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Posted by Simon Robinson on August 15, 2008 9:09 AM
I went to a "green chemistry" conference recently & attended a presentation from a UK researcher on life cycle assessments of fuel from waste. The environmental impacts are very little across different categories, because these have been already assigned to earlier stages of consumption.
Making fuel from waste is a good idea. What about the potential to displace some part of our current oil imports? Needless to say, the presentation did not have data on this.
In other words, this is a good business opportunity, but do not count on this to make a dent in the crude imports.
August 19, 2008 6:48 PM
August 19, 2008 18:48
There is some real potential to recover some of the locked in value in waste here. it takes about 10% of every barrel of oil extracted to make all of the petrochemical products in our lives. Once the energy used to make the plastic is consumed there is still 7% of every barrel of oil left to make products. We'll never be able to get hold of all of that and convert it back into fuel but we might manage a couple of percent. Because the volumes are so large, that could be a big chunk of oil replaced. Is it economic? I don't know
Simon Robinson |
August 20, 2008 9:40 AM
August 20, 2008 09:40
Hmm..I agree with you about the 10% statistic.
Some back-of-the-envelope calculations for a US case:
Current oil consumption: ~20 million bbl/d
2 million bbl/d used for petrochemicals
1.4 million bbl/d of energy equivalent still left for us to use (if we do not count the energy that is input while making the petrochemicals).
If we use 30% of that waste to make fuel, and assume a (conservative)15% efficiency for the waste-fuel conversion, we can get 1.4*0.3*0.15 = 0.063 million bbl/d.
(or 0.32% of current US crude oil consumption).
[ Transportation consumes 70% of the current crude oil consumption ]
If we assume that all the fuel is converted to ethanol, & ethanol calorific value of 29.8 MJ/kg, the ethanol production becomes ~4.3 million gal ethanol/d.
Assuming an ethanol spot price of 2.1 $/gal,
the total revenue possible from all this is ~9 million $/d (from 30% of the US waste, 15% conversion efficiency).
Of course, individual facilities might make a fraction of this amount, but high ethanol prices seem to be one of the drivers for this waste-fuel conversion plants...
August 22, 2008 12:35 AM
August 22, 2008 00:35
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