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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol



  • eliaselias Posts: 1,898
    4ethanol, your thinking appears to be magical, or maybe you are just rationalizing about ethanol maybe due to it making you or your family $? (I'd probably like ethanol-as-fuel lots better if I made some $ from it.)

    Why care if the mpg loss with E10 is 10% or 11% or 9% or 5% or 3% or 2.71828%? It's a scam any way you slice it.

    maybe our new president will recognize the scam and cancel the subsidies/etc?
  • In the last paragraph of this post, pf flyer offered a simple but powerful example of the folly we are engaged in with corn based ethanol. It is so simple a concept that to deny the conclusion is delusional.
    I keep a log in my 4runner and can pinpoint the change in gasoline formulations because I drive pretty conservatively and do the same kind of driving consistently.
    If the price of ethanol were such that the cost were less (without the subsidy, tariff, questionable air pollution issues, farmland, food prices, fertilizer use, engine damage to small/marine engines, and transportation issues) than gasoline, it might be a good thing.
    P.S. Does anyone know if there is an ethanol/global warming forum?
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    A buddy of mine runs a tire store/repair shop and I was hanging out there the other day when a customer came in and was talking about the mileage performance of their Prius. They are one of those Prius owners who are semi-fanatical about maximizing their mileage. Not a full-blown hypermiler, but still VERY attuned to and aware of their mileage. They were getting 52mpg out of their Prius until "the labels saying contains ethanol appeared on the pumps" and their mileage immediately dropped to 42 mpg.

    Gee... that sounds like about a 20% drop. I bet they aren't doing something right or there's something wrong with their car because that ethanol stuff can increase mileage when used properly. :P

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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    First Wall Street, Then Automakers, Now U.S. Ethanol Industry Wants a Bailout

    "Enough already!"

    That ought to be Washington's response to the Renewable Fuels Association's request this month for $1 billion in financial aid to struggling ethanol producers so they can finance current operations.

    But wait, there's more. The RFA -- the ethanol industry's lobby -- has also suggested to the incoming administration that it create a $50-billion federal loan guarantee program to finance investment in the ethanol producers' expansion.

    And furthermore, the RFA has told Obama & Co. that any automaker that receives federal aid should be required to only produce vehicles that can run on any gas-ethanol blend up to 85 percent ethanol, beginning with the 2010 model season.

    Be sure to read the rest of the story at the Green Car Advisor

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,847
    Please Uncle Sam give me a bailout. I promise not to piss it all away this time.

    The ethanol industry has been a black mark on the country since it was first pushed 30 years ago. How many times do we have to subsidize this losing corn ethanol scam? The only people that benefited are Big AG like ADM. They con our ignorant Congress into the scheme. It lowers our gas mileage and then they got the nerve to ask the tax payers to bail them out of a business that was never intended to make money.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    The discussion of ethanol is getting to be a lot like the discussion of the effectiveness of HHO kits. Facts no longer seem to matter. We're supposed to go along just because someone thinks it's a good idea :sick:

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,847
    I think so much more media attention to our trade deficit with countries that are not all that friendly causes a lot of the problem. Everyone is looking for the magic bullet to save US from our supposed gasoline addiction. We are spoiled in this country by cheap fuel. I would not expect any alternative to offer anything as cheap as fossil fuel is right today. Just not likely. As much as I would like a car I could plug in and drive for a penny a mile. That is not going to happen either.
  • Personally it has been great in Fla, hi 70s & low 80s..I pray for more Global Warming...I thought ethanol would solve all problems, but like most left-hand ideas it created more than it solved..If you could look at our Congress folks portfolios of stocks you would understand where they put their money for they possess the "Insider Trading" status.. Called Blind Trusts, it's blind to the voters.

    Since I fed 3 cars, ethanol sucks!!!! The 09 Mustang Bullitt has not seen any ethanol, the 06 S/C Pontiac gets cheap premium gas and high-priced ethanol-laced petrol, and non-ethanol premium..Mileage goes from 18.5 on the cheap premium to 23.5 on the old fashioned gas..The third car is a 4banger XLE Camry which lives on a diet of junk gas and took a dive in mpgs w/ethanol of about 15%..

    At $4.00/gal, the ethanol guys were in hog-heaven, now they are in the slop, and screaming for our left-hand govt for a bailout..

    The chemistry and the benefits of ethanol somehow doesn't enhance my automotive experiences for the I fail to see any pluses on ethanol's behalf..I guess I am too old fashioned to gobble up the hype connected to what's driving this country back to Dark Ages..

    I am long on's at the bottom..Jump aboard and bid up the barrel price so the ethanol guys will stop complaining so Congress will not have to give them more of our taxes..

    Enviromentalists+Lawyers have created this downsizing of our economy based on the assumption of "Saving the Planet"..Who is going to save you folks????

    I am too old to worry about the outcome----remember "Elections have Consequecences". You will find out shortly what it's like to have professional politicians running your life..the ones who have been on the public payroll their entire working life except for the paper route in their early days or maybe a little "Community Organizing " using your tax $$$$$s....

    I got my fill of ethanol in 2000 in Michigan at a small town gas station, a very nice operation with gas prices 5 cents lower than the big city guys. However after filling up 10-15 times and receiving less gas mileage, while I really didn't care, but the car didn't have it's robust performance so I read the little stickers on the pump---low and behold it's ethanol-10%..

    I apologized to the car for this mistreatment...Now it is Mandated---sure makes me feel better??????? Isn't it fun to pay more for much less????? Cars get smaller however we pay more-much more???? Like the new light bulbs, full of mercury, now is that good or bad???? Ask a legal eagle for they used to collect big fees tracing down mercury...Smoking is bad, who cares, it creates taxes--okay, gives the legal eagles more basis for lawsuits based deceptive advertising. I guess smokers can't read..
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,847
    This is just what Ahnold needs. Makes the Hummer look like a toy. Luxury with 6 NBA players able to sit in comfort. What more could you ask in an Urban Cruiser?

    The KNIGHT XV is 240 in length, 98 in width with a ground clearance of 14 and stands at 100. Its wheelbase is 141 and has an armoured curb weight of 10,000 pounds. The vehicle holds 40 gallons of fuel and sits on four, LT40X13.50R20 Mickey Thompson Baja Radial ATZ tires with ballistic run flats.

    Additionally, the KNIGHT XV contains an E-85 Ethanol conversion system (Flex Fuel) with California emission certification, thereby making it certified in all 50 States.


    What more could a tree hugging ethanol proponent ask for??
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,818
    Hm... you don't mention the MPG estimates on this one. I suspect you could get upwards of 7 MPG with a strong tailwind.

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,847
    I think 7 MPG with E85 would be optimistic. I found it interesting that there are start-ups using the E85 scam to get by the goofy regulations imposed by the EPA and CARB. If it runs on E85 makes no difference how much of it. That is how GM & Ford will get by the new CAFE regulations. A full sized PU getting 12 MPG on E85 gets an equivalent 33 MPG rating from CAFE. I don't think you will see many Conquest vehicles on the road at $310,000 each. CARB gives this behemoth the nod with its gas guzzling V10 engine. I cannot buy a new small PU with a 4 cylinder diesel engine anywhere in the USA.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,847
    Pacific Ethanol to temporarily suspend production

    updated 12:57 p.m. PT, Fri., Jan. 9, 2009

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Pacific Ethanol Inc. on Friday said it plans to temporarily halt production at its 40 million gallon per year ethanol facility located in Madera, Calif., starting Jan. 12, due to extended unfavorable market conditions for ethanol.

    Demand for ethanol has waned amid record-low crude oil prices and weak oil demand.

    Pacific Ethanol produces about 114,000 gallons of ethanol per day and employs about 40 full time employees at the Madera plant. The company said it has temporarily laid off Madera employees and plans to reopen the plant "as soon as market conditions allow" and will bring employees back.

    More bad news for ethanol. Too bad people do not look past their noses. Ethanol history would have told US Corn Ethanol is not going to fly. Now we have more people on unemployment as a result of Government mandates and intervention into business. Will it ever end. Or is it going to continue to get worse?
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,510
    Here's how the disaster that is ethanol is doing right now:
    Ethanol's problems
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,847
    All people had to do is look at the 90+ ethanol stills that were shut down in the 1980s to see this was a poor product. If it cannot make it without subsidies it is not a viable source of energy.

    “The ethanol industry is on its back despite the billions of dollars they have gotten in taxpayer assistance, and a guaranteed market,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy analyst at Rice University.

    The government’s Energy Information Administration recently projected that the industry would fall short of the targets for expanded use of ethanol and other biofuels that Congress set in a 2007 energy law. “It’s possible we may have to look at the targets again,” said Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

    VeraSun Energy, one of the nation’s largest ethanol producers, has suspended production at 12 of its 16 plants and is planning to sell production facilities. In recent days Renew Energy, Cascade Grain Products and Northeast Biofuels have filed for bankruptcy protection. Pacific Ethanol said it would suspend operations at its Madera, Calif. plant.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,510
    On top of that, the excuse used to justity corn-based ethanol, that it's a 'bridge' to other sources of bioethanol, is proving to be a sham:

    "In the meantime, plans are lagging for a new generation of factories that were supposed to produce ethanol from substances like wood chips and crop waste, overcoming the drawbacks of corn ethanol. That nascent branch of the industry concedes it has virtually no chance of meeting Congressional production mandates that kick in next year."
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,847
    I think the Congress and President were sipping too much of that Corn Hooch when they mandated ethanol in the 2005 Energy bill. That being a Republican Congress should have known better. Well they lost their jobs by not sticking to core conservative ideals. Now we got an even bigger mess to deal with.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,327
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    Yea, I love it. The "magic proportion" will somehow get BETTER mileage out of a fuel that has a lower energy density. :sick:

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  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Seems like our Government want to destroy it's self, they just keep digging the hole deeper.
  • cvs20cvs20 Posts: 14
    I am a Mecahanical Engineer, having specialized in vehicle performance, whether it be economy, crash-worthiness, roll-over, stability, etc. for over 28 years.
    PLEASE believe me when I show the comparison information below:
    1. Consider performance of gasoline as a standard of 1.00 for all the following (100% if you like)
    2. Ethanol has a heating value between 0.65 and 0.75 that of "gasoline" (for those who care heating value measures useable ENERGY content), but that also translates into an efficiency of 65% to 75% that of gasoline. Alcohol won't GO as far given the same volume, PERIOD. It's a fact of chemistry, and is not subject to legislation or wishes.
    3. A ROUGH idea of the fuel mileage of e85 (containing 85% ethanol and (maybe) 15% gasoline) can be roughly calculated according to:
    E85 mileage = 0.15 x 100% + 0.85 x 75% = 0.745, or a mileage value 74.5% that of gasoline (that is, 25.5% reduction in distance covered per gallon of E85.
    4. Bear in mind that the above is close to a "high" estimate, since alcohol absorbs water, which cools the combustion flame resulting in lower values.
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