congress man and state representatives now.
I didn't give sources since there are so many. Simply Google Alternative fuels and they come flying at you. BB