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Non-profit biofuel companies: Fad or Function?

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  I've come across a trend of these companies doing some research on business structures. Some seem like hocus pocus and fear mongering environmentalism. Some seem to actually perform a similar function to what I've been trying to do with biofuels and consumer awareness. A quick Google of "nonprofit biofuel" brings up some interesting results. How might this business structure be playing into the undercurrents of biofuels?

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  Could this be coupled with a policy that brings more information on processing and techniques

to the open .. similar to what happened with software and Operating systems ( Linux, OpenOffice , etc.)??

 

Imagine if it weren't so hard to open an at-cost ethanol operation.  Cities and Counties could then run plants

to help dispose of some of the stuff that gets pitched into landfills and comes out as methane gas ...

people would have a place to dump all of their lawn trimmings for "free". 

 

Why stop there?? How about a way to openly share ethanol engine conversion techniques ??

 

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  Could this be coupled with a policy that brings more information on processing and techniques

to the open .. similar to what happened with software and Operating systems ( Linux, OpenOffice , etc.)??

 

Imagine if it weren't so hard to open an at-cost ethanol operation.  Cities and Counties could then run plants

to help dispose of some of the stuff that gets pitched into landfills and comes out as methane gas ...

people would have a place to dump all of their lawn trimmings for "free". 

 

Why stop there?? How about a way to openly share ethanol engine conversion techniques ??

 

 

I'm not sure if "open source" would really work in that recent historical sense like Java or Linux. An "open architecture" or at least semi-open of some form looks more probable. There is still proprietary information, competition, competitive advantages and all those lovely little business nuances to deal with.

 

These nonprofits listed look like they're involved in things like consumer awareness and some levels of scientific research, but nothing like a bigger company with more funding. The local college programs are non-profit based. I never really paid attention to that particular detail until recently. When I worked in healthcare for 6 years it was at a non-profit facility, but that's where the similarity ends :P. I'm curious how they're making biofuels and a non-profit approach really work. More business classes are going to help explain things, but figured this would be a good thing to ask about.

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I am sure there is a mixture of several issues going on.

 

Anytime a major "fad" comes along there are always some "carpet baggers" that try to figure a way to skim some of the money. A good low risk way to do that is to sell for a nominal fee materials that are actually public domain info. Non-profit does not mean that they don't get a salary. I am sure some of them are created only to establish an apparently benign presence to provide a point of entry to direct folks to some other web site etc.

 

Likewise business may set up or join "foundations" as a marketing ploy to be able to post a certificate on the wall that makes them appear concerned and involved.This sort of thing was common with solar energy firms in the 1970's and 1980's 3 guys would get together and form a "foundation" or some other fancy sounding public interest presence, create some certificates and post them on the wall to make their business appear more professional, and bigger than the kitchen table business it really was.

 

You certainly also have genuine public spirited individuals and groups that are trying to function as clearing houses or points of mutual contact so others of similar interest have a place to share info --- much like this and some other E85 websites. Their primary motivation is to do some good and improve the general welfare by pushing a technology they believe in.

 

I'm sure some others are driven by a mix of all of the above.

 

The one big difference between 1979 and today, is back then, there was no internet and information on ethanol and ethanol production required hours of research in a library or depending on general circulation publications like Popular Science, and Scientific American and a few Federal Govt publications like "fuel on farms".

 

We could have been in the same boat we are today in the late 1980's if we had had the internet to spread independent information. Back then "Mother Earth News" was the primary public interest common man source of information on energy related issues. It how ever was somewhat tainted in the eyes of a large part of the population by its "hippy" based culture and many who could have used the information never turned a page because they either did not frequent stores where it was sold or were unwilling to appear to support the "alternative lifestyle" advocated in many of their articles.

 

 

Larry

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So , if someone wants to take this approach, collect the "waste " or other low cost feedstock,

open a plant on a shoe-string budget, and take on the role of "blender" (to get the .51 cent credit)

they are no longer non-profit, but are also outside of regulatory scutiny by distributing a fuel that

isn't actually registered. I 'm talking about E98 here, not E85.

To complete the circle, publish the results and provide support or encouragement via the web

(assuming the process/operation works out financially, that is).

There could be a limitation here of 10,000 gallons per year, but maybe conceivable ...

Sell the fuel to friends and personal contacts ( let's say 1.50/gal) and you have a nice little hobby

that pays for itself. Multiply this several thousand times over in all corners of the country , and now

we're building out our own infrastructure.

BATF would be scrambling, and tax collecting would be a nightmare, but hey, that's their problem...

let's get this country growing.. 

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Good call, Larry. Some of it actually looked factual and informative, and other parts of it read like the National Enquirer. That's good to know with navigating the market.

 

I still approach open architecture differently than open source. Open source is more public in nature and there is a common skillset. With open architecture, the framework is there but everyone still makes their own proprietary stuff that fits together. Open architecture is a bit more private, but only slightly. Being an anal programmer...well...I'm probably just being an anal programmer ;D.

 

 

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How would you guys do it if you were in charge? Phil's gig seems to work pretty darn well.

 

I <3 coconut crusted tilapia!

 

farm_tilapia.jpg

 

That's kind of an elegant solution compared to worms and garbage or algae :P

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