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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked a      Home login  
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 captcolt
Joined: 3/25/2008
Msg: 1
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?Page 1 of 2    (1, 2)
I'm a semi-expert on this subject but I feel so many people are ignorant about it, so this is a good place to start.

Corn Ethanol has been talked alot about because it ruins farmland, and is not efficient. I completely agree with this, although when the leftover grains are used for animal feed, its not really as bad as some say.

But anyway my issue is with people thinking that is the only way to make ethanol. There are tons of more efficient ways to make it for substantially less money. For instance from sugar beets, sugar cane, sorghum, and any plant that is green or brown.

The first question is why is the only ethanol in the U.S. made from Corn? The answer is purely political.

The next question is, why has the media ran with corn ethanol and not talked about more efficient ways of making fuel.

The next question is why is it impossible to get E85 in florida yet, all gasoline has 10% ethanol. This makes no sense, you are not giving people the choice. If you truely want to subsidize why wouldn't you subsidize the E85 so more people would buy those cars?

I would like to know some layman ideas as i've thought about this entirely too much.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/17/2009 6:15:16 AM

The first question is why is the only ethanol in the U.S. made from Corn? The answer is purely political.
You've answered that question.

The next question is, why has the media ran with corn ethanol and not talked about more efficient ways of making fuel.
Have you ever noticed, that many of the media magnates, who own several newspapers, magazines and TV stations, make large contributions to political parties? See your previous answer.

The next question is why is it impossible to get E85 in florida yet, all gasoline has 10% ethanol. This makes no sense, you are not giving people the choice. If you truely want to subsidize why wouldn't you subsidize the E85 so more people would buy those cars?
If I read things right, E85 is about 85% ethanol. You say that in Florida, gasoline is only 10% ethanol. If everyone switched to mostly ethanol, then the revenue of petroleum making companies would drop like a stone. It's far more cost-effective for those companies to slowly change their production and distribution methods to ethanol over decades. That way, they spread the costs over many years, and can cover them by raising the price of gas by a few cents here and there, without losing profits.

If you want another example of this, then you should know that DVD technology came out not long after CDs did. But by then, music-producing companies and electronics companies had already invested heavily in CDs, and if they switched to DVDs then, then they would have lost their investment in CDs. So DVDs were held back by 10 years by big business, to ensure they made a healthy profit in CD technology.

I suspect the same idea is being used with ethanol.
 captcolt
Joined: 3/25/2008
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/17/2009 8:33:13 AM
Biodiesel is a completely different issue. It is made or refined at relatively Moderate temperatures and pressures unlike ethanol. The problem is the price of veg. oil... However oil can be made from algae at relatively low costs and that is the scope of quite a bit of research right now.

The problem with ethanol is that it is so hard to make it pure enough to mix with fuel. If you let it sit out in the open uncovered it will collect water from the air until it reaches 96% which causes it to separate from the gas .. It involves quite a bit of energy to purify which makes it a stupid fuel to be mixed with gas.

It would be much smarter not to mix the ethanol at all and burn it straight, but nobody makes a car that does that here in the U.S.
 GeneralizingNow
Joined: 10/10/2007
Msg: 4
Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/17/2009 8:42:45 AM
Obviously, I have no answers. But I suspect, rather than some nefarious political "big oil companies run everything so want to keep the status quo" conspiracy, there may be practical answers in the logistics of it all. If you're an "expert" seeking "layman's" answers, you tell ME.

Is the processing the same for beets as for corn ethanol? I think the basic process may be the same, but the details surely are different--higher sugar content would require different processing. I think maybe some of the answer might lie in the details of processing? Also, the original reasearch work was done with corn, so most is known about that.

I travelled from Boulder to Utah and Idaho and Wyoming (and back), and only saw one 85% pump--in WYO. Does the pump itself [at the gas station] need to be any different for the different fuel? The holding tank at the gas station--different ventilation, different viscosity? Does your car require special equipment to use this fuel? Does it make your vehicle more, or less, efficient? If less powerful, a lot of ranchers won't want to use it UNLESS the benefit is great fiscally--it didn't seem any cheaper to me. If no one buys it, it's a horrible investment for businesses. Who makes the fuel? Farmers? or does someone need to invest lots of cash into a processing plant for something that, let's face it, is in the early experimental stages? Who would want to invest billions of dollars into equipment that will change and be refined--and then need to be replaced--in 20 years?
 yna6
Joined: 1/21/2007
Msg: 5
Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/17/2009 9:22:43 AM
Moonshiners used to run their vehicles on their own product at times. Probably still do.
The cost in sugar for making it would make it prohibitive. Except for certain "high sugar content" crops.
Guess they had too many "Corn Flakes" made and had to do something with all those extra ears of corn. Perhaps a quick search into the corn producing states would turn up a "porkbarrel" answer? (Read that 'political'.)
Try making your own....and see how fats the Feds bust your azz. You may beat the charge....maybe. Try to remeber, most people wouldn't know how to run a home still operation with any safety and blow the crap out of themselves and their neighbours. Just like many a meth lab going up in flames, usually covered by the local news, but certainly NOT nationally. (Where such crap is rampant in the local society.)
 captcolt
Joined: 3/25/2008
Msg: 6
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/18/2009 9:59:03 PM
Well to start off, yes ethanol does need different storage methods, it is a solvent so it dissolves stuff. Not more expensive necessarily, just different methods. For instance a plastic jug works good for ethanol shipped to the lab I worked in. Ethanol is hygroscopic, so it absorbs water from the air. It in many ways is safer that gasoline in spills and such. It (Ethanol... Not Corn Ethanol) CAN BE carbon neutral and positive, which means it can reduce the amount of CO2 in the air, which will help if global warming is real, that is a completely different thread for sure. This ethanol can be made from waste material that is naturally bio-degrading in your yard for example. If it degrades in your yard it produces methane which is significantly more harmful for our warming than CO2.

Ethanol if properly used could greatly reduce the amount of Nitrogen Oxides and Sulfur Oxides in the air which reduces the strength of our acid rain. It has drawbacks including Formaldehyde emissions, but that is something that could be controlled if we actually made a car to run on ethanol instead of all this mixing crap.

So the answer to our problem is called gasification, and it is the only way I know to make ethanol from hemp.

As far as people in florida drinking ethanol, well that stuff tastes rough, and I don't know many people that care for it. Especially with liquor stores selling ethanol with flavor and all, I just don't see it being a problem.

I just think it is funny how so many liberals are complaining about Ethanol, but really are just speaking of Corn Ethanol, my point is there is a big difference, and Corn ethanol was our way of making a step in the right direction on biofuels. The corn bribes didn't hurt its viability in the politicians eyes, but when are they going to realize that we can turn waste into fuel for our vehicles instead of burning this fuel to make electricity that can be produced from wind and solar.

The answer lies in Washington with the stupidest group of F^CKING IDIOTS I've ever seen in my life. The only person with half a brain is the sec. of energy and everyone looks at him like he is stupid.
 yna6
Joined: 1/21/2007
Msg: 8
Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/19/2009 11:26:08 AM
Well..running electricity through water produces hydrogen and oxygen. Collect them both and release most of the oxygen and burn the hydrogen as fuel.
Fuel for what? To provide the electrcity to start the process and continue it. Also, use the excess electricity produed to power something else...or store it in a battery.
 captcolt
Joined: 3/25/2008
Msg: 9
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/22/2009 7:47:38 PM
I will believe you about air and electric when I'm driving down the highway and get passed by an air car towing a boat. But I pass priuses towing a boat, so I know its still in the works but lets face it. NOTHING RUNS LIKE HYDROCARBONS. We can make hydrocarbons out of anything with carbon, so pretty much anything that was alive at one time.

Hydrogen is a pipe dream, it costs way too much for the fuel cell. Then it costs too much to compress and store it. Electrolysis could work, but you would still need a power source and it would just be a waste of energy. I've been working on making hydrogen out of cellulose but I can't really talk about it, but it is the only logical use of hydrogen and I don't expect to see it in an automobile.

I have a great idea for combining an air car with an electric. It solves the problem of refueling since air tanks can be filled very quickly. I know because I fill air tanks, i'm a diver.

Algae is the answer no doubt, but this guy who thinks ethanol is soo stupid just does not understand that we need ALL forms of energy. The people that are denouncing ethanol are mostly idiots from what I have seen. You can bash the subsidies, you can bash corn ethanol, you can bash a 10% blend all you want.

But you really can't bash ethanol, just the people promoting it. It would make much more since to sell e85 then blending it. I wish politicians were a little smarter, but they aren't so its my job to inform people one by one about how ethanol isn't bad, its just the ethanol rules that are stupid.

I know of two ways to make ethanol for about $1 per gallon. Yet all the politicians want is the $4 corn ethanol.
 captcolt
Joined: 3/25/2008
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/22/2009 7:51:53 PM
Do you know what would happen if all the cars in the world magically just converted to electricity????


BLACKOUTS, we would run out of electricity. Electric cars will not solve all the problems, but they should be used, we need all forms of energy to keep from buying that cheap middle east oil.
 captcolt
Joined: 3/25/2008
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/23/2009 8:53:06 PM
Let me help paint a picture for you... Right now all of your trash and my trash and miss jenny only drinks bottled water's trash goes to the landfill. From there it creates methane gas as it decomposes. Right now that methane is used to make electricity and the result is CO2 which is much cleaner than methane.

BUT, we can make car fuel from this Carbon source to power the automobiles that need more power than air and electric can offer.

WHY ARE WE MAKING ELECTRICITY OUT OF SUCH AN EXPENSIVE FUEL?

T. Boone Pickens painted the picture for us, we should use renewables for electricity. Then we should use natural gas for cars.

But we should also use every source of fuel that we can get, and directly converting paper products to ethanol is one of the fuel sources. Not to mention the fact the Diethyl Ether can replace diesel or atleast be blended at high percentages.

WHY DO WE ONLY HAVE ONE FUEL.. and why are you still talking negatively about ethanol even though you are giving no facts to support your opinion.. (Thats right because someone told you it was bad... and that my friend is what is wrong with america.. everyone taking peoples word without spending a little time to research)
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 12
Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/24/2009 7:44:33 AM
The efficiency is not purely a function of the efficiency of the chemistry. It includes things like the ease of obtaining the materials, the cost of the apparatus, etc. I would imagine that corn is the material of choice because it's available in great quantities. Corn is the number 1 cash crop in the U.S. (actually, pot is number 1, but that doesn't count here). There is lots of corn. The supply probably exceeds the demand.


NOTHING RUNS LIKE HYDROCARBONS.

Right, which is why nature uses hydrocarbons to make people run efficiently.
 captcolt
Joined: 3/25/2008
Msg: 13
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 6/28/2009 5:05:01 PM
Let me start by saying that BUTANOL is much better than ethanol and while I've researched the two I think ethanol is ready today and butanol will be ready in a few years. We need all forms of energy, but we should start with the ones that will work right now. So that axes the whole hydrogen fairytale. Batteries have a shot, but show me the money.

Why am I only a semi-expert, because I haven't made a dime from my studies. I have advised a few biofuel entrepreneurs but once the economy tanked, they didn't get to start. I have read my share of journal articles on the subject and other subjects that relate as well as lead a research group on cellulosic ethanol. Oyeah and I try not to be too**** when describing myself, unlike some people I've seen around here.

There are multiple ways to make Cellulosic ethanol which brings me back to the point about the media, why is corn ethanol the only type of ethanol in the eyes of so many people. All the money spent to find new ways of making ethanol were successful and now we come up with more excuses. Politicians mandate 10% blends which cause engine failure in cars that were not made to run on ethanol not to mention the fiberglass tanks in some boats. I think an E85 mandate in every city would be a much better use of the ethanol. But to hear all the negative about ethanol is making me sick because it could have been done much better and ethanol is taking all the crap from corn-ethanol and everyone is acting like it is the same thing.

E85 has a major weakness know as an azeotrope that causes a two phase liquid. This means if E85 is sitting in a gas can with the vent open, water will dissolve into the ethanol from the air because ethanol wants to have water in it at all times. This causes the ethanol and gas to separate like oil and water and is an issue. May I add that this is not a problem if you actually drive your car that has E85.

If we just burned pure ethanol this would never happen. I just don't understand why pure ethanol hasn't even been suggested.

I am so tired of hearing this being trucked around story... I completely understand the energy density issue, and I agree it takes more trucks to truck the same amount of ethanol as gasoline. BUT LET US FORGET GASOLINE EXISTS because soon it won't. We need that crude to make the millions of specialty chemical and plastics that we need in our life daily. That is one of the reasons why gasoline is so expensive, it can be used for much better things than taking your fat azz to the gym. Walk there and the world will be a better place.

The advantage of ethanol and other biofuels, they can be created anywhere there is trash. Or anywhere there is a railroad or a dead tree limb. The major transportation problem is with CORN ethanol because it is only produced in the midwest. Ethanol can be made locally, by a small business owner unlike Gasoline that only comes from a few places and gets shipped worldwide for our use.

I hate to say it like this but atleast the hippies have this one right, if we buy american clothes, eat locally grown food and burn the ethanol made in our own city our economy and environment would be a much better place.
 captcolt
Joined: 3/25/2008
Msg: 14
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Why is it that Corn Ethanol is the only type of Ethanol ever talked about?
Posted: 7/14/2009 9:18:19 PM

Ethanol can only ever be a minor source of our fuel needs, because to order to produce the amount of ethanol needed to fuel the world's motor vehicles we would have to stop eating. I hate how the heavily subsided ethanol industry is driving up the price of food which is hurting people in the poorer countries and driving many of them to starvation.


I think we could run our vehicles on entirely on non-corn ethanol and still have plenty of food. We have the saudi arabia of Biomass in the S.E. U.S. . However, I also think that trying to do that would be majorly stupid. The only thing that drove up the cost of food is high oil prices and low value of the dollar. I feel sorry for animal farmers because they are hurt the worst with high corn prices, but I don't mind paying a few extra cents for my beef, but a smart farmer would be using distillers grains for food. Its all part of the cycle.

I think GM fuel crops are a great idea, but GM food crops should not be allowed patents. Monsanto is ruining our agricultural base in the U.S. They are single handedly putting farmers out of business, and costing the government millions in subsidies. Farmers should not have to pay for seed, they grow it. It is arguable that GM crops in the U.S. are keeping these poorer countries poor, because our productivity here is so high that the price is too low. This is much more of a problem to them then high corn prices. If you want to know more go to HULU.com and watch "the future of food".
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