26 Jul 2006

Thinking outside the barrel

I had thought that bio-diesel or even plain old veg oil might have been our best hope for breaking out of our 'oil addiction' but then having watched this and I am feeling persuaded that ethanol is the direction that we need to be going in. If you have a spare hour, I really would urge you to spend some time watching Vinod Khosla give a lecture on Ethanol at Google. The content more than makes up for the sometimes less than sparkling delivery.

I have been doing a lot of reading up on biofuels lately, the thing that kicked it off was the discovery that Rudolph Diesel's invention of an engine that could run on peanut oil was partly as a result of his belief that for Artisans to survive in the face of steam powered industry, they needed something that would help level the playing field.

In a 1912 speech, Rudolf Diesel said "the use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal-tar products of the present time." It appeared that he then died in mysterious circumstances shortly afterward... weirdly reminicent of the fate of Agustine le Prince, the man who might have invented moving pictures.

In the few online biographies that I have found about Mr Diesel, I noticed that he has been characterized as a social theorist and a connoisseur of the fine arts and an internationalist , sadly there don't seem to be any of his writings available online in English. That's a pity, there is a bunch of Tesla's writings here, and I found them to give a facinating insight into a really radical thinker who just seemed so out of his time and who has been largely overshadowed by "The Edison Publicity Machine". Of course some of the stuff is pretty barking, but we can't 'hit it out of the park' every time.

Anyway, I am on leave and I have clay waiting to be wedged up in the garage so I will try and annotate a few more of my recently aquired 'energy' tagged del.icio.us bookmarks.


aminorjourney said...

Don't forget Electric :) There's a guy in the Brecon beacons with a van which does 100 miles per charge and has a top speed of about 50 mph. When run from a wind turbine it's completely clean!


Anonymous said...

I find it terribly frustrating that our fuel isn't high-ethanol percentage because the research I did a while back suggests that the Minor can run on about 90% ethanol; as can the Viva.

They both need modifications to the jetting in the carb, but... :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, uh, that's pyoorkate, by the way :-)