Summary of Archived Essays

I generally get a lot of e-mails asking for comments on biodiesel, butanol, or any number of subjects I have previously written about. But once an article goes into the archives, it is not nearly as accessible. I am about to be on vacation for a week, so I thought this might be a good time to review some previous articles on various subjects that have scrolled into the archives.


1. Grain-Derived Ethanol: The Emperor’s New Clothes

Synopsis: In my first blog essay, I hit a number of the popular pieces of misinformation regarding grain ethanol.

2. Improving the Prospects for Grain Ethanol

Synopsis:Here I looked at some potential breakthroughs that could make grain ethanol truly viable.

3. Ethanol from Biomass: A Sustainable Option?

Synopsis: I took a brief look here at the potential of cellulosic ethanol, the subject of my graduate school research.

4. How Reliable are Those USDA Ethanol Studies?

Synopsis: Here I address a pair of USDA reports on ethanol published in 2002 and 2004. In 2002, they claimed the energy return on ethanol was 1.34 (even though using their numbers you get 1.27). Two years later, they admitted they had grossly underestimated some of the energy inputs, yet the energy return increased to 1.67. I explain how they managed to fool so many people with an accounting trick.

5. Energy Balance For Ethanol Better Than For Gasoline?

Synopsis: Does it really take less energy to make ethanol than to make gasoline? Of course not. In this essay I flesh out the truth behind this very misleading claim.

6. The Future of E85

Synopsis: What’s going to happen if the ethanol subsidy is allowed to expire at the end of next year? Bad news for E85.

7. 60 Minutes – The Ethanol Solution

Synopsis: Were you impressed with Dan Rather’s report on ethanol? I was not. Superficial reporting at its finest.

8. E85: Spinning Our Wheels

Synopsis: Should we dramatically increase the number of E85 pumps in the country? Why don’t we first figure out how we can possibly supply them? I take a critical look in this essay.

9. Lessons from Brazil

Synopsis: Based on the stories in the media, you might never guess than 90% of Brazil’s fuel demand is satisfied with petroleum, nor that they have a fraction of U.S. energy demands. We have no hope whatsoever of following Brazil’s example, as shown in this essay.

The Panderers and the Clueless

10. Who’s to Blame for High Gas Prices?

Synopsis: One of my favorite targets is pandering politicians. Here I take my first shot at them.

11. Politics as Usual

Synopsis: More pandering politicians. They bemoan global warming and damage to the environment, so by golly let’s make gasoline cheaper. That should help.

12. Another Uninformed Consumer Watchdog

Synopsis: Here I take on a consumer watchdog group who claims that gas prices are really going up because oil companies are ripping you off. However, the group seems never to have heard of supply and demand, so I cover that for their benefit.

13. Taxing “Windfall Profits”

Synopsis: Do politicians actually believe a windfall profits tax is going to bring down the price of gas? Probably not, but they need to give the impression that they are actually doing something about high gas prices.

14. Politicians, Profits, and Inventories

Synopsis: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell drove 2 blocks to an event to complain about rising gas prices. I wonder if his brain was working that day.

15. I’m Being Gouged!

Synopsis: Are you being gouged? It depends. What is gouging, anyway?


16. Fuel Efficiency and Lessons from Europe

Synopsis: My first post on conservation, wondering why we can’t learn a thing from our neighbors across the pond. This essay hit #1 on for several hours, and generated 5,000 hits more than on a typical day.

17. I Can Drive 55

Synopsis: You can have a big impact on your energy usage by just slowing down. I have.


18. Biodiesel: King of Alternative Fuels

Synopsis: I explain in this essay why I am much more bullish on the possibility of biodiesel as a sustainable energy option. The biodiesel group at UNH was referenced, including a hypothetical scenario where 100% of U.S. fuel needs are met with biodiesel produced from algae.


19. Bio-Butanol

Synopsis: Butanol is a rising star on the energy scene. Here I discuss some of the qualities that make it a better option than ethanol.

Peak Oil

20. Peak Oil: End of the World?

Synopsis: I discussed my view of Peak Oil, and why I think some effects of Peak Oil will be mitigated. I still view it as a very grave threat, but one that I believe we are capable of muddling our way through.

21. What You Need to Know about Peak Oil

Synopsis: This one is hosted offsite. I wrote this article on Peak Oil for Omninerd. I go into much more detail, giving the history of the debate and covering the potential mitigation options. This essay is very highly-referenced.


22. A Primer on Gasoline Pricing

Synopsis: I covered some of the reasons behind rising gasoline prices, and predicted back in March that gasoline prices would continue to escalate.

23. Compressed Air Energy Storage

Synopsis: I am a big fan of wind energy, but the intermittent nature of the wind has always been a problem. In this essay, I discuss a method for storing wind energy for later use.

24. XTL: Promise and Peril

Synopsis: Here I discuss the promise and peril of extending the fossil fuel economy with gas-to-liquids (GTL) and coal-to-liquids (CTL).

Those aren’t all of the essays I have written, but are mainly those that either generated a lot of traffic, a lot of comments, or were publicized by other web sites.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July. I will start on new material next week. I hope to finally get around to that long-delayed article on solar energy, which is my favorite alternative energy source.



One thought on “Summary of Archived Essays”

  1. You should really think about putting these essays together in a book. I am not a technical person, but I think you write in a way that a layperson can easily understand. You should talk to a literary agent.

Comments are closed.