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Old 11-08-2009, 09:25 AM
 
Location: Tennessee/Michigan
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State lawmakers say they might pull the plug on a University of Tennessee effort to produce ethanol from switchgrass, after school officials said it has changed business partners, scaled down production and now plans to start out using corncobs, not switchgrass.

TN legislators may scrap $70M biofuels project | tennessean.com | The Tennessean
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Minnysoda
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Maybe they realize that land is better used for food production than fuel... Than again if we do use land for fuel maybe we could starve a couple billion people to death and reduce the load on the system.....Or maybe they looked at all the out of production ethanol plants in the upper midwest....
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Old 11-08-2009, 05:26 PM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by my54ford View Post
Maybe they realize that land is better used for food production than fuel... Than again if we do use land for fuel maybe we could starve a couple billion people to death and reduce the load on the system.....Or maybe they looked at all the out of production ethanol plants in the upper midwest....
This is a bit unfair - assuming you're being serious and not just kidding.

The corn used for ethanol is then used for livestock feed. So the idea that it's "either/or" is not accurate.

On the other hand, it's unfortunate that they're basically pulling the plug on research into ethanol from Switchgrass. From everything I've read, it's a good source.
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Old 11-08-2009, 10:53 PM
 
375 posts, read 947,793 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by my54ford View Post
Maybe they realize that land is better used for food production than fuel... Than again if we do use land for fuel maybe we could starve a couple billion people to death and reduce the load on the system.....Or maybe they looked at all the out of production ethanol plants in the upper midwest....
Mostly what they realized is that after Mascoma (the original industry partner) couldn't raise venture and bailed and UT partnered with DuPont with a plan to start up the plant using their process the people of the Great State of Tennessee were participating in the dual insanity of subsidizing DuPont's research on corn cob based ethanol and funding a very expensive study of how switch grass rots under tarps. First year's switchgrass production was already under contract.

As a state we are WAY too broke right now to take funding a study on grass rotting cheerfully.
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Old 11-15-2009, 11:21 PM
 
11,961 posts, read 12,801,713 times
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Originally Posted by Omaha Rocks View Post
This is a bit unfair - assuming you're being serious and not just kidding.

The corn used for ethanol is then used for livestock feed. So the idea that it's "either/or" is not accurate.

On the other hand, it's unfortunate that they're basically pulling the plug on research into ethanol from Switchgrass. From everything I've read, it's a good source.
You've misunderstood myfords reference. When he says land is better used for food production and not fuel, he's referring to the health of the soil. Unprotected and over burdened with the task of being energy AND food, that soil erodes to nothingness. Does this ring a bell? Dust Bowl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Correcting it would require time, energy, and $$$$$ soil amendments. This is what farmers know about their own economy through trial and tribulation over centuries. Corn cob as an otherwise disposed of commodity... how many corn cobs will you have to generate to be able to have an ethanol plant that pays for itself? What happens when demand for ethanol cannot be met? Will we throw away the corn because we need more cob? (last time the gov't REQUIRED us to use it, but suppliers couldn't provide reliably)

Comparing apples to apples, I'm wondering to myself if cob or switchgrass versions of ethanol come anywhere close to being cost effective as the sugar cane version in south america running e 85 vehicles. I mean, that technology and technique already has it's bugs worked out, and we're risking more delays and expenses with experimentation at an economically crucial time. I don't like the smell of this. I don't think yarddawg does either.

Personally, I'm annoyed by the decades of analysis paralysis. I'd like to drag that tennessee boy by his ear lobe and find out if dupont has purchased his behind via campaign contribution. Who knows he might need his head pulled out of something. Let yarddawg answer what.
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Old 11-16-2009, 06:37 AM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
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Originally Posted by harborlady View Post
You've misunderstood myfords reference. When he says land is better used for food production and not fuel, he's referring to the health of the soil. Unprotected and over burdened with the task of being energy AND food, that soil erodes to nothingness. Does this ring a bell? Dust Bowl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Actually, no, I don't think I misunderstood it.

We're not talking about doubling up the demands on the soil, when referring to ethanol production. If my 74-year old dad - still farming in Iowa - raises 200 bushels per acre of corn, what he does with that corn after it's harvested does not effect the land. He is not "double cropping" his land: Planting corn for feed early in the season, than planting corn for ethanol later that same year.


What I'm referring to is what most anti-ethanol people simply fail to understand. After corn is processed to remove the alcohol, it is then used as feed for livestock. It is not - as the presume - simply a waste product.

Unfortunately, all the reports about how ethanol is not economically feasible completely fail to understand that fact!


By the way, your reference to The Dustbowl is rather unfair. American farm ground is in better condition today than it has ever been. In fact, I'll even stake the claim that North American farm ground is the best cared-for agricultural land in the entire world. If you want to know why I can make that claim, I'll explain it to you in another post.
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:04 AM
 
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I caught the ending of an ag radio show that was touting how far along they are in using corn cobs for ethanol production. One company is even designing an attatchment to catch the cobs from the combine when corn is harvested.

As someone who has shoveled a lot of cob corn in my life ( and used corn shellers to shell out corn cribs full of dry cob corn) I question how corn cobs can work.

There is very little weight in a corn cobs

A semi load of corn cobs would be very light and transporting costs would be huge.

I believe the old conversion method for a bushel of corn is 70 lbs for cob corn and 56 pounds for shelled corn.

Thus, an acre that produces 180 bushels per acre would produce 10,080 pounds of shelled corn ,but only 2,520 pounds of corn cobs.
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:38 AM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
I caught the ending of an ag radio show that was touting how far along they are in using corn cobs for ethanol production. One company is even designing an attatchment to catch the cobs from the combine when corn is harvested.

As someone who has shoveled a lot of cob corn in my life ( and used corn shellers to shell out corn cribs full of dry cob corn) I question how corn cobs can work.

There is very little weight in a corn cobs

A semi load of corn cobs would be very light and transporting costs would be huge.

I believe the old conversion method for a bushel of corn is 70 lbs for cob corn and 56 pounds for shelled corn.

Thus, an acre that produces 180 bushels per acre would produce 10,080 pounds of shelled corn ,but only 2,520 pounds of corn cobs.
Okay, here's a "remember when?" diversion for a few moments...

Remember shelling out the corn cribs? The round cribs weren't so bad, but those huge ones with the alley-way in between were a killer.

Even so, the best part was getting down toward the end of the crib, and the rats & mice would be bailing out like it was a sinking ship. Our old farm dog, and every cat on the place, was going nuts! And don't forget to tie the bottom of your pants legs shut!

I'm also of the opinion that picking corn in the ear, letting it dry in cribs, then shelling it the next spring or summer is probably THE most economical way to get it dried out.

Back to the topic at hand...


I too am a little surprised by the idea that there's much/any ethanol value in corn cobs. Great for roughage, and really good for bedding. But they just don't seem to have much of anything there.

On the other hand, if there's good value for energy there, I'm all for it!
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 51,211,590 times
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The trick is to convert the cellulose to sugar and then ferment the sugar. The beer makers’ use malted barley for the cellulose conversion and yeast for the fermentation. There are other processes that can reform cellulose or carbon into hydrocarbons without going through fermentation.
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Old 11-17-2009, 12:24 PM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
8,293 posts, read 23,095,453 times
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Originally Posted by GregW View Post
The trick is to convert the cellulose to sugar and then ferment the sugar. The beer makers’ use malted barley for the cellulose conversion and yeast for the fermentation. There are other processes that can reform cellulose or carbon into hydrocarbons without going through fermentation.
Right.

Of course, there are two questions that I think need to be answered. First, how lengthy and expensive is that process with various sources such as switchgrass, corn, cobs, etc. The second question is how much cellulose is there in corn cobs? I may be wrong, but I can't imagine that there's very much.
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