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Energy Balance

I've finally set about to do a simple, "unofficial" energy audit of our production process, from the point we pick up the oil (we do not need to account for what it took to originally make, process, and deliver the oil, because it is in its second life), all the way through to its delivery. It's actually remarkably easy, assuming that my methodology isn't flawed, because currently all of the power we use in our whole process comes from either biodiesel (which we track usage of) or electricity (which we track usage of).

Typical numbers for one month: 800 gallons of fuel used by our trucks, plus 3458 kilowatt hours of electricity. If we were to use the 400 KW diesel generator at the plant site (not within our lease at the moment, unfortunately) to generate that electricity, operating at an average half capacity at 20 gal/hr, it would use 346 gallons of fuel.

So, we can estimate that we use roughly 1150 gallons of fuel to source, process, and deliver 10,000 gallons of fuel. That's a 8.7:1 positive energy balance, and it will get a lot better as we grow, because it doesn't take much more energy to make a lot more fuel!

Take that, David Pimentel!

UPDATE: There's a discussion about this going on at the infopop forum, here.