• Oct 14th 2010 at 10:56AM
  • 18
The fight over the ethanol blend in the U.S.' gasoline continues to wage on, even after yesterday's EPA decision that E15 will be fine in post-2007 vehicles. Last month, a study commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) concluded that E15 would be just fine for older vehicles on the road, but refiners might still be reluctant to sell gasoline blended with higher concentrations of ethanol to the retail market. Who knew that changing the ethanol blend level from 10 to 15 percent would be so difficult?
Here's another issue for refiners to concerned about: liability. Both Valero, the largest U.S. refiner, and Marathon Oil Co. have expressed concerns that selling gasoline with increased ethanol content may leave them liable if long-term engine damage occurs. The EPA's decision on raising the allowable percentage of ethanol in gasoline has come, but without liability protection, refiners may choose to stick with the proven E10. Indeed, refiners have no obligation to blend E15 and may choose never to do so, but we'd bet that the EPA will find some way to entice refineries to make the switch. That is, if it ever grants E15 as an approved blend for more vehicles.

[Source: Bloomberg]


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  • 18 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      What if the Cornell study was wrong or distorted.
      OK, instead of 12, I'll accept 8 gallons of petroleum products to make 10 gallons of ethanol. (I've read that percentage often, even from our own government studies).

      So we have the pollution and CO2 release from 8 gallons of petroleum products with the use of 10 gallons of ethanol.

      More pollution, more CO2, more petroleum use, more cost.
      No balls, 4 strikes and you're out - or should be.
        • 4 Years Ago
        At the risk of feeding a troll, I'll bite.

        Let's for the sake of this argument here in this blog, let's agree to use the figure of 8 gallons of petroleum products to make 10 gallons of ethanol.

        Now out of that 8 gallons of petroleum, you don't just get 10 gallons of ethanol. You also get distillers grain. This distillers grain is then fed to cattle in place of corn.

        Now, let's look at your claim that buring 10 gallons of ethanol would result in:
        "the pollution and CO2 release from 8 gallons of petroleum products".

        The only way that this would be true would be if you assigned ALL of the petroleum used to make BOTH the ethanol AND the distillers grain to JUST the ethanol!

        In other words, for your statement to make sense, you would have to claim that the distillers grain used ZERO PETROLEUM PRODUCTS TO BE CREATED!!!!

        That is such an insane claim to make, that it quickly becomes clear that your math is completely wrong. To fix your math, you have to subtract out how much petroleum products the equivalent amount of corn feed would have used up to replace the distillers grain as feed for cattle. That is the only way to split up how much petroleum is assigned to each of the two outputs of ethanol production. If you have math you want to present for this, please be my guest. But the way I figure the math, the split for the petroleum looks like this:

        6.0 to 6.5 gallons of petroleum products is consumed to create the distillers grain.
        1.5 to 2.0 gallons of petroleum products is consumed to create the 10 gallons of Ethanol

        THAT MAKES THE NUMBERS WAY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN CLAIMING!! COMPLETELY DEMOLISHING ANY POINT YOU CLAIM TO BE MAKING!!!


        (do you like the parts in all-caps? I threw that in especially for you. Should fit your writing style. Don't worry, I don't expect you to reply with any thought or introspection. Feel free to predictably ignore this and continue to rant using even more caps and cut/paste.)
      • 4 Years Ago
      10% Ethanol was STUPID --- So let's raise it to 15%. = BRILLIANT

      1. Farmers are subsidized
      2. Refiners are subsidized
      3. We have a import tariff to make Brazilian ethanol cost more in the US - - - why?
      3. Makes our food cost more, and caused food shortages.
      4. less energy content in ethanol vs. gas - significantly less ~30%
      5. several studies (like a Cornell Univ) argue that it takes more fossil fuel to farm, transport, and refine ethanol than the energy content of the final ethanol (A NET ENERGY LOSS)
      6. "there isn't one grain in the world sold in the free market" includes Brazil
      7. EPA studies show that by using ethanol, VOC and NOx emissions increase. California's ARB wants to stop using it, but the EPA won't let them.
      8. Uses lots of groundwater, and more fertilizer run-off into wetlands and rivers (also petrochemical based) .
      If irrigated farming, lots and lots more water.

      Bryce's book GUSHER OF LIES
      chapter 12 entitled THE ETHANOL SCAM
      has 222 footnotes. I looked them over. Pretty credible sources including about 1/3rd from our own government agencies.

      Now, start screaming and tell everyone how Bryce is a moron, and financed by the oil companies, and a _________ slimebag.
      If you are open-minded you will read both sides of the argument like I did.
      Being a scientist, this one made more sense to me. Sorry.

      and the EPA is a sorry bureaucracy and perpetrating a SCAM on the American taxpayer

      ps. My boater friends hate it. Scream about it. Screws up their engines and fuel tanks.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Pimintel Alert! Pimintel Alert! Pimintel Alert!
        Just to fill you in for future reference. If you cite David Pimintel like you did above (Cornell) your arguements automaticly lose because you paint youself completely ignorant of the issue. I would at least carefully look at (as a scientist would) the critiques on his studies. These is a reason his studies are the ONLY ones that show a net energy loss.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree with all your points, but the way you say it... you might as well have caps lock on.
        Take a deep breath :P

        Yes, ethanol from corn sucks. We have essentially stretched out our limited oil supply and increased our energy independence, but we pay the price elsewhere.

        Meanwhile the price of Corn has exploded 3x in the mid 2000's... oddly following the introduction of mandatory e10 fuel. HM.

        It's funny how we will do *everything* to protect the price of gas..

        I think the real problem is our idea that we must have 'cheap gas at any cost'. It leads to all sorts of atrocities because we get desperate for oil and sacrifice anything in it's name. Offshore drilling is a good example - we are so hard up for domestic oil that we were willing to let that drilling site happen.

        The new CAFE measures were a good move. But they do not do enough.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ethanol makes a great oxygenator, replacing the poisonous MTBE.

      However, there's not enough corn grown in the U.S. to ever allow ethanol to replace gasoline as a fuel.

      Corn to ethanol plants also deplete the aquifier.

      Drop the import tariffs and other subsidies and let the distributors buy cheaper sugarcane ethanol from the world market.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Got to side with EVnerdGene on this one - ethanol from corn as a US transportation fuel just doesn't make sense. Plus as the owner of a 2010 Prius whose owner's manual states that ONLY10% ethanol is allowed to be used lest my warranty become void, I can guarantee to any oil company thinking about blending E15 that I will NOT be buying their product if I can at all avoid it. Not only will I be risking engine damage and a voided warranty by using E15, I would be taking an estimated 5-10% MPG hit. I bet that I'm not at all alone in this view and hope that consumer pressures against the widespread distribution of E15 blended gasoline will convince the gas companies that blending E15 is a bad idea that will only decrease their profits.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The sooner all of our cars can run on E100 or M100, the sooner consumers will actually have a choice of fuels. A fully flex fueled car is not a mandate like E15. It allows a choice by the consumer. Do I want straight gas so I can maximize my Scanguage, or do I want to use M100 to use a liquid fuel made from waste resources? At $140 per car full flex fuel capability is much cheaper to implement than 300 Pounds of batteries. I know very few people who would argue against giving consumers a choice to use alcohol fuel or not.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A car cannot run on pure alcohol in most of the country. 85% is the maximum to still have cold weather startability. Hence, E85.
        • 4 Years Ago
        High Climber -- Cold weather startability is indeed a problem for current FlexFuel E85 vehicles sold in the US. But it isn't an insurmountable technology problem.

        In fact, Saab already solved this problem half a decade ago when they designed and built their Saab BioPower 100 Concept E100 Ethanol Vehicle.

        "Pure ethanol presents cold starting challenges, which is one of the reasons why 15 percent gasoline is added to create E85 and overcome this. So how did Saab handle the cold-starting problem inherent with running pure ethanol? Simply, innovation. The BioPower 100 Concept has an experimental fuel heating system with small heating elements in the inlet ports, just downstream of the injectors. Until the engine heats up, these ports warm the incoming fuel sufficiently so it vaporizes and overcomes the problem."

        http://www.greencar.com/articles/saab-biopower-100-concept-e100-ethanol-vehicle.php

        E100 optimized cars have already been developed that solve every problem anti-ethanol folks can throw out. And methods of producing ethanol have already been developed that solve every objection (both valid and invalid) that corn ethanol opponents can throw out.

        It's just a matter now of having the balls to stop being slaves to oil.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agree..
        Getting a car to run on e100 is not magic. The e85 cars basically are normal, low compression motors with different injectors, fuel lines, tank, etc. and a different program for e85. They are only designed to run on e85 only for CAFE credit. They blow the extra octane out the tailpipe and get bad MPG because of that.

        We are not willing to go farther than merely dip our toes into this.

        Frankly, i think it is because sugarcane does not grow well in North America. I bet it is like a weed out in Brazil. Can't think of a better foodstock for ethanol production.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @Nixon Troll comments about distillers grain.

      Mother nature intended cows to eat grass. When we feed them anything else, then we have to feed them supplements, growth hormones, and antibiotics to keep them from getting sick long enough to make it to the meat grinder.

      Then, some of us eat this stuff.

      See the 2008 documentary FOOD, INC. - - - but not right after a meal.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Let me see if I got your highly scientific response right.

        You still claim that it takes zero petroleum products (none, zilcho, nada) to create the distillers grain that is fed to cows. You aren't backing down on that claim.

        And your defense for that is that the cows that are currently eating this distillers grain should be eating grass.

        That is your argument? That because in theory cows should eat grass, therefore it currently takes zero petroleum products for the real cows to fill their stomachs by eating real distillers grain right now?

        You are completely insane. As predicted you completely ignored what I said, and went with more ideological ranting instead. You are so easy to predict it isn't even funny. At least you left your caps lock off.

        Now how about actually addressing the issue, instead of trying to change the subject? What am I talking about? You can't possibly do that. That's way too much for you.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Trouble is, with our current form of government everything is being passed with backroom deals, fiat, or mandate.

      We have no choice. I don't want 10% ethanol or 15% ethanol, but I can't buy anything else.

      What happened to freedom of choice? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and all that stuff this country is supposed to be about.

      Instead, we have millions of people working for our government that are not accountable to us, and the ones we voted into office ignore us (because they think they're smarter than us).
      • 4 Years Ago
      Butanol, this is where our research money should go. Butanol does not have all the drawbacks that ethanol has.
      • 4 Years Ago
      High climber, Check the E100 cars available in Brazil. Not one of these Honda "Flex" models are available here.
      http://www.webmotors.com.br/Webmotors/ssCompra/pgBuscaNovosResultado/pgBuscaNovosResultado.aspx?marca=16&descrmarca=HONDA
        • 4 Years Ago
        Brazil at least has enough sense to make ethanol from sugar, so it costs less there than it does here. If the whores in Congress really thought ethanol was a worthwhile fuel, they'd eliminate the import tariff on Brazilian ethanol. Fat chance.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm in Canada and most pumps now say "may contain 10% ethanol". I'll be pissed if a decision is made to simply increase the current 10% blend to 15% (thus increasing the ethanol by 50%) and causing engine damage in my mid-1990s vehicles. Then who is going to pay? Do I have to keep all my gas receipts for the gas stations I go to?

      I'd rather do the "environmentally friendly" thing and keep using my current vehicles rather than shelling thens of thousands of dollars for new vehicles, thanks.
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