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By Robert Rapier on Jun 14, 2011 with 53 responses

Q&A With Virent CTO Randy Cortright

In the previous essay, I discussed the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (NABC) and the recently announced success of Virent Energy Systems (Virent), a member of the consortium. In this essay I try to dig into the process details a bit more with a series of technical exchanges with Virent Founder and CTO Randy Cortright.

My questions are denoted as RR and his responses are in blue as RC. I began by asking Dr. Cortright to confirm my understanding of Virent’s process.

RR: Let me make sure I am clear on the process. You take cellulosic biomass and hydrolyze that to sugars. You hydrogenate those sugars and put them through your aqueous reformer. The reformer output consists of ketones, acids, aldehydes, and alcohols, and those are then run through various processes to produce gasoline, jet, or diesel. If I have missed on the basics, please correct me.

RC: Our technology has tremendous optionality. In some configurations the sugar streams are hydrogenated and then fed to the APR system that generates volatile oxygenate compounds that are subsequently reacted (condensed) to generate the “drop-in” hydrocarbons. A few years ago, we discovered reactor configurations and catalysts that allow us to feed directly aqueous-solutions of sugars to the APR system. We have processed a broad range of oxygenated compounds derived from biomass, including C5/C6 sugars, polysaccharides, organic acids, furfurals, and other degradation products generated from the deconstruction of biomass.

As you have read in the NABC/Virent press releases, we have been able to process the hydrolysates generated from both loblolly pine and corn stover that were solubilized using NREL and Washington State deconstruction technologies, we have also been able to generate hydrocarbons from hydrolysates generated by Virent’s in-house catalytic deconstruction technology (this was developed under a program funded by the NIST Advanced Technology Program). Additionally, we are waiting for hydrolysates produced by HCl Cleantech from pine. Chemical analysis suggests that we will be able to generate hydrocarbons from source as well.

Virent’s technology strength is that we have broad feedstock flexibility with our process, we use catalysts and catalytic reactor technologies that are very similar what you find in today’s oil refineries, and we generate a range of hydrocarbon molecules, that when fractionated can be used as “drop-in” fuel components for gasoline, jet fuel, or diesel. Furthermore, in our gasoline process, we generate an aromatic-rich stream that is similar to a naphtha reforming reformate stream, and it is possible to process this reformate stream to generate a biomass derived paraxylene that can be used to generate PET for bottling or fiber production.

RR: What is the history of aqueous phase reforming?

RC: Aqueous Phase Reforming was discovered at the University of Wisconsin in 2001. We discovered that it was possible to react oxygenates such as sorbitol and sugars with water over a catalyst to generate hydrogen with carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Later we found that it was possible to use this in-situ generated hydrogen and generate hydrocarbons from the oxygenated compounds. Virent was started in 2002 and has an exclusive license for the technology. At the time, we expected a robust market to develop for hydrogen due to the advent of fuel cells cars. We focused on making hydrogen for 3 years. However, during that time oil went up to $60/barrel, and we decided to use the APR technology platform to see if we could produce hydrocarbon liquid fuels via this aqueous catalytic process- it worked.

RR: Is the process used commercially today for other applications?

RC: While some of catalytic technologies employed in Virent’s BioForming® is currently being used in today’s oil refineries, Virent has not commercially deployed the APR and BioForming® technology. While we haven’t commercialized it yet, we have scaled sugars-to-gasoline in our full-scale demo plant (called Eagle) which produces 100 liters per day in our facilities in Madison, Wisconsin.

RR: What is your ideal feedstock for the process? Are there feedstocks that are troublesome for you?

RC: The ideal feedstock is the one that we can have delivered to the plant gate at the lowest cost, and is available at the largest volume. Furthermore, a feedstock that can be made water soluble at the lowest cost is also desirable. Again, we can use a broad range of oxygenated compounds derived from biomass including polysaccharides, organic acids, C5/C6 sugars as well as tolerate solubilized lignin. We are truly feedstock agnostic, so we prefer using the cheapest one taking into account abundance, proximity, and the amount of processing necessary. Some components that are troublesome over our catalytic process are sulfur and nitrogen compounds. We have developed pretreatment strategies for removal of these compounds as well as we are working to develop catalysts that are more tolerant to these potential poisons.

RR: Given the sorts of compound that you are converting in your reformer, have you ever considered or tested pyrolysis oil? It seems like it could be ideal, and possibly a cheaper first step option than hydrolysis for breaking down biomass.

RC: Yes we are investigating using pyrolysis products as a feedstock. Materials that are still water soluble tend to work better.

RR: Your website described the process as “water positive.” What does that mean?

RC: A primary method to remove water from the soluble oxygenated compounds and generate a non-oxygenated hydrocarbon is the hydrodeoxygenation of the oxygenate compound with hydrogen (either generated in-situ or using external hydrogen).   Water is generated from this hydrodeoxygenation step and, therefore, water is a byproduct of the process.

RR: What is your cost of production today?

RC: At commercial scale, the BioForming® technology can generate gasoline, jet fuel, or diesel from carbohydrates that on an energy basis are competitive with the production of ethanol. Importantly, the costs of our carbohydrate-derived distillates (jet fuel and diesel) are significantly lower than distillates generated from lipids and seed oils by either esterification or hydrogenation

RR: What sort of piloting have you done? At what scale and for how long?

RC: We have built a world-class R&D facility for catalytic processing of biomass-derived feedstock. We have 25 pilot plants in operation which are capable of generating ~1 liter per day of a fuel or chemical. We are able to configure these smaller scale pilot plants such that we combine the different catalytic reactor systems that allows us to generate gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel from sugars. We have been operating versions of these systems to generate liquid fuels since 2006. We have scaled sugars-to-gasoline in our full-scale demo plant (called Eagle) which produces 100 liters per day. We would be pleased to show you our facility at some point, based on your questions, I think you would appreciate it.

RR: What are some major challenges you still need to overcome?

RC: Technical Challenges: While we are now demonstrating commercially viable yields to liquid fuels, there is still optimization required. Furthermore, there is a need to demonstrate catalyst lifetimes with lower cost (but dirty) feedstocks as well as the need to demonstrate process durability.

Market Challenges: Regulatory risk due to the heavy influence of government regulations on the biofuels market. Margin risk between feedstocks and products.

Commercialization Challenges: Raising the capital to build either a demo plant or the first commercial plant.

RR: The hydrolysis process results in 5 and 6 carbon sugars. Does that mean that your APR process generates hydrocarbons that are 6 carbon or shorter?

RC: The APR reactor system can generate volatile oxygenate intermediates (alcohols, ketones, acids, cyclic ethers) from a broad range of oxygenates including polysaccharides, C5/C6 sugars, as well as fragments produced in the deconstruction processes. The volatile oxygenated intermediates generally have carbon numbers less than 6, but with some APR catalyst systems we do see some condensate to generate compounds with more than 6 carbons. The process steps downstream of the APR are utilized to condense these materials to greater carbon number hydrocarbons.

RR: Then to make molecules in the jet fuel range requires a bit more processing?

RC: Yes. We take the range of oxygenated compounds form APR (ketones, acids, aldehydes, alcohols) and process them, condensing them into the hydrocarbons needed for jet ranges. Then, subsequent hydrotreating is necessary, just like it is necessary in the treatment of similar crude-derived molecules.

RR: Your white paper says that hydrogen is generated in situ. Does that mean you don’t have to add extra hydrogen to the mix?

RC: Again this highlights the optionality of the technology. The technology has the ability to generate the necessary hydrogen in-situ (at the cost of loss of biomass-derived carbon through CO2 formation). We can enhance the overall yields of liquid fuels from biomass if we use hydrogen-derived from the steam reforming of low-cost natural gas currently being produced in the US.

RR: How large do you envision that a commercial plant will be?

RC: 50-150 million gallons per year, which is heavily driven by the feedstock chosen for the plant.

RR: What is the sensitivity of your feedstock costs to the bottom line? For instance, how much would the price be impacted if you had to pay $40 more per bone dry ton of feedstock?

RC: Feedstock costs are the largest cost driver for the generation of liquid fuels from biomass. Virent’s BioForming technology has the potential of generating the highest yields of liquid fuels from carbohydrates. Particularly, compared to biological routes, Virent’s catalytic technology has the potential of 50% higher yields (on a carbon basis) of liquid fuels from biomass-derived carbohydrates.

RR: The white paper also says that you can compete with $60/bbl oil. I am curious about the assumptions that went into that; in other words how much of that is forward looking, and what are the assumptions?

RC: Suffice it to say we need to write a new white paper! The white paper was written in 2008 when feedstock costs were significantly lower than what we are seeing today. As mentioned above, at scale, Virent’s technology can generate liquid fuels at a cost equal to ethanol production on an energy basis. Importantly, we can generate distillate range molecules from carbohydrates at costs significantly lower than distillate molecules generated from triglycerides by esterification or hydrogenation.

RR comment: Just a general comment here on feedstock costs. Note that in my essay Bad Assumptions, I flagged the assumption of low biomass costs as one of worst assumptions that many biofuel companies make. It is quite easy to plug an assumption of dirt cheap biomass into a model, and then to conclude that one can make cheap biofuels. In reality I believe that cheap biomass is going to be rare, and companies for the most part should assume prices on par with the price of hay (which as of this writing averages $75 to $143 per ton depending on the quality). This is why I always ask questions about sensitivity to biomass costs — because many companies underestimate their feedstock costs.

RR: Three-part question around the energy balance:

· For one BTU of biomass input, how many BTUs of liquid fuel output can you achieve?

· And what is the energy balance for the output?

· Are you counting on burning the lignin for process heat in the energy balance?

RC: With in-situ hydrogen generation, up to 94% of the heating value of the sugar can be incorporated in the liquid fuel. If we use external hydrogen generated from natural gas, then well over 100% of the heating value of sugar can be incorporated in the liquid fuel.

Overall, the Bioforming process is exothermic and with appropriate heat integration the overall process will be very thermally efficient. While we can use lignin as a source of process heat it is not required. More than likely the use of lignin will be used to provide excess energy that would be converted to electricity that can be exported. Furthermore, the BioForming process has the capacity to convert solubilized lignin to liquid fuels which would further improve the overall yields of biomass to liquid fuels.

RR: What is the ownership structure of Virent? Who are your major investors?

(This question was a follow-up, answered by Kelly Morgan, Marketing Manager at Virent): We are privately-held at this time. Our major investors are Cargill, Royal Dutch Shell and Honda. Other investors are Venture Investors, LLC and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Conclusion

With that, I would like to thank Virent for taking the time to share information with me. Just a reminder that when you are doing due diligence, you should pay particular attention to how specific questions are answered, and note which questions are not completely answered. In some cases, questions may not be fully answered for proprietary reasons, but in other cases information may be left out because there are some sticky issues around a particular area. (That isn’t pointed specifically at Virent; that is a general observation). That is the point of due diligence; ask questions, review answers, and then hone in on certain areas.

At this stage I see no obvious “knockout factors,” but there are always plenty of pitfalls to be navigated when scaling up a technology. Having said that, it does appear that they are separating themselves from many competitors with a unique spin on the conversion of biomass to fuels. At this point in their process, the technology appears quite promising to me.

If readers have additional questions that they don’t feel were covered, perhaps they can post them in the comments following the essay and Virent may be willing to provide additional answers.

  1. By Wendell Mercantile on June 16, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Thanks for the information RR, and best of luck to Virent. Their process sounds promising. Let’s hope it scales up economically.

    As you asked in the interview, the cost and availability of the feedstock will be the key. I’m familiar with a coal-fired electrical generation plant in the Upper Midwest that not long ago converted to burning biomass. Finding the biomass and transporting it to the power plant has become a critical issue. So far they have found they need 70 trailer-truck loads per day bringing biomass to the plant, and they have had to range out as far as 150 miles to get the quantity and quality of biomass they are looking for.

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  2. By jerry-unruh on June 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I still worry about the solar conversion of biomass and, therefore, the land requirements. For example, Loblolly pine has a net primary productivity of about 0.6 -1 kg/square meter – yr (~0.15 – 0.25% solar conversion).  At 100% energy conversion, an acre could maybe produce 300 – 500 gallons gasoline/yr and this would assume everything, including lignin, was converted.  This is a problem with all biomass and I worry about how this will play out.  Also RC said “up to 94% energy conversion”.  What have they routinely demonstrated and what is their assumed EROEI?

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  3. By Rufus on June 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    73 yes on amendment to repeal VEETC, and Tariffs.

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  4. By Wendell Mercantile on June 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    73 yes on amendment to repeal VEETC, and Tariffs.

    Rufus~

    What does that have to do with Virent and their technology?

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  5. By Rufus on June 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    One of their products is ethanol, right?

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  6. By Tim C. on June 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for this interview. Virent’s technology appears to be uniquely promising.

    There seems to be some confusion about scale-up. Mr. Cortright refers to the 100 L/day (10,000 gal/yr) Eagle project as a “full-scale demo” plant. But then he says that a commercial plant will produce at least 50 million gal/yr. He surely can’t mean to say that commercial plants will consist of 5,000 Eagle-size processes operating in parallel. Does Eagle need to be scaled up further before commercial operation? If so, then in what sense is it a “full-scale demo” plant?

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  7. By Wendell Mercantile on June 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    One of their products is ethanol, right?

    Rufus~

    Wrong. They have figured out how to make gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel from biomass. VEETC and ethanol tariffs are irrelevant for them.

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  8. By Rufus on June 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Nah, everybody knows how to do that. They’re just claiming a magic process by which they can do it economically. Good luck to’em.

    I’m perplexed, Wendell; I thought you would be celebrating, and spiking the ball along about now.

    You’ve been whining, and crying about ethanol subsidies for all these years, and now you get your wish. Wha’ hoppened?

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  9. By paul-n on June 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Good stuff from RR and Virent.

     

    They certainly seem to dodge a direct answer on the production cost/feedstock cost.  I think the best way to put the question, to any X to Liquids project, is what is the cost of production, not including feedstock?  Now answering this may be giving away proprietary information, and that is the company’s call.  And, in this case, the cost varies with different feedstocks, so it’s not a straightforward anser.  

    In any case, given who their partners are, if this thing has commercial potential,  the partners have the horsepower to put it into production, if they choose.

     

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  10. By rrapier on June 16, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Rufus said:

    I’m perplexed, Wendell; I thought you would be celebrating, and spiking the ball along about now.

    You’ve been whining, and crying about ethanol subsidies for all these years, and now you get your wish. Wha’ hoppened?


     

    Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. My understanding is that this is attached to a bill that is unlikely to pass. So it is symbolic in that support for the subsidies is fading, but this vote is unlikely to result in ending them.

    I don’t believe that Virent or POET or anyone else needs these subsidies. But what they do still need is the Renewable Fuel Standard. If that were even repealed — and I think Coburn and some others clearly have their eye on that — it would likely stop companies like Virent in their tracks and decimate the ethanol industry.

    RR

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  11. By Rufus on June 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    The Thune/Klobuchar Bill will do the same thing, and the deal’s done on that one. It will pass.

    The VEETC is but a fond Memory.

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  12. By Optimist on June 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Seems to me like finding an efficient hydrolysis technology will be key. I’m not sure that any of the technologies mentioned are particularly efficient. As Virent seem to be outsourcing that part, I see some risk for them from that angle.

    For example, Loblolly pine has a net primary productivity of about 0.6 -1 kg/square meter – yr (~0.15 – 0.25% solar conversion). At 100% energy conversion, an acre could maybe produce 300 – 500 gallons gasoline/yr and this would assume everything, including lignin, was converted. This is a problem with all biomass and I worry about how this will play out.

    That’s why I believe ocean-based algae is the only feasible large scale solution. We’ll see.

    Also RC said “up to 94% energy conversion”.

    Again, notice the 94% is from hydrosylate to product. How much energy do you lose between feedstock and hydrosylate? Maybe Virent don’t have the knowledge to answer that question, but I think it will be important.

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  13. By Optimist on June 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    The VEETC is but a fond Memory.

    Not to worry: yo man, Obama, is threating a veto.

    I gues in some ways he is neither fro hope, nor for change…

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  14. By Rufus on June 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    They’ll bring it as a “stand-alone” bill, Optimist. Thune/Klobuchar. The key was in who voted for the bill, today (and, who voted against the McCain amendment to make illegal the use of Federal money for Blender Pump infrastructure.)

    Quite honestly, the industry is tired of defending a subsidy that they don’t feel really helps “them” all that much. Other than some E85 Marketers, everyone pretty much just wants the blenders’ credit to go away.

    I’m pretty sure the White House is in on the deal.

    This is probably why the anti-ethanol crowd is so quiet. They’re in shock. They actually thought that the blenders’ credit was important to the industry. When they saw the industry supporting doing away with it, they realized that they’d been had.

    All this thing ever was was what we said it was: A sop to the oil industry to make up for having to blend a competitive fuel.

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  15. By Optimist on June 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Rufus,
    Wake me up when VEETC is dead by law. Until then you’re just making soothing noise.

    And I doubt VEETC is going away quitely. Quite the contrary…

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  16. By Wendell Mercantile on June 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    A sop to the oil industry to make up for having to blend a competitive fuel.

    Rufus… Rufus… Rufus…

    If it was competitive the legacy energy companies would be putting E85 pumps at all their filling stations with making a profit the only incentive they would need.

    I told you once, and this remains true, had E85 existed when my Dad owned his filling station, he would have put in an E85 tank and pump, if he thought he could have made a profit doing it.

    …the anti-ethanol crowd

    Don’t know to whom you are speaking. I’m not anti-ethanol and I’m pretty sure Robert isn’t either.

    What I am against is the Corn Belt politics, back room deals, and political shenanigans that have been part of corn ethanol for the last 30 years. Back room deals that were made by people — who if they had even a smattering of thermodynamics — would have never made them. Back room deals that were made by people whose motive was personal gain and looking out for their own interest instead of looking out for the common good of the entire country.

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  17. By Rufus on June 16, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    You’re babbling, Wendell. This Study:

    http://www.card.iastate.edu/pu…..px?id=1160

    Concludes that the presence of ethanol in the market last year saved us $0.89/gal on every gallon of gasoline we purchased. We bought approx. 135 Billion Gallons. You do the math.

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  18. By rrapier on June 17, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Rufus said:

    You’re babbling, Wendell. This Study:

    http://www.card.iastate.edu/pu…..px?id=1160

    Concludes that the presence of ethanol in the market last year saved us $0.89/gal on every gallon of gasoline we purchased. We bought approx. 135 Billion Gallons. You do the math.


     

    But I am sure you know of the criticism of that study. I can dig them back out if you like.

    Further, here is another Card study done later on that said ethanol and corn prices will fall if the VEETC is removed, saving consumers money:

    http://www.dtnprogressivefarme…..51bd40169b

    The RFA didn’t like it, because “That paper also suggested the impacts on the ethanol and corn sector of eliminating the VEETC and tariff would be minimal.”

    So it certainly isn’t as clear cut as you always present it. You know the other studies and the crtiticisms to the study you keep posting. I don’t even think you believe ethanol saved anyone $0.90/gallon; you are just posting propaganda.

    RR

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  19. By rrapier on June 17, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Rufus said:

    You’re babbling, Wendell. This Study:

    http://www.card.iastate.edu/pu…..px?id=1160

    Concludes that the presence of ethanol in the market last year saved us $0.89/gal on every gallon of gasoline we purchased. We bought approx. 135 Billion Gallons. You do the math.


     

    Here is one paper that debunks the study you cite.

    Does Ethanol Make Gasoline Cheaper

    However, a recent study from Iowa State University argues that the growth in ethanol production from 2000 – 2010 has suppressed gasoline prices by an average of 25 cents per gallon and 89 cents per gallon in 2010. The study also warns that if ethanol production were suddenly halted, gasoline prices could rise a shocking 41 to 92 percent.

    As we’ll see, these figures are very misleading, because they look at the history of conventional gasoline refinery capacity (in the face of government-supported ethanol output) and assume it wouldn’t have been any different over the last ten years, had the government never supported ethanol. Once we realize the trick involved, the study’s pro-ethanol conclusions fall away.

    Does the Iowa Study Justify Government Favoritism for Ethanol?

    Clearly the groups promoting this study want the reader to draw the inference that the U.S. government’s preferential tax treatment of ethanol is good for U.S. consumers. Yet the study doesn’t prove this at all. The reason conventional gasoline refining capacity is at its current level, is the existence of such a massive program of support for ethanol over the years.

    If the U.S. government didn’t give special tax treatment and other mandates to guarantee ethanol a fraction of the market, gasoline would have filled the gap. In other words, government policies have displaced conventional gasoline from the market, and that’s why a sudden removal of all the ethanol would lead to a temporary shock in the gas market. Yet the fact remains that consumers would have been better off, had the government never intervened to support ethanol in the first place.

    For an analogy, suppose Chick-fil-A begins running commercials touting the advantages of eating white meat over burgers. In response, the burger joints put out statistics claiming that if all the McDonald’s and Burger King franchises magically disappeared next Tuesday, then there wouldn’t be enough chicken sandwiches to feed Americans at lunchtime. Therefore, the burger joints would conclude, Americans should disregard the Chick-fil-A ads, because clearly there aren’t enough chickens to go around.

    Such an argument would be absurd. If American consumers stopped eating burgers and switched to chicken, then McDonald’s and Burger King franchises would close down (or revamp their menus) and be replaced by Chick-fil-A and other such restaurants. The nation’s cattle ranchers would lose business, but the chicken farmers would see growing business. The market would switch over to cater to what consumers wanted.

    A similar process would occur if the government treated ethanol the same way it treated gasoline. On a level playing field, it would be unprofitable for refiners to blend billions of gallons of ethanol into their mix, certainly in the long run. The market would gradually adapt to what made economic sense, namely the refining of oil into conventional gasoline. The share of ethanol would shrink, and ultimately consumers and taxpayers would be richer than they otherwise would have been.

    While ethanol would have likely penetrated the market without government subsidies, its production would not have reached the levels that were mandated by the government by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

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  20. By Rufus on June 17, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Actually, I wasn’t aware of the Babcock article, but when I followed your link it seemed to me that Babcock was talking about somethiing entirely different. His premise, if I’m reading it right, was that there wouldn’t be much difference to the consumer if the VEETC, and Tariffs were lifted. Well, we won’t have to guess about that much longer, will we? I suspect that the price of gasoline will rise four, or five cents, but with the volatiity already in the market, who would ever know?

    I don’t think it’s fair for you to call me a propagandist for referencing an Academic Study by Researchers of Impeccable Credentials.

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  21. By rrapier on June 17, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Rufus said:

    Actually, I wasn’t aware of the Babcock article…


     

    But you are aware of rebuttals to the study you posted, because I have linked them before. In a nutshell, it presumed total inelasticity of both price and supply, and presumes that ethanol production had zero impact on gasoline production. In other words, that gasoline production would be the same today had we not been producing 10 billion or whatever it was at the time of the study gallons of ethanol. That’s a strange assumption, and one that doesn’t hold water. Many refiners have held off of expansions specifically because of the increased mandated demand for ethanol.

    I don’t think it’s fair for you to call me a propagandist for
    referencing an Academic Study by Researchers of Impeccable Credentials.

    I don’t care what their credentials are, their basic assumption was highly flawed.

    RR

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  22. By Rufus on June 17, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Well, we’ve seen what the effects were of taking 1.2 Million bbl/day of Libyan oil off the market. We can only guess what the effects of taking approx 1.8 Million bbl/day of ethanol off the Global Market would be, but my guess is they would be substantial.

    You still have no right to refer to me as a “propagandist.” You get onto Kit for being uncivil, and then you engage in character assasination, yourself.

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  23. By rrapier on June 17, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Rufus said:

    Well, we’ve seen what the effects were of taking 1.2 Million bbl/day of Libyan oil off the market. We can only guess what the effects of taking approx 1.8 Million bbl/day of ethanol off the Global Market would be, but my guess is they would be substantial.

     


     

    That just repeats the mistaken assumptions from the study; that had the ethanol not been there then other supplies would have never been developed. I agree that suddenly removing it from the market would likely drive prices up. I do not agree that ethanol mandates have held prices down substantially. There are many other options that could have developed — for instance more natural gas into vehicles instead of into ethanol. That’s just an example of elasticity that the study didn’t consider.

    You still have no right to refer to me as a “propagandist.”

    Come on. You have a long history of posting studies — many of them dubious — as long as they support ethanol. You have a long history of discounting studies — no matter where they are published — if they criticize ethanol. You have also engaged in character assassination when people have criticized ethanol. Since propaganda is “a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position” — I am not sure why you object to the characterization. I have said before that you have the right to say what you want — and even if you are an ethanol lobbyist your views are welcome here — but I don’t have to pretend they are objective.

    You get onto Kit for being uncivil, and then you engage in character assasination, yourself.

    I don’t get onto Kit for being “uncivil.” I get on to him for being an over the top jerk to everyone on the board. He takes uncivil to new heights. You may have missed his most recent diatribe, but it was way over the top. By highlighting energy consumption/production in China, I was “giving China a free pass” while I “criticize U.S. farmers” — both false charges. And as a result of his straw men, he starts griping at me and telling me how much he doesn’t like me because of how I treat U.S. farmers. I have really had enough of that stupidity (and I have had many people complain to me via e-mail about him). I still haven’t made up my mind if I will ever let him post here again.

    RR

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  24. By Optimist on June 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Concludes that the presence of ethanol in the market last year saved us $0.89/gal on every gallon of gasoline we purchased. We bought approx. 135 Billion Gallons. You do the math.

    You’re a fan of fuzzy math? Let me guess: only when it suits you.

    Anyway, as mentioned elsewhere: What are you, a standup comic? $0.89/gal? How do you type that with a straight face? ROFLOL!

    About that academic study: let’s count the conflicts of interest:

    1. This report updates the findings in Du and Hayes 2009… Let’s see Du and Hayes updates a study by Du and Hayes. Sound like it got valid peer review, doesn’t it?

    2. Xiaodong Du is an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dermot Hayes is a professor of economics and of finance at Iowa State University. Yes, Iowa is a great place to go for objective opinions about ethanol.

    3. The authors acknowledge the Renewable Fuel Association for their financial support. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Renewable Fuel Association. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the Renewable Fuel Association? Tell me another…

    4. The paper is short on the actual method used, making it hard to challenge the method.

    5. We treat ethanol as a perfect substitute for gasoline… Ha, ha, ha.

    As RR pointed out before, when you look at the numbers, there is no indication that increased ethanol production put a visible dent in oil imports. Enough said.

    So let’s all hope the $6 billion subsidy disappears from the budget. That way, we’ll soon know if it saved us any money at all. I won’t be holding my breath.

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  25. By Wendell Mercantile on June 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Concludes that the presence of ethanol in the market last year saved us $0.89/gal on every gallon of gasoline we purchased.

    Rufus~

    If that’s true, we hardly need any subsidies, tax credits, or a VEETC do we? Those kind of savings would be a powerful motivation for consumers to demand more and more filling stations start selling a fuel that would save them so much money.

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  26. By paul-n on June 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    From Rufus’ article;

    The Department of Energy, in conjunction with contestant co-sponsor General Motors announced that the overall winner of the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge was an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 designed and built by a team of Virginia Tech University.

    Hmm, DoE andGM, as co sponsors, but where was the ethanol industry as a co-sponsor?  This is the same group that is bemoaning the loss of the $6bn in subsidies and they couldn;t even pony up anything to sponsor this competition, or even the teams that uysed their product?

    This is what annoys me the mosy about the etahnol industry (not the corn growers), they just want to sit there, have people mandated to use their product, collect the tax creit along the way, and can’t be bothered to lift a finger to develop the markets for their fuel.

    I take my hat off to the Virginia Tech team, and to DoE and (especially) GM for sponsoring this.  For GM to have a bunch of students turn your car into a hypermiler begs the question of why hasn’t GM done this itself.

    The X-prize winner proved they could go further on E85 and could meet emissions standards easier than on E10 – that was a great result – where was the ethanol industry’s support for that?

     

    Perhaps if they had been willing to do the market development themselves, they might have had a better reception in Congress.

     

     

     

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  27. By mac on June 18, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Thank goodness. we finally got rid of ethanol. Now all the world;s energy problems are solved.

    Please excuse me………….. . I fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard

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  28. By rrapier on June 18, 2011 at 6:29 am

    mac said:

    Thank goodness. we finally got rid of ethanol. Now all the world;s energy problems are solved.

    Please excuse me………….. . I fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard


     

    First, this particular vote isn’t going to get rid of the subsidy. Second, when they do get rid of the subsidy it will have almost no impact since ethanol is mandated through the RFS.

    RR

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  29. By mac on June 18, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I was just kidding Robert. I know that simply “getting rid of ethanol” is not going to solve the world’s energy problem I was just being facetious,

    I started out with bio-fuels. My brother and I were going to make butanol ABE process, anaerobic digestion and all that stuff. Whew,,, what a lot of work,!!!
    We soon gave up on that.,

    I have an interesting article about the Bakken oil field, That place is going plumb bananas. They are advertising down here in Texas for oilfield workers North Dakota is now number 4 in U,S oil production and it looks like it will shortly pass California and move into No. 2 behind only Texas, That’s amazing to me, Who would have thought of North Dakota as a big oil state.

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  30. By mac on June 18, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Bakken Formation Oil and Gas Reassessment
    May 20, 2011 | UPI

    “In the past three years oil and natural gas production from the Bakken Formation of North Dakota and Montana has increased dramatically causing the United States Geological Survey to launch an update of its last assessment that was completed just three years ago.”

    Bakken Formation Oil Assessment in North Dakota, Montana will be updated by U.S. Geological Survey
    World-class formation developing into major source of onshore domestic energy, benefiting nation, American Indian tribes, rural communities

    05/19/2011

    Contact: Kendra Barkoff (DOI) 202-208-6416
    Jessica Robertson (USGS) 703-648-6624
    Alex Demas (USGS) 703-648-4421

    WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the U.S. Geological Survey will update its 2008 estimate of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas in the U.S. portion of the Bakken Formation, an important domestic petroleum resource located in North Dakota and Montana.

    “The Administration supports safe and responsible oil and gas production as part of our nation’s comprehensive energy portfolio,” Salazar said. “We must develop our resources armed with the best science available, and with wells drilled in the Bakken during the past three years, there is significant new geological information. With ever-advancing production technologies, this could mean more oil could potentially be recovered in the formation.”

    The 2008 USGS assessment estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in the U.S. portion of the Bakken Formation, elevating it to a “world-class” accumulation. The estimate had a mean value of 3.65 billion barrels. The USGS routinely conducts updates to oil and gas assessments when significant new information is available, such as new understanding of a resource basin’s geology or when advances in technology occur for drilling and production.

    The 2008 Bakken Formation estimate was larger than all other current USGS oil assessments of the lower 48 states and is the largest “continuous” oil accumulation ever assessed by the USGS. A “continuous” or “unconventional” oil accumulation means that the oil resource is dispersed throughout a geologic formation rather than existing as discrete, localized occurrences, such as those in conventional accumulations. Unconventional resources require special technical drilling and recovery methods.

    “The new scientific information presented to us from technical experts clearly warrants a new resource assessment of the Bakken,” said USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator Brenda Pierce. “The new information is significant enough for the evaluation to begin sooner than it normally would. It is important to look at this resource and its potential contribution to the national energy portfolio.”

    The 2008 USGS assessment showed a 25-fold increase in the amount of technically recoverable oil as compared to the agency’s 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil. New geologic models applied to the Bakken Formation, advances in drilling and production technologies, and additional oil discoveries resulted in these substantially larger technically recoverable oil volumes. About 135 million barrels of oil were produced from the Bakken between 1953 and 2008; 36 million barrels in 2008 alone. According to state statistics, oil production from the Bakken in North Dakota has steadily increased from about 28 million barrels in 2008, to 50 million barrels in 2009 to approximately 86 million barrels in 2010.

    “The Bakken Formation is producing an ever-increasing amount of oil for domestic consumption while providing increasing royalty revenues to American Indian tribes and individual Indian mineral owners in North Dakota and Montana,” Salazar noted. Interior agencies have been working closely, for example, with the Three Affiliated Tribes (the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara) and individual Indian mineral owners on the Ft. Berthold Reservation in North Dakota to facilitate this development.

    Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

    The new update effort will be a standard assessment task under the existing USGS National Oil and Gas Assessment. It will begin in October 2011, at the start of the 2012 fiscal year. Depending on funding, it is expected to take two years to complete. Drilling and production will continue while the USGS conducts its assessment update.

    For more information about the Bakken Formation, please visit the USGS frequently asked questions that were developed after the 2008 resource assessment at http://www.usgs.gov/faq/index……amp;cat=21
    ND oil patch may double production
    JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press
    Jan. 2, 2011, 3:33PM

    BISMARCK, N.D. — Government and industry officials believe North Dakota’s oil patch contains more than twice the amount of oil previously estimated and that the state’s already record crude production will double within the decade.

    If the forecast is correct, North Dakota could leapfrog in a few years from the fourth-biggest oil producing state to No. 2, trailing only Texas.

    “It’s a pretty rosy picture,” said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. “We have a huge amount of drilling still in front of us.”

    Helms said the state currently is pumping about 350,000 barrels of crude per day and was on pace to produce about 110 million barrels in 2010, up from 79.7 million last year and more than double the amount produced less than three years ago.

    Record rig activity pushed by strong crude prices and refinements in drilling technology could result in North Dakota seeing a twofold increase in production. The drilling technology alone has cut the amount of time needed to complete a well from 65 days in 2008 to about 25 days.

    “We are now looking at the possibility of 700,000 barrels a day and we see that coming in the next four to seven years,” Helms said.

    At that rate, North Dakota would surpass California and Alaska based on those states’ current production, said Steven Grape, the domestic reserves project manager for the U.S. Department of Energy’s information administration.

    “That would be pretty amazing in my book,” Grape said.

    North Dakota’s oil patch now accounts for about 6 percent of total U.S. crude oil production. That’s up from 1 percent less than three years ago.

    Federal and state estimates had pegged North Dakota’s portion of the Bakken shale and underlying Three Forks-Sanish oil formations in western North Dakota at about 5 billion barrels of oil, using current horizontal drilling technology.

    Helms said that estimate has more than doubled based on drilling success and current production rates.

    “We’re starting to see indications that we could reasonably get 11 billion barrels,” Helms said.

    North Dakota has about 5,300 producing oil wells. About 2,000 of those have spudded in just more than three years, aimed at the Bakken and Three Forks.

    About 95 percent of rigs drilling in North Dakota are aimed at those formations, and 99 percent of them hit oil, while nine of 10 are profitable, Helms said.

    Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said about 650 new wells were drilled in 2010. He and Helms expect up to 2,000 new wells in 2011, which would double the number of Bakken and Three Forks wells to date.

    A record 168 wells were drilling in the state’s oil patch last month but dipped to 156 last week, hampered by winter weather. Ness and Helms expect about 200 rigs to be drilling in 2011.

    “We are going to be drilling a lot of wells in the next year and production is going to go up, barring any unforeseen problems,” Ness said. “We’re all pretty bullish on 2011.”

    North Dakota has risen from being the ninth-largest oil-producing state in 2006 because of the Bakken and the Three Forks beneath it. Helms said nothing surprises him anymore about the state’s prolific oil patch.

    “I’m running out of superlatives,” Helms said. “We’re going to have to invent some new ones.”

    Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/stor…..z1Pd8to0EE

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  31. By paul-n on June 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Mac, while that is all well and good for the folks of north Dakota, let’s put that oil production into perspective.

     

    Currently, at 350,000bpd, that is 2% of US daily oil consumption.

    When they make it to 700,000bpd in three years, that will be 4% of US daily consumption.

    Alaska is currently less than 700,000bpd, and steadily declining, and when it gets to 350,000, they have to shut down the pipeline.

     

    So, the Bakken is great, and all,  and will make up for the decline from Alaska, and maybe even elsewhere, but this is no oil panacea for the US.

    All the politicos that want to see “energy independence” are avoiding the fact that it can only be achieved by a dramatic reduction in consumption

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  32. By Benny BND Cole on June 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I am disappointed with Virent’s answers, including the one about being competitive at $60 a barrel.  Now they say it is higher, but don’t say how high.

     

    Also, they dodged the EROEI question. 

     

    I wish them the best of success–but I understand why they are going after public funding, and not venture capital.  You have to have some real numbers to convince private-sector people to invest. 

     

    I sense biofuels can work, but only at well more than $100 a barrel.  And I am not sure that CNG, PHEVs, and plain old very high mpg cars don’t make more sense.   If we have natural gas coming out of our ears, and it costs $2.00 per gallon equivalent, should not we go with natural gas?  

     

    And the Honda FIT car is talking about 70 mpg. 

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  33. By Rufus on June 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    the overall winner of the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge was an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 designed and built by a team of Virginia Tech University. They awarded second place to another E85 EREV from Ohio State. For the DOE, ethanol was a huge winner.

    The contest is important as it is a joint government and industry challenge to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety, and performance. The Virginia Tech team achieved the equivalent of nearly 82 miles per gallon—a 70 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the stock vehicle. They did it using 85 percent ethanol as the conventional fuel.

    Another Eco-Challenge – Another Winner

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  34. By Wendell Mercantile on June 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Rufus~

    Wow! That is significant considering they started with a GM car.

    I have a Jetta TDI that runs on diesel. I get 52 mpg and don’t even use hyper-mileage techniques. If I lived in Europe, I could buy a stock diesel car that delivers 75 mpg, without needing items such as high-pressure, low-rolling resistance tires.

    I wonder how these college kids would have done had they started with one of those European diesel cars that already gets 75 mpg?

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  35. By Rufus on June 18, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I think the idea, Wendell, was to “not use” fossil fuels. :)

    Granted, E85 uses “some” fossil fuel, but I suppose there was a limit of some sort.

    I just thought it was interesting that there have, now, been Two of these big, multi-year competitions, and E85 has come in 1 – 2 in both.

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  36. By Rufus on June 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Not bad for a fuel that everyone keeps telling me delivers such lousy “mileage.” :)

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  37. By Wendell Mercantile on June 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    t’would be easier to call E85 a “not fossil fuel” if they weren’t so dependent on using natural gas when they make the 85% ethanol that gets blended with the 15% gasoline.

    Of course, if they could find ethanol that had been made with no fossil fuel input, we’d have a big deal.

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  38. By Rufus on June 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Stay tuned. :)

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  39. By Wendell Mercantile on June 18, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Rufus~

    Were I entered in that contest, I’d start with one of those European diesel cars that already gets 75 mpg, and burn biodiesel fuel in it. I bet I could beat that 82 mpg with E85. (And I’d use biodiesel made from a crop grown on a farm that doesn’t use any fossil fuels.)

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  40. By paul-n on June 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    @ Benny, I think you have nailed it as to why they are going after gov funding – the gov funds on hope, VC’s are more likely to fund on potential.

     

    If the oil price was sustained at say $150, i think quite a few biofuels would be competitive.  The key word, is “sustained” – the gov would need to set an import tariff such that the landed price was $150/bbl, and any domestic fuel, oil or biofuel, then has a stable benchmark, and the capital investors don;t have the risk of being undercut by a drop in oil prices.

    That would only add $1/gal more than today, and would not only make the alt fuels more competitive, but ditto for the PHEV’s etc.

     

    The politicos aren;t willing to admit that you can;t have low prices and low consumption (oil independence) at the same time.  If I had to choose, I’d choose high prices and energy independence, but then again, it’s not my choice.

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  41. By navin-r-johnson on June 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I thought Virent was talking about making 2,5dimethylfuran a few years ago.  I also know that Cargil has been interested in furans as a chemical feedstock to make fuels and other things.  Are they off the DMF or have they changed their process to make a different mixture of fuels?

     

    Benny, I own a Honda Fit,  the 70 MPG model that was in the news recently is a larger version, called the Fit Shuttle that gets the same mileage as the current Fit subcompact.  There has been talk of a hybrid fit, and now also a Fit Shuttle hybrid, that may get 70 MPG.  I think it is for the Japanese market first.  The thing that interests me is that the premium that you pay for the hybrid seems quite small.  If it comes to the US, I want one.

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  42. By Optimist on June 19, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Hmm, DoE andGM, as co sponsors, but where was the ethanol industry as a co-sponsor?

    What there is a difference between DoE and the ethanol indudstry? Who knew? Wonder which one recruited Rufus?

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  43. By Wendell Mercantile on June 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

    This is what annoys me the mosy about the ethanol industry (not the corn growers), they just want to sit there, have people mandated to use their product, collect the tax creit along the way, and can’t be bothered to lift a finger to develop the markets for their fuel.

    Concur completely Paul,

    I’m still waiting for the big players in the ethanol market to start their own network of E85 stations through the Corn Belt — particularly along the major Interstates such as I-80, I-70 and I-35.

    There’s no reason they shouldn’t be investing and building their own markets, just as gasoline companies such as Conoco, Sinclair, Pure Oil, Phillips 66, DX (does anyone remember DX service stations? DX Logo), etc. did in the early part of the 20th century.

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  44. By paul-n on June 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Indeed – the ethanol industry has been woeful at developing markets for ethanol – a real American non-success story.  They have put all their lobbying efforts into getting the blend limits raised and only a token effort at E85 development.  In addition,  there is not even one example in the US of an ethanol powered (or co-fuelled)  bus, tractor, semi-truck or train.

    The bus one would be particularly easy do do (as co-fuel, not exclusively ethanol), and has the dual advantage of making a serious reduction in particulate and NOx emissions from diesel engines.  For urban buses (and urban dwellers who breathe their exhaust) this is a serious benefit, especially compared to the cost of retrofitting catalytic reduction systems.  If they had done that, and freed the cities of bus smoke, then perhaps the urban voters, and their representatives, might have been inclined to cut them some slack on the credit.

    There are actually many benefits to be had from the optimised use of ethanol fuel – but the ethanol industry doesn’t seem interested in any of them, and would rather increase the non optimal use of ethanol (as E10 or E15), where you get the least work per btu consumed.  If they actually believed in their own marketing of trying to improve America’s energy independence, they would be pursuing these avenues to show not just that ethanol can replace oil, but that it can be better than oil.

     At present, all they have is that it is more mandated and subsidised than oil, and as they are seeing, that is not necessarily permanent.  Once these are gone, they will have to compete on merit and price – they should be using this “protection period” to work on that, but the only work being done is on trying to maintain the protection.  

    I have said before, and will say it again, I think that it would be worthwhile keeping the credit on E85 and E100 fuel sales (and pay the retailer).  Have a separate and equal credit for cellulosic, for anyone that can produce it.  The cellulosics could then blend to, and sell,  E85 themselves and get both credits.   And if that 90c/gal isn’t enough for them to be competitive and get into commercial operation, after all this time and effort, then they might as well give it away.  

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  45. By Wendell Mercantile on June 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    If they actually believed in their own marketing of trying to improve America’s energy independence, they would be pursuing these avenues to show not just that ethanol can replace oil, but that it can be better than oil.

    Absolutely correct. They have never been concerned or motivated to build market share except by lobbying friendly Corn Belt politicians for subsidies and mandates.

    You’ve presented some very real options they could pursue. If I were an ethanol producer, I would be calling for someone to replace Bob Dineen and Wes Clark. Someone who is actually interested in using ethanol’s advantages to build market share.

    There is absolutely no excuse for Dineen’s and Clark’s failure to lobby the ag equipment makers to develop and market ethanol-powered tractors and ag equipment.

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  46. By mac on June 19, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Wendell.

    The problem is” Why is all this oil “biota” buried two and three miles or more underground ?

    Perhaps (just perhaps the Russian theory is correct – oil is formed from minerals under extreme temperature and pressure just like diamonds are formed)

    Come on mac……..come on….. come on…..

    Well……………… “come on mac” ………… nothing.

    If this whacky Russian theory is true, then “oil is a renewable” constantly being formed underground under in intense pressure and heat .These conditions can be re-created above ground as they are in the production of cultured diamonds, saphires, emeralds and other gemstones.

    In fact “synthetic coal” can be re-created in the lab in a matter of mere hours

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  47. By Rufus on June 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    It doesn’t really matter how it is formed. What matters is “how fast” it is formed. And, found. And produced.

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  48. By Rufus on June 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    And, at what Cost.

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  49. By mac on June 20, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Rufus said,

    t doesn’t really matter how it is formed. What matters is “how fast” it is formed. And, found. And produced.”

     

    Of course.  I think a couple of my recent  comments got sucked up in the R Squared spam filter.

    Oh well, No one wants to admit that they are wrong, least of all Robert

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  50. By mac on June 20, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Rufus,

    (C6H10O5) That’s the basic formula for cellulose.

    Does this sound a whole lot like the molecular formulas for oil hydrocarbons derived from oil?

    Of course. early plastics were made from cellulose, (celluloid films)

    Maybe this will get by the spam filter,

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  51. By mac on June 20, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Rufus,

     

    Please note what I said.  It was simply this:

     

    “If this whacky Russian theory is true”

     

    Notice the word “whacky”

     

    I am NOT convinced by the Russian theory.  Yes, it’s interesting, but that’s about it.

     

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  52. By paul-n on June 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    There is absolutely no excuse for Dineen’s and Clark’s failure to lobby the ag equipment makers to develop and market ethanol-powered tractors and ag equipment.

    Agreed.  If the Swedes can make a bus run on pure ethanol, surely John Deere can make a tractor run on part ethanol.  While the market for automotive fuel depends partly on drivers preference (witness the stations selling “no ethanol” gasoline), the market for farm fuel depends on farmers preference, and a good deal of those farmers are corn farmers.

    Develop the market for ethanol as a farm fuel, and you have a stable, reliable market regardless of what the government does or doesn’t do. 

    And, when using ethanol as an aspirated co-fuel, it does not need to be blended with gasoline, it does not even need to be anhydrous.  So it is cheaper to use, and you can by pass the oil companies completely.  The farmer can then claim the blending credit – the blending point is in the engine.

    Ethanol cannot make America oil independent, but it could make America’s farming industry oil independent.  That, in itself would be one hell of an achievement.  In fact, it would be a game changer - it would make America’s food production system immune to any effects from oil embargoes.  That is one kind of energy security worth having.

    The agriculture sector is estimated to use 200,000bpd of diesel – equivalent to 16m gpd of ethanol – which less than half of current ethanol production of about 36m gpd, so plenty of ethanol to do the job.  If even a fraction of the $30bn paid out in ethanol blenders credits had been put towards achieving this goal, it would have been achieved by now.

    The ethanol industry has missed an opportunity to free the farmers from the shackles of oil dependence.  By putting all their efforts into forcing motorists to use more ethanol, and that era may now be drawing to a close, they have not helped the farmers, they have failed them.

     

     

     

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  53. By Wendell Mercantile on June 20, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    The ethanol industry has missed an opportunity to free the farmers from the shackles of oil dependence. By putting all their efforts into forcing motorists to use more ethanol, and that era may now be drawing to a close, they have not helped the farmers, they have failed them.

    Paul,

    Hear, hear! I vote for you to replace Bob Dineen.

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