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(The Oil Drum)   Mythbusters: Ethanol and foreign-oil displacement   (theoildrum.com) divider line 132
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6881 clicks; posted to Business » on 07 Aug 2007 at 11:42 AM (6 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2007-08-07 10:48:34 AM
FTFA : To be precise, 116 million barrels of ethanol contain the BTU equivalent of 64 million barrels of oil.

Ohhhh... so ethanol only saved us from importing five billion in oil. Ha ha ha. Once again we can see that those tinfoil hat nutbags who try to do something to use less oil are completely out of their minds.

Five billion... pft... that wouldn't even fund a day of US troops arming then killing Iraqi insurgents.
 
2007-08-07 11:25:12 AM
i'm consistently blown away by the vitriol that's spewed about alternative energy by people who have no better ideas. no, ethanol is not currently a viable gasoline alternative. no one said it was going to be easy folks. but just continue pounding on your keyboards and spewing disinformation. it will certainly make the world a better place.
 
2007-08-07 11:34:59 AM
doublesecretprobation: i'm consistently blown away by the vitriol that's spewed about alternative energy by people who have no better ideas. no, ethanol is not currently a viable gasoline alternative. no one said it was going to be easy folks. but just continue pounding on your keyboards and spewing disinformation. it will certainly make the world a better place.

I'd rather see us focusing more on wind and wave turbines and solar energy than ethanol. I fear that the increased demand for corn will raise it's price dramatically. Couple this with the fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup is is just about every food out there, food will also get more expensive and make life that much harder on the lower income brackets.
 
2007-08-07 11:42:59 AM
crunchyfist: I fear that the increased demand for corn will raise it's price dramatically. Couple this with the fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup is is just about every food out there, food will also get more expensive and make life that much harder on the lower income brackets.

see, here's the problem. corn is NOT the nearly the best biomass for ethanol. hemp, switchgrass, sugarcane; these are far better, far easier to grow, less agriculturally intensive to grow and are not used for food.

i could care less about high fructose sugar, we're better off without it. why the fark do you think people are so fat in this country?
 
2007-08-07 11:51:23 AM
crunchyfist: I'd rather see us focusing more on wind and wave turbines and solar energy than ethanol.

Not to mention, say, reducing energy consumption in total (as many of the comments to TFA point out too).

That means smaller, better constructed houses, more density, less driving. There IS no way around that. All the flailing about "oh but the American Way Of Life" can't change it, and we need to realize that it wasn't so long ago that people were living much more modestly, even in the United States. Just look at the size and location of houses in your own city, by decade.

That might help the overdebt situation too, although I fear we've gotten to a place in the economy where everything is driven by crazy mass consumption patterns, so there might not be such an easy way out. Back in the 50's, the US still made stuff.
 
2007-08-07 11:52:11 AM
DROP THE SUGAR PRICE SUPPORTS!
 
2007-08-07 11:52:24 AM
The more I hear about Ethanol, and how it is being produced from corn the less I like it (and anyone who supports it with half-truths)


For every dollar spent on Ethanol, that is a dollar we could be spending on a real energy solution.
 
2007-08-07 11:53:25 AM
The problem is, no matter what crops you are using to make ethanol, you end up with just as many problems. I think that we should be funding new sources of energy, not something that is old as automobiles and is unlikely to see any leaps in technology. The one plus to ethanol from corn is that it does make a very good cattle feed, even better than corn. But once people find a cheap way to make cellulosic ethanol affordable, that feed will also get converted to ethanol.
 
2007-08-07 11:55:49 AM
doublesecretprobation: i'm consistently blown away by the vitriol that's spewed about alternative energy by people who have no better ideas. no, ethanol is not currently a viable gasoline alternative. no one said it was going to be easy folks. but just continue pounding on your keyboards and spewing disinformation. it will certainly make the world a better place.

I think his beef is less with the effectiveness of ethanol itself and more with the government for lying to us about it.
 
2007-08-07 11:56:47 AM
A lot more nuclear energy plants, better battery technology, electric cars and some serious upgrades to the grid.

IMHO far and away the cheapest, cleanest and safest way to power this country.
 
2007-08-07 11:57:17 AM
TheWizard: The more I hear about Ethanol, and how it is being produced from corn the less I like it

So you don't like ethanol (or some vague group of unidentifiable people who are apparently tied in commonality through a generic, nondescript trait) because ethanol is not currently produced in an optimal way?

That would be all well and good, if pointless and meandering, except for your last statement. If it were worth fighting to change the focus to another fuel source, why wouldn't you just fight to change the production of ethanol to one of the many more suitable biomass sources?

/ whoops, sorry, pardon my having lucid thoughts in a Fark thread...
 
2007-08-07 11:57:57 AM
How about we just hire the French to take over our nuclear energy program since they are the only people on earth with their shiat together in this regard?

Then we can tell the Middle East to keep their farking oil, and tell our farmers to grow food so we can eat it instead of using it to run our cars.
 
2007-08-07 12:00:45 PM
Wow, that was an amazing comprehensive FAQ he's created there.

A whole 6 items. And a graph!!! I personally enjoyed the second FAQ item:

"FACT: Two-thirds of the world's known oil reserves are located in the volatile Middle East.

The U.S. spends roughly $50 billion each year for military protection of Middle East oil supplies."

Oh really? Does he have a source to back up your claim that the military has been and will be protecting Middle East Oil supplies to the tune of 50 billion a year?
 
2007-08-07 12:02:07 PM
According to this (new window) site, 1 bbl of oil is 42 gallons of oil which is refined into about 19.5 gallons of gas. So 1 bbl of oil is about 0.48 bbl of gas.

According to this (new window) site, ethanol contains about 60% of the BTU's of gasoline. Therefore 116 Mbbl of ethanol has the same BTU's as 116*.6= 70 Mbbl of gasoline which would be about equivalent to the BTU's in 70/0.48 = 146 Mbbl of oil.

So the numbers TFA disputes are actually pretty damn close to the ethanol advocates' claims. In other words, TFA is full of it.
 
2007-08-07 12:02:56 PM
TheWizard: For every dollar spent on Ethanol, that is a dollar we could be spending on a real energy solution.

i agree somewhat. ethanol should be a transitional thing. something to help us bridge the gap between oil and the "real solution". it's going to be a long time before the internal combustion engine disappears. we can't just flip a switch to something else (electric? hydrogen?), but we can switch to ethanol pretty damn easily.
 
2007-08-07 12:03:58 PM
crunchyfist: doublesecretprobation: i'm consistently blown away by the vitriol that's spewed about alternative energy by people who have no better ideas. no, ethanol is not currently a viable gasoline alternative. no one said it was going to be easy folks. but just continue pounding on your keyboards and spewing disinformation. it will certainly make the world a better place.

I'd rather see us focusing more on wind and wave turbines and solar energy than ethanol. I fear that the increased demand for corn will raise it's price dramatically. Couple this with the fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup is is just about every food out there, food will also get more expensive and make life that much harder on the lower income brackets.


This.
 
2007-08-07 12:04:30 PM
Balrog: In other words, TFA is full of it.

not surprising.
 
2007-08-07 12:05:02 PM
wind. solar. nukes. geothermal. etc.


no, none of them are "the" solution. the solution is a mixture of them all.


Things that aren't the solution: Alaskan oil, Canadian sand-oil, ethanol, biomass, etc.

/Simply burning different things isn't gonna solve anything.
 
2007-08-07 12:06:05 PM
bio-diesel - pick your sources: bio-mass, blend with existing fossil fuels, waste oil, algae, etc...
 
2007-08-07 12:07:36 PM
LemSkroob: wind. solar. nukes. geothermal. etc.


no, none of them are "the" solution. the solution is a mixture of them all.


Things that aren't the solution: Alaskan oil, Canadian sand-oil, ethanol, biomass, etc.

/Simply burning different things isn't gonna solve anything.


QFT
 
2007-08-07 12:08:59 PM
doublesecretprobation i agree somewhat. ethanol should be a transitional thing. something to help us bridge the gap between oil and the "real solution". it's going to be a long time before the internal combustion engine disappears. we can't just flip a switch to something else (electric? hydrogen?), but we can switch to ethanol pretty damn easily.

And biodiesel.
 
2007-08-07 12:13:44 PM
LemSkroob: /Simply burning different things isn't gonna solve anything.

no but it can help us bide our time while we solve the problem. biofuels can get us there. we can't just make all of our cars electric tomorrow. we can however all be running off biofuels with little or no trouble. just hoping that we will have an answer before we run out of oil or suffer massive economic collapse is short sighted.
 
2007-08-07 12:14:19 PM
doublesecretprobation: crunchyfist: I fear that the increased demand for corn will raise it's price dramatically. Couple this with the fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup is is just about every food out there, food will also get more expensive and make life that much harder on the lower income brackets.

see, here's the problem. corn is NOT the nearly the best biomass for ethanol. hemp, switchgrass, sugarcane; these are far better, far easier to grow, less agriculturally intensive to grow and are not used for food.

i could care less about high fructose sugar, we're better off without it. why the fark do you think people are so fat in this country?



You still have to grow it *SOMEWHERE*. Either you take arable land away from food production, or you have to cut down natural habitat.

So, either the price of food goes up, or we wipe out even more endangered species...
 
2007-08-07 12:16:06 PM
doublesecretprobation: hemp, switchgrass, sugarcane; these are far better, far easier to grow, less agriculturally intensive to grow and are not used for food.

I've never baked brownies with switchgrass in them.
 
2007-08-07 12:18:16 PM
PEAK OIL!!!
 
2007-08-07 12:18:20 PM

@helix400

Wow, that was an amazing comprehensive FAQ he's created there.
TFA says that this is just a beginning piece of it. Read TFA.

@balrog
So the numbers TFA disputes are actually pretty damn close to the ethanol advocates' claims. In other words, TFA is full of it.
Wrong. You're mixing apples with oranges. Type your comment over at The Oil Drum and you'll get an answer.

@LemSkroob
no, none of them are "the" solution. the solution is a mixture of them all.
Absolutely right. We need as many freaking silver bb's (there is no silver bullet--I like that, it's crafty, heh) as we can find if you want to keep your life as convenient as it is.
 
2007-08-07 12:18:41 PM
The way I see it, ethanol, like someone said above, is a transitional thing. It takes too much money to create and far too much corn would have to be grown.

The long-term future of energy is in monumental advances in technology. Yes, solar collectors are currently inefficient and contribute to pollution because of the materials that have to manufactured to create them, and the same kinds of problems go from harvesting geothermal energy and so on. But technology will progress on those types of sources: at least we won't have to worry about running out of them.

In the meantime, conservation is key. The pro-environment lobbyists don't poke at the corporate responsibility nest to get change done RIGHT NOW, they poke at it to lay the foundation for the future when feasible advances in technology make worthwhile initiatives possible.

In the meantime, it's all about conservation.
 
2007-08-07 12:18:44 PM
dittybopper: You still have to grow it *SOMEWHERE*. Either you take arable land away from food production, or you have to cut down natural habitat.

in this country we pay farmers NOT TO GROW food through subsidies. we have plenty of arable land in this country. lots of it lying fallow while people collect checks from gubmint.
 
2007-08-07 12:22:42 PM
Balrog: According to this (new window) site, 1 bbl of oil is 42 gallons of oil which is refined into about 19.5 gallons of gas. So 1 bbl of oil is about 0.48 bbl of gas.According to this (new window) site, ethanol contains about 60% of the BTU's of gasoline. Therefore 116 Mbbl of ethanol has the same BTU's as 116*.6= 70 Mbbl of gasoline which would be about equivalent to the BTU's in 70/0.48 = 146 Mbbl of oil. So the numbers TFA disputes are actually pretty damn close to the ethanol advocates' claims. In other words, TFA is full of it.

But how do you make energy to procesess corn to ethanol?

It take roughly 1.2 barrels of ethanol to refine one barrel. By contrast, it takes one barrel of petroleum to refine 9 barrels.

Crops are STILL dependent on petroluem based fertilizer, even more so with expanding ethanol production.

Oh yeah ... corn and soy (biodiesel) crops have some of the highest rates of soil erosion. That washed-off dirt ain't gonna come back on its own.

Corn prices have already gone up, and the pinch is being felt in places like Mexico, where you are tampering with the foodstock of peasants.

THE POOR WILL BEAR THE GRUNT OF THIS PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT WITH THEIR LIVES. (Cue a Phil Ochs song).

And finally, ethanol was a product without a use. ADM Corporation, a megaconglomerate, is the lobbying force behind this trend. Lobbying for $$$ no different than Evil Big Oil.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
 
2007-08-07 12:25:03 PM
prof.goose:
@balrog So the numbers TFA disputes are actually pretty damn close to the ethanol advocates' claims. In other words, TFA is full of it.
Wrong. You're mixing apples with oranges. Type your comment over at The Oil Drum and you'll get an answer.


No TFA is wrong. 1 bbl of ethanol does not have "about half" the BTU's of 1 bbl of oil. Ethanol has about 1.25 x the BTU's of oil. It's called math.
 
2007-08-07 12:25:25 PM
Bring back the Ford Nucleon!
A traffic accident ain't a traffic accident without guys in hazmat suits picking through the wreckage to fetch the reactor.
 
2007-08-07 12:29:03 PM
rocinante721:
But how do you make energy to procesess corn to ethanol?

It take roughly 1.2 barrels of ethanol to refine one barrel. By contrast, it takes one barrel of petroleum to refine 9 barrels.


Wrong! (new window)
 
2007-08-07 12:29:07 PM
rocinante721: Oh yeah ... corn and soy (biodiesel) crops have some of the highest rates of soil erosion.

I was going to argue with you on the soy thing as I had always heard that soy helps rather hurts the soil in terms of nutrients, etc, and is more beneficial than letting it lie fallow, but it does seem that erosion is a still problem with soy.

TMYK/LSNED

algae/waste oil FTW
 
2007-08-07 12:29:23 PM
No one wants wind turbines to block the beautiful countryside views, the ones they completely ignore as they drive by. No one wants millions of solarpanels taking up thousands of acres of land.

Lets find a way to make vehicles nuclear...
 
2007-08-07 12:29:42 PM
dittybopper: You still have to grow it *SOMEWHERE*. Either you take arable land away from food production, or you have to cut down natural habitat.

True, but as said above, you can produce a lot more energy with an acre of sugarcane than an acre of corn.
 
2007-08-07 12:29:59 PM
Balrog: According to this (new window) site, 1 bbl of oil is 42 gallons of oil which is refined into about 19.5 gallons of gas. So 1 bbl of oil is about 0.48 bbl of gas.

According to this (new window) site, ethanol contains about 60% of the BTU's of gasoline. Therefore 116 Mbbl of ethanol has the same BTU's as 116*.6= 70 Mbbl of gasoline which would be about equivalent to the BTU's in 70/0.48 = 146 Mbbl of oil.
So the numbers TFA disputes are actually pretty damn close to the ethanol advocates' claims. In other words, TFA is full of it.


Yeah, i read for about 20 seconds and that was about all I could take. If the author doesn't even recognize the difference between oil and gasoline, well, I just figure the rest of the article had to be just as retarded.

/Use ethanol in my vehicle
//Bio-fuels are a band-aid, not a cure.
 
2007-08-07 12:31:01 PM
I barrel (44 gallons) of crude oil =/= 44 gallons of gasoline. You only get about 19-20 gallons of fuel (gas) out of a barrel of oil, although the remainder can be refined for a number of other useful chemicals/products.


Talk about apples and oranges. 1 gallon of ethanol = 1 gallon of fuel. 1 gallon of crude oil =/= 1 gallon of fuel.



Yep, corn is not the way to go. For that matter, ethanol is probably not the way to go. Butanol (an alcohol) is actually a much better choice and can be produced in a near identical way to ethanol. (Its got much higher BTU values, isn't as corrosive and gan be readily mixed with gasoline and shipped and stored through pipelines without worrying about it grabbing water along the way.)

But here's the real issue, no one said that ethanol was perfect nor are the current methods of production near the limits of theoretical efficiencies. But damn, every technology has to start somewhere and you don't shiat on the babies chances to be a medal winning runner when they've barely taken their first steps. I don't understand why most people are getting all bent out of shape and seemingly desiring that any technological advances or approaches to move us off the traditional "big oil" pipeline draw so much criticism when they are barely serving as "proof of concept" at the current time. Tell me what alternatives are worth pursuing and I can cite all kinds of problems with every single one of them in their current state! It doesn't mean that they aren't worth pursuing to improve the technology or achieve the economy of scale production which makes them more viable as an alternative.
 
2007-08-07 12:31:03 PM
rocinante721: It take roughly 1.2 barrels of ethanol to refine one barrel. By contrast, it takes one barrel of petroleum to refine 9 barrels.

false. ethanol delivers 20 to 50 percent more energy output than it takes to produce, and cellulosic up to 600 percent more. (new window)

Crops are STILL dependent on petroluem based fertilizer, even more so with expanding ethanol production.

this only applies to corn. other biomass sources like hemp and switchgrass (not to mention agricultural waste) grow just fine with practically zero chemicals compared to corn.

Oh yeah ... corn and soy (biodiesel) crops have some of the highest rates of soil erosion. That washed-off dirt ain't gonna come back on its own.

listen, CORN SUCKS AS A SOURCE OF ETHANOL, THERE ARE FAR BETTER ALTERNATIVES.

Corn prices have already gone up, and the pinch is being felt in places like Mexico, where you are tampering with the foodstock of peasants.

see above.

THE POOR WILL BEAR THE GRUNT OF THIS PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT WITH THEIR LIVES. (Cue a Phil Ochs song).

just stop.

And finally, ethanol was a product without a use. ADM Corporation, a megaconglomerate, is the lobbying force behind this trend. Lobbying for $$$ no different than Evil Big Oil.

CORN ethanol yes.
 
2007-08-07 12:31:08 PM
doublesecretprobation: dittybopper: You still have to grow it *SOMEWHERE*. Either you take arable land away from food production, or you have to cut down natural habitat.

in this country we pay farmers NOT TO GROW food through subsidies. we have plenty of arable land in this country. lots of it lying fallow while people collect checks from gubmint.


Not as much as you seem to think. the US doesn't have enough land in total to grow enough corn based ethanol to fuel our consumption rates.
 
2007-08-07 12:32:08 PM
Rocinante's Solution for Energy

1) Increase safe, reliable nuclear energy

2) Initiate nuclear waste-fuel reprocessing for maximum fuel yield for #1 above

3) Upgrade power grids

4) Fund superconductor technology research, towards transferring power over longer distances, reducing the need for power stations and multiple reactor sites.

5) Electric car technology put back on track

6) Let Ford/GM/Chrysler go bankrupt if everyone prefers higher efficient foreign cars. No bailout unless #5 above is followed.

7) fark the caribou. Drill Alaska.

8) Tax breaks to anyone who can do the above reliably.
 
2007-08-07 12:34:35 PM
Ethanol sucks.
 
2007-08-07 12:36:05 PM
Balrog: rocinante721:
But how do you make energy to procesess corn to ethanol? It take roughly 1.2 barrels of ethanol to refine one barrel. By contrast, it takes one barrel of petroleum to refine 9 barrels. Wrong! (new window)


Do not have time to find my factbook, but it's ~ 1.6 your source instead of 1.2.

Still, you would need to grow 2 acres to fuel one acre refining.

Very very bad, very inefficient.

Again, we are farking with the food supply. The poor will pay.
 
2007-08-07 12:36:39 PM
Ethanol is a joke...you want a REAL biofuel substitue for gasoline then do some research on n-butanol.
 
2007-08-07 12:37:06 PM
constructor5179: US doesn't have enough land in total to grow enough corn based ethanol to fuel our consumption rates.

we don't need to replace 100% of our current consumption rate to make a HUGE farking difference. just half would be fine. that's estimated at 30 million acres of corn, which is again, a farking shiatty source of ethanol. other biomass sources can produce beyond 10x as much ethanol per acre. so we're talking what 10 million acres. yeah, we've got that.
 
2007-08-07 12:37:21 PM
doublesecretprobation: dittybopper: You still have to grow it *SOMEWHERE*. Either you take arable land away from food production, or you have to cut down natural habitat.

in this country we pay farmers NOT TO GROW food through subsidies. we have plenty of arable land in this country. lots of it lying fallow while people collect checks from gubmint.



I don't think you really grasp the scale of this. There isn't really that much land lying fallow. Here is a perfect illustration:

Corn crop in IOWA:
www.nass.usda.gov

Soybeans in IOWA:
www.nass.usda.gov

Pasture in IOWA:
www.nass.usda.gov

And finally Fallow fields in IOWA:
www.nass.usda.gov

There just isn't as much fallow land as you think, and some of it is fallow for a reason (not just because we are paying farmers not to grow on it).


Iowa is a major farming state, yet very little of the land on a percentage basis is fallow farmfields. I checked other states at the USDA site, with similar results (different crops, similar rates of fallow land).
 
2007-08-07 12:37:23 PM
Ethanol is only as good as its feedstock. Palm oil--disastrous--it means burning tropical forests and drying out tropical peat. Sugar cane--not much better. Corn. A bad idea masquarading as a good idea--just an excuse for farm subsidies. Switchgrass--more efficient but again just an excuse for subsidies. The best bet--turn waste into ethanol. But the industry has already geered to go down the wrong road. Still, we need every little increment we can get because the American people aren't going to start caring any time soon.
 
2007-08-07 12:37:53 PM
rocinante721: Still, you would need to grow 2 acres to fuel one acre refining.

very, incredibly, completely farking WRONG.
 
2007-08-07 12:38:44 PM
rocinante721: Again, we are farking with the food supply. The poor will pay.

They got over the loss of crude chowder and diesel sundaes, they'll get over the loss of popcorn and nachos.
 
2007-08-07 12:39:07 PM
I should also point out that those fallow fields aren't necessarily contiguous, therefore large scale efficient mechanical farming of them wouldn't necessarily be possible.
 
2007-08-07 12:39:15 PM
i'm sorry y'all are such fans of this lil' inefficient 2 carbon molecule but bump it up to four and you get butanol, better replacement for gasoline, burns cleanly, very little emissions, cleans your engine, equivalent performance or better. i burned some in my truck and got all those things. drawback: currently $6/gallon. plusside: could be made more cost-effectively.
 
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