"Answering Professor Smil"

Welcome to the "Answering Professor Smil" project.  Aljadix is leading an open membership working group to find solutions to overcome the powerful criticism of bioenergy provided by Prof. Vaclav Smil in his 2015 book “Power Density” (MIT Press). 

Project Background:

As participants may know, Professor Vaclav Smil (Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Manitoba) is Bill Gates’s favorite author (see Wired).  Smil’s analysis of the bioenergy points to an extremely low "power density" (e.g. a low rate of energy flux per unit of the Earth's area) compared to other renewable and non-renewable energy sources.  Smil's views have been a key driver in Gates’s reluctance to invest in bioenergy solutions.  (Note that Gates's $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Coalition minimizes its commitment to bioenergy.)

And it's not just a power density problem.  Since 1983, Smil has been deeply skeptical about the use of biomass for bioenergy at scale for environmental reasons. In 2015, he repeated that the environmental destruction resulting from large scale implementation of current biofuel technology would be “truly nightmarish”.   

The Project Team is seeking members who are willing to examine Smil's critique of bioenergy and to explore solutions in the bioenergy field to overcome the twin challenges of low power density and environmental damage.  The goal is to identify biofuel processes that are both environmentally sustainable and highly scalable.  In so doing, we will be "Answering Professor Smil".

The Project Charter and Timetable is here.

Project Charter
Answering Smil Project Charter
Answering Smil_Project Charter.pdf (26.31KB)
Project Charter
Answering Smil Project Charter
Answering Smil_Project Charter.pdf
(26.31KB)

A statement of the Problem Scenario is here.

Problem Scenario
Answering Smil Problem Scenario
Answering Smil_Problem Scenario.pdf (39.84KB)
Problem Scenario
Answering Smil Problem Scenario
Answering Smil_Problem Scenario.pdf
(39.84KB)

If you are a potential project member with technical or economic interest in the subject matter, you are welcome to participate by contacting thomas.digby@aljadix.com.  Use "Answering Smil" in the subject line.