Friday, April 25, 2008

Food Crops Not Good Source for Biofuels

Those who are criticizing conversion of corn and soybeans to fuel have a good point. Diverting food crops to fuel doesn't do much to increase energy resources, even though it reduces food supplies.

Corn and soybeans have been bred for eating to provide energy for animals. Corn and soybeans cannot be efficiently converted to fuel. Too small a portion of the plants can actually be used to produce ethanol. Using wind energy for ethanol plant operation provides a greater net energy yield, but not enough to really increase energy resources.

Technology to convert corn stalks and soybean leaves to ethanol would improve the yield, but such technology would eliminate the need to use corn and soybeans. Waste paper and tree trimmings could be used without diverting food crops to fuel.

Currently algae provide a much more productive source of biofuels. Glen Kertz president and CEO of Valcent Products says that algae can produce 100,000 gallons of oil per acre compared to 30 gallons of oil from corn and 50 gallons per acre from soybeans.

Unfortunately, ignorant politicians think that the carbon dioxide that "fertilizes" algae is a pollutant that should be prohibited. Algae production facilities connected to coal fired power plants can increase the amount of energy produced from the same amount of coal without reducing food supplies.

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