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ethanol production / eere site

Post in 'The Green Room' started by sgcsalsero, Mar 8, 2007.

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  1. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    Perusing a couple sites I saw this tidbit

    "U.S. ethanol production capacity is expected to rise to 11.6 billion gallons from today's current production capacity of 5.6 billion gallons in the next 18 to 24 months, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, a Washington-based industry group. The push to grow more corn, in turn, has led some farmers to switch soybean acres to corn, which has put upward price pressure on soybeans, too"

    I landed on this site, http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/infrastructure/locator.html, and am off to get a tankfull of E85 this weekend. Wondering if anyone has done same, and what they thought of. The mileage may be lower, the price higher, but OPEC can go pound sand.

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  2. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Ethanol and biodiesel is a bunch of BS...many reputable scholars have done "emergy" analyses on this and found that it takes more energy input of fossil fuels than you get back in your bio-fuel. This looks at fuel for planting, harvesting, transporting, pesticides, processing, etc. Looks like our great leaders have brainwashed enough of our country to make this look like a viable option. Buying bio-d and ethanol just supports OPEC even more!

    By the way, all that corn that gets diverted to ethanol...do you know what that does to beef prices, tortilla prices, soda prices, etc? Yep...up, up, up.

    I believe that I the last I read, it would take all of the land mass of the US minus maryland or something like that grown completely with corn to meet our driving fuel needs. Ethanol and biodiesel...what a scam.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    At the big government level it is a scam - however, at the relatively local level such as "Greasecars" and some small plants that use old veggie oil, etc. as the base materials, it can be a good thing.

    The energy input required concerns me more than the cost. Cost of fuel can be negated by increased efficiency (cars are still only about 20% efficient). So I think we need to look at energy in vs energy out.

    One thing for sure- Archer Daniels and Monsanto are celebrating as Bush parades his newest excuse for an energy policy (BIG subsidy for ethanol).
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Wood has much greater longterm potential as an ethanol feedstock if they can work out some of the bugs in the production process. U.S. forests are now basically unmanaged compared to other parts of the world, most notably Scandinavia. With intelligent management, we could have all the wilderness we need and still produce a significant amount of fuel, in various forms, from managed forests. There just ain't enough cropland to produce enough ethanol to make a major impact on our fossil fuel consumption. And cropland should, IMO, be used for growing food.

    Conservation, of course, is the biggie. America's great energy potential is that we currently waste so much energy that a relatively modest conservation effort (smaller, more efficient cars, mandated solar hot water in sunbelt construction, etc.) would make a huge difference. All we need is some leadership and real incentives to get the ball rolling.
  5. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I've put E85 in about every thing I own at one time or another. It does have a few issues such as cold starting (ie when weather is below ~50 degrees or so, I try to stay at E50 or higher in gasoline) You also burn more – just a fact of life – unless you have the ability to tune the engine to make use of the 105 octane rating. Every OBD II car I have run it in usually sets a check engine light for the oxygen sensor. This is simply because the computer sees the long term fuel trim suddenly shoot up because of the extra E85 required. It incorrectly deduces that something must be wrong…I think there must be some limit coded into the computer…ie 25% and if the fuel trim goes above that, it sets off the light. E85 usually moves the fuel trim to 27-28%

    As for the 'ethanol energy studies' - No mention of ethanol hardly gets started before someone cites these 'studies' - most were subsidized by oil companies and the analysis was performed on antiquated ethanol production methods and sometimes even overlooked the remaining byproducts such as corn oil and distillers grains (aka high grade livestock feed) which are left over after the ethanol is extracted. Most modern studies I have seen put ethanol at a net energy yield of about 1.3.

    I would gladly live the rest of my life without tortilla’s and cornbread if it meant we gave OPEC the finger and quit importing oil and quit exporting corn to China. (Although in reality, E85 is made from industrial corn that is generally considered to be unfit for human consumption).

    Not for some, but I like it. I'd way rather my money go to support an american farmer as opposed to a foreign power that wants to kill us.

    Corey

    PS - There is also an ethanol station locator at : http://e85fuel.com/ - although it has routed me to some that were still under construction, so you may want to call ahead!
  6. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    That is another good point. Hopefully some of the enzymatic ethanol production plants will be on line soon. Convert wood, grass clippings, switch grass, leaves and other ‘waste’ cellulose into ethanol. I think butanol has also been strongly considered recently – it is reportedly a ‘direct’ replacement for gasoline – no modifications needed. Just recently I read some reports where processes have been developed to give it essentially the same yield as ethanol.
  7. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    Supporting OPEC by buying ethanol ?!?
  8. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    Alright, maybe I should have done more research on this, I have a couple thoughts but I'll wait until others have had a chance to give me a jab or two . . .(that and the boss is in)
  9. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Corn/sugar based ethanol = scam
    Biomass/enzymatic ethanol = research, not yet production
    Biodiesel = not scam

    The ROI on biodiesel is fair (something in the neighborhood of 5:1 from field to fuel, depending on who you believe), beytter if you get to reuse something someone else (McDonalds) paid for. Still not the 20:1 for fossil fuels, but noticeably better than the 1.4:1 for corn ethanol.

    Steve
  10. bruce56bb

    bruce56bb New Member

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    curious as to why in my state (kansas) there are more existing/proposed ethanol plants than places to buy e85?
    a quick count here reveals 35 existing or proposed plans.
    http://www.kansasenergy.org/ethanol_projects.htm
    whlie a count here reveals 19 stations selling e85.
  11. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    I wasn't necessarily talking about local/personal Bio-D production. With this, you're taking a waste product and turning it into fuel. However, at the current production levels proposed, you're looking at using virgin feedstock to produce the fuel. As far as cost, old W and his cronies just have to keep all of the tax breaks and credits in place, and they can make anyhting "profitable". You should see the boom in ethanol production plants popping up in Ohio. Kepp these at real costs, with no tax breaks, and not a single wise businessman would even look twice at it...
  12. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Oh...I will look back to find these studies I was talking about. Done at the university level by environmentalists/ecological engineering professionals. Not influenced by big oil. It's called emergy analysis, might be able to find some stuff readily on the web.

    As far as doing without tortillas - how about your corn-fed beef, pork, pepsi and coke (almost 100% corn), etc. You telling me you'd be able to afford any food? Just about everything you buy is corn based. As usual, no one does any planning before they start proposing all of the lame-brained "solutions". So, everyone wants to "stick it to the man", but don't understand that they're not going to be eating anymore. So many farmers are dropping soy, wheat, and other big crops to get a piece of the corn-pie. If this BS continues, just about all food prices will skyrocket, but at least you be able to use inefficiently produced ethanol and biodiesel in your car!! Wooooo Hooooooo!!!

    Here's one: http://www.energybulletin.net/5062.html

    Also, look at this to put it in persepctive: http://www.energybulletin.net/11525.html

    These are reputable people, not influenced by government or big oil. This is real.

    This site was recommended by a professor from New Orleans a few years back when I was working on my MS in Civil Engineering. I can't remember his name, but he is a major advocate of wetland wastewater treatment systems: http://www.oilcrisis.org/
  13. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    And by the way...I wasn't making a jab. I have had much exposure to this stuff working on my Ecological Engineering/Civil Master's degree, and in my field of work, with exposure to many reputable, honest, and down to earth people - not a bunch of extremists.

    With all of the propaganda floating around - whether by our government, oil industry, ethanol trade groups, right-wing extremists, left wing extermists, or many other for-profit groups trying to maintain their big profits by dissiminating misinformation - it is easy to see why the majority of our population, with these issues not at the forefront of their daily lives, is so confused. There are the Bush lovers that think everything any republican says is the absolute truth, and those that think everything any republican says is complete BS. At this point, I tend to fall into the latter group, but still try to keep an open mind. The truth on all of this bio-fuel debate will come out sooner or later. I could be wrong, but from what I have been exposed to so far, I doubt it. Everyone will continue to make their own choices, but I don't think that ANYONE can argure that we don't use too much energy in this country. Conservation is a must (despite what Cheney says). Solar panels on new homes where it makes sense, solar water heating, home-scale windmills will all help, but we need to quit driving these rediculous hummers and excursions to get to an office job or go into to town to get a quart of mik.

    I'm done...sorry for ranting.
  14. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    No offense whatsoever taken . . . thanks for the links I'll check 'm out, here's another WSJ snipet . . .

    Ethanol Boom Fuels Brisk Sales of Midwest Farmland
    Farmland prices are soaring across the Midwest amid a surge in demand for corn driven by the ethanol boom.
    In the past year, cropland prices have climbed by double-digit percentages in many parts of the Heartland, as growers looking to cash in on $4-a-bushel prices for corn -- up from about $2 a year ago -- have scrambled to add arable acreage.
    Some outside real-estate investors also are seeking agricultural land, but the most recent aggressive buyers have been established farmers who want to expand. At the same time, the price run-up has raised costs and could squeeze profit margins for farmers who rent land, if they have a poor crop. The phenomenon is yet more evidence of the extent to which the rise of renewable, corn-derived ethanol is reshaping the Midwestern landscape. Once an alternative-energy afterthought, ethanol has become an option to replace a small but significant percentage of the nation's gasoline consumption. The surge in land prices is an indication of farmers' increased confidence that high crop prices will last at least several years.
  15. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    It would seem that a high ratio - at least 3 in to 1 out, would be the ideal situation - and hopefully higher! There are surely missing pieces of the chain also, as it is very difficult to figure out every single energy input to seed, fertilizer, irrigation, machinery, etc.....

    I like the idea of fuel from wood - but will distilling result in as high an efficiency as burning the wood in electric plants? Maybe so, since there are a lot of losses from transmission and generation - I think you end up at about 30-40% efficient at best. Of course, you have a great advantage in the fact that your pollution is all at one source....it's a lot easier to clean up one stack than every car, furnace, etc.

    Electric can be used for cars. It cannot be used for jets (yet) though, so we will need liquid fuel for the foreseeable future. Whoever comes up with the next fuel for air travel (magnetic?) will certainly change the world....

    I was thinking about this recently because of my fascination with melting metal. This melting has been the cause of a lot of the pollution on the planet (coal, coke, etc.) for 200 years or more. But now they have figured out how to do it with electric! What an advancement! A foundry could be driven by a hydro plant (actually, many are and that is why our aircraft industry ended up out west)...... They even use relatively clean natural gas to preheat the metal so it melts easier!
  16. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    A nice side note is that the boom in ag land has slightly slowed the growth of subdivisions. The economics onthe farm change dramatically at $4/bushel.

    At 2, if you farmed 1000 acres, and yeilded 100 bu/acre, you made 2x100x1000 - 200,000 gross, less fuel, seed, fertilizer, pesticide, equipment, rents, etc. So in most cases these guys were lucky to be clearing 40 or 50K/yr at that scale. Bump it to 4/bushel, and most of those other costs stay the same or only increase slightly, they can be looking at well over 100K/yr, in a mediocre ag environment.

    Get some higher CO2 (boosts yields), a longer growing season (thanks to global warming), and sustained corn over $3/bushel, and you might be able to make a living growing corn in the upper midwest.

    Steve
  17. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    From this link:

    "One farm for the local village probably makes sense," he says. "But if you have a 100,000 acre plantation exporting biomass on contract to Europe , that's a completely different story. From one square meter of land, you can get roughly one watt of energy. The price you pay is that in Brazil alone you annually damage a jungle the size of Greece ."

    The bold is my emphasis, but I'm laughing so hard my eyes are watering. This is the guy that authored this study! I could burn grass clippings from my yard from 2 weeks of growth and get more than one f-ing watt per square meter!

    I think the general rule is the sun puts out 1000 watts per square meter. So saying an average summer day is 12 hours long and an average growing season is 90 days that's about 1 million watts of solar power...he really wants us to believe that biomass captures 0.0000001% of that energy! Ha!

    Corey
  18. Abner

    Abner Member

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    my problem with the 5 in 1 out theory is that means that 5 gallons of fuel is used to make 1 gallon? so ethanol should cost $11 a gallon - there's not that much of a subsidy on it. if it is such a waste how is it cost effective to build more plants, millions of investors and billions of dollars have been swindled away to make BP more $$$. somebody is not telling the whole story


    also if we could have high compression engines again we could have the same fuel economy or better with e85 as dino100 but high comp creates too much NOx emmisions.
  19. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    Ok, here's my major beef and why I think ethanol is a good idea for farmers to get into . . . the gov't pays subsidies like they are going out of style . .get people off the dole, lessen the subsidies, and give farmers and farmland owners (see article) a business plan for contributing to a renewable fuel source and lessen our dependence on the shieks

    Here is one source of info, I stick to WSJ, Wash Post, and similar sources
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/01/AR2006070100962.html
  20. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Ironic that this just showed up in news today:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070309/ap_on_bi_ge/crop_report

    I also just read something about Bush meeting with Brazilian PM for some ethanol agreement? Yay!!! Even more reason for Brazil to burn the rest of the Amazon rain forests...to grow more corn and sugar cane so Americans can keep driving their hummers to McDonalds!!! Gotta love it.
  21. Kilted

    Kilted Member

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  22. Burn-1

    Burn-1 Feeling the Heat

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  23. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    Mike, check out this marketplace article http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2007/03/08/PM200703085.html
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, the Brazilians get one dollar a day to cut the cane! Anyone who has seen them burn sugar cane field in Florida or elsewhere can testify about that pollution......so we have to do better. Our energy should not be at the expense of someone getting screwed for

    We Americans like to talk about Human Rights and Slave Labor, etc, but when it comes to make other people (out of sight, out of mind) work for our Hummers, we're all for it!

    Bomass and Biofuels are part of the solution. But they are a much smaller part than conservation and related technology.

    Obviously, the Brazilian "man on the street" is not greeting Bush with flowers (see the news). BTW, we charge the Brazilians a 54 cents a gallon import duty on the ethanol we import from there - making it difficult if not impossible for this to work. When Bush was asked about this tariff - he said it was NOT up for discussion.....meantime Bush gladly imports oil from Chavez with NO tariff.

    Somehow it does not all add up.
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