Friday, June 06, 2008

Using Local Crops and Weeds for Energy

Innovation Fuels Inc. in New York State is looking into using weeds such as mustard seed, penny cress, and camelina, to produce biodiesel in an interplanting scheme with corn and soybeans.
Biodiesel and ethanol -- two alternatives to gasoline and diesel -- have been criticized for diverting food crops to fuel. Ethanol producers mainly use corn to produce the gasoline additive.

Fox blamed the recent surge in food prices on the rising costs of energy, not the production of biofuels.

He said the weeds being explored as oil sources can yield 80 to 100 gallons of biodiesel per acre, compared to 40 gallons per acre for soybeans. __CheckBiotech
In Hawaii, the Oceanic Institute is looking for ways to make the islands more food and energy independent from the mainland. They are looking at tropical crops such as jatropha, castor bean, kukui nut, and coconut for producing biodiesel locally.

The soaring costs of energy means that isolated locations such as Hawaii pay a premium for all food and supplies deliveries.
With shipping fees going up, growing our own food here will keep company costs down.

"Right now a lot of the feed industry is looking for products like this because transportation charges have just doubled," says Warren Dominy Ph.D, Oceanic Institute, Director, Aquatic Feeds and Nutrition department.

..."If we are able to provide a fee from them for these biodiesel plants it will help rebuild this industry and hopefully save a lot of jobs throughout the state," says Dominy..."I think the estimates are anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks of food if we have a major disaster that we could feed everybody in the state so we need to start using some of our ag lands for food," says King, Pacific Biodiesel.

"If we could be making fuel for an island on that island we're saving all that energy going back and forth all that efficiency and conservation is gonna add to sustainability," says King.
The main driver of higher food and commodity prices is the cost of fuel and transportation. The main driver of higher transportation costs is higher fuel costs. The main driver of higher fuel costs is a speculative feeding frenzy combined with rising demand led by China and other emerging nations.

It makes sense for people living in cool and temperate climates to focus on crops that grow readily, like weeds, that can be interplanted with ordinary food crops. It also makes sense for people living in tropical climates to focus on tropical species with high yield. Both approaches use local strengths in an attempt to drive local economies.

The ominous political clouds on the US horizon suggest an intent on the part of future elected officials to drive the US economy toward a socialist, central command economy. That is an entirely counter-productive strategy, but exactly the approach likely to be favoured by the likely incoming junta.



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