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By Robert Rapier on Mar 19, 2011 with 52 responses

Ethanol and Corrosion Follow-Up

Problem? What Problem?

Following my recent post What You Aren’t Being Told About Ethanol and Corrosion, someone made a comment that gets to the root of why many ethanol proponents mistakenly see me as an enemy of ethanol (indeed, one of the Top 10). The person said that if there are problems related to our expanding usage of ethanol, we shouldn’t bash ethanol, we should fix those problems.

But how do you fix a problem? First you have to acknowledge that there is a problem. I write articles pointing to issues that I view as problems. The other side often denies the problem, as many did over the ethanol corrosion post. I posted results from an Underwriters Laboratories controlled study showing that some materials currently used in our fuel delivery systems are incompatible with higher blends of ethanol such as E15. Some of the responses were personal attacks upon me, and complete denial that the study showed any problems at all. Thus, the only way to convince people that we have a problem that needs to be fixed is to continue to argue the point — and this amounts to ethanol bashing in the eyes of many ethanol proponents.

In the case of the UL study, I want the ethanol industry to take a responsible stand such as “We recognize that UL has identified some material incompatibilities in existing fuel delivery systems. We propose the following plan to ensure that fuel systems don’t begin to leak and cause safety or environmental problems….” In fact, some ethanol proponents did just that. They agreed that the UL studies identified an issue that needs to be addressed, so let’s propose a fix and move on.

Learning from the 1950′s Auto Industry

But the more common industry position has been to assure us — based on the experiences of many drivers — that ethanol use causes no problems. Of course I could provide testimonials from many drivers who have driven without seat belts for years, “proving” that it is safe to do so. Think of the money the auto industry could have saved if they had kept to the status quo of the 1950′s where seat belts were the exception. But if I am going to advocate this position, I certainly better do a thorough investigation to identify and quantify the risks. I might find that some people have indeed reported negative consequences from not wearing seat belts.

The ethanol lobby would be more credible if they spent their time trying to really quantify and mitigate risks, instead of providing testimonials and assurances that there are no risks. As someone pointed out, the EPA waiver that allows E15 in some vehicles investigated whether E15 would cause emissions to increase, not whether any materials in these cars would suffer shortened lifetimes due to E15 exposure. Why else do you think automakers would sue to stop the introduction of E15 in older vehicles if they didn’t think there might be problems? But the ethanol industry has represented the E15 waiver as a green light saying that there are no risks from moving to E15. They simply ignore reports of ethanol-induced maintenance problems from ethanol blends, profiting while pushing increased costs onto others.

Thus, I think we have a problem that needs to be fixed rather than ignored or covered up.

Conclusions

If you try to look at this objectively, you might see that my posts on ethanol are designed to highlight problems so that they might be fixed. True, one way of fixing these problems would be to just stop ethanol usage altogether (which would also introduce problems), but that is not the position I advocate. I think ethanol can make important long-term contributions toward weaning us away from fossil fuels in a sustainable way, but current ethanol policies risk a huge public backlash and the eventual collapse of the industry.

Too many of our ethanol policies are based more on politics than science. I believe many people within the ethanol industry have a short-sighted and selfish view that has certainly worked to funnel a lot of money into the industry, but has also created a growing number of critics. Some day they will either tell their grandchildren about how they helped to create a sustainable, thriving industry, or they will shamefully admit that they were once part of an ethanol experiment that failed due to many costly, negative consequences that they denied to the end.

Up Next

The purpose of this preamble was supposed to set the stage for an article that digs deeper into the question of taxpayer-subsidized ethanol exports. But the preamble was long enough to stand as its own article, so the next article will delve into the question of subsidized exports and the ethanol industry’s response. Once again, this is a problem that needs to be fixed, but the ethanol industry denies that it is happening. In fact, many have claimed that the practice is illegal. As I will show in the next post, it is certainly not illegal, and the ethanol industry is turning a blind eye to the practice.

  1. By Wendell Mercantile on March 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Some interesting comments here on this new website listing gas stations that sell ethanol-free gasoline. Definitely some heated feeling on the subject:

    The list of ethanol-free gas stations

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  2. By Walt on March 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    I think ethanol can make important long-term contributions toward weaning us away from fossil fuels in a sustainable way, but current ethanol policies risk a huge public backlash and the eventual collapse of the industry.


     

    This is something I fear as well.  This would really set back my own efforts in trying to bring methanol into the fuels market like China is doing.  If there are problems that can be identified, and fixed, I would love to see some long-term solutions and a lot less politics.  The politics is so heavy handed in some situations that it could backlash and hurt an alcohol industry which deserves to be here in 5 or 50 years.  I welcome more profitable discussions on how methanol and ethanol, and more favorably than both perhaps, mixed alcohols might have on the fuels market.  Crude oil derived fuels are going to be difficult to support over the long-term unless we find some major political support to keep drilling domestically at very high prices.

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  3. By Benny BND Cole on March 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I wonder if we would not be better off not trying to mix our fuels. My layman’s understanding is that ethanol has a lot of octane, and “should” be used in engines with higher compression ratios. Ditto methanol.

    I also like the idea of pure ethanol or methanol PHEVs–a 100 percent reduction in oil demand. (Methanol can be derived from natural gas; current price is $1.28 a gallon at Methanex).

    All said, I see an easy transition to a more-prosperous, cleaner nation, if we just tinker with some regs and taxes pertaining to autos and trucks. My fave is a gasoline tax of $2, phased in a 25 cents every three months.

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  4. By James on March 20, 2011 at 12:04 am

    It takes water to make ethanol and our aquifers are near depleted. The deeper our water level becomes the more energy it takes at ever higher prices, the harder it is for the farmer to have the required water just for food crops.
    Read the U.S.G.S reports on our aquifers.
    Most aquifers are becoming brackish and alkaloid. This is poisoning our farmlands so crops are in decline. We need to solve our water problem soon. We now consume more produce than we can grow on our farms.
    It takes enough corn to feed a man for a year to make the ethanol to fill one tank of fuel in the average auto.
    We have a serious problem for transportation fuel in this country.
    Some think the electric auto will save us but the lack of a battery is the same today as when the Detroit Electric company delivered it’s last electric auto in 1939. As example a 2 cubic foot fuel thank that costs about $50 to make will hold 15 gal. of liquid fuel and will give my car a 550 mile range and can be refueled in about 10 min. Show me a battery that will do half as much for $50.
    We cannot provide the energy required for this nations economy with wind mills and ethanol.

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  5. By fg on March 20, 2011 at 12:06 am

    As we are talking fuel compatibility, does anyone know how DME fares with LPG distribution and end uses ?

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  6. By rrapier on March 20, 2011 at 12:48 am

    FG said:

    As we are talking fuel compatibility, does anyone know how DME fares with LPG distribution and end uses ?


     

    Hi FG, and welcome. As far as I know, it is completely compatible: Keep Your Eye on DME.

    RR

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  7. By rrapier on March 20, 2011 at 1:11 am

    James said:

    It takes water to make ethanol and our aquifers are near depleted. The deeper our water level becomes the more energy it takes at ever higher prices, the harder it is for the farmer to have the required water just for food crops.


     

    James, I agree which is why I do not favor practices like producing ethanol from irrigated corn and shipping it to California. I have no doubt that this is not only a net negative energy proposition, but it is as you say depleting the aquifer.

    But I think Iowa can produce ethanol sustainably, and if it is used locally then I think that is a workable model.

    RR

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  8. By paul-n on March 20, 2011 at 2:21 am

    James wrote;

    We have a serious problem for transportation fuel in this country.

    This would seem to be the way the government has viewed it.  However, another way to look at it would be;

    We have a serious problem for transportation in this country. (i.e. too much transportation)

    Fuel is not the problem, it is the way it is excessively and inefficiently used that is the problem.  When all other countries use the same (general) types of fuel, but the US (and Canada) uses more per capita than any other western country, fuel is clearly not the problem.

    Some think the electric auto will save us but the lack of a battery is the same today as when the Detroit Electric company delivered it’s last electric auto in 1939.

    You might find this to be an interesting read then;

    The status quo of electric cars: better batteries, same range

    If the Detroit Electric had the same weight of todays Lithium batteries, it would have had four time the range and charge in one quarter of the time.  Batteries are not the problem – it is the cars that are carrying them, and the expectations of their drivers.

    As example a 2 cubic foot fuel thank that costs about $50 to make will hold 15 gal. of liquid fuel and will give my car a 550 mile range and can be refueled in about 10 min. Show me a battery that will do half as much for $50.

    275 miles and a 20 minute charging time?  Well, the Tesla will get close to half at 244 miles,  and can be 80% recharged in 30 minutes, for a cost of about $6 (at US average electricity price of $0.12/kWh).   {edit – the Tesla, does of course, cost northwards of $100k, but that is more because it is a handbuilt sports car, rather than an electric car}

    Of course, the way things are going that 15 gallons is already more than $50, and could easily get to, and past $100, as it has in many other countries.

    We cannot provide the energy required for this nations economy with wind mills and ethanol.

    I’m not sure that anyone has ever seriously suggested we can.  However, the “economy” could be changed to use substantially less transport, and substantially less of the current fuels.  There are many options open for changing the fuel/transport equation – not all of them revolve around increased supply of existing fuels.

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  9. By Random on March 20, 2011 at 3:36 am

    Hi Robert
    While I have no dog in this ethanol fight, I can see how an ethanol proponent may view you as an enemy of the industry. Unfortunately when I read your articles about ethanol they are almost 100% negative without the silver lining of saying “this is what needs to be done” to fix the problem.

    In fact, more often than not the takeaway I get from reading your articles is that this is an industry that needs to either be significantly scaled back or do away with. If this is not your goal and your goal truly is about making the industry stronger by allowing it to assess its weakness and find sustainable solutions, my recommendation is that you may want to consider including some of these “solutions” in your articles instead of simply criticizing. Frankly no one likes a critic – especially one without a solution.

    While I take you at your word that you are indeed not a oil industry trojan – a “demon sheep” for more current vernacular – I want to point out that the oil industry and the chemical industry or two sides of the same dirty coin and you are simply trying to walk too fine a line when you try to separate them.

    Finally, I for one believe you do very passable “reporting”, however given that you claim to be an advocate of renewable energy, it would be nice to read about a none renewable energy source that you weren’t in love with since you’ve defended nuclear, oil and nat gas… just saying…

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  10. By rrapier on March 20, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Random said:

    In fact, more often than not the takeaway I get from reading your articles is that this is an industry that needs to either be significantly scaled back or do away with. If this is not your goal and your goal truly is about making the industry stronger by allowing it to assess its weakness and find sustainable solutions, my recommendation is that you may want to consider including some of these “solutions” in your articles instead of simply criticizing. Frankly no one likes a critic – especially one without a solution.


     

    Is this your first time here?

    Thoughts on an Ethanol Pipeline

    Strategizing for the Ethanol Industry

    E85 Case Study: Iowa

    All BTUs Are Not Created Equally

    My Energy Policy Recommendations

    An Open Letter to Our Next President

    Setting the Ethanol Record Straight

    That’s just a sampling, but that shows that you are completely unfamiliar with the things I have actually written. But do go on about 100% negative articles and critics without solutions.

    Finally, I for one believe you do very passable “reporting”, however given that you claim to be an advocate of renewable energy, it would be nice to read about a none renewable energy source that you weren’t in love with since you’ve defended nuclear, oil and nat gas… just saying…

    Again, a strong indicator that you just showed up here, thought you had me pegged, but in fact don’t know my positions at all. I have written numerous articles about moving away from fossil fuels, and I have defended ethanol on numerous occasions (including in a post just two above the one you wrote).

    RR

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  11. By Gordon Comfort on March 20, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Robert:
    I have followed your web postings for quite a long time and have found them to be insightful, informative and well worth reading. However, I must part company with you and those who espouse ethanol for cars. I regard ethanol as a lousy motor fuel. Its relative chemical activity, affinity for water, low energy content and noxious products of combustion are significant factors. The aldehydes created when it is burned are strong carcinogens.
    Its difficulty in transport, storage and mixing enter into the situation. The creation of ethanol is not only costly in dollars but also in energy. There is reason to believe, though some disagree, that ethanol production is partly responsible for food price increases. In general, I think it wrong to burn what
    we would otherwise eat, if only indirectly. Ultimately ethanol production will impinge on food production even if feedstock sources are restricted to marginal land and over time marginal lands will need inputs if production is to be maintained. You have written about the technical difficulties associated with cellulosics etc, and no good solutions are in sight at this time. Will there ever be? Perhaps, but I am not betting on it. To overcome the objections to ethanol’s use as motor fuel, to the extent that is possible, involves cost. For reasons I don’t understand we seem believe that costs are not significant concerns. That somehow, higher costs are good. Yet, when you think about it, energy costs underlie everything we do. Everything. I do not regard it as immoral to strive for lower energy costs.

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  12. By rrapier on March 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Gordon Comfort said:

    Robert:

    I have followed your web postings for quite a long time and have found them to be insightful, informative and well worth reading. However, I must part company with you and those who espouse ethanol for cars. I regard ethanol as a lousy motor fuel. Its relative chemical activity, affinity for water, low energy content and noxious products of combustion are significant factors. The aldehydes created when it is burned are strong carcinogens.


     

    Gordon,

    One of the reasons I advocate for a more E85-based energy policy centered in the Midwest is that infrastructure and automobiles that are appropriate to E85 can be focused there. I think this would much more cost efficient than trying to swap the entire country to E15 compatibility and put E15 in cars that it wasn’t designed for. Further, using E85 close to home would be the most efficient usage.

    In the end, most of our fuel options are going to get into food/fuel competition. Even non-food crops will be grown on arable land. So if I was to grow jatropha for fuel, I can’t say that there isn’t a food/fuel debate because it isn’t edible. After all, I most likely grew the jatropha on land that could have been used to grow food.

    All of our energy options will require trade-offs, but we will minimize those by using energy as efficiently and conservatively as we can.

    RR

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  13. By Kit P on March 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    But how do you fix a problem? First you have to acknowledge

    No, the first step is to carefully define the problem. In this case, the problem is ensuring a domestic supply of energy for transportation. The next thing to do is prioritize the problem. Then you find the root cause of the biggest problem. 

    How do you not solve problems? You do not solve problems by making up stuff about another industry or other places. Pick any city with air pollutions problems. They will be pointing someplace else.

    I would love to see my industry, electricity generating, take a share for providing transportation energy. PaulN does a good job of explaining the problems. The problem is you can not get people like me to buy BEV. Meanwhile, American farmers are doing a great job of producing transportation fuel that I am happy to buy.

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  14. By Larry Johnson on March 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    RR writes: Why else do you think automakers would sue to stop the introduction of E15 in older vehicles if they didn’t think there might be problems?

    What kind of logic is this? The auto industry doesn’t have any interest in old, out of warranty vehicles.

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  15. By rrapier on March 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Larry Johnson said:

    RR writes: Why else do you think automakers would sue to stop the introduction of E15 in older vehicles if they didn’t think there might be problems?

    What kind of logic is this? The auto industry doesn’t have any interest in old, out of warranty vehicles.


     

    That’s clearly untrue, Larry, as they recall out-of-warranty autos all the time. Just because something is out of warranty doesn’t get them off the hook for liability. Do you really believe if a lot of their older vehicles start to become damaged, some lawyer isn’t going to try to get a class action lawsuit together?

    No, I understand exactly why they are trying to prevent it.

    RR

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  16. By rrapier on March 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Kit P said:

    But how do you fix a problem? First you have to acknowledge

    No, the first step is to carefully define the problem. In this case, the problem is ensuring a domestic supply of energy for transportation. The next thing to do is prioritize the problem. Then you find the root cause of the biggest problem. 


     

    You just proved my point. You are defining a different problem, but the first thing you implicitly did was acknowledge a problem: The need for a domestic supply of energy. Only by acknowledging that problem can you move on to framing it.

    If someone argued that we don’t actually need a domestic supply of energy, then your efforts to define the problem are pointless. After all, the response is “What problem?” So you have to argue that there is in fact a problem to be acknowledged.

    RR

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  17. By BilB on March 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Well by way of defining that problem…

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7686

    here comes the competition. India moves strongly into net importing of oil. One cost of exporting the “American Dream” is that everyone starts to want the accoutrements of that dream, and that includes oil to make it work. Now that would be all right if the US supplied all of those things to make the dream work, but it is China who gets to do that thanks to those tens of thousands of US businesses who moved their production to that country, in the interests of making large easy profits.

    In my mind there is a lot of incentive there to do ethanol, and do it well. So it all comes down to how to optimise the process for maximum effect. I don’t think that the US has any choice, it is either ethanol or something else. And most likely if there were something else other than ethanol, with the growing competition for oil it would become a need for ethanol ..and.. the something else.

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  18. By Wendell Mercantile on March 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    One cost of exporting the “American Dream” is that everyone starts to want the accoutrements of that dream, and that includes oil to make it work.

    One point with which people are going to have to come to grips:

    The entire world can’t use energy at the same rate and live the same quality of life as the Americans (both U.S. and Canada), Western Europeans, Australians, and Japanese. Unless we make some kind of breakthrough I can’t now imagine (Fusion? Solar on a scale we can’t now imagine?), there simply aren’t enough sources of energy to lift 7+ billion people to the same standard of life.

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  19. By BilB on March 20, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    That is not going to stop people around the third world from trying, Wendell. Take the global penetration of cell phones as an example. People will continue to press to get as near to that dream as possible with the resources at their disposal. A Tata Nano is a Limousine to a family that previously got around by donkey cart. Although the consumption needs of these people will forever be below that of a US family or individual, but there are many times more of these people who together add to make a consumption that will top that of the US. As this new global consumption demand hits the reality of declining availability, the impact is not going to be uniformally felt across the US, thereby further broadening the US social divide. There are real challenges ahead for all of us, and starting at some fuzzey time in the future, but starting now…we are already in the end game.

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  20. By Kit P on March 21, 2011 at 12:36 am

    The entire world can’t use energy at the same rate and live the same quality of life as the Americans…

     

    I do not see a techical reason every person on the planet can not enjoy clean water and energy. 

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  21. By Wendell Mercantile on March 21, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I do not see a techical (sic) reason every person on the planet can not enjoy clean water and energy.

    …other than the fact that there is not enough of either to go around. At least not under our present political and economic system, or what we currently understand about producing fuel and power. (And it’s a well-known sociological fact that the population upper limit will always be pushing against what is just sustainable. If we have excess capability to support population — population will expand to use that capability.)

    If and when practical fusion power becomes a reality, then what you say may be true. Although even with all the fusion energy we want, the economic and political systems will probably still work against the have-nots.

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  22. By Walt on March 21, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I just spent about 45 minutes on the phone talking with a local company that handles all the gasoline fuel pumps in the northern lower peninsula and upper peninsula of Michigan.  He told me that EVERY pump that is five years or older has had problems with the gaskets and some of the instruments when E10 was added to the gasoline.  He has a box in his truck right as we speak that is filled with new alcohol safe gaskets to install at any pump who complains of problems.  He said that these problems have been constant over the past few years, but all the new pumps (within the past 5 years) will easily handle the E10 or E15 blends.  They will not handle the E85 as those are special pumps.

     

    You can convert an E10 or E15 pump to an E85 pump for about $6,000 and so no station will do this without getting subsidy from “guess who” the government.  The major oil companies are obviously furious they have to upgrade these pumps…and will not spend the money to bring competitors into their stations.  This makes obvious sense to me…so the ethanol industry should poney up the money to convert these station pumps to E85 or cover all the repair costs to replace the gaskets and some instruments on all pumps that are older than 5 years if they want E15 at the stations.  The blenders are making a lot of money he said blending ethanol so with some oil companies as long as the blenders credit stays they might support paying for these fixes.  He does these fixes, and people are very frustrated as when the gaskets leak and fail the gasoline blend leaks into the secondary containment area and shuts the pump completely down.  It is not an instant fix so people get upset quickly.

     

    The answer is to get the government to pay for everything…the ethanol production…the ethanol blending…the fixes at the pumps…and pay the auto companies to add the $200 flex fuel modifications.  Of course I’m joking.  It is clear nobody is going to continue to pay for these fixes at the pumps with E15 and so all these lawsuits will stop both ethanol and methanol ever coming into the market in America.  The oil companies control (we think) most of these gas stations, and it will cost them a lot of money to let in the competitors…it is cheaper to sue, or force the government to pay them to make the changes.

     

    In regard to automobile problems with alcohols, seals, etc. I still have no firm conclusion whether cars can handle alcohols.

     

    Again…the more I am connecting the dots…it clearly seems to me that ethanol and methanol will never go beyond the E15 mandate in this country without major legal battles that will take years to move up to the supreme court.  Stations are going to sue big time when E15 hits and they have to fix these five year old pumps.  It could cost them $1-2,000 per pump to make these fixes, and if they have 5 pumps on site that is a big loss of their profits they will want the government or the trial lawyers to recover for them ASAP.

     

    Invest in the new pumps for E85 and put big signs that say, “Cannot be used in outboard motors, cycles or sleds.  Move to Alcohol free pumps!”  This is the new “market niche” that small indendent stations are using to get more business…alcohol free pumps.  I don’t think the government is giving these guys any money to promote “alcohol free pumps” as a local guy in town told me he is just doing it to attract business for the those with small engines and cycles/sleds.  Of course, he would love if the government gave him money too…but it all goes to the blenders.

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  23. By Wendell Mercantile on March 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    …so the ethanol industry should pony up the money to convert these station pumps to E85 or cover all the repair costs to replace the gaskets and some instruments on all pumps that are older than 5 years if they want E15 at the stations.

    And I might add the ethanol industry should be building their own chain of E85 filling stations — especially in the Corn Belt. They have to take on some of the heavy lifting of building and expanding their market instead of just relying on government mandates and subsidies to do it for them.

    It’s understandable why the owner of a gasoline filling station would be furious over having to spend money to upgrade or repair pumps because of a government mandate and change in EPA rules.

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  24. By Walt on March 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    It’s understandable why the owner of a gasoline filling station would be furious over having to spend money to upgrade or repair pumps because of a government mandate and change in EPA rules.


     

    Wendell, we know that what the government gives the government can take away.  You can bet there is no ethanol producer or blender that is going to pay for these pump fixes without getting the government to pay them in return.  The ethanol industry lives and dies on money from the taxpayer and if it was not for the blender credit I can almost imagine these blenders would stop blending.  If the oil companies who blend get this money, the station owners need to get paid as well to make these fixes.  The ethanol companies are not going to pay for these fixes as their entire industry operates on mandates and subsidies…and risking spending out of pocket money to fix these problems NOW is not going to happen.

     

    This makes total sense why RR article is right on point.  They either agree to fix these problems now, or they pay for the bad press and problems later.  Of course, as he rightly says, there has not been one post (at least since I have been watching them) on here that admits it is a problem, and that it needs to be resolved.  No, they deny it is a problem and attack RR as being funded by the oil industry.  It is a joke.

     

    I’m working on methanol production.  It took me one trip to the gas station and a call this morning to get the facts.  It is a major problem that these stations have been dealing with over the past couple years.  It is going to get worse with E15 on their older pumps.  They are not going to continue to sit back and let Washington hand out money to the corn / ethanol lobby and let the oil companies make the money on blending while they sit back and get hammered to make all these repairs.

     

    Obviously, we know that the oil companies are not going to pony up this money to makes these fixes and let competition into their stations, and certainly the independents are not going to pay for these and let the corn/ethanol lobby rack in our taxpayer money so they can EXPORT the product overseas to make more profits.  The blenders are not going to pay for it…as that credit could be yanked anytime.

     

    Let’s just all face it…unless the government pays for all these fixes to the pumps and the autos nobody is going to pay for it.  To attack RR for raising the issue that he is working for the oil companies is not the answer…all they had to do was call the installers of the pumps and talk to a few stations who are facing these problems.  Unfortunately, that is too practical, and lobbiest are paid to scream and accuse…not to solve problems.

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  25. By paul-n on March 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Walt, I have one quibble with what you have said here;

    if it was not for the blender credit I can almost imagine these blenders would stop blending.

    There is still a mandate requiring the use of 11bn(?) gallons of ethanol, so the blenders will have to blend it sooner or later, or face some very stiff fines.   The VEETC has been in place for a long, long time, but it was only when the mandate was introduced in 05 that the ethanol industry really took off.  So I would say in the absence of the  credit, blenders will still blend, because the mandate tells them to.  Take away the mandate and all bets are off.  That is why I would like to see the gov say to the ethanol industry that they can have on, or the other, but not both. 

    RR did write about that in  Exxon says no to subsidies and the quote from the Exxon person was:

    MR. SPELLINGS: I think we would be content for it to expire. We do not see ourselves as the beneficiary of that subsidy. We think in the marketplace today, that subsidy probably flows through to the consumer. We do not see how it’s a subsidy that benefits us or a subsidy that benefits ethanol refiners or farmers that produce the corn, although some folks continue to think that this is a subsidy that benefits either ethanol producers or corn producers.

    I had said before that the blenders credit should go to the retailer – at least then they would be getting something for their trouble.  

    Overall, it seems to me that having ethanol blends, at 15 or even 10, is causing quite some difficulties.  That suggests if we are going to persist with ethanol, that it should be all in, for E85, or not at all.  And if the equipment can handle E85, it should be able to (or be designed to) handle methanol also.

    But, in the short term, it seems that the best thing methanol producers like yourself can do, is seek alternate markets, and stay out of the retail fuel business altogether – you will go broke waiting for any regulatory changes to help you, and clearly the oil business isn’t going to do anything unless required, or there is some good business case to do so.  And 30 years of ethanol subsidies, and now mandates, and pushback from automakers, suggest there isn’t a good business case.

    A private feet operator (on or off road) seems like the ideal sort of customer for you, and if they mix your methanol (or even co-fuel) they should be able to claim the blenders credit.  At least then you have a customer that wants your product, as opposed to ones that do anything to avoid it.

     

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  26. By BilB on March 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Paul N,

    There is an argument there, particularly for E85, but who bears the cost of distribution equipment depends entirely upon what the distribution profit structure is.

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  27. By Wendell Mercantile on March 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    …but who bears the cost of distribution equipment depends entirely upon what the distribution profit structure is.

    Exactly, that’s why the ethanol industry should bear the cost. They’re the ones who want the market expanded; they should be the ones who make the investment to expand those markets.

    Anyone can be profitable if they wait for the government to build the market through mandates and/or subsidies.

    I could start a factory to build unilateral phase detractors and make money doing it, if I could get the government to mandate that people buy them. But would that be fair to the rest of the taxpayers?

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  28. By BilB on March 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Very shallow understanding there, Wendell. For starters the ethanol subsidy and mandate is for the interests of the consumer and the taxpayer. Secondly each part of the production process operates independently to produce a product at a manufactured price. That product is then on processed by the fuel blenders to then be wholesale distributed and then retailed. The cost of dispensing equipment, and its maintenance, is the responsibility of the entity that owns (and profits from) the fuel retail locations. Fuel retailers make more operating profit from the sale of everything other than the fuel these days, and there is the other argument that the fuel is the lure to attract customers to their 24/7 general stores. So the the whole issue of pump maintenance is nothing like the “someone done me wrong” picture that you are painting here.

    If you feel disadvantaged for not having a mandated product to sell then you might be advised to get the money together and become a corn farmer, or perhaps an ethanol distiller.

    The issue of ethanol unsuitability for older vehicles is managed here with the use of premium grade fuel and an additive, I believe.

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  29. By Optimist on March 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    And it’s a well-known sociological fact that the population upper limit will always be pushing against what is just sustainable. If we have excess capability to support population — population will expand to use that capability.

    And the problem is? As the statement implies, population cannot exceed what is sustainable – Malthus’ central error.

    As technology improves, the upper limit is increased and the population grows. Worked well for millennia and will continue to do so for many more.

    I do not see a techical (sic) reason every person on the planet can not enjoy clean water and energy.

    …other than the fact that there is not enough of either to go around.

    There is more than enough water to go around, due to the fact that using water (unlike energy) does not destroy the resource. Collect your effluent, clean it up and pump back into the potable reservoir. As Windhoek, Namibia has been doing for half a century.

    Energy is more challenging, hence (I suspect) RR interest in the subject. Here I believe the free market can help us out. Let the free market determine the price where everybody on the planet can use as much energy as the average American – it’s just that the average American would be using a lot less energy.

    At least not under our present political and economic system, or what we currently understand about producing fuel and power.

    Bingo! That’s a problem indeed. So much for allowing the free market doing its thing.

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  30. By Wendell Mercantile on March 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    For starters the ethanol subsidy and mandate is for the interests of the consumer and the taxpayer.

    Whoa! Steady, big fella. The sole reason behind subsidies and mandates for corn ethanol was to expand the commodity market for corn. Had nothing to do with the interests of the consumers, and was to the detriment of taxpayers.

    It was only after the fact, that the corn ethanol people and their lobbyists started spinning their message to say ethanol could relieve our dependence on foreign oil, and be the “bridge” to other bio-fuels.

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  31. By BilB on March 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I suspect that what you are saying, Wendell, is myth not fact. But then I don’t know for certain, so if you have a link to and authorative history of corn ethanol that would interesting to read. I have seen evidence that the need for ethanol was driven by government initiative, not by opportunistic farmers.

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  32. By BilB on March 22, 2011 at 1:20 am
    [link]      
  33. By paul-n on March 22, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Billb, that link about EV charging stations in Hawaii is a little off topic, but it does show that government stupidity knows no bounds, which is kinda on-topic, I guess.  They will spend $2.8m to install more charging stations than there are EV’s in Hawaii.  It seems that these days any spending, no matter how ridiculous, can be justified by calling it :”stimulus”

    And the real irony is, that since Hawaii’s electricity is largely generated by oil, all this money on EV’s and charging stations, won’t save any oil!

    Lack of charging stations is not the reason why people are not buying EV’s

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  34. By paul-n on March 22, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Back to the business at hand – E15 – this just announced;

    Washington -NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, and two other organizations petitioned a federal court today to overturn a recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency authorizing a 50 percent increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline for newer-model vehicles. 

    The lawsuit, filed by NPRA, the International Liquid Terminals Association and the Western States Petroleum Association, follows an ongoing legal challenge by the same organizations of EPA’s Oct. 13 decision to allow the use of E15 in vehicles model year 2007 and newer.

    Full text of the press release is here

    The ethanol industry does create some powerful opponents…

     

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  35. By Walt on March 22, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Paul N said:

    Walt, I have one quibble with what you have said here;

    if it was not for the blender credit I can almost imagine these blenders would stop blending.

    There is still a mandate requiring the use of 11bn(?) gallons of ethanol, so the blenders will have to blend it sooner or later, or face some very stiff fines.   The VEETC has been in place for a long, long time, but it was only when the mandate was introduced in 05 that the ethanol industry really took off.  So I would say in the absence of the  credit, blenders will still blend, because the mandate tells them to.  Take away the mandate and all bets are off.  That is why I would like to see the gov say to the ethanol industry that they can have on, or the other, but not both. 

    RR did write about that in  Exxon says no to subsidies and the quote from the Exxon person was:

    MR. SPELLINGS: I think we would be content for it to expire. We do not see ourselves as the beneficiary of that subsidy. We think in the marketplace today, that subsidy probably flows through to the consumer. We do not see how it’s a subsidy that benefits us or a subsidy that benefits ethanol refiners or farmers that produce the corn, although some folks continue to think that this is a subsidy that benefits either ethanol producers or corn producers.

    I had said before that the blenders credit should go to the retailer – at least then they would be getting something for their trouble.


     

    Paul, you are right.  I forgot about VEETC being part of the equation.  It really is going to be a complex issue, unless we can import all the ethanol from Brazil or elsewhere to meet those mandates.  If Exxon or other blenders do not get the subsidy, and it goes to Exxon retailers or other private retailers, I wonder if it would help them convert the pumps with these modest repairs?

     

    From what I learned yesterday, the repairs are easy and not time consuming, but they do cause lots of frustration if the leaks are not dealt with until “after” the pumps shut down due to leaks in the secondary containment areas.  It seems spending $1-2,000 per pump on these old pumps (over 5 years old) would be best.  He mentioned that most of the problems have been solved in many of the pumps after the scramble to fix them after E10 was introduced, but they will see what happens with E15 on the balance of the pumps that are older.

     

    Again, he told me that E15 should not effect any pumps installed over the last 5 years.  It only effects the older pumps.  Again, this is not true with E85 which require an entirely different type of pump system…he said it was a $6,000 upgrade.  He said those installing them currently are Walmart, Meijer Stores, etc. at their new locations to offer E85 to customers.  It is unlikely you will find this in the retailer oil & gas company owned establishments…whether they are new locations…or old locations.

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  36. By Walt on March 22, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Paul N said:

    Back to the business at hand – E15 – this just announced;

    Washington -NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, and two other organizations petitioned a federal court today to overturn a recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency authorizing a 50 percent increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline for newer-model vehicles. 

    The lawsuit, filed by NPRA, the International Liquid Terminals Association and the Western States Petroleum Association, follows an ongoing legal challenge by the same organizations of EPA’s Oct. 13 decision to allow the use of E15 in vehicles model year 2007 and newer.

    Full text of the press release is here

    The ethanol industry does create some powerful opponents…

     


     

    Yes, this makes sense now from what I learned yesterday.  If Exxon is not getting any money for blending the gasoline on the credits, and they are not showing it going down to their company owned retail stores, then I have no idea who is getting the money for the blending credit.  The guy I spoke with yesterday said he believes all the blenders are getting the credit and it is not going down to the retailers…whether it is an Exxon owned station, or a privately owned station.

     

    If the blenders are not getting the credit, and the retailers are not getting the credit, maybe it is going to the Ethanol producers.  I can see why Exxon and others will not spend the money to fix these pumps if they are not getting paid to fix these pumps.  If the government could give Exxon and other retailers the money to fix the pumps this would solve the problem, and the law suits could be at least resolved partially.

     

    If we could find out the damage to automobiles for E15 blends…that would help.  I know there is damage to small engines, due to the water, etc. and that needs to be resolved by offering “alcohol free” gasoline at the pumps, if possible.

     

    These are just suggestions for solutions.  I recognize there is a lot of politics and money behind both sides of the issue.  My suggestion is for anyone on this list to call their local gasoline pump installer or repair service company and ask them the same questions.  Maybe all the answers could be posted to put a sort of “survey” together with responses how serious the problem is going to be in their local area.

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  37. By Wendell Mercantile on March 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

    But then I don’t know for certain, so if you have a link to and authorative (sic) history of corn ethanol that would interesting to read

    Have never seen an “authoritative history” of corn ethanol, but I am more than a casual observer. If you have ever listened to the testimony or speeches of any of the Corn Belt politicians such as Grassley or Harkin of Iowa; Nelson or Johanns of Nebraska; or even Obama when he was still an Illinois senator, their emphasis has always been about the jobs and income corn ethanol brings to their constituents, and how good corn ethanol is for Iowa, Nebraska, or Illinois communities. Farm income and jobs has always been Objective No. 1 for corn ethanol. The spin of “energy security” and a “bridge” to other bio-fuels was developed to support Objective No. 1.

    I have a corn farmer relative who joined a co-op to build an ethanol plant more than 15 years ago. His sole motive was to ensure and expand the market for his corn. I don’t begrudge him doing that — he was being smart and looking out for his own interests. But let’s not delude ourselves about why there is corn ethanol — it’s to expand the commodity market for corn.

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  38. By Optimist on March 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    The ethanol industry does create some powerful opponents…

    Really? Most of us are quite powerless. We’re lucky Big Oil is standing up for us (in this particular case). Not out of the goodness of their hearts, to be sure. But we’ll take all the help we can get. As I’ve long said, I’d rather stand with Big Oil than Big Ag (and the Dishonest Prostitutians).

    My suggestion is for anyone on this list to call their local gasoline pump installer or repair service company and ask them the same questions.  Maybe all the answers could be posted to put a sort of “survey” together with responses how serious the problem is going to be in their local area.

    ROFLOL! Stop! You’re sounding like Bill O’Reilly in his search for “Charlie over there” who sets gasoline prices in the US.

    The original article is a good summary of the FACTS. Pity the ethanol supporters can’t accept facts when they do not support their cause.

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  39. By paul-n on March 23, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Most of us are quite powerless.

    I don’t know about that.  You can always vote with your feet/wallet, and given that many gas stations are advertising ethanol free gasoline, I’d guess that quite a few people are doing just that.  

    It would get really interesting toward the end of the year, when the industry has to use Xbnn gallons of ethanol (by Fed mandate) if  they have only used 0.8 X because everyone is avoiding it.  Then they (the blenders) would either pay fines to the EPA, or pay you to use the ethanol.  

    That would be an interesting situation, and is within the (collective) power of US drivers to make it happen.  Hard to think what the oil and ethanol industry, and gov, would be saying at that point in time, but it would be interesting, especially with an election the following year…

     

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  40. By savro on March 23, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Paul N said:

    I don’t know about that.  You can always vote with your feet/wallet, and given that many gas stations are advertising ethanol free gasoline, I’d guess that quite a few people are doing just that.  

    Paul, I wish this were the case, but do you really see that many ethanol-free gas stations around? I certainly don’t. And taking a look at the link Wendell kindly provided us earlier in the thread (The list of ethanol-free gas stations), the closest one to NYC on the list is 85 miles away! The population centers of the Northeast corridor — from D.C.-Baltimore-Philly-NJ-NYC and all the way up to and beyond Boston — have nothing listed within a remotely reasonable distance.

    The bottom line is, I agree with Optimist’s statement that “most of us are quite powerless” to choose and/or bring about change.

    EDIT: I just took a look at the map version of the ethanol-free gas station list and found something interesting. Minnesota and Wisconsin, both among the larger ethanol producing states (especially Minnesota which is the 4th-largest) have significantly higher concentrations of ethanol-free stations listed on the site than California and states in the Northeast which comparatively produce much less ethanol. Granted, the list may not be a definitive resource — although the site lists enough stations around the country to make me feel that it’s a decent survey at the very least –- but this brings us back to the point Robert was making in his essay: E85 Case Study: Iowa.

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  41. By fg on March 23, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Robert Rapier said:

    FG said:

    As we are talking fuel compatibility, does anyone know how DME fares with LPG distribution and end uses ?


     
     

    Hi FG, and welcome. As far as I know, it is completely compatible: Keep Your Eye on DME.

    RR


     

    Thanks for the pointer and … the write-up.

     

    So at least for DME, the distribution is probably not too much of an issue. The problems are rather on the engine side.

     

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  42. By Walt on March 23, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Paul N said:

    It would get really interesting toward the end of the year, when the industry has to use Xbnn gallons of ethanol (by Fed mandate) if  they have only used 0.8 X because everyone is avoiding it.  Then they (the blenders) would either pay fines to the EPA, or pay you to use the ethanol.  

    That would be an interesting situation, and is within the (collective) power of US drivers to make it happen.  Hard to think what the oil and ethanol industry, and gov, would be saying at that point in time, but it would be interesting, especially with an election the following year…

     


     

     Paul, I found this to be interesting.  Maybe the auto’s will give a little bit without a mandate under the Open Fuels Standard Act.

     

    Driving “Back to the Future”: Flex-Fuel Vehicle Awareness

    The 1908 Model-T Ford was the first vehicle
    designed to run on ethanol, which Henry Ford termed “the fuel of the
    future.” Today, about 8 million flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) on our
    roads are capable of running on either gasoline or gasoline blended with
    up to 85% ethanol (E85). By using E85, these flex fuel vehicles help to
    decrease our reliance on imported oil and reduce carbon pollution. The
    “Big Three” U.S. auto makers (Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler)
    recently
    announced that half of the vehicles in their entire 2012 vehicle line
    will be FFVs, including the hybrid-electric plug-in Chevrolet Volt.

    Today’s ethanol, essentially a non-drinkable
    grain alcohol, is made from corn or sugar cane. Researchers have been
    developing processes to convert the cellulose in agricultural wastes
    like corn stalks, waste woods, and other non-food biomass into ethanol.
    This biofuel, known as “cellulosic ethanol,” will further reduce carbon
    pollution and is expected to enter the U.S. market in significant
    amounts in the near future. See the Energy Blog post.

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  43. By Wendell Mercantile on March 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Minnesota and Wisconsin, both among the larger ethanol producing states (especially Minnesota which is the 4th-largest) have significantly higher concentrations of ethanol-free stations listed

    That’s interesting, especially since Minnesota was the first state to mandate 10% ethanol in all gasoline, and not long ago passed a law to go to E20. Considering their law, I wouldn’t expect there to be any ethanol-free filling stations in Minnesota.

    According to this website, there are six states that mandate ethanol: Minnesota, Missouri, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Florida. Ethanol Free Coalition

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  44. By paul-n on March 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Sam, I obviously don’t get to see many US gas stations from my perch near Vancouver, though on my last trip to LA I did see one with the ethanol free sign out.  Even though there isn’t much ethanol use in Canada yet, the local pumps all say “may contain up to 10% ethanol”, so you don’t even know.  Fortunately, for the boaters, you can buy “marked gasoline”, which is dyed a different colour, and is specifically for off road use, and is tax free, and, for now, ethanol free.

     

    “most of us are quite powerless” to choose and/or bring about change.

    I’m sure I could find a quote from some famous politician(s) that would say pretty much the opposite.  Isn’t there an election next year?  Oh yeah, except for the fact that both parties are likely to have the same policy on ethanol…

     

    From Walt’s quote;

    Researchers have been
    developing processes to convert the cellulose in agricultural wastes
    like corn stalks, waste woods, and other non-food biomass into ethanol.
    This biofuel, known as “cellulosic ethanol,” will further reduce carbon
    pollution and is expected to enter the U.S. market in significant
    amounts in the near future.

    That quote could just as easily have been written in 1908 as today – although, in WWI and II,  there was actually cellulosic ethanol being produced – heavily subsidised, of course.

     

     

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  45. By Walt on March 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I was just searching for “methanol LPG blends” that are currently being used in China for cooking in commercial restaurants.  A colleague of mine in Singapore said that South China is blending methanol with LPG for cooking.  What I found for automobiles and VFV’s and FF was really interesting, but I’m not an auto mechanic so beware:

    All domestic manufacturers have designed and
    produced variable fuel vehicles (VFVs) or flexible
    fuel (FF) vehicles. VFVs/FFs can operate on
    unleaded gasoline, or on a new fuel called M85, a
    blend of 85 percent methanol and 15 percent unleaded
    gasoline. In fact, they can operate equally
    well on any blend of methanol and gasoline between
    0/100 percent and 85/15 percent.

    GM uses the term VFV, while Ford calls its
    version an FF system. To avoid confusion
    throughout this chapter, we will use the GM VFV
    terminology when referring to those vehicles designed
    to run on an M85 methanol-blend fuel.

    The use of M85 or other methanol blends in the
    vehicle’s fuel does not change the basic operation
    of the fuel-injection system, but it does require a
    considerable redesign of system components for
    compatibility. In this chapter, we will learn about
    some of the changes required, as well as necessary
    precautions to be observed when servicing a
    VFV fuel system.

    http://mccloi.com/INFORMATION/…..pter11.pdf
     

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  46. By John Q. Galt on March 24, 2011 at 11:55 am

    How is it that Brazil has no drama about corrosion caused by ethanol? Please, someone smarter than me, explain that.

    I understand that the current installed base of equipment can’t be certified ethanol safe, but this isn’t really the historical issue. The claim that ethanol is “corrosive” *end of debate!!!* is the issue. If there are issues with current infrastructure, then acknowledge that. If there is a natural market for ethanol in the midwest where flex-fuel-ready tech is appropriate then just admit it. Let the corn, nay, ethanol states and companies invest in infrastructure. Outside the ethanol producing states the value of ethanol and other oxygenates drops to near zero when the emissions reducing and octane boosting qualities reach the diminishing returns curve peak. Stop the fake drama on both sides.

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  47. By Wendell Mercantile on March 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Let the corn, nay, ethanol states and companies invest in infrastructure

    JQG,

    You’re right. The ethanol industry should be providing the funds to invest in a corrosion-free infrastructure in the Corn Belt. They should also be building their own chains of E85 filling stations.

    The ethanol industry needs to start taking responsibility for expanding their market instead of continuing to rely on government mandates and subsides. If ethanol is really a good thing, they will get their investment back several fold.

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  48. By John Q. Galt on March 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    “Some of the responses were personal attacks upon me, and complete denial that the study showed any problems at all.”

    Robert Rapier, you seem to give far to much weight to pseudo-anonymous commenters on your own blog postings. May I suggest you stick to simple discussion of the facts and limit any debate to qualified opponents? Perhaps sticking to peer-reviewed and fact-checked debate points would be useful?

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  49. By rrapier on March 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    John Q. Galt said:

    How is it that Brazil has no drama about corrosion caused by ethanol? Please, someone smarter than me, explain that.


     

    Couple of reasons I can think of. One, they have been doing high ethanol blends for so long that any issues they have are now worked out of the system. They may have also made sure equipment was compatible before raising their ethanol limits.

    I understand that the current installed base of equipment can’t be certified ethanol safe, but this isn’t really the historical issue. The claim that ethanol is “corrosive” *end of debate!!!* is the issue. If there are issues with current infrastructure, then acknowledge that.

    That is, of course, my whole point.

    If there is a natural market for ethanol in the midwest where flex-fuel-ready tech is appropriate then just admit it.

    Also another point I have strongly pushed. You don’t seem to be too familiar with my positions.

    Robert Rapier, you seem to give far to much weight to pseudo-anonymous commenters on your own blog postings.

    No, I showed you two examples here on my site. I could have shown you many, many other examples where ethanol supporters deny there are any corrosion issues. I chose to highlight these here because they were in direct response to my posting of a UL study that clearly showed that some issues need to be resolved. If they deny it on the basis of a UL study, then the denial is deep indeed — and it certainly isn’t limited to anonymous individuals.

    By the way, I knew your name sounded familiar. Psuedo-anonymous poster John Q. Galt likes his ad hominems and gratitous personal attacks. Perhaps YOU should stick to peer-reviewed and fact-checked debate points? And does that mean you aren’t a qualified debate opponent?

    RR

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  50. By Walt on March 28, 2011 at 9:11 am

    John Q. Galt said:

    May I suggest you stick to simple discussion of the facts and limit any debate to qualified opponents? Perhaps sticking to peer-reviewed and fact-checked debate points would be useful?


     

    I think the article on ethanol corrosion in the infrustructure is not only valid, but a serious problem.  It took me one phone call to the guy who does the repairs at the stations themselves to validate the facts RR posted in the articles.  The problem is real, it is serious and it is causing problems for station owners.  Face these facts.

     

    The solution cannot be discussed until you admit there is a problem.  If you deny there is a problem with corrosion at the pumps, then fine.  If you are in the ethanol industry, then export your product to make money if that is your solution.  On the domestic issue of pump infrustructure, shift the blenders credit to the retailer and I bet they will fix these pumps immediately to support an alcohol infrustructure.  I also expect them to carry alcohol free gasoline to help problems with small engines.  I would love to have the option at the pumps in my home town.  I’ve sat pulling on my grass trimmer until my arm is sore only to go buy an fuel additive to get it working again.  One of my good friends works at the local marine on boats and he is not happy with all the alcohol problems he is facing with these engines.  I know the customers are not happy either.

     

    The answer is not denial, but rather it is to recognize the problems and solve them FAST.    Find the lobbyists and tell them to do what they are paid to do…solve the problems.  If they refuse to, then let’s get rid of the lobbyists.

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  51. By Mike on April 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Ethanol corrosion at this time is worse in the U.S. than most folks know. Especially with the Marine side, I know first hand working with several fuel polishing folks here in Calif. and also replacing fuel tanks in my clasic 34′ Hatteras because the orginal fiberglass fuel tanks were disolving and caused liqufied resin to leak out the tank bottom and entrain through out the entire fuel system causing the intake valves to stick in both main engines and generator. We believed we were not using Ethanol blending fuel since the Marina fuel dock did not indicate they were using it. Then to make things worse we learned that even after we redesigned our fuel system components to resist the ethanol corrosion we saw the impact of Phase-Separation which happens several weeks after the ethanol is blended causing pure ethanol and water to sink to the bottom of the fuel tank which is them pulled up with the pickup tube. Our local fuel polishers say that the ethanol is blended at the fuel racks when the tanker trucks are being filled because the ethanol is not compatible with the petrochenical side materials prior to the racks. Unless the marina fuel docks start using non ethanol blended fuels I believe the death of the gas marine engine is near.

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  52. By Walt on April 27, 2011 at 10:10 am

    “In 2005, California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
    stopped the use of methanol after 25 years and 200,000,000 miles of
    success, to join the expanding use of ethanol driven by producers of
    corn. In spite of this, he was optimistic about the future of the
    program, claiming “it will be back.” Ethanol is currently (as of 2007)
    priced at 3 to 4 dollars per gallon, while methanol made from natural
    gas remains at 47 cents per gallon.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M…..hanol_fuel

     

    Hollywood meets Science and Politics!

    [link]      
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