• Aug 11, 2010
It's no secret that the writers at Forbes are not fans of plug-in vehicles. What do they suggest we use instead? Burn ethanol, at least if you live in the Midwest.
An article by Robert Rapier says that the 15 Midwestern states that make up the second Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD, of which there are five in the U.S.) also happen to produce about 95 percent of all the ethanol made in the U.S. The problem is that 70 percent of that biofuel is then shipped outside of PADD2 and imported gasoline is used to move vehicles. Rapier writes:
These numbers imply that instead of looking at E15 mandates and ethanol pipelines, the ethanol industry would be better served to capture the E85 market in their own backyard. ... if E85 could only capture a third of the market in the Midwest, all ethanol produced in the Midwest could be used locally in the Midwest and oil imports could be backed out of the region.
Rapier is aware of the need to upgrade the infrastructure to accommodate ethanol, and it's hard to argue with him about this point. If the biofuel is already made, why spend energy and fuel shipping it elsewhere? Just stick it in the tank and off we go – until we get more cars with plugs, of course.

[Source: Forbes | Image: diaper – C.C. License 2.0]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ethanol is not a viable alternative energy solution. It is very easy to reason this out if you apply simple logic. Like Asimov's laws of robotics there are certain "laws" of logic that no alternative fuel source should violate. I present the laws of alternative energy. The first of these laws should be "the energy source will not compete with humans for food." Corn based ethanol obviously fails this. The second law should be "the energy source will not compete with humans for potable water." Most other biomass fuel sources fail this. My third and final law should be "the energy source will not compete with humans for clean air." Most internal combustion energy sources fail this. Food and water shortages are going to be an increasingly likely scenario the world over in the coming decades. Sorry, but bio fuels that require humans to divert potable water and food stores are not the answer.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Unlike conclusions pulled from the rear end of the local ethanol zealot, here is an actual study on the health "benefits" of increased ethanol usage:

        http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/E85PaperEST0207.pdf

        In short. Increased Ethanol usage will most likely lead to increased mortality.
        • 4 Years Ago
        > "the energy source will not compete with humans for food."

        I believe ethanol is made from feed corn, so it does not compete with humans for food. In addition, they're throwing away massive quantities of feed corn every year.

        > "the energy source will not compete with humans for potable water."

        In the midwest, where the ethanol is produced, water is in abundance. Not to mention water is one of the most renewable resources on earth.

        > "the energy source will not compete with humans for clean air."

        Well, you got me there. As you indicate nearly any fuel source based on fossil fuels will fail this test, as will many alternative fuels.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The argument that the crop used for biofuel production is not a food crop seems weak to me, as in many areas food crops could be grown instead, so it still may displace it.
        Except for forestry waste etc you would also use the same inputs of fertiliser, pesticides and so on, so if shortages occurred the price of food products would be increased just as surely as though actual food crops had been used.

        As for water etc, and the very valid point that in the Mid-west currently much of the produce may currently be waste, the problem is one of scale.
        To make much difference to fuel supply, truly huge amounts are needed.
        So you either have a very big problem with water, land, phosphates etc, or you are not operating at a big enough scale to make a real difference.

        This is the problem with many of the renewables, that a resource which can be useful on a small scale, for instance in the case of biomass to fuel local agricultural machinery, is exaggerated as a resource which can provide solutions it is simply incapable of.
        • 4 Years Ago
        kevin, your laws either don't apply, or are too extreme and simplistic.

        Corn ethanol doesn't violate law 1, for a host of reasons. First, as pointed out above, it's made from a strain of corn that, once the starch is taken out for fuel, is used as animal feed. Second, even while ethanol corn production has risen, so has production of food corn and other staple crops. It's not a zero-sum game. Third, the reason for that is that there is huge slack capacity in our ag sector due to efficiency and per-acre yields rising much faster than demand, meaning lots of idle manpower (young adults are streaming out of rural areas) and cropland (less than half our farmland is cultivated). Fourth, ethanol can help solve hunger by enriching and empowering poor tropical farmers, and by stabilizing a world economy hard-hit by the crushing OPEC tax.

        Your laws 2 and 3 are too absolute, forcing us to reject radical improvements and accept a foul status quo as we wait forever for a magical perfect solution that never comes. Everything, including manufacturing, transporting, installing, and maintaining wind turbines and solar cells, takes water and emits something into the air. The relevant question is, is the fuel source in question better for the environment than petroleum? In that regard the answer is an emphatic yes. Ethanol, unlike gasoline, burns without emitting smog-causing soot, the most damaging and urgent air pollution problem on Earth, responsible for killing a million Chinese and 40,000 Americans a year. That alone is huge. Ethanol also emits no sulfur, the cause of acid rain, and radically reduces NOx emissions, the causo of ozone smog and other problems. When spilled, ethanol dissolves on its own in water without needing chemical dispersants, and readily biodegrades, being broken down by naturally occurring bacteria into harmless components. Ethanol's water burden is also consistently overstated, because ethanol corn is NOT irrigated, contrary to the assumptions of many critics.

        Even all this, however, is secondary. As important as the environment is, what's even more urgent is that petroleum is funding maniacs who are trying to kill you, me, and as many of our loved ones as possible. Musing about air pollution when a madman with a knife is roaming your house is getting your priorities wrong. We need to de-fund terrorism and related extremism. Fortunately, doing so will go a long way to cleaning up the environment as well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        First, let me say that in principle, I have come to agree with your conclusion that most alternative fuels definitly are NOT a perfect replacement for oil.

        I personally think that a good BEV/REEV (or one of each for my 2+ car family) along with either wind or solar power (or both) on my home is the best alternative to gas for me. And I feel like I'm so close to making that a reality that I think it is better to save my cash to make that happen than to bother with any other of the alternative fuel or high MPG cars that just a year ago I really wanted as an alternative to oil.

        With that said, everybody can't do that right now. And if you apply your own rules to oil, you will find that burning oil for transportation violates ALL of your rules too.

        1) Food- Burning oil for food competes with using oil products to fertilize food crops.
        2) Water- Oil consumes and contaminates enormous amounts of water. Water is consumed and contaminated along every step of oil's use. From pumping water into wells to help production, to consuming large amounts of water during refining, to spills contaminating large amounts of water above and below ground, oil is a disaster for water.
        3) Air- This is a no-brainer. Oil is a huge cause of air polution.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Cannot believe I'm going to say this but _Middle Way_ is right on this one 14:1 would work on a DI engine running 91 or E85. I will be running 16:1 in the LS engine that's going in my camaro (Non DI) It will only be able to run on E98 (98% Ethanol)
      • 4 Years Ago
      The only way this would work is to use it in an engine designed for e85, otherwise you're just blowing extra octane out the tailpipe, and getting worse fuel economy and power :|.. these flex fuel vehicles suck. They are typically low compression too, so that sucks extra bad!!

      Regular fuel is about 87 octane, ethanol is about 105 octane.

      Here's an idea. High compression Direct injection motors that run on either premium ( ONLY ) or e85. I'm betting that 14:1 would be the magic number. It would make enough power per liter to reduce the size of the engine while still having the ability to run off gasoline. In e85 mode it could run a ton of spark advance as a further benefit.

      Ethanol-only engines could run even better, probably getting the same mpg as gas cars if the engine and engine controls are designed correctly.

      I guess the problem is.. we've still got oil. Not desperate enough to go to that route yet.
        • 4 Years Ago


        Regarding diesels... I forgot to append this to the original message:
        "OEMs are obliged to meet NOx requirements for all their markets.

        That's why you're not going to see 14:1 on a street engine, even if
        it's running pure alcohol. Not yet, anyway."

        What I forgot to say:
        "Not until CARB forces all automakers to add urea
        injection (which is used on those pesky ultra-high compression ratio
        diesels with the big NOx numbers) to everything. Even hydrogen cars.
        Maybe even electrics. And toasters. At that point... hell... might as
        well go crazy."

        -

        Diesels use high compressions, incredibly strong internals, a stout block*, piezo-injectors at $1000 a set, faster ECUs and more sensitive engine
        sensors than common gasoline engines. And they require all of that
        plus incredibly complex after-combustion treatment, particulate
        filters, catalytic converters and urea injection just to stay legal in
        the US. (this is part of what I was talking about in the VW article).
        Which makes them expensive.

        *"cheap" CRDIs use solid iron-blocks... only the really expensive ones, like in BMWs, use weight-saving hollow-aluminum blocks like gasoline engines can.... the cheaper iron-block is another place where OEMs hide the difference in price for CRDis, but that's a story for another time...

        .

        Ethanol already has higher NOx than regular gasoline (though some
        suggest the difference is negligible). And you have to build an engine
        with better valve materials and internals to cope with ethanol (but
        this is also true of propane... and unleaded). Then you add
        compression. Then you add lean-burn (needed to meet economy needs).
        Then you need more esoteric treatment.

        Already, a gasoline direct injection engine needs those $1000-per-set
        injectors, sophisticated and ultra-fast knock sensors (thankfully, not
        as sophisticated as those needed for HCCI engines...) and a power ECU.
        While all of this theoretically allows you to run silly-high
        compressions compared to a gasoline engine, you'll note that GDI
        engines in production nowadays don't generally run that much more
        compression than regular gas engines. What they're used for is to
        allow regular compression engines to run lean while under boost to
        maximize both power and economy. And this gives you a broader
        powerband and better longevity than a high-strung, naturally-aspirated
        high-compression mill.

        Again, just because you can, doesn't mean that's an ideal solution.
        • 4 Years Ago
        High combustion temps create NOx, that's what EGR is for. Direct injection has a cooling effect in it's own, that's why cars can run 87 octane at 3:1 higher than regular fuel injection. No spark retardation required. And DI motors make more power per liter due to that; they basically blow up more of the fuel.

        Ultra lean burn, i can't say i know much about. Other than the downfall of rediculously hot combustion temps.

        High compression uses more fuel, but extracts more power out of it. I'd say the only time you're at a disadvantage is when you're idling. But the efficiency more than makes up for it.

        Diesel engines run a compression ratio of 16:1 and above, and many of them will outlast the sheet metal the vehicle was made of! So i'm not buying the idea that high compression engines are unreliable in any way.

        Back to the original argument; this would be an excellent way to take advantage of both fuels, you'd have the MPG bump from using higher octane, and you'd be using more of the octane of the ethanol fuel. It's a win/win.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Cannot believe I'm going to say this but _Middle Way_ is right on this one 14:1 would work on a DI engine running 91 or E85. I will be running 16:1 in the LS engine that's going in my camaro (Non DI) But It will only be able to run on E98 (98% Ethanol)
        • 4 Years Ago
        DI engines can run 10:1-12:1 on 87 octane, thus 14:1 is not pushing it with 91 octane on a DI motor, and that's a fairly nice compression ratio for e85 too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Middle Way -

        Saab has been selling a whole line of "BioPower" (E85) cars for a couple of years in Europe. So has Volvo with their "FlexiFuel" line of cars. They have effectively solved the compression issue by using turbos. Turbos effectively multiply an engine's physical compression ratio to take advantage of that higher octane without having to actually change how the engine is built.

        Since these were made essentially by GM and Ford, they know how to build them. The problem isn't the technology, the problem is that the car makers across the board just refuse to sell their most fuel efficient cars in the US. That isn't just E85 cars, it is true for gas cars too.

        PS- ethanol works to cool combustion due to it's cooler ignition/burn properties, and it's evaporation properties. By it's nature it burns cooler than gas. Or you can run it at higher compression than gas, while maintaining the same combustion temps.

        PPS- The benifits of higher compression burning of higher octane fuel usually doesn't show up as fuel savings. They usually show up as power increases. If you build a smaller displacement engine for E85 that puts out the same power as a larger engine burning gas, you will get that octane/compression benefit to finally show up in the form of improved gas mileage. Otherwise increasing compression will mostly just increase power without much actual on-the-road MPG difference. So your comment about building the engine smaller is THE key to translating the octane advantage over gas into MPG's.
        • 4 Years Ago
        e10 has less ethanol in it, so that makes sense :)

        Hypermilers noticed a mileage drop when they started putting 10% ethanol in everything.. :
        • 4 Years Ago
        E10 not E15 (We need a edit button).
        • 4 Years Ago
        My Tahoe gets better gas mileage on E98 then on E15 and I'm only at 10:1. It's all in the tune.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Indeed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just because you can run huge compressions, doesn't mean that it's optimum. To maintain a very high static CR (let's not go into dynamic CR, because variable valve timing and cam phasing make a hash of that... and it makes my head hurt), even with DI, you need better cooling and more fuel.

        Why run 14:1 if it forces you to use more fuel, more ignition retardation,and more precise control when you can run 12:1 and run a more easily controlled ultra-lean burn? Of course, lean-burn comes with the attendant issues of higher NOx emissions, but guess what? Higher compression also creates higher NOx. It's not something us modifiers worry about too much, but OEMs are obliged to meet NOx requirements for all their markets.

        That's why you're not going to see 14:1 on a street engine, even if it's running pure alcohol. Not yet, anyway. A street motor, unlike a racing motor, must meet longevity, economy, price and emissions requirements... which are easier to achieve with a more modest compression ratio.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, it's more like 11:1. Propane is around 12.5:1. Don't know anything at 14:1 and above except diesels (typically a modern turbodiesel is around 16 or 18:1).

        This is for streetable engines that won't gulp down gallons of fuel just to keep cool and prevent detonation. You can run huge compression ratios on most any fuel, but at the expense of economy and durability.

        I think localizing consumption of E85 is a splendid idea, actually. Limit the expenses involved in distributing it to increase its cost-effectiveness.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It'd be interesting to see a manufacturer bite the bullet and design a vehicle to primarily run on E85. If it happens to run on gasoline too, with crappy mileage, that's OK.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's smart, but turbos cost money :

        Yeah, i know ethanol runs super cool. That's another reason why you could run insane compression on it.

        Yeah, you can reduce displacement but only so much for a car that's compatible to both fuels. But running the highest compression on pump gas would mean you could utilize more of the ethanol.

        That's what i'm talking about, sort of a middle route for e85 compatibility. I don't know how much this would improve the e85 fuel economy though. I think a dedicated e85 engine would be happy around 17:1 or so. But bumping the gas engine up to 14:1 with DI would help a lot nonetheless.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Beware futur volt owners and renters, this car can be badly affected by any bad gas there is on the market like the ones that sell regular or e10 or e15 for premium, premium affected by humidity and long storage in dubious tanks because of a lack of sales, humidity in ethanol mix in gasoline. The ice engine in the volt is programmed for an ultra-lean combustion which is the harder way to operate an engine and it tax badly pistons, valves, camshafts and crankshafts and bearings and oil but if you get bad gas on top of that then it might be it. Remember the old cavaliers, they almost all detonate in hot climate city driving at low speeds and at medium speed on boulevard and at regular sustained speed on highways. The volt gasoline engine, programmed by gm engineers will see too, difficulties when recharging at low speeds vehicule without air coming to the radiator and stream of air on the exhaust/muffler system. the ice engine will see too difficulties when battery state of charge and generator temperature/speed variation and electric rectifiers programming variations and electric propultion motors electrical needs will vary, the ice autofiring programmed operation tuned on the lean harder operating programm without driver inputs and direct control from the driver can fry the engine quickly.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am in the midwest, and I want less ethanol.

      I don't really care if regular is pushed up to 15% ethanol, so long as premium become NO ethanol. As a result mid-grade becomes 7.5% ethanol.
      and
      The AKI improves, 87 regular, 90 mid-grade, 93 premium.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Geez. I might have known it was pointless trying to reason with you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Carney, you did not have a point.
        There is no al-Qaeda.
        Back in the end of the 1970s early 1980s, when databases were hip, the list of CIA assets, known as the mujahadeen, [sticking it to the Russians, because Afghanistan is 'our' source of drugs] were referred to as the 'base'. A literal translation makes that 'al-Qaeda', but colloquially it means to 'take a crap'.
        No terrorist organization is going to call themselves the 'crapper'.

        It is one big sick joke, and apparently you are being their useful idiot. You can stop.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv7BImVvEyk

        • 4 Years Ago
        By re-arranging the ethanol distribution, the total ethanol usage will probably be unchanged.

        Hey, 9/11 myther. It was an inside job. Learn a little science-conservation of angular momentum [watch 290 millions pounds of the top of WTC 2 disappear in mid-air]. Watch WTC 7- what plane? Fire, really.

        Globalization is what is destroying the US economy. Manufacturing started leaving when Paul Volker raised interest rates. Now in the 2000's, the service job have left.
        All this because some morons think that the US must fall before world government can be implemented, and everyone can then be made 'equal'.
        Equally destitute. Equally subjugated via the nwo.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I bet the 2001 anthrax attacks ( which warned of 9/11 ) were an inside job too eh?

        Yes, we terrorize ourselves. And a group that's based on the idea of wanting to destroy israel and their biggest supporter ( the USA ) is not reponsible..

        Please post this paranoid political theory elsewhere, this is not the forum for it Mike
        • 4 Years Ago
        I am sorry Middle Way that you have a psychological barrier up to protect your psyche from reality.
        The reality is a bunch of psychopaths have assumed control of the power structure.

        The anthrax mailings [which were after 9/11] were most definitely American made.
        http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/frameup.html
        http://www.informationliberation.com/index.php?id=16283

        When you are ready to face reality, tear down that barrier. Welcome to the struggle against the psychopaths/sociopaths.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, foul the air and water, trash the economy, and fund terrorism.

        Never mind that the relative who dies from lung cancer or a suicide bombing may be yours, or that the job you lose may be your own. At least you got to roll a bit further down the road on your gallon of Enemy-Funding Fuel (tm).

      • 4 Years Ago
      ...otherwise you're just blowing extra octane out the tailpipe...
      Not really so. There is a spark advance and less or no enrichment to cool the cylinders.
      Will cost you nothing as most cars already have knock sensors and adjust advance dynamically.

      Let's share some facts.

      As you may know or not, there is a 10 million FFV "Proof Of Concept" in Brazil today!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexible-fuel_vehicle

      All Gasoline sold at the pumps have from 20 to 25% anhydrous ethanol blended. It's sold as Regular (~86 octanes), Premium (~91-92 octanes) and even Podium (95 octanes).
      [Before blending ethanol we had one of the worst gasoline offering in the world. In the 70s, despite being leaded, premium gas ("gasolina azul") was 82 octanes! Regular gas ("gasolina comum") was ... who knows... maybe 76?!]

      Ethanol (álcool or etanol in portuguese) is sold in nearly all fuel stations as hydrous ethanol which has a 4 to 5% of water mixed as it's an azeotrope mixture, and distilled at the LEAST COST. I will call it HE100. (HE100~=E95+W5).
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil


      Ethanol x Compression ratio:
      --------------------------------------
      GM sells cars powered mostly by SOHC Ecotec "Family I" (1.0L, 1.4L an 1.8L) and "Family II" (2.0L..2.4L) engines.

      I4 - family I - 1.0L - 12.6:1
      I4 - family I - 1.4L - 12.4:1
      I4 - family II - 2.0L - 11.5:1
      www.chevrolet.com.br/veiculos/carros/classic/classic-10-vhce-flexpower/ficha-tecnica.shtml
      www.chevrolet.com.br/veiculos/carros/corsa/corsa-seda-premium/ficha-tecnica.shtml
      www.chevrolet.com.br/veiculos/carros/astra/ficha-tecnica.shtml

      Never heard of more than 14:1 compression in any street engine.

      Ethanol x Fuel-Consumption:
      --------------------------------------
      There is a penalty in consumption MPG (or Km/L as we use here), and a rule of thumb that one should use E100 if it cost less then 70% of gasoline. People do like using ethanol cause the same engine deliver more torque and power.

      Sometimes GM do it right (for you to be proud) :
      http://translate.google.com.br/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.farolcomunitario.com.br%2Fautos_001_chevrolet_0007.htm&sl=pt&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8


      Ethanol x Power:
      ----------------------
      (For a given engine setup at a given rotation it will "breathe" a certain amount of air/O2, which demands an amount of fuel and delivers the power liberated through the combustion. As ethanol brings a lot more oxygen within the fuel itself, it "eases the breathing" and will allow more energy/fuel [from C-H, C-C] and delivers more power for the same amount of air.)

      There is a compromise when an engine is multi-fuel, but factory FFVs (as opposed to most modified engines) adjust not only injection times, but also spark timing (more advanced with ethanol), so that efficiency goes up (more work to the wheels and less to the exhaust), even at the same fixed compression ratio.


      Ethanol x Water:
      ----------------------
      The small amount of water (0..5%) is not a problem, not even being mixed with gasoline in any proportion. It works just as a bit of EGR, as it contributes no energy to the combustion.


      Ethanol - FFV viability:
      -----------------------------
      All of this is done in a very price sensitive market (40% are 1.0L engines!, most SOHC) where 8 bit controllers were the norm. No extra sensors are needed, since the "lambda sensor" (the O2 exhaust feedback sensor) is used to provide a fuel mix software virtual sensor.

      GM uses Delphi and Bosch ECUs and injectors here. Magneti Mareli is another volume player. VW, FIAT, GM, Ford, Renault/Nissan, Honda, Toyota, ... offer FFVs here.

      FFVs are some 10mega (10 million) now (2010.06) and represent more than 90% of new light duty vehicles (2.5..3.0 million/year). FFVs are 1/4 to 1/3 or the fleet already.
      Gasoline (E0, pre blend) consumption is already smaller than ethanol. Gasoline IS the alternative fuel (if there are spikes in ethanol price, as what happened last year with the heavy demand for sugar in India).

      Please note that nothing is out of reach of the US. GM and Ford know how to do it. It costs nearly nothing. (Just adjusting the ECU's software, and testing/certifying the engines).


      Ethanol - reasoning for the option:
      --------
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great. They should use it locally also so then I don't have to buy it in California. Aside from it being a poor route for going green, ethanol is bad for planes and boats and I can't buy ethanol free gas anywhere.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The University of North Dakota and Minnesota State University, Mankato did a study on fuel economy with E20 and E30 blends on unmodified 2007 model year cars. For a pdf of the study, go to: http://www.ethanol.org/pdf/contentmgmt/ACE_Optimal_Ethanol_Blend_Level_Study_final_12507.pdf

      They found a synergistic effect that caused fuel economy at these levels to be equal to or better than straight gasoline. The effect did not show up at E10 or E85, where the lower energy content of ethanol is more operative. The engines in the study were not modified to take advantage of ethanol's higher octane rating.

        • 4 Years Ago
        @fred "This is a strange use of the word irrelevant. Wringing maximum fuel miles will accomplish your three goals."

        Carney is a ethanol zealot. His only concern is burning more ethanol. He states repeatedly that improving fuel economy is irrelevant. Likely because it runs counter to his goal: burning more ethanol.

        Improved fuel economy burns less ethanol, thus less good.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Got my math a bit mixed up. Ethanol has two-thirds of the energy content of gasoline; methanol has one-half. Thus, to go a given distance you need 50% more ethanol and 100% more methanol. Put another way, with your distance per month driven remaining constant, if you currently fuel up twice a month on gasoline you'd need to do so 3 times a month on pure ethanol, or once a week on pure methanol.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I get 18 MPG (combined) E98 and only 14 MPG (combined) on E10. If you use E85 / E98 all the time and have the ECM / PCM tuned to run only on that one fuel (or both E85 and E98 with a tune switch) you can get better mileage. It's all in the tuning.

        P.S
        The vehicle I speak of is a 1996 Tahoe K1500 with 6" suspension lift 3" body lift on 37's with a 9.25" front and 10.5" 14B rear with a weight of 5200 pounds.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Irrelevant. The goal is not to wring the maximim miles out of every drop of a given liquid fuel. The goal is threefold:

        1) clean up the air and water.
        2) prevent more economy-crashing oil shocks (as in 1973, 1979, 2008)
        3) de-fund and defeat terrorism and related extremism

        If that requires 33% more liquid fuel per mile (as with E100) or 50% more (as with M100), who cares?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Snowdog, as I've explained to you before, I'm an alcohol fuel advocate. If the late 80s and early 90s momentum behind methanol had continued to our day, and methanol were in ethanol's place today, you'd accuse me of being a "methanol zealot" and a shill for the natural gas or coal or inedible biomass lobby, no matter how much I'd patiently re-explain to you, as you cup your ears and chant to drown me out, that I'm just as much a fan of ethanol too.

        My remarks about fuel efficiency come not from a mindless or mercenary desire for maximizing alcohol fuel sales and for no other purpose, but rather from several sources:

        1) my realizing that seeking to reduce fuel usage overall is futile because fuel demand rises faster than efficiency can catch up,

        2) an understanding, looking at the changes in the power generation industry, that while fuel use restriction does not work, fuel SUBSTITUTION does (because oil fired plants were replaced with nuclear); and

        3) a hostility to the character flaw many seem to have, in different times and places, and emerging using different pretexts, to force us all to live with less, to impose austerity and deprivation and sacrifice for our own good

        By the way, I read your much touted Starford study purporting to show greater E85 mortality. It nowhere mentioned, that I could find, the central fact that ethanol burns without emitting smoke, soot, or particulate matter, the source of smog and the single most deadly, in terms of annual deaths, air pollutant in the world. That's a bit like talking about the solar system and ignoring the Sun. I also note that, lurking in the footnotes, are the same two discredited cranks, Pimentel (the Malthusian anti-human nutjob) and Patzek (the former oil executive). So much for that POS study. Try again.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Re: Carney "irrelevant"

        This is a strange use of the word irrelevant. Wringing maximum fuel miles will accomplish your three goals.

        In the rural Upper Midwest there are now pumps which allow custom adjustment of ethanol/gasoline mixture. If Midwest produced ethanol were used only in the Midwest, as Rapier argues, then the optimal mixture for fuel economy should be used. That's a no-brainer.

        The primary purpose of ethanol, from the rural economy standpoint, is that it is a locally produced product which adds value to the raw commodity. Ethanol production started years ago during a time of low grain prices and chronic shortages of railroad hopper cars. Huge piles of corn lying on the ground were commonplace. Ethanol was a way to use that corn, much of which was damaged and unusable for feed.

        Rapier, by the way, is no fan of ethanol, and he has consistently argued against its use on theoildrum.com and other sites. Most of the petroleum used in the Upper Midwest is pumped from wells on the Northern Plains, primarily in North Dakota and Alberta.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Seems like someone should have come up with this idear long before now. Me thinks me smells some big time lobbying dollars being thrown around by the farmers association and the oil corps. Because this is to obvious to have been overlooked for this long.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ethanol is not nearly as efficient as pure, good ole fashioned gasoline. Plus, it causes additional and unnecessary wear and tear to the engine. PLUS, making cars run on a food product only cause the price of that food product to go way up. If it wasn't for stupid lobbyist and the government sponsored paychecks, ethanol would never have made it off the farmer's land.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Carney, before you just start blowing wind through your mouth, make sure you're not wasting words. Save the planet.

        Only a handful of cars on the road or being made today are equipped to properly process that E85 garbage.

        The amount of consumption for fuel far exceeds what we use for food. Look up the info on how many ears of corn it actually requires to produce ONE gallon of ethanol. Or I'll just do it for you:

        http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_corn_is_required_to_produce_a_gallon_of_ethanol

        ONE LARGE TANK OF FUEL TAKES AS MUCH FOOD AS COULD FEED A PERSON FOR A WHOLE YEAR. Yeah, that's efficient and economical for sure.

        Let me give you a history lesson. It wasn't just Nazis that Americans were fighting against, it was socialism and communism. The exact same principles that killed millions and millions of people in World War 2 are being instituted right here in our beloved United States, all in the name of "helping" people and the environment. Granted, we are not killing people right now, but German wasn't either for hundreds of years while they were gradually becoming a more "progressive" society. What is a shame and disgrace, is when people compare the hard work, sacrifice, and blood shed that we as a free society went through to free the world of socialism and communism is now being brought down to the level of filling up your car with gas more often. My God, what is this world coming to?!?!

        The real problem with socialism and communism is it only works in an imaginary world. The problems start when you try to actually implement the principles in the world real and actually count the factual results and consequences of the actions. Socialism and communism fails every time it is tried, especially on a large scale.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You have no idea what you are talking about.

        Ethanol causes zero problems in cars designed to use it, such as flex-fuel cars, genius.

        And we have so much overcapacity in food production the government pays farmers NOT to farm. There's huge room for massive expansion for biofuel without at all affecting the food supply.

        And Is efficiency all that damn important? When I think of what the World War 2 generation went through, with strict rationing of everything, including fuel, food, you name it, and did so cheerfully to defeat the Nazis, seeing Americans b!tch and whine about filling up 3 times a month on ethanol rather than twice a month on gasoline, so we can de-fund and defeat our current enemies, makes me sick. And so do you. Congratulations on being a useful !diot of al-Qaeda.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Only a handful of cars on the road or being made today are equipped to properly process that E85 garbage."

        How is E85 "garbage"? And you're right that only a small percentage of cars are flex-fueled. That needs to change ASAP. That's why I support a requirement that all new gasoline cars be flex fueled.

        It doesn't MATTER how many ears or corn it takes to make a gallon of ethanol. There's no world corn shortage. There's no world food shortage either. Hunger isn't caused by lack of food. Mostly it's caused by violent conflict or extreme repression that keeps the food out, or by catastrophic economic mismanagement.

        As your your incoherent blather about communism, I didn't advocate it, quite the contrary. My point is and was, it's much easier for us to destroy our current Islamist, Chavez-ite, etc. enemies (all we need to do is get off oil) than it was to bring down the Nazis and Soviets. If you're unwilling to even do what little our generation needs to do, then you are a smaller person than those who came before us.

        I'm not exactly selling sacrifice here. In fact, I get beat up on in these forums because I'm very happy with a big family roaring off into the sunset in their big SUV filled with stuff, as long as it's burning alcohol fuel instead of Enemy Fuel (petroleum).
      • 4 Years Ago
      Problem around here is the scumbag gas stations that sell ethanol, charge the same as for gas. Sorry but I do not know anyone that runs ethanol, so it smells a little funny that they charge the same. I would love to buy ethanol, just so the Saudi's do not go around buying the plants after they have kept oil cheap long enough to run them out of business, and push the local stations to inflate e85. Holy crap I'm a conspiracy freak now. Ok never mind...........................
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah, foul the air and water, trash the economy, and fund terrorism.

      Never mind that the relative who dies from lung cancer or a suicide bombing may be yours, or that the job you lose may be your own. At least you got to roll a bit further down the road on your gallon of Enemy-Funding Fuel (tm).
        • 4 Years Ago
        That was my first attempt to respond to MikeW. But IE7, being a POS, doesn't reliably register my clicks on the "Reply" button, so it became a root-level comment instead of a Reply. (I'll have to unlearn the confidence I built up from using Chrome and Safari, and double-check in future that I'm actually typing a Reply). I then reposted it as a reply so MikeW would see I'd responded to him.

        Unfortunately, AOL/Blogsmith's primitive comment system doesn't allow for edits or deletions, so the older duplicate has to remain.

        In any case, being the Internet, this is a big Hyde Park. Grab your own soapbox and bullhorn and rant away.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You done with that soapbox? i was hoping to borrow it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      nah going lean electric is the way with a supporting role from synthetic fuel from excess solar and wind power. 2nd gen biofuel can be ok but not sure it can supply everything and we need a total solution.
    • Load More Comments