why ethanol blended gas sucks

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Aug 12, 2002
http://magazine.audubon.org/incite/incite0408.html Drunk on Ethanol Our addiction to corn-derived alcohol is not only costing us a lot of money, it's also wiping out fish and wildlife habitat, and polluting our air, soil, and water. By Ted Williams The answer is the American public. The question was: Who would spend 10 cents to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline that reduces mileage, degrades your car, destroys fish and wildlife, increases air pollution, and makes the United States more dependent on foreign oil? With its 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, Congress tried a revolutionary strategy: regulating not just how gasoline was burned in motor vehicles but how it was made. The idea was to require the use of gasoline with at least 2 percent oxygen-containing chemicals (oxygenates) in areas where clean-air standards weren't being met. This way more carbon monoxide, toxic hydrocarbons, and smog-producing volatile organic compounds would get burned up. Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), and other politicians from the Corn Belt who had pushed this "reformulated-gasoline program" were ecstatic. The amendments created a new future for the corn-produced oxygenate ethanol (a.k.a. "white lightning" or grain alcohol), which hadn't found a decent market for anything save drinking despite $5 billion in federal subsidies. With the mandated use of "gasohol" (one part ethanol, nine parts gasoline), the moribund ethanol industry would spring heel-clicking from its wheelchair. Agribusiness would prosper. And America would get cleaner air and homegrown energy. It was going to be a win-win-win-win. Fourteen years later there are 78 ethanol plants in 19 states. More than half are being expanded, and scores of new ones will soon come online. Fully 10 percent of all corn grown in the United States goes into ethanol. And Senator Daschle, Representative Dennis Hastert (R-IL), and President George W. Bush have been trying to legislate a mandate requiring states to increase the amount of ethanol used in reformulated gasoline from about 3 billion gallons to 5 billion gallons by 2012. But the reformulated-gasoline program has turned out to be a colossal failure, and the ethanol industry has transmogrified into a sacrosanct, pork-swilling behemoth that gets bigger and hungrier with each feeding. Ethanol dirties the air more than it cleans it. Its production requires vast plantings of corn, which wipe out fish and wildlife by destroying habitat and polluting air, soil, and water. Of all crops grown in the United States, corn demands the most massive fixes of herbicides, insecticides, and chemical fertilizers, while creating the most soil erosion. To the chagrin of Corn Belt politicians, there was nothing in the 1990 amendments that says the oxygenate used in gasoline must be ethanol. There is another polluting oxygenate, derived from natural gas, which we also don't need. It's called methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE. In noncompliant states outside the Corn Belt—or even in compliant states that wanted to be excused from other clean-air investments mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—MTBE became the oxygenate of choice. These states would have used ethanol had it not been so difficult and expensive to import. Ethanol separates from gasoline when it encounters moisture in pipes and storage tanks; so unlike gasoline oxygenated with MTBE, gasohol cannot pass through existing pipelines. Instead, ethanol—which costs three and a half times as much as gasoline to produce and yields 20 percent less energy—must be shipped separately and mixed on-site. And because ethanol evaporates so rapidly, it can be added only to a special and expensive "blendstock" of gasoline. Some coastal states might import foreign ethanol if U.S. ethanol weren't protected by a 54-cent-per-gallon foreign-trade tariff. MTBE comes with a different set of liabilities. For one thing, if you drink it, you'll suffer lots more than a hangover. While it's by no means the most toxic of fossil fuel derivatives, it's among the worst smelling and tasting, and it penetrates farther and hangs around longer than most any other. Still, by marketing MTBE, the oil and gas industry performed an important public service. MTBE's vile taste and odor in tap water alerted the nation to the deplorable, porous condition of underground gasoline storage tanks, which were leaking into aquifers. To hear Corn Belt politicians and ethanol manufacturers talk, you'd think their single overriding concern is safe drinking water for California, the Northeast, and other places where MTBE gets mixed with gasoline. "MTBE has contaminated groundwater in 43 states and is considered by public health experts to present a risk of cancer in humans," proclaims Senator Daschle. "It is estimated that there are at least 150,000 MTBE-contaminated sites nationwide." But America doesn't have an MTBE problem so much as it has a leaky-gas-tank problem. And since the MTBE panic of the late 1990s, there has been progress in fixing the tanks. "Abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuel amounts to unsustainable, subsidized food burning." With the enthusiastic help of the ethanol lobby—most notably the Renewable Fuels Association—17 states have banned MTBE. Most are in the Corn Belt and never would have used it anyway, but there were three major exceptions: California, New York, and Connecticut. MTBE bans in these states have created a de facto ethanol mandate. Such a mandate is anathema to politicians from MTBE-producing states. To hear them talk, you'd think their single overriding concern is saving Americans from high gasoline prices and dirty air. In 2002 some ethanol plants were found to be emitting 10 to 12 times more pollutants than anyone realized. "These plants were slapped together really fast," declares Frank Maisano, a lobbyist for the MTBE industry. "They're loud; they smell. A million people live around Gopher State Ethanol, near St. Paul, Minnesota, and they absolutely despise it." Among the most ardent champions of low gasoline prices and clean air (if only when it is threatened by ethanol) are House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Joe Barton (R-TX), chairman of the House Energy Committee. However, their main priority for last session's energy bill was liability relief for manufacturers of MTBE in cases where it had polluted groundwater—a provision that would have voided some 200 lawsuits in 12 states. "If the price of the energy bill is no safe harbor [for MTBE], then there won't be a bill," vowed Barton, and he was right. Daschle and other Corn Belt legislators strongly disapprove of such relief for ethanol's competitor. They also strongly disapprove of the waivers from the oxygenate requirement being sought by California, New York, and Connecticut. This despite overwhelming scientific evidence from such respected sources as the National Academy of Sciences that modern blends of gasoline without ethanol or MTBE burn more cleanly than the reformulated gasoline now required in nonattainment areas. "The bottom line is that both the motor vehicle industry and the refining industry have evolved since the early 1990s, when these requirements went into effect," remarks Frank O'Donnell, director of the Clean Air Trust, an air-quality-defense group put together nine years ago by former U.S. senators Edmund Muskie of Maine and Robert Stafford of Vermont. "Oxygenates aren't necessary anymore. Modern cars have oxygen sensors that adjust the air-to-fuel ratio, which is one of the things that oxygenates were supposed to do. And we have better fuels." So does this mean an end to the federal oxygenate requirement? No way. The ethanol industry is far too powerful to allow such a thing. Basically, it gets whatever it demands, no matter who's occupying the White House. When California and the northeastern states asked President Bill Clinton for the same waivers they now seek from President Bush, Clinton refused. He didn't want to risk offending the swing state of Iowa, which went to Al Gore by one percent. Bush is worried about Iowa, too. Some Corn Belt politicians are refreshingly candid about why the wasteful, obsolete oxygenate requirement needs to stay in place. "I once asked Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa at a news conference why Californians and northeasterners should be forced to put ethanol in their gasoline when the science clearly shows it has no environmental benefits," recalls Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News. "Because it helps farmers from my state expand their markets, he explained. 'So I guess you'd support a new federal law to require everybody in Des Moines to buy a computer, to help people in Silicon Valley expand their markets?' I asked. He didn't concur." In addition to showing that there are "no environmental benefits" to ethanol, science clearly shows that there are enormous environmental costs. For example, the general use of ethanol significantly increases air pollution. Ethanol evaporates faster than gasoline. So while gasoline reformulated with ethanol may release less carbon monoxide, it releases more volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides. "Adding ethanol to our fuel supply causes air pollution," says Peter Iwanowicz, director of the American Lung Association of New York State. "You have more vapor emissions when you're refueling and when your car is sitting in a parking lot on a hot summer day. And ethanol can degrade systems in cars, so you'll get more leaks. You don't need ethanol or MTBE in gasoline to make it burn cleaner, but we didn't focus on the oxygenate issue. Instead, the ethanol crowd went around trying to get MTBE banned, and we just ran this nasty chemical out of town. We could have had both healthy air and clean drinking water." The fact that Frank Maisano represents the MTBE industry doesn't mean he hasn't got it exactly right when he observes that ethanol plants themselves are major sources of air pollution. For example, in April 2003 Archer Daniels Midland, the agribusiness giant that controls about 60 percent of the ethanol market, settled an enforcement case with the EPA, agreeing to put in $340 million worth of pollution controls at 52 plants in 16 states; spend $6.3 million for retrofitting diesel engines in school buses; and pay a $4.6 million civil penalty. And in October 2002 the EPA settled with 12 ethanol plants in Minnesota, hitting them with civil penalties ranging from $29,000 to $39,000 each, and requiring that each spend about $2 million cutting back on emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, particulates, and other hazardous pollutants. MTBE pollutes ground and surface water, but so does ethanol. With each gallon of ethanol you get 12 gallons of sewagelike effluent produced by the fermentation/distillation process. Then there's the question of how "sustainable" and "renewable" corn really is. "To really answer that," prairie advocate Cindy Hildebrand of Ames, Iowa, told me, "one has to consider how much soil is washing into the creeks, how much nitrogen is swirling down to the Gulf [of Mexico], how much formerly unbroken prairie is being broken as the subsidized Corn Belt grows westward, how much atrazine and Lorsban and other pesticides pelt down upon the land each year." I took her advice, learning that soil is being lost from corn plantations about 12 times faster than it is being rebuilt, and that meeting the fuel requirements of just one year's worth of U.S. population growth with straight ethanol (assuming each baby lived 70 years), would cost: 52,000 tons of insecticides, 735,000 tons of herbicides, 93 million tons of fertilizer, and the loss of 2 inches of soil from the 12.3 billion acres on which the corn was grown. After all the soil, nitrogen, and pesticides reach the Gulf, they help create a poisoned, deoxygenated, algae-clogged, bacteria-infested "dead zone" that's lethal to fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and virtually all gill breathers. In some years, depending on water conditions and spring and summer heat, the dead zone can be bigger than the state of Massachusetts. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that more than half of the 1.6 million metric tons of nitrogen that enters the Gulf comes from fertilizer. According to a research team funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a 30 percent reduction in nutrient loadings over five years could shrink the dead zone by 20 percent to 60 percent. Yet in the face of this finding, the states and the feds are encouraging the increased production of unneeded corn. One-tenth of all corn grown in the United States is used to produce ethanol. Photography by Richard Hamilton Smith Wetlands—the most productive fish and wildlife habitat there is—consume nitrogen and filter out pesticides and sediments, but wetlands are being drained in order to produce surplus corn. The Corn Belt has lost about 70 percent of its wetlands. In some areas, such as Nebraska, corn has to be irrigated by pumps that suck water from the ground faster than it percolates back in. Moreover, the pumps are powered by natural gas, the frenzied production of which is creating horrendous problems for fish, wildlife, and livestock (see "The Mad Gas Rush," March 2004). According to President Bush's own Department of Energy, the national mandate sought by the administration to ramp up ethanol production to 5 billion gallons a year by 2012 could increase the cost of gasoline by 10 cents per gallon. But ethanol's cost to Americans goes beyond the loss of fish and wildlife, beyond compromised air, water, and soil. The approach has been: Don't invest to make ethanol more affordable; pour corporate welfare into ethanol producers to make unoxygenated, cleaner-burning gasoline less affordable. For instance, gasohol gets a per-gallon tax break of 5.4 cents from the 18.4-cent federal gasoline excise tax. And companies that blend ethanol get federal tax reductions. Some Corn Belt states make direct payments. For example, Minnesota awards ethanol manufacturers a 20-cent-per-gallon "producer incentive," by which strategy it boosted the state's annual ethanol output from 1 million gallons in 1987 to 380 million gallons today. In 2001 South Dakota handed out $3.1 million to ethanol plants in just three towns. Nebraska is equally generous. For each gallon of ethanol produced, taxpayers pay about 60 cents in federal subsidies and 20 cents in state subsidies. And on top of this the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 provided corn growers with $26 billion in direct subsidies over six years. The main recipients of all this state and federal loot aren't family farmers but bloated agribusiness corporations. For example, the nation's biggest ethanol producer, Archer Daniels Midland, has received at least $10 billion in subsidies since 1980. ("We have to have tax incentives . . . to make that [ethanol] program work," it explains.) According to one estimate—by financial analyst James Bovard of the Cato Institute—every dollar in profits earned by ADM costs taxpayers $30. ADM oils the pork conveyor belt by contributing lavishly to whatever party is in power or looks as if it might be coming into power. Since 1988, ADM, its subsidiaries, and the family of ADM's former chairman, Dwayne Andreas, have given about $2 million in soft-money contributions to Republicans and about $1.1 million to Democrats. The strategy gets results. In 1994, a few days after Andreas cut a $100,000 check at a presidential fund-raiser, President Bill Clinton tried to push through a rule requiring that about 10 percent of all gasoline contain ethanol, explaining that the mandate would create "thousands of new jobs" and be "good for our environment, our public health, and our nation's farmers." Two years later ADM pled guilty to price-fixing for nonethanol products and paid a fine of almost $100 million. Nonetheless, both political parties continued to accept ADM donations. The Bush administration perpetuates this kind of corporate welfare, but it is no worse in this regard than any administration since Richard Nixon's, when the Soviet grain deal and bad weather in the Corn Belt caused a spike in domestic food prices. The ensuing political heat induced Nixon to initiate direct payments to farmers and urge them, in the words of his Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, to plant "fencerow to fencerow." Thus did four decades of farm policy designed to discourage overproduction evaporate like gasohol on hot asphalt. The Arab-oil embargo and the resulting energy panic spawned the Energy Tax Act of 1978, which subsidized the cost of adding ethanol to gasoline. But when corn prices soared in the mid-1980s, ethanol fell into disfavor among gasoline producers. In 1986 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made perhaps its most honest and perceptive assessment of the ethanol industry: that it could not survive without more "massive government subsidies." It got them. If you're talking to an ethanol fan and the conversation starts to drag, bring up the name of David Pimentel, the Cornell University agricultural scientist and former Audubon board member who has exhaustively studied the economics, efficiency, and alleged environmental benefits of ethanol, and who chaired a U.S. Department of Energy panel that investigated these same issues. After you've heard all the expletives you'll get a list of researchers who have divined that ethanol is really an elixir for clean air and energy self-sufficiency (see Letters to the Editor, next issue). In his latest project, Pimentel calculated the real energy costs of raising corn, including the enormous amounts of fossil fuel required to power irrigation pumps, run planting and harvesting machinery, cook the corn in the fermentation/distillation process, and make the fossil fuel-based nitrogen fertilizer that agribusiness is hooked on. Without even factoring in the fuel that's required to ship ethanol to blending sites, Pimentel found that it takes about 29 percent more energy to produce ethanol than you get from burning it. Then, figuring in state and federal subsidies, Pimentel found that ethanol costs $2.24 a gallon to produce, compared with 63 cents for gasoline. Other costs of allocating corn to ethanol production, reports Pimentel, include higher food prices, because about 70 percent of the corn grown in the United States is fed to cattle. "Increasing the cost of food and diverting human food resources to the costly, inefficient production of ethanol fuel raise major ethical questions," Pimentel writes. "These occur at a time when more than half of the world's population is malnourished. The ethical priority for corn and other food crops should be for food and feed. Abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuel amounts to unsustainable, subsidized food burning." I asked Pimentel how he would respond to the researchers—such as the ones employed by the ethanol-promoting USDA—who say he's got it all wrong and that ethanol is really economical and efficient, and a ticket out of foreign-oil dependency. He told me he had "gotten on" the USDA for ignoring or not fully taking into account energy values for such things as the operation and repair of farm machinery, and for the fossil fuel-based fertilizers required for corn production. And he has chided the agency for taking planting and yield data only from the states with the best soils and productivity. Thus does the ethanol lobby cook the books. "If I did everything they did, I think I could get my figures to be positive, too," says Pimentel. But maybe the most convincing statement about the economics of ethanol comes not from any scientist but from the stock market, which clearly perceives that what is really being protected by this allegedly efficient, cost-effective, homegrown, salubrious oxygenate is the high price of gasoline. On April 1 Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham declared that the EPA was considering granting the oxygenate-requirement waivers long sought by California, New York, and Connecticut. The EPA quickly announced that no decision was imminent, but within minutes of Abraham's comment, gasoline futures fell almost six cents a gallon.
I won't argue in favor ethanol - but I found this article poorly written. MTBE should have been left out of this article (and our gas!). One thing I can challenge:
Of all crops grown in the United States, corn demands the most massive fixes of herbicides, insecticides, and chemical fertilizers, while creating the most soil erosion.
Maybe by "mass" it's true (mostly N fertilizer) - but in nasty chems per plant or sq ft - cotton is in the lead. Potatoes, too! I dunno - like most "bio-fuels" the trick is indeed the feedstock!
just the highlights then: "The bottom line is that both the motor vehicle industry and the refining industry have evolved since the early 1990s, when these requirements went into effect, Oxygenates aren't necessary anymore. Modern cars have oxygen sensors that adjust the air-to-fuel ratio, which is one of the things that oxygenates were supposed to do. And we have better fuels." So does this mean an end to the federal oxygenate requirement? No way. The ethanol industry is far too powerful to allow such a thing. Ethanol separates from gasoline when it encounters moisture. ethanol costs three and a half times as much as gasoline to produce and yields 20 percent less energy. from separate source: Ethanol contains less energy than petrol, so fuel consumption increases when ethanol is blended into petrol. At the 10 per cent blending level, fuel consumption increases by about 3.5 per cent, so motorists have to buy 3.5 per cent more fuel to travel the same distance. Moreover, improvement of air quality is still uncertain. While an ethanol and gasoline mixture has lower sulfuric oxide (SOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, it has higher nitrogen oxide (NOx) and VOC emissions, which causes ozone depletion. A study released from University of California-Berkeley finds that for every unit of energy yielded by ethanol, it takes 1.3 units to produce it from corn, and is nearly 3 times more expensive than gasoline per unit energy delivered http://www.theopenroad.com.au/motoring_carcare_ethanolinpetrol.asp http://www.foe.org/powerpolitics/8.26.pdf http://www.autoblog.com/entry/1234000160050891/ the more you look into the use of ethanol the more it stinks. Its purpose was to decrease the dependency on petroleum [foreign], in the case of gasoline it offsets the amount used by 10% because gas is now blended by 10%. But, it takes how much petroleum (fuel) to create the ethanol in the first place only to be blended with gasoline which results in less fuel economy? Give people jobs to produce something which in the end results in more energy used and more natural resources used and polluted. What I find interesting is the statement of: Oxygenates aren't necessary anymore, modern cars have oxygen sensors that adjust the air-to-fuel ratio, which is one of the things that oxygenates were supposed to do.
I don't know if ethanol is the answer or not but people complain about everyting...
Its production requires vast plantings of corn, which wipe out fish and wildlife by destroying habitat and polluting air, soil, and water. Of all crops grown in the United States, corn demands the most massive fixes of herbicides, insecticides, and chemical fertilizers, while creating the most soil erosion.
Its not like they have to clear the land up here and plant corn. They land has been cleared hundreds of years ago and they have a sh!t load of corn already planted. This is the farm belt up here you know. It will just help some of the farmers get a better price for their corn. They make it sound like they are going to clear the land to plant corn. Maybe the person that wrote this should should take a trip from the big city to see all the corn fields that are already planted whether or not they make ethanol.
But more land will be cleared so that corn farmers can take better advantage of the higher prices. I agree with the author. Oxygenates are not needed in gasoline, especially with modern closed-circuit, FI engines.
I support anything that helps save family farms, the problem I see is that when ethanol for fuel gets to the point where corn prices increase and profits as well, we will see large corporate farms stepping up to take advantage.
I am completely neutral about the farming system, and I'm sure that the "dead" zone is from more than *just* corn production. But I cannot see how the White House can justify making a fuel that uses more fuel to produce than is created. 1 gallon of ethanol requires 1.26 gallons of diesel oil (aproximation, as I didn't keep the article where this came from, so don't quote me) to be used. Fuel oil comes from crude oil, and comes from Iraq ... um.... now I understand why the ethanol lobby is around V
Let's get the figures for how much oil it takes, when all is said and done, and the crude is shipped, the refineries heat duties are met, the finished product is pumped, and shipped, to get to the vehicles... The well to wheels energy penalty of fuel is likely not much different than anything else! Remember, it takes MORE crude oil to run the processes to make petroleum products too! It isnt just a free ride! Pablo is right - the trick is in the feedstock! JMH
I did some research into this in another thread (http://theoildrop.server101.com/cgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=8;t=005680;p=2): A more realistic, real numbers based discussion: Well-to-Wheel Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Advanced Fuel/Vehicle Systems – North American Analysis by Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory, June 2001. Energy Efficiency of Gasoline For conventional gasoline, the study found that it takes about 241,000 Btu to produce and deliver 1 million Btu to a gas tank in the form of gasoline (50% probability values are reported here). The efficiency calculation is 1,000,000/(1,000,000 + 241,000) or about 81%. To deliver 1 million Btu in the form of gasoline takes 241,000 Btu for recovering crude oil from the well, transporting the crude to a refinery, refining crude oil to gasoline and finally transporting the gasoline to a service station. The energy expended in exploration for crude oil is not included in this calculation. In other words, each Btu of gasoline energy requires about 1.2 Btu of energy input, which includes the energy contained in crude oil plus the energy consumed in converting crude to gasoline. Energy Efficiency of Ethanol Produced from Corn For ethanol produced at a dry-mill plant, with co-product credits calculated on a "displacement" basis, corn-based ethanol efficiency is 63%. An adjustment for "co-product credits" is necessary because corn-based ethanol plants produce other products in addition to ethanol. Distillers´ grains and solubles (DGS) is a CO-product of dry-mill corn ethanol production. DGS is used in animal feed. To properly account for the energy used to produce fuel, the total energy used at a dry mill ethanol plant must be allocated between the fuel produced and the co-products. Two methods of allocating the energy inputs are the "displacement" method and the "market value" method. The displacement method is the more conservative approach (lower credit given). The displacement method starts by estimating the amount of CO-products produced. Second, the products to be displaced in the marketplace by the CO-products are identified. Third, the displacement ratios between CO-products and the displaced products are determined. Finally, an estimate is made of the energy that would be needed to product displaced products. This estimated amount of energy represents the "energy credit" of the CO-products The energy efficiency of corn ethanol as described for this pathway is 63% (based on 50% probability values). It takes about 587,000 Btu in total energy to produce and deliver 1 million Btu of ethanol fuel to a vehicle fuel tank. According to this study, it takes more energy to produce and deliver ethanol to a fuel tank than it does to produce and deliver gasoline. Every Btu of energy in ethanol requires about 1.6 Btu of energy input, which includes the energy consumed in the production and transportation of fertilizer and other agri-chemicals, farming corn, transportation of corn to the ethanol production facility, production of ethanol and transportation of the fuel to a fueling station. However, there is an important difference between gasoline and ethanol motor fuels. The Btus in corn or other biomass feedstock are renewable, unlike the Btus in crude oil. The calculation of efficiency based on total energy input is therefore less meaningful for renewable source-based fuels. A better indicator of the energy balance for renewable biofuels is the ratio between the energy content of the fuel and the fossil energy used for production. If the public is concerned about reducing the use of fossil fuel (and reducing the associated emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere), then the focus should be on how much fossil energy is consumed. When you burn gasoline in your car you are consuming the fossil energy required to produce and distribute the gasoline plus the fossil energy contained in the crude oil from which the gasoline was made. Production and distribution of corn-based ethanol requires more fossil energy than production and distribution of gasoline. However, when you burn a gallon of ethanol in your car, your consumption of fossil energy is only the fossil energy used in production and distribution. The feedstock is renewable biomass, not crude oil. By considering only the fossil energy inputs, the energy efficiency of corn-based ethanol is 170%. Every Btu of energy in ethanol fuel consumes about 0.6 Btu of fossil energy. In comparison, every Btu of energy in gasoline consumes about 1.2 Btu of fossil energy. With renewable biofuels, you get more fuel energy in your tank than the amount of fossil energy used to get it there. This calculation provides some indication of the enhancement effect of renewable fuel production in helping to stretch out the use of limited nonrenewable resources.
What does that have to do with anything? it is the government. Alcohol that is what we are discussing is not efficient as a feul.unless that's all there is.
Refer to Vuarra's post... The same point it within the text of the article originally posted. People can put spins onto whatever they want to. I dont like gasohol, and am glad that we dont have it in NJ (at least I dont think so - weve used mtbe I believe), but there is often some truth in both sides of any argument. JMH
By considering only the fossil energy inputs, the energy efficiency of corn-based ethanol is 170%. Every Btu of energy in ethanol fuel consumes about 0.6 Btu of fossil energy. In comparison, every Btu of energy in gasoline consumes about 1.2 Btu of fossil energy.
Okay ..and you've really got to understand my ..hmmm..frustration, for lack of a better term, with the need for the authors of these articles to over complicate their expressions ......... ...but couldn't this be simply stated as crude base gasoline has a 20% penalty for production/distribution (bringing it to the consumption point) ..while alcohol based gasoline has a 60% production/distribution penalty ..but reduces the consumption of petroleum by 50% (or there abouts) per consumption btu ?? Why is that simple statement so hard to extract from any of the dialog that I've read [Confused]
Originally posted by JHZR2: ...However, there is an important difference between gasoline and ethanol motor fuels. The Btus in corn or other biomass feedstock are renewable, unlike the Btus in crude oil...
I take exception to this. Crude oil is a renewable resource if you subscribe to the theory that it has inorganic, rather than organic, origins--and I do. Otherwise, the info was good, JHZR2. It was good to see the comparison of production efficiencies between the two fuels.
I always knew that oxygenated gas caused more gasoline to be used per mile from personal experience. The more oxygen you introduce into a computer controlled fuel injected modern engine the more fuel it's going to burn to try to maintain the proper airfuel ratio for the best burn and clean air. It's nothing more than a payoff for the farm state constituents and politicians unfortunately. The engine emission controls of the last 15+ years make the use oxygenated fuels pointless. In fact how can burning more fuel per mile be helpful to the enviroment? With my 2002 F-150 with the 4.6L V-8 and 5 speed tranny I average 16 mpg on the highway with NJ's oxygenated gas. With PA's non oxygenated gas I get 21+ mpg for driving the exact same routes. In this era of $3.50/gal gasoline you'd hope the Fed's and state officials would do the best for the poor overburdened taxpayer and stop the madness of all these "boutique" gasoline blends for different areas. Especially since they don't help the enviroment, only the politicians and powerful interest groups [Mad] . The worse part is you don't gain any extra power from the extra fuel burned [Frown] . The only thing you gain is less money to spend on other things like home heating fuel, food and your ever escalating taxes! Whimsey
Crude oil is a renewable resource if you subscribe to the theory that it has inorganic, rather than organic, origins--and I do.
How bow the Reader's Digest® version of this theory that you subscribe to?? [Smile]
If petroleum is renewable, then how come CO2 levels are rising ? We are liberating Carbon at a far greater rate than it is being absorbed...maybe we should be returning it to the magma, returning it to the cycle, which will then make ethanol look great in JHZR2's equation. Biofuels should be a large part of our energy future, but food crops and agricultural practices purely to produce fuel is a waste. Arid areas, and things like the mallee eucalyptus project should be encouraged. (Mallee shrub grows, dropping water tables, helping dryland salinity. The product is distilled, yielding eucalyptus oil, a decent fuel, and good co-solvent for ethanol. The charcoal residue is good for metallurgical purposes, or as a part coal substitute).
Green plants only capture about 2% of the solar energy falling on the field. Agricultural land should be conserved for human food production, since we have no other choice. Our cars can run on gasoline, electricity, or solar power, but we will always need to eat. Farming causes soil erosion. Eventually the land will be used up, and people will starve. Growing automotive fuel on farmland will shorten the lifespan of our civilization.
My brother hates the gas up here [Chicago area] when he comes up from Dallas. More expensive, less power, and worse MPG. I like pure gas as a fuel.
I drive to Chicago a lot. I always fill up in Indiana on the way into Chicago, and on the way out. It's usually the cheapest around.
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