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#21 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 06 March 2011 - 11:10 AM

The organism they created can create ethanol OR diesel fuel. It is not just ethanol. That's part of the reason it's such a significant discovery.

Yep, I saw that in the article, but it also mentions "Jaguars and jet engines". Granted, there are apparently Diesel-fueled Jaguars, but jet engine is still a stretch despite the existence of multi-fuel tank turbines.

That's the point. It can create ethanol or any number of hydro-carbon based fuels. Why is a jet engine a stretch? Jet fuel is pretty much really high quality diesel fuel with additives. If you can already make diesel it makes sense that that could be made into jet fuel.

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#22 Jan Wassenberg   Members   -  Reputation: 999

Posted 06 March 2011 - 12:37 PM

Why is a jet engine a stretch? Jet fuel is pretty much really high quality diesel fuel with additives.

The operative words are "high quality". Unlike multi-fuel tank engines, which will run on nearly anything, aircraft fuel systems are much more finicky. For example, Wikipedia tells me there must not be more than 30 parts per million water in jet fuel, which seems quite low. It remains to be seen whether this process can deliver that, especially since they're already having trouble separating fuel from water at all.
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#23 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 06 March 2011 - 01:03 PM

Why is a jet engine a stretch? Jet fuel is pretty much really high quality diesel fuel with additives.

The operative words are "high quality". Unlike multi-fuel tank engines, which will run on nearly anything, aircraft fuel systems are much more finicky. For example, Wikipedia tells me there must not be more than 30 parts per million water in jet fuel, which seems quite low. It remains to be seen whether this process can deliver that, especially since they're already having trouble separating fuel from water at all.


If they can make diesel fuel cheaply, they can refine it the same way they refine diesel fuel today. It is not a different product. It is the same product made a different way.

#24 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1885

Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:25 PM


Small bits of oil that get missed during a clean up don't spread across ecosystems and reproduce, and they don't transmute into new, potentially more hazardous lifeforms.


If you're worried about those modified bacteria spreading, you seriously have bigger fish to fry. Using genetically modified bacteria to produce specific molecules is a completely normal part of modern pharmaceutical production. I don't see why those diesel-producing bacteria should be any more or less dangerous than this other technology which has already been in widespread use for a very long time.

Note that of course it's reasonable to worry about unwanted spread of such things - but to reject the development outright because of it is just as stupid as being totally careless about it.


The difference is that of scale. Pharmaceutical applications are generally carried out in highly controlled manners, in contained zones. They are (suppose) to have protocols in place to deal with accidental leaks and the like.

The application we are talking about here is one of massive fields of the stuff to get suitable energy collection. This means that not only is there far greater chances of containment breach, but there is also less ability to put backup safeties in place.

I also question whether this is actually any better than direct solar collection in total energy efficiency, and environmental protection. (That is to say, if the same amount of energy used to build and maintain the fields could instead be used to produce enough hydrogen for fuel cells to provide energy equal to or greater than the diesel produced, then it is likely better to go the fuel cell route.)
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#25 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:04 PM



Small bits of oil that get missed during a clean up don't spread across ecosystems and reproduce, and they don't transmute into new, potentially more hazardous lifeforms.


If you're worried about those modified bacteria spreading, you seriously have bigger fish to fry. Using genetically modified bacteria to produce specific molecules is a completely normal part of modern pharmaceutical production. I don't see why those diesel-producing bacteria should be any more or less dangerous than this other technology which has already been in widespread use for a very long time.

Note that of course it's reasonable to worry about unwanted spread of such things - but to reject the development outright because of it is just as stupid as being totally careless about it.


The difference is that of scale. Pharmaceutical applications are generally carried out in highly controlled manners, in contained zones. They are (suppose) to have protocols in place to deal with accidental leaks and the like.

The application we are talking about here is one of massive fields of the stuff to get suitable energy collection. This means that not only is there far greater chances of containment breach, but there is also less ability to put backup safeties in place.

I also question whether this is actually any better than direct solar collection in total energy efficiency, and environmental protection. (That is to say, if the same amount of energy used to build and maintain the fields could instead be used to produce enough hydrogen for fuel cells to provide energy equal to or greater than the diesel produced, then it is likely better to go the fuel cell route.)


any day now corn could mutate into flesh eating plants. We should stop growing corn for this reason.

#26 Jan Wassenberg   Members   -  Reputation: 999

Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:34 PM

any day now corn could mutate into flesh eating plants. We should stop growing corn for this reason.

Thank you for that valuable contribution, which is the last of its ilk I will comment upon.


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#27 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 06 March 2011 - 08:39 PM

any day now corn could mutate into flesh eating plants. We should stop growing corn for this reason.

Thank you for that valuable contribution, which is the last of its ilk I will comment upon.



well that's essentially the argument. It's an organism therefore it could evolve into something negative. It also is used over large land spaces so there is a large risk of contamination to other species. Therefore we should not use it.

The same is true of corn.

#28 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31843

Posted 06 March 2011 - 09:01 PM

no u

#29 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1885

Posted 07 March 2011 - 06:53 AM


any day now corn could mutate into flesh eating plants. We should stop growing corn for this reason.

Thank you for that valuable contribution, which is the last of its ilk I will comment upon.



well that's essentially the argument. It's an organism therefore it could evolve into something negative. It also is used over large land spaces so there is a large risk of contamination to other species. Therefore we should not use it.

The same is true of corn.


Ah, no. It is a highly unnatural organism (with a completely unknown reaction to a wide range of environments) that directly produces diesel fuel. It Already is a potentially very harmful lifeform, aka "something negative", and the issue in question is its ability to mutate to survive, one of the most basic aspects of life and the foundation of the theory of evolution. Can you, in all your infinite wisdom, actually claim that there is no way such an organism can survive in the wild, and there wreck havoc with ecosystems? (hint, go read "Invasive species" on Wikipedia.)

(And yes, I'm against the general dicking around with genetics in crops. We already have problems with normal natural invasive species, and I have heard several cases of genetically modified crops going beyond their plantings already.)
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#30 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 07 March 2011 - 07:26 AM

Ah, no. It is a highly unnatural organism (with a completely unknown reaction to a wide range of environments) that directly produces diesel fuel. It Already is a potentially very harmful lifeform, aka "something negative", and the issue in question is its ability to mutate to survive, one of the most basic aspects of life and the foundation of the theory of evolution. Can you, in all your infinite wisdom, actually claim that there is no way such an organism can survive in the wild, and there wreck havoc with ecosystems? (hint, go read "Invasive species" on Wikipedia.)

(And yes, I'm against the general dicking around with genetics in crops. We already have problems with normal natural invasive species, and I have heard several cases of genetically modified crops going beyond their plantings already.)

Invasive species are generally species that easily adapt and quickly reproduce that are transported to an ecosystem they are well suited for where they have no natural predators.

An organism with no natural terrestrial ecosystem will not become invasive, because as soon as it gets out it dies.

I already gave the example of it probably needing high quantities of moderate temperature, high nutrient, non-saline non-chlorinated water with an abundance of CO2. I'm sure puddles surrounding volcanic hot springs are thoroughly terrified, but not the hot springs themselves as they are probably too hot for it to survive.

I'll take energy independence and gas that is both carbon neutral AND 1/3 the price of the oil we are using today thanks.

#31 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5034

Posted 07 March 2011 - 08:06 AM

One full tank (car tank thingy) of biodiesel = 1 year of food for a human. (seen on TV)

And roughly the equivalent of 1000 old refridgerators containing chlorofluorocarbons in terms of ozone killer.

#32 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1885

Posted 07 March 2011 - 09:40 AM


Ah, no. It is a highly unnatural organism (with a completely unknown reaction to a wide range of environments) that directly produces diesel fuel. It Already is a potentially very harmful lifeform, aka "something negative", and the issue in question is its ability to mutate to survive, one of the most basic aspects of life and the foundation of the theory of evolution. Can you, in all your infinite wisdom, actually claim that there is no way such an organism can survive in the wild, and there wreck havoc with ecosystems? (hint, go read "Invasive species" on Wikipedia.)

(And yes, I'm against the general dicking around with genetics in crops. We already have problems with normal natural invasive species, and I have heard several cases of genetically modified crops going beyond their plantings already.)

Invasive species are generally species that easily adapt and quickly reproduce that are transported to an ecosystem they are well suited for where they have no natural predators.

An organism with no natural terrestrial ecosystem will not become invasive, because as soon as it gets out it dies.


1. What is its reproductive rate?
2. What is its ability to change and adapt to new environments?
3. What natural predators does this have?

The ecosystem you described isn't that wildly different from those found on a very large portions of earth's landmass.

I'm not saying that such a development doesn't deserve research, but it really needs to weighed against alternatives already in development. (Such as solar fields generating hydrogen as their storage medium, and tidal generators.) Why on earth would you go after something that could easily be a threat to the environment when we have other options without such risks?
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#33 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 07 March 2011 - 11:42 AM

1. What is its reproductive rate?
2. What is its ability to change and adapt to new environments?
3. What natural predators does this have?

these are all unknowns given just the article, but I don't think it's fair to assume they'd design an organism that could so easily take over the globe.

The ecosystem you described isn't that wildly different from those found on a very large portions of earth's landmass.

how do you figure? There are almost no places where there are large quantities of nutrient rich high CO2 non-saline water between 30-40 degrees celsius.

I'm not saying that such a development doesn't deserve research, but it really needs to weighed against alternatives already in development. (Such as solar fields generating hydrogen as their storage medium, and tidal generators.) Why on earth would you go after something that could easily be a threat to the environment when we have other options without such risks?

Because this solution works with existing technology. It requires no added investment by the population. It will actually lower their costs with their current investments.

Hydrogen is an ok alternative, but it's also explosive and has to be contained at high pressure. Tidal generators fine, but how is that going to refill my car when I'm on a road trip through montana?

I'm all for alternatives, but a carbon neutral form of gasoline is an AMAZING option till we have the technology to have a power plant in our cars or someone comes up with a better way to store hydrogen. I am aware that they are coming up with better ways to store hydrogen, but it's still a far cry from where it needs to be to gain mass market appeal.

#34 owl   Banned   -  Reputation: 364

Posted 07 March 2011 - 01:16 PM

I wonder, if nuclear plants make energy out of heating heavy water. Couldn't the same be done by cooling down some sort of liquid that boils at ambient temperature? It will probably take some energy to cool it down I guess.
I like the Walrus best.

#35 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 07 March 2011 - 02:12 PM

I wonder, if nuclear plants make energy out of heating heavy water. Couldn't the same be done by cooling down some sort of liquid that boils at ambient temperature? It will probably take some energy to cool it down I guess.


the problem is that liquids that boil at most ambient temperatures don't exist in normal situations. You would expend more energy collecting/compressing the liquids than you would get from their expansion into a gas.

#36 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2185

Posted 07 March 2011 - 02:53 PM

I still think the greenest stuff is fusion.

#37 EricRRichards   Members   -  Reputation: 105

Posted 07 March 2011 - 05:23 PM

This whole "If an entire series of things goes wrong, then it could result in a shitstorm the dimensions of which we can't really predict," is the reason we've had a thirty-year moratorium on construction and development of nuclear power.
I would definitely prefer to see a bunch of modern nuke plants, rather than the myriad of coal plants that provide the overwhelming majority of our electrical power. That's the turd in the punchbowl of the electric car argument, from an environmental standpoint.


#38 owl   Banned   -  Reputation: 364

Posted 12 March 2011 - 09:16 AM

I would definitely prefer to see a bunch of modern nuke plants, rather than the myriad of coal plants that provide the overwhelming majority of our electrical power. That's the turd in the punchbowl of the electric car argument, from an environmental standpoint.


This is what I hate about nuclear plants. And it is not that it takes a 8º earthquake to break them. Just lack of money and/or human negligence (more than anything) can fuck it up very bad for everyone nearby.
I like the Walrus best.

#39 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 12 March 2011 - 10:00 AM


I would definitely prefer to see a bunch of modern nuke plants, rather than the myriad of coal plants that provide the overwhelming majority of our electrical power. That's the turd in the punchbowl of the electric car argument, from an environmental standpoint.


This is what I hate about nuclear plants. And it is not that it takes a 8º earthquake to break them. Just lack of money and/or human negligence (more than anything) can fuck it up very bad for everyone nearby.


it anything that is a testament to how nuclear power can be safe. By all accounts, that nuclear power plant should be a lot worse off all things considered.

#40 owl   Banned   -  Reputation: 364

Posted 12 March 2011 - 10:15 AM



I would definitely prefer to see a bunch of modern nuke plants, rather than the myriad of coal plants that provide the overwhelming majority of our electrical power. That's the turd in the punchbowl of the electric car argument, from an environmental standpoint.


This is what I hate about nuclear plants. And it is not that it takes a 8º earthquake to break them. Just lack of money and/or human negligence (more than anything) can fuck it up very bad for everyone nearby.


it anything that is a testament to how nuclear power can be safe. By all accounts, that nuclear power plant should be a lot worse off all things considered.


At one point, the plant was releasing each hour the amount of radiation a person normally absorbs from the environment each year.
Virtually any increase in ambient radiation can raise long-term cancer rates, and authorities were planning to distribute iodine to residents in the area, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iodine counteracts the effects of radiation.



By all accounts, it gotta suck to live nearby that plant right now.
I like the Walrus best.




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