[extropy-chat] Gasoline machine

Stirling Westrup sti at pooq.com
Mon Apr 23 10:18:53 UTC 2007

Keith Henson wrote:
> Anyone with just a bit of chemistry beyond high school knows that liquid 
> fuels can be made from virtually any reduced carbon source.  That included 
> coal, wood, plant trimmings, paper, and any sort of plastic or rubber 
> (except maybe PVC).
> Come the revolution (the nanotech revolution of course) this should be easy 
> to do, though for a number of reasons it could be that nobody would care.
> The question is . . . given the kinds of automation you can get with 
> microprocessors and what we now know about chemical processing, is a gadget 
> that converted household waste into a liquid fuel (such as ethanol) 
> possible?  The production need not be all that high since it wouldn't be 
> that easy for most people to round up the 100 pounds of carbon a week that 
> would be needed for 20 gallons of fuel.  I know.  Heated with wood this 
> last winter and burned tons of wood.
> Still, such a thing, if it could be built, would be saving a person $3000 a 
> year at current prices.  Given slightly more than a 3 year payback, it 
> could be sold for $10,000.
> I realize that there are few if any chemists in this crowd, so suggestions 
> as to where I should take this discussion would also be welcome.
I could swear I read about a prototype of such a machine just recently.
Processes a wide variety of household wastes (food scraps, wood chips,
whatever) and converts it into one of three different fuels depending on what
it deems the better choice, and then burns the fuel to produce electricity.
IIRC it was being developed for emergency relief and for military
applications. I'll try to dig up a reference, if you're interested.

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