Crude Oil from Bugs?

BigRob

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This could turn into a major discovery.

To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs — very, very small bacteria — so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as wood chips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. 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.
 
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GenSeneca

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This is gonna really bug environmentalists.... :D

Tonight on ESPN:

Death match between the environmentalists and the Animal Right Nutz!

Watch as they out tree-hug one another in a fight to the death!
 

BigRob

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This is gonna really bug environmentalists.... :D

Tonight on ESPN:

Death match between the environmentalists and the Animal Right Nutz!

Watch as they out tree-hug one another in a fight to the death!

Those tree hugging hippies can go argue elsewhere. My hummer needs a fill up, and I feel they are saving the world enough for the both of us :cool:
 

The Scotsman

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:confused:

So if these wee guys get out of their tank and end up in the oceans and start eating up all the crap and garbage that's been dumped over the past 50 years or so anyone chucking a butt end off the pier..................
 

Andy

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It's been awhile since I did some depth research on this, but if I remember right, this isn't exactly new.

The news consistently sensationalizes everything in order to sell more news. In reality this isn't a big deal. Also, the trigger word "genetically engineered" tends to make average people invent some fantastical 'sci-fi' style Star Trek craziness that has nothing to do with reality.

Genetically engineered, simply means they bred specific cultures of micro-organisms to produce the highest yield of oil. Just as you would breed cows that produce the most milk, or just as they breed sheep that have no horns. Even breeding dogs to keep the best floppy ears and fluffy tail.. could technically be called 'genetic engineering'.

That said, the first discovery of bacteria that produce oil was back in 1957, or earlier. Again... this is not new. Does the technology work? Of course. Can it be profitable and commercially viable? That remains to be seen.

There are a huge host of problems that must be dealt with first. The host tank must be kept in near perfect environmental state for the micro-organisms (mi-orgs) to work best. As in around 30ºC. This requires perfect heat and cooling to maintain temp, or the mi-orgs all die, and the whole batch is ruined and must be scrapped. There must not be any contamination, both of food and air supply. Too much, or too little oxygen, or if anything gets mixed into the food, again the mi-orgs die and repeat.

Finely, this specific plan calls for wood chips and straw waste. If you think about a full barrel of crude oil... verses a pile of wood chips and straw waste, it would take a whole ton of waste to make one barrel of oil. Further, from what I've come up with, the conversion ratio is at about 5%-15%. As in ton of food, for relatively small amount of oil. Granted that was based on 1957 figures, so hopefully things have improved.

Oh and Scottsman, nothing to fear here. These are mi-orgs that are naturally found in nature. If they could survive in the ocean, and convert the planet into an oil pool, they would have done so 6,000 years ago at least. My best understanding is that they will die the moment they are not in a controlled environment.
 

Andy

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It isn't new. There already is a plant turning out crude oil from waste.

http://discovermagazine.com/2006/apr/anything-oil

Well, your right, but... that article is about a thermal conversion plant. Using heat to break down animal waste into oil.

The article in this thread is about biological conversion, using micro organisms to convert farm waste, like wood hay stubble, into oil.

But, yeah, not new.
 

PLC1

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Well, your right, but... that article is about a thermal conversion plant. Using heat to break down animal waste into oil.

The article in this thread is about biological conversion, using micro organisms to convert farm waste, like wood hay stubble, into oil.

But, yeah, not new.

Yes, it is a little different process, isn't it?

But the end result is the same.

I wonder why it is we don't hear much about technological breakthroughs like that? Wouldn't it have the potential to at least alleviate our energy problems?
 

Andy

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Yes, it is a little different process, isn't it?

But the end result is the same.

I wonder why it is we don't hear much about technological breakthroughs like that? Wouldn't it have the potential to at least alleviate our energy problems?

Couple of possibilities. First, I heard about both of these several years ago, so I guess we do hear about them if we're paying attention.

Why is it not big time mainstream news splashed across the country? Well basically because it's an affront to the goal of destroying America's use of oil, and returning us to the stone age. Why stop using it when it can be made from waste?

Also, it's an affront to the theory that oil is a non-renewable resource. For example, the very same thermal break down process used in your article, has been found naturally near active geological areas like volcanos. They found evidence that oil is forming in mere months near these hot spots, which calls into question the whole "peak oil" and fossil fuel theory. Of course if oil is renewable, then we don't need to worry about getting off it, just finding as much of it as we can.

Of course the biggest issue with these alternate oil sources is cost overhead and fuel supply. Just as the story says, the cost of producing one barrel of oil was $80. That's excessive. Granted the plan is working great now with crude oil selling at $120. But imagine if the price drops again? That plant will be closed, unless it can get it's overhead cost down.
 

PLC1

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Couple of possibilities. First, I heard about both of these several years ago, so I guess we do hear about them if we're paying attention.

Why is it not big time mainstream news splashed across the country? Well basically because it's an affront to the goal of destroying America's use of oil, and returning us to the stone age. Why stop using it when it can be made from waste?

Also, it's an affront to the theory that oil is a non-renewable resource. For example, the very same thermal break down process used in your article, has been found naturally near active geological areas like volcanos. They found evidence that oil is forming in mere months near these hot spots, which calls into question the whole "peak oil" and fossil fuel theory. Of course if oil is renewable, then we don't need to worry about getting off it, just finding as much of it as we can.

Of course the biggest issue with these alternate oil sources is cost overhead and fuel supply. Just as the story says, the cost of producing one barrel of oil was $80. That's excessive. Granted the plan is working great now with crude oil selling at $120. But imagine if the price drops again? That plant will be closed, unless it can get it's overhead cost down.

Do you think that the news media has the goal of destroying America's use of oil, and returning us to the stone age?:eek:

$80 a barrel sounds pretty cheap by today's standards, and it seems likely that the price could go down when the volume goes up.

I wonder what might happen if the feds were to stop subsidizing corn ethanol, and use the money to fund research into the process of making oil out of waste?
 

Sihouette

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We are in the Stone Age. You've got it exactly Bass Ackwards.

The progressive age is what Europe is doing and has been doing for decades. It's like you're promoting dragsleds over the wheel.

Burning nasty polluting smudgy fuels that are ruining our atmosphere and destroying National Security from dependance is preferable to longstanding renewable and clean energy? Really?

Oooga booga.
 

Sihouette

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At present, more than half of Iceland’s electrical power and its need for space heating and hot water from geothermal energy. Geothermal heating is used in a community level in Iceland where hot water is pumped up from the station and circulated around a neighborhood or town. In addition to this, this hot water and steam from boreholes is used for running turbines for the sake of producing electricity and for heating homes and businesses.

The rest of the electricity needs of Iceland is met by hydroelectric power while fossil fuels are imported only for transportation needs. Now this bid of drilling these vents are scheduled to start in the summer of 2008 as an alternative and renewable source of energy. Source: http://www.thinksolarenergy.net/74/deep-drilling-geothermal-energy/renewable-energy/

In Oregon they're proposing drilling deep boreholes to develop geothermal technology virtually anywhere, even outside areas where these hot features come near surface. But even if they didn't, there are so many geothermally active areas in the US alone to tap and produce power from that us not doing so is grossly irresponsible.

Geothermalmap.jpg

The red areas indicate high surface geothermal activity, easily tapped and utilized. That's about 1/3 of the US land surface over nearly the entire West. In the East is a plethora of running water for hydropower potential. Our deserts provide more than ample solar energy year-round and there's a solar farm in use in the high desert of California and elsewhere. Acres upon acres of solar panels help keep this huge-consuming state juiced up. But just East of the Sierra Nevada are mulitiple bubbling hydrothermal jets just boiling away. The relative cost to install steam generators there is laughable. It's all just going to waste while our BigOil politicians lobby for astronomically expensive offshore oil drilling.

Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil....

You are getting dizzy...you are falling asleep....don't dream of anything but Oil....
 

Pandora

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In Oregon they're proposing drilling deep boreholes to develop geothermal technology virtually anywhere, even outside areas where these hot features come near surface. But even if they didn't, there are so many geothermally active areas in the US alone to tap and produce power from that us not doing so is grossly irresponsible.

You can ALWAYS count on Oregon to NOT do the right thing. This is the most backward state in the union. The people in government here would kill a million children to save one old and dying tree!
 
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Sihouette

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OK silly. Let me be more specific: some people in Oregon, not the entire state as one solid mindset, are looking into deep bore geothermal.

However, as I said, with as much surface or near-surface geological features in the West particularly, there will be no deep drilling at all.

Little bitty Iceland is handily tapping this easy and perpetual clean source of energy. It's just downright embarassing that the US claims it's too hard...

Who do they think they're pulling the wool over with that claim?
 
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