“It would appear that, only certain persons in this society are founts of knowledge and that their opinions and ideas are adhered to, even when they are talking on subjects outside their area of technical competence.”
by Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.
There was an article entitled “Deal to turn whisky ‘leftovers’ into bio-fuels for cars”, in a local newspaper of Wednesday 26th September 2012. The same news item was aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Monday 24th September 2012. It was reported in paragraph five of the article that, ninety percent of the stuff which comes out of the distillery is not whisky. It is leftovers like daff and pot ales which are high in sugars. It is planned, as reported in the article, to utilize these leftovers for the manufacture of butanol (an alcohol) for use as a bio-fuel. I have some points and observations which I will now make.
In the past (letters to Advocate: 7th June, 1998; 31st July, 2002; 3rd August, 2004 and 18th May 2006) I have advocated that yeast by-products (which are a high quality source of protein) from rum manufacturing, be utilized in the manufacture of rations for livestock locally. As I pointed out then, alcohol is a toxic by-product of the metabolism of molasses by various strains of yeast Saccharomyces cervisisiae. Once a threshold level of alcohol is reached, the yeast die off; but considerable amounts of free molasses remain. The yeast can be separated and used as a source of high-protein input for animal rations. The cell-free extract can then be distilled to remove ethanol. The residual liquid can be fermented to obtain more alcohol. Alternatively, selective pressure can be used on S.cervisisiae, to obtain strains of yeasts with increased tolerance to ethanol. The same trait can be obtained using genetic engineering techniques, to obtain improve alcohol tolerance of yeasts.
Butanol beats Ethanol for vehicles!
In 2006, in a letter (“Ethanol not the only manufacturing solution”), I proposed that the alcohol of choice for use as a bio-fuel be butanol.
I pointed out then that, butanol produced only 3%, whereas, ethanol produced 35% of the levels of green house gas emissions associated with the use of gasoline. Butanol has a higher molecular weight than ethanol, which results in butanol having an energy content of 110,000 Btu per gallon, whereas ethanol only has 84,000Btu. It also has six and thirteen times lower Reid’s vapor pressures than ethanol and gasoline respectfully. It is therefore safer to use than either gasoline or ethanol. Butanol has a higher octane rating than ethanol and can be mixed in any ratio with gasoline or can be used as a stand-alone fuel. Additionally, there would be no need to replace the distribution system which is presently being used for gasoline.
As can be seen, long ago I wrote about what should be done in this country in terms of technology, to lower the cost of living for Barbadians.
It would appear that, only certain persons in this society are founts of knowledge and that their opinions and ideas are adhered to, even when they are talking on subjects outside their area of technical competence.
According to a 2010 BBC program “Science in Action,” the reliance on the old-boy network was the main reason, why there was no Silicon Valley in Britain. It was also mentioned that persons with doctorates, who had been working extensively in administration, on no account, should be placed to head or direct research thrusts. The genesis of the argument, being that such persons, having been away from the laboratory, are steeped in the politics of administration and grants procurements and are no longer thinking not only in an un-innovative manner, but are also not familiar with cutting edge technology. As the saying goes, “where there is no vision the people perish.”
Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.
Photo credit: BBC News, Scotland Business (Thanks BBC!)