July 6, 2005

Comments on Ethanol & National Security

Former CIA Director James Woolsey recently spoke at a press conference of the 25 x '25 Ag Energy Work Group about the national security importance of the energy paradigm shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable fuels like ethanol (Former CIA Director Woolsey on Ethanol & National Security). In response to Director Woolsey's presentation I would like to offer a few comments...

There are many aspects of national security that will be strengthened by a robust renewable energy commitment by this country. Addressing specifically bioconversion technologies that convert agricultural, forestry, and urban waste to ethanol:

1 - Markets for unsuccessful harvests (agricultural waste) as well as successful ones will secure farming incomes

2 - Farmers can rotate between crops without sacrificing bioenergy income

3 - Cooperative ownership of local production provides economic stability by decentralizing profit centers, increasing employment, and spurring local investment

4 - Competition between fossil fuels and renewables will keep fuel prices in check

5 - Consumer choice at the pump between various blends of gas/ethanol will insure a smooth transition in infrastructure and vehicle development

6 - Fewer greenhouse gas emissions bolster the air quality

7 - Waste conversion will reduce need for landfill

8 - Regional energy self-reliance will insure abundance

9 - Communities will save money from reduction of tipping fees

10 - Co-generated electricity will reduce dependence on fossil fuels

As a comparison, Brazil has a more secure energy policy than the United States when it comes to dependence on foreign liquid fuel supplies. As a net exporter of ethanol, it has demonstrated that a maturing ethanol infrastructure is achieveable and desireable, and that a wide variety flex-fuel automobiles from major car manufacturers are being marketed right now.

Emerging biomass conversion technologies holds the promise of regional energy self-reliance - the best defense against both foreign dependence and centralized corporate mis-management of the industry.

July 5, 2005

A BioConversion Technology that is Ready for PrimeTime

Imagine the following:
• the feedstock for fermenting ethanol is not just corn kernels but also corn husks, stalks, cobs, and/or even damaged harvests;
• the feedstock includes any agricultural crop or waste, forestry waste, urban waste (MSW), or even fossil fuel;
• waste conversion to ethanol results in a reduction of national landfill requirements by 85%;
• the fermenting process takes less than 1% (7 minutes) of the amount of time that sugar fermentation takes (36-48 hrs.);
• the conversion process co-generates excess green power with no toxic emissions.

A proven bioenergy process exists that uses bacteria to effect the conversion biomass to ethanol (see http://www.brienergy.com). With this process, bioconversion technologies promise to reduce waste, co-generate electricity, and reduce our dependence on foreign fossil fuels.

The fact that an infrastructure for its distribution already exists in many states and that the major auto manufacturers already produce flex-fuel cars internationally (i.e., Brazil) means that ethanol is a viable renewable liquid alternative to gasoline.

I would be interested in any comments readers have concerning the significance of this breakthrough and where they see it doing the most good.