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

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Comments

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I would more inclined to support corn ethanol if we grew our corn where it didn't require 50 percent or more of its water through irrigation.

    I'd be more inclined to support ethanol if I believed it had any chance of alleviating our dependence of foreign oil. Right now ethanol accounts for less than 4% of our fuel usage. In 10 years it will still provide less than 10% of the fuel we need and we will still be importing more oil than we are today. Even if you are an ethanol proponent there isn't much urgency in rushing out to buy a flex fuel vehicle because we will never be able to produce enough ethanol for more than a small percentage of drivers to burn E85.

    In the next 10 years how much is the government going to spend on ethanol subsidies? I don't know the answer but I'm sure its considerable. I believe the government could spend a small percentage of this amount and develop better electric motors and batteries for an all electric vehicle that would be more than adequate for the vast majority of us. This would allow for an actual reduction in fuel consumption. In other words it would represent progress as opposed to an approach that, at best, slows the bleeding.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,563
    I am a humored a bit by how many myths and falsehoods abound about Ethanol and its effects on this country.

    So I can take it that you are humored by your own posts?

    The myths and falsehoods about Ethanol, Biodiesal or other renewable energy sources are still being perpetuated.

    OK lets look at a couple ok?

    To me and most E10 users, mileage differences are either non-exstant or irrelevant as E10 is a cheaper fuel than straight gasoline.

    I don't know about you but Me and others who have checked their mileage find a small but significant drop in mileage using E10. Most cars will see a 4-5% drop in mileage using E85. To me with gas near $3.00 that significant.

    corn made ethanol has an octane rating of 100-110 and it is potable and drinkable...with no harm to the environment and generates less CO2 than straight gasoline.

    While the burning of E85 generates less CO2 the processing of the corn to Ethanol adds it right back.

    By the way, corn is not grown with any irrigation methods in the midwest...just another myth and falsehood.

    It is obvious that you have never been to the Midwest. Come by some summer and I will drive you by farm field after farm field of corn with irrigation equipment on it. And it ain't there for looks. Corn is a very water intensive crop that in the western Midwest cannot be grown without irrigation.

    I find it very interesting that you post that you find humor in the lies and myths of E85 in the very same post you post lies and myths about E85.

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

  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,563
    I would more inclined to support corn ethanol if we grew our corn where it didn't require 50 percent or more of its water through irrigation.

    Not only that but that it would take 525% of the US corn production to supply us with all the ethanol we would need so that we could replace all our gas usage to E85.

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

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I'm estimating that the average driver in this country would need about 500 gallons of ethanol per year. That would require an acre of land growing corn that then needs to be harvested and distilled for each driver. That seems like a lot to me. This same driver would use about 15 kWh per day in an electric vehicle. This could be provided by 15 square meters of photovoltaic cells. Not to mention that efficiency of PV cells and the manufacturing process will almost certainly improve over time resulting in lower energy costs. Will the cost of growing corn decrease over time? Plus it provides the potential of not only being independent from foreign sources for your fuel but being independent from domestic sources. Could it be done today? Probably not but definitely in less than 10 years, which is far sooner than ethanol will even make a dent in our oil dependence. I truly believe that the reason this solution isn't being more aggresively pursued is that it cuts too many special interests out of the loop.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,563
    I whole heatedly agree with you there. What would really be great is if someone can come up with a system that includes an electric car that can run 100 miles or so on a single charge and a photo voltaic cell system that charges a capacitor or battery in the persons garage that the car gets plugged into at night to recharge.

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

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Its already been done. I recently read an article written by an owner of a Toyoto RAV4 EV, which can go over 100 miles per charge. He charges his vehicle from home grown PV electricity.

    I realize that EVs currently have some shortcomings that won't make them suitable for everyone but for the vast majority of us they would be ideal. How expensive would they be? That depends a lot on how many are manufactured. At the present time they probably will be considerably more expensive than a comparable ICE vehicle. Even though I'm not a big fan of government subsidies the reality is that they exist. So the question becomes, how do we get the greatest return on the government's investment in terms of reduced oil consumption. For instance, how much would the government have to spend to get 1 million EVs on the road and how much oil would this save over the life of these vehicles? Now compare this with how much the government would spend to get an equivalent oil savings through ethanol. The other difference is that an EV subsidy could eventually be phased out as they become cost competitive in their own right. I seriously doubt an ethanol subsidy can go away without extremely high oil prices.
  • seniorjoseseniorjose Posts: 277
    Sorry about the wrong information on the high plains where agriculture has always been a question. Maybe the agriculture department should shut down irrigation of corn in your state. Sorry about the facts, I was focusing on the deserts in CA where the greatest water boondoggles occur.
  • seniorjoseseniorjose Posts: 277
    Since we are talking EV, then we will need additional nuclear power plants, solar plants, thermal plants tapping underground heat or windfarm generated electricity. You know what that would cause, the TREE-HUGRs anti-americans will go nuts.

    Oil fired electric power stations seem to be in great abundance in the USA now. What should we convert them into...huge flower pots????

    We have tried EVs, and nobody would buy them, lease them or be seen in one...sigh, except on a golf course, chuckle. Most EVs could not meet the federal safety standards so they were labeled experimental. There are many solutions out there, we just have to find the people who give a damn -- not the couch potatoes of the USA, but real smart people trying to gather and develop real solutions. Ethanol is a handy way to get started at a minimal cost...clean fuel, loe environmental impact, high octane and easy to get started.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,676
    I was focusing on the deserts in CA where the greatest water boondoggles occur.

    You really need to get out of Iowa more. You would be stuck eating corn fritters and hot dogs if you depended on Iowa to feed your family. What difference is there in subsidizing rice in CA or corn in Iowa.

    How long will the gas stations continue to sell E85 at a loss? That is according to one of your uncredited factoids.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,563
    For instance, how much would the government have to spend to get 1 million EVs on the road and how much oil would this save over the life of these vehicles?

    Well I think the average commute in the US is something like 16 miles one way. Thats 38 miles round trip. Lets say that on average everyone gets 25 MPG commuting, that means they use up about 1.5 gallons a day. So a million EV's in the hands on commuters would save 1.5 million gallons a day.

    It would take 1.96 million gallons of ethanol to save that 1.5 million gallons of gas. Given the current subsidy that Ethanol gets I would guess that that would come to be about $250 million in subsidies per year. So give everyone who drives electric $250 a year. (thats just based on commuting and not other forms of driving)

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

  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,563
    Since we are talking EV, then we will need additional nuclear power plants, solar plants, thermal plants tapping underground heat or windfarm generated electricity.

    Are you following the same conversation I am?

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

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    We have tried EVs, and nobody would buy them, lease them or be seen in one...sigh, except on a golf course, chuckle.

    You clearly don't know what you're talking about. At the time that GM and Toyota killed the EV1 and RAV4 EV there were 2+ year waiting lists of people wanting to buy them. These manufacturers are quick to point out that since they only sold a few thousand of these vehicles that indicates there was no demand. Well if Toyota decided to only make 1,000 Camrys next year they could then make the same claim. The fact is that EVs don't fit into the business model of our established auto manufacturers.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,676
    Oil fired electric power stations seem to be in great abundance in the USA now

    Another factoid that is not factual. Coal is still over 50% of our power. Unless you consider oil generation at 4% a great abundance. I guess you do that is about all we can expect from Ethanol.

    In 1998, primary power generation resources converted to electricity were coal, accounting for 52 percent; nuclear, 19 percent; natural gas, 15 percent; oil, 4 percent, and hydro, 9 percent.
  • seniorjoseseniorjose Posts: 277
    To me and most E10 users, mileage differences are either non-exstant or irrelevant as E10 is a cheaper fuel than straight gasoline.

    I don't know about you but Me and others who have checked their mileage find a small but significant drop in mileage using E10. Most cars will see a 4-5% drop in mileage using E85. To me with gas near $3.00 that significant.

    So you want us to continue to ignore solutions that are real and learn how to whine and cry to the oil cartels dictators on a daily basis. let's see, to force a better supply of oil means that the USA will be in all dictators faces and the military costs will continue to be prohibited...ahhh, a solution, bring back the draft and then we will have enough women and men to be blown apart all over the world...is that what we should want?

    Electric autoa have been a joke so far, as their motors go slower andd slower and slower as they run out of electrical charge. The hybrids did not save us any oil, even though the engineers meant well in designing and building their Rube Goldberg contraptions.

    Population shifts can help our environment, and suburbs (bedroom communities) will be the first place to change. Inner cities are and have been reconstructed to lower energy usage. Are our suburbs in the throes of death!
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    At the time that GM and Toyota killed the EV1 and RAV4 EV there were 2+ year waiting lists of people wanting to buy them.

    Sorry, but that's not a reasonable point. For one, these electrical were produced in very small quantities, well below one percent of the overall US car market, which indicates that demand for the cars in their then-current form was very low compared to the demand for cars run on gasoline or even diesel.

    In any case, the market says it all: if there was strong demand for electric vehicles in their present form, and they could be sold at a price that consumers are willing to pay, then manufacturers would be building and selling them now, today -- after all, why wouldn't they enter a viable segment?

    Clearly, the consumer has little to no interest in electric cars as of now, hence they are not getting built. The hybrid is catching on, because it solves two of the primary problems of electric cars -- limited range, coupled with a slow refueling process that can be difficult to access when required -- but the pure electrics simply aren't cutting it, at least as of today.

    You can't poo-poo ethanol on one hand as experimental and subsidized, while lauding electric cars that have even less demand and distribution. ALL of these technology "magic bullets" being advocated here face significant stumbling blocks, none of them are ready to go today, and all will need significant investment, subsidies and legal mandates before they become practical and viable. To fixate on one's technology's faults while glossing over those of the others is simply disingenuous and unfair.
  • seniorjoseseniorjose Posts: 277
    There are many people that believe that the Great Plains should be returned to prarie land...hmmm, lots of ethanol...chuckle!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,676
    It was also CARB & the EPA that pulled the mandate out from under them. I am sure it was politically motivated by our friends in the oil business. That and the automakers did not want to warranty the batteries for 150K as the mandate says and still does. That is the reason the hybrids are stuck with the 10 Yr 150K mile warranty in CARB states. Not out of the goodness of Toyota's heart. It was only after a huge outcry that Toyota went ahead and sold the RAV EV cars, then quickly dropped the line. It is a shame that they did not put the money into developing them further than they have in the Hybrids. I am sure there were compromises on the different boards that share members.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Ethanol is a handy way to get started at a minimal cost...clean fuel, loe environmental impact, high octane and easy to get started.

    What's this fascination with high octane? My understanding of higher octane is that it allows for greater compression, which can increase the power potential of an engine. So what? This thread is not about increasing power. The fact that it might allow an engine to generate more hp does not mean there is more energy in ethanol. If you want more power just get a car with a bigger engine or a turbocharger. It will still get more miles per gallon than an engine running on ethanol. Its an indusputable fact that there is less energy in ethanol and that really needs to be put to rest.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Sorry, but that's not a reasonable point. For one, these electrical were produced in very small quantities, well below one percent of the overall US car market, which indicates that demand for the cars in their then-current form was very low compared to the demand for cars run on gasoline or even diesel.

    I agree that the demand was limited but the supply was even more limited. This was also 5+ years ago, long before we had $3/gallon gasoline. So we really don't know what the demand would be and right now the auto manufacturers seem to have no desire to test these waters. Auto manufacturers not only make money selling their cars but selling replacement parts. Auto dealerships make the bulk of their profits from the maintenance department. An EV not only has fewer parts but they are of the type built by GE not GM. They also are very low maintenance. Don't assume that the auto manufacturers would be eager to jump on the EV bandwagon as soon as they perceived a market.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    Don't assume that the auto manufacturers would be eager to jump on the EV bandwagon as soon as they perceived a market.

    A large automaker would love to have a popular product that operates by means of a technology that others do not have. That's precisely why Toyota has marketed the hybrid as it is, in order to differentiate itself from other automakers and to build its brand with consumers. If Toyota could score with EV's today and make them work, it would have already done it.

    Electric cars in their present have a lot of barriers:

    -Heavy batteries that are costly to replace (although this may be improving)
    -Low range (unless refueled by an internal combustion engine)
    -Slow refueling time (unless refueled by an internal combustion engine)
    -Limited places to refuel as needed (unless refueled by an internal combustion engine)
    -A long history of excessive hype that has rendered them as cliche
    -Perception as glorified golf carts or otherwise as weird

    All of these barriers to adoption have to be considered, and they are serious barriers. The supplies were inadequate because they were being built at a loss, but meeting demand would have nonetheless resulted in very few EV's on the road.

    The general problem with this thread is that the advocates of a given solution are quite quick to point out the flaws of competing technologies while completely ignoring the problems of their own favored plays. We cannot have a fair discussion unless we do the following:

    -Stop claiming that Technology X is ready for prime time. None of these alternative fuels or technologies is yet ready for widespread use and distribution, all of them lack at least a couple of key components to make them viable today. All of them involve lag time, and these need to be considered.

    -Stop calculating the costs of one idea while ignoring the cost of the others. All of them will take time and capital to make viable -- some might arguably have more potential than others, but none of them will be free.

    -In this case of ethanol, stop arguing everything from the basis of corn. There is other biomass that has been identified as more efficient than corn, and like the other possible solutions, will require more research and investment.

    Again, none of these alleged solutions is ready to go, and can be introduced without further spending. If they were so viable, we'd already be using them en masse, but they aren't. Electric cars don't cut it as of today, there aren't many E85 pumps or cars near most of us, biodiesel is not in production beyond the experimental stage, I've yet to see a dealership selling cars that run on tap water, etc, etc., etc. It's fine to hypothesize about the future, but we're not there yet.
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