Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!





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

12122242627104

Comments

  • smatt11smatt11 Posts: 8
    The first Ford cars ran on ethanol. Oil became cheaper to produce by government subsidies to help out the gulf states. The government is just trying to fix their mistake. :-) I have no politics at play here, other than vote against the incumbent regardless of party.

    Exxon has the same right to make a profit as everybody else, and the profits they have reported are not out of line for the rest of the market (~11% net profit). If Toyota is the only company smart enough to profit from the battery technology, then so be it. The last figure I heard Toyota employed over 30,000 Americans, and they are increasing, while GM and Ford are significantly reducing their employemnt of Americans. If you use GM's theory about recirculating dollars (their employees buy products at a store, who then sells more and hires more, repeat) then Toyota is responcible for 200,000 American jobs.

    The oil industry gets all the major subsidies. There are many studies that find a gallon of gas would be more expensive without all the government subsidies. I have seen estimates from pennies more up to 30 cents more. I bet if I look hard enough I would find articles stating it could be cheaper, or it would be dollars more expensive than it is in today's market.

    It does not take a gallon of oil to make 1.21 gallons of ethanol. First, a MI State University found that ethanol production from corn nets a 56% increase in energy. Second, little oil is used in the production of ethanol. The number you state is trying to match the energy output, normally fuel inputs to ethanol production is natural gas or coal. Both of which are primarily US products.

    If small farmers cannot make money selling corn, than they should not be in the business. It is the same as the gas stations...most are corporate owned and the rest soon will be corporations or be gone.

    The available supply of useable Uranium is just about depleted. Few or no new reactors will be able to be built. The only option is to find technologies to make the waste products useful in future reactors. The arguments against coal are universal against any fuel. There are always waste products. What they do not tell you is that the waste from coal is a lot easier to trap than from other sources. Your source is MN public radio which is notorious for the NIMBY stance on everything, hence their very carefully worded message that CO2 was their concern (it should be sulfer). CO2 is easily removed from the air with scrubbers, the "problem" is the volume. If it were not, we would not have crews on space ships nor in submarines.

    Diesel's significant drawback almost destroyed Europe...Soot is part of the exhaust. There is little that can be done about it cheaply, and the soot is more toxic than gas burning engine exhaust. Although recent improvements to remove the sulfer content has helped greatly, and bioDiesel would help here too. You still end up with soot everywhere and a lot more C02 that is produced from coal burning.

    I do not know what to tell you about your GMC. GM trucks are known to suck down gas if you have a lead foot, but they also get great mileage (relatively speaking) when driven with a light foot.
  • jae5jae5 Posts: 1,205
    Thats the question I was asking as well. Seemed to me, and I may be wrong, that all the advertisements from GM on E85 vehicles are their trucks. Now I do see & hear ads and commercials sporting their cars, but those are just on fuel economy, not E85 promotion.

    The only FFV cars I've seen in recent memory are the Taurus / Sable rentals and a couple personally-owned ones, that's about it. And even then the people were pumping unleaded fuel into them.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,678
    It does not take a gallon of oil to make 1.21 gallons of ethanol. First, a MI State University found that ethanol production from corn nets a 56% increase in energy. Second, little oil is used in the production of ethanol.

    Tell that to the farmers paying 3 bucks a gallon for diesel for their tractors and combines. Or the truck driver that is required to get ethanol to the market place. Or the coal needed to fire the new ethanol plants. I would like to see the study that shows this wonderful net gain in energy. Preferably from a state that is not cashing in on the ethanol boondoggle.

    Carbon cloud over a green fuel

    An Iowa corn refinery, open since December, uses 300 tons of coal a day to make ethanol. Late last year in Goldfield, Iowa, a refinery began pumping out a stream of ethanol, which supporters call the clean, renewable fuel of the future.

    There's just one twist: The plant is burning 300 tons of coal a day to turn corn into ethanol - the first US plant of its kind to use coal instead of cleaner natural gas.

    The trend, which is expected to continue, has left even some ethanol boosters scratching their heads. Should coal become a standard for 30 to 40 ethanol plants under construction - and 150 others on the drawing boards - it would undermine the environmental reasoning for switching to ethanol in the first place, environmentalists say.


    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0323/p01s01-sten.html
  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    Here's the link:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12872060/

    The most interesting point to me was that research done recently shows that producing gasoline is actually less energy efficient than producing ethanol.
    Here's the quote, "the delivery of 1 million British thermal units of ethanol uses 0.74 million BTUs of fossil fuels. (That does not include the solar energy -- the sun shining -- used in growing corn.) By contrast, he finds that the delivery of 1 million BTUs of gasoline requires 1.23 million BTU of fossil fuels.
    Pretty much debunks the naysayers out there about energy efficiency related to production.
    Hopefully the cellulose production will take off soon, asthat would provide a huge natural resource for production, in the form of nearly all agricultural byproducts becoming a useful commodity.
  • agalasagalas Posts: 38
    I read in a book once that lawn grass is the largest crop in the US. I also notice that my lawn grows very quickly. I have to mow it 1/week.

    Imagine if all the grass mowed could be trapped in those bags that people once placed on the end of their mowers. 150 million or so homes, most with lawns, not to mention gulf courses and corporate lawns.

    I imagine that lawn clippings could supply billions of barrels of cellulose ethanol, and in accordance with switch grass provide much of the fuel America needs.

    From there conservation, through the use of plug in hybrids,(powered by clean tech such as wind, solar, ect) and smaller, lighter vehicles,(carbon fiber cars weigh half as much as steel) could diminsh demand enough so that bio-diesel, grown from various crops, could supplant any excess demand.

    Any thoughts on this?
  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    In theory the idea of recycling grass clippings from your lawn sounds great. However there would be a huge logistical problem of collecting those clippings and delivering them to an ethanol plant.

    Maybe in the future somone will invent a Still for home use that works on the cellulose concept.

    Clearly your idea would be great. Just not practical, YET.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,678
    There's no absolute consensus in the scientific community

    We know that you have to use oil to make gasoline. I question the figures. But his figures go along with what most have said all along on ethanol. Wang shows a net gain of 26%. Most say 21%. Still not a good trade off. Plus you add the 54 cents a gallon subsidy and it is even less of a good deal.

    Hopefully the cellulose production will take off soon

    If you are holding your breath you will die. It is at least 10 years off according to the people pushing it. They have not come up with a practical way to get the sugar out of the switchgrass. It is not as simple as sugar cane or sugar beets. I would think that we would use our sugar beet crop for ethanol. That does not get mentioned. Any ideas why?

    ethanol by country
  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    So you state you question the figures in the article, but then state they are in line with what other experts state.
    He shows a 23% net loss in energy to produce gasoline, and a 26% gain producing ethanol.
    You state, "Most say 21%. Still not a good trade off."
    If a 21% gain is not worth it to you, then what do you think of a 23% loss????
    Why does ethanol have to pass a "litmus test" that you don't expect from gasoline?? The simple fact is that it requires the use of energy of some form to convert oil to gas or corn to ethanol.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,558
    He shows a 23% net loss in energy to produce gasoline,

    That doesn't sound right at all. If it takes more fuel to produce gasoline than you get out of it how do you get the first drop of fuel?

    There are three types of people in this world. Those who are good at math and those who are not.

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,678
    then what do you think of a 23% loss????

    That is the figure I am questioning. It may or may not be correct. If it is true that makes ethanol an even worse deal. It takes fossil fuel to make ethanol.

    Why does ethanol have to pass a "litmus test" that you don't expect from gasoline??

    What litmus test? ADM paid off Congress and we are stuck with that crap. Just watch when they try to take the tariff off of ethanol from the brazilians.

    Ethanol is not a great fuel. It takes about 130% more to go a given distance in a vehicle using E85. It is far less useful than biodiesel. You go ahead and run that stuff in your car. It is not going into mine at any higher rate than we are forced to use. I cannot wait for the diesel vehicles to get here. At least I can get a decent range out of a diesel vehicle. That will not happen with a vehicle using E85.

    I am just in the wings waiting for Louisiana and Mississippi to get their act together and sue the heck out of all the corn growers in the midwest for polluting their fisheries. You do not have the majority of the USA on your side with this stuff.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    I noticed that the article said nothing about the millions of acres of rain forest that Brazil cuts down on a regular basis for the production of sugarcane. It has been proven that the destruction of the rain forest could have a disastrous effect on our planet. It seems to me that the systematic destruction of the Brazilian rain forest to produce ethanol is one of the worst things that could happen to our environment.
    I’m going with diesel/bio diesel.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,678
    Of the FFVs offered in 2006 the best combined mileage comes from the Chevy Monte Carlo. It gets a combined 19 MPG using E85. Will the EPA give GM a break on the CAFE standard that is supposed to be 27.2 MPG? The other cars currently available for E85 the Sebring, Stratus & Taurus get a combined 17 MPG on E85 and the big Fords get 14 MPG combined.

    I wish I could see ethanol as progress. If we allowed VW & other small car manufacturers to sell their very economical diesel cars in all 50 states, then offered biodiesel which is less expensive to produce than ethanol, we would see some progress toward weaning us off Middle East oil.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    You need to careful how you interpret information. While it may be true that it takes more energy to produce the 40 % or so yield of gasoline from crude oil, there are a lot of other commodity products that are obtained in the production of gasoline from the various distillate fractions (diesel, heating oil, lubricants, chemicals, etc). I am not aware of ethanol production resulting in anything but agricultural waste (hopefully usable as fertilizer) and ethanol. The data should be normalized for the heating value of the other commodity products (if they are to be burned as fuel) or simply normalized for the % yield since you are actually talking about multiple industries lumped into one.
  • seniorjoseseniorjose Posts: 277
    More on Biodiesal -- Biodiesel is a combination of soybeans and Canola Oil that is imported from Indonesia...on TV last night!
  • gem069gem069 Posts: 65
    More on Biodiesal -- Biodiesel is a combination of soybeans and Canola Oil that is imported from Indonesia...on TV last night!

    Actually, that is only a small way of making true biodiesel.
    There are dozens of ways to make true biodiesel.

    Even @ biodieselnow.com has many blogs to list them.

    The thing is, there is real no direction from anybody to take the lead and since politics as usual, it won't be.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,678
    there is really no direction from anybody

    That is somewhat true. Willie Nelson is the biggest name associated with biodiesel. There are no mandates as in the EU to use a percentage of biodiesel, such as B5. Engine manufacturers are afraid of the myriad sources of biodiesel. If the EPA were to mandate B10 for all diesel vehicles it would be a good start. Then they would require a standard to be followed. It all has to do with who lobbys whom.
  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    I agree with all of you that biodiesel is an excellent alternative fuel source. The problem is the personal consumer market if diesel cars in the US is very small. Many consusmers either don't like diesel powered cars, or don't want to pay the purchase price difference for a diesel engine, (not to mention the price difference at the pump). For this same reason, hybrids are still limited production vehicles.

    American consumers are used to gas powered cars. FFV's have ZERO upfront cost difference. FFV's run on gas or E85. The main reason I am a big proponent of ethanol is the benefits it provides in bringing us closer to energy independence.
    Cellulosic ethanol is closer than you think, I read an article today, (I'll find the link), http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_3844462
    that stated the first cellulosic production plant should begin construction next year in Idaho, I believe it said they will be using barley and wheat stalks. (I did read the article, the author makes many good points. I still believe we should pursue corn based ethanol production, until cellulosic ethanol is widely available.)
    BTW, I do currently own an FFV, but I do not know of a single E 85 pump in the state.

    I think America would be much better off if we had choices at the pump : Gasoline, E 85, diesel, biodiesel. Brazil has done this ,(except the biodiesel), and they are not only energy independent, but also, they pay a whole lot less at the pump.
    A big part of the reason prices are so high right now is that big oil has a collective monopoly. There is no reason for them to lower prices if we don't have another choice. For those of you that forgot Economics 101, the capitalist system only works when there is a competitive market, it does not work when monopolies exist. If alternative fuel sources become widely available, it will benefit us all. (Well almost all, Exxon, Shell, and BP would take a hit, and I would smile all day when that happens).
  • addeditaddedit Posts: 2
    Ethanol takes energy to produce just like gasoline. You pay for the materials, cost of production and the profit margin. E85 is a good alternative now and will improve. Production costs will drop, engineers will make car engines more efficient burning E85, investors will fund E85 capable pipelines to expand availability and further reduce prices. Having all vehicles made as flex fuel will give consumers choices. Everyone posting that loves burning their Saudi Gold will be still be able to pump their fuel of choice. I also look forward to the day of mowing my grass (5 acres) and tossing the clippings into a home ethanol plant. After it's ready, add some gas and into the tank. Nothing more American than do-it-yourself. :)
  • gem069gem069 Posts: 65
    stated the first cellulosic production plant should begin construction next year in Idaho, I believe it said they will be using barley and wheat stalks. (I did read the article, the author makes many good points. I still believe we should pursue corn based ethanol production, until cellulosic ethanol is widely available.)
    BTW, I do currently own an FFV, but I do not know of a single E 85 pump in the state.

    I think America would be much better off if we had choices at the pump : Gasoline, E 85, diesel, biodiesel.


    I've been watching 60/60, dateline and reading about all the different alt/fuels that could be made and how efficent they can be made.
    For example, there is a ethnaol plant in Canada that is totally run from the byproducts of making ethnaol from cellulos products and not using any fossil fuels what so ever. Hummmmmmmmm I wonder why the USA is actually making some of the new plants using coal? Yea jobs will be created but it's still using fossil fuels and not totally self sufficent of natural materals. Would the gud ole lobbist have anything to do with this, like so any other things.
    And the guy of dateline stated that parire grass in the USA would be and excellent way to make ethnaol and biodiesl and yes still use corn, wheat, and many others products to make fuels.
    Yes, the USA is sucking up energy(25% of world world's production) and needs various types of fuels and ways to make them.
    True the USA has not really embraced diesel's for passenger cars too much, because until recently, they stink, has lack of power and don't forget the sound. However in Europe and the rest of the world, fossil fuels cost 2 to 3 times as the USA, so diesel is very helpful in savings.
    Yup, competition is gud, too bad clintion let oil companies merge and now we pay for thier benefit.
    Just like they are making record profits andnot really investing in much just token projects fo show. Short of like the other day in Wash DC. the typical politicals of both parties drove in their Support Usama Vechicles(SUV's) and did a showopp for the camaras and left in thier Support Usama Vechicles for a well to deserved lunch break.
    Of course I believe if the public can stay focused long enough and direct the bitching directly towards the gov;t to actually makes things happen, it can, even if slowly.
This discussion has been closed.