All this "Peak Oil" hoopla lately has once again got me thinking a lot about alternate fuel sources. Whether or not civilization as we know it is about to radically shift, using less of our non-renewable resources just seems like a good idea, so I've been racking my brain to come up with viable alternatives.
Last June (on my birthday, apparently) I posted my first idea for a renewable fuel source, but it alone wasn't enough to make much of a dent and thus didn't get the attention I feel it deserved. I still stand by the idea -- I just feel it needs to be supplemented with additional renewable sources.
With that in mind, I'm now about to rock the world by combining three existing renewable fuel technologies into one super hybrid, using only one readily available renewable resource.
The main source of this hybrid power scheme is an extremely prevalent substance found nearly everywhere humans are present, one which we take great pains to eliminate from our daily lives. Yes, I'm talking about excrement -- or "poop," if scientific terms aren't your cup of tea.
"Sure," you might say, "there are people already generating methane from animal excrement and people generating steam power -- and, by extension, electricity -- from burning dried animal waste, so what's so 'world-rocking?'"
Well, my new technique allows for ethanol extraction as well as the aforementioned steam and methane. To see how wonderful a fuel source ethanol is, one needs only to take a look at the readily available, attractively priced fuel in Brazil.
Sure, opponents of ethanol-as-fuel tout the fact that even if we used all the corn we currently eat -- and therefore would no longer be able to consume -- for fuel production, we wouldn't be able to power all our cars. That's very true; growing additional corn would actually have a negative impact on the problem.
However, I've overcome this hurdle; my plan requires no additional corn to be grown, nor a reduction in the amount we eat. Wondering where the ethanol is coming from? Well, my new process extracts all the undigested kernels of corn you see nestled in your excrement for ethanol processing, allowing us to generate ethanol from it after we have eaten it.
Sure, your excrement alone might not have much impact, but imagine if it was mixed in with that of all the people in your town. All that poop would have quite an impact indeed. With only minor changes to our municipal sewage treatment plants, we'd be able to start generating methane, steam-powered electricity, and ethanol from our excrement.
Rather than simply flushing this valuable resource into our nation's rivers, we could be generating surplus energy to supplement my already proposed reclamation system to push us even closer to total independence from petroleum.
Come on, America; let's "get our shit together" while we still can.
It is safe for the environment -- if you spill biodiesel into waterways, fish will happily (and safely) eat it.
You get to feel good about not drilling in pristine environments.
There are, however, several drawbacks to using biodiesel. Firstly, it is alot more expensive to produce than petroleum based diesel. Secondly, even if us hippies could convince people to switch to it, it wouldn't be possible to grow enough additional plant crops to generate enough biodiesel to fuel all of America's cars. Even using all the crops we currently use as livestock feed, there wouldn't be even close to enough.
Some communities have started generating biodiesel using medical and slaughterhouse waste, which seems to be working out fairly well. There's alot of turkey, pig, chicken, and cow carcasses -- not to mention the thousands of gallons of celebrity liposuction waste -- that are now being used to generate fuel rather than just throwing it away. This is a good responsible use of a material that we never really thought of as a resource before.
While listening to the hippies scientists on NPR's Science Friday talk about the impending fuel shortage crisis, my mind began to work to come up with other untapped "resources" that people may not have ever considered using before. I think what I came up with is pretty groundbreaking, and I'll tell you about it now.
A projected 2,528,000 people will die in 2005 in the United States alone. As the average weight of Americans is roughly 175 pounds, we could multiply that figure by the number of people who will die this year and come up with 44,200,000 pounds of dead people. According to an article in Discover Magazine (Vol. 24 issue No.5), if broken down into component parts a 175 pound human would yield us 38 pounds of high quality oil, 7 pounds of clean-burning natural gas and 123 pounds of sterilized water. The gas could be used as-is, but the 38 pounds of oil would then need to be processed giving us roughly 6.5 gallons of biodiesel per person. Multiply that by the number of people who will die in 2005 and we get 1,432,000 gallons of efficient clean biodiesel and 1,769,000 pounds of usable clean-burning natural gas that would otherwise not exist.
As Americans use 750,000,000 gallons of gasoline a day currently, my plan barely makes a dent in that figure. As fuel prices continue to rise and availability becomes limited, however, people are going to start wanting more efficient vehicles that use a more efficient fuel – meaning my plan could then start to make more of a difference.