Ethanol is a Poor Fuel Choice

The US is currently heading in the direction of producing ethanol as an alternative to gasoline. There are lots of articles all about the wisdom (or not) of this choice.

One gallon of ethanol requires about 5 gallons of fuel to produce it:

That’s because ethanol is made from heavily tilled and fertilized crops that then are shipped hundreds of miles to ethanol plants where the process of conversion begins. Corn-based ethanol uses 29-percent more fossil fuel than it produces.

Ethanol production plants use a lot of water:

Most plants today are 50 million gallons. At five gallons per, that’s 2.5 billion gallons of water for one year of ethanol production. That water typically comes from regional aquifers.

Since we know there will be water shortages, it seems unbelievably backwards to go the ethanol route for fuel. Part of it has to do with the corn mono-culture that is developing in this country and it’s a good way to use up a lot of corn.

No easy answer on this topic.

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One thought on “Ethanol is a Poor Fuel Choice

  1. There is an answer though, and ethanol is not it.

    Quoting the great Denise McCluggage from AutoWeek (http://www.britannica.com/magazine/print?query=hoarse&id=11&minGrade=&maxGrade=):

    “TWO.” THAT WAS THE consensus of the car folk rimming the gleaming napery of the big round dining table. I had posed the question: “How many tankfuls of E85 would it take to ruin a car’s engine?

    E85, in case you’ve been ensconced on an Alp lately, is a fuel composed of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. E85 is widely touted as our savior from dependence on foreign oil. In the States ethanol is primarily a corn product and thus a darling of Archer Daniels Midland and congress folk from the Midwest. (An Iowa farmer was quoted as crying, “We’re the new Arabs!”)”

    and

    “Ethanol is a corrosive stuff too mean to even send through a pipeline. And in anything greater than 10 percent, it’ll eat your lovely engine in I don’t know how long (two tankfuls according to my dining companions). Engines have to be modified or specially designed to withstand ethanol,” I hollered.”

    and

    “By the way,” I added, now hoarse and rasping. “Here’s something else GM isn’t all that open about: Say a driver starts with a FlexFuel vehicle full of straight gasoline and drives 425 miles before hitting empty. Same driver, same vehicle full of E85 will do 325 miles.” Ethanol, though 105 octane, isn’t great on economy and range. A principled GM would post two EPA window stickers: one for mileage using gas, one for E85. If a diesel were involved, same tankful, the range would be about 550 miles. With torque, too. But just like E85, don’t try it in a car designed for gasoline, or even FlexFuel.”

    Did you know that Ethanol Production Consumes Six Units Of Energy To Produce Just One (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050329132436.htm)?

    I highly recommend the movie “King Corn” regarding the corn ‘mono-culture:'(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1112115/)

    They’re on to the ethanol scam in Australia, too: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,23107613-5012321,00.html

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