Skip to comments.Beware of the ethanol hype
Posted on 07/31/2006 7:55:39 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
Ethanol appears to be the new and exciting source of renewable energy, drawing considerable investor interest, as reflected by recent initial public stock offerings such as VeraSun Energy and Pacific Ethanol. The use of ethanol is also politically expedient, as it is perceived to be an alternative to Middle Eastern oil.
Ethanol also benefits from growing concerns over the long-term supply of oil. And in the US, ethanol's environmentally friendly role is growing because of legislation mandating a phasing-out of other fuel sources with the toxic ingredient methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) in favor of ethanol.
Yet there remain big questions about the projected long-term viability of ethanol as the major oil-replacement fuel stock.
Why ethanol? The economics behind ethanol do not necessarily demonstrate its practicality. Simply stated, it is unclear whether ethanol will be the solution to US energy woes.
At the same time, there is currently an inadequate supply of ethanol to fulfill demand. The pressure from government forced the United States to produce 4 billion gallons (15.14 billion liters) of ethanol in 2006, which is forecast to increase to 7.5 billion gallons (28.39 billion liters) in 2012. This is helping to fuel an ethanol boom that will double the size of the industry by 2008. A number of states have a mandate in place to use 10% ethanol as the blending agent, replacing MTBE, which contributes to more environmental pollution than ethanol. As of April at least 85% of Hawaii's gasoline must be 10% ethanol.
(Excerpt) Read more at atimes.com ...
It's also interesting that the published date is tomorrow.
The study conducted by Alexander Farrell of the University of California, Berkeley, published in Science magazine indicated that corn-based ethanol cuts overall greenhouse-gas emissions by only 13% compared with gasoline.Still, that's better than Kyoto.
Thanks for the ping.
In Brazil, where they use ethanol big time, it's based on sugar cane, not corn. Lots more potential energy in sugar cane than corn.
I think your estimate is low.
>>>It's also interesting that the published date is tomorrow.
Were the lottery numbers included? :)
Ethanol will have the advantage as a home distilled product IMO. If it is made into an investor big business, we won't see the price advantages.
Also, I think it is only an option for older cars.
Don't have time to read the complete article tonight, but was the question addressed re: the amount of water that would be used by growing enough corn (or sugar cane) to replace our fossil fuel consumption. I think ethanol is a totally BAD idea, but then ADM has a lot of political clout.
I didn't read it either.
I read the resources from people that already do it on their own and without making it a big business.
Besides, water isn't an issue with rain barrels :)
Yes, but corn producers are still many and still have money...
Corn ethanol is severely limited by the acreage in corn. Cellulosic ethanol, if and when it becomes cost competitive, is another story. The current ballpark estimate (USDA/DOE "Billion Ton Study") is that cellulosic ethanol, principally from current waste streams, could displace roughly 30% of the U.S.'s current gasoline usage without disrupting current U.S. food and export markets. The feedstocks would include such things as forest waste, switch grass, corn stover, and other agricultural residues.
Ethanol, therefore, is not a complete solution even under the best circumstances. That said, 30% would make a big difference.
If complete energy independence is the goal, the likely solutions are nuclear for electricity and hydrogen fuel cells for transportation fuels. Reasonably competitive fuel cells, however, are still somewhere over the horizon.
How stable would the supply of ethonol be if it came from crops? I guess the weather or pests might affect it (?)
"was the question addressed re: the amount of water that would be used by growing enough corn (or sugar cane)"
The same amount of water that would be used to grow corn for corn flakes and sugar for candy I would assume. Water is the least of our problems. But if we can make a substitute for oil using a little water, I am in favor.
190 proof ethanol isn't really such a great fuel, which is why fuel-grade ethanol is at least 198.5 proof or so.
What are you quoting?
Because I am familiar with equipment used in modern ethanol plants, I know a lot more about it than I care too.
Fuel-grade ethanol has a maximum .8 or so percent water, which isn't achievable with distillation.
Congrats for your knowledge. But you aren't quoting the site I posted.
Your site says:
"You are able to produce sometimes close to 100% or 200 proof alcohol. Those people who want to produce this quality should buy or build this kind of unit."
Then your site later says:
"Our still consistently makes 180 to 190 proof alcohol."
I don't consider even 95% alchol "close to 100%" from a technical standpoint.
"Close to 100%" alcohol can't come from a still because of the azeotrope.
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