Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cassava biofuel feasibility over view

The traditional fossil fuel has powered the East and the West since the age industrialization in 1800s into machine age,computer and space age now.

The fear that grip the word is categorized into two. firstly the cheap power source from fossil fuel is depleting in reserves world wide. Secondly the amount of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere that is causing climate,direct and indirect changes.

What kind of community (ies) would evolved 30-50 and 100 years from now,climate,environment, flora and fauna ,ocean,atmosphere,climate and what kind of energy source would be cheap and abundant as the fossil fuel was and is now.

These are the questions that scientist are asking that is leading to Biofuel development worldwide.
In my previous articles i have stated that not all biofuel sources may be viable but become viable under certain economic environments.

While developing countries or third world countries are raw material rich, technology and finance may be hindering the development now.

Papua New Guinea is the largest Island country with 475 000 square kilometers ,21 provinces and 6.5 million population, which is sparsely populated with annual fuel consumption not exceeding more than 500 000 liters.
This country is not a poor country but the fuel is the only commodity that make the population very poor today from rich yesterday. In the past 24 months, all class of people begged the Inter oil fuel supplier for sympathy when fuel price hiked. The country went into chaos and government was in ''oh what can we do '' stage.

Despite that experience, the government whose role is to guarantee fuel security by developing alternative fuel such as biofuels is going joyride without any hint of biofuel development.A foreign company has invested in biofuel development from Cassava in the central province of the country.The recent one under feasibility study is in Sepik province ,a foreign investment from Japan Cosmos company.However, these are foreign initiatives.

However, it is now the national responsibility for biofuel development. This is the age of biofuel, it is not optional either but a must.

In this article i want to identify the feasibility of cassava biofuel.

Cassava is a starchy tuber , all of the component is carbohydrate rich and highly lack proteins and lipid. The protein is convertable to simple sugars such as glucose and fructose.The sugars are exposed to microbial enzymes that directly digest them and excrete ethanol. The ethanol is distillated to near purity and blended with fossil fuel.
The sustainability and viability together with affordability are the measurements of economics.
The growth and maturity. The time from harvesting to maturity is practically important. The longer the time of maturity, the the more the spacing and planting must be to accommodate continuous harvesting-planting-processing-supply-demand line.

The labor involved directly increase operational cost. Along these planting to meeting demand,operational cost accumulates . The productivity measures from planting to finished product. How much money is involved per gallon of bioethanol produced. How much energy input and how much energy out put are important measures measuring called emergy.A tractor doing plowing to planting,harvesting and transporting to the processing plant. How much kilowat of energy were used and in return how much we have achieved , comparison gallon by gallon and looking at fossil fuel as competitor measures the sustainability and viability of the projects.

Cassava contain about 25% starch of which can be easily converted to simple sugars, but how about the 75%? the majority of starch is in complex form called polysaccharides, these need enzymes to hydrolyze them to simple sugars. This is the processing part which needs special enzymes which has to be (imported )purchased and utilized. This process will again seek time and energy which will again increase operational cost.
Out in the farm, the space of planting which may concern space and yield per acre is another very important factor affecting sustainability and viability. It yields about 20 tons per acre in the tropics which will be taking about 6-8 months for maturity.