Congress ends corn ethanol subsidy

Interesting timing, especially when some biomass companies are switching from wood chips to corn, because they couldn’t turn a profit on wood chips. Looks like all the wheels are coming off the bus now.

To Survive, Some Biofuels Companies Give Up on Biofuels – Technology Review

Gevo, a prominent advanced-biofuels company that has received millions in U.S. government funding to develop fuels made from cellulosic sources such as grass and wood chips, is finding that it can’t use these materials if it hopes to survive. Instead, it’s going to use corn, a common source for conventional biofuels. What’s more, most of the product from its first facility will be used for chemicals rather than fuel.

As the difficulty of producing cellulosic biofuels cheaply becomes apparent, a growing number of advanced-biofuels companies are finding it necessary to take creative approaches to their business, even though that means abandoning some of their green credentials, at least temporarily, and focusing on markets that won’t have a major impact on oil imports. This is hardly the outcome the government hoped for when it announced cellulosic-biofuels mandates, R&D funding, and other incentives in recent years.

Here’s the story on the subsidy ending from the Detroit News:

Congress adjourned for the year on Friday, failing to extend the tax break that’s drawn a wide variety of critics on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Critics also have included environmentalists, frozen food producers, ranchers and others.

The policies have helped shift millions of tons of corn from feedlots, dinner tables and other products into gas tanks.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth praised the move.

The end of this giant subsidy for dirty corn ethanol is a win for taxpayers, the environment and people struggling to put food on their tables,” biofuels policy campaigner Michal Rosenoer said Friday.

Dirty Corn Ethanol? I’m all for ending taxpayer siphoning, but dirty corn ethanol? 

Full story  h/t to Lawrence Depenbush

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Editor
December 28, 2011 12:06 am

Mascoma Corp has just inked deals with a couple companies to build cellulose to ethanol facilities. Their process is patented and trumps all existing wood/ethanol processes, which is why their competitors are exiting the business.

Editor
December 28, 2011 12:08 am

The “dirty corn” comment is based on the fact that when you make biofuel from crops, you are burning up the nations topsoil in your fuel tank, PLUS it takes a gallon of oil to produce a gallon of bioethanol (fertilizer, transpo, refining energy, etc) and the ethanol has lower energy content, so bioethanol is actually more polluting than oil.

Joe Labriola
December 28, 2011 12:13 am

Most civilizations have struggled to feed their populous enough to avoid system breakdown. Let’s fuel up our SUVs.

crosspatch
December 28, 2011 12:28 am

The subsidy is ending but mandates aren’t. It just mean the price of fuel in areas with ethanol mandates is going up even more. California, for example.

December 28, 2011 12:29 am

Is Congress coming to its senses? Or would that be too much to ask for?

December 28, 2011 12:40 am

Got any more bright ideas Al? Do us a favour and keep them under your hat.

Scarface
December 28, 2011 12:48 am

Burning up food is the most cynical outcome of the RedGreen agenda. Promoting it and still feel superior is beyond any logic or ethic. They should be ashamed, very ashamed!
And then pretend to wonder why food prices are skyrocketing… Watch out! Malthusians at work.
How poor countries can still support the UN and IPCC is a complete mistery. People suffer there.
Their governments couldn’t care less apparently. It’s contempt to the power of 10.
: Burning up the nations topsoil indeed! Omg, how could it have come so far.

San
December 28, 2011 1:10 am

What is that ?????
I want Peace in world

morgo
December 28, 2011 1:24 am

maybe we should eating wood chips instead of corn ? what are the left wing greenys eating.the answer [grass]

Allan M
December 28, 2011 1:35 am

Actually he meant “dirty rotten corn ethanol.” Permissible under the Hays code.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hays_Code
I also like the bit about ‘advanced(?)-biofuels. PR speak?

Paul in Sweden
December 28, 2011 1:38 am

Maybe food prices will come down again!

John Marshall
December 28, 2011 2:01 am

Biofuel manufacture from food crop was always the stupid option. Production of methane from waste to produce electricity and heating, as many farms have done in the UK for their greenhouse crops, is profitable and worthwhile. On a very large scale waste to methane may be a route to go. Methane can be used for polymerization to more profitable chemicals as well as power and heat production.

H.R.
December 28, 2011 2:12 am

“This is hardly the outcome the government hoped for when it announced cellulosic-biofuels mandates, R&D funding, and other incentives in recent years.”
It’s exactly the outcome those in government wanted. Billions siphoned off the public trough and handed to the favored few. Whether or not it solved a problem was never much of a concern.

newtlove
December 28, 2011 2:29 am

In your 1st paragraph, I thought your use of the word biomass, as in “some biomass companies” was a pun. You made me consult an on-line dictionary. I was unaware of the 2nd definition. Thank you for the education.
biomass, noun:
1. Ecology . the amount of living matter in a given habitat, expressed either as the weight of organisms per unit area or as the volume of organisms per unit volume of habitat.
2. Energy . organic matter, especially plant matter, that can be converted to fuel and is therefore regarded as a potential energy source.

JFB
December 28, 2011 2:34 am

at the same time, the U.S. overthrew the tariff barrier to the entry of Brazilian sugar cane ethanol.

Lew Skannen
December 28, 2011 2:43 am

I have often wondered how to measure the energy that is expended in producing a litre of biofuel. From my own experience I got the impression that you burn a litre of diesel for every litre of biofuel if all energy is taken into account.
It occurred to me that a useful way of estimating the energy that has gone into producing a product is to just use the cost of the product in the free market.
Since biofuels are subsidised it seems to me that they definitely absorb more energy that they produce.
Any thoughts?

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 2:52 am

Another bash ethanol thread – goody :rollseyes:
To mikelorrey – you are absolutely and completely incorrect – it does NOT take a gallon of anything to make a gallon of ethanol. Unless of course you are quoting Patzek and Pimentel of Berkely fame (or infamy) who have been soundly debunked by almost every agency and group out there – they are worse the Mann, Jones etc in many ways for how much of an incorrect outlier their fully dis-proven work is.
It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to create appx 1.6 BTU of ethanol energy using corn processes. It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to make 6 to 8 btu using cellulosic processes.
And to say we are burning topsoil is equally false and silly. Just as silly as the claims about putting food in SUV’s gas tanks.
The US met 100% of the corn demand for feed, food and fuel in each of the last several years, PLUS we met the entire export demand AND we still added to the US reserves.
Likewise, using corn for ethanol has NOT caused any widespread shift in plantings to corn and away from other crops – simply read the USDA crop reports.
Ethanol is a far cleaner fuel overall than oil – reducing emissions and GHG’s in virtually all meaningful areas.
Ethanol replaces a useful share of our fossil fuel use, at worst extending significantly our own and world reserves.
Eliminating the Brazil tariff, which was to help American producers (sine Brazil also got the US blenders credit), was almost entirely meaningless. Brazil has not exported virtually any ethanol in several years, having become a net importer to meet their own demands.
Ethanol uses virtually entirely seed corn – not food corn. And the production of ethanol creates high value distillers dried grains animal feed that replaces nearly half of the feed corn used for ethanol.
Ethanol does get lower mileage than gas however it also costs less. E85 blend costs me $2.55 vs $3.35 for E10 blend – almost 25% less. My average fuel economy drops appx 15-18% in a 2003 Tahoe flex fuel vehicle – for a net overall saving in fuel with E85.
Ethanol production does use water – a 150 mgpy (mill gal/year) plant uses equivalent (from memory) of appx 3 full service car washes or a handful of golf courses. That said gas requires similar. And most ethanol plants today recycle majority of their water for repeated re use.
A single frac well uses up to several million gallons of water – all of which is trucked long distances to wells and then back from wells where most is injected untreated deep underground.
Last and most important – ethanol is 100% renewable – we can repeatedly grow more fuel for the 10-15% of fossil fuel we are replacing. Unlike solar and wind etc it is a proven steady resource, whose efficiency continues to grow.
So many falsehoods perpetrated about ethanol its truly sad – especially coming from otherwise usually very intelligent folks here. I wish people would make same effort to get facts with ethanol as they do about warming.
No ethanol is not the magic replacement for fossil fuels – but it does replace a significant part – with clean renewable energy.
And no – I’ll repeat in advance I have zero involvement with the industry – as with my initial AGW believer status I was a disbeliever in ethanol. In both cases I made the effort to learn and educate myself and the facts and science convinced me to disbelieve in AGW and to believe ethanol serves a valuable purpose.

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 2:54 am

Actually, inasmuch as the import tariff is going away at the same time as the subsidy, and that the import tariff is nine cents/gallon more than the subsidy, and that California gets its ethanol from Brazil (while Brazil imports corn ethanol from the U.S.) California should come out just a tisch ahead of the game.
As for oil inputs, there are about 5 btus of Petroleum inputted into 76 btus of corn ethanol.
This study estimates that the presence of 14 Billion Gallons/Yr of corn ethanol in the fuel market is saving you, at least, $1.00/gal on your gasoline:
http://www.card.iastate.edu/publications/synopsis.aspx?id=1160
At the same time we are farming 34 Million fewer acres than we were in 2002, and we are paying landowners NOT to farm 30 Million Acres.

jim
December 28, 2011 3:01 am

As the difficulty of producing cellulosic biofuels cheaply becomes apparent, a growing number of advanced-biofuels companies are finding it necessary to take creative approaches to their business
JK: Why not switch over to coal or natural gas as a feedstock?
That would make sense!
Thanks
JK

December 28, 2011 3:05 am

Also worth note: this move (or rather action by default!) happened JUST BEFORE the Iowa caucuses, not JUST AFTER as you’d expect.
The caucuses were always the sole reason for the ethanol project. If Congress is willing to allow the subsidy to go away now, they must finally be sensing the complete turnaround of public attitudes.

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 3:06 am

Sorry – it has also been repeatedly shown that any impact on food prices is exceedingly minuscule if any – the vast majority of food price increases are the result of speculators/speculation. If you want to see volatility largely disappear and food prices moderate prevent all speculation by anyone who does not take delivery of the product. THAT would be a meaningful impact on food prices.
Again from memory – ethanol currently use appx 30% of the US feed corn crop. Yet, using net nutritional value it replaces about half of that feed corn with high quality Distillers Dried Grains animal feed. It also produces corn meal and corn oil (which can even be made into plastics).
We get renewable fuel and keep a majority of the value of the corn crop use to create it.
We also continue to improve even the corn ethanol process efficiency and net energy yield, but are also moving into higher tech, higher yield cellulosic and similar processes.
The BIGGEST reason IMO we are behind expected on cellulosic is same thing that affected so many corn ethanol plants – the meltdown of economy and disappearance of capital the last 4 years or so. It takes money to research, refine, advance and improve and there was little or no capital avail for that or almost any purpose from 2007/8 to now.

kwik
December 28, 2011 3:12 am

ho ho ho!

JFB
December 28, 2011 3:29 am

A. Scott says:
“Brazil has not exported virtually any ethanol in several years, having become a net importer to meet their own demands.”
Sorry, A. Scott, but Brazil has been exporting billions of liters of ethanol since 1999, as you can see this updated spreadsheet (http://www.mdic.gov.br/arquivos/dwnl_1318342678.xls) by the brazilian Ministry of Industry and Trade. More information on the fate of the exported ethanol, you can find in http://www.mdic.gov.br/sitio/interna/interna.php?area=2&menu=999.

Editor
December 28, 2011 3:56 am

O/T but there is an interesting email from Keith Briffa in which he admits the evidence points to a MWP in the Southern Hemisphere.
I suggest this should be taken together , the sparse evidence of Southern Hemisphere temperatures prior to the period of instrumental records indicates that overall warming has occurred during the last 350 years, but the even fewer longer regional records indicate earlier periods that are as warm, or warmer than, 20th century means.
http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/briffa-confirms-mwp-in-southern-hemisphere/#comment-285

Espen
December 28, 2011 4:08 am

What a relief! Now we got to stop this madness in Europe as well.

Fitzcarraldo
December 28, 2011 4:31 am

OT but a reminder that neither NH or SH ice extent is falling and its now 2012.

commieBob
December 28, 2011 4:36 am

mikelorrey says:
December 28, 2011 at 12:06 am
Mascoma Corp has just inked deals with a couple companies to build cellulose to ethanol facilities. Their process is patented and trumps all existing wood/ethanol processes, which is why their competitors are exiting the business.

We’ll see. I remember ‘oil from turkey guts’. The company was a lot like Mascoma. They had big backers. The process worked and was close to economic. They claimed that using agricultural waste they could replace all the oil imported to the United States. They just couldn’t run a profit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changing_World_Technologies
If I were thinking about fuel from a biological feedstock, I would worry more about shale gas and shale oil coming on line. That will lower the price of all fuels and make it hard to profitably sell bio-fuels.

Mike M
December 28, 2011 4:55 am

tallbloke says: Got any more bright ideas Al? Do us a favour and keep them under your hat.

It was my understanding that Al Gore changed tack about a year ago and is now leaning more my way, at least on corn based bio-fuel thus far. (I’ve always called the use of food and food producing potential for machine fuel an evil practice that should be banned. )
I and most others who post comments here have FAR more scientific education and just basic scientific instinct than Al Gore but of course the NYT doesn’t pay any attention to us because it’s a political agenda not a scientific one. How long before Al admits that he was completely wrong about CAGW too? tick..tick..tick..

crosspatch
December 28, 2011 5:09 am

If you want to create carbon fuel for the future, do this:
1. Outlaw paper recycling. Force trees to be planted for paper. Collect the waste paper, convert it to slurry and pack it in to old coal and limestone mines as tightly as you can pack it. Compress the living hell out of it and fill those mines back up with carbon in the form of paper slurry. Seal off the entrance with 10 feet or so of concrete and let nature take its course. Every ton of coal extracted gets a ton of paper put back in its place. Coal becomes “carbon neutral”. Same with strip mines. Fill them back up with paper compressed to nearly rock and put the overburden back over it.
Put carbon back into the ground to replace the carbon you take out from coal mining.

theBuckWheat
December 28, 2011 5:14 am

It is just foolish in the extreme to burn food for fuel when you can burn something that cannot be food. We are told that burning 1/3 of the corn harvest is somehow “sustainable”, despite its total lifecycle cost. But what else is new? The left loves to scold the rest of us about “sustainability” yet none of their economic schemes are ever sustainable. And sure enough, we got exhausted attempting to maintain the mirage that ethanol was sustainable.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 5:20 am

A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:52 am

Now that we have heard from the ethanol lobby, can we get back to reality?

MarkW
December 28, 2011 5:24 am

Ah yes, the standard left wing attack on speculators.
Speculators do not cause price increases, at worst speculators shift the timing of price changes. Speculators buy know when they believe that prices will go up in the future. This does cause a price increase now, however when the speculators later sell what they bought, they cause an equal price decrease. What speculators do is even out price swings making prices more stable over all.
Any time you hear someone trying to blame speculators you know you are dealing either with an economic illiterate, or someone who is trying to shift blame from the real villians.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 5:25 am

All I have to say is that if ethanol is so efficient and cheap to make, why do we need subsidies and mandates in order to get people to make and buy it?

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 5:29 am

Valero is putting up most of the money for Mascoma’s new wood-to-ethanol refinery. Valero knows a little something about “refining,” so, we’ll see.
I expect to see an approx. $1.00 spread between ethanol, and gasoline later in the year. That would be approx $2.00/gal for wholesale ethanol vs. $3.00/gal for RBOB.
Many people are expecting an IC Engine that gets essentially the same mileage on high ethanol blends, and gasoline within a year, or two (with more HP from the ethanol blends.) About the only remaining steps are “heated injectors,” and an “ethanol sensor” in place of the O2 sensor.
Largely unremarked upon this year is that the majority of Ford F-150 Sales have been Six-Cylinder Engines, with the majority of those being of the Flex-Fuel Eco-Boost (Turbo-Charged) variety.

John Brookes
December 28, 2011 5:29 am

There should be no subsidies to help farmers. Just put a price on carbon emissions and be done with it. Don’t choose technologies.

Bruce
December 28, 2011 5:33 am

The subsidy may be over but the “mandate” to use ethanol in gasoline still stands for the time being. Without the subsidy and with the mandate will it not just increase the cost of gasoline at the pump?

David
December 28, 2011 5:35 am

So many subsidies…. So little proper research…
All of this (solar, wind, ethanol, etc…) comes back to that most famous of quotes by Ernest Benn (British Labour politician Tony Benn’s uncle, himself a politician)….
‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it wrongly and applying unsuitable remedies…’

December 28, 2011 5:39 am

Some well informed debate here. Good stuff.

DavidCobb
December 28, 2011 5:40 am

CommieBob
The CWT plant was a serious mis-application of technology.
1. Who thinks “turkey” and “excess fat” at the same time. Their feedstock had a very low energy value.
2. Turkey waste products have food value (they assumed it wouldn’t due to the BSE scare) and sells for $40 a ton for animal feed.
Shale gas is very expensive and is close to uneconomical at todays prices. If they can’t make money they won’t drill.

Editor
December 28, 2011 5:43 am

A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:52 am

Ethanol does get lower mileage than gas however it also costs less. E85 blend costs me $2.55 vs $3.35 for E10 blend – almost 25% less. My average fuel economy drops appx 15-18% in a 2003 Tahoe flex fuel vehicle – for a net overall saving in fuel with E85.

Thanks for your input, I appreciate informative comments with a lot of work behind them.
You didn’t say if you say the industry still needs subsidies. Someone else commented on using natural gas as a feed stock for making ethanol. I imagine that’s doable, though I don’t have the organic chemistry knowledge to point to any particular process.
We don’t pay too much attention to E85 here in New Hampshire. According to http://www.e85refueling.com/ Vermont, Maine, and NH have no E85 service stations. (Neither do Alaska and Hawaii.) I assume the transportation charges are the killer.

December 28, 2011 5:43 am

Ethanol is dirty only because the fermenting process converts nearly half of the sugar into CO2, the rest is then the fuel. If you are concerned at all about CO2 levels don’t ferment. This is the environmentalist’s dirty argument.

starzmom
December 28, 2011 5:54 am

A comment to A. Scott–
When I am forced to use a 10% or less ethanol mixture in my Toyota RAV4, I get 10-15% lower gas mileage than with regular gas, and the price is the same for 10% ethanol versus regular gas. Here (Kansas) the difference between e85 and regular gas is about 10 cents per gallon. I lose money and mileage when I have to use ethanol. And the amount of the US corn crop that has gone to ethanol production in the past few years has been 40% not 30%.
Here in Kansas, many farmers grew corn in areas that would not normally have been planted in corn because the price was so high this year (due in part to ethanol demand)–many of those farmers lost their crop to floods on the Missouri, or to drought in July, because they planted in non-irrigated areas. I could be wrong, but I am not sure there is difference between the corn used for animal feed, the corn used for ethanol, and the corn used to make corn meal, corn sweetener, and related products. There is a big difference between field/feed corn and sweet corn from the farmer’s market.

December 28, 2011 6:00 am

A. Scott, you seem to know a lot about ethanol; I have an enormous interest but not much knowledge. Here, in Canada, unlike the USA, we are a net exporter of oil, and for this, and other reasons, it makes no sense for us to have a corn ethanol industry. However, with our large agriculture industry, producing massive quantities of cellulose, cellulose ethanol is an entirely different matter.
Several years ago, Iogen, in Ottawa, Canada, developed the technology, and built one of the first pilot plants, producing about half a million litres of cellulose ethanol per year. For many reasons, a full scale production plan was never built. More recently, Poet, undert it’s Project Liberty, has developed very similar technology. They are due to build a production plant, with an output measured in tens of millions of gallons per year, in 2012, with production to start in 2013. What is your assessment that Poet will be successful
a. technologically
b. economically
using your definitions as to what these terms mean?

December 28, 2011 6:02 am

A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:52 am
“Another bash ethanol thread – goody :rollseyes:”
Thanks for providing a balancing argument for ethanol – very informative.
If ethanol is a good idea, and production seems fairly well underway, then why can’t the free market provide whatever support is needed? Why is public funding needed? Can’t the industry simply stand on its own?
I own a small high-tech manufacturing company. We are 100% supported by the market even though we have lots of great ideas. Most of these ideas will never be realized due to lack of funding. We cannot even get an SBA loan what’s more direct public funding.
What makes corn ethanol production worthy of public funding if it is already a good idea?
I do not mean this question to be taken rhetorically; it is a topic of interest to me; and I know I should just do my own research – but I’m really busy and if you could provide some more information and a cogent argument for public funding of corn ethanol production I would be grateful.
Thanks in advance.

Janice
December 28, 2011 6:04 am

mikelorrey says: “Mascoma Corp has just inked deals with a couple companies to build cellulose to ethanol facilities. Their process is patented and trumps all existing wood/ethanol processes, which is why their competitors are exiting the business.”
Mike, I have been trying to find information about Mascoma Corp. There are lots of news items about them getting loans from DOE, and sundry other financing options. But, I can find nothing at all about how much biofuel they are actually producing from their demonstration facility. The demonstration facility was completed in 2008, and was supposed to be able to produce 200,000 gallons per years, but I can find nothing about the actual production. Do you happen to have a link that shows actual production from their demonstration facility, in particular for 2011?

December 28, 2011 6:11 am

Hurray!

December 28, 2011 6:33 am

Some excellent points A. Scott in both your posts.
Brazil has clearly had some issues with its sugar cane harvests in recent years, e.g.
http://www.ethanolproducer.com/articles/8294/aging-cane-fields-weather-continue-to-affect-brazil-crush
…… but I think (without the ability to read Portuguese) that JFB (says:December 28, 2011 at 3:29 am) is still probably correct and Brazil is a net exporter, although they do import some ethanol from the U.S. (don’t ask me how that works).
The Wikipedia article on Brazilian ethanol is pretty good and shows what a huge success story that has been for Brazil.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil
The linked article about Gevo is, other than the title, also an excellent read. The title is rather odd because this isn’t about “survival”. In fact, this industry sector is thriving, with several huge IPOs being completed already this year (including Gevo’s $100MM IPO in February). The realization that the infrastructure built for bioethanol can be used for more expensive chemicals has been great news. The one example of plastic bottles is based on an ability to make p-xylene which is in every plastic bottle made. This market is amazingly huge and will, in fact, lead to less petroleum dependency as p-xylene currently comes from petroleum.
Lastly, and as has been noted above, the article describes how the cellulosic feedstock situation is really related to an immature current infrastructure. The chemistry and enzymology of cellulosic sugar production is quite advanced and technology is continuing to advance. Projections for costs of cellulosic sugars at scale are actually very promising, with 20 cents/Kg being a current target. Some producers are even suggesting that 10 cents/Kg is attainable. Not only would that put the advanced biofuels well within the range of profitability, but would lead to huge profitability across a whole range of specialty and commodity chemicals. So lets not throw the baby out with the bath water just yet.

enneagram
December 28, 2011 6:37 am

Something to remember: Plants, trees, manufacture their body, made of CELLULOSE, a polymer of GLUCOSE, out from the CO2 they breath ,and WE EXHALE at a rate of 900 grams a day, water (H2O) and LIGHT from the SUN above, in a process called photosynthesis; in other words: An Energy saving process intended for the sustainability of LIFE ON EARTH. Precisely, that chain of feeding is called ECOLOGY (which includes the eating of a human being by a predator-a fact currently ignored by the tragically comic eco nuts-). Then its main purpose is to serve as FOOD (which, wisely, also includes that elevated form of energy called WHISKEY´s or WINE´s ethanol). If we foolishly change the way of nature, the way of ecology, we are NOT BEING GREEN, but simply idiots.
By insanely fighting “CARBON” we have declared the WAR AGAINST FOOD, AGAINST OUR FOOD!, and not only our daily food but against our UNDERWEAR, against our PANTS AND SHIRTS, made out of CELLULOSE, thus if we (rather YOU, “first -and broken- world” FOOLS) succeed in your silly “green agenda” (A.K.A.: Un´s “AGENDA 21”), success will be heralded by hunger and nakedness, and, finally LIFE WILL END ON OUR PLANET.
Thanks God, before that happens, you know what will happen instead-it´s happening right now!-, and it will be for you only to enjoy it.

cwj
December 28, 2011 6:39 am

polistra: “Also worth note: this move (or rather action by default!) happened JUST BEFORE the Iowa caucuses, not JUST AFTER as you’d expect. ”
The Iowa Farm Bureau has come out in favor of eliminating the ethanol blender’s credit as well as eliminating direct farm payments. So I don’t know why you’d think the caucuses would have any effect.

Richard Lewis
December 28, 2011 6:41 am

Just one step remains to be taken by Congress: Eliminate the mandate for blending ethanol with gasoline. When that fateful step back to market-based competition is taken, all mystery about the comptitiveness of ethanol will be ended. My prediction is that when that prospect looms (hopefully immediately following the 2012 election) panic will prevail in Iowa.

commieBob
December 28, 2011 6:53 am

The solar voltaic industry is also suffering:

” … bankruptcies, plummeting stock prices and crushing debt loads are calling into question the viability of the solar energy industry … ”

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/12/28/0236205/prospects-darken-for-solar-energy-companies

James Sexton
December 28, 2011 6:56 am

A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:52 am
Another bash ethanol thread – goody :rollseyes:
To mikelorrey – you are absolutely and completely incorrect – it does NOT take a gallon of anything to make a gallon of ethanol. Unless of course you are quoting Patzek and Pimentel of Berkely fame (or infamy) who have been soundly debunked by almost every agency and group out there – they are worse the Mann, Jones etc in many ways for how much of an incorrect outlier their fully dis-proven work is.
It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to create appx 1.6 BTU of ethanol energy using corn processes. It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to make 6 to 8 btu using cellulosic processes.
==================================================================
Sorry, I don’t have time to respond to all of your errant points, so I’ll just respond to the first one you made and hopefully, you’ll understand that the information you’ve received is wrong.
(my bold) Tell me, what’s wrong with this literary picture? So the energy crisis is solved! We actually create energy!!! Yea!!!

cwj
December 28, 2011 6:58 am

GregO: “If ethanol is a good idea, and production seems fairly well underway, then why can’t the free market provide whatever support is needed? Why is public funding needed? Can’t the industry simply stand on its own?”
Actually, the industry proposed a phase out. Under some duress and political pressure, but they did propose a phase out. The phase out would have had no subsidy when the price of oil was less than $90 per barrel, a level I doubt we’ll see very frequently again. Also, as I understand it, the subsidy was a blender’s credit which went to the oil company using the ethanol, not to the ethanol industry. The benefit to the ethanol producer was indirect.

Randy
December 28, 2011 6:58 am

From ascott – “To mikelorrey – you are absolutely and completely incorrect – it does NOT take a gallon of anything to make a gallon of ethanol. Unless of course you are quoting Patzek and Pimentel of Berkely fame (or infamy) who have been soundly debunked by almost every agency and group out there – they are worse the Mann, Jones etc in many ways for how much of an incorrect outlier their fully dis-proven work is. It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to create appx 1.6 BTU of ethanol energy using corn processes. It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to make 6 to 8 btu using cellulosic processes. ”
Are you comparing apples to oranges? Perhaps mikelorrey was referring to the entire big picture process from planting to production instead of just the end game production aspect which it seems you are arguing here?
Same big picture view exists with green electric cars. Not so green up to the point you are actually in the car and pressing on the gas…errrr electric pedal.

Latitude
December 28, 2011 7:01 am

Dirty Corn Ethanol? I’m all for ending taxpayer siphoning, but dirty corn ethanol?
====================================================
Not sure, but they might be referring to fertilizers, pesticides, etc
I was told that corn for ethanol is not regulated the same as corn for food or feed, so you can use a lot more or different pesticides, etc

Luther Wu
December 28, 2011 7:01 am

Such good news and so early in the morning!
To those green spokesmen in this thread who claim that your policies have no ill effects on our nation’s soil bank, etc: why don’t you learn to be a true caretaker of the environment, rather than an advocate for an agenda which ultimately ends in tyranny?
Perhaps along the way, you will reflect on the hypocrisies of your present position and of the true costs and real damages incurred by the doctrines and misinformation which you promote.

Mike M
December 28, 2011 7:03 am

A. Scott says: It takes money to research, refine, advance and improve and there was little or no capital avail for that or almost any purpose from 2007/8 to now

I don’t recall Standard Oil whining about a lack of investment funding back in the great depression?

December 28, 2011 7:06 am

lenbilen says:
December 28, 2011 at 5:43 am
Ethanol is dirty only because the fermenting process converts nearly half of the sugar into CO2, the rest is then the fuel. If you are concerned at all about CO2 levels don’t ferment. This is the environmentalist’s dirty argument.
——————————————-
…… and what a silly argument that is too, given that the CO2 is from a source where it has been taken out of the atmosphere and is just being recycled.
By the way, there are some microorganisms (known as acetogens) that use essentially all the sugar for product and produce no CO2.
http://www.zeachem.com/

DirkH
December 28, 2011 7:07 am

philincalifornia says:
December 28, 2011 at 6:33 am
“The Wikipedia article on Brazilian ethanol is pretty good and shows what a huge success story that has been for Brazil.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil

From your link:
“The Brazilian government provided three important initial drivers for the ethanol industry: guaranteed purchases by the state-owned oil company Petrobras, low-interest loans for agro-industrial ethanol firms, and fixed gasoline and ethanol prices where hydrous ethanol sold for 59% of the government-set gasoline price at the pump. Subsidising ethanol production in this manner and setting an artificially low price established ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.”
So, they subsidized it into the market; of, well, actually, not a market, they fixed the prizes. You think that’s a huge success? Now, Brazil has good growth rates at the moment, but they’ve been doing this ethanol thing for decades now, and for a long time during the past decades their economy has been a basketcase. Maybe that has to do with that “huge success” of misallocating capital?

Matt Schilling
December 28, 2011 7:11 am

At 2:52AM A. Scott wrote: “The US met 100% of the corn demand for feed, food and fuel in each of the last several years, PLUS we met the entire export demand AND we still added to the US reserves.”
Yet, when I googled “U.S. grain reserves” the first page was filled with multiple alarming stories about very low levels of grain reserves. I hope we do not rue the day we squandered away the food we had in our national cupboard. It seems to me the nation of amber waves of grain and frutied plains is one bad crop away from real hunger.
And, because we are the Saudia Arabia of food exports, if we go hungry, then teeming thousands around the world would starve.
Stupid is as stupid does.

December 28, 2011 7:11 am

Mike M says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:03 am
A. Scott says: It takes money to research, refine, advance and improve and there was little or no capital avail for that or almost any purpose from 2007/8 to now
I don’t recall Standard Oil whining about a lack of investment funding back in the great depression?
======================
…… or Codexis/Shell and BP in this recession, but A Scott does have a point. In a better economy, the cellulosic field would be far more advanced than it is now (i.e. with more private capital).

Philip Peake
December 28, 2011 7:14 am

@A Scott. I would be interested in the source of your statement than ethanol is less polluting. I spent some considerable time trying to understand this. The EPA has no studies on the subject. There are references to other sources for the idea that it is less polluting, all of which seem to lead back to a single Canadian study, which indicated that with vehicles specifically designed for ethanol, under specific circumstances, there may be a small reduction in some pollutants, with a corresponding increase in other, more dangerous, pollutants.
As for the same milage, personal experience in several vehicles indicates a drop of around 10%. I don’t need a label on the gas pump to tell me it contains ethanol, I can tell by just watching the gas guage.

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 7:15 am

A. Scott says:
“It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to create appx 1.6 BTU of ethanol energy using corn processes. It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to make 6 to 8 btu using cellulosic processes.”
A 60% gain!! Amazing stuff! Why arent we converting all gasoline to ethanol? I’m going to start growing corn in my back yard. With a little luck, I will have an infinite amount of ETOH in no time. I’ll make 2.44 gal. of ETOH (76,000 BTU/gal) from 1 gal (116,090 BTU/gal) of gas. Then I’ll use the the 2.44 gal of ETOH to make 3.9 gal ETOH, gaining 60% in energy content at every cycle. Soon I’ll have infinite energy all from one gallon of gasoline input.
Does any other conversion of energy feedstock have as high or higher gain? Because 1.6 is pretty good. Actually, anything over 1.0 is great. 6 to 8 is just unbelievable!!! Gotta love it when this kind of thing happens – it’s magical.

DirkH
December 28, 2011 7:17 am

And, uh, are that SMOKESTACKS I see in that wikipedia photo of a Brazilian ethanol plant?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Panorama_Usina_Costa_Pinto_Piracicaba_SAO_10_2008.jpg
Doesn’t look like H2O and CO2 what comes out of them. Quick, somebody call EPA.

jabre
December 28, 2011 7:22 am

Don’t forget the subsidies of oil. Also keep in mind that the importing of oil is helping maintain the $100/barrel prices which subsidize the regimes that are hostile to the US and its friends. When you look at costs to the US citizens, after consideration of all hidden costs (subsidies, military spending, etc.) I have seen estimates as high as $10/gallon. Just google real/true cost of oil. One quick, credible reference puts it at $480/barrel (http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461).
Also, keep in mind that the $1/gallon subsidy, which is now rolling into a cellulosic (non-starch) subsidy ensures that the entire amount spent on the fuel remains in the US economy. So, the real tax subsidy is less as the $$ are changing hands and being re-taxed within the country.
If you have some time read the Energy Independence act of 2007. In many ways it is shockingly good legislation with respect to renewable fuels. As I mentioned, it forces the industry to roll over from a starch-based subsidy (corn) to cellulose-based (wood/grasses/etc) over time to maintain the subsidy. That is what is happening now. If we can do nothing else but redirect the $252 Billion of annual (http://useconomy.about.com/od/tradepolicy/p/Trade_Deficit.htm) oil import dollars into the local economy it will significantly outweigh the relatively modest subsidy used to develop the industry necessary to support the transition.

ShrNfr
December 28, 2011 7:34 am

Now to get the crud out of our fuel all together. It makes for lower mpg. An interesting fact is that the fuel that is used to get mpg figures on cars does not contain it.

David S
December 28, 2011 7:45 am

Newsflash: Hell freezes over! Congress does something right!!

Janice
December 28, 2011 7:47 am

May want to hold off on investing heavily in Mascomas:
http://gigaom.com/cleantech/some-red-flags-numbers-in-mascomas-ipo-filing/
Looks like they could become another Solyndra, fairly quickly.

beng
December 28, 2011 7:49 am

IF one wants to burn food as fuel, it’d make more sense to eliminate all the processing & capital required for corn-to-alcohol conversion. Just dry the corn & burn it in a steam or Sterling-engine powered vehicle.
Kinda puts the idea of food-to-fuel in perspective.

Rob Potter
December 28, 2011 7:53 am

To:
Sal Minella says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:15 am
and others. Are you just trolling? The energy comes from the sun – the calculations of 1:1.6 for corn ethanol etc. are calculated on end to end inputs vs outputs with the growing of the corn harvesting solar energy.
The whole point of the exercise was the propaganda put out by anti-ethanol lobbies (and countered by the pro-ethanol lobbies) on the need for fossil fuel inputs into growing corn. By redefining what are “inputs” and “outputs” you can get a whole range of figures. I think A Scott is pulling out the most rational numbers, but everyone is busy arguing over where you draw the lines around agriculture and ethanol production.
As far as subsidies/mandates go, let’s face it, these (and the biodiesel subsidies/mandates in Europe) were political – buying votes in important constituencies. And with all such market interventions, the US and Europe don’t suffer unduly by the marginally higher food prices since food is such a small part of spending. The impact has been felt in developing countries which pushed state-controlled farming into energy crops (corn for ethanol in S Africa and palm oil for biodiesel in SE Asia) making the same mistakes as when they were pushed into tobacco, coffee etc.. This is where there have been real food issues and is always the problem of overspill of internal policies into international markets.

Alec, aka Daffy duck
December 28, 2011 7:55 am

Forget Al Gore, Newt Gingrich was the champion of ethanol and was an Ethanol Lobbyist:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53678.html

harrywr2
December 28, 2011 8:01 am

I wouldn’t clap quite yet.
I don’t think congress ended the annual volume requirement for ethanol?
http://www.ethanolproducer.com/articles/8442/rfa-presses-epa-to-release-final-2012-rfs-volumes
All the end of subsidies means is that we will be seeing more of the ‘true cost’ of ethanol at the fuel pumps.

DirkH
December 28, 2011 8:01 am

jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:22 am
“One quick, credible reference puts it at $480/barrel (http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461).”
Your credible reference also says the CO2 that the US produces costs 65 trillion a year.

December 28, 2011 8:07 am

DirkH says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:07 am
———————————————
Maybe Dirk but, as the saying goes “Good things come to those who wait” and the wait is clearly over, as evidenced by the football (soccer) star proxy. Brazilian clubs can now afford to keep their own players even (its economy has now overtaken that of the U.K.):
http://internationalbusinessblog.conversisglobal.com/2011/08/16/is-brazil’s-economic-growth-and-power-changing-european-football/
Also, more seriously:
http://globalgeopolitics.net/wordpress/2011/03/22/sugar-cane-and-ethanol-boom-drives-development-in-southern-brazil/

hotrod (Larry L)
December 28, 2011 8:09 am

A. Scott says:
“It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to create appx 1.6 BTU of ethanol energy using corn processes. It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to make 6 to 8 btu using cellulosic processes.”

I see several folks trying to spin this into something it is not. This is not a violation of thermodynamic principles or magic. It is perhaps poor phrasing because those who have taken the time to study fuel ethanol understand the context.
The energy gain is the capture of free solar energy you don’t have to pay for by the growing plants. The energy input quoted is “purchased energy” such as natural gas, coal generated electricity etc. The free energy of solar power absorbed by the plants is not included in the accounting because it is a harvest of a potential energy source that exists free for the taking. Just like the free energy solar energy that moves water to the high mountains so it can be used to produce hydro power during the summer melt, or the free solar energy captured by coal and hydrocarbon fuels thousands or millions of years ago. We don’t include the cost of that solar energy in the accounting for how much energy it takes to produce gasoline either.
It is the net gain in useful energy over the energy contained in the direct energy inputs provided by man.
I am an advocate of E85 and fuel ethanol and am personally glad this has happened. The industry has been on the point of break even for the last few years, where well run plants that were not victims of market manipulation or other active efforts to block their growth could make a profit on ethanol without the subsidy. Some of them are still being forced out of business due to issues they have no control over. For example a law suit was filed for violation of minimum mark up laws in Wisconsin. They were selling their ethanol “too cheaply” and as a result the gasoline vendors filed suit using old minimum mark up laws that were intended to avoid price gouging on gasoline and price wars during the arab oil embargo.
This will shake out the industry and only the well run operations will survive, and marginal operations will have a strong incentive to get their house in order. Fuel ethanol is one of the best methods to improve fuel octane of gasoline available in the market today, and using it as an octane enhancer substantially improves the fuel yield from petroleum and the economics of gasoline production to meet Federal requirements for fuel octane, so it is not going away any time soon.
It took Brazil 30+ years to get their fuel ethanol industry built out and the infrastructure developed to use it as a major part of their fuel cycle and they had the advantage of a tropical climate to grow sugar cane and the political will to do it. Even they ran into some issues but they proved it could be a viable component of a mature fuel energy cycle.
Larry

mkelly
December 28, 2011 8:13 am

jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:22 am
Don’t forget the subsidies of oil.
Please identify the “subsidies” of which you speak. Also ensure you understand the difference between a subsidy and a tax credit.
Most of the oil we import is from Canada, Mexico, etc that are not “hostile” to us. Except maybe the Canuks don’t like the Wings.

December 28, 2011 8:21 am

DirkH says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:17 am
And, uh, are that SMOKESTACKS I see in that wikipedia photo of a Brazilian ethanol plant?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Panorama_Usina_Costa_Pinto_Piracicaba_SAO_10_2008.jpg
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
That’s probably emanating from the burning of bagasse for energy. Bagasse is the woody part of the cane and, as you can easily guess, is produced in massive quantities in Brazil. In fact, one recent calculation has it at $600 Billion of chemicals being possible per annum by converting the bagasse to cellulosic sugars:
http://www.altenergystocks.com/archives/2011/11/bagasse_the_big_prize_1.html
This is happening guys. It’s smoking hot in a different way from the pic. Pity we can’t switch into sugar cane here in the U.S.

Danny V
December 28, 2011 8:21 am

Car manufacturers are taking advantage of a CAFE fuel economy credit loophole when they produce E85 vehicles. Ever wonder how the super size pick up truck continues to be sold? E85 loophole is the answer. Everything is not always as it seems.

TomH
December 28, 2011 8:24 am

Celanese Corporation has a commercial catalytic natural gas-to-ethanol process (not an expensive Fischer Tropsch) that would significantly undercut the price of biomas ethanol. Unfortunately for consumers in the U.S., the congressional mandate to blend ethanol in gasoline stocks is specific to biomas ethanol. Celanese is building commercial scale natural gas-to-ethanol plants in China. ( http://celanesetcx.com/ )

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 8:28 am

It seems that the problem is solved so, why all the discussion of imports and subsidies? It really doesn’t matter where we get that first BTU – it could come from foreign oil or a man on a tread mill. All that matters is, once we have it we can make 1.6 BTU from it (the 6 to 8 seems really crazy) and then, through geometric progression, make as much energy as we want with absolutely no external input of energy. With it’s ability to amplify energy, we should be using 100% ethanol.
Why hasn’t this been done before and why are corn producers asking for subsidies? They should all be so busy counting their cash that they have no time for anything else. For the sake of argument, if one BTU costs $1 and you can make 1.6 BTU from it then, the 1.6 BTU can be sold for $1.60 – a 60% profit. What other business will give you this kind of return on your investment? And, using that logic, rather than selling it now, why not plow your 1.6 BTU back into ethanol making 2.56, then 4.09, then 6.55, then 10,48 etc. all the way up to infinite BTUs before selling? Your $1 investment will become infinite dollars in no time or maybe even 2x infinite dollars, or 100x infinite dollars or inifnite x infinite dollars.
NY state government funded three corn-ETOH plants within a 50 mi. radius of where I live to the tune of 10s if not 100s of millions of taxpayer dollars. One ran for a few months and the other two never really got into production. How could such an enormously profitable buisness have failed? It makes no sense – we should be making and storing ETOH BTUs in every available nook and cranny. Hell we should be building gargantuan space-based storage facilities for all of the free energy that can be produced from one dirty oil-based seed-BTU or one sweaty man-on-a-treadmill seed-BTU.
Maybe we should get that First BTU (the sacred one) from the sun or the wind making the input cost nothing (solar and wind power are free) making the % prorfit infinite with production of one ETOH BTU.

Mike M
December 28, 2011 8:30 am

jabre: Don’t forget the subsidies of oil.

I can’t forget something I never knew in the first place. Tell us about these ‘subsidies’ you speak of. From what I’ve heard, some people think subtracting the cost of labor and tooling on an oil company’s 1040 is considered a ‘subsidy’ – as though government somehow ‘paid’ for them?

Kevin Kilty
December 28, 2011 8:32 am

I agree entirely with MarkW who takes A. Scott to task for his assertion that speculators cause food price increases. In addition, a report from Argonne national lab (ANL) shows that for each BTU of energy input we end up with 1.34 BTU of energy in ethanol–a 34% increase, not the 60% increase stated above. In terms of liquid fuels, for each BTU input of diesel or gasoline, we get 6 to 8 Btu of ethanol energy. However, we use a lot of natural gas and coal to provide the balance of energy. The results depend upon how one apportions the energy content of the fuel versus the co-products–thus there is some uncertainty in estimates.
This report is obviously pro-corn ethanol, but it makes a good case that there is a small net gain from ethanol. In the conclusions we find a rosy picture painted for the future according to this report, because the inputs will all improve as they are subject to discipline by market forces — exactly what we have shielded ethanol production from. The advocates never see such irony. I doubt this will actually come to pass, because if we try to replace any large fraction of liquid fuels with corn ethanol we will have to begin using marginal farmland and so average corn yields will decline.
Regarding the claim that ethanol as a transportation fuel is always cleaner than the fuels it replaces, note that ethanol increases the volatile portion of gasoline, and leads to increased air pollution (haze in this case) from unburned hydrocarbon.

December 28, 2011 8:32 am

>> jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:22 am
Don’t forget the subsidies of oil. <<
Please list the subsidies of oil … and not just some link to a WWF type website.
How much do they amount to per gallon of fuel? Compare them to the per-gallon subsidies of ethanol. A quick back of the envelope calculation has the US producing 13 billion gallons of ethanol for a $6B subsidy, or just under $0.50 per gallon. I doubt that the oil company 'subsidies' come close to that.

PRD
December 28, 2011 8:34 am

Jabre, so the price of hay for my horses goes up? It’ll be beer for my horses before I know it.
Seriously, the cost of hay for livestock can force many small producers to “sell out” quickly. Selling out means that they lose the agricultural tax exemption on their property, causing them to lose the property, which then get’s purchased by developers who turn it into an exurban neighborhood. I’m seeing it happen before my eyes. The only thing stopping this eventuality for some is a Haynesville shale gas lease agreement, or if the owner is a minority family that has had the property title handed down since US Reconstruction and the title is claimed by so many heirs as to make the clearing of the title nigh on impossible.

PRD
December 28, 2011 8:38 am

Dang, as i clicked “Post Comment”, I realized the lack of clarity in my previous comments. The US Reconstruction property that was granted to freed slaves is somehow maintained as long as inheritance is passed down through the family. I’m not sure how property taxes are handled when the title is distributed amongst heirs which may be scattered from coast to coast. Property taxes may not even apply to land titles that reach back to Reconstruction private property grants. Please don’t take this to be a crass or heartless, mean spirited remark. This situation applies to properties all across the southern USA.

Eric (skeptic)
December 28, 2011 8:40 am

Presumably when A. Scott said “It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to create appx 1.6 BTU of ethanol energy using corn processes. It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to make 6 to 8 btu using cellulosic processes.” he is not suggesting creating energy from nothing.
He means it takes 1 BTU of fossil energy plus an large amount of solar energy to create the 1.6 or 6-8 BTU’s of ethanol energy. Here’s a similar example: when I cut down a tree and burn it in my wood stove the energy I used in my chainsaw (including manufacturing and maintenance) and my splitter was far less than the heat energy I created when I burned the wood (including stove losses).

eyesonu
December 28, 2011 8:40 am

The ethanol lobby has been out in full force on every site that I have seen an article on the ethanol industry. It happened here on WUWT about a year or so ago. I don’t remember the thread title but I remember the boiler room tactics of copy and paste, thread hijacking, misinformation, etc. A couple of years ago the same tactics were used on theoildrum.com but were decisively debunked. One of the articles there investigated the Energy Returned on Investment (EROI) of corn ethanol. It is NEGATIVE. I guess that energy experts are much better suited to smackdown claims made by ethanol advocates more so than those knowledgable in climate issues.
A Scott, there are so many holes in your posts here that I will not waste my time with you. Your boiler room of advocates are surely here now and will come to your rescue if need be. That is the way your ilk has operated in the past and I am sure will continue to do so. Your lobby has too much $$$$ at stake.
I will toss a couple of ideas for you /yours to chew on.
Cotten to corn plantings?
EROI?
Reduced MPG equal to or greater than the ethanol volume included (Leave out the 10 – 15% ethanol and use gas and gain 10 – 35% depending on the engine) ?
Drop in water tables for irrigation?
Fertilizer runoff?
The numbers you cite in you post?
You are either very misinformed or a troll for the ethanol lobby. I will bet the latter.
This is the limit of my time that I will waste with you.

denis
December 28, 2011 8:40 am

Making ethanol from sugar cane is seven times more efficient than making ethanol from corn.

Alf
December 28, 2011 8:41 am

So Red Green’s the guy behind all this, eh? Now it all makes sense….

Kevin Kilty
December 28, 2011 8:50 am

jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:22 am
You repeat all of the fallacies about global trade, oil marketing, and oil production that I can think of. We will never redirect the $252 B that goes into the purchase of imported petroleum–never–or at least not with ethanol. We cannot grow enough corn in the U.S. to replace more than 20% of our liquid fuels demand, and to get even to this level would lead to environmental issues you could not tolerate. The better path would be to use enhanced oil recovery on our own reserve, and import Canadian heavy oil to refine and export as higher value fuels (i.e. Keystone pipeline), but I’m certain you cannot tolerate any of this based on the other shibboleths you repeat.
The subsidies of the oil industry you quote are just wild guesses (WAGs) that do not stand up to any scrutiny, and the $480 per barrel figure you quote–well LOL, where does that implied subsidy of 20 MBBL per day times $480 = $9.6 B per day come from? (that’s 3.5 trillion dollars per year).
According to your economic fallacies we would be better-off to close our borders and just recycle and re-tax all dollars right here in some unspecified activities. Does it ever occur to you that as we alter completely huge portions of our economy and world trade, that there will be less work and lower pay all around?

Kevin Kilty
December 28, 2011 8:52 am

Cripes! The formatting occasionally trips me up.

jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:22 am

You repeat all of the fallacies about global trade, oil marketing, and oil production that I can think of. We will never redirect the $252 B that goes into the purchase of imported petroleum–never–or at least not with ethanol. We cannot grow enough corn in the U.S. to replace more than 20% of our liquid fuels demand, and to get even to this level would lead to environmental issues you could not tolerate. The better path would be to use enhanced oil recovery on our own reserve, and import Canadian heavy oil to refine and export as higher value fuels (i.e. Keystone pipeline), but I’m certain you cannot tolerate any of this based on the other shibboleths you repeat.
The subsidies of the oil industry you quote are just wild guesses (WAGs) that do not stand up to any scrutiny, and the $480 per barrel figure you quote–well LOL, where does that implied subsidy of 20 MBBL per day times $480 = $9.6 B per day come from? (that’s 3.5 trillion dollars per year).
According to your economic fallacies we would be better-off to close our borders and just recycle and re-tax all dollars right here in some unspecified activities. Does it ever occur to you that as we alter completely huge portions of our economy and world trade, that there will be less work and lower pay all around?.

ChE
December 28, 2011 8:58 am

Please identify the “subsidies” of which you speak. Also ensure you understand the difference between a subsidy and a tax credit.

Shh! Youa no harsha the buzz.

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 9:04 am

No matter where the magic extra energy comes from, if you can get a gain of 60% in BTUs then you can make a 60% profit or plow your product back into the process making the same gain with each cycle. It follows then that, after the input of one non ETOH BTU the ETOH cycle will, eventually, produce an infinite number of ETOH BTUs. If this is the case then there is no need for subsidies or any other source of energy, ever. If it is not the case then ETOH will need subsidies to support its production and will not improve or even replace our “fossil fuel” energy production.

James Sexton
December 28, 2011 9:07 am

“Sorry – it has also been repeatedly shown that any impact on food prices is exceedingly minuscule if any – the vast majority of food price increases are the result of speculators/speculation.”
=========================================================
That’s demonstrably untrue. Go here….. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Corn/Gallery/Background/CornUse.jpg Nearly 1/2 of the corn produced today goes to our fuel tanks. Now go here and compare both graphs at about the 2006 mark. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Corn/Gallery/Background/CornPriceReceivedAndProduction.jpg
But, we’re only talking about corn. What’s going on with our other food stuffs?
Here’s some planted acreage data…..
Corn, 86.0, 86.4, 88.0, 90.0,
Sorghum, 8.3, 6.6, 7.0, 7.0,
Wheat, 63.2, 59.1, 55.0, 56.0,
Rice, 3.0, 3.1, 3.1, 2.8,
Soybeans, 75.7, 77.5, 76.5, 73.5,
Barley, 4.2, 3.6, 3.6, 3.6,
Oats, 3.2, 3.4, 3.4, 3.4,
These are for years 2008-2011 if the formatting doesn’t hold, I separated the values with a comma. Every crop but oats have decreased in acreage planted since ethanol has revved up. But, that’s not the only place where we feel the impact. As the story states, ranchers are against ethanol as well, why? Because is caused feed to become too costly. We’re back to sneaking calves onto other peoples cattle trailers in the winter. For an .xls spreadsheet go here. http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/ers/94005/2010/Table17.xls
So, the rise in food prices isn’t related to increase in non-food and feed use? It isn’t related to the decrease in other foods acreage planted?

Gary
December 28, 2011 9:10 am

So Red Green’s the guy behind all this, eh? Now it all makes sense….

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati
Seriously, a guest post on ethanol (with references and links to data) by A. Scott would be welcomed.
Biofuels make sense if the benefits outweigh the costs, of course. However, it’s necessary to count everything in the equation.
And it should be done without subsidies and gov’t interference.

Judy F.
December 28, 2011 9:13 am

Starzmom @5:54
You are right. There is no difference in the corn raised for corn sweetener, animal feed or for ethanol. Americans ususally don’t eat field corn. We use it in lots and lots of stuff, but we don’t pick it and eat it on the cob or frozen from the grocery store. We eat sweet corn, which only goes for other purposes when it is too ripe to be enjoyed on the cob. Sweet corn plants are smaller and so are the ears of corn, so there is not a whole lot of value to harvest the plants for silage or the corn for feed. You make your money as corn on the cob, and dry corn stalks for Halloween decorations. Otherwise you leave the rest to feed the cows that graze down the stalks or for any local wildlife to enjoy.
Latitude @ 7:01
Usually, if an ethanol plant needs corn, they can get it two different ways. They might contract corn direct from the farmer, for example, for 1,000 bushels of corn. But the farmer might grow 2,000 bushels, and he will then sell or use the non-contracted corn however he wants to. The other way the ethanol plant might get corn is to contract directly with the local grain elevator. Either way, the farmer is going to grow his corn so that it can be sold anywhere, and he is not going to use extra chemicals in raising that corn, just to get rid of some extra chemicals he has laying around. I was at the bank the other day and a local farmer was making small talk with the bank teller, and he said that he had $100 per acre of inputs in raising his corn crop this year. We live in a marginal corn area- not as much rain as in the midwest, so his yields were lower than what a midwest farmer might get.
The only reason I see for relaxed chemical allowances is to allow imports that might not be as regulated as domestic corn is.

hotrod (Larry L)
December 28, 2011 9:13 am

Kevin Kilty says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:32 am
Regarding the claim that ethanol as a transportation fuel is always cleaner than the fuels it replaces, note that ethanol increases the volatile portion of gasoline, and leads to increased air pollution (haze in this case) from unburned hydrocarbon.

You only provided part of the information and out of context. The Reid Vapor pressure of gasoline ethanol mixtures is not linear with the percentage of blend. In fact the highest Reid Vapor pressure occurs at low ethanol blends. At higher ethanol blends Reid vapor pressure actually drops significantly below that of straight gasoline. The highest RVPs were observed with relatively low concentrations (5-20%, v/v), the non-ideal mixtures then drop and flatten out their vapor pressure over a large range of mixtures.
http://saefuel.saejournals.org/content/1/1/132.abstract
The effect you refer to also depends on the specific blend of gasoline the ethanol is added to as well. This was one of the issues with fuel ethanol added in California. Some of the fuel blends that they used in their reformulated blends, when mixed with ethanol added blends from out side the area had significantly higher evaporative emissions than either blend alone. This was a problem until MTBE was outlawed as an oxygenate due to its propensity for contaminating ground water from leaking fuel storage tanks. Now that ethanol added oxygenate is the dominant blend this issue has largely disappeared.
Larry

Rujholla
December 28, 2011 9:24 am

To those of you commenting about the creation of energy, you do realize that energy is coming from the sun, it isn’t actually being created. Don’t be intentionally obtuse.

Kevin Kilty
December 28, 2011 9:28 am

A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 3:06 am
Sorry – it has also been repeatedly shown that any impact on food prices is exceedingly minuscule if any – the vast majority of food price increases are the result of speculators/speculation. If you want to see volatility largely disappear and food prices moderate prevent all speculation by anyone who does not take delivery of the product. THAT would be a meaningful impact on food prices.

I can’t stand this statement going un-examined.
To eliminate speculators in a market reduces liquidity. If you reduce liquidity in a market then what occurs is that trades cannot be made until rather large swings in price occur. In effect you reduce the ability to complete trades at small increments of price and increase market volatility. If you limit trading activity to only those who take physical delivery of commodities, then you no longer have a futures market, but rather only a forward contracts market. Such market is not much different than barter and is costly and inefficient. Moreover, even people who deal in the commodity do not always take delivery, but would like the insurance provided by hedging that only a liquid futures and options market can provide. Finally, proof that futures markets with speculators to provide liquidity reduces volatility comes from an analysis of the onions futures market which existed in the 1950s but does no longer. Please stop repeating the left-propaganda about speculators and markets.

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 9:28 am

1.6 > 1.0. If you can turn 1.0 schmeckels into 1.6 schmeckels then you have a .6 schmeckel gain. Plowing the schmeckles back into the schmeckel cycle will, over time, provide you with an infinite number of schmeckels for the cost of one schmeckel. Doodad subsidies don’t effect the schmeckle cycle because doodads have a gain of 1.0. If you put a doodad in you get one out so, you can subsidise doodads all day long without effecting the schmeckel. Because, as with any system with a gain of greater than one, the schmeckle is pure profit that only increases with time. This to say nothing of the groznik that has a gain of 6 to 8. The groznik is better than the schmeckel because the groznik cycle gets to infinity faster. So, let’s scrap schmeckels and go with the groznik and, instead of a subsidy, I would suggest that we collect a small tax on every groznik sold. After all the sale of infinity grozniks will produce infinite tax revenues freeing the workers of the world from paying them.

eyesonu
December 28, 2011 9:31 am

To the readers of WUWT: Click on the ‘full story’ link at the end of the lead article. Read it.

Judy F.
December 28, 2011 9:31 am

I just called the local elevator and corn is up today, selling for $6.13 / bushel. If you look at the link I provide below, you can see that some of the Western Nebraska counties have yields in the 100-130 bushel/acre range. With $100 per acre direct input, the farmers in this area have a pretty tight budget in order to make a profit.
http://www.nebraskacorn.org/main-navigation/corn-production-uses/production/

jabre
December 28, 2011 9:32 am

mkelly and others:
Canada is less than 25% of our oil source – have a look at the list of ‘friendly’ nations we’re subsidizing: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_m.htm & http://205.254.135.7/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html.
Kevin Kilty and others:
Your arguments about redirecting corn crops are totally off the mark. As I indicated the initial subsidies which were based on corn are now being phased out. If anyone wants to produce ethanol and continue to receive subsidies they must now produce a cellulosic (non-corn, non-sugar) source. Read the legislation.
Kevin Kilty and others: “WAGs”
I try not to snipe but you have got to be kidding – what planet have been on since the ’70’s? Are you implying that are military spending in the Middle East, Arab/Persian nations is for the sole purpose of befriending the world? Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia – tell me, why do we care about these countries and spend trillions invading and defending them?
$480/barrel source : if you actually read the reference is Milton Copulus, the head of the National Defense Council Foundation, former principal energy analyst for the Heritage Foundation – not much of a greenee – huh? As I said, there are many hundreds of references which break down the cost – just google.

December 28, 2011 9:38 am

philincalifornia says on December 28, 2011 at 8:21 am

This is happening guys. It’s smoking hot in a different way from the pic. Pity we can’t switch into sugar cane here in the U.S.

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” *
Are you aware of the latitude differences between the US vs Brazil, Phil?
.
.
* Origins

December 28, 2011 9:39 am

“Congress ends corn ethanol subsidy.”
Does this mean that the mandate to use 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022 has been suspended? Does the EPA still get to fine everyone for missing the mandate?

mkelly
December 28, 2011 9:41 am

Eric (skeptic) says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:40 am
Presumably when A. Scott said “It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to create appx 1.6 BTU of ethanol energy using corn processes. It takes appx 1 BTU of energy to make 6 to 8 btu using cellulosic processes.” he is not suggesting creating energy from nothing.
What is not clear if he is only counting the manufacturing plant energy of 1 BTU to get 1.6 BTU or if this includes the planting & harvest of seed corn, packaging/transport of seed corn, the fertilizer/tilling ground for the corn, the planting/harvest of the ethanol corn, the transport of the corn to the ethanol manufacturer. Not counting the manufacture of the tractor, havestor, semi, etc approtioned to this application.
Besides the BTU(calories) in one 20 gal tank would feed a person for a 2/3 of a year. The trade off doesn’t seem equal.
“Approximately 21,300 human-available calories in a US gallon of pure ethanol.” found at a site.

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 9:45 am

All of the energy contained from corn comes from the sun and the nutrients (natural and enhanced) in the soil. I fail to see how that is at all relevant to this discussion. The 1 BTU of input energy is required to convert the energy in the corn from one chemical form to another: carbohydrate to alcohol. I submit to you that net energy that goes into the production of 1 BTU of corn energy is greater than 1 BTU, All systems that we are aware of are less than 100% efficient for an efficiency of greater than unity can only be a perpetual motion machine that is run on magic. If ETOH produced from corn or any other source contained more energy than is used to create it then all I can say is: WOW!!!!!!!!! Let’s all get on the ETOH bandwagon because it doesn’t need our tax dollars to keep it solvent. It should be a boon to mankind the likes of which have never been seen before. (If we drink a lot of it will it make us understand the logic of pouring good high-energy-density fuels down the drain to produce it?)

Downdraft
December 28, 2011 9:49 am

Ok, I looked at the report Jabre referenced (December 28, 2011 at 7:22 am). It appears to be complete nonsense. The study apparently uses new math, and attributes all the ills and costs of society to oil, then multiplies by 3 just to make a stronger case. Where have we seen that tactic before? It is good for a laugh, but that’s about all.
If, as A. Scott says (December 28, 2011 at 2:52 am), ethanol from corn is such a good thing, then why the subsidies and tariffs? It is the distortion in the free market that is the issue for me. There is no doubt, however, that the increase in demand for corn above what it would otherwise have been drove the price up (check the price charts at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Corn/2010baseline.htm). It also placed more land under cultivation of a water hungry crop, and caused starvation in the poorest countries because the NGO’s couldn’t afford to buy as much corn.
According to http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/AF/265.pdf, the production of 1.34 BTU of ethanol from corn takes 1BTU of some other fuel. If that other fuel is something other than a fossil fuel, for example electric from solar, hydro, nuclear, etc., then there is a real energy advantage. This is a case where the energy is not fungible. We could convert nuclear power into liquid fuels, which is also a pretty good way to store energy (better than in a battery). The process could be closed loop and self sustaining. (Nuclear generated electric to run the ethanol plants to produce the ethanol to power tractors, pumps, and trucks, and make the fertilizer) with the surplus sold to be added to gasoline.
Congress has mandated that we use 22B gallons of renewable fuels by 2022 vs. 9B in 2008. That is equivalent to about 4.5% of our total petroleum consumption in terms of BTU’s. Hardly a path to energy independence.
The loss of subsidies will transfer the costs to the buyer of the fuel directly, where it belongs. The loss of the tariff protection will help allow the markets to work as they should.

ChE
December 28, 2011 9:56 am

As several have noted, with the mandate still in place, all this means is the pump price rising. So now, instead of the government subsidizing the difference out of tax money collected from the top income earners, it’ll be paid by everyone. The greens get what they want. Higher pump prices, for everyone down to the bottom. This is called “progressive”.

Blade
December 28, 2011 9:56 am

jabre [December 28, 2011 at 7:22 am] says:
“If you have some time read the Energy Independence act of 2007. In many ways it is shockingly good legislation with respect to renewable fuels.”
Right. Legislation that attempts to reach into every home, even the bedrooms, to dictate light bulb selection. I thought you leftist drones were against government in the bedrooms! Oh, right, only when it suits your agenda and coincides with your green religious beliefs.

“If we can do nothing else but redirect the $252 Billion of annual oil import dollars into the local economy it will significantly outweigh the relatively modest subsidy used to develop the industry necessary to support the transition.”

You green nitwits just don’t get it (or perhaps you do ;-), attempting to redirect the $252 Billion of annual oil import dollars into the local economy means there will be no local economy. Never-mind the fact that your ilk first CAUSED the dependence on foreign oil in the first place by systematically attacking every facet of the energy supply chain, even locking down our own resources. Then you turn around and talk about dependence on foreign oil! This is like a murderer who kills the parents and criticizes the children for being orphans.
To the normal intelligent people engaging in these energy debates, you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that you are no longer in a academic Scientific or Ecological argument. The enemy is green socialism, period. They are simply modern retreads of past historical luddites and diggers. The new twist is the green eco-nazi component (pioneered by such nutjobs as Paul Ehrlich) in an unholy cabal with modern political socialism. This is what makes them very dangerous to free people anywhere in the world.
They are fully committed to their sick, pathetic religion. And they will never let up. Look at what the quoted commenter said (presumably with a straight face): redirect the $252 Billion of annual oil import dollars into the local economy. These people are fully prepared to destroy modern industrialized society and send us back into a fairy tale of neo-Agrarianism, and believe me, they are fully prepared to embrace the massive de-population necessary to acheive this. It matters not that petroleum and its derivatives appear in every single thing we use in our modern, healthy, long lives. In fact, that is the actual point to their obsessive compulsive need to kill off petroleum.

December 28, 2011 10:01 am

jabre,
Your argument/your cited reference has been
adjudged to be “complete nonsense”; are you going to stand for that?
.

John F. Hultquist
December 28, 2011 10:02 am

morgo says:
December 28, 2011 at 1:24 am
“maybe we should eating wood chips instead of corn ? what are the left wing greenys eating.the answer [grass]

I believe the answer is Arugula.
http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Produce-440/arugula.aspx
That would be according to our current president.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
December 28, 2011 10:02 am

As the difficulty of producing cellulosic biofuels cheaply becomes apparent

The difficulty of breaking the covalent carbon bonds of the cellulose chain was painfully apparent to us at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1980, when we first studied this process. Enzymes from termite gut bacteria yadda yadda yadda….
Some scams just never go away. If they want ethyl alcohol so badly, let them capture the waste sugars of beverage bottling plants, cheese whey and other industrial effluents. Kraft Foods did this with parmesan cheese whey permeate at a plant in Minnesota, slick as hell.
Make mine shale oil and natural gas.

JFB
December 28, 2011 10:03 am

_Jim says:
December 28, 2011 at 9:38 am
philincalifornia says on December 28, 2011 at 8:21 am

This is happening guys. It’s smoking hot in a different way from the pic. Pity we can’t switch into sugar cane here in the U.S.
“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” *
Are you aware of the latitude differences between the US vs Brazil, Phil?


Jim, Philincalifornia, Brazil is adapting a new variety of sugar cane suitable for the south where the climate is subtropical (State of Rio Grande do Sul).
North:
Latitude: -27º 04′ 48”
Longitude: -53º 01′ 53”
South:
Latitude: -33º 45′ 06′
Longitude: -53º 23′ 48”

Spen
December 28, 2011 10:06 am

This subsidy is one of the most immoral of all government subventions and the environmental lobby groups like Greenpeace should hang their heads in shame. The diversion of corn yields into fuel and non-food production has had a major impact on the international cost of food. Who are the main sufferers? – the poor worldwide of course.

eyesonu
December 28, 2011 10:08 am

I knew the trolls were here and would come to A. Scotts rescue.
I knew you would be here ‘hotrod’ [hotrod (Larry L) says: December 28, 2011 at 8:09 am]. Where is ‘220 mph’?
See:eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:40 am
The post that I referred to on WUWT about a year age being hijacked by the ethanol lobby was hijacked by you; ‘hotrod’ and ‘220 mph’. Remember the multiple ‘cut and paste’ comments that you two performed by posting long comments that took 10 minutes to read yet you were posting one after another only a few minutes apart over several hours, that likely took hours to produce with the related links.
So the ethanol trolls are here in force and now include A.Scott. Maybe you should change your ‘tags’ as you have been outed.
Trolls.

Pofarmer
December 28, 2011 10:09 am

“I was told that corn for ethanol is not regulated the same as corn for food or feed, so you can use a lot more or different pesticides, etc”
No difference on any of the above between any types of commercial corn. There are different restrictions for sweet corn, but all field corns, which include corn used for chips, sweetners, ethanol, and livestock feed, have the same rules.

December 28, 2011 10:09 am

I hate to be an ant at the corn ethanol picnic, but to meet a 36billion gals/year mandate by 2022, you still need to build the plants.
If we are going to burn our food in gas tanks at such an outrageous rate by 2022, the figures to build the plants should be figured into the btu needed to create the btu out of food grains.
And to be a further ant at the green energy mandate picnic, grains are a thing which people need to eat. With food prices globally going up over 25% in one year, it might not be best to mandate such an outrageous amount of food to be burned in a gas tank. A gas tank is meant for gas, which can be found in ANWR and in the deep sea beds.

cwj
December 28, 2011 10:10 am

To look at the historic price of corn, I found a site from the University of Illinois on the price of corn received by farmers in Illinois, in dollars per bushel. I used the calendar year annual average price. I then found a Consumer Price Index from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and used the annual average CPI. I adjusted the price of the corn to 2010 prices according to the CPI. The numbers are as shown below for every five years. The average for 2011 is based on January through October and is my calculation from the values presented, and is not adjusted to 2010 prices.
As can be seen by the data, the current price of corn is not high by historical standards. The 2010 inflation adjusted price was actually less than 1990 and before. The current price is less than the Price in 1980 and before. In fact the data shows that the price of corn has been at a historic low level and is just returning to prior levels.
Year, Annual Average, CPI, Price in 2010 dollars
1960 1.03 29.60 7.59
1965 1.19 31.50 8.24
1970 1.27 38.80 7.14
1975 2.72 53.80 11.02
1980 2.78 82.40 7.36
1985 2.53 107.60 5.13
1990 2.46 130.70 4.10
1995 2.61 152.40 3.73
2000 1.90 172.20 2.41
2005 2.04 195.30 2.28
2010 3.85 218.06 3.85
2011 6.17
ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/cpi/cpiai.txt
http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/manage/pricehistory/price_history.html

henrychance
December 28, 2011 10:17 am

Good news for Koch industries. They just a few weeks ago bought a plant that was built for 50 million and paid 5 million. Of course they had a few from recent bargain purchases. In Georgia a celulosic plant closed 300 million subsidy and almost zero poduction before closing. Now the Government is forking many millions for Abengoa to build a plant in SW Kansas. Cellulosic won’t work and will also fail.
It takes a lot of petroleum to plant, harvest and produce corn and then a lot of natural gas to brew ethanol and dehydrate it. Promoters forget to add that pollution to the carbon claims.

hotrod (Larry L)
December 28, 2011 10:20 am

I submit to you that net energy that goes into the production of 1 BTU of corn energy is greater than 1 BTU, All systems that we are aware of are less than 100% efficient for an efficiency of greater than unity can only be a perpetual motion machine that is run on magic.

So you are saying a hydro electric dam can never generate more power than the amount of energy used to build the dam? An oil refinery can never produce more gasoline, fuel oil, JP4 or diesel fuel energy than the amount of fuel burned to build the refinery?
Get a grip — we are not talking about recovery of energy in an inelastic collision or the actual energy released when a compound burns compared to the total energy contained in the chemical bonds and actually used to form the compound.
We are talking about the ratio of direct operational energy inputs to run the process compared to the total chemical energy stored in the output ethanol, which includes a surplus of energy from work done by the plants as they grew which is mostly free save the energy costs involved in growing and harvesting the plants. (which by the way is included in those calculations)
Gasoline only produces .85 BTU of fuel energy delivered to the consumer for every 1.00 BTU invested in the refining and delivery chain, but it is still a useful product because you are also getting 19,000 btu / lb of hydrocarbon in free stored energy invested by the sun and geothermal energy over the millions of years it took to turn that bio mass into raw crude. This is the exact same stored energy the corn plant puts into the corn starch, just that the storage process is happening in real time rather than drawing down an energy deposit made long long before man walked the earth.
Larry

cwj
December 28, 2011 10:22 am

An old farmer, my father-in-law, once told me the best way to increase the organic content of soil is to grow continuous corn. The roots, stubble, and debris were left in the field to decay and added to the organic matter. That was in the 1970’s. With the increase in plant densities since then from roughly 25,000 plants per acre to now approaching 40,000 plants per acre, even more organic material is being left in the field. So the assertion that we are depleting the soil to produce ethanol from corn is not true. If 25,000 plants added to the organic matter, 40,000 plants would add even more.
Removing the corn stover as a feedstock for ethanol production, if done to excess, would deplete the organic material in the soil. So the best way to prevent soil depletion is to leave the stover and make the ethanol from the corn.

Pofarmer
December 28, 2011 10:30 am

The problem with the whole 36 billion gallons by 2022 thing, is that it was supposed to be primarily cellulosic ethanol. There is not ONE, NONE, NOWHERE commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plants in production right now, even pilot plant projects are few and far apart and in the plannting stages, and in 10 years we are supposed to be making something on the order of 20 billion gallons of it? Okaaayyyyyy. The truth of the matter is, without subsidies far outweighing that given to corn Ethanol, there would be virtually nothing being done on cellulosic ethanol, and the vast majority of what is being done is to capture govt grants and may never make even a drop of Ethanol.

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 10:30 am

Zeke says:
“Congress ends corn ethanol subsidy.”
Does this mean that the mandate to use 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022 has been suspended? Does the EPA still get to fine everyone for missing the mandate?
The mandate still exists, they are simply removing the subsidy. This will not cause us not to meet the mandate, it will simply cost more for each gallon of gas/ETOH that we consume. It transfers the cost from the federal taxpayer to EVERYONE, making it a regressive “tax’ on the little guy. This cannot stand – the subsidy will be back unless they remove the mandate.

December 28, 2011 10:32 am

_Jim says:
December 28, 2011 at 9:38 am
philincalifornia says on December 28, 2011 at 8:21 am

This is happening guys. It’s smoking hot in a different way from the pic. Pity we can’t switch into sugar cane here in the U.S.
“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” *
Are you aware of the latitude differences between the US vs Brazil, Phil?
====================================
Yep. That was, in fact, my point Jim.
“it is useless to wish and that better results will be achieved through action”
On that note, more than a couple of the big advanced biofuel players (the ones that got off their IPOs) are upgrading plants down in Brazil now. My lament was for the U.S. economy, but I shouldn’t begrudge the Brazilians their success in harnessing their climate.

December 28, 2011 10:34 am

JFB says on December 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

… Brazil is adapting a new variety of sugar cane suitable for the south where the climate is subtropical (State of Rio Grande do Sul).

Really!!??
Got any references you can cite on that? This isn’t like the Jatropha plant that hasn’t really panned out for vegetable oil production, is it?
BTW, the name is “_Jim” on account of all the Jims on the board …
.

December 28, 2011 10:40 am

“The extraordinary collapse of Jatropha as a biofuel”
Posted on August 7, 2011 by Anthony Watts
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/07/the-extraordinary-collapse-of-jatropha-as-a-biofuel/
(Story submitted by Ronald C. Henry)
The current American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology has a most amazing story demonstrating the foolish, indeed outright dangerous, application of the “precautionary principle” to AGW mitigation.
The story is at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es201943v, but all you really need to know is summarized in the last paragraph.
[ Note from Anthony: IPCC co-author, Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz paper entitled “Yield and Oil Content Ideotypes Specification in Jatropha curcas L.” won Best Scientific Poster Award for Agricultural Sciences by the National Academy of Science and Technology on July 15, 2010.
It looks like Al Gore via his Goldman Sachs train-wreck had a hand in this nonsense too. See the Wikipedia description for Jatropha:
In 2007 Goldman Sachs cited Jatropha curcas as one of the best candidates for future biodiesel production. It is resistant to drought and pests, and produces seeds containing 27-40% oil, averaging 34.4%. The remaining press cake of jatropha seeds after oil extraction could also be considered for energy production. However, despite their abundance and use as oil and reclamation plants, none of the Jatropha species have been properly domesticated and, as a result, their productivity is variable, and the long-term impact of their large-scale use on soil quality and the environment is unknown. ]
The Extraordinary Collapse of Jatropha as a Global Biofuel
Promode Kant , Institute of Green Economy, C-312, Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024, India
Shuirong Wu Chinese Academy of Forestry, Wanshoushan, Haidian District, Beijing 100091, China
Blending of fossil diesel with biodiesel is an important climate change mitigation strategy across the world. In 2003 the Planning Commission of India decided to introduce mandatory blending over increasingly larger parts of the country and reach countrywide 30% blending status by the year 2020 and opted for nonedible oilseed species of Jatropha curcus raised over lands unsuited to agriculture as it was considered to be high in oil content, early yielding, nonbrowsable and requiring little irrigation and even less management.
In a massive planting program of unprecedented scale millions of marginal farmers and landless people were encouraged to plant Jatropha across India through attractive schemes.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
More – see link above

MarkW
December 28, 2011 10:43 am

jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:22 am
There are no subsidies for oil. The tax break that most complain about, is nothing more than the same depreciation allowances that all other manufacturers use.

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 10:44 am

Downdraft – excellent post!. The problem with unreliable energy sources such as wind and solar is the fickle nature of energy demand. If the energy from these sources were buffered then they would become reliable. One method might be to power pumps to raise the potential energy of water or some other substance however, using that energy to produce ETOH makes a great deal of sense. It could well be the best energy buffering methodology available allowing us to make use of the tens or hundreds of billions invested thus far in wind and solar boondoggles.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 10:44 am

If you are concerned about the price of oil, then support opening up all energy sources here in the US. Don’t know if we can become completely self sufficient, but we can get pretty close.

Pofarmer
December 28, 2011 10:45 am

“Gasoline only produces .85 BTU of fuel energy delivered to the consumer for every 1.00 BTU invested in the refining and delivery chain, ”
This is not a correct comparison. That only looks at the BTU’s going into the refinery, and the energy required to refine and deliver the end product. It does not look at the total energy balance of oil, only of the refining process. Total EROI of oil is something like 1 in to 10 out.

jabre
December 28, 2011 10:50 am

Downdraft: ‘I looked at the report Jabre referenced’
– no you did not. The $480B (annual) was a specific reference from within that page not the summary conclusion. To go into his details:
The true cost of importing oil to the US includes the following aspects:
The cost of the oil ($2.50)
Oil-related defense expenditures ($3.79)
The loss of domestic employment and related economic activity due to cash outflow for oil ($3.23)
The reduction in investment capital ($10.85)
The loss of local, state and federal tax revenues ($1.18)
The economic toll periodic oil supply disruptions impose on the domestic economy ($3.65)
Federal subsidies for oil & gas industry ($0.69)
The market cost of carbon ($0.18)
Pricing shown per US tax payer; assumes $60 per barrel of oil and $20 per ton of CO2
Source: Testimony of Milton R. Copulos, President, National Defense Council Foundation, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 30, 2006; IMF, 2008; EIA; CleanTech Group, 2007; US Census Bureau; Experian Automotive; Paper presented to Congressional staff members by NDCF President Milt Copulos, January 8, 2007
You may argue as you will with the details. But, I challenge you to redefine your perspective of this to less than the $1/gal that cellulosic ethanol is receiving.
‘ethanol from corn’ – overlooking the fact that the corn-based ethanol subsidies are phasing out. It’s algal/cellulosic – no corn unless you’re just using the stalk. (http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=IssueItems.Detail&IssueItem_ID=f10ca3dd-fabd-4900-aa9d-c19de47df2da&Month=12&Year=2007). Read sec 201 for more details on the definition of advanced.
Since most folks just want to argue and aren’t willing to spend the time to review links in detail:
HR: 6-31
(2) APPLICABLE VOLUMES OF RENEWABLE FUEL.—Subparagraph (B) is amended to read as follows:
‘‘(B) APPLICABLE VOLUMES.—
‘‘(i) CALENDAR YEARS AFTER 2005.—
‘‘(I) RENEWABLE FUEL.—For the purpose of subparagraph (A), the applicable volume of renew-able fuel for the calendar years 2006 through 2022 shall be determined in accordance with the following table:
Applicable volume of renewable fuel ‘‘Calendar year: (in billions of gallons):
2006 …………………………………………………………………… 4.0
2007 …………………………………………………………………… 4.7
2008 …………………………………………………………………… 9.0
2009 …………………………………………………………………… 11.1
2010 …………………………………………………………………… 12.95
2011 …………………………………………………………………… 13.95
2012 …………………………………………………………………… 15.2
2013 …………………………………………………………………… 16.55
2014 …………………………………………………………………… 18.15
2015 …………………………………………………………………… 20.5
2016 …………………………………………………………………… 22.25
2017 …………………………………………………………………… 24.0
2018 …………………………………………………………………… 26.0
2019 …………………………………………………………………… 28.0
2020 …………………………………………………………………… 30.0
2021 …………………………………………………………………… 33.0
2022 …………………………………………………………………… 36.0
‘‘(II) ADVANCED BIOFUEL.—For the purpose of subparagraph (A), of the volume of renewable fuel required under subclause (I), the applicable volume of advanced biofuel for the calendar years 2009 through 2022 shall be determined in accordance with the following table:
Applicable volume of advanced biofuel ‘‘Calendar year: (in billions of gallons):
2009 …………………………………………………………………… 0.6
2010 …………………………………………………………………… 0.95
2011 …………………………………………………………………… 1.35
2012 …………………………………………………………………… 2.0
2013 …………………………………………………………………… 2.75
2014 …………………………………………………………………… 3.75
2015 …………………………………………………………………… 5.5
2016 …………………………………………………………………… 7.25
2017 …………………………………………………………………… 9.0
2018 …………………………………………………………………… 11.0
2019 …………………………………………………………………… 13.0
2020 …………………………………………………………………… 15.0
2021 …………………………………………………………………… 18.0
2022 …………………………………………………………………… 21.0
‘‘(III) CELLULOSIC BIOFUEL.—For the purpose of subparagraph (A), of the volume of advanced biofuel required under subclause (II), the applicable volume of cellulosic biofuel for the calendar years 2010 through 2022 shall be determined in accordance with the following table:
Applicable volume of cellulosic biofuel ‘‘Calendar year: (in billions of gallons):
2010 …………………………………………………………………… 0.1
2011 …………………………………………………………………… 0.25
2012 …………………………………………………………………… 0.5
2013 …………………………………………………………………… 1.0
2014 …………………………………………………………………… 1.75
2015 …………………………………………………………………… 3.0
2016 …………………………………………………………………… 4.25
2017 …………………………………………………………………… 5.5
2018 …………………………………………………………………… 7.0
2019 …………………………………………………………………… 8.5
2020 …………………………………………………………………… 10.5
2021 …………………………………………………………………… 13.5
2022 …………………………………………………………………… 16.0
‘‘(IV) BIOMASS-BASED DIESEL.—For the purpose of subparagraph (A), of the volume of advanced biofuel required under subclause (II), the applicable volume of biomass-based diesel for the calendar years 2009 through 2012 shall be deter-
mined in accordance with the following table: Applicable volume of biomass based diesel
‘‘Calendar year: (in billions of gallons):
2009 …………………………………………………………………… 0.5
2010 …………………………………………………………………… 0.65
2011 …………………………………………………………………… 0.80
2012 …………………………………………………………………… 1.0

eyesonu
December 28, 2011 10:51 am

Blade says:
December 28, 2011 at 9:56 am
=================
Bingo!

david
December 28, 2011 10:55 am

C’mon Sal Minella!
No perpetual motion here!
The only question here, is if the 1 BTU represents all the costs associated from the moment the corn is planted until it arrives as ethonal at the pump, or as some are questioning here, does it only represent the energy needed at the factory to convert the sugar to ethonal.
Perhaps A. Scott could clarify that, and while doing so, perhaps he could phrase it so that the “perpetual motion” comments are avoided.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 10:55 am

jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 9:32 am
I can’t believe that any person with a functioning brain actually believes that the only reason we have a military is to protect oil.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 10:58 am

ChE says:
December 28, 2011 at 9:56 am
The difference is that as long as the subsidy was hidden, there was little demand for getting rid of the mandate. Now that the mandate is impacting the price that people pay, it might be easier to get the mandate repealed as well.

December 28, 2011 11:01 am

Apropos for this thread too (Onion parody):

December 28, 2011 11:01 am

CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:02 am
The difficulty of breaking the covalent carbon bonds of the cellulose chain was painfully apparent to us at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1980, when we first studied this process. Enzymes from termite gut bacteria yadda yadda yadda….
=====================================
Yes, unfortunately the latest developments in molecular biology and enzyme evolution are beyond paywalled. They’re not even published for proprietary reasons. You can, however, find a lot on the chemical methodologies in the patent literature. There’s a lot of new, good stuff in this field. My prediction is that it will indeed find an infrastructure, for higher value specialty chemicals first though.

Frank Kotler
December 28, 2011 11:04 am

With the production of artificial fertilizers, we have been converting “fuel to food” for some time. Just sayin’…

James Sexton
December 28, 2011 11:09 am

cwj says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:10 am
To look at the historic price of corn, I found a site from the University of Illinois on the price of corn received by farmers in Illinois, in dollars per bushel…….
=======================================================
Have a look at this. While much of the increase return would be because of higher yields, it is also because of higher pricing. Further, like most other commodities, looking at present day pricing, one needs to factor in the recession.
http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Corn/Gallery/gallery2010/NetReturn.gif
(other examples of recession lowering prices….. http://suyts.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/image_thumb30.png?w=630&h=348 http://suyts.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/image_thumb18.png?w=560&h=385 )

hotrod (larry L)
December 28, 2011 11:12 am

Pofarmer says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:45 am
“Gasoline only produces .85 BTU of fuel energy delivered to the consumer for every 1.00 BTU invested in the refining and delivery chain, ”
This is not a correct comparison. That only looks at the BTU’s going into the refinery, and the energy required to refine and deliver the end product. It does not look at the total energy balance of oil, only of the refining process. Total EROI of oil is something like 1 in to 10 out.

Correct, — but it is the same bogus energy accounting used by the anti-ethanol group to discredit fuel ethanol with intentionally misleading energy accounting.
Larry

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 11:14 am

Hotrod says:
So you are saying a hydro electric dam can never generate more power than the amount of energy used to build the dam? An oil refinery can never produce more gasoline, fuel oil, JP4 or diesel fuel energy than the amount of fuel burned to build the refinery?
Hotrod, Hotrod, Hotrod. The hydro dam does not convert the energy used to build it into electricity. The same is true with the refinery.
Since you seem earnest in making that statement, I will explain both the hydro plant and the refinery.
In the case of the hydro plant, as water flows from a greater altitude to a lesser altitude some of it’s potential energy is converted to kinetic energy and that is the energy that we exploit. The pouring of concrete to create the dam and the casting and drawing of metal to create the dynamos is not where the energy comes from it is simply the means of converting the waters kinetic energy into electricity ( it is less than 100% efficient by the way).
You might get the picture but, then again you might not so, I’ll explain the refinery to you as well. The bricks, mortar, metals, ceramics, glass, etc. used to build the refinery are not converted to gasoline. The gasoline comes from a feedstock that is known as oil. Oil is material that stores energy from some other source such as the sun or geothermal. The conversion of oil to gasoline is less than 100% efficient as well. Being less than 100% efficient means that some energy is lost in the conversion process.
In both cases it is quite likely that the wind and the sun were the source of potential energy that is stored in these materials. The dam cycle is probably shorter than the oil or coal cycle but in all cases more than one BTU had to be put into the system in order to get one BTU out. Only magic can make one BTU in into greater thanone BTU out
So, when you say that you get 1.6 BTU of energy out for each 1.0 BTU in you vioalte some very basic scientific principles that we all learned in grade-school.
Every BTU of energy produced from any source takes more than a BTU to produce it otherwise there would be no impending future energy crisis, Instead of “using up” our energy sources we would be constantly adding to them, creating an infinite amount of energy from, essentially, nothing.

GeoLurking
December 28, 2011 11:17 am

Sal Minella says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:44 am
“… If the energy from these sources were buffered then they would become reliable. One method might be to power pumps to raise the potential energy of water or some other substance however, using that energy to produce ETOH makes a great deal of sense. It could well be the best energy buffering methodology available allowing us to make use of the tens or hundreds of billions invested thus far in wind and solar boondoggles.”
Until the dam breaks.
Taum Sauk pumped storage plant
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taum_Sauk_Hydroelectric_Power_Station

hotrod (larry L)
December 28, 2011 11:19 am

eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:08 am
I knew the trolls were here and would come to A. Scotts rescue.

The only troll here is you.
You magically pop up every time there is a substantive discussion of fuel ethanol or any pro-oil discussion. I have been posting here for years on lots of other topics, but you are a one man band of ad-homonym attacks and misinformation directed at anyone that tries to present the other side of the story that is conveniently ignored by the folks who are against ethanol.
Your tactics are exactly the same small minded sort of character assassination attacks with no substance as we see from the global warming crowd and simply will not fly here.
If you have facts or personal observations you wish to contribute to the discussion, please carry on an adult discussion, otherwise please go back into your hole.
Larry

cwj
December 28, 2011 11:20 am

MarkW: “There are no subsidies for oil. The tax break that most complain about, is nothing more than the same depreciation allowances that all other manufacturers use.”
Oil producers get a depletion allowance of 15 percent of the gross income from all the oil they pump, regardless of the depreciation. If the depreciation of the capital investment to develop the field is greater than the depletion allowance they can claim depreciation instead. I don’t think other manufacturers get that sweet a deal. Other manufacturers may get accelerated depreciation, but they do not get to claim more than their capital investment. This is a subsidy to the oil business in the US.

December 28, 2011 11:22 am

_Jim says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:34 am
JFB says on December 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

… Brazil is adapting a new variety of sugar cane suitable for the south where the climate is subtropical (State of Rio Grande do Sul).
Really!!??
Got any references you can cite on that? This isn’t like the Jatropha plant that hasn’t really panned out for vegetable oil production, is it?
BTW, the name is “_Jim” on account of all the Jims on the board …
====================================================
This thread’s great. I’m learning so much new stuff. Thanks Anthony.
_Jim, here’s a start:
http://www.scielo.br/pdf/pab/v45n10/01.pdf
We’ll probably see an acceleration of this as Monsanto appears to be entering with its powerhouse breeding systems.
http://monsanto.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=656
Also a tip: Don’t compare sugarcane with Jatropha

jabre
December 28, 2011 11:23 am

Jim – LOL – you like poking a stick and getting people going 😉
Blade – take a valium. I am hardly a greenee. I used a Heritage Foundation reference and that’s what you call me? LOL You quoted me ‘shockingly good legislation with respect to renewable fuels’ then go on a tirade about light bulbs? Really, I agree with most of the comments. End the subsidies. But, make it a level playing field if you’re going to do it. Cut our defense spending in the middle east to zero and let the free market truly define our fuel choices. We’ll start to see Thorium get the attention it deserves. Coal will thrive. Once an alternative infrastructure is in place (regardless of what it is) the price of oil will be back to where it belongs at less than $28/barrel.

jabre
December 28, 2011 11:27 am

Mark W. – ‘I can’t believe that any person with a functioning brain actually believes that the only reason we have a military is to protect oil.’
Feel free to explain our military spending in the middle east and how it is disassociated with oil. It will obviously be concise and trivial from someone with a functioning brain.

Myrrh
December 28, 2011 11:43 am

Well, I’ve got a bright idea. Let’s go back to growing hemp: for fuel, for clothing, for food (human an animal consumption), for paper..
..for medicine.

hotrod (larry L)
December 28, 2011 11:46 am

So, when you say that you get 1.6 BTU of energy out for each 1.0 BTU in you vioalte some very basic scientific principles that we all learned in grade-school.
Every BTU of energy produced from any source takes more than a BTU to produce it otherwise there would be no impending future energy crisis, Instead of “using up” our energy sources we would be constantly adding to them, creating an infinite amount of energy from, essentially, nothing.

You obviously are either not paying attention or are being intentionally obtuse.
The direct energy input used in fuel ethanol production includes:
Fuel and pesticides, and other production energy etc to grow the corn
Transportation of the corn to the fuel ethanol plant
direct process energy to run the plant.
Transportation energy used to deliver the fuel ethanol to the buyer.
That is the energy input in that equation.
Energy output is the lower heating value of the fuel ethanol produced by the plant plus the energy content/value credited to the co-products such as cattle feed and commercial CO2 captured during the fermenting process.
This is the real energy successfully harvested and includeds solar energy captured by the plants during their growth which we do not pay for, just like we do not pay for the potential energy stored in a snow pack as atmospheric convection (driven by solar energy) moves water to high altitude. Nor do we pay for the solar energy stored by some fern in the Jurassic which many years later is returned to us in the form of a gallon of gasoline.
There is no violation of conservation of energy laws or themodynamic principles just a plain and simple accounting of the energy we pay for to produce a fuel product we can burn to produce energy.
It is no different that accounting for the energy used to chop down a tree, transport it to a firewood yard and split it compared to the total thermal energy contained in the fire wood when it is sold. The fire wood operator only pays for and need account for the direct energy inputs to harvest the wood. He does not pay for the 30 years of solar energy that the tree converted to cellulose and lignin.
You are beating on a logical fallacy because you refuse to use straight forward accounting for the actual energy cost of production that humans have to invest to get fuel ethanol as a salable product.
Don’t believe me — go debate it with Argonne National Laboratories and Hosein Shapouri
James A. Duffield and Michael Wang
http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/AF/265.pdf
http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News/2005/NCGA_Ethanol_Meeting_050823.ppt
Larry

Dr. Dave
December 28, 2011 11:47 am

Our usual ethanol disciples will doubtlessly dispute this, but if one were to take a gander at the total usage and imports of oil by the US it becomes abundantly obvious that ethanol hasn’t made a significant dent in the amount of oil we import or use. The disciples will claim it’s like Obama’s “jobs saved” or the stimulus spending (i.e. without ethanol it would have been much worse!). So what’s the point of converting feed stock into ethanol? It does NOT reduce pollution. It does NOT reduce the price of motor fuel at the pump. No one would ever put it in aviation gas. You certainly want to avoid it in fuel for marine engines. Ethanol is hygroscopic and absorbs water. It’s very hard on small engines. It DOES reduce gas mileage so we spend more per mile traveled.
Corn farmers get paid the same Ag subsidy rather they grow sweet corn, feed corn or corn for ethanol. For the individual farmer it’s a surprisingly modest sum and it’s nothing new. For Big Ag giants like ADM it’s a huge sum of money. Currently the ethanol producers are paid a subsidy and the blenders (i.e. the oil companies) are paid a subsidy. If the taxpayer subsidies go away the only thing that will change is the cost of fuel at the pump. What must end are the mandates – specifically the federal mandates. I don’t care if California wants to mandate that THEIR gasoline be adulterated with ethanol (sorry, crosspatch). It should be the decision of the individual states. It doesn’t even bother me that ethanol is used to adulterate gasoline or that some folks feel better about themselves for using E85. I just don’t want to be forced to subsidize their artificially less expensive fuel. I also want to be able to burn pure gasoline in my vehicles that were designed to burn pure gasoline. Let the free market pick the winners and losers, not politicians and crony capitalists using taxpayer money. Without these damn subsidies it would cost the refineries less to produce pure gasoline than an E10 blend. So if ethanol is such a wonderful technology as asserted by A. Scott and Hotrod Larry, end the mandates and subsidies and see if the ethanol industry survives.
Ethanol provides no measurable benefit to the USA. It benefits relatively few at the expense of the many. It is also laughable to even suggest that diverting 40% of our corn crop to make motor fuel doesn’t affect food costs. The mandates inflate the cost of corn (which the farmers and Big Ag love) and this affects all other food stuffs. Ask anyone who raises cattle, hogs or chickens. This isn’t the evil work of “speculators”, it is simple supply and demand. Converting food to fuel while millions are starving is immoral.

Pofarmer
December 28, 2011 11:48 am

“I don’t think other manufacturers get that sweet a deal. Other manufacturers may get accelerated depreciation, but they do not get to claim more than their capital investment. This is a subsidy to the oil business in the US.”
The same deals are available for mining, and, I believe, timber production.

Pofarmer
December 28, 2011 11:51 am

“Correct, — but it is the same bogus energy accounting used by the anti-ethanol group to discredit fuel ethanol with intentionally misleading energy accounting.”
Not really. Most everyone agrees that there is a positive energy balance for Ethanol production, somewhere on the order of 1.3-1.4 to one. Where the disagreement comes in, is if this catches all the energy expenditures required to produce it. Where the discussion really gets hairy, is when the claim comes in that we are “replacing” 10 billion gallons of oil with 10 billion gallons of Ethanol. Well, not really, because it took the equivalent of about 7 billion gallons to make it, so, the net positive is pretty darned small in the scheme of things.

Myrrh
December 28, 2011 11:52 am

http://www.ffhboo.com/hemp.html

“FUEL
Hemp biomass as a source of fuel is the most under exploited, yet potentially the biggest industrial use of the plant. Hemp stalks are rich in fiber and cellulose with potential for use in the generation of energy. The hemp stalk can be converted to a charcoal-like substance through a process called pyrolysis, and used for power generation and to produce industrial feed stocks. Auto giant Henry Ford was a pioneer in the pyrolysis process, and operated a biomass pyrolytic plant at Iron Mountain in northern Michigan.
Hemp as an auto fuel is another potential use. Almost any biomass material can be converted to create methanol or ethanol, and these fuels burn cleanly with less carbon monoxide and higher octane than fossil fuels. In fact, the diesel engine was invented to burn fuel from agriculture waste yet ended up burning unrefined petroleum. Hempseed oil can be refined to produce a type of hemp gasoline.Hemp seeds have provided a combustible fuel oil throughout human history. More importantly, though, the same high cellulose level that makes hemp ideal for paper also makes it perfect for ethanol fuel production. Ethanol is the cleanest-burning liquid bio-alternative to gasoline. In one test, an unleaded gasoline automobile engine produced a thick, black carbon residue in its exhaust, while the tailpipe of a modified ethanol engine tested for the same 3,500 miles remained pristine and residue-free.”

And if you’re wondering after reading that page why hemp was outlawed, think about the industries at the time which were in those markets..
That’s why there was a huge campaign in the US to demonise it, they had to give it a name change, to marijuana, because hemp was so well known not to be demonic.. Having gotten it outlawed in the States, the BigCompaniesCartel had it outlawed world wide.
No one has a right to make any law forbidding its use.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 12:04 pm

jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 11:27 am
Ever hear of a group called Al Queda?
Ever hear of a country called Israel?

Sal Minella
December 28, 2011 12:09 pm

A. Scotts, Hotrod, et al,
Until you stop stating the information concerning energy out vs energy in in such an obtuse and misleading way, I will not stop ridiculing you,re inference of perpetual motion. If it is factual that corn ETOH contains more energy than the sum of its energy inputs. it is an energy amplifier.
Since it doesent matter what the source of the input BTUs in is then corn ETOH could be used as the energy input. Then one BTU of corn ETOH in will give you 1.6 BTU of corn ETOH out. In this case only one BTU of non corn ETOH is needed to prime the corn ETOH pump making all other sources of energy moot and all ETOH energy essentially free.
Your statement is misleading at best and something that you honestly believe at worst. If ETOH was such a magical fuel. it would need no subsidy and would bring nearly free energy to every citizen of the world.

SteveSadlov
December 28, 2011 12:11 pm

And none too soon!

Al Gored
December 28, 2011 12:12 pm

“Dirty Corn Ethanol? I’m all for ending taxpayer siphoning, but dirty corn ethanol?”
Funny. Yes, like the Dirty Oil from the Canadian oil sands. Or Dirty Coal. The greenies seem to love to use this term for anything but dirt, which is, of course, organic and pure. Unless it has dirty fertilizer or dirty pesticides in it. Or is tilled by machines using dirty oil.
They love to talk dirty. It sounds so ‘bad.’
Propaganda is based on the selective and repetitive use of ‘fuzzy’ words. Following the Orwell model I suppose some things will soon be called doubledirty.

JFB
December 28, 2011 12:13 pm
Justa Joe
December 28, 2011 12:18 pm

philincalifornia,
I lived and worked in Brazil. I’m of a belief that the “Alcool” success story of Brazil is mostly hype. I cannot see where the benefit is realized for the average Joe. Automobile fuel prices are higher in Brazil than, for example, the USA even after the USA’s fuel price increases over the last few years. Brazilians have less money for fuel to begin with. Per capita Car ownership is much lower in Brazil so fuel demand is less. “Gasolina Comum” is still sold in Brazil so the alcohol fortified fuel has not displaced gasoline. Petrobras is pulling out all of the stops to cultivate Brazil’s off shore oil reserves. My guess is it’s mostly just domestic politics like the USA’s interest in these types of alcohol related fuels. It pumps money into certain peoples’ pockets and provides domestic make work.
Jabre, Can we count the cost of the defense of the entire continentsl USA towards the cost of ethanol?

DirkH
December 28, 2011 12:44 pm

philincalifornia says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:07 am
“DirkH says:
December 28, 2011 at 7:07 am
[mentioning decades of sugar cane subsidies in brazil]
———————————————
Maybe Dirk but, as the saying goes “Good things come to those who wait” and the wait is clearly over, as evidenced by the football (soccer) star proxy.”
I wish you luck with that attitude in California. Maybe in 30 years the jobs you are now losing to Texas just might come back.

December 28, 2011 12:59 pm

cwj says:
“Oil producers get a depletion allowance of 15 percent of the gross income from all the oil they pump, regardless of the depreciation. If the depreciation of the capital investment to develop the field is greater than the depletion allowance they can claim depreciation instead. I don’t think other manufacturers get that sweet a deal. Other manufacturers may get accelerated depreciation, but they do not get to claim more than their capital investment. This is a subsidy to the oil business in the US.”

Companies that extract water from the Ogallala aquifer get the same depletion allowance as oil production, because like oil, an aquifer is a diminishing resource. And many industries are allowed accelerated depreciation in the tax code [accelerated depreciation is recaptured upon sale of the asset]. What you are actually commenting on are simply incentives provided in the tax code for oil exploration and production.
The only number that really matters is the net amount paid into federal and state treasuries after all tax incentives are accounted for. Oil companies pay substantially more than the average company in net income taxes. There is no comparable subsidy to the immense sums provided to politically favored industries such as windmill companies, which on balance not only pay zero income taxes, but which collect enormous taxpayer resources to allow them to keep afloat.

hotrod (larry L)
December 28, 2011 1:00 pm

Dr. Dave says:
December 28, 2011 at 11:47 am
… No one would ever put it in aviation gas. …

Already done that:

http://www.ethanol.org/index.php?id=39#AviationGradeEthanol
Aviation Grade Ethanol (AGE-85)
Aviation Grade Ethanol (AGE-85) is a high-performance, 85 percent ethanol-blended fuel for use in any reciprocating engine aircraft. AGE-85 is beginning to replace 100 octane low lead aviation gasoline (avgas), which has been the standard leaded gasoline for aviation since World War II.
Though avgas is the single largest contributor of lead in the atmosphere today, the Environmental Protection Agency has allowed its use until a suitable unleaded replacement can be found. More than 300 million gallons of avgas are used each year by the piston engine fleet in the United States – including aircraft made by companies like Piper, Cirrus, and Cessna.
AGE-85 offers a substantial improvement in performance for these aircraft, producing at least 12 percent more horsepower and torque at typical cruising power. Lower operating temperatures are also achieved, with engines tending to run 50 to 100 degrees cooler than similar settings on avgas. Because this fuel causes considerably less buildup of combustion byproducts in the engine, the time between engine overhauls is greater and maintenance costs are lower.
Supplemental type certifications (STC), required through the Federal Aviation Administration, are beginning to be secured for AGE-85. Through comprehensive testing on a 1962 Cessna 180, this registration has been obtained for C-180s and C-182s. Work is being completed on a 1982 Mooney 201 and a Grumman Ag Cat to expand certification to the experimental aviation and aerial applicator communities. With ongoing testing and further approval, AGE-85 can become a solid replacement for the leaded avgas of the past.

http://www.fuelandfiber.com/Archive/Fuel/Research/AGE85/age85.html

Pofarmer says:
December 28, 2011 at 11:51 am
… Where the discussion really gets hairy, is when the claim comes in that we are “replacing” 10 billion gallons of oil with 10 billion gallons of Ethanol. Well, not really, because it took the equivalent of about 7 billion gallons to make it, so, the net positive is pretty darned small in the scheme of things.

Yes it does multiply fuel availability.
The majority of the energy used to make fuel ethanol is derived from natural gas and coal fired electric — it is essentially transforming those fuel sources into a usable liquid transportation fuel. It also directly replaces gasoline which everyone agrees that if you add 10% ethanol to a batch of gasoline you end up with more fuel than you started with. Since fuel ethanol has a direct energy content of 72% of gasoline on a gallon for gallon basis, you have increased the fuel energy available by 7.2%. You also have increased the octane of the gasoline blended in, so you allow the refiner to you a larger distillation cut from the crude oil. Distilate that he previously could not sell legally as gasoline when blended with ethanol now meets minimum octane requirements for sale.
The most common way to denature ethanol so it can be sold as fuel ethanol rather than taxed as liquor is to add 5% straight run sub-octane gasoline. Because of those combined effects each gallon of ethanol blended with gasoline effectively increases our gasoline supply producible from available crude by about 1.2 gallons.
Once you add in the economic benefit of spending that transportation fuel money in the U.S. rather than sending the money overseas to crude oil importers the net benefit is substantial.
Will fuel ethanol ever fully replace gasoline. NO!!
And you would be an idiot to try, it is a high quality blending agent that enhances gasoline and increases the available supply while also improving fuel octane, and burn characteristics. Its best use would be to blend it with gasoline in high ethanol blends from 20% – 60% ethanol for low octane requirement engines and 85% (E-85) for high octane requirement engines.
Larry

Kevin Kilty
December 28, 2011 1:05 pm

jabre says:
December 28, 2011 at 9:32 am
mkelly and others:
Kevin Kilty and others:
Your arguments about redirecting corn crops are totally off the mark. As I indicated the initial subsidies which were based on corn are now being phased out. If anyone wants to produce ethanol and continue to receive subsidies they must now produce a cellulosic (non-corn, non-sugar) source. Read the legislation.

You were the person who advocated redirecting the $252 billion we spend for imported oil into the U.S. economy and implied this would henceforth be for production of liquid fuels using ethanol. I’m simply saying that you’ll never get there with ethanol because the side issues are too grave. Moreover, there is no need to become energy independent, which is what this issue is really about. The argument is: “We can pay a non-economic price for “renewable” fuels because there are all these other savings to be had and subsidies we can eliminate. etc and so on…”

Kevin Kilty and others: “WAGs”
I try not to snipe but you have got to be kidding – what planet have been on since the ’70′s?

You are snipping (not that I care), I am not kidding, and I have been living here, on Earth, for 60 years now. Your figure of the “true” cost of oil being $480 per barrel is not credible. If you mean that oil induces $480 of economic activity per barrel consumed I could believe that, but you said “subsidies” and that is not credible.
Big _Jim says your reference is bogus anyway.

hotrod (Larry L) says:
December 28, 2011 at 9:13 am
Kevin Kilty says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:32 am…
You only provided part of the information and out of context. The Reid Vapor pressure of gasoline ethanol mixtures is not linear with the percentage of blend. In fact the highest Reid Vapor pressure occurs at low ethanol blends. At higher ethanol blends Reid vapor pressure actually drops significantly below that of straight gasoline. The highest RVPs were observed with relatively low concentrations (5-20%, v/v),

The extra information you provided is interesting, thank you. But since we are speaking mainly of ethanol/gasoline blends in the range of 15% (V/V) with gasohol (E85 can’t be much market share), then what I said is not out of context, and is germane to the topic at hand. Refiners do reduce the amount of pentanes in the gasoline before blending to offset for this volatiles issue. Thus, one may add 15% ethanol, but one does not extend the liquid fuel available by as much as 15%. As since we are speaking of a very small gain in this replacement scheme anyway, this becomes important to the life-cycle analysis of using ethanol in gasoline.
Finally,

Sal Minella says:
December 28, 2011 at 9:28 am
1.6 > 1.0. If you can turn 1.0 schmeckels into 1.6 schmeckels then you have a .6 schmeckel gain…

Well, true, but if you look at it another way, It doesn’t seems so great. First I’ll use a figure of 1.34 rather than 1.6 (see the reference I provided way back up at 8:32am). To get 1.0 BTU of gasoline energy into the economy we must consume about 0.15 BTU of energy for production, refining, and transportation. To replace that 1 BTU of gasoline with 1 BTU of ethanol requires we consume 3.0 BTU of energy to get back 4.0 BTU of ethanol (1 BTU net to replace the gasoline). Therefore we increase the flow of energy through the economy greatly with all the attendant environmental and investment issues.

GregB
December 28, 2011 1:10 pm

For all of its portrayal as a green renewable source I can’t get over the fact that you must burn off 1 BTU of energy and afford all of the associated consequences before you can get at that 1.6 BTUs of green renewable energy and all of the slightly smaller consequences.

ChE
December 28, 2011 1:10 pm

Funny. Yes, like the Dirty Oil from the Canadian oil sands. Or Dirty Coal. The greenies seem to love to use this term for anything but dirt, which is, of course, organic and pure. Unless it has dirty fertilizer or dirty pesticides in it. Or is tilled by machines using dirty oil.

Even funnier is what “clean” organic fertilizer is made of v.s. the “dirty” stuff made from natural gas and air.

December 28, 2011 1:13 pm

JFB says:
December 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm
Well, _Jim, Google can help you: Follow the link:

Lovely; still in the ‘research phase’ … an easy spot when the first few paragraphs start like this:
“Pesquisadores estão desenvolvendo … ”
and
“A idéia é reproduzir no estado produtividades … ”
and
“O objetivo da pesquisa é criar todo um … ”
(Meaning “Researchers are developing ” and “The idea is to reproduce ” and “The objective of this research is to “.)
Hopium at this phase.
.

tommoriarty
December 28, 2011 1:15 pm

I suppose if you are worried about the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere it is ultimately because you are worried about the well-being of the people living on the planet.
Even if CO2 is a problem and biofuels are a solution to that problem, biofuels still reduce the well being of people living on the planet by forcing some of them into starvation.
Example…
http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/biofuels-leading-to-disaster/

cwj
December 28, 2011 1:15 pm

Cost of the corn component in food at $7.00 per bushel of corn
Corn flakes, 18 oz box $0.10
Soda, 2 liter bottle $0.12
Beef, per lb of beef $0.33
Pork, per lb of Pork $0.45
http://ncga.com/facts for more details. (National Corn Growers Association compiling data from other sources)
Compare the above estimates to the cost of any of the above at your local grocery store. The cost of corn is not a large component of the cost of any food, even corn flakes.
The cost of the raw agricultural product of any food in the US is a small part of the ultimate cost to the consumer. Most of the cost of food is in the processing and distribution.

Kevin Kilty
December 28, 2011 1:16 pm

Smokey says:
December 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm
cwj says:
“Oil producers get a depletion allowance of 15 percent of the gross income from all the oil they pump, regardless of the depreciation. If the depreciation of the capital investment to develop the field is greater than the depletion allowance they can claim depreciation instead. I don’t think other manufacturers get that sweet a deal. Other manufacturers may get accelerated depreciation, but they do not get to claim more than their capital investment. This is a subsidy to the oil business in the US.”

Smokey did well here, in response, but I wanted to add something. First, in order to “incentivize” people to produce strategic minerals some get a better deal than the 15% depletion allowance on oil–nickel for instance gets 22%. So other people do better than oil. Second, the 15% depletion is limited to one-half of taxable income, and so despite the depletion allowance the producer still pays taxes; and unlike what cwj claims, this is for depletable assets and not depreciable ones–they are not the same.

Mike M
December 28, 2011 1:24 pm

Speculators or not, Scott A cannot explain why, if the demand of corn has been going up, (almost HALF of the demand is now ethanol!) – why have our exports been going DOWN?
What some people totally fail to understand in all this is that in the third world the cost of feeding a family is sometimes 100% of that family’s income. When our exports drop the price of food in the third world goes up and those people have less to eat as a result. Adding insult to injury, some farmers in the third world are enticed to grow bio-fuel crops and some are even being told to abandon their farms altogether to mitigate CO2 via reforestation thus further reducing the food supply.
It boils down to a matter of rich people buying the food right out of the mouths of starving people in order to ‘feed’ it to their machines. If that isn’t evil then evil has no meaning. Genocide is exactly the unspoken end result that these gaia worshippers actually desire as they foist their faux notion of ‘saving the planet’ on us. END the ethanol mandate now.

December 28, 2011 1:26 pm

hotrod (larry L) says on December 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm

And you would be an idiot to try, it is a high quality blending agent that enhances gasoline and increases the available supply while also improving fuel octane, and burn characteristics. Its best use would be to blend it with gasoline in high ethanol blends from 20% – 60% ethanol for low octane requirement engines and 85% (E-85) for high octane requirement engines.

It threatens (has been threatening and has ‘worked over’ a lot of old boat motors) the boating industry with its incompatibility with various seals and rubber used in fuel systems, just as it has rotted seals and rubber used in a multitude of small engines where it is mandated to be used as a motor vehicle fuel.
Why can’t politicians just leave us alone without messing with every little thing they can get their fingers on, like our previously-functioning fuel supply system or our lives? Launch the Challenger in sub-freezing temperature against engineering recommendations not to, go for ‘Throttle up’ … just be prepared for failure down the road because of decisions that countermand reality and better judgment.
.

December 28, 2011 1:29 pm

@cwj: People who are living in or close to poverty are deeply affected by grain prices, and right now the global price of wheat is rising. Corn is not in a vacuum. “Maize prices have increased sharply and are affected by complex linkages with other markets. In January 2011, maize prices were about 73% higher than June 2010. These increases are due to a series of downward revisions of crop forecasts, low stocks…the positive relationship between maize and wheat prices, and the use of corn for biofuels…Higher global maize prices are also passed through to consumers indirectly by raising animal feed prices, meat prices, and the price of many processed food categories.”

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 1:30 pm

Three ways 10% Ethanol is saving you money.
1) The wholesale price of ethanol, today, is $2.21/gal (Gasoline is $2.66/gal).
http://news.ncgapremium.com/index.cfm?show=62&subtype=25
2) The gasoline that is blended with ethanol is lower grade gasoline than the “straight” gas you might still be able to buy in some places. The straight gas is 87 Octane. The gasoline that is blended with ethanol is 84 Octane (the higher Octane ethanol brings it back up to 87 Octane.)
3) Following the lead of Brazil, and the U.S., the “World” is now producing close to 2 Million Barrels/Day of Ethanol. Taking this 2 mbpd off of the global market would surely raise the price of gasoline, Substantially.

cwj
December 28, 2011 1:31 pm

Smokey; “What you are actually commenting on are simply incentives provided in the tax code for oil exploration and production. ”
The difference between the 15% depletion allowance and actual depreciation is a subsidy as well as an incentive. Even ACRS only accelerates the timing when the depreciation offset income, it never exceeds the amount of the depreciated Capital investment. Depletion allowance by design exceeds the amount of depreciable asset.

December 28, 2011 1:46 pm

cwj,
What’s your point? There is a depletion allowance for both oil and water, among many other resources. It is an incentive to produce something that society needs.
Society does not need a corn ethanol subsidy. Nor does society need a corn ethanol mandate. Do you disagree with Congress eliminating the subsidy?

Kum Dollison,
Ethanol is not saving us money, it is costing us money.

Mike M
December 28, 2011 1:47 pm

cwj says Oil producers get a depletion allowance of 15 percent of the gross income from all the oil they pump, regardless of the depreciation

Every DIME of tax paid by an oil company or any company comes from one single place – our pockets. Oil profits are at a record high and by no coincidence so was the amount of tax revenue collected on it. Big oil and big government are in bed together; reducing the supply increases price = more profit and .. more tax revenue.

December 28, 2011 1:50 pm

it has also been repeatedly shown that any impact on food prices is exceedingly minuscule if any – the vast majority of food price increases are the result of speculators/speculation.
Nonsense.
Speculators do not consume any corn. Thus they have no effect on supply or prices over the medium to long term (approx 3 months+).
What speculators do is buy and sell over the short to medium term, Buying when supply is high and selling when supply is low. Thus the net effect of speculators is to reduce average prices over the short to medium term.
If this weren’t true speculators would lose money and quickly stop doing it.
Blaming speculators is the 21st century equivalent of blaming goblins and demons.

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 1:51 pm

Field Corn has Never, Ever, been exported to feed “Poor People,” Anywhere.
Field Corn is, primarily, Cattle Feed. When Field Corn is Exported, it is Exported to be used as Cattle Feed.
The Beef is, then, eaten by Middle, and Upper Class Consumers.
If our exports are down a bit, it’s because the last two years have been Horrible “Weather” Years.
The fact still remains that we took 34 Million Acres OUT of Production between 2002, and 2007, even as ethanol production was ramping up. We Still Pay Farmers Not to Plant 30,000,000 Acres.

enneagram
December 28, 2011 1:53 pm

Zeke says: You are a sensible person, who cares for the poor…However if you are of the Malthusian kind you would not care about it, as you would consider yourself a privileged one destined to be among the 500 million people cool, gay, intelligent and of course liberal like you, chosen to survive once you finish your task of sending to a better life the pesky rest of 6,500 millions hard working and ugly smelling people.
However, don´t you think such a “Brave New World” will be boring?

Downdraft
December 28, 2011 2:03 pm

To Jabre December 28, 2011 at 10:50 am
Clearly I did look at the report you referenced. Please don’t make accusations you know to be false.
The report you cite is so outrageously wrong it is comical. At one point they make the statement “We use 21 million barrels a day of oil. At $480 a barrel, that’s $10 trillion a year draining from the national coffers”. Do the math. That works out to $3.6792T per year. Still an absurd number, but far short of $10T. The rest of the report, including the derivation of the $480 per barrel figure, is just as wrong. The fact that you cite such drivel to prove your point only casts doubt on everything else you claim.
I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you did not read the report.

eyesonu
December 28, 2011 2:05 pm

hotrod (larry L) says:
December 28, 2011 at 11:19 am
eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:08 am
I knew the trolls were here and would come to A. Scotts rescue.
======================
Please read my earlier comments:
eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:40 am
eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:08 am
@ “Hotrod’ — Seems you may have blown a headgasket and thrown a rod. You may have also spun a bearing and scoured your crank. Your head is obviously cracked and possibly dropped a valve or two. Check your oil pan for corn. Maybe all your issues are from corn in your oil pan.

Dr. Dave
December 28, 2011 2:06 pm

Hotrod Larry,
I would NEVER get in an aircraft fueled with the ethanol slurry you describe (and quote from an ethanol industry propaganda site). My Dad had a Cessna 172 from the time I was 11 until my early 20s. I spent a lot of hours flying. One of the standard pre-flight checks you ALWAYS made was the fuel supply with a little cup. There were spring loaded drain valves on the low spots on the wings. If there was any water in the gas it would pool at these spots. You pressed on the valve and emptied a little gas into the clear cup. You could easily see if there was water in the gas because it isn’t miscible in avgas and would appear as little blobs at the bottom of the cup. Water in fuel tends to cause airplanes to fall out of the sky. Water is completely miscible in ethanol. I haven’t flown in small aircraft in many years but I have a lot of friends who are pilots and several who own planes. I will inquire about this ethanol avgas, but I suspect it’s mostly pro-ethanol propaganda and NOT in routine use. I know that E10 is a disaster for marine engines and small engines like lawn mowers, rototillers and chipper/shredders.
What I have not yet heard from any of our ethanol disciples is a legitimate defense of government mandated use and subsidies to prop up the ethanol industry. It’s a damned boondoggle. The entire industry cannot survive in the free market. By definition this means it is a non-viable technology. Just because it’s possible to run an airplane on the avgas equivalent of E85 doesn’t mean we should.

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 2:08 pm

Smokey, ethanol may be costing “You” money (if you’re in the oil bidness,) but, for the life of me, I can’t see how substituting a lower priced product for a higher priced, in short supply, product could possibly be costing “Me” money.
Gasoline Prices (w/o ethanol) were the highest in history in 2011, as were oil prices (averaged over the year.) In spite of that, the World produced slightly less C + C (Crude + Condensate) than it did in 2005.
The Oil Company Folks can rant, and rave, and have published disinformation all they want, but we’re going to need all the help we can get, going forward.
BTW, the Cellulosic Tax Credit expires on Dec 31, 2012, so it’s not going to have any practical effect to speak of.

kwik
December 28, 2011 2:13 pm

Kum Dollison says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm
“The Oil Company Folks can rant, and rave, and have published disinformation all they want, but we’re going to need all the help we can get, going forward. ”
Then please let the free marked do its work.

Neo
December 28, 2011 2:16 pm

The cost of ethanol per gallon of fuel from sugarcane in Brazil, at $0.83 per gallon of fuel, is lower than the cost from corn in the United States, at $1.09 per gallon (see the OECD report “Agricultural Market Impacts of Future Growth in Production of Biofuels,” available athttp://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/58/62/36074135.pdf).

Robber
December 28, 2011 2:16 pm

With oil, we clearly get far more energy from crude oil than goes into its production, shipping, refining and distribution, because we are not paying for the original creation of the oil millions of years ago.
For example, the world price of crude oil is about $100 per barrel.
It costs anywhere from $5-50 per bbl to drill, pump, and separate that oil. Middle east cost are lowest, deep water offshore and tar sands etc highest. Those costs include all energy costs and equipment costs.
It then costs $1-2 per bbl to store and ship that crude oil to refineries around the world.
Refining costs to turn that crude oil into refined products (gasoline, jet fuel, diesel etc) are around $2-3 per bbl. Add another $2-5 per bbl to get that product into your tank.
Similar cost structures exist for coal burnt in power stations, or wood or other plant materials. We get net energy gains.
The challenge comes when you try to take coal, or wood, or corn,and turn it into liquid fuels because the conversion costs are far higher.

Merovign
December 28, 2011 2:26 pm

1) It is clear that since there is no penalty for lying, honest debate is crowded out by dishonest. Arguing from authority doesn’t help because they “have an agenda.” Virtually this entire discussion is wheel-spinning, and every time someone tries to set up an independent arbiter it’s overrun by politics.
2) As a driver, I don’t like ethanol because of poor energy density, especially absent subsidies this kills it. It’s the same reason why hydrogen fuel has not and will not catch on (for the foreseeable future) absent draconian mandates. It’s just a terrible energy storage medium.

son of mulder
December 28, 2011 2:31 pm

Chimes well with the latest plan from Cameron control centre in the UK
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/8979765/David-Cameron-plans-minimum-alcohol-price-in-England.html
Next thing the poor will be back on the meths again.

Downdraft
December 28, 2011 2:33 pm

To Kum Dollison says:December 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm
There are a couple of problems with your information.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_corn
Large-scale applications for field corn include:[1]
Livestock fodder, whether as whole cobs (for hogs only), whole or ground kernels, or (after chopping and ensilage) the entire above ground portion of the unripe plant
Cereal products including breakfast cereals, corn meal, hominy and grits
Other processed human-food products including starch, oil, and sweeteners
Alcohol and corn whiskey
From http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/acrg0611.pdf
Released June 30, 2011, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA).
Corn Planted Acreage Up 5 Percent from 2010
Soybean Acreage Down 3 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up 5 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 25 Percent
Corn planted area for all purposes in 2011 is estimated at 92.3 million acres, up 5 percent from last year, and the second highest planted acreage in the United States since 1944, behind only the 93.5 million acres planted in 2007. Growers expect to harvest 84.9 million acres for grain, up 4 percent from last year.
Total cropland was down, as you say. See http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/US.htm. The reasons for the decrease in total cropland aren’t clear to me and I don’t have the desire to delve into it any further. The report cited needs lots of ‘splainin. I wonder why land in cotton was up 25%, for example.
In summary, acreage suitable for corn and in use for corn was up, not down, and people do eat field corn once it is processed.

Pat Moffitt
December 28, 2011 2:33 pm

There is no better place to see the ethanol insanity than Maryland.
The EPA has ordered the State of Maryland to remove some 10million lbs of nitrogen per year from the Chesapeake Bay at a minimum cost of $10bn not counting the disruption to development, agriculture and personal choice. Plus, Maryland’s largest agriculture segment is poultry which is being killed by grain prices. If we stopped ethanol there would be no need for the EPA directive to remove nitrogen and everyone including the environment would benefit other than EPA and the few people that feed from the ethanol trough.. The taxpayer is being told to pay for the ethanol subsidy and pay again for removing the nitrogen needed to grow it. (in addition to countless other costs)
As evidence lets use the most recent corn crop harvest for MD of 45.5 M bushels(bu) and use the average value of 1.5lbs of Nitrogen fertilizer per bushel of corn and we get 68.5M of N as the corn fertilizer usage. Assuming 40% of the corn is used for ethanol production and a nitrogen runoff of 30% we get 8.2M lbs of N from the requirement to use ethanol! Given that EPA is considering an order that may require a 45% reduction of N inputs for the Mississippi River basing- ethanol’s costs are going to get totally out of control.

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 2:38 pm

Part of what has happened is the oil companies use lower octane (84) when they blend E10. As a result, you don’t get the benefit of Ethanol’s Higher Octane (114) that you get from blending it with standard 87 Octane Gasoline. That means you get the lower btu content w/o the advantage of ethanol.
It means they can produce it cheaper, but you pay more of a price in mpg.

December 28, 2011 2:39 pm

If you want to reduce CO2 emissions, reduce imported oil, reduce (by a large amount) harmful vehicle pollutants, and BTW increase vehicle safety, switch cars to natural gas fueled.
Here in Western Australia most vehicles on the road are NG powered and the only reason there are still petrol and diesel powered cars and light trucks is, if you do low mileage the conversion cost doesn’t make economic sense.
If vehicle manufacturers would actually produce NG powered vehicles for about the same cost as petrol/diesel models, rather than waste billions on idiotic electric and hybrid vehicles, all vehicles except large trucks here in WA would be NG powered within a few years.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 2:40 pm

cwj says:
December 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm
In your opinion, everytime someone pays less than 100% of their income to the govt in taxes, they are being subsidized?

MarkW
December 28, 2011 2:41 pm

“Taking this 2 mbpd off of the global market would surely raise the price of gasoline, Substantially.”
You assume that this 2 mbpd is taking the place of gasoline.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 2:46 pm

Kum Dollison says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm

If ethanol is saving us money, why does it have to be subsidized and why does the govt have mandate it’s use?
If anything you wrote was accurate, people would be lining up to buy the stuff without any pressure from anyone.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 2:48 pm

“The reasons for the decrease in total cropland aren’t clear to me”
My guess would be floods in the mid-west and drought in Texas.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 2:50 pm

Kum Dollison says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm
octane has nothing to do with gas mileage.

MarkW
December 28, 2011 2:52 pm

Pressurized NG tanks are safer than gas tanks? You’ll have to cite some studies to convince me of that.
If we wanted to reduce oil imports we could drill for oil at much less cost.

40 Shades of Green
December 28, 2011 2:53 pm

@jabre I visited your link on the true cost of oil being $480 a barrell. The article was very unbalanced. Would you have a link to an article that gives both sides of the debate as to what should be included and what should not.
As an FYI the cost of maintaining the roads is covered by the taxes on fuel in most of Europe. Similarly oil companies pay governments a lot of money for the right to drill over here, unlike the free use of federal land that the article alleges.
I am genuinely interested so please give me a link.

Pofarmer
December 28, 2011 2:55 pm

“3) Following the lead of Brazil, and the U.S., the “World” is now producing close to 2 Million Barrels/Day of Ethanol. Taking this 2 mbpd off of the global market would surely raise the price of gasoline, Substantially.”
How many MBPD are used worldwide?

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 2:59 pm

Well, that’s just it, Mark. The Subsidy is going away in 3 days, now.
The oil companies have fought a Powerful fight against it. And, they are the ones that own the fueling infrastructure.
Also, the Greenies have settled on Electric Cars, powered by wind, and solar, and have united against biofuels (and all other fuels that complement fossil fuels.)
And, you have, whether you realize it or not, witnessed an unholy alliance of some “greenie” outfits, and their financiers, the oil companies. None of this is as simple as it might appear.

Downdraft
December 28, 2011 3:00 pm

To Neo says:December 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm
The information I found on prices of ethanol fuel don’t agree with what you have. Not sure where the problem is, but here is what I found:
From http://www.neo.ne.gov/statshtml/66.html, the current price of ethanol is $2.88 per gallon. On a BTU basis, that is like paying $2.88*1.5= $4.32 for a gallon 0f gasoline. Per the same report, gasoline is selling for $2.69 a gallon. Ethanol was cheap once, not any more. Or where am I wrong.
And apparently ethanol is no longer available from Brazil due to a shortage there. It turns out that things like droughts can reduce biofuel output. Not a problem with fossil fuels. There’s that inconvenient need for a backup energy source again.

Dr. Dave
December 28, 2011 3:07 pm

Kum Dollison says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm
“Part of what has happened is the oil companies use lower octane (84) when they blend E10. As a result, you don’t get the benefit of Ethanol’s Higher Octane (114) that you get from blending it with standard 87 Octane Gasoline. That means you get the lower btu content w/o the advantage of ethanol.”
=============================================================
I might recommend knowing something about the subject matter before posting a comment. Octane is an 8 carbon, saturated aliphatic hydrocarbon. The “octane rating” is simply a means to compare the ignition temp and combustion pressure of a motor fuel to pure octane. High octane fuels do NOT necessarily contain “more energy”. High octane rated fuels are necessary in high compression engines, they are a complete waste in an ordinary engine. Ethanol does indeed have a higher “octane rating” but it possesses about 67% of the energy of an equal volume of gasoline. It’s all about energy content, not “octane rating.”

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 3:15 pm

Dr. Dave, Octane has “Everything” to do with gas mileage. The higher the Octane Rating, the more Compression can be utilized. The More Compression, the more Power.
That’s why the new turbocharged engines develop between 10% and 15% More power on E85 than on gasoline. As I said, the next step will be Heated Injectors, and Ethanol Sensors in the fuel delivery system, and everything will be in place to utilize turbocharging, Direct Injection, Variable Valve Timing, and Exhaust Gas Recirculation to deliver equivalent fuel mileage with E85 Or gasoline. The E85 Will deliver more power, however.

December 28, 2011 3:20 pm

Dr. Dave says:
December 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm
Hotrod Larry,
I would NEVER get in an aircraft fueled with the ethanol slurry you describe (and quote from an ethanol industry propaganda site). My Dad had a Cessna 172 from the time I was 11 until my early 20s. I spent a lot of hours flying. Etc.
=====================================================
This is a complex subject isn’t it ? It also reminds me that there is equal complexity relating to regular automobile engines too.
It’s quite amazing that the EPA has to allow AvGas containing tetraethyl lead, but there is no alternative (other than the banned MTBE and ETBE presumably).
From both a manufacturing perspective and a fuel chemistry perspective, ethanol’s propensity to cling on to water make it a product with many undesirable properties. In fact, if we humans hadn’t developed yeast strains for thousand of years that make ethanol for alternate purposes, bioethanol would not exist.
However, since MTBE is effectively banned in the U.S., there’s always going to have to be something like ethanol (or butanol) in gasoline to act as an oxygenate, antiknock agent. So until the advanced oxygenated biofuels come into play, we’re going to be stuck with ethanol at whatever price it commands. So we’re likely to be paying for it anyway, with taxpayer subsidies or at the pump. I’m not an economist/social engineer, but it would seem to me that this would be more of a stealth tax on poorer people, or an initiative to get them off the roads, or an unintended consequence ??
Not trying to be controversial here. Just pointing out an oxygenate/antiknock fact relating to AvGas and gasoline in light of MTBE being banned.

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 3:20 pm

An ex. of what that means in a regular old, garden variety flexfuel engine available today:
My Flexfuel Impala is not a very advanced engine; however, in hilly areas it does Not downshift as often on E85 as it does with gasoline. As a result, instead of losing 30% mileage, as you would expect from comparing btus, I lose about 20% mileage.

Ironargonaut
December 28, 2011 3:43 pm

Jabra every one of your arguements is based on the premise the US imports oil. Welcome to the new world where we actually drill for oil in the US.
US is going to be a net exporter for the first time since 1949.
So, that means using the logic of the site you qouted we get to subtrack the cost of oil and gas exported, plus subtrack the cost of the benefit to economy, subtrack taxes, etc… viola oil now puts money in our pockets.
Drill baby, drill!!!
Please note I am using the logic from his post for the third paragraph.
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/story/2011-12-16/us-oil-boom/52053236/1

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 3:53 pm

A lot (most?) Brazilian Crop Dusters use E85. And, the American (?) Boat Racing Association requires E10 be used.
If you get some water in your “gasoline” it settles out to the lowest point. If you get it in your ethanol blend, the ethanol just soaks it up, and you go on about your business. If you get a LOT of water it can settle out, but it would have stopped your gasoline engine, also. It’s, actually, very much a “red herring.”
There were a couple of boats made back in the sixties that had fuel tanks that would release a resin when subjected to ethanol, which caused, in many cases, engine failure. Tanks like that haven’t been produced since then.

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 3:57 pm

The United States still Imports close to 9 million barrels of oil/day.
We have, recently, become a small net exporter of oil “Products,” gasoline, diesel, etc, (about 200,000 bbl/day, the last I saw.)

40 Shades of Green
December 28, 2011 3:59 pm

@jabre. I wonder would you be interested in doing an article on the true cost of oil based on the links you have provided. I think it would be fascinating.
Anthony / Modeators, could I suggest you invite him to do so.
40 Shades

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 3:59 pm

I think I misspoke. I think those Brazilian Cropdusters are using E100, not E85.

DirkH
December 28, 2011 4:06 pm

Kum Dollison says:
December 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm
“There were a couple of boats made back in the sixties that had fuel tanks that would release a resin when subjected to ethanol, which caused, in many cases, engine failure. Tanks like that haven’t been produced since then.”
The politically enforced introduction of E10 in 2011 in Germany was de facto cancelled by the widespread boycot of car owners. Car makers published lists of vehicles suited or not suited to the new fuel; the standard VW motors are all suited; but, for instance not all Opel motors (Opel is the German subsidiary of GM). Insecurity led to most people rejecting E10.
So, you do get problems with modern car engines when they used the wrong material for the seals. The German ADAC tested with an Opel that was not suited to run on E10 according to Opel’s information, and it did break down after a few 1,000 km. Just as promised.

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 4:08 pm

Sal Minella says:
December 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm
A. Scotts, Hotrod, et al,
Until you stop stating the information concerning energy out vs energy in in such an obtuse and misleading way, I will not stop ridiculing you,re inference of perpetual motion. If it is factual that corn ETOH contains more energy than the sum of its energy inputs. it is an energy amplifier.
Since it doesent matter what the source of the input BTUs in is then corn ETOH could be used as the energy input. Then one BTU of corn ETOH in will give you 1.6 BTU of corn ETOH out. In this case only one BTU of non corn ETOH is needed to prime the corn ETOH pump making all other sources of energy moot and all ETOH energy essentially free.
Your statement is misleading at best and something that you honestly believe at worst. If ETOH was such a magical fuel. it would need no subsidy and would bring nearly free energy to every citizen of the world.

I started working on detailed responses to the several people with legitimate honest questions, but as I read thru the thread, the amount of gross ignorance and arrogance here – the purposeful and willful ridicule by some of well known and well understood scientific topics like “net energy balance” – from ignorant people and boorish, uneducated posts like the above – along with the direct personal attacks and refusal to make any attempt to learn and understand the science, and instead blindly attack to promote the political agendas by some – shows it is pretty much a pointless effort here.
Too many of the people and replies in this thread show exactly why the AGW scientists so despise the skeptics. Outside a strong core group that truly do care about the science, regardless of whichever way it leads them, far too many are vehemently married to their agendas on this topic – damn the facts, full attack speed ahead.

December 28, 2011 4:10 pm

Kum Dollison believes that the 20% – 30% loss in fuel economy [his own numbers] is a net positive befefit in return for using an ethanol blend, despite all the problems.
There is no fuel more “green” and harmless to the environment than 100% pure fossil fuels. The ethanol market only exists due to heavy government subsidies. If ethanol was a good deal, producers wouldn’t need subsidies to sell it. Consumers would buy what is best for them.

Downdraft
December 28, 2011 4:12 pm

Kum Dollison says:
December 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm
You are confusing power with economy. Small, turbocharged engines get much more power from each cubic inch because they squeeze more air and fuel into the cylinders. They are more efficient because they are smaller and lighter than a big V8, whether running on ethanol or gasoline. Higher octane ratings allow higher compression ratios and earlier spark ignition, which can increase power and also increase fuel efficiency slightly, but only if you have a very light foot. Other tricks are more important than octane, like computerized ignition, variable valve timing, direct injection, more gear ratios, low drag bodies, and engines that shut off while waiting at a stop light.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octane_rating
Many high-performance engines are designed to operate with a high maximum compression, and thus demand fuels of higher octane. A common misconception is that power output or fuel efficiency can be improved by burning fuel of higher octane than that specified by the engine manufacturer. The power output of an engine depends in part on the energy density of the fuel being burnt. Fuels of different octane ratings may have similar densities, but because switching to a higher octane fuel does not add more hydrocarbon content or oxygen, the engine cannot develop more power.

Downdraft
December 28, 2011 4:26 pm

I noticed a few posts that mentioned ethanol in avgas.
There are two basic problems.
In most planes, the ethanol attacks the seals and sealants, resulting in fuel starvation when the lines plug up or start leaking. Not good.
At high altitudes, the induction air is very cold and the air is very “thin”, therefore containing little heat. Ethanol does not vaporize as readily as avgas and could cause problems. In fact, it takes about 2.5 times as much heat to vaporize an equal weight of ethanol. Liquids entering the cylinders is not acceptable.
In addition, range would be severely reduced. Premature fuel starvation is also not good.

eyesonu
December 28, 2011 4:27 pm

One point that is missing from the argument with the ethanol advocates is thus.
Use of E10 will give a mpg of 10 – 35% less mpg (depending on the engine). For the sake of this argument let’s use only a 10% reduction in mpg overall.
Pour the 10% etanol down the drain and the ‘pure’ gasoline in the tank will deliver 10% greater mpg so you could drive nearly (99%) as far on only 90% volume of fuel (real gas). On many, if not most, engines not designed for the E10 there could be an increase of 25 – 35% greater mpg.
Consider the EROI of ethanol and only a fool would put in in their tank if given the option. Government mandates at its best?

December 28, 2011 4:29 pm

A. Scott says:
“Too many of the people and replies in this thread show exactly why the AGW scientists so despise the skeptics.”
Umm-m-m… have you checked out alarmist blogs like Tamino, Pseudo-Skeptical Pseudo-Science, realclimate, climateprogress, etc.? Try to submit a reasonable comment that refutes the alarmist meme at any of those blogs, and see where it gets you. Either you will submit a point of view that can’t be refuted, in which case your comment will never see the light of day, or you will make an easily refuted mistake, in which case every one of the echo chamber true believers will endlessly monkey-pile on you from then on.
Alarmists despise scientific skeptics for one reason: skeptics hold their feet to the fire, and demand that they “prove it.” Since baseless scare tactics demonizing “carbon” are the staple of the alarmist cult, they hate people who deconstruct their belief system with facts. It’s also why they hide out from open debates.
So please, continue with your ‘detailed response’. If you make sense, you will eventually convert the majority of readers to your viewpoint. But you can’t be so thin-skinned; this is the internet. If you have the truth on your side, you will eventually prevail. If not, the attacks will naturally follow.

Carl Brannen
December 28, 2011 4:33 pm

An amazing amount of misinformation here. WUWT should invite a post from someone in the ethanol industry. I’d volunteer but I do not have the time to do it right.
I’m glad that the subsidies are ending. When I worked as VP of a small company working on an ethanol plant we assumed that these subsidies (along with the subsidies for biodiesel) would disappear. We made sure that the process would be profitable without the subsidies. Otherwise it just doesn’t make economic sense to build something that is going to be in operation for 30 years.
Some of the more extreme posters suggest that turning food into fuel is evil and it should be banned. Every major country that has substantial agriculture and industry grows crops that are turned into ethanol. If we banned the process in the US, the result would be that our field corn would be exported to China which would happily turn it into fuel to reduce some of their own petroleum imports. This would be an economic disaster for us.
Corn is turned into ethanol (and has been for many decades) because it is an extremely profitable process (assuming historical gasoline, corn and energy prices, a market for the ethanol at prices similar to gasoline, a market for the distiller’s grains at prices comparable to field corn, and assuming you can obtain capital for financing the equipment at reasonable interest rates, and assuming reasonable land costs and regulations, etc., etc., etc..). If you want to see how profitable it is for yourself, do an internet search on how much a bushel of corn costs, how many gallons of ethanol you get from it, how much distiller’s grains, and what these products can be sold for. If you don’t know anything about the industry the results will stun you.
When people talk about how much energy there is in ethanol as compared to the petroleum that went into it they are avoiding the very simple economics of the process. What you’re doing is taking cheap things and turning them into somewhat less cheap things. Right now you can buy natural gas at a price much cheaper (per BTU) than gasoline so a process that uses up natural gas but saves gasoline is profitable.
Some “ethanol” companies are not actually intended to make a profit by producing ethanol cheaply. Instead, they are designed to sell shares of stock to the public. A lot of these companies have incredibly high management costs, do a variety of stupid things, and when they lose money it gives the impression that ethanol is not profitable. But the big chemical companies understand the nature of the chemical business which is to produce a product that can only be distinguished from the competition by its price. So they concentrate on low overhead costs. They and the small farmers are quite profitable on ethanol and have been steadily ramping up production.
The US now exports fuel. What this means is that the 10% ethanol mandates no longer have any major effect. If they were eliminated, our use of ethanol in gasoline would not decrease substantially. From the point of view of the mixers, ethanol is too attractively inexpensive to avoid using it as a fuel. I think that if they eliminated the mandates today, you might be able to buy gasoline without ethanol again, but it would be a boutique fuel and would be quite expensive. As stated in posts above, it would be made from more expensive, higher octane stock.
I don’t think that the opinions of the general public have much basis in fact in this industry. I think that politicizing this industry is as much a bad idea as would be politicizing any other industry including solar energy. So I’m glad to see the subsidy going away. The argument about “food vs. fuel” is very emotional, but the fact is that people starve because they’re poor, not because American farmers can’t produce enough corn or because corn has uses as an industrial chemical feedstock. If the corn ethanol business were outlawed world-wide tomorrow, the response of farmers would be to quit planting as much corn. Farmers are not in the business of providing food to people who can’t pay for it. Furthermore, the resulting increase in transportation fuel costs would also impact the poor.
By the way, I used to believe that man-caused global warming was significant (and unavoidable). I had to come around to the belief that it was mostly hype as a result of writing up an analysis of whether there would be subsidies for the biofuels industry based on carbon credits or the like. My conclusion was that these subsidies would disappear. This conclusion was shared by the other engineers but the funny thing was that the investors interested in corn ethanol were true believers.

James Sexton
December 28, 2011 4:45 pm

eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm
One point that is missing from the argument with the ethanol advocates is thus.
Use of E10 will give a mpg of 10 – 35% less mpg (depending on the engine). For the sake of this argument let’s use only a 10% reduction in mpg overall…..
===========================================================
On the four vehicles I tested…… none older than 2003 model, pickups and sedans, the average was a 20% reduction in mileage.
I don’t know why some of the people here were never taught not to play with their food. But, with the ending of the subsidy, we’ll see most of their claims go down in flames. Now, finally, some of us will be able to afford a steak now and again.

James Sexton
December 28, 2011 4:49 pm

Smokey says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm
A. Scott says:
“Too many of the people and replies in this thread show exactly why the AGW scientists so despise the skeptics.”
Umm-m-m… have you checked out alarmist blogs like Tamino, Pseudo-Skeptical Pseudo-Science, realclimate, climateprogress, etc.?
==================================================================
Thank you Smoke, …..I don’t understand why people don’t expect to be challenged here. That’s why they’re here! If you’re going to state something here, you better bring it, and even if you do, someone will bring up some points you haven’t thought of. Yeh, its a mean lot, but like Smokey says, if you have truth and are willing to take the heat, you’ll prevail. Think of it as real peer-review. To be sure, this ain’t pal review!

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 4:50 pm

david says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:55 am
C’mon Sal Minella!
No perpetual motion here!
The only question here, is if the 1 BTU represents all the costs associated from the moment the corn is planted until it arrives as ethonal at the pump, or as some are questioning here, does it only represent the energy needed at the factory to convert the sugar to ethonal.
Perhaps A. Scott could clarify that, and while doing so, perhaps he could phrase it so that the “perpetual motion” comments are avoided.

David – appreciate the support, and honest question …
The concept of “net energy balance,” or EROEI (Energy Return over Energy Invested), of ethanol (or any fuel product for that matter) is well settled, has reviewed in detail and fairly well understood.
Regarding ethanol, there have been numerous studies from reputable scientists, institutions and agencies, that clearly show the net energy balance of ethanol production is positive. These energy balance studies take into account all of the various inputs involved in growing, harvesting, and processing corn or other feed stock into fuel. The net energy balance figure of appx 1.6 btu produced for 1 BTU of energy expended is the current best estimate of average energy balance using corn based processes. This is up from 1.2 to 1.3 to 1 a few years back.
More advanced cellulosic processes are providing net energy balances of 6 and up to 8 to 1 and more.
There is a single study (or ongoing study’s might be more accurate) by David Pimentel of Cornell and Tad Patzak of Berkeley that claim to show a negative energy balance for corn based ethanol. Their work has repeatedly and thoroughly been debunked by a myriad of scientists, government agencies, and more. For one – they ignored the value of the co-products produced. And attributed all of the energy expense to the ethanol side and little or none to the co-product side.
If folks like Sal truly cared about educating themselves – about learning the facts – rather than ridiculing those who disagree with their uneducated, unsupported by the facts, views – they could simply type “net energy balance” into google and in a few minutes learn far more than they want to know.
They could simply read the Wiki info on ethanol, or better yet as someone noted – read the Brazilian Ethanol Wiki entry – which provides a great overview of the facts regarding ethanol and what its taken to build a sustainable successful renewable energy program.
People like Sal, eyesonu and the like are more interested in attacking those that don’t agree with them than in learning. For the record I have zero problem with being challenged, and responding – provided its civil and from someone who has first, shown they took the time to at least understand the basics of the issue, and second, who makes the request civilly.
Had ol Sal read even the basic Brazil ethanol Wiki entry he would have answered his own attack – and in doing so maybe looked a lot less silly – a simple quote:
“One of the main concerns about bioethanol production is the energy balance, the total amount of energy input into the process compared to the energy released by burning the resulting ethanol fuel. This balance considers the full cycle of producing the fuel, as cultivation, transportation and production require energy, including the use of oil and fertilizers. A comprehensive life cycle assessment commissioned by the State of São Paulo found that Brazilian sugarcane based ethanol has a favorable energy balance, varying from 8.3 for average conditions to 10.2 for best practice production.[12]
Reading further he could have read virtually verbatim what I posted:
“This means that for average conditions one unit of fossil-fuel energy is required to create 8.3 energy units from the resulting ethanol. These findings have been confirmed by other studies.[81][83][159]”
Funny, but its almost the same exact thing the USDA says in their recent study as well – it should be noted this is regarding 2008 yields – which it found were in fact higher than I stated for corn based ethanol production:
USDA Releases Corn-Ethanol Industry Report Showing Improving Energy Efficiency
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2010 – USDA’s Chief Economist Joseph Glauber today announced the publication of a report by the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses that surveyed corn growers for the year 2005 and ethanol plants in 2008, which indicates the net energy gain from converting corn to ethanol is improving in efficiency.
This report measures all conventional fossil fuel energy used in the production of 1 gallon of corn ethanol. For every British Thermal Unit (BTU) unit of energy required to make ethanol, 2.3 BTUs of energy are produced. The ratio is somewhat higher for some firms that are partially substituting biomass energy in processing energy. Since the last study in 2004, the net energy balance of corn ethanol has increased from 1.76 BTUs to 2.3 BTUs of required energy.
According to the report, overall, ethanol has made the transition from an energy sink, to a moderate net energy gain in the 1990s, to a substantial net energy gain in the present. And there are still prospects for improvement. Ethanol yields have increased by about 10 percent in the last 20 years, so proportionately less corn is required. In addition to refinements in ethanol technology, corn yields have increased by 39 percent over the last 20 years, requiring less land to produce ethanol.
The authors of the report are: H. Shapouri, Agricultural Economist, Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Office of the Chief Economist, USDA; Paul W. Gallagher, Associate Professor, Economics Department, Iowa State University; Ward Nefstead, Associate Professor, Applied Economics Department, University of Minnesota;
Rosalie Schwartz, Program and Recruitment Director, Agricultural Economics Department, University of Nebraska (Lincoln); Stacey Noe, Program Coordinator, Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, Iowa State University; and Roger Conway, Former Director, Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Office of the Chief Economist, USDA. The report can be found at: http://www.usda.gov/oce/reports/index.htm.”

Damn, pesky facts … right Sal?

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 4:57 pm

E10 will, on average, if blended with 84 SubOctane gasoline give about a 3% loss of fuel economy. If blended with 87 Octane gasoline the reduction in mpg will be about 1.5 to 2%. In either case, it comes out pretty close to a “wash.”
The important thing is you’re greatly reducing the demand for gasoline. And, reducing the Price of gasoline. We paid a Historical World Record, $3.50 Gallon in 2011. What would we have paid if we would have taken that 2 Million barrels of Ethanol/Day off the market?

December 28, 2011 4:57 pm

Pressurized NG tanks are safer than gas tanks? You’ll have to cite some studies to convince me of that.

There were no fatalities compared with 1.28 deaths per 100 million miles for gasoline fleet
vehicles The collision rate for NGV fleet vehicles was 31% lower than the rate for gasoline fleet vehicles
The fleet of 8,331 NGVs was involved in seven fire incidents, only one of which was directly
attributable to failure of the natural gas fuel system.
Natural gas vehicles were first commercialized after World War II in Italy. There are now over twelve
million in use worldwide. Natural gas vehicles have been used in the US since the early 1970s, with
over 120,000 in use today. Yet there has been only one fatality in the US involving a NGV in all that
time and it was attributed to human error.
There were no fatalities compared with 1.28 deaths per 100 million miles for gasoline fleet
vehicles The collision rate for NGV fleet vehicles was 31% lower than the rate for gasoline fleet vehicles
http://www.cleanvehicle.org/committee/technical/PDFs/Web-TC-TechBul2-Safety.pdf
The experience here in Perth is that the rare fires in NG vehicles occur in home converted vehicles, which leave them as petrol/NG hybrids. A petrol fire then cooks the NG tank.
Petrol/NG hybrids are illegal for this reason.

eyesonu
December 28, 2011 5:02 pm

Per the USDA site referenced regarding cotton:
US acreage harvested
year 2006 324K acres
year 2007 288k acres
year 2008 169k acres
year 2009 138k acres
year 2010 202k acres
year 2011 288k acres
Seems that much cotton cropland was converted to corn for ethanol beginning with the ethanol mandate. Shortage of cotton lead to increase prices. Writing on the wall regarding ethanol returning acreage back to cotton?
Regards to an earlier comment by A. Scott that no cropland was being diverted to grow corn was of course bogus.

JJ
December 28, 2011 5:06 pm

Brilliant!

Luther Wu
December 28, 2011 5:06 pm

A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm
….
___________
A. Scott,
Pardon, but you are doing exactly what you accuse others of doing.
You’ve invited cynical response by your failure to back up your claims.
Go ahead and take your marbles and go home, secure in your mind that you ‘really told them’.
Bring some truth to the table, next time.

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 5:07 pm

hotrod (larry L) says:
December 28, 2011 at 11:19 am
eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:08 am
I knew the trolls were here and would come to A. Scotts rescue.
The only troll here is you.
You magically pop up every time there is a substantive discussion of fuel ethanol or any pro-oil discussion. I have been posting here for years on lots of other topics, but you are a one man band of ad-homonym attacks and misinformation directed at anyone that tries to present the other side of the story that is conveniently ignored by the folks who are against ethanol.
Your tactics are exactly the same small minded sort of character assassination attacks with no substance as we see from the global warming crowd and simply will not fly here.
If you have facts or personal observations you wish to contribute to the discussion, please carry on an adult discussion, otherwise please go back into your hole.
Larry

Thanks Larry … its really sad people like eyesonu and Sal etc are too blinded by their preconceived and clearly uninformed agendas to actually learn some of the most basic facts about what they are talking about.
I will repeat – although its clear folks like these really don’t care – I am not in ANY way shape or form involved in, related to, paid by or associated with the industry. I am happy to provide Anthony any documentation privately to prove that point.
I was an ethanol skeptic, just as I was originally an AGW believer. But as I reviewed the science and learned the facts my positions on both changed 180 degrees.
I believe we SHOULD be drilling for and using our fossil fuels. I also believe we should be looking for and using all means possible to reduce dependence on the finite supply. Ethanol is a partial solution – and as Brazil has shown a real and sustainable solution.
Every bit of renewable ethanol we use for fuel is that much finite fossil fuel we save. It also reduces emissions, reduces GHG’s and a number of other benefits. It is not “burning food” – the corn used is virtually all animal feed, and appx half of the corn used is returned as a by product in form of high quality, high energy animal feed that is better for animals than the original corn. We get corn oil and corn meal, in addition to the distillers dried grans animal feed and the ethanol from every bushel of corn.
Those are facts – no matter how many times some people try to attack and mislead folks otherwise.

December 28, 2011 5:09 pm

Carl Brannen says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm
An amazing amount of misinformation here. WUWT should invite a post from someone in the ethanol industry. I’d volunteer but I do not have the time to do it right.
======================================
……… but you did it anyway. Great post.
Come on A. Scott, please continue (as Smokey asks of you). Don’t worry about eyesonu, or that guy who thinks ethanol is not an optimal product (oooops that was me, but I was speaking hygroscopically, and I know what’s coming down the pike).

hotrod (larry L)
December 28, 2011 5:09 pm

eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm
One point that is missing from the argument with the ethanol advocates is thus.
Use of E10 will give a mpg of 10 – 35% less mpg (depending on the engine). For the sake of this argument let’s use only a 10% reduction in mpg overall.

This is flat out wrong and far removed from reality.
Fuel mileage drops due to switching from straight gasoline to E-10 ethanol added fuel, range from 1.5% to 4%. In carefully controlled tests the drop in mileage is so small it is hard to detect without carefully controlled testing.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/ethanol.shtml

E10 (gasohol)
E10 (also called “gasohol”) is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline sold in many parts of the country. All auto manufacturers approve the use of blends of 10% ethanol or less in their gasoline vehicles. However, vehicles will typically go 3–4% fewer miles per gallon on E10 than on straight gasoline.

MPG. FFVs operating on E85 usually experience a 25–30% drop in miles per gallon due to ethanol’s lower energy content.

http://www.ethanol.org/pdf/contentmgmt/ACEFuelEconomyStudy_001.pdf
(yes this study is from a group that advocates ethanol fuels, but read the study and determine if you think the methods are sound before you dismiss it summarily.)
The above quoted drops in fuel mileage by the original poster are only applicable to FFV (flexible fuel Vehicles from Detroit running on E85) These vehicles are not particularly good adaptations for E85 because the CAFE regulations give Detroit the same credit for alternative fuels regardless of the fuel mileage on E85, so they have no incentive of any kind to optimize them to run on E85. Private party conversions from gasoline to E85 can easily exceed the factory FFV performance and approach normal gasoline fuel mileages.
For example I got over 90% of my gasoline fuel mileage on straight E85 after my conversion. If driving for economy I could get into the mid 90% range (92%-95% of my gasoline fuel mileage.
Fuel economy does not track directly with fuel volumetric energy content, but rather with the net useful work extracted from the available fuel energy. High ethanol blends allow higher thermal efficiencies than can be achieved on gasoline (octane only being one reason for this difference). The fuel has wider flammability limits (ie is less prone to lean or rich misfire), it has better performance under load providing both a 5%-15% power increase over gasoline with no other changes, and engines running on E85 tolerate lugging under load much better reducing down shifts under load.
Many people who assert that E10 causes large fuel economy reductions are actually seeing fuel economy drops due to changes in seasonal fuel blends and cold weather (when these claims seem to peak). The total energy drop for E10 on a volumetric basis is only 3%.
I have been driving on ethanol added fuel for 30+ years (it was first available in the 1970’s and was required by law in 1989 in Denver to help reduce air pollution.) The drop in fuel mileage was difficult to detect 30 years ago even if you kept careful records of each fuel fill and miles driven, and is no where near as bad as many assert.
Larry

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 5:18 pm

The U.S. is not the major player in the cotton market that it is in the global corn, and soybean markets. We would have only a very small cotton market but for the generous cotton subsidies.
In the last year, or so, the worldwide cotton prices have Expuhloaded! Weak harvests, globally, and greatly increased demand from the “emerging” countries have led to the Highest Prices, By Far, in History. Thus your increase in planting.

Justa Joe
December 28, 2011 5:19 pm

40 Shades of Green says:
December 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm
@jabre. I wonder would you be interested in doing an article on the true cost of oil based on the links you have provided. I think it would be fascinating.
—————————–
40, there are tons of studies by green groups created to report the “true” external costs of petroleum. Some of them are really quite creative. There is a report by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), which is an actual branch of the US govt. that reports on energy subsidation. If you read it you’ll be shocked at the levels of real cash subsidation expended on “renewable fuels”. Looking at one chart I notice that Biomass and Biofuels are constitute 73.2% of Subsidies and support to fuels used outside of the electricity sector veresus nat gas & petroleum’s combined 20.7%. Also it would be important to note the type of subsidation as pointed out here the Oil industries “subsidies” generally come in the form of tax “breaks” while much of the renewables benefit from loan supports and cash grants. You’ll be shocked by the level of renewable subsidation versus unit of energy produced.

DirkH
December 28, 2011 5:19 pm

Carl Brannen says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm
“If the corn ethanol business were outlawed world-wide tomorrow, the response of farmers would be to quit planting as much corn. ”
Carl, I appreciate your point of view, especially that you see the removal of subsidies as necessary. I have seen [PV] companies from the inside that were quite unprepared for it, and as you say, they have high management costs, high overhead and seem unprepared for the harsh reality of competition. They are currently going belly-up here in Germany [e.g. Solon, Solar Millenium].
One (big) problem we have here in Germany with the biofuel subsidies – here it’s less ethanol production but more usage of corn as feedstock for biogas reactors – is that the corn planted for this purpose really does crowd out food production, driving up rent for agricultural land and making it next to impossible for e.g. dairy farmers to get the land they need. Political meddling destroys the livelihoods of people who used to have a viable business.That’s the typical ugly side of favoritism.

Justa Joe
December 28, 2011 5:21 pm
Mooloo
December 28, 2011 5:24 pm

Sal Minella:
If I put $1000 in a high interest account, at the end of waiting I will have $100,000,000 dollars.
There is a lot of difference between being able to turn 1 BTU into 1.6 BTU and being able to do it instantly. Your assessment that this gives free energy assumes instantaneous translation and zero costs for inputs. Like my fool-proof plan for making $100,000,000. Which is, actually, fool-proof if you don’t examine the minor time conditions.

Luther Wu
December 28, 2011 5:25 pm

Kum Dollison says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm
E10 will, on average, if blended with 84 SubOctane gasoline give about a 3% loss of fuel economy. If blended with 87 Octane gasoline the reduction in mpg will be about 1.5 to 2%. In either case, it comes out pretty close to a “wash.”
_________________________
That’s the ethanol promoter’s meme, but it doesn’t match my own experience.
I get measurably less mpg w/ethanol than straight gasoline.
I get 22-24mpg (varies w/wind speed/direction) on a frequently traveled 300+ mile stretch, burning pure gasoline. With a tank of ethanol, the most I’ve ever recorded was 18.6 mpg and typically less than that.
I’ve tested this a few times, just to make sure. This result is verified by my ride’s computer and my own calculations.
My vehicle was apparently designed to function efficiently with the engine making normal horsepower, but is really inefficient with a drop in power… at least, that’s my thinking about the poor performance with E10.
My vehicle is also touted as being designed to handle ethanol, but I’ve learned to avoid ethanol, if possible.

Presly Phillips
December 28, 2011 5:30 pm

I had my auto repair, due to a problem with ethanol and the lawnmore repaired twice. The repair show told me to go to a mid-grade of gasoline as it would not burn hotter in the lawnmore!

December 28, 2011 5:31 pm

A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm
“I started working on detailed responses to the several people with legitimate honest questions…”
Lots of interesting and detailed discussion of Ethanol since my original question for you: “Can you make a cogent argument for public funding of Ethanol development?”
I had previously and perhaps tersely compared it to funding for my small manufacturing company; why is Ethanol development funded and I can’t even get an SBA loan? Perhaps a bad analogy.
Here’s some food for thought – if public funding of Ethanol development is a good idea, then why does our current government dither on approving the Keystone pipeline if the argument for public funding of Ethanol is to assure domestic energy supply. Canada seems like a good bet to me.
Maybe another bad comparison – I’m reaching for an answer to my original question and I take it that the original motivation for this thread is noting that public funding for Ethanol production is being curtailed by the ending of the farm subsidy for Ethanol. Why was it ever subsidized? I’m sure our elected representatives had something in mind and citing “pork-barrel politics” will not answer the question even if it had something to do with it. Somewhere, somehow, at sometime in the public sphere, subsidies seemed like a good idea, with some goal in mind, to somehow cure some (terrible) ill. What made funding ethanol production with public funds a good idea – despite how it has or has not worked out. Just exactly what problem were we trying to solve?
As far as WUWT as a blog, I read on another blog here recently where WUWT was referred to as the “Wolfpack at WUWT”. I cracked up. Really – the Wolfpack? How funny.
Relax. It’s just a fun blog. I have learned a lot here, learned a lot from your original post, and have learned a lot from these comments.
Have fun, and I look forward to your answer.

DirkH
December 28, 2011 5:32 pm

hotrod (larry L) says:
December 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/ethanol.shtml
E10 (gasohol)
E10 (also called “gasohol”) is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline sold in many parts of the country. All auto manufacturers approve the use of blends of 10% ethanol or less in their gasoline vehicles. ”
Your source is wrong. I’m just repeating this so that nobody gets the idea that he can just try it out without knowing whether his car is suited. MOST new cars are suited, that’s right. Here’s an ultra-comprehensive list; created during this years E10 fiasco in Germany; unfortunately, it’s a lengthy PDF in German. So make of that what you will. But the information in the list comes from the vehicle manufacturers; they list all the models that are capable of running on E10; some manufacturers simply say “all of them”, some say “all of our models except for the following ones”.
http://www.dat.de/e10liste/e10vertraeglichkeit.pdf

DirkH
December 28, 2011 5:34 pm

And it’s not that the engine won’t work with E10 (it will) but that the seals will be attacked by the E10 over time.

Catcracking
December 28, 2011 5:37 pm

There is a lot of good information on this post but unfortunately there is a lot of mis information mostly from the ethanol trolls
For example the latest crazy fact re ethanol mandates is contained below
The ethanol shuffle is between US and Brazil.
This is even crazier than the original concept of subsidizing and mandating ethanol in the first place. and reveals the insanity that exists in the Washington EPA and California CARB. This is costing the California drivers an additional 16 cents per gal or $ 5.8 million dollars.
http://www.ethanolrfa.org/exchange/entry/the-ethanol-shuffle/?
Posted on: December 12, 2011 inBrazil, Engines, Ethanol, Exports
Some of the facts presented
1) Ethanol production is falling in Brazil due to various reasons mostly weather related
2) Brazil is exporting ethanol to California
3) Brazil is importing corn based ethanol from the US due to a shortage of ethanol. Brazil has reduced the % mandated in gasoloine.
4)California imports from Brazil because ” … state and Federal fuel regulations that treat Brazilian sugarcane ethanol as if it were the Holy Grail of biofuels. Both the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and U.S. EPA have decided that producing sugarcane ethanol results in fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than producing corn ethanol.
5) So, under CARB’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS), sugarcane ethanol generates far more credits for compliance than corn ethanol. And EPA considers sugarcane ethanol to be an “advanced biofuel,” meaning it is one of only two options available to obligated parties today for compliance with the RFS2 advanced biofuels requirement (biodiesel being the other). In short, the LCFS and RFS2 strongly compel regulated parties (typically oil refiners) to import sugarcane ethanol to meet their regulatory obligations.
6) But here’s the rub: sugarcane ethanol is in short supply after consecutive disappointing sugar crops in Brazil. Sugarcane yields in 2011 were about 19% below the 30-year trend and on par with average yields from the mid-1980s. Therefore Brazil is purchasing corn based ethanol from the US
7) So, that’s how the “Ethanol Shuffle” works. California imports sugarcane ethanol from Brazil rather than corn ethanol from Nebraska or Kansas; and in turn, corn ethanol from the Midwest travels to Houston or Galveston via rail, then is shipped to Brazil via tanker to “backfill” the volumes they sent to the U.S
8) The congress has foolishly mandated an increasing amount of cellulosic ethanol to be used even though technology did not exist. Because corn based ethanol offers minimal carbon credits, the source of the ethanol was required to be from cellulosic sources based on promises that commercial plants would produce significant amounts of cellulosic ethanol by 2010. Commercial plants were built using government subsidies, and government backed loans. These plants failed because the technology was flawed and has fundamental technology problems were not addressed due to the “rush”. Refiners still have to comply with the mandate to mix the added ethanol or pay a fine
Only government can create such a wasteful system with mandates. One wonders if the shipping carbon consumption is cranked into the system.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204012004577072470158115782.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop#articleTabs%3Darticle
“To recap: Congress subsidized a product that didn’t exist, mandated its purchase though it still didn’t exist, is punishing oil companies for not buying the product that doesn’t exist, and is now doubling down on the subsidies in the hope that someday it might exist. We’d call this the march of folly, but that’s unfair to fools.”
Meanwhile the administration is choking of conventional fuel production in the US and the Keystone pipeline that would back out imports from unreliable and unfriendly sources on the misguided belief that biofuels will be plentiful if subsidized.

GeoLurking
December 28, 2011 5:37 pm

I drive on average, about 35 to 38k mile per year. Like most of us, I encountered the mileage hit when E85 was mandated. The only way I can obtain anywhere near the mileage of unadulterated gas, is to follow tractor trailer rigs that are going at about highway speed.
Ethanol absorbs moisture. Ethanol evaporates. As ethanol evaporates, it leaves behind the moisture. If you don’t use it or treat it, your gas goes stale over time. That is one of the reasons that small engines have an issue with it.
Ethanol is a boondoggle, plain and simple.

eyesonu
December 28, 2011 5:45 pm

Hotrod, do you understand the relationship that involves the engine control unit (computer), ignition timing, fuel / air mixture, knock sensor, and other sensors in an automobile engine?
You have called in all the reinforcing trolls here as you have done in the past elsewhere. Seen it before, same game, different thread.

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 5:49 pm

eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm
One point that is missing from the argument with the ethanol advocates is thus.
Use of E10 will give a mpg of 10 – 35% less mpg (depending on the engine). For the sake of this argument let’s use only a 10% reduction in mpg overall.
Pour the 10% etanol down the drain and the ‘pure’ gasoline in the tank will deliver 10% greater mpg so you could drive nearly (99%) as far on only 90% volume of fuel (real gas). On many, if not most, engines not designed for the E10 there could be an increase of 25 – 35% greater mpg.
Consider the EROI of ethanol and only a fool would put in in their tank if given the option. Government mandates at its best?

Where do you come up with this silly stuff?
FACTS: Gasoline has appx 124,800 BTU’s per gal. Ethanol has appx 77,000 BTU’s per gal. E10 has appx 120,100 BTU’s per gallon.
The correct answer to your claim is E10 has appx 3.83% less energy than straight gasoline.
Every engine with fuel injection and electronic engine management systems9I don’t know but at least back pretty much a decade or more) is virtually unaffected by E10 – the engine management system simply adjusts the mixture for the beneficial higher octane ethanol blend. Exactly as it adjusts when you drive into mountains and higher altitude.

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 5:57 pm

James Sexton says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm
eyesonu says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm
One point that is missing from the argument with the ethanol advocates is thus.
Use of E10 will give a mpg of 10 – 35% less mpg (depending on the engine). For the sake of this argument let’s use only a 10% reduction in mpg overall…..
===========================================================
On the four vehicles I tested…… none older than 2003 model, pickups and sedans, the average was a 20% reduction in mileage.
I don’t know why some of the people here were never taught not to play with their food. But, with the ending of the subsidy, we’ll see most of their claims go down in flames. Now, finally, some of us will be able to afford a steak now and again.

I use E85 at least 75% of the time in a 2003 Tahoe. I record the majority of purchases. My mileage has never dropped more 20%, usually less. I just paid $2.52 for E85 with E10 priced at $3.35, a 25% discount vs a 20% or less drop in mileage.
Statistically E85 vs E10 is a drop of appx 29% in energy content – which shows the engine management systems in todays cars are making back some of the lost BTU’s of energy by adjusting fuel mixtures.

December 28, 2011 5:58 pm

A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm
Regarding ethanol, there have been numerous studies from reputable scientists, institutions and agencies, that clearly show the net energy balance of ethanol production is positive.
================================================
I am so pi$$ed off about this. I know somewhere on my computer is a single and wonderful powerpoint slide with all the studies (about 10 or 15 of them) showing exactly what you say, and temporally this shows huge improvements. Hopefully I’ll find it soon, especially as it shows the Pimentel work to be the clownish crap that it is.
This science (biofuels/chemicals) is not an exercise in English language usage to which the CAGW science/propaganda has degenerated (or always was). Here, there are people on the ground doing experiments, screwing up, acknowledging screw-ups and tossing that data in the garbage but conversely, making discoveries that advance percentage yields of fermentation and feedstock technology on a daily basis. If you think you knew something 2 years ago, forget it, you’re three or four years out of date, because what people in the field know now will probably not make a press release or published patent application until then.
This field is rocking right now, in this economic environment too. It’s like the early eighties, when big Pharma was telling biotechnology companies they couldn’t afford the plumbing and, of course, now big Pharma does its research by buying companies with marginal plumbing capabilities.
So there you go. The view from the trenches.

Luther Wu
December 28, 2011 6:01 pm

Despite the welcome news heralded by this thread, I don’t foresee any real changes in the way we deal with ethanol, etc.
There are just too many powerful players with their hands in our pockets and too many entrenched activists in what is rapidly becoming our politburo.

December 28, 2011 6:03 pm

A. Scott says:
“I just paid $2.52 for E85 with E10 priced at $3.35, a 25% discount vs a 20% or less drop in mileage.”
I suspect that is due to the heavy ethanol subsidies.

Kum Dollison
December 28, 2011 6:05 pm

GW Bush pushed for the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) because it was obvious that Oil would soon be “Peaking.” And, it did, in 2005. We’ve been on the “Plateau” since then (in fact, oil production (C + C) was slightly less in 2011 than it was in ’05.)
Meantime, the “emerging” nations, led by China, India, etal, and the oil exporting nations, themselves, are demanding more, and more of a product that is no longer expanding in supply.
Ethanol was seen as a “mitigating” technology, in that it was compatible with the existing infrastructure, and fleet. At some point, probably in the next few years, we will start to fall off of the current plateau, and the supply of oil will begin to decline in earnest.
We Will need all the help we can get.

u.k.(us)
December 28, 2011 6:07 pm

Living, as I am, under the most transparent Government (my President told me, it would be so), why are the claims being made not shouted from the rooftops.
No Jobs involved ?.
Spell it out so dumb **cks like me can understand.
How many of the dreaded “millionaires and billionaires” stand to benefit, and how much money will be left to re-distribute after the contributions to various political campaigns has been subtracted.
Government mandates are slowly, softly, taking over the energy sector. What next ?

hotrod (larry L)
December 28, 2011 6:12 pm

DirkH says:
December 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm
Your source is wrong. I’m just repeating this so that nobody gets the idea that he can just try it out without knowing whether his car is suited. MOST new cars are suited, that’s right.

Yes good point for those who are not critical readers — that report is a U.S government report dealing with cars intended for sale in the U. S. Market, where 10% added ethanol has been required by law in some locations for over 30 years. Obviously German manufactured cars intended for sale in Europe will not necessarily fit that compatibility standard. (even though many of them sell variants in Brazil that run on 100% hydrous ethanol fuel).
Larry

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 6:13 pm

Kum Dollison says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm
E10 will, on average, if blended with 84 SubOctane gasoline give about a 3% loss of fuel economy. If blended with 87 Octane gasoline the reduction in mpg will be about 1.5 to 2%. In either case, it comes out pretty close to a “wash.”
The important thing is you’re greatly reducing the demand for gasoline. And, reducing the Price of gasoline. We paid a Historical World Record, $3.50 Gallon in 2011. What would we have paid if we would have taken that 2 Million barrels of Ethanol/Day off the market?

Exactly correct. Ethanol has lowered the overall cost of gasoline for years. And studies clearly show that impact is greater the better availability and distribution is in a region:
Economists at Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin also recently looked at ethanol’s impact on oil refining and the downward pressure ethanol has exerted on wholesale gasoline prices. They concluded that “…from January 2000 to December 2010, the growth in ethanol production reduced wholesale gasoline prices by $0.25 per gallon on average.” Further, they found that, “Based on the 2010 data … the marginal impacts on gasoline prices are found to be substantially higher given the much higher ethanol production and crude oil prices. The average effect increases to $0.89/gallon…Separating the data for each Petroleum Administration for Defense District region shows that the Midwest region has received the greatest benefit from ethanol production. Last year, ethanol reduced gas prices there by $1.37 per gallon, according to the paper’s authors. Ethanol has had the least impact on gas prices on the East Coast. Ethanol production reduced prices in that region by 58 cents per gallon in 2010.”
http://www.card.iastate.edu/publications/dbs/pdffiles/11wp523.pdf

a jones
December 28, 2011 6:17 pm

As I have observed before on this blog.
Whomsoever can turn cellulosic byproduct economically into fuel or food or plastics will indeed deserve the vast fortune they will make thereby.
This is not my original observation or words, it dates back to at least the 1920’s if not before.
And we are no further forward today.
For all government subsidy and stupidity. Ah well.
Kindest Regards

Catcracking
December 28, 2011 6:25 pm

Some facts to clarify the claim that 1.6 BTU’s for every external BTU of energy input.
Technically it would be feasible to realize more energy output than the external energy input (that should include production energy from natural gas, electricity, oil, fertilizer, etc.) because there is energy in the corn crop.
However the calculations vary considerably depending on the assumptions that go into the model.
As one my wise relatives once said “figures don’t lie but liers do figure.
The basis for the 1.6 to 1 uses an assumption that is very controversial which I disagree with:
The assumption is that the energy input is apportioned according to the mass of the products. Since the ethanol is only a portion of the total mass of the products including waste, all the external energy input is not assigned to the ethanol product. The rational is that the waste can be burned or processed to also produce energy or something else which is a highly questionable assumption. Those who claim there is a net loss require that all the external energy input is assigned to the ethanol. This kind of economics would bankrupt any real company. The EPA realizes this, ergo ethanol from corn is not highly valued versus ethanol from sugar cane. What wisdom one of my elders had without a Phd degree!!
Of course the only way to resolve the issue is to remove all subsidies and let the market decide. The pro ethanol folks know that ethanol cannot survive this test.
Re correction on subsidies for oil, the depletion allowance mentioned is allowed for all such activities such as mining where the property purchased or leased looses value as the assets are depleted. That is in the tax code, not a subsidy. This is normal business practice. There is one major exception to this, large oil companies are denied this deletion allowance while small oil exploration companies are still allowed this allowance.
Another citem claimed in the subsidies to “big oil”is the home heating oil subsidies given to the “poor”.
No rational person would claim that this is an oil subsidy, but then it reveals the lack of real subsidies to cite.
The other subsidies included in the outrageous claims are actual drilling expenses, etc that applies to all businesses.

A. Scott
December 28, 2011 6:30 pm

GregO says:
December 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm
A. Scott says:
December 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm
“I started working on detailed responses to the several people with legitimate honest questions…”
Lots of interesting and detailed discussion of Ethanol since my original question for you: “Can you make a cogent argument for public funding of Ethanol development?”
I had previously and perhaps tersely compared it to funding for my small manufacturing company; why is Ethanol development funded and I can’t even get an SBA loan? Perhaps a bad analogy.
Here’s some food for thought – if public funding of Ethanol development is a good idea, then why does our current government dither on approving the Keystone pipeline if the argument for public funding of Ethanol is to assure domestic energy supply. Canada seems like a good bet to me.
Maybe another bad comparison – I’m reaching for an answer to my original question and I take it that the original motivation for this thread is noting that public funding for Ethanol production is being curtailed by the ending of the farm subsidy for Ethanol. Why was it ever subsidized? I’m sure our elected representatives had something in mind and citing “pork-barrel politics” will not answer the question even if it had something to do with it. Somewhere, somehow, at sometime in the public sphere, subsidies seemed like a good idea, with some goal in mind, to somehow cure some (terrible) ill. What made funding ethanol production with public funds a good idea – despite how it has or has not worked out. Just exactly what problem were we trying to solve?
As far as WUWT as a blog, I read on another blog here recently where WUWT was referred to as the “Wolfpack at WUWT”. I cracked up. Really – the Wolfpack? How funny.
Relax. It’s just a fun blog. I have learned a lot here, learned a lot from your original post, and have learned a lot from these comments.
Have fun, and I look forward to your answer.

Greg – While the “Wolfpack” here can be exceeding critical when it comes to AGW – its is largely based on examining the science. When it comes to this topic some people become ignorant snobs and worse, just plain silly fools – ignoring all science, making up ridiculous claims out of thin air and attacking those they disagree with personally. That is a significant difference. They simply do not care about the science – they have made up their minds.
To answer your question suggest you read the Wiki entry for Brazilian Ethanol – it shows very well the effort required to build and grow a fledgling product into a sustainable fuel source – which they have succeeded at – although taking 40 years to do so.
Ethanol here needs the same early support. It first needs users – hence the flex fuel vehicles and the subsequent mandate on use. It needs production – both feed stock and processing, hence support for planting and processing plants. Perhaps the most important issue is it needs availability – distribution. Which is perfectly proven by the comment I made above showing that the impact on reducing gas prices was highest in the areas (Minnesota) with the best developed distribution and availability
Subsidies have accomplished exactly what they intended – support to grow the industry to sufficient mass and momentum that it is sustainable. Exactly as has occurred in Brazil.
Everyone assumed the subsidies would be phased out. Which is what should happen – emphasis on phased out. There should have been specific goals established by region – production and distribution goals – that when met trigger ending of subsidies. Even supporters of the bill realized this and wanted funds preserved to build out distribution in areas not already served.
I am in Minnesota – one of the most built out regions – and one benefiting best from ethanol. Yet I still only find E85 at isolated stations, a small fraction of all stations in the area. I would use more E85 – I actually go out of my way to buy it because I save money when I do – if there were more availability. Most areas of country have almost no distribution – and in those there is little benefit to costs and as such people do not use it. .

Camburn
December 28, 2011 6:31 pm

Ok….let’s get real for a change about Ethanol:
1. We grow the corn, this creates economic activeity in the USA
2. We sell distillers grain, which is a by product of making ethanol. The distillers grain is a very high value feed for livestock, dairy, etc.
3. WE don’t need to “protect” anything when produceing ethanol. Home grown.
4. The benifit of ethanol is lower gasoline prices.
This is just a few named items. Please research the topic before you thi