Ethanol Anyone?

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by lo6xzm, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. lo6xzm

    lo6xzm Well-Known Member

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    It has come to my attention that ethanol plants have been springing up across America lately. And just for the record, I feel like sounding off about it.
    ...I am ranting here please don't take it seriously...

    I noticed new plants being built about a year and a half ago, even before we left Texas. I think this is a trend that will change the way Americans live in the 21 century. Assuming the developers got it right, I have a hunch that they did. If they build a plant near you, watch out because the distilling process requires a lot of clean water.

    Demand for Illinois corn for Feed, Export, and Ethanol has sky rocketed this Fall, and probably will continue to go much higher. (Do we have any speculators in the house?) Orion Samulson has not seen a Fall corn market like this during his 46 years of covering the Midwest corn market. (The Pluckers sold their farm too soon!) I find this rapid build-up of distilleries, which are intended to make money and save the nation from its dependence on expensive oil from the middle-east quite ironic and somewhat humorous... especially when I consider the absolute failure of Prohibition, the stories of the rural Moonshiners (which brought us Nascar racing), and the profitability of the U.S. alcohol industry in general, and all the terrible trouble alcohol has caused people since before the time of Christ. The next thing you know we'll be trading with Vietnam!

    So now that the dollars are apparently right...The Midwest farmer will partner with the brew-master to save the day for America for the next few hundred years! But FEAR NOT...I will wager that there will still be plenty of Budweiser available so that the State Corrections Department, the Hospitals, the Undertaker, and the Politician continue to "earn" a comfortable living. But don't you DARE smoke any of that wacky tobacky...especially in Texas -where they will put you away (at taxpayers expense) for many years.

    The big winner in all this will be the atmosphere. It has to be a good thing if we don't release all the burnt fossil fuels. But please don't blame Exxon for trying to make a few bucks.
     
  2. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm really not totally sure of what you are saying, but I enjoyed reading what you had to say. :)

    --->Paul
     

  3. hillsidedigger

    hillsidedigger Well-Known Member

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    This year's harvest of 1,967 million tons is falling short of the estimated consumption by 73 million tons. This shortfall of nearly 4 percent is one of the largest on record.

    In six of the last seven years world grain production has fallen short of use, drawing world grain carryover stocks down to 57 days of consumption, the lowest level in 34 years. The last time they were this low wheat and rice prices doubled.

    The growth in world grain consumption since 2000 averaged roughly 31 million tons per year. Of this, close to 24 million tons were consumed as food or feed. The annual growth in grain used to produce ethanol for cars in the United States alone averaged nearly 7 million tons per year, climbing to a high of 14 million tons in 2006.

    http://www.enn.com/net.html?id=1716
     
  4. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In Wisconsin, ethanol is subsidized at 54 cents per gallon, and wouldn't be profitable without the subsidy on the alcohol itself, and on the crops used to make it. Reemember, though, that ethanol is really a way to use the energy in natural gas and electricity to make a liquid fuel from corn or other biomass that can be substituted for gasoline. There really isn't any energy gain there, just a way to use other energy sources in a liquid fuel.
     
  5. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There is a 35-40% net energy gain in ethanol production from corn, more or less. Sunlight is converted into liquid fuel. A fair bit of natural gas or coal is used in the process, yes.

    After using a 56 lb bu of corn to make ethanol, one gets 14 lbs of high-protien animal feed remaining. Is that being figured into these food/feed numbers of raw data?

    Another thing not mentioned is that a decade ago we were swimming in grain, way way over-produced. That was too much grain. It was to the point of agriculture imploding, no one able to produce grain. We need to adjust to lower reserves than we had back then.

    If we stop consuming grain, prices will fall. If we stop the safety net completely that govt subsidies give, again net income drops to nothing. People will stop producing grain, and it will be a bigger mess than the rather goofy mess we have right now.

    Got to look at the whole picture.

    A stable market, with stable prices, and farmers will keep up with demand, at least in our lifetimes. Drop the demand, drop the stability, and world markets for grain crash to where you will face actual shortages.

    Most of the excess 'demand' you are seeing is from speculators who are buying grain futures. They will never use any actual grain, they are simpley buying it as an investment, to resell again some day. It's all on paper only. A very unusual situation, and has caused a bit of uneasiness in the ag world - good news, but when does the hammer fall down, and how does one adjust to the unknown of big funds purchases?

    --->Paul
     
  6. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The "whole picture" also includes incredible amounts of petroleum based fuels, fertilizers, and pesticides that are usually not calculated in the energy calculations for ethanol. I'd like to see figures based on sustainably produced corn or other biomass.
     
  7. lo6xzm

    lo6xzm Well-Known Member

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    My point is that people are building ethanol plants because Americans will be burning it in their autos. I don't pretend to know the calories per bushel....If they're building it however...It must be worth it. It's ironic we're building distilleries given our past history with alcohol. Cheers
     
  8. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One fellow who doesn't like ethanol production devised a calculation a few years ago where he included the energy of the sunshine on the land growing corn, as well as the energy contained in the falling rain, and other very bizzar energy inputs that are not used for other things & are not man-made so should not be included in these calculations. Imagine, his study found ethanol used more energy than it produces. D'oh!

    His study has been debunked many times over by real scientists, but of course he continues to be quoted by folks that are against ethanol production..... Again, d'oh!

    Anyhow, yes including fuel, fertilizer, herbicides, seed, and so forth in producing it & transporting it to the plant & distilling it out, ethanol still has a 30-40% net energy gain.

    I do not believe ethanol will save the world. I do not think it will be the sole fuel we will be using 50 years from now.

    I do believe it provides us environmental benifits, as well as helping to stretch our current fuel supply perhaps up to 20% some day.

    I believe it can be a part of the answer.

    --->Paul
     
  9. hillsidedigger

    hillsidedigger Well-Known Member

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    A small portion of the answer.
     
  10. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    Like Brazil.

    Entirely sustainable ag.
     
  11. Explorer

    Explorer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    http://cat.inist.fr/images/bandeau-haut-droit.gif

     
  12. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Don't they depend on cleared rainforest for fertile land to grow the sugar cane? And their near-tropical climate isn't much like the midwest.
     
  13. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I don't think Brazilian ag practices are as sustainable as all that. Sure they're good enough to outlast me but so was N America's in my GGrandfathers day. I agree with Paul, a part of the short term solution mostly for Ag producers, partly for energy shortages and enviro concerns.
     
  14. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    What may have been rainforest 20-years ago, then slashed and burned, to grow sugar cane. Has grown sugar cane ever since.

    20-years of growing sustainable sugar cane, is far more environmentally aware than the North American practices of dumping tones of petro-chem fertilizers on the fields.

    Which is the model used when universities calculate New Energy to be a loss when growing corn for ethanol .