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EPA and ethanol

Post in 'The Green Room' started by EatenByLimestone, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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  2. zknowlto

    zknowlto New Member

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    Corn based ethanol just doesn't make sense as an energy source. Even the most optimisitc estimates show that it yields about 20% more energy than is put in producing (as opposed to hundreds of times more for, say coal). In addition to the problem you noted with small engines, cars operating on gasoline/ethanol blends get lower gas mileage as ethonal contains less energy than gasoline. Not to mention that fact that using corn for ethanol drives up not only the cost of livestock feed, as the article notes, but also human food products around the globe. Frankly, allowing the rise from 10% to 15% seems like bad policy and a give away to big agriculture.
  3. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Its not a mandate per say... it only going to be for 2007 & later cars. No idea how they are going to pull that off. What gas station is going to want to have to add the extra pumps/tanks?

    So I wouldn't worry about your blower. E10 is not gong anywhere.


    (BTW, totally agree that corn ethanol is pointless in general)
  4. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    jharkin is right; they're not mandating it, but allowing it. Testing is ongoing for 2000-2006 vehicles.

    I hope this gets killed in the market. I certainly won't buy it.
  5. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I believe there are new regulations for outdoor equipment coming anyway that may make Ethanol in gas less of an issue. Propane powered units for one are already out there. Doesn't ethanol content in gasoline also reduce air pollutants?

    While using corn to make ethanol with current technology is a losing proposition, development of methods to make it from cellulosic sources such as grass etc. are in the works. In general we need these sorts of regulations to create a market for bio-fuels if we're ever want to be able to wean ourselves of the teat of mid-eastern oil sources. And while cars and trucks are moving towards hybrid or totally electric propulsion systems this is not realistic for aircraft for the foreseeable future, and aircraft use way more than their fair share of energy per mile. Development of bio-fuels for aviation is badly needed.

    I have at least 15 infernal combustion engines in various equipment around the place that may not like the added ethanol content but we need to progress. Haven't these sames sorts of issues applied to the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel and hasn't that been much less of an issue than alarmists would have had us think?
  6. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    meh - farmers don't blow up buildings and bomb subways, so I'm happy to use all the ethanol I can. E85 in my vehicles (105 octane does keep the turbo happy!) - E10 in most everything else. Terrorists and foreign dictators can keep their oil as far as I'm concerned.

    I think E15 was approved for '07 and up motor vehicles only. So there will still be a supply of E10 or crappy E0 for quite some time to come.
  7. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    blender pumps will allow you to dial in what per centage you want to buy.
    they may have to keep prices the same across per centages so people don't buy whichever is cheaper - could cause problems
    quite a few engines can handle even 20%

    despite the corn angle - it is a renewable resource


    you can't claim to want to get off petroleum and then reject all the alternatives.

    funny - you read one article that claims the corn growers and processors need the business and another that claims there isn't enough of the resource and food prices will go up. It can't be both, even with all the subsidy.
  8. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    If people would have been conserving all these years we would not be in the mess we are now, still a bunch of gas pigs out there, I love the fact the gov. gave money out for 20MPG SUV's. People need to put up or shut up!
  9. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    My objection to corn ethanol is that a lot of studies have shown that almost as much fossil fuel energy - or possibly even more - is used in producing it than it provides as energy (that energy is in the form of oil based pesticides, natgas based fertilizers, gas/coal generated electricity in the processing plant, diesel to run the farm machines,etc).

    Not to mention what it does to food prices.

    I think cellulose ethanol has promise. I think algae derived biofuels that are chemical identical to oil are an even better bet long term.
  10. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    June 15, 2005:

    Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate today approved an amendment to the Energy Bill that would mandate the use of 8 billion gallons of ethanol in the U.S. by 2012.

    Me:
    The only way to meet that goal was to allow a higher percentage to be mixed with motor fuel. The EPA is "allowing" the higher percentage mixture for 2007 and up vehicles (as of right now).

    Whether your with it or against it: it was a directive of the feds. Take from that what you wish.
  11. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    We crapped in our own nest and now we get to live with it.
  12. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    The idiots in Washington have no idea of the ramifications. It sounds good in the news bite " hey were doing something about the environment" . And that is as far as their collective brains are capable of thinking. The complete cost of growing corn to convert to fuel exceeds any savings at this time. My source is a PHD in organic chemistry and he would know better than any one else as this is one of the areas of research he is involved in.
  13. zknowlto

    zknowlto New Member

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    I think this whole thing is just "greenwashing" for another subsidy to big agricultural. Concerning cellulositic ethanol, I agree that the idea has some promise, especially if significant quantities can really be produced from the waste of current agricultural processes, such as wheat chaff or cornstalks. However, most plans seem more interested in planting different sorts of fast growing species, such as switchgrass. This would still require the use of heavy agricultural machinery (using "foreign oil"). Additionally, this stuff would have to be grown somewhere, either on exisiting farmland (higher food prices) or newly cleared land (huge release of sequestered CO2 and great reduction in biodiversity).
  14. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    One must also concern themselves with using the "waste" part of the plant. For each pound of material removed from the land, it will take additional nutrients to bring the land to a balance. Using the stalk of the corn plant, for instance, would increase the amount of fertilizer that the farmer needs to apply next year. I know farmers that after the wheat harvest, if a bale of straw is not within a specific price point, they won't bother to bale it. It is worth more in the nitrogen that it will return to the ground. Just say'in.

    I am not really a proponent or opponent of ethanol. It has its good and bad sides. But for arguments sake, most reports considering the "economy" of corn ethanol do not take into account the DDG's that come off as a by product. This is a very marketable product to cattle farmers and much of it is being shipped overseas at a very lucrative price. Add that into the formula and it changes the dynamics of the whole thing.

    Note: DDG = Dried Distillers Grain.
  15. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    We have one E85 capable vehicle (a 2004 Ford Explorer) and would lik to use E85, but the E85 is 20 miles away, costs more, and give lower mileage. Maybe if they dropped the highway tax from E85.... I think the solar roadways http://www.wimp.com/solarhighways/ has more promise than food based E85. BTW - I have livestock (chickens and goats) and E85 is a big reason why your food costs more. Animal feed has doubled in 5 years when inflation has basically been zero.
  16. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Admittedly, corn is somewhat of a stop-gap. But even today, cellulose, trash, algae and other sources of ethanol are coming on line or in advanced research stages. Corn ethanol has allowed millions of flex-fuel vehicles to be produced and on the road...which means millions of drivers have a fuel choice and could switch instantaneously to what ever fuel is more economical.

    Modern ethanol production has advanced far beyond the 'break even' energy input you quote. Plus, a lot of the energy used - as you say...coal, gas, hydro, etc...are energy sources from right here at home. So even though we may get 2 units of ethanol energy for 1 unit of input, 70% of that 1 unit input is also domestic energy which further leverages the effect.

    Everyone mentions food prices. Many studies have shown ethanol actually keeps food prices lower by reducing the cost of fuel needed for transport and processing of those foods. But what could ethanol actually do? A 16 ounce box of cornflakes is $3.29 at the local store. Even today, with grain speculation running wild, corn is running about 5.60/bushel or 10 cents a pound. So the other $3.19 is what?? Manufacturing, marketing, distribution, profit?!?! Even if the price of corn tripled, there would only be about 30 cents worth of corn in a box of corn flakes.
  17. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Methanol. METHANOL. Am I out of my mind or what. We have 5 million acres of fallow pulp wood. These forests have always been used to create carbon mass, with rotation of growing and harvesting areas.. With the last papermill in N.H. closing, it is obvious we sould be fueling our cars with methanol, 100%.

    The poster above is completely misinformed of the true cost of corn ethanol.

    Throughout known history, food costs 1/3 of an average persons income. After the industrial revolution, by 1900 food costs were reduced to 10% and remained so for 100 more years.

    At this time, food cost is 1/3 of income again. In less than ten years.

    Thousands upon thousands of additional deaths from starvation occured and continue in undeveloped nations all over the world in imediate aftermath of the cost increase in food, all so we can pay more for a fuel which gives us lower mileage.
  18. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    I think ethanal is a huge mistake. It has too many processes to make. It would be a whole lot easier to take corn and make biodiesel. It's so easy you can make it in a garage. Bio has almost no emissions or pollution. Bio diesel is way more efficient. I can take a small diesel like a VW Jetta and get 50 mpg. Try getting 50 mpg on ethanol.
  19. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    " Many studies have shown ethanol actually keeps food prices lower by reducing the cost of fuel needed for transport and processing of those foods. "

    Let me see, E85 at 3.00/gallon, 15% less MPG, E10 at 2.70/gallon. How does E85 redue costs for transport, particularly considering the vast majority of thetransport is diesel? I am planning on making metholated B100 from fryer grease (the local Chinese resturant will geive me all that I may need for my friend and myself). B100 home brew? $1.00/gallon, although I will need to pay my Federal Highway Tax ;-) Commercial B100 is economically viable since it uses waste products to make a usable fuel. Whole Foods is a HUGH buyer of B100.
  20. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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  21. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Food costs 1/3 of your income, seriously? I would either get a better job, or find a better place to shop. You can get a big-mac with fries - which is almost the recommended caloric intake for an entire day - for about 6 bucks. You surely make more than $18 a day. The stores are littered with lots of heat-and-eat items which are only a couple bucks a piece or cheaper, and it's considerably cheaper than that to get the 'raw materials' and actually make food from scratch. Heck even a bushel of corn is less than 6 bucks, and that is 56 pounds worth. If you were to truly go 'bare bones' - how long would 56 pounds of grain last?

    I'd wager my total family food bill is around 0.33% of the total family income, not 33%.

    [edit - oops as pointed out later in the thread, I was looking at months food/years salary, so this is off by a factor of 12. So it would be more correct to say food is around 4-5%]
  22. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    Our cost is about $165.00 a week to feed 4 people. No restaurant's. 80% of our meat is taken off of the land. Fish, beef etc...
  23. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    NORTH OF 60, your food cost is very expensive. Most likely from living a long ways from where it's grown and also a 13% health care tax. It is 13 % isn't it? We pay 150 a week but we don't get a whole lot from the land. We raise chickens and have a garden but this year the weeds won. My wife sais it includes soap, detergent toilet paper ETC. She said it really went up though. This comes to about 15% of our income. And I still say biodiesel is a much better idea than ethanol. Just press the heck out of the heated corn and there ya go, can't get drunk on it, or poison you. Take the by product and feed the chickens too, take the chicken poop for nitrogen for plants.
  24. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    #1 - Big macs are part of the reason that we are far LESS heatlthy in general than people a few generations ago. Fast food is barely worthy of the word "foord"

    #2 - If your food costs are 0.33% of your income you must be quite wealthy. I have a good professional job in high tech (one of the few left that haven't been offshored by those crooks called CEOs) and with my wife about to stay home full time (kids on the way) groceries work out to about 10% of our family GROSS income. If I was only making the state meidan income it would be closer to 20%. Add in one restaurant meal a week and 30% would be easy to hit.
  25. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    This is a perfect example of the problem today. Not only do the wealthy not realize the significant cost increases to the lower income citizens, they deny the problem even exists.

    Obviously, it is as a percentage of net or spendable income, not gross, and I said average.

    As jharkin said, you must be quite wealthy. Most of the rest of the people in the world, and this country make a lot less money than that.

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