...Michael Wang, a scientist at the Energy Dept.-funded Argonne National Laboratory for Transportation Research, says "The energy used for each unit of ethanol produced has been reduced by about half [since 1980]." Now, Wang says, the delivery of 1 million British thermal units [BTUs] of ethanol uses 0.74 million BTUs of fossil fuels. [That does not include the solar energy -- the sun shining -- used in growing corn.] By contrast, he finds that the delivery of 1 million BTUs of gasoline requires 1.23 million BTU of fossil fuels. ....What companies stand to benefit from increased ethanol use? There is a crop of American ethanol producers. ADM is by far the largest, pumping out about one-quarter of the U.S. total. MGP Ingredients (MGPI) is one of the many smaller companies involved. Verasun Energy and Aventine Renewable Energy, two other producers of note, have recently filed to go public. What can we expect to change in the future? At present commercial corn-based ethanol comes from corn kernels. One of the more exciting ethanol prospects on the horizon is cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from a number of plant by-products, including cornstalks. Although it's unlikely to be commercially available for at least a few years, cellulosic ethanol eventually could help substantially reduce costs. In other words, your car in the future could run on the refuse of farms across the U.S. Copyright 2006 BusinessWeek
quote:Your distinction (geologic short-term difference) is noted, but not germane to the energy source. Since we're using sub-surface biofuel to generate surface biofuel, using surface biofuel still adds CO2 to the air on a net basis. Your extension to solar energy appears true at first, but there is a very great depth to wade into that.
Originally posted by GMorg: There is difference though. Use of fossil-based fuel releases carbon that is not currently in the carbon cycle. The result is increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The use of biofuels releases CO2 that is currently "in play" anyway. My reasoning falls apart when you look at geologic time though. As long as we continue to have tectonic motion, fossil carbon will eventually get belched into the atmosphere. On the other hand, using bulwnkl's logic, even nuclear energy is just solar energy originally stored in another star.