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Posts tagged “ethanol production”

By Robert Rapier on Oct 14, 2009 with no responses

Ethanol and Petroleum Imports

This is the concluding post in a series looking at the impact of increased ethanol production on petroleum imports. Previous posts concluded that there has been little measurable impact on our petroleum imports as a result of increased ethanol production. In this post, I provide a spreadsheet to all the data and graphics used, and delve a bit deeper into the issue. Previous posts in the series were: Does Ethanol Reduce Petroleum Imports? Ethanol, Imports, and the MTBE Effect The spreadsheet that was used to tabulate all of this information is archived here: Oil Imports Versus Ethanol Production (For some reason the graphs don’t show up in the Google Documents link. However the data and calculations are all there). Audacious… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 12, 2009 with no responses

Coskata on Life Support?

Remember my story Coskata: Dead Man Walking? As I wrote in that essay six months ago: I predict that Coskata’s suggestions that they will produce ethanol for less than $1/gal will look ridiculous in hindsight. The next few years will see a record amount of back-pedaling from most of the companies trying to establish a foothold in this space – and overpromising on their technology to do so. Well, at the Wall Street Journal ECO:nomics Conference last week, Coskata CEO Bill Roe indicated that the company is having (recession-induced) troubles. Marc Gunther has the story: GM’s woes: Bad news for clean energy Talk to a banker and “all you get is a smile and a pat on the head,” Roe… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 24, 2008 with no responses

Top 10 Energy Stories of 2008

Tis the season for Top 10 stories, and here are what I think were the Top 10 energy stories of the year. 1. Unprecedented volatility in the energy markets Oil prices raced to nearly $150 a barrel, and then fell to the $30′s by year end. This marks the highest ever prices for oil, followed by the lowest prices in four years. Gasoline, diesel, and natural gas prices demonstrated the same kind of volatility. There are multiple factors behind the volatility. The role of speculation was hotly debated, and the economic collapse – fueled by cash-strapped consumers who had overextended themselves – resulted in a sharp drop in demand. Some even argued that the real reason behind the plunge in… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 21, 2008 with 1 response

Coskata Due Diligence

I hadn’t intended to spend the entire week talking about Coskata, but that’s the way things are shaping up. After Monday’s essay in which I expressed strong skepticism that Coskata could deliver, I received a number of e-mails and phone calls, and the essay received quite a few visitors. The story was picked up and reported via several outlets. People are certainly interested in the Coskata story, and they want to know whether the emperor has clothes. I had stated that based on my analysis of some of the published numbers, the emperor has no clothes, and this raised a number of eyebrows. Some of the raised eyebrows were within Coskata. Following that essay I was contacted by Wes Bolsen,… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 18, 2008 with no responses

Coskata Responds

Following my previous essay explaining my skepticism that Coskata can make ethanol economically with their process, Wes Bolsen (see his profile here), the Chief Marketing Officer & Vice President of Coskata dropped by and made some comments. One thing I believe in strongly is fair play, so I will provide his entire comments below without interruption. Wes and I plan to speak on Wednesday, and I will ask some pointed, and on the record questions. If you have a specific question that you would like to see me ask, let me know in the comments following this essay. I already have a list, and I can assure you that they are not to be found in Coskata’s FAQ. My questions… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 17, 2008 with no responses

Coskata: Dead Man Walking

Since the Coskata announcement that they were going to be able to produce ethanol for “under US $1.00 a gallon anywhere in the world” – documented here – I have gotten a number of requests for comments on the technology. After all, GM is on board! GM can’t be wrong, can they? Vinod Khosla’s enthusiasm couldn’t be misplaced either, could it? After crunching the numbers, my conclusion is that not only is this not the ‘slam dunk’ that is being projected, you probably have a better chance of hitting a blindfolded shot from mid-court than Coskata has of producing cost-competitive ethanol. What leads me to this conclusion? Earlier today I provided some extensive analysis for someone, so I thought I… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 23, 2008 with no responses

Ethanol Roundup

Couple of ethanol-related stories of note in the past few days: Corn prices hurt ethanol industry Iowa’s ethanol industry is being squeezed by high corn prices that are partly due to the estimated 3.3 million acres of crops that have been destroyed by spring floods, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said Friday. “These kinds of prices are not profitable to produce ethanol at the current ethanol price,” Northey said at a taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press.” “There will probably be decisions of whether they want to keep processing or not at these prices.” Farmers can replant and still be covered by crop insurance, but coverage levels drop with each passing day, and late-planted crops could face the… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 18, 2007 with no responses

Ethanol/Alternative Fuel FAQ

Of course you are against ethanol. You work for Big Oil. Is ethanol reducing dependence on foreign oil? What’s this EROI/EROEI/Energy Return Business? Is EROEI the Same Thing as the Process Efficiency? Isn’t the Energy Balance for Corn Ethanol Better than for Gasoline? Does the Energy Balance/EROEI Matter? Doesn’t the Ethanol Subsidy Actually Benefit Oil Companies? Doesn’t Ethanol Usage Create Jobs and Provide Cash for Midwestern Communities? Do We Have Enough Land to Grow Our Way to Energy Indendence? If Brazil can do it, why can’t the U.S.? Can’t Brazil and other tropical countries provide biofuels for the world? What about the environmental benefits of using ethanol as fuel? Isn’t ethanol useful as an oxygenate replacement for MTBE? 8/26/07 –… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 31, 2007 with no responses

The Crumbling Ethanol Facade

I have seen it all now. When the biggest ethanol boosters are starting to suggest that maybe we have a problem, you know we have a problem. And that is exactly what is happening. I can remember U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s giddiness as President Bush talked about his strong support for ethanol during the 2007 State of the Union Address (discussed here). This is a man who has ethanol in his veins (no, I don’t mean he is an alcoholic). So, you can imagine my surprise when I read yesterday’s OPIS report in which he admitted to cracks in the coalition: U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), one of ethanol’s most ardent supporters, said he is beginning to see “cracks” in… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 27, 2007 with no responses

The Mythical Ethanol Threat

There have been many claims in recent years that ethanol is going to help wean us off of fossil fuels. In fact, many of our political leaders claim that as long as we just keep subsidizing the ethanol industry, eventually cellulosic ethanol will take over and we will all motor happily along on E85. We are making energy policy decisions based on this assumption. As this analysis will show, the data we have to date don’t support those kinds of projections. Let’s consider the effect to date of the explosive growth in grain ethanol production. The difficulty in producing ethanol from cellulose is probably an order of magnitude greater than it is for producing ethanol from corn. Therefore, it is… Continue»