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Blowing Smoke

by Dango517 / December 9, 2008 12:33 PM PST

Thinking short term, lets see .... plug millions of cars into wall outlets and what will be the effect on Internet service, telephone usage, air conditioning, etc., etc., be? Hmmmm, followed by brown outs, black outs, even rationing in the long term.

I'll keep this simple ....... Ethanol!

The starving people of the the world do not eat field corn. The real truth is if you want to feed the worlds starving replace those corn and soy bean fields with wheat, rice and potato fields. Sympathy for the starving ...... yeah right!

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Field corn...
by J. Vega / December 10, 2008 1:32 AM PST
In reply to: Blowing Smoke

You said, "The starving people of the the world do not eat field corn.". Do they not eat cornmeal? Is not cornmeal made from field corn? Popcorn is a field corn. The ears you boil and serve on your dinner table are called "sweet" corn, which is a type that is picked and eaten when the ears are still immature.

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yes, you eat field corn
by oldie and goody / December 10, 2008 2:04 AM PST
In reply to: Field corn...

especially when you could get it 10-12 ears for a dollar.

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A lot of people do...
by J. Vega / December 10, 2008 2:14 AM PST

A lot of people eat it, especially for breakfast. Corn Flakes are made from field corn.

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A possible better answer
by Roger NC / December 13, 2008 10:28 PM PST
In reply to: Field corn...

Possibly fuel from the corn stalks and other grasses? Now the question is can this process become commercially viable? The company has it's own website Virent. The following quote is from an annoncement by them of a joint effort by them and Shell.

Virent's BioFormingTM platform technology uses catalysts to convert plant sugars into hydrocarbon
molecules like those produced at a petroleum refinery. Traditionally, sugars have been fermented into
ethanol and distilled. These new ?biogasoline? molecules have higher energy content than ethanol (or
butanol) and deliver better fuel efficiency. They can be blended seamlessly to make conventional
gasoline or combined with gasoline containing ethanol.
The sugars can be sourced from non-food sources like corn stover, switch grass, wheat straw and
sugarcane pulp, in addition to conventional biofuel feedstock like wheat, corn and sugarcane.
Dr. Randy Cortright, Virent CTO, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President said, ?Virent has proven
that sugars can be converted into the same hydrocarbon mixtures of today?s gasoline blends. Our
products match petroleum gasoline in functionality and performance. Virent?s unique catalytic process
uses a variety of biomass-derived feedstocks to generate biogasoline at competitive costs. Our results to
date fully justify accelerating commercialization of this technology.?

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by J. Vega / December 14, 2008 2:35 AM PST

Well, corn stover, switch grass, wheat straw and
sugarcane pulp make lousy tortillas (grin), so it might be worth looking into with the non-food parts of some plants.
With the food portion of those plants when you ferment it with yeast the "leftover" is a valuable food source (DDGS) and can be used for feed. With this process, would the "leftover" from the food part of the plant still be useful as food?
Just to put something out for thought, consider what some people in places like Africa used to (and still may do) with corn given to them for food. They fermented it to produce a form of beer. They drank this "beer", and just as important as its food value they got vitamins that this produced. The leftover was eaten, commonly formed into cakes, and cooked. Advantage two was that this leftover solid had more available nutrients for the human system than the raw corn, as the raw corn was broken down (in a sense digested) and made available for absorption complex compounds that would just "pass through" the system in their normal state.

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(NT) amaizing
by jonah jones / December 10, 2008 1:54 AM PST
In reply to: Blowing Smoke
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Buying that scam, are we?
by Paul C / December 10, 2008 7:58 PM PST
In reply to: Blowing Smoke
This article was published in 2006, but it remains one of the best layman's language explanations of the benefits - and much more numerous liabilities - of ethanol as a fuel for the internal combustion. The author is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and has worked in the industry.

And about that field corn: The more corn that is diverted to ethanol production means that there's less corn available for livestock feed - and at much higher prices for that feed - which is a large part of the recent spike in prices for beef and pork. Furthermore, there's only so much corn you can raise, as corn depletes soil nutrients rapidly; the collapse of the aboriginal tribes of Mexico and Central America such as the Toltecs and the Aztecs was as much due to the difficulties associated with producing food (corn) as is was to the conquistadors. Here in the flatlands, a normal crop cycle is one year of corn with very little (and expensive petroleum-based) fertilizer, a second year of corn with large amounts of fertilizer and then a year of soybeans - a plant that adds more nutrients to soil than it uses (very cool, that). There is no way to responsibly change that cycle.

Add to that three facts: 1) Ethanol enjoys a competitive advantage of a more than $1/gallon Federal subsidy, without which it wouldn't even exist as an industry; 2) As a fuel, ethanol has only 80% of the thermal energy of gasoline, which means that more fuel is consumed to travel the same number of miles; and 3) Ethanol produces its own pollutants. From the article I cited:

Burning ethanol has a mixed effect on vehicle emissions. According to the Department of Energy, E85 in place of gasoline reduces carbon monoxide by four percent and NOx by 59 percent, but it raises total hydrocarbon by 43 percent. (Emphasis mine)

Ethanol is free of certain toxic chemicals ? benzine and xylene ? that are associated with gasoline, but exposures to those substances are so small that no one is worrying about them today. On the other hand, ethanol exhaust emissions do contain acetaldehydes not found in gasoline exhaust.

This does not mean that ethanol isn't a possible solution - just that it's in no way a long term one, and is only,IMO, any kind of solution when we can perfect cellulosic ethanol production and leave America's corn crops alone.

We'd be better served in the short run were we to rediscover what the Europeans have long known - that the new generation of clean burning diesel engines are a much better solution than the ethanol boondoggle. Plug in hybrids such as the upcoming Chevy Volt and continued research into advanced fuel cell technology will offer a better long term solution.
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Thanks for the great info
by critic411 / December 10, 2008 8:14 PM PST

Can't wait to see the counter offer !!!

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Since the article was written
by Angeline Booher / December 11, 2008 12:56 AM PST

...... used deep-frying oils have made some inroads in that regard. Happy

Fir anyone that has experienced a fire starting on a kitchen stove-top, cooking know that oils catch fire readily. Corn oil is widely used alone or as a basis for margarines.

I'm curious as to how many more processes the corn goes through for corn oil compared to those of ethanol. It can "go rancid" fairly qickly, as well.

Speakeasy Moderator

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(NT) Used cooking oil is a worse idea then ethonal
by critic411 / December 11, 2008 2:22 AM PST
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Angeline, used cooking oil is ONLY usable...
by Paul C / December 11, 2008 9:06 AM PST

...in a diesel engine; it does nothing to address the fact that the vast majority of cars and trucks on the roads today are gasoline powered.

I stand by my original point that a really good short term solution would be the expansion of diesel powered vehicle use, especially since diesel fuel can be produced more inexpensively than gasoline - assuming the demand is there.

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Odd that now diesel fuel cost more than gasoline isn't it?
by Roger NC / December 13, 2008 9:47 AM PST

As far as I can recall until last year, diesel was less than gasoline. Now it's more. Isn't that amazing that somehow the production and distribution costs have reversed?

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New sulfur standards probably
by Steven Haninger / December 13, 2008 10:00 AM PST

caught up in a cycle of diminishing returns where you pay a lot more for a small improvement.

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Perhaps, but if I recall correctly
by Roger NC / December 13, 2008 10:38 PM PST

it was when prices started going up drastically this last time that diesel caught up and passed gasoline.

Now the timing might be coincidental, but it looks hinky.

Uh, just found support for your idea instead of my own nutty conspiracy suspicions.

How Diesel Fuel Is Made

Petroleum diesel is a ?distillate? refined from crude oil. There are various grades or types of distillates, but Number 2 (No. 2) distillate is the primary source for the motor diesel fuel consumed in the United States. It is also used as a fuel oil for heating buildings and by industry. Diesel fuel is No. 2 distillate with a relatively low sulfur content. New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for diesel fuel sulfur content were implemented in 2006. By June 1, 2006, 80 percent of the on-highway diesel fuel sold in the United States had to be Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel with a sulfur content of no more that 15 parts per million (ppm), replacing most Low Sulfur Diesel (LSD) fuel, which contains a maximum of 500 ppm sulfur. By December 1, 2010, all on-highway diesel fuel must be ULSD fuel. The diesel fuel standards for off-highway consumption began a phase-in period in 2007. Nearly all diesel fuel used in the United States will be ULSD by the end of 2014.

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The truckers and others I've worked with
by drpruner / December 14, 2008 2:46 AM PST

say that diesel and kerosene are not much apart, and that both are taken off lower points of the cracking tower (= less distillation). So, per manufacturing cost, diesel should always be cheaper than "higher" products, like ... ummm ... gasoline.
Adding additives and removing pollutants adds to the cost, of course.

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You nailed it.
by tedln / December 15, 2008 1:34 PM PST

You are absolutely correct about the fertilizer, but I don't think you mentioned the amount of hydrocarbons consumed to produce the crop seed, plant the seed, water the crop, harvest the crop, and convert it to ethanol. In short, the direct consumption of hydrocarbons is much better for the environment and the nations economy than the production and consumption of ethanol.


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