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Old 04-29-2009, 01:50 PM
 
Location: South Coast of Nebraska
252 posts, read 428,681 times
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Default What is the status of Ethanol?

Just curious. Who fills up with E85? Is the ethanol industry viable?
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Old 05-04-2009, 05:19 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roots'nbulbs View Post
Just curious. Who fills up with E85? Is the ethanol industry viable?
To the second question - no. Not without massive government subsidies. Show me an ethanol plant that doesn't depend on grainstock grown with fossil fuel produced fertilizer and fossil fuel powered equipment and doesn't have an 8" gas main or a field of LP tanks next to it, and I'll believe there's a net energy savings.

To the first question - only folks who can afford to buy a new flexfuel vehicle.
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Old 05-04-2009, 06:14 PM
 
Location: The beautiful Rogue Valley
3,991 posts, read 7,473,593 times
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As windtimber said, you really need a purpose-built E85 vehicle to use E85 gasoline (which is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). It's POSSIBLE to switch a regular vehicle to E85, but it would cost about what a new vehicle would cost in parts.

There are about 1,200 stations in the US which sell E85, most in the "corn belt" (the listed number of stations is around 2,000, but a lot of those are private or city/state motor pools).

The miles per gallon gained from a gallon of E85 are much lower than standard gasoline (by about a third), and most stations that have E85 charge as much as they do for regular gasoline, so it hasn't been a popular switch.
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Old 05-05-2009, 02:58 AM
 
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Ethanol, as it currently stands using corn, is not the answer. The corn growers have a lot of powerful political clout and swing the hammer a lot. As it stands now, 1/3 of the corn grown in the USA is for ethanol production. This is even worse then it sounds because in the last few years, even more farm land that used to grow wheat or other farm products have now been converted to grow corn.

The problem is, by having 10% ethanol in our cars, we probably are saving a few cents a gallon on gasoline, but because corn is used in so many other products, our grocery bill has jumped by 5 bucks. In other words, we are spending 5 bucks to save 50 cents...now how smart is that? Wheat has tripled in price. Corn syrup has doubled in price. Etc

I do not quote Fidel Castro very much but he said it best....the American People are stupid to be taking arable land that should be grown for food and driving around on it. As it stands now, the ethanol lobby is looking to increase the percentage in gasoline from 10% to 12-15%. Legislation was just presented this week on the deal.

As a dairy farmer I particularly dislike the ethanol system as it stands because our grain has tripled in price. How can we compete when the price of milk fell by half and the price of grain has tripled? The fact is we can't.

But the biggest thing is, corn only produces something like 200 gallons of ethanol to the acre. Sugar Cane produces 600 gallons to the acre, but cattails produce a whopping 1000 gallons to the acre. My stance is not to abandon ethanol as a source, but to stop using the most lousy crop to get ethanol. We need to look at crops that do not take up valuable arable land. Until that happens it is silly to pay less at the pump and more at the grocery store.
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:49 AM
 
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Bascially it has been shown that it is working out well because of the expnse to produce without big incentives;it gets less gallons from a barel of oil than other additives;it gets between 20% and 27%(consumer reports figures) i milaeage poer tanik and was mandated or else would ahve been dropped long ago and congress as expressed no desire to expand the mandate for these reasons. It afterall had to be mandate the amount used to belnd the fuel. It also has expensive tranportation problems because it can't be pipelined because of corrosion problems ;so its truck which limits its distrubution because of expense.It bascially was a bill that mnandated usuage to the benefit of a specall interest that wanted to make money with a otherwise not profitable product.
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Old 05-05-2009, 10:44 AM
 
Location: South Coast of Nebraska
252 posts, read 428,681 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenTap View Post
Ethanol, as it currently stands using corn, is not the answer. .
But the biggest thing is, corn only produces something like 200 gallons of ethanol to the acre. Sugar Cane produces 600 gallons to the acre, but cattails produce a whopping 1000 gallons to the acre. My stance is not to abandon ethanol as a source, but to stop using the most lousy crop to get ethanol. We need to look at crops that do not take up valuable arable land. Until that happens it is silly to pay less at the pump and more at the grocery store.
So, what is your information about this? Can the current ethanol plants be easily converted to production from grass sources?

I heard that "cutting grass" across the plains is not a viable idea because of the mass that would be required. Is that true? Would there be enough ground for sugar beets..and would that be profitable enough to attract pasture land? And, if it was, would there be a 'Ted Turner type' advance on wilderness preservation?
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:09 AM
 
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No, the current ethanol plants can not be easily converted to grass sources.

Also, the technology for converting many other sources to ethanol are still years away .
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:43 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
732 posts, read 2,648,927 times
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Originally Posted by marmac View Post
No, the current ethanol plants can not be easily converted to grass sources.

Also, the technology for converting many other sources to ethanol are still years away .
Correct. The appropriate enzymes to convert corn stover [stalks and leaves], grasses, wood waste, and other organic products are under research, but do not currently exist in industrial production quantities or qualities. Corn is easily distilled into alcohol. Organic waste is not. Any distillation process - corn or stover or grass - requires energy. The trick is to put less into the process than comes out of the process. That net energy gain simply doesn't exist - I know that's a point of argument in some quarters and there are conflicting "studies" depending upon what industry is funding the research - with grain distillate. And that's the fundamental problem.

Last edited by windtimber; 05-09-2009 at 08:46 PM.. Reason: Added a bit.
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