Is Ethanol good for the environment?

gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
Ethanol has some real downsides that the government would like to cover up. The administration is forcing it onto CA. after they had to legislate against that nasty MTBE. Ethanol is a bigger smog producer, higher in NoX and big Corporate welfare for ADM. Need any other reasons to not use Ethanol. This is good reading, on who is getting paid off to keep Ethanol alive.

http://www.foe.org/powerpolitics/8.26.pdf
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Comments

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    People on this board had me believing that Ethanol was good. It is all fabricated to make a few people rich from our taxes. It costs us taxpayer's about a $1 per gallon in corporate welfare.
     
    Cornell's Pimental
    found that 131,000 BTUs are needed to make one
    gallon of ethanol, and one gallon of ethanol has an energy value of 77,000 BTUs, so there is a net
    energy loss of 54,000 BTUs in the production of
    one gallon of ethanol.


    http://www.foe.org/policy/58e4e.pdf
  • daysailerdaysailer Member Posts: 720
    Ethanol has never been a good idea as a motor fuel and its promotion as such has been an obvious attempt to subsidize agriculture (again).
  • john1701ajohn1701a Member Posts: 1,897
    This is a rather silly thread. There's no such thing as any fuel that's "good" for the environment. The best you can realistically hope for is "no damage to".

    As for data on the subject, please provide a link to an actual WHITE PAPER. That summary is totally void of any detail and clearly has an organizational bias.

    With actual data, we can discuss the programs in place that have greatly improved the growing & refining process. Large steps forward have been made to reduce the environmental impact and to deliver a higher overall energy yield.

    Also, don't forget similar efforts have been made with the production of biodiesel too.

    JOHN
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    How much more would you like? Here is what the Canadiens think of Ethanol corporate welfare.

    ethanol production does not enhance energy security, is not a renewable energy source, is not an economical fuel, and does not ensure clean air...its production uses land suitable for crop production and causes environmental degradation."

    http://www.taxpayer.com/ltts/sk/April28-04.htm
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    That summary is totally void of any detail and clearly has an organizational bias.
    You keep Ethanol in the Midwest we don't want it in CA. It is not a left right biased issue, it is a "buying votes from the farmers" issue. If you don't consider "Friends of the Earth" a viable Organization, you will probably continue to believe that it is not costing more to produce than it is worth. The only positive spin you will find on Ethanol is from the folks that are profiteering from it.

    “If the ethanol producers and the corn growers weren’t benefiting from this, we wouldn’t be doing it,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., last week. “There’s no policy reason to do this.”

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3540967/
  • john1701ajohn1701a Member Posts: 1,897
    I want the ACTUAL RESEARCH DETAIL to be able to draw a conclusion for myself.

    SHOW ME THE DATA!

    Being shoveled digested information serves no purpose but to entertain. Not knowing how the conclusion was come to is clearly evidence of a non-objective stance.

    JOHN
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    I want the ACTUAL RESEARCH DETAIL to be able to draw a conclusion for myself.
     What is the 52 cents per gallon subsidy? That comes out of my taxes. you should be paying that with every gallon you purchase, not me. As a MN farmer I can tell you the only way to plant corn year after year is with huge amounts of chemical fertilizer. That in itself is very harmful to the ground water in YOUR state. ADM does not care if you have lousy water. My property was right on the Long Prairie River and we refused to use any chemicals that would leech into the river. Only the stuff our cattle produced. You will have a hard time finding data that is current because it is hidden in a cloak of deception. No one in the business is going to tell you they are spending 2 bucks to produce a bucks worth of Ethanol. Not when Uncle Sam has a 5 billion dollar subsidy sitting on the table for the next 8 years. Alaska got an exemption because it caused way more ice fog in the winter during testing. I'm surprised you don't see more in Minneapolis in the winter.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Member Posts: 1,897
    > it is hidden in a cloak of deception

    Yet, you believe the info you have.

    What's wrong with that picture?

    The EPA and select colleges perform studies of that nature all the time. They publicly publish their findings. Let's see those.

    JOHN
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    What's wrong with that picture?

    Nothing is wrong with that picture. Cornell University's study is the only viable study that has been made public. Show me a study where Ethanol is making money and does not have an adverse environmental impact. Here is an article touting the virtues of Ethanol. What's wrong with this picture?

    More than 60% of the world’s supply of ethanol is estimated to be derived from sugar, with Brazil – a sugarcane growing country – in the lead.

    I see nothing wrong with clearing the rainforset to plant Sugarcane, duh!!!

    http://wardsauto.com/ar/auto_old_idea_made/
  • john1701ajohn1701a Member Posts: 1,897
    I'm for a moderate approach. One that will yield a REALISTIC reduction of gas (oil) consumption, not the total elimination.

    You are the one insisting the ALL OR NONE approach, not me.

    Clearly, we have different goals.

    JOHN
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    U.S. Department of Energy Study indicates that ethanol is responsible for more nitrous oxide.

     Now let me research Biodiesel for you.....

    http://www.qctimes.com/qcbizjournal/internal.php?story_id=1030270- &l=1&t=Agriculture&c=93,1030270
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    You are the one insisting the ALL OR NONE approach, not me.

    Where did you get that impression? I already pay higher prices for fuel in CA than you do. I don't want the added burden of transporting Ethanol for some contrived plan to pull the Midwest out of the doldrums. I am looking for viable alternatives to our dependence on foriegn oil. If we are going to use our coal and Natural gas to produce Ethanol, why not just burn the Natural Gas in the car to start with. Why pass it through several layers of bureaucracy first and come out with a less environmentally sound product. That is like making hydrogen from Natural Gas. Why bother, just burn the gas to start with. There is no way we will eliminate foreign oil in our lifetime. I am all for reducing the consumption. There are too many opposing forces at every step. No matter what technology or resource is used someone is not going to like it and put roadblocks in the way. Just as you would block the use of diesel because of your bias toward hybrid/ethanol burning vehicles. I think your use of those resources is great. You get great mileage from your Prius and I applaud that. There are other options that are good also. I want them all to have an equal chance to succeed.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAMember Posts: 4,098
    Hello? Anyone care to post the links to the actual data on ethanol?

    I can make a statement here that Ethanol is really good and 100 percent renewable and great for the environment.

    Hmmm, it seems I didn't post any supporting data (and I'm not talking supporting opinions but rather scientific data).

    Yet under the rules most people seem to use here, that statement must obiously be true.

    For the record, the above is in jest, I have no position on ethanol ... because I haven't seen conclusive data either way. However I do have a position on scientific evidence... I am enthusiastically in favor of it!
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    Here is published scientific data from Cornell University. I don't believe they are in it for the money. All the pro data I have found on Ethanol is filtered by companies that have a vested interest in the growing of corn or production of Ethanol. Congress knows it is not viable but they don't want to upset the farm states. It does in fact have a $.52 per gallon Federal subsidy as of today. I would be glad to read any more recent data that is not diluted by entities that stand to get rich on my tax dollars. This corporate welfare to the max.
    http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Aug01/corn-basedethanol.hrs.- html
  • stevedebistevedebi LAMember Posts: 4,098
    Thanks for posting the link, but this is not a scientic study, it is a summary from someone who read a study. The key importance in determining truth is not the data in a study, but rather how the researcher processed the data, or assembled the data. Either can skew the study - and the results.

    However, the study is available (though probably not on line):

    "His findings will be published in September, 2001 in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Physical Sciences and Technology "

    BTW, this information is thus 3 years old...

    Here is a pretty good report that lists lots of references, if anyone wants to persue the topic:

    http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/AF/265.pdf

    The following is the conclusion (since it is an engergy department study, it is in the public domain and not copywrited).

    "We conclude that the NEV of corn-ethanol is positive
    when fertilizers are produced by modern processing
    plants, corn is converted in modern ethanol facilities,
    and farmers achieve average corn yields. Our NEV
    estimate of over 21,000 Btu per gallon could be
    considered conservative, since it was derived using the
    replacement method for valuing coproducts, and it
    does not include energy credits for plants that sell
    carbon dioxide. Corn ethanol is energy efficient, as
    indicated by an energy ratio of 1.34; that is, for every
    Btu dedicated to producing ethanol there is a 34-
    percent energy gain. Furthermore, producing ethanol
    from domestic corn stocks achieves a net gain in a
    more desirable form of energy, which helps the United
    States to reduce its dependence on imported oil.
    Ethanol production utilizes abundant domestic energy
    feedstocks, such as coal and natural gas, to convert
    corn into a premium liquid fuel. Only about 17 percent
    of the energy used to produce ethanol comes from
    liquid fuels, such as gasoline and diesel fuel. For every
    1 Btu of liquid fuel used to produce ethanol, there is a
    6.34 Btu gain.
    When looking at past NEV studies, it appears that
    energy requirements for producing a gallon of ethanol
    are falling over time. One of the primary factors for
    this increase in energy efficiency is the increase in
    U.S. corn yields. When ethanol first emerged as a
    gasoline extender in the 1970s, corn yield was averaging
    about 90 bushels per acre. This study used
    1995-97 average corn yield of 125 bushels per acre,
    which is about 39 percent greater than the yields of the
    1970s. Corn yields continue to rise in the United
    States—the average corn yield per acre for the past 3
    years (1999-2001) was about 135 bushels per acre. If
    the 1999-2001 average corn yield were used in this
    analysis, the total energy used to produce a bushel of
    corn would decline by more than 4,200 Btu. As corn
    yields increase over time, we can expect the energy
    balance of corn ethanol to increase, as well. Other
    major factors causing this increase in energy efficiency
    are related to the energy-saving technologies adopted
    by ethanol producers and manufacturers of fertilizers
    and other farm inputs. Higher energy costs will likely
    continue to provide incentives for these industries to
    become more energy efficient, which will continue to
    push the NEV of corn ethanol higher."
  • stevedebistevedebi LAMember Posts: 4,098
    Forgot to mention, the previous DOE report mentions the Cornell scientist and why his conclusions were so different. And his data was from 1991; the 2001 was an update with a co-author, and the data is at variance with many other scientists.

    "Pimentel reported the lowest NEVs by far, about
    -33,500 Btu/gal. There is a difference of more than
    50,000 Btu between Pimentel’s NEV and the estimate
    derived in this study (table 1). Many factors
    contributed to Pimentel’s low estimate. For example,
    with the exception of Ho, Pimentel’s 1991 study used
    the lowest corn yield among the studies. His 1991
    study used the highest fertilizer application rate and
    the lowest corn ethanol conversion rate. He increased
    corn yield and reduced fertilizer application rate in his
    2001 study, but oddly, the NEV in the latter study
    went down. His estimate for energy used for nitrogen
    fertilizer processing was extremely high and appears
    not to reflect technology used by modern facilities.
    The amount of energy required for ethanol conversion
    in Pimentel’s studies also appears outdated.
    Conversion estimates used by the other studies ranged
    between 40,850 Btu/gal (LHV) and 57,000 Btu/gal
    (LHV), while Pimentel’s studies calculated about
    75,000 Btu (LHV) to convert a gallon of ethanol. In
    addition, he is the only author to include an energy
    value for steel, cement, and other materials used in the
    production of equipment, farm vehicles, and the
    ethanol plant."
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    That is an interesting report. And a quite large discrepancy in the net gain for Ethanol. If the report is accurate, why are we still paying 52 cents per gallon to subsidize the production? Sounds to me like they should be making a handsome profit. The transportation to places outside of the Midwest was ignored in the calculations. And the worst part is the added smog factor was not mentioned. NoX is higher with Ethanol added. That is why CA and NY are fighting the implementation. We just got rid of one hazard in MTBE and along comes another potential hazard. It seems like a snow job to me to satisfy the Midwest farmers.
  • falcononefalconone Member Posts: 1,726
    Anyone ever have an ethanol rush? It's cranberry, kahlua and ethanol with a twist of lime. You absolutely must try it. Oh.. by the way... this is one of the most ridiculous threads I've ever seen here. More political propaganda than anything else. ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    As a matter of fact there was a $2 a gallon tax on it during prohibition. Must have been a popular drink mix.....wake up did you drink too much Ethanol?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    More political propaganda than anything else.

    It is very Apolitical and affects all of us. It takes money from the East and West coast drivers and puts it in the pockets of huge corporations and big farmers in the Midwest. And it is not something I want in my gas. In fact if they force CA to use it I will go all diesel. It may be ridiculous to you, not me.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAMember Posts: 4,098
    "And it is not something I want in my gas. In fact if they force CA to use it I will go all diesel. It may be ridiculous to you, not me. "

    Hmmm, you do realize that the only diesels allowed in California are in vehicles over 6000 lbs? So you are saying you would buy a Ford Excursion, or F250 or Chevy Tahoe XT?

    However, I take your point. I was never fond of MTBE either. I wonder what alternatives to Ethanol are available (and what they would cost)?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    There are ways to get around the CARB rules. You can buy a diesel car with 7500 miles on it, possibly from another state. The real stickler on Ethanol is shipping is a pain. It cannot be piped over so it will have to come by truck to the refineries where it will be mixed. It does raise the NoX and sulfur which is counter productive. CA is fighting the Feds on this one. Our governor is bigger than Iowa's so maybe we will win. Ethanol is just a get rich corporate scam.
    And isn't that something, I can buy a huge diesel Pickup truck and not a VW TDI, that is so much cleaner burning than any of the big 3 diesel PU manufacturers.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAMember Posts: 4,098
    "There are ways to get around the CARB rules. You can buy a diesel car with 7500 miles on it, possibly from another state."

    Nope, you cannot buy a car from another state, unless it is pre-1992, when the current diesel rules were implemented. You would not be able to register the car here. The VIN would show up as a new diesel and would be rejected.

    So I suppose we can go ahead and buy that 1991 Mercedes 300D with 300K miles on it...

    Rules will probably change in 2007 when the cleaner low-sulfer diesel is due to be introduced in all states.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    Actually I just got my SOCO/CFN cards. There is a station a mile from my home that sells ULSD less than 15 ppm diesel. So I am ready. Actually the law against small diesel cars went in last year for the 2004 cars. My VW dealer sold lots of VW TDI's up till this year. They bring a big premium on the used market. The San Diego Trader had a 2002 Bug TDI listed at $19k. Too rich for my blood. I'll look up the regs on bringing used diesel cars into CA.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    Here is a link that explains the loopholes in the CA DMV laws.

    mike91326 "VW Passat TDI" Jul 12, 2004 1:58pm
    Here is the actual rules that allow you to bring a non CA new car into the state.

    http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/NonCAVeh/NonCAVeh.pdf
  • stevedebistevedebi LAMember Posts: 4,098
    I don't think the suggestion about Vegas would work. The law requires that you show a repair invoice, not just some statement.

    Also, realize that you would have to register the vehicle in two different states, and that when you register a vehicle in California from another state, you pay CA sales tax as well as the vehicle fees... I know because it happened to me when I moved here in 1989.

    So you would have to pay out-of-state sales taxes and registration plus CA sales taxes and registration.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    I'm not sure how easy that Vegas deal would be to pull off.

    How long ago did you have to pay sales tax on a used vehicle you brought from a different state? My partner that works with me in Alaska lives in Long Beach and his wife got nervous driving his new Envoy with Alaska plates. It is a year old and she took it in and got CA plates for a total of $233. No sales tax. It surprised me also. They said if the car is over 90 days old there is no tax. I think the laws have changed since 1989.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAMember Posts: 4,098
    "They said if the car is over 90 days old there is no tax. I think the laws have changed since 1989. "

    Good to know and good riddance... my car was 12 years old at the time...
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    This is a typical E85 compatible vehicle. I don't see any reason to use Ethanol. It gets a worse air pollution score than the gas only version and when running E85 it uses more fuel. What kind of scam is this E85?

     

    http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/E-CHEVROLET-Suburban1500-05.htm
  • electrictroyelectrictroy Member Posts: 564
    STUDIES:

    http://www.ethanol.org/pdfs/energy_balance_ethanol.pdf

    http://www.ethanol.org/pdfs/energy_balance_ethanol.pdf

    http://www.carbohydrateeconomy.org/library/admin/uploadedfiles/Ho- w_Much_Energy_Does_it_Take_to_Make_a_Gallon_.html

     

    HIGHLIGHTS

    "U.S. Department of Agriculture, July 2002. This study analyzes many of the previous studies on the energy balance of producing ethanol. The conclusion by the study's authors is that there is 34% more energy in a gallon of ethanol than it takes to produce it."

    "Michigan State University, May 2002. This comprehensive, independent study funded by MSU shows that there is 56% more energy in a gallon of ethanol than it takes to produce it."

     

    troy
  • electrictroyelectrictroy Member Posts: 564
    "Cornell's Pimental found that 131,000 BTUs are needed to make one gallon of ethanol, and one gallon of ethanol has an energy value of 77,000 BTUs, so there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs"

     

    .

     

    Sounds like Hydrogen. H2 has the same flaw, but people ignore it.

     

    Anyway, I find it difficult to believe ethanol results in a 54,000 BTU loss. Ethanol plants are basically *solar cells* absorbing free energy from the sun. Surely having liquified solar energy is beneficial?

     

    troy
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    Surely having liquified solar energy is beneficial?

     

    I think they consider it a wash because it absorbs as much CO2 as it creates when used as fuel.
  • electrictroyelectrictroy Member Posts: 564
    Um, yeah, but my point is that we're getting "free energy" from the sun. Ethanol is like liquified solar. How is that bad?

     

    troy
  • yerth10yerth10 Member Posts: 431
    http://wardsauto.com/ar/auto_brazils_flexfuel_cars/index.htm

     

    22 % of vehicles sold in Brazil in 2004 had Flex-fuel and this may increase to 50 % in 2005. Great.

     

    Their flex-fuel has both

    Bi-Fuel (gasolene/Ethanol)

    and

    Tri-Fuel (gasolene/Ethanol/Natural-gas)

     

    Brazil is also #2 in CNG usage.

     

    As for the energy input/output ratio, if it consumes more input, then combined with the labor, it will cost double that of gasolene,

    but it costs only 10 - 15 % more which is also because of low sales volume.

     

    I am sure that Ethanol delivers more energy than what it consumes to produce and in Cane-based Ethanol output is even more. As gas prices increase, expect more vehicles even in USA.

    Hey, Indonesia which is a long time OPEC member has become a net oil-importer last year and plans to pull out of that cartel.
  • yerth10yerth10 Member Posts: 431
    www.greencarcongress.com

    Its good to sell vehicles running on E85, but why is GM always putting such technology in trucks.

    An average truck driver may never know about E85 and will not search for a station vending that fuel.

    GM can bring it in a smaller vehicle like Cobalt, Equinox, etc.
  • electrictroyelectrictroy Member Posts: 564
    The places where E85 is available (north-central U.S.) are mostly farmers who drive trucks. So that's why the technology is aimed at trucks.

    Troy
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    GM can bring it in a smaller vehicle like Cobalt, Equinox, etc.

    They would never sell to the public. They average about 25% lower mileage than normal gas engines. I am sure it is more expensive and not readily available. It is cleaner and less GHG. If you want a small car that gets good mileage on an alternate fuel, go with the VW TDI and Biodiesel or the Honda Civic GX that runs on CNG. CNG cars are the Cleanest on the planet. Maybe even cleaner than electric vehicles if you have to use electricity generated with coal or fuel oil.
  • yerth10yerth10 Member Posts: 431
    http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/e85toolkit/e85_fuel.html

    E85 costs $1.49 / gallon in this webpage. Even it has only 4/5 the energy of gasoline, it should cost 4/5*2.1 = $1.68. So it is 18 cents cheaper.

    The gas price shown in the board is definitely older as they show lower price of gas.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    Even it has only 4/5 the energy of gasoline, it should cost 4/5*2.1 = $1.68.

    It has about 3/4 the energy of unleaded gas. So the break even amount would be if the fuel sells for 25% less. The real kicker is the fact that it is very expensive & dangerous to transport. If you are in the area of an Ethanol plant the price is reasonable. The amount that is added to the CA gas is one of the factors making our gas the most expensive in the nation. I think it is about 11% that is added to our gas. I noticed my mileage on the last trip to Las Vegas in the Lexus was about 1 mpg better on the return trip with a fill-up in Vegas.
  • yerth10yerth10 Member Posts: 431
    So the break even amount would be if the fuel sells for 25% less.
    Yes, at 1.49/gallon, it is more than 25% lesser than gas which sells at 2.1/gallon.

    dangerous to transport
    You mean it is toxic. After all gasoline is also dangerous. You might have read the news that an explosion in BP plant in Texas have killed 14 and injured many more.

    I noticed my mileage on the last trip to Las Vegas in the Lexus
    So do you mean that CA gas which contains Ethanol gives more mileage.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    dangerous to transport

    Ethanol is much more volatile than gas or diesel.

    My trip back from Las Vegas was with non ethanol gasoline and gave slightly better mileage than I got on the trip over to LV using CA gas. That has been a big cry in CA about the loss of mileage with the 11% ethanol that is added during the winter months. We are guinea pigs in CA when it comes to emissions. They loaded our gas down with MTBE then did the research that found it to be a health hazard.
  • electrictroyelectrictroy Member Posts: 564
    "The amount that is added to the CA gas is one of the factors making our gas the most expensive in the nation."

    .

    That's not quite true. CA gas was the most expensive, even when you were using MTBE (oxygenate). The switchover to ethanol didn't make any difference in price.

    The reason CA gas is the most expensive in the nation is twofold:
    -high demand (minor factor)
    -no sulfur gasoline (major factor)

    It costs a lot of money to make that no sulfur gasoline for California requirements.

    troy
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    I agree that all those factors added to our gas price. I think some of the northern states have gotten rid of the Ethanol added to their gas. I know in Alaska it caused ice fog. Ethanol is not really a good alternate fuel source.
  • electrictroyelectrictroy Member Posts: 564
    The whole thing with oxygenates is bogus. Adding an oxygenate to fuel doesn't make it burn better. The whole idea is as bogus as the "ethyl/lead helps your car run better" false advertising from pre-1980.

    troy
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    The whole thing with oxygenates is bogus.

    I have to agree. I believe that it has been pushed on us to sell ethanol. Companies like ADM have a large interest in ethanol production from seed corn to distilling. A few are making a lot of money on ethanol and all of us are paying for it.
  • gm1954gm1954 Member Posts: 3
    Aargon Labs shows the same thing. If an ethanol plant is using more than 30,000 btu to produce a gallon of ethanol, they are doing something wrong. Of course ethanol contains more energy than it takes to produce. Distillers are buying dirt cheap grain and the energy to process it and selling the final product at a profit (and that is before any subsidies).

    I've been using E85 for three years now. It is an outstanding fuel. Fuel economy is identical to gasoline and you get an additional 10% in horse power. The cost of production is now less than gasoline. Pump price is generally 5 to 30 cents less than regular gasoline.
  • dmcmahondmcmahon Member Posts: 26
    Um, yeah, but my point is that we're getting "free energy" from the sun. Ethanol is like liquified solar. How is that bad?

    Because modern agriculture is so energy-intensive, it takes about the same amount of fossil fuel energy to produce the ethanol as it contains. The main culprits are agricultural machinery, transport of materials, and most importantly large quantities of fertilizer (produced from fossil fuels). Then there's the energy required to support the distillation process, too.

    Read Pimantel's latest analysis, where he answers ADM's rebuttal of his original paper. The energy gap narrows, but not entirely. The only flaw in his analysis is that he bases his energy calculations for distillation on the current system which has to produce a very high purity suitable for use as a gasoline additive, whereas a car built to run exclusively on ethanol could run fine on a less costly grade of purity.

    Ethanol might be made from waste material, thus negating the fossil-inputs argument somewhat. But I think it's more efficient to use crop wastes to produce bio-diesel, so even here, you have to trade off using wastes for ethanol production against the best possible alternative use. Any way you look at it, ethanol just doesn't make sense, energy-wise.
  • drpharmdogdrpharmdog Member Posts: 2
    but i think ethanol makes sense for our country..i.e. less mid-east oil and more money for our farms...i'd use ethanol or biodiesel if i could get my hands on it here in florida
  • mxermxer Member Posts: 4
    There are a lot of mis-conceptions about Ethanol all around. I've been doing some research on the issue and those of you who are really interested in this topic should be careful and make sure you are not getting your information from old data. New research and development has led to Ethanol production that is efficient and very energy positive. Also, even though Ethanol has a lowere btu content, it also has a higher Octane content. E85 is around 106 Octane if memory serves me correct. It is true that an improperly converted vehicle will get less mpg's on Ethanol, however, A vehicle designed to run on Ethanol can get better mpg and performance by taking advantage of the higher Octane rating of the fuel. A Vehicle running E85 can have a higer compression ratio and run advaced timing -(advancing the timing too far increases the NOX output to unacceptable levels)

    Ethanol is plant-based and is essentially liquid solar energy, so there is no net amount of CO2 is released. A large percentage of raw corn fed to livestock is undigested. When the corn is first fermented to alcohol fuel, the grain can still be fed to cattle and is of a higher feed quality. So it's a bit of a mis-conception that that the Corn is being lost as a food and the Farmer is just out there buring fuel to make fuel - The farmer is actually adding a degree of efficency in that, the same fuel used to grow feed before is now being used to make both feed and fuel.

    It's also a mis-conception that Ethanol is just about Politics and the Rich lining their pockets. You'll find that most Ethanol is produced by Farmers and Farmer Co-Ops, not Big Business. As Ethanol useage increases, it creates more jobs in the good ole USA and has the ablilty to reduce our National deficit. Our hard earned dollars stop leaving the Coutry and stop flowing to Countries in the Middle East. Instead, our dollars begin to flow to the American Farmer, the R&D firms that employ Engineers to research Biofuels, to American Manufactures who produce Ethanol and Bio-fuels, to American Labors who work a 40 hour week for a living.

    It's common to resist Change and I don't know how Ethanol will finally play out over the long term. I suspect that it will just be one piece of the puzzle used to reduce or dependance on foreign oil. From what I see, I believe Ethanol and Bio-Diesel will play a big part in the transportation arena and I personally believe it will be good for America as a whole.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    My question is. If E85 is a better fuel, why do the vehicles designed to use it get worse mileage on E85 than regular unleaded? The Silverado is EPA rated 12/16 on E85 and 16/20 on unleaded regular. My understanding is that ADM is the largest producer of Ethanol. I could be wrong. I agree that bio-diesel can and does lessen our dependence on fossil fuel. I am not convinced on Ethanol with all it's problems.
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