30 November 2006

Dumb Looks time on: Tom Vilsack and energy!

Now, the folks at Ankle Biting Pundits found Tom Vilsack, Governor of Iowa, being upfront that Iowans are so good at converting to alternative fuels that they lead the Nation! So let us take a look at the numbers, such as they are, which means hunting through the tables and such from the folks at the Dept. of Energy.

A quick perusal gets us the 2002 figures for consumption by State, with the HTML link here. And from that we can get (and I will be using the online converters to get all the numbers into a common type, which will be kilowatt hours):

Iowa - energy use - 28th - 3.5 E 12 kWh
Iowa - energy per capita - 14th - 1.19 E 5 kWh
Iowa - money spent for energy - 28th - $7.78 Billion
Iowa - money spent per person for energy - 8th - $2,651
Iowa - cost per kWh - 41st - $0.032 per kWh

National - energy use - 2.87 E 13 kWh
National - energy use per capita - 1.0 E5 kWh
National - money spent for energy - $661 Billion
National - money spent per person for energy - $2,298
National - cost per kWh - $0.034 per kWh

Now for consumption of gasoline and other things in 2005 I get from the DoE table for it:

Motor vehicle gasoline thousand(k) bbls/day - 8,933 kbbls or 3,260,545 kbbls per year. Converts to (adding in the three zeros for 1,000 conversion) 136,942,890,000 gallons/year.
Or, to do the big conversion: 5 E 12 kWh/year. Just in gasoline, mind you.

And I do believe that the DoE considers diesel to be 'Distillate Fuel Oil'.
This is 4,110 kbbls/day or 1,500,150 kbbls/yr.
In terms of gallons, with thousand conversion thrown in: 63,006,300,000 gallons/year.
Or, in terms of energy: 2 .31 E 12 kWh/year.

Now this includes the ethanol amount so that does have to be subtracted and that table is here, and the value for alcohol fuels is: 9.96 E 10 kWh/year. For ALL alcohol fuels.

Yes, it is a literal drop in the bucket.

Next up is to dig up some statistics for state size and such, to see where this gets Iowa in the overall picture of the Nation. For that, of course, the Census Bureau is the place to go, and I will do a 'rough and ready' using the 2000 census numbers as they should not have changed drastically in a demographic sense from 2000 to 2002. Coming from the Quick Facts page on Iowa:

Iowa - 2,926,324
US - 281,421,906

Per capita income (1999)
Iowa - $19,674
USA - $21,587

Square miles
Iowa - 55,869 or in acres 35,756,160
USA - 3,537,438 or in acres 2,263,960,320

Persons per square mile
Iowa - 52.4
USA - 79.6

And from Popular Mechanics the amount of arable land in the US: 938,000,000 acres
And using Robert Anex's view of Iowa, it is 89% farmland: 31,820,000 acres

Now the folks at the Bio Fuels Journal did an interview with the Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association ( 08 AUG 2006). And I will be interpreting the facts given by putting them through the previously done calculations I did on this topic, here. Yes, I have churned over numbers to a fare-thee-well in this realm.

First off: they aim to get biodiesel fuel generation up to 250 million gallons/year out of 13 factories for same.

Second off: ethanol is up to 1.5 billion gallons/year with 25 refineries and they hope to get that to 1.925 billion gallons/year with 4 additional or 29 refineries.

So, using the hand waving of 'so near equal lets count them as equal' fuel energy we can say the following for ethanol from corn:

1) Ethanol comes at 300 gals per acre. As this is not E85 blend with gasoline, but pure ethanol production the numbers grind out pretty easily to find the number of acres used by Iowa to make *just* ethanol: 5,000,000 acres. So approximately 14% of Iowa's arable land is in ethanol production. These numbers are assuming they are using the BEST ethanol crop that is SEASONAL which is corn. And for the added: 1,420,000 acres. Or another 4% of the arable land. The amount of net solar energy conversion into ethanol via this process is: 9.39%

2) Biodiesel and Gov. Vilsack points to *soybeans* in this, not *rapeseed*. It gets you 48 gallons per acre, thus uses: 5,210,000 acres. So another 15%or so of Iowa's arable land goes to biodiesel production. The amount of net solar energy conversion into ethanol via this process is: 3.26%

Lets say they DID get it ALL from *rapeseed*, that comes in at 127 gallons per acre, thus uses: 1,970,000 acres. Or a hand-waving 5.5% of the arable land. But, since soybeans have so many different uses, it does predominate and my guess is that Iowa goes big for soybeans and low for rapeseed. The amount of net solar energy conversion into ethanol via this process is: 9.58%

So, for the Iowa energy miracle to happen they use up nearly 30% of their farmland to get their beloved output of ethanol and biodiesel. So, it is nice for Iowa to spend 30% of their farmland to start addressing 1% of the Nation's fuel needs just for gas and diesel! Why they could get that up to an entire 4% of the Nation if they work *really* hard at it and don't produce a single, other thing! Mind you this is still with E85 which is 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol [Thank you for the catch, Mr. Ribeiro!], but the actual drop in gas usage will be minor as ethanol does not have as much energy, per volume, as gasoline does. Thus, even if the entire arable land of the US was devoted to ethanol and biodiesel, well, we would only be importing 15% of the amount of gasoline... but since E85 is a bit of a valley between pure ethanol vehicles and gas vehicles, you really do want a hard, fast turnover of the entire fleet in a couple of years. And then we need to start looking to import ethanol from 3rd world agrarian societies because we will need a few more United States in land area to do that thing.

Wonder what we will eat?

Soylent green, maybe?

Oh, and the 'lets get it from algae' folks: when you measure acres at sea, it is cubic acres. Taking out a wide swath of the world's most abundant sea life that is the base of the oceanic food chain is *not* a great idea. And then there is the whole 'by catch' problem of higher life that just incidentally gets killed in the gathering. And those holding tanks to grow it on land? Or even in tunnels and caves and such? Better start finding the right strains, the right growing conditions, how often they can be harvested and start planning accordingly. At only 0.25 acre high, you use up 1% of the land space of the US. Without all the piping and refining and such added in.

Really, if the Nation needs to invest in a future energy source and infrastructure, shouldn't that be towards an expansive future rather than a delimited one beset by the foibles of an atmosphere and biosphere? So that the chance of pollution is ZERO.

Governor Vilsack comes from a lovely, food productive State.

Perhaps they no longer need Federal subsidies for farming as they are so enterprising these days.

Thank you for the comments and correction Mr. Ribeiro!

Do note that I do not quibble with new algae to diesel technology, and hope that DeBeers works out production, licensing, royalties and such. Producing the equipment, expanding production to meet demand, and all the headaches that go with that will be a few years of headaches and heartache and still not address the use of hydrocarbon based fuels as an energy storage system. If DeBeers can do that for a stop-gap, then I am all for it!

In the end I don't want the US dependent upon *any* foreign producer of equipment and to invest in a clean industry not prone to *any* pollution. Plus provide hefty expansion of the industrial base and energy expansion that will not only address the entire planet, but the entire future of civilization's survival. America needs new frontiers and innovation so that we can secure and establish liberty for ourselves and our posterity forevermore, and not be dependent upon the good will of foreigners nor tied always to just one place in the sun.

Cheap fuel is nice.

A permanent future off of this planet is necessary.


Steven Ribeiro said...

E-85 is 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline. The "algae" folks can now use land that is not for growing food. The ocean is not needed. Technology has just been purchased from MIT by DeBeers of South Africa and combined with new generation biodiesel reactors from Greenstar Products Inc (GSPI) at their Glenns Ferry, ID facility. The system works like this: The MIT system consists of vertical clear tubes of algae "soup" set in direct sunlight. This setup is sighted next to existing powerplants so that exhaust from the powerplant can bubble up through the tubes and feed the algae. This way CO2 is scrubbed from the exhaust and the byproducts of the resulting explosive algae growth rates are Oxygen and also oil that biodiesel can be made from. The oil yield per acre is absolutely phenominal. Go to Greenstar Products Inc (GSPI) and take a look at their press releases. This is a real breakthrough. I see a new day ahead and it is not too good for OPEC.

A Jacksonian said...

I do stand corrected on the E85... actually I knew that and just mistyped it... will adjust and thank...

I was unaware of the biodiesel generator from GSPI, and it does sound like a winner. Converting the autofleet to diesel might take a bit, however. Each reactor produces 1 E 07 and we need 6.3 E 10, so you need 6.3 E 03 or 6,300 Reactors is not undoable for the Diesel market. Now if the entire gasoline fleet is converted to diesel, then 1.36 E 11 gallons is needed on top of that, which is an addition 1.36 E 04 or 13,600 such plants.

If, as indicated, light crude can be made *instead* then, at something like a 60% conversion ration of light crude to gasoline (which would be a plant equivalent of 6 E 06 in production) then you are looking at 22,667 such plants, plus using current refinery capability.

Their factory production rate is 150 reactors/yr at a 90,000 sq. ft. factory. Not too shabby, really, ATC. Call it 42 years to address the US domestic Diesel market. Now, I would assume that their expansion to 4 or 5 factories to start addressing that to get it to something a bit under a decade.... Add to that 90 years for the 1:1 conversion of the current auto fleet to Diesel or, if they can do a light crude output, 150 or so years for that.

So the technology *does* scale, relatively, the question is if their production capacity can do so via a franchising option?

This is not cold water on the idea, just pointing out that industrial expansion to meet the market is something that will need to be considered. Via franchising and licensing, and a minimal per gallon produced royalty, DeBeers can be made very wealthy ON TOP of their precious commodity markets. Actually, this would slowly *replace* that, due to the scale of production necessary. Worst case would be 19 factories via franchise to get the entire kit and kaboodle down to a 10 year replacement for existing crude stocks and diesel. That is not undoable at all, although each factory will be churning those out at a very high rate. And there are more than enough industrial customers IF the price is right.

Looks, good and wish them well to balance out pricing, royalties, fanchising and expansion.

That is mere paperwork.

Mind you, DeBeers will be very rich off of this. I don't mind that, but would rather invest in a US manufacturing to space capability, when all is said and done. Because the production of electricity from orbit scales along Von Neumann limits at 2 years per doubling or so, if memory serves. To move over to electricity at $0.01 kWh or less in 30 years and then far less than that in 36 years... then shift over to a hydrogen based economy over the time it takes to get that. And move industry into space over that 30-50 years.

Hydrocarbon fuels are a stop-gap.

Getting them cheaper is nice. Extremely nice.

Building the infrastructure to get them, however... well, I do prefer an infrastructre to space rather than that. Electricity, superconductors and hydrogen, backed by an easy to scale system after the first 15 doublings. Then you are talking *planetary* and the next doubling? Much, much nicer to get off this planet in the long-run.

Replacement for a stop-gap is good.

The future is off of this planet.