What is the scale of the B2M project?
This project is focused on
converting local biomass into merchantable fuels using village scale
The ability to convert large quantities of
non-renewables such as coal and natural gas into methanol is well established.
Today, there are dozens of huge chemical plants around the world churning out
more than 2.6 billion gallons of methanol annually, most of which is used to
synthesize complex chemical compounds.
For decades, the monetary calculus driving
the construction of methanol plants has called for building mega-plants capable
of ever higher levels of production. It is the goal of this project to go the
opposite direction and create micro-reactors that can convert local biomass into
automotive fuels for local consumption.
What are some of the benefits of village
- More local employment
conversion of local waste biomass into merchantable fuels will provide
sustainable employment for people working directly with local biomass. Those
workers, in turn, will support the local economy by purchasing local products
and services. Every dollar retained in the local economy goes on to generate
additional dollars that knit the community together; every dollar sent out to
buy fuel unravel the social fabric.
- Greater ecological security
In certain key ways, smaller systems are
inherently easier to contain and control. Healthy ecosystems involve a dynamic
balance of a series of factors and small systems are more easily tweaked toward
long-term positive outcomes.
In addition, a community that can convert
air, water, and sunshine into fuel will be able to meet core needs without
having to mine as much ore, cut as much timber, or plow as much land. The
ability to create fuel from waste biomass has the potential to create a
tipping-point type shift away from decline and into a more resilient ecological
- Greater financial independence
To the extent that rural communities need to
convert local resources into money, they're vulnerable to financial market
forces which have little to do with local concerns. The ability to produce and
trade a key resource within the community confers an important degree of
protection from speculators.
- Increased opportunities for stewardship
The more ties a community has to its
land-base, the more opportunities there are for local people to become vested in
the vitality and diversity of their land-base. Stewards can diversify a forest's
long-term potential to support the community through the production of timber,
fuel, food, and fiber, products which can serve as raw materials for a host of
traditional crafts capable of meeting community needs in sustainable
- Greater local accountability
No technology is totally benign. The large
scale conversion of woody biomass into vehicular fuel could, in the hands of
large corporations, result in the wholesale conversion of forests into clear-cut
The long-term management of a
healthy forest relies on stewardship at the local level, not on production
quotas handed down from some far away corporate headquarters. generally
speaking, the greater the distance between decision makers and the local
community, the greater the likelihood of ecological damage through over-use or
- Better utilization of low-grade energy inputs and outputs
Industry often wastes materials that don't
fit into the commodified categories demanded by large commercial operations. A
local B2M plant can be configured to make use of resources that otherwise would
not be sent to market. And because of its small size, a B2M plant and be quickly
reconfigured to address seasonal variations in locally available biomass.
In addition, the process heat given off by a
locally integrated B2M plant can provide domestic heating or heat a greenhouse,
laundry, bakery, ceramic kiln, etc.
- Lower transportation costs
Rural villages have to pay the freight both
ways. When they sell products to the city, they get market price less the cost
of transporting their goods to market. When they buy things, they have to pay
the market price plus the cost of getting those goods delivered to where they
need them. By using locally available biomass to meet local vehicular fuel
needs, a rural community gains a significant increase in both efficiency and
- Greater independence from distant energy providers
The energy market, like all markets, goes
through cycles which can disrupt local economies, and for-profit corporations
use those cycles to their advantage. Having viable local alternatives can enable
a rural community to engage in the market, when it's in their interest to do so,
and not engage when it's not.
- Greater community pride
community is ultimately just a group of people, and the more dependent people
are on outside forces, the less self-respect they have. By enabling rural
communities to meet an essential need directly, the B2M project provides a way
to break a key part of the cycle of dependency. A community that is capable of
taking care of its core needs demonstrates that it is a coalition of people
working together for the common good. That builds trust, and trust builds