Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?

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Guest post by Steve Goreham

Originally published in The Washington Times.

Last week, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other lawmakers introduced legislation in the House of Representatives calling for major changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS is the reason why most US automobile fuel contains ten percent ethanol. The bill would eliminate the current mandate to blend 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol into fuel by 2022 and ban ethanol fuel content over ten percent. But are ethanol mandates good public policy?

For decades, ethanol vehicle fuel was touted first as a solution to reduce oil imports and second as a solution for global warming. The Energy Tax Act of 1978 established the US “gasohol” industry, providing a subsidy of 40 cents per gallon for ethanol blended with gasoline. President George W. Bush promoted biofuels to reduce dependence on foreign oil, stating, “I set a goal to replace oil from around the world. The best way and the fastest way to do so is to expand the use of ethanol.” Last year the Environmental Protection Agency promoted E15, a fifteen percent ethanol blend for cars and trucks, announcing, “Increased use of renewable fuels in the United States can reduce dependence upon foreign sources of crude oil and foster development of domestic energy sources, while at the same time providing important reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.” But it appears that these two reasons for promoting ethanol vehicle fuel have disappeared.

First, US dependence on oil imports is greatly reduced. Net imports of crude oil peaked in 2005, providing 60 percent of US consumption. In 2012, just six years later, oil imports dropped to 40 percent of consumption and continue to fall. Imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries declined from half of US imports in 1993 to 40 percent of imports 2012. Canada is now the largest single-nation supplier of crude to the US, rising from 14 percent in 1993 to 28 percent today. Construction of the Keystone pipeline would switch additional imports from OPEC to Canada.

At the same time, US oil production is ramping due to the hydrofracturing revolution. Oil production from shale fields in North Dakota and Texas led to a boost in US oil production by 30 percent since 2006. Industry experts predict almost all US petroleum will come from domestic and Canadian sources by 2030. There’s no longer a need to force ethanol use to reduce oil imports.

Second, recent studies show that the use of ethanol and biodiesel does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For many years, proponents of decarbonization assumed that the burning of biofuels would be “carbon neutral.” The carbon neutral concept assumes that as plants grow they absorb carbon dioxide equal to the amount released when burned. If true, the substitution of ethanol for gasoline would reduce emissions.

But a 2011 opinion from the Science Committee of the European Environment Agency pointed out what it called a “serious accounting error.” The carbon neutral concept does not consider vegetation that would naturally grow on land used for biofuel production. Since biofuels are less efficient than gasoline or diesel fuel, they actually emit more CO2 per mile driven than hydrocarbon fuels, when proper accounting is used for carbon sequestered in natural vegetation. Further, a 2011 study for the National Academy of Sciences found that, “…production of ethanol as fuel to displace gasoline is likely to increase such air pollutants as particulate matter, ozone, and sulfur oxides.”

Ethanol fuel is no bargain. For example, when gasoline is priced at $3.40 per gallon, the 85 percent ethanol blend (E85) is priced at about $3.00 per gallon. But since the energy content of ethanol is only 66 percent that of gasoline, a tank of E85 gets only about 71 percent of the mileage of a tank of pure gasoline. E85 fuel should be priced at $2.41 per gallon for the driver to break even. According to the US Department of Agriculture, ethanol fuel remains about 25 percent more expensive than gasoline.

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World biofuel production has increased by a factor of seven over the last ten years. Corn and soybean prices have doubled over the same period. (US Dept. of Energy, Food and Policy Research Institute, 2011)

Mandates for ethanol vehicle fuel are also boosting food prices. Forty percent of the US corn crop is diverted to produce about ten percent of US vehicle fuel. Global corn and soybean prices have doubled over the last ten years in concert with the growth in ethanol and biodiesel production. Anyone who drives a car or eats food is paying higher prices due to ethanol mandates.

But isn’t ethanol fuel sustainable? Not in terms of water consumption. Studies by the Argonne National Laboratory and the Netherlands University of Twente found that ethanol production consumes twice to dozens of times more water than gasoline produced from petroleum, even from Canadian oil sands.

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Gallons of water consumed per gallon of fuel produced for gasoline, ethanol, and biodiesel from various sources, including irrigation and fuel production, but not including precipitation. Variations in water consumption for three US regions and global averages for ethanol and biodiesel are primarily due to amount of irrigation used and agricultural yield. (Argonne National Laboratory, 2009; University of Twente, 2009)

Suppose we return to using corn for food and gasoline to power our vehicles?

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the new book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania.

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125 thoughts on “Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?

  1. There is a good reason for Using E10, it improves combustion efficiency because of the extra oxygen thus reducing production of CO and carbon particulate which is a very good thing.
    However using food for this purpose is completely wrong. Once algal biofuels come along it would be a viable option as you don’t need to use massive amounts of farm land to produce them!

  2. Transport for Ethanol has to be a problem.
    I’ve not seen any proper data, but BioDiesel may be better. It IS Diesel, not watered gasoline (E15 is likely to damage existing vehicles). I don’t know why corn is pushed over oilseeds.

  3. There is no need to reduce CO2. Nothing bad is happening because of its increase, and the plants love it. Since the US is the only developed nation that has significantly reduced its CO2 production, thanks to the recession, the burden of feeding the world’s plants has fallen on other nations, like China and India. They are doing a great job, and the plants thank them.

  4. Using ethanol to blend with gasoline is not a good idea. It lowers the energy content of the fuel and burns food. They should concentrate on using coal to produce methanol, a much higher energy content fuel than ethanol.

  5. “Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?”
    Yes. If it takes a government mandate to market a product, it’s almost assuradly the wrong thing to do.
    I also hate rebates, but… nevermind.

  6. This oxygenated fuel farce should be ended, but won’t be. In fact, we’re in the E15 era now, whatever the consequences. There’s money in that corn crop, pa!

  7. Oxygenated fuel such as EtOH are good for reducing CO and VOC tailpipe emissions UNTIL the catalytic convertor lights off, then it doesn’t do much. The change to 10% ethanol was quite costly in engine damage from it’s corrosivity. 15% ethanol will finish off the older cars. Ethanol should be banned for a number of reasons, but I’d bet the Feds won’t see it that way.

  8. I get crappy mileage with ethanol blended gas. 10% ethanol blend gives me 3-5% less fuel mileage. So I have to buy more. We are not saving 10%…..

  9. I thought the whole purpose was because temperatures were going up….
    ….who would have thought that burning ethanol would make temps go down
    /SNARK

  10. Mandates are not a good policy. Leave it to the market. If the crude price is too high, then people will demand E10 if it is cheaper. It has nothing to do with the government. Government intervention in any realm of life almost always leads to misery and destruction.
    This is not because government is a bad idea. It is because the members of governments (all of them, in all parties, in all history, all over the world) are a bunch power-crazed self-centered maniacs who could not care less for other people even if they were paid bonuses specifically to care less. They are worthless beings devoid of decency and humanity who add zero and take as much as they can. They would all sell out their own people for a dime and a vote. Why is that? Why are most members of the government like this? It is because in politics sh*t rises faster than Helium and goodness is like a brick in the Ocean.

  11. Several companies are tooling up to produce ethanol from sugar beets. Ethanol in the gas is NOT that bad an idea from a safety standpoint. Let alone that it helps combine extinguishing detergents and water with the gasoline is also displaces many chemicals that otherwise clog up and damage systems involved in efficiency controls and it increases the moisture content of the exhaust helping to reduce the dry particulate plumes that are so dangerous to lunged carbon life forms.
    I agree that the primary point should be the conversion of engines to forms of biodiesel mixtures with one very important exception: Soot.
    Lethal to me, I have asthma.
    Disruptive to the environment, “global dimming”

  12. In Germany E85 is cheaper compared to Super 95 octane led free car gasoline. My car according to the specs of the manufacturer can handle the E85 but I never fuel up my car with the stuff. Why? 1. I don’t support the concept of burning food. The US and Europe are responsible for the Arab Spring Revolutions which started as a food price protest. Food prices hiked after we decided to process food into car fuel and I simply refuse to play the game. Besides the price hike because of mixing expensive fuel with relative cheap fuel is one. The other aspect is the fact that bio fuel production is subsidized. As a result the rental price of an hectar of agricultural land in North Rhein Westfalen went up from 350 euros per year to 1100 euo per year, As a result no farmer is able to compete with agricultural products on the international markets. Farmers went for the green madness or went belly up. If we count all the costs related to the bio fuel (and biogas) mandate we have to conclude that we are killing the poorest of the poor because they can no longer afford the price of food and we are setting ourselves up for a famin because we are rooting out our farmers. 2. Besides the fact that ethanol is carcinogenic when in touch with bare skin or breathing vapors. It increases the risk of vapor combustion due to static electricity discharges when fueling up the car. 3.E85 has a limited conservation date of 2 months, which means you can have it in your tank when your car is left in the garage for the winter period. 5. Ethanol attracts water in the tank. People in cold frosty area’s have encountered problems like frozen fuel lines and fuel pump. 6. It’s bad stuff for your engine, pumps, engine oil as it promotes engine wear. I am sure therse are some more arguments but 6 on a role should do it. Screw the socialist pack of wolfs who set the Middle East on fire with bloody mandates, because that’s what they are, BLOODY MANDATES.

  13. Rob JM says:
    April 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm
    “There is a good reason for Using E10, it improves combustion efficiency because of the extra oxygen thus reducing production of CO and carbon particulate which is a very good thing.
    However using food for this purpose is completely wrong. Once algal biofuels come along it would be a viable option as you don’t need to use massive amounts of farm land to produce them!”
    No there isn’t. Modern cars already filter out most particles and burning ethanol only makes exhaust emissions a tiny bit better. If it was for clean fuel we should use Liquid Petrol gas (LPG) or propane for our cars. This is a great high octane fuel great for your engine.

  14. I think it’s time for dual fueled cars: gasoline and natural gas. Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home. All we need in the garage is a compressor to fill our tank. A small 5-7 gallon “reserve” tank of regular 87 gets us by when we need it…..

  15. pyeatte says:
    April 16, 2013 at 5:57 pm
    Using ethanol to blend with gasoline is not a good idea. It lowers the energy content of the fuel and burns food. They should concentrate on using coal to produce methanol, a much higher energy content fuel than ethanol.
    =====================================================
    If you want to go blind from driving behind people with a lead-foot, sure. Methanol will also burn the aluminum from your block, erode most fuel gaskets and it has a nasty tendency to run away from the gasoline in the storage tank. It isn’t viable. Even at only 10% it would turn even the simplest accidents into a catastrophe waiting to happen.
    The more fuel we replace with alcohol, the more fuel can be made into diesel instead of gasoline.

  16. And another thing! Do you know what we need more than E10 Petrol?
    Cheap food and cheap fuel!
    People are starving and freezing to death because the price of food and energy is so high. It is SICKENING AND EVIL (excuse capitals, but people *are* dying) that some people are pushing for subsidies to grow crops for fuel rather than for people to eat and pushing for more taxes on top of energy bills.
    It does not matter to those who are currently starving and freezing to death that the planet may be a degree warmer in 50 years. They need to eat today. They can worry about how to keep cool later.
    Do you know what a compassionate government would do? Failing of course each member doing the honorable thing and swallowing a Cyanide capsule. It would make sure that people do not starve and freeze to death by scraping all tax on fuel, and offer free fuel and food to those who genuinely cannot afford to buy it.
    And if anybody tells me that we cannot afford such a policy then I will point you to the $11 Million EVERY DAY that we appear to be able to afford to give Israel in Military Aid with no conditions attached. Any ideas how much Co2 a military jet or tank blows into the atmosphere? Yes, before you say it, we could also use all of the other money we give to other nations in military aid too. That money could be used to stop people starving and freezing to death, and the Israelis and whoever else are free to go and get their own money to fund their military if they so choose to waste their own resources in that way. Perhaps if the Israelis had to pay for their military machine out of their own taxes rather than mine then they would be a bit more critical of the overspending and misuse?

  17. If memory serves me, it takes more energy to create ethellno (misspelling intended) than it provides. Most of that from fossil fuels to boot.
    Thank you for the reminder in this post of how unrealistic the use of such really is. Let alone the food problems for 3rd world countries this program has created ………

  18. ‘Suppose we return to using corn for food and gasoline to power our vehicles?’
    Suppose instead you actually read the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It clearly phases out the use of starch-based fuels for the use of cellulosic fuels.
    There has also been a correlating growth in corn production. It jumped 24% in the year this legislation was introduced (http://www.indexmundi.com/agriculture/?country=us&commodity=corn&graph=production) .
    Unless you’re a cow, goat or some other animal which chews its cud you should not be too concerned about food competition from bio-fuels in the future based on the current legislation. Grasses, wood and algae are plentiful.

  19. Using the natural vegetation data is yet another fallacy. They don’t allow for many other factors, like the grazing of native animals, bush fires, perenials vs trees etc etc. It’s another statistical lie. Don’t just accept data because it “proves” your point without ensuring it’s not dodgy or you weaken your argument demonstrably.

  20. I believe ethanol was mandated for oxygenating CA gas because MTB was turning into an environmental problem.

  21. 1. Peter Laux says:
    “When a society sees burning food as fuel as acceptable, it’s end is approaching.”
    Excellent point, and for more than economic reasons. What is the morality of burning food to solve a non-existent problem while wasting billions of pounds of food that could go to help the hungry?
    All at the taxpayers’ expense.
    2. Adam, hard to find fault with what you say.

  22. Remember the ‘cash for clunkers’ program. Oh, how the Obama misadministration loves to spend money. Other people’s money. First; they paid $4,000 dollars for a any old rotted relic. This was fine for the people who could afford a new car (those who managed to remain employed despite Obama’s scintillating, stimulating, stimulus policies), but for those newbies on the unemployment lines, not so much. That’s because it automatically drove up the floor price for any used car regardless of how crappy it was. Second; among those vehicles that were perfectly serviceable but surrendered to the program, well, they trashed them to insure they wouldn’t return to the road. Some maggot-like compound was poured into the oil with the engine running and these chemical maggots proceeded to eat the engine from the inside out. The internal components and the engine blocks themselves were not salvageable. Memo to people with common sense: This is not creative, capitalistic destruction. It’s simply destruction. (And, the talking heads wonder why the economy’s in the toilet.) And, memo to environmentalists: This is NOT good recycling policy either.
    Anyway, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help escape the notion that the 15% ethanol mandate is the mother of all clunker programs. In disguise. His royal highness in Washington has repeatedly said that he wants to tackle Climate Change in his second term. (Why not the first term, Barry, eh?) One way would be the 15% mandate which is guaranteed to destroy the fuel systems on older cars, getting a whole slew of them off the road. Then Barry just whips out that golden pen and commands those hapless owners to buy electrics, like it or not. Can’t afford one? Take a high speed rail to…
    As far as ethanol containing extra oxygen for cleaner combustion? Well, the O2 sensors in the exhaust will tell the computer to recalibrate the mixture anyway.

  23. Ethanol blended gas was supposed to be to save the environment and make everything wonderful.
    However, if you run a chainsaw and leave that half tank of ethanol it will do some combination of: 1) eat out all the gaskets and valves in your engine, 2) deposit lacquer throughout the motor ruining it, and 3) draw water and decompose to the point where you can’t run the saw on it.
    So, what happens is that operator gets to the end of the day and then dumps the remaining (biofriendly, earth saving, good for farmers) fuel onto the ground so his saw will work tomorrow or next week.
    Its funny, if you like farce three steps from tears of rage.
    (for those of you that want to say, “but buy clear gas, dude” the answer is, I wouldn’t have to if you didn’t do stupid things administratively, but instead you will make me pay extra to avoid damaging my equipment on your utopian vision. As usual.)

  24. Yes, please get rid of the ethanol NOW.
    I put a new carb on the lawn tractor two years ago, ethanol gas killed the old one. About two months ago, after having it stored dry (no gas in tank or carb) as recommended, I put some gas in to move it, left it in. Now the engine runs, until the carb bowl empties and doesn’t refill fast enough because the system is screwed up by the alcohol gas AGAIN.
    Plus there’s the small weed whacker I’ll be replacing as it’s not worth getting serviced, which was killed by the alcohol gas.
    And then there’s the snow blower that wasn’t used this past winter because its carb was screwed up by the alcohol gas and it didn’t run…
    Plus if you don’t add in special ethanol fuel stabilizers, which you must purchase yourself and mix into your own stored gasoline, or add to the gasoline in the tank of a rarely used vehicle, the fuel will start going bad and must be discarded after only one month.
    Yes, you can park a vehicle over a season, like a motorcycle or RV, and find you have to get the tank drained, the fuel system flushed, fuel injectors and other components replaced, etc, for using the ethanol as it comes straight from the pump.
    And there are many dead weed whackers, chainsaws, lawn mowers, even power washers and generators, that are found dead and useless only months after having been set aside in perfect running condition.
    All of these replacement parts, all this replacement equipment, all the extra servicing… That’s a huge chunk of carbon emissions right there, from fabricating the replacements, transporting, and installing all of that.
    Exactly where did all these eco-geniuses figure in all these losses and unnecessarily added emissions when they concluded using E10 ethanol was such a great all-around benefit, E15 will be even better?
    What are they expecting? 50% more rainbow-colored candy-scented unicorn plops for everyone?

  25. Ethanol mneeds to go. It corrodes engines and shortens engine life and results in net increases in fuel consumption. As usual, the enviros have it bassackwards.
    Getting rid of ethanol subsidies (along with wind and solar subsidies, and “global warming research” grants) would sure help balance the budget.
    Maybe the greenies will figure a way foir us to burn excrement in our cars, so that we can do like poor people in Africa do when they cook their food. (Obully sure does like them burning excrement – after all, that’s biomass, right?. With all the excrement coming out of kleptocrat politicians’ mouths, there shooldn’t be a shortage of it for fuel. /sarc

  26. “James says: Don’t just accept data..without ensuring it’s not dodgy”
    Why I should accept your unsubstantiated claims as anything but dodgy?

  27. MattN says:
    April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm
    “Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home.

    Maybe so, but not me, or the next house, or the one on the other side of that, nor the next, nor the next . . .

  28. MattN says April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm
    I think it’s time for dual fueled cars: gasoline and natural gas. Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home. All we need in the garage is a compressor to fill our tank. A small 5-7 gallon “reserve” tank of regular 87 gets us by when we need it…..

    Have you seriously looked at this in detail from an engineering practicality standpoint? How big a tank would be needed for the CH4? How the required tank would *subtract* from usable internal ‘carry’/transport space? The gas pressures involved? The *demand* placed on fixed the nat gas delivery (infrastructure) system?
    Any of that?

  29. jabre says:
    April 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm
    “Unless you’re a cow, goat or some other animal which chews its cud you should not be too concerned about food competition from bio-fuels in the future based on the current legislation. Grasses, wood and algae are plentiful.

    I note the word future in this statement. Does this mean that today no bio-fuels from “grasses, wood, and algae” exist? If some does exist – how much? And what is the cost? If there is none, or essentially, none – then when will the bio-fuel future arrive?

  30. jabre says April 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm
    ‘Suppose we return to using corn for food and gasoline to power our vehicles?’
    Suppose instead you actually read the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It clearly phases out the use of starch-based fuels for the use of cellulosic fuels.

    A mandate that ‘phases out’ one form of alcohol in hopes that the other is available and is actually possible (and economically feasible) are two different things; is cellulose-based fuel ‘creation’ any where near being ‘production ready’ yet (meaning: at the volumes of fuel actually needed)?
    .

  31. MattN says April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm
    “Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home.”
    John F. Hultquist says April 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm
    Maybe so, but not me, or the next house, or the one on the other side of that, nor the next, nor the next . . .

    Same here; living in an “All-electric neighborhood” (subdivision even!)
    .

  32. Following my comment @ 8:11: On further reading I note “based on the current legislation” in jabre @ 6:54.
    A little searching and I learn the US Gov is fining refiners for not blending cellulosic ethanol into gasoline. The refiners are not using cellulosic ethanol because it doesn’t exist commercially. Those fines do make it to the bottom line of the companies and/or to the price of gasoline. There’s a plan only a _____ can love.
    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2012/01/12/government-forces-refiners-to-pay-fine-for-nonexistent-ethanol/

  33. I just spent a lot of money having one of my antique tractors fixed. According to the mechanic, it was ethanol that was causing all the problems. Now I’m going to have to drive to another town to find someone who sells ethanol free gas, just so I don’t have to throw more money away on fixing it. Who knows what damage that horrible stuff has already caused to all the rest of my equipment.

  34. There is so much bad information in here it hurts. I don’t even know where to start. At least thunderloon is in here with some common sense!
    E10 was originally introduced to phase out the oxygenate MTBE, which is poisonous. Alcohol is far more benign. R. de Haan, do you not realize how poisonous gasoline is???
    To say we shouldn’t use ethanol because old engines aren’t compatible with it is so unbelievably short-sighted. Maybe we shouldn’t have switched from leaded fuel either since that created complications for old engines too. Right?
    Some people mentioned the energy density deficit as compared to gasoline. Did anyone consider that ethanol runs at a ~30% richer stoich mixture, which almost entirely offsets the energy deficit on paper? Or, did anyone consider how much more efficient engines would be if they were actually /designed/ to take advantage of E85’s incredibly high 100+ octane rating? If engines were designed to run exclusively on alcohol and not 93-octane gasoline, they could effectively eliminate the knock limit which would translate into a much more efficient engine. These two factors alone should nearly close the mile/gallon gap between gas and E85, and would undoubtedly look more favorable in terms of pollutants emitted. You’re comparing the performance of E85 in an engine that wasn’t designed to run on it!
    The government created these mandates because they’re trying to stimulate the industry to accept ethanol as a fuel. If no one produces ethanol, then no one is going to make cars that use it. If no one makes cars that use ethanol then no one is going to install E85 blending pumps. Ethanol needs government help to help industry embrace it. The benefits of the fuel are indisputable, and the current drawbacks people are complaining about are trivial and silly.
    With that said, corn->ethanol is not the way to go, and we need to get cellulosic ethanol plants pumping out more of this stuff asap.
    /steps off soapbox

  35. On the subject of California gas—I took a trip to Seattle fromgot 21Santa Rosa Ca and filled up north of Redding in Yreka Ca. We then refilled in south of Eugene and got 21mpg on the California formula. We then drove through to Bothell Wa and refilled there. I was damaged to see that the Oregon gas allowed us to travel 311 miles on just 10.05 gallons. Cal gas 21 mpg Ore gas 31 mpg

  36. A couple of months ago, I was able to fill my car’s tank with non-ethanol gasoline. On that trip, I had gotten a max of 26 mpg, and after I filled up with non-ethanol fuel, my car got 30 mpg. I know this is anecdotal, but it is indicative of the higher energy content of gasoline compared to ethanol alcohol.
    The whole ethanol program is a bad idea. People are hungry, and we burn their supper on the way to work.

  37. Ethanol, ,,
    Made, makes ADM and Cargill billions ( follow the money in DC),,
    Has driven up the price of foodstuffs, farmland, rent, farm machinery, fertilizer, beef, pork, chicken,,
    Is a sorry fuel by almost any standard
    This solution to an imaginary problem ranks right up there with wind energy and the ban of CFCs
    as a way to enrich the politically well connected and screw the common man.

  38. Politicians panicked into “green” legislation forcing
    Taxpayers to buy ethanol
    and to subsidize ethanol
    Raising the price of grain that
    Raises taxpayers’ food prices
    Forces taxpayers to pay food stamps for the poor, and
    send international aid to help the poor starving over higher grain prices
    while starving 192,000/year of the extreme poor!
    All to increase total CO2 emissions
    and increase global warming
    out of green fear!
    Fire the politicians and elect real Statesmen to steward our resources and planet!
    Could biofuels increase death and disease in developing countries?
    Indur M. Goklany, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 16 Number 1 Spring 2011, pp 9-13

  39. Removing farm subsidies has always produced economic shock. When something as basic as food becomes suddenly LESS expensive, the preferred near-constant-slight-inflation condition that most people presume is the best run economy goes haywire. Instead you get a bizarre condition of almost enforced deflation that can be hard to deal with.
    /not that I think deflation would necessarily be a bad thing.

  40. @ John F. Hultquist — Thank you, so much, for your 4/14/13 encouragement (the Milton quote was startlingly on point, Providential!) to post: voila!
    @Melody Harpole (4/16/13 8:31PM) — An antique tractor collector — cool. I drive Big Red (a 1986 Chevy Suburban) to a nearby town where the CENEX (oops, maybe I shouldn’t say that so loudly…) station sells the only ethanol-free gas in the area. Hope you have such a station near you.

  41. Melody Harpole says: April 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm
    I just spent a lot of money having one of my antique tractors fixed. According to the mechanic, it was ethanol that was causing all the problems. Now I’m going to have to drive to another town to find someone who sells ethanol free gas, just so I don’t have to throw more money away on fixing it. Who knows what damage that horrible stuff has already caused to all the rest of my equipment.
    ——————————————————-
    Melody: Go to your local small airport and fill a portable gas can with 100LL avgas. It won’t form gum or varnish when it sits for a year, it has no alcohol, and it won’t small as bad when you spill it over your hands. I use avgas in my generator, chain saw, and lawn mower and I never drain them when storing for a year. DO NOT put avgas into any machine that has a catalytic converter as it has lots of tetraethyl lead. 100LL is also good for pre-1970 engines that rely on some lead in the gas to put a lubricating coating on the valves.

  42. Jabre – Don’t accept what I’m saying. That’s the point.
    You obviously use your brain, so do the research.
    The carbon trading gang have been using this dodgy premise about natural vegetation for years to skew the figures, it is designed to make all commercial agriculture look bad. The reality is that these are farms not native wilderness. The land would not return to wilderness if they weren’t growing ethanol and the land wasn’t wilderness before ethanol farming. So that shouldn’t be factored in unless of course they are demanding that all ethanol farmers return their farms back to wilderness. (sounds a bit like Gaia worship don’t it?)
    Needless to say the ethanol debate will rage for years to come, as it should.
    eg. E85 produces less of some pollutants like NOX and more of others like formaldehyde.
    I don’t agree with government mandated renewable fuel percentages because they skew the market and increase the cost of food. (this is a proven fact)
    However I like cars and the individual freedom that they have given the past few generations and I hope my grand kids get to experience that freedom at an affordable price. So if in the future it becomes genuinely cheaper (ie without govt subsidies or regulation) , to grow corn or cane to make ethanol or grow canola to grow bio-diesel rather than pay extortionist prices to our friends in the Middle east then why wouldn’t we do it?
    BTW Our prayers are with all the people in Boston today.

  43. I support biofuels and I think their benefit is overwhelming:
    1. We always used a significant part of food production for transportation (coaches, horses, donkeys) and farming (bulls), actually much more in the past than today.
    2. Today, there is globally more food per capita available than at any time before in history. That means, biofuels did not cause a reduction in food production.
    3. Corn prices went up since 2006, but so did most other soft commodities as well.
    4. There is no better incentive to produce more food than a good price. With too low prices, too few will plant for the next season and hunger in programmed. If biofuels help to achieve good prices for corn, they help feeding the planet.
    5. The extra amount of biofuel plants can be regarded as a gigantic, unprecedented reserve for mankind. Whenever there will be a shortage of food in the future, governments will have the option to redirect this reserve into the food channel. This is an option which past generations sadly did not have.
    6. Food prices have not risen for over 30 years after 1974.
    http://www.futuresbuzz.com/cornlt.html
    Before the introduction of biofuels, farming incomes were declining for decades and many farmers eventually had to give up. The average age of a farmer has risen to 57 in the USA in 2007. Biofuels and good extra income gives farmers the opportunity to continue and to attract a younger generation. This is a long term benefit for food production.

  44. Peter Laux says:
    April 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm
    “When a society sees burning food as fuel as acceptable, it’s end is approaching.”
    Prophetic, Peter.
    I just can’t seem to get my head wrapped around ethanol. “The ethanol industry purchases approximately 40% of the U.S. corn crop and is the largest purchaser of corn in the United States.” states the Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc., 2012, “Ethanol’s Lost Promise An Assessment of the Economic Consequences of the Renewable Fuels Mandate”
    But I am informed that such a small, 40%, portion of the US crop had nothing to do with food prices/riots/etc. that have eerily paced ethanol production…….
    But it might just be worse than we thought~~~~~~~~~
    ““We are overlooking soil as the foundation of all life on Earth,” says Andres Arnalds, assistant director of the Icelandic Soil Conservation Service. Arnalds is an eloquent spokesperson for the unheralded emergency of soil erosion, a problem that is reducing global food production and water availability, and is responsible for an estimated 30 percent of the greenhouse gases emissions. “Land degradation and desertification may be regarded as the silent crisis of the world, a genuine threat to the future of humankind.”
    …..according to http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/peak_soil/
    “Arnalds is dead serious when he calls soil erosion a crisis. Each year, some 38,000 square miles of land become severely degraded or turn into desert. About five billion acres of arable land have been stripped of their precious layer of topsoil and been abandoned since the first wheat and barley fields were planted 10,000 years ago. In the past 40 years alone, 30 percent of the planet’s arable land has become unproductive due to erosion, mainly in Asia and Africa. At current erosion rates, soils are being depleted faster than they are replenished, and nearly all of the remaining 11 billion acres of cropland and grazing land suffer from some degree of erosion.
    “Not surprisingly, land prices and rents in the corn belt have jumped upward, creating additional pressure to “mine the soil to pay the mortage.” Farmland has been a popular investment for many years, and in some states, half of all farmland is rented. This reduces the incentives for soil conservation, since the farmer who works the field is not the permanent caretaker of the land. Ethanol-driven land degradation will not disappear even if the much-touted cellulosic ethanol technology is commercialized. The cellulosic process uses crop residues like corn stalks and wheat straw (rather than grains like corn or soy) to make ethanol. While cellulosic ethanol won’t directly use food as fuel, the loss of crop residues would further expose soils to erosion. And it would also reduce organic matter in soils, greatly diminishing their fertility, Cox says. “I’m very concerned there will be serious consequences for soils if cellulosic ethanol goes forward.”
    “Farmers have only been able to escape the impacts of this massive loss of organic carbon thanks to cheap chemical fertilizers made from fossil fuels. But that short-term solution is just making matters worse, according to a new study out of the University of Illinois. In examining crop records and soil samples from the Illinois Morrow Plots dating back 100 years, soil scientists were surprised to see corn yields falling on plots that had received the most chemical nitrogen fertilizers and crop residues. It turns out that even with additional crop residues, fertilized soils have much less soil carbon, likely resulting in higher releases of carbon into the atmosphere.
    “Keeping carbon in the soil may be one of the quickest ways to reduce global carbon emissions. And if that’s not enough reason to substitute carbon storage for crop yield as the ultimate goal of farming, then the improvements in soil fertility and declines in erosion that will give us a chance at feeding a crowded world ought to.
    “Blaming the farmer for these problems is futile, since we’ve created the economic system they operate in,” says Fred Kirschenmann, a North Dakota organic farmer who works at Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. That system forces farmers to produce as much as possible no matter what the cost, Kirschenmann says.”
    The case is therefore made for not neutering soil-nurturing, moisture-friendly, soil-binding agent organic detritus, aka cellulosic ethanol. Because, as counter-intuitive as it might seem, to modern-day hominids, there may be more than just one variable at play here…….

  45. Ethanol is way superior to methanol, but food based transportation ilo petrofuels is ignorant and counter-humanitarian.

  46. Gas from food has ALWAYS been a function of political calculus and never a policy based on sound ethics, economics or physics.
    An interesting twist of fate is that the first Presidential Caucus is IOWA, so politicians sold out their souls and the country to buy Iowan farmers’ votes with MASSIVE ethanol subsidies.
    Had the first state primary been Alaska, then we’d probably have Fishanol… If Florida, Geritolinol…, Georgia, Peachanol.., ad nauseam.
    Food oil is the most despicable form of theft and genocide imaginable. These subsidies have cost the lives of millions of poor by doubling the prices of food staples like wheat, corn, soybean, meat, rice, etc. for no other reason than vote buying. It’s pathetic.
    Hypothetically, had all the 100’s of billions of ethanol subsidies and subsequent added food costs been spent by the private sector to build a few hundred Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, the world would have a much higher standard of living, America would be 100% energy independent, some stupid wars would never have been started, the Middle East would be less of a basket case and millions of poor would still be around today.
    I realize one can’t play the shoulda-woulda-coulda game, but the last time I checked, it’s still OK to dream big…

  47. the public are outraged over this “windy” excuse:
    16 April: UK Daily Mail: Matt Chorley/Sean Poulter: Npower under fire after admitting it has not paid ANY corporation tax in the UK for three years (and blames spending on wind farms)
    German-owned firm joins under-fire Amazon, Google and Starbucks
    £766million profits could have generated tax bill of £200million
    Chief executive says company put wind farm costs against tax liability
    Labour MP says public are ‘sick and tired’ of firms not paying ‘fair share’
    Mr Massara replied: ‘We have invested £5billion in the last five years building power plants, creating jobs, creating employment and helping to keep the lights on.
    ‘There is no mystery to it, there is no desire not to pay tax. The fact is you are allowed depreciation for your investments. And we have been the biggest investor by a mile in the renewable offshore business.
    ‘If we had not made that investment, we would not have the (tax) deductibility that we would be allowed. That is a simple UK accounting rule.’…
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2310001/Npower-admitting-paid-ANY-corporation-tax-UK-years-blames-spending-wind-farms.html

  48. Biofuel is a means for rich people to buy food out of the mouths of starving poor children and feed it to their machines. Biofuel is therefore evil and should be banned forever.

  49. “Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?”
    Any day when the sun comes up in the east and sets in the west is a good day to end ethanol fuel mandates.

  50. I agree that the government rules on ethanol should be eliminated but this should go both ways. They should also eliminate the 10% cap. If these rules are eliminated, you will find that the percent of ethanol in your fuel will rise for the simple reason that ethanol is almost always much less expensive than gasoline.
    E85 has an octane rating of well over 100, regular gasoline is around 87 so their prices are not directly comparable. If you are going to compare them, it should be at the wholesale level as E85 is a boutique fuel. If you want to compare E85 with no-ethanol gasoline then you should use no-ethanol gasoline which is also a boutique fuel (used in aviation) which sells at a premium.
    On the other hand a fair comparison would be the wholesale price of pure ethanol and the wholesale price of pure gasoline. However, ethanol is a boutique fuel and consequently is expensive to ship. It’s currently cheapest in the corn belt of course, at around $1.63 per gallon: http://www.ethanolmarket.com/fuelethanol.html I don’t know where to get the wholesale price of gasoline right now so I don’t know how much cheaper ethanol really is. My point is that they’re using retail prices and are comparing a boutique fuel with one that is sold in every single gas station in the US. That’s extremely unfair and a sign that the article was not written with the intention of being fair.
    Also fuel and bargain has little to do with “energy content”. What matters is “miles per gallon”. The engines with the highest performance require higher octane fuels. Ethanol gives these engines the highest performance, much higher than gasoline. The 25 or 30% loss in mpg when running ethanol in a low compression engine (i.e. a standard gasoline engine) will disappear when the engine is run at a higher compression. Work is under way to develop engines that adjust their compression to the fuel. Such engines will give roughly equal mpg with gasoline and ethanol but will give much higher power with ethanol. This is why the racers use ethanol, they tuned their engines for it. See: http://www.igniteracingfuel.com/Partners.html or http://www.americanethanolracing.com/ or google racing+ethanol.
    And if you remove the ethanol from gasoline currently sold in the US the result will be that what is left will have considerably lower octane and will destroy many of the engines you burn it in.
    Just as with global warming alarmism, “recent studies” does not imply “correct studies” regarding greenhouse gas emissions. Look around you’ll find “recent studies” showing the opposite. Who cares, greenhouse gas emissions are a good thing.
    If we passed a law and outlawed the use of foods in biofuels the result would not be a huge decrease in the cost of food. Instead the amount of corn grown would suddenly decrease drastically. The large amount of corn we grow for fuel should be thought of as an important food safety net. Any time food prices rise because of crop failures, we can always divert some biofuel production to food production. This happens automatically when the price of corn exceeds the price of the corresponding amount of ethanol (and byproducts plus costs, etc., of course).
    The chart of water consumption for biofuels is ridiculous because it includes irrigation water. Very little corn in the US is irrigated. For example, see: http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/ag101/cropirrigation.html What’s more, there are plenty of dry land food crops (barley for example) that can be used for ethanol in places where irrigation isn’t available. Huge amounts of farmland currently have nothing growing on it. If you follow the link you’ll find that “Region 7” which shows the huge water usage, is responsible for only 23% of US corn production. Furthermore, if they don’t grow corn the farmers are still going to use that irrigation water to grow something. Eliminating the corn crop does not save any water. Irrigation water is very very cheap. Don’t waste our time telling the farmers what to grow and what to do with it. They sell to the highest bidder. If a guy wants to drive a car instead of eat breakfast, let him pay for it.
    I’m busy working on my PhD in physics and don’t have time to argue about this. I know it’s pretty much hopeless anyway. Suffice it to say that you can approach the truth by doing your own reasearch. As with global warming, that means you have to read the articles written by *both* sides. Eventually you will learn to recognize garbage.

  51. Rob JM says: April 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm
    “There is a good reason for Using E10, it improves combustion efficiency because of the extra oxygen thus reducing production of CO and carbon particulate [ … ]”
    Guest blogger, Steve Goreham, says:
    “[ … ] the energy content of ethanol is only 66 percent that of gasoline, a tank of E85 gets only about 71 percent of the mileage of a tank of pure gasoline.”
    Surely if ethanol has less energy content than gasoline then it is less efficient than gasoline … if you need “combustion efficiency” then there are many off the shelf additive that can be added to gasoline that don’t reduce its energy efficiency which is patently more important to its economic efficiency. 😉

  52. Here’s the irony: the rural heartland isn’t buying the global warming crap, but they are all in on ethanol. That is, when public policy gets conflicted, the pocketbook wins.

  53. In my youth I was always able to buy methanol in a pure form for speed way motorcycling, it was unfortunate that it was not user friendly for mixing with coke cola. Is it possible that an entire new industry using ethanol as a food source could be instigated in the corn belt, I have a feeling that it was once frowned upon by the revenuers to make ethanol.
    I have a tendency to like corn ethanol even in the form where it has little or no colour, the four major food groups are very important to many people, comprising caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and the food you chew. This important food group being wasted as fuel when the revenuers could be collecting billions is totally dumb. How much a barrel can this stuff be purchased for, and does anyone know a good shipping agent for export to Australia.?

  54. “Have you seriously looked at this in detail from an engineering practicality standpoint? How big a tank would be needed for the CH4? How the required tank would *subtract* from usable internal ‘carry’/transport space? The gas pressures involved? The *demand* placed on fixed the nat gas delivery (infrastructure) system?
    Any of that?”
    Nope. I’m just an idea guy. 10 years ago, I read an article in Car and Driver where they tested a dual-fueled Volvo exactly like I described. The problem was NG fueling stations were few and far between and when you DID find one it took forever to fill up, so you were always running on regular gas. But if we could do it at night in our garage, like some do for their EVs…
    2 generations ago we launched men into space using equipment with vacuum tubes. You really think we can’t do this??

  55. Climate change is definitely a disaster for mankind.
    But it’s not the mild 20th century warming that’s the problem – quite the reverse – it’s government policies intended to solve this non-existent problem. Biofuels is a prime example of this. To take away food from empty stomachs in order to fill empty gas tanks seems to me to be criminal folly and actually obscene.
    And, like many other measures, such as wind power, quite likely these policies don’t actually cut emissions. But they do harm the environment, push up the cost of energy, increase the pressure on rainforests, and threaten regular power cuts when the wind doesn’t blow. Far more people are killed by the cold than by the heat.
    Yes, I’m sure climate change really is killing people. It kills people because the price of food has been pushed up by biofuels. It kills people because they can’t afford to properly heat their homes as we in the UK experience increasingly cold winters.
    As I said, climate change is possibly the greatest threat facing mankind. But who will have the courage and the honesty needed to solve it?
    Chris

  56. MattN:
    Your entire post at April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm said

    I think it’s time for dual fueled cars: gasoline and natural gas. Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home. All we need in the garage is a compressor to fill our tank. A small 5-7 gallon “reserve” tank of regular 87 gets us by when we need it…..

    _Jim questioned the engineering practicalities of your suggestion at April 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm.
    At April 17, 2013 at 4:03 am you answer him and conclude by asking

    You really think we can’t do this??

    But you have not addressed the much more important question; i.e.
    Why would anybody want to do this?
    Richard

  57. Haus “With that said, corn-ethanol is not the way to go, and we need to get cellulosic ethanol plants pumping out more of this stuff asap.”
    Well said Haus. I know the history of cellulose ethanol production, and will not repeat here. Let me just say that the only production plant for cellulose ethanol production is now under consruction by Poet/DSM, and production should start in 2014. This plant is being built with private money and it is claimed will be financially viable if the wholesale price of gas is >$2 per gallon; the price is now just under $3 per gallon.
    Is there a future for cellulose ethanol? We dont know. If it is successful, it will be because the money put up to build the current production plant came partially from profits made producing corn ethanol. But from what I have read, it is likely that the Poet/DSM plant will be a financial success. And we have Shell, using Iogen technology, waiting in the wings.

  58. One can argue about the finer points of ethanol til the cows come home. Government interference into the marketplace is never a good idea, and runs counter to our Constitution. The ends, whether real or imagined don’t justify the means. If I don’t want to buy ethanol, I shouldn’t have to, nor should I have to subsidize it. Remove the mandate and the subsidy and ethanol as an additive vaporizes, like a bad dream.

  59. Stop the ethanol subsidy today. It was a bad idea when it started and it’s still a bad idea. The main reason for its existence is to buy votes with taxpayer money. It’s also time to stop shaming people for burning gasoline in their vehicles. I’m 100% in favor of clean burning, highly efficient gasoline and diesel powered vehicles.

  60. Carl Brannen says:
    April 17, 2013 at 12:34 am
    I’m busy working on my PhD in physics and don’t have time to argue about this. I know it’s pretty much hopeless anyway. Suffice it to say that you can approach the truth by doing your own reasearch. As with global warming, that means you have to read the articles written by *both* sides. Eventually you will learn to recognize garbage.

    It is interesting that you are strongly in support of use of food crops for fuel. Your in depth PhD level research obviously covered the issues of existing famine in the world. So you are aware that currently, a child dies every 5 seconds from lack of food – but you feel despite alternative fuels being available, that crop plants should be used for fuel instead of feeding the starving. As you say if farmers were not growing ethanol corn they would be growing some other food crop – well precisely Einstein – and perhaps less people would be dying of hunger or in food riots.

  61. The bill would eliminate the current mandate to blend 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol into fuel by 2022 and ban ethanol fuel content over ten percent. But are ethanol mandates good public policy?
    In a word, “No”.

  62. Sadly, this article is just more of the same ignorance, wives tales, half truths and outright lies perpetrated about ethanol, that arise every time this topic comes up here. I, and others, have refuted and rebutted them with detailed, documented, fully sourced rebuttal every time.
    For a start the author’s claim regarding the costs, energy and “value” of ethanol do not reflect the real world:

    Ethanol fuel is no bargain. For example, when gasoline is priced at $3.40 per gallon, the 85 percent ethanol blend (E85) is priced at about $3.00 per gallon. But since the energy content of ethanol is only 66 percent that of gasoline, a tank of E85 gets only about 71 percent of the mileage of a tank of pure gasoline.

    Lets review a real world situation – mine – which I have often written about here. Lets work thru the facts that the author glossed over in his rush to condemn.
    Per the ENERGY.gov “Fuel Comparison Chart” straight gasoline has 124,340 BTU per gallon. Straight ethanol – “E100” – has 84,530 BTU per gallon, or 32.02% less BTU per gallon that gasoline. Other sources show straight gasoline at appx. 114,000 BTU/gal, and E100 at 76,100 BTU/gal, or 33.25% less BTU per gallon.
    We need to compare current gasoline sold at the pump – E10 blends – with E85, not “gasoline” to “ethanol”. It is a simple calculation to determine from the above information.

    E10 is 90% gas and 10% ethanol …
    Gas portion – 124,340 BTU/gal x 90% = 111,906 BTU
    E100 portion – 84,530 x 10% = 8,453 BTU
    E10 = 111,906 + 8,453 or 120,359 BTU/gal
    E85 is 15% gas and 85% ethanol …
    Gas portion – 124,340 BTU/gal x 15% = 18,651 BTU
    E100 portion – 84,530 x 85% = 71,851 BTU
    E85= 71,851 + 18,651 or 90,502 BTU/gal

    E85 thus has 27.2% less energy content than standard pump blend “regular” E10 gasoline
    E85 ethanol vs E10 gas prices nationally per AAA are $3.093 and $3.522 respectively, or a 12.2% difference. E85prices.com shows a national average of $3.12 for E85 vs $3.63 for E10, or 14% less for E85.
    I drive a 2003 Tahoe Flex fuel vehicle with 90,000 miles on it. I have used E85 when available and priced competitively, since new. With E85’s 110 octane vs E10’s 87 or so octane, my truck has slightly more power and runs smoother on E85.
    Over my 90,000+ mile history I currently average 14.8 mpg on E10 and 12.4 mpg on E85, a difference of 16.8%.
    This is less than the difference in BTU’s between E85 and E10, however, comparing BTU’s tells us little but generalities. Flex fuel vehicles, of which there are approaching 10 million on the road, (and as I understand it many vehicles with computerized fuel injection, flex or not) have ECU’s which can adjust for, and take advantage of, the higher octane of E85. Which is why I get better real world efficiency than the straight BTU difference implies.
    I have E85 readily available in my area. A local station has E85 at $2.989 and E10 at $3.529 – a difference of 15.1%. Using 14.8 and 12.4 mpg for E10 and E85 respectively that puts my cost per mile – the only true measure of efficiency – at $0.236 cents per mile for E10 and $0.241 cents per mile for E85 – nearly identical.
    Using the typical 10,000 miles per year, my annual fuel costs are $2,361 for E10 and $2,410 for E85. It costs me a total difference of just $49 a year, or $4 a month, between E85 and E10 use.
    The author claims “a tank of E85 gets only about 71 percent of the mileage of a tank of pure gasoline.” My calculations and real world experience above show his claim to be false. In the real world using E85, I get 83.2% of the mileage of a tank of gasoline, while paying 84.9% of the price of E10.
    This is an email from an IndyCar engine builder friend. IndyCars have run methanol in past, and ethanol for several years. His comment almost directly confirms my real world experience:

    BTU’s are an invalid comparison – ethanol burns more efficiently than gas in a gasoline engine. Thus the difference in MPG is often only 12-18% despite the ~27%+/- BTU difference. This MPG loss is usually offset by the price differential between E856 and E10. Additionally, if you design an engine specifically for E85, studies have shown they can get diesel-like fuel efficiency. But with a fuel that costs 25% or more less than diesel.

    There are a myriad of other serious problems with this article, which I’ll address when I have time. But one is particularly egregious and must be mentioned. It goes straight to the credibility of the author and the article.
    The author references the Argonne paper re: water use in the production of ethanol compared to other fossil fuels water use. And makes the claim that ethanol production uses huge amounts of water to produce each gallon, compared to drilling for and processing crude oil into gasoline.
    He even presents the obligatory scary graphic to allegedly prove his claim, with bright red bars showing the huge amounts of water required to produce a gallon of ethanol from corn. The worst of the warmist’s would be proud of this graphic for its sheer audacity in presenting this outright rubbish. It is, in true CAGW scare mongering style, gigantically misleading and out right false.
    This chart leads the reader to believe ethanol in the US requires 324 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced, while gasoline – including crude oil production and refining uses only 6 to 7 gals of water per gallon of gas produced.
    A simple read of the paper itself puts the outright lie to this silly and false claim.
    Table 5 on page 34 (PDF page 48) of the Argonne paper shows the conclusions of the section regarding water used for corn based ethanol. Taking the table at face value, and ignoring the significant problem with the authors allocating irrigation water to ethanol costs, which I’ll come back to, we can find the real conclusions and extremely important CONTEXT to show these ethanol water use claims to be simply false – and worse.
    We find that they reported on the 3 main individual corn growing regions in the US – USDA regions 5, 6 and 7. To be fair the graph does show these 3 regions but absent both critical context and accuracy. The takeaway for the average reader from that graph, and the authors comments, is using corn for ethanol takes 324 gals or water per gal, while gas takes 6 or 7 gals.
    This is 100% false.
    First – the “324 gallons” bar on the graph ONLY applies to USDA corn growing region 7. Region 7 comprises just 23% of the US corn production, but is an area with minimal rainfall highly dependent on irrigation to grow the crop – the high plains region of the US.
    Regions 5 and 6 comprise fully 65% – nearly 2/3rds of the total US corn production. And they use a comparatively very tiny amount of water for growing corn for ethanol production.
    Reading Table 5 further however, we find that those big numbers on ethanol water use in the uber scary graphic Mr. Goreham posts are not even remotely accurate. Table 5 informs us that the real net total water use for Area 7 was 160 gallons per gallon of ethanol – not 324 as the graphic claims.
    A closer inspection shows whoever created the graphic completely cooked the books – not once but twice – in creating the graphic for Area 7.
    The Argonne paper’s Table 5 shows area’s 5 and 6 water total net use at 11 and 17 gallons of total water usage per gal of ethanol respectively. The graphic accurately reports these numbers for USDA areas 5 and 6. For area 7 not only does it report a different line from Table 5 – the gross irrigation groundwater used (as opposed to the net total water from all sources as noted for area 5 and 6), but it also inflates that number from the 224 shown in Table 5 to 324 gallons.
    This graphic was by all appearances created by Mr. Goreham. I do not see it in either the Argonne or the Twente paper he referenced.
    Despite these egregious falsifications – they are far more than errors – we haven’t even come close to touching upon the important errors yet.
    Reading further in Table 5 we find a far more important number – the actual water used in corn ethanol production. Which is less than 3 gallons per gallon of ethanol produced – from the paper:

    With improved equipment and energy efficient design, water consumption in newly built ethanol plants is declining further. An analysis of the latest survey conducted by the RFA revealed that freshwater consumption in existing dry mill plants has declined to 3.0 gallons per gallon of ethanol produced, in a production-weighted average (Wu 2008) … The latest ethanol industry survey conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago found the average water consumption in ethanol dry mills has already decreased to about 2.7 gal/gal (Mueller 2010), primarily because more new plants that have adopted efficient process design have come on-line.

    But even that number is still highly misleading.
    Reading further, at the bottom of page 29, we find this authors footnote:

    In this analysis, all water use in ethanol conversion process is allocated to ethanol

    The corn ethanol production process creates a significant quantity of high quality distillers dried gran solids animal feed (along with various other valuable co-products). The Argonne authors admit this and allocate 33% of the total water usage for growing the corn towards DDGS co-products, thus reducing the share of that water use attributed to ethanol production.
    Despite the acknowledgement of the issue, they do NOT credit any part of the processing water used to refine the corn into ethanol.

    … we adopt a rule of thumb in the corn dry mill industry, which estimates one third of biomass in the corn kernel goes to ethanol, one-third is emitted as CO2 during corn conversion to ethanol, and one-third ends up in DDGS co-product. Therefore, DDGS shares one-third of water used in the ethanol plant. Using the same proportion, irrigation water consumed is also allocated between corn for ethanol and corn for DDGS.

    Had they allocated the same 33% of the ethanol production water use to DDGS co-products – the actual water use to produce ethanol would be reduced to 1.98 gallons per gallon of ethanol.
    But there is even more yet …
    Although the authors note recycling and re-use of water in the ethanol refining process in the paper and very briefly in the conclusions:

    In fact, some existing dry mills use even less by process modifications and production of WDG co-products in dry mill plants (as compared with DDGS) (Wang et al. 2007) … Water use can be minimized further through process optimization, capturing of the water vapor from the dryer, boiler condensate recycling to reduce boiler make-up rate, etc. The ethanol industry maintains that net zero water consumption is achievable by water reuse and recycling using existing commercial technology

    ….they make no allowance for recycling and or re-use of the water used to produce the ethanol in their calculations. Many, perhaps most, plants today recycle and re-use water repeatedly for the production process. And when they are done they are required to treat the remaining effluent before discharging it back into the environment from which it came.
    On the other hand they exert considerable time and effort on describing and justifying the extensive use of recycled well production water for oil extraction, thus reducing the reported total water usage for producing crude oil and then refining gasoline. And on page 61 the authors talk in some detail about recycling refinery production water as well, while ignoring the same regarding ethanol.
    Further down page 61 we get the real numbers for water use to produce the crude oil and refine a gallon of gasoline:

    Together with an average of 1.5 gal/gal consumed for refining, a total of 3.6–7.0 gallons of water is required to produce and process 1 gallon of crude oil

    1.98 gallons of water (after co-product allocation of 33% – and completely ignoring recycling and re-use) to process corn into one gallon of ethanol. Versus 1.53 gallons of water to refine crude oil into 1 gallon of gasoline.
    Virtually identical. Not the massive difference Mr. Goreham claims in his article.
    In true late nite TV fashion however … ‘But Wait! There’s More!‘ … we still aren’t done with this water topic even yet.
    The Argonne authors break the process of turning both crude oil and corn into fuel, into two parts. Producing the feedstock and processing the feedstock into fuel.
    In the case of crude oil to gasoline, the production stage is drilling for and extracting the crude oil. In the ethanol side it is growing the corn.
    Crude oil has one use – producing oil based products. Drilling and production of crude oil has no other purpose than creating fuels and similar oil based products. As such the drilling and production is integral to the end product. If you aren’t producing some kind of fuel or oil based product you would not drill and produce the crude oil.
    In the case of corn however, their are multiple other uses for the feedstock. Corn’s primary uses are food and feed, which comprise the majority of corn production. Put simply the same corn would be grown and harvested regardless of its use for ethanol. Growing corn is thus independent of and not directly integrated with processing into ethanol. If not used for ethanol it will still be grown and used for food or feed.
    Thus the water used to produce the corn will be used – in exactly the same amounts and fashion – regardless of whether corn is used for ethanol. As such the water used to grow the corn cannot and should not be allocated to the processing of ethanol as that water would be used to produce the corn regardless of the use. In other words no water is saved by not using corn for ethanol, becasue the corn will be used regardless.
    The real conclusion here, as opposed to the author of this article’s claims, is that the processing of the feed-stocks – crude oil or corn, into gas and ethanol – shows the two almost directly comparable … 1.53 gallons of water per gallon of gas and 1.98 gallons of water per gallons of finished product of each. And this after giving gasoline the benefit of recycling, reuse, co-generation and the like, and withholding those same benefits to the ethanol side.
    Just like almost every attack on ethanol, this article is seriously flawed and in many parts outright false.
    And, very much like the CAGW proponents, it seems accuracy or truthfulness has little bearing on the ability to get published.
    But don’t believe me. Follow my notes, read the paper – and see and learn for yourself.
    Folks who have a legitimate position and claim rarely have to cook the books, spin the story out of context, place two or three “thumbs on the scale” or, by appearances here, outright lie, to prove their claims….
    Yes that is a harsh statement. But it is in my opinion appropriate here. It is no different than the review or treatment we would give a similarly poorly done global warming paper or proponent making the same type sloppy and outright false claims.

  63. A respected former UK politician (long since deceased) by the name of Ernest Benn, had this to say:
    ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble; finding it everywhere; diagnosing it wrongly and applying unsuitable remedies..’
    Says it all, really..

  64. Russell Johnson says:
    April 17, 2013 at 4:49 am – Stop the ethanol subsidy today. It was a bad idea when it started and it’s still a bad idea.

    Ah, Russel – you probably should do a little research before you keep repeatin’ that one. Since the ethanol subsidy was ended some time back.

  65. I challenge those who repeatedly make the claim, to provide proof that people are “going hungry” because of corn used for ethanol.
    Provide ANY credible, supportable,documented evidence that corn being used in the US for ethanol has any appreciable affect on food supplies for anyone, anywhere.

  66. So.. it’s uneconomical, unethical, unsafe, un-polluting, un-carbonweatherising and to top it all off … sob, unsustainable.
    Another green dream crashes and burns fiercely from a total lack of hindsight, foresight and insight mixed with corpulent amounts of pork, bullshit and unicorn dust.
    /realism
    sarc/ When will they ever learn? /sarc

  67. I’ve mentioned this before on Ethanol topics:
    Ethanol, an oxygenate, is extremely useful to engines that are tuned for it. My turbo cars LOVE Ethanol. I had my last one running around 45 MPG on the highway, and that was a 12 second car. But not everyone has a turbo, not everyone WANTS a turbo, and not everyone would understand the importance of oil changes on a turbo car…
    I don’t want to see Ethanol banned or any similar overreaction… I just want to see the MANDATES removed. Some of us will still want Ethanol. I do think the claims of engine and fuel system damage are a bit exaggerated unless you’re still driving a car that also needs lead. Long before mandates Husky oil was pushing “Mother Nature’s Gasoline”, an E10 made from grain. The green spin was stupid, of course, but we turbo car owners loved it. It’s an almost result-free octane booster… and that means that an engine that is built and tuned for it will be able to get better efficiency.
    Simply dumping ANY chemical into gasoline will kill the efficiency of cars that were designed and built for gasoline. And I think it’s fair to assume that automakers aren’t idiots. Late model vehicles are tuned for E10 at least, and since the writing is on the wall, most vehicles will adapt pretty well to increased Ethanol content.
    Now, imagine the uproar in a few years when you can’t GET E10 and the current crop of cars run poorly on pure gasoline…

  68. A. Scott:
    re your post at April 17, 2013 at 5:41 am.
    I write to provide a correction. I am not commenting on American private grief.
    The ethanol is mandated as an additive to vehicle fuel in the US. Any such mandate is a subsidy because it provides market share irrespective of all other considerations. Hence, the additive does have a subsidy although – as you say – its direct monetary subsidy may have been removed.
    If anybody fails to understand that such a mandate is a subsidy, then I offer them this analogy in hope that it will aid comprehension.
    House bricks do not contain straw. A mandate that all house bricks must contain a proportion of straw increases demand for straw and ensures a new market for straw which requires no competition by straw. The increased demand increases prices and the mandate ensures the more-expensive straw can be sold. The high price and large markets each increase profits from sale of straw, and the increased profits are a subsidy provided to the sellers of straw. The subsidy is financed by the purchasers of the bricks. And the straw additive may affect the quality of the bricks.
    Is there any possible justification for such a subsidy for straw? If so, then a direct State Benefit to the farmers who provide the straw would be a more efficient subsidy for their farming.
    Richard

  69. A. Scott says:
    April 17, 2013 at 5:47 am
    I challenge those who repeatedly make the claim, to provide proof that people are “going hungry” because of corn used for ethanol.
    Provide ANY credible, supportable,documented evidence that corn being used in the US for ethanol has any appreciable affect on food supplies for anyone, anywhere.

    Well you stated it yourself.
    If the corn is used for ethanol then it is not being used for food and therefore it can have no effect on food supplies.
    What you should really be asking is what would food prices be worldwide if instead of growing corn for ethanol other food crops had been grown. The USA is currently IMPORTING corn from Brazil, cattle were being killed in the drought areas due to the cost of feed – that could perhaps have been shipped in cheaper from non-drought areas of the US but it was being put into vehicle tanks instead. Expect the cost of beef to rise quite dramatically.

  70. Richard … a mandate may be a form of subsidy, – however not in the traditional sense. That people are still seemingly unaware that the true subsidies are long gone is a troubling situation.
    The ethanol mandate was to replace a worse oxygenate – MBTE. The ethanol mandate also helped/helps insure demand for the product in its early stages. It is no different than thousands of other situations where assistance is provided to get something established, by supporting it early on.

  71. Since the energy return is lousy corn ethanol is just a liquid fuel derived from a complicated process using natural gas. There is nothing green about it. It transforms natural gas into a liquid fuel which could be accomplished directly with a much less complex process with out wasting farmland and fertilizer. What the greens don’t understand is that the free market will always use energy more efficiently and most like produce less carbon carbon than their government programs. Only economic shrinkage will actually reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. Politicians like Obama try to kill the economy with one hand while trying to stimulate it the other. The result is good for government and the recipients of the stimulus, but bad for everybody else. By miscalulating inflation they try to create the illusion of growth while the economy is actually shrinking.Obama’s plan to fix the budget and Social Security is to fudge the CPI even more. Not only should the ethanol mandates be eliminated most of the government should be eliminated to free up resources for the rest of the economy.

  72. A. Scott:
    As a courtesy, I am writing to inform that I did read your response to me at April 17, 2013 at 6:17 am.
    I do not get involved in political debates of countries other than my own (i.e. the UK). And I was only pointing out the economic fact that the mandate is a subsidy. People are entitled to their opinions based on facts, but basic facts need to be understood.
    Richard

  73. “Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?”
    To answer this question it is necessary to understand the full history behind the mandates.
    The original purpose of the mandates from the vehicle side (recognizing but not at this time addressing the farm subsidy aspect) was to reduce the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which tend to be very toxic. Ethanol as a fuel additive is very good at achieving this and is safer than nearly all other alternatives.
    Later the amounts of ethanol required were increased beyond what is needed for VOC control. The stated purpose of this at the time was reducing dependence on foreign oil, but looking at who was pushing for it, the real purpose was likely strictly to increase the farm subsidy aspect.

  74. Those who tout ethanol as cleaner burning forget ethanol reduces a vehicle’s gas mileage, effectively reducing any positive effects adding ethanol supposedly provides. Corn should be grown for human and animal consumption, not fuel. Period!

  75. The Ethenol mandate is simply a subsidy to Archer Daniels Midland, probably the worst corporate wellfare queen in the country.

  76. MattN says:
    April 17, 2013 at 4:03 am
    “Have you seriously looked at this in detail from an engineering practicality standpoint? How big a tank would be needed for the CH4? How the required tank would *subtract* from usable internal ‘carry’/transport space? The gas pressures involved? The *demand* placed on fixed the nat gas delivery (infrastructure) system?
    Any of that?”
    Nope. I’m just an idea guy. 10 years ago, I read an article in Car and Driver where they tested a dual-fueled Volvo exactly like I described. The problem was NG fueling stations were few and far between and when you DID find one it took forever to fill up, so you were always running on regular gas. But if we could do it at night in our garage, like some do for their EVs…
    2 generations ago we launched men into space using equipment with vacuum tubes. You really think we can’t do this??
    ——————————————————————
    Hi, MattN,
    look here: http://skycng.com/homefillingstation.php
    There are lots of CNG-capable cars availlable on the european marked, already. Some cars may be retro-fitted with CNG-fuel systems, too, but there are a host of cars availlable straight from the manufacturer equipped with CNG-fuel-systems, also.
    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/natural_gas_availability.html
    On a side-note: Did you know that IRAN is the biggest market for CNG-fuelled cars in the world today?
    http://energyoutlook.blogspot.de/2013/03/natural-gas-vehicles-already-big-in.html
    http://www.autoblog.com/2013/01/11/iran-invests-heavily-in-natural-gas-cars/
    It looks like the USA is sanctioning Iran into prosperity, at last…
    Enjoy!

  77. Ian W – if ethanol use is the reason for corn price increases then why did the price of most all other commodities increase as well. Corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and others.
    As to your statements on corn – I suggest research – start with the USDA Filed Grain Yearbook, and educate yourself on US corn use and exports.
    The US imported 765,000 metric tonnes of corn in 2011/ 2012. We exported 38,430,000 metric tonnes.
    From 2005 to 2011 we provided 51.4% of the worldwide corn imports to other country’s. Despite ramping up corn use for ethanol.
    The tiny amount of corn we important is a fraction of the large amount of corn we export as the world largest single supplier of corn to the world. Until 2010/11 we were a larger than the combined group of other primary corn exporting regions including; Argentina, Ukraine, Brazil, India and the EU.
    Sorry – but there is little relevance to the US importing a tiny fraction of the amount we export.

  78. One of the most dastardly things about the ethanol mandate is the slow strangulation of livestock growers and food processors in the food chain to households. There is a farm sector and manufacturing sector being harmed here without a lot of attention. What would normally be considered a stable part of the economy is being destabilized by govt. policy. Add this to list of reforms that don’t happen until there is another crisis.

  79. The ethanol subsidy that corn farmers get has skewed the numbers of other crops planted. Many farmers stopped growing other crops because they know they are going to get an artificial price for corn.
    So the price of other food crops have gone up too because there is less available. So people get less mpg with E10 so have to spend more on fuel, pay more for products made from corn and also pay more for products made with other crops because the ethanol subsidy has reduced supply of those crops. And that’s not counting paying higher taxes to pay for the ethanol subsidy.

  80. Resourceguy:
    Your post at April 17, 2013 at 6:49 am says

    One of the most dastardly things about the ethanol mandate is the slow strangulation of livestock growers and food processors in the food chain to households. There is a farm sector and manufacturing sector being harmed here without a lot of attention. What would normally be considered a stable part of the economy is being destabilized by govt. policy. Add this to list of reforms that don’t happen until there is another crisis.

    I am not commenting on the validity of your assertions concerning market distortions.
    I write to point out that the possibility of such effects is the explanation for my statement at the end of my post at April 17, 2013 at 5:59 am which said concerning my anology of a hypothetical mandate for use of straw in bricks

    Is there any possible justification for such a subsidy for straw? If so, then a direct State Benefit to the farmers who provide the straw would be a more efficient subsidy for their farming.

    Richard

  81. richardscourtney says:
    April 17, 2013 at 5:59 am
    Is there any possible justification for such a subsidy for straw? If so, then a direct State Benefit to the farmers who provide the straw would be a more efficient subsidy for their farming.
    ============
    However, under GATT/WTO and similar rules, a direct State Benefit is unfair competition. Countries get around this by bending the rules to their advantage.
    Bending the rules is less efficient as you have recognized. However, politics tends to favor trade in one direction only, so we end up with artificial barriers that hurt the rest of us to the benefit of a few. Otherwise the politicians don’t get a big fat campaign contribution and someone that will bend the rules will take their place.

  82. In addition to Gorham’s false ethanol water claim, he overlooks that there is a net return of 23 % protein enriched distillers grain used as animal feed, just like the field corn would have been. So the net ethanol use is about 13-14% in tons, against about a 25% increase in plantings. On my farm, we tookmout two small pastures to increase corn plantings, sell more than half the corn for ethanol in a deal that trucks the distillers grain back, and switched the herd to a mix of distillers grain plus corn (for the carbohydrate). That allows is to feed less of the protein rich alfalfa, which we can sell because hay is scarce owing to southern drought, and make up the roughage different with more chopped silage. There is much less of an impact on food supply that the comments above would suggest.
    The main reason corn and soybean prices have risen is increasing export demand, especially to China, where both are used as animal feed for poultry and hogs as the meat proportion of their diet increases on average.
    That said, cellulosic ethanol would be a better ethanol option substituting for MBTE (but not at the EISA07 mandated E10 blend wall) IF economic, because does not require arable land. But it isn’t economic without subsidies or higher petroleum prices at current technology in either POET or ABENGOA scale facilities now coming on line. The only potentially viable biofuel solution at present is the KIOR process, which produces synthetic crude from whole tree chipped southern yellow pine that can be refined into gas, diesel, or jet kerosene. We shall soon know whether the process is economic at scale. Hopefully it is, since the world has a major crude supply problem by about 2020 despite frcked tight oil. There is as much bad information about that out there (on the hyped side) as in Mr. Gorham’s poorly researched article.

  83. ferdberple:
    I write as a courtesy to say I read your post addressed to me at April 17, 2013 at 7:10 am.
    I agree with you concerning reasons for politically inspired subsidies, but that agreement is not a comment of any kind concerning the specific subsidies being discussed in this thread.
    Richard

  84. You could say that when Congress created those ethanol mandates, they honestly believed most ethanol would be produced from cellulose and other non-food crops. Or you could say lobbyists from big ag companies such as ADM bought themselves a huge profit at public expense.
    Either way, it’s time to end this fiasco. The number just don’t work. We don’t have a shortage of recoverable oil, we have a shortage of oil production in this country. Already most of our imported oil come from Canada and Mexico and not the Middle East. We could easily become North American-energy independent in a few years if the politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and green fanatics got out of the way.

  85. Regardless of the specific physics behind it all there is another good reason to stop using arable land to produce fuel. The Industrial Revolution was almost entirely possible because energy production (coal) was concentrated geographically, thus eliminating the Malthusian dependence of energy on arable land. The modern world was born in the Industrial Revolution. Its really just about that simple.

  86. My car runs very poorly on ethanol contaminated gasoline. However, I can no longer find a station that even sells uncontaminated gas. I wonder if these ethanol contaminants are being blended into the 18¢ a gallon gasoline they’re selling in Venezuela? I somehow doubt it.

  87. MattN says:
    April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm
    I think it’s time for dual fueled cars: gasoline and natural gas. Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home. All we need in the garage is a compressor to fill our tank. A small 5-7 gallon “reserve” tank of regular 87 gets us by when we need it…..

    How about converting natural gas to a liquid fuel? Not, LNG, which is kept liquid under pressure, but Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) conversion.
    http://www.natgas.info/html/gastoliquids.html
    http://www.shell.com/global/future-energy/meeting-demand/natural-gas/gtl.html
    http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/afvs/gtl.html

  88. TomB says:
    April 17, 2013 at 7:40 am
    My car runs very poorly on ethanol contaminated gasoline. However, I can no longer find a station that even sells uncontaminated gas. I wonder if these ethanol contaminants are being blended into the 18¢ a gallon gasoline they’re selling in Venezuela? I somehow doubt it.

    Your state may mandate ethanol in gasoline. Mine requires 10% ethanol.

  89. Dear Mr. Goreham:
    Nice article – but you missed one important factor: the production of gasoline is taxed at every stage, the production of ethanol subsidized at every stage. From a consumer perspective E10/15 costs more than gasoline although it contains a lower net level of tax, but from a government perspective a gallon of E10/15 gives up tax revenues on the missing gasoline, and costs money on the ethanol component.
    cf my 2007 Calgary Herald column – now at winface.com/ethanol.html

  90. Mile per gallon, engine efficiency, energy content per gallon, government subsidies etc – all factors related to the only meaningful measure to the consumer which is “miles per dollar” for a given vehicle.

  91. Wow! I have little knowledge of this issue and I can honestly say, having read through the posts, that I have less understanding than I did before. Here is what I have learned:
    1. It’s complicated
    2. It’s good for your engine and it’s bad for your engine
    3. It is more efficient and it is less efficient
    4. It costs more and it costs less
    5. It causes starvation and it has no impact on starvation
    6. It is better for the environment and it is worse for the environment
    7. The ethanol mandate causes many problems and ending the mandate would cause many problems.
    8. It’s complicated.
    I would suggest that we let the free market decide, but we don’t have a free market. Politics is intertwined with the market like weeds in a long, untended garden. Even without politics, a truly free market can only exist where the rule of law is uniform and effective, otherwise, the temporarily more powerful will suppress their competition through ‘unfair’ practices. The ‘free market’ has always been a goal, but never a reality. Still, striving for a free market is the wisest course of action.
    The climate change issue, on the other hand, is so very attractive. There is absolutely no upside for humanity in promoting the myth of CAGW! If we stopped worrying about man-made climate change today, only those living off the myth would be negatively impacted. The rest of humanity would benefit! It is not complicated at all!

  92. A more interesting graph, would be biofuel production vs fossil fuel usage. Did biofuel make any difference to fossil consumption, or does the amount of fossil fuel needed to produce a gallon of biofuel cancel out the difference?
    .

  93. The new rallying cry for the Greens. Buy a gallon of biofuel and starve a child. You know it makes sense……

  94. Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?
    YES! And subsidies for solar and wind power, as well!
    MtK

  95. Late in replying, but Ethanol does not improve emissions in modern engines equipped with aftertreatment catalysts. Ethanol and other “oxygenates” do lean out the Air/Fuel ratio in carburated vehicles and if those vehicles are running rich, this change in A/F ratio will reduce CO and HC emissions. But it also tends to increase NOx emissions which will increase air pollution and can lead to the “weekend” oxone affect where ozone actually increases during the weekend when hydrocarbon emissions from some sources are reduced.
    The Coordinating Research Council conducted a study of the impact of increased EtOH up to 15% in modern engines (not specifically designed to run on E85) and found that there is increased engine wear and fuel system failures with E15 vs E10. Thus the consumer will spend more money for higher ethanol content fuels as well as get lower fue efficiency due to the lower energy content of ethanol vs conventional hydrocarbon fuels.

  96. Resourceguy says:
    April 17, 2013 at 6:49 am – One of the most dastardly things about the ethanol mandate is the slow strangulation of livestock growers and food processors in the food chain to households. There is a farm sector and manufacturing sector being harmed here without a lot of attention.

    And how exactly is this occurring? The production of ethanol creates both ethanol and a significant quantity of Distillers Dried Grain Solids – a high quality animal feed that replaces on a net basis, from memory, close to 50% of the corn used for ethanol.
    And please provide actual proof for your position and claim.

  97. The news media and big oil has got into all of your heads You all are just repeating like puppets

  98. I deal with E10 in 0F or colder weather.
    I love needing extra 10 minutes warmup time.
    funny things those btus…we need them.

  99. dmacleo says:
    April 17, 2013 at 4:01 pm
    I deal with E10 in 0F or colder weather.
    I love needing extra 10 minutes warmup time.
    funny things those btus…we need them.

    I deal with real temps as low as -20’s F … and have never had a single issue with E85. There is no noticeable difference in engine operation. And ethanol’s freezing point of -172 F is a significant imporovement over gasoline’s -40 F.
    And you show a misunderstanding of BTU’s – we are not using them to “heat” as with your home. They are used to operate an engine. And there ethanol’s 100 octane is a significant benefit.

  100. I’m OK with a minor amount of ethanol in gasoline as an octane booster, but that’s about it. As a transport fuel, it loses….it cannot be transported via pipeline, it has a low energy density, and the present farm lobby/ethanol industrial complex forces corn ethanol.
    However, it is a useful chemical…at Kraft Foods, we bio-converted parmesan cheese-whey permeate (a very potent, high-strength organic pollutant) into ethanol with an onsite fermentation/distillation process. Very slick & cost-effective. Many industrial waste streams from beverage bottling, confectionary and the like could be converted into ethanol cost-effectively with modern technologies. King Corn crushes all comers….ask the farmers of Illinois and Iowa, they’ll tell you.

  101. It absolutely can be transported by pipeline – all you need do is type “ethanol pipeline” into Google to completely disprove the claim it cannot. Ethanol pipelines are in service in many places, including a recent 16″ pipeline in New Jersey.
    That said in MANY areas the ethanol processing plants are located both where the corn is grown and where their customers are – thus eliminating the need to pipe the products at all.
    I agree there are many technologies and feedstock sources that can be used to produce ethanol. And think they should be exploited.

  102. A. Scott says:
    April 17, 2013 at 6:44 am
    Ian W – if ethanol use is the reason for corn price increases then why did the price of most all other commodities increase as well. Corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and others.
    As to your statements on corn – I suggest research – start with the USDA Filed Grain Yearbook, and educate yourself on US corn use and exports.
    The US imported 765,000 metric tonnes of corn in 2011/ 2012. We exported 38,430,000 metric tonnes. ….
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Well may be, but this misses the point that I think that Ian was making.
    The amount of corn exported by the USA has fallen markedly in recent years due to the diversion of the crop for fuel, rather than being used as feed.
    For example, in 2005/6 the US exported some 56.000 million tonnes
    In 2006/7, it exported some 54,000 million tonnes
    In 2007/87, it exported some 60,600 million tonnes
    Since then it has been on a downward trend exporting just 38,000 million last year. In other words, exports are down some 25 to 30%. This is why many in the developing world are going hungry.

  103. Further to my last post, perhaps I should have added the figure for 2012/13 (the most up to date figure which A Scott omitted to cite). In that year (ie., last year), the USA exported just 22,500 million tonnes, ie., exports were down by 60% from their peak of 2007/8.
    Obviously, this has an effect on both the price and the availability. Both of which is fundamental, especially for those in the developing world who live on the edge of subsistence.
    It is an inescapable fact that there are better uses for agricultural land and crops than fueling cars.

  104. I have been sitting here howling with laughter at the indignant ethanol enablers who have showed up in this thread. I am reminded of the Will Rogers line “It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” Bottom line, ethanol is a boondoggle inflicted on the public by congress critters bought and paid for by big agriculture. Like most green scams, it’s politics and cash that drive it, not engineering. By the way, my car routinely gets 30+ mpg on plain 87 octane gas on the highways, and between 3 and 5 mpg less with E10 ethanol, with poorer overall performance.

  105. Another reason to end the ethanol mandate: Destruction of small engines. It cost me $95 to replace the carb on my $225 Stihl chainsaw despite using additives that were supposed to stop the ethanol fuel degradation. The shop says that 90% of its business is due to ethanol problems. He advised me to buy Ethanol-free fuel from Stihl at $7.00 per quart or to go to the local airport and buy aviation fuel at $6.70 per gallon.
    When I went to the airport I was in line behind the local fire company who was filling 6-5 gallon cans with aviation fuel to power their chain saws. ” All the 4-wheelers come here too” to avoid ruining their machines.. The destruction of ethanol continues….
    And despite universal agreement that it’s a bad idea not only does it continue but it’s going to increase to 15%.

  106. @A.Scott 1:25 pm.

    And how exactly is this occurring? The production of ethanol creates both ethanol and a significant quantity of Distillers Dried Grain Solids – a high quality animal feed that replaces on a net basis, from memory, close to 50% of the corn used for ethanol.

    The Distillers Dried Grain Solids is indeed a high protein feed. But is is also a low calorie feed. You cannot get something for nothing. The calories in the corn were used to make up the ethanol.

  107. To thunderloon and all the other loons out there, get your chemistry right. The flashpoint of gasoline is ~ -50degF, methanol is +40 deg, and ethanol is + 62 deg. F. Gasoline is a MUCH more dangerous fuel to handle. Both alcohols have a minor safety problem in that the flame is usually very hard to see in sunlight, while gasoline pumps out volumes of yellow flame and sooty smoke.
    Both alcohols are corrosive by themselves, incompatible with typical seals used for gasoline, and can degrade to even more corrosive chemicals, such as formic acid, acetic acid, etc.
    Oxygenated fuel(alcohol, methanol, methyl-tert-butyl ether which poisons water supplies) have some small benefit in areas subject to smog inversions. The 10% or so addition reduces nitrogen oxides and other reactive chemicals that form smog. For the rest of us it’s not needed.

  108. And then again, gasoline doesn’t freeze. It just gets thicker. At some point, about 40 below F the alcohol will separate along with any water in the fuel, and may freeze into some icy slush. Some of the high boiling stuff will congeal in the bottom of the tank, and maybe in the fuel pump and injectors. But it doesn’t freeze.
    Corn ethanol IS an economic and social disaster as others have pointed out. We’ve probably killed 20 million 3rd world kids with this stupid fuel from food debacle over that past 5-6 years.

    • The critical low temerpature property of fuel is the ignition point. Gasoline is added to ethanol to make it ignite at low temperature. The vapor pressure of ethanol is not high enough to provide vapor needed to burn and start the engine at low temperatures. Not a problem at most temperatures, but a problem when it is cold.
      Also a problem with growing fuel is Land Use Change. This includes both direct LUC where crop land is turned into energy crop land (or non-crop land is used to grow fuel), or indirect LUC where remote land is converted from forest or the like into cropland to make up for the lack of imported corn or other food crops because are not available due to conversion to ethanol or biodiesel.
      Many have studied this issue and there is little displacement of fossil fuel by energy crops. And there are plans to grow more crops for fuel to meet the Renewable Energy mandates (if technologies like Cellulosic Ethanol ever become viable, a topic for another post.)

  109. logicalchemist says:
    April 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm
    We’ve probably killed 20 million 3rd world kids with this stupid fuel from food debacle over that past 5-6 years.
    =====================================
    Can you name one person that was probably killed ? With 20 million, you should be able to find one … and who mandated that the USA has to be the World’s Farmer as well as the World’s Policeman – the latter for which the USA constantly gets vilified and bombed??
    Again, kudos to Anthony for allowing opposing viewpoints, and Bravo to Carl Brannen for saying:
    “I’m busy working on my PhD in physics and don’t have time to argue about this. I know it’s pretty much hopeless anyway. Suffice it to say that you can approach the truth by doing your own reasearch. As with global warming, that means you have to read the articles written by *both* sides. Eventually you will learn to recognize garbage.”
    Carl, I hope you’re a young guy. We older scientists of course know this, but are a bit worried about younger generations.
    I’m not in the bioethanol industry, but part of my job, for which I make shitpiles of money, is understanding the dynamics of this – where it was, where it is now, and where it’s going. I get paid to be right. I also get to do hands-on science in the competing field too. I’m a lucky guy – except when I have to read some of the shit posted above.
    This isn’t climatology, where the object of the exercise is to take essentially zero new data and concoct the next biggest lie to dupe the public. This is an active field of science where new basic research and new engineering developments progress the field on a daily basis. This ain’t 2011, it’s 2013. So get with the data:
    It’s here, and in a very readable format:
    http://ethanolrfa.3cdn.net/8fabfbf8fbcb08d399_xom6injp6.pdf
    … and of course, lastly, Bravo to A. Scott for his efforts. This man knows what he’s talking about, as opposed to some prominent posters here, who not only should know better, but think that because bioethanol is perceived to be some greenie thing (it isn’t), they can get away with turd recycling here. Not so.
    Look at the jobs data. Look at the DDGS exports data.

  110. I have to admit, I’m still wondering where some of you are getting your carbureted cars. Does anyone still make them? Fuel injection is SO much easier to meet emissions regulations with, and with the newest generation of engine controls (ie. 1990 and newer) it’s a piece of cake for automakers to implement. Heck, there’s a DIY kit for it, MegaSquirt. EFI is now Old Tech and ridiculously easy to retrofit if you’re trying to get your 69 Buick back on the road.
    My experience with the oil industry, living in Calgary and dealing with it in some way or other my entire working life, is that if it’s gasoline or otherwise a transportation fuel, the industry will use subsidies or whatever is available and develop something useful. The greenie idea, though, is to take subsidies and fritter and waste them away, building useless tripe like solar panels or windmills, and cashing out just before the crash.
    I don’t think the Ethanol “boom” was a bad thing… but it’s time to back off on the mandates, they’re no longer needed.
    And regarding emissions: an engine optimized for the lowest emissions will most likely be the most efficient, which means it makes good power and gets good mileage. So emissions are a nice “target”, but not the goal. The goal is to get power and economy, while putting nothing out the tailpipe but harmless H2O and CO2. The EPA injected themselves and altered this natural and already in-progress evolution of technology, and at a time when there was a fuel shortage and people were already scrambling to get smaller vehicles, while patting themselves on the back for “achieving” it.
    Oops, got off track again. Higher compression engines, or turbo/supercharged engines are the most efficient. An 87 octane “regular”, or even 84 in some high altitude areas, is holding this back. Ethanol is a great octane booster that can enable higher compression engines, and that’s a good thing.
    In case I wasn’t clear before, I still disagree with specific percentage mandates… but I also think engine damage is being exaggerated and economy losses are exaggerated. If the mandates were removed, the industry would still want to use Ethanol blends, but you could at least buy pure gas for your small motors and, um, legacy vehicles.

  111. A. Scott said: “It absolutely can be transported by pipeline – all you need do is type “ethanol pipeline” into Google to completely disprove the claim it cannot. Ethanol pipelines are in service in many places, including a recent 16″ pipeline in New Jersey.”
    However, ethanol and fuels containing ethanol cannot be transported vis multi-product pipelines as the cross-contamination of products such as jet fuel and diesel fuel will degrade the value and properties of these products. Plus ethanol containing fuels are sensitive to water contamination and will cause corrosion of iron pipe.
    A recent finding by the Coordinating Research Council showed that minor contamination of diesel fuel with ethanol leads to corrosion of fuel systems and failure of equipment when bacterial conversion of ethanol to acetic acid occurs.
    The best fuels for transportation use are hydrocarbon fuels as the energy content of these fuels cannot be matched with other fuels or technologies such as battery powre or hydrogen fuels.

  112. CodeTech says: April 18, 2013 at 6:18 am
    I have to admit, I’m still wondering where some of you are getting your carbureted cars. Does anyone still make them?
    ———————————————-
    I have a street legal 2010 Yamaha TW200 motorcycle with a carburetor. It runs just fine on 87 Octane E10, which is the only gas you can buy in CA.
    “And regarding emissions: an engine optimized for the lowest emissions will most likely be the most efficient, which means it makes good power and gets good mileage.”
    ————————————-
    I respectfully disagree. Look at a BSFC map for just about any engine (2-stroke, 4-stroke, piston, Wankel, Diesel, etc). Maximum efficiency is about 3/4 open throttle and 1/3 of max RPM. Maximum power is at full throttle and 80% of max RPM. If you’re designing an engine for maximum power, you have lots of valve overlap, which does horrible things to emissions. Engine design has many tradeoffs.

  113. There are countless drawbacks to ethanol, but the very first of these is the fact that one cannot recover near the energy from the finished product, that went into the making of it. It cannot be done with sugar cane, let alone with the much more demanding crop of maize. What is needed first of all is a suitable crop that requires no irrigation and thus no electricity, no nitrogen, very little labour, and after self-reaping, transports itself to the mill. You have to find this wonder plant before looking at the multitudinous lesser failings.

  114. Ken, look at the latest on this (Stat 11 on page 13 of my link above and here again:
    http://ethanolrfa.3cdn.net/8fabfbf8fbcb08d399_xom6injp6.pdf )
    Things have improved enormously in this area.
    There’s a move to start incorporating more grain sorghum into the mix (to allay some of the food vs. fuel “debate”, such as this thread), plus it’s more drought tolerant.
    You are indeed correct though that ethanol has countless drawbacks, that start off with the difficulty of separating it from water.

  115. Would rather have ethanol as the anti-smog additive than the stuff that was in there before, that went into the ground water and made it bitter tasting.

  116. Dan in California, not arguing. However, motorcycles are not really part of the equation. They’re a significantly smaller percentage of the transportation fleet, and use considerably less fuel anyway. Here in Canada they’re only usable a few months of each year. But good point, and still reinforcing what I’m saying: mandates are not good… but if you had a supercharger on there I’m sure you’d be wanting higher octane fuel.
    Oddly enough, I’m intimately familiar with engines. I completely rewrote the engine controller for my 87 Daytona Shelby Z, and a lot of people were using it. Those who used it in emission controlled locations were able to pass testing without a cat (although they often had to add a hollowed out cat for appearance). I also found numerous errors and bugs in Chrysler’s fueling equations, and of course the whole factory system runs intentionally rich for safety. Rather than empirically tuning with a wideband O2 sensor, my system allowed you to specify the A/F ratio at all levels of vacuum and boost. People who tested it on dynos found the desired A/F ratio exactly matched the actual, so it apparently worked. The fastest car using it ran 10.1 second quarters while still being streetable (although…. LOUD).
    I know that the “flex fuel” concept was thought of in the 70s with early experiments in methanol, the beginnings were implemented in the 80s, and actual vehicles were out there in the early 90s. It was still possible to find them in the wreckers just a few years ago, with complete stainless steel fueling systems that dropped right into my 80s car.
    When it comes to ECMs, any variations in fuel can be handled if you have some sort of sensor to determine the fuel makeup. These days such things are almost trivial, but 20 years ago, not so easy. Auto-adapting systems were crude at best, for example I couldn’t run my Daytona on 87 octane without audible ping. My 2008 Caliber SRT4 will run fine on 87, but definitely makes more power (and gets better mileage, even though there is more energy in the lower octane fuel) on 94. Then again, it also has variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust, which was scifi in the 80s.
    My point is that technology advances regularly. There is no currently manufactured car/truck/suv that won’t happily consume E10 or E20, with less efficiency loss than an older vehicle. You mention 3/4 throttle at 1/3 RPM, which is about right. Turbo cars deliberately run extra rich at high boost to pull more heat out of the engine, thus spew unburned hyrdocarbons out the tail pipe, which is undesireable long term. But, that’s why the cats are there, to clean up after those excursions. My 2008 has an almost flat power curve all the way from 2000 to 6500, it’s insanely difficult to not bounce off the rev limiter because it never starts losing power.
    By the way, I wanted to perform a similar modification to the 2008, but the computer is locked up tighter than a…. (insert simile here). As I understand it, we have the EPA to “thank” for that. So I’m stuck with an inefficient ECM that can’t reasonably be upgraded.

  117. CodeTech says: April 19, 2013 at 5:12 am
    Dan in California, not arguing. ……….. ]
    —————————————————————————–
    I think we are in violent agreement, and we’re having fun talking past each other. 🙂 And thank you, Anthony for providing the excellent forum. It’s very refreshing being able to disagree and back up arguments with facts.

  118. Tom J says:
    The internal components and the engine blocks themselves were not salvageable. Memo to people with common sense: This is not creative, capitalistic destruction. It’s simply destruction. (And, the talking heads wonder why the economy’s in the toilet.) And, memo to environmentalists: This is NOT good recycling policy either.
    Along the same lines you have glass recycling in the UK. The “modern” method being “bottle banks” where used glass containers deposited subsequently ground into cullet and put into a furnace. One big problem is that unless the smashed glass can be separated by colour it cannot be used for the production of clear glass. Even though the bins typically come in a clear, green and brown group. A single 250ml green bottle in the clear bin could render it suitable for producing only green glass.
    The “old fashioned” method of glass recycling is to return the bottle or jar to be reused. Possibly with a deposit to encourage this. This used to be common in the UK and is still used in other parts of Europe. (Even extended to plastic bottles.)
    In French and Dutch supermarkets you will often find a machine which will take empty bottles and print out a coupon.

  119. Mark:
    At April 21, 2013 at 1:33 am you raise the issue of recycling.
    I recognise that recycling is off-topic but there is an important consideration pertaining to mandates and subsidies which are part of this thread.
    Recycling of metals is good. It costs much less energy, money and effort to recycle scrap metal than to mine and refine metal ores. Good profits are made from recycling metals.
    But much recycling is a waste. It is only sustained by mandates and/or subsidies. An example of this is the glass recycling which you mention.
    Glass is fused silica sand. There is no shortage of sand. And there is no problem with putting waste glass to landfill because it is not pollution to put sand in the ground.
    Large amounts of sand can be moved from a single source to a plant which fuses it.
    Or
    Small amounts of waste glass can be moved to many collection points then moved from the collection points to a plant which re-fuses it.
    It costs much less energy, money and effort to make glass from sand than to recycle waste glass. This is because collecting the sand costs much less than collecting waste glass and the disposal costs of waste glass do not negate the lesser cost of obtaining sand.
    But glass is recycled because taxes are applied to waste glass which is put to landfill, and a proportion of glass production is mandated as being from waste glass. These taxes and mandates provide costs but no benefits.
    The issue can be simplistically understood as follows.
    Energy is the ability to do work.
    Money is payment for work done.
    So, if recycling uses less energy than production from a resource then it costs less money.
    But, if recycling uses more energy than production from a resource then it costs more money.
    Subsidies distort this because they distort the balance of monetary gains and losses. And this distortion also distorts profits because profits include costs, returns and subsidies.
    This understanding is illustrated by vehicle recycling.
    The metal from vehicles is valuable scrap, but the tyres from vehicles are unwanted waste. The metal scrap uses less energy than mining and refining metal ores. But separating the rubber and steel in tyres then converting them to useful resources uses more energy (i.e. costs more) than producing new steel and new rubber.
    Tyres would be recycled if this were subsidised, and there could be reasons for such subsidy; e.g. disposal is so costly that tyres are dumped, and profitable recycling would avoid the polluting dumping. The subsidies may (n.b. MAY) be the cheapest solution to stopping the dumping.
    In summation, recycling is good for some things but not others. And the costs and benefits of recycling are distorted by subsidies and mandates. Such distortion is usually an economic loss but in some special cases may be justifiable.
    Richard

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