Upon graduation in 1962, most of my close friends joined the first full-year of the Peace Corps. They were to get paid $99/month to spend two years in some God-forsaken location, literally, like French Guinea and Cameroon. My "sacrifice" to toil for the Hutchinson sugar company in Naalehu on the Big Island as a biomass process engineer paid $500/month, and, more importantly, changed my whole life. I bought my first car, a Triumph TR-3. I married Pearl, who was a nurse in the next town, Pahala. We later also spent some time in Kilauea, Kauai, where I met an elderly gentleman who knew my grandfather, leading to The Search for Kenjiro's Grandmothers nearly half a century later.
However, my next few assignments, all in the 1970's, dealt with biomass and biofuels. First, I built a raceway (I'm here at an upgraded facility) to grow microalgae, linked to the emission from a small powerplant. The purpose was two-fold: grow algae which could be processed into a biofuel and utilize the carbon dioxide to reduce climate warming. In the mid-1970's very few had any inkling of this potentially serious environmental problem. There was uneasiness about fluorocarbons affecting the ozone layer and air pollution, but nothing yet about the dangers of carbon dioxide.
Farm Lobby. We thought that the gasification and catalysis into bio-methanol was the optimal direction, especially if the direct methanol fuel cell could be perfected for transport applications.
ethanol from corn was a terrible idea.
SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth a decade ago, the world was using 400 Quads of energy. Today, this total is over 600 Q. Here is another rather depressing bit of news:
o Corn 18
o Soybean 48
o Sunflower 102
o Palm oil 635
o Marine algae 10,000
Read my HuffPo. Our Department of Defense reached out too far during the Obama years, so has pulled back. The economics were horrible. Some R&D is continuing.
What about hydrogen? Read:
THE FUTURE OF CARBON-FREE NEXT GENERATION AVIATION (Part 3: Hydrogen Planes)
Okay, so what about microalgae, for if Jaw Kai Wang is right, this should just be a matter of time. Well, as difficult as the economics are for simple biomass to biofuels, the complexity expands for microorganisms. Read pages 49-68 of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 94, October 2018. This option, too, is awaiting the exponential rise of oil prices.
price of oil, which is totally unpredictable. Look at those spikes in the above graph. Yet, if the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is right, you can look forward to $54.46/barrel oil...in December of 2027!