Home brewed fuel

This is a post I made back in June on another one of my blogs.

The Times of London has a story on a California based company that is working on bio-tech produced oil, that should be “carbon negative” to produce. 

These slightly modified industrial yeast cells take in biomass, such as wheat straw or wood chips, and “excrete a substance that is almost pump-ready.”

There are still issues on how this can scale up to industrial levels, but even a lot of small plants can produce fuel to allow a city to run its municipal vehicles (police cars, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles) without worrying about the rising market price of foreign oil breaking their budget.

Just bringing a few of these plants online should cause the market price to respond in a downward manner. The start of construction of the plants would probably have that effect.

The fact that uses modified yeast lead me to thinking about home brewing. If this process can be made as simple as brewing beer, then home brewing gas can’t be far away. Say that you could brew 20 galleons of gas in your basement a month. That’s a tank of gas. So, imagine if 20 or 30 million car owners bought one less tank of gas a week. Call it 25 million, 20 galleons a pop, so that’s 500 million galleons of gas a month that isn’t be imported or pumped from an area that environmentalists don’t want oil drilling. At the current average pump price of $4.09 a galleon, that over $2 Billion that isn’t going to “Big Oil” or Middle East dictators.


2 Responses

  1. The problem is, what are you going to feed it? I imagine for that 20 gallons of fuel, you’re going to need north of a 400 pounds of organic matter to feed the yeast, going by how much grain, and how much alcohol brewing produces.

    It also doesn’t mention equipment costs. Brewing gear at the larger scale at cheap – conical fermenters approach a grand in the larger sizes, Kettles are over 300 each(and you generally need 3 of ’em. Not to mention the fact you need an energy source to produce it.

    You might wanna take a look at some of the Alcohol books Lindsay publishing has – several are aimed squarely at fuel production and what it entails.

  2. I’ve going to have to dig up my old copy of the RPG Twilight:2000. It had pretty rules for fuel producing stills.

    This may be just a matter of proper scaling. I may not produce enough biomass from my lawn (except in the fall, I’ve got a lot of trees ;->)

    The town has a lot of soccer field and other sections of open grass. It also has a lot of cars. Using it to fuel the car Animal Control uses would help the town budget a bit, even after taking the cost of the still in. Use solar to run the still when ever possible as well.

    I still like the idea because it is a potential domestic energy source that we already have a lot of infrastructure set up to use. That it doesn’t require biomass that humans use for food is a plus also.

    This may take five to ten years to become viable, but I don’t think that should be a reason not to explore it.

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