Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Reduce, reuse, rediesel

Autobloggreen reports on a universal carbon-into-diesel development.
From sewer sludge to affordable clean dieselResearchers from UC Riverside and a small company announced a new process yesterday that allows them to create diesel from pretty much anything that contains carbon. The process can convert sewer sludge, wood, agricultural waste, plain old trash, and even plastic into a gas, and then turning the gas into high-quality diesel. While other gasification processes have been developed in the past, this process promises to be significantly more cost effective. The gasification is achieved by using hydrogen and steam at nearly 1,500 degrees to break apart the feed stock into a gas. Traditional gasification methods use oxygen instead of hydrogen and require large amounts of energy. The new process is also a lot faster, adding to the cost savings. While the process of gasification normally takes about an hour, the new process reduces this to about 6 minutes, a tenfold improvement. The current production cost is about $1 a gallon, but retail would be higher. A pilot plant will be built, and it will be able to convert 10 tons of waste per day into fuel. Getting rid of waste, and producing fuel at the same time sounds like a win-win situation to me.
I’d like to know what the net energy is here. 1,500′ (I’m assuming Farenheit) is pretty durn hot and makes for a demanding production process. Plus you apparently need free hydrogen; from electrolysis? Anyone know where the cheapest, least energy demanding hydrogen come from? (That’s not a trick or rhetorical question. I’m really asking.) Oh, I see from the comments on the Autobloggreen page that, one guys says, commercial hydrogen comes from fossil fuels–probably stripped out of natural gas. That sounds about right.

The Limits to Growth and Greece: Systemic or Financial Collapse?

Could it be that the ongoing Greek collapse is a symptom of the more general collapse that the Limits to Growth model generates for the first two decades of the 21st century? Author Ugo Bardi (Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet) examines the correlation between what is unfolding between Greece […] Read More..

Permaculture Q&A: Mulching Options for Your Garden

As Permaculture Month continues, we are making our expert authors available to answer your burning permaculture questions. If you have a question to submit, fill out this form. This week, Lottie from Florida asked if there are other garden mulch options that are as effective as hay. Josh Trought, one of our soil building and garden management […] Read More..

Designing Your Own Solar Cooker & Dehydrator

In today’s world, nearly everything we use, from phones and computers to cars and kitchen appliances, requires energy derived from fossil fuels. Wouldn’t it be nice to offset some of that energy use by harnessing the renewable power of the sun? Josh Trought, founder of D Acres—an educational center in New Hampshire that researches, applies, […] Read More..

Building a Sustainable Community: The D Acres Model

If you were going to create a community-based homestead or farm from scratch, where would you start? What building materials would you use? What crops would you grow and what animals would you raise? How would you develop an organizational structure and connect with your community? And, how would you make sure all of this […] Read More..

A Man Apart: Remembering Bill Coperthwaite’s Radical Life

A Man Apart is the story—part family memoir and part biography—of Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow’s longtime friendship with Bill Coperthwaite (A Handmade Life), whose unusual, and even radical, life and fierce ideals helped them examine and understand their own. Framed by Coperthwaite’s sudden death and brought alive through the month-long adventure of building with […] Read More..