Join Our Ford Truck Forum Today

Document your Ford truck project here and inspire others! Login/Register to view the site with fewer ads.

Alternative Fuels - Not all they are cracked up to be!!!

Beachbumcook

Kansas Chapter member
For those that think ethanol and biodiesel is the answer... you may want to read the story (link below).

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=2940742&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312

Basically, anything made with corn or fed corn will go up in price as the "demand" goes up for all corn production. As well, it takes a lot of fuel, chemicals and the like to farm, ship, produce, ship and the like... which all uses more oil to make the ethonal and biodiesel.

Add in the price and tax breaks the government gives and maybe it does cost less... but at who's expense... all of us tax paying people.

Maybe ethanol and biodiesel is not the long-term answer many of us believe it could or should be. I for one do not want to pay more for corn flakes and the like due to higher demand... nor do I want higher costing beef for the cows that are grain and corn fed.

Read and make up your own mind.
 

O'Rattlecan

Redneck Prognosticator
26,689
797
Belton, MO
corn is probably the most fossil-fuel demanding crop out there... that's a bit of a problem as I see it.

Ryan
 

Gunner

Charter Member
1,480
57
Billings
For those that think ethanol and biodiesel is the answer... you may want to read the story (link below).

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=2940742&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312

Basically, anything made with corn or fed corn will go up in price as the "demand" goes up for all corn production. As well, it takes a lot of fuel, chemicals and the like to farm, ship, produce, ship and the like... which all uses more oil to make the ethonal and biodiesel.

Add in the price and tax breaks the government gives and maybe it does cost less... but at who's expense... all of us tax paying people.

Maybe ethanol and biodiesel is not the long-term answer many of us believe it could or should be. I for one do not want to pay more for corn flakes and the like due to higher demand... nor do I want higher costing beef for the cows that are grain and corn fed.

Read and make up your own mind.

They need to make it out of milo (sorgum), a member of the corn family, but not corn itself. Where I grew up they grew a wheat crop, then in the fall grew milo for the cows. It grows quick, doesn't demand a lot of water, and you can get a crop in after you cut a wheat crop.

Gunner
 

mrxlh

Oilfield Trash
5,904
430
Stigler, OK
Rape seed is the future of bio diesel and or ethanol. I think you can get 5 crops in a single season down here. Soybeans is pretty close to neutral, corn is a tad on the negative side. This is calculated off of current market prices, which is kind of misleading. However if the government keeps their nose out of this and let the free market drive this, it will work. The first 2 years of full blown production of say corn would see a negative in profits. But once the farmers are running bio in their tractors at half the cost of petro diesel, the gains start to show through. (remember, if the demand is less for petroleum, all the chemicals will be cheaper due to less shared demand for the feedstocks) Remember, no one has came out with a realistic figure of how much we pay the American farmer to NOT farm, to keep commodities prices fair. If every Farmer in the country was growing 3 crops (traditional crop rotation) corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa prices would be in the toilet. They are high, cause the government keeps them their artificially. Just something to think about.
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
Any car will burn gasoline mixed with a small amount of ethanol. But cars must be equipped with special equipment to burn fuel that is more than about 10 percent ethanol.
Not quite the truth, some can and do run it without changing anything. The "special" equipment is basically ethanol tolerant plastic(ethanol will take the oil out of the plastic) and the neoprene seals.ALso, the computer isn't programmed for the emissions signals, so it doesn't recognize it, and throws a code. WHat the manufacturers do for that is have a sensor that detects the level of ethanol, and adjusts the timing curves and emissions readings to work better with the ethanol.
The energy required to pump crude out of the ground, refine it and transport it from oil well to gas tank is about 6 percent of the energy in the gasoline itself.

just growing corn requires expending energy plowing, planting, fertilizing and harvesting all require machinery that burns fossil fuel. Modern agriculture relies on large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, both of which are produced by methods that consume fossil fuels. Then there's the cost of transporting the corn to an ethanol plant,
They quickly mention transport of petro, but itemize it out on corn production...How much fuel do you think those tankers burn coming from the Middle East? How about the cost of building those massive ships? Guarantee those tractors don't cost as much fuel or material, and we had to grow the corn anyway.
where the fermentation and distillation processes consume yet more energy.
So does refining the petrofuels, and the distiallation process will get more efficient in time, as they catch up to the petro refineries in experience and research.
Finally, there's the cost of transporting the fuel to filling stations. And because ethanol is more corrosive than gasoline, it can't be pumped through relatively efficient pipelines, but must be transported by rail or tanker truck.
First, ethanol is NOT corrosive, METHANOL is. The reason they can't pump it theough the pipleines is more the method they currently use to push petro through the pipelines: water. When you hear of a station that "waters down their fuel" call BS on it, because the PIPLINES use it. If they simply put the line pigs in instead of the water, they could do away with the waterin gproblems, and be able to push ethanol too.
In the end, even the most generous analysts estimate that it takes the energy equivalent of three gallons of ethanol to make four gallons of the stuff. Some even argue that it takes more energy to produce ethanol from corn than you get out of it, but most agricultural economists think that's a stretch.
DEpends who and how they do the figures. If you want to itemize it all out, be sure everything is kept equal. It costs to do the exploration test drilling, and all that. The equipment costs money. The trick to it is that the companies separate the refineries from the transport company, and separate the exploration company, so it doesn't really show up as a cost.The study of how it cost more to produce ethanol over petro went so afar as to put the cost of the farmer's meals on the price list, but not on the petro side.
If you make ethanol from corn, the environmental benefits are limited. When you consider the greenhouse gases that are released in the growing and refining process, corn-based ethanol is only slightly better with regard to global warming than gasoline. Growing corn also requires the use of pesticides and fertilizers that cause soil and water pollution.
As long as we use internal combustion engines, or burn ANYTHING< the so called greenhouse gases are going to be a factor, no matter the fuel.
The use of pesticides and fertilizers is an issue, and has been since BEFORE ethanol was even on the table... it will remain as well, even if we quit producing ethanol.
But oil prices are off from last year's peaks and corn has doubled in price over the past year, from about $2 to $4 a bushel, thanks mostly to demand from ethanol producers.
What's really sad about that statement, is the fact that farmers are finally making a clear profit, as until the ethanol boost, the price was generally $1-2 a bushel. The truth is, the government pays farmers to NOT plant a crop, specifically corn, to try and raise the price. Now they finally don't have to do so.
It's true that animals eat more than half of the corn produced in America; guess who eats them? On Friday the Agriculture Department announced that beef, pork and chicken will soon cost consumers more thanks to the demand of ethanol for corn.
What isn't mentioned is that the ethanol production does not take away from the food production, the livestock still get feed from after the distillation (distiller's grain) and human food also is produced (corn sweetener, fiber). The cost of the raw grain is higher. Many producers raise their own grains.
It's also true that there's a difference between edible sweet corn and the feed corn that's used for ethanol production. But because farmers try to grow the most profitable crop they can, higher prices for feed corn tend to discourage the production of sweet corn. That decreases its supply, driving the price of sweet corn up, too.
Not exactly an issue in the Midwest, as we rarely raised sweetcorn, never really has been profitable, as it is too labor intensive, and not regularly grown for sale on a large scale here...
America's appetite for corn is enormous. But Americans consume so much gasoline that all the corn in the world couldn't make enough ethanol to slake the nation's lust for transportation fuels. Last year ethanol production used 12 percent of the U.S. corn harvest, but it replaced only 2.8 percent of the nation's gasoline consumption.
That is why corn isn't the only thing that the ethanol industry is looking at, there is better more efficient methods and feedstocks to be had, and they are working on developing them, but that requires research and time. The petro fuel communtiy has had a 100 year lead, to expect the ethnol industry to catch up in 30 years with all of this kind of resistance isn't realistic.
Studies suggest that cellulosic ethanol could yield at least four to six times the energy expended to produce it. It would also produce less greenhouse gas emissions than corn-based ethanol because much of the energy needed to refine it could come not from fossil fuels, but from burning other chemical components of the very same plants that contained the cellulose.
Research and development, which has to be paid by current types of production... Just think of how much the petro refining processes have changed, when you look at how cars were in the 60's and 70's, as far as longevity and efficency are concerned..
You can produce a lot of ethanol from cellulose without competing with food," said Wallace Tyner, an agricultural economist at Purdue University. "But if you want to get half your fuel supply from it you will compete with food agriculture."
I have to wonder if they accounted for all of the acres currently not planted due to government CRP programs... Switchgrass can be grown damn near anywhere...
Ethanol is certainly a valuable tool in our efforts to address the economic and environmental problems associated with fossil fuels. But even the most optimistic projections suggest it can only replace a fraction of the 140 billion gallons of gasoline that Americans consume every year. It will take a mix of technologies to achieve energy independence and reduce the country's production of greenhouse gases.
NO!!! REALLY???? what a genius...:rolleyes:
That means doubling the fuel economy of our automobiles, expanding mass transit and decreasing the amount of energy it takes to light, heat and cool our buildings. Without such measures, ethanol and other innovations will make little more than a dent in the nation's fossil fuel consumption.
ABSOLUTELY!!!

Bottom line, we need to continue supporting the growth of it, be be real about it. Is ethanol a save all? No, but it helps. Running these flex fuel vehicles really isn't the answer either, but until there is suitable enough supply. that is the best choice. If we don't continue with the ethanol or any other alternative fuels, we will be stuck with the petro fuels, and if it is true that it is a finite amount of that, when it does run out, we all would be wishing there was ethanol to run on. If the crisis in New Orleans with gas shortages is any indication, we need to keep moving forward, it will improve given time.
 
Last edited:

Beachbumcook

Kansas Chapter member
Fellro,

Nice write up on your post above.

Is there anything in the Yahoo news story that was correct and accurate?

Seems like you could send your post above (in an email or letter) to the papers and Yahoo and have them print what you did above? Based on your post, there is nothing factual about the story? If so, people need to see and hear the opposing view/side of the story.

Thanks for the "other view" as I now will know what to consider when I read stories on ethanol and bio-diesel.
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
Not all of it was crap, but they continually regurgitate the same old crap. I don't disagree that corn ethanol is not the end all answer. It is but a stepping stone to get where we need to be. I have argued this until I am sick of it over to the know it alls on FTE, as well as other places, but those kinds of people are so closed minded and have gone for what the media and oil industry feeds them, they don't listen to it at all. I get discredited because I live in Iowa and also on a farm, so it gives me a bias in their eyes. It doesnt matter what the facts are. It's like saying someone from outside the field needs to state it before it can be true, basically, the oil companies need to endorse it before it is true. Like it or not, Big oil does have a LOT more money to play with, so they will buy stories and do what they can to discredit anything that may take a chunk of their profits, that's just business. We all moan and complain about it, but that's the bottom line, it is business, and all of us want to have as much profit as we can in our dealings too, so it isn't much of a stretch to believe that they would do so as well.
 

mrxlh

Oilfield Trash
5,904
430
Stigler, OK
Jeff, you have to understand one thing, Oil companies are driving the release from Yahoo. It is protecting their interest, just like any other lobbiest group. Like everything though, there are 3 sides to every story, the Liberals are just as much to blame for trying to mandate things which has set back alternative fuels about 2-3 years by artifically inflating prices by mandating their usage. (It happened here in LA already, which is very unfortunate :headbang:) You have to give people a reason to change, money is what motivates all of us. While methanol/ethanol has its own unique assortment of problems, Bio-Diesel is a direct swap which loses no BTU content.

I will correct a previous post, as it is untrue. Methanol is not corrosive. If it were, DOT would not allow us to inject it into regulated and unregulated Natural Gas pipelines during the winter to keep them from freezing up if it were.
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
Methanol racers have to run magnesium carb housings as well as stainless steel lines, while ethanol can run with aluminum and regular steel lines. Which one sounds more corrosive?
 
I support ethanol production simply based on the fact that corn-derived ethanol is a renewable American resource. The only problem I have with ethanol production currently is the fact that oil is not at a high enough price to make mass-ethanol production profitable, and thereby it conflicts with the basic economic principle of not buying a substitue until its cost-benefit is greater than that of importing oil. Here are some facts I found when writing a paper for school about this topic a while back:

In 2006, the state of Nebraska alone produced 1,178,000,000 (that's billion!) bushels of corn. The U.S. Commercial Bushel size of corn is 70lb's per bushel, which translates into 82.46 BILLION pounds of corn produced in Nebraska alone! According to the CIA, there are around 6,525,000,000 individuals inhabiting our planet which means the state of Nebraska alone produces enough corn to potentially supply every person on the planet a little over 12 1/2 lbs of corn a year!

So what's this have to do with ethanol-based fuel? Here is a list of U.S. Corn usage in 2005-2006:

Feed/Residual 6.1 billion (54.5%)
Exports 2.1 billion (18.8%)
Ethanol (fuel) 1.6 billion (14.3%)
High Fructose Corn Syrup 530 million (4.7%)
Corn Starch 275 million (2.5%)
Corn Sweeteners 225 million (2.0%)
Cereal/Other 190 million (1.7%)
Beverage Alcohol 135 million (1.2%)

As you can see, the demand for corn through cereal consumption is insignificant. We can also see that the US has an export-margin of 18.8% that can be used for fuel production instead of export. Until scientists/inventors can open the bottle neck of only one bushel of corn yielding 2.8 gallons of ethanol, many years will pass before consumers see E85 at every station across the nation. *imagine what would happen to our oil-dependence if a process was created that yielded 6+ gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn*

http://www.nebraskacorn.org/necornfacts/cornproduction.htm
http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/scales/bushels.html
https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/xx.html
http://www.iowacorn.org/cornuse/cornuse_3.html
http://www.ethanol.org/FAQs.htm
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
Some pretty good info there, thanks! I personally look for cellulistic ethanol to replace corn ethanol. Once going good, it is in the range you state, the 6 gallon from equal weight. SUgar beets and potatoes are also current sources for ethanol production as well, so corn already is not the sole feedstock. Diversity is the key.
 
well this corn thing sound good but I use diesel, doesn't corn have like 30 % less engery so it take more to do the same work,
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
It's not the corn that has the less energy, it is the ethanol fuel. Ever heard of corn burning stoves? They refit wood pellet burners for corn, and actually get more heat than the wood pellets do...
 
Did a little expermenting on the use of e-85 in my SHO. i started with a few gallon then worked up everytime i fueled it till i was running 100%. The car is bone stock. At 75% and more on a cool morning it would run poorly at idle till it got warmed up then there was no noticable change. Never turned check engine light on. Was unable to monitor fuel trims due to the car being an 89. Tried the same experiment in a friends 01 escort. At 100 percent it would start and die 2 or 3 times on a cool morning untill it built enough heat then there was no noticable difference. Check engine light did iluminate at 100%. Check fuel trims and was 35% lean. Added 4 gal of 89 octane (with 10% ethonal) and the light never came back on, and it started fine in the mornings
 
bottom line with ethanol.....it's expensive to make. it can't be piped and it does affect feed corn.
i'm not against farmers making profits, but the new standard IS driving up beef(as well as all consumable) costs, uses more energy to make than the energy it produces, and can't be run in 90% of the vehicles on the road.
10yrs from now, when stability isn't an issue, the vehicles like my '91 are dead, and efficiency in production is fixed.....maybe. as of now it's a HUGE waste of resources.
Milk is up 30% in NY because of this debacle. i can't(nor would i try to) get corn-gas here. but i pay more for eggs, milk, bread, hamburger, Sassy cookies(corn is a major ingredient), beer(hops being replaced by corn as crops), diesel will be going up because ethanol needs to be trucked requiring more guys like Tom on the road using fuel to truck the junk, and last but not least, corn flour for tortillas. we'll be starving the illegals.
i'm dead serious. and i'm not taking a shot at Tom. ask him in 2 yrs what he thinks of this joke.
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
Carl, the hype tells you that, but what they don't tell you is that the byproduct of the distillation process, distiller's grain, is fed to those cattle.. Also, the corn sweetener many of us enjoy is another byproduct, and the product ADM got their start with. If it was truly a grain cost problem, pork should be more expensive, but right now, it is a deal, because the hogs can't eat the distiller's grain and get much from it. What is not being made public is that our grain exports are at an all time high, going to guess where.... China.
Tyson Foods claims it is ethanol that is making things so expensive, yet they are making better profits than ever before. The pipeline thing doesn't hold water either, because you still have to pipe it at the pumps, as well as your car. the trick to the pipeline is that they can't use water to separate the ethanol from other products like they do now. If they were to go to using the line pigs to separate, we would have less fuel contamination with water. As it is, if the operator isn't on top of it, the water can get in with the fuel product, instead of being separated out. There will always be some water getting through. They actually put water in to make a separation point, the whole water is denser principle.
The cost of food isn't all that related to the corn we grow, as the parts we need are not used in the distillation process. There is no tortilla shortage either, where was it you heard them protest, oh yeah, Mexico, an oil producing state, and the oil production is controlled by the government... they do a press release, control prices, get the public to do their thing... All these things can be worked through, but it takes time, as well as cooperation.
As for older vehicles running on it, that also is incorrect, as may will in lesser blends than 85%. I have run it in my 91 Cavalier, my BIL runs it in his 93 Escort, I have run it in other vehicles as well, oldest being an 83 T/A, newest an 02 Lesabre. In South Dakota and Minnesota, you can buy different blends, from 10% to 85%, and that will help make a difference.
Back to food prices, are you aware the government is still paying dairy farmers to NOT produce milk? Do you know that they bought out complete herds to get the price of milk to INCREASE? That there still is programs that pay farmers to NOT produce crops? I know of farmland nearby that is perfect for production, but is not used, and left go much longer would take a lot to be able to clean it up to use for crops again. The intent was to get land that shouldn't be farmed out of production, but as tends to happen, it went to others that want that easy paycheck, and took good land out as well. Many acres of good land are now idle, and much of it gets top money as hunting areas. Best of two worlds, get the government to pay you for not using it, then charge for the access to hunt it.
Ethanol production has been going on for over 20 years, it is just getting noticed more recently as it gains strength. I don't see corn ethanol replacing gasoline, or even staying as the main source, but it is a stepping stone to get us to a better source and method. The cost of production continues to be reduced to new technology despite the rising cost of the natural gas some of the plants use, as well as finding new sources of fuel to do the same as the natural gas.
 
Fellro...i can only testify to my seeing of this. in NY the bennies you list DO NOT exist. come to NY and host a BBQ. it's 30-40% more expensive than a yr ago without all of the ethanol nonsense implemented. i don't worry about Tyson. i worry about chicken in the meat dept. and hamburg, pork is out of sight here in NY, Tony not with standing....
ethanol draws water. it, by it's chemical makeup demands contamination and will draw water. it can't run a pipeline like oil from Alaska. it wrecks the pipe. or liners need to be installed to protect the "shell" pipe. more cost.
i respect your pro ethanol stand, but i can show you how it is a detriment to states that don't produce it or have the ability to make it without being a kick in the nutsack to the normal economy of Many states like NY.
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
The federal benefits I mention are that, FEDERAL, apply to all 50 states. I would bet there are farmers in NY that benefit from them as well. Tyson is one of the largest food packers, so where do you think that profit came from? Beef is high, even buying calves right now is high. Corn doesn't make the calves cost more, many of the cow/calf farmers raise their own corn. Fuel prices are making the cost of crop production higher, doesn't matter what crop it is. Fertilizer prices are through the roof, land prices are up, and those crops have to pay the bill. Basically, what I was trying to demonstrate is that there is way more than just ethanol at work to cause the higher prices.
Also, for the many years I have dealt with ethanol, I have yet to see the corrosion problems that are claimed, rather, the fuel system stays cleaner than with regular petro fuels. I have been around E10 for 25 years now. The fuel systems only need seals to be nitrile rubber instead of natural rubber.
 
but you're in corn county sir. it's readily available to you and not much expense for delivery. i beg you, research the cost to someone where i live and what it does to cost of groceries
 
Top