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

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  • jae5jae5 Posts: 1,205
    A $0.51 price difference, that's nice.

    The local Gas City by me that sells E85 is usually only $0.20 ~ $0.30 cheaper than regular. And with their regular higher than a few stations mid-grade it doesn't really make economical sense to purchase E85.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,700
    Even with a 17% reduction in mileage on my Taurus when using e85, e85 is cheaper.

    According to the EPA it is a 26% reduction in mileage.

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

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,890
    Scanning through the E85 website the best price I found was $1.62 in Sioux Falls. Unleaded can be had for $2.04. That is the best price for ethanol. It still is a loser for the guy buying a flex fuel vehicle.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,890
    For Dan Norte, deciding where to fuel up his Ford F150 pickup is not always as simple as scanning pump prices. When he heads to Iowa to see family, the synthetic-oil dealer from Owatonna, Minn., burns an 87-octane Minnesota-mandated gasoline blend that is 10 percent corn-based ethanol. It costs about the same as comparable-grade gasoline.
    For the trip back he has a 15-percent option, an Iowa blend rated at 89 octane that can be up to a nickel a gallon cheaper. But Mr. Norte has figured out that his savings would probably be erased by lost m.p.g. from the faster-burning fuel.
  • I love how the car manufacturers and mid america has duped US consumers into even considering ethenol. Yeah let's spend Billions into useless crap when we have the next generation energy source under our nose. That's right, u fools. It's called electricity. We already have the distribution network. We already have the battery technology. We already have the cars. What we need to do is make the d*mn lazy car manufacturer's into building a plug-in hybrids and add little more battery into the car. If a enough battery can be used to make the car run 40-50 miles per charge, we would eliminate 90% of oil use for cars today. Oil engine will be used mostly for longer travel, and would kick in when battery dies. If the govt instead gave tax credits for extra batteries, we would be there tomorrow.

    But, it'll never happen. Why? Because US consumers are stupid. We can't think outside of the box. How can we live without gas stations? Plug the car in at home or at work? No way! Here's more CO into the air until we learn the hard lesson.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Ethanol might be a good deal if your a futures trader, maybe not so good if you like to eat.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Story.aspx?guid=%7BF067B08F%2DC329%2D44C3%- 2DA668%2D58D3A4B83605%7D&siteid=&print=true&dist=printTop

    SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Corn futures closed higher for a third session in a row Friday, with their benchmark contract reaching a fresh record level and gaining 16% for the week as traders fretted over tighter supplies of the commodity.
    Corn for December delivery closed up 16 1/4 cents at $3.145 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade after reaching a high of $3.17. The contract has never closed or traded at levels this high before.
    The contract finished the day over 43 cents above last Friday's close of $2.71.
  • eliaselias Posts: 1,903
    1.62 for E85 sounds ok compared to the 2.49 i'm paying for diesel. but diesel is still a win with 44 mpg. what would that 1.62 be if there were no subsidies? one of my ethanol-stooge midwestern aggie pals says the subsidies have expired. anyhoo:
    1.62/2.49 * 44 = 28 mpg for the equivalent cost/mile with E85. maybe a scooter could get 28 mpg on E85 but not a real car!
  • I don't think that many people have been duped. Ethanol becomes a viable, if limited, option as oil prices rise.

    Plug-in hybrids will be an option as the tech gets more mainstream. The manufacturers are still getting comfortable with the hybrid tech. These things take time.

    I really don't think we will be there tomorrow or next year for that matter. Where are you going to get the raw material needed for 1 million, 10 million or 20 million sets of batteries a year? You just don't go down to the local wally-mart to order a few million batteries. Toyota has already said that lack of batteries is holding back sales of their hybrids.

    "Explosive growth in the number of hybrid gas/electric vehicles manufactured and sold in coming years may strain makers of the expensive battery packs that help power them."
    http://www.auto-careers.org/hybrids%20Newspape%20%20artr.htm

    Cold weather is a battery killer. Up here in the North Country you are going to have a hard time convincing people to use a battery based vehicle when the temp drops to the point where your nose hairs freeze and the snow makes a cool crunching sound when you walk on it. It takes a lot of energy to keep the windows frost free, the car toasty warm and the 300 watt stereo cranking :)

    I also wonder what kind of strain all those battery powered cars will put on the power grid. I suspect that some electric grids (California) are at or near capacity on hot days. Maybe someone out there can do the math to see what the additional load would be on the power grid?

    E85, and ethanol production in general, is making a big difference in the midwest. Jobs, Jobs and Jobs!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,890
    I suspect that some electric grids (California) are at or near capacity on hot days.

    I think the general consensus is most cars with plug in capability will be plugged in at night when the demand is the lowest. Kind of balance out the usage.

    I am sure the ethanol boondoggle has created jobs in the Midwest. At the expense of the rest of us. Little or no redeeming value to ethanol. PLUS it is pushing us to a much bigger environmental mess with the added corn production.
  • "Ethanol might be a good deal if your a futures trader, maybe not so good if you like to eat. "

    Actually, things are not that simple. The bulk of corn production is used for feed/residual (56%) and export (18%). Not that much percentage wise is used in food products.

    http://www.ncga.com/WorldOfCorn/main/consumptionData.htm

    "Distiller’s grains plus solubles (DGS) is a feed co-product produced in wet and dry forms as a result of ethanol production. ...
    Beef cattle are typically maintained on forage diets, which may require protein, energy and phosphorus supplementation. Most forage protein is degraded in the rumen therefore cattle also require undegraded protein supplementation. Distiller’s grains plus solubles provides undegraded protein and phosphorus in a high-energy supplement that will not depress forage digestion due to its low starch content."

    http://www.traill.uiuc.edu/beefnet/paperDisplay?ContentID=8575

    Since a lot of the anti-E85 people do not want to see corn used for fuel, should we also convert the tobacco farms to food crops? That would lower food prices, right? :D
  • From what I have been able to find, peak electrical demand stays high well into the night. If people come home and plug in the cars at 5PM that will hurt the system. Most likely they will need to put the car on a timer that charges the battery in the wee hours on the morning to avoid the peak demand. AC systems probably run well into the night to cool buildings back down.

    http://www.state.mn.us/mn/externalDocs/Commerce/Relationship_between_solar_gener- ation_and_electric_demand_111003025625_Solarpaper11-03.pdf

    I am sorry to see that look at this issue as an US vs. Them. Maybe we (Midwest and the plain states) should join with Canada, Eh!

    Why do you think that E85 is pushing us to a bigger environmental mess? As compared to ____? (oil sands mining, flaring of gas from oil production, oil spills, contaminated ground and surface water from gasoline and mtbe)
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,890
    Why do you think that E85 is pushing us to a bigger environmental mess? As compared to ____? (oil sands mining, flaring of gas from oil production, oil spills, contaminated ground and surface water from gasoline and mtbe)

    All important issues for sure. Why add to the mess with dumping huge amounts of fertilizers onto the land that leeches into the rivers. It is creating a huge problem in the Gulf of Mexico. The truth is that farmers are producing more, being subsidized more, and still going broke. Growing corn and soy beans in the current manner is not good for the land and is not helping the farmer. I own a farm in Minnesota. Most of it is left go back to native pasture. I could have someone farm it and maybe make a buck or two. More than likely just spend more than I would take in. If you have lived in the Midwest for a while you saw the last rush for ethanol in the 80s. Most of the old ethanol plants are shut down or torn down. We the US taxpayer subsidized those plants. The only ones that made money back then were companies like Verasun and ADM.

    It is quite simple. They come in convince the local township to give them land, power and water. In exchange they provide jobs. Then when ethanol goes bust they bail out. Leaving the town with an eyesore and inflated land values to contend with. Maybe the mayor and council got rich. I would like to see a study on the 90+ towns that bought into the last ethanol boom.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Since a lot of the anti-E85 people do not want to see corn used for fuel, should we also convert the tobacco farms to food crops?

    It’s not what they are using; it’s what they are using it for.

    The issue is not about using food crops for fuel, the issue is the fact that E85 is being shoved down our throats by the big AG’s and the auto industry.

    We are loosing 25% energy with E85 when we could be gaining as much as 30% or more energy with Bio diesel. Considering the effort and energy used to make ethanol, would it not make more since to get more bang for the buck?

    By the way, if anyone comes up with a way to make fuel out of brussel sprouts, I’m behind you 100%. Not much good for anything else. ;)
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,890
    if anyone comes up with a way to make fuel out of brussel sprouts

    Good idea, also the cucumbers that aren't needed for pickles.

    I wonder if biodiesel made from soybeans yields more BTUs per acre than ethanol from corn.
  • "The issue is not about using food crops for fuel, the issue is the fact that E85 is being shoved down our throats by the big AG’s and the auto industry."

    "Various renewable fuels can be used to meet the requirements of RFS program, including ethanol and biodiesel. While the RFS program provides the certainty that a minimum amount of renewable fuel will be used in the United States; more can be used if fuel producers and blenders choose to do so."
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/biodiesel/

    It appears that ethanol is just one option. I should also point out that we consumers have the option of using E10, E85 (FFV) or regular gasoline.

    The auto industry is, in my view, making a big mistake in not taking advantage of the higher octane in E85. The current set of products just do not cut the mustard.

    "...higher-octane fuels allow for a higher compression ratio - this means less space in a cylinder on its combustion stroke, hence a higher cylinder temperature which improves efficiency according to Carnot's theorem, along with fewer wasted hydrocarbons (therefore less pollution and wasted energy), bringing higher power levels coupled with less pollution overall because of the greater efficiency."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline

    I would not agree that we lose energy when creating E85. Recent studies from independent researchers are showing that ethanol is somewhat positive. I do agree that biodiesel is better. It is unfortunate that more biodiesel plants are not being built. A big part of the problem actually rests with the users. If we do not demand the product companies will not produce it.

    One last point about energy, it is not the Btu to Btu ratio that counts, what counts is the cost of the raw material. For example, it may be cost effective to convert cheaper natural gas to gasoline even if you lose a few btus in the process.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,890
    It is unfortunate that more biodiesel plants are not being built.

    They are actually building a quite a few around the country. We invested in one company that cannot keep up with demand for biodiesel. They mainly sell to the Bay area of CA. The difference is that biodiesel does get government incentives as does ethanol. It is not forced on us to the point it becomes a cost burden. Much of the last price run up in gasoline was a result of the ethanol mix mandate. Refiners and distributors were scrambling to find sources for mixing with gas. Ethanol is plentiful in the midwest. Nearly non existent on the west & east coasts. It cannot be transported through pipelines so every gallon has to be trucked or barged to the point it is needed. It is also mixed at the last point before delivery. It is wrought with negatives that are not outweighed by the positives, IMO.
  • jae5jae5 Posts: 1,205
    Thanks avalon, I was thinking the same thing in terms of the battery strain, grid strain, recharging time and the like.

    In terms of the electric vehicle I would constantly be looking at the charge gauge on the trip home. I start my day pretty early so there is not much traffic, but coming home it can get hectic!! Add to this the winter time slow-crawl, and it would be hairy. Defroster going, as well as the heater, sitting in traffic - these are not conditions that batteries like. At the company I used to work we had a few electric vehicle projects, though they were all in warm-weather climes. Even then they were getting hammered as heat is a battery killer too.

    In recharging, no one discussing the effects on the power grid, recharge cycle, increased electric bills and the like. If we continue to have summers like we had the past two years, the current grids can't keep up, so add in loads from recharging autos and... :surprise:

    What I would like to see are real viable solutions from the Ethanol / electric vehicle standpoints, weighing all the pros and cons.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,700
    In terms of the electric vehicle I would constantly be looking at the charge gauge on the trip home.

    I don't know if that would be that much of an issue unless your daily commute is near the range of the battery. For me a EV that has a 50 mile range would be more than enough, even if the cold (or hot) weather reduced the range by 50% I would still be getting around with plenty of energy to spare.

    In recharging, no one discussing the effects on the power grid, recharge cycle, increased electric bills and the like.

    Well recharging would be done at night when electric use is down, as for increased electric bills that will be more than offset by lower gas bills.

    Personally I would like to see some system that uses solar panels on the roof of the garage to charge a battery pack or capacitor in the garage that the EV can be plugged into at night, there by reducing your fuel costs that much more.

    If we continue to have summers like we had the past two years, the current grids can't keep up, so add in loads from recharging autos

    While I can't say for where you are at here in the chicago area we have had a cooler than normal summer. So I say lets keep getting those summers :shades:

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

  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,078
    I think it's kind of funny now in our area (near Hershey, PA) since the farmers are now harvesting all their corn, we are NOT hearing very much about E85 vehicles any more. We have only 1 station down in Lancaster that carriers it (the only station in ALL of Central PA), so there really is not that much of a demand even around the State Capital.

    Odie
    Odie's Carspace
  • kw5kwkw5kw Posts: 19
    such as steam power.

    Water is plentiful, and we now have the technology to be able to use plain recycled garbage (Magazines, newspapers, shredded documents that are processed with some sort of plastic covering that would burn very hot for example.) as fuel.

    With modern technology and materials we should be able to have a much higher pressures attained or attainable than in the previous endeavors with steam.

    Pollution would not be as great, as one item would only be water--pure water. The burnt items (newsprint, etc) would be basically recycled trees; i.e.: wood, another very natural fuel.)

    After all, nuclear powerplants operate by heat producing steam; steam which powers the submarines, aircraft carriers of our modern navy and...and steam powers the nuclear powerplants as well.

    It might not be as performance minded as we'd like, being accustomed to the high output of gasoline and slightly less of diesel, but it will still allow us to use the automobile for transportation, and not at some distant time in the future force us back into the mode of transportation that the human race had known for all of the centuries previous to the twentieth.

    :surprise:
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    1-Nuclear Powerplant, produces enough hydrogen to power "X" amount of cars a yr. (It's a very significant #)

    Rocky
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,890
    Very interesting indeed. Same reason Toyota is balking on FFVs. Corrosion of anything aluminum. Good thing FFVs can run on regular gas.

    A move by the nation's largest product-safety laboratory to remove its approval of ethanol fuel pumps has frozen the rollout of new ethanol stations and cast doubt on the legal status of the roughly 1,000 stations already selling E85 fuel.

    Without certification from Underwriters Laboratories, the company that tests thousands of products for safety and manages the "UL" symbol, state officials and ethanol industry executives say E85 pumps may run afoul of state and local fire codes that require "listed" equipment for pumping fuel. A fire marshal in Columbus, Ohio, ordered two E85 pumps shut down last week because of a lack of UL approval and Michigan officials are wrestling with the question as well.

    Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association, which represents 1,500 stores, said state officials were still wrestling with the question of whether the pumps at Michigan's 26 E85 stations still met state standards, and new pumps wouldn't be available until UL clears up the confusion, which "could be a matter of weeks. It could be months or years."

    "Somebody asked whether this thing is heading toward a train wreck," Griffin said. "Well, I don't know."

    In a statement, UL said it had no reports of problems with E85 systems, but withdrew its certification due to concerns about how ethanol can corrode parts of the fueling system.
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    gagrice, as you already know pal I like to add topics to the forums pal. I try to read every post I can most of the time when I'm on my days off from work. ;)

    Rocky
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,890
    This may be a blessing. It will make the price of ethanol come down and gas with it. Much of the last gas price run up was refiners looking for sources of ethanol to mix with gas. To fulfill the mandate for 2.97% ethanol in all unleaded gas.

    Keep reading and posting interesting auto stuff.
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    Keep reading and posting interesting auto stuff.

    Will do my best when time permits. ;)

    Rocky
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,784
    "The Freestyle was intended as one of the Bold Move vehicles to get them on a turn-around path, but it turned out to be little more than Bold Talk. The next Bold Move will probably be to Mexico."

    You might better explain that to Indonesia, where the forest fires are making it impossible for planes to land.

    You are proposing burning items that are carbon based and will produce a lot of CO2 and other pollutants, including ash.
  • jae5jae5 Posts: 1,205
    I'm out in aurora now, so this past summer has been cooler than last year. But my thing is sitting in traffic to/from work, which is very hairy on the way home. I'm looking at a minimum 38 mile loop. So a range of 50 miles would not do it for me. I'd like more than a 10 mile cushion. Most likely this would be a summer car for me, like a toy to drive on good / not so bad days. In the winter I'd probably park the thing.

    Again, there are things about an EV that I really don't like and need these things figured out and presented in an all-around manner. Meaning, just don't give me the good, give me the con as well. Myself and others would be more accepting of it if alternatives were presented in that manner.
  • kw5kwkw5kw Posts: 19
    Where you have uncontrolled combustion, i.e.: the forest fires, building fires, &c. one will have polution. I'm not advocating uncontrolled fireboxes as in the past but very specific, very conrolled combustion.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,784
    "I'm not advocating uncontrolled fireboxes as in the past but very specific, very conrolled combustion."

    What do you propose to do with the by products?
This discussion has been closed.