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Spirulina platensis is an algae that grows in puddles, pond water, sea water, even human wastewater ponds. It is a single celled blue green algae. It uses minerals in the water and the power of the sun to reproduce incredibly fast - a culture can double it's total algae mass every forty eight hours. This algae has been extensively studied and known about ever since the seventies. In India, this algae is cultured on a large scale for use as a green dye, and is also sold as food. A person could survive in theory on only spirulina and eat no other source of food because spirulina contains every known amino acid and vitamin that is required for human survival. A significant percentage of the mass of spirulina is protein and carbohydrates. If the spirulina culture is allowed to become too dense in the tank it occupies, it will start to die and during that process will start to produce ethanol by it's own metabolism, 3% or more of the solution will become ethanol, then the culture will mostly die off, leaving a solution of ethanol, proteins, amino acids, and carbohydrates.

CARBOHYDRATES are the important thing here, because carbohydrates are where alcohol comes from. If you simply add normal brewer's yeast to the solution thusly created, then treat it as you would a bottle of new wine, adding an airlock in order to create an anaerobic environment, you will end up with a solution that can be as high as twelve to fourteen percent alcohol content.

If a person were to distill a fifty gallon barrel of a solution like the one described above at 14% alcohol content, they would be left with approximately 7 gallons of 100% pure 200 proof fuel grade alcohol that would be certainly unsafe to consume. Remember, this algae can be cultivated in human urine and water, or in sea water, or in pond water if your pond water is high in certain minerals and nutrients. It is already cultivated on a mass scale in sea water. In theory, if you were locked in a room with sunlight, electricity and a water source, you could produce ethanol for yourself in perpetuity. NASA is currently studying this algae as one of the resources that we will likely bring with us into outer space one day on long voyages. This is a resource that can produced reliably in a sustainable system.

If all the plastic engine parts in a given gasoline powered engine are replaced with stainless steel parts, then gasoline engines as they are today can be ran on pure ethanol with no problems. Of course if you are willing to do some damage to your lines by dissolving the plastic with the pure alcohol, you could even run your car off of pure ethanol today. If you make the initial investment in a few large aquarium tanks, some air pumps to keep the algae alive, some home brewing equipment, and distillation equipment and the right sorts of farm equipment with specially modified engine parts, a person could theoretically run a farm with no external fuel input, producing all the fuel necessary to farm a particular plot of land on site.

I don't expect you to take my word for it. I have peer reviewed sources to back up my claims.

This study proves that spriulina can be made from seawater -
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960852410011235

This study proves that spirulina can be brewed into ethanol -
http://pubs.rsc.org/-/content/articlelanding/2013/ee/c3ee40305j#!divAbstract

During the Jimmy Carter administration it is said that successful methodology was established for growing spirulina from wastewater. which could bring the input cost in theory down to almost nothing. I think there is likely good information about this that could be found by someone with enough motivation but I have tried and I'm warning you that even though it is historically clear this research definitely took place it has been incredibly hard for me to find the research itself. It's almost as if this information is being suppressed despite the fact that there are many public references to the government program that President Carter started to research spirulina, the almost never talked about "aquatic species program." Basics found here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquatic_Species_Program

I'm not advocating anyone breaking the law here. Distillation without the proper permit is considered very illegal in most jurisdictions in the US. Even in places like Missouri where the state has made home distillation legal, it remains federally illegal. Owning a still as a conversation piece and not using it however is legal. Owning the means to do all this is legal, growing spirulina is legal, and fermenting the Spirulina into a solution made up of a significant percentage of ethanol is legal. If someone was very interested in pursuing this process as a SHTF fuel production plan, it would make sense to learn about the process of distillation, grow some spirulina on a small scale, ferment it, confirm the concentration and presence of alcohol via specific gravity testing, then stopping, happy with the knowledge that you would have no shortage of fuel in any long term disaster scenario.
 

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reluctant sinner
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Back in the day all the land speed records were set burning ethanol. There was a time when ethanol was rated at 140 octane, and methane was 105. But the guberment fixed that.

You need to add some oil for internal combustion, a spoon full of Marvel's per gallon will work. Castor oil is the best (IMHO) but it doesn't stay in solution forever and requires re mixing often.

I once ran my Yamaha SR-500 Thumper on 196 proof reagent grade USMC ethanol with some Marvel's. My buddy had the Yamaha XS 8 valve DOHC 500. We raced often and it was always neck and neck (a 5 speed vs a 4 speed). Out on the freeway running the ethanol I could slowly pull away - maybe added 5 mph more on the top end in that 147 mph zone.
 

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Just making it over to this post. I looks like you have a great plan.

How about you go test your theory and report back?

I'd love to actually see someone replicate a few million dollars of research in their kitchen and be sucessful.
 

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If you were to distill alcohol yourself in SHTF (once again I am not recommending anyone risk their freedom by breaking the law,) you could get it up to 200 proof if you wanted, about 109 octane. As I understand it you wouldn't need to add oil to it at all in order to get it to combust in most cars. In Brazil fuel is often 100% ethanol. To run a car you would of course still need motor oil however. It is possible to make motor oil from Canola but I understand it is a fairly involved scientific process.
 

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If you were to distill alcohol yourself in SHTF (once again I am not recommending anyone risk their freedom by breaking the law,) you could get it up to 200 proof if you wanted, about 109 octane. As I understand it you wouldn't need to add oil to it at all in order to get it to combust in most cars. In Brazil fuel is often 100% ethanol. To run a car you would of course still need motor oil however. It is possible to make motor oil from Canola but I understand it is a fairly involved scientific process.
So you want to go into a SHTF sideways situation with a plan that you cannot test?

How about this...

https://www.ttb.gov/spirits/spirits-permits.shtml
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Obviously I wouldn't plan on using a method I haven't tested yet personally in SHTF. I own a farm so my long term food plan would be to grow food on a small scale entirely by hand, which is something I have actually done before. I farmed without any fuel powered machinery at all for an entire season in my early twenties for an organic farmer at a time when I didn't own a car. I walked five miles to and from town pretty much every day and used shovels and hoes. It broke my back but working with about six other people we made enough to supply several market stands and feed ourselves. I don't plan on "going in sideways" at all.

Also, I actually am planning on growing some spirulina this year. I am unlikely to apply for a permit to distill this year because it wouldn't be economical to attempt to cultivate a quantity necessary for farm scale fuel production until I can afford more equipment than I am likely going to be able to this year, with all the other infrastructure priorities I have going on. But I could easily add some champagne yeast to it and see how it goes. I plan on posting it. Even without growing it for fuel, the algae is an incredibly productive and labor cheap way of producing protein and carbohydrate rich food that is basically unmatched in terms of it's productivity and speed. Start a solution with a small amount of starter culture, add some rusty scrap iron and some aquarium air pumps for nutrients and aeration, and you harvest in less than a week. I wouldn't want to consume a food grown in my own waste, but it has been done in Africa and the food was deemed safe for human consumption and people ate it to ward off malnutrition. When the scientists running the project left after teaching them how to cultivate it, the locals stopped cultivating it and sold the equipment because of the off putting nature of consuming something grown in waste, despite the fact that the food produced in that fashion could have kept their children dying from starvation.

About the motor oil issue, if you are trying to produce your own ethanol fuel the best solution in terms of motor oil for preppers would be to stockpile mineral oil, which does not expire. When you ran out of mineral oil you would be left trying to trade for that, canola based motor oil, or petroleum based motor oil if motor oil production has resumed by that time.

Fact is, moonshiners in appalachia didn't need millions of dollars of research to make hooch. The large number of people who grow spirulina for personal use don't need fancy scientific knowledge to produce it. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to add yeast to some sugary algae, and it's been proven that yeast will metabolize it. You don't have to be a genius to know that yeast eats sugar. That's just basic redneck science of the sort that would have been commonly understood by a good percentage of the population in the 1800's. Sorry if I'm being overly defensive here, it's just hard for me to tell if I'm being trolled or not. Tone doesn't translate very well over text.
 

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Fact is, moonshiners in appalachia didn't need millions of dollars of research to make hooch. The large number of people who grow spirulina for personal use don't need fancy scientific knowledge to produce it. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to add yeast to some sugary algae, and it's been proven that yeast will metabolize it. You don't have to be a genius to know that yeast eats sugar. That's just basic redneck science of the sort that would have been commonly understood by a good percentage of the population in the 1800's. Sorry if I'm being overly defensive here, it's just hard for me to tell if I'm being trolled or not. Tone doesn't translate very well over text.
I'm not trolling you. I hope it works, but all my experience says it isn't going to be as 'easy' as you think it will be. Until you are sucessful in replicating the entire process and getting it to work I will have my doubts. You have a lot of big moving parts that need to happen on a rather large scale to be sucessful in making a large enough batch of high quality alcohol that would be useful as a motor fuel.

Making moonshine isn't really on the same level as making motor fuel. Getting above 150 proof ( which is basically the bottom end to make an engine run) .....up to completely dry alcohol.....isn't something that everybody is doing. The energy input for distilling those qualities goes up exponentially also. Lots of people brew good beer at home too, but they aren't driving their car around on it either.

I am only encouraging you to test your ideas before talking a lot about how good of an idea this may be. Right now all you have is a wall of text.
 

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As an example....

I did all the research and work to be able to duplicate the PermaFlow biodiesel process developed at Purdue. This process allows you to take normal biodiesel, which I also produced myself, and seperate it into different fractions where a percentage of the fuel is highly resistant to cold weather conditions.

I was able to find some information including the patent for the process. The basic process is to combine biodiesel/methanol/urea, heat to about 55C, then cool to 25-30C. The saturated fats bond with the urea and precipitate out as a solid on the bottom while some biodiesel precipitates out between the methanol and urea.

Anyways. While I was able to replicate the process sucessfully, it gave me a really good perspective about all the energy inputs and complexity that went into the process.
 

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reluctant sinner
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At the university we worked on the esterification of rape seed oil (canola) into bio diesel. Biggest issue was getting out all the potassium iodide catalyst out of the product. Salts in your motor fuel is never a good thing, unless you change your product to bio jet fuel - that was my solution. They argued jet engines weren't their market, I told them it should be.

I remember taking spirulina tablets as a supplement back in the 70's.
 

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Some other things to think about as far as Algae production....

Tempurature. You have to maintain above 20c for the water. Optimum production is about 35c if I remember right. Bad things happen if you get it above 40c also.

Light. You need regular light cycles to keep it growing. The tempuratures mentioned above need to be maintained at the same time. This generally means that the growth vessel needs to be exposed to the light and but maintained in tempurature. Those things can work against each other in a large portion of the world that has seasons and winter.

Yield. Unless you are force feeding CO2, I believe that the yield is only a few grams per cubic meter of water per day. Grams.....
 

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If you were to distill alcohol yourself in SHTF (once again I am not recommending anyone risk their freedom by breaking the law,) you could get it up to 200 proof if you wanted, about 109 octane. As I understand it you wouldn't need to add oil to it at all in order to get it to combust in most cars. In Brazil fuel is often 100% ethanol. To run a car you would of course still need motor oil however. It is possible to make motor oil from Canola but I understand it is a fairly involved scientific process.
About 190 is the best you can do.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/why-cant-you-make-liquor-thats-100-percent-pure-alcohol-1701953611
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You don't need completely dry alcohol to run an engine. Anybody with a still and a small amount of experience could easily produce over 150 proof within two or three distillations. It's not typically sold by moonshiners in that concentration because moonshiners aren't trying to burn off the stomach acid of the people who drink it, because people who drink moonshine like to shoot their hooch and moonshiners often flavor it for that reason. Also why sell higher proof when you can charge the same amount for lower proof? Drug dealers do the same thing. They cut their product.

I have a lot to say about this topic so yes I have a "wall of text." If you don't want to read it you don't have to. This isn't an untested idea, it just hasn't been tested personally by me. There have been many peer reviewed studies on this, and on youtube there are a whole bunch of people growing the stuff easily and without major issues. In bangkok one guy is growing it on a rooftop in fifty gallon barrels. It sounds like the biodiesel project you had was an admirable endeavor. The inputs though are not really super feasable IMO in a SHTF situation. It wouldn't be super simple to acquire all those seeds and you would still need distillation for the methanol. I once discussed this idea with a scientist studying it at NREL in Boulder in the context of discussing an ethanol production method for third world farmers in Africa near the ocean. His opinion was that if given the proper training and equipment farmers could indeed produce fuel in this fashion. I get that you're skeptical and you have every right to be. All I'm asking is that you consider that this could be a way to produce fuel in a cheaper way with less costly inputs than any other method in an off grid scenario.
 

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You don't need to force feed Co2. Check out some of the youtube videos on it, all it needs is to be properly aerated and it grows from the avg c02 levels in the air. Spirulina has been harvested from surface of lake titicaca for thousands of years. The avg water temp in that lake is about 14 C, 57 F. Max production does occur at higher temps, up to 38 C, 100 F, but production doesn't slow as much as you claim. A growing environment that maintains at least 57 F can be created in a passive greenhouse that is built properly even in winter if you could keep the solution aerated with a small amount of electricity. As long as spirulina has access to light the peruvian strain can survive even colder temps than 57. People in warmer areas typically grow the african strain, which doesn't tolerate cold as well so that is probably why you might have read the temp range you did. There are some amazing things being done with greenhouses, one guy is growing oranges in Nebraska with a passive greenhouse, but that's another thread.
 

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You don't need completely dry alcohol to run an engine. Anybody with a still and a small amount of experience could easily produce over 150 proof within two or three distillations. It's not typically sold by moonshiners in that concentration because moonshiners aren't trying to burn off the stomach acid of the people who drink it, because people who drink moonshine like to shoot their hooch and moonshiners often flavor it for that reason. Also why sell higher proof when you can charge the same amount for lower proof? Drug dealers do the same thing. They cut their product.

I have a lot to say about this topic so yes I have a "wall of text." If you don't want to read it you don't have to. This isn't an untested idea, it just hasn't been tested personally by me. There have been many peer reviewed studies on this, and on youtube there are a whole bunch of people growing the stuff easily and without major issues. In bangkok one guy is growing it on a rooftop in fifty gallon barrels. It sounds like the biodiesel project you had was an admirable endeavor. The inputs though are not really super feasable IMO in a SHTF situation. It wouldn't be super simple to acquire all those seeds and you would still need distillation for the methanol. I once discussed this idea with a scientist studying it at NREL in Boulder in the context of discussing an ethanol production method for third world farmers in Africa near the ocean. His opinion was that if given the proper training and equipment farmers could indeed produce fuel in this fashion. I get that you're skeptical and you have every right to be. All I'm asking is that you consider that this could be a way to produce fuel in a cheaper way with less costly inputs than any other method in an off grid scenario.
I'm not being skeptical, I am being realistic.

I love researching fantastic ideas also. I have researched this very thing a lot.

I am really encouraging you to go test your ideas. You might make a huge breakthrough that completly changes the world. You won't do that just reading about things and never doing them.

To be clear, though we are crossing over threads a bit, I am not advocating making Biodiesel. I do think that IF you wanted to make a motor fuel, plant oils are one way to go that has fairly low energy input vs output and mother nature does most of the work for you. A compression diesel engine of the proper design does not need those plant oils to be turned into Biodiesel through transesterfication. It is much more effecient to either use an engine that can take SVO directly, or modify an engine to work on heated SVO. The experiments I did where based on growing Sunflowers for oil. They grow here really well in pretty marginal soils with not that much watering. That is a yield of about 40-80 gallons of oil per acre in my area. The pressing is the worst part, but that could be done in a number of ways including hydraulic batch pressing, an electric screw press run off some solar panels, a water wheel powered press, etc.
 

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You don't need to force feed Co2. Check out some of the youtube videos on it, all it needs is to be properly aerated and it grows from the avg c02 levels in the air. Spirulina has been harvested from surface of lake titicaca for thousands of years. The avg water temp in that lake is about 14 C, 57 F. Max production does occur at higher temps, up to 38 C, 100 F, but production doesn't slow as much as you claim. A growing environment that maintains at least 57 F can be created in a passive greenhouse that is built properly even in winter if you could keep the solution aerated with a small amount of electricity. As long as spirulina has access to light the peruvian strain can survive even colder temps than 57. People in warmer areas typically grow the african strain, which doesn't tolerate cold as well so that is probably why you might have read the temp range you did. There are some amazing things being done with greenhouses, one guy is growing oranges in Nebraska with a passive greenhouse, but that's another thread.
Living and yielding are two different things. Below 20c a lot of strains go dormant. Yes, you could grow a specifc strain in a closed enviroment and get some kind of yield, but keeping a culture pure in a large enough body to yield anything useful isn't really easy.

So now we need to build a huge passive solar greenhouse to contain our growth culture? I thought this was suppose to be super cheap and easy?

I noticed you skipped over the yield numbers. Am I wrong? What is the normal yield per day for a proper culture in a square METER of water? 5-15 grams maybe?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
If you're continuously harvesting, a tablespoon every other day comes from a ten gallon tank. Scale that up and you have 15 grams of powder daily from a 150 gallon stock tank.

In my climate I would likely need a greenhouse to do this year round in SHTF, yes. In many areas in this country and in the world you wouldn't need a greenhouse at all. A passive greenhouse doesn't need to be huge. You could fit dozens of stock tanks in a greenhouse half the size of a single wide trailer. A simpler way would be to keep your house in the proper temp range during the winter with a woodstove and put your seed culture for using during the summer in a south facing window. And comparing the daily yield to the daily yield of sunflowers, it is a way more efficient system to produce food or fuel with. Tell me, what is the daily yield of sunflowers? What is the daily yield of three hundred square feet of sunflowers? Even if you were only producing spirulina for the three hottest months of the year, three hundred square feet filled with stock tanks would give you thirty five pounds of dried spirulina. Half of that is sugar that can be turned into fuel. That's roughly 2 gallons of fuel. In three months. Nine months out of the year in a normal non passive greenhouse and you're talking about six gallons. That's three times enough to run a roto tiller long enough to feed a small group of people. For the comparatively small amount of sunflowers you could grow in five months in the same space, what percentage of that is oil? Is it half? How much of that oil would end up biodiesel once refined? A lot less than 2 gallons? That's what I thought.

Spirulina is basically a multivitamin. It makes sense from a prepping perspective to grow even a small aquarium of it. A tablespoon once or twice a week would keep you from getting malnutrition if you were living off of beans and rice.

Is prepping cheap? Is being truly prepared for a long term SHTF free? Of course not. Yes, buying the stuff to do this would cost money. But once you have the equipment to produce it, ongoing production could cost almost nothing because of the inputs required. Once you had the kit, it would be fairly cheap and easy to keep this system going. The labor required is also way less than the labor to gather and process sunflower seeds into the same amount of biodiesel, which would also include labor for distilling because that's how you get methanol.

Look man, call it being skeptical, call it being realistic, whatever. You're totally entitled to your opinion. This isn't a fantasy idea. If doing this would "change the world," then it already would be changed because this has been done by other people already. Fact is, there technically being a more efficient alternative to gasoline doesn't change any of the political BS behind the reason why our energy system is the way it is. It doesn't produce a widespread social change. The whole price of the dollar is based on oil. Tech doesn't get widely adopted that threatens the price of the dollar. That isn't allowed. You don't need to tell me to "go do it." I'm already planning on it. Am I not allowed to discuss the fact that this is absolutely technically possible before doing it? Tell me, why would I use my resources and time to do something that I didn't know was possible? I know for a fact that it is possible because it has already been done by others. And I gave you the peer reviewed proof at the beginning of this post.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Home growers don't force feed C02 to achieve the yields I quoted above. 1 cubic meter of water, roughly 260 gallons, would yield 26 grams every 2 days, or roughly 13 grams a day.
 

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Ethanol for drinking purposes has the about 190 proof limit by distillation. However it can dried with other chemical treatments to very near 200 proof but you would not want to drink it. Plus it is very hygroscopic and will start pulling water out of the air as soon as you open the jug.
 

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Ethanol for drinking purposes has the about 190 proof limit by distillation. However it can dried with other chemical treatments to very near 200 proof but you would not want to drink it. Plus it is very hygroscopic and will start pulling water out of the air as soon as you open the jug.
Luckily, you don't need 190 to get an engine to run. Assuming it's warm enough, an engine will run on even 100 proof.
 

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If you're continuously harvesting, a tablespoon every other day comes from a ten gallon tank. Scale that up and you have 15 grams of powder daily from a 150 gallon stock tank.
A cubic meter of water is 264 US gallons.

In my climate I would likely need a greenhouse to do this year round in SHTF, yes. In many areas in this country and in the world you wouldn't need a greenhouse at all. A passive greenhouse doesn't need to be huge. You could fit dozens of stock tanks in a greenhouse half the size of a single wide trailer.
Dozens? A 20 foot shipping contaner, about the size of half a single wide trailer, has a TOTAL volume of 40m3

A simpler way would be to keep your house in the proper temp range during the winter with a woodstove and put your seed culture for using during the summer in a south facing window.
....now we need to cut wood to keep thousands of gallons of water warm enough to keep production up.....

And comparing the daily yield to the daily yield of sunflowers, it is a way more efficient system to produce food or fuel with. Tell me, what is the daily yield of sunflowers? What is the daily yield of three hundred square feet of sunflowers? Even if you were only producing spirulina for the three hottest months of the year, three hundred square feet filled with stock tanks would give you thirty five pounds of dried spirulina. Half of that is sugar that can be turned into fuel. That's roughly 2 gallons of fuel. In three months. Nine months out of the year in a normal non passive greenhouse and you're talking about six gallons. That's three times enough to run a roto tiller long enough to feed a small group of people. For the comparatively small amount of sunflowers you could grow in five months in the same space, what percentage of that is oil? Is it half? How much of that oil would end up biodiesel once refined? A lot less than 2 gallons? That's what I thought.
Sunflower yield in my area, backed up by my testing, is 40-80gallons of oil per acre depending on water input. They also grow them here in my area already. I have a ton of local farmer knowledge to pull from IF I decided to go that direction.

No need to build a greenhouse. A normal crop would be fine.

Is prepping cheap? Is being truly prepared for a long term SHTF free? Of course not. Yes, buying the stuff to do this would cost money. But once you have the equipment to produce it, ongoing production could cost almost nothing because of the inputs required. Once you had the kit, it would be fairly cheap and easy to keep this system going. The labor required is also way less than the labor to gather and process sunflower seeds into the same amount of biodiesel, which would also include labor for distilling because that's how you get methanol.
How do you know what the labor is again? Did you test it? :thumb:

Greenhouse, dozens of stock tanks, huge volumes of water, the still, and enough heat ( wood?) to keep the entire process going year round for a few gallons of fuel a year.....yeah......super effecient.

Look man, call it being skeptical, call it being realistic, whatever. You're totally entitled to your opinion. This isn't a fantasy idea. If doing this would "change the world," then it already would be changed because this has been done by other people already. Fact is, there technically being a more efficient alternative to gasoline doesn't change any of the political BS behind the reason why our energy system is the way it is. It doesn't produce a widespread social change. The whole price of the dollar is based on oil. Tech doesn't get widely adopted that threatens the price of the dollar. That isn't allowed. You don't need to tell me to "go do it." I'm already planning on it. Am I not allowed to discuss the fact that this is absolutely technically possible before doing it? Tell me, why would I use my resources and time to do something that I didn't know was possible? I know for a fact that it is possible because it has already been done by others. And I gave you the peer reviewed proof at the beginning of this post.
Technology doesn't get addopted because it can't compete with other technology. Oil is cheap and 'easy' on a global scale. Governments are even MANDATING that we put a certain amount of ethanol into gasoline and we don't have a single commercial scale algae to ethanol plant in the usa? Did I miss something? How is Brazil producing all of their ethanol? Is it Algae? They have lots of water, land, a good climate, and vehicles that can use 100% ethanol driving all over the road.

You can discuss all you want, free speech and all, but you also have to be able to defend your position. Sighting some youtube videos and achedemic research is only going to get you so far. If you where saying, 'Hey, I grew all this stuff in my garage, harvested it, and turned it into a motor fuel', I would be a lot more optimistic about it. Right now you are just coming off as an excited kid that found a new book.

By all means, get out in the garage and PROVE me wrong. Take over the world and destroy the evil oil empire! I will be looking forward to your findings.
 
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