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He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.
Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us.
Originally posted by NGC2736
The cure for our oil woes could be worse than the ailment itself.
The closest that LS9 has come to mass production is a 1,000-litre fermenting machine, which looks like a large stainless-steel jar, next to a wardrobe-sized computer connected by a tangle of cables and tubes. It has not yet been plugged in. The machine produces the equivalent of one barrel a week and takes up 40 sq ft of floor space.
... we have desert areas that could be irrigated for said purposes. (?)
However, to substitute America’s weekly oil consumption of 143 million barrels, you would need a facility that covered about 205 square miles, an area roughly the size of Chicago.
“Our plan is to have a demonstration-scale plant operational by 2010 and, in parallel, we’ll be working on the design and construction of a commercial-scale facility to open in 2011,” says Mr Pal, adding that if LS9 used Brazilian sugar cane as its feedstock, its fuel would probably cost about $50 a barrel.
With his research complete, Bell is in the process of building his pilot plants and production facilities. At the pilot plants, the bio-mass will be tested to select bacterial strains, bacterial genetic modification will be tested, revision of production protocols will be established, and a determination will be made of the best method of bio-mass conversion.
“We are exploring several locations for our pilot plants and production facilities,” Bell said. “We have the opportunity to put our plants in several locations.”
He estimated the budget for the research facility to be at $60 million annually and the production facilities at $250 to $300 million a year. He anticipates being in full scale production by October 1, 2009.
“Wherever this is located, the community will reap tremendous economic benefit,” he said.
Bell cites a number of benefits of bio-mass conversion: The energy shortage issue can be effectively addressed, it is a totally renewable energy source, it calms global warming fears, utilizes industrial waste and supports the agriculture industry.
“We can reduce the waste stream by 70 percent,” he said.
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