Corned grief: biofuels may increase CO2

From the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t department”.

More Maize Ethanol May Boost Greenhouse Gas Emissions

From the American Institute of Biological Sciences

Read the full article (PDF)

In the March 2010 issue of BioScience, researchers present a sophisticated new analysis of the effects of boosting use of maize-derived ethanol on greenhouse gas emissions. The study, conducted by Thomas W. Hertel of Purdue University and five co-authors, focuses on how mandated increases in production of the biofuel in the United States will trigger land-use changes domestically and elsewhere. In response to the increased demand for maize, farmers convert additional land to crops, and this conversion can boost carbon dioxide emissions.

The analysis combines ecological data with a global economic commodity and trade model to project the effects of US maize ethanol production on carbon dioxide emissions resulting from land-use changes in 18 regions across the globe. The researchers’ main conclusion is stark: These indirect, market-mediated effects on greenhouse gas emissions “are enough to cancel out the benefits the corn ethanol has on global warming.”

The indirect effects of increasing production of maize ethanol were first addressed in 2008 by Timothy Searchinger and his coauthors, who presented a simpler calculation in Science. Searchinger concluded that burning maize ethanol led to greenhouse gas emissions twice as large as if gasoline had been burned instead. The question assumed global importance because the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act mandates a steep increase in US production of biofuels over the next dozen years, and certifications about life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are needed for some of this increase. In addition, the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard requires including estimates of the effects of indirect land-use change on greenhouse gas emissions. The board’s approach is based on the work reported in BioScience.

Hertel and colleagues’ analysis incorporates some effects that could lessen the impact of land-use conversion, but their bottom line, though only one-quarter as large as the earlier estimate of Searchinger and his coauthors, still indicates that the maize ethanol now being produced in the United States will not significantly reduce total greenhouse gas emissions, compared with burning gasoline. The authors acknowledge that some game-changing technical or economic development could render their estimates moot, but sensitivity analyses undertaken in their study suggest that the findings are quite robust.

Effects of US Maize Ethanol on Global Land Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Estimating Market-mediated Responses
Thomas W. Hertel, Alla A. Golub, Andrew D. Jones, Michael O’Hare, Richard J. Plevin, and Daniel M. Kammen

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263 Responses to Corned grief: biofuels may increase CO2

  1. MattN says:

    Of course. It’s carbon based. What do you get when you burn a carbon based fuel?

    How did anyone ever get the idea there would be less CO2?

  2. Justa Joe says:

    Can someone present a chemical equation and the the stoichiometry to demonstrate how the combustion of so called bio-fuels is supposed to produce any less CO2 than gasoline?

    Not that buy into the CO2 = bad hoopla

  3. RayG says:

    Does the robustness of the last sentence of the summary “…but sensitivity analyses undertaken in their study suggest that the findings are quite robust.” indicate that we should take this analysis with 5 grains of NaCl? ;-)

  4. kim says:

    I wonder where this whole biofuel mess would be if Iowa weren’t the first Presidential primary.
    ==================

  5. kwik says:

    “..their study suggest that the findings are quite robust.”

    Very good!

  6. Lance says:

    Not to mention the fact that food prices the world over will exlode, and food shortages will kill millions…..huh, maybe not such a bad idea after all, those bio-fuels. It will actually help the greenies reduce the human population…two flies in one stroke.

  7. Van Grungy says:

    The IPCC is mandated to find excuses for retarding, or even better, culling human population growth.

    They will stop at nothing to achieve this objective. Real scientific methods and reports be damned.

  8. kim says:

    Is the distinction between fossil CO2 and recently captured CO2 made? That’s an important point.
    ==========

  9. Jack says:

    It really is the choice of liberals: don’t go into the country, kill a
    bunch of people, and set it right.

    Lets starve them to death. But only the poor ones.

  10. RockyRoad says:

    So you’re telling me I can use the energy of the sun to get me down the highway but that same energy is in no way responsible for warming the globe? Hmmmm…. *does not compute*

  11. Doug says:

    Nothing said about the CO2 byproduct released from the fermentation process?

  12. Steve says:

    I have always maintained, from the absolute beginning of this mess, that burning our food is a bad idea.

    A much better implementation of biofuels as an alternative source would be through the use of MEthanol, not ethanol. With alcohol-based methanol as a fuel, practically any sort of biomass can be used– particularly the ones we don’t eat. Grass, cat-tails, the stuff from corn that we DON’T use, etc. Higher yield, and we don’t mess with our food supply. And it’s easy to convert engines for this purpose as well.

    But that would make too much sense, and would only line the pockets of average americans, instead of lobbyists and the thieves in power.

    I look at our energy policy in the country and weep. We will be our own un-doing.

  13. John from MN says:

    Yellow Dent Corn (maize as you use in the article) is grown for animal feed. Ethanol can be made out the corn using the starch portion, and you still have a high protein highly nutritious feed left in the form of Distiller grain or DDG for short. With ethanol you get your cake and eat it too. I sure wish detractors would get the facts straight.
    On my farm I can raise about 180 bushel per Acre of corn (5 tons) I will only use about 6 gals of Diesel fuel to produce that and that acre of corn will produce 500 (Five Hundred) gallons of ethanol and 3,000 lbs of High Protein DDG’s.
    Besides the 6 gallons of fuel used there is a small amount of fuel used in mining the fertilizer and some Natural Gas used to produce the Nitrogen fertilizer. And some Natural Gas used in to distill the Ethanol from the starch and dry the Distillers Grain. But all in all the ethanol industry and my farm are very efficient, use much less energy and produce both liquid car fuel and high protein feed, that comes from mostly Solar Energy collected by the corn and some Natural Gas in the production of the corn and the ethanol. But nowhere near the 500 gallons of ethanol that will be produced per acre. Along with a ton and half (3,000 lbs) of High Protein feed. And feed is what my farm produced before ethanol came into favor.

    All in All Ethanol gets knocked by the un-informed and groups with a political or financial angle to dis-credit the highly efficient Agricultural Farming and Ethanol production in the Mid-Western USA…….Sincerely John T.

  14. vigilantfish says:

    I love the way these scientists address the possible shortcomings of biofuel production not in terms of rising food prices and the starvation and death of the world’s poorest, but rather because the CO2 balance is not right. Glad to know we in the first world have our priorities straight! sarc/

  15. Henry chance says:

    It takes more btu’s to raise grain, brew it and distill it to produce alcohol than the btus put off by the ethanol.
    The heat is from natural gas.
    The cycle is inneficient. I know where you can buy several new ethanol plants that are rusting in bankruptcy.

  16. Steve says:

    This is way-off topic (more or less), but can anyone here recommend a good book outlining the principles of solar energy and panels, and the subsequent applications and methods?

    I’m not afraid of technical writing, either. Seen there are many for sale and there are many websites, but just wondering where to start.

  17. Philip T. Downman says:

    Making big efforts to solve a fictive problem is likely to end up in disaster.

  18. Mariner says:

    Anthony,

    While the whole indirect land use issue is a concern, the problem with these papers is the exact same as the problem with global warming: they rely on models that are not easily reconciled with actual data. These models are assuming that we understand perfectly the economics of worldwide agricultural supply and demand. Needless to say, that’s absurd. And, so far, the indirect land use change (ILUC) models have failed to adequately express reality.

    For example, this paper looks at a step change from 2001 levels of ethanol production to estimated 2015 levels (1.7 billion gallons to 15 billion gallons). From their model, they assume a 17% decrease in export production from corn grain and a 12% decrease in exports of soy. Makes sense, as we need a lot more corn to make all this ethanol.

    However, we’re about 60% of the way there (current US ethanol production is ~9-10 billion gallons). So some of these effects should start to be seen. And what have we seen instead?

    Our corn and soy exports are HIGHER than they were in 2001.

    The model does not fit the current reality. If this was global warming related, you would rightly be criticizing this study for that. Of course, this isn’t meant to be incendiary or critical of you or this site. I’m assuming you’re not as well versed at the intricacies of biofuel research as you are of global warming. But honest scientific debate requires all information, so here’s a little extra.

    (Full disclosure: as you might expect, I’m a researcher in the world of biofuels, although not necessarily corn-ethanol specific.)

  19. bill-tb says:

    There was a CARB study which showed bio-fuels produced 2.5 times as much CO2 as straight gasoline. Makes sense when you considered all the ‘mechanized farming steps’ involved. Then Gov Schwarzenegger forced it to be taken down and re-written to say just ‘more CO2′ than straight gasoline.

    Proving that reducing CO2 isn’t the goal.

    Shouldn’t we always ask that question when bio-fuels are talked about? And what about the consumer costs … shouldn’t that be the top line of the amazing bio-fuels arguments?

    And isn’t all this weird when you find that according to the governments own EIA the USA has more fossil fuel reserves than any other nation on earth. Especially coal, which the NAZIs of WWII were able to turn into liquid transport fuel using 1920s technology. Still works today.

  20. Allen63 says:

    Biofuels derived from nominal food crops have never made sense in any fashion (economic, environmental, social).

    Maybe if a special plant species was modified or genetically engineered….

    But, even then, there is, apparently, so much energy inefficiency in producing the biofuel that I would not leap at them as any real solution.

    Just spend all the money on development of nuclear electric energy and electric (or hydrogen powered — from H2O) cars.

    In the mean time, continue on with oil, natural gas, and coal (with pollution controls — not CO2 controls). It seems like the most cost effective path to take — given what we know.

  21. jorgekafkazar says:

    “…These indirect, market-mediated effects on greenhouse gas emissions “are enough to cancel out the benefits the corn ethanol has on global warming.”

    The benefits of ethanol for global warming are zero. End of story.

    Here’s the stoichiometry, for those who give a hoot:

    C8H18 + 12.5 O2 –> 8 CO2 + 9 H2O

    C2H5OH + 3 O2 –> 2 CO2 + 3 H2O

    So each mole of octane produces 4 times as many moles of CO2 as ethanol. The ethanol doesn’t produce quite as much energy, though: Gasoline (roughly octane) has an HHV of 20.4 MBTU/pound; ethanol’s HHV is only 12.8 MBTU/pound.

  22. Chris says:

    Actually, this report shows better results than anticipated. The press release notes that the magnitude of CO2 emissions is only one-fourth of the previous estimate. Also, who ever said burning bio-fuel reduces total CO2 content in the atmosphere? Ethanol is added to gasoline as part of the RENEWABLE fuel standards. Finally, it is no surprise that ethanol from corn is no panacea. Even its supporters (outside of the farm lobby) readily admit that it is a bridge to more efficient biofuels of the future.

    For those who don’t understand the difference in CO2 emissions from biofuels versus natural landscape, the conversion of wetlands or forests into cornfields is apparently not as efficient in capturing CO2 even when keeping the forests as is requires the use of more gasoline, i.e., [forest uptake of CO2 - use of gasoline instead of biofuel] > [cornfield uptake CO2 - energy used to raise corn and convert to ethanol].

  23. Mariner says:

    Justa Joe (08:08:30):

    In terms of energy density, ethanol is only minutely higher gram CO2/Joule fuel ratio than gasoline, and it’s essentially irrelevent. The difference is the source of CO2. With ethanol, the source is carbon from the atmosphere, so there is no net increase in CO2 emissions. With petroleum, the source is carbon locked underground, thus leading to a net increase in CO2 emissions.

    That’s why bioethanol is seen as a renewable fuel. The problems with that assumption are two-fold. First, corn ethanol requires a great deal of processing, requiring a lot of natural gas in the process. Combined with all on-farm fossil fuel use (including the production of excess fertilizers, which doesn’t technically occur on the farm but needs to be included anyway), the CO2 savings from corn ethanol are slight (about 20-40% reduction compared to gasoline). Note that this doesn’t mean corn ethanol is useless: the big saving is in oil consumed (20 barrels of oil are saved for every barrel invested in ethanol).

    In any case, the second issue is land use change. If we’re cutting down a forest to grow corn, that’s not good. If we’re taking degraded land that’s doing nothing and growing corn, that’s fine. The question is, what are we doing? That’s what the economic models like this one are attempting to find out. Unfortunately, they’re very complicated models on a topic that isn’t perfectly understood. As we all know from the climate change debate, these models are ripe for abuse.

  24. Snake Oil Baron says:

    Maize-derived ethanol? Really? People outside the corn and liquor industries have little interest in deriving ethanol from corn, especially ethanol fuel proponents. There are a lot of interesting technologies being developed to reduce the cost and energy usage of producing ethanol but the benefits of this will be outside of the fuel industry.

    Butanol has a far better future than ethanol – except where ethanol is used as a specific chemical in industrial reactions and physical processes. Cultivating the best organisms to produce butanol continues and it won’t take much to alter some of the ethanol facilities to produce butanol. But then, the need for butanol assumes that all the oil reserves on the planet continue to be made inaccessible via environmental lobbying in the West and state-managed infrastructure collapse in the petro-states. While the latter is likely, the former depends on oil prices staying low enough that people can afford to let the greenies continue to have their way.

    Not to mention sewerage, algae (which creates multiple revenue streams like animal feed, oil, biodiesel, and ethanol while reducing the glut of glycerol from biodiesel production – and yes the water issue is manageable), cellulose, new catalysts for synthesizing chemicals using whatever energy source you can make economical.

    There are lots of options. Get rid of the government intervention and let the market do what it does best by finding the least expensive of these options.

  25. Bruce says:

    Its even worse than the article says. If you believe in the greenhouse gas theories, a much more ptent greenhouse gas is NO2. Biofuels produce more N2O than gasoline.

    http://www.co2science.org/subject/n/summaries/nitrousoxide.php

  26. Veronica says:

    That all depends what you would have done with the land otherwise. If you left it as grassland and populated it with methane-belching cows, how does that compare?

    Anyway, what worries me is that the more land you devote to growing fuel, the less you can devote to growing food. And we were hearing reports last year of the price of food crops, like rice, doubling and trebling in Africa and putting people into starvation. We should choose very carefully what we put into our fields.

  27. Chris says:

    Sorry, the relevent equation is probably this in terms of net CO2 uptake:

    do nothing > grow corn for fuel

    [forest uptake of CO2 - use of gasoline instead of biofuel] > [cornfield uptake CO2 - energy used to raise corn and convert to ethanol - use of biofuel instead of gasoline in terms of CO2 emissions].

  28. Garry says:

    The following is from a political site, but the article provides similar perspective about the kookiness of “biofeuls.” The author states right at the beginning that his data comes from National Geographic.

    “U.S. law currently mandates nine billion gallons of ethanol blended into gasoline by 2010, equal to about 2.6% of US fuel consumption. Currently, 25% of the U.S. corn crop goes for ethanol, driving up food and fuel prices. The ethanol mandate rises to 36 billion gallons by 2022, which would consume more than 100% of the U.S. corn crop, if it were all made from corn. At 300 gallons per acre, corn yields 192,000 gallons per square mile. It takes 5,208 square miles to produce one billion gallons of corn ethanol. It would take 187,488 square miles of corn farms to meet the 2022 ethanol mandate of 36 billion gallons, an area about the size of the entire state of California, plus West Virginia.”

    July 2, 2008
    Ending Our Oil Addiction: Reality Check
    by Raymond Kraft

    http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.506,css.print/pub_detail.asp

  29. Ian E says:

    >>> Justa Joe (08:08:30) :

    Can someone present a chemical equation and the the stoichiometry to demonstrate how the combustion of so called bio-fuels is supposed to produce any less CO2 than gasoline? <<<

    It's not about the stoichiometry – the suggestion is that the plant takes the CO2 from the atmosphere and incorporates it in carbohydrates etc via photosynthesis. When the biodiesel combustion occurs, the CO2 that is released thus is merely returned to the atmosphere rather than being released from oil/gas/coal deposits (taken from the atmosphere many aeons ago). The trouble is of course that the land could be sequestering CO2 into food/trees/bushes etc plus it takes energy to produce the biodiesel plus, doubtless, other indirect effects on CO2 release/sequestration.

  30. JC says:

    This sort of study won’t make a blind bit of difference..

    The Iowa farmer will look his politicians in the eye, tell them he’s done just what they wanted, geared up to be carbon neutral, produced a wonder fuel, reduced pollution and has God on his side.

    He’ll explain its taken him 20 years to see the light, but by the grace of God, the new laws and the subsidies he now realizes the error of his ways.. and he’s going to go on being virtuous and produce ethanol until he drops.. or someone handsomely reimburses him for the years that he’s been jerked around by daft ideologies.

    JC

  31. Joe Crawford says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised… first wind energy (exotic metals, distribution lines & backup generation re: the Spanish experience), and now corn ethanol. This is normally what happens when the engineers get involved and start throwing a large dose of reality into the mix. There is still some hope for solar technology, but it currently takes an awful lot of carbon to manufacture the plants, there is the storage problem, and, major breakthroughs in that field are few and far between (e.g., SERI threw an awful lot of money at many years ago, and finally gave up).

  32. Sean Peake says:

    Great headline!

  33. Stacey says:

    …..puzzling things in life

    Dear Andrew
    Zapping Mosquito’s
    Your post on the 5 March I wrote ” ………Finally in order to remain on topic my advice to you, for what it is worth, is to follow that other great American and “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”

    Geoffrey Lean In the UK Telegraph Saturday 15 March:-

    Once, green groups were light on their feet – and scored hits. As in Muhammad Ali’s appropriately verdant boast, they “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee”, Now they are more often like his world championship opponent, the favoured, but lumbering Sonny Liston, who scarcely landed a punch.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthcomment/geoffrey-lean/7431092/Friends-of-the-Earth-finally-cotton-on-to-climate-change-data-row.html

    So again to remain on topic “Amaizeing”

  34. Rob uk says:

    Doesn`t ploughing release CO2, more Maize Ethanol needs more land.

  35. Bill Tuttle says:

    kim (08:33:56) :
    Is the distinction between fossil CO2 and recently captured CO2 made? That’s an important point.

    Ummmmmm — the difference between released CO2 and released CO2 is…?

  36. Aviator says:

    I followed the dogma and used biofuel in my furnace for one year; the result was an increase of 18% in oil consumption. I reverted to regular fuel even though our stupid provincial government put a carbon tax on it and I saved money. The soy-based fuel has about 85% of the BTUs of the fossil fuels it would seem from my “experiment” and naturally will emit more of the “evil” CO2 when burned to achieve the same goal.

  37. TerrySkinner says:

    Take away the discrediting of the whole AGW business and this sort of report is doubtless the sort of drip, drip of tabloid science which would have become the norm over the next few years. It is so like the past 20/30 years of cancer reporting.

    In my family we decided long ago that everything causes cancer so when some new report comes out telling us to stop eating, stop drinking and above all stop breathing or we will get cancer, we have a laugh and ignore it.

    Now we have the carbon scare industry with its buzz words and phrases: emissions, carbon footprint, greenhouse gas, saving the planet, more CO2. More please, more, much more. Every time a report like this comes out even more people switch off.

    The fact is once people get the idea that whatever they do they are doomed then they are in exactly the same camp as those who think nothing they do means they are doomed. It all becomes water off a duck’s back. And so it should.

    What about all those cremations then? Don’t they just add to the CO2 in the air? Shouldn’t we immediately commission a fleet (never mind the expense) to drop all dead bodies into the Marianas Trench, suitably weighed down of course. Just
    on the precautionary principle you know.

  38. JT says:

    I think that burning the corn (ethanol) is carbon neutral. Its the vast amount of processing (farming, transporting, fermintation, water use, delivery) that is responsible for the extra CO2.

    JT

  39. Richard Sharpe says:

    Seems like another case of a business group or entity using ecological concerns to obtain special treatment or change the playing field (patents expiring, no problem, just raise a bunch of ecological concerns about those patented products).

  40. John Galt says:

    The ethanol mandates and ethanol subsidies were passed under the Bush administration and enjoyed broad bipartisan support. Politicians got the chance to boost their “green cred” while pandering to the Midwestern farm vote. Don’t forget that Iowa is a big corn state and also hosts the caucuses which are the first official step in the process of being elected president.

    What does this tell us about the fallacy of the USA setting an energy policy? When the government dictates winners and losers, the wrong answer is often chosen. Further, the official policy makes it very difficult for better technologies getting implemented.

  41. harrywr2 says:

    kim (08:33:56) :

    “Is the distinction between fossil CO2 and recently captured CO2 made?”

    CO2 emissions from Corn get a free ride because whatever CO2 emissions from burning this years corn crop end up being captured in next years crop.

    I would note this is a global study. US usage of ethanol as a fuel has an impact on global grain markets. I suspect the real problem comes in when someone who was enjoying cheap imported US corn goes out and cuts down a forest because the cheap US corn is no longer available.

  42. ShrNfr says:

    1 BTU in for 0.8 BTUs out never impressed me as being a good way to generate energy.

  43. Rod E. says:

    To farmer John T. from MN:

    Leaving aside the argument that ethanol adversely affects the CO2 situation, what would happen to ethanol production if the government subsidy were to be dropped to zero dollars per gallon? If you’d still find it economic to continue producing corn for ethanol, then fine, the outputs exceed the inputs.

    However, if you would instantly lose that market for your corn, then what you say about the productivity of your farm in regards to ethanol production is bogus and the profit margin is coming from me, the taxpayer, not from your efforts to manage the inputs so that you have a true economic marginal profit on a bushel of corn.

    My bet is that your ethanol market would disappear along with the subsidy, but then with the political power of agriculture interests, I doubt we’ll know the answer any time soon. Maybe when the U.S. runs out of money to pay the subsidy, i.e., when they finally bleed the taxpayer dry?

  44. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    OK, finally a topic that I’m an expert in!

    Corn ethanol is a losing proposition for a national energy policy. Ethanol itself is a lousy motor fuel by itself….it cannot be transported by pipeline unlike gasoline, so transport is only via train, truck etc. This generates considerable emissions.

    It is true that the carbon in corn ethanol originates from the atmosphere, so at first glance, it appears to be sustainable. However, couple all of the fossil energy used for planting/harvesting/processing, plus the transportation, and it is a net energy hog.

    Ethanol fermenters generate carbon dioxide which is often vented to the atmosphere, although it is also captured and used for beverage carbonation etc. This is a net zero, as the process releases atmospheric carbon that was fixed by the corn plant.

    As far as food competition, the corn used for ethanol is not directly consumed by humans but used as animal feed. This is not so great a concern as land-use changes, erosion, and over-fertilization with runoff. Also, the protein fraction of the corn is captured as distillers dried grain, and sold for animal feed.

    Alternative waste sugars are suitable for ethanol….I did this with a major cheese manufacturing concern in the 1980’s, where cheese whey permeate (a strong waste) was fermented into ethanol. This is an acceptable use of a pollutant and net energy producer. However, such waste sugars are not in sufficient abundant supply in our manufacturing sector to replace oil.

    Most oil companies are looking into biologically produced butanol instead of ethanol, it is a superior fuel for motor vehicles. However, the conversion of cellulosic feedstocks such as switchgrass to any fermentable substrate is not easily done, and no breakthrough has yet occurred.

    Ethanol is one small piece of an energy independence puzzle, but it isn’t the panacea that we were told it would be. Also, the subsidies (mostly to ADM) aren’t worth it. This is a program that needs to be re-evaluated and adjusted. Private industry is hard at work on the technical side, but eventually, I predict that ethanol will only play a limited role in displacing oil.

  45. toyotawhizguy says:

    Radio commentator Paul Harvey (now deceased) reported in September 2005 that a Cornell University scientist did a study to see how much it costs (in terms of input energy outlays and human labor) to manufacture one gallon of ethanol from corn. Harvey did not report on the human labor portion, but reported that the scientist found that 1.83 gallons of fossil fuel gasoline was consumed to manufacture 1.0 gallon of ethanol from corn. If this information is correct, it is impossible to realize any environmental benefits from Corn Ethanol.
    Checking some online prices (March, 2010) for denatured alcohol (a mixture of 95% ethanol and 5% methanol) yielded pricing from $18 to as high as $40 per gallon (not including shipping). Comparing this to the national (USA) average price of $2.79 for a gallon of gasoline, the price disparity helps to document the high manufacturing costs for ethanol, giving credibility to the report.
    Using corn ethanol as a gasoline additive in terms of use as a fuel with the goal of reducing emissions is nothing short of a red herring, even if the land use conversion consequences are completely ignored.

  46. Rhoda R says:

    “When the government dictates winners and losers, the wrong answer is often chosen.” The answer chosen ususally depends on the most influential lobby group.

    Not only is ethenol not carbon neutral, but it also makes auto engines less efficient causeing more fuel to be burned to get the same effect as staight gasoline. Of course, ethenol was not supposed to be the answer to CO2 but rather a way to avoid tapping our petroeum reserves. And make friends ad relatives of politicians rich.

  47. rbateman says:

    Biofuels do not decrease C02. BioFuel crops eat it. It must be present in order for photosynthesis to occur. Burning biofuels does not increase C02, they only release what they consumed. C02 is a renewable resource for storing energy.
    The energy came from the Sun.
    Duh.
    The only real choice in the matter is the efficiency of the crops selected for the locale.
    Biofuel is nothing more than an organic Solar Battery.
    Who’s writing these anti-terrestrial articles, anyway? Aliens?

  48. James F. Evans says:

    There are conflicting studies for whether corn ethanol is a net energy producer (takes more oil equivalence in energy to make it than is produced by the ethanol.)

    But regardless of whether ethanol balances out slightly positive or slightly negative on the net energy scale, it makes little difference.

    There isn’t a reason for using corn this way.

    There is plenty of oil, supplies are plentiful & robust — and new supplies are coming on-line all the time.

    Oil is being found as far as 230 miles from the coast of Brazil, and in waters over 7,000 feet deep, and then as deep as25,000 feet below the seabed.

    This kind of ultra-deep water, ultra-deep drilling is also finding huge new supplies deep in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.

    “Big Oil never wanted to be here, in 4,300 feet of water far out in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling through nearly five miles of rock.”

    “So, Chevron and other major oil companies are moving ever farther from shore in search of oil. That quest is paying off as these companies discover unexpectedly large quantities of oil — oil that only they have the technology and financial muscle to find and produce.”

    “Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, companies have announced big finds off the coasts of Brazil and [West Africa] Ghana, leading some experts to suggest the existence of a massive oil reservoir stretching across the Atlantic from Africa to South America. Production from deepwater projects — those in water at least 1,000 feet deep — grew by 67%, or by about 2.3 million barrels a day, between 2005 and 2008, according to PFC Energy, a Washington consulting firm.” (see link below):

    http://finance.yahoo.com/real-estate/article/108509/cramped-on-land-big-oil-bets-at-sea

    Actually, a series of oil reservoirs which emanate from the “cracks of the world” which cover the seabed and land like a girdle.

    Offshore magazine is the premiere trade publication for offshore oil exploration & development. In the January 2010 edition:

    “Just as the voyagers of the science fiction Starship Enterprise probed the outer reaches of space to reveal new worlds, oil and gas exploration teams, working in the real world, have boldly gone where no one has gone before to discover giant fields in the deepest reaches of the Gulf of Mexico. They have taken a peek at billions of barrels of potential reserves.”

    Trade publications, news articles, and scientific papers point to utra-deep hydrocarbons. And, oil companies are finding this oil at an accelerating rate:

    More on this ultra-deep oil:

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2150&start=120#p31833

    Poke around the scientific papers, trade publications, and news articles in the above discussion.

  49. toyotawhizguy says:

    @John Galt (10:35:08) :

    “What does this tell us about the fallacy of the USA setting an energy policy? When the government dictates winners and losers, the wrong answer is often chosen. Further, the official policy makes it very difficult for better technologies getting implemented.”

    – – – – – – –

    How about “The politics of self destruction”?
    p.s. Nice screen name, inspired by “Atlas Shrugs”?

  50. Bill Tuttle says:

    Mariner (09:48:50) :
    From their model, they assume a 17% decrease in export production from corn grain and a 12% decrease in exports of soy. Makes sense, as we need a lot more corn to make all this ethanol.
    However, we’re about 60% of the way there (current US ethanol production is ~9-10 billion gallons). So some of these effects should start to be seen. And what have we seen instead?
    Our corn and soy exports are HIGHER than they were in 2001.

    To keep things in perspective, 2001 was an *abysmal* year for US grain exports:

    “Lost corn exports to the European Union: According to official USDA export and trade statistics, U.S. corn export quantity to the European Union has dropped from 2.778 MMT (million metric tons) in MY (marketing year) 1995/96 to the miniscule level of only 6,300 MT as of August 16, 2001 with only two weeks remaining in the current 2000/01 marketing year.”

    And lost exports to the Pacific Rim nations were just as bad.

    Care to guess why? That was the height of the “genetically-modified foods will turn us into mutants” meme being spread.

    http://www.biotech-info.net/ACGA_letter.html

    Meanwhile, US corn and soybean *exports* are up, but corn and soy *production* is down — farmers planted less acreage in anticipation of higher yields per acre, which didn’t materialize.

    http://www.ethanolproducer.com/article.jsp?article_id=5674

    In the interest of full disclosure, I eat corn.

  51. Enneagram says:

    rbateman (11:02:22) :
    ….The energy came from the Sun

    It is sad to tell it, but the also Al Gore’s living energy came from the Sun too, though he and all who deny the obvious fact that it is the Sun which warms our earth and gives life to everything say the contrary.

  52. Frozen man says:

    Oil companies are evil, no matter what they sell

  53. Jeff L says:

    This falls firmly in the category of “There is no free lunch”

  54. R Shearer says:

    I’m not arguing for corn ethanol by any means, but with regartd to government subsidies, one could argue that the oil industry is well subsidized, not the least of which is the part of the cost of the military, especially in the Middle East.

  55. JimAsh says:

    Robustly speaking, as I understand it, it takes more fuel to produce
    ethanol than the fuel produced.
    Corn-gas is a bad idea as long as people are hungry.
    And the concept is patently not “sustainable”.
    Can you say “Dust-bowl ” ?

  56. NucEngineer says:

    Forests left uncut and untouched by man do not sequester as much carbon as greenies think. When trees are not harvested, they die of old age, disease, beetles, etc., and are broken down where they stand or fall by termites, bacteria, mold, resulting in CO2 emitted to the atmosphere (not that CO2 is a major problem).

    However, wood harvested for housing, furniture, and paper (provided the paper is not burned) and replaced with newly planted trees is actually a better sequestration than is leaving the forest intact and natural.

  57. Curiousgeorge says:

    There are some major negatives associated with using any kind of growth for conversion to fuels, whether it’s corn or switchgrass. One of the biggest is harvesting and transporting enough from tens of thousands of acres to the processing facility. Included in that is new roads (even gravel ones), wind and rain erosion due to massive machine harvesting of grass lands, etc., and downstream would be the conversion of “wild” crops (switch grass, trees, etc. ) to cultivated crops to enhance fuel production, with all the subsequent problems of corn and soy in terms of fertilizer, water, biodiversity, etc.. It’s a dead end. You think strip mining is bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Not to mention the fact that you only get one or 2 crops per year.

    Biofuel is a bad idea from the get-go for large scale production, which is why it has always been a local emergency substitute for the past 100 years.

  58. RHS says:

    One of the biggest and most overlooked problems with ethanol as a fuel source is most combustion engines have not been designed to use the fuel in the most efficient manner. The compression ratio’s in everyday vehicles (outside of diesels) ranges from (roughly) 8:5 to 11:1 (higher end sport cars mostly). E85 has an octane rating of 105. and E85 requires a compression ratio of 14:1!
    Straight ethanol requires an even higher ratio.
    This is the main reason cars which use E85 are not as fuel efficient or as powerful with E85 as they are when burning regular unleaded. This
    Any guess on why consumers may never have a gas (again, disregarding diesel) engine with a compression ratio greater than 12:1? Most states (such as Colorado) limit the compression ratio of a street legal vehicle at 12:1.
    In short, when designing a solution to a problem, be sure the look at the whole picture and not bits and pieces…

  59. Henry chance says:

    Verisun bankruptcy #2 in th industry

    Ethanol Inc subisdiary refineries have filed bankruptcy documents in Delaware.

    Alex Moglia, president of Moglia Advisors based in the Chicago area, said he knows of at least 16 ethanol companies that are filing for bankruptcy, and there will be at least two to three times that number filing within the next year.
    Ethanex Energy Inc. based in Basehor, Kan., an ethanol-development company that never did operate an ethanol plant, filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy at the end of March; E3 BioFuels LLC in Mead, Neb., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2007; Central Illinois Energy in Canton, Ill., filed for Chapter 11 in December 2007 and was bought at auction; and California-based Convergence Ethanol Inc. filed for Chapter 7, also in December 2007.
    2009 bankruptcies were much higher

    Several thousand farmers have been ripped off by bankruptcies because they contracted crops for delivery and did not get paid.
    This scam industry is loaded with loan subsidies and product subsidies.
    Bush knew better but wanted to appease the farmers and the grreenie weenies.

    All the crooks and scams are now jumping into wind turbines and solar.

  60. Manfred says:

    in sum the corn studied here

    – is grown on spare land and therefore does not affect food prices or availabilty
    – replaces oil imports
    – produces jobs in the US.

    that is all just right.

  61. Bill Tuttle says:

    Manfred (12:05:57) :
    in sum the corn studied here
    – is grown on spare land and therefore does not affect food prices or availabilty

    Nup — it’s grown on farmland. There’s no such thing as “spare land” on a farm.

    - replaces oil imports

    Nup the second — because we’re using *more* oil in the process of turning it into biofuel and transporting the results than we would have if we’d just used it for food.

    - produces jobs in the US.

    Seasonal jobs, except for the folks like Mariner.

    that is all just right.

    Ummmmmmmmmm — *sitting on hands*

  62. Frank Brown says:

    My lesson learnt here (again) is that knee jerk reactions to a problem poorly understood creates more problems than the cure.

  63. Bill Tuttle says:

    RHS (11:57:31) :
    One of the biggest and most overlooked problems with ethanol as a fuel source is most combustion engines have not been designed to use the fuel in the most efficient manner.

    Back in the ’70s, the stuff was called gasohol, and back in the ’70s, I managed a [insert Brand Name here] retail tire store and garage. We could always tell when a customer who used gasohol came in for service — his engine would be bleeding oil and his spark plugs would be carboned up.

    DLS — gasohol rots your engine’s head gasket.

  64. OceanTwo says:

    When you do the math, and look at the actual process of the the Ethanol-as-a-fuel cycle, you can see that, while it is reasonably sustainable in the long term, it doesn’t have the capacity to fill the requirements. That is, a small fraction of the population can take advantage of this. This will put a fractional dent in the fossil fuel requirements.

    But this is ‘sold’ to the public as the solution: “if we just use ethanol and wind power we will never need dirty coal or oil again”. The arguments are designed to fuel (sic) the environmentalist thinker (oxymoron?) to infer the solution is at hand but there are some (evil bobble heads) that want it to fail.

    Most people severely underestimate how much they consume, multiplied by the fact that they don’t comprehend the number of people who consume at the same rate adds up to a whole bunch of Gigawatts!!

    It gets quite interesting when you point out to someone who rings their own bell of superiority because they drive a diesel and (can) use fryer fat to run it: you have to be careful to explain to them that it needs the rest of us to subsist on McDonalds morning noon and night to ensure they are allowed to enjoy this lifestyle choice; as well as ask how many fries must one consume to allow the rest of us mere mortals to ride in style in a fries-powered car.

  65. Logan says:

    The near-term alternative is simply natural gas, as a recent article in The Economist explains:

    http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15661889

    Beyond that, there is a long list of new ideas that could have an impact, from minor to revolutionary:

    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Congress:Top_100:Complete_List

  66. Manfred says:

    Bill Tuttle (12:22:51) :

    “Nup — it’s grown on farmland. There’s no such thing as “spare land” on a farm.”

    no, this is about land use change.

    “Nup the second — because we’re using *more* oil in the process of turning it into biofuel and transporting the results than we would have if we’d just used it for food.”

    no, energy output minus energy input is positive. only the co2 difference is in this case zero due to he effect of land use change. additionally, part of the energy input is from non-oil sources such as nuclear or coal. in sum remains a reduction of fossile fuels and money transfer to the middle east and venzuela.

  67. 1DandyTroll says:

    Rational people, inventors and engineers, came up with oil, water, nuclear, solar, and even wind, but not because of a certain need to be “green”.

    The irrational fundamentalist “re-invented” biofuels as the smart way to go. It’s low energy lamps all over again.

    I can understand re-using by converting human produced waste into biofuels, I can even understand the so called energy-trees/bush’, or what ever they’re called, as long as they don’t grow it on proper farmland. And I can understand the rationale behind it that it’s gonna take some 10-30 years technological evolution before it makes economic sense and before it becomes say 1:2 process, i.e. 1 unit of energy in and 2 out. But converting food to fuel, that’s as insane as just harvesting the fins from sharks and tossing the remains back into the ocean at the same time around the same continent fish for eating are used to produce fish oil only and nothing else.

  68. mathman says:

    There is no sanity and no mathematics here.
    There is a coterie of lobbyists, agribusiness, and politics only.
    To grow corn requires diesel fuel (imported). To process corn into ethanol requires diesel (imported). To transport ethanol requires diesel (imported).
    So we end up with 1 gallon of ethanol for 1.2 gallons of diesel. This does not reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
    Meanwhile the cost of food increases.
    And the poor people starve.
    What a wonderful combination. Saudis get rich, lobbyists get rich, entrenched politicians continue to hold office, and people starve.
    If this process involved the conversion of kudzu or virginia creeper into methanol, I would believe that benefits would accrue from the program.
    But as the program is currently implemented, it is a SHAM.

  69. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ Bill Tuttle (12:22:51) : I agree completely. The entire business is predicated on a false sense of desperation that has it’s roots in Malthus and is consistently used to stampede the general population into adopting whatever “fixes” best satisfy the fantasies of the paranoid and ( political and/or financial ) power hungry egos that have populated the planet since the first tribal chieftain came on the scene. The only real shortage is sandwich boards.

  70. rb Wright says:

    The ethanol production in the U.S. has increased by 20% over the past year. Production is now running at over 780,000 barrels per day. Sweet sorghum (milo) is the basic input for half of the ethanol produced in Kansas and Texas. Winter barley may become the alternative in Virginia and the southeast.

    As increased levels of CO2 don’t seem to be having a significant impact on the global climate, it is unclear what the issue is with developing a domestic alternative to foreign sources of petroleum.

  71. JinOH says:

    I’ll stick with gasoline – why waste perfectly good corn squeezin’s?

  72. John from MN says:

    Again it sad that so many people know not what the write. Ethanol derived from corn has nothing to do with food vs fuel. It is grown on the same land and is still used for the same purpose. Animal feed is what corn is grown for. When you make ethanol from corn you get both, animal feed and liquid car fuel. It will never be the total answer because you need only so much anaimal feed and their are only so many acres corn can be grown on. But the fact is that it is eneregy efficient since most of the 500 gallons of ethanol and 3,000 lbs. of animal feed come from the sun. Same for the carbon, except that comes from the air, C02 is plantfood. The bulk of the rest of the energy used to grow it and distill it Comes from domestically supplied Natural Gas, and only about 10 gallons of Diesel fuel is needed to produce 500 gallons of Ethanol and 3,000 lns. per acre. Most stuff floating around is built on lies supported by groups that oppose ethanol production. It is both efficient and cost effective, but is only part of our re-newable and sustainable future fuel. The bulk of the liquid car fuel will need to come from other sources because we are near the capaicty for corn based ethanol, that creates anaimal feed and ethanol and the is a finite number of aniamlas and land…..John….

  73. JimAsh says:

    John in MN

    Your post contains two pretty basic misstatements.
    Firstly I am pretty sure that people eat corn, and corn based products.
    Secondly I am pretty sure that Natural Gas is still fuel.
    Then there is “What happens if there is a bad season” ?
    Not Sustainable.

    Let us do Natural Gas.
    Even with my limited intelligence I can see that we are a mere two technical
    innovations ( inflatable Space Tanker, Space elevator) away from exploiting Titan and its oceans of the stuff. We could do this long before domestic
    supplies run out, if anyone cared to.
    Call me crazy if you like.

  74. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ John from MN (13:05:44) : ” It is both efficient and cost effective, but is only part of our re-newable and sustainable future fuel.”

    If what you say is true, then why did the biodiesel industry basically shut down when the $1/gal subsidy expired last Dec.? And why are so many ethanol operations filing for bankruptcy? And why do both need such huge tax breaks (subsidies) to stay in business? Seems to me that if it’s such a good deal they would be competitive with fossil.

  75. Mike McMillan says:

    Awful funny lookin’ corn in the picture. Must be genetically modified.

    REPLY: It’s a biofuels graphic.

  76. Robert of Ottawa says:

    CO2 is generated in 4 ways with ethanol:

    Farming the crop – Fertilizer, harvest and transport
    Fermentation
    Heating – to dry the ethanol
    Burning – to get the energy

  77. Al Gored says:

    “In response to the increased demand for maize, farmers convert additional land to crops…”

    For an allegedly ‘environmentally friendly’ project, the proponents of this seem to forget about its costs in wildlife habitat and thus biodiversity. This effect is most obvious for so called biofuels harvested fron ‘natural’ sites but it also has the same effects indirectly as more farm land is used making more marginal land economically viable to convert.

    The net result is like a plague of locusts.

    Of course, they come up with some explanations of why this isn’t so bad. For example, they claim that they will not harvest some biofuels when birds are nesting. Great. Except for all the birds and other wildlife which would use these areas when they are not nesting. Etc., etc.

    But now that the farm lobby is on this teat, it will be tough to stop.

  78. Robert of Ottawa says:

    John if it is so efficient and cost effective, how about stopping the subsidies. Also, good job there is all that natural gas abvailable in your equation.

  79. Robert of Ottawa says:

    rb Wright (13:04:32) :

    There are much cheaper sources of domestic energy – such as drilling and using your own oil and gasoline and diesel from coal, if necessary.

  80. David S says:

    First government identifies a problem that doesn’t exist -CAGW.
    Then government mandates a solution that doesn’t work – Ethanol.

    And you wonder why I’m a Libertarian.

  81. Kum Dollison says:

    This is the outfit that got $500 Million from BP if I’m not mistaken.

    It’s total nonsense.

    Which is too bad, because I like CO2. It makes the crops grow.

  82. tty says:

    John from MN: Outside the US corn is mostly used for food, especially in Africa, but also in Latin America (ever heard of tortillas?) and Asia. Since the US corn market is not isolated from the rest of the World using corn for fuel inevitably drives up food prices.
    By the way corn is one of the least efficient crops for biofuel production. Sugar Cane for example is vastly better.

  83. JohnWho says:

    The point, by the GW alarmists, seems to be to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions from “fossil fuels”.

    Doesn’t seem to matter to them that more CO2 might be released in the effort.

    Remember, it’s control and power, not actual science that rules in this arena.

  84. Ken Harvey says:

    Nobody ever seems to mention the ammonium nitrate needed to grow the maize (sugar cane in these parts). An AN plant uses massive gallumps of electricity (mostly coal fired power stations hereabouts). The C02 savings seem to be counted meticulously, but the C02 inputs seem to get skimmed over at best.

  85. RobP says:

    Many people here are quoting a plethora of studies that claim a range of benefits/costs from corn ethanol as a vehicle fuel. The problem with all of these studies is that they are written not as informative, but as advocacy and – as such – the parameters are selected to “prove” the particular point.

    For example, people who want to show that corn is good compare the neutral CO2 emissions and the energy production to gasoline it replaces and even include some of the energy needed for production (tractor diesel). This comes out nicely positive. People who want to show corn in bad include all kinds of things in the energy production system – fertilizers, transport, fermentation and distillation etc. The corn is good people come back and include energy needed for production of gasoline in the equation…. and so it goes. You get the study you “pay” for.

    Now the land-use issues really only raised their head in 2008 when a poor wheat harvest in Australia got commodity traders all excited (it got more complicated with export bans on rice, but these were nationalist responses to swings in the commodity futures market and had little relation to actual production levels). As pointed out a couple of times, US corn exports have not been affected by ethanol production, but US wheat production has gone down, giving some people room to blame the price spike on ethanol subsidies (there are PhD theses on the many reasons for the decline in wheat acreage, but I am not sure ethanol is one of them since wheat would actually be a decent source of ethanol – it is in Europe).

    However, what the “food price shock” revealed in 2008 was that there was a lot of agricultural land not in production at the time, due to low world prices for most commodities and the response to the high prices was exactly what you would expect – increased production. World stocks of cereals were pretty low at the start of 2008, so a possible shortfall made for a good speculative opportunity. With stocks recovering since then, this isn’t as likely any more and nobody is starving because US corn farmers are being subsidized to make ethanol.

    Where land use issues will have an impact though is the developing world which is suffering because of high, fluctuating, oil prices. They are really looking for replacements for imported oil (as a percentage of GDP the US has nothing like the oil issues many developing countries have) and because of the lower agricultural productivity is many of these countries, ramping up production of non-food crops might have an impact. So far, it hasn’t really happened yet (palm oil from South East Asia is the biggest non-food crop and this is highly productive, if no less controversial because of that fact alone), but it might do if too many people buy into the biofuel deal.

    Biofuels only work when you have efficient, highly productive, agriculture as whatever you grow (corn, sugar-cane, switch-grass, jatropha – the list is a long one) has to be done with little or no impact on absolute food production. We also need to get a lot more efficient in our biofuel production as well and this is happening as a side effect of the subsidies, although perhaps would be better being supported more explicitly.

    The current biofuel projects in developed countries, however, are simply agricultural support by another name – corn farmers in the US, sugar cane farmers in Brazil, wheat and canola farmers in Europe. Once again, this doesn’t erally do anyone any harm (taxpayers in these countries are already being stung by fuel taxes), but if the developing world takes on these policies, there is likely to be some serious fall-out. Doesn’t this sound depressingly familiar to other climate change policies?

  86. Kum Dollison says:

    The whole idea was that we would have to plant more corn (we haven’t,) which means we’d plant less beans (nope, wrong again,) which means that Brazil would have to chop down the rainforest to plant beans (strange assumption since there are 150 Million Acres lying fallow in the Cerrado, but . . )

    Well, in 2003 Brazil planted 58 million acres in Beans.

    In 2008 Brazil planted 53 million acres in Beans.

    Ethanol is being shipped by pipeline as we speak.

    Ethanol is retailing for $1.30 Less than gasoline (the difference between E0 and E10 is $0.13 today.

    Deduct the $0.45/gal blenders credit, and $0.55 for reduced mileage, and you are still getting $0.30/gal better value with ethanol than with gasoline with all subsidies accounted for.

    Corn is still a tisch over $0.06/lb.

  87. George E. Smith says:

    Well just put a fence around your bio-fuels free clean green renewable energy plant, so nobody can come in and steal your product; or worse yet try to poison it, by surrepticiously bringing in Fossil fuels; or the products thereof.

    Yep, I can’t wait for the end of fossil fuels, and free clean green renewable energy.

    I notice from Radio ads from commercial suppliers of solar PEV electric plants, that now about 50% of the total cost of your roof installation is now paid for by the taxpayers aka your next door neighbors. They made the profits to help you buy your free electric plant using fossil fuels.

    So as they say, your electricity is free after you pay for the ploant. Don’t forget to repay what the taxpayers kicked in for your free electric plant.

    Better yet; the most practical way for you to repay the cost of your plant so you can get free electricity, is to simply use your free electricity; along with some trucked in sand, to build a duplicate of your electricity plant for your next door neighbor. Then after that everything is free to you; and your neighbor may join you in the free energy club maybe in 40-50 years.

    Right now, I can’t make up my mind whether to buy myself a free clean green renewable bio-fuels plant for my house; or a soalr PEV plant, with help from my tax paying neighbors.

    I just hope the fossil fuels hold out long enough for us all to have free electricity from sand.

  88. Mike Borgelt says:

    David S: me too.

    In Australia we are getting ethanol mandates in petrol. Of course it makes no sense.

    Near Wollongong there is an industrial plant making starch from wheat. Ethanol is a waste product.
    The owner was selling it locally where it was mixed in petrol to 10%. Wollongong isn’t that large and he still had ethanol to get rid of. Some service stations started selling it at 20% which at the time was illegal so they stopped selling it and the plant owner still had a problem. It was suggested he shipped it to Sydney where there would be no trouble getting rid of it in petrol. He claimed he could not do that as it was uneconomical to ship the ethanol 100km to Sydney!

    That put ethanol in perspective for me. Fortuitously there was an accidental fire in the ethanol storage tanks at the plant not long afterwards and all the backlog of ethanol waste was burned.

  89. John Galt says:

    Kum Dollison (14:09:12) :

    Ethanol can be shipped by pipeline but it cannot be sent through the same pipes as gasoline.

    Where are you buying E10 for 10% less than gasoline? (City & state will suffice.)

  90. Kum Dollison says:

    The average gallon of ethanol (76,000 btus, 113 Octane) has about 25,000 btus of nat gas, and about 5,000 btus of diesel embedded.

    Some have much less in that the biorefineries run largely on biomass (waste wood, syrup from the process, etc.)

    The new refineries that will be operating in a year, or two will convert corn cobs, switch grass, etc. to ethanol. They will be powered by burning the lignin from the feedstock.

    Ethanol is, already, a Better Value than Gasoline, and it doesn’t come from the Middle East with all that that entails.

    Some of you people lose All credibility when you come on a “Science” blog, and make statements about an industry of which you know nothing.

    Oh, and by the way, we had the biggest corn crop in history this year, and planted 5 Million fewer acres than in 2007 (the 2nd biggest.)

    And, what in the world feed corn (for livestock feed) has to do with growing rice in Communist China I can’t possibly imagine.

  91. mark says:

    I would say that you have to be pretty dumb to think that Biofuel grown on a farm is Carbon Neutral.
    First of all, its grown with fertiliser, to produce this you need energy and produce CO2
    Second, you need a tractor, it runs on diesel, that also makes CO2
    Third, it needs transportation, that makes CO2
    And finally, it substitutes land that would otherwise be growing food, which does not spontaneously combust or derelict land, which is of course doing nothing.

    I remember the days when Bush was promoting this stuff, ahh, another great idea from the Bush era!

  92. John from MN says:

    Robert of Ottawa said ” 4 ways Co2 come from ethanol”
    What a farce, plain and simple, Gasoline (which is the only comparitive to ethanol release 100% of the Co2 that once was permantly trapped bewlow the surface. The plant originally got it’s Co2 millions of years ago when it grew and sucked Co2 out the air, just as corn does today. So if were not for the Natural Gas and a the little diesel used create corn and than ethanol and animal feed in the form of DDG’s, it would be 100% carbon nuetral. But as it is figures with-out some bogus land use add on (like new land is being plowed up by the millions to plant corn NOT) it is around a 50% savings in Co2 comapered to gasoline. But I am npot saying ethanol can replace all the gasoline (we are reaching the max point already) but it does help that we can import just that much gasoline, fuel and oil from foriegn countries that may not like us much, plus ship dollars out of the country, when the portion for the 10% ethanol copuld stay here. I am not a believer that GW is any thing to be concerned about, but putting 10% ETHANOL IN GASOLINE to Oxygenate (ethanol is 35% oxygen by weight) to rid cities of smog and keep USA people employed and send less dollars over seas and feed our livestock all at the same time is Win, Win, Win aand Win……….The rest is just lies made up by detractors…….John…….

  93. John from MN says:

    PS remember an acre of land here where I farm will grow 500 gallons of ethanol and 3,000 lbs of animal feed, one year after another, and all I use is about 6 gallons of diesel to plant tend to and harvest it. Now yes their is some Domestic Natural gas used for fertilizer and used in the distilling prosesss. But way less than what I get of just one acre of land in the form of liquid fuels to blend with gas and also feed my animals. Always remember their are peopel out their that don’t want you to know the truth…..John…

  94. Kum Dollison says:

    The Trouble with “Models”

    Someone posted a link upthread where this year’s corn crop was expected to be smaller than last year’s. They predicted 12.1 Billion bushels.

    It came in at 13.2 Million bushels. 165 bu/acre. Both New Records.

    Searchinger in Science predicted more soybeans would be planted in Brazil. Nope. 5 Million Fewer acres planted in Brazil.

    Somebody mentioned “Tortillas.” Tortillas (in Mexico) are made with White Sweet Corn. We plant Yellow Field Corn. Two different products. Two different farming methods. NO connection.

    We Pay Farmers NOT to plant 32 Million Acres of idled farmland. We import oil from Saudi Arabia, and Iraq for $80.00/bbl.

    Oh, and I’ll blow the doors off of any Chevy Impala with a 3.5 L engine running gasoline. Don’t believe me, bring your title.

  95. Mike M says:

    It’s recipe for disaster, besides starving poor people with rising food prices, more rain forest in third world countries will be cut down for farm land to grow bio-fuel crops to sell to the rich countries. If there is one single issue where I agree with environmentalists – we need to protect all the rain forest we possibly can.

    The bio-fuel mandate MUST END, we are buying food right out of the mouths of starving children. The practice should simply be banned; no person on earth should ever have to compete against machines in rich countries for food – the machines will win every time.

  96. Tom Judd says:

    I’ve never subscribed to catastrophic AGW but I do think it’s useful to pursue reasonable alternatives to fossil fuels. After all, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. And I find it disappointing that the US has pursued this corn alcohol nonsense since ethanol actually could be a viable alternative. . .just not from corn. To my knowledge automobiles have been fueled for years by ethanol in Brazil. They distill it efficiently from sugarcane. The US certainly grows sugarcane and not just in Florida. Moreover, we grow sugarbeets, an even more efficient source. Ethanol unfortuneately, has about 60% of the heat content of gasoline. However the octane rating is far higher. Premium gasoline is 93 whereas ethanol is, I believe, over 120. Diesel engines get better mileage than gasoline engines for three reasons. The heat content of diesel fuel is higher than gasoline; diesel engines are unthrottled; and, most importantly, the compression ratios are far higher (up to 22:1 in some engines). Some gasoline engines, on 93 octane fuel are slightly exceeding 12:1 compression ratios. Think of the compression ratio on an engine designed solely to run on ethanol with its 120 octane level. That would largely compensate for the reduced heat content since compression ratios are all about efficiency. And instead of some pie in the sky notions about electric vehicles (the energy density of a cubic foot of gasoline is 1,000 times greater than a cubic foot of a storage battery), or megabuck, exotic hydrogen fueled cars, this is doable today as Brazil’s experience would indicate. But then, their primary campaigns don’t acquire momentum early on in the state of Iowa which no candidate is going to antagonize by speaking against the ethanol gravy train. It’s sad because ethanol from corn will tarnish the image of a viable fuel if acquired from other sources.

  97. Kum Dollison says:

    John Galt – Kum and Go – Ankeny, and Mason City, Iowa

    Kum and Go are always super-competitive in price wherever I’ve seen them.

    http://e85prices.com/iowa.html

    The price given is for E0. You have to run your cursor over the little yellow “note” to get the E10 price.

    And, yes Kinder Morgan is running ethano, and gasoline through the pipeline from Tampa to Orlando if I’m not mistaken.

  98. KDK says:

    “Biofuels do not decrease C02. BioFuel crops eat it. It must be present in order for photosynthesis to occur. Burning biofuels does not increase C02, they only release what they consumed. C02 is a renewable resource for storing energy.”

    Maybe I’m wrong, but this statement is completely idiotic. If memory serves me correctly, OIL is made from organic life (plants) that did what the above paragraph states corn will do–they ATE it and now are holding it and we are freeing it… what is the difference? Oh, that green fiction called money, along with power.

    Yeah, The carbon is trapped in oil and we are setting it free… BTW: I hate oil companies and their control over us (and gov) and the fact that they ARE invested in green. I think even the almighty google is invested in Petrobras even WITH gore on their board… hmmm.

    There was that ONE scientist/engineer/exec that showed how, in the end, energy for energy, ethanol produces more CO2… Period. Same energy used = Higher CO2 from ethanol.

  99. Kum Dollison says:

    John, I just reread your question. I didn’t say ten percent less. I said $1.30 gal.

    That’s $0.13 saved buying E10 vs E0.

    Hmm, I just realized, that’s 47% less per gallon than gasoline.

    Anyway, after figuring 20% loss in mileage, and the $0.45/gal blender’s credit it’s still $0.30 cheaper than gasoline.

  100. KDK says:

    Also, let’s not forget, there is NO PEAK OIL CRISIS at hand. As we do become more efficient through various means, the oil and other fuels will be stretched out… I don’t know how they predict a crisis unless, like always, they use a locked set of numbers and project them forward without factoring in newer tech.

    Also, aren’t there ways to make all our appliances more efficient? Is the current 120v/60hz the most efficient use of our energy or could we start creating homes that convert it to something else and use appliances designed accordingly? (just a question)

  101. Luboš Motl says:

    A related result. An MIT paper

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/03/wind-turbines-will-add-up-to-015-c-to.html

    just calculated that if you cover 10% of energy needs by wind turbines by 2100, the turbines will reduce the cooling of the surface by decreasing the wind speed etc. As a result, the temperature will jump 1 degrees Celsius locally and 0.15 degrees Celsius globally (global mean temperature) which is actually more than the expected warming caused if the same energy is produced by burning fossil fuels. ;-)

  102. Mike McMillan says:

    1. My 12 yr-old Toyota gets worse mileage on gasahol.

    2. Additional CO2 is provably good for plants and not provably bad for anything.

    Bottom line:

    3. If it biofuels were truly beneficial, we wouldn’t need to subsidize them.

  103. Kum Dollison says:

    Oh, and about that sooper dooper highly effishunt Brazilian “Cane” Ethanol:

    It was selling for $3.26/gal at the port in Brazil a couple of weeks ago.

    Our poor ol’ inefficient “Corn” ethanol was selling for $1.90/gal at our port. It’s probably about $1.70, now.

    Cane can only be stored a couple of weeks after harvesting before it’s processed. Corn can be stored a long time.

  104. Kum Dollison says:

    Mike M,

    We’ve got over 30 Million acres of pretty good farmland lying fallow right now. All you have to do is go farm it, and send the food to the poor children of the world. Good Luck.

  105. guidoLaMoto says:

    But, John from MN, it’s deeper than that. Right now, about 1/3rd of the American corn crop goes into EtOH production. If the entire US crop were turned to fuel, it would only supply about 2% of the world’s yearly automotive fuel needs. Just to put it in perspective, we could save about 5% of our fuel just by keeping out tires properly inflated.

    Corn for fuel does not detract from US food demand, but is obtained by decreasing exports. Total demand for US corn has remained the same since the govt regs intervened, so prices only changed in response to world oil prices, not in response to changing demand. You’d still be making your $3.50/bu with or without poorly thought out govt energy programs.

  106. jorgekafkazar says:

    Frank Brown (12:26:15) : “My lesson learnt here (again) is that knee jerk reactions to a problem poorly understood creates [sic] more problems than the cure.”

    In the Democratic Party, knee jerk reactions are our most important product.

  107. Bill Tuttle says:

    Manfred (12:45:45) :
    no, this is about land use change.

    The land use doesn’t change, only the use of the *crop* changes.

    no, energy output minus energy input is positive. only the co2 difference is in this case zero due to he effect of land use change. additionally, part of the energy input is from non-oil sources such as nuclear or coal.

    Taking *all* the energy requirements into account, it still takes the expenditure of more energy to make ethanol than you can extract from it, making it economically unsound.

    in sum remains a reduction of fossile fuels and money transfer to the middle east and venzuela.

    Well, I’ll disagree that it will reduce the use of fossil fuels, but I’m with you 100% on the need to reduce our dependence on crude from the ME and Chavezistan. Matter of fact, I’m still torqued that we have to ship North Slope crude to Japan to have it refined, and then get charged to import it *back*.

  108. Ralph says:

    Lance (08:24:18) :

    “Not to mention the fact that food prices the world over will exlode, and food shortages will kill millions…..”

    Or at least cause people to lose unneeded weight since every precessed food has corn in it in some form.

  109. guidoLaMoto says:

    re: Tom Judd (14:52:39) :

    The Brazilian experience does not compare to the US. Here we have about one vehicle per person; in Brazil, about 5 to a car, and they drive way less than us.

    Indy cars run on methanol. Compression ratios and octane ratings have to do with pre-ignition & knock as well as squeezing out more torque from a gallon. All engineering solutions are compromises among the conflicting factors.

    Ethanol is not the solution to our energy problems. It comes from crops, which are grown essentially over two spatial dimensions and detract from the food supply. Bio-deisel from algae is the way to go. It it grown in vats over three dimensions and can use otherwise useless land. We’re running out of good farmland, too, ya know.

  110. Sean Ogilvie says:

    Doug (09:37:22) :

    Nothing said about the CO2 byproduct released from the fermentation process?

    Hey watch it Doug. There is nothing wrong with fermentation. Without it I couldn’t make my moonshine.

  111. James F. Evans says:

    There is potential of finding petroleum off the East coast, specifically off the South & North Carolina coast — well beyond the visual horizon (about 13 miles), mostly 25 miles offshore. This geological structure is called appropriately enough the Carolina Trough.

    “…it is believed that major accumulations [of petroleum] await discovery in South Carolina’s untested offshore. Present data indicate that the Blake Plateau will be the prime target area although the continental shelf has secondary possibilities. These offshore areas offer the most promise as major petroleum provinces because they have a thick sedimentary section with excellent source beds and trapping possibilities.” (see link below:)

    http://search.datapages.com/data/doi/10.1306/C1EA3CAD-16C9-11D7-8645000102C1865D

    Of course, there is potential of finding petroleum off the West coast, too, the California offshore has great promise and already pumps oil from multiple underwater fields to one platform (this multiple well to platform set-up is repeated with each platform) . With a safety record in the last 20 years , second to none.

    “Abstract: Conventional wisdom holds that offshore oil and gas production harms the surrounding environment. This blanket “wisdom” ignores the fact that the largest source of marine hydrocarbon pollution is offshore natural oil seepage. It also ignores the fact that offshore oil production has lowered the amount of oil released into the ocean by reducing natural oil seepage, especially in areas with active offshore oil seeps, such as California’s Santa Barbara coast [natural oil seeps happen in the Gulf of Mexico, too].” (see link below:)

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2009/11/How%20Offshore%20Oil%20and%20Gas%20Production%20Benefits%20the%20Economy%20and%20the%20Environment

    So, what does this all mean?

    Well, the potential for offshore oil & gas discovery is excellent and it can be done in an environmentally safe & responsible manner and be over the visual horizon so the production facilities cause no visual “blight”.

    Better for the American economy if America produces more oil and sends less money overseas to pay that foreign oil bill and puts Americans to work producing that oil and American profits instead of foreign oil producers getting the profit.

    Not to mention it puts downward pressure on oil prices — more oil — and that’s a good thing, competitive energy prices for the American Economy.

    Imagine having low energy prices as a goal for American Economy.

    (No, makes too much sense for this crew…)

    Gee, might even spur economic growth and job creation.

    Considering where the U. S. Economy is now — what are we waiting for?

  112. 1DandyTroll says:

    Did some reading on denatured fuel ethanol.

    What is the idea of using ethanol fuel derived from food today when the efficiency of the engines doesn’t even give the same 1:1 milage as a proper petrol (i.e. black gold) fueled vehicle? This crap has been around for years now and still apparently it comes up short on the milage.

    And how does the engines really fare in the long run, especially the ones designed for the black fuel/oil to boot.

    @Kum Dollison

    E85 isn’t really valid yet in US, so it just look good to reference. In Europe people mostly buy the so called E85 vehicles because of less taxation, then just go right ahead and run them on proper fuel because it gives them more milage, because it’s cheaper that way, doh.

  113. Bill Tuttle says:

    Kum Dollison (14:55:24) :
    And, yes Kinder Morgan is running ethano, and gasoline through the pipeline from Tampa to Orlando if I’m not mistaken.

    After spending $10 million to upgrade the 85-mile pipeline, Kinder Morgan is indeed running ethanol through it.

    http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/an-ethanol-pipeline-begins-service/

    As mentioned in the article, the economics of piping it over longer distances are a bit of a tossup.

  114. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    RHS (11:57:31) :

    One of the biggest and most overlooked problems with ethanol as a fuel source is most combustion engines have not been designed to use the fuel in the most efficient manner. The compression ratio’s in everyday vehicles (outside of diesels) ranges from (roughly) 8:5 to 11:1 (higher end sport cars mostly). E85 has an octane rating of 105. and E85 requires a compression ratio of 14:1!
    Straight ethanol requires an even higher ratio.
    This is the main reason cars which use E85 are not as fuel efficient or as powerful with E85 as they are when burning regular unleaded. This
    Any guess on why consumers may never have a gas (again, disregarding diesel) engine with a compression ratio greater than 12:1? Most states (such as Colorado) limit the compression ratio of a street legal vehicle at 12:1.
    In short, when designing a solution to a problem, be sure the look at the whole picture and not bits and pieces…

    Wrong on all counts –

    E85 has an octane rating of 105. and E85 requires a compression ratio of 14:1!
    Straight ethanol requires an even higher ratio.

    Racing engines running on E85 rarely go over 13.2:1 compression ratio and most racers stick with compression ratios near 12:1

    Conventional cars run just fine on lower compression ratios — it (E85)does not need higher compression ratios, but it will allow higher compression ratios.

    I have 3 cars that I run on E85 my Subrau WRX has a base compression ratio of 8:1, and runs very well on E85 even off boost. It is turbocharged and can use boost pressures far above those allowed on even high dollar race gasoline (up to 35 psi) but I normally drive it around at 6 psi max boost unless I am trying to have fun. My other two cars have mechanical compression ratios of about 9:1 and run just fine on E85.

    This is the main reason cars which use E85 are not as fuel efficient or as powerful with E85 as they are when burning regular unleaded.

    No they are less efficient because the CAFE standards give the same value to a car that runs on E85 regardless of its fuel efficiency. The car manufactures make absolutely no effort to improve fuel efficiency on their flex fuel cars because there is no incentive of any kind to do so. They could be more effecient with higher compression ratios but it is not necessary.

    With no mechanical modifications of any kind I got 92% of my gasoline fuel efficiency on straight E85, while making more power, and lower fuel costs, on my WRX and passed Colorado’s IM240 emissions test with flying colors. Most E85 experimenters get fuel mileages substantially better than commercial FFV vehicles on E85 with very little difficulty.

    Any guess on why consumers may never have a gas (again, disregarding diesel) engine with a compression ratio greater than 12:1? Most states (such as Colorado) limit the compression ratio of a street legal vehicle at 12:1.

    Show me a reference to that, there is no mention of engine compression ratios in Colorado Revised statutes. The state makes no effort to measure compression ratio and has no means to do so. The current emissions test is a simple pass fail test. If you car passes visual and runs the IM240 dyno test with emissions below the limits for the car model/year you pass, regardless what has been done to the engine.

    I know of hundreds of cars in Colorado that pass emissions tests and have operational compression ratios well above 12:1 (ie 8:1 mechanical compression ratio and peak boost pressures from 24 – 35 psi). Given our ambient air pressure of approx 11.5 -12.5 psi (due to altitude) that is a boost pressure of 2x to 2.5x atmospheric plus a mechanical compression ratio of 8:1.

    With no mechanical changes of any kind most engines gain approx 5% power simply by switching to E85. The fuel is inherently more efficient at producing mechanical energy than gasoline at proper fuel air mixtures. Volumetric fuel energy is a an absolutely idiotic way to compare fuels. Far more relavent to meaningful comparisons, is fuel BTU/mile and cost per mile.

    In both cases E85 beats gasoline. Fuel ethanol also stretches gasoline supplies by allowing refiners to use lower octane gasoline feed stock to reach mandated octane levels, netting more gallons of gasoline from each barrel of crude.

    ShrNfr (10:38:58) :

    1 BTU in for 0.8 BTUs out never impressed me as being a good way to generate energy.

    That is the net energy ratio for conventional gasoline. E85 yields about 1.35 BTU for each BTU fuel energy input. Current state of the art plants are pushing 1.62:1 ratios as they start using co-generation, burning of crop waste, bio-methane fuel input etc.

    As mentioned above the corn used for ethanol production in the U.S. is feed corn (ie the industrial corn) used for animal feed and industrial product production like corn starch and high fructose sweetners. Not Sweet corn that is used as a human food.

    There is also a rapid move toward other feed stocks ranging from sweet sorghum, various grains, potatoes, sugar beets etc. The reason the fuel ethanol industry started out on corn in the U.S. is more desirable crops like sugar cane do not grow in most the the continental U.S., so you have to use the most cost effective feed stock in the local area the plant is built in. Right now that is corn but that will not last for long.

    Ultimately Corn – ethanol will be a small niche market in areas where that is the most dominant crop, but other feed stocks will rapidly displace corn. In a mature fuel ethanol infrastructure, cellulose and algae based ethanol will eventually dominate with other local crops like potatoes, sugar beets, etc. used where they are the prevailing crop that is suitable to local conditions.

    Larry

  115. Kum Dollison says:

    Bill Tuttle

    It Does NOT take more energy to make ethanol than you get out of it.

    There are about 5,000 btus of nat gas in the fertilizer

    Depending on the refinery, there are between 16,000 and 25,000 btus of nat gas in process energy at the refinery (some refineries, however, are substituting biomass for nat gas)

    There are about 5,000 btus of diesel (farming, harvesting, transporting)

    That comes out to between 26,000, and 35,000 btus of fossil fuels in a 76,000 btu gal of ethanol.

    Oh, and the Indy 500 runs on ethanol, not methanol

  116. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    CRS, Dr.P.H. (10:49:11) :

    OK, finally a topic that I’m an expert in!

    Corn ethanol is a losing proposition for a national energy policy. Ethanol itself is a lousy motor fuel by itself….it cannot be transported by pipeline unlike gasoline, so transport is only via train, truck etc. This generates considerable emissions.

    It is not that it cannot be shipped by pipe line, it is that the pipe line owners are not willing to ship it by pipeline because they are not willing to properly clean the lines to do so.

    It has been successfully shipped by pipe line (several tests were run to prove it), but the ethanol is such a good cleaner that it picks up lots of crud from the pipe line left behind by other oil products.

    In Brazil they routinely ship ethanol by pipeline. It can be done, it is simply not in the financial or business interest of an oil pipeline company that ships petroleum, to go out of their way to enable their primary fuel competitor.

    There has been talk of building dedicated fuel ethanol pipe lines.

    Keep in mind also that in almost all cases the blenders tax credit is NOT paid to the ethanol producers it is paid to the company that blends the ethanol with the gasoline ——– yes you guessed it the oil refiner gets the blenders tax credit not the farmer or the ethanol producer (with a few isolated exceptions where the ethanol producer does their own blending).

    Larry

  117. OceanTwo says:

    Kum Dollison (14:55:24) :

    John Galt – Kum and Go – Ankeny, and Mason City, Iowa

    Kum and Go are always super-competitive in price wherever I’ve seen them.

    http://e85prices.com/iowa.html

    The price given is for E0. You have to run your cursor over the little yellow “note” to get the E10 price.

    And, yes Kinder Morgan is running ethano, and gasoline through the pipeline from Tampa to Orlando if I’m not mistaken.

    Sounds great! Shape that most cars don’t run on E85, and those that do will end up paying more per mile. Or do you suggest, in this utopian world, that we are all running ethanol cars?

    Are you suggesting that we create approximately 10 million+ barrels of ethanol a day? Can the US produce this quantity of ethanol on the land we have? [Insert scratchy head smiley here]

    Of course, converting all this land over to a single crop type isn’t going to affect any other part of our economy and environment at all. Is it?

    Ethanol is a partial source and always will be. There may be countries which run a higher Ethanol/Gasoline ratio (Brazil) because they simply don’t consume as much (and the simple answer to the “Don’t consume so much” inanity is to reply “You first” and move on to more productive things like reading Garfield in the bathroom).

    Show us how *you* can fuel 300 million Americans with Ethanol: one person running their better-than-thou life doesn’t demonstrate that Ethanol is a viable fuel source at all.

  118. Robert of Ottawa says:

    Ethanol has two thirds the energy content, by volume, as gasoline. We buy fuel by volume. In Brazil recentlyt, I saw ethenol priced the same as, or more than, gasoline. The buyers of that fuel are being ripped off.

  119. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    1DandyTroll (15:41:58) :

    Did some reading on denatured fuel ethanol.

    What is the idea of using ethanol fuel derived from food today when the efficiency of the engines doesn’t even give the same 1:1 milage as a proper petrol (i.e. black gold) fueled vehicle? This crap has been around for years now and still apparently it comes up short on the mileage.

    And how does the engines really fare in the long run, especially the ones designed for the black fuel/oil to boot.

    Some car models actually get better fuel mileage on ethanol/gasoline blends. It is purely a function of how the engine management system makes use of ethanol enhanced fuels. E85 has much wider flammability limits than gasoline at normal operating temperatures, allowing the fuel air mixture to run much leaner than on gasoline with out engine damage. E85 burns cooler due to its higher latent heat of evaporation (exhaust gas temps are typically 100 -200 deg F cooler than on gasoline). E85 engines lose less combustion heat to the cooling system due to their slightly cooler burning, and the fact that they recover heat from the engine during the early part of the intake stroke. E85 produces more moles of combustion products that gasoline for a given fuel air mixture, so average cylinder pressures are higher, and due to the high cooling of the intake charge volumetric efficiency of the engine goes up. Both of these effects result in increased power and low speed torque, in some cars/driving situations this improved engine torque characteristic cuts down need for the engine to shift down to a lower gear while pulling hills, and up shifts to higher gears occur at lower throttle openings. This is how a properly designed engine management system can actually get significantly higher themal fuel efficiency on E85 than on gasoline.

    On my first conversion to E85 on my WRX these were the BTU/mile figures on gasoline and E85.

    Long term average gasoline mileage Gasoline 125,000 Btu/ gallon / 24 = 5208 BTU/mile
    My original conversion setup, @ 92% of gasoline milage or 22 mpg on E85
    E85 90,500 BTU/gallon/22 = 4114 BTU/mile

    As you can see I used only 78.99% of the fuel energy to go a mile on E85 that I did when driving on straight gasoline. In addition the engine made more power under WOT acceleration on the E85.

    Larry

  120. D Gallagher says:

    John from MN,

    I am A-maized that anybody who wanted to pen a creditable article about corn ethanol would be so condescending to pretend that the correct term for the crop was anything besides CORN. Personally, I couldn’t get beyond that little piece of weirdness.

    Your post was informative and enlightening in terms of the other useful byproducts of the process and the resources involved, in the immortal words of Johnny Carson “I did not know that”.

    Thanks

  121. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Sorry forgot to mention, E85 fueled gasoline engines are astonishingly clean after converting to E85 fuel. Folks who tear down their engine often (like racers) report that the E85 actually cleans up and removes carbon build up from the former use of gasoline. Many of the engines I have seen torn down looked like new engines after a few thousand miles on E85.

    Larry

  122. Kum Dollison says:

    Dandy,

    E85 is selling in many locations for $1.99 vs $2.77 for straight gasoline.

    $0.78/$2.77 = 0.28

    That’s a 28% discount vs an on-average 20% less mileage. There are about 2,250 stations in the U.S. that sell E85.

  123. Bruce says:

    Consumer Reports:

    “The fuel economy of the Tahoe dropped 27 percent when running on E85 compared with gasoline, from an already low 14 mpg overall to 10 mpg (rounded to the nearest mpg). This is the lowest fuel mileage we’ve gotten from any vehicle in recent years. ”

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/news/2006/ethanol/overview/index.htm

    So … assuming E85 is 85% gasoline.

    7.14 gallons of gasoline to travel 100 miles.

    10 gallons of E85 to travel 100 miles …. which means 8.5 gallons of gasoline PLUS 1.5 gallons of ethanol to travel 100 miles.

    Conclusion: MORONS buy E85. Crooks and morons make you buy E85.

  124. Kum Dollison says:

    Oceans

    Give me 7 miles square in every county (the average county is a little over 1,000 sq miles) and I’ll have us off imported oil in 6 years.

    Any other questions?

  125. Steve Schaper says:

    Those are oats, not corn.

    Ethanol is renewable, and cleaner. Far cleaner than MTBE. Ethanol is an energy-storage system. Solar energy is the production in this equation. The C02 released in burning comes from the air in the first place. Since global warming isn’t an issue, and higher C02 levels produce more green plant growth, absorbing more C02, why is that a concern here?

    If the land isn’t producing corn for ethanol, it will be producing corn that will end up lying on the ground rotting at the grain terminals. Present ethanol production doesn’t use all of that up as it is. It isn’t burning food. Keep saying that until you get it. Sheesh!

    You people who don’t live here believe so many myths about ethanol, corn and agriculture.

    John from MN, nice to see a sane, educated person on this topic.

    Veronica, the land would still be producing the corn, it would just rot,
    that’s all. You see farmers can only sell what is purchased within reasonable hauling distance, and for which they own the equipment to raise and harvest. That happens to be corn and soybeans. Nothing else. Period. And cattle don’t belch the methane. That comes from the other end. Poor rice harvests in the far east have NOTHING to do with ethanol production in the Midwest.
    Gary, your source simply lies. In Minnesota, one of the places where the most ethanol is produced from corn, the percentage is 6%, not 25%. As has been noted elsewhere, National Geographic has gotten very political – to the left where they want far fewer people to live.

    Rod E. A tax break is not a subsidy paid by you. Read up on American agriculture from WWII to the present so that you don’t look so much like an idiot.

    Political power of agricultural interests? You mean like 1-2% of the voter population? Wow, very powerful. . . Believe me real farmers, not the ones in your imagination, feel helpless and have for a long time.

    rbateman, and don’t forget the rest of the corn stalk and leaves which still have the C02 sequestered in them.

    If you want to argue that regions like Colorado which require tapping the Oglala aquifer shouldn’t be farmed, that is fine, but the arguments made by the ignoramuses here when applied to the Midwest are just lies and propaganda. Every bit as off as Algore’s movie.

    It is curious to see the same lies repeated after John from MN cleared them up with actual data from the site. Just like AGW . . .

    There is more than enough food produced in this world. The only reason that there is hunger is politics, such as Mugabe’s genocides, same deal in Ethiopia in the past.

    JimAsh, John is an actual farmer. He knows what he is talking about. You don’t. You sir, are an ignoramus. You should read what he wrote and learn something. The diesel he needs was invented by Mr. Diesel to be produced by farmers on their own land, from their own soybeans. Natural gas could probably be replaced by the electricity coming from those towers all over farm country, or from solar. Natural gas is just how the equipment is presently designed.

  126. 1DandyTroll says:

    @Kum Dollison

    ‘We’ve got over 30 Million acres of pretty good farmland lying fallow right now.’

    There’s countless hundreds of millions of acres of unused farmlands, every year. With already developed farmland it’s because you can’t over use the farmland, unless you want to go crazy with the fertilizers (and only the talibans seem to want to to that these days). Another reason is that not every one is in the same season, or rather not every crop is in the same season, i.e. different crops have different needs, another major issues in some parts, is fresh water issues, or put another way it’s too wet, it’s too warm, it’s too dry, it’s too cold.

    ‘All you have to do is go farm it, and send the food to the poor children of the world. Good Luck.’

    So, no you can’t just go and farm it, and feeding the poor children of the world is an industry even in supposedly civilized country like USA. Child warriors are called child warriors in Africa, and warlords are called warlords, in US everyone call em gangbangers and drugbarons and what not.

  127. RichieP says:

    @ JimAsh (13:19:17) :

    “Let us do Natural Gas.
    Even with my limited intelligence I can see that we are a mere two technical
    innovations ( inflatable Space Tanker, Space elevator) away from exploiting Titan and its oceans of the stuff. We could do this long before domestic
    supplies run out, if anyone cared to.
    Call me crazy if you like.”

    Crazy? Not at all. If all the cash spent on CAGW had gone on spaceflight development, we could be doing just that (in a while). Not now though. The West has stopped looking outward. China and/or India will probably get there first.

  128. Jimbo says:

    Not only increase in CO2 but deforestation in Indonesia with loss of animal and plant species.

    Yale University – 19 Jan 2009: Report

    “The clearing of Indonesia’s rain forest for palm oil plantations is having profound effects – threatening endangered species, upending the lives of indigenous people, and releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    “The tiger is going to go extinct if we don’t do something,” a wildlife biologist on Sumatra said.

    All forests release CO2 when logged. But Indonesia’s jungles and carbon-rich, peaty soils hemorrhage the stuff.”

    http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2112

    Greenpeace

    “this phenomenal growth of the palm oil industry spells disaster for local communities, biodiversity, and climate change as palm plantations encroach further and further into forested areas. This is happening across South East Asia, but the problem is particularly acute in Indonesia which has been named in the 2008 Guinness Book of Records as the country with fastest rate of deforestation. The country is also the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, largely due to deforestation.”

    http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/forests/palm-oil

    Ahhhhh! The law of unintended consequences.

  129. Jimbo says:

    And for all the warmists who think sceptics are counterproductive or are averse to alternative energy sources may I recommend:

    “Algae Farm Aims to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel

    Because algae does not require any farmland or much space, many energy companies are trying to use it to make commercial quantities of hydrocarbons for fuel and chemicals. But harvesting the hydrocarbons has proved difficult so far.

    The ethanol would be sold as fuel, the companies said, but Dow’s long-term interest is in using it as an ingredient for plastics, replacing natural gas. The process also produces oxygen, which could be used to burn coal in a power plant cleanly, said Paul Woods, chief executive of Algenol, which is based in Bonita Springs, Fla. The exhaust from such a plant would be mostly carbon dioxide, which could be reused to make more algae.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/business/energy-environment/29biofuel.html

  130. Jimbo says:

    And for those who think nuclear as an alternative and viable energy source for the future how about:
    “A bath-tub sized nuclear reactor could power 20000 homes”

    http://www.physorg.com/news145561984.html

    http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com

    Who would have thought 30 years ago that CO2 would be ranked right up their with nuclear energy? :o)

  131. Jimbo says:

    Correction:

    Who would have thought 30 years ago that CO2 would be ranked right up their [there] with nuclear energy? :o)

  132. Kum Dollison says:

    Bruce,

    E85 is 85% Ethanol 15% gasoline

    My Impala gives up 20% mileage on E85. Some cars will beat that, some will be more.

    But, what do I know, I’m a moron.

  133. Don Shaw says:

    Hotrod,
    The problems with shipping ethanol log distances in existing pipelines is not as simple as you suggest.
    I’m not an expert in pipelines but I do know that it is not economic and nearly impossible to clean the pipelines of years of accumulated deposits in order to ship ethanol. Just look at all the problems that arose in fuel supply delivery when ethanol was added at the blending site. We recently had cars breaking down on the parkway right after filling up with ethanol laced fuel that was not handled properly. Virtually every engine carburator had to be rebuilt or replaced for older engines since corrosion and other deposits in fuel tanks clogged the system. Fuel lines degraded. Similar problems occurred when the oil companies first added fuel injector additives. A lot of fiberglass boat tanks started to dissolve when ethanol was added to marine fuels causing engine failures. Ethanol also absorbes water and causes increased corrrosion rates. Ethanol has a short shelf life. Similarly ethanol can cause degradation of gaskets, valve packings, and rubber hoses, if they are not made of the right materials.
    Also keep in mind that a single pipeline is often used to ship different feeds or products using pigs and special care is required to avoid contamination between products.
    It is true that ethanol can be shipped by pipelines if you keep the water out and the pipeline is new and dedicated. We have a massive infrastructure and expensive to duplicate system of tanks and pipelines in the system that is impractical to clean for an additive that can be added close to the point of delivery.
    As a boat owner I am paranoid that the ethanol in my tanks will turn to sludge over the winter storage due to combining with the moisture in the atmosphere.

  134. R. de Haan says:

    Serious doubts about bio fuels,
    Serious doubts about wind as well:
    Wind Turbines will add up to 015 degree Celsius!

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/03/wind-turbines-will-add-up-to-015-c-to.html

  135. toyotawhizguy says:

    Here is a Cornell University press release from 2005. These claims by John from MN (09:39:53) : and a couple of others claiming that energy output from Corn ethanol exceeds the required energy input for manufacture need to be put to rest.

    July 5, 2005
    Cornell ecologist’s study finds that producing ethanol and biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy
    By Susan S. Lang

    Chris Hallman/University Photography
    Ecologist David Pimentel, shown here pumping gas, says that his analysis shows that producing ethanol uses more energy than the resulting fuel generates. Copyright © Cornell University

    ITHACA, N.Y. — Turning plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a new Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study.

    “There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel,” says David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell. “These strategies are not sustainable.”

    Pimentel and Tad W. Patzek, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Berkeley, conducted a detailed analysis of the energy input-yield ratios of producing ethanol from corn, switch grass and wood biomass as well as for producing biodiesel from soybean and sunflower plants. Their report is published in Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14:1, 65-76).

    In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, the study found that:

    * corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
    * switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
    * wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

    In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that:

    * soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and
    * sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

    Read more: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July05/ethanol.toocostly.ssl.html

  136. Richard M says:

    Ethanol discussions always bring out lots of disinformation. Listen to John and the farmers, you’re getting it straight without the political spin.

    It really is feed corn and the feed is still produced.

    Based on comments here you’d think gasoline comes directly from gas stations with zero transportation costs, no energy spent in refining and no costs for drilling or locating the oil. That’s what some oil companies would like you to think. You’d also think oil companies get no subsidies, wrong again.

    Ethanol is not the end-game here, but it’s a start at moving forward with bio-fuels that will help reduce dependence on foreign oil (BTW, that’s a good thing). It also helps employment and these otherwise unemployed folks spend their money locally. That helps the GDP of any nation utilizing bio-fuels vs. importing oil.

    The unfortunate thing is this topic has been covered before and yet the same disinformation is repeated each and every time.

    Just because ethanol is considered “green” does not make it a bad thing. Also, if ethanol production is a bad idea in certain countries does not make it a bad idea everywhere. There are valid regional differences that people should understand before making over-simplistic statements.

    Disclosure (I am not a farmer not do I have anything to do with ethanol products). I just like the facts to be understood.

  137. Richard M says:

    toyotawhizguy (18:15:37),

    There are just as many studies showing a positive energy balance. Why would you choose to believe a university study where you have no idea where they got their information? Would you believe an AGW study from Cornell or Berkeley that supported alarmists? Think about it.

  138. John from MN says:

    Toyotaguy,

    Old and bad data, here is a link to get you started…….. http://www.ethanolrfa.org/ John

  139. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Don Shaw (17:26:58) :

    Yes you are correct, very old pipe lines are very difficult to clean out, and the companies have to find some place to get rid of the sludge that they clean out of the pipes. The proper solution is to build an ethanol only dedicated pipe line that would handle only fuel ethanol and clean chemicals that will not leave behind crud like fuel oil, etc. I just wish to correct the misinformation that “ethanol cannot be shipped by pipe line”. It can, but it may not be cost effective to clean old neglected lines to a level that will allow ethanol to be shipped in them. There is a real concern that the cleaning action of ethanol will open up lots of pin hole leaks from long standing corrosion that is currently plugged by all that crud in the lines.

    Just look at all the problems that arose in fuel supply delivery when ethanol was added at the blending site. We recently had cars breaking down on the parkway right after filling up with ethanol laced fuel that was not handled properly. Virtually every engine carburator had to be rebuilt or replaced for older engines since corrosion and other deposits in fuel tanks clogged the system. Fuel lines degraded. Similar problems occurred when the oil companies first added fuel injector additives.

    Denver had the same problem 35 years ago when they introduced ethanol added gasahol and then mandated oxygenated fuels. It is a well known problem and the oil companies are criminally negligent for not handling the issue properly. In Denver right after they shifted to ethanol added gasoline Denver police needed to replace fuel filters on all their cop cars. This was due to the ethanol cleaning out all the varnish and stale gas residue in the fuel system from years of running conventional gasoline.

    It is actually very very rare that carburetors really need to be replaced or even cleaned due to this sort of problem. In the vast majority of the cases it is automotive repair guys using a simple plugged fuel filter as an excuse to sell the uneducated car owner a lot of stuff they don’t need. Cars sold for American Distribution have had ethanol compatible fuel lines since 1989 when Denver made oxygenated fuels mandatory.
    A handful of old cars (pre 1989 ) do indeed have fuel line problems. Mt 1969 VW square back had a fuel line go south a week after they introduced ethanol added fuel here, when the ethanol cleaned out all the varnish that was sealing the leaks in th 20 year old rubber fuel line. Fuel lines, and fuel pumps die all the time due to old age even on straight gasoline. Only after ethanol is added to the fuel, it becomes the whipping boy and (like the AGW folks) the excuse for lots of unnecessary repairs. I know I worked in auto service in that period when Ethanol first was introduced. Most of the legitimate repairs to fuel lines and fuel pump diaphragms etc. would have happened regardless, but millions of dollars in unnecessary carburetor rebuilds and new fuel pumps were sold when all that was really needed was to replace a clogged fuel filter.

    A lot of fiberglass boat tanks started to dissolve when ethanol was added to marine fuels causing engine failures.

    True , the boat manufactures designed boats with fiberglass resin that was not compatible with ethanol added gasoline decades after ethanol was widely used in U.S. gasoline. This is an engineering problem. The only boat owners that have a legitimate issue is the ones who had boats built prior to about 1990 when any intelligent boat builder would not have had a reason to use an ethanol compatible resin (and when this issue was unknown). Newer boat owners have a legitimate beef with the boat manufactures that built boats that were not compatible with fuel that was widely available. You have not been able to buy gasoline in Colorado and other areas of the country that was certain to be free of ethanol since 1989 and it first showed up during the Arab oil embargo in the 1970’s when they were trying to stretch gasoline supplies. The boat builders screwed up and there is no excuse for them leaving their boat owners to pay the repair bills for a problem that has been well known for the better part of a lifetime.

    Ethanol also absorbes water and causes increased corrrosion rates. Ethanol has a short shelf life. Similarly ethanol can cause degradation of gaskets, valve packings, and rubber hoses, if they are not made of the right materials.

    Yes wet ethanol absorbs water, and if left in the fuel system may cause corrosion — but that is a two edged sword, once ethanol added fuel is commonly available, water in the fuel never happens as the ethanol pulls all traces of condensation out of the fuel system as soon as it forms. It is only an issue if the fuel system is already contaminated with large amounts of water when ethanol added fuel is first used. This is usually the case with cars that stall immediately after filling up. They already had lots of water in the gasoline and when the ethanol added gasoline hit the tank it stripped all that water out of the fuel and settled to the bottom of the fuel tank. If the water is greater than the amount the ethanol can dissolve and remain mixed with the gasoline the water ethanol mixture will immediately stratify and settle to the bottom of the tank. All you need to do is drain off that water layer and the rest of the gasoline can be used if it is free of rust etc.

    Ethanol does not have a short shelf life. I have stored E85 in 5 gallon Jerry cans for over 2 years and used it with no problems. I have also had E85 left in a gas tank of a car for over a year and it fired and ran like it was last run the day before when I took it out of moth balls. Gasoline goes stale due to oxidation, and forms varnish and shellac in the fuel system. That is why they sell fuel stabilizers like “Stabil” to keep gasoline from going bad over the winter. E85 does not go bad if stored in a sealed container. I have seen no sign of degradation of E85 or ethanol added fuel in cars which had modern sealed fuel systems, or tightly sealed jerry cans.

    Wet ethanol is only a problem if it has acid contamination or it is contact with reactive metals like magnesium and zinc. Plain steel is used by ethanol manufactures for their storage tanks and they have no problems with corrosion. Even anodized aluminum has very little problem with ethanol if the fuel blender puts the proper anti-corrosion inhibitors in the fuel. E85 is required to be low acid and have corrosion inhibitors in the U.S.. I know hundreds of folks that have run ethanol added fuel and E85 in conversions for years and have yet to meet anyone that has seen an issue with corrosion in a modern cars fuel system.

    In fact the issue is so rare, that the engineering department of Walbro fuel pumps came to one of the forums I moderate on E85 and asked for users who were running their fuel pumps to send them in for forensic analysis.

    They were puzzled why in the real world folks were having absolutely no problems with their gasoline only rated fuel pumps but their lab testing was telling them there should be corrosion issues. It turned out the lab testing was giving false positive readings. Something about real world applications was passivateing the pumps and we were seeing very little reduction in service life on their fuel pumps in the real world.

    I sent in my fuel pump after some 36,000 miles of use on E85 (this was a gasoline only rated fuel pump) and some 1700 gallons of E85 usage. The trace corrosion they found was not significant enough to change the performance of the pump. The only corrosion I found when I pulled the pump out of the fuel system was the electrical connectors on the fuel pump and lost their plating but otherwise were perfectly serviceable. The only pumps they found that had any significant detectable corrosion were pumps used in humid tropical climates like Florida. Even then, the corrosion issues were trivial and the pumps were giving essentially normal service life.

    Corrosion issues on ethanol added fuels are over hyped by about 1000%. Yes it is detectable in some cases. Especially in systems which have incompatible metals such as zinc and magnesium which have largely disappeared from modern fuel systems.

    There are some gasket materials that do not like ethanol. The rubber cork composition gaskets used in Holley carburetors 35 years ago did not like ethanol added gasoline, but that gasket material has not been used in modern fuel systems since Jimmy Carter was President.

    Modern O-ring materials and fuel lines intended for use in the U.S. have no problems with ethanol added fuels. In my 2002 WRX I intentionally left all the original O-rings and fuel lines in the car for 5 years after I converted to E85. Then when I did a turbocharger upgrade I pulled the fuel injectors out. The O-rings looked like new, were supple and firm like new and showed no sign of degradation or stickiness. I also slit open a section of the OEM fuel line and opened it up. It also looked like new, and was firm and sound. I let it dry for 2 weeks then bent it back 180 degrees to check for checking and cracking after the rubber inner liner had completely dried out. It still had no sign of checks, cracking or gummy surface, it literally looked like new.

    From my experience (over 30 years running ethanol added fuels) and 8 years running E85 in 3 different cars which were gasoline only designs manufactured in 1986, 1988, and 2001, I have had ZERO problems with ethanol compatibility since 1979 and that fuel line on my VW. I also moderate an E85 web forum and complaints regarding E85 are essentially zero on hundreds of conversions from all over the world.

    Problems with ethanol compatibility are as near zero as you can get with any automotive change. There are however a good number of mechanics and service tech’s who are blaming ethanol for everything you can imagine, and scamming their customers out of millions of dollars in unnecessary repair work that they are illegitimately blaming on ethanol.

    As you point out, there are a few real issues but they (with the exception of the boat fuel tanks and cheap utility engines that use zinc and magnesium components) trivial and well within the range of normal wear and tear. In the last 40 years of driving I have had 4 fuel pumps fail. Every single one of them were on cars that ran gasoline only, prior to the introduction of ethanol enhanced gasoline. I have had one fuel line leak issue on a 20 year old VW rubber fuel line shortly after ethanol added fuel came into use. Since 1979 (about 400,000 miles of driving in a half dozen different cars) I have had no fuel system problems of any kind due to ethanol.

    Larry

  140. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    toyotawhizguy (18:15:37) :

    Pimentel and Tad W. Patzek, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Berkeley have been turning out crap studies on ethanol for decades. Every few years they trot out a regurgitation of the same mis-information and the media eats it up. They have the same sort of problems and th AGW folks. They use out of date statistics for energy usage required for fertilizer production and crop yields and try to include every bit of energy invested in infrastructure and even the free solar energy the plants store to come up with those numbers. Their studies have been discredited as many times as the hocky stick but the media has ignored that minor problem.

    http://egov.oregon.gov/ENERGY/RENEW/Biomass/docs/FORUM/FossilEnergyUse.pdf

    http://www.nebiofuels.org/pdfs/Energy%20Balance.pdf

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/03/final_word_on_e.php

    Larry

  141. francisedwardwhite says:

    My understanding is that it takes more than one calorie of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of ethanol from corn (maize).

    First there is the energy required to prepare the field and seed the crop and for weeding, whether by mechanical or chemical means. Energy is required to produce and transport the fertilizer. Energy is required for harvesting and husking and transport. Energy is needed to run the ethanol processing plant.

    Finally, what is often overlooked: energy is required to manufacture the equipment and buildings used in all of these processes. The fact that ethanol is so expensive reflects the amount of engery used in relation to the energy output from the fuel itself. The fossil fuel energy inputs generate CO2.

    As a solution to CO2 production, biofuels do not make any sense. The research that shows corn is a net consumer of energy was done 50 years ago at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. The research was done by a professor of government, which is appropriate because subsidies for biofuel production are a shameful waste of public money.

  142. John from MN says:

    PS fellows the out of the energy used to produce the Yellow dent corn and ferment the starch to ethanol and dry the distillers grain for animal feed, only 17% of that energy is gasoline and fuel. 73% of that energy is Natural Gas. So with corn ethanol you get fuel, animal feed and get the energy from the sun and from the consumption of the corn plant using CO2 and most of the energy used is not Gasoline or Diesel fuel. So this beats the hell out of T, Boone pickens plan of converting Natural Gas to car fuel. Corn Ethanol does it and you get the animal feed which is what we grow on our farmland anyhow….John..

  143. Justa Joe says:

    Pure ethanol (76,000 BTU) only has about 65% THE BTU’s per gallon of gasoline (115,000 to 125,000 BTUs) so it would produce less MPG.

  144. John from MN says:

    francisedwardwhite
    Everything you stated was false. You need to learn facts or just ignore the subject. But to repeat flase crud when you have not a clue is diservice to me as a hard working farmer or the many employees in the Agriculture, Feed and Ethanol Business…..Way to much crud floats around the Web as you well know……..John…

  145. Robert Kral says:

    Interesting thread, but a couple of things have gotten lost in the shuffle. First, the original reason for mandating ethanol in gasoline was to reduce air pollution, not CO2. You know, particulates and the stuff that comes from the nitrogen and sulfur contaminants in refined petroleum products. I don’t think there’s any question that, in that sense, EtOH burns cleaner than gas.

    If John can grow corn for cattle feed and make more money producing ethanol into the bargain, then good for him. I’m always happy to see farmers making a profit. However, as a long-term solution for major energy needs I don’t believe biofuels are any kind of solution. Pilot projects are all very well, but scaling up can be a bitch.

    With respect to the oil palm comments, it’s also worth noting that a lot of poor Indonesian farmers stopped growing food crops to grow oil palms. Now they can’t make any money and they no longer can feed their families with their own crop production.

  146. Jack Maloney says:

    The Corn Ethanol Solution is just one more example of a ‘green consensus’ solution leading to disastrous unintended consequences: deforestation, water depletion, rising world food prices and destabilized agricultural societies. It fits right in with:

    Smokey Bear – a ‘green consensus’ driven century of intensive (and expensive) fire suppression policies by the USFS. Unintended consequences: fuel buildup in America’s forests have resulted in more extreme wildfires, greater property loss and subsequent soil erosion.

    Green Revolution – the ‘green consensus’ awarded a Nobel Prize to the Green Revolution theory, advocating intensive use of pesticides and herbicides, and large-scale crop monocultures, to end world famine. Unintended consequences: soil and water pollution, deforestation, more cancer, displacement of small farmers, and enabling of continued world population growth (and no end to famine).

    Now a ‘green consensus’ proposes to “stop” climate change (after 4.5 billion years of climate change) by suppressing anthropogenic CO2 emissions by committing the globe to an untested “bioengineering” experiment!

  147. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Bruce (16:22:29) :

    Consumer Reports:

    “The fuel economy of the Tahoe dropped 27 percent when running on E85 compared with gasoline, from an already low 14 mpg overall to 10 mpg (rounded to the nearest mpg). This is the lowest fuel mileage we’ve gotten from any vehicle in recent years. ”

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/news/2006/ethanol/overview/index.htm

    So … assuming E85 is 85% gasoline.

    7.14 gallons of gasoline to travel 100 miles.

    10 gallons of E85 to travel 100 miles …. which means 8.5 gallons of gasoline PLUS 1.5 gallons of ethanol to travel 100 miles.

    Conclusion: MORONS buy E85. Crooks and morons make you buy E85.

    You have that exactly backwards. Summer blend E85 is nominally 85% ethanol (hence the name) in the winter time the blend changes (just as winter gasoline changes) to improve cold starting and drops down to about 70-75% ethanol.

    E85 fuel blends change content seasonally just like all gasolines blends change with the seasons. This seasonal change in blend for E85 is primarily to improve cold weather starting, where the changes in gasoline during cold weather is to improve cold weather starting. In the summer months, gasoline must be blended to reduce vapor lock and to reduce evaporative emissions.

    The recommended dates for changing E85 fuel blends are listed in a chart in the E85 handbook on page 22, which is in the “E85 Fuel Specification” tab.
    The Volatility class specifications are broken down on page 10.

    Volatility class 1 — minimum ethanol 79%
    Volatility class 2 — minimum ethanol 74%
    Volatility class 3 — minimum ethanol 70%

    The switchover is “recommended” not required, local blenders make the switch when climate/weather and their fuel inventory make it most logical.

    The fuel ethanol itself is never pure ethanol as it is required to be denatured by law, with an addition of other chemicals to avoid paying liqueur taxes on the ethanol. Most often the fuel ethanol is actually E98, 98% ethanol and 2% natural gasoline or E95, 95% ethanol with 5% toluene. There are several approved denaturent mixes.

    Assuming the consumer reports study was done on summer blend that is 10 gallons of E85 (85% E98) and 15% gasoline or about 17% gasoline content and 83% pure ethanol content.

    Today’s average national E85 price is $2.25/gallon, and todays national average regular gasoline price is $2.75.

    At 14 mpg on gasoline your cost per mile is 19.64 cents per mile
    At 10 mpg on E85 your cost per mile is 22.5 cents per mile.

    This is in the Tahoe tested which is without a doubt one of the worst FFV’s available on the market today. General motors really has to work hard to get that bad of fuel mileage on E85, back yard mechanics easily beat these numbers with simple no frills conversions.

    Let’s look at the economics in my converted WRX.

    At 24 mpg on regular gasoline (my car requires premium) = 11.46 cents per mile.
    At 24 mpg on premium at $2.85 per gallon = 11.86 cents per mile
    At 22 mpg on E85 at $2.25 per gallon = 10.23 cents per mile.
    It only costs me 86% as much as gasoline, to drive on E85.

    http://e85prices.com/colorado.html

    Here where I live the price spread is:
    E85 =$2.17/gal
    Regular = $2.55/gal
    Premium = $2.65/gal

    So my personal savings where I buy fuel would be
    At 24 mpg on premium at $2.65 per gallon = 11.04 cents per mile
    At 22 mpg on E85 at $2.17 per gallon = 9.86 cents per mile.

    Running E85 saves me 11.96% on what I would spend on gasoline to go the same distance.

    Conclusion — if you know what your talking about, and using real data, the numbers make sense and E85 wins hands down in the real world in real cars doing every day driving.

    Larry

  148. Rod E. says:

    To: Steve Schaper, who said: “Rod E. A tax break is not a subsidy paid by you. Read up on American agriculture from WWII to the present so that you don’t look so much like an idiot.”

    Leaving aside the insult, a tax break IS a subsidy. When everyone pays their taxes equally, taxes are fair. When the government favors one group’s tax rate over another they are granting them favored tax treatment, i.e., direct monetary assistance. You ordinarily would owe $1,000,000, but hey, because you’re a favored group doing something in the public interest, just pay us $250,000 this year.

    Definition of subsidy: “Monetary assistance granted by a government to a person or group in support of an enterprise regarded as being in the public interest.” And guess where the government gets it’s money so it can grant all that “monetary assistance”? That’s right, you and me.

    The problem with a subsidy, whether in the form of direct payment or a tax break for that favored endeavor, is that we have these endless arguments about the underlying economics. Drop the subsidy (tax break) and see if ethanol can stand on its own. I doubt that it will, but if it does, fine. Because that would mean that the total inputs are sufficiently exceeded by the total outputs to generate a reasonable profit margin.

    Sure, there are other considerations, like keeping smog down, but ethanol subsidization has gone way, way past those considerations and are a political con game, pure and simple.

    Also, even though the subsidy is directed to the blenders, competition drives down their profit margin as they bid up the price of the ethanol component until everything balances out. And the farmer benefits from that bidding up process, as does the ethanol manufacturer.

  149. One of my favorite aspects of biofuels is how the government can take our tax dollars and pump it into this industry. In doing so, they create an artificial demand for corn, mais, or whatever you want to call it and drive up the price of food products. So, in a nutshell, they’re using our tax money to make things more expensive for us.

    What was it someone said about “I’m from the government and I’m here to help?”

  150. Claude Harvey says:

    Having designed and built 23 “renewable energy power plants”, I can assure all comers that WHATEVER commercial enterprise you may enter into that promises even a slim chance of profit will be resisted vociferously by the “forces for good” in the environmental community. Although the economics of ethanol make no sense on a macro scale, the fact the anyone might find a corner of profit from the concept inevitably brings out the “naysayers”.

    I’d be happy to see the concept disappear from the face of the earth, but for the reason that it makes no practical economic sense rather than some trumped up study posturing as “new news”. The negative CO2 balance of ethanol production was long ago established on the back of an envelope.

  151. Rod E. says:

    >>Although the economics of ethanol make no sense on a macro scale, the fact the anyone might find a corner of profit from the concept inevitably brings out the “naysayers”.<<

    I hope you realize that when you seek to make a profit out of something that only generates profits via direct taxpayer subsidization (as you yourself acknowledge) you are just trying to get your own piece of the taxpayer's hide. You should expect to find "naysayers" in that sort of enterprise. Maybe it's time to do something productive with your time?

  152. UK Sceptic says:

    We had, that’s HAD, a biofuel pump at our local Morrisons (UK supermarket chain) petrol station. Seems that Morrisons had a rethink and came to the conclusion biofuel isn’t commerically viable and dumped it.

    Good for them!

  153. Bill Tuttle says:

    Kum Dollison (16:00:02) :
    Bill Tuttle
    There are about 5,000 btus of diesel (farming, harvesting, transporting)

    Did you include the btus involved in the aviation gasoline and pesticide production for the cropdusters?

    I love this site.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I have a buddy who makes his own biodiesel and swears buying the kit was the second-smartest purchase he ever made.

  154. wesley bruce says:

    They keep making the same mistake: both the industry and the analysts! If you make biofuel you must fuel the tractors and other system on the product, ethanol in this case. That eliminates the so called land use changes and fossil CO2 out put. We also have a large number of non-fossil source fertiliser options. I’m trained in that field.
    Yet Government, industry and of cause the IPCC consistently get it wrong. They don’t really want solutions; just an excuse to regulate the world and a big project with a nice skim for those with connections.
    Small scale ethanol (and methanol) can be made sustainable and fossil carbon free. Recycling all nutrients back to the farm from the Still near the gate. Recycling the distillers grains via the back end of a cow. Yet all manner of barriers have been put in the way of these working technologies. Licences that bill you by the mega-litre: a small still producing a kilolitre faces the same fee as one producing thousand time as much. Licensing paperwork that dates from prohibition. A dozen food technology regulations that got it wrong. Some of these barriers were removed in the last days of the Bush White House but the damage is done.
    After killing what works they create something that’s so centralised that shipping the high protein by product, distillers grains, back to livestock on the cornfields is non-viable. The soil suffers as a consequence.

    However if they were really serious about biofuels they would go for mobile ‘small’ 18 wheel truck mounted methanol plants and plastic bag lined ‘self sealing’ methanol fuel tanks. No new technology required its a WW2 technology.

  155. OceanTwo says:

    Kum Dollison (16:25:51) :

    Oceans

    Give me 7 miles square in every county (the average county is a little over 1,000 sq miles) and I’ll have us off imported oil in 6 years.

    Any other questions?

    So if that is all it needs, why isn’t it done yet? Try to answer that without blaming someone else: we are looking for solutions, not excuses.

  156. OceanTwo says:

    hotrod ( Larry L ) (20:41:21) :

    Your argument is purely and simply a macro argument. You insist that the Tahoe gets appauling fuel economy on E85 because it was ‘designed’ as such. Your only argument is that you (one person) got better comparable mileage on a *conversion* on a totally different vehicle, therefore the other vehicle was deliberately sabotaged to get worse fuel economy.

    Guess what, a Prius gets better mileage than that, so you are a fool to use the Suburu regardless of ethanol or gasoline usage.

    This would be the same as arguing that we don’t need overpriced plumbers because *I* can go my own plumbing work, therefore so can anyone else. Or how about the millions that people earn from buying and selling real estate – people *do* earn that, but it’s not scalable (it’s a pyramid scheme in that case).

    It’s not all about you. There are 300 odd million other people in the US. Your solution doesn’t necessarily scale, or even fit the requirements of the population as a whole. It’s this narrow-minded thinking that gets us into these messes in the first place: “what’s good for one is good for all” is, actually, not.

    Conclusion: if you know what you are talking about you’ll realize that no-one cares that one car can get marginal economical fuel improvement through tinkering and still end up worse than a significant number of vehicles purchasable today.

  157. Patrick Davis says:

    “OceanTwo (03:23:22) :”

    Well, I can do plumbing, sparks (To 415V 3 phase 63A, UK), carpentry, brickwork etc and I do know when I am being rooted with this eco-fuel rubbish(E10 in Australia). I get better “mileage” (We use K’s here in Aus) out of the “better” fuel, ie, 98RON. But I use E10 because it’s A LOT cheaper (Well it was until recent profit gouging by fuel suppliers) and it’s “octane” rating is ~94, bit better than RUL petrol, at ~91RON.

    The Subaru WRX is a forced induction engine. The Prius isn’t. It will “do better” mileage than a WRX.

  158. Patrick Davis says:

    PS, addition to my last post, the Subaru WRX is fulltime 4 wheel drive too. The weight penalty of the Prius against the Subaru will be minimal (Batteries/an extra axle to carry and drive) but the load on the engine is different. Typically, there is a significant loss of power in a fulltine 4×4 transmisstion of upto 50%.

  159. Kum Dollison says:

    Both Novozyme, and Dupont-Danisco have announced, just recently, that they have made breakthroughs that lower the enzyme cost to $0.50 gallon for “cellulosic” ethanol.

    This means you will be seeing $2.00 ethanol from corn cobs, and switchgrass by 2012.

    Seven miles square of switchgrass, plus municipal solid waste, plus better engines (on the way) will yield a 60% decrease in the amount of gasoline used in the average county.

    It’s the “enzymes.” And, the timing – end of recession, money available – that will tell the tale.

  160. kim says:

    um, ‘energy density’, nyah, nyah.
    ==================

  161. Jack Maloney says:

    “Now a ‘green consensus’ proposes to “stop” climate change (after 4.5 billion years of climate change) by suppressing anthropogenic CO2 emissions by committing the globe to an untested “bioengineering” experiment!”

    Oops! I meant to say “geoengineering.” What incredible hubris, to propose “engineering” a planet when we can’t even engineer a safe Toyota!

  162. Justa Joe says:

    5.0 Mustang and Superfords magazine did a study to determine if a 04′ Mach 1 tuned for E85 could get better efficiency (cost/mile) than on regular gasoline. They were able to realize a little better economy with the E85 specifically tuned car as some have stated here, but they were pretty much able to duplicate that economy with the same car tuned for premium (higher octane gasoline) as well.

    http://www.mustang50magazine.com/techarticles/m5lp_0912_2004_mustang_mach_1_e85_mileage_test/index.html

    The economy of E85 is dependent on having the significantly lower cost per gallon at the pump. However, I think that this is artificial as the gasoline is being penalized and the E85 is being subsidized to create a favorable cost for E85.

  163. John from MN says:

    Nobody mandates E85 (which is always 85% ethanol) wheras many states and cities Mandate a 10% blend of ethanol becuse of it’s high Oygen content. It is 34% Oxygen by weight. It causes a higher combustion rate and makes the Gasoline burn more cleanly. In years past MTBE was added to the gasoline to do the same thing. MTBE was made by the Oil industry from petroleum, but was later found it would not break-down for 100’s of years and do major damage to the ground water if any made it on to the ground or leaked out of storage tanks. So along came a 10% blend of ethanol to add to the gasoline to improve combustion and clean up the city smog. It later became touted as a gasoline extender that is renewable and bio-degradable (think Vodka) and could cut oil and gasoiline imports, becuase very little gasoline or Diesel fuel is used on an acre to produce 500 gallons of ethanol and 3,000 lbs. of DDG’s a high protien feed stock left after the starch in the corn kernal is converted to sugar and then fermented into ethanol……John.

  164. Jaye says:

    All in All Ethanol gets knocked by the un-informed and groups with a political or financial angle to dis-credit the highly efficient Agricultural Farming and Ethanol production in the Mid-Western USA…….Sincerely John T.

    Shouldn’t you add “highly subsidized, wouldn’t make on the open market” to your list of adjectives describing your product.

  165. Kum Dollison says:

    When he mentioned gasoline he didn’t say, “brought to you from the Middle East at the cost of 4,000 dead, and $200 Billion/yr.”

    The “subsidy,” now, is just to pay Exxon, and Shell for using it.

    The Subsidy is $0.045/gal, and the savings are $0.13/gal.

    If you subtract $0.055 to adjust for mileage you are still saving $0.03/Gallon.

    RBOB Up $0.04 to $2.26 this morning.

    Ethanol closed at $1.54 yesterday, and

    That was Before Any “Subsidies.”

  166. Kum Dollison says:

    That’s a Savings of $0.30/gal for Every Gallon of Ethanol used.

  167. John Galt says:

    @Kum Dollison (14:55:24) :

    Sorry, I don’t know where I came up with that $1.30 less than gasoline figure. It was the Monday after the start of DST began and my brain was suffering from brain lag.

    Do you believe the domestic ethanol industry can survive without subsidies, tax breaks and the repeal of the surtax on imported ethanol? Would the economics really work without these special incentives?

    When I wrote ethanol can’t be sent on the same physical pipeline as gasoline, I didn’t mean that literally. The pipeline companies have been reluctant to do that because of problems with water in the ethanol. It’s not physically impossible, just not a good idea. Like many problems, there are surely work-arounds, but they may not be cost effective.

  168. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    OceanTwo (03:23:22) :

    Your argument is purely and simply a macro argument. You insist that the Tahoe gets appauling fuel economy on E85 because it was ‘designed’ as such. Your only argument is that you (one person) got better comparable mileage on a *conversion* on a totally different vehicle, therefore the other vehicle was deliberately sabotaged to get worse fuel economy.

    No I did not say it was sabatoged, that is your term I said they did an awful job of converting the car to a FFV design because government policy gives them absolutely no reason to spend a single dime to get better fuel mileage on E85 due to the way CAFE standards are set up. They took an engine that already gets poor fuel mileage on gasoline and did the minimum possible to allow it to run on E85. In short it is a low budget cobbled together solution to satisfy an economic need to play the CAFE fleet average fuel mileage regulations, not to give the consumer anything useful.

    Guess what, a Prius gets better mileage than that, so you are a fool to use the Suburu regardless of ethanol or gasoline usage.

    Who said I had the slightest interest in getting fuel mileage comparable to a Prius?
    I bought a performance car to drive like a performance car! E85 gives me better performance and more responsive car than gasoline at a lower total cost per mile. When a Prius can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds, accelerate at over 1 G from a standing stop, and hit over 100mph in a quarter mile from a standing stop, and still get comparable fuel mileage to typical road cars, and still qualify as a LEV let me know.

    It’s not all about you. There are 300 odd million other people in the US. Your solution doesn’t necessarily scale, or even fit the requirements of the population as a whole. It’s this narrow-minded thinking that gets us into these messes in the first place: “what’s good for one is good for all” is, actually, not.

    Conclusion: if you know what you are talking about you’ll realize that no-one cares that one car can get marginal economical fuel improvement through tinkering and still end up worse than a significant number of vehicles purchasable today.

    Actually lots of folks care! E85 experimenters have proven conclusively that if the major manufactures spent even a fraction of thei R&D budget they spend on new stereo systems and putting blue tooth accessories into cars they could easily get higher fuel mileage on E85. It is absolutely trivial to get fuel mileage comparable to a well tuned gasoline engine and if they put a premium on optimizing for E85 they could out perform gasoline engines on E85 in the FFV’s.

    The solution to improved performance on FFV’s running E85 is very simple, and is proven by thousands of experimenters.

    Use a small displacement turbocharged engine that senses E85 content and adjusts both fueling and boost level to get maximum thermal efficiency out of the E85 or the gasoline ethanol mixture in the tank. If hundreds of back yard experimenters can do it there is absolutely no excuse for professional design engineers to not be able to do it other than the fact the governments CAFE standards give them no reason or financial incentive to even try.

    The government if it insists on using a CAFE standard system should also change the rules so there is some difference in the CAFE credit received by a car if it gets good fuel mileage on E85 or terrible fuel mileage on E85. Right now it makes no difference at all. The manufactures get exactly the same fuel mileage rating for CAFE purposes whether the engine gets 50% of its gasoline mileage on E85 or 90% of its gasoline fuel mileage on E85, so they take the cheap route and do just enough so the car will start and run on E85 without stalling and call it a day.

    Justa Joe (06:07:06) :

    The economy of E85 is dependent on having the significantly lower cost per gallon at the pump. However, I think that this is artificial as the gasoline is being penalized and the E85 is being subsidized to create a favorable cost for E85.

    The current blenders tax credit has already been reduced from 51 cents a gallon of ethanol blended to its current rate of 45 cents a gallon of ethanol blended. At that rate a gallon of E85 gets a blenders tax credit of (.85 x 45)= 38.25 cents blenders tax credit per gallon.

    As noted above in my previous comments the current at the pump costs of E85 vs gasoline in my area is :

    E85 =$2.17/gal
    Regular = $2.55/gal

    You will note that that spread is almost exactly the blenders tax credit. That means that using current technology, E85 is very near to break even with gasoline on a gallon for gallon basis.

    The tax credits are doing their intended job, allowing ethanol producers to build out their infrastructure to the point that they can achieve the economies of scale necessary to compete on a heads up basis with conventional petroleum. As in Brazil eventually that tax credit will be phased out once the industry has the infrastructure to compete with the 100 year old petroleum refining and sales industry.

    The U.S. national fuel ethanol infrastructure was artificially destroyed by government intervention during the 1930’s during prohibition when the fuel ethanol industry was driven out of business and oil was given a free ride to monopolize the fuel industry. That is an unfair advantage that oil has held for 80 years, not to mention decades of tax breaks the oil industry has benefited from for depreciation allowance and other arcane rules that give them preferential tax treatment.

    The current 3rd generation fuel ethanol plants that are now in design and construction phase will be able to compete heads up with oil for fuel, if the auto manufactures give the fuel ethanol engine design a fair chance to compete on fuel mileage which is already proven possible. There are high efficiency fuel ethanol powered engine designs that have shown you can get thermal efficiencies at least as good as gasoline, and in optimized designs comparable to diesel engines on ethanol (near 40% thermal efficiency compared to 25% thermal efficiency for gasoline engines). There is no excuse for FFV designs to get such abysmal fuel mileage on E85 other than a lack of interest or incentive for the manufactures to make relatively trivial engine management design changes to optimize the engines for use on E85 and high ethanol fuel mixtures, rather than optimize them for gasoline and just settle for what ever the get on E85.

    Larry

  169. Rod E. says:

    To Kim Dollison: You say the average county is 1000 square miles and it would only take an area “7 miles square” of every county devoted to ethanol production to get us off imported oil.

    Why not say it more clearly? Since “7 miles square” is a square 7 miles on a side, you’re saying that 49 square miles of every county would have to be devoted to ethanol production, or 5% of it’s land area. Now, that might be reasonable, but why not make the direct comparison?

    Alternatively, you could say the average county is 32 miles square and only 7 miles square would have to be devoted to ethanol production. I guess 7 compared to 1000 does sound better though, from your particular point of view.

  170. John R. Judge says:

    We should require all producers of ethanol; the farmers, the truckers, the distillers, etc., to use ethanol for their energy needs. That way there won’t be much left for the rest of us to have to worry with.

  171. Rod E. says:

    K Dollison wrote: “Ethanol closed at $1.54 yesterday, and that was Before Any “Subsidies.”

    As long as someone is getting a tax break for purchasing ethanol for blending purposes, that tax break is going to be reflected in the market price. Take the tax break away and the price would fall. Of course, if you require that every gallon of gasoline sold in the country has to have a 10% ethanol component then you’ve forced demand higher legislatively and the price will rise accordingly.

    The point is that between the regulations and the tax break, it’s pretty tough to tell whether ethanol is economically viable on its own. It’s also impossible to know whether another commercially viable alternative energy source is being blocked by the government’s favorable treatment of the ethanol industry, i.e., farmers.

    The poster who made the point a few comments back about the government screwing up local uses by demanding excessive centralization stands a good chance of being correct, but as he implied, we’ll probably never know. Government just keeps getting bigger and bigger, regardless who’s in charge.

  172. Kum Dollison says:

    John, the “basic” Corn ethanol industry is in good shape. It doesn’t need subsidies. The “Subsidies” are going to the oil companies, anyway. The Mandates are necessary, though.

    Subsidies, probably are needed for awhile longer to build out the E85 structure, though. The subsidies are valuable for attracting financing.

    “Cellulosic” will need the subsidies to be in place for another couple of years.

    Brazil is not about to drop THEIR Tariff (20%,) so I don’t think we should.

    Poet, and Magellan are going to build an 1,800 mi. pipeline from S Dakota to the East Coast. This is the pipeline that makes sense.

  173. Kum Dollison says:

    Rod,

    The point is, Ethanol is being profitably produced, and shipped to Chicago for $1.54. That Producer hsn’t receied any subsidies.

  174. kim says:

    Rod E @ 8:09:42

    The light goes on, eh?
    ==========

  175. Kum Dollison says:

    Kim,

    You can’t consider “energy density” without considering “Octane.”

    Ethanol is 113 Octane.

  176. kim says:

    Naw, Kum, I’m talking about the vast amounts of land needed to produce the corn. Biofuels have the same problem as wind and solar energy, that is, poor energy density. Nyah, nyah.
    ===============

  177. Curiousgeorge says:

    Upthread, I mentioned; “and downstream would be the conversion of “wild” crops (switch grass, trees, etc. ) to cultivated crops to enhance fuel production, with all the subsequent problems of corn and soy in terms of fertilizer, water, biodiversity, etc.. ”

    It seems that’s already happening, at least in Europe:

    http://www.dtnprogressivefarmer.com/dtnag/common/link.do?symbolicName=/ag/blogs/template1&blogHandle=ethanol&blogEntryId=8a82c0bc268be2db012767d703bc0ad7&showCommentsOverride=false

    Europe’s GM Poplars Popular for Ethanol

    The first crop of genetically modified poplar trees are expected to be used to produce ethanol at a Flemish-Dutch pilot plant owned by Bio Base Europe, according to Biofuels International.

    The poplars planted in Ghent, Belgium in May 2009 have been harvested.

  178. Bill Tuttle says:

    Kum Dollison (07:34:29) :
    When he mentioned gasoline he didn’t say, “brought to you from the Middle East at the cost of 4,000 dead, and $200 Billion/yr.”

    A cheap shot, considering that Canada, Mexico, and Nigeria are our three biggest sources of petroleum.

  179. Bill Tuttle says:

    [insert] …sources of *imported* petroleum.

  180. Henry chance says:

    Gotta watch the farmers ( I bought my first farm in the 70’s.)

    NYMEX gasolene $2.228 per gallon right now.
    CBOT ethanol at 1.66. That is losing a lot of money.

    Verisun bankrupt, POET bought some other ethanol plants that are broke at a deep discount. PANDA not only broke, but ran off with money they never used for construction. Panda sought to burn cow manoo for heating and brewing energy. They shut down construction and sued Lurgi. Their scheme was to trade carbon credits on the manure also.

    Ethanol Magazine. The claim ethanol is a “low carbon alternative” to gasoline.
    Looks like farmers don’t know their chemistry.

    http://www.ethanolproducer.com/article.jsp?article_id=6346

    When the Ethanol industry lobbies and claims their stuff is a low carbon fuel, look out. They have been drinking too much low carbon Vodka.
    (ethanol plants mix a little gasoline in their product so people aren’t tempted to drink from the tap)
    CH3CH2OH is combined with O2 and gives off CO2 and H2O

    Chemistry is a streeeeeetch if you are selling a political product and not an organic one.

    I won’t get into it but alcohol is a boat motor killer. Someone mention fibreglass boat fuel tanks? Nope. They are metal. Grey, clear and black water tanks on boats are roto molded poly.

  181. Kum Dollison says:

    Actually, Bill, Canada imports 1 million bpd from, primarily, Algeria, I believe, and Mexico, a soon to be non-exporter, is nowhere near our top 3 exporters.

    And, of course, Nigeria has its issues, also.

    And, we are spending in the neighborhood of $200 Billion/yr in the Middle East. We’re not there for the date palms.

    And, we have kazillions of “pine” trees in the South. What would be wrong with some poplar trees.

  182. Justa Joe says:

    “You will note that that spread is almost exactly the blenders tax credit. That means that using current technology, E85 is very near to break even with gasoline on a gallon for gallon basis.” – larry

    Actually you confirmed my point. By your own number E85 sans subsidy would be inferior to gasoline. If they’re evenly priced per gallon Gasoline superior MPG win out.

  183. Kum Dollison says:

    Ethanol is selling for $1.54/gal on the CBOT at present.

    http://news.ncgapremium.com/index.cfm?show=62&subtype=25

    Gasoline $2.27/gal on the NYMEX.

  184. Kum Dollison says:

    Justa Joe,

    Due to the lack of competition in the marketplace those filling stations/jobbers that are supplying E85 are getting a huge Premium on their product.

    With today’s wholesale numbers you could make a nice profit selling E85 for $1.65/gal – $2.10 w/o subsidies.

    Today’s wholesale unleaded prices portend $2.97 gasoline. Allow $0.60 for decreased mileage and you have $2.37 vs $2.10.

    E85 “Wins.”

  185. Rod E. says:

    Kum D. wrote: “The point is, Ethanol is being profitably produced, and shipped to Chicago for $1.54. That Producer hasn’t received any subsidies.”

    That’s a silly statement. Surely you’ve seen farmers, for example, ship a product at a loss in the past. Why? Because they need to recover at least some of their sunk costs. The beans might have cost them $4.00 a bushel to produce that year and they will still sell them at $3.50 because that’s the going rate at the time. To do otherwise would be to lose the entire $4.00 of sunk costs.

    Ditto with ethanol. You don’t know whether the producer is making money or not (or if you do, you failed to provide that information.) All you know is that the going price of ethanol that day is $1.54. In fact, with ethanol plants going belly up, someone could have bought the producing plant for pennies on the dollar, and they might indeed be making a profit ON THEIR OWN INVESTMENT. Would they build another plant? Not necessarily if the present price of ethanol is insufficient to give them a return on the invested capital, as it clearly hasn’t been for some of the early producers.

    You have to understand that the government has mandated ethanol usage, so it will be purchased by the oil companies at whatever price is necessary to get the ethanol. If insufficient amounts of ethanol were to be produced, the producers would get very rich. However, people got sucked into over-investing in the concept and now they’re losing their shirts (some of them anyway.) Yet you claim they’re making a “profit.” As I said, just because a transaction is taking place at a price doesn’t mean that price is profitable to the producer. (See the housing market for another recent example.)

    You sound very much like one of those people who have all the answers and would willingly dictate to all of us how our personal resources should be directed, including our land use and how much of a particular product we should fuel our vehicles with. The global warming crowd has plenty of room for people like you while the rest of us are just trying our best to keep you from gaining control over our lives and livelihoods.

  186. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Justa Joe (08:08:30) :

    Can someone present a chemical equation and the the stoichiometry to demonstrate how the combustion of so called bio-fuels is supposed to produce any less CO2 than gasoline?

    Not that buy into the CO2 = bad hoopla “””

    Well the theory is that the carbon in the bio-fuel originally was CO2 in the atmospehre’ so the process of making bio-fuels is a process for recycling CO2 from the atmosphere; which of course is a zero sum or losing game. Well they argue that the sun provides the energy to run the process, which I guess is true. But it takes one hell of a lot of land area to get much bio-fuel; not to mention all the precious water consumed in the process. Of course you could process that water by itself using solar energy, to release hydrogen.

    But maybe it beats getting CO2 from coal; well that is just old bio-fuel anyway.

  187. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Kum Dollison (09:08:40) :

    Kim,

    You can’t consider “energy density” without considering “Octane.”

    Ethanol is 113 Octane. “””

    So what; you can’t burn Octane rating. All octane rating tells you is whether your engine pings or not.

    Yes higher octane fuels in principle let you raise the compression ratio and get more power out of the engine. But then the EPA says you are not allowed to do that because high compression ratio, gives you very high cyclinder pressures and temperatures (which is where the extra power comes from.
    That is also the condition needed to get your engine to burn the air, and make NOX out of the atmosphere; so the EPA doesn’t allow super high octane fuels for that reason. In the USA a car has to be able to run properly on standard octane fuel, which can be anywhere from 85 to 87 octane depending on what altitude you are at.

    oh and just for kicks high octane fuels tend to have longer chain hydrocarbons in them; which ytranslates into more carbon and less hydrogen.

    Methane for example, which has a totally lousy octane rating has four hydrogens per carbon. As the chain gets longer to get higher octane, the hydrogen-carbon ratio decreases towards 2:1.

    So high octane gasolene actually has a lower heat of compbustion than a low octane hydrocarbon like methane.

  188. George E. Smith says:

    The answer to the ethanol dilemma, is very simple. Just put a fence around your sun powered bio-fuels factory, and allow only sunshine to enter the facility; no fossil or other fuels allowed, so the factory runs on its own bio-fuels energy; powered of course by the sun. That is where the free green clean renewable part of the advertising comes from.

    Of course if the factory shuts down for lack of energy, then that is just a sign, that your scheme is an energy wasting scheme, and should be shut down immediately.

    If you can’t run your process, with your own energy output; you ain’t an energy supplier.

  189. George E. Smith says:

    Ethanol; C2H5OH, can also be written as 2(CH2)H2O.

    so it is two CH2 groups plus a molecule of water.

    Methanol on the other hand is CH3OH or (CH2)H2O. You can guess the rest.

    And when you burn ethanol or methanol, you get the same energy that you can get by burning n(CH2) along with the energy you get from burning the water; whcih happens to contribute zero.

    So if you check the heat of combustion of say Octane, C8 H18 or 8(CH2)H2 fversus “octanol” 8(CH2)H2O, you will find that the alcohol loses out to the alkane by just the heat of combustion of H2.

    So when you buy ethanol you are paying good money for plain water.

    Arguably, you can do better by burning the alkane, and adding your own tap water in a water injector, which can increase engine power by cooling the intake air, and thereby increasing the air mass going into the engine, which raises the power output. No the water doesn’t contirbute any energy, but it lets you burn the CH2s more efficiently.

  190. kadaka says:

    Steve (09:42:20) :

    This is way-off topic (more or less), but can anyone here recommend a good book outlining the principles of solar energy and panels, and the subsequent applications and methods?

    I’m not afraid of technical writing, either. Seen there are many for sale and there are many websites, but just wondering where to start.

    http://www.instructables.com/

    Large site with an eclectic mix of inventive DIY types who post their own work, you can learn how to do virtually anything there. They do solar a lot, you can glean nearly everything you need to know between the postings and the comments, and also find recommended conventional info sources like books and magazine articles. You can also go to the Community section, find the right category, and ask directly. Although a site search for say “solar book” would be recommended before asking, as you would be far from the first person looking for such.

  191. Mainuddin says:

    Thanks for this interesting subject sharing us. Hope more information.

  192. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Justa Joe (10:53:33) :

    “You will note that that spread is almost exactly the blenders tax credit. That means that using current technology, E85 is very near to break even with gasoline on a gallon for gallon basis.” – larry

    Actually you confirmed my point. By your own number E85 sans subsidy would be inferior to gasoline. If they’re evenly priced per gallon Gasoline superior MPG win out.

    Yes if you take a myopic view of the situation. It proves that fuel ethanol can be sold at price competitive costs right now. A few years ago it was absolutely impossible to sell fuel ethanol without a tax credit to make it competitive. As pointed out above the raw ethanol is selling much cheaper than gasoline at the source. Unfortunately E85 pricing is driven by gasoline pricing right now because it is a direct replacement product for gasoline. It not being properly marketed in most markets. If E85 was sold at the same mark up over the raw wholesale cost of materials it would sell much cheaper than gasoline even without the tax credit by modern high effeciency plants. Unfortunately there are still a substantial number of older fuel ethanol plants that are not able to operate at those cost competitive price points yet .

    If there is any sort of upturn in world oil prices the spread will only widen. As I mentioned we are already very close to break even.

    Newer high efficiency plants already exceed break even (including fuel mileage considerations). Right now there actual sales infrastructure will not (in most markets) allow aggressive pricing for E85 since there are still too few outlets in most markets.

    In April of 2009 there were 1,986 stations selling E85 ethanol fuel across 1,427 cities. When we get to the point that E85 outlets need to compete on price with other neighborhood stations the prices will drop further. In most markets the E85 supply is almost a sole source vendor and there is no reason to compete directly with other E85 outlets. Their only fuel competition is gasoline so they logically price E85 just enough below gasoline to sell the product.

    During the period of high fuel prices just prior to the economic down turn E85 was selling in some markets by up to a dollar a gallon cheaper than gasoline, and still being profitable. The most effective price point right now (on total revenue basis) is to price E85 at least 22% below the cost of regular gasoline in the same market. Many retailers have not figured this out yet and they are over charging for the fuel, being penny wise and pound foolish, giving up volume sales for per gallon profit.

    At that 22% below regular gasoline price point E85 begins to stimulate significant cross over purchases by FFV users, shifting consumption from gasoline to E85. At the current regular gasoline price in my market of $2.55/gallon, E85 would price out at $2.24, This station is actually beating that 22% spread slightly by selling at $2.17.

    If gasoline goes back up to $4.00, E85 could be sold for $3.00 a gallon and still make a profit. With a wholesale cost of about $1.54/gallon for the fuel ethanol the fuel could be sold at a profit for about $1.85/gallon if there was a competitive E85 sales environment. In competitive E85 markets like Minnesota E85 right now is selling for $1.99/gallon, while gasoline sells for $2.49/gallon.

    Larry

  193. Kum Dollison says:

    George E. Smith,

    “Silly” is telling someone who understands a business that you dont’ understand that he made a “Silly” statement.

    I will guarantee you that the ethanol producers are making money at $1.54/gal.

    The producers that went broke went broke “playing commodities,” not producing ethanol.

    George, you could run your ethanol refinery off the DDGS, and have some left over. That would satisfy your test. However, it would be financially senseless inasmuch as the DDGS are worth much more than nat gas.

    And, Octane is very important. It will allow a small high performance engine running E85 to deliver the same hp, and Mileage as a larger engine running gasoline.

  194. Henry chance says:

    hotrod ( Larry L ) (15:22:11) :

    The mistake you make is that the market of gasolene and ethanol moves together. Ethanol technically moves with feedstock/grain prices. The reason so many ethanol plants went broke is they had high grain contracts and the price of grain dropped much lower. They filed for protection to get out of their grain contracts and shafted the farmers.
    As many ethanol plants that are now in recievership that never even started production is a shame. One I drive by on the way to see my farm has over 100 tank cars parked and rusting. The plants for the most part had to buy their own rail cars because of using them for ethanol.
    Bad products and bad business plans come together and create failure.

    The rule of thumb is for every dollar increase in corn price per bushel plus the increase in crude oil equivalent prices, the production cost of ethanol increases.

    Total Subsidies for Ethanol Between $6.3 and $8.7 Billion Per Year ($1.42-$1.87 Per Gallon)
    – Total Subsidies for Biodiesel Between $1.7 and $2.3 Billion Per Year ($1.69-$2.15 Per Gallon)

    Just a little perspective, Exxon Mobil collects and pays 100 billion dollars a year in taxes. The total ethanol industry gross revenue is maybe 10% of that. A refinery reports in terms of 100’s of thousands of barrels per day. (42 gallons per barrel) The total ethanol industry is approaching `10 billion gallons per year.
    I have a problem with subsidizing a niche product that is leaving a trail of bankruptcies.

  195. Henry chance says:

    Good job George

    George E. Smith (14:12:42) :

    Ethanol; C2H5OH, can also be written as 2(CH2)H2O.

    so it is two CH2 groups plus a molecule of water.

    Methanol on the other hand is CH3OH or (CH2)H2O. You can guess the rest.

    And when you burn ethanol or methanol, you get the same energy that you can get by burning n(CH2) along with the energy you get from burning the water; whcih happens to contribute zero.

    So if you check the heat of combustion of say Octane, C8 H18 or 8(CH2)H2 fversus “octanol” 8(CH2)H2O, you will find that the alcohol loses out to the alkane by just the heat of combustion of H2.

    So when you buy ethanol you are paying good money for “plain water”.

    The water consumption can be as high as 1,500 gallons of water per final gallon of 98% ethanol. Rain is part or irrigated water if not dryland. A lot of water is consumed separating the starch and sugars from the solids. Distillers grain comes out soaked and even takes a lot of energy to dry it unless they can sell it wet.
    What you understand George is that all the btu’s produced by the petrol from planting, tilling, harvesting, separating sugars, brewing distilation etc yield 80% of the energy used to produce ethanol. Burn 100 btu’s petrol to produce 80 btu’s ethanol available for combustion.

  196. Kum Dollison says:

    Henry, current ethanol production is 12,572,400,000 – about 9% of our current gasoline usage. Most of the closed plants are back in production.

    A conservative figure is: It takes 1 gallons of petrol to produce, and ship 15 gallons of ethanol.

    As I posted above, every gallon of ethanol that’s sold, today, pays for its subsidy
    and after allowing for mileage profits us $0.30.

  197. Smokey says:

    Kum Dollison (17:59:34) :

    “…every gallon of ethanol that’s sold, today, pays for its subsidy and after allowing for mileage profits us $0.30.

    So you’re saying it’s time we got rid of the ethanol subsidies? If so, I agree.

  198. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    The mistake you make is that the market of gasolene and ethanol moves together.

    Right that is what I said ethanol prices are strongly effected by gasoline prices rather then ethanols true costs, since it is a direct replacement for gasoline. If oil (gasoline) goes up in price it drags up the cost of ethanol and indirectly also drags up the cost of the commodities used to produce ethanol.

    I have a problem with subsidizing a niche product that is leaving a trail of bankruptcies.

    That is what happens when uninformed investors flocked into ethanol when it was a bubble commodity, They promptly lost their shirt because they bought into low efficiency plants or plants which were buying corn on the spot market rather than long term contracts.

    There is no industry in the world that is immune to this sort of problem. When fools rush into any hot market folks get burned. It was not bad products and bad business plans it was bad business plans and stupid investors that bought obsolete plants and refused to upgrade them (or could not upgrade them) to current technology and tried to just skim the profits when things were good.

    The product is fine, it does exactly what it is supposed to do. It is the most cost effective octane enhancer on the market today, and increases total gasoline production both due to its stretching of gasoline production in refining and due to its direct displacement of gasoline. It is a superior fuel to gasoline for high efficiency internal combustion engines.

    The subsidy (blenders tax credit) is not high on my list either because it goes to the wrong people. It should go the brewer who produces the blended ethanol, (and indirectly to the farmer that grows the feed stock) not the entity that blends the ethanol. Right now most of it is going to the oil companies and not the ethanol industry, so we are in the uncomfortable position of trying to encourage growth of an industry by using an incentive that pays money to its primary competitor.

    That said, the blenders tax credit was the incentive necessary to get financing flowing for the rapid build out of fuel ethanol operations that allow us to have nearly 12 billion gallons of ethanol production capacity. As you mentioned the low efficiency plants are in many cases moth balled and are being rapidly replaced with new technology plants with higher yields and better cost to production ratios. It was / is a necessary evil to get the industry back into the position it was in the 1930’s where it was a co-equal with gasoline, before the government crushed it and handed the oil producers a defacto monopoly on transportation fuels.

    It does not bother me all that much, because the blenders tax credit is zero net cost to the American tax payer. The ethanol industry and related industries pay back far more taxes (than it would receive if fuel ethanol industry did not exist) than the government invests in the blenders tax credit. In addition, thanks to the effects of fuel ethanol on the corn market, For the first time in about 30 years farmers can actually sell their crop at a profit without government payouts.

    Even with the price increases in corn seen 2 years ago corn was still cheap in historical terms. In 2008 corn reached about $7.00/bu pricing, in 2008 dollars corn sold for just short of $16.00 in 1974. Assertions that corn prices were at unprecedented levels due to fuel ethanol in recent years, are simply false.

    http://www.inflationdata.com/inflation/images/charts/Corn/corn_inflation_chart.htm

    The Federal Government also saves billions of dollars in price support payments that they would otherwise have paid out due to low corn prices if fuel ethanol did not exist..

    I would much rather have a rational incentive program but this is what the Congress saddled us with and it gets the job done.

    I am far more concerned about our strategic vulnerability to oil cut off than I am these problems and fuel ethanol (and other bio fuels) provide a buffer it that were to happen again. At the current state of technology if there were a mid-east crisis that drastically reduced our oil imports bio fuels would be absolutely critical to preventing catastrophic damage to our economy. I have no illusions that bio fuels can totally replace oil but 12+ billion gallons of fuel ethanol is a whole lot better than zero, and the industry has enough expertise and well developed technology that in a national crisis it could be built out rapidly if necessary.

    Larry

  199. Kum Dollison says:

    Smokey,

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the subsidy go away for the 98% of corn ethanol that’s used in blends of E10, and below.

    I would like to see the blenders credit continue for the small amount of ethanol used in higher blends like E20, and E85. t least for a couple of more years.

    We really have to support the “cellulosic” industry for awhile. It’s going to be a very important industry, and it’s at a very vulnerable stage as regards financing, etc.

  200. Henry chance says:

    Kum Dollison (17:13:02) :

    I will guarantee you that the ethanol producers are making money at $1.54/gal.

    The producers that went broke went broke “playing commodities,” not producing ethanol.

    Your claim is not honest.
    By Gale Rose
    The Pratt Tribune
    Posted Mar 15, 2010 @ 04:39 PM
    Pratt, Kan. — The removal of an Indeck power boiler from the Gateway Ethanol Plant will move the last of the objections to the asset sale close to resolution. Once the objection is resolved the rest of the matters involving the ethanol plant should be easily resolved, said Ted Loomis, chairman of the Gateway Ethanol board of directors.
    “I think the bankruptcy court will handle any other items fairly quickly,” Loomis said.
    Indeck objected to the asset sale because they wanted a ruling on the validity of the lease of their boiler to the plant. A judge ruled it was a valid lease and Dougherty, the principal lender, rejected the lease so Indeck is removing the boiler.
    The plant purchased pair of Victoria Energy boilers on Jan. 22. Those boilers sit covered on the plant site ready for installation once the Indeck boiler is removed. The $110 million ethanol plant began operating and stopped. No “playing commodities” there.
    40 banks are involved with the plant.
    News on Panda,
    Although the ethanol refinery is in the late stages of construction, on December 31, Panda Ethanol was notified by Societe Generale, the administrative agent for the Hereford subsidiary’s lending syndicate, that one of the major syndicate banks had informed Societe Generale that it would not fund its share of further borrowing requests for the project
    Never finished 3 plants. No “playing Commodities” there. $200 million dollars for one plant means they really had no chance to make money.

  201. Henry chance says:

    “Ethanol is good for your community and country. American ethanol production creates tens of thousands of jobs, revitalizes rural communities, and reduces oil consumption by 600,000 barrels per day … and growing. ”

    http://www.icminc.com/ethanol/

    ICM is the largest engineering design firm in ethanol. Dave Vander Griend is fudgin a little because 600,000 bpd is around 10 billion gallons a year. His deception is that there are no fuel gallons expended in raising grain and brewing C2H6O

    Creates thousands of jobs. They laid off hundreds at a time. Many foreign banks stopped lending during construction.

    Ethanol has Poet, ADM and a new player Valero, Other than that, it is bad news.

  202. Henry chance says:

    Abengoa folks claim:
    The claim “Bioethanol is indirectly increasing GHG emissions” is just one of the many false statements being spread to the general public. We have decided to stand up and contest these falsities with supported evidence. We believe it is the right thing to do.

    Abengoa Bioenergy, a business unit of Abengoa, is Europe’s largest bioethanol producer and the only global producer with operations in the US and Brazil as well.”

    The claim they make is 100% lie. I give them a quible. It is not indirect. It is direct creation of greenhouse gases when ethanol burns
    The exhaust from a car running ethanol is CO2 and H2O vapor. Both are 100% greenhouse gases.
    Why do they lie? (they do around 200 million gallons a year in Europa, Brazil and the U.S. They have a higher cost of brewing refining per gallon than do some more efficient operators. )

    The greenie weenies goble this up. No indirect increase of GHG emissions. Watts up is a great site. Anyone reading this site knows combustion of ethanol creates GHG’s.
    10 billion subsidy. Ethanol plants are high in pollution and water contamination. I know the plant that sold toxic distillers grain and killed a large herd of cattle. Ooops. It wasn’t sterilized.

  203. Kum Dollison says:

    Harry,

    you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. $200 Million is an average price for a 100 Mgpy Ethanol refinery. The woods are full of them.

    There are 200 plants operating, Now. Everybody’s making money.

  204. Kum Dollison says:

    10 billion subsidy. (Way too high) Ethanol plants are high in pollution and water contamination. (Bull) I know the plant that sold toxic distillers grain and killed a large herd of cattle. Ooops. It wasn’t sterilized (Name it.)

    This is getting silly. I’m through.

  205. Don Shaw says:

    hotrod ( Larry L ) (19:11:13) :
    I appreciate your civil reply to some of my objections to ethanol. I am an engineer with a post graduate degree wiith almost 50 years experience in the energy sector including study design of cellulosic biofuel plants and CO2 capture facilities.
    Since I have studied ethanol thoroughly as well as biofuels, there is nothing that you or anyone else have said that changes the facts as I know them. You make a good point that the transition to 10 % is probably the most painful period for gasoline engines. I personally know many boat owners that have had ethanol induced, expensive repair problems during the transition including myself- fact including fuel turned to junk . Many have found towing insurance a must. One needs to keep in mind that the coastal marine environment is very hostile in the North east with high humidity and huge temperature swings. One cannot ignore the problems of winter storing a boat with 10 % E without peril, even assuming the painful transition is over. MTBE apparently did not cause the same problems but had it’s other issues that were ignored by the EPA even though oil executives accurately warned Congress.

    There are many other technical and economic concerns, but the real issue that embitters many of us is that the government has taken away our right to decide which fuel we use via the Ethanol mandate especialy in the harsh marine environment. This used to be a free country where we could mak our own decisions without government interference and live with them. Would you like it if the feds mandated that you purchase and eat 10% of your tomatoes from the state of New Jersey because we have a strong Lobby?

    True some problems arose because of deposits in tanks etc, but these were not a problem until ethanol was mandated. So blaming the oil companies does not wash!! No exceptions were permitted except for aviation (ever wonder why?)
    I can tell you that the mandate to use ethanol from farm states has soured many of us on farmers, ADM, Cargile, and their lobby; they constantly demand more and more ethanol consumption via bribes to Congress. The EPA is looking at 15% mandate ignoring all problems. Farmers that were previously darliings in our minds, now they are quickly becoming a scourge for us taxpayers that have to pay for the subsidies, without benefits, and survive all the problems including poorer gas mileage. Public opinion has turned against farmers since they take away our right to decide what fuel we use.

    Finally I read all the various claims about how great Ethanol is economically. I only believe the free market without government interference can settle the debate. Otherwise the claims have no credibility.

    I happen to have a fair amount of experience with celullosic ethanol and the fact of the matter is that it has not lived up to the promise use to get taxpayer dollars. There are no commercially operating cellulosic ethanol plants. Only a fraction of the ethanol mandate will be met and the outlook is bleak with more delays promised from plants that were once the darling of the industry. The EPA has lowered the targets and doubled up on failed technology. One plant cannot even make ethanol for a few more years and has switched to methanol production at a significantly reduced rate.

    Sorry about long post, Have a great day

  206. Henry chance says:

    Kum Dollison (19:34:39) :

    Harry,

    you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. $200 Million is an average price for a 100 Mgpy Ethanol refinery. The woods are full of them.

    There are 200 plants operating, Now. Everybody’s making money.

    “Every body is making money now?” I take it you are a CPA and reviewed the financials? Just speculation?

    If they are making money, why did a repo plant from Panda Energy go for 15 cents on the dollar? Why can’t some other plants in foreclosure sell at a discount? Looks like ICM is running some re possessed plants because they are broke and waiting for a buyer. It costs too much to mothball and re open later.

    If they are making money, why can’t they pay their bills?

    Last tough question. Are they making money after 10 billion in fed subsidy?

    Looks like bankruptcy hits the industry. Many plants under construction are halted and many closed waiting for buyers. ADM has deep pockets. They will come out OK.

    This is an industry which will see more bankruptcies. Smart bankers will not lend on cash flow “projections” but may make loans if enough farmers put up land for collateral.
    POET can survive because of size and opportunity to buy out insolvent small operators.

  207. kadaka says:

    *ahem*

    K-State researchers findings on E. coli
    Feeding cattle byproduct of ethanol production causes E. coli 0157 to spike

    MANHATTAN, KAN. — Ethanol plants and livestock producers have created a symbiotic relationship. Cattle producers feed their livestock distiller’s grains, a byproduct of the ethanol distilling process, giving ethanol producers have an added source of income.

    But recent research at Kansas State University has found that cattle fed distiller’s grain have an increased prevalence of E. coli 0157 in their hindgut. This particular type of E. coli is present in healthy cattle but poses a health risk to humans, who can acquire it through undercooked meat, raw dairy products and produce contaminated with cattle manure.

    “Distiller’s grain is a good animal feed. That’s why ethanol plants are often built next to feedlots,” said T.G. Nagaraja, a professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

    The growth in ethanol plants means more cattle are likely to be fed distiller’s grain, therefore harboring 0157 and potentially a source of health risks to humans, Nagaraja said. That’s why he and Jim Drouillard, K-State professor of animal sciences, have been collaborating on testing distiller’s grain-fed cattle for 0157. Nagaraja and Drouillard, who studied the carcass quality of cattle fed distiller’s grain, are joined by Megan Jacob, a K-State doctoral student in pathobiology. Through three rounds of testing, Nagaraja said the prevalence of 0157 was about twice as high in cattle fed distiller’s grain compared with those cattle that were on a diet lacking the ethanol byproduct.

    “This is a very interesting observation and is likely to have profound implications in food safety,” Nagaraja said.
    (…)

    @ Henry chance (19:21:37) :

    I found ths piece at Grist.org complaining about distiller’s grain, I’ll just note two of the problems mentioned. The E. Coli, which is mainly covered in this piece linked to by the other, and sulfur poisoning. Apparently sulfur can be added during ethanol processing, and the distillers grain can wind up with high levels leading to cattle poisoning and death.

    Your wording was the distillers grain was toxic, and wasn’t sterilized. The first part indicates a chemical issue, the second a biological one. I’m not doubting your statement as is, as the product can be sold wet thus stuff can grow in it yielding toxic levels of assorted substances, as with mold. If the product had been dried then I would assume it was effectively sterilized. I am wondering if perhaps two different things got mixed together into what you’re reporting.

    Note: The Grist.org pieces reference both The Coloradoan and The Des Moines Register. For both papers the links go to very similar “Story not found” pages with a Gannett publishing mark at the bottom, with “Archive” links where you can buy old articles. Ouch.

  208. Bill Tuttle says:

    Kum Dollison (10:43:49) :
    Actually, Bill, Canada imports 1 million bpd from, primarily, Algeria, I believe, and Mexico, a soon to be non-exporter, is nowhere near our top 3 exporters.
    And, of course, Nigeria has its issues, also.

    I wasn’t addressing of Canadian imports — I was addressing US imports.

    And, we are spending in the neighborhood of $200 Billion/yr in the Middle East. We’re not there for the date palms.

    If we were here for the oil, I’d be tripping over people with Texas accents…

  209. toyotawhizguy says:

    @Richard M (18:43:27) :

    Ethanol discussions always bring out lots of disinformation. Listen to John and the farmers, you’re getting it straight without the political spin.

    It really is feed corn and the feed is still produced.

    – – – – – –

    I certainly agree with you about the ethanol discussion bringing out disinformation , but not on the sources of that disinformation. Do you honestly believe that the corn farmers /producers are a disinterested source of unbiased information? After all, who is making a profit from the crop, and who would lose if the subsidies from Uncle Sugar were halted? If ethanol is so great for use as a fuel, why the need for the subsidies? You need to look at the big picture. The USA is no longer a net exporter of food for human consumption and livestock feed. Why would that be? This statement by the USDA only deals with corn, but wheat and other crops used for biofuels are affected similarly:
    “To meet the sector’s growing demand for corn, some U.S. corn is likely to be diverted from exports.” [Source:USDA]
    I however, take the USDA’s claim of low energy input costs for the manufacture of corn ethanol with a grain of salt. After all, blending of renewable fuels with gasoline is official USA policy, they don’t want to undermine that objective:
    “Third, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 specifies a new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that will ensure that gasoline marketed in the United States contains a specific minimum amount of renewable fuel. Between 2006 and 2012, the RFS is slated to rise from 4.0 to 7.5 billion gallons per year.” [Source:USDA]

    Then there is the factor of biofuels induced food shortages:

    “A recent study conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University (which receives funding from grocery manufacturers and livestock producers) reported that U.S. ethanol production could consume more than half of U.S. corn, wheat and coarse grains by 2012, driving up food prices and causing shortages. The study estimates that booming ethanol production has already raised U.S. food prices by $47 per person annually. In Mexico, protests have already erupted over the high price of corn tortillas, a staple food in the local diet.
    [Source:http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2007-06/america-headed-food-shortage

    And this:

    “Rogers: Food Shortage Coming as Farmers Struggle
    Monday, 18 Jan 2010 09:59 AM
    Article Font Size
    By: Dan Weil
    Legendary investor Jim Rogers remains bullish on commodities and says the world will soon face food shortages.
    “The fundamentals (for agriculture) have gotten better,” he says.
    “The inventories are now at the lowest they’ve been in decades, not in years.”
    And that trend is just intensifying, Rogers tells CNBC.
    “Things are getting worse. Many farmers can’t get loans to buy fertilizer now, even though we have big shortages developing.”
    And what will be the end result of this dynamic?
    “Sometime in the next few years we’re going to have very serious shortages of food everywhere in the world, and prices are going to go through the roof,” Rogers said.”
    [Source: http://moneynews.com/StreetTalk/jim-rogers-food-shortage/2010/01/18/id/346650%5D

    Here are some additional conclusions made by Pimentel in 2005, not included in the Cornell University press release of 2005 cited in my earlier post:

    ” * The approximately $1 billion a year in current federal and state subsidies (mainly to large corporations) for ethanol production are not the only costs to consumers, the Cornell scientist observes. Subsidized corn results in higher prices for meat, milk and eggs because about 70 percent of corn grain is fed to livestock and poultry in the United States. Increasing ethanol production would further inflate corn prices, Pimentel says, noting: “In addition to paying tax dollars for ethanol subsidies, consumers would be paying significantly higher food prices in the marketplace”
    * The average U.S. automobile, traveling 10,000 miles a year on pure ethanol (not a gasoline-ethanol mix) would need about 852 gallons of the corn-based fuel. This would take 11 acres to grow, based on net ethanol production. This is the same amount of cropland required to feed seven Americans.

    * If all the automobiles in the United States were fueled with 100 percent ethanol, a total of about 97 percent of U.S. land area would be needed to grow the corn feedstock. Corn would cover nearly the total land area of the United States.”

    The religion that “Ethanol is great” as a fuel appears to be a first-cousin to the religion of “Anthropogenic Global Warming.”

  210. Kum Dollison says:

    Poet didn’t buy any ethanol plants.

    E Coli didn’t turn into anything. All manure has E Coli.

    Pimental is nutz. You can grow that much ethanol on One acre.

  211. Henry chance says:

    Mariner (09:59:36) :

    the CO2 savings from corn ethanol are slight (about 20-40% reduction compared to gasoline). Note that this doesn’t mean corn ethanol is useless: the big saving is in oil consumed (20 barrels of oil are saved for every barrel invested in ethanol).
    Mariner claims:

    Mariner (09:59:36) :

    (Full disclosure: as you might expect, I’m a researcher in the world of biofuels, although not necessarily corn-ethanol specific.)

    Show us how 20 barrels of crude are save for every barrel invested in ethanol. Show numbers. I am a CPA and know you are lying. $64.68 to save
    to save NY crude $3,431.00 at this time.

    I apologize in advance for being blunt. If I told my banker this, he would never do business with me again.

    Kum Dollison (17:59:34) :

    Henry, current ethanol production is 12,572,400,000 – about 9% of our current gasoline usage

    So using mariners wild claims, that 12 million gallons can save us 240 million gallons of crude. I remember when Bill Patterson headed up the energy lending department at Penn Square Bank in OKC. (he syndicated loans with Continental Chicago and Seafirst) He got drunk at lunch and would loan to about anyone in the oil patch.
    Can’t fool me Mariner. Can’t fool my banker either.

    This is why there are so many bankruptcies surrounding Ethanol. 10 billion in subsidies and billions in copnstruction stopped.

    Yesterday Obama said he could see people save 3,000 percent in insurance premiums costs. Today I read a promise of 1 gallon saving 20 gallons in petrol.
    (Mumble to self, look up second law of thermodynamics) Conservation of energy.

  212. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Henry chance (21:30:23) :

    If they are making money, why can’t they pay their bills?

    The same reason industries all over the U.S. are scrambling for capital, you have heard of the recent economic crisis and its impact on operating capital loans to businesses?

    When financing tightened up across the board for every business operator in the country, some ethanol operations got caught in the crunch. They lost access to capital that was easy to get when they started the plants. They over extended themselves and could not weather the funds crunch just like 10’s of thousands of other businesses. In some cases the real problem was that their investors got burned so bad by the stock crash that they could not continue to invest in the operation even though it was a viable business opportunity. If you don’t have the money to pay bills you can’t invest in future growth.

    In some cases it was due to poor planning investors that did not do due diligence got into fuel ethanol as pure speculation when the stock market was booming, and when things tightened up and their portfolio’s collapsed they were sitting on an older fuel ethanol plant that needed expensive upgrades to compete effectively in a tight market against he new modern plants that are coming on line all the time. In some cases it was a smarter investment to sell the old plant and move the money to invest in a new modern technology plant.

    There are lots and lots of successful profitable business that have gone bankrupt in the last two years simply because they could not fine operations capital to get them over the crunch. Anyone who is aware of current financial conditions for business would know that off the top of their head and understand that bankruptcy of healthy businesses can be triggered by changes in the availability of financing that are totally beyond their control, even if they are doing every thing right.

    http://www.ethanolproducer.com/plant-list.jsp

    http://www.ethanolproducer.com/plantmap/

    Current fuel ethanol plant capacity is standing at 13318 Billion gallons a year. You will note that two of the plants are flagged as currently undergoing expansion.

    There is currently 1,047 million gallons a year of ethanol plant construction and expansion underway. In spite of plant shutdowns of marginal plants net production capacity is still growing, in spite of current financial conditions.

    Larry

  213. Kum Dollison says:

    I would think that a CPA would know the difference between 12.5 BILLION and 12.5 “Million.”

    Mariner is just reiterating the fact that you get somewhere between 15 and 20 gallons of ethanol for every gallon of petrol invested in the process.

  214. John Q. Galt says:

    AGW skeptics make such cozy bedfellows with the neo-watermelon anti-biofuels brigade.

    Corn ethanol does not cause the Amazonian rainforests to be cut down in order to grow soybeans. The corn protein by-product replaces the soybean meal which now does not need to be grown and crushed. Great savings are made growing 160 bpa corn instead of <45 bpa soybeans. Gluten feeds and distiller's grains replace both soybean and whole corn. Costs, be they dollars or emissions are attributed to the whole spectrum of products and services associated with corn milling.

    Corn is the agricultural gold standard. When you see someone criticising corn economics ask them to offer a better alternative. They won't be able to do it.

  215. John Q. Galt says:

    Henry chance (07:26:45) :

    Henry, the savings come from the amount of petroleum used in ethanol production rather than total fossil fuels used. Ethanol production uses very little petroleum. The (in)famous “uses more fuel than it produces” meme from Pimentel et all, the GGE Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent uses Magic Numbers, a technique that should be familiar to readers of this blog, to confound manure, solid waste, wood, coal, natural gas etc inputs with refined liquid fuels.

    Also ignored by the Cornell Cons is the fact that replacing corn-soybean feed with ethanol by-products (corn-soybean-ddgs) reduces the cost of providing feed. Most of the energy inputs for “corn ethanol” are actually accounted for in the feed value of the by-products. Adding a corn milling step to feed production increases the value of that feed. The process is better than transparent. None of the cost of growing corn should be attributed to the ethanol process and much of the energy inputs to the actual ethanol process should be credited to the feed value.

    Consider a transparent simplified combined cycle: ethanol and hot water.

    Fuel -> Hot Water
    Fuel -> Hot Ethanol Vapor -> Condensed Liquid Ethanol + Hot Water

  216. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Kum Dollison (17:13:02) :

    George E. Smith,

    “Silly” is telling someone who understands a business that you dont’ understand that he made a “Silly” statement. “””

    Kum, I am still looking for the post of mine in which I may have said you made a silly statement. If I did it was unintentional and I apologise.

    I’m also looking for my post in which I talked about the business of Ethanol ; or of any bio-fuel. I’m not much of a business person; so the last thing I would do is try and present myself as any sort of expert on any bio-fuel business; including ethanol. So If I did happen to drop any business “advice” on bio-fuels or ethanol; please disregard what I said.

    I’m really only interested in the science of these things, including the energy availability; I’ll let the better business minds run the business end of things.

  217. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Kum Dollison (17:13:02) :

    George E. Smith,

    “Silly” is telling someone who understands a business that you dont’ understand that he made a “Silly” statement.

    I will guarantee you that the ethanol producers are making money at $1.54/gal.

    The producers that went broke went broke “playing commodities,” not producing ethanol.

    George, you could run your ethanol refinery off the DDGS, and have some left over. That would satisfy your test. However, it would be financially senseless inasmuch as the DDGS are worth much more than nat gas. “””

    Well Kum, I have no idea what DDGS is(are) or how it(them) relate to energy.

    But I’ll take your word for it that a complete self sustaining ethanol factory can “run” off it.

    But you say DDGS are more “valuable” than natural gas. Usually in a competitive open market, that would mean it costs more. Heavy water D2O for example is more valuable than H2O.

    I thought the idea of free clean green renewable energy was to reduce the cost of obtaining ever more expensive(valuable) fossil fuel energy.

    You have me thoroughly confused. To whom is DDGS more valuable; the end user or the purveyor ?

  218. Henry chance says:

    Kum Dollison (09:35:25) :

    Mariner is just reiterating the fact that you get somewhere between 15 and 20 gallons of ethanol for every gallon of petrol invested in the process.

    You seem to have your ratios backwards. The ratio he claimed was 1:20. 1 gallon ethanol saves 20 gallons crude. He said One (1) gallon ethanol saves twenty (20) gallons crude.

    You are misquoting Mariner.
    Question
    are the ratios 12 billion to 240 billion the same as 12 million to 240 million?

    Bonus question for 500 dollars.

    Do you believe it is true when he (Mariner) said investing in One unit of ethanol saves 20 units of crude?

    Mariner (09:59:36) :

    the CO2 savings from corn ethanol are slight (about 20-40% reduction compared to gasoline). Note that this doesn’t mean corn ethanol is useless: the big saving is in oil consumed (((20 barrels of oil are saved for every barrel invested in ethanol)))).
    Mariner claims:

    Kum you misquoted Mariner by inserting the word “process” a;lso.

    The claim still isn’t true.
    P.O
    These ethanol advocates take too much alcohol per os.

    Looks like the banks learned the hard way regarding ethanol plant loans.

  219. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    George E. Smith (11:23:39) :

    Well Kum, I have no idea what DDGS is(are) or how it(them) relate to energy.

    But I’ll take your word for it that a complete self sustaining ethanol factory can “run” off it.

    But you say DDGS are more “valuable” than natural gas. Usually in a competitive open market, that would mean it costs more. Heavy water D2O for example is more valuable than H2O.

    DDSG is distillers dry grains and solubles. It is one of the co-products that is produced when ethanol is produced from corn. It contains all the nutrition that was originally contained in the corn plus added nutrients provided by the yeast that made the alcohol. The only part of the corn used for the ethanol production is the sugars and starches.

    This is one of the fallacies of the “using corn” argument. You are not destroying the corn it still produces high value animal feed (actually more nutritious than the original corn) in addition to the ethanol. It is not an either or solution.

    In some cases the DDSG is more valuable as a fuel than it is as a live stock feed. For example if the local market has all the animal feed it can consume, then the DDSG must be dried and shipped to another market or be used for some other purpose. It can be plowed back into the land the corn came from as a soil amendment, to return trace minerals and such to the land (ie fertilizer) or it can be burned directly as a fuel by the ethanol plant in a fluidized bed boiler.

    This way it can be put to its highest value use at any given moment/market conditions.

    To properly evaluate fuel ethanol you must include its co-products like corn oil, and DDSG as they all come out of the same process. To do other wise would be the equivalent to only counting the leather produced by cattle and ignoring the meat, blood and bone meal.

    Larry

  220. Sean Peake says:

    FYI, the approx yield from a barrel of crude (42 gal) is 19 gallons of gasoline. So is the discussion about crude or gasoline?

  221. kadaka says:

    Kum Dollison (06:21:37) :
    (…)
    E Coli didn’t turn into anything. All manure has E Coli.
    (…)

    And amazingly enough I don’t eat manure.

    From Wikipedia (hooray!):

    Certain strains of E. coli, such as O157:H7, O121 and O104:H21, produce potentially-lethal toxins. Food poisoning caused by E. coli is usually caused by eating unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat. O157:H7 is also notorious for causing serious and even life-threatening complications like hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). This particular strain is linked to the 2006 United States E. coli outbreak of fresh spinach.

    You feed cattle distillers grain, you get twice as much of the dangerous O157 E. Coli strain. And manure I would not want to use on my spinach garden, if I had one. With more O157 present, the chances of getting O157 mixed in with my beef sure look increased, thus the odd chance of me getting infected by O157 looks increased as well.

    Of course all beef should be thoroughly cooked before eating, yada yada. I must assume the “healthy eating” people consuming fresh organic produce fertilized with cow manure have some way to avoid getting infected, since it seems foolish to willingly assume such risks to health in pursuit of better health.

    But how is the general consumer benefited from assuming the greater risk? Would the general consumer even do so, if they knew that additional risk could be there?

  222. Henry chance says:

    John Q. Galt (10:41:03) :

    Henry chance (07:26:45) :

    Henry, the savings come from the amount of petroleum used in ethanol production rather than total fossil fuels used. Ethanol production uses very little petroleum. The (in)famous “uses more fuel than it produces” meme from Pimentel et all, the GGE Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent uses Magic Numbers, a technique that should be familiar to readers of this blog, to confound manure, solid waste, wood, coal, natural gas etc inputs with refined liquid fuels.

    Also ignored by the Cornell Cons is the fact that replacing corn-soybean feed with ethanol by-products (corn-soybean-ddgs) reduces the cost of providing feed. Most of the energy inputs for “corn ethanol” are actually accounted for in the feed value of the by-products. Adding a corn milling step to feed production increases the value of that feed. The process is better than transparent.

    Are you serious?

    None of the cost of growing corn should be attributed to the ethanol process and much of the energy inputs to the actual ethanol process should be credited to the feed value.

    You flunk at cost accounting. In fact, the distillers grain has handling and DRYing costs. In cost accounting all the direct and indirect costs are totalled and the fixed and variable costs plus cost of capital and net present values etc.
    I won’t even let people cheat and disregard the material, depreciation, labor costs of the castings from John Deere’s Waterloo Works refinery and its pollution. Idle land has no CO2 output from casting steel.
    Can’t cut corners with me and get by with it. Just ignoring certain CO2 output that is not convenient is disappointing.

    All means all. I enjoy this. I suspect many people borrowed 200 million to build a plant and really didn’t have crackpot cost analysts like Cargill, ADM and Bunge do and it haunts them when they miss targets and kinda have light shed on energy waste.

    Do you realize school buses exhaust CO2 and fall under the EPA pollution guidlines. It pollutes to haul kids to school.
    My kid travels to New York for track meets is carbon intensive. The NCAA championships took 12 team members and 13 coaches and staff. How much CO2 is emitted in 157 pound athlete jumping 6 ft? 7ft?
    What is my carbon footprint flying to the Mediteranean and yacht racing for one 4 hour race?

    It is very tempting for people to cut corners and act like CO2 and other emissions from input materials don’t exist.
    Can’t slip it past me.

  223. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Some modern fuel ethanol plants are multi-fuel plants and can use several different types of material for producing process energy. Some plants are actually net energy producers selling steam heat and excess methane or electricity to other users.

    In multi-fuel plants they can run the plant on natural gas from the local pipe, self generated methane from bio-gas digesters, burn directly crop waste from the corn producers, (ground corn cobs, spoiled grain, and crop trash from the field), and also excess DDSG when it is in surplus locally and it makes more economic sense to burn it for energy than to expend energy to dry it and ship it to another market.

    Wet DDSG can be fed directly to live stock locally but spoils quickly if stored so if it is in excess it either must be dried (energy expensive) and shipped out to other markets or burned wet in a properly designed fluidized bed reactor. Plants can also use municipal waste like trash for fuel in a properly designed multi-fuel system.

    Unfortunately many folks are making unreasonable assumptions that the only source of fuel to run these plants must be conventional fossil fuel or natural gas and heating oil.

    In plants that can use a wide spectrum of fuels they are essentially converting other low quality fuels (for transportation purposes), to a high quality liquid fuel that can be used as a direct displacement of fossil hydrocarbons. In effect they are converting energy inputs like coal generated electricity, wood chips, corn cobs, spoiled grain, corn trash (chopped stalks) etc. to fuel ethanol.

    Modern fuel ethanol plants are aggressively co-partnering with other industries to create symbiotic relationships, where both industries benefit.

    The classic example is co-locating a feed lot with a fuel ethanol plant, that uses manure from the cattle to produce methane in a bio-digested to fuel the ethanol plant, which creates high quality cattle feed (DDSG) which is shipped directly to the feed lot without drying and fed to the cattle.

    They are also actively recycling process water and process heat from the condensation from the distilling process back into the system to minimize net water consumption and recycle energy within the plant.

    Larry

  224. kadaka says:

    Today is St. Patrick’s Day!

    As is traditional, to go along with the Corned Grief we will need Cribbage!

  225. Kum Dollison says:

    George,

    When you process a bu (56 lbs) of corn you get approx. 3 gallons of ethanol, 17 lbs of CO2 (which is, sometimes, used in enhanced recover of oil) and about 17.5 lbs of DDGS. The DDGS are the protein, nutrients, etc that are left when the starch is removed.

    It is, actually, a better cattle feed than the corn. A pound of DDGS will replace about 1.3 lbs of corn, plus some soybean meal.

    A pound of distillers grains contains 8,400 btus. Approx 75,000 btus are required to process a bushel of corn into 3 gallons of ethanol.

    So, you could burn approx half of your distillers grains and power your process. However, you would be paying more per btu than if you burned nat gas, and sold the DDGS for livestock feed.

  226. Henry chance says:

    Sean Peake (11:45:43) :

    FYI, the approx yield from a barrel of crude (42 gal) is 19 gallons of gasoline. So is the discussion about crude

    Correct. ThaT IS THE AVERAGE. By changing processes,the refinery can increase and decrease that. They can increase % output of heating oil, light fuel oils etc. I can make a phone call and get the daily margin from a computor. The software calculates energy consumption, electricity and many other facts. Some cranked out more diesel for long stretches because it had better margins. Now refineries even have a couple of techs that run instrumentation and reports just for the EPA. All kinds of sensors and devices to tell exactly what is produced.
    Just a single 200,000+ barrel per day refinery generats as much revenue as the total ethanol, industry.

  227. Henry chance says:

    hotrod ( Larry L ) (11:38:49) :

    DDSG is distillers dry grains and solubles. It is one of the co-products that is produced when ethanol is produced from corn. It “contains all the nutrition “that was originally contained in the corn plus added nutrients provided by the yeast that made the alcohol. The only part of the corn used for the ethanol production is the sugars and starches.

    That is not true. That is like saying potatoe peels have as much nutrition as the whole potatoe before peeling. Any science student would learn that.
    Actually you admit sugars and starches are removed and earlier say no nutrition is removed. Sugars and starches are nutrients.
    I am sure there are some farmers that claim to fatten livestock on wheat straw and chaff. Maybe a couple scoops of bran thrown in.

    No, distillers grains do not contain all the nutrition. Brush up on the chemistry.It works up to 30 percent of the feed mix. Obviously we will have cattle that generate more burps with yeast in their diets. CO2 output sky rockets.
    If feeding WDGS, it should be no more than 17% of the diet. It is hard to handle wet, kinda like sticky molasses.

  228. Henry chance says:

    hotrod ( Larry L ) (12:01:47) :

    Some modern fuel ethanol plants are multi-fuel plants and can use several different types of material for producing process energy. Some plants are actually net energy producers selling steam heat and excess
    methane
    or electricity to other users.

    In multi-fuel plants they can run the plant on natural gas from the local pipe, self generated methane from bio-gas digesters, burn directly crop waste from the corn producers, (ground corn cobs, spoiled grain, and crop trash from the field), and also excess DDSG when it is in surplus locally and it makes more economic sense to burn it for energy than to expend energy to dry it and ship it to another market.

    Wet DDSG can be fed directly to live stock locally but spoils quickly if stored so if it is in excess it either must be dried (energy expensive) and shipped out to other markets or burned wet in a properly designed fluidized bed reactor. Plants can also use municipal waste like trash for fuel in a properly designed multi-fuel system.

    Henry sees this is a dirty and high polution process.
    Methane
    CO2
    Dirty smoke from burning stalks
    All that natural gas gives off CO2.

    These are bad farming practices. They destroy valuable cropland when they have the boldness to burn stalks and corn cobs instead of turning them under the soil for soil improvement.
    sure are not stewards of the land and carefull with regard to taking care of the soil.

    The ethanol industry is uneducated in prosperous farming methods and soil conservation. There is also a severe gap in chemistry understanding and science.
    Great thread Anthony.
    My favorite is Panda Energy. I guess all their plants are broke and never started production. They had this big scheme of using cow manoo. Obviously they didn’t get to the point of bringing it in and waiting for it to dry over a year or two and see if they could save on natural gas. Soil conservationists spread animal biomass in the field.

  229. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Actually you admit sugars and starches are removed and earlier say no nutrition is removed. Sugars and starches are nutrients.

    They are pure carbohydrate and have no nutritive value, ie protein, vitamines, trace minerals, vitamins etc.

    Live on a pure sugar diet and let me know if you suffer any deficiency diseases.
    Your a smart guy and know full well what I mean by that statement, and you are intentionally twisting it to make an absurd point.

    Cattle (ruminants) get their energy primarily by digesting cellulose, (grass, hay etc.) Cattle are fed corn to fatten them up and improve the flavor of the meat. Food energy from cellulose (calories) is a lot cheaper than calories from sugar and starch when you buy hay by the truckload. Corn feed sugar and starches are effectively irrelevant to cattle growth when you have other readily available sources of food energy in the mixture.

    http://agbiopubs.sdstate.edu/articles/ExEx2036.pdf


    DDG
    or DDGS can serve as the sole protein source for cattle.

    Distiller’s grains are also an effective addition to feedlot
    diets. Nebraska and Iowa research suggests that distiller’s
    grains (wet or dry) at up to 40% of the diet dry matter can
    replace corn for growing and finishing cattle.


    Besides the nutritional benefits of distiller’s grains in feedlot
    diets, the moisture contained in WDG helps to condition
    dry rations.

    In addition to protein, distiller’s grains contain highly
    digestible fiber and fat, resulting in a similar to slightly
    higher energy value than corn. By providing energy as
    highly digestible fiber, we can avoid negative associative
    effects (reduced forage intake and digestibility) associated
    with feeding starchy (high starch) feeds. Furthermore, the
    fiber contained in distiller’s grains may help prevent digestive
    disturbances in feedlot cattle.

    Here is a link to Purina’s web site that lists important components of their cattle feed.
    Notice it does not mention, sugars, starches or cellulose content only the limiting “nutrients” they add to the feed to increase growth on finish feeding cattle.

    http://cattle.purinamills.com/OurProducts/GrowFinishFeedlot/default.aspx

    (note NPN is non-protein nitrogen)

    No, distillers grains do not contain all the nutrition.

    You are misquoting me, I said it retained all the nutrition in the original corn, plus the nutrition added by the brewing process (yeast), minus only the fermentable sugars and starches. I never said it would supply 100% of the nutrition. Any reasonable person reading my statement understands that.

    You clearly understand the complexity of blending of animal feeds (some of which are discussed in that PDF and intentionally trying to obfuscate my obvious meaning, by taking statements out of context and trying to shift the discussion to things I did not say.

    Larry

  230. Kum Dollison says:

    The ethanol industry, today, is an 820,000 barrel/day industry. I don’t think your 200,000 barrel/day oil refinery tops that.

  231. kadaka says:

    Kum Dollison (13:57:18) :

    The ethanol industry, today, is an 820,000 barrel/day industry. I don’t think your 200,000 barrel/day oil refinery tops that.

    820,000 b/day * 365 days/yr * 42gal/b = 12,570,600,000 gal/yr.
    2009 US ethanol production, 10,750,000,000 gal/yr.

    By the Renewable Fuels Association numbers, for 2009 that’s about only 701,240 b/day. Where did your big increase come from?

  232. acementhead says:

    mathman (12:53:26) :

    “But as the program is currently implemented, it is a SHAM.”

    mathman it’s a transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Mid-west landowners (“farmers”).

    “Major Major’s father was an outspoken champion of economy in government, provided it did not interfere with the sacred duty of government to pay farmers as much as they could get for all the alfalfa they produced that no one else wanted or for not producing any alfalfa at all. He was a proud and independent man who was opposed to unemployment insurance and never hesitated to whine, whimper, wheedle, and extort for as much as he could get from whomever he could. He was a devout man whose pulpit was everywhere.

    “The Lord gave us good farmers two strong hands so that we could take as much as we could grab with both of them,” he preached with ardor on the courthouse steps or in front of the A & P as he waited for the bad-tempered gum-chewing young cashier he was after to step outside and give him a nasty look. “If the Lord didn’t want us to take as much as we could get,” he preached, “He wouldn’t have given us two good hands to take it with.” And the others murmured, “Amen.”

    Joseph Heller

  233. acementhead says:

    Kum Dollison (13:57:18) :

    “The ethanol industry, today, is an 820,000 barrel/day industry. I don’t think your 200,000 barrel/day oil refinery tops that.”

    The ethanol industry, today, exists solely due to the crimes of politicians. No politicians no ethanol(for transport fuel) industry.

  234. Henry chance says:

    hotrod ( Larry L ) (13:57:18) :

    Henry:
    Actually you admit sugars and starches are removed and earlier say no nutrition is removed. Sugars and starches are nutrients.

    Hotrod:
    They are pure carbohydrate and have no nutritive value, ie protein, vitamines, trace minerals, vitamins etc.

    Ruminants get their energy primarily from carbohydrates (sugar, … cannot be
    digested by non-ruminants) into volatile fatty acids (VFAs), Starches => enzyme amylase=> sugar => maltose. Calves are nurished on the sugar or Lactose. Herbivores can absorb glucose, fructose, sucrose and with the use of the liver create glycogen store it in adipose tissue and that is what we call pork bellys.

    Purina markets supplements. One of the issues is getting the proteins and minerals. The other issue is a concern about too much protein which can create excessive buildup of urea and trigger renal shutdown.

    Microorganisms in the rumen combine the ammonia with products of carbohydrate metabolism to form amino acids and hence, proteins.
    We are talking about ethanol. It seems you don’t know medicine if you have to impute it from a Purina label.

    We had a lot of snow this year and cattle don’t convert carbs to protein but burn them to keep warm. Humans turn unmetabolised carbs into fat. I am told Kobe beef has beer and mash in their diet. Again, livestock create meat and amino acids more than humans do.

  235. Rod E. says:

    George Smith:

    You didn’t make the “silly” accusation, nor did you discuss the profit/loss situation. I did, at about 12:45, but Kum D. thought it was you, I guess.

    I basically told her that her assumption that just because ethanol was being sold at 1.54 meant there was a profit at that price was “silly.” People sell products below cost in many situations, especially if they have sunk costs that can’t be recovered, e.g., many of the existing ethanol plants.

    She “guaranteed” me that they were making money, though if that were universally true the stock prices of ethanol companies certainly don’t reflect it.

    My main point in all this is that as long as the subsidy exists, and is fairly significant, it’s very difficult to tell whether the outputs exceed the inputs in the ethanol industry. The nice thing about the price mechanism (absent government interference via subsidies/tax credits) is that all the true costs and true revenues get factored in.

    Also, when the government unwisely mandates a huge increase in ethanol consumption, the price mechanism is handy for observing the extraneous effects caused by such a mandate, e.g., the sharp rise in corn prices that made ethanol production uneconomic for at least a time.

    This has been an interesting discussion. One poster insists that DDGS have more nutrition than the corn itself, implying that the bushel of corn has actually been increased, since no further explanation was forthcoming.

    Then in a later post we learn that while a pound of DDGS does indeed have more energy than a pound of corn, there’s only 17.5 pounds of DDGS left of that original 56 pounds of corn. At a 1.3 improvement ratio, that gives the DDGS the value of 17.5×1.3=22.75 pounds of corn, or just over 40% of the original bushel of corn.

    Again though, the price mechanism sorts through all this just wonderfully. If people make money making ethanol, they’ll keep doing it. If the subsidy is dropped eventually and they still keep making ethanol in the same or greater volume, then there is a true profit in the enterprise, regardless of all these arguments. My bet is that the industry would collapse, but I doubt we’ll find out anytime soon.

  236. John Q. Galt says:

    Henry chance (11:29:44) :

    These ethanol advocates take too much alcohol per os.

    Ding. And it’s on. No, wait, it isn’t. Henry boy is just a CPA internet troll who doesn’t know agronomics, food science or even basic business theory.

    Rod E. (20:05:57) :

    Rod, you mention subsidies like most critics do. Have you ever compared the fuel tax ethanol users pay with the so-called subsidy? It’s volumetric rather than btu-based. Ethanol has a lower btu content, right? Ethanol users pay 50% more fuel taxes. But who collects the so-called subsidy? Do the oil companies pass that along? Small-scale ethanol producers also pay an effective tax with the BATF bonding cost which kicks in at 5000 gallons neat EtOH. Integrated distillers pay $20 gallon (!!!) on potable alcohol. All the other subsidies are income tax breaks that are only applied to taxable income ie profits.

    For me the most insulting is the volumetric tax. Not just the spread between ethanol and gasoline but between ethanol and diesel. Ethanol users get screwd first with the tax then we get screwed with the lable welfare queen from the commentariat internet trolls.

    DDGS does indeed have more feed value than the whole corn it comes from. Feed cattle 1 lb. DDGS instead of 3 lbs whole corn and the same (or more, but let me be conservative) amount of meat is produced, plus we get the ethanol. Hence the language “wasting starch.” Corn protein is a better “Zone Diet” block (most people should get the reference) than soybean meal due to it’s high rumen by-pass percentage. Google and Wikipedia confuse lay people with concepts like complete protein, which has little bearing on ruminant nutrition. Soybeans have more lysine yet little survives the rumen. Soybean meal is glorified fertilizer for the rumen microflora. Urea and ammonia are cheaper. Better to save the soybean meal (and non-fermented by-product starch) for pigs and chickens. Corn starch isn’t useless and is much better relative to other starch sources at 30% by-pass starch, but ruminants evolved to eat cellulose. Corn is fed because it is the agricultural gold standard – literal gold coins – of feedstuff commodities. The bottleneck is in the division of labor economy. The animal is another bottleneck but takes a back seat to the limitations of producing, storing, moving feedstuff. The ethanol process enables a closer approximation of what is best for the animal. 30% of even feedlot finisher’s diet is effective fiber – hay, straw and silage – which is fed not just for it’s cheap (and typically locally sourced) feed value but for it’s effect on animal health due to mechanical properties (cud chewing, salivation and rumen buffering). Less starch means more of this fiber is digested, with less acid, more neutral rumen results in more cellulitic activity.

  237. Tim Clark says:

    The study, conducted by Thomas W. Hertel of Purdue University and five co-authors, focuses on how mandated increases in production of the biofuel in the United States will trigger land-use changes domestically and elsewhere. In response to the increased demand for maize, farmers convert additional land to crops, and this conversion can boost carbon dioxide emissions.

    This is the main tenet of their hypothesis, and it is severely flawed. Changing the specific crop grown on arable land does not cause significant land use changes resulting in increased CO2.

    Converting pasture or forest to intensive cropping does.

    However, corn takes significantly more water and fertilizers than most other field crops, so there is very little land worldwide to convert to the profitable production of corn. In fact, the amount of farmland in the USA is decreasing, as it is in most developed countries. Perhaps the deforestation of the Amazon basin is what they are referring to. But recent data indicates that very, very little of that land is used for intensive crop production (mostly pasture) or is even suitable for corn production.

    Thomas W. Hertel (hertel@purdue.edu) and Alla A. Golub are with
    the Center for Global Trade Analysis in the Department of Agricultural
    Economics at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Andrew D.
    Jones, Michael O’Hare, Richard J. Plevin, and Daniel M. Kammen are
    all with the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California,
    Berkeley. O’Hare and Kammen are also with the Goldman School of
    Public Policy.

    Oh, I see. Another case of tunnel-vision publication by people without a broad knowledge of agriculture. Number crunchers only. If this publication was anti-CAGW or anti- “we’re ruining the planet” liberal garbage, the alarmists would be crying, “But they’re not agronomists!”

  238. Henry chance says:

    John Q. Galt (22:57:23) :

    Please borrow a book and learn how animal feed turns into protein.

    Then borrow a business book and explain how the billions of subsidies are left out when calculating the total production cost for the end consumer of ethanol.

    Some of us work and pay taxes. You may be blind and not realize that if we divide the total outlay in the form of grants, per gallon sibsidies by the number of cars buirning ethanol, We are paying more than gasolene.

    Can’t fool us John
    51 cents a gallon subsidy tells us the fuel is very wastefull in terms of value.

    If gasoline was low in performance, I am sure a rational person would be sympathetic and suggest the gubment subsidize it for 51 cents a gallon.

    Looks like the ethanol is drunk on gubment handouts.

    Good business plans succeed without mandates, intervention, handouts and kickbacks.

  239. Henry chance says:

    Ethhanol producers and gubmernt grants.

    How to fake making a profit.

    US: Government spending millions on biofuel plants
    Thursday, October 16, 2008
    Some of the proposed biofuel projects receiving grants from the Department of Energy:

    _ Abengoa Bioenergy Corp. of Chesterfield, Mo., up to $76 million.

    The plant in Hugoton, Kan., would produce 13 million to 15 million gallons of ethanol annually and enough energy to power the facility. It would use 700 tons per day of corn stover, wheat straw, milo stubble, switchgrass and other feedstocks.

    _ Poet LLC of Sioux Falls, S.D., up to $80 million.

    After expansion, the Emmetsburg, Iowa, plant would produce 125 million gallons of ethanol per year, of which roughly 25 percent would be cellulosic ethanol. The plant expects to use 842 tons per day of corn fiber, cobs and stalks.

    _ Range Fuels of Broomfield, Colo., up to $76 million.

    The proposed plant in Soperton, Ga., would produce about 40 million gallons of ethanol per year and 9 million gallons per year of methanol, using 1,200 tons per day of wood residues and wood based energy crops.

    _ BlueFire Ethanol Inc. of Irvine, Calif., up to $40 million.

    The proposed plant would be in Lancaster, Calif., on an existing landfill and produce about 19 million gallons of ethanol a year. The plant would use 700 tons per day of sorted green waste and wood waste from landfills.

    _ Stora Enso North America, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., up to $30 million.

    The proposed plant in Wisconsin Rapids would convert wood wastes to diesel fuel.

    _ ICM Incorporated of Colwich, Kan., up to $30 million.

    The proposed plant in St. Joseph, Mo., would use materials including corn fiber, corn stover, switchgrass and sorghum.

    © 2008 The Associated Press.

    Grants. Apparently banks won’t loan them money. Apparently the MBA’s say the return on investment is not there.

    George Bush is a smart oil man and knew they were desparate and it would be popular to let the greenie weenies have a feel good renewable fuels industry so the oil business could sell them more petrol and lubricants. (I understand Sarah Palin is sponsored by Mystic. My favorite for the grease gun. It is now owned by

    Petróleos de Venezuela S.A.”CITGO)

    Good business plans do no ask for crutches.

    KUM is bragging how much money is made by ethanol production. I am sure CHINA building free factories and free shipping to America helps keep their factory costs down also.

    God Bless America. Washington stop sending hundreds of millions of ble$$ing$s to the Ethanol industry

    America home of the brave and the free loaders.

  240. Rod E. says:

    John Galt wrote: ” DDGS does indeed have more feed value than the whole corn it comes from. Feed cattle 1 lb. DDGS instead of 3 lbs whole corn and the same (or more, but let me be conservative) amount of meat is produced, plus we get the ethanol. ” (Followed by a long discussion on taxes adversely impacting ethanol producers)

    Amongst you, you cannot even seem to agree on the conversion value of DDGS to corn. You now say 3:1 whereas the previous poster said 1.3:1. I don’t care. Get that? I really don’t care.

    Do you understand why I don’t care? Probably not, so I’ll tell you. If even “experts” in the industry argue over points like this, how am I to know? Plus, there are a million (billion?) other enterprises where similar arguments are always ongoing. It’s nonsense to expect the general public to be abreast of all this. Yet you lecture me as though I should care.

    But again, my main point: As long as the government subsidizes ethanol (and a tax break to blenders IS a subsidy that finds its way all the way down through the chain of producers) then the casual observer (voters generally, and politicians in particular) can NEVER know whether the industry is able to stand on its own, i.e., make a profit. (“Never” is too strong, I realize–some ideas are too stupid to make it even with a subsidy.)

    And yes, unfair taxation has its effects also. I’ll concede that obvious point. I’ll also admit that I have no idea how ethanol is taxed versus oil products. That’s why you hire lobbyists–to keep from getting screwed by politicians.

    Incidentally, in addition to the per-gallon subsidy, Henry mentioned the many grants going into building ethanol plants. This is just another form of subsidy.

    Summing up, I have no idea whether the ethanol industry will stand on its own if the grants and subsidies are removed. I DO know that if Congress keeps mandating massive usage in gasoline mixtures, the price will eventually rise enough so that those in the ethanol business get filthy rich. Of course, along the way we might be severely damaging the economy, causing rising food prices and putting land to absurd uses, but Congress is generally incapable of seeing things like that even after the fact, and is completely incapable of assuming the blame for their actions.

    Or everything will be just fine and Congress will have been all-knowing, all-seeing and will have mandated exactly what is best for all of us, and will have spent all that money on grants and tax breaks in the most optimal manner possible. Right?

    I’ll believe that ethanol production from corn makes sense when entrepreneurs can go it alone without the help of the taxpaying public, and not before then. Right now, if the price of some ethanol companies is any indication, that time has not arrived. By the way, what is the stock symbol for the best-performing ethanol producer in the country today?

  241. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Henry chance (08:05:42) :
    Grants. Apparently banks won’t loan them money. Apparently the MBA’s say the return on investment is not there.

    Good business plans do no ask for crutches.

    So you are saying that Federal efforts to enhance national productivity are bad ideas? The Panama Canal, transcontinental rail roads, the interstate highway system, were bad investments for the U.S. consumer ?

    How about the depleation allowance regulations that give special treatment to a whole host or industries?

    Depletion allowance – A tax deduction authorized by federal law for the exhaustion of oil and gas wells, mines, timber, mineral deposits or reserves, and other natural deposits.

    That also tells us that big oil has bad business plans or they would not have fought for the oil depletion allowance incentives that were instituted in 1913 and then upgraded in 1926, and remained in place until the presidency of Jimmy Carter. I guess we should ignore this special oil incentive that only lasted about 60 years.

    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKoildepletion.htm

    As Robert Bryce pointed out in his book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate: “Numerous studies showed that the oilmen were getting a tax break that was unprecedented in American business. While other businessmen had to pay taxes on their income regardless of what they sold, the oilmen got special treatment.”

    Bryce gives an example in his book how the oil depreciation allowance works. “An oilman drills a well that costs $100,000. He finds a reservoir containing $10,000,000 worth of oil. The well produces $1 million worth of oil per year for ten years. In the very first year, thanks to the depletion allowance, the oilman could deduct 27.5 per cent, or $275,000, of that $1 million in income from his taxable income. Thus, in just one year, he’s deducted nearly three times his initial investment. But the depletion allowance continues to pay off. For each of the next nine years, he gets to continue taking the $275,000 depletion deduction. By the end of the tenth year, the oilman has deducted $2.75 million from his taxable income, even though his initial investment was only $100,000.”

    How about other incentives the oil industry receives — are they also indications of bad business plans by the oil companies?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/02/business/02royalties.html

    By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
    Published: November 2, 2007

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 — A federal judge in Louisiana handed the oil industry a major legal victory this week, saying the government had no authority to suspend billions of dollars’ worth of drilling incentives when energy prices were high.

    If upheld, the ruling could free companies from paying the government up to $60 billion in royalties for oil and gas produced in publicly owned waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Oil companies won a similar suit in 2003 involving the same law, a decision that has already allowed oil companies to escape several billion dollars in royalties.


    Royalties on oil and gas have become one of the government’s bigger sources of revenue after income and payroll taxes. Last year, such royalties totaled more than $10 billion, and high oil prices are likely to drive those numbers to a new peak this year.

    The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, estimated last year that an industry victory in the case could cost the government $60 billion over the next 20 years. But with oil prices now approaching $100 a barrel, and companies investing billions to develop new gulf fields, the losses to taxpayers could be considerably higher.

    At issue in the court battle is a 1995 law aimed at increasing oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. Under that law, the Interior Department allows companies that drill in deep water to avoid paying a standard royalty on oil and gas from publicly owned waters — usually 12 percent to 16 percent of sales.

    But the government has also insisted that companies are not entitled to the incentive, known as royalty relief, if the market price of oil climbs above about $34 a barrel.

    Last year, when oil prices were hovering around $70 a barrel, Kerr-McGee sued the Interior Department, arguing that the law allowed companies to pump royalty-free oil and gas regardless of how high prices might climb.

    Or incentives for oil to drill?

    http://www.nytimes.com/1981/12/01/business/offshore-oil-incentives-set.html

    Offshore Oil Incentives Set
    UPI
    Published: December 1, 1981

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 30

    The Government will discount its standard 16.7 percent production royalty for companies willing to bid cash bonuses to win certain oil and gas leases off the mid-Atlantic coast, the Interior Department said today.

    The competitive offshore petroleum leasing sale, scheduled for New York City on Dec. 8, will cover 253 tracts totaling 1,440,376 acres.

    It is the third sale involving waters off the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

    As an incentive for exploration in the deepest and least accessible waters, the Government will require only the minimum production royalty of 12.5 percent on some tracts, an Interior Department spokesman said. He added that leases would be offered for 10 years on the more difficult tracts.

    The Government normally grants offshore leases for only five years and demands a 16.7 percent royalty on any future oil or gas production. The spokesman called the lower public royalty and longer lease term ”a very unusual action.”

    http://www.rfeoilgas.com/domestic-oil-and-natural-gas-tax-incentives.htm

    With the goal of encouraging more privately funded, domestic production of oil and natural gas, the United States Congress allows for tax incentives which benefit the participants of oil and natural gas drilling ventures. In effort to reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign sources of energy and to establish oil and gas as one of the most advantageous investments from a tax standpoint, Congress has incorporated several economic advantages and benefits for domestic investments into the Tax Code. Such tax advantages affect companies such as Chevron and Western Pipeline Corporation as well as private investors.

    One substantial tax incentive for oil and gas drilling in the United States is known as the Intangible Drilling Cost Tax Deduction. The Intangible Drilling Cost Tax Deduction (IDC) allows for the intangible expenses associated with drilling to be one hundred percent deductible in the first year of operation. Such intangible expenditures of drilling include the wages of laborers, necessary chemicals, grease and mud, to name a few. These types of intangible expenses make up a majority of the expenses associated with privately funded drilling, making this a valuable tax incentive for investors. For instance, for a one million dollar investment, assuming that seventy five percent of the expenditures are intangible drilling costs, $750,000 would be deductible in the first year.

    Affecting privately funded domestic oil and gas investments, a deduction has also been established by Congress for tangible drilling costs, called the Tangible Drilling Cost Tax Deduction (TDC). This deduction allows for a one hundred percent tax deduction for the costs of equipment. In the example above, where $750,000 is deducted for intangible drilling cost, the remaining cost of $250,000 could be deducted over the next five to seven years as depreciation. Additionally, the cost of leases and lease operating costs, legal expenditures, sales costs and administrative accounting are one hundred percent deductible by cost depletion.

    The 1992 Tax Act gives additional tax benefits for domestic natural gas and oil drilling by exempting Intangible Drilling Cost as a Tax Preference Item. Tax Preference Items are incorporated into the Tax Code and aim to either decrease or eradicate income taxation altogether. Before the 1992 Tax Act, contributors to oil and gas drilling ventures were accountable for the standard Alternative Minimum Tax in the amount that such tax surpassed their regular taxes.

    The tax advantages described in are not intended to be loop holes in the Tax Code, but rather to provide incentives for domestic oil and gas production.

    Over the last 50 years or so, the Federal Government has paid out more than $700 billion in federal energy incentives been the oil and natural gas industries. Together they got about 60 percent of these federal incentives between 1950 and 2006, with 46 percent of the roughly $725 billion in federal support going to the oil sector. The oil industry has benefited from approximately $335 billion in combined incentives, with natural gas getting about $100 billion.

    Oil has received billions of dollars in incentives, subsidies, and special accounting considerations over the last 100 years. Right now the total in special incentives and tax breaks to the oil industry is about $4/year from intangible drilling costs, existing domestic manufacturing income deductions, and mineral rights owners depleation allowance deductions. This is not including indirect subsidies such as defending off shore oil availability etc.

    That must mean they by your standards they have awful business plans. After all they are really struggling as they are only some of the most profitable businesses in the world.

    Larry

  242. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Correction —

    Right now the total in special incentives and tax breaks to the oil industry is about $4/year from

    should read

    Right now the total in special incentives and tax breaks to the oil industry is about $4billion/year from

    Larry

  243. Henry chance says:

    By the way, what is the stock symbol for the best-performing ethanol producer in the country today?
    Rod E. (09:47:35)

    VLO

    Valero refines 2 million barrels of crude per day. The ethonol industry does a little over 700 thousand bpd.

    Verasun is belly up.

    VLO has bought seven of Verasun’s facilities, for a price of $477 million:

    The purchase gives Valero ethanol plants capable of producing a total of 780 million gallons of biofuel per year. The acquisition will satisfy about one-third of Valero’s EPA biofuel requirements.

  244. Rod E. says:

    Thanks Henry,

    I wonder what that $477 million price would have been absent “Valaro’s EPA biofuel requirements”?

    I also wonder what the original book value of the 7 plants was. I’m guessing it was well north of $477 million, with the taxpaying public funding at least a portion of it.

    And Larry,

    It sounds like you don’t favor oil company “subsidies”. Guess what? I don’t either. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  245. Rod E. says:

    Larry wrote: “That must mean they by your standards they have awful business plans. After all they are really struggling as they are only some of the most profitable businesses in the world.”

    I think oil companies would have done just fine without government subsidies over the years. The fact that they got them means that they had just as much political muscle at one time as the ethanol industry complex does today.

    I’m not so sure that the ethanol industry would ever survive without its subsidies, however. The subsidies could be obscuring a net loss situation overall, with the entire “profit” in the industry (assuming there is one somewhere) coming on behalf of the taxpayers.

  246. Don Shaw says:

    Hotrod,
    You really know how to find sources suchas the NYT to distort the facts on oil subsidies.
    During the Clinton Adminstration when the price of oil was low and many drillers were going out of business, The Clinton Administration sold leases for offshore drilling at reduced royalities to give incentives for exploration of oil. That was a contract that the courts have found legal. It was probably a good deal for the country since it reduced the amount of imported oil by encouraging production in costly regions.

    The Democrats have wanted to change the terms of the contract retroactively and illeagly according to the courts. Of course the socialist NYT do not like the decision. That was not a subsidy but a lower royality rate to incentivize drilling in deep water. The contract did not include a clause to change the royality if the price of crude went up and the courts have held up the agreement. Pelosi wants to illegaly break the contract and is threatening companies who do not voluntarily increase royalities.
    The companies still pay royalities but only according to the contract agreement.
    This is nothing like the direct subsidies that you ethanol advocates garnish from the taxpayers while forcing us to use your products if we buy gasoline.
    The oil companies pay huge taxes and royalities unlike the ethanol crowd. You might want to check how much they contribute to the treasury and compare with that paid by the ethanol crowd. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

    Nobody forces the public to buy from the oil companies like the government forces me to buy Ethanol and I resent that because it causes problems with my equipment and sucks up my taxes.
    This is America and the Government should not force me to buy ethanol just because I want to run my car or boat.
    As I said before anytime the government forces me or others to buy a product without good reason there is a restment, I strongly dislike the lobbies that force this down my throat. Ethanol producers and the farmers are quickly loosing favor with the public as they realize its many problems. What would you think if I forced you to buy tomatoes from New Jersey

  247. Phil says:

    “John Q. Galt (22:57:23)”
    “DDGS does indeed have more feed value than the whole corn it comes from. Feed cattle 1 lb. DDGS instead of 3 lbs whole corn and the same (or more, but let me be conservative) amount of meat is produced, plus we get the ethanol. Hence the language “wasting starch.” Corn protein is a better “Zone Diet” block (most people should get the reference) than soybean meal due to it’s high rumen by-pass percentage. Google and Wikipedia confuse lay people with concepts like complete protein, which has little bearing on ruminant nutrition. Soybeans have more lysine yet little survives the rumen. Soybean meal is glorified fertilizer for the rumen microflora. Urea and ammonia are cheaper. Better to save the soybean meal (and non-fermented by-product starch) for pigs and chickens. Corn starch isn’t useless and is much better relative to other starch sources at 30% by-pass starch, but ruminants evolved to eat cellulose. Corn is fed because it is the agricultural gold standard – literal gold coins – of feedstuff commodities. The bottleneck is in the division of labor economy. The animal is another bottleneck but takes a back seat to the limitations of producing, storing, moving feedstuff. The ethanol process enables a closer approximation of what is best for the animal. 30% of even feedlot finisher’s diet is effective fiber – hay, straw and silage – which is fed not just for it’s cheap (and typically locally sourced) feed value but for it’s effect on animal health due to mechanical properties (cud chewing, salivation and rumen buffering). Less starch means more of this fiber is digested, with less acid, more neutral rumen results in more cellulitic activity.”

    Well said John- I balanced dairy rations for a period of time and managed a sizable feed depatment. We imported trucked in distillers grains from another state prior to local ethanol production being around our area- why? We did this because for our dairymen we could make the ration less costly since the distillers replaced a minumim of 1/3 of the soybean meal, some of the corn, and especially some of the high cost high by-pass proteins such as roasted beans, blood meal, meat and bone, or even corn gluten meal (another ethanol by-product). Too much corn in the ruminant diet will create an acidosis situation which is a severe set-back to the rumen microflora. In a high producing dairy cow one must get some of the energy and quite a bit of the protein past the rumen and into the last stomach and small intestine to be effective– distillers grain is a very useful tool to indeed pass thru the rumen w/o killing off the microflora. The rumen was indeed built to digest cellulose- not things like corn, In fact the rumen bugs can very effectively utilize feed grade urea and haylage to support growth, baseline milk production, maintenance of body weight, etc– but to really pour out the milk the rest of the work has to occur further back in the GI tract. These tools are much of why milk production is no longer down around 12,000 lbs per cow – a well fed cow herd with good management and genetics now is expected to be 24,000-30,000 lbs per cow.

  248. Phil says:

    btw- why some of you are so confused with how much corn or beanmeal is replaced in a diet is because every ration is different. The cow can be on a haylage diet or corn silage diet- this alone shifts the corn/soy replacement factor. Another reason is that in a beef cow the distillers can be used in a higher ratio of corn replacement. Does not matter much- John was shooting straight- and farming is more complex than you can get out of a book or off the internet folks.

    I was a Purdue Grad- and I fully respect the ag school folks but have little use for studies done by the ag economics department- but fully respect the economics dept outside of the school of ag. Just my 2 cents.

  249. Henry chance says:

    Phil (18:09:38) :

    I was a Purdue Grad- and I fully respect the ag school folks but have little use for studies done by the ag economics department- but fully respect the economics dept outside of the school of ag. Just my 2 cents.

    Many curriculums are now migrating toward the use of economists to do social engineering like Monsanto does with grains. I published some research in The Economist in the 70’s and now find it is a left wing talking piece. Most Washington economists are tools to back an agenda.
    I am pleased to see several post and know the animal science. A few know the chemistry and engineering but several make up for lack of technical education with emotional zeal for ethanol.
    Fortunately we don’t have the stuff in avgas. I know some states want to demand it but i suspect the aircraft folks have the final word. If there is engine failure, they are on their own.
    I wouldn’t fly in a plane that had ever used ethanol. These little moon shine operators don’t put out clean enough product.
    I can run bio diesel in my boat but have an extra investment of a grand in extra Racor filtration system. I also have the right treatments to prevent algae growth in the fuel.

  250. Don Shaw says:

    Hotrod,
    For information on the taxes paid by just one oil Company

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/opinion/2009/02/11/exxon-big-oil-profits-evil-only-until-you-weigh-their-tax-bills.html

    “According to the company’s income statement, the amount of taxes it paid in 2008 was 2.5 times as much as its net profit. The $45.2 billion profit figure makes a snappy headline, but the $116.2 billion in taxes that it paid is relegated to a footnote—if that. Exxon’s tax bill breaks down like this: income taxes, $36.5 billion; sales-based taxes, $34.5 billion; “all other” taxes, $45.2 billion. Although the company doesn’t mention royalty payments in its income statement, those payments are likely contained within the sales and “all other” categories.

    In 2008, Exxon’s tax bill averaged about $318 million per day.”

    Where is the subsidy and the tax breaks?

    Any one have the numbers on the taxes aid by the Ethanol industry?

  251. Phil says:

    Henry- you’ll need that Racor Filtration no matter what- I also spent about 26 years in the fossil fuel business. As diesel sulfur contents dropped the microbial infections went from near 0 to quite common here in WI. I have seen diesel fuel black like used motor oil in the very worst cases. Anaerobic fungus and certain bacteria will take off and multiply in diesel fuel when the fuel is warm enough and condensation or other free water is present. And that was with 0 biodiesel content and certainly not in the warmest or most moist climate of the USA.

  252. Don Shaw says:

    Another example of government subsidies to Oil Companies

    “The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s biggest trade group, said strong industry bidding in Wednesday’s latest Gulf of Mexico lease sale shows that the Obama administration should make more areas available for offshore oil-and-gas drilling.

    The Interior Department attracted over $949 million in high bids in the sale, which covered tracts in a 2.4 million acre region of federal waters off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.”

  253. kadaka says:

    Re: Phil (20:48:24)

    #2 heating oil, as found in the US, is very similar to road diesel. #2 is dyed red, makes for a quick visual check that truckers are not using it to avoid paying road taxes. Diesel might have additives for better burning and to keep it from gelling up in cold weather. Now I see that the new low-sulfur diesel is dyed a fluorescent green, likely also for a visual check, while original was clear.

    You can easily run off the same 275 gal tank of #2 for all the warm months here in PA, Spring to Fall, and that is with a domestic hot water coil in a hydronic-system furnace (heating tap water being the only reason to leave it on). Since it will just be “more of a good thing” it seems likely they may mandate low-sulfur #2 fuel oil. Will what you describe become a major problem for oil heat?

    PS, I have no idea for low-sulfur #2 what color they will use. Should be interesting.

  254. Henry chance says:

    $949 million for offshore leases?
    The oil business is subsidizing the Feds. That money is paid whether or not oil ever comes from the tract. I was in the MEPSI offices of Mobil when they bid offshore Biloxi. It was a large risk. It was a massive discovery but could have been a bust.

    Now Russia is planning on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama is taking us back to the 70’s.

    Back to ethanol. If the oil business is so nasty, why does agriculture spend so much money on fuel and lubes? Surely they could pack bearings with Crisco shortening. Peanut butter (non chunky) is great for low speed bearing applications like disk harrows.
    Surely the ethanol plants could burn ethanol for heat to brew instead of natural gas.
    I had a 3 burner stove and oven on a yacht in the 70’s that ran on alcohol. Baking bisquits while sailing offshore fired by an oven connected to a 3 gallon alcohol tank presurized with compressed air. I was ahead of the times.

    When some uneducated farmer tells us that the depletion allowance is subsidizing oil, He is not educated in Generally Accepted Accounting
    Practices. The depletion allowance is no different than depreciation on that John Deere. It is just as ignorant as Obama tellling us that gross farm revenues and income are the same. In other words, Obama says if a farm’s sales are 500,000 the man made half a million.

  255. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    Don Shaw (20:33:36) :
    Any one have the numbers on the taxes aid by the Ethanol industry?

    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/pdfs/exisetax.pdf

    http://www.ethanolrfa.org/view/?id=125

    Larryl

  256. Henry chance says:

    Depletion allowance,

    The straw man argument by the greenie weenies that claim it is a Federal subsidy.

    A tax deduction authorized by federal law for the exhaustion of oil and gas wells, mines, timber, mineral deposits or reserves, and other natural deposits.

    Law books like Callahagans, West Law, Matt Bender, Prentice Hall and others are in the library of your CPA.

    If i invest $1,000,000 in a timber stand, gravel pit, oil field copper mine, I can write off the resource over time as the resource generating revenue is depleted.
    You can write off Those 8 huge tires on your Stieger because they will be depleted in rubber after a certain amount of wear. That is not a Federal welfare check.
    You may even try to take those tires as a deduction on December 31 if you buy them on that day but we all know they will wear out but wear out over how many years?

    My CPA friends charge farmers extra to do their books because the time you argue with the CPA is billable hours. Even their coffee break is billed to clients.

  257. Henry chance says:

    http://www.ethanolrfa.org/view/?id=125

    No econ classes Larry?

    hotrod ( Larry L ) (08:01:26) :

    The question was now much tax paid by the ethanol Industry.
    Prepared by:

    Michael K. Evans
    Professor of Economics
    Kellogg School of Management

    The study is 1997. Toss it in the trash. First you are wasting time on old studies. He is also wrong. No wonder he is at a school. The driver of a vehicle pays highway taxes. They are not paid by the moonshine still. The increase in taxes is what we look for. Lower fuel mileage causes the total dollars paid in taxes by the consumer to go up. The poor proff doesn’t understand business. If I spend a dollar at Sears, my wife may spend 1 less dollar at Walmart. If I print a new dollar, then I ad gross revenue to the economy. If I double my chicken consumption, he is immature enough to assume I do not decrease beef in my diet. Hotrod. Buy an old econ book at a garage sale. Samuelson will do.

    He also assumes that farmers raising corn for ethanol didn’t own a truck or combine and bought both because they now are growing the economy.

    Northwestern University

    It seems an earlier Boilermaker said Ac Economics guys add little value. This guy is a poster child for what Macro Econ students see as flawed conclusions.

    I ask the question again. How much tax paid by the ETHANOL industry? If they are getting tax incentives, TIF’s or abatements, I am sure you will show those also.

    If Evans wanted to be a little less shallow, he would express consideration for exchange rates and inflation.

    If we want to clean this up, we will report grants and subsidies. If we take 8 billion in Fedral subsidies away from ethanol moonshine still industry and place it in the pinto bean industry. We would also have more Taco Bells, add 192,000 jobs, create demand for frijoles combines and grain carts.

    The simple point is a shift in production and consumption is not a measure of growth of GDP!!!

  258. Henry chance says:

    Don’t you all like how they burn the sugarcane fields before harvesting cane? Of course cane is far superior to corn. The cane is sugar and doesn’t need to be converted to sugars. That is a CO2 rich step. All ethanol exhaust is CO2 and H2O. Of course some ethanol websites say not so for their gullible readers. To lure investors, ethanol is sold as creating jobs and saving on pollution.
    It is my understanding there is an ethanol plant in Kansas that offered several truckloads of CO2 for a test to do CO2 injection enhanced oil recovery. I also hear there is some plant considering sequestering the CO2 they produce in brewing.
    For those that still think CO2 is pollution, ethanol is pollution in a lot of ways.
    Even Gurnsey burps after the DDG diet is pollution.

  259. Phil says:

    Henry- my point with the AG Econ dept at Purdue was that one of the Ag Econ professors was the co-author of the study this thread was supposedly about- and I was not impressed with Purdue’s Ag Econ Dept nor his participation in this study fuunded in part by BP whereas I had no issue with the regular economics staff over in the Krannert School. did BP’s participation in this study have an impact in it’s results- we will never know. But although it is a short walk from this ag econ professor’s office to the Horticulture, AGEN building, Biology dept, and the Agronomy dept – he does not seem to take input from them. I emailed him months ago when he was apparently doing this work- he was not interested in gathering data.

  260. Phil says:

    Quote from;
    “kadaka (23:03:51) :

    Re: Phil (20:48:24)

    #2 heating oil, as found in the US, is very similar to road diesel. #2 is dyed red, makes for a quick visual check that truckers are not using it to avoid paying road taxes. Diesel might have additives for better burning and to keep it from gelling up in cold weather. Now I see that the new low-sulfur diesel is dyed a fluorescent green, likely also for a visual check, while original was clear.

    You can easily run off the same 275 gal tank of #2 for all the warm months here in PA, Spring to Fall, and that is with a domestic hot water coil in a hydronic-system furnace (heating tap water being the only reason to leave it on). Since it will just be “more of a good thing” it seems likely they may mandate low-sulfur #2 fuel oil. Will what you describe become a major problem for oil heat?

    PS, I have no idea for low-sulfur #2 what color they will use”

    The old #2 years ago was straw colored (most say the yellow tint was sulfur related- but it may also have to do with the refinery process and crude at the time.

    Then back in the 90’s sulfur contents were reduced and the first 6 months here were the colors;
    Clear- actual greenish tint- without the dyes this was “tax paid” diesel for on road use
    Blue- dyed blue to mean off-road tax not paid and high sulfur for off road use
    Red- dyed red to mean low sulfur but tax not paid for off-road

    The blue went away after enough screamed that this was the color reserved for for jet fuel and a plane might be lost. EPA backed down and then went with the IRS red.
    Since this time the sulfur levels have still been coming down per EPA rules.

    If your tank is in the basement you will likely never have an issue since the air temp is more constant. Outdoor tanks should be painted white or silver if codes allow to prevent the sun from heating the tank because during the night cool moist air air is drawn in as the airspace grows larger. This then results in condensation which the fuel cannot entrain- this is exactly the “free water” the microbes need. All fill caps and vents should be secure. Biocide is likely available from your supplier should an infection begin — you will be changing filters far to often if this occurs.

    The problem is greatest in boat tanks or vehicle/power unit tanks where usage is seasonal and hot fuel is returned to the tank. (Diesel engines return excess fuel back to the tank from the fuel pump.) Hope that helps.

  261. kadaka says:

    Re: Phil (15:07:52)

    For winter I’d think black would be a good color. Despite the “unprecedented warmth” #2 gelling up in winter is still a problem. Common mix for outdoor tanks is half-and-half, #2 and #1 (kerosene).

    BTW, back when my tenants bought their own oil (only have one set), they ran out one winter and a helpful neighbor fetched them 50 gal of kerosene. Loosened up all the old sludge from the #2, I had to run new fuel lines. And I have yet to figure out how to get fittings not to leak using single flares on soft copper, had to break out the double-flare tool I use for brake lines. Fun.

  262. Don Shaw says:

    Acording to the renewable Fuels association: over 100,000 jobs will be eliminated if the subsidy discontinues and 38% of the ethanol production.

    http://renewablefuelsassociation.cmail1.com/T/ViewEmail/y/7DC56BD0CF8C2BD2

    so much for claims that this is a viable industry

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