By on August 18, 2016

Brighton, MI Sunoco Ethanol-Free Pump Options, REC 90, Image: 127driver/Wikimedia Commons

One struggles to count on more than one finger the number of fuels debated more than ethanol — in America, corn-based ethanol specifically. Many detractors claim ethanol’s disadvantages outweigh its benefits. Proponents for ethanol in our fuel supply contend the fuel’s geopolitical positives and other factors give ethyl alcohol much needed consideration. Unfortunately, both sides of the ethanol coin have a multitude of reasons for supporting or protesting the fuel beyond the immediately obvious.

Enter Automobile’s Jamie Kitman. The man is looking to separate the corn from the husk in a new multi-part series dubbed “The War Against Ethanol.”

The first part of Mr. Kitman’s series will by no means set the debate alight. However, he does set up the scenario that’s caused such consternation when it comes to mixing ethanol with the fuel supply.

For starters, both sides in the debate have big money at risk, and neither side is one with which a typical private individual usually chooses to align.

Few without direct financial stake can object to calling out Big Agriculture and everything it has done to, ahem, encourage the federal government to mandate corn ethanol’s use in gasoline, as opposed to any other available feedstock, of which there are many. And Big Oil needs no introduction. One really hates to have to choose between the two.

He continues by stating ethanol is much better than some of the chemical alternatives (though ethanol itself is not perfect), and the corn-based fuel has been debated since the 1920s.

I wish Mr. Kitman the best as he tries to find some truth in all the ethanol propaganda — uttered by both sides. We’ll be following this closely.

[Image: By 127driver (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

84 Comments on “Kitman Begins His Literary Quest to Find the Truth About Ethanol...”


  • avatar
    RHD

    Wouldn’t it be nice if every parking space had a solar array above it, to keep your car cool in the summer and dry in the winter, and to charge up your power supply while parked? The air would be much cleaner and the Middle East wouldn’t be getting so many of our dollars. We wouldn’t be killing off the honeybees with the neonicotinoid pesticides applied to millions of acres of monoculture.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      You would need a solar array that is much bigger than a parking spot, but the general idea is good.

      • 0 avatar
        denvertsxer

        Kaiser is doing it in California. And in Colorado, as they’re working on it right now at the clinic I go to. Not necessarily to charge cars, but to power the facilities. And yeah, the shade is appreciated in the Colorado sun.

        http://cleantechnica.com/2015/02/19/nrg-kaiser-marry-solar-health-interests/

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Everybody probably thinks this idea is great until you raise the question of who pays for it, both the land, and now the hardware.

      • 0 avatar
        ckb

        “who pays for it, both the land, and now the hardware.”

        The parking lot owner has already paid for the land. Residential (the most expensive) solar arrays pay themselves back in under 10 years in most states. You’d have to build carports for the array in a parking lot but commercial installation and drivers paying the prevailing electricity rates right at the source probably balance that out.

        So, once your question is answered I still think its a great idea.

      • 0 avatar
        dartman

        http://www.srvusd.net/solar

        If you got the sunshine-Solar rules. A 7 Kwh system on my home cost me $15k all in. No electric bill saves me $2.5k year – payback 6 years. System has a 25 year warranty/performance guarantee.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Install cost. Maintenance/replacement cost. Efficiency (cleaning them? shade? not everywhere is Phoenix or LA?).

      The air isn’t actually particularly dirty – especially from automobile emissions, not anymore.

      The Middle East isn’t a place we get all that much oil from anymore – why do you hate Canada, you monster?

      Sorry, but no. It’s a hippie daydream, not a real policy initiative.

      • 0 avatar
        mik101

        That’s not true of Atlantic Canada since Quebec is standing in the way of a west to east pipeline. Instead Irving buys in tanker loads from authoritarian regimes and our dollars get to support the crazies wether the public wants to or not.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      It would probably make more sense to install a full rooftop array on your typical mall or big box retailer rather than deck over a parking ( and frankly you as… I mean people don’t deserve covered parking! If humanity were ever to be judged by its parking lot manners it would be game over )

      Not only would the arrays be better protected from various issues ( theft, vandalism, accidents, numbskulls incapable of recognizing they are in a parking lot and not some openworld video game with no consequences for poor driving )

      Also the building would be shaded helping reduce costs in the summer time.

  • avatar
    burnbomber

    I can’t comment on the literary benefits or not, of ethanol-gasoline fuel mixtures.

    I can say, however, that I’ve seen it around since the mid-70’s. That’s over 40 years. In that time, I’ve pumped thousands of gallons of E-10, and I’ve NEVER seen any problems from E-10 fuels.

    Including their use in lawn mowers and string trimmers. I’ve heard more stories of string trimmer problems that autos, yet my Stihl whacker is still working fine after 15 years without any failures.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, 9/11 Truth!

      There, that oughta get them

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Then you never owned a boat.
      Here in MO and on every lake we see the issues with it.
      Everyone here knows.
      Finally we got our marine fuel at the local station and everything is fine.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “Then you never owned a boat.
        Here in MO and on every lake we see the issues with it.”

        Every boat I’ve ever owned has been run on ethanol blended fuels without a single issue in 26 years. I also have plenty of family members and friends with boats. They’ve had the same number (zero) of problems as me running ethanol fuels in their boat. MerCruiser engineers recommend ethanol blended fuels because there are some benefits to running them over straight gas in our hard working marine engines.

        • 0 avatar
          SWA737

          The issues aren’t generally with the engines themselves, but with the fuel lines and water fuel separators. Ethanol is hydrophilic and can hold upwards of 1/2 of 1% water by volume. That doesn’t sound like much until you start talking about modern triple or quad powered offshore fish boats with many hundreds of gallons of tankage. (Not to mention 6 figures worth of outboards hanging off the transom)

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah lot’s of boats that never had fuel water separators installed pre ethanol do now. It’s pretty much mandatory. They can design around ethanol and it’s fine if it is but water in the fuel has become a serious issue. Also lot’s of fuel hose in pre 2000 boats has issues with Ethanol. I’ve replaced a fair amount myself. The newer stuff seems to hold up fine.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            “The issues aren’t generally with the engines themselves, but with the fuel lines and water fuel separators. Ethanol is hydrophilic and can hold upwards of 1/2 of 1% water by volume.”

            The size of the tank shouldn’t make a bit of difference.” Ethanol doesn’t pull moisture out of the air. The only way it collects is from condensation on the inside of the tank walls(where the fuel isn’t touching) due to temperature swings. Which is why some recommend keeping your tank full. You get the same thing with straight gas. The issue with ethanol over straight gas is that once you get over 1/2 of 1% you get phase separation and then you have problems. Don’t go around telling people that ethanol fuel absorbs/attracts moisture because it doesn’t.

            Most (all) boaters that have problems with phase separation in their boats either pumped bad gas to begin with or have a fuel cap or fuel vent that are allowing rain water and/or sea water into the fuel system. This is why I’ve never had a problem in 26 years because I’ve never owned a boat with a leaky fuel system.

          • 0 avatar

            I have always been told that ethanol can pull moisture out of the air. I know that seems to be what the marine manufacturers say. I’m not an engineer so I just go by the technical bulltiens I used to get as a warranty and service administrator.
            http://marine.honda.com/support/maintenance/fuel-recommendations
            http://media.channelblade.com/EProWebsiteMedia/704/ethanol.pdf
            Also keep in mind until 2012 marine fuel systems were very basic with open hoses leading to vent caps and fills. In 2012 the had to add one way valves and or charcoal filters. Up until that point having a 1″ vent line tied to a simple mushroom cap was pretty common.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            @mopar4wd -Quote from a Boat US article:

            “Myth #2: E10 attracts water, so it’s important to install a water separator to prevent the water reaching the engine.

            Mercury Marine, which recently hosted a Webinar on ethanol myths, noted that ethanol does not “grab water molecules out of the air.” It is hydrophilic, which means ethanol holds water. With regular gasoline (E0) as well at E10, the primary cause of water collecting in tanks is condensation on tank walls. But unlike E0, which can absorb almost no moisture, E10 can hold up to half of one percent of water by volume, and the water molecules will dissolve in the fuel. The “solubilized” water will bypass the water separator and burn harmlessly through the engine. Only if phase separation were to occur would a water separator do its job, but by then the fuel itself would be the problem. The phase-separated water/ethanol mixture would settle on the bottom of the tank near the fuel pick-up and would quickly stall out or even damage your engine. And because ethanol is used to boost octane, the remaining (low-octane) gasoline at the top of the tank would also have the potential to damage your engine.”

        • 0 avatar

          http://bipac.net/brunswick/BrunswickPressRelease.pdf

          Mercury has fought hard against ethanol. This press release is about raising to 15% but I worked at a Large outboard dealer (Mercury BRP(evinrdue) Honda Tohatsu Yamaha) in 2005 when 10% came online in CT. I can assure you we got multiple dealer TSB’s regarding ethanol, and had our share of failures on boats. Most were older outboards but a few newer ones (yamaha and tohatsu’s smaller 4 strokes mostly) had issues for the first year or two, and we replaced many a carb and fuel system on them. Currently anything built after the late 90’s should be fine and in theory Mercury and others were built for 10% ethanol starting in the late 80’s but I have seen some have issue with it even newer. 15% ethanol was not in their testing program however and from what has been published in the marine trades, I’m guessing they are seeing it as a big issue now that they are testing it. Enough that they are spending millions lobbying against ethanol.

          • 0 avatar

            Two issues come immediately to mind.

            Ethanol fuel is hydrophilic. In marine applications, ethanol soaks up water like a sponge. I don’t know any boat dealer that recommends ethanol in a boat. I service several boat dealers.

            Then there’s the separation issue.

            Just pump some ethanol fuel into a quart jar. Seal the jar. Set it on a shelf in your garage for several months. You can see clearly for yourself how the ethanol separates from the gasoline.

            Everything I’ve read indicates that ethanol fuel has a 90-100 day shelf life if it’s stored properly.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            “Just pump some ethanol fuel into a quart jar. Seal the jar. Set it on a shelf in your garage for several months. You can see clearly for yourself how the ethanol separates from the gasoline.”

            You do realize that phase separation only happens after the water content in ethanol blended fuel exceeds .5%? Explain to me in a sealed jar where the water comes from to cause this? Your full of it!

          • 0 avatar

            I see that’s kind of funny as the Honda press release also talks about keeping tanks full to prevent ethanol-water absorption. My guess is they have adjusted this after testing. I was getting all these technical briefs 10 years ago. At the time Mercury was recommending installing water separators it’s funny how things change. Anyways to older boats and some improperly designed ones Ethanol is a big problem. I won’t name the brand but one brand which should have known better had huge problems with the change over with their electric fuel pumps failing (I had one customer go thru 3 in one summer) ethanol was damaging the submerged pump (corrosion) and causing them to fail at an alarming rate. My guess would be it was improper materials but it still got a lot of hate for ethanol. I run E10 in my boats there was a lot of issues with the older ones fuel lines and tanks and filters and pumps. Once all that was replaced they are OK but really lets not say there are no problems. Also keep in mind the boat fleet in this country is decades older then the car fleet, so this is a really big issue. Here is another article with the same chemical engineer from Mercury you cited explaining some of the issues. Again I’m OK with E10 but raising it more would be disastrous to the marine market. At an industry meeting back in 2007 a speaker from the NMMA (national marine manufacturers association) said they thought Ethanol at that time may have cost them several thousand sales a year from customers fed up with poor reliability caused by E10 who left the sport.

            Anyways here’s the article
            http://www.boatus.com/pressroom/release.asp?id=769#.V7ca_FsrKUl

          • 0 avatar

            Carlson Fan:

            Do the test yourself. There is almost always moisture in an underground storage tank. Internal condensation. Moisture in the air. Air enters the tank during the pumping process. During the delivery process. During the transport tank fill.

            90 day shelf life.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            ‘Do the test yourself. There is almost always moisture in an underground storage tank. Internal condensation. Moisture in the air. Air enters the tank during the pumping process. During the delivery process. During the transport tank fill.

            90 day shelf life.”

            I do that test test every time I store a boat. They sit a minimum of 5 months and I store them about a 1/4 tank full. I have more than one so I’ve probably done it over 40 times. That’s just the boats, I can also add in the snowmobiles for another 40 tests. Never an issue.

            There shouldn’t be enough water in the fuel coming out of the pump to ever cause a problem.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          You are crazy. Even Consumer Reports has been raging on this for years.

          And as for the environmental damage? Well, we know a ton of it, but the EPA has simply broken the law by NOT doing the required testing when the mix was made into law.
          Here, today, was the release of the EPA’s own internal investigation:
          Portion of which reads…
          “Consumer Reports has been warning for years that ethanol blends can destroy small engines and boat motors.”

          plus…

          “Ethanol is hardly without controversy. On the production side it’s been repeatedly shown that it uses up to 300% more water than anyone expected. Vast amounts of land were converted to corn fields in the rush to cash in on the government mandate, causing all manner of environmental havoc”

          So…your own experiences and political position aside, it sucks for the rest of us in the world.

          http://hotair.com/archives/2016/08/19/epa-admits-never-studying-effects-of-ethanol-as-required-by-law/

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Of course they couldn’t study the effects. It would have derailed their agenda. You only need a layman’s knowledge of land management to know that producing lots of corn for ethanol fuel use is a non-starter. Arable soil would be exhausted, other produce would be displaced, water would be wasted, food would be more expensive, and the net change to climate factors would be immeasurable at best. It made a lobby rich though, and that was the point, provided the point wasn’t starving central Americans and ruining the environment.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            I’m sure Consumer Reports knows more than the engineers at Mercury Marine (see my quote above) about what fuels aren’t safe to run in their marine engines……….LOL

            Minnesota has more registered trailer boats than any other state in the country. They are all run with ethanol blended fuels because that’s pretty much all we have here. Oh, BTW MN was the first state to adopt ethanol blended fuels so we have been dealing with them longer than anyone else. And no one has phase separation issues due to water in the fuel system. If they did there would be broken down boats all over littering our 10,000 lakes. Same deal in WI.

            I ran the same tank of ethanol blended fuel in my pontoon boat for 2 seasons. 18 month old fuel and the 50 HP Suzuki 4S EFI outboard ran just fine. The only thing I did to that fuel was dump some stabilizer in it when it sat over the winter.

          • 0 avatar

            On balance I’m ok with E10 it’s not perfect but likely better then MTBE. But it did cause a lot of issues in the marine market, most have been overcome now so I don’t mind it but it is an issue. E15 is another matter as mentioned in one of the Mercury press releases above use of E15 will cause almost certain damage to modern marine engines.

    • 0 avatar

      Never had a car issue with it. Plenty of boat and power equipment issues thou.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Same here, the only issue I can see is,the lowered energy content which may be mitigated by the higher compression E10 allows. Otherwise Im fine with it and so is,my factory 12:1 compression engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      I had to replace all the fuel lines in my 2-stroke Echo leaf blower -all because of the ethanol in modern fuel.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If you could find a way to combine ethanol, the UAW and pickup trucks into one post, then that would bring out all of the crazies at once. With this, you’re only going to attract some of them.

  • avatar
    IAhawkeye

    Shouldn’t it be “separate the corn from the chaff”? The husk is just the outer leafy covering on the ear, you have to get rid of the rest so you end up with just the grain to process it into ethanol, starch, feed, whatever. Chaff is all that waste material together, it’s what combines throw down behind them and leave in the field.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Still say the end is nearer once you start burning food as fuel.
    Oil is plentiful and any other ranting by the left is simple hate.

    Let oil alone, let the price be driven by demand and suddenly you have the USA once again finding oil like it was 1903 again in Oklahoma!

    Let loose the exporters…

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “once you start burning food as fuel”

      We burn wood. The termites might have an opinion about that.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “burning food as fuel”

      This has got to be one of the dumbest memes that I have ever heard.

      It doesn’t even make sense. How is it even remotely logical that something that you can eat can’t be fuel for something else?

      (And if you knew anything about the corn used to produce ethanol, then you wouldn’t be bringing it to your next cookout.)

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        Corn for ethanol (no matter how edible or not) takes land away from corn for food, raising food prices. Directly and indirectly. All to be burned as a less efficient fuel than gasoline.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          You should give some thought as to why your food is filled with corn syrup.

          (Hint: Because it’s a cheap extender that costs less than the food that you think that you’re paying for.)

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Just because something is plentiful doesn’t mean we should be using it indiscriminately.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    To make ethanol a truly environmental friendly fuel, it should be derived solely from ligno-cellulostic wastes (i.e. corn stalks, waste wood chips and such). I’m not sure of the technical or economic feasibility of this approach, but it has been pursued in academia since at least the early 70s.
    I have been using ethanol gas for over 10 years now. It is the only kind of gas available around here without any problems. This includes lawnmowers, a leaf blower, chain saws and a a pressure washer without any problems. I also use it in my fuel injected, 74 MB 450SL without any apparent problems.
    The answer to Kitman’s questions at a NASCAR race need to be grouped by genetics. All answers from those who are married to a first cousin or closer relative may be far different than answers from the general population.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    As someone whose continued existence has in some ways been dependent on the Big Corn Ethanol Conspiracy(TM)…I welcome the day when we can get ethanol cheaply from sources other than just corn. I don’t like how (seemingly) most other farmers are rotating nothing but corn and soybeans. It’s boring to look at, and will end up costing them more in the long run. We’ve always had at least hay and oats in the mix as well for the past 50+ years, and now with cover crops really hitting it big, I hope to see more interesting fields throughout the growing season and into winter.

  • avatar

    During Jennifer Granholm’s time as Michigan governor, the state government encouraged the development of corn ethanol. Though it’s connected to the auto industry, Michigan is a leading agricultural state and was already producing a lot of feedstock corn for the dairy industry here. Michigan corn growers are big on ethanol, obviously.

    Still, if you’re going to grow fuel, I think it would have made sense for Michigan to promote ethanol derived from sugar beets. Michigan is the country’s largest producer of sugar beets – much of the refined sugar consumed in Michigan and Ohio is produced here. Sugar beets make a lot more sense as a source of ethanol than corn. Corn ethanol is barely energy positive. The energy out to energy in for corn ethanol is 1.3:1. Ethanol makes sense in Brazil (or Florida or Louisiana) because sugar cane has an 8:1 energy ratio. Sugar beets aren’t as energy efficient as cane at 2:1 but are still significantly better, in terms of energy cost vs yield, than corn.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Minnesota appears to beat Michigan soundly in sugar beet production.

      http://www.ers.usda.gov/datafiles/Sugar_and_Sweeteners_Yearbook_Tables/US_Sugar_Supply_and_Use/TABLE14.XLS

  • avatar
    mikein541

    We are using millions of acres of land to grow the corn from which
    to make the ethanol. To grow the corn, trillions of gallons of
    water is required, as is untold millions of pounds of fertilizer.
    Not to mention the machinery needed to plant and harvest this corn,
    which machinery burns diesel fuel which causes ungodly air pollution. The corn then has to be transported to grain elevators
    and on to processing plants, again by machinery burning diesel fuel.
    This does not seem to me to be a very smart way to cut down on air
    pollution by ab infinitesimally small amount. But then, we are
    talking about big agriculture, big oil, big enviromentalists, and
    big government here …

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      “To grow the corn, trillions of gallons of
      water is [sic] required, as is untold millions of pounds of fertilizer.”

      As opposed to the trillions of gallons of water and other resources needed to make an equivalent amount of pure gasoline?

      http://www.circleofblue.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Water-Consumption-in-Ehtanol-and-Petroleum-Production.pdf

      New tractors, combines, and semis have so much emissions equipment that the exhaust can be cleaner than the intake air. (Now, getting farmers to accept this equipment can be a different story.) And at any rate, it’s not just about air pollution, or even environmental effects. It’s about renewable vs. nonrenewable resources. 3/10, got me to reply.

    • 0 avatar
      Snail Kite

      It’s not pollution that’s at issue (although we use ethanol to improve gas emissions), it’s the cycling of CO2 versus adding CO2 via fossil fuels. Every bit, or at least the vast majority, of CO2 we add to the atmosphere by burning ethanol is pulled back out again by growing ethanol crops.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ve posted this before, and it doesn’t feel like that long ago, but I’m one to repeat myself, so I’ll once again say that I simply despise the fact that corn is mandated to be in the fuel supply. Even a suggestion that it is more environmentally friendly must be told with a knowing smirk. Farms are one of, if not the worst polluters on the planet. Incentivizing them to use fields for growing what is essentially waste product is baffling.

    I desperately wanted to prove that it also damages engines and causes lower MPG. But my admittedly anecdotal experience has shown that:

    My Impala seems to show no ill effects from using it unless I can blame it for my fuel gauge ceasing functionality two years ago. But I have no proof and trying to assign outside blame to a 60s made GM fuel gauge is a wasted endeavor. I retain all the 1966 made OEM rubber fuel lines from the front suspension rearward. This is in spite for spending 99.8% of the year parked.
    I sometimes go years between fill-ups and I’ve never had a tank of gas go bad.

    My older lawnmower doesn’t seem bothered by it. At least it doesn’t seem to gum up or go bad over the winter – even when I forget to put stabilizer in it.

    I took my Tacoma to a E-Free station a couple years ago and compared the mileage on that tank to my standard mileage and it was actually lower than it usually is.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      “Farms are one of, if not the worst polluters on the planet.”

      We’ll just ignore all other heavy industries since the middle of the 19th century, I suppose.

      ” Incentivizing them to use fields for growing what is essentially waste product is baffling.”

      …What? Yes, we’ve moved to a corn-based monoculture in the past 50 years, but it wasn’t a “waste product” in earlier times.

      On a different note, I do sincerely appreciate that you are able to keep seperate the two issues of ethanol performance in older engines and the caveats associated with its production. Most people can’t do that.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Farms are one of, if not the worst polluters on the planet.”

      I guess we should just stop all of that pesky eating then. Ya know, for the common good and all.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        You’re both missing the point. One can pollute and serve a purpose for the greater good. I realize we need farms to exist and have for as long as there were more people than freely available resources.

        The problem arises when farms are growing more corn than could possibly be consumed intentionally to be used as ethanol because there is monetary incentive to do it – it’s not just the waste from what is harvested that becomes ethanol. Low quality corn is grown, fertilized, and pesticided just to be ground up for gas.

        Those fields could be used to grow other types of crops to either feed more people or lower the price of whatever is being grown by increasing the supply.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          It’s not low-quality, it’s the same quality as or better than any corn that came before. And it’s not “just” ground up for gas. Two by-products of ethanol production are wet and dry distiller’s grains, which are essentially inedible by humans, but can be mixed into animal feed with minimal loss compared to feeding straight corn outright. So it’s actually more cost-effective to process it into ethanol first, because then you get ethanol and feed.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Land Ark,
          I think from ethanol is viewed as carbon neutral.

          The poisons from the agri-industry is just part of it all.

          I’d say the smartest people of all are the Norseman. They have a huge suppository (funny) of seeds in a cave somewhere.

          In the end we will need food more than gasoline or wind power.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Part of the justification of adding ethanol to fuel is that it makes it burn cleaner. But if the amount of pollution saved by adding ethanol is offset by the pollution produced in growing/refining the ethanol, you don’t think that’s a problem? I don’t know how it pencils out, but it’s certainly worth considering.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the best government energy policy is no energy policy. Absolutely every government funded energy project becomes an expensive boondoggle. Let consumers buy whatever vehicle and fuel that they want. If ethanol ever becomes cost competitive with gasoline, consumers will buy it willingly. Periodic pain at the pump when gas prices spike up helps drive consumers toward better efficiency with less economic damage than artificially raising fuel prices.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      It’s Ringo’s Law in action.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      George B,
      I agree. The problem is governments win by placating the fringe groups, the smaller groups that sway them enough to put them into power.

      The reality is the corn farmers are a small group and the expensive cost of ethanol does not make it logical to subsidise. But, hey, the farmers have enough power to gain support from the greenies and left as well in the ethanol argument.

      “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’m not a huge proponent of converting corn into ethanol. Corn is not the best source, it expensive or it would not need to be subsidised and controlled in a socialist manner.

    The US corn industry is really a farce. Imported sugarcane ethanol is taxed at over 50%. Why? Because sugarcane is a far better source to convert into fuel.

    As many protected and subsidised industries, it becomes entrenched and hard to remove. This is what I find annoying, irrespective of what country makes this waste.

    So, how much does ethanol cost the US consumer? People can state there are all of these jobs reliant on it, but the farmers would be growing something else.

    ……………………………………………………………………

    Tell me if the US consumer is not being ripped off.

    Comparison with the United States[edit]
    Brazil’s sugar cane-based industry is more efficient than the U.S. corn-based industry. Sugar cane ethanol has an energy balance seven times greater than ethanol produced from corn.[3] Brazilian distillers are able to produce ethanol for 22 cents per liter, compared with the 30 cents per liter for corn-based ethanol.[149] U.S. corn-derived ethanol costs 30% more because the corn starch must first be converted to sugar before being distilled into alcohol.[104] Despite this cost differential in production, the U.S. did not import more Brazilian ethanol because of U.S. trade barriers corresponding to a tariff of 54-cent per gallon, first imposed in 1980, but kept to offset the 45-cent per gallon blender’s federal tax credit that is applied to ethanol no matter its country of origin.[5][117][118][119] In 2011 the U.S. Congress decided not to extend the tariff and the tax credit, and as a result both ended on December 31, 2011. During these three decades the ethanol industry was awarded an estimated US$45 billion in subsidies and US$6 billion just in 2011.[150][151]

    A HUGE FNCKING WASTE OF TAX DOLLARS and the consumer.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      The difference is that sugarcane can’t be grown in most of the continental U.S. And sugar beets may find their arable range being restricted into Canada as the growing season changes to become more favorable to corn even into northern Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        So, from your comment, maybe the Canadians should subisidise pineapple growing.

        That would create more jobs in Canada for when Oshawa shuts its doors.

        If you can’t compete, then don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        Here’s an article on US sugar prices and protectionist tariffs. The Feds provide a floor price and the producers can sell to them (ie, us taxpayers) if market prices are lower. There also is a provision to sell that government-owned sugar at a loss to ethanol producers to match effective cornohol prices. And the Brazilians get a quota for import and a small but significant tariff for amounts above quota. A sweet deal all around as long as you aren’t a US consumer of sugar or a US taxpayer. Up until recently, world sugar prices were much lower than US prices.

        http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/06/us-trade-policy-gouges-american-sugar-consumers

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          chuckrs,
          I did notice with the Trans Pacific Trade Pact the US doesn’t want to budge with pickups (chicken tax), pharmaceuticals and sugar. These are the main sticking points.

          I say, let the cane farmers grow crops in a competitive environment. It’s possible as our cane farmers can do it.

          Australian cane farmers are always crying for protection, but none is offered.

          The Japanese are the same with their rice farmers and protection of their beef industry.

          Socialist subsidies and protectionism promotes inefficiencies, loss of competitiveness and the consumer pays in the end with higher prices and higher taxes.

          Because most governments have created a web of protection most any country will need to zero the manner in which it views protectionism and taxation. This will take decades. Australia took over 30 years to gradually wind back our uncompetitive auto manufacturing industry.

          Our wool, dairy, egg, etc were all controlled by government boards and farmers given a set price and given a set production figure. These types of systems were abolished in the 80s.

          How does this not upset free market capitalism.

          • 0 avatar

            One of the non selfish reason I hate TPP, is that it extends many of the protectionist policies on pharmaceuticals to other countries, and will likely raise the cost of medication to all the participating countries to US levels So this free trade deal will likely increase cost of medical care around the world brilliant.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I don’t mind ethanol as a replacement for MTBE. I don’t even mind converting corn into ethanol for that limited use.

    But using ethanol as a primary fuel stock is a bad idea and it just gets worse when you consider how inefficient the process of turning corn into ethanol is.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      And how efficient is the process of turning crude into gasoline?

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Do an energy balance for both processes starting from well-head/bare field in the spring to final products in the 5k gallon tankwagon. Compare the energy in Btu’s / lbm between the final products. Include costs of labor, seed, fertilizers and infrastructure. Show all your work in the blank space below:

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Kitman is as interested in the truth about ethanol as Al Gore is.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • roloboto: There’s lots of guys out there that aren’t insecure, like you are.
  • PrincipalDan: Best and Brightest – often tongue in cheek, sometimes literal Us commentators are supposedly the...
  • Halftruth: Update: The oil leak has slowed even more to the point where there is no more burnt oil smell or...
  • Jon: If its running fine, live with the leak. Buy a drip pan. In removing all that stuff to get to the timing cover...
  • Lie2me: Well it makes you just adorable, redapple ;-)

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States