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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol

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  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    I read the title of your post and unfortunately knew what you were going to say. Tell you what: when you light a match, drop it into a glass of water and the water burns, I'll believe you. Otherwise, you're just cutting the ethanol with water, which means you get half the energy out of it. In addition to that, you have to spend some of the energy vaporizing the water some fool poured into your engine. Ethanol and water do in fact mix but that's not a good thing: in fact it's the reason why they don't transport it by pipeline, because the water CONTAMINATES it!

    "It gets 100 miles to the gallon...and it runs on water man!" If you'll recall either the first or last episode of That 70's Show, just keep in mind he was smoking something other than nicotine when he said that. :shades:
  • yerth10yerth10 Posts: 428
    Any talk about Brazil's Ethanol program in 1980 was a old news.
    This is the latest news.
    All gas sold in Brazil has 23% Ethanol. Also 20 % of all the vehicles on road in Brazil today are Flexfuelled cars which can run on 100% Ethanol.

    So as of now, 50% of all fuel for private vehicles is Ethanol.

    Another news is in year-2008, the Oil consumption in US fell by over 6% and Worldwide, it fell by 0.6% even after including Ethanol (which actually grew 40%).
    Ethanol would have taken some market share from Oil.

    Ethanol is the easiest and #1 alternative for Petro-fuels. People can talk about food production. With the same amount of land as US, China produces food for 4 times the number of people, so US has lot of surplus land to grow Corn, Switchgrass and other crops for Bio-fuels.

    So, Ethanol production and consumption will continue to grow in the years ahead.
    BTW, cellulose Ethanol has already hit the market.

    It seems there are 2,170 Ethanol stations in US today compared to 500 in 2005.

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/27/e85-ethanol-in-every-car/?hp

    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/06/10/10greenwire-shell-sells-cellulosic-ethan- ol-blend-in-canada-10074.html

    Paralelly, E15 may also come to market.
    http://ethanol-news.newslib.com/story/6938-32647/
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    Brazil Ethanol:
    sugarcane ethanol represented 16.7% of the country's total energy consumption by the automotive sector in 2007.wiki

    I gave Brazil the benefit of the doubt with 20%. No one here has said that sugar cane ethanol was not a viable product. It is damaging to the environment which ethanol advocates want to gloss over. Every acre of the rain forest that is cut to produce sugar cane will take nearly 100 years to mitigate, if ever.

    If you have data that refutes what I have posted feel free to share with us. Just because the brain dead in Washington DC have bought into the Corn Ethanol scam does not make it a good thing. I am sure when they kick up the ethanol content to 15% from the current 10% my mileage will go down by another 5%. Kind of like the guy with his car that runs on water. It is an illusion that ethanol from corn is a winner.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    Ethanol is the easiest and #1 alternative for Petro-fuels. People can talk about food production. With the same amount of land as US, China produces food for 4 times the number of people, so US has lot of surplus land to grow Corn, Switchgrass and other crops for Bio-fuels.

    I have several issues with your broad statement. Most are answered by your own link.

    If there is a breakthrough in cellulosic ethanol development, that might change the equation.”

    Cellulosic ethanol promises larger yields than corn-based ethanol, but processes to produce it in any substantial quantity are still being developed.

    “Corn is not the right crop for biofuels,” Mr. Chu has said. Last month, the Energy Department announced that $786.5 million in stimulus funds would be used to speed advanced biofuels research and demonstration projects.


    That is exactly what I have posted since this thread was started. Corn ethanol is NOT a good choice for America.

    From your second link comes this statement on Cellulosic ethanol R&D. It is FAR from becoming viable. The process is at the same point it was 5 years ago. Not commercially viable. What is so hard to accept about that? It takes more energy to produce ethanol than you get out of it.

    Shell and Iogen are no longer pursuing U.S. Department of Energy funding for a second commercial-scale plant, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, but have not ruled out building the facility as part of a broader commercial fuel rollout, noted David Williams, a Shell spokesman in London.

    "The vision is large-scale production and significant commercial availability," Williams said. "However, cost-competitive advanced biofuels in substantial quantities we estimate are five to 10 years away."


    More R&D should be done before they experiment with peoples cars. So far corn ethanol is a BIG ZERO.
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    Actually it was just release that there are MORE ethanol cars than gasoline cars in Brazil.

    I can provide you with links but they are in portuguese (guess you can still use google translator) as proof.

    As for being damaging to the rainforest, it´s just BS for a simple fact: sugarcane does NOT grow well in the amazon, as the land there is sandy and too moist.

    So nobody grows it there simply because of that: it does not grow well. period.

    Now, if you say they are deforesting for cattle I´ll keep quiet because I know that´s true (even though last year deforestation had a 82% drop).

    I do agree however that corn ethanol is financially unsound. America could just import ethanol from Brazil and get it over with.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    No argument there. Take off the 53 cent tariff Carter imposed on Brazilian Ethanol and see what the market does. I do not have any good data on where they are growing the sugar cane. Just some eco nut blogs that are not interested in any kind of progress. I do know that VW only sells vehicles in Brazil that will run on gas or any mixture up to E100. Which is fine as it gives the owner the flexibility to choose.

    You probably know that this is at least a 100 year old battle on what to use in our cars. Henry Ford wanted to continue running on alcohol and Rockefeller wanted to use his waste product from heating oil production. That being gasoline. It is very interesting reading how Rockefeller won the battle.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    From your second link comes this statement on Cellulosic ethanol R&D. It is FAR from becoming viable. The process is at the same point it was 5 years ago. Not commercially viable. What is so hard to accept about that? It takes more energy to produce ethanol than you get out of it.

    Actually, that's a pretty good reason to keep chipping away at it from an R&D perspective, though it's also justification for not doing so. No, there's no money in it right now so the market doesn't really want to invest in it...one of the reasons is careful manipulation of gas prices by certain countries. ;) The smart thing to do would be to continue research on it so that when someone shuts off the taps again and/or oil gets scarce there is at least one alternative ready to go. Waiting until after the oil is scarce to complete the R&D is a bad move and could be catastrophic to our economy. The market isn't always good at planning ahead, and to be frank, having a sudden loss of our primary fuel source with nothing even remotely in place to replace it has major national security implications as well.

    Mind you, I'm talking about stuff like switchgrass and other biomass. Not that whole idiotic corn-ethanol giveaway to big Ag.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    It's not that interesting. Ford wanted to use a product that took effort to make. Rockefeller proposed a fuel that was previously a waste product from producing other things, which means it took zero investment and cost nothing to produce (at the time anyway). Think of it as one of the first recycling programs. :shades:

    Incidentally, that's also a good parallel to today: people are using the same reasoning to justify using waste cooking oil, etc, waste biomass, etc.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Ethanol is “Pure Politics” and has very little to do with energy independence as it is being produced today in the US. It has everything to do with creating profits for big farms and AG’s at the cost of tax payers.

    The proof is in the pudding. If ethanol were so crucial to our “petroleum Independence” there would not be a $0.50 per gallon subsidy to farmers (because the price would be added at the pump) and we would certainly not have a $0.50 per gallon tariff on ethanol imports.

    Another word on corn/ethanol subsidies; Don’t hide the true cost of ethanol in subsidies, put it on the price at the pump so the public can see just how much it is costing them. Patting me on the back and telling me that ethanol is good for the country and then steeling the money out of my pocket is not impressing me.

    Ethanol is a negative energy source; with all the energy used to plant, fertilize, harvest, process and transport, the damage to the land and 10% reduction of MPG for E10, it takes more energy to produce ethanol than is gained.

    Ethanol is pure politics and until the subsidies and tariffs are removed you will never convince me otherwise.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    I agree that this ethanol business is pure politics and corruption. Don't underestimate the real costs of ethanol production. In our Chesapeake Bay, excess nutrient pollution is costing the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to clean-up. At the same time, more fertilizer is pouring in from the ridiculous corn to ethanol business.
    The real cost to American taxpayers for this totally wrong approach to foreign oil dependence should include the real and total costs of clean-ups and also include the shorter lifespans of boats, boat motors as well as cars. There is nothing good about ethanol in fuels for the US consumer.
  • pafromflpafromfl Posts: 47
    Latest news by yerth10
    ... Another news is in year-2008, the Oil consumption in US fell by over 6% and Worldwide, it fell by 0.6% even after including Ethanol (which actually grew 40%).
    Ethanol would have taken some market share from Oil. ...

    Re: Latest news [yerth10] by jkinzel
    ... Ethanol is a negative energy source; with all the energy used to plant, fertilize, harvest, process and transport, the damage to the land and 10% reduction of MPG for E10, it takes more energy to produce ethanol than is gained. ...


    Corn-based E10 is good for greedy corn conglomerates and crooked politicians, but is very bad for the economy, the environment, worldwide food production, and a fair number of engines (marine, yard equipment, etc.). The Green movement is losing credibility over E10. It's time to admit E10 was a mistake.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    The ethanol industry has applied for a waiver to increase the ethanol content from 10% to 15%. EPA is accepting comments until July 20, 2009. The corn-ethanol industry has many lobbyists working for it. But this is our chance to be heard. Often regs pass or waivers like this one are allowed because the regulatory agency received no opposing comments. If we don't take the time to comment, then we have ourselves to blame as well as the ethanol producers.

    http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-AIR/2009/April/Day-21/a9115.htm
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Anyone good with a pen that we can plagiarize and can provide us with documented facts, i.e., web sites.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    There's no need for long letters with lots of documentation. In the end, the letters are counted: so many for & so many against. Its most important to clearly state your position; a long explanation or background is unnecessary. Personal experiences are good.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    >"The smart thing to do would be to continue research on it so that when someone shuts off the taps again and/or oil gets scarce there is at least one alternative ready to go. Waiting until after the oil is scarce to complete the R&D is a bad move and could be catastrophic to our economy"

    The smart thing to do would be to "Drill here and drill now". There are vast amounts of oil under Utah, Montana, and Colorado. We have larger reserves than "Known" reserves in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Yemen combined. I will post the link if I can find it.

    Add to that the reserves of Natural Gas that are nearly equal to the oil reserves in energy. Also the Rocky Mountains contain an almost inexhaustible amount of oil shale, similar to what Canada refines their oil from. And least we not forget the coal reserves.

    California is whining about being broke while there are vast amounts of oil sitting off their coast. Yet they will not drill. Why?

    Kip
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    The nuts than run California have successfully blocked, coal, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, nuclear & offshore drilling. Then they have mandated the local power companies to have 20% alternative energy by 2012. If not they get fined. Which of course is added to my electric bill. We need to get rid of the whole congregation in Sacramento and start over with some people that are not brain dead. That would include the courts that accept all the frivolous lawsuits against all these forms of energy.

    And yet they have accepted corn ethanol laced gas with open arms. One of the most destructive mandates ever pushed by Congress.
  • Let's not wait for America's transporation to be shut down and for our economy to grind to a halt. It takes 16 years for America to turn over (replace and retire) its automobile fleet. For less than $100 per vehicle we can safegaurd our future. FUEL CHOICE would mean gasoline competing in the market place with ethanol or methanol. Based on the cost (& profit) of American made ethanol and methanol a consumer it would never make sense for the consumer to opt for gasoline if it went above $2/gallon!

    G-E-M Flex Fuel Cars run on ANY MIXTURE of G-asoline, E-thanol, M-ethanol. A myopic focus on "ethanol" and "corn to ethanol" obscure the opportunity a rapid phase in of Flex Fuel Vehicles offers to avert America and the world's iminent ENERGY CRISIS.

    97% of the world's car & plan transporation (not just your car) relies on oil. America imports 70% of it's oil. Eight of nine top oil exporting countries are under control of dictators or autocrats, most of whom don't particularly like America. 78% of the world's oil comes from the OPEC cartel (monopoly). Oil prices have risen with signs of economic recovery. When the economy recovers expect a return of $150 barrel oil. Or in the event of a successful Al queda attack on Saudi's oil processing fields (and there have been numerous unsuccessful attempts) or Iran's threated closing the Straight of Hormuz in the event any country attempts to stop their attainment of a nuclear bomb- gas prices will go to rapidly shot above $200 .

    Methanol has been produced from wood waste for about 350 years. Today it is produced from also from forestry waste or other organic waste including municipal waste - at about half the cost of ethanol. True, it has less energy than ethanol or gas but it is still a cheaper cost per mile traveled .

    While Cellulosic ethanol production remains at "reserch quantities" we know other crops, like sugar beets, could produce significantly more energy than corn!

    Let's strengthen America and weaken the grip foreign oil holds on our country and our future! Watch the 2 minute video at SETAMERICAFREE.org The primary focus must be to ALWAYS keep our vehicles and economy running.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,567
    Why even bring up methanol? There is no consideration being given to methanol by anyone related to transportation. It is extremely reactive, and would be incompatible for our current liquid fuel infrastructure. A red herring.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    America imports 70% of it's oil.

    It's 60% and our biggest imports come from Canada and Mexico.
    http://www.quoteoil.com/oil-imports.html

    If you truly want energy independence, why are you not promoting diesel and bio-diesel a fuel that has 40% more energy than gasoline?

    My concerns are that your motivation is not solely based on energy independence.

    In my opinion, FLEX Fuel is a sham and one of the reasons GM got in trouble. I will never buy a FF car.
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    "If you truly want energy independence, why are you not promoting diesel and bio-diesel a fuel that has 40% more energy than gasoline?"

    Where did you EVER get this number from my friend? Diesel engines are not even EXPLOSION, but COMBUSTION engines, and that's because oil-based fuels do not even explode, so low is their energy content!

    "In my opinion, FLEX Fuel is a sham and one of the reasons GM got in trouble. I will never buy a FF car."

    It is so much a sham than an ENTIRE COUNTRY has MORE cars running on ethanol than gasoline (Brazil). And that's been going on for over 30 years! Hard to say anything to that huh?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    It is so much a sham than an ENTIRE COUNTRY has MORE cars running on ethanol than gasoline (Brazil). And that's been going on for over 30 years! Hard to say anything to that huh?

    It looks to me from your misinformation you are drinking the Corn squeezin' rather than running it in your car. Better check your facts on Brazil. I have already posted the facts on the subject for you several times. You just refuse to see the truth. And yes diesel has a lot more BTUs of energy per gallon than Gasoline. And as my friend has posted the FFVs sold in the USA are a joke. I know as I have one. Of course in all of So CA there is only one station selling E85 for about a buck a gallon more than RUG. Kind of a novelty fuel for the totally uninformed wannabe enviro wacko crowd.

    I have no problem with people in the midwest running ethanol in their vehicles. I don't like it forced onto the rest of the country with the loss in mileage that is well documented. !0% ethanol equals 10% loss of mileage. Add to that the huge subsidies and it becomes apparent to an educated individual that we are getting screwed as a payoff to the Congress people in the Midwest.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Where did you EVER get this number from my friend? Diesel engines are not even EXPLOSION, but COMBUSTION engines, and that's because oil-based fuels do not even explode, so low is their energy content!

    ?
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    >"I don't like it forced onto the rest of the country with the loss in mileage that is well documented. !0% ethanol equals 10% loss of mileage."

    Yep!

    And amazing to me how the Ethanol crowd can't seem to understand that, with a 10% drop in mileage, we are forced to buy 10% more fuel to go the same distance.

    So we are burning the same amount of Dino PLUS the Ethanol.

    Does 11 gallons of 10% Ethanol produce less emissions than 10 gallons of pure Dino ?

    Kip
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,871
    Does 11 gallons of 10% Ethanol produce less emissions than 10 gallons of pure Dino ?

    See? Now THAT is an interesting question that we'll probably never get a straight answer to because an ethanol proponent's answer would likely be, "You can't compare emissions from different amounts of fuel". But I'm like you. I understand that I'm not burning any less gasoline or doing anything to decrease demand on gasoline production because ethanol has been added to the mix.

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  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    Seems to me that even if Ethanol required absolutely ZERO energy and emissions to produce, we would still be polluting more with the 10% increase in fuel volume to go the same distance.

    Add in the emissions to produce the stuff and we are paying more to pollute more. Somewhat of a Loose-Loose situation for the masses and a Win-Win for the corn producers.

    Kip
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    Even if we assume that the emissions are the same, that ignores the problem of the pollution that results from the production of the corn. Where corn is replacing soybeans, the increased nitrogen runoff is polluting the water that receive it. Here in the Chesapeake Bay region, the state and fed govts are spending millions to attempt to remove a tiny fraction of the pollution from nitrogen runoff. A classic case of unintended consequences that should be taught in every environmental biology class in the country.
  • pafromflpafromfl Posts: 47
    In addition, the corn-derived ethanol depletes the Midwest aquifer and drives up the worldwide price of food. If ethanol actually reduced oil consumption, some of the side effects might be tolerable. However E10 actually increases net oil consumption. Word is spreading. The Greenies should quickly admit E10 was a mistake or they will lose all credibility with the public.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,873
    Yeah, I'm having a hard time getting why anyone continues to prop up this ridiculous failed experiment.

    I happen to live down the street from a few gas stations that have non-ethanol blended fuel, and I always have to remember to fill up if I head eastward - once you get about 10 miles from here, it's all ethanol-blended.

    I can't remember the last time I saw even a semi-reasonable argument for ethanol.

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  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    I happen to live down the street from a few gas stations that have non-ethanol blended fuel,

    Your lucky, we, i.e. WA State has a 10% law. There is no pure gasoline for sale in Washington State.
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