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Government Putting More Ethanol in Our Fuel

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The present administration is mandating that refiners add more methanol into gasoline.  Sure makes a lot of sense to push for costly ethanol production that screws up fuel systems when we've got a glut of cheap and clean petroleum coming online here in the U.S.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-21/kinder-morgan-andersons-plan-ethanol-projects-as-demand-rises?cmpid=yhoo.headline 

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It's especially puzzling considering that ethanol production is energy negative, e.g. it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than that gallon produces in fuel energy.

 

All ethanol fuel proposals are schemes to buy votes from farmers and get money from agricultural lobbyists.  Both parties have done it and it's shameful.

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It's especially puzzling considering that ethanol production is energy negative, e.g. it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than that gallon produces in fuel energy.

 

All ethanol fuel proposals are schemes to buy votes from farmers and get money from agricultural lobbyists.  Both parties have done it and it's shameful.

Yes, it takes more energy and CO2 emissions to produce Ethanol than gasoline itself. The hypocrisy is undeniable. Sort of like Germany closing all it's Nuclear Electrical Plants.

 

Cheers

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......it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than that gallon produces in fuel energy......

But that is true of all fuels, if it were not then the 1st law of thermodynamics would be violated and we'd have perpetual motion machines.

 

Mind you the cost of petrol would go down even more LOL

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But that is true of all fuels, if it were not then the 1st law of thermodynamics would be violated and we'd have perpetual motion machines.

 

Mind you the cost of petrol would go down even more LOL

 

Not true...the harvesting costs to produce a gallon of gasoline is about 80% of the fuel power itself, which is why hydrocarbons are such cheap and plentiful energy.  It used to be about 50%, but fuel has become more scarce and hard to come by in new, large deposits.

 

Our economy could not run if we used more energy to make all of our machines go than we got from them.  It would make more sense to not build anything if that were the case.  There will come a time when it will cost more in energy to get a gallon of gas from the ground, but we're not there yet.  We are still at the stage of  "stick a straw in the Earth and pump it out".  

 

Once the machinery is set up, which costs quite a bit of energy to make and put in place, the wells produce millions or billions of BTUs  over their lives.  A good energy exchange.  At least for now.

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Sorry it is true - you cannot get more energy out of a system than you put in. 1st year physical chemistry!!

 

I think you are confusing cost with energy - I'm taking a strictly scientific view. Once you bring in economics and politics all bets are off ☺

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You said it's true of all fuels that they cost more energy to produce than the create. It may be true in a pedantic, thermodynamic view, but we were discussing the cost to HUMANS. Humans do not have to put more energy into a gallon of gas than they get back. The reason is that all of the work used to create the fuel is done by nature, not by man. All man has to do is pump it out of the ground and refine it a bit.

 

Ethanol is different. Humans must grow corn from seeds, putting water, fertilizer and nutrients into the system. They then have to harvest the corn. And then distill the ethanol. It's very energy intensive, it takes something like 1.1-1.2 gallons of gasoline equivalent energy to make a gallon of ethanol. That means we'd be better off just burning straight gas.

 

If you want to say that the energy to make the fuel had to be put into the system *somewhere*, it's a distinction without a difference; humans don't care about the energy they don't have to provide. They care about how many Calories they get back for an investment of their limited calories.

 

In some places in Asia, petroleum was so plentiful in the 1920s and 1930s, that locals could literally dig a shallow hole and light the petroleum soaked sands. Why would anybody gather wood for a fire in that environment? The petroleum was not "perpetual motion", it was simply easier energy to access.

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Just heard today that oil is at $.80 per gallon.

That's about right with oil being under $36 a barrel. But that's just the commodity price and doesn't take refining, transport, distribution, and taxes into account.

 

Cheap energy at the moment, mainly due to The Saudis throwing OPEC under the bus and ignoring production caps. They need the money to build their military and suppress unrest in their country.

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Yes, yes, yes, it is obvious that oil needs to be refined, and I am glad you agree with the commodity analysts. I find the stat an interesting way of relating the price of oil, most people have no clue about what a benchmark barrel of crude is.

I don't know where you get your news, but the Saudis are not doing this to make money, at least not in the short run. They are slashing their own budget and speculation is that they can only keep it up for another six months. Their purpose in this is to stop fracking. (And, maybe to combat Russia's move into Europe. The Saudis are going aggressively after the southern European market.) They have already stopped the tar sands open pit mining in Canada which is extremely inefficient. (And thus ending the need for the XL pipeline.) The surprise for them has been how resilient the fracking industry has been and they have become more efficient than expected.

Basically, the Saudis <are> OPEC, no one else can do anything to change what they have decided.

Fracking in ND continues. Although exploration has been curtailed and they are doing less new drilling and relying on high producing central area of the Bakken shale play (Williams and McKenzie counties).

 

Two things I don't understand - selling from the strategic reserve when oil is so cheap, and opening exports so the oil here can be shipped elsewhere to be refined.

 

-- My Dad used to have a sign above his desk that said, "Those of you who think you know everything are very annoying to those of us who do!" ????

BTW, all energy comes from nature, the question is always the use cost... which is not just production, and not just monetary.

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One other "cost" of ethanol is the higher prices for the meat we eat.  Corn diverted to ethanol production = higher costs for livestock feed.  I've recently read where Archer Daniels Midland has partnered with Kinder Morgan to put in a pipeline to deliver ethanol in North Carolina.  New distilleries are being built to produce what will run thru the new pipeline. Kinder Morgan already has this set up in Florida. Think about this...A PIPELINE!!!  This is another waste of our money and payola for government "buddies", along with solar and wind, which we will pay dearly for but never realize any benefit from.  Perhaps, when Americans become alarmed by the high costs for food, and find they're filling up their cars a lot more often when they use E85 fuel, they might realize what a bad deal this is.  You'll note the article says the reason for this is due to demand for ethanol.  Yeah, high demand coming from our government pushing ethanol down our throats by requiring refiners to start going past the current 10% ethanol limit.   Sorry for the rant but it is just "another brick in the wall".

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-21/kinder-morgan-andersons-plan-ethanol-projects-as-demand-rises

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1st I want the corn out of my fuel its nothing more than a waste of taxpayer money.

 

2nd I want corn, and all grains out of my diet, color me 'paleo'

 

3rd I want corn and other grains out of my meat, color my meats 'grassfed'

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1st I want the corn out of my fuel its nothing more than a waste of taxpayer money.

 

2nd I want corn, and all grains out of my diet, color me 'paleo'

 

3rd I want corn and other grains out of my meat, color my meats 'grassfed'

 

 

Merry Christmas Ed and Erin, :hi-1082:

 

I think you're wrong on all three accounts.

When I siphon fuel and it gets in my mouth the corn gives it a much better flavor. If they would just add a little theater butter it would be perfect.

Straight fuel taste terrible.  :fainting-1344:

 

Have a good Holidays.

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Sorry it is true - you cannot get more energy out of a system than you put in. 1st year physical chemistry!!

I think you are confusing cost with energy - I'm taking a strictly scientific view. Once you bring in economics and politics all bets are

 

Consider this;

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/04/20/its-final-corn-ethanol-is-of-no-use/

 

Cheers

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I think Andy is talking about the amount of energy to create a gallon of gasoline vs. the amount of energy to produce an energy-equivalent amount of ethanol.  These can be vastly different.

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I think Andy is talking about the amount of energy to create a gallon of gasoline vs. the amount of energy to produce an energy-equivalent amount of ethanol.  These can be vastly different.

 

Exactly.  The chemical energy in the fuel is not the issue, it's how much energy you get back for a certain energy input.  It's about how much it costs to access the chemical energy contained in the fuel.  On a per Calorie (or per BTU) basis, you get more energy back than it takes to liberate a gallon of gasoline from the environment.  This is not true of ethanol.  Yes, more energy went into both than the chemical energy they contain...but not by humans.

 

The argument is not that burning gasoline somehow liberates more energy than it contains chemically, which I never said.  My argument is simply the true statement that the amount of HUMAN effort (pumping, refining, transport, etc) required to produce a gallon of gasoline is about 80% of what it contains in energy.  Ethanol requires about 10% more human effort than you get in chemical energy to produce it. 

 

I will say it again:  If gasoline did not contain more energy than it takes humans to recover it, there would be no point in trying to use it as a fuel.  This is not a physics issue, it's an energy management and economic issue.  There is no point is using ethanol for fuel because it takes more energy, expended by humans, to recover than it can provide.

 

Both fuels (well, all fuels) gain their chemical energy from other environmental sources:  sunlight for ethanol and geologic forces for gasoline.  But those forces cost humans nothing, they simply *are*.  What matters is how many calories humans expend obtaining fuel, to get a calorie of work from that fuel.  For gasoline humans expend about 0.8 calories to get 1.0 calories (now dropping with the price of oil).  For ethanol, humans expend about 1.1 calories to get back 1.0 calories...making it a net energy COST, instead of net energy production.

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Andy is correct.  When it comes to the energy necessary to produce/refine a gallon of gasoline in comparison to the amount of energy liberated from its combustion, the first law of thermodynamics is not relevant.  

 

The reason is because energy was incorporated into the oil (in the form of chemical bonds) a long time ago. That energy came from the sun, originally (crude oil is an organic compound, originating from forms of life).  So, it is possible to get more energy from fossil fuel than it takes to get it out of the ground and refine it. That energy was added to the fuel long before we ever started to pump it out of the ground.  

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Ethanol's energy has the same source (the sun), just a bit more recent, and as is being said here, the extraction process uses more energy than is produced when it is burned. And, it decreases gas mileage which makes its pollution decreasing ability a wash at best.

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Ethanol's energy has the same source (the sun), just a bit more recent, and as is being said here, the extraction process uses more energy than is produced when it is burned. And, it decreases gas mileage which makes its pollution decreasing ability a wash at best.

 

That's right, I didn't want to muddy the waters in the discussion, but ethanol's fuel energy is a little better than half that of gasoline.  So it takes more ethanol-laced gas to get the same fuel energy as straight gas.  As Doug said, lower MPG as a result.  :(

 

The sun is definitely the ultimate source of energy in our solar system.  In the case of oil, I wonder if at least some of the fuel energy is created by the Earth's gravity, creating the compression and tectonic forces that help create oil.  Just wondering, I really don't know *precisely* how oil is made in the Earth's crust.

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The sun is definitely the ultimate source of energy in our solar system.  In the case of oil, I wonder if at least some of the fuel energy is created by the Earth's gravity, creating the compression and tectonic forces that help create oil.  Just wondering, I really don't know *precisely* how oil is made in the Earth's crust.

 

Oh Andy this one could create a whole new can of worms - the formation mechanism for "oil" in the earth's crust was for years accepted as the result of dead and decaying animal  matter being buried under sedimentary rock then subject to great pressures and temperatures - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel#Origin Certainly under that scenario part of the chemical energy in the inter-atomic bonds would be converted from external pressure.

 

However, in recent times other mechanisms have been postulated - in particular the abiogenic theory - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenic_petroleum_origin

 

BTW my earlier point on the first law of thermodymanics was just an attempt to insert a little scientific rigour rather than being pedantic. It never ceases to amaze me just how scientifically illiterate our politicians and governments are - If all policy making were done by chemists and physicists the world would be a much better place :) - mind you we had Mrs Thatcher for 11 years (Chemistry graduate) so perhaps that argument doesn't hold too much water -LOL.

 

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I'm aware of the abiotic oil theory, and it has some good points...but I didn't want to go there.  :)

 

The Russians in particular insist that there has never been enough life on the planet in its entire history to account for the amount of hydrocarbons in the Earth's crust.  many Russian ventures have been very successful in oil exploration using abiotic theory to find oil deposits instead of the "dino" model.  It's certainly food for thought.

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