Thursday, June 10, 2010

Most Disgusting Part of Oil Spill: Demon Ethanol

"The most disgusting aspect of the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico isn't the video images of oil-soaked birds or the incessant blather from pundits about what BP or the Obama administration should be doing to stem the flow of oil. Instead, it's the ugly spectacle of the corn-ethanol scammers doing all they can to capitalize on the disaster so that they can justify an expansion of the longest-running robbery of taxpayers in U.S. history.

The blowout of BP's Macondo well has given the corn-ethanol industry yet another opportunity to push its fuel adulterant on the American consumer. And unfortunately, the Obama administration appears ready and willing to foist yet more of the corrosive, environmentally destructive, low-heat-energy fuel on motorists."

Read more here of Robert Bryce's article in Slate.com.

31 Comments:

At 6/10/2010 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know. The incessant pushing of cap and trade, higher oil taxes, and banning of new wells is a lot more troubling that ethanol being pushed. Ethanol will be self limiting since it raises food grain prices. But taxes will raise fuel costs and not go toward any good alternatives.

 
At 6/10/2010 8:10 PM, Blogger rufus said...

The Front Month Contract on Field Corn (cattle feed,) today, was $3.43/bu (about $0.06/lb.)

That means a hamburger costs about $0.01 more than it did before the country started blending large amounts of ethanol.

However, you might ask yourself what a gallon of gas would cost if we hadn't blended 839,000 barrels of ethanol/day into our gasoline last week.

E85 (85% Ethanol - 15% gasoline) is selling for as low as $1.83/gallon in the Midwest this week. It was selling for $1.86 a couple of weeks ago when gasoline was selling for $2.92/gallon.

The new Buick Regal that is coming out in the fall will have a 2.0 L Direct Injected, Turbocharged Engine that will get within 5% the same mileage on E85 as on gasoline.

According to GM, the next iteration will attain The Same Mileage on E85 as on Gasoline.

These people will be driving a beautiful, new Sports Sedan for, approx. $0.06/mile.

Fiberight is producing ethanol from municipal waste. W/O any subsidies their cost is $1.65/gallon. We can obtain another 10 Million Barrels/Day using their technology.

W/O any Subsidies the corn to ethanol refineries are producing ethanol for approx. $1.45/gallon.

E10 is selling for up to $0.13/gal less than straight gasoline.

I won't even go into the Hundreds of Billions we spend protecting the middle eastern oil, or the tens of billions it will cost to, somewhat, clean up the Disaster in the Gulf.

Subsidies? Those guys are Drilling, Royalty-free, down there.

There's hardly a County in the United States that couldn't provide for All of its fuel. The Cost of Cellulosic Ethanol is down to around $2.00/gal to manufacture.

We could take 3% of the marginal land in each county, and remove ourselves from the list of "Oil-Importing" Nations. Ethanol from switchgrass, produced locally for approx $2.00/gal, and Used Locally would/will eliminate the need for rail/barge/pipeline transport.

Locally (and economically) produced, and locally used.

I don't know who this guy "Bryce" is, or what his agenda is; and I don't care - But, he's flat wrong.

 
At 6/10/2010 8:18 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Taxes would be the best method of the terrible lot of methods being discussed. That being said, our government cannot pick winners and losers right at all. I pick status quo.

 
At 6/10/2010 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ethanol has much less energy than gasoline. How do you get the same mileage on E85 and gasoline?

Something funny going on here.

 
At 6/10/2010 8:33 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Ethanol is 113 Octane (aki index - that number you see on the gas pump;) gasoline is 84 octane.

This means Ethanol can be compressed much more (and, thus, deliver more power per btu) than gasoline.

The Direct Injected, turbocharged engines will be able to adjust the compression via the turbocharger, and the amount of fuel (depending on whether it's gasoline, or ethanol) via the direct injection, and valve timing.

It's a new world, kiddos; those computers really did "change things."

 
At 6/10/2010 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ethanol has already caused a much greater - if largely ignored - environmental disaster in the Gulf. It's called the Gulf "dead zone", a huge area of oxygen starved ocean free of all aquatic life and caused by excess fertilizer run off from farms dedicated to ethanol crop production. Funny, how we never hear anyone on the left demand that someone be held accountable for that environmental fiasco. I guess that pictures of vast stretches of empty ocean just don't motivate Green Peace contributors like pictures of pelicans covered with oil.

 
At 6/10/2010 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Subsidies? Those guys are Drilling, Royalty-free, down there.

Bullshit.

 
At 6/10/2010 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biofuels, like ethanol, are an evironmental disaster.

 
At 6/10/2010 9:48 PM, Blogger rufus said...

ALL rivers give off hypoxia zones. The Big Muddy River, as the Indians called it, has been washing phosphates, nitrogen, etc down to the Ocean as long as there's been a Big Muddy River. That's what rivers do.

Agricultural runoff does contribute to these zones, as does runoff from Cities (Chicago, alone, accounts for 5% of the Gulf Hypoxia zone) and industry.

These zones wax, and wane. I believe I read that it was some 30% smaller last year than the year before. It's doubtful Corn Ethanol could have much to do with it, though, inasmuch as our corn acreage is about the same as it's been for decades.

 
At 6/10/2010 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Environmentally speaking, fossil fuels are a godsend. Ethanol is a nightmare.

 
At 6/10/2010 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' to grow dramatically due to federal biofuel mandate.

 
At 6/10/2010 10:01 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Anon, you keep linking to old stuff about palm oil, and soybeans. That stuff has nothing to do with ethanol.

I know, there was a theory, ILUC (indirect land use change) that posited that more U.S. land would go to corn, and less to soybeans - leading Brazil to cut down rain forests to plant soybeans.

That theory was nutty from the start. There are 150 Million Acres of good land lying fallow in the Cerrado (soybean land, next to the rainforest.) You can rent it for a song. You certainly wouldn't go cutting down trees if all you wanted to do was raise soybeans.

No, they Log the forest For the Logs. Those Brazilian Hardwoods are incredibly valuable.

And, as a matter of fact we're replacing so much soybean meal with DDGS (co-product of ethanol production) that the worldwide demand for soybeans is down.

In 2003 Brazil raised 58 Million Acres of Soybeans. In 2008 they raised 53 Million Acres. The theory is "running backward."

But, thanks for playing.

 
At 6/10/2010 10:13 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

"This means Ethanol can be compressed much more (and, thus, deliver more power per btu) than gasoline."

Octane and energy content are not the same thing. An octane rating is a measurement of a fuel's tendency to burn in a controlled manner, rather than explode in an uncontrolled manner - one needs controlled explosions with internal combustion engines. On a per gallon basis, 87 octane gasoline contains roughly 125,000 BTUs, where as ethanol contains around 84,000 BTUs.

Other than that, you are correct that ethanol has a higher octane rating than gasoline. While corn-based ethanol consists of many flaws, and I myself think it's a large mistake, ethanol in actuality is useful for boosting the overall octane rating of gasoline.

 
At 6/10/2010 10:53 PM, Blogger rufus said...

No, Daniel, Octane measures a fuel's resistance to knock. The higher the Octane Rating the harder it is to get it to knock, and, thus, the more it can be compressed, and the more power it can deliver.

E85 has been tested at compression ratios all the way up to 19:1. Anyways, ethanol's burn characteristics allow it to deliver as much hp per gallon as gasoline when used in a proper engine. These new engines coming out are "proper" engines.

 
At 6/10/2010 10:59 PM, Blogger David Tile said...

What about the use of hemp for bio-fuel. Obviously it would need to be legalized, but apparently hemp is a closed system of oxygen production during growth vs consumption while being burned. Btw, If we didn’t need oil we wouldn’t have oil spills.

http://tiny.cc/04dk8

 
At 6/10/2010 11:37 PM, Anonymous Hydra said...

Ethanol will be self limiting since it raises food grain prices.

There is a whole lot of land lying around fallow. If grain prices get high enough I may be able to switch crops and actaully make money on the farm.

================================

The new Buick Regal that is coming out in the fall will have a 2.0 L Direct Injected, Turbocharged Engine that will get within 5% the same mileage on E85 as on gasoline.

I don't believe it. Less energy in, less HP out.

If it is getting better mileage, it isn't the engine alone, has to be transmission weight, computer control.

But all those things would affet the gas powered care too, right?

Most engines already have computer controls to make as little as possible of the difference. My Prius runs fine on ethanol mix or straight gas, but at the end afoa tank (450 miles more or less) you can see the difference in miles run.

Sounds like advertising to me "Hey, get more for less. Something for Nothing!"

 
At 6/10/2010 11:54 PM, Anonymous Hydra said...

Some of waht Rufus says maks sense, or all of it makes some sense, but this is a harder problem than he makes out.

Octane is not the same as energy content. If you compress it more to make it burn, where does the enrgy for all that compressing come from?

I remember the engines on the helicopters: only weighed about 150pounds and put out 3000 HP, but it took 2200 HP to run the compressor, so the engines were light enough to fly but they drank fuel like a bandit. Fill the helicopter full and it couldn't take off, but by the time it warmed up and taxied out it had burned enough fuel to be under max weight.

There are plenty of good arguments on both sides of this one. Let's stop swiping at each other and try and understand the real issues.

There is plenty of vacant land, now. But what about water?

If we try to power ousrelves entirely with crops will will reach a limit. So with some max amount of energy, how do we go about planning for a steady state economy? Never been done anywhere I ever heard of.

Until 1920 we uses 75% of the land to fuel the drafte animals that worked the other 25%. Tractors use a lot ore energy than horses, so how many acres would we have to set aside to feed todays tractors instead of 1920's horses?

I don't see this as a done deal, but I sure could use some $10.00 corn prices.

Now, those poor bastards in their townhouse or mcmansions: they might not like it so much.

 
At 6/10/2010 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the more it can be compressed, and the more power it can deliver.

Sorry, less power in, less power out, unless you rproper engine is a perpetual motion machine.

there arediffering combustion characteristics that can be taken advantae of in design, but efficiency only buys you so much, after that it is garbage in, garbage out.

Especially with biofuels.

 
At 6/11/2010 12:25 AM, Blogger rufus said...

The average corn farmer will use a little less than 5 gallons of fuel to plant, work, and harvest an acre of corn. That acre will yield about 500 gallons of ethanol.

So, about 1% of the field to "feed" the tractors.

You don't think the new Regal will get within 5% the mileage on ethanol, as gasoline? The same in the next iteratiion?

And, GM would lie, WHY? They think you'll forget before October? Whatever.

 
At 6/11/2010 1:55 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"The average corn farmer will use a little less than 5 gallons of fuel to plant, work, and harvest an acre of corn. That acre will yield about 500 gallons of ethanol."

rufus, interesting numbers. Where did you get these?

 
At 6/11/2010 6:22 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well rufus was a little lite in explaining which octane is which when using the word octane...

Octane rating is a fuel's ability to resist detonation...

There's the RON (research octane number), the MON (motor octane number), and the octane number one sees at the gas pump, the R+M/2 octane number...

The octane rating was developed by chemist Russell Marker...

The problem we have here is, 'does ethanol get a better tax break than crude oil fuels?'....

From the DOE site: The ethanol tax credit provides a credit against Federal gasoline taxes that is worth 51 cents for every gallon of ethanol blended into the gasoline pool. For a typical gasoline blend with 10 percent ethanol, the credit reduces the Federal excise tax (18.4 cents per gallon) by 5.1 cents, resulting in an effective tax rate of 13.3 cents per gallon for the blender. Currently, the ethanol tax credit is scheduled to expire in 2010; however, it has been in effect since 1978, and while it has been adjusted both up and down, it has consistently been extended [33]. AEO2007 assumes that reauthorizations will continue throughout the projections...

 
At 6/11/2010 8:10 AM, Blogger rufus said...

Ron, the average yield last year was 164 bushels of corn per acre (this number is steadily rising due to the GM seeds supplied by Monsanto, Dupont, et al.)

Poet, the world's largest ethanol maker, reports on its website, "Rhapsodyingreen," that it achieves 3 gallons of ethanol for a bushel of corn (plus some corn oil, and other co-products.)

These two numbers bring you right at 500 gal/acre. (Note that after the production of ethanol you still have the 1/3 bushel that is comprised of protein, vitamins, nutrients, etc present in your DDGS.)

USDA provides figures on fuel use. Most corn farmers now use "low-till, no-till" farming methods, not deep-plowing. Average fuel use is about 4.5 gal of diesel/acre.

 
At 6/11/2010 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ALL rivers give off hypoxia zones. These zones wax, and wane. I believe I read that it was some 30% smaller last year than the year before. It's doubtful Corn Ethanol could have much to do with it ...

And I believe that you don't know your ass from your elbow. Read the article: ... the five largest Gulf dead zones on record have occurred since 2001 .... There have been numerous studies pointing to the increased use of fertilizers associated with ethanol production. This one was published in 2009.

Anon, you keep linking to old stuff about palm oil, and soybeans. That stuff has nothing to do with ethanol.

Ahh, and you keep linking to -nothing. The UK Times article was from March of this year. And no matter how you spin it, ethanol is far more damaging to the environment than fossil fuels. It's not just the destruction of the world's forests or the creation of massive aquatic "dead zones", it's the loss of important carbon sinks, which was what the entire exercise was supposed to be about in the first place. Add to that the misallocation of important food producing farm land and it starts to look like a "solution" only a government bureaucrat could love.

But, hey, thanks for playing.

 
At 6/11/2010 11:14 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Re: Biofuel Production Could Undercut Efforts To Shrink Gulf 'Dead Zone'...

Hmmm, doesn't Science Daily push the anthropomorphic climate change fraud?

 
At 6/11/2010 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, doesn't Science Daily push the anthropomorphic climate change fraud?

Yes, like most "science" sites they almost never post stories refuting global warming. So what? One of the main drivers of subsidies for "bio-fuels", like ethanol, is a supposed concern for the environment, including "global warming". The reality is that these alternatives are far more destructive to the environment than fossil fuels and may actually contribute, through the destruction of carbon sinks, etc., to the lefts pet project - anthropomorphic climate change. There is no rational economic or environmental case for ethanol. The cure for the imaginary disease is worse than the disease itself.

 
At 6/11/2010 2:17 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

"No, Daniel, Octane measures a fuel's resistance to knock. The higher the Octane Rating the harder it is to get it to knock, and, thus, the more it can be compressed, and the more power it can deliver."

Yes, the reason for that is higher resistance to ignition due to the higher octane rating. The reason high-performance engines can achieve higher compression ratios is because the higher octane fuels they use are more ignition resistant. Fuels with lower octane ratings ignite with less compression, and thus are less resistant to ignition.

 
At 6/11/2010 2:29 PM, Anonymous Rand said...

Since the energy content of ethanol is only about 60% of that of gasoline (21 MJ/l vs. 35 MJ/l), even if both were equally as efficient as a fuel, ethanol should only get about 60% of the fuel economy of gasoline. However, if a gallon of ethanol costs less than 0.6 gallons of gasoline, it will then become a competitive fuel.

 
At 6/11/2010 4:43 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Yes, like most "science" sites they almost never post stories refuting global warming. So what?"...

Well the 'so what?' makes me at least wonder just how factual the rest of their content might be?

"The reality is that these alternatives are far more destructive to the environment than fossil fuels..."...

Well now that's interesting that you should put that out there...

I was reading something about a new robot model and I found this on the side bar...

From the online magazine IEEE Spectrum: Irrigating biofuel crops on a grand scale would be disastrous

The great advantage of biofuel over petroleum is that the sources of biofuel are so widely available. The geologic fates may not have endowed your corner of the world with oil or gas deposits, but just about everyone can grow plants to make fuel. Unfortunately, some of the places these crops are grown require irrigation, and when water enters the equation, biofuels are a lot less attractive than the stuff they’re replacing.... there's more'...

 
At 6/11/2010 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting link "juandos". Solar energy plants apparently put strains on scarce water resources as well.

 
At 6/12/2010 6:59 AM, Anonymous doubleBubble tripleDip said...

"
113 Octane (aki index - that number you see on the gas pump;) gasoline is 84 octane.

This means that Ethanol can be compressed much more (and, thus, deliver more power per BTU
"
~~rufus~

Is there another *oil embargo* in your future. Will you be waiting in gas-pump line for hours getting mad at Arabs?

Don't get mad -- get even. Animal feed corn catalyzed into ethanol then mixed with 0.7% CO2 and 11% hexane from our local natural gas wells can give you lower emissions and higher octane. CO2 will solve fuel tank fumes problem and eliminate the EGR, exhaust gas recirculation valve from engine. This will give our military an independent supply of fuel for Abrams-tanks thus save our petrol for fighter jets.

Don't mad -- get even!

 
At 6/12/2010 10:59 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Now that's a pretty good article there anon @ 6/11/2010 11:09 PM...

Loved this part: 'Solar photovoltaic developers say not to worry about how much water their plants will use because they need only enough water to run the office bathrooms and wash the arrays of panels a couple of times a year.

But people who live near proposed plants or maintain solar panels in the desert guffaw at that last bit and are willing to bet the panels will need to be hosed down more frequently
'...

That had me chuckling...

 

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