Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

03 December 2008

A Fuel-Producing Fungus

While I am very much inclined to think that we will remain very dependent upon fossil fuels for the next several decades, I have nothing at all against the development of alternative sources of energy, provided they are not heavily subsidized by government. OK, I used the word "heavily", since I might allow a short-term light subsidy if one could be quite sure that the new energy source would significantly decrease our energy dependence. So far no candidate alternative energy source seems to have arisen to meet that criterion. This is based purely on considerations of defense policy.

The topic here is that it has been discovered by Gary Strobel and colleagues of Montana State University that a fungus which grows in the Ulmo tree of the Patagonian rainforest of South America produces a brew of hydrocarbons similar to diesel fuel. This may make it possible to use the fungus, G. roseum, to make fuel from biomass consisting of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin directly. Presently, enzymes called cellulases are used to convert cellulose to sugar, which is then fermented by microbes into ethanol.

Of course, even if the fungus does prove economically effective in converting the 400 million tons of plant stalk waste per year into fuel, this is a fuel which will fuel the Global Warming Holocaust Believers fears. It will burn to produce carbon dioxide, just as we produce carbon dioxide from the fuel we burn in our bodies and just as fossil fuel combustion does also. It appears we will never be able to use it after all!

2 comments:

miss-breeziness said...

Hi Charles, how are you doing? I hope everything at the lab is fine and not too negatively affected by the Obama administration - ha.

Sorry I haven't been writing. I'm terrible at this.

This fuel producing fungus sounds really interesting! If I were a billionaire I'd consider this one of the projects worth funding. :)

Hopefully it will be better than ethanol.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Hi Miss Breeziness,

Obama first has to show that he is a U.S. citizen! No, most likely the Supreme Court will find reason not to review the issue. But, all the future Obama administration has done to date is to create still more uncertainty to add to the already too great uncertainties of the Bush administration.

Before you invest your money, look into this technology and its money-making prospects very carefully. I pointed it out just because it was interesting, but it might be another boondoggle. Of course, someone has to evaluate it before we will know whether it is or is not. My point is that while I have been rather negative about many of the particular alternative sources of energy, I am not at all opposed to evaluating alternative sources of energy and developing those that make rational sense. In this context, it is not rational unless the energy source is able to compete on price without subsidies and special tax breaks.