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Once-Darling Ethanol Losing Friends In High Places

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the political-economy-case-in-point dept.

Earth 586

theodp writes "It's now conceivable, says BusinessWeek's Ed Wallace, that the myth of ethanol as the salvation for America's energy problem is coming to an end. Curiously, the alternative fuel may be done in by an unlikely collection of foes. Fervidly pro-ethanol in the last decade of his political career, former VP Al Gore reversed course in late November and apologized for supporting ethanol, which apparently was more about ingratiating himself to farmers. A week later, Energy Secretary Steven Chu piled on, saying: 'The future of transportation fuels shouldn't involve ethanol.' And in December, a group of small-engine manufacturers, automakers, and boat manufacturers filed suit in the US Court of Appeals to vacate the EPA's October ruling that using a 15% blend of ethanol in fuel supplies would not harm 2007 and newer vehicles. Despite all of this, the newly-elected Congress has extended the 45 cent-per-gallon ethanol blending tax credit that was due to expire, a move that is expected to reduce revenue by $6.25 billion in 2011. 'The ethanol insanity,' longtime-critic Wallace laments, 'will continue until so many cars and motors are damaged by this fuel additive that the public outcry can no longer be ignored.'"

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586 comments

We borrow money from China to fund corn... (4, Insightful)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671610)

...and so it ends up everywhere, from our stomachs to our gas tanks. High-fructose corn syrup anyone?

Re:We borrow money from China to fund corn... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671748)

...and so it ends up everywhere, from our stomachs to our gas tanks. High-fructose corn syrup anyone?

So what's your solution to the problem? Or did you come here to just complain?

Joe Sixpack is hooked to cheap, Chinese produced items like a track team, crack fiend, dyin' to geek. We owe China like 800+ billion dollars of our 13 trillion dollars in debt. Private industry will use whatever is cheap, including but not limited to HFCS.

Do you suggest we Tariff China? Do you suggest we get rid of corn Tariffs and/or make sugar cheaper to import? Do you have any real, credible thoughts about the serious problem we all face? Do you say that we add new regulations to the food industry on the substances they can use?

I'm dying to know.

Re:We borrow money from China to fund corn... (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672100)

So what's your solution to the problem?

I thought the implied solution is to stop giving welfare to the megacorps over-producing corn. If you don't like that, why are you supporting welfare for the rich?

I would mod you up if I had the points (-1, Troll)

arcite (661011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672112)

In other news, the average life expectancy of Americans FELL this year.

-the middle class is disappearing - greater than 10% unemployment

- The USD is losing value

- America is increasingly uncompetitive on the world stage

-infrastructure is in desperate need of modernization

Not that this matters to most people, as they are too obese, entertained, and in debt to notice.

....and what has Obama done about any of this? He extended tax cuts to the richest 2% and pushed the football a little farther down the line. Given all of this, perhaps it makes sense to continue subsidizing a fuel additive that actually damages engines, more fuel for the fire.

Re:We borrow money from China to fund corn... (1)

MrLint (519792) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672186)

Indeed the problem is the money funneled into corn. This is a foodstuff being turned into fuel. There are better uses for this.. oh like food!

I shudder to think the amount of money lining rich people's pockets on this wasteful redirection of resources. I have always considered cellulosic ethanol a much better avenue for research, as the input could end up being mostly 'by-product' from existing agricultural processes.

Who extended the tax credit? (4, Informative)

Bedouin X (254404) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671614)

The "newly-elected" Congress hasn't been seated yet.

Re:Who extended the tax credit? (1, Funny)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671926)

They're clearly refering to the 2008 elections as the 2010 election was an obvious sham and therefore illegitimate. You just have to look at the evidence that the hot SF babe Pelosi couldn't possibly have lost her House Speakership through any legitmate means.

Re:Who extended the tax credit? (0)

bkpark (1253468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672042)

You must not be following current events (nor have passed basic reading comprehension).

The lame duck Congress recently extended the ethanol subsidy (I forget whether that was part of the tax cut deal), and how would the Congress elected in 2008 deal with issues that affect 2011 budgets?

Actually, scratch that, they actually can affect the 2011 budget since they should've come up with the budget by the end of 2010, but in a "failure to govern" (not my words, the Democrats') they have failed to come up with anything better than continuing resolutions so far—and that's including the current lame-duck session.

Re:Who extended the tax credit? (2, Informative)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672058)

You must not be following current events (nor have passed basic reading comprehension).

And you're clearly blind to blatant, overt sarcasm.

Re:Who extended the tax credit? (-1, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672098)

No, you're clearly nothing but a troll, and have clearly been bitten by a stronger human.

Re:Who extended the tax credit? (2)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672202)

Okay, let's set aside the sarcasm for a moment. When I read the little gem in the article summary above that states:

Despite all of this, the newly-elected Congress has extended the 45 cent-per-gallon ethanol blending tax credit that was due to expire, a move that is expected to reduce revenue by $6.25 billion in 2011

(emphasis mine) I have to respond. The newly elected Congress is the 112th congres which as Bedouin X indicated has not yet been seated; it was his comment with which I sarcastically agreed. bkpark's comments actually agreed with this, though he clearly didn't see my comment as being in agreement. So a Troll? Perhaps, and if so, I'll wear that badge proudly here... I certainly hooked you and bkpark.

Re:Who extended the tax credit? (-1, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672216)

"Hot SF babe"? And that's just the least of your blather.

You're a troll, who has hooked no one. Your face knocked our fists around a little, but now your feeble attempts to say something relevant are easily and deservedly ignored. Enjoy your lonely troll hole.

Ethanol pluses and minuses (5, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672092)

First the jury has been in for a long time that in terms of Energy per dollar Corn or sugar based ethanol are never going to be a good idea in the US for feedstocks that come from the food chain. However cellolosic ethanol (switch grass, poplar tree, cellulosic waste, etc...) may be quite a good idea. There are strong arguments for them that have yet to be defeated. They need less irrigation and can be grown on lands or seasons otherwise unsuited for crops.

The big bug-a-boo with these is that they are waiting for a scientific breaktrhough for a process to change cellulose into simple sugars or directly to ethanol or gasoline. There's lots of ways to approach this but all of them are not at the efficiency needed yet. It's not an easy proposal: if digesting cellulose was super easy then more bugs would do it already. It's actually not the cellulose that's the biggest problem, it's the lignose which is about 30%+ of the plant thats slightly harder to deal with biochemically.

It's likely that some breakthroughs will occur. Theres lots of irons in the fire. Some of them may scale. But if you had to do it tommorrow chances are you'd bet on the wrong pony if you went with one particular approach.

Thus the primary role that starch and sugar based ethanol plays now is that it seeds the pipeline with ethanol now, so the infrastructure will be in place when cellulosic ethanol comes on line.

Now why ethanol and not something else more energy efficient. Butanol for example. Or other liquid fuels. THe problem is that when you ad up the cost of replacing our fleet of existing internal combustion engines and fuel infrastructure it's a huge huge huge sum. You can't just pick the "optimal" fuel purely from an maximal energy standpoint. You have to have a way there that does not start with a non-starter like chucking out all the existing engines. Hence Ethanol looks like the common denominator. It's not bad. It's easier to produce ethanol from grains now than it is butanol or gasoline. and it works in the cars we have up to a point.

As long as we are comminting to cellulosic ethanol, some use of food crops to produce grain-based ethanol now is justifiable. It just can't continue in the long run.

Another route is commit to bio-diesel from algae. This too has some issues to solve to make it scalable. It can use lower quality water. it can use low grade lands. it is easier to "dry" than ethanol because it is not water soluble so there's less energy waste in turning it into fuels. And you might be able to think of some byproduct for the waste stream from algae (maybe animal feed or fertilizer). SOme of the challenges here are very simple sounding, though no one has entirely solved them yet: how do we quadruple the lipid yield, and how to we get enough CO2 into the water (without burning fuel to create it and pump it.).
There is enough bad land to fuel the entire nation if we can solve those scaling products.

It has a path forward through the trucking system (diesel) and through aviation fuels and military fuels. The latter can pay premium prices to subsidize the product effectively since those fuels are more expensive than consume fuels.

Eventually however that path requires replacing the automobile fleet. But given the path forward in the near term this may not be a non-starter.

mod up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672204)

Informative and insightful. thank you.

The newly elected congress? (3, Insightful)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671620)

I'm not exactly sure, but I don't think they've actually done anything yet. Everything so far is the lame duck congress.

Re:The newly elected congress? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671718)

That is correct. They are not seated in office yet. The extension of the subisidies the article mentions and the Republicans the author tries to blame have not been sworn in. I felt that his idiotic attempt at bashing Republicans was pathetic and cast a negative light on the entire article.

Quoting Homer (5, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671628)

Alcohol: the cause of, and the solution to, all of life's problems.

Re:Quoting Homer (4, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671884)

How apropos! I have already had TWO generators get trashed ($650+ each) and have had several other mechanical issues with ethanol in non-car engines. Ethanol is the worst thing you can put in a lawn mower, boat, or other motor that isn't run every day. It sucks more water out of the air than the average dehumidifier, which will literally RUST out the engine components.

Putting alcohol in my small motor fuel has created hundreds of dollars of damage, and has created MORE carbon than regular gas, due to all the replacement parts that had to be manufactured again, and shipped. It sounds good on paper, but by the time you add the cost of subsidizing Monsanto and adding the damage, it costs more than it saves in both money and carbon.

Re:Quoting Homer (-1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672148)

So, as I understand it, you put four-stroke engine fuel in a two-stroke engine, it broke, and this is somehow someone else's fault?

I call BS, and perhaps even Shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672182)

Well, I think your full of BS, and here's why...

Why are you using ethanol blend gasoline when you can purchase ethanol free gas?
[Non-ethanol gas is available in every state, and I can't find data that shows regular unleaded not being available in any municipality. I really can't imagine filling a gas can with anything but non-ethanol gas.]

Your buying gennys that cost around $650?
[Those are either overpriced picnickers with an upcharging brand name, or they are the crappy low end of the contractors grade. Could be your just buying crap gennys with crap motors]

 

Re:Quoting Homer (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672090)

Alcohol: the cause of, and the solution to, all of life's problems.

Congress and alcohol -- made for each other.

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671644)

While even the most polluting motor technology can be made more efficient compared to previous generations, the real issue in the end it the amount of energy that is consumed. Whether it comes from oil, electricity, ethanol, etc, it's really just shifting the problem from one area to another.

The electrical car will not help, btw. It will only shift the problem of pollution elsewhere. Smaller (lighter) cars are the only solution. Consuming fewer pointless goods imported on ships from the other side of the world is part of the only solution too!

Re:Easy (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671724)

Pollution shift allows pollution control and avoids depending on the owners of autos to maintain them. Central powerplant upgrades cost less than dispersed vehicle fleet replacement.

"Smaller (lighter) cars are the only solution."

Their is no "only solution", there are a vast number of partial, complementary solutions. The "central solution" idea is both stupid and a distraction from intelligent comprehension of the systems that need changing.

Re:Easy (-1, Troll)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671840)

There is one only solution. It's getting the population back down below 3 billion.

And that's not going to happen prior to something really bad happening.

I'm guessing we have the disease problem basically beat, so the only thing I can see is war. A world war on top of brittle "just in time" delivery will probably kill billions very quickly.

I hope it's more than 30 years away.

Re:Easy (5, Insightful)

Shark (78448) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671968)

Alright, who's in charge of deciding who gets to live and who gets to die? Population explosions are usually a survival mechanism. Past a certain level of prosperity and education, you have bigger problems with population decline. If you want to 'control populations', give them liberty and education. There are more than enough resources left on earth to reach that goal but our great civilized cultures would rather see the starving masses die off than elevated to our own level if one is to believe people like you.

Re:Easy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672076)

This dumb argument comes up each and every time. Less reproduction is the answer, not culling of the current population.

Agreed (2)

arcite (661011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672120)

There are almost 8 billion people on the earth at the moment and more than enough food to go around. It's just not...you know, equitably distributed.

Re:Easy (1)

geekpowa (916089) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672012)

Your position is both irrational and not founded on empirical evidence.

World population has exceeded 3bill since 1960 : 50 years ago. We are now just shy of 7bill and expectation is that population will plateau at around 10bill. If this 3bill figure represented some sort of high water mark then I would expect that some solid empirical evidence of this high water mark would of eventuated by now. The absence of such evidence makes such claims even more extraordinary, burden of proof is on you to demonstrate this claim.

I'd assume that being a slashdot reader you'd have some sort of science/engineering background and as such some basic appreciation of the fact that we, people, are very resourceful and ingenious and that our collective intelligence and capacity to manipulate our environment to suit our needs is a very potent force, as consistently demonstrated in modern history. Until we are in a situation where we have one or more resources under significant and consistent pressure over a long period of time that eats up more and more of our collective time and energies trying to manage and maximize, then this mathusian doomsday scenario hasn't even left the drawing board - let alone the hanger.

Read: Simon Ehrlich Wager [wikipedia.org]

Re:Easy (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672174)

Until we are in a situation where we have one or more resources under significant and consistent pressure over a long period of time that eats up more and more of our collective time and energies trying to manage and maximize, then this mathusian doomsday scenario hasn't even left the drawing board - let alone the hanger.

Oil [theoildrum.com] and

Fresh Water [nature.com]

Quit watching so much Star Trek. Reality can be a cast iron bitch at times.

I'd start doodling if I were you. If your talents don't run that way, try some reading [amazon.com].

Re:Easy (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672094)

There is one only solution. It's getting the population back down below 3 billion.

Or below ten billion.

Re:Easy (1, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671762)

Well, the electrical car can actually help the issue a bit, since large engines in power plants can run more efficiently than small ICEs. Not to mention that the former can run on non-polluting power sources (solar, water, wind...).

But the true solution is simply to make cars run on less fuel. We have to aim for a car that gets 50, 60, 100 mpg.

Re:Easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671902)

We already have those; I have a Yaris D4D and routinely average 60mpg despite driving around city roads most of the time.

Re:Easy (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671770)

You would have to run a fair few numbers to know for sure(once you get into total energy cost of manufacture, and similar considerations, things get kind of hairy...); but vehicle electrification might actually reduce pollution, even if fossil fuels are still being used to generate the power.

The efficiency of a heat engine depends on your engineering skill and care(precise machining, close tolerances, minimal friction, etc.); but the theoretical maximum efficiency depends in large part on the delta between the temperature of the hot side and the temperature of the cold side. In practice, small, light, engines are usually limited to a pretty modest thermal delta, because they can't pack much insulation, have to be safe enough for passenger vehicles, must be capable of thousands or 10s of thousands of hours of operation with little or no skilled oversight/maintenance, etc. The relatively titanic ones in large power plants, on the other hand, can do considerably better. On the other hand, they suffer electrical conversion losses, and grid losses.

As you say, more aluminum/polymer 2 seaters and fewer chrome-plated luxury tanks and masculinity-supplementing pickup trucks whose contractor grade diesel powertrains and reinforced suspensions will never face anything scarier than a trip to Best Buy will certainly reduce energy consumption considerably. However, electrification does give one the flexibility to use larger heat engines and/or wind/water/nuclear and other technologies that are seriously impractical for vehicles.

Re:Easy (2)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671944)

Instead of making smaller and lighter cars, how about making an electric car that is as big as the gasoline or diesel powered cars and has a decent range?

My car was modified to burn LPG as well as gasoline (originally it was gasoline only), my experience in driving it did not change much (it's a bit more difficult to use LPG), however, I can use cheaper fuel now (where I live, LPG costs about half of what gasoline costs, so even though my car burns more of it, in the end it's still cheaper to use LPG), but I would not want a small car that looks like it was designed purely for aerodynamic properties and not aesthetics (I like corners). Even if my car ran on electricity, my experience with it would not change much (I guess) as long as it had a decent range (or could be recharged in a few minutes).

I'm sure that a lot of people would not about the internal workings of the car (how many people care whether the car has a carburetor is fuel injection just for the sake of the device, not the results of having it), so I think that people would not care that their SUV or the "chrome-plated luxury tank" runs on electricity instead of gasoline or diesel.

What you want is for me (and almost everybody else) to abandon whatever reasons I used to choose my car and get a car that you think will be better for me, or actually, it won't be better for me, but maybe better for the environment. I guess that you also want me to pay for it too.

Re:Easy (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671874)

Easy? Smaller lighter cars?

Yea right. We only get small cars when we can't afford the big ones. And none of the hippy but Europe does this nonsense.

1. The United States has a low population density. That means...
    A. A lot of us are located far apart. Making travel long and in the winter more difficult.

    B. Long distances to stores we need shop and get more stuff per shopping.

    C. Public transportation is too cost prohibitive for many municipalities.

2. Wide weather patterns. Upstate NY. Summer up to 100 degrees winter -10. Snow fall can be up to 3 or 4 inches before the plows come by.

3. Large rural areas. Dirt roads. That are muddy and slippery.

4. Comfort. If you need to drive for a longer time it is nice that your ass isn't sore.

5. Free market. If you thought the tea party was bad about the silly stuff about the health care bill. Try telling the public what car they need to buy. You will see a lot of violence.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672010)

While I agree with your point that Americans will only get small cars when they can't afford big ones, I'd say the main issues here are pride and vanity.

1. The United States has a low population density.

The U.S. has a "low population density" because a lot of Americans live in suburbs, not because a lot of people live in rural areas. The solution is to move people into the city. This in my opinion is the #1 challenge, because it requires redesigning cities.

2. Wide weather patterns.

This is not significant. Europe has bad weather all the time, and public transport works fine. (Also, get with the program and start building more light rail and subways.)

Large rural areas. Dirt roads. That are muddy and slippery.

Only affects a minor part of the population. Let them deal with it. Also, this problem is not unique to the U.S.

Issues surrounding personal preferences become irrelevant when people have to choose between food and driving a car. Which is why I agree with your conclusion.

Re:Easy (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672116)

People don't like living stacked on top of one another, so they leave. I like, along with many others, space. It's fine if you like it, but you shouldn't be forced to.

I don't live in the suburbs though, but in a house on a 35 acre plot.

Re:Easy (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672188)

The U.S. has a "low population density" because a lot of Americans live in suburbs, not because a lot of people live in rural areas. The solution is to move people into the city. This in my opinion is the #1 challenge, because it requires redesigning cities.

US suburban population density isn't so different from many European cities. The difference is that the US tends to employ insane zoning so that you can't have shops and offices anywhere near to where people live. Don't move the people into the cities, move shops and workplaces out of them.

A little ethanol is good (3, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671646)

Ethanol is a relatively safe octane booster. As long as temperatures are not too high, it is a great idea to add some ethanol to the fuel, even if you lose a little bit of range.

With current production methods you really should not try to use it for its energy content though, except perhaps if you have access to a lot of area where you can grow sugar cane. Wasting corn on making ethanol should not be encouraged.

Re:A little ethanol is good (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671676)

Corn-derived ethanol has always been either of culinary/recreational interest(which is a fine and salubrious use of corn...) or an artefact of the fact that you will run into serious issues getting anything done in the senate without throwing Senator Cornfed, R/D, Flyover Country a bone... The fact that there are some relatively early presidential primaries in corn country doesn't help either.

Re:A little ethanol is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671880)

"R/D"?

I hope your little ignorant ass starves.

Re:A little ethanol is good (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671970)

The senators representing America's corn-belt states are actually a pretty even split between republicans and democrats, hence "R/D". Is that illogical? While their positions on god, guns, and gays may differ along party lines, their positions on corn ethanol tend to be homogeneous across them(the cynic might remark that, on that issue, those senators can basically be treated as "Senator Cornfed, ConAgra/ADM"...)

I hope your little ignorant ass is replaced by an agricultural robot.

Re:A little ethanol is good (2)

chipperdog (169552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671726)

How about sugar beets also.... Especially in the Red River Valley of the North where sugar beets grow so well that they contemplate plowing some of the crop under many years because there is more sugar in the crop than government subsidies will pay for...The "extra" crop could be turned into ethanol

Re:A little ethanol is good (2)

amorsen (7485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671896)

Sugar beets are another lousy way to make sugar. They do not grow in high-solar areas, they capture solar energy less efficiently, and their sugar content is lower than sugar cane.

Re:A little ethanol is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671752)

Wasting corn on making ethanol should not be encouraged.

You could extend that to say that wasting land and energy growing corn should not be encouraged.

Re:A little ethanol is good (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671818)

What other use would you put that land to?

Wheat perhaps? Yeah, that's proven very healthy over the generations hasn't it.

Re:A little ethanol is good (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671960)

Corn is useful for animal feed. It is a reasonably efficient plant if you measure yield/acre (and you use the whole plant, not just the cobs). Burning corn as a substitute for coal is not out of the question, although switchgrass or willow are more obvious candidates.

Re:A little ethanol is good (1)

isopropanol (1936936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672028)

Relatively safe unless there are components in your fuel delivery system that are vulnerable to polar solvents, like the fuel pump seals in my car.

Re:A little ethanol is good (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672082)

That is a minor engineering problem though. We got through the switch to unleaded, from a technical viewpoint we can relatively easily switch to more than 50% ethanol. We just do not have an efficient way to produce that much ethanol, apart from sugar cane.

Not all ethanol is created the same (4, Interesting)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671652)

Corn ethanol: bad
Switchgrass ethanol: good

There's nothing inherently wrong with ethanol (unless you're under 21 - shame on you majority of populace!) but how we get our current stock is a terrible deal. Corn and farm policies are troublesome, and current ethanol mandates are indeed another subsidy for a growing and yet still ailing production force, but it need not be. Convert some fields into sugarcane or switchgrass, which is vastly more effective for creating biofuels, and that's without all the genetic advances corn has had. We'll get more efficient energy production, another crop will become incredibly profitable, and the corn cycle of "grow more causing prices to drop so grow more" - that's a win-win-win situation.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (4, Insightful)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671686)

Yeah. We use Ethanol in Brazil since the early 80s, making them from sugar cane and it is great. Now corn ethanol is ridiculous inefficient.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671732)

my name is peter - I just don't want to create an account right now...

here is some information about the energy efficiency of ethanol:

http://ncga.com/ethanol-energy

Ethanol Production: A Net Energy Winner

There is clearly no doubt that fuel ethanol contains more energy than it takes to produce.
In June 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its 2002 analysis of the issue and determined that the net energy balance of ethanol production is 1.67 to 1. (For every 100 BTUs of energy used to make ethanol, 167 BTUs of ethanol is produced.) In 2002, USDA had concluded that the ratio was 1.35 to 1.

The USDA findings have been confirmed by additional studies conducted by the University of Nebraska and Argonne National Laboratory. In fact, since 1995, twelve independent studies found ethanol has a positive net energy balance, while only two studies by the same author– which used outdated data – found the energy balance to be negative.

A Michigan State University study (2002) found that ethanol produced from corn provided 56 percent more energy than is consumed during production (1.56 to 1). This study looked at producing ethanol from both dry and wet milling of corn—and included corn grain production, soybean products from soybean milling and urea production.

These studies take into account the entire life cycle of ethanol production—from the energy used to produce and transport corn to the energy used to produce ethanol to the energy used in the distribution of ethanol in gasoline. ...

there's more there but that's just a start. I'd encourage you to look at their site, which cites a variety of research to support its claims.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671836)

National Corn Growers Association.

Now there wouldn't be anything self serving on that site would there?

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (4, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671738)

Lucky you. You don't have a sugar cartel controlling supply and jacking up prices like we do.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (3, Informative)

That's What She Said (1289344) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671942)

Lucky you. You don't have a sugar cartel controlling supply and jacking up prices like we do.

Yes, we have. This cartel makes ethanol and sugar. When they're losing on the sugar, they jack up alcohol prices and vice-versa.

They employ some of the poorest people in Brazil, who work their asses of for cheap money.

It seems the USA and Brazil are not that different...

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (3, Interesting)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672000)

Lucky you. You don't have a sugar cartel controlling supply and jacking up prices like we do.

As the other user said, yes we do, the usineiros as they are called have a lot of people on the congress (the Agribusiness Lobby is the second larges non-partisan group on the Congress and Senate), and they have a monopoly of a lot of stuff. That means they jack up prices and try to stiffle the market of other type of fuel.

What happened to balance is that other big farmers decided to jump on the biodiesel wagon, and their lobby was stronger than the Ethanol's, so they got some subsidies to start making Castor Bean diesel. That put them on their place and the prices got a little more controlled. But still that risks upping the price of other produces with more and more farmers jumping at that wagon and forgetting the once great rice, wheat and soy.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (1)

chipperdog (169552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671740)

I'll restate my comment above...Can Sugar Beets be used to make ethanol efficiently also?

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (2)

tokul (682258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671854)

Yeah. We use Ethanol in Brazil since the early 80s, making them from sugar cane and it is great. Now corn ethanol is ridiculous inefficient.

Are you sure that you can grow sugarcane on same location that can grow corn? They have different climate requirements. What grows in Brasil does not always grow in Texas.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672004)

While continuing massive deforestation to make room for more sugar plantations. How fast are you clearing it now?

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671846)

...which is why I drink Scotch. Because it's made from barley while Bourbon is made from corn. It's bad ethanol for drinking too.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (1)

That's What She Said (1289344) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671964)

...which is why I drink Scotch. Because it's made from barley while Bourbon is made from corn. It's bad ethanol for drinking too.

I see you're not from Tennessee.

Neither do I, but I love Jack Daniel's. I just don't like that they call it "whiskey", when it's bourbon.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (1)

c.derby (574103) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672102)

Neither do I, but I love Jack Daniel's. I just don't like that they call it "whiskey", when it's bourbon.

technically it's not...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Daniel's [wikipedia.org]

Tennessee whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal in large wooden vats prior to aging, unlike the process used to make Kentucky bourbon. Tennessee whiskey is not bourbon whiskey, as defined by Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 5, Section 5.22.

Re:Not all ethanol is created the same (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672072)

Ethanol fuels don't store well, as any mechanic who has dealt with them will attest. Their lubricity is poor.

Of course, you can dump STA-BIL in the tank (ignore the directions, use a shitload), but that kind of defeats the purpose.

"Drop-in" petroleum replacements are a better solution deserving further development, and can be run in compression-ignition diesels.

Thank God (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671658)

Maybe now we can stop trading food for inferior gasoline and get further ahead on things that make some sense. Trading food and water for something less efficient than gasoline but requiring almost all of the same cumbersome infrastructure? I still can't believe anyone went crazy for ethanol in the first place.

Re:Thank God (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671750)

Have you ever actually tried to eat the grade of corn used for corn ethanol? I thought not, but believe me, don't try it, you won't be able to, it's a grade lower than that used for silage/cattle feed. It's grown on land too marginal for real human crops and tastes. There are plenty of things wrong with corn ethanol other than "it's taking food", because that's simply untrue in the extreme -- it's only grown because of a subsidy that makes it worth it for farmers to grow marginal grades on marginal lands, and they'd not grow it at all otherwise, because they can't get enough money to make profit on food-grade corn in the same conditions.

In fact, the NRA went ballistic about this one, as all this land that used to be available for nature conservation and hunting uses -- unused until a subsidy made it worthwhile, was plowed and planted in this crap corn for ethanol.

Check ya fax man. There's plenty of truth against corn ethanol, why not use the right facts instead of the bullcrap? I'll think of the children for you, no worries.

Re:Thank God (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671870)

Have you ever actually tried to eat the grade of corn used for corn ethanol? I thought not, but believe me, don't try it, you won't be able to, it's a grade lower than that used for silage/cattle feed. It's grown on land too marginal for real human crops and tastes.

Ah, No. Not true.

Ethanol has taken over prime farm corn land.

Ethanol has actually driven up the price of silage corn, and beef.

It is most often the exact same corn as silage, because there is no point in switching to a lower grade. The seed, planting, and harvesting costs the same, and you cut your market options by growing anything other than cattle grade corn.

We don't directly eat silage either, so just because it does not taste good to humans when eaten directly is a hollow argument. It tastes pretty good when you eat the cow/pig.

I'm sure this is where the vegans jump in and pontificate about eating animals, but thats not what this thread is about.

Re:Thank God (5, Interesting)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671988)

I thought not, but believe me, don't try it, you won't be able to, it's a grade lower than that used for silage/cattle feed.

You are more full of shit that feeder cattle you pretend to know about. The exact same corn can and does go to an ethanol plant or to a feed lot or even human food consumption processing. The by-product of ethanol is distillers grain and is also fed to livestock among other uses. I was raised on a farm and now have a few cattle of my own on an acreage.

You can eat and digest normal field corn just fine(GMO arguments aside), although it's not the sweet corn variety which what most people are used to.

FWIW, most small farmer don't get much or any subsidies for corn production and we nearly all have recognized for years that the ethanol pitch is bullshit. If you want to rage about farmers getting too much unwarranted subsidies, make sure you focus the anger on the big corporate farms because they're the one's that have Congress's ear. About the only benefit small farmer's have seen is the relatively recent sustained rise in corn prices due to the OP's point. The small farmer subsidy era largely went away during the Reagan Administration and has never returned. If you want to check your "fax", look at how many family farms went under in the 80's and the farm bill provisions before, during, and after that time.

You may also want to consider the reasoning behind subsidies as well. It's essentially a safeguard so that American food supply will be adequate on a yearly basis. If you let market forces run it entirely, there would be large swings in price and availability. Some might say fine, that's the way it should. The problem with is when a core need like food supply become volatile then so does everything dependent on the supply. The society we live in today would not be possible without subsidies to encourage farmers to plant even when there is excess. The argument "There shouldn't be subsidies" is completely different than "We have too many subsidies".

Re:Thank God (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671800)

It's typical political maneuvering. Start with something that makes a lot of sense but is against the interests of your backers. Add increasing political pressure to implement the sensible measure. "cave" and implement it but with a catch, do so in the stupidest most destructive and ineffective way you can possibly think of. Wait a few years and point out what a dreadful idea the whole things was and get rid of it.

You get to look like a hero twice, all without pissing your villainous backers off.

Why engines are falling apart (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671668)

Here's a great article about what is happening today with ethanol:

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/too-much-alcohol

"He explains that the legal limit is 10% but that all the fuel distributors cheat and mix in some extra alcohol so they can make a buck. When the mix gets to 15% it’s toxic for two cycle engines. And that is what killed my machines."

Kiss your chainsaw or gas boat motor goodbye. And your car engine, if the EPA gets their way of increasing the "limit" to 15%.

Re:Why engines are falling apart (0)

That's What She Said (1289344) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671978)

We have "flex-fuel" cars in Brazil for quite some time now and you can mix gasoline and ethanol the way you please without destroying the motor.

So, maybe USA needs better motors, not getting rid of ethanol.

The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671696)

Ethanol was never about the environment it was always about the corn lobby. Corn is a lousy way to produce ethanol. Sugar cane is far better but we don't produce enough sugar cane in this country. Brazil did it by cutting down half the Amazon rain forest which is far from environmentally friendly. A small percentage of the fuel we need can come from ethanol produced by waste and excess but it'd never be more than a few percent. There's hope that cellulose based ethanol might contribute a higher percentage but that's years off and it'll never be a gasoline replacement.

Re:The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671822)

Sugar cane is far better but we don't produce enough sugar cane in this country. Brazil did it by cutting down half the Amazon rain forest which is far from environmentally friendly.

Every time ethanol appears on Slashdot, someone mentions that Brazil cuts down rain forest to plant sugar cane. As someone from Brazil, I feel that I should enlighten you on this subject [wikimedia.org].

In short, convincing you that Brazil's ethanol destroys forests is another lie created by the corn lobby, because their proposal can't compete with sugar cane ethanol on technical merits.

Re:The real reason (1)

That's What She Said (1289344) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672044)

And, adding to that, the Amazon rainforest is not being destroyed for sugar cane culture. It's for the rare wood, that is used to make furniture which gets exported to the USA and Europe.

Then, they use the "free space" for pasture (cattle) and soybeans. And then they export the meat and soybeans to the USA and Europe.

Oh, and by the way, too much rain is bad for sugar cane culture.

Re:The real reason (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671998)

Exactly so.

North America has precious little land suitable for Sugar Cane. Beets many. Switchgrass maybe.

The US isn't Brazil, and Brazil's methods were, as you pointed out an ecological nightmare.

Corn for ethanol has unfortunately been grown on Class 1 Farm Land, competing with animal feed stocks. (Its often as not the same exact corn).

A note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671736)

I've been running the two old family cars on E85 since 2007 now, without as much as a hickup. In both cases, the only modification was aftermarket chip tuning of the injection.

Only thing you notice is that mileage went down 35% and the cars don't smell as bad anymore.

I don't care to argue about eco friendliness, what I care about though is where my money goes. In my case the choice is between brazilian farmers and some saudi trillionaire.

Re:A note (3, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671814)

I don't care to argue about eco friendliness, what I care about though is where my money goes. In my case the choice is between brazilian farmers and some saudi trillionaire.

America imports twice as much oil from Canada as from Saudi Arabia...

Re:A note (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672136)

Well first off, the USA is an Ethanol EXPORTER. [ethanolrfa.org]. So nothing is going to Brazil.

Second, it all comes down to dollars and cents. 40% of US petroleum is produced locally. That percentage of it that goes to foreign oil goes to Canada, Mexico, and Nigeria in that order. Saudi Arabia is a distant 4th.

You pay (currently) about 13% less at the pump for E85 [e85prices.com] but you get 35% less mileage: you've made a fools bargain.

E85 has never been cost effective at the pump IN SPITE of the massive subsidies and tax breaks.

Unfortunately ethanol requires more land use (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671756)

Unfortunately ethanol requires even more land use, in an already overcrowded planet.

Re:Unfortunately ethanol requires more land use (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671826)

Unfortunately ethanol requires even more land use, in an already overcrowded planet.

And the other problem is it takes two barrels of crude equivalent to manufacture one ethanol equivalent of a barrel of oil.

Re:Unfortunately ethanol requires more land use (0)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672142)

Get out of your urban prison. Take a little drive through Nevada, and tell me how crowded it is. It doesn't all look like Hong Kong yet. We have some time before we approach this [wikipedia.org]

ETOH? No, thanks.... (5, Insightful)

phoophy (1189235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671760)

If ETOH were actually worth anything (i.e., didn't harm engines, was *really* energy balance positive, didn't put aldehydes into the atmosphere, cause food prices to go up, could be produced from cellulose, etc.) it could survive without a government subsidy. The only reason it's still lurching along, taking up 40% of the corn produced in the USA, is because the lobbyists, farmers and ETOH producers can continue to suck $$ from the US gummint.

Al Gore - so principled! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671776)

Believe that, and I've got a bridge you can buy.

Guess who had an 84% "good" rating from the National Right to Life anti-abortion group when he as a Congressman?

Thank the electoral college (0)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671792)

Rural folks are over-represented in our political system thanks to the electoral college. Thus, this is welfare for farmers.

Re:Thank the electoral college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671850)

That is fine. Someone living in new york city of los angeles should not be able to decide what I grow or do not grow on my land.

End all subsidies. Every one of them.

Re:Thank the electoral college (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671860)

Almost: In American political discourse, only unpopular subsidies, especially those that present some risk of giving money to poor people(some of the brown persuasion, even!), are referred to as "welfare".

The correct terms for subsidies given to favored corporations, Real Americans($100,000/year+ preferred), professional sports teams in need of new stadiums, or politically vital constituencies, are (depending on the exact structure of the subsidy) "Price Supports", "Providing Market Stability", "Job Creation", or simply polite silence backed by an impenetrable wall of densely legal technicalities.

Re:Thank the electoral college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34671906)

Our federal government was never intended to represent "folks", it was meant to represent the States.

Ethanol 10% causes more gasoline usage. (5, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671824)

I have stumbled on "real 100% gasoline" three times in a 2008 Honda Element. Each time, my mileage increased for that tankful from 265 miles to 300 miles.

Honda: 10% Ethanol, 13 gallon tank mileage to fill up (about 12.25 gallons).

265 miles. About 21.6 miles per gallon.

Honda: Gasoline, 13 gallon tank mileage to fill up (about 12.25 gallons).

300 miles. About 24.4 miles per gallon.

12% more miles with gasoline than with 10% Ethanol.

You see the problem, right?

When using 10% ethanol, I actually burn MORE GASOLINE to travel the same number of miles.

So ethanol is worse than useless.

I keep putting this out there so hopefully someone who can reliably get 100% gasoline can perform a formal study.
This is increasing the amount of gasoline we use, not reducing it.

Re:Ethanol 10% causes more gasoline usage. (1)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671956)

I have the same (or similar enough) measurement in my 2009 civic, and worse in my 2001 chevy truck.

Holiday stations here do the 10% ethanol thing, I get 13.8mpg on it
Conoco stations here advertise 'no ethanol' and I get 15.6mpg on that.

as the previous poster showed, Ethanol is actually worse than water as a fuel additive for some situations, including mine and his.

Re:Ethanol 10% causes more gasoline usage. (0)

randall77 (1069956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671976)

Yes, ethanol doesn't have the same energy density as gasoline. But miles per gallon is not the correct comparison. Miles per dollar is what really matters. Or maybe miles per pound of CO2 released. Miles per gallon is a useless measure to compare disparate fuels (unless you really are range limited).

Re:Ethanol 10% causes more gasoline usage. (5, Informative)

bgarcia (33222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34672056)

You're correct that the money matters, but don't dismiss looking at MPG as well. Let me explain it in more detail.

With the 10% Ethanol mix, his 12.25 gallon fill-up contained 11.0 gallons of gasoline. He was able to travel 265 miles. That gives us 265/11 = 24.1 mpg, where gallons refers to only the gasoline portion. Yes, I'm ignoring the ethanol portion of the fill-up on purpose.

With pure gasoline, he went 300 miles on a 12.25 gallon fill-up, giving 300/12.25 = 24.5 mpg.

Do you see what happened? At best, the ethanol does absolutely nothing useful! At worst, it actually makes your car use even more gasoline. You don't even need the other arguments about it costing more and eating away at engine components to realize that it's a complete waste.

Re:Ethanol 10% causes more gasoline usage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672084)

I don't hate you or want to shoot down your ideas, but please consider the following.

When technology is new it is expensive and ineffective. When instant ramen was new, it was among the most expensive foods in the world rather than among the cheapest. The idea behind alternative fuels is to replace crude oil entirely; whatever we end up using we need to find something or else we'll be in deep hot water. It will be tricky and fruitless at first (corn is a terrible material to use for this, blame massive corn subsidies) but practice makes perfect and over time our methods will improve.

Eventually the idea is to have engines which can use alternative fuels at their best, while having alternative fuel production on a scale great enough to fully replace petroleum as fuel. Once we master the production the prices will be low, once we master the usage the mileage will be great. The long road to that destination is inconvenient, but it will never be convenient until we've reached the other side. Either we walk the road with things as they are now, or we walk the same road with half our strength later when the need becomes greater and our resources are depleted.

Maize ethanol was never a good idea (3, Insightful)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671828)

Corn ethanol diverts field corn from the already-mammoth agribusiness industry that pumps field corn into just about every foodstuff in the country-- everything from livestock to all processed foods and fast foods (corn oil, high fructose corn syrup). It thus encourages the expansion of that industry, which uses vast amounts of fossil fuel and its derivatives to grow corn-- that's why many experts say that you don't get nearly as much bang for the buck as you do when you process sugar cane into ethanol. And that doesn't even account for the fertilizer and pesticides/herbicides that end up in the Gulf of Mexico due to runoff (not that it will matter much for the foreseeable future).

It would be a lot more worthwhile for the government to reduce corn subsidies and use that savings to either cut the deficit or invest in things like renewable energy infrastructure or non-corn biofuel research or even tax breaks for efficiency upgrades. Alas, ADM and Monsanto contribute hugely to PACs of Congressmen who vote to continue the subsidies (and no doubt hire them as lobbyists when they retire), therefore we do not see any change in this regard.

issues (5, Interesting)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671908)

The issue with Ethanol is really 2 fronts.
1, corn has a low output per crop for food or for fuel.
2, Ethanol is hard on an engine, even an engine designed to handle it.

We are propping up the corn industry claiming that we are saving farmers. The subsidies that keep those farmers on corn is also keeping the from switching to a more appropriate crop.

Ethanol really tears up engine components such as gaskets and seals. As these items wear at a faster pace with Ethanol, they become less efficient and less reliable.

I understand the draw for ethanol, it acts sort-of like gasoline which keeps the many millions of cars on our roads compatible with the 'next-gen' fuel. The problem is that it is from a low yiel crop and has an intense and expensive manufacturing process.

We could product a diesel-compatible biofuel much more easily and out of crops with significantly higher yield. A significant percent of fuel used in America is diesel through trucks and tractors and a push for a more sustainable fuel in a diesel form would change the focus of automakers selling cars in the US.

It is easier and cheaper to make diesel from corn rather than ethanol, but still not efficient.

Rapeseed can be be broken down by simply crushing the seed which is ~40% oil. This crop produces about ~127 Gallons per acre. The US in 2009 used about 137Billion gallons of gasoline.
with some math 137B/127Gallons = 1.07Billion acres. The US is 2.428Billion acres. There are only 922Million acres of farmland.
hmmmm, so we dont have enough land to grown a renewable fuel unless we both a, stop eating AND b, come up with something that has a ~50% oil content.

You dont have to be a rocket scientist to do the math from numbers freely available at usda.gov. I would think that any person pushing to eliminate our need for foreign oil or oil in general and actually expecting some level of success would have done a tiny bit of research. We can't grow our fuel, or at the very least we cant grow all of it. We are going to have to use technology to handle this issue, not brute force.

And on that subject, only ~27% of our energy usage is in transporation. petrolium is about 38% of our energy sources.

So the real question is, should we really be looking at changing the fuel source for cars right now? Shouldn't we continue to improve out technology for electric and/or hybrid systems, batteries, and more efficient engines while targeting industrial and commercial power uses? This way in the future we can make a much better change in cars when the technology is ready? We could reduce our need on oil by a massive amount with nuclear power and converting many fuel burners to electical heating and cooling. With nuclear power alone we could see as much fuel energy savings as completely replacing the fuel in our cars. We already have nuclear power technology and building more plants will push that technology further ahead. btw, nuclear is just 8 1/2% of out power source.

I am not saying that we should ignore oil use in cars, just that it is not the best place to start. Batteries and power production, probably nuclear, is what I think is the best route. if we try, we might actually be doing nuclear fusion this century, but fission is proven and reliable and safe.

Re:issues (1)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34671916)

i didnt give any sources, oops. mostly usda.gov but also some wikipedia and lawrence livermore natial laboratory.

Dump petrol! Petrol sucks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672002)

Dump petrol! Petrol sucks!

For long range - Diesel engines! My Yaris D4D has more torque, better acceleration, top speed and fuel economy than the petrol equivalent of the same car. I reckon I could do 900+ miles of motorway driving on a single tank easily! And unlike the biofuel for petrol, biodiesel *is still diesel*!!
Not powerful enough for you?
Use a bigger turbo! Unlike petrol, you can turbocharge a diesel engine as much as you like as it's immune to 'knocking'!

For short range - Electric vehicles - More torque, faster and yet more fuel efficient! Go for a run in a Tesla; They're great fun and you can generally get 200-300 miles off a charge.

Who can you trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672036)

So we have several industries, including the political arena, all essentially vying to increase profit or get the upper hand, regardless of whether it is beneficial to anyone or society.

At this point, the only thing I trust is that little voice in the back of my head, reminding me how much of our society is full of shit. Perhaps it was my own fault for thinking I could trust anything other than that.

/works for a group who does non-political ethanol economic analysis

Brazil experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672096)

Some people talk about the ethanol succes in Brazil, but Ethanol in Brazil is not a success, thats only political propaganda. The only reason ethanol flourishes in Brazil is because of federal subsidies. They even have to subsidy the development of a new kind of motor to support the alcohol adoption to stop motors from damage. Today, ethanol is about 70% of the price of gasoline in Brazil, considering energy efficiency, this means both are the same, and also, the price of sugar have skyrocketed in the last years.
(1 Lt of ethanol = 0.7 Lt of Gasoline, in efficiency)

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34672124)

Oh, did Al Bore make his millions on Ethanol already? Maybe he'll invent something else, like Internet poop fuel. It's good enough to power him.

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