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Will ethanol E85 catch on in the US? Will we Live Green and Go Yellow?

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  • Thank you, I've read several of you're posts on other boards in the forum. I thought that the both of us were getting a little shrill and unproductive.

    Now, the government and why they are involved...at least on the local level (possibly the national level).

    When you invest $40-150 million dollars in a plant in a community, bump the price of corn 7-12 cents/bushel for several surrounding counties, hire 20-40 people, put a load on the local infrastructure in the form of water, power and gas/coal use: (p/P)olitics will be involved.

    On the national level, the DOE and USDA have been working for decades on alternative energy uses. Through taxation and regulation, congress and other entities can steer (not drive) industry to favor certain technologies. Sometimes this is good (clean water, clean air, etc.). Sometimes this is bad (clean coal & gasification being lumped into "coal"). The reason that politicians are involved is because of you and me.

    This is most easily seen at the local levels, but believe me, the same rules apply at national level.

    One more thing, the government can afford to seemingly "waste" money that industry cannot afford. There are several energy projects that would fall in this category. Cellulosic would fall into this category EXCEPT they now have the yeast and enzymes to convert biomass to ethanol the problem now lies in lining up the 2,000 plus farmers, with new equipment, to provide the biomass to a plant to produce the fuel.

    It is possible, but it will take public support for these initiatives. Political support and funding is nothing more than indirect public support.

    If you don't believe that, think of the absurd opposite: a politician at a rally chanting "bring us the landfill" Doesn't happen on a national level? One acronym: DPW
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > I hate to burst your bubble but E85 cannot be in the solution. Even if everyone used plug in hybrids that ran on E85 (an event that will never even come close to happening) we would not be able to produce enough ethanol.

    If plug-in hybrids (like an augmented 2004 Prius) deliver around 70 MPG for real-world averages and a majority of their driving is within the recharge distance, how much ethanol do *YOU* think would actually be needed?

    Since you already drew a conclusion, please share with us how you were able to determine that.

    JOHN
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > One that isn't in a finite amount

    You have clearly fallen victim to the "E85" marketing.

    Just because E85 is the maximum the current systems will support does not mean it is the only blend ratio that works.

    Any percentage up to 85% works just fine in a FFV system. So if the supply is running low, you just use whatever the heck they can deliver to the pump at that time. If it is only 60%, no big deal.

    Remember, FFV means "FLEXIBLE Fuel Vehicle".

    JOHN
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    The US uses 140 billion gallons of gas a year. Since cars usually get 25% less fuel efficiency that would mean that mean that if every car uses E85 we would need 186 2/3rds Billion gallons of E85, which would require 158 2/3rs billion gallons of ethanol.

    Now let use presume we could triple the mileage using battery and hybrid technology. That would mean that we would need 52.89 Billion gallons of Ethanol. It would take over 22 billion bushels of corn to make that much ethanol. The entire U.S. Corn crop in 2004 was 11.8 billion bushels. You do the math.

    Now thats presuming you can get everyone to get a Prius and spend thousands of extra bucks to convert it into a plug in and us it as such.

    Face it E85 is not the solution nor is it part of the solution.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    I agree with the spirit of this comment. It would be a mistake to judge any one energy alternative based upon whether it can provide a total solution; if that's the standard, then nothing will happen and the situation will be even worse.

    A number of solutions can be combined in order to achieve an improved result, there's no need to rely on just one fuel source alone. There is no reason that a number of technologies can't be combined (hybrid, ethanol, biodiesel, mass transit, etc.) in order to reduce the world's overall dependency on petroleum. Even if you could achieve just a 20% reduction in oil consumption, that would be a significant gain that would provide a stopgap as more long-term and definitive solutions are sought.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    You have clearly fallen victim to the "E85" marketing.

    No just the opposite. E85 as well as E60 or E45 or E72.63745234 or whatever number you want to put next to the 'E' exists in a finite amount. There is only so much fossil fuel that can be pumped out of the ground and only so much ethanol that we can produce. either one will limit how much E-whatever can be made.

    Ethanol is not a solution just something that may or may not help us until we find that solution.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,053
    ethanol the problem now lies in lining up the 2,000 plus farmers, with new equipment, to provide the biomass to a plant to produce the fuel.

    Maybe Switchgrass holds the key. I don't see corn as a reasonable solution. You figure our farm produced 130 bushels in a good year. About 90 bushels on average. That was once every 4 years unless you really dumped the nitrogen into the land. 130 bushels of corn at yesterday's $2.22. On the 80 acres I would gross a little over $2000 in a good year. I was going broke in 1979 at $3 bushel. The big AG corporations with thousands of irrigated acres can get 250 bushels an acre. They hire illegal farm workers and get huge subsidies. I do not see that system as beneficial to America.

    Then you have extremists that think unless every vehicle is SULEV rated it is a polluting piece of crap that should be run through the crusher. That is not helping our energy problems at all. That is only making it worse.

    I just don't see Ethanol as a viable solution using corn as the crop. I only see "Pie in the Sky" money wasting government programs.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,053
    Remember, FFV means "FLEXIBLE Fuel Vehicle".

    That is exactly right. And most people go ahead and use unleaded as it gets 25% better mileage. If unleaded regular is $2.50 and you can get E85 for $1.85 it is a good deal. Problem anywhere outside the ethanol production area E85 is higher priced than unleaded regular. The simple reason is, transportation limitations that ethanol presents. Ethanol is highly flammable and explosive, unlike biodiesel that is very safe.

    Ethanol hazards

    Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport because it is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a high flashpoint of about 300 F compared to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 125 F.

    Biodiesel characteristics
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    That is exactly right. And most people go ahead and use unleaded as it gets 25% better mileage.

    Correction it gets 33.33% better mileage on average.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > Then you have extremists that think unless every vehicle is SULEV rated it is a polluting piece of crap that should be run through the crusher.

    Destroy those vehicles already on the road, rather than just setting that higher standard for new ones. Really?

    Who are these extremists you are talking about?

    I've been called that before, even though PZEV is cleaner than SULEV and it was in reference to a minimum for new vehicles.

    Explain this stereotype you claim to exist. Perhaps it can shed some light on the resistance to ethanol in any percentange.

    JOHN
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,053
    rather than just setting that higher standard for new ones. Really?

    By setting unrealistic emissions standards, it raises the price of new cars to where older cars are kept on the roads longer. Not everyone is as fortunate as you and I, that can buy a new car whenever the notion strikes us.

    I would estimate with a strong degree of confidence, that 75% of all Toyotas sold in the USA two years ago were rated LEV or lower. That is a 0-3 EPA rating. Only a very small percentage of Toyotas sold in 2004 and prior were ULEV or higher. The cost per vehicle to raise the standard from ULEV to SULEV is very high. No wonder cars cost so much. With each added emissions device comes a decrease in FE. The benefit of going from ULEV to SULEV is less than one pound of pollution per 15k miles of driving. We have reached to point of diminishing returns on emissions. A car that has a LEV rating is very clean compared to any 10 year old car. We need to get "REAL" call LEV good and get on with finding solutions to our diminishing fossil fuel supply.

    Maybe E10 is better for the environment. Is it worth the loss of fuel efficiency?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,053
    thats presuming you can get everyone to get a Prius and spend thousands of extra bucks to convert it into a plug in

    That is far from a slam dunk solution also. They are going to have to do some major changes in battery technology for plug-in hybrids to ever be mainstream.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    I just think that ICE's will not survive this century. All stuff like E85, biodiesel and hybrids will do is, at best, be a temporary solution.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • jae5jae5 Posts: 1,205
    I55 and Rte. 53 - You're kinda near Woodridge area - I want to say Bolingbrook. Was looking at homes a couple years ago near 53 & 75th. I actually stayed in Lisle near Rte. 53 & 34 for about 5 years before going "back home" to the city.

    The Clark station, know it. There isn't a Gas City by me; there is one near where I used to work in Lombard - I think it's named something else now.

    But other than that, E85 is scarce here. There were a couple of stations long ago, in Hickory and Palos Hills that had an E85 pump, but they're gone. Even then that's kind of a drive to get to.
  • jae5jae5 Posts: 1,205
    That is good.

    Unfortunately not enough up to yesterday as I paid $2.42/gal or so for regular for the past month. Yesterday I filled up @ $2.49 - was lucky as most of the stations were $2.65 or more.

    Again, I would have to drive a bit to get to an E85 station. Add in the distance, reduced mileage, the extra consumption and it really is not economical for me.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    Well Bolingbrook is right.

    IIRC there are two stations in the city, one each in Evanston, Des Plaines, Lombard, Aurora, Romeoville, Naperville, Arlington hieghts, Batavia, Mount Prospect, Orland Park, New Lenox, Willow Springs, Villa Park and a couple of other places near the city. While there not everywhere they can be gotten to with a minor detour for most drives in and around Chicago.

    Yes if you just stay around in the city it would be hard to get to one, but if you drive around the burbs you can usually be somewhat close to one.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    Add in the distance, reduced mileage, the extra consumption and it really is not economical for me.

    I would say that even if you had a pump in your driveway its not economical for anyone.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • gogogodzillagogogodzilla MarylandPosts: 701
    Considering that coal can be processed into diesel OR gasoline...

    ...you haven't provided any reason not to use coal gasification technology.

    If diesel isn't your cup of tea, then the coal is processed into gasoline.

    Every ton of coal processed is just that much less money we give to terror-loving nations of the mideast.

    Or to certifiable lunatics in South America (Venezuala).
  • mullins87mullins87 Posts: 959
    I don't know about your area of the country, but around here, there is a LOT of cropland that is NOT in production. Typically we can rotate corn every other year to every third year. Production typically falls in the 130-140 bushel range.

    I'm not trying to start anything, I just think we could produce a lot more corn than we do now.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    Production typically falls in the 130-140 bushel range.

    According to people who follow that sort of thing the average acre of land produces 160.4 bushels of Corn.

    Typically we can rotate corn every other year to every third year.

    OK so with about 362 Million acres of farmland in the US being rotated every third year would mean that 120.67 million acres a year. producing 19.35 Billion Bushels which would yield just under 46.5 billion gallons. Thats short of the 52.89 billion gallons we would need (presuming everyone drives plug in FFV prius).

    Yes we can produce a lot more corn but it still won't be enough. Also remember we need to grow food to eat.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • marmil1marmil1 Posts: 3
    E-85 is an ADM rip off of America. They get huge tax breaks to make it get close to the price of gas(can you say very good lobbyist), it takes more energy to make E-85 than we get out of it, and cars get significantly worse gas mileage on the stuff. Also I understand it cannot be transported through typical gasoline pipelines but rather must be trucked (more energy use). This will only add to our energy problems. We need to raise the gasoline tax as well as increase CAFE to improve efficiency. Perhaps we could apply the tax to paying down our huge national debt. Terrorism doesn't scare me however Bush's fiscal policy does!
  • Boy, are you "on the money." You're one smart individual. ADM is the outfit that had it's 2 biggest "germs" sent to prison years back. One was the founders kid. Real bunch of scums to say the least. What goes on behind the scenes with these whore lobbyists would turn ones' stomach. look at this Abramoff crook. I think E-85 has a place in our society however but ONLY after the price differential is relevant. Until then it's just political BS. Bush who?
  • turboshadowturboshadow Posts: 349
    I just think that ICE's will not survive this century.

    That was said many times at the beginning of the last century as well as many times during it.

    Don't write off the ICE so easily.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    With shrieking reserves and increasing demand of fossile fuels, increasing technology and 95 years left in this century I would bet that the ICE will be gone or on the way out by 2101.

    Even the most optimistic forecasts give us 75 years worth of oil left. Ethanol and biodiesel cannot replace it, only extend it. Add to that the rapid pace of technological advancement (compare 2001 with 1901) we should be able to replace the ICE by centuries end.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,053
    Ethanol and biodiesel cannot replace it

    That is not exactly true. Is it feasible would be more the case. The University of New Hampshire says we can produce enough biodiesel with growing algae in the desert south west, to supply our vehicle needs.

    we found that to replace all transportation fuels in the US, we would need 140.8 billion gallons of biodiesel, or roughly 19 quads (one quad is roughly 7.5 billion gallons of biodiesel). To produce that amount would require a land mass of almost 15,000 square miles. To put that in perspective, consider that the Sonora desert in the southwestern US comprises 120,000 square miles. Enough biodiesel to replace all petroleum transportation fuels could be grown in 15,000 square miles, or roughly 12.5 percent of the area of the Sonora desert (note for clarification - I am not advocating putting 15,000 square miles of algae ponds in the Sonora desert. This hypothetical example is used strictly for the purpose of showing the scale of land required). That 15,000 square miles works out to roughly 9.5 million acres - far less than the 450 million acres currently used for crop farming in the US, and the over 500 million acres used as grazing land for farm animals.

    UNH study
  • jae5jae5 Posts: 1,205
    Unfortunately I don't frequent those areas enough to justify the distance to get there. Plus there's only one, so if I even go there, have to find out where it is, so going out of the way just to find an E85 station is a bummer. I don't want to drive as it is!!

    Even going to the station near Wrigley Field is out, I'm a south-sider so driving is out. Plus it's baseball season too; I don't have to tell you how traffic is over there.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,814
    "I just think that ICE's will not survive this century. All stuff like E85, biodiesel and hybrids will do is, at best, be a temporary solution."

    Don't forget that the ICE can run on hydrogen. BMW is pursuing this option. And hydrogen can be made from nuclear, wind or solar energy.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    I don't know, I would have to research that. I do remember reading some commentaries on algea producing biodiesel and the issues with that, but I can't quote it right now.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,789
    Well I wouldn't advise going to them even if you lived next door. Even with the lower price you are still paying more per mile due to loss of mileage.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

This discussion has been closed.