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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol



  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    The Silverado gets 14.5-15mpg with E85,

    If you are getting that kind of mileage with your Silverado 5.3L engine that is good. I barely get that with unleaded regular driving like a grandpa that I am. If I drive like the rest of the folks around here I am lucky to get 13.5 MPG.

    If you consider robbing Peter to pay Paul legitimate, then ethanol is a good deal. It does not lessen the amount of oil we buy from the Middle East by ONE DROP. It is a massive case of corporate welfare. The dribble down affect happens to be helping a few people in the Midwest at the expense of the rest of the USA. If you are happy with that, so be it.

    Just don't try to convince those of us that are paying the bill that it is good for the country.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Read this and tell me I'm supose to be happy about ethanol. I'm paying more for gas AND food. :sick:
    Give us diesels/bio diesel and we can eat the corn.

    A pricier T-bone this summer?
    Demand for corn edges hay production, meaning farmers pass on costs
    MARY HOPKIN; Tri-City Herald
    Published: May 31st, 2007 01:00 AM
    KENNEWICK, benton county – Corn is popping up in mid-Columbia fields where hay, beans and peas were harvested last year, and dairy farmers, ranchers and horse owners will likely pay more in an unexpected spinoff of the demand for ethanol.
    And that translates to higher costs for consumers, too. Prices of corn, milk and meat are expected to go up this summer.
    Washington farmers planned to seed an additional 50,000 acres of corn this year, according to a March survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
    Dave Losh, a statistician in the service’s Olympia office, said farmers planned to plant 190,000 acres of corn this year – a 36 percent increase over last year.
    Blooming demand for corn to make ethanol pushed corn prices to $3.36 per bushel in March, compared with $2.06 a year ago. But the increase in corn acreage means cutbacks in other crops – mainly hay, which already was in tight supply.
    Chep Gauntt, owner of Gauntt Farms in Kennewick, replanted one of his hay fields into corn and expects as much as a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction in hay acreage overall.
    “Without a good corn market I wouldn’t have done it, and I expect there will be a tight supply for domestic and export hay,” he said.
    Shawn Clausen in Warden, Grant County, hasn’t cut the amount of hay he’s growing, but he has replaced some dry beans and peas to double his corn crop this year to 1,400 acres.
    “Corn prices were really good early this spring so you couldn’t contract on the futures market and the risk was low,” he said.
    His corn is already sold to a local feedlot. Feedlots and dairies need the corn, but they also want hay, which will be expensive and in short supply.
    “We have to have both,” said Cody Easterday, vice president of the Washington Cattle Feeders Association and owner of Easterday Ranches in Mesa. “Corn is energy and hay is fiber and protein.”
    The entire livestock industry will be hurt by a hay shortage, he said, noting hay already has been in short supply for the past two years and that alfalfa can cost up to $170 per ton.
    “We are going to be paying more and that will raise our production costs, which ultimately affects consumers,” Easterday said. “The consumer is going to have to pay for it one way or another.”
    Les Wentworth isn’t necessarily replacing hay for corn, but he has turned to corn for a rotation crop on five-year-old alfalfa fields. This year, he planted 150 acres of corn. Wentworth said the 500-acre farm his father first planted in the 1950s primarily produces alfalfa hay, but he also has grown green peas and dry peas, wheat, soybeans, watermelon and cantaloupe.
    “This is the first time I’ve planted corn,” he said.
    Nationwide, farmers are expected to grow the largest corn crop ever, planting 90.5 million acres – a 15 percent increase compared with last year, according to the USDA.
    The hay shortage also has companies offering premium prices to lease land for growing hay.
    “Normally, hay ground leases for $320 to $340 an acre,” Wentworth said. “But right now every time someone calls me they are increasing their offers. I got an offer of $400.”
    Wentworth said he’d take the $400 if he was retired and was looking for safe, reliable income off his property, but the income is better if he works the land himself.
    “I make the money on the gambling,” he said.
  • easym1easym1 Posts: 218
    There is one country out there that will still function and won't be affected if suddenly, Middle East oil stops. Due to shortage of oil years ago, they decided to produce their own solution to the crisis...and boy...they did it well..they even sell it to their people cheap and have enough to export...We can talk forever but if we are really serious as a nation, we can learn from Brazil and with our latest technology, I bet we can do better if there's a real political will.

    Those so-called law to mandate 40-50 MPG that some politicians want to have for cars will really not solve our dependency..but having another alternative to oil is better.

    If we put our best minds together without political interferance, we can come up with many alternatives.

    By the way, let's not forget Denmark.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,943
    Ethanol from sugar cane is more efficient than from corn, they even use the stalks to help fuel the process. Wish corn was as efficient.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    I appreciate you enthusiasm for ethanol and IF we were in a state of gas rationing as we were during WWII I might agree.
    However, we are not in a period of gas rationing and to compound the issue we what, 10, 20, 30 times more cars on the road as we did in 1941. Maybe 50 times, I don’t know, but I do know ethanol by corn is only going to worsen our economic problems and do nothing to solve our dependence on oil.
    The cost of anything that has any corn products in it has gone up. I have been told by a person that works in a grocery store that food prices will be 20% higher by summer and possibly 30% higher by fall. Enjoy your $30 T-bone, Oh, and save the fat, we can use it to make bio-diesel.
    Ethanol is scam
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    If you research Brazil and ethanol you will find they abandoned ethanol and left thousands of motorists with ethanol only cars stranded. The main reason Brazil is energy independent is they have found a huge reserve of oil. Ethanol only accounts for 20% of their energy needs.

    You are right that we need to come up with solutions. Big corporations are running the show and the result is boondoggles like our ethanol program. Ever wonder why the oil companies are not fighting ethanol? Is it because ethanol does not save us a drop of oil?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Why is this Ethanol thread in the "Hybrids" discussion area?

    Are there any hybrids which can use E85?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    It is there so you don't miss any posts :) It also appears in news. I guess for those looking at alternatives.
  • easym1easym1 Posts: 218

    Brazil has not abandoned ethanol. I think your information is incorrect. Try going to the site above.
  • m6vxm6vx Posts: 142
    This is part of the GM FFV scam. I guess it sells E85 vehicles. You can drive a Suburban to work and feel you are doing your part to conserve.

    You don't even have to put E85 in your tank --- just buying an FFV means you're doing your part!

    The whole FFV/CAFE credit thing is a bunch of BS that has no real effect on saving fuel.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    You did not do enough googling. I did not say they had abandoned the current ethanol program. They did so in the 1980s when the price of sugar made ethanol too expensive. Many people were left with ethanol only cars and no ethanol to buy.

    Brazilian ethanol history

    Brazil's military dictatorship launched the national ethanol program in 1975, when about 90 percent of its fuel consumption depended on foreign oil. The government offered subsidies to sugar cane growers and forced service stations in every town of at least 1,500 people to install ethanol pumps. By the early 1980s, almost all new cars sold in Brazil ran on 100 percent ethanol.

    But as the decade progressed and the military government was replaced by democracy, oil prices plummeted and the subsidies granted to ethanol producers were eliminated. Sugar processing plants turned from ethanol to edible sugar, creating a shortage of supplies at service stations. The auto industry, which had dedicated itself to ethanol-only cars, stopped producing them almost entirely.

    "It was as if from one day to the next, the people who had ethanol cars had a problem on their hands, because no one wanted to buy them," said Henry Joseph Jr., head of the engineering program for Volkswagen of Brazil. "Ethanol cars went all the way from more than 90 percent of sales to less than 1 percent."
  • easym1easym1 Posts: 218
    Brazil's ethanol program in the past is different than Brazil of today. They have addressed most of the problem in their past.

    Again, having another alternative is better than having none. If the terrorist starts attacking major oil producers, we will surely take whatever option available.

    Most of our new technology are still in it's infancy..but it's better to work on it now, address all the kinks and hope for the best. One way or another, some of these technologies and alternatives will be developed and will find its way to the average consumers.

    We are currently in the process of evolution regarding alternatives to fuel. Any good ideas out there is better than none.

    With new technology and great minds, we can improve on not only what Brazil has done as one, but on many new alternatives that are out there.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Explain to us why with diesel and Bio-diesels MPG superiority over gas and ethanol’s inferiority compared to gas the U. S. is taking the inferior route?

    Why is not the same enthusiasm and vigor being put into the development of bio-diesel as into ethanol as a mainstream alternative fuel?

    Why are the domestic auto makers so adamant about not introducing diesel passenger cars into the American market place and instead touting ethanol FFV?

    Let me give some hints;
    Conagra, ADM, and most of the big grain companies stand to make huge profits from ethanol.

    It’s a cheap way for the domestic and foreign auto makes to comply to the CAFÉ standards.

    Ethanol is not what’s good for the country or cutting back on imported oil. It’s not what’s right for the consumer or reducing pollution. It’s all about the money. Ethanol has been marketed to the consumer as a way to save fuel and the planet when in reality it’s about big profits for ADM, Conagra and the auto makers.

    Ethanol might work in Brazil, but frankly I can’t recall the time I drove past a sugar cane field.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Also, the American automakers don't already have US-emissions-compliant small diesels for cars. Whereas they already have engines that burn E85. So the grain companies make a ton, the car companies don't have to spend any extra, so everyone's a winner, right?

    Well, the consumer loses, but we don't count.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    by this idea that we need to try something - anything - approach. We do need to try something. We do NOT need to try every darn little thing that might come along. Had we taken the tax dollars that you and I invested in ethanol and instead applied it to further diesel technology, electric vehicle technology, nuclear fusion, solar electric... we would be that farther ahead.

    If there is an attack on the oil suppliers there will be zero relief from domestic ethanol because it barely produces the power used to create it. The more likely scenario is that in such a case the production of ethanol would be curtailed if not outright banned as a waste of precious fuel.

    As we've said earlier, ethanol is not some new, promising fuel. It predates the Model T which could and sometimes did run on ethanol. It wasn't used because it was too expensive. That still holds.

    Try biodiesel. Much better idea. GM and Ford are going to regret not having a diesel car program now.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,943
    In addition, some claim ethanol from corn is a 'stepping stone' to cellulosic ethanol (something that acutually makes sense, if it can be made to work economically). This is not true. The technology to make ethanol from corn has been around for decades, and building more plants does not help develop the technology needed for cellulosic ethanol.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I might add that the current technology to produce ethanol from switchgrass (the brightest star in ethanol's future) requires an entirely different process. So the billions we are spending to build ethanol plants for corn will be abandon when the newer technology emerges. Find one of the towns that was host to the last ethanol boom in the late 1970s. See what they think about the big pile of rust that was once an ethanol plant. Ethanol is very much a boom or bust operation. With the taxpayers footing the bill.
  • easym1easym1 Posts: 218
    Here's the last part of my post.

    'With new technology and great minds, we can improve on not only what Brazil has done as one, but on many new alternatives that are out there.'

    This includes your diesels, bio-diesels, electric, solar, hydrogen, hybrids etc...or a type of NANO technology could also be in the horizon.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    I agree with that part. It's spending a plugged nickel on corn ethanol that is the problem.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • easym1easym1 Posts: 218
    I know and ethanol is just one of the many options out there. I believe that the best, practical, cheapest and cleanest alternative will be here earlier than we anticipate. Don't forget...availability!
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Maybe with global warming we'll be able to grow sugar cane in the northeast soon.....
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    That's good I like it.

    If we had kept our cane fields in Hawaii instead of moving sugar production to places with cheap labor, we would have a good supply of Sugar. Many of the cane fields are being sold in 20 acre plots for homesteads and ag lots. A lot of them are planted into mac nuts and hardwoods.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735

    I did not intend to discredit or attack you in my post #64 as I may have implied, and for this I apologize. :blush:

    I do have a tendency to get a little passionate when it comes to Ethanol as it has so many negatives and yet it gets shoved down our throats and we can’t seem to do anything about it.

    I have to wonder out loud, “Does anyone from the auto industry, i.e. Ford, GM, and Chrysler read this web site and listen to what we talk about?”
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I imagine the low level managers that blog all day check us out from time to time.

    I don't think the folks in the Midwest can appreciate what has happened with the ethanol mandate on the coasts of our country. Ethanol has to have special trucks haul the stuff from the Midwest to the refineries. There it is blended when it is sent to the stations. That has added a quite a bit to our gas prices. It cannot be sent trough pipelines. It evaporates much faster than regular gas. And with the special handling it costs a lot of money. Then when you add on the fact that high corn prices is raising the cost of beef, chicken, pork, tortillas, cereal and now TEQUILA! They should see why we are not thrilled with their windfall handout from Uncle Sam.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,943
    Unfortunately, Ford/GM/Chrysler love ethanol, because it allows them to sell gas hog Tahoes/Rams etc and get CAFE credits for vehicles that will never see a drop of E85.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Sad but true.

    If the person was going to buy that vehicle anyway, and he can get E85 at a price that is low enough to make up for the loss in MPG, it may be OK. We are still subsidizing the stuff so a few big farmers and ADM can get rich.

    It is really not much different than selling gas hog Lexus hybrids so rich folks can feel they are doing something for the environment.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Doh! They are giving away (former) cane fields? Oy!

    I had heard that they were drastically cutting back pineapple cultivation for the same reason and we're getting most of it from the Caribbean. Is that true?

    The best pineapple I ever had in my life had been in a field in Hawaii hours before. My folks had brought it back with them back in 76.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Much of the pineapple is gone. Papaya, Flowers and Mac nuts are the major crops on the Big Island. Who knows they may start growing corn on the 1000s of acres of cane land that is going untended.

    Here is a piece of cane land you can own. There are hundreds of these available.

    Cane field
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Given a year or two I could see myself all over that one. 25 acres in Hawaii - what's not to like? MAybe I'll get the feds to pay me to grow corn on it.... Nah..
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Every time I go it is harder to leave. Some of that cane land has wonderful sweeping ocean views. That sight lists all the property for sale in Hawaii.

    You can make a lot more per acre with flowers. You would have to get 1200 bushels of corn to the acre to make as much as I get off of one acre of anthuriums. And I do not have to do anything. They pay that much for the flowers.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    You can just set me up in the business and I know doubt will pay back your generosity.....

    You won't be the first person who doesn't want to underwrite my desired lifestyle. :P

    Sounds great. Leave enough space to grow SOME pineapples, if only for my own consumption.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • easym1easym1 Posts: 218
    Not a problem my friend. You just prove to me that you're a good person and cares for feelings of others.
  • i have been reading this forum with some interest. i hope you won't mind if i post a few thoughts.

    as i see it, there is very little question that cheap oil is gone forever. google the term peak oil and read about it if you doubt this. frankly, it is probably a good thing that that is the case or we, the humans, would surely continue to burn it until we suffocated ourselves out of existence, along with the other animals that depend on oxidative phosphorylation for their survival.

    so now we ask, how will we continue to live as we do now and not destroy the planet while at the same time not destroying our economy with alternative sources of energy?

    the fact of the matter is that there is plenty of energy in the world. when one calculates the energy content of wind, hydro, solar, and the tides it becomes quite clear that there is more than enough energy in our environment to sustain us far beyond our current levels of demand. no, the problem is not a lack of an energy source at all. the sun and moon provide that and more.

    the problem is that we are not smart enough to figure out how to efficiently capture, store and redistribute all the energy that surrounds us.

    fossils have been a convenient source of stored energy to this point in history and have provided us with the ability develop the technology to reach this point in history. but like the child who can only live off his parents for so long before being forced to become independent, we now have to stand on our own technological feet and invent a way to use what surrounds us every day. further, we must use it in a way that does not alter the environment enough to make uninhabitable for us.

    to break it down to its simplest terms, battery technology has to be the next great frontier of advancement in this world if we hope to advance beyond where we currently stand today. wind alone holds more energy than we need, but we can't figure out how to get beyond fluctuations in wind speed and availability. this is a storage issue plain and simple.

    the distribution half of the equation is already solved, the electric grid is in place and fully operational. we only have to figure out how to store the energy that we want to feed into it.

    all the forms of energy discussed here, except tides and nuclear, ultimately come from the sun. if plants can figure out how to use sunlight to turn CO2 into corn, sugar, cellulosic or whatever other material we want to talk about, then surely we can figure out a way to store and retrieve that energy to suit our needs.

    at least now, with biodiesel and ethanol, and i believe that they are far from perfect, but at least they are CO2 neutral partial solutions. every carbon in those products that is spewed out as CO2 into the environment, was previously in the environment before being snagged out of the air by some green plant and fixed into a molecule of sugar or cellulose.

    nuclear, while certainly appealing from a CO2 perspective, has its own set of problems that are seemingly insurmountable.

    so how do we get there from here? i have no earthly idea. but i do know that we need to become much more serious about funding basic research into energy sciences. we need to stop letting the oil companies set the agenda for energy policy. we need to incentivize technologies that get us closer to these goals (like hybrids) and stop coming up with tax loopholes that encourage people to buy >6000 lb suvs that get 12 mpg. we need to get off our can once in a while and ride our bikes to work and walk to the grocery store.

    to anybody still reading this, i sincerely apologize for the sermonizing. i got on a heck of a rant there and i feel better now. i think we all want the same thing. we just gotta figure out the best way to get there.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Welcome to the forum Mr Peabody.
    One little item. I think you will find that the oil companies are at the forefront of solar cell developments. I think that is good as they probably know better than anyone when the oil will become scarce and be able to offer an alternative.

    I totally agree that we need some new break through in battery technology. I'm not impressed with the progress over the last 20 years. A lot of talk and very little evidence. I'm convinced that Li-ion is a dead monkey for vehicles. I could be wrong just a hunch.

    Now people are using lithium batteries to make illegal methamphetamines. What is the world coming to?
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    As if we weren't having enough with people using sudafed to make meth. Buying it at a drug store is harder than getting a prescription filled.

    Welcome aboard, Mr. Peabody!
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    to break it down to its simplest terms, battery technology has to be the next great frontier of advancement in this world if we hope to advance beyond where we currently stand today

    When you say battery if you mean energy storage then I agree. I don't necessarily agree that batteries, as most people think of them, need to get any better in order to take full advantage of these abundant, yet intermittent alternative energy sources. For instance you can store the energy as hydrogen. Or you can utilize pumped storage hydroelectricity where you pump water to a higher elevation and release it to turn turbines when it is needed. Actually it doesn't even need to be water. Elevate any mass and you've got stored energy. The conversion efficiencies of these methods are actually fairly high ~70%. Much better than the 30% efficiency of an ICE turning the chemical energy in gasoline into mechanical energy.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I totally agree that we need some new break through in battery technology. I'm not impressed with the progress over the last 20 years.

    You're not easily impressed. The best Li-ion cells can store 200 watt-hours per kilogram. 20 years ago you had lead-acid, which were around 30 watt-hours per kilogram. An improvement of almost 7x.

    The first EV1 had a lead-acid battery pack that weighed 1,600 lbs. and gave it a range of 80 miles. That was replaced by a NiMH pack that weighed 1,000 lbs. and extended the range to 100 miles. The 900 lb Li-ion battery pack on the Tesla Roadster provides in excess of 200 mile range.

    If you're not impressed with this level of progress what exactly would it take?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I was referring to the NiMH battery that was first invented about 20 years ago by Matsushita. NiCads are still a good battery that are over 100 years old.

    Until the aging problem with Lithium Ion batteries is resolved I do not see it in a favorable light. 6-7 years before they die of old age will not be viable in automotive mainstream. We need something better or yours and my dream of an EV will not materialize.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Even the technologies that have been around awhile have improved considerably. Both NiMH and lead-acid batteries have improved their energy density by over 50% in the last 20 years. Today's Li-ion batteries hold more than twice as much energy as they did just 8 years ago.

    NiCads have a serious memory problem and are also toxic.

    Latest on Chevy Volt progress.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Another reason to endorse diesel/bio-diesel.{E2C47792-2693-48BF-8967-26B070F10EBF}

    Butter prices are up 31%
    Cheddar cheese prices, up 65%
    Nonfat dry milk prices, up 117%
    Broiler chickens, up 17.5%
    Beef, select, up 12.8%

    The reasons why
    The factors driving higher food prices are unlikely to go away any time soon:

    Ethanol. The ethanol boom has driven corn prices up 70% in a year. Now more land is planted in corn, and soybeans, wheat, oats, and barley are all up from 5% to 35%. Plus, higher corn prices mean higher prices for animals in the food chain that eat it - such as chickens, cows, and hogs. Corn is also a key ingredient in a long list of processed foods like breakfast cereal, and so far, producers have been able to pass these cost increases on - another sign of a fundamentally inflationary environment.
    Higher distribution costs. Energy hits on two fronts: It costs more to process food and it costs more to move it all to market.
    World demand. The "China effect" on energy prices has been well documented. But it also affects food. Food exports have grown as living standards in China, India and other growing economies have risen. That's good for the economy but not for prices.
    The good news is that for years food prices have declined as a percentage of income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. families spent fully 43% of their incomes on food in 1901. By 1929 it had dropped to 24%, and by 2004 the figure was 14%.
    But as income growth slows and food prices increase, this happy long-term trend may be coming to an end.
  • smithedsmithed Posts: 444
    Nascar, Good post! I am neither for nor against ethanol as a fuel.

    I have a few questions that you are better able to answer than I:

    1. How much acreage would be required (from corn or switchgrass)if all the vehicles on the road today were to run on E85?

    2. Are fossil fuels really dirtier than ethanol? Both are hydrocarbons, so if burned completely would only produce CO2 and H20. Are there other things in gasoline than what is in ethanol?

    3. What organic molecules in corn are converted to ethanol? Is it all sugars?

    I have personal concern about too much ethanol in gasoline: I have a 20 year old boat (stern drive) and it specifically says that ethanol will cause deterioration of the fuel system.

    Thanks for looking this over,

    Ed :shades:
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,943
    1. Don't know the #, but various folks have estimated it more than all acreage now under cultivation. Given the current stress our limited use of ethanol is creating, I'd hate to guess what would happen if we *only* double current use. Also, remember switchgrass is a hope for the future. No current economic process exists for it.
    2. Once in the tank, there's no difference. The hoped-for advantage is in the making. If you could 'grow' ethanol, there'd be no net release of greenhouse gasses. Unfortunately, it takes lots of oil and coal to create the energy and chemical used to grow corn and refine it. Still there may be a net benefit to ethanol, if slight.
    3. Both sugars and starches in corn are converted. The unsolved puzzle is how to convert cellulose.

    And yes, there are many gas-fueled engines that have rubbers and plastics damaged by ethanol.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I think ethanol is hard on aluminum also. The reason car makers with lots of aluminum are not offering FFV. The 5.3L GM engine is all cast iron and safe to use with ethanol.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    I’m not sure, but I don’t think there is enough land mass in the world to grow enough corn to make enough ethanol to fuel all the cars with E85.

    Ethanol is very corrosive and can not be pumped through the existing pipe line systems used by the oil industry. E85 has to be blended at local distributors and truck to the stations. It can, over time, damage some gaskets and metal parts on older engines.

    You can make ethanol by mixing Ever Clear in gasoline. Simple terms, E85 is moonshine and gas.

    I say, “drink the moonshine, eat the corn, and use bio-diesel for fuel.”
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,943
    Can't quite use Everclear - it's 95% alcohol, 5% water (the maximum alcohol % you can get using just distallation). Mix that with gas, and the 5% water will drop out and cause problems.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Thank you for the info. See, I don’t know everything. :P
  • nascar57nascar57 Posts: 47
    Hey Smithed,

    Read over your post and am trying to answer some of your questions. The first one about how much corn would be needed to run all of the vehicles on ethanol. To answer that, the US simply could not produce enough corn to run all of the domestic vehicles on ethanol. If every acre were planted to corn and used specifically for ethanol, we could only supply about 25-30% of our fuel consumption, with the current corn ethanol extraction processes. The emissions that are experienced from E85, are substantially cleaner than that of gasoline. The amount of carbon is much less with ethanol than gasoline. Farmers are starting to burn biodiesel in most equipment used to produce corn and truckers are now starting to burn biodiesel, so it is almost developing a sort of renewable cirle in the ag industry. But I will be the first to admit that this is not the long term solution, the ethanol from switchgrass is a much more sustainable route than corn, but we are not quite there yet as far as the feasibility to produce that. The GM Volt is also very exciting, if we can get vehicles like that on the road, will be great also. I just think it makes sense for us to have at least an alternative to gasoline. It is just closed minded to think that we should rely on gasoline and gasoline only. Its like investing in one stock and refusing to diversify. Especially when farmers are now getting paid what they really should for the commodities. The prices have been way too low for quite a long time, and we as Americans have gotten way too comfortable with cheap food, I have seen a graph that shows what percentage of income US pays for food versus Europe, it is essentially half. So really we still dont have it that bad, and the people that are benefitting from these high prices are AMERICANS, not the princes sitting over in Saudi Arabia as we Americans pay whatever they deem a "fair" price. I welcome this change. Oh yeah, one last question, the main molecules converted in corn are the starchy sugar parts of the kernel, the remaining is sold to ranchers and feed lots as DDG's(Dried Distillers Grains) which is a great source of protein for cattle. Brazil uses sugarcane which is also quite more efficient than corn, they have drastically cut crude consumption. Whatever way we go, lets get off gasoline and foreign oil and let the middle east keep their oil.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    and we as Americans have gotten way too comfortable with cheap food,

    With all our convuluted farming subsidies it is probably impossible to say what we really pay for food. Sure anyone can look at their grocery bill but there are a lot of hidden costs involved that one way or another we eventually have to pay. But like all government giveaways, they're easy to enact and almost impossible to get rid of. So regardless of how misguided thay may be farming subsidies are here to stay.

    As someone has already pointed out the government's interference with the ethanol market has driven up the price of food. When I advocate higher fuel taxes it is criticized for being regressive and unfair to the poor. How is making food more expensive any better?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    You are making a good case for helping the farmers. I am not sure if the small to medium sized farmer is so blessed by ethanol. As the price of feed may be more of a problem than a help. Most of the farmers that were around me in Minnesota were dairy farmers. I will do some research when I am back in the area. It really looks like the beneficiaries of ethanol are the mega farmers, ethanol processors and politicians.

    I was told on this thread in the past that the little farmer needs to sell out and get a life. Well farming is life for many of those people.

    You also forgot to mention the cost in natural gas to make fertilizer. And the negative affect all the fertilizer is having on the rivers and gulf.

    We are not going to get off gasoline in our lifetime so that is just wishful thinking. One of these days soon the Congress will pull the subsidies and we will have a repeat of the 1980s when 90% of the ethanol plants were closed. Sad part is we paid for those plants with our tax dollars while ADM & Verasun raked in all the profits.

    In addition the NUMBER ONE automaker in the World has no plans to build flex fuel vehicles. Toyota may know something we don't.
  • nascar57nascar57 Posts: 47
    Gagrice, do the math, the ethanol industry could easily survive without that subsidy right now. Go on and look at the nearby and futures prices for corn. Nearby is sitting at $4.16. Ethanol is trading at 1.91. That puts the break even at $5.83 plus the additional revenue from sales of DDG's. This is helping EVERY grain farmer in the US. This is much different than what happened in the early 1980's. If you remember it was the Russian grain embargo which ignited prices back then, essentially a disruption in supply. Meanwhile today, it is a demand led rally which is much more likely to continue since demand is not near as volatile and supply is. By having corn prices go up, it has increased all commodity prices due to the fact that the other commodities have to buy acres away from corn. Here in my state of North Dakota, every farmer has a good chance to make a good profit if the crops hold out this year and its due to one thing BIOFUELS. As far as toyota not offering flex fuel. I geuss its up to them, but I myself am not going to back myself into a corner and buy only gas, I am thankful that GM offers consumers such as myself at least an option. Its up to us personally to use it, but it boggles my mind why all companies wouldnt do it, being such a cheap addition on a new vehicle, it is a no brainer as far as im concerned, but maybe I'm the only one on here that likes to be diversified and have choices. Until you come out to the big farming states such in the heartland such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, dont bash the ethanol, it has all farmers buzzing and its very exciting to see optimism in the heartland of this country unlike anything I've seen in a long time. Think AMERICAN!
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