Four essays, plus this one, finished off today:
With that, I am on hiatus. I may come back and update TWIP on Thursday. Cheers, Robert
Taking a Break
I received a welcome surprise yesterday, and found out that I get to fly home this Friday to see my family. I have been away from them for 5 months (so the kids could finish out school) but on Friday I go home to retrieve them for their move to Scotland. Thus ends the most difficult 5-month period of my life. At that time, two things will happen.
First, I plan to take a break from writing. I have 5 months of time that I have lost, and I am going to try to get some of it back by sacrificing on the writing. If I wake up early and find that I have a few minutes, I may post a short essay. But it will be a while before I post another long one, or engage in any sort of extensive debate.
Second, I am going to take my e-mail address offline. Presently, it is a rare day that I don’t have over 100 e-mails in my inbox. Of those, typically 30-50 require responses of some sort. I have been able to manage this while living alone, but this isn’t going to be feasible once I am reunited with my family. If you already have my e-mail address, feel free to contact me. If you do not, but would like some information, feel free to post a query following a post. There is a good chance that someone will address it. And I do get an e-mail every time someone posts in a thread (no, that’s not part of the 100 e-mails) so if something really needs to be addressed I will do so. I may also put together a FAQ to cover some of the common themes in the e-mails I receive. Things like “What do you think about bio-butanol?”
In the Pipeline: Butanol, TWIP, CNN, and CAFE
I have 4 essays that I intend to finish prior to going on hiatus. First, as some of you know, I started to write an update on butanol a while back. I basically have all of the information pulled together, I just need to finish it. Second, I will write one more review of This Week in Petroleum. I think this week’s numbers will really give us an indication of the likelihood of more supply crunches. Third, I will post a letter I am writing to CNN challenging some of the errors contained in their “Out of Gas” series. Finally, I had started an essay on CAFE standards. I think I will publish that as a very short – maybe 2 or 3 paragraph – essay on just what I think is wrong with our approach there.
I have been asked to contribute a chapter to a book on renewable energy that is being edited by a professor most people would immediately know. My chapter was to be on biodiesel, but I also requested and received approval to expand that to cover all renewable diesel. I will cover biodiesel, “green” diesel produced via hydtrotreating, and “green” diesel produced via biomass gasification and subsequent Fischer-Tropsch. I have sketched out an outline, but I need to fill in about 7,000 words of detail in the next 30 days.
Finally, I have recently been engaged with a group that has a very promising cellulosic ethanol technology. If it is what it appears to be (there are still some things I don’t know) then it would be the biggest leap in cellulosic ethanol technology since well before I was in graduate school. Bigger than Nancy Ho’s dual fermentation yeast. Big enough to demolish the economics of all the cellulosic ethanol plants currently being built. And I am not one given to hyperbole. I have placed an official inquiry with the corporate ethics department inside my company requesting clearance to assist on this project. I think it has incredible potential to make a contribution toward our energy needs. And I know that I have been very, very critical of ethanol here in the past, but that was because of the unsustainable nature of current ethanol practices, as well as loads of misinformation that was being pushed out there. My hope was to always see ethanol succeed, albeit it in a sustainable fashion. And I have always been willing to assist – and have done so many times over the years – in helping push promising projects forward.