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"Vetrolium" From Agricultural Waste

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the six-gallons-from-a-bushel dept.

Power 438

junctionvin writes "The company Sustainable Power Corp. claims to have created a form of bio-crude oil from agricultural refuse. They use agro-waste from cracked soy beans, rice and cotton seed hulls, grain sorghum, milo, and jatropha and turn it into bio-crude oil. This crude can then be further refined into everything from gasoline to jet fuel and just about every petrochemical in between. The CEO is quoted: 'Our biggest problem is that we are too good to be true. We can literally replace every gallon of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel in the United States using just 12 percent of the waste byproducts in the country.' They also claim that their fuel burns to near 100 percent efficiency." The article doesn't mention what price the "vetrolium" would command in today's market or going forward, except to report the CEO's promise "to one day sell his gasoline for $1 less than the pump price for regular fuel, no matter what the cost. 'Even if it's $2 per gallon, I'll sell mine for $1,"' he said."

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snake oil, more like (5, Funny)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151519)

vaporware, literally.

Re:snake oil, more like (5, Funny)

jrmcc (703725) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151537)

I bet snake oil gets more MPG than this idea...

Re:snake oil, more like (2, Funny)

yada21 (1042762) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151965)

Problem is the wear on on you're tires and steering!

Re:snake oil, more like (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151565)

vaporware, literally.

It may take an amount of time equal to that of the development of Duke Nukem, but gosh darn it, he is gonna follow through with his promise! I think the topic of the next vaporware list should be these promised technologies.

Re:snake oil, more like (4, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151579)

Nah, we'll hear about them in a few months.

You know, after the company goes bankrupt from this guy embezzling the millions of investment capital they get from this announcement.

Re:snake oil, more like (2, Insightful)

korbin_dallas (783372) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151787)

Theres more than one way to make money.
Perhaps hes betting that the PetrolCorps(e) will buy him out to keep his invention OFF the market.

Re:snake oil, more like (1)

emarks (1190825) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151911)

We'll recognize $1 of your $2 investment!! Suckas!!

Re:snake oil, more like (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151957)

You know, after the company goes bankrupt from this guy embezzling the millions of investment capital they get from this announcement.

His previous endeavour [ussec.us] is still chugging along.

I think he may have discovered a sustainable income source. It's kept him fed for a few years at least.

Re:snake oil, more like (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152117)

And it's a steal at a penny a share!

Lot of biofuel startups out there, and they're doing middlin due to all the interest in biofuels. But they're not exactly setting the world on fire right now.

Re:snake oil, more like (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151835)

I personally will drink my vetrolium with a bit of tomacco juice, thank you very much.

Re:snake oil, more like (1)

sherpajohn (113531) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151951)

I personally will drink my vetrolium with a bit of tomacco juice, thank you very much.

LOL, good Simpson's reference - even if you are AC.

Re:snake oil, more like (2, Funny)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152005)

Clicked on the link and thought it was The Onion, perhaps they've gone undercover

Re:snake oil, more like (5, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152029)

vaporware, literally.

Running on vapors? That's nothing, I can get my car to run (sometimes, anyway) on nothing but pure vitriol. If your car has fuel invective, it may be able to use this highly volatile energy source as well.

awesome (5, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151531)

tfa says it burns without generating any heat. i'll be taking a bath in this stuff every night, setting myself on fire, and running around the block screaming. i think the neighbors will get a real kick out of it.

and it will burn off completely. when it's done- no odor or residue. i mean how great can it get?

Re:awesome (5, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151649)

tfa says it burns without generating any heat. i'll be taking a bath in this stuff every night, setting myself on fire, and running around the block screaming. i think the neighbors will get a real kick out of it.

Congratulations, you've just described something called 'alcohol'. Your neighbours already get a kick out of seeing you run around the block screaming after drinking a bathtub full of it.

Re:awesome (4, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151759)

Congratulations, you've just described something called 'alcohol'.

Alcohol burns without generating heat?

I had better sell my Bunsen burner stock ASAP.

Re:awesome (2, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151861)

Why sell? Bunsen burners run on gas.

Alcohol lamps, of course, are another story....

Re:awesome (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151837)

Nah, were sick of it. The first couple of years were funny, but come up with something new once in a while.

Re:awesome (5, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152007)

Hmmm. An alcohol flame gets plenty hot. Hot enough to melt glass rods if you don't have a bunsen burner handy, so temps can probably reach over 1000 degrees F.

Alcohol flames burn so clean that they look innocuous. You also can do some impressive stunts that exploit the cooling effect of alcohol evaporation. These seem to have combined to create the myth that alcohol burns cool. Anybody mucking around with alcohol flames for amusement would be well advised not to believe this.

Re:awesome (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151769)

Also, while I mostly spent Auto Shop getting beaten up so may have missed something important, isn't that heat what makes a normal engine work?

Re:awesome (4, Informative)

Tinamil (1149455) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151873)

No, normal engines work by using the expanding gasses that are a product of combustion to exert pressure to move the cylinders.

Re:awesome (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151877)

Yeah - I'm no engineer or chemist - but when gasoline combusts, the gasses that are created expand and drive the piston. The heat is a byproduct - wasted energy basically. So I don't think being cool would be a problem - but the claim that there are no byproducts at all doesn't work. If nothing at all is produced when it burns, the engine wont go. I'm sure there is more that's wrong here, I'm just not educated enough on this stuff to figure it all out.

Re:awesome (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151889)

Technically it's the energy generated by the fuel going bang but generally you're going to get heat with your bang unless you're using compressed air or astroglide. (da-dum-tschh. The show changes completely after I've had my coffee.)

Re:awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151943)

heat is a by-product - its the expansion of gases in the cylinder when the fuel is ignited.

But yeah, no heat fuel isn't going to cut it in quite a few places

Re:awesome (4, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152043)

Mostly - fuel/air vapor is compressed, then detonated. The expansion of that detonation pushes the piston. Heat causes the majority of that expansion force.

The trick is that their fuel is either: cold as Hell to start with (e.g. like putting dry ice in a bottle of water and sealing the bottle - there's still heat involved in making the detonation, but it's still way colder than pretty much anything immediately surrounding it), or dissipating the heat before the exhaust can get out of the tailpipe.

The problem is that this alleged wunderfuel is still a hydrocarbon, which means that you still have carbon atoms to dispose of (lots of 'em), and the nature of a car's combustion process still involves compression and ignition of the fuel, which will still generate a lot of heat.

Now some fuels do burn cooler than others, esp. in a short test run like the CEO was describing (for example, alcohol burns far cooler than gasoline), and a short test run with a cooler fuel will likely not give you as much heat in the exhaust (then again, on a really cool/cold day, a gasoline engine would only produce "some warm air" at your tailpipe if the engine has only ran for "a couple of minutes").

As for what's in the stuff? *shrug* - I dunno. I'm not holding my breath until/unless I see some show up in marketable quantities, though.

/P

Too good to be true??? (5, Insightful)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151547)

Perhaps, but ever time I hear something like this, I still have the hope it really is true. Each time I'm wrong, but who cares! It would be awesome!

Other options seem to exist w/more believability (2, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151775)

I'm a regular subscriber to Popular Science magazine, and I recall seeing several similar-sounding devices covered in there over the years.

Maybe the problem is, most of them work great in a lab environment, as a "demo", but can't scale up to cost-effective, usable/functional products for the real world?

Like what's going on with Frank Pringle's microwave emitter:

http://www.popsci.com/popsci/flat/bown/2007/innovator_2.html [popsci.com]

Or Joseph Longo's plasma trash converter thing:

http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2007-03/prophet-garbage?page=1 [popsci.com]

Re:Too good to be true??? (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151831)

I firmly believe that one day, a new energy source will come, and it will blow us away, and the story on slashdot will be true. I firmly believe that in my lifetime we will see cheap, clean endless renewable energy from a currently undreamed of source. I also believe that this particular news story is horsecrap, and it's not even the first time I've heard the 'perfect garbage' horsecrap.

Re:Too good to be true??? (2, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151947)

At best this is a variation on TDP [wikipedia.org] , therefore it probably works, it definitely doesn't work as economically as the article implies, but you have to over-hype this stuff to get the attention of the venture capitalists. I expect that the ROI isn't really good enough to get the venture capital excited when compared with the risks involved.

Re:Too good to be true??? (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152013)

That hope, that beautiful little flower of perfect happy hope, is how they take your money away from you.

Let me tell you how the fuel of the future will come about. Some guy in a lab will come up with something that is woefully inefficient, and they will haggle with it for a decade with little funding and little respect, and it will become more efficient, and then more people will say, "Wow, maybe there is something to (insert inefficient process here)" and they'll start working on it. And a decade or so later it will be roughly equivalent to our current fuel in cost.

People have been working on the idea of biofuels forever, and we've got some semi-decent methods out there, but every one of them is the fruit of a LOT of crappy thankless work done when oil was cheaper than bottled water.

Likewise fusion; we know it can be done. One day we will do it, barring an intellectual dark age. But right now its an expensive boondoggle.

Re:Too good to be true??? (1)

Keyslapper (852034) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152101)

Of course it's too good to be true.

Our biggest problem is that we are too good to be true.

He's practically telling the world he's a pirate
(paraphrased: Pratchett, Going Postal)

Anyone see a pic? Is he wearing an eye patch?

Oooo magic! (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151555)

Sounds like a pump and dump to me. Their stock is at approximately nothing, this claim has no actual details of process. It also violates common sense (complete combustion from a hydrocarbon? They're not zero impurity fuels), and promises an astounding return from the use of a waste product. They make claims that they can put it into production very quickly, which is extremely unlikely given the issues with biofuel scaling.

From their website:

Matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this press release, the words "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "may," "intend," "expect" and similar expressions identify such forward-looking statements. Actual results, performance or achievements could differ materially from those contemplated, expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained herein. These forward-looking statements are based largely on the expectations of the Company and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. These include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties associated with: the impact of economic, competitive and other factors affecting the Company and its operations, markets, product, and distributor performance, the impact on the national and local economies resulting from terrorist actions, and U.S. actions subsequently; and other factors available from the Company.

I think that sums it up nicely.

Re:Oooo magic! (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151681)

Not to say these guys are or aren't legit, but that's a pretty standard investment disclaimer. An annual report for even the bluest of blue chip companies will warn you how it contains "forward-looking statements" and how the sky might fall and result in a loss for stockholders.

Boilerplate (2, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151709)

Matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. ... I think that sums it up nicely.

While you are absolutely correct, that's just a standard bit of boiler-plate required by every company in financial statements so that they can talk about the future. Nothing special about this particular piece of boiler-plate.

Re:Oooo magic! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151719)

The enter thing seems way to far fetched. Motors running without getting hot?
Yea it would be freaking brilliant if it worked but until I see the chemistry or the cheap fuel I just don't think it is possible.

Re:Oooo magic! (1)

sjwaste (780063) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151891)

Actually, if I'm not mistaken, that sort of boilerplate is exactly what won't get you into the PSLRA safe harbor. The forward looking statements need to be qualified with specificity as to why they're subject to change.

Re:Oooo magic! (5, Insightful)

Crowley (24666) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151729)

Sounds like a pump and dump to me. Their stock is at approximately nothing, this claim has no actual details of process. It also violates common sense (complete combustion from a hydrocarbon? They're not zero impurity fuels)

Having RTFA, they actually claim no by-products - by which they mean no smoke. If (and this is a *big* if) the hydrocarbon was burning with 100% efficiency - no soot being produced - then surely the chemical reaction is maximising the amount of CO2 that the engine will then pump out; simple high-school chemistry says that there are byproducts of the combustion, they are just invisible to the human eye. The byproduct is also quite honestly the one that we don't want. Ecologically, from a global warming POV, having diesel *not* emit useless soot is absolutely catastrophic, as the carbon has to go somewhere. It's either soot, or carbon dioxide.

I still call bull on the claims, though...

low temp cleaner burning makes sense/is real (4, Informative)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151813)

I wonder just how much "bio-waste" is available anyway, to supply this venture. Would the specific ingredients they require ever amount to enough so as to provide a significant percentage of a states fuel needs.

The engine temperature observation from the story may just imply that the vetroleum has a very low flash point, or combustion temperature. My friends and I used to set our hands on fire with alcohol from alcohol burners, The alcohol burns at a fairly low temperature, and thus doesn't heat your hand much.

Lower temperature burns would probably generate less side products, producing a cleaner smoke. That's nothing surprising nor revolutionary. It's actually a bad thing too, since the amount of power produced is also less (less heat -> less thermal expansion = less power)

Lots and Lots of magic... (2, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151847)

I have to agree - this doesn't inspire confidence in me.

I'd much rather see samples sent off to independent testing labs. Heck, I'm sure there's some mechanical equivalents to Dan [dansdata.com] out there.

Heck, Popular Mechanics and consumer reports will occasionally provide free testing of various 'too good to be true' methods and devices.

His idea, taken raw, sounds a lot like thermal depolymerization, which does have a test plant up. But the TD guys aren't proposing a 100% replacement for oil, or making claims that their fuel is almost magical(the lower heat). It IS naturally lower in a number of contaminants such as sulfur, but nothing magical.

Re:Oooo magic! (1)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152121)

You realize that the language you quoted is required by SEC regulations and appears in every single financial document released by every single publicly traded company, right? I'm talking ExxonMobile down to Fly-By-Night, LLC.

I'm not commenting on the (rather dubious sounding) claims made by the company -- but to target their SEC disclosure statement as evidence that they are full of !@#$ is really not fair.

A loss producing company lasts for how long? (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151563)

Even if it's $2 per gallon, I'll sell mine for $1

Is it just me or does that sound like not the best way to run a business?

Re:A loss producing company lasts for how long? (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151587)

I think the implication he is trying to make is that he can sell it at that price without taking a loss. The whole thing looks like a huge hoax anyway. I like the truck engine that runs without getting hot.

Low temp fuel burns (2, Informative)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151853)

see my prev message. If a fuel has a low combustion point, then it doesn't generate much heat. It also, unfortunately, generates less power too.

So the truck engine that runs w/o getting hot is realistic. Of course it might not be able to pull anything either.

Re:Low temp fuel burns (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151949)

I did just read that and appreciate the info.

Re:A loss producing company lasts for how long? (1)

Ec|ipse (52) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151679)

I agree, make a profit, but don't rape the customer.

And in the off chance that it somehow replaces regular crude oil, would we start to see price increases?

contrary wise (1)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151735)

"to one day sell his gasoline for $1 less than the pump price for regular fuel, no matter what the cost. 'Even if it's $2 per gallon, I'll sell mine for $1,"

If gas is $10 a gallon he is promising to sell his for $9 a gallon (no matter how little it costs to produce). Not such a good deal now huh?

Of course the claim of near 100% burn efficiency raises a lot of red flags as to the veracity of the claims.

$1 less than the pumps, regardless of how much? (3, Funny)

Syrente (990349) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151571)

Oh man, I'm just waiting for all competing providers to declare 79 cents fuel - then Mr CEO would have to pay you 21 cents for using each gallon of his fuel. Won't happen, but a schadenfreudist can dream...

price of x-1 for any value of x? sweet! (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151581)

the CEO's promise "to one day sell his gasoline for $1 less than the pump price for regular fuel, no matter what the cost. 'Even if it's $2 per gallon, I'll sell mine for $1,"' he said."

I can't wait until his product comes to maturity -- then demand for gas will be so low that the price will drop below $1.

"Fill her up with regular, please. You can pay me in cash."

Energy Input? (5, Insightful)

IAAE (1302511) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151617)

Sure they can make a lot of crude and fertilizer out of their agricultural waste, but how much energy are they using to convert it? It's all good and wonderful that they can make gasoline out of "waste", but if the energy costs to convert it are more than the production and transportation costs from other sources, either conventional or unconventional (oil sands for example), they may not really be accomplishing anything useful... However, if they were using say a nuclear plant to power their conversion, that'd be a different story.

Re:Energy Input? (1)

ad0n (1171681) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151723)

This is the real question. It is in the processing that these alternative fuels get 'evened out' in a sense. The same holds for hydrogen. Even if you have a 0 carbon footprint fuel when burned, if you look at the full life cycle of the fuel it will be an entirely different story.

That being said, biofuel has some great potential. In some European cities they have trains running on biofuel made from grapes. Other cities are using waste (i.e. corn husks) from agricultural industries. However, this company sounds like it could be trying to rake in on the hype and could indeed be a pump and dump scheme.

Re:Energy Input? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151783)

I'm not in any way involved with the company, but I have read TFA and having done that I feel as if I can answer your questions and concerns in the same spirit:

how much energy are they using to convert it?

Absolutely none! The conversion process requires no energy at all, occurs instantaneously, and releases no harmful emissions. In fact, pure unadulterated sunshine blasts forth from the process at all times and bathes bystanders in with its gentle warmth.

if the energy costs to convert it are more than the production and transportation costs from other sources

This is not at all the case! The Vetrolium produced is immediately transported to fueling stations across the globe by faeries or the like. No energy whatsoever is required to do this and no harmful emissions are produced. Blasting forth from the fueling stations is pure unadulterated sunshine, to warm your cockles while you fuel up.

they may not really be accomplishing anything useful

Untrue! Think of something you want that uses physical raw materials? Got it yet? What you are thinking of can be produced as follows: Waste -> Vetrolium -> What you thought of + pure unadulterated sunshine. See what is missing? Harmful emissions are whats missing, which is why Vetrolium is so great.

nuclear plant

The need for atom splitting is entirely obviated by this Waste to Fuel converson process I'd like you to fund. No harmful emissions or byproducts of anything you don't want. No heat. No muss. No fuss. Shove your trash into the magic machine. When you feel warmed by the sunshine coming out, you'll know the process is up and running. Absolutely no hamrful emissions will be involved in any way.

C'mon now, better than algae (5, Funny)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151633)

Algae biodiesel is far more advanced as vaporware than agricultural waste biodiesel. It claims 10,000 gallons per acre; whereas this agri-waste one claims 6 gallons per bushel. I heard that agri-animal-waste biodiesel claims 1000 gallons per cow. We need more consistency in our inflated vaporware numbers!

Re:C'mon now, better than algae (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151687)

Maybe they should switch to measuring it by one of those blue tubs in the picture? I've seen those for sale at wal-mart and target so it should be something that everyone can relate to.

Re:C'mon now, better than algae (4, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151915)

It claims 10,000 gallons per acre; whereas this agri-waste one claims 6 gallons per bushel.

The real question is: how many furlongs per hogshead will I get in my jalopy with either?

Fire the reporter (4, Insightful)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151659)

TFA: "Even after a few minutes of operation, the engine block was cool to the touch while the four-wheelerâ(TM)s exhaust pipe seemed to emit little more than warm, odorless air."

So. This fuel is oxidised thermally neutral? So what's causing the gas to expand? What's driving the pistons?

I'm not going to call bullshit on this whole story yet, but when a reporter thinks he sees crap like the above, he needs to ask WHY.

I refuse to make puns about "hot air" :)

Re:Fire the reporter (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151741)

Well - whatever it is will be driving their power plant and generating enough electricity for thousands of home - all without heat. Nice.

Re:Fire the reporter (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151823)

Yea, that's a massive screaming bullshit call in my book. If you're going to call it "bio-crude" which is weird in and of itself, you're going to have to accept that it is actually a fuel.

The heat produced out of combustion is sort of required; heat warms up the engine. If there is no heat, there is not much energy in the reaction. If there is no energy, it's not much of a fuel.

Even if, even if the manufacturing claims were accurate, the stuff doesn't behave like a hydrocarbon fuel.

Re:Fire the reporter (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151839)

I'll call bullshit on it. I can keep an open mind on all kinds of stuff and give the benefit of the doubt -- at least provisionally -- to claims that contradict established knowledge except when the claim involves a suspension of the laws of thermodynamics. Find an exception to those, and you've opened the door to perpetual motion and immortality, never mind auto fuel.

Re:Fire the reporter (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151879)

go search for my other post, as I'm tired of writing the same thing. It's very realistic, but produces poor power.

Re:Fire the reporter (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152049)

I'd also have to call bs due to the lack of heat thing. Untill I see it for myself.

Home Page (4, Informative)

bizitch (546406) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151665)

Here is their home page

http://www.sustainablepower.com/ [sustainablepower.com]

I can't decide which is harder to believe

Their Science or the fact that they are a penny stock! - Wow who would have guessed that?

Re:Home Page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151997)

There's nothing wrong with penny stocks.

General Motors is doing it's best to get there...

Problem with bio-fuel (3, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151677)

Is the bio-fuel from rice the same as the bio-fuel from cotton seed oil? Usually, it isn't. Different sources yield different products. A company that can produce a consistent product from a variety of different sources will make billions.

Re:Problem with bio-fuel (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151857)

A diesel engine can run on just about anything, so what's the problem?

Re:Problem with bio-fuel (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151933)

Is the bio-fuel from rice the same as the bio-fuel from cotton seed oil? Usually, it isn't. Different sources yield different products.

That mainly depends on what process you use. If you use first-generation biofuel processes (fermentation/biodiesel/etc), then you will get different products. If you go from biomass to syngas to hydrocarbons (second-generation biofuel process), it doesn't really matter what kind of biomass you use as it'll all get turned into H2 and CO at some point in the process. The only questions then are what you can actually use as feedstock for the process, and how efficient it is.

The DeLorean also ran on trash. (1)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151699)

Does this mean time traveling car are also in the works???

Coming up later (5, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151717)

Fuels from bodily waste. Will you choose peesel or shitroleum?

Re:Coming up later (1)

jrmcc (703725) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151899)

++Funny
oh to have some mod points right now...

Re:Coming up later (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151993)

Soylent Brown is ... euuuuw!

Re:Coming up later (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152037)

A mix of propane and butane - pootane?

If they could do this, they would just do it. (5, Insightful)

stankulp (69949) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151721)

They could just start making fuel and sell it on a small scale, then plow their profits back into their production facilities.

Apple was profitable from Day One.

This would be too, if it actually worked.

The fact that they're not just doing it means they can't.

Re:If they could do this, they would just do it. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151793)

There you go. They say you can drop it right into a tank and run it in any gas burning vehicle. Just start selling it for $3.50 a gallon or something like that and bypass waiting on investment. Means more profit for them in the end.

one good sign... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151923)

...that it isn't vaporware, they are hiring millwrights, welders and electricians, instead of the typical web page "masters" heavy on Flash experience you see at some other places. Besides that, no idea, haven't found any of their patents yet to look at.

Re:If they could do this, they would just do it. (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152033)

Apple was profitable from Day One.

Apple used off-the-shelf components from Day One.

If these guys actually *do* have a legitimate process for accomplishing this, there's still a great deal of Science and Engineering work that remains to be done. It's a lot harder to make that sort of thing profitable from day one.

Soylent Gas is made from People! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151727)

Yeaaaaaah, "farm" refuse, like SOY...

(I think someone is beaming messages into my brain with a raygun)

TFA Looks Sketchy (4, Insightful)

Dire Bonobo (812883) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151777)

Rivera claims that products made from Vetroleum burn at near 100 percent efficiency, leaving behind neither heat nor pollution as proof of the chemical reactions taking place.

Burns without heat? WTF?

Correct me if (when) I'm wrong, but doesn't no heat output mean no enthalpy [wikipedia.org] in the reaction means no ability to do useful work with that reaction? How is a reaction with no heat output supposed to do work in a heat engine [wikipedia.org] like your car?

Your car converts gasoline into mechanical energy by mixing it with air and using the resulting explosion to push a piston (see, for example, here [mainspot.net] ). Without heat output, how is the reaction supposed to cause the rapid pressure change needed to drive the piston?

If "no heat output" is one of their big selling points, I don't see how this can be legit.

A bad idea even if true (5, Insightful)

Bob Uhl (30977) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151785)

This may or may not be a scam (my bet's on the former). But even if by some chance it is true, it's still a horrible idea. Think about it: it's taking agricultural waste and burning it up in car engines. It's one thing to burn petroleum--it's a nasty poisonous substance with few uses other than fuel, plastics and medicines.

But agricultural waste is chock-full of valuable organic substances. It should be composted and returned to the soil so that it can fertilise the next year's worth of food. Burning it up is not all that different from burning corn in the form of 'ethanol' (really, just whiskey): it's just another way to take the last remaining topsoil in the United States and use it to fuel our car addiction, not entirely different from a junky selling his blood every day to get his fix.

Re:A bad idea even if true (1)

ElizabethGreene (1185405) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151893)

The industrious among us have sorted out "dirt-optional" growing, so it will be okay... We promise.

Aquaponics [wikipedia.org]

(Our soylent green is not made of people. People have a poor feed conversion ratio.)

-ellie

mod up (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151903)

Parent is making an excellent point; what the company describes as "agricultural waste" is a nutrient-rich and fiber-rich compostable material, essential to keep topsoil in top condition for growing crops. If you don't recycle the so-called "waste" into the ground, the topsoil starts to lose aeration capacity, nutrient load, compaction resistance, etc, after which crop yields can easily fall 30% or more.

The proof is in the investors. (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151803)

From TFA:

Now Rivera must convince potential investors that his trade secret - 21 years and $31 million dollars in the making - isn't just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

If his claims are true, this will be a trivial task. The fact that he keeps talking about how difficult it will be is telling.

Wrong market (3, Interesting)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151819)

Assuming for the moment that their claims are legit (TFA doesn't give us anywhere near enough information to evaluate them) it seems to me that the US is the wrong market for this. If I were in their shoes, I'd deploy this in China: the country's still very agricultural (that fertilizer might be worth a lot more there) but growing rapidly (i.e. they're looking for new sources of fuel, not just for cars but for power plants), there is a strong political will to invest in infrastructure, and they like to boast about any engineering feat. Prove it there, work out the kinks for large-scale production and refinement, then bring it west. That's what I'd do.

One Problem With Biofuels (0, Troll)

slughead (592713) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151849)

The one and only problem with biofuels (apart from the fact that they produce as much greenhouse gas as petroleum products) is and always has been that we really like our food prices low, and diverting food to vehicle fuel increases the demand and therefore price.

In fact, the main factor in the current food price increase is not oil prices or inflation (though they're helping), it's actually the higher demand for corn due to ethanol subsidies for vehicles [citation: The Economist magazine].

Making more biofuel will increase food prices which is probably not a good idea from a political standpoint. What we need to do is continue to work on hydrogen tech--the main hurdle being the low energy density. Hydrogen is chiefly derived from extracting it from water using electricity (thermodynamics states this does not "create" energy, just change its form).

At present, per joule, electricity (which can be converted into hydrogen energy) is 1/4 the cost of gasoline. Obviously, as with food prices, that would change if we were using electricity to fuel our cars. However, it still may ultimately be less costly to switch over to hydrogen (or some other pure electric car).

Re:One Problem With Biofuels (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151939)

Well the claim is that it is from "waste" ... you know, leaves, shells, the stuff you don't eat.

Re:One Problem With Biofuels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24152021)

I think that the article specifically states that it's agricultural *waste* that they use to produce their marvelous elixir. I seriously doubt that we'll see anyone start growing rice just for the hulls.

Wow! Thats almost as good... (1)

oneal13rru (1322741) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151851)

Thats almost as incredible as my new process to recycle old broken computer parts into perfectly functional bandwidth! I'm planning to start an ISP soon, as soon as my server finishes building itself, which should only take 12-18 months, and a small fortune. And since broken electronics are so readily available, I promise to sell broadband service for half of what anyone else is doing, so if broadband becomes free, I'll pay YOU to use my service!!

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151875)

Then let's get the price of gas to $0.99. Then he'll have to pay us to use his stuff.

I would have gotten away with it too... (2, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151883)

...if it weren't for those pesky laws of Thermodynamics!

Okay, it's not a perpetual motion machine but the article glosses over or completely ignores a few important details about his ultra-secret process, like just how much energy is required to produce and refine this stuff. He could make the nicest bio-diesel around, but if it takes fire barrels of oil just to make one barrel of it then he's going to have some troubles making his power plant work.

"Our biggest problem is that we are too good to be true"

Yup, that would be one way of putting it. I'd be happy to see this project succeed, but it has been tried before and always run into the same problems.

Someone will eventually shut them down... (4, Informative)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151887)

...just like keep trying to do with the plant in my neck of the woods.

http://www.res-energy.com/ [res-energy.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerization [wikipedia.org]

Scroll to the bottom, under 'Current status' and 'Smell complaints'.

Too bad there's not a section for 'pressure from big oil'. If it isn't the case today, it certainly will be tomorrow.

This outfit in Carthage is already producing 500 barrels a day from guts and fat, at a profit of $4 per barrel. In January 05, their price was $80/barrel ($1.90/gal).

The tech is real, so why don't we have the gas yet?

What if gasoline is = $0.99/gallon? (3, Funny)

profet (263203) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151921)

Do they pay us to pump their fuel?

Perhaps he could also make gas from Bull@!#$... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24151929)

In the end, all bio-fuels are solar powered, and the maximum production they can possibly obtain is limited by the light falling on the cultivated area. This company is claiming to produce energy far beyond 100% efficiency for the amount of soy, rice and cotton grown. Also, they area claiming they are getting that energy from the leftovers of the the agriculture process.

There we go... fraudulent and easily provable. Why do these stories keep making the front page? Slashdot is getting as bad as TreeHugger for not even doing basic common sense screening of stories.

I hope their "Chief Con Artists" ends up in prison before he disappears with his investor's money.

Re:Perhaps he could also make gas from Bull@!#$... (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152123)

Or you could look at it another way - what better place to let knowledgeable people publicly post an informed discussion of the technology?

Or should we just let all the comments indexed by google be made by people who don't have a clue?

Discussing it here is a good thing in my book.

there is a point... (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 6 years ago | (#24151959)

fully aknowledging the snake-oil odour present, there is a point to be made here. Modern biotech uses GMO produced enzymes to break down the cellulose from agricultural waste in lighter sugars which can then be fermented to alcohol in granddaddys style. But each and every step breaks down the amount of energy present in the soup. How about a working opposite? Take a big mean motherf*** nuclear reactor. Use its power to heat up the waste and turn it into very hot gas or maybe even plasma. Control the chemical composition by adding coal, water, air,... Pass it over some catalysers cracking the long molecules and let it condense recuperating as much heat as possible for heating up the next batch. That should be able to give you a kind of crude oil soup which you can feed into a traditional refinery, possibly blended with normal crude.

Oil Bubble (3, Insightful)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152041)

This Oil Bubble has been fun, huh? Sort of like the Housing Bubble, different than the Tech Bubble. With the Housing Bubble it was "oh no, real estate is going to just keep going up, after all, no one is making more land." Of course, looking at the situation now, it seems someone was making more land, at least with the price declines we've been seeing.

.

Now we have an Oil Bubble, and it is fun in its own way. Peak Oil! We're all doomed, the great die-off! Foriegners are eating our lunch! Kuntsler hasn't been this happy since we were all going to be totally doomed by Y2K!

Of course, I wouldn't mind seeing trains make a comeback, and some serious investment in improving nuclear tech, but I'm guessing that the current bubble will pop before we get very far in either on one them. You know its bad when, 12 U.S. airlines call on Congress to curb excessive speculation. [cnn.com]

I'm wondering what the next Bubble will be. Some are thinking a Green Tech Bubble, but I'm hoping for a Water Bubble. You know, sort of like that episode of Darkwing Duck with the Liquidator.

Of course, someone could do something about all the insane, emotion-driven speculation but that wouldn't be as much fun. It might lead to economic stability, and who wants that?

Um, ok (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152045)

we are too good to be true.

Ok. Next?

sustainablepower.com (1)

Anonmyous Coward (1290620) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152057)

sustainablepower.com? Sounds like their most valuable asset is their domain name.

As for selling it for $1 less than petrol, I'll just wait until a market glut puts gas at $0.97/gallon again and start MAKING 3 cents for every gallon I burn!

If it sounds too good to be true... (1)

oneTheory (1194569) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152081)

...it probably is.

Common Sense 101 - I guess a lot of kids missed that class because their parents kept them at home due to fear of terr-a-wrists.

Don't hold your breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24152085)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changing_World_Technologies [wikipedia.org]

A few years ago we all got excited about a company that was converting agricultural waste (turkey guts) to oil. That company, Changing World Technologies, is a legit company and is very open about how their process works. They are indeed processing turkey guts into oil and seem to be making a small profit.

Robert Appel (the brains behind CWT) also pointed out that, if we could convert all our agricultural waste, we wouldn't have to import oil.

The problem with CWT is that their process seems to be very fussy about its feedstock. You can't just throw random organic waste into the reactor and get good results.

Given CWT's experience, and given that they have been very up-front and honest, I would rate this other company's chances of success very poor. The first thing I tried to find when I went to their web site was a description of the technology. I couldn't find it. On that basis, I sure wouldn't invest in the company.

We need a much broader energy portfolio (4, Informative)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 6 years ago | (#24152115)

While I believe a lot of the claims made are a bit hyperbolic, this kind of biodiesel certainly is more scalable than food-crop based ethanol, and does have some promise (as well as problems).

I make a point to follow emerging trends in new energy technologies and there is certainly no silver bullet (unless we can get cold fusion going). However, I'm also of the opinion that the US (and certainly most other nations) has the ability to independently supply its own energy through using a healthy balance of diverse energy technologies.

Off the top of my head:
  • Solar (both photo voltaic and focusing mirrors): Huge potential (especially in south). This can be done both commercially as well as deployed residentially to offset customer's bills (and in some cases even sell excess energy generated back onto the grid).
  • Wave and tidal
  • Geothermal: Yellowstone is sitting on top of on of the earth's largest super volcanoes. I know it's a national park, but the material pumped from geothermal stations is water. As long as the infrastructure is responsibly deployed and maintained, this is a no brainier.
  • Wind: huge potential on coasts, mountain ranges, and through the entire mid-west. Concerned about the effects on birds? No problem. There are some pretty ingenious non-propeller turbines (some of which can work with wind blowing in any direction).
  • Hydro-electric dams: Tried and true.

Combine this with newer technologies that reduce consumption.

  • LED lamps
  • Better fuel efficiency (fuel mileage, hybrid drives, alternative fuels)
  • Broader use of recycled goods
  • Better energy consumption of electrical appliances and devices
  • Thermal underground radiation for residential and commercial climate control
  • Better insulation requirements

Again, none of the above (which are incomplete lists) alone can be a viable solution and each as their own set of problems to overcome. What is needed is a diverse portfolio of renewable energy technologies combined with a more conscious responsible use of resources. I really do believe that in doing this, there is a potential to achieve complete energy independence. What people seem to be having a hard time with is that this requires a huge infrastructural investment as well as the creation of a whole new industry. The infrastructural problems, I think, will work themselves out as the potential of ROI of these different technologies becomes attractive. A jump start from the government would help as well.

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