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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Just How Far Will That Bushel of Corn Take You?

For information on what is up on ethanol and flex fuel vehicles I rely on Corn Dog who stays up on just what is happening. If you go see Corn Dog, he would be glad to sell you the keys to a flex fuel car. He drives a flex fuel Tahoe on E85 (Ethanol 85 percent).

Ethanol will not be our total answer, although it is an important component in our quest for energy independence. Popular Mechanics points out the problem with total reliance on ethanol:

One acre of corn can produce 300 gal. of ethanol per growing season. So, in
order to replace that 200 billion gal. of petroleum products, American farmers
would need to dedicate 675 million acres, or 71 percent of the nation's 938
million acres of farmland, to growing feedstock. Clearly, ethanol alone won't
kick our fossil fuel dependence--unless we want to replace our oil imports with
food imports.

But ethanol will provide a good dent in our oil use. And, Corn Dog I believe would dispute the 300 gallon figure, pointing to the constant progress being made, in ethanol conversion. And I imagine, we will get a good deal more than 300 gal. per acre. For an appraisal of the viability of these options, Popular Mechanics has offered an in depth analysis of alternative fuels. If I were in the market for a car today my choice would be flex fuel.


At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Mappo said...

You complain about gas prices, but are a proponent of ethanol? The mandate to add ethanol to our fuel costs about 5 cents per gallon and reduces fuel economy by about 3% (effective increase = 10 cents per gallon). Ethanol is a loser, both in terms of cost effectiveness, in terms of reduction of air pollution, and in terms of energy produced relative to energy expended to create it.

I have no problem with investing in research towards alternative fuels. But ethanol is a loser out of the gate, and the government should stop interfering in the market.

Just because there are some powerful congressman from the midwest, doesn't mean the government should have to subsidize this folly.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger corndog said...

I was a student in Puerto Rico in 1968 when Paul Samuelson's book, THE POPULATION BOMB came out. (Island...35 by 100 miles-4 million -plus people) Samuelson predicted, and most people BELIEVED at the time, that by 1984, the world's population growth would have outstripped its ability to produce food for everyone. Mass starvation was predicted, using similar crop yield and acreage statistics that the nay-sayers are using today to refute the economic viability of ethanol.

No, ethanol probably CANNOT replace all of our oil consumption, but it is my contention that it doesn't really have to in order to reorder the current world energy dynamic. For OPEC to have a viable liquid fuel competitor which a significant number of consumers could switch to OVERNIGHT, would be something their cabal could not withstand.

Ethanol doesn't have to be cheaper than gasoline in order for all this to happen. Americans find the current oil price gyrations to be tedious. They are angry and ready to pay more to rid themselves of the problems our dependence has created. At a time when consumers are paying some 6 to 8 thousand dollars more to own hybrids, it is not a leap to conclude they would be willing to pay more for ethanol.

Ethanol is a stepping stone toward the day when it, combined with methanol and butanol, and one day possibly hydrogen, will burn in super-flex-fuel vehicles which could accommodate all of the above, then ALL of our oil consumption CAN be replaced with renewables.

If the focus is just on the current state of technology related to ethanol production, and the sentiment is that we just shouldn't go there because we are wasting our time, then I would say we are making the same mistake that Samuelson did.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger B O B said...

Thank you for your comment.

Hi Mappo for your first point I have not complained about gas prices. I have suggested where people can file complaints. You should read my posts more carefully, and not assume things I am not writing. And, I do not think asking the question why gas prices are lower in Bedford than Lynchburg is complaining either.

If you followed my link to the Popular Mechanics articles, you will see the article is not just about ethanol, but presents more on the different possibilities of alternatives to gasoline.

I do appreciate your input on ethanol, but I have also reported on that and how it replaces the previous additive to gas and cost three times more. I do not consider ethanol to continue to be a loser. I refer you to the other link in my post that refers you to Corn Dog's site who writes extensively on ethanol.

As far as reporting on how people can get most out of their hard earned pay. I refer you to all the articles that I have written on decreasing expenses that I have written on a variety of subjects including gasoline. This also includes such things as reducing food costs, and the use of freeware, rather than paying for programs.

Suggestions of how to cut costs has been a theme through many of my posts.


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