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Author Topic: Is Ethanol just another passing fancy or economic failure without govt subsidies? Back to Topics
tdioiler

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Message Posted: Mar 29, 2013 8:25:05 PM

E85 sales plummet 26 percent in Minnesota

Repost from GB daily news:

Star tribune -- Minnesota sales of the high-ethanol gasoline blend called E85 have dropped dramatically.

New data from the state Commerce Department showed a 26 percent decline in E85 sales last year, to 14.7 million gallons, compared with 2011.

For the state’s gasoline retailers, it represented the weakest sales of the corn-based fuel since 2005, and only the second time the annual E85 volume has dropped in 17 years of usually steady growth.

Experts blamed the decline largely on the narrower spread between the price of E85, which contains 85 percent ethanol, and standard motor fuel, which is 10 percent ethanol.
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SoylentGrain
All-Star Author Illinois

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Message Posted: May 6, 2013 7:36:02 AM

"I drive a flex-fuel company car and was told when it was issued to me to never buy E-85 for it as, even though it was cheaper per gallon, the lower MPG made it less economical. "

If you never drove the car with E85, you don't know the real answer, then.
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tdioiler
All-Star Author Detroit

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Message Posted: May 5, 2013 10:47:54 PM

Now we have to start deducting any savings in fuel cost savings with the cost of govt loan subsidies for the plants that go bust. Do you think the extra cost should be taxed on E-85 users? Of just deducted from the EPA budget? I say both. Just like the plug-in EV drivers will be soon taxed for road use since they don't pay their fair share by driving EV's.
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borsht
Champion Author Oakland

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Message Posted: Apr 24, 2013 8:56:21 PM

Not the best weather that one might wish at this time of year when the U S and Canada's farmer should have their planters running 24/7 to get the corn and spring wheat crops in the ground ... with beans and canola to come a bit later.
The cold, rainy weather is of course reducing the corn acreage that shall be planted each day of delay almost certainly increasing the sum of acreage to be planted to soybeans at the same time. The Ides of May are very near. The important date is May 15th for the corn crop really has to be in the ground in all areas by then.....
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Rajah
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Message Posted: Apr 24, 2013 4:29:52 PM

I think we all know the answer to that. Ethanol from food crops is a bad idea from the get-go. It takes more energy to produce it than you get back when you (inefficiently) burn it in your engine.

I drive a flex-fuel company car and was told when it was issued to me to never buy E-85 for it as, even though it was cheaper per gallon, the lower MPG made it less economical.
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Apr 24, 2013 11:35:30 AM

"It's reclaimed as rain, Einstein"

LOL!!!

If that's your definition of "reclaimed", are you trying to insinuate that water used to process petroleum never makes it back out into the environment?

LOL!!

[Edited by: Shockjock1961 at 4/24/2013 11:39:03 AM EST]
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SoylentGrain
All-Star Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 24, 2013 9:34:41 AM

"Really? Then those big clouds of steam I see coming out of the stacks of the local ethanol production plant must be a figment of my imagination... "

It's reclaimed as rain, Einstein.
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 24, 2013 9:07:48 AM

"Any water used in the production of ethanol is reclaimed."

Really? Then those big clouds of steam I see coming out of the stacks of the local ethanol production plant must be a figment of my imagination...
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stickyvalves
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Message Posted: Apr 24, 2013 8:19:02 AM

It's amazing how people always support their own opinions with their own chosen factiods. I don't know if that's a word, but it felt good to use.
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SoylentGrain
All-Star Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 24, 2013 7:49:35 AM

borsht, take that story to any McDonalds in the corn-belt and you will get laughed out of the building.

Just a couple comments. Water is used to process oil. Lots of it. It's pumped miles into the earth to displace the oil during drilling. Any water used in the production of ethanol is reclaimed.

While 40% of the corn grown in the US is shipped to ethanol plants, for each pound of ethanol produced, one pound of high protein animal feed is made in the process. So, no 40% of the corn crop is not made into ethanol.

That's also a misleading number. Because, as demand for corn increased, farmers, simply, grew more corn to meet and exceed demand.
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borsht
Champion Author Oakland

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Message Posted: Apr 24, 2013 1:40:14 AM

Ethanol most likely a passing fancy.

Animal feed has gone up in price because of Ethanol and will continue to go up as the percentage of corn is committed to ethanol production.
By 2015, 50% of the corn crop will be for ethanol production according to this report.
Corn based ethanol also places an huge burden on water. It takes 3 to 4 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of ethanol.
http://wikis.lib.ncsu.edu/index.php/BAE_578_2009_Grain_for_Animals_vs._Grain_for_Fuel

The feed crops grown for meat production have increased in the US. We are now at the point where we use compound feeds to standardize production and keep variety in the diet of animals raised for meat production. The primary crop in most compound feed is corn. Soy beans are a close second and then sorghum, oats, and barley. But those other ingredients take a much smaller percentage in these compound feeds. Now that it has been discovered that corn has high potential to create ethanol, it has dual purposes in the United State; growth for grain for feed and for ethanol production. Animal feed has now gone up in cost because corn is grown as a general crop for both ethanol and animal feed and it is extremely important in feeding those animals. Corn is grown on 17.2 million acres of land and it grossed $15.2 billion dollars in 2001 (Ag 101. 2009). Because of this new dynamic and increase in production for a product that is out of the realm of standard agriculture, new problems face this industry and new solutions must be considered to compensate for increased cost in such valuable animal feed crops.

Corn has become the primary feedstock for ethanol production in the United States. It is estimated by the IMF's World Economic Outlook that the United States ethanol production will consume nearly 50% of US corn crop by the year 2015 (IMF. 2008). Contentious debates exist over the viability of corn-based ethanol. Benefits: Corn-based ethanol displaces petroleum. The US has been attempting to reduce dependence on foreign oil for many years. Ethanol achieves this by using biomass and domestic fossil fuel resources to produce this liquid fuel which can be used in cars and fueling stations without any modifications in many cases. While many older vehicles cannot use ethanol-gasoline blends of higher than 15% ethanol without modifications, many newer vehicles on the market are able to hand blends up to 85% without modifications. This existing infrastructure, coupled with the existing systems for producing corn, cause for corn-based ethanol to be an appealing option for those who wish to reduce our dependence on foreign oil in the short term. There are few options that could be implemented as quickly. Concerns: Corn-based ethanol has several negative environmental impacts. Production of corn-based ethanol is highly water intensive. Without considering the irrigation water used to grow the corn, 3 to 4 gallons of water are used to make 1 gallon of ethanol (Ayden. 2007). A large concern used by ethanol critics is the energy ratio of corn-based ethanol. One of the most important factors in determining the sustainability a biofuel is the energy ratio of that fuel. The energy ratio of a fuel is the energy that can be retrieved from the fuel divided by the energy required to create the fuel. As an example, the energy ratio of soy-based biodiesel is 3.2. This means that for every energy unit invested to make soy-based biodiesel, there is a return of 3.2 units of energy (Shrestha. 2006). The energy ratio of corn-based ethanol has been calculated to be as low as 0.27. The theoretical maximum energy ratio of corn-based ethanol has been determined to be no higher than 0.57 (Patzek. 2006).These numbers strongly suggest that corn is an undesirable feedstock for ethanol production as substantial amounts of energy are lost in process. The current Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a strong proponent of biofuels, has said that corn should not be used as a biofuel feedstock noting that it would be more effective to burn the corn directly.
Sugar beets use 40% less water than corn for ethanol production.
http://green.autoblog.com/2012/01/22/sugar-beets-are-better-for-ethanol-production-than-corn-report-s/

bottom line: Beets may push corn out of the ethanol business.
http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2010/12/16/sugar-beets-may-push-corn-out-of-ethanol-production/
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brerrabbitTX
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Message Posted: Apr 23, 2013 10:52:27 PM

"Well, I do know the answer. The newer ethanol plants produce almost 3 gallons of ethanol AND 18 pounds of animal feed with each bushel of corn. The yield of energy out over energy in is 1s as high as 175%. That means for every btu going into planting to distillation it's 1.75 btu back. In other words, a positive energy balance."

No arguements from me, just a question. Does the 175% number account for any fossil fuels used for planting, harvesting, transporting the corn, or firing the boilers for the ethanol production.

I mean certainly there are costs for similar items for oil based fuels so any comparison should be comparable. Oil has to be produced, transported to the refineries and then processed using heat and pressure to produce fuel. Also there are tons of residual products from oil including lubricating oils, heavy oils, lubricants, gas including propanes, butanes, and ethanes, as well as the bottom end of the stack that has asphault, bitumen, and pet coke. Not necessarily comparable to what comes from the ethanol process, but certainly things of value and energy content beyond the only gas and diesel.

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tdioiler
All-Star Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Apr 23, 2013 10:09:48 PM

So Soylent, are you telling me that an ethanol plant has all the heat it needs by the byproduct of the fermentation? Really? And I thought distillation took a couple of hundred degrees higher than what the fermentation would use.

So if the 18 lbs. or animal feed is what really happens, that's a good surprise.

And the 85% energy used in gasoline is totally attributed to just the gas, or was it distributed to the other XX number of products pulled from the stack? I have some reading to do...
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Apr 23, 2013 2:05:09 PM

"Nothing goes to waste"

Except for 38 lbs of animal feed...
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Apr 23, 2013 11:57:18 AM

"A bushel of corn provides 56lbs of animal feed, which means when you produe ethanol you have a net loss of feed totaling 38lbs... "

Nothing is wasted. 3 gallons of ethanol weighs approximately 20 pounds, the distillers grains account for 18 pounds, and the remaining 18 pounds is consumed in the fermentation process to create heat. Heat, which is used in the production process of ethanol.

Nothing goes to waste.
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tropicalmn
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Message Posted: Apr 23, 2013 11:12:05 AM

"A bushel of corn provides 56lbs of animal feed, which means when you produe ethanol you have a net loss of feed totaling 38lbs..."
Corn grain is about two-thirds starch and when most of the starch is removed to make ethanol,concentrations of the other nutrients are increased about three-fold.Example the remaining distillers grain has about three times the protein,fat & phosphorus compared to a full bushel of corn.
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Apr 23, 2013 9:54:24 AM

"Well, I do know the answer. The newer ethanol plants produce almost 3 gallons of ethanol AND 18 pounds of animal feed with each bushel of corn."

A bushel of corn provides 56lbs of animal feed, which means when you produe ethanol you have a net loss of feed totaling 38lbs...
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SoylentGrain
All-Star Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 23, 2013 7:28:54 AM

" I'm not a chemist, but I'm sure someone out there knows the number."

Well, I do know the answer. The newer ethanol plants produce almost 3 gallons of ethanol AND 18 pounds of animal feed with each bushel of corn. The yield of energy out over energy in is 1s as high as 175%. That means for every btu going into planting to distillation it's 1.75 btu back. In other words, a positive energy balance.

Gasoline, on the other hand is negative with only 85% of the energy extracted for each btu used for production. That means negative energy balance.

Very good sources are papers written by authors from Argonne National Labs. Wang and Shapiro are primary authors. Read and learn something.



[Edited by: SoylentGrain at 4/23/2013 7:30:29 AM EST]
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tdioiler
All-Star Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Apr 22, 2013 10:10:35 PM

Any of the research on cellulose notes the net loss to energy output. When you use other crops, mainly those food ones, the gauge turns positive energy gain; net of input for production heat, material harvest, transport vs. output energy.

And those ethanol plants produce one output vs. the crackers that produce how many other output products? I'm not a chemist, but I'm sure someone out there knows the number.

Is net energy loss and foreign concept for you Soylent? Then you are on the wrong forum.
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Apr 22, 2013 3:44:19 PM

"Yeah, I want to go there. Heck yes, it's nonsense. That's my point. I'm saying use the land for production."

If you honestly believe that, then why is your own land enrolled in the CRP?
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TAT36
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Message Posted: Apr 22, 2013 3:32:38 PM

Does not seem to viable without the backing of and the subsidies of the federal government.
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Apr 22, 2013 7:15:07 AM

"Soylent, so saying the farmers are paid for not producing a crop is also nonsense? Really want to go there?"

Yeah, I want to go there. Heck yes, it's nonsense. That's my point. I'm saying use the land for production.

"And producing ethanol from cellulose or other less quality products is what fans the flames of net-energy loss talk."

Net energy loss. What are you talking about?

"Until that technology improves, then the use of food based crops for ethanol is still very short-term thinking. "

Tell me what crop you are going to displace to grow this "less quality" product on? If you have land flat enough to grow and harvest a "low quality" product, it's flat enough to grow grain. So, tell me, again, about short-term thinking.

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tdioiler
All-Star Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Apr 21, 2013 8:29:08 PM

Soylent, so saying the farmers are paid for not producing a crop is also nonsense? Really want to go there?

And producing ethanol from cellulose or other less quality products is what fans the flames of net-energy loss talk. Until that technology improves, then the use of food based crops for ethanol is still very short-term thinking.
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SoylentGrain
All-Star Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Apr 19, 2013 8:19:13 AM

"The companies that build ethanol plants make a profit even if they never produce any fuel, "

That's nonsense.

"There is no way we can produce our energy needs thru ethanol. "

So what. Let's assume only corn was used to produce ethanol. Based on today's available land and current production, ethanol producers could make 30To 40 billion gallons of fuel and INCREASE feed available for live stock and we would still have a surplus of grain.

On the other hand, if other substrates are used for ethanol production, the amount of ethanol production could be unlimited.
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ugly46
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Message Posted: Apr 18, 2013 5:36:45 PM

The companies that build ethanol plants make a profit even if they never produce any fuel, The goverment, as in you and me, pays the bill and they keep the profit.
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patino007
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Message Posted: Apr 8, 2013 12:09:14 AM

probably
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borsht
Champion Author Oakland

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Message Posted: Apr 7, 2013 2:53:15 PM

IMHO It's a passing fad.
There is no way we can produce our energy needs thru ethanol.
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tdioiler
All-Star Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Apr 7, 2013 10:55:39 AM

Evergreen, your comment on "Why should we subsidize gas companies who exploit us " rings a little bit.

Some of the other forums brearabbit pointed out that the oil subsidies are just as available to ethanol and other industries as it is with oil. But I have found a few references that reduce the allowable tax credits specifically on the oil industry. Others can take the full credit, but oil cannot?

No debate about the exploited. I feel the pain as well every time I fill up.
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giwan
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Message Posted: Mar 31, 2013 9:12:09 PM

It should be a failure. A true free market would prove that but there are few truly free markets.
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reb4
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Message Posted: Mar 30, 2013 3:45:13 PM

yep, because ethanol is not worth it unless there is a significant gap.
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Mar 30, 2013 12:45:32 PM

Without the Federal minimum usage mandate... FAILURE...
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EvergreenON
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Message Posted: Mar 30, 2013 7:35:39 AM

Why should we subsidize gas companies who exploit us
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jay93LA
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Message Posted: Mar 30, 2013 6:52:02 AM

fancy
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