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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol

chewymchewym Posts: 5
Ethanol is not as great as it is cracked up to be. Read this. You will also understand why there are so many Chewy Ethanol ads.

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/11174/tech-stuff-ethanol-promises.html
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Comments

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    Welcome to the forum.

    That is a good article with lots of facts to ponder.
  • chewymchewym Posts: 5
    It really is a good article. I think that it is funny how the E85 milage is not on the window stickers. I smell some lawsuits.
  • I was wondering instead of having a E85 mix of ethanol and gasoline that, if it is possible to use 15 percent fuel as
    hydrogen peroxide mixed with 85 percent ethanol. I know that these two combinations are soluble, but i wonder how the combustion would be like. If anybody knows something of these
    mix, please feel free to answer them or if you guys have an opinion on it feel free to answer any way.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    Interesting idea, but here are my thoughts:

    Advantages:
    Lots of energy in the fuel

    Concerns:
    1. Is it too much energy for the engine to handle and will there be storage stability problems?
    2. Cost. H2O2 is generally made using hydrogen and then distilled if a high purity material (doesn't contain water) is needed. What is the cost per gallon?
    3. Corrosivity/reactivity of the peroxide with the fuel tank/lines/engine
  • I have notice a 2-3 MPG drop in mileage since the gas stations forced to change to Ethanol.

    YMMV,

    MidCow
  • You must mean E10. E10 will go about 97% as far as E0.

    If you are used to 30MPG's, it would be easy to have a drop of 1MPG under IDEAL conditions, 2MPG would certainly not be atypical.

    My congresswoman still thinks this E85 stuff represents "salvation."

    I want this to be true -- it just isn't so.

    However, with diesel we could stop importing from SA -- IF, 30% of the cars were diesel powered and equivalent "power" and cost of their gas engined counterparts.

    The BMW 3 series diesel if imported to the US and if it were priced at a $1,200 premium over the 330i gas version would pay for itself in a bit over 35,000 miles and from then on would start to have a TCO that would be lower for the diesel than for the gas version.

    Performance (acceleration), in this example, between the gas and diesel versions are very close due to the diesel's weapons grade torque. The mileage however exceeds a 40% improvement.

    Check out the review in the new C&D.

    Audi, too, produces some of the best diesels in the world -- with Audi, BMW and Mercedes engineering muscle and perhaps a diesel/electric hybrid, we would really make some progress in energy independence.

    The effect, too, would be lower greehouse gasses and we could buy time to perfect either newer and/or different and better technologies or improve our ability to get at the world's largest oil reserves (800 billion bbls.) that just happen to be in Colorado, et al.

    The talk on the T and V this week is "$4" gasoline. What's it gonna take $5/gallon to work on a mature and ever improving technology and put it under the hoods of American's cars?

    Yeah, $5/gallon, sustained for months and months and months would probably "get our attention."

    At the momemnt Ethanol and E85 are simply false promises.

    Yet, even believing that, I also believe we need to work on creating fuel that we can renew and renew and renew. Bio-diesel made from soybeans makes more sense from a fuel standpoint, an economy standpoint and a FARMING and FOOD standpoint (something that seems to be ignored in all of this Ethanol noise.)
  • Ethanol is the real deal. It will do just fine. That's as long as you don't want to ever eat again.

    BTW, what hasn't received much coverage is that the world's second largest oil field, Cantarell in Mexico, is entering a rather spectacular decline. Its production is down by around 7 to 8% from last year and the drop is expected to get steeper over the next year (that's the nature of these maximum contact horizontal wells).

    Mexico is our second biggest source of petroleum. And a further crimp on Mexican petroleum exports is that internal consumption is on the rise.

    So as an alternative for a renewable resource I'm going to suggest whale blubber. You can burn it, you can eat it, and it even makes a great skin moisturizer.
  • This article is typical misinformation put out by special interest. Some examples, the corn yield hasn't been that low since the mid 1990's see http://www.usda.gov/nass/aggraphs/cornyld.htm , a test recently run by an external lab showed almost no difference in fuel efficiency at 10% ethanol see http://www.ethanol.org/PressRelease8.24.05.htm and if it cost so much energy to produce the product the ethanol plants wouldn't be making profits way above the subsidies. I think the subsidies should be removed and let free market take place. Unfortunately free market is just a pipe dream as the large lobbyist such as the oil companies usually rule the market. See Who killed the electric car.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    I think the subsidies should be removed and let free market take place.

    The US government not only hands out $.51 per gallon to the producers. They guarantee the price of corn to the farmer. Plus the biggest gamble is they guarantee the loans on the ethanol plants. We were on the hook for the 90 ethanol plants that were dismantled during the last go around with ethanol. ADM has nothing to lose and millions to gain. We are paying the price with little or nothing to show for it. I can make a profit on anything if the government builds the factory and makes sure I get as much as I want for the product.

    Do you think I trust ethanol.org to give an accurate mileage on E10? NO!!!
  • There are many places that proclaim E10 gets 97% the mileage of E0.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    I thought of myself as a relatively intelligent person until I read today's CNN article regarding the President meeting with the Detroit 2.5 (GM, Ford and DC) about E85. The Big 2.5 is touting this as the way to reduce US dependency on foreign oil for security and environmental reasons. I'm sorry but everything I have read says E85 fuel give 25-33% LESS fuel economy then regular gas. the only reason the big 2.5 uses it is they receive a huge "credit" toward the CAFE standards, which makes no sense. Also it smells like this is the "cheapest" way they can accomplish more fuel efficient engines is through the use of this bogus technology. I guess that hybrid technology just isn't panning out the way it should for them.

    Maybe I am misreading something but please somebody explain this to me!!!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    I think you got E85 figured out quite well. It is a smokescreen for the automakers to circumvent the CAFE regulations and corporate welfare for big farmers and ethanol producers. It is pork barrel politics at its finest.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,442
    And in addition to paying the producers 51 cents a gallon in subsidy they are also charging a tariff of 53 cent per gallon on imported sugar cane ethanol. Yes, that means they are giving the corn lobby a $1.04 price advantage for nothing.

    I'd be much happier with diesel or at least with importing ethanol from Brazil rather than oil from the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria and all our other "pals."
  • nascar57nascar57 Posts: 47
    I get the feeling that most people think that Ethanol is just a terrible thing. I ask you the question, how can you say that this is a terrible alternative in the short term to our age old plan of burning dirty non-renewable fossil fuels, mostly coming from the worst part of this world. Why not step up and embrace something that is RENEWABLE and made right here in the USA. I have been burning E85 in my 07 Silverado LT2, have been achieving 14 mpg on the highway.
    Also, even though the Govt is giving out the .51 subsidy, new ethanol plants can produce 3 gallons of ethanol to 1 bushel of corn. Currently on the CBOT, ethanol is trading at $2.13 a gallon, Corn is currently at $3.75, so do the math, even without the subsidy, the break even on just the ethanol sales is $6.39. That does not include the added revenue brought on by the sale of the ethanol byproduct DDG's, which is a very popular cattle feed stock. I know this is not the long term solution to the energy problem, can easily be seen that Hydrogen is the long term solution. But why not embrace a cleaner, renewable, domestic made fuel that can put a dent in all the gasoline consumption, just seems like a no-brainer to me. Also this DOES support American farmers, go look at all the commodity markets compared to a year ago, most of them are up 50-75% compared to one year ago, this is due to one thing ETHANOL. And complaining about higher food prices, I geuss if this nation wants to have the cheapest food in the world as it does today, so be it, but I will pay a little more in the grocery stores, Heck if we can buy these new cars, we can afford to spend a lil more in the checkout line. Ethanol gets a black eye for no reason I think. With farmers burning bio-diesel in the farm equipment used to produce the corn, turns into a bio-fuels circle. Good deal in my mind, tell the Arabs to keep their oil over there!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    I am not sure where to start other than welcome to the Forum.

    If you have a ready supply of E85, I say go for it. You are taking a 27% hit in mileage according to the new EPA ratings. That means when regular unleaded is selling for $3 per gallon you would need to get E85 for $2.19 to break even. That is just the economics for you as an individual. You have left out the cost in fossil fuel to grow that bushel of corn for ethanol. The most optimistic studies are somewhere around a 20% positive gain. Or for every 8/10ths of a gallon of fossil fuel you get one gallon of ethanol. Then you burn it in your vehicle at a 27% loss and you can see you are in negative territory. So much for economics.

    Now to the environment. Growing corn the way it is done to get the highest yield per acre is killing the Gulf of Mexico. Google the Dead Zone and read about what all the fertilizer run-off is doing. The Union of Concerned Scientists are not on the side of ethanol. One of the biggest problems is the vehicles you and I choose to drive. Here is where the dirty little secrets about ethanol come into play. GM builds a PU truck and equips it to burn E85. Sounds eco friendly right? Wrong, they only did that to get a higher CAFE rating. That gets the automaker off the hook on building more economical vehicles. If we were interested in ethanol as an alternative and not just more PORK, we would have pulled the 53 cent tariff off of Brazilian ethanol. Ethanol can be made from sugar cane without big subsidies.

    My last big gripe about ethanol is the fact that it was forced onto the whole USA. It has to be trucked to CA, WA & OR at a very high cost per gallon to be mixed with our designer gas. Making us pay the highest gas prices in the nation, aside from Hawaii.

    To a school child ethanol looks like a great idea, because they are only told part of the story. None of the infrastructure we are now building will be usable when they figure out how to make ethanol from waste products. So we will buy the plants twice to satisfy the constituencies in the Mid West. Making Verasun, ADM and the mega-ag corporations very wealthy with no risk. We are taking all the risk for them.

    links
    http://www.smm.org/deadzone/causes/top.html
    Ethanol Dirty Secrets
  • nascar57nascar57 Posts: 47
    You anti-ethanol people simply cease to amaze me. Yes, corn is obviously not the most efficient form of making ethanol, but it does create more energy than it takes to make. The talk about fertilizer is pretty mute, farming is always going to be there and fertilizer is used on all crops, NOT just corn. I am a senior in Agricultural Economics at a State University. One CANT say that this is not good for our domestic economy. Yes, switchgrass (Biomass) ethanol is on its way, but corn is the current source, I dont think we should turn our backs on it. And also for the price difference, I have figured with my personal vehicle if, E85 is 50 cents a gallon cheaper, it pays to run ethanol. Calculate it down to a per mile basis and this is the figure that I have come up with for my individual vehicle. Plus your not burning DIRTY, NONRENEWABLE fossil fuels. Nothing is going to be as cheap as pumping stuff out of the ground, but if you think that we should rely only on that, you are a complete idiot and 70 dollar oil will seem cheap if alternative sources on not brought in before demand outstrips supply on fossil fuels.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    This is what ethanol is doing for us.

    My neighbors wife works at QFC and at a meeting a few weeks ago was told by suppliers that food prices will go up about 8% by summer due to the higher price of corn.

    On Sunday, 4/15 and Monday 4/16, both the ports of Tacoma and Seattle in that order, ran out of corn for export. To my knowledge neither port knew or knows when the next train of corn is to arrive.
    The result of this was that both TEMCO (Tacoma) and Pier 86 (Seattle) sent the ships partly loaded with corn to anchor and had ships waiting for soy come in and start loading.
    We ran out of corn? What the ...
    Ethanol benefits the few at the price of many.

    Another plus for diesel/bio-diesel
  • nascar57nascar57 Posts: 47
    Wow, amazing when food goes up 8%, the complaining starts right away. When adjusted for inflation, corn should actually be $8-$9 a bushel. We as americans have become so insistent on a cheap food supply, it has driven this country to import alot of food. That is a whole different story for a different day. The comment that this has helped very few people. I beg to differ, PRIME Example, Farmers receive more money for commodities. With increased revenue purchases go up. Fellow Americans working at John Deere or Case-New Holland receive more work. Americans working at automobile manufacturing facilities receive more orders, because farmers and other people involved in the ethanol chain have more money. So dont [non-permissible content removed] about food prices going up 8%, when you spend more every year feeding your cars oil that comes from the dam middle east. Oh yeah since 2000, how much has oil gone up on a percent scale??? Maybe 300%, thats costing your family a heck of a lot more per year than the small 8% increase in food prices. Go try and live in Europe and buy food, then you will get a wake up call my friend.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    If your professors are in agreement with your feelings on ethanol. I would question either their credibility or lack of education. You being as young as you are were not around the last time this boondoggle presented itself in the late 1970s. We the tax payers built close to 100 ethanol plants in the Midwest. Less than 10% are still in operation. The rest were scrapped when ethanol was not considered worth the effort. If you have convinced yourself that buying E85 for 50 cents a gallon less than RUL makes it a bargain, who could argue with you. That is a math problem. Also your lack of caring about the environment is noted. The higher levels of anhydrous ammonia used to get a bigger crop of corn IS a serious problem. Whether you or your college professors are willing to accept it. If this whole ethanol production thing was done by the farmers and producers I would be less inclined to beat on them. It is not, as you well know. We are subsidizing every aspect of the process. From farm subsidies, to guaranteeing loans for production facilities. It is a simple case of PORK politics on a Grand Scale.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    Here I may have some bit of agreement. The price of corn should be higher. I was getting about $2.75 a bushel in 1977. My yield was about 90 bushels to the acre. I was still going broke as many farmers did during that horrible administration. When you say farmers are getting more, I think you mean mega-ag corporations are getting more. The family farmer is not helped much by these higher corn prices. If there are any small farmers left. They may be able to get a temporary job in the ethanol plant until it folds up in a few years.

    As for food prices in the EU, that is their problem. They have sat around fat dumb and happy allowing the elitist governments to lull them into a false sense of security. They are taxed way beyond what is reasonable to maintain a stable government. What would they do if they had to defend themselves without the US military?

    Hopefully your studies will result in a profitable way to produce ethanol. Not the current corn for fuel method. Makes us look real bad in the eyes of the World. We use up all the fossil fuel now we are using up all the food to feed our vehicles. Grow less destructive crops for biodiesel and you might have a good argument.
  • nascar57nascar57 Posts: 47
    Alright, my question to you, what is your solution to the energy problem in the SHORT TERM. Yes I know all about the cellulosic approach to ethanol, and yes with time that will come along and be much more efficient. I want you to give me one situation that weans us off fossil fuels and cuts down the pollution we are putting out in the SHORT TERM. Now dont go knocking the education that I am getting, I am attending what people in the Ag. industry consider one of the better Agricultural Economics schools in the country. There are professors that obviously know that corn ethanol is not the final solution. But it is better than sitting and doing nothing as we have for the past 20 years. If we can get to the presidents goal of reducing gas consumption by 20% in 2017, I would be very proud of this country. But people have to WANT to do this, look at Brazil, they stepped up to the plate and their gasoline consumption today is 40-50 % less than it was 20 years ago. It CAN be done
  • eliaselias Posts: 1,941
    i think ethanol as fuel in USA is a scam on many levels, especially CAFE. but i'd still like to try it myself.
    unfortunately i don't have a gasser that can handle E85 and don't see any available soon that are interesting to me.
    i'll buy another SUV some year soon, but i think it's will be a diesel.
    i might buy a corvette, M3, M5, or BMW550 or a zippy Audi some year. will any performance car like that be E85 compatible?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    First let me apologize for treating your educators harshly. I am sure they know their field better than I.

    I feel very strongly that we as a country and our government are not really interested in solutions to the fossil fuel problem. There is too much money being passed around that keep the votes for the status quo. Ethanol in its current form is one of those well paid for products. It makes a few Congressmen look good to a constituency that has long been forgotten, the farmers. I just do not see the little farmers being helped. If you plan to go into the Mega-Agriculture business I can understand your wanting to protect the field.

    If I was to pick a short term solution it would be to encourage the use of diesel cars & SUVs. They would give us an immediate 25% to 35% increase in efficiency. That and they can when available run on any mixture of biodiesel. ULSD was an important step to making it possible in states like CA where there has been an anti-diesel bias for years. I am just finding out that the biggest complaint about diesel cars is not quite accurate. According the latest UN report on GHG, NoX can be mostly attributed to farming. Many would have us believe that it is from diesel cars.

    I also think we are in the dark ages so to speak on our electrical generation. We are the only major country that has not expanded our use of Nuclear energy. It is by far the cleanest energy available. We have untold streams of geothermal that are not used. Off limits due to environmental & religious zealotry. Solar is a solution. It is not near as perfect as some would have us believe. The processes involved in making PV cells is not real eco friendly. Wind is coming under fire also by opposing environmental groups.

    Nothing is going to satisfy everyone. Even hydrogen could raise the GHG levels more than a gas car.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    This was posted elsewhere by one of our fine Hosts. It needs to be read by those advocating the current ethanol craze.

    "It's not green in terms of air pollution," said study author Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University civil and environmental engineering professor. "If you want to use ethanol, fine, but don't do it based on health grounds. It's no better than gasoline, apparently slightly worse."

    His study, based on a computer model, is published in Wednesday's online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology and adds to the messy debate over ethanol.

    Farmers, politicians, industry leaders and environmentalists have clashed over just how much ethanol can be produced, how much land it would take to grow the crops to make it, and how much it would cost. They also disagree on the benefits of ethanol in cutting back fuel consumption and in fighting pollution, especially global warming gases.

    Based on computer models of pollution and air flow, Jacobson predicted that the increase in ozone _ and diseases it causes _ would be worst in areas where smog is already a serious problem: Los Angeles and the Northeast.

    The science behind why ethanol might increase smog is complicated, but according to Jacobson, part of the explanation is that ethanol produces more hydrocarbons than gasoline. And ozone is the product of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide cooking in the sun.

    Also, the ethanol produces longer-lasting chemicals that eventually turn into hydrocarbons that can travel farther. "You are really spreading out pollution over a larger area," he said.

    And finally, while ethanol produces less nitrogen oxide, that can actually be a negative in some very smoggy places. When an area like Los Angeles reaches a certain high level of nitrogen oxide, that excess chemical begins eating up spare ozone, Jacobson said.

    Hwang agreed that that is a "well-known effect."


    http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/sciencetech/homepage/article_1660665.php
  • shieattshieatt Posts: 75
    For the first time, E-85 is available at a local station just up the road from my home. I drive an 03 Chevy Suburban that will run on E-85, so I have filled up on it twice to give it a try. E-85 is selling between 20 and 30 cents cheaper than regular unleaded, which I don't think completely compensates for the lost MPG. It seems pretty obvious from the debate that E-85 is not the savior that some politicians want to pretend like it is (yes, I must have the same Congresswoman as markcincinnati - she drives a new Chevy Tahoe with license plates reading "E85 4 OH"... and, coincidentally, the station that started selling E-85 is directly across the street from her farm). Nevertheless, on balance, since I already have a vehicle that will run on it, it seems like on balance it is at least slightly better for the environment and to reduce demand for foreign oil, so I think I will keep filling up on E-85. Interested in your thoughts...
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Keep track of your mileage with E85 and with Regular unleaded and lets see what the diffrence is.

    Thanks
  • shieattshieatt Posts: 75
    The Suburban has a trip computer... strictly around town stop-and-go driving, I am averaging around 10.5 MPG on my first two tanks of E85. Not impressive, but I only averaged around 14 MPG on regular unleaded under similar driving conditions. The problem, of course, is that currently E85 is only about 11% cheaper than regular unleaded, whereas my mileage is suffering by around 25%. So, as I do the math, about 14% increase in fuel cost. I'd be willing to pay 14% more if I thought I was doing some good, but I'm not convinced that my money is well spent.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Well, the numbers are discouraging and with fuel prices rising I’m not sure my wallet could take a 25% reduction in MPG.

    The numbers make a Suburban with a diesel option getting 25 to 30 MPG much more appealing.

    It’s truly a shame and a travesty that such an option does not exist.

    Thanks for the update.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,108
    My 2005 Audi A6 3.2 seemed -- over two years ago -- a gas sipper, compared to my previous thirstier Audis. Now, as the cost for premium juice (even with my Costco or Kroger cards) has risen to $3.59 (and counting) per gallon, well, I'm thinking this "sipper" even is too thirsty.

    Reading about diesel, clean, cleaner, cleanest diesel -- then reading about diesel made from (fer instance) soybeans and other non petrol based substances -- AND THEN reading about the variety of diesel cars we Americans cannot buy. . .well, its enough to frustrate and confuse even the most optimistic of us.

    I'd say I'm beyond confused, I've made the transition to disappointed.

    Careful reading -- and it is hardly lively prose -- about E85 does seem to lead to the conclusion that its main purpose is to allow the skirting of CAFE issues that are, er, "difficult" (or would be) to address without some clever engineering and/or adoption of diesel across a much wider number of vehicles.

    It seems E85 costs more to use (including the subsidy that it gets, which means it would REALLY cost more without the subsidy). Some evidence suggests it is -- overall -- dirtier than dino-fuel, too. Additional evidence says it (as it is currently produced) an energy negative or at best energy neutral (in terms of production when "the total impact" is accounted for.)

    Virtually none of these concerns seem to be the case with dino-diesel and the varying permutations of "B" diesel. Moreover, diesel cars get up to 44% better mileage when one attempts to keep the performance "similar."

    My 3.2 V6 gasoline engine can be replaced with a 3.0 V6 diesel engine (but not in the US). The result? More torque, similar performance (both in acceleration and top speed) and a 39% improvement in MPG. Diesel, per gallon, was -- recently -- $.70 less per gallon than the fuel my engine requires.

    Hmm: more torque, approximately the same performance, better mileage and lower price per gallon to boot.

    Add any amount of "B" you care to, to these points, all the way to B100.

    E85 seems doomed -- it seems "E85 4 OHIO" is, er, crapola, political crapola at that.

    Diesel, in the short term, still seems a more "appropriate" solution.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,168
    I'd say I'm beyond confused, I've made the transition to disappointed

    Join the club. The sad truth is the US Government including Congress, EPA and the Administration are not at all interested in using less fossil fuel. Ethanol is a smoke screen and political ploy to keep the farm lobby happy. It takes about as much fossil fuel to grow and produce ethanol as you get back in BTUs. Add those entities to most of the state governments especially the very powerful CA legislature and the lackeys they hire to run CARB and it brings the frustration level even higher. In CA they have held off the environmental wackos in Hollywood with hybrid cars. The real truth is any kind of decrease in fuel usage costs these government agencies TAX DOLLARS. They managed to turn off the EV-1 program that would have cost them billions in lost gas tax revenue.

    HERE IT IS BOTTOM LINE. GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WANT TO LOSE ANY TAX DOLLARS. IF WE USE LESS FUEL THEY GET LESS TAXES TO WASTE.

    They have managed to keep the status quo for the last 30 years. They are going to keep it flowing at any cost.
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