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An Action Hero Approach to Energy

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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A few months ago (before the recent batch of scandals), Arnold Schwarzenegger gave the keynote speech at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit that several of my colleagues attended. His perspectives as a bodybuilder (“Stephen, how are your glutes?”), a Republican who believes in global warming and the promise of bipartisan environmental legislation, and an action movie star are important and inspiring, and I highly recommend watching the whole thing. If 24 minutes is too long, the first 6 minutes and the last 2 are especially juicy. Enjoy!

Christina Agapakis About the Author: Christina Agapakis is a biological designer who blogs about biology, engineering, engineering biology, and biologically inspired engineering. Follow on Twitter @thisischristina.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Uncle.Al 7:59 pm 07/16/2011

    The only relevant energy metric is [(joules output) - (total joules input)]/(total joules input). Nobody evades thermodynamics. “Alternative” and “renewable” energy sources are clown cars of criminal incompetence. Ignorance is not a form of knowing things, nor is faith.

    40% of America’s corn crop goes to fuel ethanol that is no better than energy breakeven and is overall subsidized ~$(US)0.60/gallon from cornfield to fuel tank. Ethanol is 35 wt-% unburnable oxygen, grievously hygroscopic, and marveously corrosive to metal fuel systems. 1/3 the photosynthetic fixed oxygen goes off as fermentation CO2, and the cellulose is wasted. Yeah, that is a “sustainable resource.”

    Petroleum refineries generate their own energy by burning wastes. Fuel ethanol facilities run off the fossil fuel grid. Take the economic and thermodynamic hints – THEY ARE LYING TO YOU. Follow the money.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Uncle.Al 8:03 pm 07/16/2011

    Make that “1/3 the photosynthetic fixed **carbon** goes off as fermentation CO2, and the cellulose is wasted.”

    Social advocacy is too big to fail! The rest of the planet will collapse around it.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Christina Agapakis in reply to Christina Agapakis 9:06 am 07/17/2011

    Thanks for your comments. You’re absolutely right that corn ethanol is not a sustainable fuel, and Arnold here is talking to a group of researchers working very hard to understand where those failures are and to improve them in a next generation of fuels and systems to replace fossil fuels.

    Link to this

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