Why DOW or DOC is better then using fossil fuel

Just finished writing together numbers, food for thoughts.

sharing this with you guy’s, coz i love the topic so much…

This is a basic outlining for some governmental office. They would like numbers to play with, so i have them…


The note needs to be more prominent. I also wanted to ask when you calculated how much CO2 is pulled from the air by plants does that account for the mass of carbon in roots that is not used as fuel? I fine one of the strongest arguments for bio fuel is the fact that roots stay in the ground and it takes carbon to grow the roots.
Great number but we can’t understate the fact that every atom of carbon we pull out of the ground is one more atom of carbon changing the atmosphere.


Interesting document. This is of course based on the assumption that carbon/co2 is BAD, as the propaganda tells us.


Indeed Dan,
its about growing the “wood/cellulose/carbon” with the Co2 from the air, subsequently using this as for generating fuel/energy instead of digging up sequestered old stuf aka fossil fuel.
The calculations are based on real measured value’s / mole’s , of the chemical components in the celluloses, tissue and carbons from woody biomass materials.

@Andrew, Carbon or CO2 is not bad, its just using the wrong source and using it in an unbalanced way.
it is never changed because of the profit…

The document is made by myself, data extracted and or tested by myself, from many sources, research documents.
the fact that the amount of Co2 present in our atmosphere is nearly doubled in the last 70 years, but also the world population, is undeniable.
The other fact is, things can be done and achieved, but not by talking.

Last month , my wife and i were @ a energy seminar, discussing the energy future of Asean country’s, guess what was on the list: the need for cheap catalysts to convert Co2 into energy

i asked them, what they think glowing charcoal is…

I have to remind myself not to forget what i learn every day: showing by actual doing gives the best impression…


Koen I will grab that table if it is ok with you. I have this conversation at least twice a week when people do not understand that surface carbon is not the same as fossil carbon. Quantifying things might help.
Thanks, David


I will also add that carbon accumulates more in the trees of a managed forest vs degraded forests. Intelligent removal of biomass from a natural environment helps to increase the amount of carbon in the wood.
The wealth generated by biomass is a tool for the good forestry
An amménagée forest produces larger tree, older, healthier. These forests are also more resilient to disturbances. They are therefore better carbon sink than abandoned and degraded forests


Hi David, sure, chime in.
If you read all literature and postings on social media and dig in the hype of “biochar”, you’ll learn that so few people know that carbon/char = energy or that petrol / oil is liquid carbon…
So many that want to sell a product they build, flooding the media with “false” statements…

In my opinion, if you make char, be sure you have collected all the benefits and don’t waste a crumb unless its ashes…

Some words from the internet: “If you grow wood and burn it cleanly for heat/energy, you’re using trees as chemical batteries for solar energy.”

There is no better way to store energy then in wood…
Sequester your carbon dioxide in three’s and then convert them into energy again… just do it.
Don’t dig up fossil’s until it gives you the same benefits as wood does. ( giving oxy and taking CO2 )

no need for “newer technology” liquid fuels can be made from wood to…


I’m a little confused here.
If it takes ~ 16 pounds of wood to equal 1 gallon of gasoline, is this chart comparing apples to apples? Should the volumes be equal when comparing the amount of energy they contain to compare the amount of CO2 emissions?


Hi Bill,

Another chart, comparing the energetic properties, might be helpful yes.
But this chart was intended to point out how much Co2 any fuel really emits, just for giving it a real value.

I have somewhere another chart comparing fuels yes. a little tricky to mix it with this chart

edit: ad link Comparing energy values from Standard fuels - #6 by k_vanlooken


I like yourself believe there is too much hype and misleading information out there. (That would be the propaganda). I like that Koen is educating people about the carbon cycle, Where and how it is stored, used, released, etc. Many folks here on this forum are propaganda fighters. Better to leave carbon in long-term storage for the future (that would be the coal and petroleum), and use the fast-cycle carbon (that would be the bamboo and other plants) to run our everyday energy needs. [Even just because I am a cheapskate and want to decrease my energy bills!] :wink:


Hi Koen. A great breakdown.

But I agree with others that it is only one facet of the energy comparison. There probably is no single way to compare all energy sources when considering the different environmental benefits and costs, or at least it gets very complex.

One thing that jumps out at me is the (very complicated) calculations taking into account all the energy inputs to arrive at the fuel product.

For example, they say that between refining and extraction, then transportation and handling, (never mind wars), over half of the embodied energy and thus the emissions of a gallon of gas is spent before being poured into a gas tank.

Biodiesel or ethanol are other difficult cases, as they say modern agriculture burns 10 calories of fuel energy for every 1 calorie food energy produced, and then fermentation and distillation will possibly cut that “efficiency” in half, biodiesel delivering greater efficiency. So the true emissions for those sources are probably off the chart. But if third world or small farming is the source, it will look far better.

Modern logging isn’t so great either, the Canadian industry standard is something like 2 gallons of diesel per cubic meter of timber extracted. That will not count milling, kiln drying and transportation to market. But if the wood comes from the back woodlot, completely different calculation. The power used to make chips, or pellets will be significant factors increasing true energy spent and emissions.

Energy source doesn’t necessarily equal green, it might just be green washing, or maybe I could call it green wrapping. It might have been green to start with

Thierry is correct in his statement that managed forests retain more carbon and are more dynamic. But forests reach a point of maximum biomass and carbon retention, and then are just neutral, they would forever lose as much carbon as they gain roughly in balance. But compared to cleared farm land, they retain vast amounts of carbon in soil and biomass.

So it’s a very important consideration how the fuel is gotten and prepared. Local will always win. Some processing and transportation schemes actually make no sense compared to alternatives. I subscribe to @SteveUnruh when he says use local, and self gotten resources. Extended a bit further, I think this rules out cities as sustainable. People need to have their resources largely at hand, and use those first over others. That also minimizes waste issues. 5 pigs in a pen is no worry at all. 5,000 in a barn is a serious sewage disposal issue, transportation issue, resource gathering issue.

I will certainly be looking forward to more thoughts on this topic.


Hi Garry,

i did that matt already once, craddle to grave study from different sources.

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I like your argument Garry, and I think this is a fascinating topic. One thing you said though caught my attention:

One thing that I have been thinking about a lot with woodgas is the “waste” heat side of it - basically we are trying to do useful work with firewood. A lot of us are burning wood for a large part of the year just to keep our houses warm, but what if instead we extracted the useful work first (storing it in a battery to drive on electric) and then letting the flue gasses warm our homes? In some ways a setup like that might in fact benefit from a bit of scale - think a microgrid charging lots of electric cars and district steam heating like they do in many part of scandinavia.

I guess the problem I see is that what we here on DOW are doing is inherently an industrial process - we use lots of steel and manufactured parts to build these systems. Granted, most of what we use is salvaged or reused material, but without ready access to the spoils of industry all our engines would wear down, the nozzles would all burn away, and our charcoal retorts would rust into papery little husks. So while we can build small cottage-sized systems and keep them running with very little fossil fuel input, our materials are “mined” from an unsustainable source. Seems to me that what we really need is sustainable heavy industry.


You are right Carl, and I agree with your perspective. To truly factor the environmental cost of our lives you have to account for the steel smelting, the oranges brought by semi from Florida, or Peru by ship, then semi, the lumber made available in the local store brought from 1,000 miles away, etc.

I don’t think almost anyone living in North America or Europe is living in any sort of sustainable balance of resources.

And very correct that the syngas processes are amenable to scaling, are certainly more reliable and efficient in large, constant power applications. Many steam generating stations could very nicely be converted to run on biomass, straw or brush depending on the surrounding supplies. There are some examples, Sweden has one or more, perhaps Jo can comment.

On an individual scale, if stainless steel is used, I think the sustainability equation shifts on small scale systems. If the personal automobile has a long term future is another thing, but we will definitely need gasification for tractors and the other important machinery.

But fundamentally it’s our entire lifestyle built up in the fossil fuel golden age which has to be re examined.

My feeling is that we have to drastically cut our energy expectations for our countries to have a future. I believe we can enjoy perhaps 90% of what we have now with 10% of the resource expenditure. But it would require a war time grade effort and commitment to get there, as it would be a complete retooling of society.

As Steve (and Koen, if I’m not mistaken) point out, waste energy is a subjective term if dealing with green biomass energy. The emissions and waste are neutral, as they cycle in the web of life. That said, I feel as much as possible the waste heats should be put to good use, possibly stored in ground loops, or used directly for heating.

My ideal vision is to use gasification for heating using only the hydrocarbons, charcoal being saved for motor use. In cold climates like here that should be roughly perfect efficiency. But with our many industrial needs it could work for many populations.


Hi Bill, In the book Have Wood Will Travel page 41 sec. 2.4. Fuel qualities states.
Strictly on a BTU basis, 22 pounds of dry wood is equivalent to one gallon of gasoline. However due to the extensive heat recovery, the WK system is actually 37% more efficient on wood, BTU for BTU, verified by Auburn University ( see Appendix C). That bring it down to 16 lbs. Per gallon.
(This is why other charts may differ.)

As for large, city sized installations;
There is no reason not to do, coz the large scale can operate more efficient near the city’s then small scales. They even can produce the liquid form ( methanol ) by partial using the Fisher Tropsch process and recover all the surrounding wastes into energy.

anything can be made, only if we want to and or if we see and feel the need for it…

There is a need for changing things, but not everybody see’s it…

Imagine yourself a closed cycle biotopic cubicle, 1 CBM for starters, full of plants plenty water anything needed for being sustainable…
You can watch it for centuries…

Then put in a couple of mice, 1 female and 1 male…

So, if those mice not learn that a smartphone is not needed…

The rest is historical proven :grin:

edit: adding footnote:
i only need the tools to be sustainable, i don’t need a car to show i am the fastest, biggest, smartest…


Koen I saw this article and my first thought was wow that is something that would fit in well with your work in Asia.

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Hi Dan,
Its been used already yes, but they ran out of turkey’s :grin:

Seems to me that knowledge have to become sustainable … not the wish for making profit…

I have seen a new term in the article. Hydrochar. Has anyone got info on it? It says its made by heating wet biomass at 250c at rased pressure. I am interasted.

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I will let you guys argue over carbon-good, carbon- bad. etc…I love the topic. I agree that this chart has its limitations, but I appreciate Koen putting the time into making it and sharing. It would be nice to have units of measure made as consistent as possible. I think some good points have been made about the complexity, and therefore the actual accuracy, of the numbers involved. That said, thanks for sharing.

The subject of transforming a society to use energy differently is obviously very difficult. Most of the time when MASSES of people decide to change all at once you get mass deception, and therefore it makes me a little nervous to think of big fast changes of mind of masses of people. Easy come, easy go. An idea accepted easily can be discarded just as easily. That’s not sustainable development. True sustainable development happens one heart(person) at a time. That fact makes mass societal change inherently difficult, perhaps even impossible. There are tipping points when enough individuals get converted to an idea and then the mass of society gets drug along with them. I think you probably won’t ever reach that point on the subject of energy consumption/type/etc as has been mentioned here.

Movements like this tend always to have prophets. Eccentric individuals, like gassers, who believe some “truth” that they feel the world needs to accept. So they live their lives as examples of their message, and preach to whomever will listen, because it’s their passion. The world is better for people like that. I like people like that. History shows us the sad reality that few prophets are ever listened to. Most get stoned if they get too loud.
The process of societal change requires enormous effort and resources. This particular subject is hindered even more because the subject matter is so inherently individualistic (and controversial). I mean, the energy use of individual people’s lives is very personal. You would have to convert a person in his own specific context. But for mass change you have to convert masses of people. Therein lies the age old problem of social transformation.

I have spent much of my life so far attempting to do this very thing in an attempt to fight poverty etc. In my experience and ponderings, there are few motivators which have the power to convert masses of people individually, and all at once. Most of those motivators have negative consequences that far outweigh the good result. i.e., war, natural disasters, bondage, overwhelming force, nuclear incident, total destruction of a society, etc.
I can only think of two motivators that can have a more balanced effect.

  1. Faith can move people this way. Sometimes this has negative consequences too.
  2. Money. Same here.
    But if you really do want to make an effort at being the prophet of this transformation, you have to use one of these mechanisms, I believe. The faith one is far more difficult I think, and you run big risks of creating a Nazi party or radical Islam, or militant environmentalism, etc. Having said that, I still attempt to function from a faith platform myself because, like everyone else in the world, I think mine is right. But I just don’t expect to transform masses of people doing it. One person at a time.
    So, excluding a movement of the supernatural, at a human, practical level, you’re basically only left with one mechanism through which to transform the masses of society.
    Which is Money. If you want masses of people to individually start personally believing in and using a new transformative idea or device, you have to make it so that each of those individuals believes they will personally benefit financially from the change. Nothing else really works in my experience working with the poor etc.
    Basically, all social movements that worked did so because the movement accepted and operated from the the idea that while people can be decent to each other if it doesn’t cost too much, the primary factor in deciding what they will do is selfishness. I know I will get a list of exceptions to that rule, and I agree they do exists. …oh…but … that’s another long discussion and I have to go be thankful.

Koen thanks for the chart. Really appreciate the effort and zeal you bring to the forum.

I, like Mike am cheap, I like the ideas about using more of our waste heat etc.

Garry, thanks for mentioning some of those facts about the “hidden” costs of “green” operation.

I am with you that we need to utilize waste products betetr, but like I said, I think if you want to change it. Forget about getting everyone to see it and just change it. Then, if you can make it financially viable, you will have changed everyone’s mind.

Like I said above, you can change a handful of outliers because of their desire for sustainable “knowledge”. But I don’t think the masses will follow until it is profitable. But maybe I just live in too much of a capitalist bubble. Who knows.

Great topic guys…Today turkey for lunch. Deer hunting for meat. And make sure everything is ready to pour concrete tomorrow morning. We are pouring the foundations for our two eco-shell dome bathhouses. Had to talk pretty fast to get the concrete company to send out a truck the day after thanksgiving…Later