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Sa'ar Chasm 09-10-2008 02:29 AM

Back to the gr...ad school
 
Jobhunting with a Master's sucks, so I've decided to go back and get the next degree. I'm back at UofO, and I'm working with...Dr. Who.

Tom Baker.

Oh, not *the* Tom Baker, but *a* Tom Baker. My research project involves finding a way to turn trees into gasoline, and possibly transform Big Oil into Big Wood.

*pause*

I believe I phrased that indelicately.

danieldoof 09-10-2008 09:23 AM

Oh making gasoline out of trees?
We can work together on that one :)

What is the next degree then? There is Bachelor, Master.... will it be the Doctor now?

mudshark 09-10-2008 02:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sa'ar Chasm (Post 76740)
My research project involves finding a way to turn trees into gasoline, and possibly transform Big Oil into Big Wood.

*pause*

I believe I phrased that indelicately.

Perhaps.

The term "furanics" suddenly comes to mind. I saw an article recently about someone having worked out a process for converting cellulose into fuel which cuts out a lot of the tedium and expense of breaking cellulose molecules down into hydrocarbon molecules. I believe the resulting substance was then mixed with ethanol. (One criticism I saw was that this method would require more land area than we currently have available to produce enough cellulose for the process to be viable as a replacement for petroleum-derived fuels. Heigh-ho.)

So... does this Tom Baker have the long scarf?


[EDIT: this is not the same article I saw, but I believe it's about the same process.

http://www.tcetoday.com/tcetoday/New...aspx?nid=10759 ]

Chancellor Valium 09-10-2008 04:16 PM

Soon you will be Dr. Chasm, then? Damn, can't make a joke out of that.

Oh, well. Good luck, and avoid people who seem vague on things like licenses.

Sa'ar Chasm 09-11-2008 03:33 PM

I've seen an article on furan catalysis. It's in my pile of papers somewhere. It looks nice, but my way is better (well, maybe. I haven't actually done anything yet since most of my glassware is still on a truck somewhere).

Instead of using just the cellulose in the tree, this method will work on hemicellulose and lignin as well, so a greater percentage of the tree will end up in the gas tank.

Chemists tend to think on the benchtop scale, so I don't know anything about how much land will be required, but there are many, many waste streams that are just begging to be turned into something useful: agricultural waste, sawmill waste, household lawn clippings, garbage, unrecyclable paper, etc, etc, etc. I think the next major technological revolution will be resource extraction from waste products.

And no, Tom Baker wears no scarf, although I did put up a picture of him and the other Tom Baker on the lab door, with the caption "This lab belongs to WHO", deliberately leaving off the question mark.

Quote:

Soon you will be Dr. Chasm, then? Damn, can't make a joke out of that.
Maybe, kinda, hopefully mid-to-long-term soonish. I need to pass comprehensive exams, and I'm apprehensive about that. Comprehensively apprehensive.

mudshark 09-11-2008 04:14 PM

Well, good luck, and be sure to keep us posted on how all that works out. I'd be interested in reading more about the process and, since I know that some large-ish rubbish and waste collection companies down this way have been for several years already dabbling in finding profitable ways to make use of the organic stuff they handle, I think you could be right about resource extraction of that sort being an interesting thing on which to be working in the next few years.


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