Why not harvest "free" bio-diesel from the sea?

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by CFLweasel, May 12, 2010.

  1. #1 CFLweasel, May 12, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2010
    OK. So if anyone here has done any research about biodiesel or alternative fuels, then you know that biodiesel is a fuel you can produce more than one way. I'm interested in the method that recycles old plastic into biodiesel. I saw a special on some science show, where they took a bunch of junk plastic, put it in a giant pressure cooker, and then basically cooked it back into petroleum...

    Pay attention because here's where it gets interesting: the best way to either 1) make a huge profit on something or 2) sell something at extremely low cost, is to keep all costs low. Anyone else out here an accounting major? Remember cost accounting? Expenses can only go two places- inventory or cost of goods sold...

    So- if you throw aside startup costs etc- imagine a biodiesel refinery that produced this type of fuel 24 hours a day, and the plastic was free- delivered even. No purchasing raw materials from suppliers... Just lots and lots of plastic arriving daily. Piling up everywhere, waiting to be refined into a useable energy source... No homeless people with shopping carts dropping it off for money, no trucks or complicated loading docks... Just piles and piles of useable plastic, and nothing but time.... Well, that's what you'd have if you constructed such a facility in gore point Alaska...

    See link here for mnore information on just how terrible this spot is: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/magazine/22Plastics-t.html?pagewanted=2

    The rundown: Gore point is a huge beach at the tip of a peninsula in Alaska. It can only be reached by helicopter and it's covered in garbage. More importantly the garbage is almost completely either driftwood or plastic... Why? It's carried there by the ocean. It has something to do with the ocean currents, and the buoyancy, weight, and density of plastic... The ocean basically acts like some sort if centrifuge and spins the plastic out to the same place. As an added side note- I once saw a show on tv about a beach somewhere else covered only with dead lightbulbs... Same deal with the ocean currents etc- that's apparently where lightbulbs get spun out...

    Anyway- think about it. Just about any diesel engine can be retrofitted to run biodiesel. You could set up a refinery that burns the driftwood as fuel in it's furnaces... The plastic could be scavanged by construction equipment type machines that you often see at dumps- since they run on diesel, they too could be modified for the new fuel as well. Even the barges that would have to bring the fuel back to the states could be rigged-up to run on the biodiesel...

    There you have it- my 2 cents on a solution to our oil dependency situation. Not only does it create a few jobs and provide an alternative that could be cheaper- it's good for the environment. Think about it? Our oceans are badly polluted... If you read the article I linked to it says that it would take 200 years to clean the strip of land I'm describing just once. Not only does that mean that the supply of plastic wouldn't be going away at all soon, but you'd be doing something ethical and environmentally responsible... It wouldn't even have to end there- you could replicate the effort elsewhere as well- many other similar beaches and islands exist all over the world.

    Just my 2 cents.... What do you think?
  2. I think that you should do it.

    I'm not an environmentalist or an accountant, but I do know that nothing happens by sitting around and waiting. If you are the kind of person savvy enough to pull something like this off in your proposed location, do it. Make it a life goal.

  3. It may be possible on certain kinds of plastics but there are many many different kinds of plastic.

    Plastic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. I think you have no idea about the impact of burning Plastic.

    "Ethical and environmentally responsible"? Guess what, the Air is also part of the environment, and moving pollution from one form (sea) to another (air) isn't being "ethical" or "environmentally responsible".

    I really don't understand where all these "alternate fuel" groupies got the idea that burning biodiesel is somehow the answer to everything, and that its harmless to the environment, or somehow better than burning Oil products.
    It's clearly the last gasp of the oil companies trying to save their shitty tech as the time of the electric car rapidly approaches.
  5. #5 CFLweasel, May 12, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2010
    Joe- I'm not talking about actually burning the plastic. I'm talking about a refining process I saw on the discovery channel that they used to somehow reverse-refine the raw plastic material back into the liquid petroleum from which it was made. The process involved heat, so I was saying that you could use the driftwood on the beach as fuel for that.

    Tooken- I understand there are many different types of plastic- the demonstration I saw used everything mixed together... They mostly used petroleum based products from cars... They had ripped up pieces of polypropylene cloth seats. Dashboard plastics that had been ripped out. Anything plastic from inside the car... They put it into some sort of steel cylinder thing with a pressure lid, and heated it from underneath. I'm assuming that the pressure lid and lack of oxygen prevented the plastic from actually burning, and somehow forced it into a homogenous liquid mix of petroleum concentrates?

    I am in no way suggesting people burn plastic, nor am I suggesting that burining biodiesel is in any way less harmfull to the environment... What I am saying is that there's lots of garbage in the ocean that nobody's doing much about anyway, and in a backhanded way this idea would do something about that. My idea was actually more politically motivated to be honest, since I thing oil/gasoline costs too damn much...

    I'm not sure you guys understand the type of refining I'm describing here. I should have had some more reference material... I'll look for an article. It was from a discovery channel show I saw a couple of years ago or whatever, but the idea just sort of hit me one day... Anyway, I attatched a pic to try to explain what I mean- It's a creappy pic, sorry. The drum thingy in the pic is a lame look-alike of what I saw on the tv show. I have no idea what this thing is called, but I've seen them in factoriies etc before, and I know they get used for different things and come in all different sizes... It's basically a steel drum/cylinder of whatever diameter and height, with a lid on the top. The lid is on hinges usually, and has weird clamps that hold it down tight like a submarine hatch or something. These things are almost always stainless steel btw... Anyway, in the demonstration I saw, they just dumped all the junk plastic in the top, sealed it off, and heated the bottom side for awhile... Anyone ever heard of this before?

    Honestly though Joe- I hope you don't take offense but how the hell do you get off saying that biodiesel is the last grasp of the oil companies to save profits? In America, I think I speak for many or most, when I say that most "alternative fuel" users are all looking to do one thing- save money. That's it. Most all biodiesel around here that I know of isn't even sold commercially- it's farmers with drums of sh*t in their barns doing some mad professor sh*t to gather fuel for this month's work etc. Or people who buy ancient mercedes diesel cars to retrofit so they can burn free oil from McDonalds... People even doing propane conversions on their own vehicles to try to see more MPG compared to gasoline etc. Since most of this is all done with third party hardware or personal ingenuity- how exactly does this advance the cause of the big oil companies? Where I'm from ; people seeking alternative fuel solutions are trying to do just the opposite and SCREW the conventional energy suppliers any way they can! So I guess I'm a little confused :(

    As for making this my life's mission- Gore Point is a protected reserve, I'm pretty sure the Alaskan government would sooner tar and feather me in the streets than allow some 26 year ol 2-year tech college kid go putting up an eyesore on one of their beaches- no matter how remote, polluted, and unvisited it may be... And where the hell am I going to come up with the money to finance such a large operation? Anyway, I thought it was a cool idea to kick the can around on...


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  6. Nothing is free.

    The economic cost of creating bio-diesel is cost prohibitive (in general). Right now it's like ethanol. The cost to prouce ethanol is greater than its value. It is only produced because the government pays the companies to sell it for a loss.

    When oil breaks 130+ a barrel, and gas 4+ a gallon, all sorts of alternatives become financially viable really really quickly.

    Remember, right now people will pay more for a gallon of bottled water than they will for a gallon of gasoline. So why produce bio-diesel, when you can just sell water and make more money?
  7. and that is really whats wrong in the world right now. ppl paying more for a gallon of water ppl can get from any spring or mountain or anywhere...then oil that had to be drilled out of the ground, shipped, refined, and then sold. thats just ridiculous
  8. It is. You ever heard of hemp for biodiesel?

    The electric car was around before the gasoline car. Who killed it? A snake-oil salesman who was interested in control and power ;)

  9. did you know the first model t car was built out of hemp?

    Hempcar.org-Henry Ford
  10. #10 Joe Luxon, May 13, 2010
    Last edited: May 13, 2010

    Yes, i've heard of lots of different sources of Biodiesel - All of them rely on burning something to run antiquated combustion engine technology. All of them producing byproducts that go straight into our atmosphere. thats not being environmentally responsible, which is what the OPs topic is all about.

    Thats an interesting sidepoint, but as far as an arguement go's, its nothnig more than a fallacy trying to divert attention away from the point i clearly made; Electric cars, like the leaf are going into mass production, and many other companys have them planned for mass production, the only people that want to see Biodesiel be considered as an "alternate fuel source' are the same people that dont want to see Oil technology, and oil dependacy replaced completely.

    I agree that something needs to be done about the tons of drift wood/plastic thats washing up on shores, but theres plenty of options such as recycling for building products (retaining walls etc), i deffiently dont think the answer is turning them into products to burn for energy and transport needs, when its clear that electric cars are going to become mainstream.

    Once Solar/tidal/wind energy is used to recharge our electric cars we'll be reducing huge amount of gas emissions, something that burning biodiesel made from Plastic bags, cooking oil, hemp or any other source will never be able to claim.
  11. ?? What's wrong with putting water and carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere? And is the mass production of batteries really that much better?

    I don't think you understand your own logic, you say that the people who want biodiesel as an "alternative fuel source" are the same people who don't want to see their dependency replaced? Gasoline engines run on __________. Batteries run on ___________. :confused:

    Furthermore, biodiesel is cheap, renewable, and clean. What's wrong with the current engines we have? Look, you can drive 100 miles on that Nissan Leaf before it needs to be recharged, and it's far from being able to tow anything. As it stands right now, it's nowhere near as good as, say, this engine.

    We should work with what we have before we try to re-invent the wheel. Biodiesel is a great place to start, far more promising than electric motors are right now.

    That's all fine and dandy, but what about making the car? What about making the battery? Or do you think that the amount of emissions that would be reduced by a global dominance of batteries in cars would offset the environmental impact of producing the harmful components?

  12. Nothing wrong with that, but Biodiesel emissions are not limited to "water and carbon dioxide" when burnt. They essentially produce the exact same pollutants as normal diesel (except sulfates, which cause acid rain)

    It is not clean, the only thing that Biodiesel eliminates compared to regular petroleum fuels is sulfates, all the other emissions are just reduced compared to traditional fuel, not eliminated. Reduction Does not eqeul clean, Elimination equals clean.

    Yes, i believe batteries are the answer - aslong as the right type of batteries are being produced, and when they're life is over they're recycled properly.

    As far as production go's the emissions are insignificant depending on the type of battery being produced, some types should be banned outright.

    New electric cars don't use Lead acid batteries. the don't use Nickel containing batteries (like the shitty Prius), they use lithium based batteries which just contain cobalt, copper, nickel and iron, they don't contain the actual metal lithium, but an ionic form of lithium.

    Yes there's been lots of negative media about battery production, but that's literally based on older battery technology, and Toyotas stupid decision to use Nickel based batteries, the production of which is hazardous and fucking up the environment in allot of different countries atm (they claim they're going to upgrade thier hybrids to li-ion next year)

    There's plenty of "New technologies" like carbon fiber that's really hazardous to produce, but lithium batteries aren't one of them.
  13. What else gets emitted from biodiesel besides CO2 and H2O?

    What, exactly, are "all other emissions" ? The only other emission besides water and carbon dioxide I've heard of is glycerol, which really is not a big deal at all.

    Electric batteries do not fit in with the current demands of society, or humanity's wants/needs, how can they be the answer? Maybe in the future when the technology improves, but right now, there's no sense tossing biodiesel to the wind. It will be more practical, more easily attainable, and cheaper to use biodiesel than an electric motor. A brand new 2010 STI starts at $34,995, with 305 ponies and a turbo behind that mean, sexy boxer engine. That Leaf, with a tiny little battery, starts at $32,780 .... hmm, tough choice :p

    There is no reason to assume that the little evidence we see of small-scale Li-Ion batteries being "safely" disposed of in landfills also rings true for large-scale manufacturing. How often will batteries have to be replaced in cars? Where will they go? How will they be disposed of?


    That's a good one to read about batteries. Lithium ion has more of an impact on the environment than biodiesel does ... uh oh. :eek:
  14. #14 CFLweasel, May 13, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2010

    Is it? Is that really what I was talking about? I didin't think so? The Title of the thread is Why not harvest "free" bio-diesel from the sea? Not Let's save the planet and scrape together some counterfeit gasoline! I pretty much made it clear that my idea is primarily about money. I said that eliminating the cost of materials can go a long way toward making a product cheaper to make and cheaper to buy... I went on to say that the easiest way to get people to sit still for building a factory on a large section of protected forest reserve would be to appeal to the ecological benefit any way you could. I never said that my goal was to actually make this a project directy targeted toward the environment...

    What I was saying is that the idea is to make the cheapest gasoline alternative possible. As described above- gasoline wasn't the original choice for fuel in this country or anywhere else. The friggin' engines were designed with other fuels in mind. Gasoline became king in an act of red-tapery and bureaucracy that f*cked everyone over for generations...

    The solution? If your true motive is to selflessly provide extremely cheap extremely low profit fuel- then you've got no cash to bribe your idea along like the oil companies do. The solution to that problem? Side with the next largest group of allies you can get with any way you can! Environmentalists as a demographic are an excellent strategic choice. I tried to spell that one out for you to read between the lines Joe, but I guess you missed it and decided to point the finger at me and scream "stupid hippie" instead...

    Like me? Is that what you're saying? I was a little offended/confused when you let that remark drop earlier- but now you're kinda putting a burr under my saddle by speaking for me about what this thread is, or isn't about like I need a proxy to clarify my concept or something. I respect the flashing green boxes you've got under your name, but I feel like you got a little opinionated on me here and it's kinda pissing me off. All you've done is insist I'm wrong, stereotyped me, and preached on about electric cars.

    You know what I hate about "you electric car groupies?" You act like just because you can plug something into a wall socket, that your carbon footprint is zero. Now that's ignorant. Where do you think the power comes from? Nuclear? Coal? Some other weird inefficient shit? I think Australia has tidal and geothermal power too- good for you. No nuclear power plants In Australia... Granted it's probably less polluting than the combustion engine- but people act like just because they can keep the ugly source of pollution that makes the electricity as far away as possible; that it isn't there....

    Anyway dude- I respect your ideas, but you kinda judged me here and came across with some opinionated assed sh*t... whatever. Start your own electric car thread if you don't like it. This is bogus...

  15. Carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, Nitrous oxide, particulates, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, and Nitrated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons.

    I think I mentioned batteries need to be properly recycled a few times in my posts, and although the responsibility relies on the owner of the car, I'm sure electric car companies will be replacing the batteries themselves in service bays (becuase the average human cant lift a battery thats in an electric car, let alone throw it out with the trash), and then doing whatever they have to with the batteries to meet their governments demands, which will probably be recycling, but i honestly don't know.

    The report you so eagerly linked has no reference to Biodiesel, and highlights what I've already said in previous posts, some forms of batteries are bad for the environment, some forms of batteries should be banned.

    The report is specifically about the 5 types of battery techs used atm, and there is no comparison with Biodiesel, Not really sure where you came up with the conclusion "Lithium ion has more of an impact on the environment than Biodiesel does ", but here's the conclusion that the report came up with, if you'd skimmed over it you would have seen it repeated what I'd posted earlier.

    Globally three battery technologies (lead-acid, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metalhydride) have very comparable environmental impacts. It can consequently be stated that, taking the sensitivity analysis into account, these technologies have a higher environment impact than the lithium-ion and the sodium nickel chloride batteries .


    Thanks for reading some of my post, I believe your choosing to look over the fact i never said anything about carbon footprints or how an Electric car had a "carbon footprint of zero" ( in my state plugging an electric car in would be plugging straight into a coal station), i highlighted 3 different energy sources, the ones that are actually "ethical and environmentally responsible" as you like to put it:

    "Once Solar/tidal/wind energy is used to recharge our electric cars we'll be reducing huge amount of gas emissions, something that burning Biodiesel made from Plastic bags, cooking oil, hemp or any other source will never be able to claim."

    Of course I criticized you, the title of your thread is "why not harvest free Biodiesel from the sea?", I'm assuming that wasn't a rhetorical question, and I responded as simply as possible "because Biodiesel is not a clean energy source, and it pollutes the environment"

    I even gave a nice example on how you could clean up the waste plastic (recycling), but its obvious that doesn't fit in with the bulk of your main post, which is basically about "profit potential" of burning some free plastic.

    If you don't want criticism or responses that vary from your own, I suggest you leave out questions like "why not?" and "what do you think" from your posts in the future, it can be confusing.
  16. #16 CFLweasel, May 14, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2010

    Quack Quack Quack. How is recycling supposed to help- If you had read the article I linked to, or even the reference in my post for tht matter you'd know that the report stated quite clearly that to clean up gore point would take a sizeable team over 200 years to do- just once...

    And once again where do you get off suggesting that my post is about "profit potential from burning some free plastic." For the love of God- for the third time 1) I'm not talking about burning the plastic itself 2) I clearly stated that the idea was to prouce a low profit, low price commodity from garbage. for that matter- how is that not recycling?

    I don't have any problem with criticism. I don't mind responses that differ from my own. Didn't I compliment you on your ideas and thoughts Joe? I think you're missing the point here- I think it's offensive the way you stereotyped me, and have continued to twist my words on me since your participation here. I'm offended. I stepped up like a man and said it, and you're beating around the bush on the issue. The fact that you won't acknowledge the way you've misdirected my remarks and made an effort to backhandedly insult me is classless and I'm calling you out on it...

    Furthermore- I think you're very opinionated

    Spoken like it's already set in stone. See where I get off saying you're being pompous, arrogant and condescending? Did you and your aussie neighbors get together over dinner and decide on this between blasts on the diggeridoo, bites of half cooked dingo meat and sips of dos equis xx?

    I already said I respect your difference of opinion, and that I agree you have good Ideas. I just don't think it's fair that you keep telling me and others what I think- especially when you're distorting the facts of what I'm saying. I started this thread to encourage others to comment on my idea and share their own. Not to invalidate my ideas, stereotype me personally, and attempt to distort and stifle out my original thought completely. While it's true that you have shared your own thoughts and opinions about my idea, and shared your own ideas- that's not what I'm standing in objection to. I am offended by the fact that you have been moderately disrespectful, backhandedly insulting, and discreetly judgemental whilst trying to twist what I am saying.

    Enough of the petty arguement over fuel Joe- Stop dodging the real issue. What say you to my allegations of disrespect and bigotry?

  17. There is more CO2 taken in by the plant than is released during the burning of its biodiese, so that is definitely out of the question. As for hydrocarbons, I'm not so sure what you're referring to. Some hydrocarbons, when burned, only emit water and carbon dioxide, right? As evidenced by, say, methane:

    CH4 + 2 O2 → 2 H2O + CO2 + Energy

    Or propane:

    C3H8 + 5 O2 → 4 H2O + 3 CO2 + Energy
    CnH2n+2 + (3n+1)/2 O2 → (n+1) H2O + n CO2 + Energy

    As for the other emissions, I think you will find this interesting:


    This is within our grasp. Powering the entire country with batteries is far, far, far away from feasibly occurring. I still don't understand why we should scrap biodiesel and go to batteries man, what about a hybrid between the two? Besides, from what I've read, lithium ion isn't so saintly itself ;)

    Yes, but do you need to be clearly and concisely told on paper that something is better or worse; or can you make the conclusion with the data you have compiled from various sources? Yes, the article has no reference to biodiesel whatsoever, but for what it talks about batteries, and what is known of biodiesel, I think it's safe to say the environmental impact of biodiesel is much less than massive battery production.

    Lithium-ion battery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Again, this is just from simple observation, I'm not claiming I've extensively analyzed and researched everything that is available out there in terms of battery vs biodiesel, but from my limited understanding of the two, battery-power is still inferior to biodiesel.

    In a few years, batteries may be superior to biodiesel .... but then they'll be inferior to magnet power won't they ;) technology keeps changing man, biodiesel isn't a permanent solution, neither is lithium ion battery power, something that is perpetual is ultimately the dream goal. Like you said yourself, you don't want to replace one carcinogenic, mutilating source of energy with another, so why go to batteries from crude oil? Lithium ion batteries hardly represent freedom - especially if, like you've hinted at, everyone in the world is going to have one :p
  18. Vitamin420- all very good pointnts.

    Joe- I just wanted to make it cler that I only wanted to prime up some discussion here, and some independent thought. I felt a little bad about my post last night, I think you've completely misunderstood me and suggested I'm an "alternative fuel groupie" whtever that means by your standards- which I consider to be slanderous and offensive.

    I think now is a good time to note that I take a certain degree of interest in any gasoline alternative. Like I said- to me the motivation is political: stop giving money directly to big oil any way possible.

    Truth be told- I like the idea of electric cars too. I'm certainly not in any way trying to say that biodieseld is the best or only solution. When you started originally talking about electronic cars, I was gonna say "hey I think those are cool too!" Then I felt you got a little abraisive towards my idea too quickly so I let you twist in the wind on your own...

    I am interested in fuel alternatives. Any of them. If that makes me some sort of "alternative fuel groupie" then so be it... Before you go saying I'm "ignorant to the effects of burning plastic," or suggesting that I uphold biodiesel manufacture and use as part of a big oil agenda- maybe you should first listen to my whole point orallow me to offer a rebuttal...

    For the record, I am also interested in LPG conversions for automobiles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In o particular order or preference. I just happened to mention the idea of "free/recycled" plastic as raw materials for just one strange circuimstance where it would "work" for just one of those ideas...

    I never even said one technology was better than the other. I was just saying that for the American people, it could partially work in this case- if even only locally for a few states...


  19. sounded like the answer in my mind too, but then i was informed that much (85%) of that electricity is made by burning...you guessed it fossil fuels/oils etc...so for the answer to our energy demands I look to ultimate source of energy that keeps this SOLAR system flowing:cool: hope all catch my drift...peace:D
  20. but on topic that BPA infested island is a global problem:mad:

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