Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ethanol and Other Myths

If you listen to the environmentalists, you would think that E85 ethanol was the panacea that was going to save the planet. Only here at the Blogway Boys will you hear the real story of ethanol.

E85 ethanol is a bio-fuel incorporating 85% ethanol (a fuel distilled from corn in the USA) and 15% gasoline. This concoction is supposed to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and make the USA energy independent. One thing we have here in the USA is lots of corn. Here are the facts:

  • It currently takes 1 gallon of oil to grow and produce 1.35 gallons of ethanol
  • Ethanol must then be trucked to the filling stations (seems that putting it in a pipeline degrades the ethanol)
  • The end result is that by the time you pump it into your tank, it takes a little over a gallon of oil to produce and ship each gallon of ethanol.

O-kay, so we aren't saving the planet with ethanol, but here comes myth number two. Ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. Not so fast:

  • The Federal Government subsidizes the ethanol industry to the tune of $6 to $8 billion dollars a year ... that is the only reason that ethanol is a little cheaper than gasoline.
  • Your car gets lower gas mileage with ethanol than with gasoline (about 6 miles per gallon less).
  • Ethanol production is pushing the price of corn up (from about $2.50 a bushel to $3.15 and will go higher as more ethanol plants open up)
  • The price of corn also effects the price of milk, eggs and meat as farmers and ranchers must pay more for feed for their stock.
  • As more farm acreage is turned over to corn, the price of other grains and vegetables is going up (because supply is going down).

Well if you put it that way ... I guess it isn't cheaper than gasoline. But what about it being a renewable resource? Fact:

  • Each acre of corn produces 500 gallons of ethanol a year.
  • The US consumes 19.6 million gallons of oil per day
  • Do the math ... If every acre of the US were converted to corn production we would still fall about 2 months short of our yearly usage

So what do we do? First thing is we need to start building nuclear power plants again. We would probably need about 150 new plants to cover our electricity needs. We also need to put the $8 billion of ethanol subsidies into the development of hydrogen fuel cells. A car can run hundreds of miles on just pennies worth of hydrogen and emit only a little water out of its' tailpipe.

We need to stop living in dreamland and start making the real world a better place for us and our kids to live in.

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Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

This is like the Twilight Zone!!

Mike was just talking about this very same thing, this morning!
Re: the Ethanol... He made most of those same comments.

Funny you post this....

Anonymous said...


Concur. Time to go back to the drawing board and start building nuclear power plants to generate electricity for our fast growing cities. And we need to go back to the drawing board on the hydrogen fuel cells [I have no idea what happened to this program, it made a lot of sense to me - did Dick Cheney kill this program too?]. As far as using corn, well, I like the corn oil, and I like the corn as part of my salad !!!

v/r tlrb

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

If I am remembering correctly...

he said that it will take more energy making it...
something about the carbon footprint...??

Terry said...

Glen Beck talks about this often. People are scared of the word Nuclear. Its like they relate it to a Nuclear bomb and think that nuclear energy is like violent hatemonging energy or something....

Obviously I have no idea what I am talking about. Have a great day, all!

Mike M said...

You made your case!!! I'm sticking with gas until something better comes out

Paul Champagne said...

terri ... One thing I forgot to mention. When I order vehicles for the car lot I work at ... I almost never order the ethanol capable engines. By their very nature they are less powerful, having less horsepower and a lower towing capacity. And that is for when they are running on regular gas ... when they are running on ethanol, power drops even more.

tlrb ... so far the problem with the hydrogen fuel cells has been getting them to a size that can fit in a car. Right now, we have them (and they work), but they are about 100 times too large. The problem with the nuke plants are ... enviornmentalists.

terry ... Nuclear power plants have also been stymied by the NIMBY (not in my back yard) groups, that want nuclear power ... but want the plants far far away.

mike ... I might have been happier to have made my case if I hadn't known that you never intended to give up on gas. But a nice try anyway you schmoozer.

In_spired said...

Yea! Now I have some information to throw back to the S-I-L when he starts talking the foreign language of to me!! And I can always say the info came straight from the mouth(oops! I mean fingers) of the Blogway Boys!

Keshi said...

The other day I was watching a TV-program on producing bio-fuel.

I actually wud prefer corn for food purposes!


David said...

Yes to nuclear power!

Yes to hydrogen powered cars!

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

Well you know...
Starbuck's did say they had to increase prices due to dairy prices increasing ...

and if I were a bettin girl...
it's because the the feed.

Anonymous said...

hey! i'm going to cali this weekend and won't be back until is the website i was talking about where i made extra summer cash. Later! the website is here

Paul Champagne said...

inspired ... don't you hate it when people speak the foreign language of ethanol? Once you tell him it comes straight from my fingers ... I'm sure he will back down (quivering in his shoes)

keshi ... while I like eating corn, I wish the ethanol actually was as good as the farmers want us to believe.

david ... you are a wise man ... you must be an educator

terri ... you mean you're not a betting girl? and you live in Vegas? What a shame. But yes, since the push for ethanol, milk prices have increased 20% and meat has gone up an average of 12%.

On another note, down in Mexico, the opposition party is being fueled by increased corn prices. There are 4 foodstuffs that are vital to the Mexican economy and they are corn, rice, beans and flour. With these foods, a Mexican in poverty can feed his family ... when the price of corn rises, his family goes hungry and he is more likely to side with radicals like Lopez-Amador.

Paul Champagne said...

knicksgirl ... you, and spammers like you are the reason that so many of my fellow bloggers have those annoying word verifications on their comment forms. Do you really think that everybody is going to click on the link you supplied and buy lots of junk and make you a billionaire? Pleas come back to reality and just enjoy the blogs.

Anonymous said...

hey! i'm going to cali this weekend and won't be back until is the website i was talking about where i made extra summer cash. Later! the website is here

Anonymous said...

aww i hate ethanol..
when i fell off the bus in Bangkok, they applied ethanol on my injuries. it hurts soooo much lol
i didnt know it can be used for other purpose.
thank u so very much, paul-chan!!

Paul Champagne said...

niki ... I think they may have applied ethyl alcohol ... either that or they have found a new use for ethanol (which they really need to do ... because it is pretty worthless as a fuel).

snowelf said...

I am totally for the hydro technology. And also, although E-85 gas is cleaner and better for the environment, like you said, it's boosting up the price of EVERYTHING.
We have ALL of the oil we need right here in the US, we just haven't had any motivation to dig it up--er--the OIL companies aren't in a shortage, so they have no incentive to dig it up.
I'm so sick of gas, I wish I lived in a city where I could walk or bike (or rollerblade)--everywhere.


Paul Champagne said...

snow ... hydro-electric energy is great. The only problem with it is there are only so many rivers that you can dam up in the world. Solar power is excellant also, and I wish someone would put solar panels across most of the south-west desert (the land is not good for anything else), but solar panels are very expensive and require maintenance. Wind power is also a clean re-newable energy supply, but once again, cost and maintenance are high. Nuclear energy gives us the best bang for the buck (pun intended) we just have to make sure safety standards are highly enforced and that we don't stupidly position any plants on top of fault lines.