Friday, October 27, 2006



BioDiesel Pump

Support Midwest Farmers or Middle East Oil Barons?

Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel made primarily from vegetable oil. Biodiesel is a renewable resource, it contains no petroleum and it can be blended with regular diesel fuel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be substituted for diesel fuel in diesel engines with no modification. Biodiesel is biodegradable, nontoxic, and very low polluting when compared with standard diesel. I have tried both 20% and 99% blends of Biodiesel and I find that my diesel car runs perfectly on these fuels plus it doesn’t have the characteristic diesel smell.

Biodiesel is made through using acids to separate glycerin from vegetable oil or fat. The process leaves behind two products â€" methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin (a valuable byproduct usually sold to be used in soaps and other products).

Biodiesel is good for the environment because it is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions when compared to petroleum diesel. It is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar. Since it is made in the USA from renewable resources such as soybeans, its use decreases our dependence on foreign oil and contributes to our own economy. Support Midwest farmers or middle east oil barons?

Biodiesel is available nationwide. It can be purchased directly from biodiesel producers and marketers, petroleum distributors, or at a handful of public pumps throughout the nation.

More information at the National BioDiesel Board:

An interesting article on “The Conscientious Cruiser” a BioDiesel bus converted to a sustainable design classroom by SDU friend Amy Grettum: Link Here


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Peak Aluminum


If you have been reading this column for any length of time you have heard of “Peak Oil”. Simply put we reach the point of Peak Oil when the peak of oil production occurs. There is some debate on when we will reach the peak of oil production, but no debate on if we are going to reach a peak in production. There is much debate on the effects associated with Peak Oil production but most economists predict some pretty rough times ahead.

Well… We are also going to reach peak production in a number of other materials we mine from the earth’s crust. Right now we have less than half of all known aluminum ore (bauxite) remaining, as well as copper, lead, tin and iron.

The floks over at Transtudio have a post on the peak supply of these important building materials.

Raw Material Time Horizons

Based on a recent United States Geological Study, Lester Brown informs us that we will exhaust known stores of several vital metals within the next two to three generations, based on a reasonable estimation of 2% growth in extraction.1 While recycling efforts have accelerated, virgin materials are still being harvested at an alarming rate.

What will the world be like when we have run out of copper or steel? The average building today relies upon a great quantity of these resources for its construction. Faced with these facts, we can easily imagine a future in which industry has completely re-engineered its handling of material resources. After all, there seems to be no other choice.

1Brown, Lester, Plan B 2.0, New York: W. W. Norton, 2006. p. 109