MP

Microbes can provide sustainable hydrocarbons for the petrochemical industry

Recommended Posts

10 hours ago, Andrei Moutchkine said:

What way might I think? We discussed bagasse, corn stover and even bamboo elsewhere in this thread. All the reinforced grasses have the same problem - tough silicates. Which gum up burners and break woodchipping equipment. If the cellulose thus produced were higher quality, they'd pulp it or turn it into "Europellet" style retail fuel. But they can't, or at least not in an affordable way I am aware of.

A few years back, there was talk of GMO sugar beet that was to be more efficient than sugar cane even in tropical climes. Allegedly, this is what the Chinese bought out Syngenta for. Than, the rights to the product were quietly spun off to some seemingly insignificant Danish kolkhoz. Dunno what 's up with that? They didn't say they didn't succeed. Sugar beet leaves no problematic straw behind, only suitable animal fodder.

The cheaper you make ethanol, the more you can sell for human consumption. Why burn it, if you can drink it yourself. Is it a free market, or what?

Sugar cane bagasse is only ever burned in/at dedicated facilities at the sugar cane mills.  It's not suitable for general purpose use. the biggest problem is not silicates, or gumming up burners, but the fact that it's energy density is very low - similar to the debris left behind at a paper mill.  However if you already have a mill, then the stuff piles up pretty quickly, and it would be foolish not to use it where it's already 'lying around' for free.   

 

The market for 'human consumption' of ethanol is tiny compared to the fuel market.  It sells at a higher price, since it has to be safe and tasty to drink, but there simply isn't enough demand to make it worthwhile.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Andrei Moutchkine said:

Speaking of which. Russia banned export of ammonia-based fertilizers till well into 2022, because the feedstock is natural gas. Those are the only ones that are made from "fossil fuels" AFAIK, the rest mined directly.

However, now that EU doesn't talk to Belarus anymore, Russia is also the overwhelmingly largest exporter of potassium variety (Uralkali + Belaruskali contraband)

https://www.nationmaster.com/nmx/ranking/potash-fertilizer-production

The only remaining beacon of hope for the free world appears to be Canada. I think the British tabloids are missing out on a great next story on the evils of the Putin regime here, but I am sure they'll get there in due time.

That is true, but nitrogenous fertilizers are by far the most important ones.  The 'big 3 fertilizers' of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are 99% of the fertilizer business, and 90% of that is nitrogen.  Phosphorus and potassium need to be in the soil, and are used by plants in trace amounts, but fixed nitrogen breaks down after it is applied, and has to be renewed in the same amounts every year to be useful.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, ronwagn said:

Thanks for the details! I was just in Hawaii and they said that they are no longer able to burn sugar cane in the fields. Apparently none is grown for biofuel due to the green policies in Hawaii. They would benefit most from regular deliveries of LNG for electrical production. Maui has a few wind turbines which are an eyesore. Brazil uses a lot of dual fuel vehicles that use ethanol and gasoline. Some trifuel using natural gas if I remember correctly. 

Hawaii is a perfect example of why sugarcane isn't used for ethanol production there - the land space is limited, the fuel market is small, and it's to far away from anywhere to export the surplus easily.  At some future point in time if fuel prices were higher, or supply/delivery of fuel from the mainland were precarious it might make sense for Hawaii to get into ethanol production.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(edited)

1 hour ago, Eric Gagen said:

Sugarcane is exothermic enough that you could make the fertilizer using the fuel from the crop as the feedstock for the fertilizer plant, and still have a net win.  However it's more profitable to use fertilizer made from natural gas as a feedstock for that process, because the fuel that results from growing sugarcane is a liquid hydrocarbon with a price premium on a net energy basis of ~ 5:1 over natural gas.  

You could not just use any odd "fuel from the crop" as feedstock, you need methane. Could it be that your are confusing the energy input for an actual feedstock that isn't burned, but used in the synthesis?

potassium.png

 

Edited by Andrei Moutchkine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.