Friday, September 01, 2006

Biobutanol to the rescue?...

n-butanol - cute, isn't it?

Thanks to an alert John's World reader , I was led to this great energy blog post about biobutanol:

The big open questions about butanol hinge on the ease and economics of its manufacture in current ethanol facilities, using similar feedstocks. The BP/DuPont partnership also indicates that the detailed well-to-wheels comparison of energy and greenhouse gas efficiency versus other fuels hasn't been completed. I'll reserve judgment until I see whether it beats ethanol in these areas, as well as in its physical properties. I'd also want to be sure that it's been carefully scrutinized for the sort of unintended consequences that cropped up with MTBE. That means looking closely at its toxicity pathways and co-solvent properties in gasoline blends exposed to water.

Biobutanol raises some fascinating possibilities for our alternate fuels strategy. Its properties remind us that ethanol, which many regard as our most available and practical gasoline substitute, falls well short of a being an ideal motor fuel, particularly for use in a distribution system dominated by petroleum products. Whether or not butanol is the best alternative, it highlights the option of using traditional and biotech-based processes to produce fuels that are optimal for use in modern internal combustion engines, as well as highly compatible with conventional fuel distribution channels. An alternate fuel chosen for these properties would be immediately usable by most of the cars on the road, and it could be distributed to the largest number of service stations at the lowest possible cost. If it passes muster on all these criteria, butanol should create some very interesting choices for the owners of current and planned ethanol facilities.

Be sure to check out the links in the text of this post. Good stuff.


brian said...


Thanks for the alert to the energy blog - it gives a keener insight on energy than other sources I've used.

But as I was browsing the site, I came upon this sentence from the blogger, apropos of a discussion on globalization and referring to terror. Reading it was a "Shazam!" moment for me (Call me Gomer).

Anyway, here it is: "One could argue that al Qaeda's fight isn't with the US, per se, but with the tidal wave of Western culture that could swamp fundamentalist Islam in a generation or two. "

I guess I had a sense of this, but this really crystalized for me why the Islamists feel so threatened.

Whatever. You probably already had that figured out. :)


John Phipps said...

Brian: While it may be possible that some Islamists "hate us for our freedom", I don't think they would be as likely to to take the trouble to blow themselves up so often if, as you said, they did not believe we were a threat to them in their hometowns. Much of this is hard to prevent - like TV programs - but our physical presence in the Mideast is essentially an invasion - albeit for the best of reasons.

After all, Patrick Buchanon and Lou Hobbs are foamy at the mouth about the "invasion" of the US by Mexicans.

There are some eerie similarities with the conviction to spread democracy via physical intervention and "white man's burden" imperialism of our British ancestors.

The big difference this time is we are paying for the bullets on both sides.

Anonymous said...

Yet, I remain unconvinced that the terror would stop, should we leave the region entirely.

Why the terrosist attacks in Spain, the Philappines and the recent foiled attempts in Germany?