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Results for: “fun with numbers the new usda report on corn ethanol”

A Critical Review of the 2015 Energy Balance for Corn Ethanol

What is corn ethanol’s energy return? This week returning guest Ike Kiefer dissects the latest USDA report on the topic and raises a number of questions about their data and their methodology.

Setting the Record Straight on Cello Energy and E3 Biofuels

The Art of Spin Politicians are known for their ability to spin any situation to make sure it doesn’t present them in an unfavorable light. In that vein, I’m beginning to feel as if Vinod Khosla would make a fine politician. As much as I am tired of writing about him (and I am sure he long-ago grew tired of me writing about him), his recent response to a Wall Street Journal editorial called The Range Fuels Fiasco warrants its own response. While Khosla does not point a finger directly at me in his response, a number of readers e-mailed or commented on my blog that they believed Khosla was accusing me of misrepresenting his relationship with some of the… Continue»

Radio Interview on the USDA Ethanol Report

I have had family visiting me for the past two weeks, which has slowed my posting down a bit. I am trying to finish up the followup story to the essay on the MixAlco process, but it will probably be early next week before that one is ready. Until then, here is a 12-minute radio interview that I did this week for a Midwestern radio program called Farm Talk: RR Interview on the USDA Report and Future of Renewable Energy We covered the implications of the USDA report covered in the previous essay, the future of cellulosic ethanol (I mentioned POET in the interview), the proposed ethanol pipeline, and what characteristics I look for in a renewable energy project. I… Continue»

Fun with Numbers: The New USDA Report on Corn Ethanol

The EROEI of Ethanol Over the past decade, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published several papers in which they investigated the energy return of corn ethanol. The energy return on energy invested (EROEI) is simply the value of the energy outputs for a process divided by the energy inputs into the process. In simple terms, if a process required 1 BTU of energy to produce 2 BTUs of ethanol, the EROEI is 2. However, in reality it is somewhat more complex than that. The way the energy inputs and outputs are allocated can have a very big influence on the answer. Just by changing the nature of the allocation – as I will show below – you… Continue»

Broken Promises from Range Fuels

Update 8-18-10: For those linking in from the earth2tech article on Range Fuels, that inaccurately reflects my comments on Range. My criticism was not that they added methanol to the mix. To the contrary, I think biomass to methanol is a promising, long-term route to biofuels. My criticisms of Range are on the basis of what they promised versus what they are delivering, as documented below. When I first began my career, a wise old-timer gave me a piece of advice that I took to heart. He said “When you are planning and executing a project, it is important for you to do what you say you are going to do. People are going to make investment decisions on the… Continue»

An E-Fuel MicroFueler Dealer Responds

After publishing the previous story, I went back and searched through my Gmail to see when I had first heard about the E-Fuel MicroFueler. It turns out that about a year ago a regular reader of my blog – and someone I had exchanged a number of e-mails with – sent me the first bit of information and asked for my opinion. He told me at that time that he had become a dealer of these systems. At the time, the idea was to use sugar as the feedstock. I made a number of comments, including my concern that the capital costs alone were too high to make the unit economical. I said that I felt like they would need… Continue»

The Week in Energy – September 1, 2007

As I mentioned in the previous post, I plan to start posting on a more infrequent basis. Every 5-10 days, I will post some short excerpts/links to energy stories I found interesting, odd, or comical. I will keep my own comments to a minimum. And while I plan to leave the comments section open, I don’t plan to spend time there as it is too easy to get sucked into endless debate. Anyway, I was targeting this weekend for this essay, but I have slowly chipped away at it each morning this week, and I think there is enough there to post. Let me know whether you find this format useful. I am open to changing, as long as I… Continue»

Bob Dinneen Responds to Rolling Stone

I know it’s been a bit heavy on ethanol lately, but I continue to get quite a bit of activity over the recent Rolling Stone article. That’s the whole reason for writing a FAQ. I have in the queue a half-finished essay on solar thermal, and would really like to delve into that topic a bit more. I don’t want to become “The Ethanol Blog”, but it seems like that recently. Bob Dinneen, President of the Renewable Fuels Association (the same association that claims displacement of 170 million barrels of oil with the energy equivalent of 64 million barrels of ethanol) wrote to Rolling Stone and addressed Jeff Goodell’s recent story: Letter To The Editor: Response to “The Ethanol Scam”… Continue»

Battling with the Critics

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. I am trying to spend more time writing on topics other than ethanol. But I get a lot of e-mails on that subject, and often have 3 or 4 mini-debates going on at a time via e-mail. I just finished a debate involving a government official and some big names over the energy balance of gasoline versus ethanol. There still seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding this issue, so I asked for permission to publish the exchanges. I was reluctantly given permission, provided I deleted the personal information from the government official (name and government agency). The exchange involved myself, a government official that I will… Continue»

Imagining the Future of Gasoline

The essay below was cross-posted to The Oil Drum. Mr. Khosla is opening up his ethanol ideas to public criticism, which is a good thing for all parties. We have been debating these issues via phone and e-mail for quite a while now, and it is time to open up the debate to a wider audience. Enjoy. ——————- One thing I strongly believe in is the issue of fairness. I enjoy a good scientific debate, and I find that the best debates are those in which opposing sides are honestly presented. With this in mind, below I present Vinod Khosla’s vision of our energy future. If you are like me, you will find aspects of agreement, and aspects of disagreement,… Continue»