E85 Boondoggle of the Day: Good To The Last Cob

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

It's always fun to see analysts justify their way to a predetermined conclusion, especially when the facts do not come close supporting it. At the usually on-point SeekingAlpha blog, Tim Plaehn tries his hand at another round of corn juice justification, this time with a new twist: cobs, baby. Claiming that high food prices create incentives for "efficiency and innovation" rather than say, cutting the cord, Plaehn lays out the roadmap for the ethanol industry's next big thing. Since everyone and their senile grandparents know that cellulosic, not feedstock-based, ethanol is the future, Plaehn appropriates what little future the biomass-based fuel has into the ethanol farm subsidy racket. He points to a company (POET) that uses cellulosic ethanol extraction to squeeze some extra juice from corn cobs, rather than non-feedstock biomass crops, arguing that the expensive technology will extract 27 percent more ethanol per acre of corn. If we're talking about investing in cellulosic extraction, it makes far more sense to base it off of such low-impact, high-efficiency crops as switchgrass. Except that this far more logical approach would mean the end of government ethanol subsidies to corn producers. So what other miracles does Plaehn forecast to allow ethanol to reduce dependence on foreign oil? More expensive technology of course, only this time we're talking blending pumps which could dial in the exact amount of ethanol consumers want in their gas. Choosing between E20, E30, E40, etc sounds great, but at what cost an all-new infrastructure? That's precisely beside the point for the ethanol lobby, who know that infrastructure-building is just another great way to get the government to subsidize their marginally-viable product. But this is exactly what you should expect from a heavily criticized, multi-billion-dollar pork project that claims to be chasing "efficiency and innovation" without ever truly exposing itself to market influences.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Crc Crc on Aug 27, 2008

    Everything else aside, POET is usually on the front of efficiency and innovation. They are not your typical ethanol producer.

  • JT JT on Aug 27, 2008
    ...we're talking blending pumps which could dial in the exact amount of ethanol consumers want in their gas. Umm, where is the E0 button, please? Choosing between E20, E30, E40, etc sounds great, No, it does not. E-fuels are 25% cheaper but 33% less efficient. I fail to see any advantage to the user.
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