Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thank Grains It's Thursday

Green Thursday - Thank Grains It's Thursday

This week's column is brought to you courtesy on corn kernels. Those normally wonderful and tasty sweet kernels of corn that we chew off of the cobb are now being used by some supposed green folks as a heating fuel. Some enterprising folks in the Midwest and Northeast are selling stoves that burn dried corn kernels. These stoves are fitted with hoppers in which the kernels are stored and then fed into the stove via an auger. The flow characteristics of the dried kernels allow this "pellet like" fuel to easily stoke the fire in the stove. The dried corn kernels have a heating value in excess of 7,000 BTUs per pound, a value that is similar to hardwood.

Corn kernels have the following composition: 8% protein, 3% oil, 62% starch and 27% water. You have all see the "Nutrition Facts" on food labels. Using the chemical composition of corn listed above, a bushel of corn that weighs 56 pounds has some 80,000 food Calories. If we assume for the moment we could get all of our 2,000 Calories a day from just eating corn, a bushel of corn would feed an adult for forty days.

Heating a house with corn instead of wood, natural gas, or propane is a crime against humanity and animals. These folks who think they are green are robbing some starving person of protein, lipids and carbohydrates. If they want to heat their homes with biomass they should burn wood in their stoves. Wood has cellulose and lignin that are not digestible by humans, but also have a heat of combustion of approximately 7,000 BTUs per pound. The folks who use corn kernels in their stoves enjoy the ease of filling the hopper with corn rather than splitting logs. As punishment for their crimes against humanity, their sentence should be to split logs all day long.

Moving from the starving to the obese, most of us could shed ten pounds of fat. The reason why shedding fat is good for your health is that your heart has to pump your blood through an extra mile of blood vessels for each pound of fat cells in your body. Losing ten pounds of weight implies your heart has to pump through ten miles less of blood vessels. Ten pounds of fat is approximately one and a half gallons of fat, therefore reducing your weight by ten pounds equals an decreased heart consumption of seven miles per gallon (ten miles divided by one and a half gallons). The ten pounds of fat if liposuctioned from your body if converted into biodiesel would propel a 2008 Jetta Turbodiesel almost sixty miles. My suggestion is we should all loose ten pound weight by undergoing liposuction and help the truly green Jetta TDI owners travel sixty miles without the use of fossil fuel and relieve our hearts from the added effort of pumping our blood an extra ten miles.

Each week I now write a blog titled the "Gangrene Award" at that is kind of like the "Green Darwin Award" for the dumbest green technology. This week the corn kernel stove is the hands down winner of the award. We are indeed fortunate that Tiburon is not surrounded by cornfields so we are not tempted to mimic these folks who think CORN stands for "Citizens Organizing Reduced Nutrition".