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By Robert Rapier on Jan 22, 2011 with 67 responses

EPA Expands E15 Decree

Tags: E15, EPA, ethanol, VEETC

This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of 15% ethanol fuel blends (E15) for 2001-2006 model year cars:

EPA Grants E15 Fuel Waiver for Model Years 2001 – 2006 Cars and Light Trucks

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today waived a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol for model year (MY) 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy’s thorough testing and other available data on E15’s effect on emissions from MY 2001 through 2006 cars and light trucks.

“Recently completed testing and data analysis show that E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more home-grown fuels in America’s vehicles, this administration takes those steps.”

So what does this mean? I think the same thing I thought when the EPA granted the first partial waiver. It will be a logistical nightmare to only allow E15 in certain vehicles, and retailers are not going to take the liability risk of someone putting E15 in the wrong vehicle. Because the press release also stated:

The Agency also announced that no waiver is being granted this year for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines because current testing data does not support such a waiver.

So now imagine that someone in a non-approved vehicle puts E15 in their vehicle and later has a problem. Do you think they will sue? In a land where a woman sues because she carelessly walked into a fountain while texting, of course people will sue. So I don’t expect any significant growth in E15 sales as a result of the EPA decision.

However, this does move the ethanol industry one step closer to what they really want, and that is an E15 mandate. The ethanol industry has been falsely claiming for quite some time that without increasing the standard fuel blend beyond 10% ethanol “the U.S. won’t be able to meet a congressional mandate requiring some 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into the domestic fuel supply by 2022.” The reason this is false was explained in Thoughts on an Ethanol Pipeline, where I calculated that there is a potential 37 billion gallon ethanol market in the Midwest alone if the industry can develop the E85 market.

But one thing I have concluded is that the ethanol industry isn’t really about choice. They talk a lot about consumer choice, but at the end of the day they pursue mandates and legal decisions over aggressively developing an E85 market. So what happens if E15 sales don’t increase as a result of this ruling? I think the ethanol lobby will come back and say “the U.S. won’t be able to meet a congressional mandate requiring some 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into the domestic fuel supply by 2022unless an E15 mandate is implemented.” They will pursue the strategy that forces everyone to use a blend of E15, just as we are currently forced to use E10.

The other development that I think will begin to play out is that cellulosic ethanol will continue the trend of failing to deliver commercial quantities of fuel. As it becomes more obvious that cellulosic ethanol won’t make a meaningful contribution to the 36 billion gallon ethanol mandate for 2022, there are two courses of action we can take. The first is simply to abolish that mandate. But the one that will be pursued by the ethanol lobby is to say “We can produce a lot more corn ethanol than we produce now, so don’t change the mandate. Just allow corn ethanol to contribute to the total.”

This is how I expect the VEETC debate to play out this year. The ethanol industry may offer to give it up in exchange for an E15 mandate and an expansion of the corn ethanol contribution to the 36 billion gallon mandate. I guess if I am realistic, based on last year’s debate what they will probably say is they want to keep the VEETC, keep the tariff in place, AND get an E15 mandate — otherwise hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk and economic calamity awaits. And as we have seen, the ethanol industry generally gets what they want.

  1. By Jack on January 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Ethanol is corrosive. Ethanol corrodes metals. Oil companies cannot pump ethanol through oil pipelines because because it would damage the steel pipe. The only way to transport ethanol is by expensive stainless steel trucks as gasoline was transported during the 1920′s. Corrosion and transport are only two reasons why ethanol is not a rational fuel choice.

    Gasoline engines corrode and are damaged when they are run on ethanol. Often the fuel system plugs and repair is required. Damage also occurs to rings, valves, pistons, and cylinder walls taking years of the useful life of an expensive automobile. EPA says the emission control system is not damaged. EPA does not address the damage when a 20 year service life becomes a five year service life.

    Burning food corn is a good way to starve poor africans who live on ten cents of corn meal mush per day. When the price of a ten pound bag of mealy meal rises from one dollar to two dollars the kids get a half a bowl of mush. That is the reality of burning 36 billion barrels of corn ethanol. The price of corn has risen to unaffordable for Obama’s cousins in Kenya.

    Aside from population control, waste of topsoil, and damage to personal automobiles, burning food corn is not all bad. The standard of living for midwestern farmers is at an all time high. They have one good reason to vote Democrat. Automobile companies salivate at the replacement market for E15 fueled cars and trucks. The US balance of payments looks better when we export $6/bushel corn than when we export $3/bushel corn.

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  2. By Walt on January 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

     So what happens if E15 sales don’t increase as a result of this ruling? I think the ethanol lobby will come back and say “the U.S. won’t be able to meet a congressional mandate requiring some 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into the domestic fuel supply by 2022unless an E15 mandate is implemented.” They will pursue the strategy that forces everyone to use a blend of E15, just as we are currently forced to use E10.
    The other development that I think will begin to play out is that cellulosic ethanol will continue the trend of failing to deliver commercial quantities of fuel. As it becomes more obvious that cellulosic ethanol won’t make a meaningful contribution to the 36 billion gallon ethanol mandate for 2022, there are two courses of action we can take. The first is simply to abolish that mandate. But the one that will be pursued by the ethanol lobby is to say “We can produce a lot more corn ethanol than we produce now, so don’t change the mandate. Just allow corn ethanol to contribute to the total.”


    I agree with this agrument since ethanol is highly political and this methanol report proves it.

    http://www.psfc.mit.edu/librar…..2_full.pdf

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  3. By mac on January 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    RR said:

    “So now imagine that someone in a non-approved vehicle puts E15 in their vehicle and later has a problem. Do you think they will sue? In a land where a woman sues because she carelessly walked into a fountain while texting, of course people will sue.”

    Apparently the lawsuits have already begun. From a December article in AutoBlog Green

    E15 lawsuit against EPA gets support from big automakers

    by Sebastian Blanco (RSS feed) on Dec 20th 2010 at 1:55PM
    e15 Ethanol warning stickerWhile not the most flashy of lawsuits, the battle over letting E15 (a fuel made up of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) into the national fuel supply just got a lot bigger today. That’s because the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers – the trade association that represents 12 major automakers – joined the suit, which was originally brought by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, according to The Detroit News. The EPA announced in mid-October it was approving E15 for use in model year 2007 and newer vehicles, something the lawsuit claims violates the Clean Air Act because the EPA does not have the power to “approve applications for new fuels and fuel additives” for some vehicles and not others.

    The EPA is delaying its official decision on approving E15 for 2001-2006 model year vehicles until early 2011. The Agency is also being sued by the American Petroleum Institute and nine food and farm groups; again because the EPA is running afoul of the Clean Air Act. In response to that lawsuit, EPA Deputy Press Secretary Betsaida Alcantara told Green Car Advisor a while back:

    ” [The] decision was based on strict adherence to the Clean Air Act and was grounded firmly in science. The agency relied on rigorous testing that the Energy Department did on 19 car models, in consultation with automakers and fuel suppliers. This decision is sound, and the agency is confident that it will withstand legal challenge.”

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  4. By rrapier on January 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Gasoline engines corrode and are damaged when they are run on ethanol. Often the fuel system plugs and repair is required. Damage also occurs to rings, valves, pistons, and cylinder walls taking years of the useful life of an expensive automobile.

    Our history is littered with ideas that seemed good at one time to a good many people, only to later have very expensive consequences down the road. I have often wondered what awaits ten years down the road. Will we find repair bills are much higher than they were? If so, will the ethanol industry be held responsible?

    I always thought the corrosion issue was a bit ironic for ethanol proponents. They deem it a non-issue, until you bring up methanol. Then methanol is declared to be terribly corrosive.

    RR

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  5. By Rufus on January 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Robert, you said, “They will pursue the strategy that forces everyone to use a blend of E15, just as we are currently forced to use E10“.

    Well, that’s just flat wrong, Bubba. There is, actually, quite a bit of E0 gasoline out there. A lot of the chains that sell E85 sell E0. Kum and Go, and MFA come, immediately, to mind.

    As for “corrosiveness:” Gimme a break. We’ve been using ethanol since the seventies. Brazil’s standard blend has been E20+ for many years. No “corrosiveness” issues have surfaced. And, yes, methanol IS much more corrosive than ethanol. That’s why the U.S. manufacturers will only warrantee their engines up to 3.8% methanol, I think it is.

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  6. By Wendell Mercantile on January 22, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Part of the EPA’s decision should have been to require the NCGA and the ethanol industry to put a billion dollars or so in a bonded escrow account as a contingency fund to pay for engine repairs. It would seem only fair, in the event E15 does damage engines, Big Corn and the ethanol industry should man up and pay for the repairs.

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  7. By Benny BND Cole on January 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    You can’t fight the Red State Socialist Empire. Rural America, with two Senators from every state, is a juggernaut.

    Rural America gets federally subsidized highways, power systems, water systems, phone service, defense bases, postal service, crops, and now they want you to buy ethanol, as much as they make.

    You can try to fight Red State Socialism, but these guys have decades of experience behind them. And they fly behind a “conservative” banner.

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  8. By Patrick on January 23, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Ethanol is not corrosive and will not damage engines…many people already mix their fuel to be E30 to E50 for their non-flex fuel vehicles to run on with great results. Ethanol burns cooler than gasoline and much cleaner. The thing that damages engines is the junk (tars & varnishes) that are in and make up gasoline! Ethy-alcohol (ethanol) is extremely clean burning and will keep any engine running clean, cool and maintenance free when compared to gasoline.
    BTW, Brazil motorists have been running at least E25 and up to E100 for decades with no problems (and much cleaner air to boot!).

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  9. By rrapier on January 23, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Rufus said:

    Robert, you said, “They will pursue the strategy that forces everyone to use a blend of E15, just as we are currently forced to use E10“.

    Well, that’s just flat wrong, Bubba. There is, actually, quite a bit of E0 gasoline out there. A lot of the chains that sell E85 sell E0. Kum and Go, and MFA come, immediately, to mind.


     

    But most chains don’t sell E85 (the demand isn’t there) so they only sell E10. That is certainly the way it is here in Hawaii, and it was that way in Texas before I moved here. Most of the country has no choice. I can’t buy E0 anywhere around here. So, yes, most of the country is in fact forced to use E10.  If the entire country demanded E0, retailers wouldn’t be allowed to provide it because of the E10 mandate.

    As for “corrosiveness:” Gimme a break. We’ve been using ethanol since
    the seventies. Brazil’s standard blend has been E20+ for many years.
    No “corrosiveness” issues have surfaced. And, yes, methanol IS much
    more corrosive than ethanol. That’s why the U.S. manufacturers will
    only warrantee their engines up to 3.8% methanol, I think it is.

    Methanol is more corrosive than ethanol, which is more corrosive than gasoline. For ethanol advocates, corrosion is a non-issue when comparing to gasoline, but as you demonstrate it becomes a big concern when looking at methanol.

    As far as Brazil, if the cars have been built with ethanol in mind, the corrosion issues are manageable. The concern is the fleet of cars on the road today that weren’t built with E15 in mind.

    RR

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  10. By Rufus on January 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, Duracomm. The American Manufacturers are spending a lot of money, and staking their future on E85. They don’t want E15 (it will run up the price of ethanol, and make their Flexfuel Cars less desirable. The Japanese carmakers don’t want ethanol, Period. They’ve staked their fortunes on Batteries. The small engine manufacturers just make crappy products that will barely run a few months on gasoline; they, absolutely, want no added levels of complexity.

    The EPA is walking a fine line. They know that there will be very little E15 sold until it’s approved for All cars. By approving it, at first, for just 2001, and newer, autos it is setting the stage for later, while not crippling the E85 movement.

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  11. By rrapier on January 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Rufus said:

    If the chains in Hawaii haven’t started offering E85, yet, it’s not the government’s fault. Complain to your local jobber.


     

    Why do I need to lobby for E85 just so I can buy E0? Why is that my problem? If people would buy E85, they would be selling it here. (They may sell some on Oahu, but not anywhere close to me). Further, as I said there was no E0 offered anywhere close to me in Texas. So you can throw up a smokescreen about people having choice, but most people don’t. They have to buy what is offered locally, and that is almost always a mandated ethanol blend.

    “Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, Duracomm.”

    Or maybe it is exactly as it seems and you just don’t know what you are talking about. The fact is, the automobile manufacturers are going to get sued if there is engine damage. I am sure you realize that small engines are in fact damaged by ethanol, so why would you expect larger engines in the existing infrastructure to be totally immune? Have you ever reviewed maintenance information for cars here and in Brazil to determine that there is no difference (i.e., that Brazilian cars don’t suffer more maintenance issues)? Of course you haven’t, you are just trying to defend a position, calling one side bunk while you just throw out more bunk.

    RR

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  12. By Duracomm on January 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Rufus said,

    Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, Duracomm. The American Manufacturers are spending a lot of money, and staking their future on E85. They don’t want E15 (it will run up the price of ethanol, and make their Flexfuel Cars less desirable.

    Got cite?

    Or is this just more of the delusional conspiracy mongering that shows up when it is no longer possible to present rational arguments in favor of the increasingly lunatic US ethanol policy?

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  13. By Wendell Mercantile on January 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    The American Manufacturers are spending a lot of money, and staking their future on E85.

    What American Manufacturers are staking their future on E85? If you mean car manufacturers, they only make flex-fuel cars because of the E85 loophole built into the formula for computing the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) figures. If our carmakers are staking their future on anything, it’s electrics.

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  14. By Duracomm on January 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Rufus,

    Could you explain your self refuting statement to me.

    The American Manufacturers are spending a lot of money, and staking their future on E85.

    They don’t want E15 (it will run up the price of ethanol, and make their Flexfuel Cars less desirable.

    You are saying

    1. They want E 85 and are staking their future on it.

    2. They don’t want E 15 because it will make ethanol prices higher.

    So E 15 runs up ethanol prices and makes E 85 engines less desirable. But increasing ethanol content 70 % and going to E 85 is not going to increase prices.

    Ethanol is truly amazing stuff it even has magical economic properties.

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  15. By rrapier on January 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Patrick said:

    Ethanol is not corrosive and will not damage engines…many people already mix their fuel to be E30 to E50 for their non-flex fuel vehicles to run on with great results.


     

    For how long, Patrick? Two or three years? Corrosion issues don’t take place overnight. If there are issues, they will show up as increased repair bills over the life of the car, and a decreased lifespan of the car. I have never seen any studies in Brazil showing this, nor have I seen any studies that indicate cars on the roads in the U.S. today are the same as those on the roads in Brazil. I do know that the auto manufacturers have said there will be problems, and we have to invoke conspiracy theories to suggest that they are concealing their true intentions.

    I do have a study from Underwriter’s Laboratories that testing the pumping equipment, and they did find problems with most of the pumps they tested on higher ethanol blends. I will have to post those results shortly.

    RR

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  16. By Kit P on January 23, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    “There is, actually, quite a bit of E0 gasoline out there.”

     

    You are correct Rufus. Does not seem to be many who care. I wonder if those who claim to be ‘forced’ to buy E10 ever bother to look.

    Since I trust your judgment Rufus on this:

    “and a decreased lifespan of the car.”

     

    Who do I sue? I have a 32 year marine engine designed for leaded gas. I have sustained engine damage before I learned to put an additive to lubricate the valves. What I need to know is what you think the ‘lifespan’ of a marine engine is? Furthermore, I own a 18 and 22 year old engines that I want to run E15 in but do you think it reduce the ‘lifespan of the car’? Gosh Rufus if the country is worried the ‘lifespan of the car’ of 10 year old cars I am just wondering if there are some who do not know the difference ‘lifespan’ and a spanner wrench.

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  17. By flee on January 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Must not be much of a problem. This side of Michigan has E10 for what three or four years now, no problems. I often fuel up on E85 and probably average half E85. No flex fueled vehicles, but noticed the older cars appear to get better mileage than the flex-fuel cars. If you have no problem with E10, you will have no problem with E15 as far as corrosion. Most autos capable of E50 and most efficient blend for the dollar within todays technology auto….probably E25, but it does depend on particulars of price and vehicle.

    The only place I’ve read of actual corrosion damage was some fuel pump model that suffered stress corrosion, especially with ethanol blended fuel. And that would be the fault of the fuel pump as very easy to subject metal parts even stainless to stress corrosion if parts are not passivated. And yes even with gasoline as many a chemical will permeate out of complex hydrocarbon brew when subjected to heat, time, oxygen, atmospheric condensation. Yes, gasoline under adverse conditions will promote corrosive acids and if the minute metal crack corrosion so common will ensue. Metal parts need to be designed and surface treated to improve mechanical integrity against stress corrosion. Just good manufacturing, ethanol or not. But again, no problem here with 91 Ford, 93 Olds, 95 GMC, chain saws, lawn mowers, wackers, leaf blowers, etc.. Equipment used upon business and personal use….lots of use.

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  18. By Rufus on January 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Kit, we’re basically working a plan that was put in motion by George Bush, The King of Saudi Arabia, The 3 American Auto Companies, and the Major Public-Owned Oil Companies in, I guess, 2003.

    At least, that’s my theory.

    Right now, the emphasis is getting a certain number of E85 Pumps installed. I think they have put the number necessary for “critical mass” at 10,000. They would probably like to see a number like 20,000, and quickly rising, by 2016.

    You may have noticed that all the new 4 cyl, turbo-charged, direct-injected, VVT engines coming on the market in the coming years are perfectly matched for High Ethanol Blends. Three American Car Co.s, all doing the same thing. Ain’t coincidence.

    The Joint Operations Environment report told us – 2015 is the “drop dead date” for peak oil. They work for the Government, too, you know.

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  19. By Duracomm on January 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Rufus said,

    Kit, we’re basically working a plan that was put in motion by George Bush, The King of Saudi Arabia, The 3 American Auto Companies, and the Major Public-Owned Oil Companies in, I guess, 2003.

    You forgot the tri lateral commission rufus. Since you are reduced to spinning lunatic conspiracy theories in support of ethanol you need to step up your game.

    The Joint Operations Environment report told us – 2015 is the “drop dead date” for peak oil. They work for the Government, too, you know.

    Given the failure of numerous government agencies to detect the housing bubble your faith in the ability of those who work for the government to accurately predict the future is charmingly naive.

    Of course sky rocketing oil prices will serve to make ethanol even less useful. What with the sea of petroleum inputs required to make ethanol.

    But by all means carry on with the conspiracy theories, I’m sure your next one will be even more entertaining.

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  20. By Rufus on January 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    What with the sea of petroleum inputs required to make ethanol.

    And, we’re supposed to take seriously someone who wrote that?

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  21. By Duracomm on January 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Rufus said,

    And, we’re supposed to take seriously someone who wrote that?

    Your right. Petroleum does not provide the fuel, fertilizer, crop chemicals, and distillation heat required to make and transport ethanol.

    Magical unicorn manure does.

    Furthermore, we would be living in ethanol fueled happiness if the evil oil companies would just release the poor unicorns from the unicorn prisons that are carefully disguised as refineries.

    The cruel fiends!

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  22. By Rufus on January 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Very little “petroleum” in a gallon of ethanol, Duracomm. A fair amount of nat gas *at present,* but you know that.

    You guys might as well figure it out (accept it,) this is a done deal.

    Or, do you think that things of this magnitude happen by accident?

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  23. By Kit P on January 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

    “with 91 Ford, 93 Olds, 95 GMC”

     

    It should be added that Michigan is not the easiest place in the world to keep things running. There is a constant theme we should dumb down America by people who live in mild climates and big cities. They want a world with no risk. In Michigan, there is a severe risk of freezing to death.

     

    “Kit, we’re basically working a plan that was put in motion by George Bush, ..”

     

    That right Rufus. A plan is something that POTUS before and after failed either to articulate or put in motion. Since the NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY, May 2001, put in motions actions to many of the things I was frustrated under Clinton. So far Obama is failing open. Carter no longer has to worry about being the least effect modern POTUS. Just for the record, we would be producing more oil domestically in places like Alaska, California, and Virginia.

     

    “Very little “petroleum” in a gallon of ethanol ..”

     

    Again Rufus is correct. I will take ‘better’ today over ‘perfect’ someday. Many here advocate a ‘perfect’ world of high energy prices so that the poor do not have the freedom of driving.

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  24. By flee on January 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I think the debate is pretty much academic. We have a long history of ethanol fuel almost as much as Brazil. It’s not a direct replacement of gasoline, but offers advantages as a blend agent. Ethanol does make gasoline look better. Probably the best use of a low production fuel for now. Besides, this fuel the one big advantage U.S.A.. Meaning, we control most of the world top technology, so we need to capitalize on our strengths….right?

    I personally like the fuel for it’s chemical simplicity and purity which should make emissions conformance easier. The one exception cold start acetaldehyde. This chemical the same for wine aroma. It will react with ultraviolet light to form ozone. Fortunately, the converter does away with the pollutant as does high performance direct injection engines. And we should all be concerned of the benzene carcinogen brew spewed upon petrol. Plain gasoline has very complex emission spectrum. EPA only picks out the major ones as it’s way to complicated to do deep analysis. They’re primarily concerned of environment. These pollutant primarily human health concerns. Oh, well to many people on planet I’m told. Maybe they will put tobacco in the mix. :)

    What was referred….the people of power conspiracy. It’s not a conspiracy, but business as usual. Large corps. and those with high stakes upon the energy sector will, as all business try, to project future. This is very inaccurate exercise, but in general sometimes good. The stakes are to high to not attempt. Most of science, engineering, and economics predict a steady increase in use and production of bio-fuel albeit gradual out some 16 years with a dramatic increase there after. That petrol will be the primary transportation fuel, losing ground steadily. Battery cars will be in this mix, as most autos use some flex technology to maximize efficiency. .

    As engine technology improves efficiency, ethanol benefits will pull away from gasoline. It appears even with current high efficiency engines ethanol pulls up to gasoline for the mpg race and may surpass when full exploitation of the oxygenated fuel per the modern trick of diluting intake with inert egr gas for low power requirement. Also, the lean burn technology just ramping up in which ethanol shines.

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  25. By Walt on January 24, 2011 at 9:05 am

    flee said:

    As engine technology improves efficiency, ethanol benefits will pull away from gasoline. It appears even with current high efficiency engines ethanol pulls up to gasoline for the mpg race and may surpass when full exploitation of the oxygenated fuel per the modern trick of diluting intake with inert egr gas for low power requirement. Also, the lean burn technology just ramping up in which ethanol shines.


     

    Here is a recent report on methanol as well that may be of interest to you.  A couple summary comments:

    ————————————

    Methanol has been used as a transportation fuel in US and in China. Flexible fuel vehicles and filling stations for blends of methanol from M3 to M85 have been deployed. It has not become a substantial fuel in the US because of its introduction in a period of rapidly falling petroleum price which eliminates the economic incentive, and of the absence of a strong methanol advocacy. Methanol has been displaced by ethanol as oxygenate of choice in gasoline blends. Nevertheless, these programs have demonstrated that methanol is a viable transportation fuel.

    Analysis of the life cycle biomass-to-fuel tank energy utilization efficiency shows that methanol is better than Fischer-Tropsch diesel and methanol-to-gasoline fuels; it is significantly better than ethanol if a thermo-chemical process is used for both fuels.

    ———————————–

    The entire report is definitely worth reading if you like ethanol as a blend stock for the future.

    http://www.psfc.mit.edu/librar…..2_full.pdf

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  26. By Kit P on January 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

     

    “I think the debate is pretty much academic.”

     

    You are doing a good job on that account flee but do not be disappointed if you fail to have a that kind of debate here.

     

    “They’re primarily concerned of environment. These pollutant primarily human health concerns.”

     

    If you are really ‘concerned’ with health flee you should be able to tell me off the top of your head what your air quality is. Mine is in the ‘good’ range. Because of modern pollution controls, the health concern ‘debate is pretty much academic’.

     

    http://www.airnow.gov/

     

    The last car I bought subsidized Benny’ POV. We all drive POV that meet the standards where Benny lives even if we do not need to. This also reduces the efficiencies on modern POV. That said, the cost is minimal like ethanol.

     

    “Maybe they will put tobacco in the mix. :)

     

    You tell me what the second leading ’cause’ is and I will tell you what your agenda is. Since there is no statistically significant second leading ’cause’ of lung cancer people are free to make one up and it is hard to disprove. The primary risk factor in lung cancer is getting old. Since getting old is better than the alternative of ‘not’ getting old, agenda meisters ignore that one.

     

    The point I want to make here is that if you are concerned about something, you should first check to see if it is a problem. If it is not a problem than it is a pretext to avoid an academic debate.

     

    The overarching problem today is the amount of oil we import. E15 is the next logical step. Since there have been no significant unintended consequences of E10, I would not expect any for E15. If there is then it simply a matter of dealing with them.

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  27. By Wendell Mercantile on January 24, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Since there have been no significant unintended consequences of E10, I would not expect any for E15.

    That’s debatable: Obama Policies Fuel Global Food Crisis Through Ethanol Mandates

    Food prices are soaring all over the world. The global food chain is reportedly stretched to the limit, fueled by the fact “that more than a third of the corn produced in the U.S is now used to make ethanol.” As a result of such “bio-fuels” subsidies, one of the world’s largest food producers predicts a “global food crisis.”

    Livestock feeders and food makers fear E15 will push up corn prices

    Livestock feeders and food makers also fear that E15 gasoline will push up corn prices because of increased demand from ethanol makers for the grain.

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  28. By Rufus on January 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    A couple of very nice posts, Flee.

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  29. By Rufus on January 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Oh, and of course, Kit is right. If there have been no ill effects from E10 (and, there haven’t been,) the odds are exceedingly small that there will be from E15.

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  30. By Wendell Mercantile on January 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    …the odds are exceedingly small that there will be from E15.

    Not true at all. There are legitimate concerns about the food v. fuel debate. The recent unrest in Tunisia is directly connected to high food prices. There are several reasons for high food prices, but using food to make transportation fuel is certainly one of them.

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  31. By Rufus on January 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    We are projected to plant 91 Million Acres of Corn this year (up about 5 Million Acres IIRC.) The supply of Fossil Fuels is Finite. The supply of Food isn’t, at least within any sort of reasonable guidelines.

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  32. By Walt on January 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm

     

    Company sees its coal-to-ethanol technology as a game changer – for itself and the industry

    http://www.icis.com/Articles/a…..mp;nf=true

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  33. By Wendell Mercantile on January 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Walt~

    Interesting. I’m not a chemical engineer and perhaps Robert can answer this, but I’ve been under the impression methanol is easier to make from coal (or natural gas) than ethanol.

    The article about Celanese doesn’t say why they’ve skipped over methanol.

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  34. By Walt on January 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    Walt~

    Interesting. I’m not a chemical engineer and perhaps Robert can answer this, but I’ve been under the impression methanol is easier to make from coal (or natural gas) than ethanol.

    The article about Celanese doesn’t say why they’ve skipped over methanol.


     

    This technology to make ethanol is the game changer from what the article claims.  They are going to build a plant in Texas using natural gas to make ethanol…so I expect it is not receiving any subsidies using natural gas.  Someone will get the blenders credit, but if they can make ethanol for less than $1.00 per gallon using natural gas that is a pretty amazing deal.  Methanol can be made for about $0.50 per gallon at larger scales…but without the demand for methanol as a fuel (except for use in biodiesel)…I don’t see anyone pushing too hard on methanol when they can get subsidies with ethanol.  I think this is why Range Fuels might get in trouble if they rely solely on methanol rather than ethanol in America.

    The difference is that Celanese is a first class operation, and obviously has a high degree of confidence in China.

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  35. By rrapier on January 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Walt said:

     

    Company sees its coal-to-ethanol technology as a game changer – for itself and the industry

    http://www.icis.com/Articles/a…..mp;nf=true


     

    Interesting article. Dave Weidman became the CEO of Celanese when I was still working there. I met him once at the Clear Lake Plant (CLP) mentioned in the article, where I worked for a year. Jim Alder is also mentioned in the article. Jim — whose title at that time was I believe VP of Technology — once sat down with me to discuss career planning. At that time I was an engineer at CLP. I will never forget what he said to me. He said “Your job is 90% technical and 10% politics. My job is 10% technical and 90% politics. If you ever want to be where I am, you have to start taking political considerations into account and stop being so direct.” I just looked at him for a second, and said “Then I doubt I will ever end up in your job. I am not a politician.”

    Anyway, Celanese has been involved in ethanol via the petrochemical route for many years. They have always had an active research program devoted to C2 molecules like ethanol. They mention 3,000 patents around this technology in the press release. (I have a patent from Celanese that might be included in that 3,000). But they never entered the fuel market for ethanol because the tax credits specifically bar fossil-fuel based ethanol. So they would have competed against the corn guys, and the blender gets $0.50 back if he buys ethanol from the corn guys and nothing if he buys from Celanese.

    And to answer Wendell, Celanese hasn’t skipped over methanol, they just use methanol in higher value-added compounds. You can see their product listing below, and many of them are methanol derivatives:

    http://www.celanese.com/index/…..oducts.htm

    RR

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  36. By Wendell Mercantile on January 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    But they never entered the fuel market for ethanol because the tax credits specifically bar fossil-fuel based ethanol.

    Ah, good point. There’s is no accounting for politics and the power of the farm states when it comes to ethanol.

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  37. By flee on January 25, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Evolving technology a good thing. We as a nation should push and award those that push these frontiers. Should taxpayer money be utilized for the task? Yes, per credible technological merit. Societal wants and needs play into this, also. It’s a tough political call on best methods/approach. Often messy and always economically inefficient, yet these small businesses need a handicap of economic stability to accomplish results. If no such support, only large international corporations could attempt such a cost. Not exactly our country’s historical roots of wealth creation. Better for open market competition to maximize small business effectiveness to meet consumer needs. Not to say large corporations should be cut out of the mix, just small business should be favored.

    Do we know how these alternative fuels will develop, in future? No, as a tremendous business effort in progress to achieve economic advantage over competition. Lot of science and investor money placing bets to be awarded in event of winner status. Bad time for the country to pull the rug out and let the pieces fall. A shakeout, consolidation, technology breakthroughs, reformulation, reinvention, bankruptcies, is upon the economic sector; the natural progression as better solutions become more apparent. Would those business happy and fat with status quo prefer no change?

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  38. By Rufus on January 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Horsehockey. One day Brazil had a bunch of old cars running running on E0, and the next the same old cars were running on E25. Same cars, no problemo.

    If the chains in Hawaii haven’t started offering E85, yet, it’s not the government’s fault. Complain to your local jobber.

    BTW, with the higher gasoline prices, the build-out of E85 infrastructure is starting to take off, again. About 400 E85/blender pumps have been added in the last 3, or 4 months.

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  39. By Duracomm on January 23, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Rufus the ethanol lobbyist needs to go educate the technical staff at the engine makers.

    Because while rufus is showing that E 15 will not damage engines using highly technical terms like “horsehockey” and “same car no problemo” the folks who actually make the engines are suing to stop the implementation of E 15 because they know it will damage their engines.

    This shows just how ludicrous the ethanol situation is. Ethanol lobbyists and politicians are forcing the use of a ethanol in quantities that is going to damage the engines it is forced to be used in.

    Engine Makers Sue to Block E15 Fuel

    So in October, acting on the petition of an ethanol industry group, the agency approved a 15 percent blend known as E15, for cars from the 2007 model year and later.

    On Monday, however, a who’s who of associations of engine manufacturers filed suit in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

    The plaintiffs, which include the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, want the E.P.A.’s decision overturned and sent back to the agency.

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  40. By Wendell Mercantile on January 25, 2011 at 10:13 am

    The supply of food isn’t, at least within any sort of reasonable guidelines.

    Rufus~

    What kind of Cloud Cuckoo Land do you live in where you think making fuel from food will have no effect on the price of food?

    Corn, Soybeans Rise as Reduced Global Output Cuts U.S. Reserves

    Corn rose to a 29-month high and soybeans capped the biggest weekly gain in six weeks on mounting concern that inventories are dropping in the U.S., the world’s largest grower and exporter of both crops.

    Production of corn in the U.S. dropped 4.9 percent last year and will leave stockpiles before the 2011 harvest at the lowest in 15 years, the Department of Agriculture said Jan. 12.

    Falling Cereal Output

    Falling Cereal Output

    Global output of all cereals, including rice, wheat and corn, will drop 1.4 percent to 2.23 billion metric tons this season, while demand will rise 1.8 percent to 2.26 billion tons, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in December.

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  41. By BilB on January 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    That sounds like a damned good plan there, Wendell. Eliminate ethanol so that Americans can eat more. Of course you would then have to put the lead back in the petrol, but what the hell.

    What would really happen is that more crops from overproduction rot in the field as economically unharvestable which keeps the produce market price at a minimum, so that food chains can maximise their profit at the farmer’s expense.

    You guys have this line that the “consumer” should get an endless free ride on cheap petrol and crop foods. But that is not what it is all about at all, really. The ethanol argument is about control of source from the oil industry point of view. This sad tyrade against “corn ethanol” should be an argument about optimising production methods, instead it is perpetually about whether someone else is getting a buck out of the public purse that could otherwise be going into ones own specialty interest slush fund. Talk about greed triumphing over public interest and good strategy.

    If you seriouly were attempting to improve a situation you would be arguing for good old fashioned industry performance incentives. ie you get the levy if you improve the EROEI. The other thing that you would be arguing for is US cane ethanol. But no all it ever is “they’re getting money that I don’t get”. Bickering.

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  42. By Wendell Mercantile on January 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Eliminate ethanol so that Americans can eat more.

    Aw jeez BilB, it’s not about Americans eating more. (Walk through an American mall — you’ll see that few Americans are undernourished.)

    It’s about the effect rising food prices will have in the entire world. (The recent riots in Tunisia were a direct result of rising food prices.)

    I’m not even saying we should stop turning corn into ethanol. What I’m saying is that it is wrongheaded to think that turning corn into ethanol will have no effect on world food prices. Every action has consequences — some intended, some not. One of the unintended consequences of expanding E15 use is likely to be a rise in food prices — and who knows what that will lead to?

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  43. By rrapier on January 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    BilB said:

    That sounds like a damned good plan there, Wendell. Eliminate ethanol so that Americans can eat more. Of course you would then have to put the lead back in the petrol, but what the hell.


     

    We were past the need for lead long before ethanol came onto the scene. In fact, it is a common misconception that ethanol or some other oxygenate is needed to meet emissions standards. If ethanol wasn’t in there, we wouldn’t have to add MTBE or any oxygenate to meet the standards of the Clean Air Act.

    RR

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  44. By BilB on January 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Exactly my point Wendell,

    “you’ll see that few Americans are undernourished”

    Higher food prices in the US would have a positive effect if economists are to be believed (price supply demand).

    But to say that E15 will have an effect on world food prices is ridiculous.

    What is having the biggest effect on food prices in Australia since the second world war? Global Warming induced flooding. And the effect is significant and sudden. It it also have a huge effect on global steel prices. The lesson here for the US is stop delaying on global warming action, or the responsibility for the worlds future food shortages, which will kill millions of people, will fall squarely on the shoulders of the American and Australian governments.

    This whole corn ethanol argument is a total crock, and a distraction from what the real problems are. I used to admire Americans for their analytical abilities. Not any more. No one here is seeing the forest for the trees. And this latest election result heavily funded, I am told, by oil interests has infused the US government with religeous fundamentalism of a kind that is obvioulsy so damaging in many countries of the world.

    It is a disaster. All about money and greed.

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  45. By Optimist on January 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Well, that’s just flat wrong, Bubba. There is, actually, quite a bit of E0 gasoline out there. A lot of the chains that sell E85 sell E0. Kum and Go, and MFA come, immediately, to mind.

    No! You’re FLAT WRONG, Rufus, and here are the facts: E0 is now such a rare commodity that there are websites dedicated to the cause, such as this one. According to their homepage: “We currently have 2384 stations entered for the following states and provinces.” That’s NOT al lot of stations, is it Rufus? Note that E0 is not even available in many states (according to the site), including CA, CT, DE, MA, ME, NJ, RI.

    Flee, all I can say is: you have quite the talent for compressing an amazing mass of BS into relatively short posts. Please keep up the entertainment. It’s quite obvious that ethanol supporters have a loose relationship with reality, as is the case with many ethanol consumers…

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  46. By paul-n on January 25, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I haven’t been on this site for a month and come back to the same never ending discussion about corn ethanol – I feel like I am in a time warp.

    While we can (and should) debate the E15 rules, and possible mandates etc, I don’t see the point in debating why it should or shouldn’t; be done because of possible effects on world food prices.  World grain production is about 2.24billions tons/yr, and the US share of that is 400 million tons (source USDA).  So the US, with 4.5% of the world’s population, is producing 18% of the world’s food – I would say it is certainly doing far more than its fair share.  The real problem here are those countries that have let their populations grow way beyond their ability to feed them.  To complain about the US making food expensive is just as erronneous as saying Saudi Arabia is making oil expensive – the real reason is that there are so many people that want to use so much of both commodities.  

    Having “high” food prices is good business for most farmers – the real issue is the cost added in food processing.  If you are prepared to buy ingredient foods, and make things yourself, you can eat cheaply.   There is 10c worth of wheat in that $1package of pasta, so where, really, is the food “cost” coming from?

    As for BillB and this;

    What is having the biggest effect on food prices in Australia since the second world war? Global Warming induced flooding. And the effect is significant and sudden. It it also have a huge effect on global steel prices. The lesson here for the US is stop delaying on global warming action, or the responsibility for the worlds future food shortages, which will kill millions of people, will fall squarely on the shoulders of the American and Australian governments.

    While the floods in Oz have certainly influenced current grain prices, it is far from certain that this is “Global Warming induced flooding”  Brisbane had a bigger rainfall event for the 1974 floods, and the 1893 floods.  Floods have been around since the days of Noah, and likely before then.  One if the first things they drummed into me when I was studying river and flood hydrology is that the chance of a bigger flood than has ever been seen before is 100% – it is merely a question of when.  As for the blame of people starving being on the shoulders of Aust and US governments, I am amazed you can even make such a statement.  Thirty years ago, Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) was the breadbasket of Africa, Kenya was an affluent country and a food exporter, as were many other “third world” countries.  They have let their populations grow out of control, have corrupt governments, and their people have been starving regardless of global or local weather or what Aust and US do or don’t do with their produce.

    For any country that has people dying from lack of food, the responsibility is on their shoulders first and foremost – to blame western countries for not exporting enough grain or it being too expensive is a cop out.  IF they have exceeded the ability to feed themselves, or buy the food they need, then they need to take control of their situation themselves, not merely sit there and point the finger at countries half a world away.  Even China worked that one out, the other countries will have to do the same.

    The challenge of countries feeding themselves has been around as long as there have been countries – any country that expects everyone  else to  take care of them doesn’t deserve to exist – and likely won’t for too long.

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  47. By Kit P on January 25, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    “Having “high” food prices is good business for most farmers ..”

     

    Here is a question for you Paul. What is the relative cost difference between wood pellets and field corn for pellet stoves? Not too long ago corn was cheaper than firewood. I just love it when people using computers debate the “high” cost of the cheapest commodity but think nothing of literally paying $4.00 for a cubic foot bag of BS.

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  48. By paul-n on January 26, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Corn is actually still about line ball with wood pellets $6.44/bu (56lbs) or $4.60 for 40lbs, and a 40lb bag of pellets is about $6, so corn is cheaper, though we are comparing retail for pellets and bulk for corn.  A ton of corn and a ton of firewood would still be pretty close.

    But yes, the corn (or almost any grain) is still, literally, dirt cheap, and very close to the cost of production for many farmers – my brother included.  

    I should be more specific by saying “high” (=not historic low) grain/ag commodity prices are good for farmers – the high cost of food by the time it reaches the consumer is for totally different reasons.  The price of pasta, flour or even beef barely changes even though the farmgate prices for wheat, corn or cattle vary widely – that is in the hands of the agribusiness, food companies and retailers.  

    If we want farmers to keep farming, then I see no problem with paying them more than what it costs to produce – there are many other people who get paid much more for working much less.

     

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  49. By BilB on January 26, 2011 at 5:37 am

    PaulN,
    If your standpoint is from the US then you can be forgiven for holding this view as you would not have witnessed the full information flow on the Australian flood series

    “far from certain that this is “Global Warming induced flooding””

    This has not been one flood event. This has been some six simultaneous record floods unprecedented in the recorded history of the country. Previous floods have been individual events.

    Now this

    “with 4.5% of the world’s population, is producing 18% of the world’s food”

    should read “….of the worlds wheat grain”, certainly not “….of the world’s food”

    The US can not rely on this position sustaining, because exactly the same weather pressures that Australia is experiencing are building in the US. Farmers are reporting extreme rainfall, three one in a thousand year rainfall events in the one area.

    You are not understanding what is happening here, but it is reasonably certain that the US will get its fair share of this weather change. The cold weather flooding in from the Arctic should be enough for you to understand, but that weather is a different phenomenon to the one that will bring your own share of unprecedented flooding.

    The failures of governments such as ours have guaranteed the global warming will run its full course. But it is obvious that you are unconvinced. I doubt that you hydrology lectures went into the effects of global ocean heating, global atmospheric moisture content increase, the subsequent consequences, or the methods available to prevent or reverse these changes. Or perhaps they did, in which case you might care to share the advices.

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  50. By rrapier on January 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Paul N said:

    I haven’t been on this site for a month and come back to the same never ending discussion about corn ethanol – I feel like I am in a time warp.


     

    Ah, but note that of 8 stories on the first page of the blog, only 2 are about ethanol. So that’s a pretty low ratio. Maybe you are just drawn to those discussions. Wink

    RR

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  51. By paul-n on January 26, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Robert – Actually, I make it four out of eight (E15, Ethanol Exports, Range Fuels and 
    Ethanol interests), and I note that the ethanol stories, for some reason, always seem to accrue twice as many comments as others.

     

    But, ethanol is the biggest renewable fuel in production so it is entitled to have lots of discussion, and yes, I usually can;t resist having my say on it.

     

    BillB – I have not only been watching the floods happen on tv for the last month, I spent the better part of it (mid Dec to last Friday) helping clean up their aftermath on the family farm in SW NSW. 

    I will stand corrected on grain production vs food production, though it is a reasonable proxy for total food production.  In any case, the point there is that the US produces much more than it needs, and for other countries that don’t, they should try to produce more, rather than complain that some else is not producing/exporting enough.  The fact that you think the US can’t sustain this level of production further sugests that other countries should move closer to self sufficiency.

    As for the floods, yes, a lot of simultaneous floods is unusual, but weather events are randomly distributed, so it will happen sooner or later.  One of the more interesting things from the hydrology courses was that Australia, and particularly NSW, was once much wetter than it now is.  And we are not talking geological time here, it was 20-40,000 years ago.  In hydrology we called them “flood dominated regimes” and “drought dominated regimes”, where the streamflows (and thus rainfall) were high or low for sustained periods of up to 20,000 years.  Aust is currently in a drought regime.

    Lake Mungo, one of the oldest recorded aboriginal sites in Australia(40,000 yrs)  is in south-western NSW.  It is a dry dusty plain now but from 40 to 15,000 years ago it was a healthy lake, surrounded by many others, all long since gone.  

    We did go into things like the effect of ocean currents and the temperatures – El Nino and La Nina being the most well known examples.  These have been happening, to greater and lesser extents, long before we were around to know about them.

    Climate change is one of the most constant things in the earth’s history – you either adapt or die.  Governments trying to “stop” climate change will have about the same amount of success as King Canute.  

     

     

     

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  52. By biocrude on January 26, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Peak Lithium is almost here says OPIS today. This is for you and your E-Bike Biodiversivist:

    CHINA CUTS EXPORTS OF HYBRID VEHICLE COMPONENT MATERIAL
    Recent moves by China to protect its domestic “rare earth” industry could
    drive up the price of hybrid electric vehicles which use materials manufactured
    from the minerals. For example, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid
    electric vehicles (PHEVs), and electric vehicles (EVs) contain from 20 to 25
    pounds of rare earths whereas a standard vehicle can contain around 10 pounds,
    according to domestic rare earths supplier Molycorp.
    China recently announced a cutback in rare earth export quotas for next
    year by more than one-tenth, putting a strain on its relationships with the
    U.S., European Union and Japan.
    According to Catherine Clay, VP for research with Auto Alliance, “As we ramp
    up production we need reliable, appropriately priced rare elements.”
    Therefore, “With so much of the [rare earth] reserves in China, they might not
    be a reliable supplier for the future.”
    Although China is cutting back in rare earth exports, that doesn’t change
    the fact that demand for energy-efficient EVs is growing significantly. Global
    demand is projected to be 4 million to 6 million vehicles per year by 2013, so
    the impact on the rare earth market could be staggering. Additional rare earth
    supply sources must come on line to support this growing industry, according to
    Moloycorp.
    Also, according to Molycorp CEO Mark Smith, “Currently, Rare Earth Dependent
    Technologies are nearly 100% reliant on Chinese-sourced materials. While in
    recent years China has managed to supply the entire world’s demand for rare
    earths, a dramatic shift is beginning to take place,” Smith said in a letter on
    the Molycorp website.
    “As global requirements for Rare Earths continue to grow considerably
    (fueled primarily by the development and deployment of green energy
    technologies like hybrid vehicles, energy efficient lighting and wind power),
    China’s own domestic use of its resources is also soaring — with internal
    consumption presently at about 60% of production and rising rapidly,” Smith
    concludes in the letter.
    Clay adds that the biggest issue for automakers is that the magnetic motors
    require rare earths, however in the near term, there is not going to be a
    shortage of vehicles or immediate danger. Clay anticipates, “In the long term,
    the auto industry would like to see a geographic diversification. We should be
    looking at policies that develop mining for these elements and [therefore]
    provide more reliable trading partners.”
    “There is still a lot to look at. First of all, we are not overly concerned
    right now about availability of motor magnets. Not all of our electrified
    vehicles use rare earths, and in the course of the next several years much will
    be done to manage the risk of these kinds of things as we get into future
    generations of technology,” Sharon Basel, GM Communication Manager for
    Environment and Energy Communication told OPIS.
    For example, Basel points out that GM’s eAssist system that will be included
    in the 2012 Buick LaCrosse uses absolutely no rare earth materials. “We can
    design around supply challenges if they arise,” Basel concludes.
    As a result of the decrease, shares of Molycorp rose 4.96% to $60.37 after
    it announced its board is considering doubling its 2012 rare earths in order to
    meet the increased global demand.

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  53. By Optimist on January 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Peak Lithium is almost here says OPIS today.

    Wowa. I almost see a problem.

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  54. By BilB on January 27, 2011 at 12:30 am

    So then, Paul N, what you are saying is “fossil fuels,……lets have at it”. With that attitude then you are consistent to want to see the end of ethanol. OK.
    But tell me which State do you live in?

    I want to be able to know when it is your house that is being flooded/burnt/demolished with hail/torn apart by 300kph winds/flung around by impossible tornadoes/undermined by rising sea levels/crushed under a mountain of snow/ no longer insureable because of skyrocketing cost/ being abandoned because the area in which it sits is a failed economy.

    I’d also like to be there the moment when you finally realise that what is happening is way beyond naturally random. I’m patient, I can wait, but it will not take much longer.

    I live in the Blue mountains. I say this so you can have a little chuckle when my area is totally demolished in a fire storm.

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  55. By paul-n on January 27, 2011 at 4:17 am

    what you are saying is “fossil fuels,……lets have at it”. With that attitude then you are consistent to want to see the end of ethanol.

    What I am saying is that fossil fuels have enabled our high living standards and very few people are willing to give up such standards.  The challenge is to find alternatives that do not require a decrease in living standards.  Solar PV, for example, at, presently, more than 10x the cost per kWh of coal electricity, does not meet that test.  But there are other ways we can go.   

    Ethanol, well, I am not for the end of ethanol, just for the end of the redundancy of subsidy and mandate.  I note that a similar situation exists though there is at least a plan to phase out the excise credit – though, like in the US, has been delayed for now.  Ethanol has its merits as a biofuel, but the political nature of its implementation means the cost may be exceeding them.

    The “state” I live in is the Province of British Columbia, Canada (hence the “BC” next to my name) – the family farm in NSW is between Young and Cowra – part of it is floodplain though not the houses.

    The list of house calamities you cite all happen in many places today, except sea level rise, though many have the equivalent, with land subsidence.  Their occurrence (except for failed economy like Detroit, and soon perhaps, California) is always random, though certain events, like major meteors or volcanic eruptions can and do change things.

    Floods are a slightly different beast as human activity, and especially settled areas, usually leads to an increase in runoff coefficients.  This makes for greater flood events from the same rainfall events, unless we take active measures like dams and stormwater retention basins to slow them down.  But even they have their limits.

    The Blue Mountains of course, regularly get turned into cinder cones by bushfires, fortunately the bush has adapted to that – I’ll presume you house is adapted too- though nothing is fireproof.

    I don;t buy into the CO2 caused climate change. Meanwhile there are lots of other more specific, localised and sometimes urgent environmental issues that governments can and should be focusing on, but their attention is being diverted by the all those who would have us focus on CO2.  Reducing CO2 means little if you still have poor urban air quality or polluted water, increased stormwater flooding, deforestation, salinity, etc etc.  There are many good reasons for doing many environmental initiatives which produce real results, without worrying about CO2 where there may not be any result.

     

     

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  56. By rrapier on January 27, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Paul N said:

    Hi Robert – Actually, I make it four out of eight (E15, Ethanol Exports, Range Fuels and 

    Ethanol interests), and I note that the ethanol stories, for some reason, always seem to accrue twice as many comments as others.


     

    On Page 1 was Great Green Fleet, E15, Marginal Land, $140 Oil, Range Fuels, Economic Recovery, Ethanol Exports, and Gulf Spill Ramifications. Prior to that was the Top 10 story, and then you got to the Ethanol Interests story. So ethanol stories are definitely in the minority.

    RR

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  57. By Herm on January 27, 2011 at 4:33 am

    BilB said:

     

    “far from certain that this is “Global Warming induced flooding””

    This has not been one flood event. This has been some six simultaneous record floods unprecedented in the recorded history of the country. Previous floods have been individual events.

     


    Apparently Australia may become the food basket of the world if this wet climate continues.. any hope for the same happening in Africa and Texas/Mexico?.. China could also benefit I would bet.

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  58. By paul-n on January 27, 2011 at 5:01 am

    RR, I think we are looking at different lists – I look at them as they appeared in the list in the Forums, which lists them in terms of most recently commented, while I see your blog page is in chronological order.  So the ethanol ones are indeed the minority, but always draw the most comments – still the hot button issue.

     

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  59. By rrapier on January 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Kit P said:

    “Ethanol, well, I am not for the end of ethanol, just for the end of the redundancy of subsidy and mandate.”

     

    Paul I hope you do not buy that load of rubbish. The US is 5 years into a program that works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


     

    I remind readers that you have been repeatedly pressed to defend the position that the subsidy is not redundant with the mandate in place. You have repeatedly refused to do so, which indicates you can’t. To me, it is incredibly odd given your other positions that you continue to defend billions of dollars in wasteful spending without even attempting to justify your position.

    Paul is correct and you are wrong. If you disagree, once more I afford you the opportunity to defend your position.

    RR

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  60. By Kit P on January 27, 2011 at 10:06 am

    “Solar PV, for example, at, presently, more than 10x the cost per kWh of coal electricity, does not meet that test.”

     

    The issue I have with the AGW fear mongers is that they have equally silly ideas about what to do about it. POTUS in his state of the union speech talked about China’s leadership in solar. The problem with solar is not cost. Solar does not provided energy on cold winter nights. AGW fear mongers spend all there time talking about ineffective solutions but are opposed things like nuclear power.

     

    “Ethanol, well, I am not for the end of ethanol, just for the end of the redundancy of subsidy and mandate.”

     

    Paul I hope you do not buy that load of rubbish. The US is 5 years into a program that works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

     

    “The “state” I live in is the Province of British Columbia, Canada”

     

    It only took a month back home to get the liberal Canadian BS pounded out of him. How many times Paul did you say something only to have your dad or brother say ‘BS’. I was freshly back in California after 20 years when I found myself at my brother-in-law’s funeral. At a certain part of the service my dad elbows me and says here it comes, My brother-in-law was right out of the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ and he look at me and say BS often. Who knew that would later be called ‘bonding’? We all need folks from hard times to keep us honest.

     

    “is always random”

     

    Sounds like Paul took the same environmental engineering course but ‘random’ is not the right word. If you ignore the environment a calamity is going to happen, I can not predict when however. However, if you build your house on or below soil that was deposited during the last ice age; the landslide is not a random event. Changing the hydrology by building roads and house may actually be the cause. In the PNW, millions live on top of mud flows of active volcanoes but worry about radiation from a nuclear plant 200 miles away.

     

    “There are many good reasons for doing many environmental initiatives which produce real results, without worrying about CO2 where there may not be any result.”

     

    Like AD for dairy farms.

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  61. By Kit P on January 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    And I will again remind readers that I do not care! Double redundant, triple redundant, quadtriple double redundant; who cares, not me. I am happy that US is finally producing renewable energy for the transportation sector . I am happy that we finding alternatives to imported oil. I am happy that I see tangible results.

     

    If we were not seeing results, I might think it would be wasteful spending.

     

    I will also remind readers that I defend the positions. I avoid doing it over and over with RR because what is the point.

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  62. By Wendell Mercantile on January 27, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I am happy that US is finally producing renewable energy for the transportation sector . I am happy that we finding alternatives to imported oil. I am happy that I see tangible results.

    Here you go Kit P. — just for you:

    Joule Patents Organism That Poops Jet-A

    There are even hiring: We seek talented teammates who share our passion for radically transforming the energy landscape for the better.

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  63. By rrapier on January 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Kit P said:

    I will also remind readers that I defend the positions. I avoid doing it over and over with RR because what is the point.


     

    You have never defended this one. Not once. Further, I am not even sure you get it. If there are tangible results, there would also be tangible results without the billions in subsidies — BECAUSE THE MANDATE IS STILL IN PLACE. Feel free to argue against that position.

    RR

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  64. By Optimist on January 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    The US is 5 years into a program that works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    5 years? Much longer than that! It’s just that the subsidies have gone way up over the last 5 years.

    Define what you mean by “works”, Kit. An efficient way for the heartland to feed off Uncle Sam’s teat? You can’t be referring to the profitability of ethanol refiners as that already took one good hit, in spite of all the subsidies and mandates.

    I will also remind readers that I defend the positions.

    Don’t make me laugh, Kit. You never defend anything. You do a lot of insulting. But you never debate the facts. And when it comes to the facts, you’re pretty sloppy: Just throw it out there like it’s a fact because you say so. Par for the course with ethanol supporters.

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  65. By paul-n on January 29, 2011 at 4:58 am

    The US is 5 years into a program that works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Well, the US has been into ethanol for much longer than that, and the subsidy has been around for much longer than that.  It was the mandate that made the difference, so I think the subsidy can be discontinued, as it clearly did not make the difference.  But, while that is my opinion, it is not my decision, so I’ll leave it there.

    I don’t have a problem with raising the level to 15% – I’m sure it could actually go much higher without any problems.   It is too bad that potential good solutions, like allowing people to choose whatever ethanol mix they want, are prevented from being made available by the fear of being sued by someone that chooses too much ethanol – the EPA is doing the country a disservice here.

    We allow people to drink as much ethanol as they want, and mostly, 1980 or newer bodies can handle that better than older ones, but we don’t stop people from drinking whatever they want. 

    No one is forcing drivers to use E15 – let the buyers decide, and take responsibility for their actions.  It is up to the ethanol industry to convince drivers that the risks are either worth it, or negligible.

     

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  66. By Kit P on January 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm

     

    “the EPA is doing the country a disservice here.”

     

    The EPA has a few agendas and does not consider cost benefit as required by regulations.

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  67. By russ-finley on January 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Biocrude said:

    Peak Lithium is almost here says OPIS today. This is for you and your E-Bike Biodiversivist ..

     


     

    Good one ; ) Don’t lose any sleep over it. For example, the Leaf battery and main motor do not use rare earth elements. The battery is lithium based (lithium is not a rare earth), the motor uses induction fields in place of rare earth magnets.

    It became cheaper to buy China’s ore than mine our own. That has now changed and we will begin mining our own again. Such is the world of supply and demand. Car companies can also choose to modify designs to account for the increased costs of rare earth elements, as the Leaf demonstrates.

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