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Author Topic: Is Ethanol Really Worth It? Back to Topics
tdioiler

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Message Posted: Mar 13, 2013 9:35:59 PM

I'm sure this will make a few angry, but the truth must be told!

The article link brings up some very good points on the economic issues with ethanol mandates. If saving the environment is the target, there are better ways. But I was surprised to read
"Ethanol is more expensive to make than gasoline and must be sold at a loss or subsidized unless consumers are willing to make up the difference..." Wow !
http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2012/ethanol-mandate-not-the-best-option/
REPLIES (newest first) Post a Reply
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Kashanazhar
Rookie Author Sacramento

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Message Posted: Apr 7, 2013 11:51:02 AM

no
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tdioiler
Champion Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Apr 7, 2013 10:58:09 AM

In a general statement, those loans are risk to the taxpayers of the state if they go default. So how many closed plants are bankrupt? That will be the test.

So no, I don't need a calculator to know who gets screwed!
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 7, 2013 10:47:47 AM

"but in Michigan and Wisconsin they still provide some assistance, including loans that built up those debt loads that are not sustainable. "

Are you saying ethanol producers are not paying interest on loans or paying loans back? Furthermore, do think the state deficit is better off with or without the tax revenue from ethanol production?

You don't need a calculator to answer this one.
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tdioiler
Champion Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Apr 7, 2013 10:27:00 AM

Those same "articles" you mention are also provided by groups you support: American Coalition of Ethanol. They noted "A 2006 study in Wisconsin showed 16 percent fewer high-ozone days since the 1994 introduction of 10-90 fuel". Problem with the "study" is the correlation of two factors without any other consideration of events. For instance, what was the percentage of vehicles pre-82 and post-82? See that year saw a change in the emissions targets to reduce smog and ozone days. So to say ethanol was the factor creates a big question in my mind to the validity of that 'study'.

Also, there are tax advantages to the ethanol producer as well. Maybe not in Illinois (I haven't checked that state yet) but in Michigan and Wisconsin they still provide some assistance, including loans that built up those debt loads that are not sustainable.
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BigHorne1
Champion Author Missouri

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Message Posted: Apr 6, 2013 11:59:39 AM

no way
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 6, 2013 8:27:59 AM

" there have been a number of studies that really call ethanol production higher cost that oil. "

You aren't reading studies. You are reading articles.

"If ethanol was so profitable, why are so many plants closing ? "

Are plants closings any different from any other business? I seriously doubt that ethanol plant closings can match that of the refinery closings of the past several decades.

I know of ethanol plants that have gone under. They just plain borrowed too much money and couldn't meet the debt obligations. I spend a lot of time in rural Iowa. Sometimes, I sit with the shareholders of an ethanol plant for coffee. The folks I know who own ethanol plants are making money.
As far as ethanol subsidies go. The one people point to, most often, is the ethanol excise tax credit. That tax credit was actually applied to gasoline sales by the distributor. The net effect was, the distributor paid less overall tax and you paid a lower retail price for gasoline. So, for two decades if a distributor sold ethanol, less tax was paid on all the fuel he sold. Guess what happened when distributors started paying more tax on their fuel. The price of gasoline jumped, significantly.



[Edited by: SoylentGrain at 4/6/2013 8:32:49 AM EST]
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tdioiler
Champion Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Apr 5, 2013 9:21:16 PM

Soylent, there have been a number of studies that really call ethanol production higher cost that oil. I would have to think most of that cost was the lower production levels that ethanol enjoys than oil, but still higher cost.

Plus, were as the oil companies get subsidies/tax breaks, most of those are much less than those that ethanol was enjoying for last few years.

If ethanol was so profitable, why are so many plants closing ?
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 5, 2013 8:56:13 AM

"But, a better label you could assign to me is taxpayer"

LOL!

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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 5, 2013 8:45:49 AM

"posting in chat rooms, while you should be at work."

So now you know my work schedule SG? Please post for all to see...

Oh that's right, that's information you have chosen to share in a false light. Seems to be a pattern for you...
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rumbleseat
Champion Author Winnipeg

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Message Posted: Apr 5, 2013 4:44:33 AM

"Just another farmer trying to rape the American public for as much as possible,"

Yeah, Shocky, darn farmers should be ashamed of themselves. They should all quit and get real jobs, eh? I mean, who needs corn and wheat, and pigs and cows, anyway? Just go to Safeway or Kroger or a Walmart Supercentre to buy food, they always have lots of food, we don't need farms, right?
LOL!!
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 12:19:49 PM

Your labels are wrong. I am a land owner. I have ground that grows corn and some that has oil and gas underneath. More ethanol, more oil. Both are good. But, a better label you could assign to me is taxpayer. Those are the people who write checks to state and federal governments to fund things, like universities. Universities, like the one you are sitting in now, posting in chat rooms, while you should be at work.
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 11:07:21 AM

"I own cropland"

Well at least we know what your motives are behind backing ethanol.

Just another farmer trying to rape the American public for as much as possible, whether it's through means of government welfare or government mandates that insure he will get as much for his crop as possible...

[Edited by: Shockjock1961 at 4/4/2013 11:10:14 AM EST]
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 11:04:24 AM

"You are full of crap, shockjock."

The USDA says otherwise SG...

"USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion, and develop wildlife habitat."
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 10:07:29 AM

You are full of crap, shockjock. It has nothing to do with marginal ground. The program is a derivative of the 1950s program to increase commodity prices for the farmer. It's has morphed into the politically correct theme of conservation. And the term envrironmentally sensitive is such a broad banner, that most of US farmland would qualify as "environmentally sensitive."

The original 1952 or 1954 farm bill spells it out. Second sentence in the first paragraph states the program is to increase commodity price. The program was stated at the same time the USDA was paying farmers to bulldoze trees and other "environmentally sensitive" land to make more tillable cropland.

I own cropland and participate in the program. CRP has nothing to do with the productivity of the land.
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BigHorne1
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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 9:28:01 AM

Just plain no, you get worse mpg using E-85
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 9:07:12 AM

"The USDA pays farmers NOT TO GROW crops"

Wrong...

The USDA pays farmers not to plant crops on marginal and environmentally sensitive ground...
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 7:56:51 AM

" Throwing money into a program that probably only benefit insiders and their friends. Greed and corruption and all that. Bleh."

Exactly, what are you talking about?

"Then I read about the massive amount of resources and effort to make ethanol. Sounds wasteful."

You've been misled. One acre of corn-belt land produces 600 gallons of ethanol AND almost two tons of animal feed. It takes just five gallons of fuel to plant, harvest, and transport that corn to the ethanol plant. The ethanol plant uses the equivalent of 25,000 btu per gallon to process that corn into a gallon of ethanol. Still sound wasteful?

The US is, also, a surplus producer of grain. The USDA pays farmers NOT TO GROW crops.
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shanebroughton
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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 6:40:52 AM

Feels like just one of the many, many things wrong in our country. Throwing money into a program that probably only benefit insiders and their friends. Greed and corruption and all that. Bleh.

Me strictly, I see a marked decrease in fuel economy with Ethanol. So that's why I want to avoid it.

Then I read about the massive amount of resources and effort to make ethanol. Sounds wasteful. Then I see the whole industry is being supported by the government and E85 isn't much cheaper than "regular".
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chuckl95453
Champion Author California

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Message Posted: Apr 4, 2013 12:34:12 AM

Get rid of it, I'll have pure gas.
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tdioiler
Champion Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Apr 3, 2013 10:40:01 PM

Another point found in the RFS study for congress, as EPA's own stats:
"Increased emissions of certain air contaminants, but decreased emissions of
others. Contaminants expected to increase include hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides (NOx), acetaldehyde, and ethanol; those expected to decrease include carbon monoxide (CO) and benzene. The effects are expected to vary widely across regions, but in the net, increases in population-weighted annual average ambient PM and ozone concentrations are anticipated to lead to up to 245 cases of adult premature mortality. "

Will you accept to be one of the 245?
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2tankless2day
Rookie Author Barrie

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Message Posted: Apr 2, 2013 2:45:59 PM

As food consumers become much, more aware of their genetically modified diet, (courtesy of Monsanto)... which also uses toxic methods, to solvent-extract, with commercial hexane.
And we start to protest--to reject further ingesting of poisons...
those gmo products have to go somewhere; besides landfills.
So, the next big move... fuel our vehicles and homes---from the toxins
we no longer can eat.

[Edited by: 2tankless2day at 4/2/2013 2:48:27 PM EST]
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 2, 2013 11:07:18 AM

Shockjock, it doesn't work that way. Two gallons of gasoline doesn't burn hotter than one gallon. Same with ethanol. Temperature and energy potential are two different measures.
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 1, 2013 2:19:48 PM

"Ethanol is burned at a higher temperature."

Sure, by burning more of it. That's why a cars computer increases the pulse width sent to the fuel injector when using ethanol. More fuel injected per cycle = lower mileage...
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 1, 2013 1:13:42 PM

"When comparing and burning an equal volume of ethanol and gasoline and using sufficient oxygen for complete combustion of either, ethanol cannot burn hotter then gasoline due to it's lower heat content... "

That is because an engine is not even close to 100% efficient. What energy is contained in a unit volume of ethanol, a higher percentage can be extracted than can be with gasoline. Only the quantity of fuel up to the point of detonation can be burned. Since ethanol has a higher octane rating than regular gasoline, it can be burned for a longer period and at higher peak pressure. Thus, higher temperature.

I've talked with an engineer at GM, in the alternate fuels group. Ethanol is burned at a higher temperature. His words, regarding the 5.3 liter engine: "We push the limits".
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 1, 2013 12:00:42 PM

"I was responding to your comment that ethanol does not burn hotter than gasoline and provided you the scientific reason why it can and does."

Scientific? Hardly....

When comparing and burning an equal volume of ethanol and gasoline and using sufficient oxygen for complete combustion of either, ethanol cannot burn hotter then gasoline due to it's lower heat content...
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 1, 2013 10:45:37 AM

Einstein, I didn't make any mileage claims. I was responding to your comment that ethanol does not burn hotter than gasoline and provided you the scientific reason why it can and does.
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 1, 2013 10:24:03 AM

"Timing already does change"

If timing was all that you needed to do to increase your gas mileage, then cars would get better mileage with premium gas when used in place of regular, which they don't...

Higher octane doesn't equate to better gas mileage, BUT lower heat content does equate to lower mileage when used in the same engine...
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krzysiek_ck
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Message Posted: Apr 1, 2013 8:58:02 AM

Shockjock1961 wrote: "Adding more air doesn't make a fuel burn hotter, unless you are depriving it of sufficient oxygen to begin with and you have incomplete combustion."

Wrong, what a surprise. Lean mixture runs hotter and can cause engine to overheat.
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giwan
Champion Author Michigan

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Message Posted: Mar 31, 2013 9:03:58 PM

Ethanol is a poor choice.
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 31, 2013 8:58:47 PM

"All the talk of ethanol running hotter only helps when you boil water, not using it in a standard (gas fueled) ICE. Retuning and changes in spark delay will be required to get better MPG than gas.:

US engines have been computer controlled for several decades now. Timing already does change, based on the the properties of the fuel.
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bub03
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Message Posted: Mar 31, 2013 2:43:18 PM

no
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tdioiler
Champion Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Mar 31, 2013 1:32:21 PM

All the talk of ethanol running hotter only helps when you boil water, not using it in a standard (gas fueled) ICE. Retuning and changes in spark delay will be required to get better MPG than gas.

Better yet, how about actually using Ethanol in replacement of heating oil? There we do boil water. There is a German home boiler that can run ethanol, oil and gas with a change of burner assembly and regulators.
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borsht
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Message Posted: Mar 31, 2013 11:32:06 AM

SoylentGrain, You said “It's encompassed in a very simple physics equation, that you should be familiar with, shockjock. pv=nrt.”

I have a question for you so yo can help shockjock. What is the ‘nrt’ value for E10 and R9.
Usually this equatiojn is used for small molecule gases. That is why it is called the ‘ideal gas law’
Also, you stated “Again, wrong. Simply add more air per given quantity of fuel or raise the pressure at top dead center. Both increase combustion temperature. Since ethanol can be challenged with more air or ignited with higher peak combustion pressures, it burns hotter than gasoline. “

SoylentGrain, Temperature of combustion only increases until the air fuel ratio reaches the stoichiometric Ratio. Then the temperature drops as you increase air mass. You never want to operate an engine at this ratio. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air%E2%80%93fuel_ratio

You run actually want to add more air mass to utilize the heat of combustion to produce more volume expansion. Not until you reach this point does the ideal gas law apply!
I think you are blowing smoke, and this would be because you are below the stoichiometric Ratio. We could call this the SoylentGrain ratio.
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Mar 31, 2013 10:23:06 AM

"Again, wrong. Simply add more air per given quantity"

Adding more air doesn't make a fuel burn hotter, unless you are depriving it of sufficient oxygen to begin with and you have incomplete combustion. Modern cars are designed to not allow this to happen... FAIL...
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 30, 2013 12:56:36 PM

"The only way that ethanol can be burned at a "higher" temperature" is if you use more of it. "

Again, wrong. Simply add more air per given quantity of fuel or raise the pressure at top dead center. Both increase combustion temperature. Since ethanol can be challenged with more air or ignited with higher peak combustion pressures, it burns hotter than gasoline.

It's encompassed in a very simple physics equation, that you should be familiar with, shockjock. pv=nrt.
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 30, 2013 12:50:16 PM

"But, it can be and often is burned at a higher temperature."

The only way that ethanol can be burned at a "higher" temperature" is if you use more of it. Ethanol contains less heat energy then gasoline, so volume for volume it produces less energy then gasoline when burned in the same engine...
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 26, 2013 11:43:05 AM

"what happens when we don't have a surplus grain crop."

The grain producers are sharp people. They will find a way to provide substrate to make ethanol. Currently, corn grows on 40 million acres. Production could be doubled on that existing land, in a manner that improves the environment. In addition, the USDA pays land owners not to grow crops on about 35 million acres. There's a lot of room for growth.

"So we go through all this hassle to just 97%of the energy we would get with R90. So we are still burning considerable R90. "

Nice theory, but btu content does not translate directly to increases or decreases in fuel economy. Your example would be true if you were heating water. But, that heat energy has to be converted to kinetic energy. All the heat in the world doesn't do your cay any good, if you can't deliver it.

A simple example would be two water heaters. One is heated with a fix volume of ethanol. The second is heated with one gallon of gasoline. The gasoline heated water heater would have, say, 2X the heat. But, The difference is the ethanol water heater has a 3/4 inch pipe running to the shower, the gasoline water heater has a 1/8th inch pipe. Regadless of how much heat is in that gasoline water heater, you are taking a cold shower, because the heat, simply, can not be delivered fast enough to meet your needs.

It's the same way in your engine. Ethanol burns more efficiently than gasoline. Even though is has less energy per gallon, a single pound of fuel can and is burned at a higher temperature. And the physics behind this puzzling explanation is pv=nrt.

A pound of ethanol produces about the same amount of combustion product as gasoline, a little less, actually. But, it can be and often is burned at a higher temperature. Thus, a similar amount of work per gallon of each fuel.

"All the alcohol does is up the price for corn. RIGHT?"

The price of US commodities has a lot to do with the value of the US dollar. That's why you are paying double for gasoline since 2009, yet the supply has increased. Same with corn. Production increased and we still have surpluses, yet price increased.

Also, As more corn is grown for ethanol production, a disproportionate amount of animal feed is made. By weight, just as much animal feeds is made during ethanol production as is ethanol. Using corn to make ethanol produces more animal feed, not less.

Perception and reality differ, again.

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x78370
Rookie Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 26, 2013 2:27:07 AM

not worth it. especially when it hikes up the prices for corn-related products. asinine in my opinion.
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borsht
Champion Author Oakland

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Message Posted: Mar 25, 2013 10:02:36 PM

Hello SoylentGrain ;
I agree perception is not reality. Perception has away of becoming reality however.
When we have laws that mandate 10% of gasolinefuel must be ethanol; what happens when we don't have a surplus grain crop.
The food is going take the haymaker punch in the gut!
The price must go thru the roof. because the law requires the ethanol.
Also the reality of forcing us in California to buy alcohol produced in the Midwest and trucked out here or trained out here is crazy. The reality again is we are loaded with gasoline both in land and offshore.
So, the reality is really in the politics.
The math is for 10gallons of this gasohol
you get 9 gallon of r90 fuel that is about 116000 BTU/gal
and 1 gallon of 77000BTU/gallon for a total of BTU for 10 gallons.
for 10 gallons of 90% R90 +10% ethanol you get 1,130,000 Btu of fuel.
So we go through all this hassle to just 97%of the energy we would get with R90.
So we are still burning considerable R90. Whatever, deleterious effects one thinks it has, it still there.
All the alcohol does is up the price for corn. RIGHT?
Once upon a time they would dump the surplus to get the price up.
Some bright MBA said, why not make those drivers buy the grain.
This is as wrong as the conspiracies the oil companies come up with.
Is this just perception, or is it real?

Also, fortunately, California will be starting Beet crops again.
So, then it looks like the Midwestern farmer may revert to dumping all that surplus. New York is trying keep people from drinking it. HFC sugar.
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 25, 2013 2:41:29 PM

"Show me why this is not as dumb as it gets? "

Because, the US is a surplus producer of grain. We are not even close to capacity. Furthermore, oil, in the form of transportation fuel and energy for processing grain into food, represents a higher cost component than does the ingredient cost of the food you eat. Reality and perception are two different things.
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borsht
Champion Author Oakland

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Message Posted: Mar 25, 2013 12:15:46 PM

We have oil all over and around California. Why should we burn oil to run trains to haul all 10% of our automobile fuel by train over the mountains to California, so we can use grains that are necessary for 60%-70% of our food supply.
Show me why this is not as dumb as it gets?
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streetirsx
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Message Posted: Mar 24, 2013 3:42:14 PM

no
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EvergreenON
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Message Posted: Mar 24, 2013 9:02:09 AM

I don't want put milk, cereal and fruits in my thank.
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DanFMA
Champion Author Massachusetts

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Message Posted: Mar 24, 2013 7:24:40 AM

Only place for corn is on the grill.
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SilverStreaker
Champion Author Twin Cities

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Message Posted: Mar 22, 2013 7:48:23 PM

FocusFree says "Only to the industry that receives government subsidies."
You mean petroleum?

and "Bio-mass makes much more sense."
Except it hasn't been economically produced yet.
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giwan
Champion Author Michigan

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Message Posted: Mar 22, 2013 5:09:22 PM

depends on where the ethanol comes from, corn is not a good choice
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 22, 2013 6:35:11 AM

"Corn is very inefficient as a source for ethanol. "

Compared to what?
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FocusFree
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Message Posted: Mar 22, 2013 6:25:22 AM

Only to the industry that receives government subsidies. Bio-mass makes much more sense. Corn is very inefficient as a source for ethanol.
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SoylentGrain
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 21, 2013 8:19:04 AM

"And what does the Jobs Creation Act say specifically about ethanol subsidies? "

Read it! Educate yourself. Stop walking around in a fog.

The law is real clear. What you refer to as a subsidy was a decrease in the fuel tax paid on all fuel. Not just ethanol. All fuel. That's, in part, why the retail price of gasoline increased, significantly, immediately after the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit expired last year.
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EvergreenON
Champion Author Ontario

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Message Posted: Mar 21, 2013 7:58:35 AM

No it is as expensive than regular gas, get that away
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