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Author: pauleckler Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 18438  
Subject: Re: gasogene Date: 8/26/2014 11:41 PM
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Let me provide some energy reference values.

Natural gas at $4/1000 cf provides 1,000,000 btu
Coal fuel value is 13,000 btu/lb
Wood fuel value is 8613 btu/lb
Gasoline is 120,000 btu/gal or 19,000 btu/lb

A cord of wood is 128 cu ft, weighs 40 lb/cf =5120 lb/cord = 2.56 t/cord

Therefore with gasoline at $3.50/gal, it takes 14 lb wood to provide 120,000 btu so 3.50 x 5120/14 says wood is more economical than gasoline as a fuel when its value is less than $1280/cord. Current value is abt $150/cord I think.

But that same 120,000 btu can be replaced by 120 cf of natural gas, whose market value at $4/1000 is $0.48.

Compared to gasoline, wood is a very economical fuel, but natural gas is much more attractive.

Note there are already people out there prepared to convert coal fired power plants to burn wood pellets if coal becomes unattractive. Wood's main advantage is its a renewable fuel so burning it recycles carbon dioxide rather than creating new. (Sunlight converts carbon dioxide to cellulose by photosynthesis as plants grow.)

But there are many other issues. Oil and natural gas move cheaply by pipeline. Coal and wood chips are solids, more costly to transport. Converting to steady state production of wood chips may take years. In my area, Ameren is prepared to burn corn in its power plants if need be in the meanwhile.

There are also a series of efficiency aspects. The wood chips need to be cut, and the wood needs to be dried or cured. So these btu numbers are not perfect but they do provide a theoretical basis for comparison.
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