Topic: Is Ethanol really worth it?  (Read 10002 times)

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Offline Electric Eye

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Is Ethanol really worth it?
« on: May 09, 2007, 11:47:00 am »
http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20070509/cm_usatoday/ethanolgoldrushcarriescoststoyourtable;_ylt=AkRbTtOJpK13gQayb9I43SjMWM0F

Has anyone else noticed that we are still dependent on oil even if we crank out ethanol out the yin-yang? It still takes far more energy to produce ethanol than it does for gasoline, and as the article stated "And for what? The purpose of a massive ethanol program is to make America less dependent on oil. That it would do, at least at the margins. But, ironically, it could also make the nation more dependent on oil prices. The more corn replaces oil, the more agricultural prices would rise and fall in tandem with it. Every crisis in the Middle East would generate pain at the grocery store as well as at the pump, and would cause farmers to prosper or suffer, depending on whether they grow crops or raise animals."

Whatever happened to the fuel cell autos and trucks we were supposed to have on the priority list? That technology has been around for at least ten years and so far only Cali has led the way with a few fuel cell stations in operation.  >:(

http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/FuelCellToday/FCTFiles/FCTArticleFiles/Article_1110_Infrastructure%20survey%202006.pdf

I guess we need to let China and India and Europe lead the way as usual...






Offline Nemesis

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2007, 08:28:42 pm »
Ethanol can be used in fuel cells as well.
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Offline Grand Master of Shadows NCC37385

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2007, 09:59:36 am »
It isnt just that ethanol costs more than gasoline to produce, its that it takes almost as much energy to produce ethanol as is contained in ethanol.




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Offline Lieutenant_Q

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2007, 10:54:40 am »
Anyone ever fill up on this so-called E-85 stuff?

I've heard that you can expect a significant drop in fuel efficiency.  So, yeah, your saving 10 - 15 cents per gallon at the pump, but you need to fill your tank again in 75% of the miles that you used to.  Is that savings?  Or is it just something to make you feel good?
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Offline Electric Eye

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2007, 12:42:57 pm »
You lose about 1/3 of the mileage that gasoline powered autos get.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/ethanol-10-06/overview/1006_ethanol_ov1_1.htm

Yet look at what pro-ethanol manufacturers want you to believe! Sounds like someone is trying to sugarcoat so they can get more people dependent on ethanol and have their big bucks for corn, and the refiners get their subsidies, as if the profits from Exxon and Valero and others were not enough already so they gouge us even more?

http://www.iowacorn.org/ethanol/ethanol_3b.html

Q: Doesn’t the use of ethanol-blended fuel cause a decrease in fuel mileage?
A: There are so many variables that relate to fuel mileage, such as the season, the weather, how the vehicle may be driven, etc., that it is hard for the average vehicle owner to accurately check fuel mileage. Every vehicle is somewhat different in driveability characteristics, as well. Some carbureted vehicles that run rich may experience an increase in fuel economy. The most current information derived from controlled environmental testing is that on fuel injected vehicles, fuel mileage may decrease by approximately 2%. A vehicle that averages 30 MPG on the highway would average 29.4 MPG using ethanol-blended fuel, a small price to pay for a cleaner environment.
 
I'll take Consumer Reports word any day of the week over a pro-ethanol report. They sell the E85 here at the H.E.B. grocery store gas stations in Austin, TX and even customers are bitching about the piss poor mileage.  ;)




Offline Brush Wolf

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2007, 01:45:51 pm »
Anyone ever fill up on this so-called E-85 stuff?

I've heard that you can expect a significant drop in fuel efficiency.  So, yeah, your saving 10 - 15 cents per gallon at the pump, but you need to fill your tank again in 75% of the miles that you used to.  Is that savings?  Or is it just something to make you feel good?

At this point in time using E85 is really a statement just as driving a hybrid is. The best thing about E85 is the multi fuel capability for spark-ignition engines that compression ignition engines have had for a long time. It is much cleaner burning emissions wise compared to gasoline and in a very high compression engine more power is accessible.
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Offline Electric Eye

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2007, 10:05:55 am »
I think the Toyota Prius is more than a statement though, it seats four very comfortably and has a hatchback for cargo, and the biggest thing is it gets killer mpg (In other words, 52-55 mpg actual), something very few compacts can brag about. As for horsepower? Any compact's actual horsepower sucks, but with a set of headers and a better than stock exhaust system you can beef it up, a cold-air induction kit does not hurt either.

Now for the midsize car range? Nothing beats the Camry hybrid.

http://www.toyota.com/camry/specs.html

187 H.P. when the 4 banger and the electric motor are running together, and a very respectable 147 when it is not.

Also, 26k is far less expensive than hybrids of old, like when Prius first came out. The first model Prius was more expensive than today's hybrid Camry! It just shows the Japanese were not kidding when they told everyone that within 5 years of the release of the Prius they would have their manufacturing lines of the Prius and future hybrid models becoming more and more efficient.

Last, where else do you get a tax-break on the purchase of a car? Nowhere except for the Hummer, and that just showed the stupidity of our politicians, as people who bought Hummers for "business uses" could recoup 100% of what they paid for it, at our taxpayer expense of course.  >:(

Offline Brush Wolf

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2007, 02:24:01 pm »
"I think the Toyota Prius is more than a statement"

I still think they are more of a statement and that sales are being driven more because of the tax break than the mileage. Also factor in the end of life disposal cost because of the battery pack and they lose much of their luster.
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Offline Electric Eye

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2007, 07:12:13 pm »
http://www.hybridcars.com/faq.html

How often do hybrid batteries need replacing? Is replacement expensive and disposal an environmental problem?
The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the car maker.

Battery toxicity is a concern, althoug today's hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. "Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled," says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 "bounty" for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.

There's no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced. According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

Hmmmmm, I wish Toyota would give me money back for my gasoline engine when it needs an overhaul.  ;)

You really think the Japanese (Who have some of the highest number of people per square miles) would really make a toxic hazard with no place to dump it?

Offline Brush Wolf

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2007, 08:01:41 pm »
Maybe a better question is how many years are those batteries good for? They are saying lifetime of the vehicle however, at the same time they are saying eight to ten years yet many cars are in use for much longer than ten years with twenty being fairly easy to attain with good maintenance.
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Offline Nemesis

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2007, 11:09:35 pm »
Link to full article

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Working at a central lab facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, researchers will create new forms of life that will produce ethanol with unprecedented efficiency. This field of science -- synthetic biology -- will be used to make crops that are extremely tough and productive. Optimized plants will push the limit of fuel production per acre of land. The same laboratory techniques will be used to design organisms that convert plant material into fuel in the most cost-effective manner possible.


Even if genetic engineering is not used plants can be conventionally bred for better yields.  It has worked on rice, wheat and corn for millenia just to name 3.
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Offline Lloyd007

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2007, 08:36:15 am »
My uncle (who is a farmer) thinks ethanol is one of the stupider concepts ever devised but he doesn't mind cause corn is 3 bucks a bushel and climbing. Basically when you see farmers grinning over high prices you run the other way...

If we were truly serious about oil and stuff we'd all get diesel engined cars. No tradeoffs, no battery pack worries, more horsepower and 40+ mpg. It's one of the few things from Europe I think we should welcome with open arms but we don't. Today's diesel engines supposedly can start at -40f and with low sulphur and biodiesel they aren't the sooty things of yesteryear.

Altho my Ford isn't too bad either, 27mpg for a 5000 mile trip loaded with 1000+ pounds of people and luggage over the Appalachians and Black Hills (yes I know everyone hates Ford but truthfully we've never had any problem with them and imo a lot of their problems can be summed up in two words "Bad Marketing")

Offline Electric Eye

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2007, 10:57:23 am »
I'm glad to hear good things about a Ford, even though I'm a Camryman myself. Now, if one of my neighbors could just quit double parking his 07 Ford Fusion, I'd be happy. No, it's not the fact that it's Ford, it's the fact that while others sleep in the desert and eat crap and get shot at, he is on his holier than though trip, which is a serious no-go in my book.

My Camry is worth far more than his Fusion.  >:( Although they ALL depreciate, which makes me a sucker like the rest of em.  ;)

Offline Lloyd007

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2007, 11:51:53 am »
Problem I've always had with Japanese cars is none of the ones I've ever sat in or driven have remained comfortable to me for more than 1/2 an hour (altho I admit to not sitting in or driving a lot of makes and models I have sat in my fair share of Camrys and Accords and Altima's and such). Also you couldn't even begin to fit the amount of luggage and souvenirs and other stuff we can fit into almost any Ford vehicle. This last trip was 4 large suitcases and 10 big bags of other stuff and we still rode in comfort for 5000 miles.

Heck I sometimes wonder about the sturdiness of Japanese cars as well. Anecdotal story here but my brother got into an accident trying to pull out of a parking lot when some idiot tried to make a right turn from the left turn lane... his car... 2005 brand new for the time Accord... my bro's car... 99 Grand Marquis land yacht. The guy tears off half his car at 15 mph and incurs 6k worth of damage (all the paneling and the 2 doors had to be replaced and I saw the damage from court photos it looked gruesome). Damage to my brother's car... a small hole in the front bumper that would have been costly to repair as everything is these days but is definitely only cosmetic and barely visible so who cares?

Heck the car I drive now is a tank the Ford Five Hundred (now renamed back to the Taurus since someone finally wised up a bit)  has the safest crash tests of any large sedan for the three years its been in production. The sad thing is they don't even advertise them at the DEALERSHIP! I went in to get my oil changed after the trip and looked around there were NO brochures or spots for brochures for my car! I mean WTF are they thinking people will just magically know Ford makes these  ::).

I really wonder what is wrong with Ford marketing these days they seem to be dumber than a bag of rocks. They make cars and in my experience they make very nice cars but you wouldn't know they existed aside from the F-150 which despite the fact that all car magazines and Consumer Reports loathes is still in real world driving so much better than the offerings from Toyota or Honda or Dodge or even Chevy nowadays (again anecdotal but my uncle had some neighbors who got suckered into Toyotas and I'm sorry I know you like them but each and every one of them had massive computer/electrical failures trying to do heavy farm work after only a year while my uncle has never had any problems at all with his newer Ford trucks and old 1984 model Chevy truck (well aside from seat cushions needing replacement after so long)

Offline Commander Maxillius

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2007, 04:08:08 pm »
I'm glad to hear good things about a Ford, even though I'm a Camryman myself. Now, if one of my neighbors could just quit double parking his 07 Ford Fusion, I'd be happy. No, it's not the fact that it's Ford, it's the fact that while others sleep in the desert and eat crap and get shot at, he is on his holier than though trip, which is a serious no-go in my book.

My Camry is worth far more than his Fusion.  >:( Although they ALL depreciate, which makes me a sucker like the rest of em.  ;)

And your Camry will continue to be worth more.  When you drove it off the lot, your Camry lost $1000 of its value.  That Fusion lost $5000.
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Offline Brush Wolf

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2007, 05:26:12 pm »
I'm glad to hear good things about a Ford, even though I'm a Camryman myself. Now, if one of my neighbors could just quit double parking his 07 Ford Fusion, I'd be happy. No, it's not the fact that it's Ford, it's the fact that while others sleep in the desert and eat crap and get shot at, he is on his holier than though trip, which is a serious no-go in my book.

My Camry is worth far more than his Fusion.  >:( Although they ALL depreciate, which makes me a sucker like the rest of em.  ;)

And your Camry will continue to be worth more.  When you drove it off the lot, your Camry lost $1000 of its value.  That Fusion lost $5000.

Resale value is meaningless if you are like me and drive a car for so long that the next owner is the junk yard. ;) Seven years and still going on my 1990 Pontiac and while she has gotten a bit beat up over the years and is starting to rust I would drive her anywhere the road goes. Not having a payment is the best option to have on a car.
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Offline Nemesis

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2007, 07:44:11 pm »
Link to full article

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Cellulosic ethanol can contain up to 16 times more energy than is required to create it! If that doesn't sound ridiculously impressive, consider that gasoline contains only 5 times more energy than was required to create it and corn ethanol is totally lame, containing only 1.3 times the energy required to create it.


Quote
Range fuels will be creating its ethanol from wood chips, which contain a very large amount of energy (think fire.) The plant, which will be completed in 2008, will create over 100 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Think of it as a pilot project. If we can create carbon-neutral fuel from waste economically in 2008, then we're on a good path to dodge peak oil completely. We need to move fast for it to happen. But this is a sign that we might be ready for the challenge.


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Offline Panzergranate

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2007, 09:57:41 am »
The majority of oil is refined for chemicals needed for industrial manufacture. Until the internal combustion engine came along, Petroleum was just a waste product left over from distillations.

If all vehicles stopped using oil based fuels, they'd have the problem of what to do with Petroleum waste again.

As usual the niave Greens don't actually have nuch of a clue about the real facts about oil. If we have no cars, they reason, we won't need to drill for oil.

VERY BIG WRONG!!

We will still need oil for all the other things we use it for, such as lubricants, plastics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, metlurgicals, etc. We don't drill for oil soley for fuel reasons as this is just a byproduct.

Geoligust estimate, at current consumption, we have enough oil reserves for just over 500 years. And that is before we start poking around under the deep oceans.

The Greens seems to always mistake the the statement that Dubai will run out of oil in the next 50 years, as the World will run out of oil in the next 50 years. Then the propoganda about "How we need to push for alternative power sources and stop using cars", etc. based around this mistaken premise.

I think that because the public could see that they were wrong over this caused the latest CO2 scam. Unfortunately, the figures don't add up here either and the public is skeptical once again.

I'm for some Green issues such as landfill, chemical waste, recycling, polution, etc. but the CO2 thing is a crock, investigate the way the theory contradicts science facts and laws of Physics, history, etc.

Even if all the vehicles were not fossil fuel powered, we'd still need oil for lubricants for the vehicles.

Before oil, we used to depend on Whale oil for lubricants, fuel, chemicals, etc. and look what damage that did to the envioronment!!

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Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2007, 11:11:38 am »
Combustion is combustion, to produce the same amount of energy from a hydrocarbon fuel, the same amount of CO2 must be produced. I have worked out the balanced equations to prove it. (octane vs ethanol) Do a little chemistry research. The drive for ethanol fuels is an effort to protect the future of the parts industry for internal combustion engines (which just happen to wear parts out quite efficiently).

Granted, incomplete combustion of ethanol in worn engines does not produce the same combustion byproducts, but the main enemy CO2 is unaffected.

Candu nuclear technology is the best possible solution with current technology, however the irrational fear of nuclear power makes this very difficult. If you wish to debate the irrationality of this fear then please research why Candu reactors are the best in the world and could never produce a Chernobyl type event.

I suspect this discussion belongs in a different forum, while technical, it can go political and go south very fast. Keep it technical.

Offline Just plain old Punisher

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2007, 02:46:39 pm »
Eh, we've had a couple of close calls on nuclear power. Three mile island being one of them. The problem is that the permit process can take up to 10 years, with tens to hundreds of millions in investments before even a watt of electricity is generated.

And the problem of storing and transporting the waste also comes into question. No one wants the waste going through their town, much less being stored near their town.

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