Biofuels: Paradox 1

After reading a post on GristmilI it strikes me that people who are pro-biofuels have a couple of paradoxes to overcome. Firstly, I am not sure about their long term sustainability, there is a need for fossil fuels to make fertilisers to maintain yields from year to year. It may be possible to rotate crops to maintain the output of biofuel-generating crops to do this, and from a biodiversity point of view desirable.But by growing other things in the ground, you may be reducing the biofuel yield of that land. The methane used to make fertilisers like ammonia has to come from somewhere…

The second issue is around genetic modification. One way that we could significantly increase the yield of crops is to use the whole lot, the root, the leaves, the stem, the seeds. Currently, only the seeds are used and that’s partly why yield of bioethanol from the whole of the plant is so woefully small. One way to convert the plant directly into biofuel would be to develop crop plants that express enzymes when they reach a certain level of ripeness. This could help to significantly reduce the amount of energy needed in the fermentation and conversion process.

Now I realise that my warm cuddly liberal persona may slip a bit when I say this, but I’m almost prepared to bet pound to a pinch of snuff with all the people reading this blog, that the type of people who think that biofuels are a good idea are also keen eaters of organic food. Let’s not get into yoghurt and knitwear or heaven forbid beards and sandals but that’s the demographic. Those are the people; you may even be related to one.

So if you fancy a little fun around the dinner table ask them about their views on genetic modification and ask them about biofuels and see if there is a gap here. Like are they vegitarians or are they just cuddly veggies? I’d love to know.

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One Response to Biofuels: Paradox 1

  1. Biodiversivist 5 October, 2006 at 5:46 pm #

    Here is a site that critiques the issue of using soybeans for biodiesel.

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