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Welcome to the Energy Information Area !

       

    In the U.S., our greenhouse gas emissions come from various sources including Volcanoes and from energy use. Nothing we can do about Volcano greenhouse gas emissions. While still unproven, human made Greenhouse gas emissions are claimed by some to be the cause of Global Warming and I suspect this debate will go on for some time. Man made greenhouse gas emissions are caused mostly by fuel used for electricity generation, heating and cooling needs. Carbon dioxide emissions, resulting from petroleum and natural gas, are 82 percent of total U.S. human made greenhouse gas emissions. BioDiesel use reduces greenhouse gas emissions because it does not release antique stored carbon into our air like dinosaur oil does.

One way to put this into perspective regarding green house gas emissions from Volcanos...

 Dixy Lee Ray, a scientist and ex-governor of the state of Washington who I would guess you never heard about. Dixy Lee, who died in 1994, happened to be governor of Washington state in 1980 when Mt. Helens erupted. Governor Lee, a marine biologist by professional training, had been chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission before she decided to go into elective politics and had a firm grounding in the physical sciences. She wrote a book, Trashing the Planet, which debunked a number of myths about the environment. In it she had the following line: The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 dumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than all that has been released since the industrial revolution. Volcanoes have been erupting for millions of years with the same result. If this really affected climate, don't you think it would have happened by now?

    So while we tiny humans cannot do anything about stopping a mighty Volcano, we can lower our own greenhouse gas contributions to the total.

    A few facts about energy use in the USA and what is needed to make BioDiesel. The current United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate of fuel used for transportation and home heating in the United States is about 230,000 million US gallons.

BioDiesel is the best choice alternative fuel, because it uses less energy to make and has the highest energy content of all the alternative fuels. The stored energy is measured as BTU per gallon. As you can see in the chart below BioDiesel energy content is far greater than Ethanol alcohol the next best alternative fuel and BioDiesel requires much less energy consumption to produce.

Fuel Type

No. 2 Diesel

 BioDiesel (B100)

20% BioDiesel blend (B20)

Gasoline

Ethanol(E85)

Methanol (M85)

Energy Content per Gallon

129,000 Btu

   121,000 Btu

118,500 Btu

112,000 Btu

80,000 Btu

61,000 Btu

    We wish that someday everyone would be using environmentally friendly BioDiesel to fuel their cars, trucks & busses, but sadly that is not possible. We just do have enough farm land to grow both food to eat and vegetable oil crops to be used for fuel.

  1. America farmers currently have 675 million acres of farmland with which to raise crops and this is shrinking due to increased housing needs. BioDiesel is made from vegetable oil. Farm crops such as corn and soybeans are used to make vegetable oil. You can't eat the corn or soybeans after they have had the oil removed, so you either use the crops to eat or you use them to make vegetable oil.
     
  2. You loose about 10% of your fuel mileage when using BioDiesel compared with regular diesel fuel. So it would require 287,500 million gallons of vegetable oil + another 10% (to make up for the loss in fuel mileage), this gives us a total of 316,250 million gallons of vegetable oil required to produce enough BioDiesel to meet the current fuel needs of the United States for just 1 year. But our fuel needs are increasing every year. What all this means is that it would require more than 1000 times of our current production of vegetable oil to meet the our fuel needs for just one year.
     
  3. If we were to plant all of our available 675 million acres of farm land in a high oil yielding farm crops such rapeseed we would only get 97,875 million gallons of vegetable oil. We would still be nearly 218,375 million gallons of fuel short! So, sadly we must report that although alternative fuels are a nice thing, they can not entirely replace dinosaur oil for our vehicle & heating needs. One crop that looks promising for a base oil used to make BioDiesel is Algae which shows the most promise of all the crops as an oil source. Algae would require use of our ocean shorelines as farms. This may come with a high cost to our oceans ecosystem so we should carefully weigh the alternatives to see if it is worth taking the risk. If we can come up with a responsible way to raise Algae for it's oil and not destroy our ocean ecosystems it just might work. Palm oil is another high yielding crop but sadly it will not grow in most areas in the United States.
     
  4. One area of concern now is the Rain Forests of Brazil where they are being cut down to make room to grow Sugarcane to make Ethanol out of. We have to ask ourselves if the possibility of creating Global Warming by cutting down the fragile Rain Forest of Brazil is worth the risk to save our air from the pollution created by cars burning gasoline.

This list shows how much vegetable oil you get per acre of crop.

  • Soybean: 40 to 50 US gal/acre

  • Rapeseed: 110 to 145 US gal/acre

  • Mustard: 140 US gal/acre

  • Jatropha: 175 US gal/acre

  • Palm oil: 650 US gal/acre

  • Algae: 10,000 to 20,000 US gal/acre

    Canola is a closely related cousin of rapeseed which has been bred to have a low erucic acid content. Canola was developed in Canada and its name is a contraction of "Canadian oil, low acid".

   

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