Carbon Intensity

A $100-million bet on making fuel from trash

There, in the high desert of the Antelope Valley, Klann’s company, BlueFire Ethanol Fuels, plans to build a $100-million plant to convert raw trash into an alcohol-based fuel that will help power the cars and trucks of the future.

It’s just the sort of improbable concoction that California is now demanding. On Thursday, the state is expected to adopt the world’s first regulation to reduce the carbon footprint of fuel. And, just as California created the first market for catalytic converters decades ago, this rule, a likely model for national and even global calculations, could jump-start a huge demand for new technologies.


Under California’s proposal, producers, refineries and importers would be forced to reduce the “carbon intensity” of their fuel by 10% by 2020, and by increasing percentages after that. Currently, California gasoline contains 10% corn-based ethanol, most of it from coal-powered Midwestern plants. Its carbon footprint is as high as gasoline’s.

But by measuring the “cradle-to-grave” effect of various fuels, the new rule would favor ethanol such as Klann’s, made from non-food sources. Even “low-carbon” corn ethanol — such as the kind produced in California using gas-fired electricity and efficient machinery — has a far higher carbon footprint than so-called cellulosic fuel from landfill waste, trees, switchgrass or sugar cane.

“Carbon intensity”… Sounds like a Cajun food evaluation metric.

I’m not sure where JR’s run off to. Somehow… he’s figured out how to jam my omniscience fruit set. I think he said something about personally lobbying the IOC to institute Energy Accounting as a new Olympic sport. How’s the weather in Lausanne?

30 Replies to “Carbon Intensity”

  1. Those wacky Germans…


    Berlin’s “Pussy Club” has attracted media attention with its headline-grabbing “flat rate” — a 70-euro admission charge for unlimited food, drink and sex between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

    “You’ve got to come up with creative solutions these days,” said club manager Stefan, who requested his surname not be published. “We’re feeling the economic crisis, too, even though business has fortunately been more or less okay for us so far.

    “Our offer might sound like it’s too good to be true, but it’s real. You can eat as much as you want, drink as much as you want and have as much sex as you want.”

  2. It’s actually a pretty entertaining article.

    Leave it to the Germans to institutionalize and regulate fucking for money.

    Those damned amateurs!

  3. Happy Hour(s) at the Brothel. Just add some hookers to the local Red Baron pizza joint and we got the same, in chain stores. Hooker quality may vary.

  4. “Red Baron pizza”… I totally forgot about those places. What an ally-oop to Doom that was!

    I knew we didn’t storm the beaches of Normandy in vain.

  5. If someone had told me fifteen years ago that a significant part of my life would eventually constitute on-line discussions — with people that I’ve never actually seen in real life (excepting Doom and Bunn, of course) — I might well have thought that this person was mad. And if this prophetic individual were to further reveal that my future electronic discussions would mostly relate, in one way or another, to the failings and fuck-ups of humans, I might have immediately doubled down on my reading and reflecting, harboring a slim hope that maybe in so doing I could convince The Fates to deal me another less lame and relentlessly humiliating hand.

    No need to wear pants today, Bunn Bunn. It looks like we have the place to ourselves.

    When just about the most exciting and positive news story is something about Obama going after perpetrators of credit card usury, I really just want to disconnect the computer and take up another, but this time legitimately physiological, vice in its stead.

  6. Bunn don’t tweet.

    But if I did, it would be child’s play. In no time at all, I’d be at least as popular as Karl Rove, but probably not as popular as Obama. A capacity for metronome-like regularity is all it takes (we all know of at least one example of this modus operandi). That and a vociferous stream of megalomaniacal utterances. Young monkeys will be left scratching themselves, dithering between a choice of subsequent acts including, but not limited to, thinking harder and self pleasuring.

  7. Bunn/Holmes,

    Honey, I’ll be home soon. Late night at the office. Please keep something in the oven for me.

    Where the fcuk did we lose JR to?

  8. After scorching out a series of flamers over on the Foreign Policy blog (see last entry below) and being completely ignored by a bunch of mostly twentysomethings, my best guess is that our JR is off somewhere else in cyberspace.

    by Johnny Rico on Mon, 04/20/2009 – 10:16am
    You are pretty much the ULTIMATE DOUCHE.

    If being American means being anything like you or even being vaguely associated with you, send me to Guantanamo now.

    You have to be fucking joking. Princeton actually gave you a degree? The US military accepted you?

    If either one of these things is true we are seriously fucked as a nation.

    What’s funny and telling is that Ricks fell for your shit.


  9. Holmes, when I was at ASPO last fall I heard a speaker (sorry can’t remember his name) who paused and stepped back from his stats and rhetoric for a moment, and essentially got off his chest that the inquiry he had made into “peak oil” had unwittingly opened a pandora’s box of philosophical questions that were so immense as to send him into a hundred obsessive directions and that this was his unexpected and seemingly permanent online curse. Now he was conversing with a bunch of crazy fuckers. He was at the same time both grateful and deeply disturbed. Don’t know if that means anything.

  10. “Where the fcuk did we lose JR to?”

    Bahrain practice starts soon. I’m sure that’s where you will find him. He knows this is do-or-die for ferrari and he is in a deep trance. Sshh!

  11. Great article BTW. There are so many companies now working different concoctions of liquid biofuels. I think its facinating. Personal autos and cheese doodles may be doomed, but jet fighters and helos will probably get bio and CTL juice for years to come. Carbon intensity (god bless’em) is an interesting question but process water supply solutions, simplicity and EROEI will rule.

  12. I’ve been meditating. I haven’t gone online in a few days. I can’t read or watch the news out of boredom or disgust. I can’t find anything to read. I don’t feel like writing. I’m sure I’ll snap out of it soon if I watch enough Formula 1 practice from Bahrain. I’m praying for a dust-storm. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

    I really don’t think this country could get any more fcuked up. I don’t know what’s worse. Larry Summers falling asleep during a meeting or The Naked Wizard getting tazed drawing over 1000 comments on HuffPo.

  13. Bunn, being bored at lunch, I decided to read and actually understand this post. There’s always a catch, if you look deep enough. This ethanol will have a lower carbon footprint because it’s produced from trash (either directly and/or from the heat of burning thereof) that would otherwise be buried in some landfill, correct? So, the carbon is just being recycled from waste that was once produced in some way to say, make a cardboard box. OTOH, if one left the cardboard box buried deep within a landfill, its carbon would be sequestered, like the liquid CO2 being pumped into deep strata off Scotland, say, as an example, eh? So, in the sense that the carbon is being recycled, the ethanol is clean(er), but in reality any manipulation to make it requires some CO2 emissions, unless the power supplied is truly non-carbon fuel based, like nuclear or solar/wind/geothermal/hydro.

    Of course, even those “clean” energy sources have a carbon footprint in the making and maintaining of their plants/infrastructure.

    Do you prefer your steak al carbon?

  14. Yes, there’s plenty of room for haggling over what exactly the “cradle-to-grave” effect of various fuels ought to encompass. For example, if there is a shortage of food in the world, an Energy Accountant, mathematician or the like might be able to arrange equations and data inputs on a spread sheet to suggest that corn-based ethanol has a lower carbon footprint due to more people starving to death (and therefore lessening their personal net energy usage — as compared to if they had lived) when food is used to make fuel. Where’s Staniford when you really need him? Don’t answer that. My sources advise me that others seek to fill his shoes.

  15. Bif, your story is right on point. I doubt that most people bother to consider the possible consequences of going off in a “hundred obsessive directions”. I sure didn’t. As interesting as it all can be (and I certainly hope that Ferrari gets their mechanical problems worked out), I can’t help but believe that something in the personality gets permanently damaged along the way. So… Happy Friday everybody!

  16. “Tell us about the marathon runner from down south, so to speak. Gory details, please.” –Dood O’ Doom

    by Johnny Rico on Mon, 04/20/2009 – 8:18am
    With all due respect.

    You are not gonna be hitting Tarawa anytime soon. It’s one thing if you are going to Harvard Med to train as a trauma surgeon and then joining the Corps or spec ops, but I just sent off a female friend to run the Boston Marathon, and I worry more about her. Let’s be serious.


    Apologies for the paltriness of detail–I can’t spend ALL my time trying to figure ZKers out. I would suggest you go directly to the comments section of the “Foreign Relations” article JR linked to on Monday (included in this post) and read them. You will witness there (IMHO) an interesting generation gap–one that I experience with “Gen X” members on a regular basis–between JR and the new “looking-for-meaning” Gen Y cohort.

  17. You like that, huh?

    Tarawa is the one word solution to letting these military types know you know what the fuck you are talking about. I also follow pretty closely all cases of females in combat. But we don’t need to tell these suckers that. I also follow all cases of alleged/possible war crimes. It’s the only reason I actually bought Ricks’ book. He starts with the Haditha incident. I believe the young sergeants’ name is Wutterich or something like that. Pretty much everybody in his squad has been acquitted but his trial keeps getting pushed back. The country really doesn’t want to put this guy behind bars for the rest of his life for something he obviously did. I’m sure Odierno has thought about this. They are basically the same person separated by the chance of time. Sassaman is the other name you want to remember or Google. Sassaman was a captain under Odierno who was highly praised around the time Petreaus was being highly praised. Sassaman is no longer in the military.

  18. OK fine, but just tell us what the hell happened with the female Mexican runner you hosted during the Boston marathon. Now is a great time to demonstrate your candid and deeply honest approach to human relations that you are famous for. But, if it was a fail, I understand, these thaings happen, and we still love and appreciate you, you know that, and therefore life is wonderful and we will move on.

    Frankly, I could give a shit about your relations to Gen Xers regarding war and Tarawa, in particular. Do you have something new and interesting to report on Tarawa? I’m all ears (copyright, Ross Perrot).

  19. She was American. I didn’t know this. She was a friend of one of my sisters while we lived there. The youngest, so I didn’t know her ( I wanted to fuck everyone of my oldest sister’s friends – they were 13 and 14, I was 17 or 18 – I’ve told this story before, I’m sure). I only wanted one woman (girl) at that time in my life and I totally fucked that up. Her name was Adriana. I went back to college, grabbed booze and marijuana as my whores and never wrote Adriana again. She haunts me every day and night. Crying won’t help you (me). Prayin’ won’t do you (me) no good. I continually fuck up all my best chances at peace.

    She finished. She didn’t win. She’s not Ethiopian. She (swings) in a large circle of marathon runners. They circle the globe running marathons. She was cute. But too young for me… well, I mean… nevermind

  20. so subtract like 3 or 5 years from 13 or 14 when I was 17 or 18. Whatever. When I went back to Greece the last time, everybody seemed to know me even though I hadn’t been there since I was 8. I just mentioned my dad, and it was like, oh, yeah.

    The whole ex-patriot thing is fucked up. More so maybe when it involves America. Jus sayin.

    35 minutes til practice. Should have been a race-car driver. Family wanted me to be an engineer. Stupid fucking Germans.

  21. She’s an ass, and you did the right thing. I’m proud of you. Now, what have you done with Adriana’s telephone number? Your sister will know how to get in touch, won’t she? Heh heh, let’s find out what she’s up to these days. Common, do it because I told you to. If it blows up in your face (it won’t), you can blame me. (Think of me as a much moron aggressive magic 8-ball).

  22. And, if Paul Fucking Newman could drive race cars in his 60s and 70s, what exactly is your excuse?

  23. BTW, I just scored a $336K grant. I know this is chump change for some of you, but it will keep me in beans for at least a year, with two moron proposals pending.

  24. Just leave me a lone. I’m in the zone. And I will be this way until moday when I will have come up with an idea concerning race cars, you, me, and your 336,000 pesos.

    With my good looks, I should be both of those morons. And Holmes will be the other two. And Bif the other three.

    Now fucking leave me alone, asshole, I have cars to watch zooming around a circuit. This takes patience, and guts.

  25. For $336K, I bet I could buy the exhaust system on an F1 race car. We have to pick up our oldest boy, back from a week in Japan tomorrow AM. Good night, JR.

  26. I have no idea, I’ll ask around. I’ll bet you are low. I’ll bet it’s 5 mil for the season. The pieces are like 20 k. They replace that shit in seconds.

    Good Night, Doom.

    You don’t “have” to pick him up. He could swim.

    He also doesn’t “have” to be your boy. He could work for me.

    If he did, I’d make him a driver or a shooter first.

    Good night. You know what I’m sayin.

  27. Bahrain. Massa King, Sunday. I’ll flank out. On my left hand side. On Sunday, I’ll protect Bif, Tip… So be here sunday.

    whaddaya gotta lose?

    Back to qualy

    race fewwwwell. douchemonks. Only me and Bif and Bunn know about that shiz. Fuck these assholes. We are sooo cooool. WE are. Me and Bif and Bunn are super hot. We don’t need your permission. But we would like it.

  28. If Massa takes qualy, I be like, BOOM. I’ll come back soon flanking Bif for nothing on Blue Pearl. Jus saying. OK, so I’ll owe him for the next 4 years. He’s gotta play, though.

    Q! 2! Motherfucker!

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