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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol



  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    Since the industry is new I'm sure the bugs will have to worked out as far as standards go for distillers grains. But I havent heard of any issues with ecoli and animals because of ethanol. Besides, no one had a problem with giving their money to OPEC for all of these years, but its a bad thing to give money to fellow Americans to grow and produce ethanol? How does that work?
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Since the industry is new I'm sure the bugs will have to worked out as far as standards go for distillers grains

    Henry Ford desinged his first cars to run on alcohol. This is hardly a new industry.

    When someone comes up with a better plan than ethanol I might listen. To destroy our country from within just to keep from giving OPEC money is counter productive. And now with weather and flooding in the mid-west, how reliable is that ethanol crop going to be?

    And at what cost to other food crops are we going to grow corn?

    The list goes on and on.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,223
    but its a bad thing to give money to fellow Americans to grow and produce ethanol? How does that work?

    That may be the ONLY benefit to Corn ethanol. However if you are a student of recent history you know what happened the last time we had the same government manipulation of the ethanol business. It was decided in the late 1970s that producing ethanol with corn would be a good way to wean ourselves off of Saudi oil. We the people financed the building of about 110 ethanol stills in the Midwest. Today 90 of those stills are gone or in stages of rusting away. Corn Ethanol as a fuel is impractical now just as it was then. The same fate befell Brazil with sugar cane ethanol. The sugar became more valuable than the ethanol and they abandoned the stuff. It was even worse in Brazil as they had sold 1000s of cars that would ONLY run on ethanol. Those people were out of luck when they could not get the stuff.

    Back to today. We are mandated by Congress to have a minimum of 2.9% ethanol in our gas across the country. No problem in the Midwest where it is processed. CA the largest user of gas has a real problem. We have to ship every gallon of that crap from the Midwest by truck. Trucks that cannot run on ethanol. Our gas prices jumped immediately so you could have a job in the Midwest. It was Politics as usual. The only real money being made is by ADM and Verasun. They have a guaranteed profit with no risk. We are backing all the loans to build those stills. So when the Congress comes to the realization that we cannot continue in this corn ethanol madness. Guess who gets stuck with those loans. The Tax payers, you and I. When they finally come up with a way to make ethanol from waste or switchgrass or whatever. We will be subsidizing that also and the corn stills will be worthless. If your town was one of the ones that benefited from this scam, save your money because it is NOT long to be. Your corn still will be rusting away like so many others, and the workers will be scrambling for the few jobs at WalMart.

    And CORN is NOT a good diet for cattle. I am sure they are coming up with some new antibiotic to kill whatever problem that arises from feeding them distillers grain.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,223
    You are absolutely correct. Henry Ford and John D Rockefeller fought over alcohol or gas to power our automobiles. At that time the gas was dumped because it was not good for anything else.

    At around 1900 there was enough moonshine to run the few cars being built. With 235 million cars on the road it would take more land than we have to grow our own fuel. Worst part is with us using every bit of land we have for corn ethanol it will not be enough to reach the mandate.

    Cut the tariffs on Brazilian ethanol and drop the subsidy on corn ethanol and let the market decide if they want the stuff. Save the Gulf of Mexico from the Iowa Corn farmers fertilizer. Oh I forgot. Their crop will be going down the river to the Gulf this year. Maybe it is a sign???
  • avalon02whavalon02wh Posts: 785
    I checked

    EPA has a F150 4WD FFV getting 10 mpg with E85 and 15 mpg with RUG. The 2WD F150 is 11mpg. Where did you get 12.5?

    What is also interesting is that EPA has adjusted the price of gasoline up to near the current level, but they did not adjust the E85. AAA is reporting E85 at $3.562 with an adjusted price of $4.688. While EPA still lists $2.51.

    From the EPA web site.
    "Based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15000 annual miles and a fuel price of $ 4.04 per gallon of gasoline and $2.51 per gallon of E85 . Use Your Gas Prices & Annual Miles"

    That little piece of disinformation wouldn't be because the government wants to push ethanol, would it?

    Look at the rack prices! They are higher than EPA $2.51 lists for retail.

    What about the 45 cent a gallon subsidy? It should be phased out. And why are we putting an import tax on ethanol from Brazil?

    "It means that a 3.5L gas engine made to run on gas can get the same torque with a 3.0L E85 engine to close the gap."

    You cannot ignore that ethanol does not have the same energy in a gallon as RUG or diesel. Prices being equal, diesel will kick booty. That is especially true in the torque department.

    I am with gagrice on this one. Producing about 5 billion gallons a year of corn ethanol was OK. But, allowing 15 billion gallons a year of corn subsidized ethanol was stupid. And you may want to go ask the chicken and turkey farmers what they think of the price of corn. Chicken feed is about 70 percent corn.

    And while the ethanol may help the price of RUG, it does nothing for diesel. You use a lot of diesel to transport ethanol either by truck or train.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,223
    That little piece of disinformation wouldn't be because the government wants to push ethanol, would it?


    I think the market would have done fine without the Feds getting involved. If it is a good alternative, people will produce and sell it. If it has to be subsidized it is questionable. I still don't understand why the tariff on ethanol from Brazil and no tariff on oil from Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or???? That amounts to about $23 per barrel of oil. I thought Brazil was a good neighbor. We treat the enemy better than our neighbor it would seem.
  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    You do drive a rice cooker Toyota! I drive an F150 an I have experimented with E85 and those are the numbers. And I need E85 to 20% less costly than gas and it is a wash. While it is true that E85 has less energy per gal than gas. That is fine. E85 is 105 octane and if know anyone who builds engines go and ask what that will do. It means that you can run at least a 12.5:1 compression ratio which gets you half way to diesel compressions. The efficiency gain will about 8% from this. Now reduce the engine displacement because of being able to produce a lot more torque and get another 8% - 10%. Everyone only sees the negative.

    Now corn isn't going to solve the coutries problems. I never said that. What does it do? It gets the ball rolling in this country as far as making vehicles capable, adjusting the infrastructure of fuel and awareness. The mandate is only for 15 billion gal per year from corn, another billion gal per year from cellulose ans an undisclosed 5 bgy (I think this from Brazil when the tariff goes away).
  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    Look, the US gas market was 140 billion gal last year. Half of that gas comes from OPEC oil equating to 70 bgy. Now th enew fuel bill calls for 35 bgy to come frm ethanol (all sources). Lets say greater efficiency gets another 20% taking out 28 bgy from the gas market. Now we are close to getting away from OPEC oil. Thats all this country needs to do. And if we get more ethanol or lieage then its even better. Plus emissions will be better and there will be no more MTBE in the gas which contaminates ground water. Ethanol is an MTBE substitute and it is biodegradeable.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,223
    I drive an F150 an I have experimented with E85

    I mostly drive my 99 Ford Ranger FFV PU truck. I would try E85 except the closest station is 35 miles away. Last I checked it was the ONLY station in CA selling E85. That may have changed since then. All I can tell you about Ethanol laced regular is I lose about 2 MPG with E10 that we get forced on us in CA.

    Let's say we get to 15 billion gallons per year. The very best ratio for Corn Ethanol that I have seen is 1.2 gallons for every gallon of fossil fuel to distill the stuff. So at the very best we will be replacing 2.5 billion gallons of gas. Now take into consideration the less MPG you will gain and it don't leave much to brag about. Unless you are one of the fat cats that are running ADM.

    In the mean time the price of corn has doubled and the price of tortillas doubles. We have more illegals coming to the USA because they cannot afford the price of corn in Mexico. The Agave farmers have plowed under their crop to grow corn and that leaves us with NO TEQUILA. All to satisfy the greed of a few people in the Midwest.

    You like a lot of Americans have been mislead into thinking that Ethanol will save us from OPEC. It is just a big LIE.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,958
    " E85 is 105 octane and if know anyone who builds engines go and ask what that will do. It means that you can run at least a 12.5:1 compression ratio which gets you half way to diesel compressions. The efficiency gain will about 8% from this. Now reduce the engine displacement because of being able to produce a lot more torque and get another 8% - 10%. Everyone only sees the negative. '

    Theoretically, you're correct. Practically, can't happen, because the engines must still be able to run regular gas, and couldn't with a 12.5:1 ratio. This is an oft-repeated, false arguement for E85. Even CU mentioned it in their article condemning E85. Can't imagine why.
  • avalon02whavalon02wh Posts: 785
    "You do drive a rice cooker Toyota"

    Cooking rice, I guess that is a feature I'm not familiar with. Let me check the owners manual........ No, there is nothing in the owners manual about cooking rice. ;) Maybe the people that built the car in Georgetown, Kentucky, USA forgot to put it in. :shades:

    "And I need E85 to 20% less costly than gas and it is a wash."

    It is not going to be that cheap if corn gets to $7.25 a bushel.

    "Record corn prices pushed up by flooding in the Midwest have forced five small to mid-sized U.S. ethanol plants to shut and output of the biofuel could be slowed for months, a Citi research note said on Friday. "

    Ethanol plants were built when corn was a lot cheaper. They are not going to last long at $7 a bushel.

    Historic Average Monthly North Dakota Corn Prices ($/Bushel)
    Per Data Supplied by the National Agricultural Statistics Service
    January February March April May June July August September October November December

    2005 $1.91 $1.64 $1.79 $1.85 $1.86 $1.87 $1.87 $1.82 $1.77 $1.73 $1.67 $1.73
    2006 $1.72 $1.80 $1.84 $1.90 $1.95 $1.89 $1.88 $1.89 $1.99 $2.23 $2.42 $2.63
    2007 $2.92 $3.07 $3.11 $2.92 $3.04 $3.33 $3.27 $3.16 $3.19 $2.97 $3.08 $3.47
    2008 $3.66 $4.40 $4.57

    Future forecast
    2009 $10.00
    September, 2009 - 75 % of all the ethanol plants close.
    2010 $3.75
  • duke23duke23 Posts: 488
    A 51 cent tax credit per gallon not .45 paid directly by the good ol taxpayer in addition to the tariff on Brazilian ethanol and it's still not an economically viable substitute.

    "It may sound green, Patzek says, but that's because many scientists are not looking at the whole picture. According to his research, more fossil energy is used to produce ethanol than the energy contained within it.

    Patzek's ethanol critique began during a freshman seminar he taught in which he and his students calculated the energy balance of the biofuel. Taking into account the energy required to grow the corn and convert it into ethanol, they determined that burning the biofuel as a gasoline additive actually results in a net energy loss of 65 percent. Later, Patzek says he realized the loss is much more than that even. "

    Drop the tariff immediately, it's poor economics and costing the consumer. Better yet, drop the tariff and the .51/gal tax credit and let the market mandate the solution while giving the government one less bill to pay. With 10% of all tax revenues going to simply paying the interest on our 9 trillion dollar national debt. We can't afford no stinkin' subsidies.
  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    Oh the Mexicans are starving! Oh the Americans cant afford food! All because of ethanol. Here is the math. There is 56 lbs of corn in a bushel and lets say corn is $5.60 per bushel. Thats $0.10 per lb. If a box of cereal is 1 lb and the main ingredient is corn (lets say 60%) then there is only $0.06 of corn in a box. So what if corn $7+. Then there is $0.065 of corn in a box of cereal. Yep everyone is starving and cant afford food. Subway has $5 footlongs and McD's has an dollar menu but we cant afford to eat.
  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    Look the $0.51/gal goes where? What? Did you say it goes to the gasoline refiners? Not the ethanol producers! This is blasphemy. Those refiners shouldn't be getting the credit, the ethanol producers should. Lets fix this. What the credit goes away in a couple of years. Cant be!
  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    Well you have a choice of 2 oxygenates to reduce emissions. Its MTBE or Ethanol. Wait a minute, MTBE is a carcinigen and has been found in California ground water. If ethanol was used then it would have just decomposed. Why are there hardly any stations in CA with E85? I dont know. There are 5 ethanol plants in CA. I believe Pacific Ethanol has 5 of them.

    If you lose 2 mpg I dont know what to say. I only lose 20% with E85 in an F150. My buddy has a GM and only loses 20% also. Maybe you should check with the dealer for calibration updates.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,958
    "Well you have a choice of 2 oxygenates to reduce emissions."

    Thanks for pointing out another government screw-up - mandating oxygenate content because of the very slight, and debateable, pollution impact. A recent study by Stanford, I think, found that overall, emissions are higher with E10. So first we poison some groundwater with MTBE, then wast billions and drive up food prices with ethanol, all for naught. :sick:
  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    Soon there will be E85 across the country. Then you can use. Did you know the state of CA has a fleet of Ford Escape Hybrids that are designed for E85 use only for them to study. Then you dont need reg gas. Just like when the country switched to no lead gas. We did it before.
  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    I know you. A complaint for everything and a solution for nothing. Nag. Nag. Nag. You must be a an older guy. What do you think should be done? Everyone is bitchin here and I havent seen any potential fixes.
  • tfb27tfb27 Posts: 15
    How does ethanol help diesel? First the more gas we displace wth ethanol then the more refining capacity is open for diesel. Gas and diesel are made by the same refining plant. The reason its so expensive is that diesel is in high demand and there is only limited refining capacity in the US. Diesel is actually cheaper to make than gasoline. The Europeans cant understand why it more expensive in America only.

    Here is the problem with diesel. The cost of the engine is still higher than a gas version and the emissions requirements make the after treatment of the exhaust even more expensive. This doesnt happen in FFV's
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,958
    I am someone concerned that we are squandering money and food to line the pockets of agribusiness. A bad idea is a bad idea, even if it makes a small group of people very wealthy. A good friend is a chemical engineer that works for a company that designs ethanol plants, and he is constantly amazed that we're wasting our money on this. If turning corn inefficiently into ethanol is a bad idea, doing more of it solves nothing. The only current method to make ethanol that makes any sense is from sugar, and we're taxing imports to limit that. Even with cane-based ethanol, there are major impacts to the Amazon Basin in Brazil. My solutions? Put E85 mandates (and the whole biofuels movement) on hold until new technology (cellulosic or algae, maybe) is shown to actually make sense, and not result in major ecologic and economic damage, as the current programs do.
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