Skip to comments.Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts
Posted on 04/27/2006 10:45:52 AM PDT by Brian Allen
Amid the current panic about gas prices many people are embracing ethanol. But that's not such a good idea
During the comment period for the RFG (reformulated gas) program, supporters of ethanol had argued that the volatile organic compound (VOC) emission standards in the program -- 42 U. S. C. 7545 (k) (3) (B) (i) -- would preclude the use of ethanol in RFG because adding ethanol to gasoline increases its volatility and raises VOC emissions, especially in the summertime.
Background The American Petroleum Institute v. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [Docket #94-1502 (Heard by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and decided on April 28, 1995)]
If there were ever a time when the truth in advertising standards should be put back into place, it's now -- during the current (third) attempt to convince the public that the massive use of corn-derived ethanol in our gasoline supply will alleviate our need for foreign oil. Ultimately, the answer to just one question determines ethanol's actual usefulness as a gasoline extender: "If the government hadn't mandated this product, would it survive in a free market?" Doubtful -- but the misinformation superhighway has been rerouted to convince the public its energy salvation is at hand ....
(Excerpt) Read more at businessweek.com ...
I'd say turn the New Orleans 9th ward into sugar cane fields.
There you go! How about the whole darned area?
Phase out gasoline engines, diesels are much more efficent and can power any automobile made. A winter grade and a summer grade works all over the country.
The diesel is easier to be made to run cleaner than a gas burner. The diesel engine lasts 4 to 5 times longer.
The use of "oil fuels" is not going away any time soon, we have to make the most of what can be refined!
I'm also hopeful about other alternatives. The US has made harder things happen--and the idea of seeing the terrorist world turned back into farming sand is a vision to work for.
The term used by agriculturalists is Crop Consumptive Use. For Myrddin's area in Idaho (see post #29) the comparison between crops can be found here:
In Idaho, alfalfa hay requires 3.12 ft. of water, sugar beets 2.81, and potatoes 2.27 ft. Other areas of the country have different requirements because rainfall and temperature play a part. In general, the hotter the area, the more water is required for the crop. The drier the area, the more supplemental water must be applied.
So if you are going to grow a crop for this purpose, you should grow it in an area that has plenty of natural water that is replenished seasonally or annually.
Do a Google under "crop consumptive use" for publications in other areas of the country.
Not trying to rain on the ethanol hate parade hear...I would love to be able to proceed with drilling on our shores and wherever it is available on our country. Realistically, I don't see it happening. You know our house/senate is not going to touch that issue with a 100 foot poll. Again, I don't think the intent is to completely turn our country into a 100% ethanol economy. I would assume it is strictly to supplement and reduce the demand from the middle east or other trouble spots. I would gladly choose the lesser of two evils (Conagra, ADM, corn lobby) than pay the idiots that is trying to chop my head off....The argument of ethanol being less efficient goes by the wayside whenever (only if...)ethanol cost per gallon drops down to and equivalent price per gallon of gas....assume 25-30% miles per gallon reduction vs. gasoline). With gasoline being $3.00/gallon, ethanol could compete at $2.10/gallon. Yes...ethanol is not that cheap yet....yet...Improved economies of scale, research into production optimization may eventually meet that goal.
Yes...I would rather us stick with oil for the time being, but not being prepared for, or researching alternative fuels for the long run would be completely irresponsible - more so than the border issue which is currently the hot topic of the day...
"Don't forget the energy used to transport the ethanol to blending plants, because it can't be mixed in at large refineries and shipped through pipelines as blended gas. This looks like a completely uneconomical mess to me."
Yes we are a ways off from a viable solution but even at 3.00 a gallon we are better going this route then getting tangled up in the ME every time some crazy dictator pops up. Also, their is a huge benefit to employ high and low level tech employees, the farming industry would boom and we would take advantage of a hundreds of millions of acres of unused land. Ethanol is really only the solution to automobiles, our trucking fleet can run on diesel from soy, easily growable in the south en masse. It's going to take years and we had better get our asses in gear.
Just an observation of what I saw in Brazil...There are many local ethanol refineries spread throughout the country side. They are small compact units. I realize it is sugar cane, but same thing could apply here. Transportation costs would reduce as more refineries are built. It also reduces the exposure to terrorist attacks on one large refinery concentration such as Houston, TX. It also reduces the exposure to weather related catastrophies (like hurricanes, etc...)
"I think the most interesting thing I've seen on Ethonol was in an article posted here yesterday. In order to make enough ethonol to meet America's current demand for gasoline would require us to uses 71% of our farm land to grow the fuel."
Farm land can stay framland growing produce. Hundreds of millions of unused acres of switch grass can be used for ethanol, and it grows naturally in the Midwest. Cut all of it down and you'll have a brand new crop the next year without doing diddly. However, I doubt we will be able to fully supplant ME oil entirely from either switchgrass or corn, but if we produce 30% ethanol and 30% biodiesel our market demand would be so low oil prices would drop massively. We are still the #1 oil consumer in the world, we just have very little market leverage right now because demand is so high.
"Just an observation of what I saw in Brazil...There are many local ethanol refineries spread throughout the country side. They are small compact units. I realize it is sugar cane, but same thing could apply here. Transportation costs would reduce as more refineries are built. It also reduces the exposure to terrorist attacks on one large refinery concentration such as Houston, TX. It also reduces the exposure to weather related catastrophies (like hurricanes, etc...)"
Hadn't considered the groundwater angle.
And isn't corn grown with petroleum-based fertilizer? If corn requires oil to grow, then how does it solve the oil problem?
I suppose the answer is that most of the energy in corn comes not from the fertilizer but from the sun. But if that's the case, then isn't a corn field just a giant solar panel?
And if this is the case, then why not just build acres of solar panels? After all, a field of solar panels would require no oil-based fertilizer and would place no strain on the aquifers.
These questions seem obvious, so they must have easy answers. Maybe plants are more efficient at converting solar energy into usable power. And no doubt acres of solar panels would cost a fortune to manufacture. In a sense, a cornfield manufactures itself.
Arrhhhh....Sure 'n' it would be matey.
Then we could run the world on rum!
Fifteen men on a dead man's chest!
Yoho ho and a bottle of rum!
ping for later
When you're just killing time, Google on "biodiesel retailers map" and see if you don't think this fuel is popular in farm country.