Monday, June 05, 2006

Oh yeah...

It seems to me I used to write about energy issues, or at least tried to more frequently than I have. Part of that is I have recently found paid remuneration, but unfortunately this leaves me with little time to write substantive posts on much of anything, unless I blog during work hours - which I have been doing, of course.

Anyway, the latest thing that got me thinking is this - another syngas process for making ethanol. The last one of these we saw was a plasma-FT process, which sounded extraordinary to me. This is apparently a less-demanding variation on the same theme: carbon-rich material is gasified, and reacted with a catalyst to make ethanol. The process promises even higher yields than cellulosic ethanol, which has been the industry leader thus far. More importantly, this process - like the plasma-FT process - opens up a lot more sources of ethanol for production than just corn grain.

The ethanol wave seems to be cresting among energy intellectuals, and I think that's a shame. There seems to be this consensus that, like hydrogen before it, there's no way that ethanol will ever present a serious solution to our liquid fuel needs. I think it's far from proven that ethanol production must have a low energy return. Indeed, with processes like the above, I think the reverse may be true.

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