Tag Archives: alternative energy

It seems that used coffee grounds are about 15% oil (a little less than the usual feedstock used for biodiesel) and that they make a very suitable material for creating usable fuel...

VERY suitable.


- This is already a "recycled" product, so no food product would need to be diverted from feeding people, thus driving the price of the product higher for people who may already be in the midst of a cash or food crisis.

- Coffee (and coffee grounds) are high in anti-oxidants, which would delay rancification - thus making a more stable biodiesel than many other feedstocks.

- The "leftovers" - the grounds left over after the oil has been extracted - is dry and still high in nitrogen, making great compost for fertilizer (note:  I feed my plants leftover coffee and the ones that get that treatment do great.)

- These leftovers can also be made into pellets for heating stoves (like the ones that use corn pellets), taking some of the heating load off of petroleum heating fuel.

In my opinion, these things should make the biodiesel industry sit up and take a look at the trash coming out of coffee shops.  How much of this "stuff" is available and would it be worth it?

Just Starbucks generates about "210 million pounds of spent coffee grounds per year in the US, the researchers calculate that it could amount to 2.92 million gallons of biodiesel and 89,000 tons of fuel pellets..."

Just Starbucks!  and then there's McDonald's...and all the other coffee shops and breakfast shops....

The story is here...

The cost per gallon is high...but so is the $8 million profit.  If this venture were taken on as a low-profit venture, the cost would come down and the profit could still be quite high.

Energy is going to play a larger part in the 2008 election than I think anybody suspected it would a year ago.  Suddenly, non-fossil-fuel is at the forefront.

How serious are we?

Amid the rolling hills and verdant pastures of south central Virginia an unlikely new front in the battle over nuclear energy is opening up. How it is decided will tell us a lot about whether this country is willing to get serious about addressing its energy needs.

In Pittsylvania County, just north of the North Carolina border, the largest undeveloped uranium deposit in the United States -- and the seventh largest in the world, according to industry monitor UX Consulting -- sits on land owned by neighbors Henry Bowen and Walter Coles. Large uranium deposits close to the surface are virtually unknown in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River. And that may be the problem.

It seems to me that safe and reliable nuclear energy is going to have to play a larger role in our energy supply than it has previously.  Instead of "puddle jumper" aircraft that move from regional airports to the hubs, we may have to develop an electric (nuclear powered) train system for that segment of the journey.  That, all by itself, would release jet fuel to be used by the hub-to-hub larger planes that would still be forced to use fossil fuels.

Even if coast-to-coast trains were made more "attractive" to the general user (yes, it would take LOTS more time...but it could be made more feasible.  An iPod charger, wireless [satellite] internet, a curtain placed around the seat row for night-time sleeping, etc.)

As a society, we might have to slow down a little bit.  We might have to buy more locally grown crops.  We might have to start to ride bikes...I'm not sure that would be a bad thing.

Just a collection of links concerning "alternative energy"


Microbial (dang it, I closed the tab before catching the link)

The microbial energy solution for biofuels and solar power The Biodesign team, in their Nature Review Microbiology perspective article, outlines the prospects for bioenergy. They believe the future of microbial bioenergy is brightened by recent advancements in genome technologies and other molecular-biology techniques. One species of bacteria, the human gut bacterium E. coli, has become the workhorse of the multi-trillion dollar global biotech industry.

E. coli?

LiveFuels uses open ponds to grow algae that are indigenous to the local environment, hoping that this will avoid the invasion problem. Since algae need nutrients to grow, including nitrogen and phosphorous, the company plans to feed agricultural runoff water - polluted with nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers - into its ponds, combining energy production with water treatment.

Another company, Bionavitas, of Redmond, Washington, also grows native algae, but in deep, narrow canals, with a special optical system to bring light to the algae beneath the surface. It too hopes to harness nutrients from polluted wastewater; and because intense carbon dioxide inputs can speed growth, it envisages setting up sites next to a factory that could funnel smokestack emissions directly into its canals. Michael Weaver, the chief executive, said that Bionavitas aimed to use "the whole algae" to produce biodiesel, ethanol, nutriceuticals and products currently derived from petroleum.

Use "bad stuff" to grow "good stuff"...


Shale Oil:

In the post immediately below, Senator John Cornyn talks about the need to get serious about solving our energy problems by developing our own domestic resources. One good example is shale oil, of which the U.S. has more than any other country. In fact, Rocky Mountain shale is believed to contain the equivalent of 2 trillion barrels of oil. Is that a lot? The entire world has used around 1 trillion barrels since oil was discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859.

Not exactly "alternative", except in the "it's an alternative to importing our oil" sort of way.  Lots of oil, hard to get and we need more refining capability.


Picken's Wind Power...

Studies from around the world show that the Great Plains states are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world — by far.

The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America's electricity can come from wind. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country.

Okay...bit start up cost.  If we deal with that, what are the long term benefits?

Or, we could just hook the generators up to the chambers of congress...


On a link from Picken's site:  A car that runs on natural gas (which we have quite a bit of).

But wait!  We don't have very many fuel stations for natural gas...but wait!  I heat my house with natural gas - and there are ways to add a fuel station right at my house.

There are drawbacks, of course...let's work them out.