Tuesday, April 24, 2007

China Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou

Last week, I went to Guangzhou, China for the 101st China Import and Export Fair (中国进出口商品交易会).

China Import and Export Fair Outside

Here's the view from our 18th floor hotel room. We got a better deal on our hotel than most of the other visitors because my father's friend is from Guangzhou. This friend's sister-in-law is a hotel manager.

View of Guangzhou from the Hotel

Everything in China just has to be huge.

Inside the Pazhou Complex

The big heavy machinery was necessarily outside. Here's a forklift company with shiny forklifts.

Shangli Forklift

I have no idea what this power company does, but they had a nice booth.

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Because of the immense size of the fair and all the heavy catalogs I was carrying around, I had to step outside to rest my feet and my shoulders for a bit. This is the place right by the street where people were allowed to step outside for a quick smoke.

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The following is a large expanse that they were just preparing for the second phase of the trade fair.

Phase 2 Being Prepared for Setup

Inside the complex, there were even more displays, but the booths were far smaller.

Pazhou Complex Show Floor 2

Here's my father at the Health and Beauty Products portion of the fair, with a representative of the Chinese company that makes the pictured device.

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Finally, proof that I was actually at the fair. I think I had to run out of the way very shortly after this picture was taken, so that a bus full of people could get through.

Me by the Fair Banner

This was a very eye-opening trip for me and I've written down a lot of ideas from the trip. I took enough notes to be satisfied, but I could have taken more pictures, and I regret not taking one of the Pearl River at night with the boats and buildings all lit up and flashing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ethanol can be made from corn or sugarcane

For as long as I can remember, I've been excited about environmentally-friendly solutions.

For energy, my dream for clean energy centered around solar and wind power. For barren soil, it was composting. For everyday fuel, I thought of renewable sources such as ethanol or hydrogen. Now I'm glad it's becoming more widely adopted; I thought I'd never see the day when such things would actually become economically feasible.

There's an ethanol craze sweeping America at the moment, and I hadn't bothered to read much about it until this week's Economist leader, "Castro was right," pointed out that there are two main ways of producing ethanol on an industrial scale: corn and sugar.

Ethanol advocates often point to Brazil as a shining example of a large country that uses ethanol on a large scale. Knowing that Brazil is doing fine with massive ethanol deployment made me more excited about having it in the United States, until I found out that their ethanol is made from sugarcane, not corn. The advantage to having it made from sugarcane is that the energy requirements are lower, and it's much less subject to the anti-ethanol accusation that it costs more energy to make the fuel than we can get by using it.

Now, the idea of making ethanol from corn is more likely to fly in the United States. I like to think practically, and I know that the farm lobby is a formidable force in American politics. Corn-based ethanol has broad support, and it's likely to enjoy subsidies.

According to the USDA, sugarcane is already grown in Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Texas. The Economist article named developing countries with tropical climates (India, the Philippines, Cuba) as possible sources of sugarcane-based ethanol. If that were feasible, that would be a great way to get business going again in the Philippines, where my father shut down his factory due to intense competition from China and Vietnam. The energy business can be very lucrative.