T Nation

Ethanol is Not an Alternative Fuel


Ethanol plants are fueled by either natural gas (Did anyone notice that huge increase in their heating bills?) or coal (need I comment?).


If ethanol is so great then why don't they power the plants with ethanol?

Answer: $/btu


Natural gas prices are up because natural gas fired electrical generating facilities are popping up like weeds.

I do agree ethanol is not really viable at this point in time and may never be.


It's not about efficiency, it's about lobbying. Every part of the economy that politicians touch turns to shit. I'm not saying the economy could or should be unregulated, but for the most part the less politicians have to say in anything the better.


America's need for additional electic generation capacity increases at least 5% per year and this demand has been met by building natural gas electic generation plants. Our NG prices have been increasing at an alarming rate as a result and we do not have any way to import liquified NG from abroad to meet this need.

The vast majority of our NG is obtained from our own wells.

If you thought NG was expensive this winter...just wait until next winter.


The energy industry likes having politicans in their pockets. The energy sector has never made so much money and there is no end in sight. This has been enabled by politicans...not hampered by politicans.


Luckily, even if ethanol isn't a good sub (the stuff they make from sugarcane in Brazil looks significantly better than the stuff we try to make from corn...), there are other ways to skin the cat.

The politicians do monkey with the market far too much (the first thing I would suggest w/r/t gasoline is for Congress to pass a national standard formulation to pre-empt the state required formulations for gasoline so there aren't the artificial shortages and supply crunches that come from having all the different formulations that are incompatible with each other at the state-regulatory level), and there's no reason for a lot of tax breaks for the energy companies -- and, conversely, there's not a lot of need, in my mind, for a lot of the regulations that keep us from exploiting energy reserves either.


While we are at it...care to guess how hydrogen is made?

Answer: Natural gas

Yeah, thats good.


Nah, God made hydrogen.


I produce vast amounts of methane.


Oh, right...I forgot.



I resemble that.


ethanol works....RIGHT now. But yes, switch grass, sugar beets and other forms may be better sources of ethanol than gas.

Check out House bill, 10 by 10. Its realistic. If ethanol was more widely available at the pump and for cars it would be a very very very good way to reduce our dependece on oil, and cost efficient



AGM uses diesel to power its farming equipment.

Why does the largest worldwide producer of ethanol (AGM) use diesel instead of its own product?

Answer: Ethanol is NOT and alternative fuel and will never be the answer.

Conservation is the only answer period.


Ethanol wouldn't work as it's hydrocarbons don't form long enough chains to make it an efficient fuel, IE it burns TOO easily.


The energy released during combustion is no where near as high as petroleum.

There are a few big problems with ethanol:
Large amounts of sugar cane are required to produce large amounts of ethanol thus requiring large areas of land clearance. And this negates the positive effects of ethanol (less carbon dioxide/monoxide production) on the environment.

Engines need to be altered in order to run ethanol in large percentages.

Not really a viable alternative to fuel.


Conservation is the only alternative...that will not happen.



Last year the U.S. produced just under 4 billion gallons of ethanol, serving just 1 percent of U.S. fuel needs. Academics say production can?t go much higher.

?If we used all the corn produced in the United States to produce ethanol, it would provide only 7 percent of our total vehicle fuel use,? said Cornell agriculture professor David Pimental.

Here?s another sober way of looking at it: if every car in America was powered 100 percent by ethanol, it would take 97 per cent of U.S. soil to grow enough corn to support it.

And that's not all. It turns out that it takes more energy to make ethanol than it could ever generate.

?About 30 percent more fossil energy is required to produce a gallon of ethanol than you actually get out in ethanol,? said Pimental.

?All in all, it?s in fact a very inefficient system of converting one kind of fossil energy into another kind of fossil energy,? said Patzek.



Why does ethanol grab all the headlines? Patzek and Pimental believe its all about big-time lobbying.

?The companies that stand to make the vast majority of money are the big agribiz companies,? he said. ?Archer Daniels Midland is the first one, Cargill is the second one.?

From the article above...

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?


It's ADM marm. A..D..M. Archer Daniels Midland.

But yes you are right. ethanol is just a welfare program IMO.

We would have more than enough natural gas available if idiot states like California and Florida would allow drilling and exploration off their coasts. China is about to start drilling in Cuban waters, and Mexico is about to go large in their end of the Gulf.

Maybe the enviro whackos could take extended vacations down in Mexico and Cuba thereby leaving us to be able to drill for the stuff ourselves.

Then again - that just makes too much sense. It will never fly.


Preach it captain salty