I mentioned Ron Oxburgh’s enthusiasm for enzyme technology that breaks down biomass residues (e.g. straw) into readily combustible compounds. Mike said that if this worked it could be the single most important renewable energy technology in sight.
Some questions – on my part at least – around advantages and likely drawbacks, but interesting to consider the theoretical options.
A quick back of the envelope calculation from Mike: converting 10% of the incremental growth on 10% of whole Siberian forest could meet roughly 1% of total world oil demand (assuming about 80mbpd rising to 120mpd).
These numbers may be broadly indicative - they are certainly not accurate - but they do nevertheless suggest impressive potential. Also another illustration that (unlike the 20th century when, as Mike put it, oil was “the lever”) there is no one lever of change for meeting the energy/climate challenge in the 21st century.
During our conversation,Mike placed a mug of hot water on the table, and a small lid on top of it with a miniature Stirling engine, which turned a small wooden propeller around for more than fifteen minutes.