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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol



  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,767
    I was hoping for a stable $60 price. I guess nothing in this World is stable. We already shot our wad on ethanol plants.
  • Sorry folks, our politicans will tell you it was underfunded from the getgo..Throw dough at the problem, sound familiar???????

    Junk fuel from the inception...I still buy the old-fashioned non-ethanol gas in Sarasota, Fl.. B/P outlet....
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,416
    I only wish I could find some "clean" gas. I'm on an overnight road trip and on the drive down, I got about 5% less mileage on the highway than I used to get in combined driving on non-ethanol blend. :sick:


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  • Wasn't ethanol the "clean Gas"??????????????????????? My supercharged 06 Pontiac get approx approx 10% less mileage and so far my 09 Bullitt has not had that experience of ethanol blend..

    Lots of older cars in Fla that will not survive on ethanol plus the marine engines will not tolerate the corny fuel..

    Thank the "Green Folks" for our current economic conditions and their assualt on our way of life...
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,767
    Thank the "Green Folks" for our current economic conditions and their assault on our way of life...

    Hard to argue against that perception. They were a BIG factor in pushing for ethanol to be added. I can understand the use of ethanol as a way to dispose of excess corn. Make it a Midwestern product. Remove the tariffs and subsidies and let it compete on a level playing field.

    When we are all back in the caves a supply of corn alcohol would be nice to keep off the chill in the winter.
  • I guess being a pro-oil blogger for the oil companies means job security. I'm sure you were not among the 500,000 Americans who lost their job last month. Novice readers are unaware your recurring pro-oil messages show up repeatedly throughout the blogosphere.
    America using 25% of the world's oil production is unsustainable. Why? Oil is a finite resource. It was made millions of years ago. Peak oil may have happened or it may be a decade away.

    70% of the oil America uses is imported. 70 cents of every $1 America spends on oil leaves the country, whether we pay $2 or $4 per gallon. When the price is $4/gallon it's pretty ugly because we send $700 billion a year out of the country. That's a lot of dollars and jobs--gone!

    The oil market is global. Oil purchases float the boat of all oil exporting nations, be they friend or foe, and many are foes financing terrorism, rogue nuclear programs and assisting our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Watch the 2 minute video at
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,767
    Ok, Iistened and think he is preaching to the choir. I am all for practical alternatives to fossil fuel. Corn ethanol IS NOT A GOOD ALTERNATIVE. Sugar cane ethanol would not be bad except Jimmy Carter taxed the crap out of it and Congress has protected our corn farmers interest ever since. Corn ethanol has nothing to do with alternatives. It has to do with big agriculture companies like ADM getting mega bucks from the tax payers. How much has been done to promote and research biodiesel made from algae. It is a viable alternative and gets little Government help.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    If you are goingto try to scare us all into reducing our use of foreign oil at least supply the facts. Yes 70% of our oil use comes from foreign countries. But Canada supplies us with the most oil followed by Mexico. We only get 30% (might be a little more) of our oil from the Middle East with Saudi Arabia supplying the majority of that.

    Yes oil is a finite source but quite honestly no one knows how much oil is available. All we know is that production costs for oil will increase as additional sources will be harder to get at. Of course, the US is sitting on some HUGE sources, but that is another topic...... having said all of this, I too want to see alternative fuels.

    Try not to use such a broad brush when you make your point. :)
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    If you are goingto try to scare us all into reducing our use of foreign oil at least supply the facts. Yes 70% of our oil use comes from foreign countries. But Canada supplies us with the most oil followed by Mexico. We only get 30% (might be a little more) of our oil from the Middle East with Saudi Arabia supplying the majority of that.

    That balance has probably changed significantly recently. At under $50 per barrel, many North American oil sources become unprofitable..heck, at that price, Iran and Iraq are unprofitable, didn't you hear them whining already? IRAQ whining that we aren't paying enough for their oil...right! Anyway, North American sources get unprofitable, then some of them shut down. When I have time I need to try and find some updated numbers. But profitability is a factor...a viable oil source when oil is selling for $150 bbl can (and probably does) sit idle at $50 bbl. If it costs $100 to create something that you can only sell for $75, it may as well not be there.
  • There is so much non truth being said about ethanol, it only leads to ask "where do some of you get your information. Some of the articles listed are way off base. Can anyone tell me the energy value of that 1/3 bushel of corn remaining that is high protein. Does anyone know that there is more indirect tax relief for gas then the current .05 cents for E10. For you people who say they loose milage on E10, are you sure that the 90% gas is really tier II gas or is there some low quality gas added since their only concern is mantaining 87 octane (regular) at some blenders. Blender pump case study shows that 90% Teir II gas with 10% ethanol on average over 35 vehicles, milage increased 2% and equal mileage on E20. I know some vehicles showed slight decrease but on average it is equal or slight increase. This is mainly do to car manufactures programming vehicles slightly rich. Don't blame ethanol, blame the oversight by goverment and the petro blenders.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,416
    The mileage loss is real. Same gas stations, same brand of gasoline, same vehicle. The only difference being the introduction of ethanol. I take great pains to maintain my vehicles and I'm VERY upset by what ethanol is doing to the mileage performance of the vehicles of everyone I know who bothers to pay attention.

    Please, tell me exactly what it is I'm saving when I have to buy 10% more fuel to travel the same distance? What miracle of accounting needs to be performed to make it appear that ethanol is doing anything to decrease the use of oil?

    It's simply not believeable that adding something to gasoline that has less energy density will increase fuel efficiency. That's as silly as the HHO kit claims and flies in the face of physics just as much.

    My highway mileage on my 2007 Versa is down over 10% from 35 down to the 30-31 range. My 2001 Altima is seeing similar decreases. A friend who owns two Toyota Prius' is seeing significant decreases as well. Check all the different mileage discussions on the various vehicles here on the forums and you'll find people experiencing the same.


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  • No Silly, only one boat manufacturer that used cheap fiberglass resin had a issue with fuel tanks.
  • Like I said, question your blender, the gas station does not have that information. A test recently found that in E85, the octane of that 15% gas (or 30% winter blend)varied from 45 to 87. The flame front varies but the vehicle can't determine fuel quality going in, only what come out. I did not say all vehicle's equaled or increased, but clearly the average was not a lose on E10 or E20. Critics always look at BTU's, so at least here and with blender pumps we will say ethanol is more efficient.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,202

    Classic stuff. Never mind that that one can find measurements all over the place that show a gallon of ethanol simply does not have the energy that a gallon of gas does. Am I to assume that when they blend ethanol some magic fairy outs in extra energy?
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • How efficient is your car? One/third, a third of your heat goes to the radiatior and a 1/3 goes out your tail pipe unused. Ethanol take more heat to ignite but has a faster flame front. Thus, it is possible to get more work energy out of ethanol then just looking at BTU's
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,416
    It's not the cars. The DAY that the "contains ethanol" stickers went on the pumps, my mileage went down. My first experience with ethanol blends was on vacation this summer when we went into an areas where the only choice was ethanol. The return trip mileage was far worse, but I didn't jump to conclusions since it could have been a fillup error or impending issue with the car. I use my mileage performance as a sort of monitor on the health of my car. Any sudden change and I'll keep a very careful eye on the next tank or two. Continued poor performance and I know something is up. Anyway, back to vacation... on our return home we still had ethnol-free gas available in our area and my mileage returned. But as I said, the day ethanol-blend was introduced at the last of our stations here, down the mileage went again and it has stayed there for the last 4 months.

    You can't get more work out of ethanol than it has in it. Think about it.


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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,767
    Welcome to the forum. From your handle I must assume that ethanol is high on your agenda. Just what is that agenda? Do you sell corn or work for ADM, Verasun or one of the many ethanol distributors? All the tests and reports by universities show that the maximum net gain for corn ethanol is 21%. Most show a negative return. That means you use 1 gallon equivalent fossil fuel for each 1.21 gallons of ethanol produced. Most of the time you will use more fossil fuel in the production of ethanol than you get out at the other end.

    Currently Verasun has filed for C11 as they cannot make money off of ethanol with the current $1.03 subsidy. And the restrictive tariff on Sugar ethanol is proof that ethanol is purely a political boondoggle.

    And as far as the high protein residue mash being fed to cattle. Cattle should not be fed corn to begin with. They have to be given antibiotics or the corn will kill them.

    We have not touched on all the environmental downsides of high fossil fuel fertilized corn.

    So even if your argument of ethanol giving equal mileage was true which it is not. There are too many negatives to corn ethanol for US to be wasting billions of tax dollars to prop up the Midwest corn conglomerates. It is corporate welfare to the max.
  • For you people who say they loose mileage on E10, are you sure that the 90% gas is really tier II gas or is there some low quality gas added since their only concern is maintaining 87 octane (regular) at some blenders.

    My 05 BMW 330i mileage decreases about 7% using premium E10, my 06 Chrysler 300C mileage decreases about 10% using midgrade E10, and both my 08 Saturn Astras lose about 10% using regular E10. Maybe they have mixed in bad gas with the E10, but I suspect modern engines are optimized for pure gasoline and are just not happy with E10. My cars extract virtually no energy from the ethanol in E10. The ethanol has destroyed the fuel lines on three of my yard tools, and some older boats have also been ruined. Food costs have risen and the midwest aquifer is rapidly being depleted. E10 with corn ethanol is a scam that funnels tax dollars into the pockets of greedy corporations. On the plus side, it may help out the economy by rapidly growing the car and boat engine repair industry.
  • How do you think the coming increase in oil prices will impact the global financial crisis?

    Since 1973 America's dependence on foreign oil has grown from 24% to 70%. A frog dropped in to a pot of hot water realizes the peril and immediately leaps out. A frog placed in a pot of cool water that is slowly brought to a slow boil will end up cooked. We're only our way to being cooked.

    The economic crisis that paralyzed America during the 1973 oil crisis was the bellwether that development of oil alternates were necessary for energy security. Perhpas, if the Big 3 and Big Oil didn't have Congress in their pocket perpetuating the status quo, a level playing field would have allowed American ingenuity to neutralize this problem over the last 35 years.

    This discussion must be grounded in fact because our country's future depends on it! There may be some inconvenience but we must demand rapid implementation of alternates today. Indeed the economic viability of alternates, including oil from Canada's oil sands, is fluctuates with the price of oil. Global financial crisis aside, competition for scarce resources will increase oil prices. The International Energy Agency Outlook 2008 reports 80 major oil fields in production decline. Expect oil prices to increase much sooner because OPEC wants prices in the $55 - 75 range. On 60 Minutes a Saudi offical related their price to produce a barrel of oil is $2. OPEC has promised a "December surprise". Most expect a further reduction of 2.5 million barrels/day on top of the 2.0 million reduction over the last few months. This week Russia announced it would reduce oil in concert with OPEC.

    Facts are readily available at and http //
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,767
    I think you will find most of the posters at Edmund's favor alternative energy sources. Corn ethanol was the big rage in 1980 just as it is today. Ask the people that live in the towns where 90+ Corn ethanol stills are now just a rusty old memory cluttering up their dead little boom town. Corn ethanol was not a good alternative in 1980, and it is not a good alternative now. Whether it has occurred to you or not, corn ethanol is a huge user of fossil fuel. From the tractor that plants the field to the fertilizer that yields the big corn crops. Then the trucks & trains to transport the corn to the still. The coal or natural gas to fire the still. Then back into tanker trucks to the places of distribution. That is why overall we probably do not get a gallon of ethanol for every gallon equivalent of oil. Most studies yielded less than a gallon for every gallon used. Then add on our wasted tax dollars to subsidize the corn growers, the plant operators and the gas distributors. It is a classic case of corporate welfare. And now they are going broke because it costs way more than just the subsidies to make the crap.

    Then the added negatives of using all the cropland for corn year in and year out is very bad for the environment. It raises the price of food as corn is a major component of much of the processed food the masses eat. In my research if I could find one good thing that has come out of this latest corn ethanol boondoggle I would post it. There are no positives unless you are temporarily employed in the ethanol business.
  • Ok, let’s try this again. A case study with a blender pump had over 30 vehicles participate over the last 6 months. This is a case study that will have variances but still is averaged over 30 vehicles. The biggest loss on E10 over 12 consecutive fills was the Mountaineer at 11% near the same at E20, and the Jetta at -8% on E10. There was 2 Camry’s, one shown an 8% gain on E10 and 6% on E20 over 17 tank fills. The other Camry had a 2% lose on E10 and a 3% gain over regular with E20 over 38 fills. The fleet average of gain, over lose showed a slight gain both in E10 and E20 but dropped 4 % below on E30. E30 has 8% less BTU’s then just regular. Check this link and print it. Don’t take my word for it, talk to a Dyno shop that tunes cars. Ask them how the different manufactures vary the tune to the conservative side for emission reasons. Some are better than others in giving you optimum performance.

    The nice thing about blender pumps is that at least around here you see half the tax break for every 10% ethanol you put in your car. Where that amount of over a dollar per gallon came from I would like to know. Currently there is a 45 cent tax break for ethanol, 5 cents per blended gallon not to mention this can replace MTBE, mandatory in many states.
    As far as water use, most corn is grown non-irrigated. Almost all ethanol plants are zero discharge waste water and the only water loss is from cooling towers. Have you seen the cooling towers at the oil refineries?
    As far as water pollutants, yes that is an issue but that started a long time before ethanol came on the horizon. The one good thing of late is the rise in fertilizer cost and the technology to be more accurate and precise in application of fertilizer and more and more no till to prevent the runoff and loss of soil and fertilizer. Is there more need for caution and is it possible for improvements, I hope so.
    Now let’s talk about energy in and energy out. Instead of reciting someone else’s option as your facts maybe you should do your own checking and call around the Midwest to some feed elevators. We are a very starch rich nation; ethanol only uses the starch in corn for ethanol. As for the person who calls Distillers Dried Grain a residue, how about this, a 115 million gallon per year ethanol plant has revenue of 55 million dollars from that protein. If it were not for this protein, there would not be a single ethanol plant running today. A bushel of corn weight is 56 pounds and at the end of the ethanol plant, 18 pounds remain as protein. The demand by dairy, cattle and poultry is on the rise for this product and if this aggravating credit crunch could be resolved then the ethanol plant could afford to also pull off the corn oil for a 96% recovery of bio diesel. This would also make the protein slightly less by weight but even more valuable.
    Now since all critics want to act like there is no protein, let look economically. Farmers are now paying by weight the same for the protein as if they were buying corn. That means 1/3 of that cost for corn is going back into feedstock, so when you look at your steak next time, some of that money to produce it could be said, came from the corn prior to a ethanol plant. Now once a critic recognizes this fact, I argue that energy into making ethanol should be reduced by one third. That makes ethanol a positive all the way around.
    Critics, most of the time only looks back. The technology available today would make ethanol plants into food processing centers with an ethanol plant on the back instead of the front end. This would allow food grade protein, food grade corn oil and non food grade corn oil to be produce prior to ethanol production. Ethanol would only become 50% of the revenue source and we can feed and fuel America at even a less energy cost. Don’t take my word for it, look it up yourself. I dare ya.

    Oh, by the way, I am an aircraft mechanic for the last 20 years; but I do have family in the ethanol industry and was part of the mileage case study. And the statement that ethanol drives up food price, come on. Everyone wanted to make a dollar on the fact that ethanol production was to go up. More futures on corn was sold then corn raise. Paul Harvey stated popcorn at the movies was going up 30 or 40 cents due to ethanol. By visiting our local theater one time, I estimate that a large popcorn should have gone up 1 1.5 pennies due to the rise in the 35 pound bag of popcorn, now they charge 50 cents for a squirt of butter.

    Ethanol has always been know to be part of the answer and not the whole solution, it is a new section to a new bridge. It can, if properly controlled reduce emissions, help stable a market and make the US stronger. Work is going on all over to use ethanol more efficient, especially as a hydrous ethanol which utilizes higher compression, lower yet emission.
  • Right on!!!!! Agree 100%....They only way to get away from foreign oil is drill for our own oil..But, the answer is Politics, the left side of the aisle says no and the right side is prone to drill, but lawyers are the econ-activists best buddies by filing lawsuit after lawsuit to halt our independence..

    To avoid a discussion on all the chemistry of ethanol my experience with ethanol is that it varies in Fla with the cheap gas outlets really selling junk gas and the big name folks like Shell offering much better performance..of course, price is a tad higher. I also use the old-fashioned non-ethanol gas, for the best mileage and zip.

    Use only Premium in the Bullitt.....using only the best in the Bullitt and experiment with Pontiac..The Mustang isn't any economy car so why even damage it's innards with the "liberal Gas"..

    Autos are pure Politics in this day and age..Interesting fact is that electric cars do not sell well in Europe, couple hundred a year. At the age of 75, I really don't care what they do to the car, for gas will be available for the balance of my lifetime to fuel the 100,000,000+++++cars and trucks on the road..I am on my 44th car since entering the world of driving, probably eclipsing the 4 million mile mark. The price will rise again after Jan 2009, however, I really don't care.

    Ethanol is pure junk---pure political---Global Warming is a "hoax"---pure political..

    Nationalized Auto Industry is in full bloom..Detroit will look like France for they really churn out exciting cars????...Americans don't want them and Detroit will be forced to build cars we don't want or like..Ethanol is the first phase of our path to nowhere, however it makes some people feel good, and that is what counts..
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,416
    Frankly I doubt the veracity of that study. It flies in the face of what we're seeing in the real world. I've had this mielage hit on summer blend and now I assume winter blend fuels with ethanol added.

    If E10 actually increased mileage in a Camry 6%, why am I and so many other seeing the exact opposite? Why does my loss make sense when looking at the energy contained in ethanol and the Camry gain not fit in the puzzle?

    Gee, could it be that the study is from a pro-ethanol group?

    You can WANT it to be the wonder fuel with all your heart. That doesn't make it so.


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  • If you blend 85 percent ethanol with straight Tier II gas (87 octane) your fuel octane is 104, what is the minumum requirement listed on the pump? If the pump you buy gas from stated 10% ethanol and the octane rating is still 87, what quality of gas is in the 90%. The ethanol industry should have petitioned that all new vehicles were tuned for E10 since over 75% of gas sold contains ethanol. Too many varibles that consumer don't want to deal with but does cloud the issue. It could have been better for the consumer.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,416
    Let me understand. It's not the ethanol's fault, but they changed the underlying gas so THAT's the problem? You're gonna have to show me some citations and references on that one. :confuse:

    And if they DID change the gas, then how does the study come up with gains in mileage? Hmm? We're they using what we're being forced to use? Because if they were, there's absolutely no way they'd show any gain in mileage.

    Talk to the HHO kit proponents about ignoring the laws of physics.


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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,767
    You do make some good arguments for corn ethanol. It still does not convince me that it is good for the US or the planet. Your study cannot be considered legitimate. It was done by people with an agenda to promote ethanol. Even the EPA tests rate E85 much lower than RUG.

    For ethanol to be viable it needs to stand on its own. Subsidizing at the rate of a buck a gallon and blocking imported ethanol with a 53 cent tariff is not a viable alternative. If what you are saying about feedstock is true why do they need any subsidy at all. Why is Verasun going broke.

    The bottom line is my Sequoia gets 2 MPG less with E10. That in itself is enough for me to be against it.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,767
    all new vehicles were tuned for E10 since over 75% of gas sold contains ethanol

    The truth is we get gas with anything up to 10% ethanol. I believe the mandate says it must be 2.97% ethanol. I have no idea what they do to the gas in CA. I know for a fact I get worse mileage than AZ, NM, CO & NV gas produces for me.

    You are right the MTBE is outlawed. You are wrong that we needed something to replace it. Modern cars will compensate and do not need oxygenators to run clean.
  • To rest the whole blame on ethanol is what I am trying to correct. For you mileage loss it still would be nice to know if it is linear or if there is a mileage bump at E20 or E30. I know most of America do not have access to blender pumps but like I stated earlier, with blender pumps you know what you are paying for. For open loop engine like lawn mower and trimmers, it is best to stay at or below E10 and blenders offer that. What I stated in an earlier entry is that all internal combustion engine are consider to be 1/3 efficient and varing the fuel effects that. The faster the fuel can burn can impact your eccomomy. Ethanol has a faster flame front but does take more ignition energy to ignite. It is interesting that from E10 to E30, the fuel even has a slightly higher vapor pressure, just showing that there are differences and some vehicle respond differant. There are more variables to mileage then just looking at BTU's. Most lower grade fuels have the same BTU values but do they burn the same.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    They only way to get away from foreign oil is drill for our own oil

    Oh please, there's plenty of other alternatives. Drilling our own is cheap, easy, and costs less and offers more profits to certain large companies that make large donations to political parties that start with "R." Oh, and eventually it runs out and then we're back to foreign oil, because they still have some. Not to mention the fact that there is ZERO chance of domestically generating (much less refining) all of the oil that we use in America.

    Or we can find a way to get away from oil, period, which would be a very bright move as far as planning ahead. Corn Ethanol, however, is a dumb idea. Sugar may be a better one, switchgrass may be great if we can ever figure it out. Other biofuels might have potential. But come on, out with the "drill baby drill" bit.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,202
    Sorry I missed today. I hadn't heard the boiled frog story since Reagan was running for president. Good thing for him we didn't have snopes back then - Boiling frog.

    Drilling is a short fix. We still only have 3% or known reserves and are using 25% of the oil.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
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