Monday, May 18, 2009

Liquid Biofuels vs. Cellulosic Electricity

Brian Westenhaus takes a good look at the "bioelectricity vs. biofuels" debate and has some insightful comments well worth reading.

I discussed the issue most recently here, but reading Brian's article reminded me that the May 7 Science study that everyone is talking about based much of its findings on the differences in efficiency between internal combustion engines and electric motors.

Such a comparison, while valid, is extremely simplistic and not at all useful in determining "government policy." Field, Campbell, and Lobell want to save the world from carbon catastrophe, and they wish to work through an all-powerful government to do so. "If only the government were enlightened enough to listen to us, we could save the world," they are saying in so many words.

But the real world doesn't work like that, in a neat top-down manner. The real world is messy and dirty, and involves trillions of small, medium, and large details that often get in the way of the majestic, grand plans of activist academicians.

The high minded trio of academics wants to replace trillions of dollars of transportation infrastructure by government fiat. They moan about the evil internal combustion engine, brag about the efficiencies of electric motors. But they don't explain how long it will take to provide electric batteries that can affordably provide the vehicular range that is so important to American drivers. They don't provide a good enough discussion of liquid fuel powered fuel cells whose efficiencies are so much better than an internal combustion engine's. They focus on maize ethanol without looking at the potential of algal biofuels, thermochemical biofuels, microbial fuels, etc. They ignore the importance of regional and local development of biomass biofuels and how that would impact the overall equation.

In short, by narrow-mindedly focusing on carbon catastrophe and the glories of the all-electric vehicle, they ignore over 90% of the critical issues that impact the problem they purport to be trying to solve, in their own academically grandiose manner.

These academics want government to mandate the future, to overturn the established order and create a carbon utopia. More research and more grant applications to follow, to follow, to follow ..... Meanwhile in the real world, geopolitical excrement is flying toward the fan. That will rather force the issue, what?

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts