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Old 08-31-2006, 07:22 PM   #1
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Consumer Reports on Ethanol

The October issue of Consumer Reports has a special report called the Ethanol Myth. They tested E85 against gas and find it falls short in fuel economy. They say there will never be enough to fill the US fuel needs and it will cost you more than gas and you'll have to buy more because it is less efficient than gas. It is only supposed to be used in flexi-fuel cars. Check out the article if you're intrested.
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Old 08-31-2006, 09:25 PM   #2
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Yeah I've been saying that all along.
Rule #1 - You don't turn FOOD (which global is already in short supply) into FUEL. All that does is cause the consumer to end up paying sky high prices for FOOD and FUEL (and BEER).
Since global warming is going to continue to increase, what happens when you have a bad harvest from a drought? Prices for everything goes sky high.
Ethanol only has 72% the energy content that gas has. It would have to be 30% cheaper at the pump for you to even break even, and in some places E85 is more EXPENSIVE. E85 is a pipe dream, if you used all corn produced in the US to make E85, it only would account for 12% of our gas usuage.
Also ethanol plants use a TON of water.
Maybe when the technology develops to turn waste cellulose into fuel it will be better, but still you have the problem of having a drought.
We need other solutions. E85 would end up costing the consumer more money than petro gasoline, so your are trading one drug dealer for another.
There just are no real good solutions right now. E85 is only being pushed by the Big 3 car makers because it requires no R&D, only adds $100-$200 to the price of the car, and the more alternative fuel vehicles they make gets them government kick backs (lowers the minimum fleet average MPG the companies have to meet)
In the short turn, diesel is the quickest way to fuel effeciency until something better can come along, but unfortunately our government decided to adobt the strictist diesel emissions standards in the world so you can kiss that chance goodbye.
Hydraulic Hybrids look promising, at least for city driving. Its probably the most promising advance of the last decade or two.
A little note I want to add, I read an article that said if the manufacturer's vehicles were forced to meet the MPG listed in the window sticker (in real world conditions) that we would not have to buy any petro from the middle east.

Edit: oh yeah I forgot to add that the US consumes 400 MILLION galllons of gas EVERY DAY. Wrap that one around your brain. Thats from Howstuffworks, averaged at 4 gallons per household per day. 100 Million households. You can see how its not sustainable.

Last edited by weeze-dog; 08-31-2006 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 08-31-2006, 10:08 PM   #3
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Quote:
Rule #1 - You don't turn FOOD (which global is already in short supply) into FUEL.
on the contary, food items are not on shortages.
not to mention roughly 10 part petrol to 1 part product..(ratio on how much fuel is needed to get 1 food item onto your dinner table)

however u are right about water used on ethanol...whats more precious than gas? fresh drinking water.
oh and i forgot what the ratio is for water to food product but i know it's higher than the petrol by a long shot, especially if u love meat..
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Old 08-31-2006, 11:46 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by strider86x
on the contary, food items are not on shortages.
not to mention roughly 10 part petrol to 1 part product..(ratio on how much fuel is needed to get 1 food item onto your dinner table)

however u are right about water used on ethanol...whats more precious than gas? fresh drinking water.
oh and i forgot what the ratio is for water to food product but i know it's higher than the petrol by a long shot, especially if u love meat..
so the guys in the comercials asking me for money to fead the hungry in africa are lying to me?
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Old 09-01-2006, 01:29 AM   #5
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so the guys in the comercials asking me for money to fead the hungry in africa are lying to me?
i was wondering when some one would say some thing like that.
well let me get to the point before we get off topic...there is no profit in feeding several millions of people for free, prime example is our own welfare system(need i say more?) keep in mind i'm not saying we shouldn't help those that really need our help, so thats a whole other issue. point is ethanol, which comes from corn and part petrol is a better way for companies that mass produce corn can make a profit, than letting it rot or even giving it for free to the needy. sure it's biorenewable to some degree and thats great and all, but there wasn't really interest in it before oil prices sky rocketed, just companies protecting thier own interests. personally i'm not a fan of ethanol at all, i clearly recall from chem. class that it's corrosive and quite frankly it's just to much water being used for so little product...and after reading the original posters remarks about how effcient it is, i find it even less desirable.
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Old 09-01-2006, 12:18 PM   #6
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The ethanol myth

The Bush administration has been pushing ethanol as a renewable, homegrown alternative to gasoline. Now, the auto industry is abuzz with the promise of its flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs), which are designed to run on either gasoline or the blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline called E85.

GM’s advertising says, “Energy independence? The answer may be growing in our own backyard,” and has coined the slogan “Live green, go yellow,” referring to the corn from which most U.S. ethanol is made. DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and GM have said that they plan to double production of FFVs and other biofuel vehicles to 2 million by 2010.


A recent Harris Interactive study of vehicle owners found that more than half were interested in purchasing an FFV, mostly for reduced dependency on petroleum and improved fuel economy.


But after putting a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe FFV through an array of fuel economy, acceleration, and emissions tests, and interviewing more than 50 experts on ethanol fuel, CR determined that E85 will cost consumers more money than gasoline and that there are concerns about whether the government’s support of FFVs is really helping the U.S. achieve energy independence. Among our findings:


The fuel economy of the Tahoe dropped 27 percent when running on E85 compared with gasoline, from an already low 14 mpg overall to 10 mpg (rounded to the nearest mpg). This is the lowest fuel mileage we’ve gotten from any vehicle in recent years.

With the retail pump price of E85 averaging $2.91 per gallon in August, according to the Oil Price Information Service, which tracks petroleum and other fuel prices, a 27 percent fuel-economy penalty means drivers would have paid an average of $3.99 for the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline.

When we calculated the Tahoe’s driving range, we found that it decreased to about 300 miles on a full tank of E85 compared with about 440 on gasoline. So you have to fill up more often with E85.

The majority of FFVs are large vehicles like the Tahoe that get relatively poor fuel economy even on gasoline. So they will cost you a lot at the pump, no matter which fuel you use.

Because E85 is primarily sold in the upper Midwest, most drivers in the country have no access to the fuel, even if they want it. For our Tahoe test, for example, we had to blend our own (see The great E85 fuel hunt).

The FFV surge is being motivated by generous fuel-economy credits that auto-makers get for every FFV they build, even if it never runs on E85. This allows them to pump out more gas-guzzling large SUVs and pickups, which is resulting in the consumption of many times more gallons of gasoline than E85 now replaces.

We put the Tahoe through our full series of fuel-economy and acceleration tests while running on each fuel (see our test results). When running on E85 there was no significant change in acceleration. Fuel economy, however, dropped across the board. In highway driving, gas mileage decreased from 21 to 15 mpg; in city driving, it dropped from 9 to 7 mpg.

You could expect a similar decrease in gas mileage in any current FFV. That’s because ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline: 75,670 British thermal units per gallon instead of 115,400, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So you have to burn more fuel to generate the same amount of energy. In addition, FFV engines are designed to run more efficiently on gasoline. E85 fuel economy could approach that of gasoline if manufacturers optimized engines for that fuel.

When we took our Tahoe to a state-certified emissions-test facility in Connecticut and had a standard emissions test performed, we found a significant decrease in smog-forming oxides of nitrogen when using E85. Ethanol, however, emits acetaldehyde, a probable carcinogen and something that standard emissions-testing equipment is not designed to measure. But that might be a relatively minor evil. “Acetaldehyde is bad,” says James Cannon, president of Energy Futures, an alternative-transportation publication, “but not nearly as bad as some of the emissions from gasoline.”

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/c...anol_ov1_1.htm
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Old 09-01-2006, 12:21 PM   #7
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The future of ethanol

Most experts don’t see the future of the ethanol industry taking root in America’s cornfields. A more promising long-term solution is cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from a variety of other sources such as corn stover (leaves, stalks, and other leftover parts), rye straw, wood pulp, and possibly switchgrass (commonly used for hay). In Brazil, ethanol is made from sugarcane.

“If this country is going to go big into ethanol, we need to tap into cellulosic ethanol,” says Friedman of the UCS, “because it’s cleaner and requires less fossil fuels than corn” to produce.

Cellulosic ethanol also holds the promise of much higher capacity than corn, possibly as much as 45 billion gallons. In terms of greenhouse gases, “cellulosic ethanol, we think, has the ability to reduce CO2 emissions by close to half” compared with corn ethanol, says Jerry Martin, communications director for the California EPA’s Air Resources Board.

Creating cellulosic ethanol requires expensive enzymes--about 25 cents’ worth per gallon of ethanol. But the federal government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) expects the price to drop by half in the next few years. Iogen, a Canadian biotechnology company that produces the enzymes, says it plans to build the first full-scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plant by 2010.

A 2005 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that by 2030 ethanol from corn and cellulose could replace 30 percent of U.S. oil consumption--about the same as the U.S. currently imports from OPEC nations. Called the Billion Ton Study, it assumes that 1 billion tons of organic material could be used, with no loss of corn for food or feed, from resources such as forest waste and organic residue, and from energy crops such as switchgrass.

But there are major challenges. Friedman, at the Union of Concerned Scientists, estimates that to replace one-third of gasoline demand with ethanol even by 2050 without overwhelming land use would require three times the land currently used for crops and doubling both the efficiency of making ethanol and its fuel economy--a tall order. Moreover, there is dispute over whether it is even feasible to produce ethanol from switchgrass.

The important backdrop to the ethanol debate, of course, is that petroleum is a finite resource that’s rapidly being depleted. So even if running cars on E85 doesn’t make financial sense now and there are still serious questions about ethanol production, proponents say that ethanol should still be developed as a long-term hedge against oil shortages. Its advantages over other alternatives are that it can be produced in larger amounts than biodiesel and requires fewer technological breakthroughs and less infrastructure development than batteries or fuel cells.

“The big challenge is that we are going to reach a peak in world oil production,“ says Michael Pacheco, director for the NREL’s National Bioenergy Center. “We need to start working toward replacement fuels 20 years before that peak.”

Ann Wright, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, says: “We support the pursuit of more efficient ethanol production in combination with other policies intended to reduce America’s oil consumption. We question the use of CAFE credits that result in an increase in gasoline consumption at a time when the U.S. should be finding ways to decrease it.” CU would prefer incentives that motivate automakers to build more fuel-efficient models that today’s buyers want.

Rather than using CAFE credits, for example, Don MacKenzie, UCS vehicles engineer, says, “mandating flexible-fuel vehicles would be a lower cost to the country overall in terms of oil dependence,” because it wouldn’t result in additional gasoline consumption.

Even with the most optimistic estimates, ethanol on its own will never be able to provide Americans with energy independence. “Even if you could replace one-third to one-half of gasoline demand with cellulosic ethanol,” Friedman says, “that still leaves the rest.”

It’s more likely that ethanol will be only one in a portfolio of choices that could include biodiesel, diesel, electric, hydrogen, natural-gas, and efficient gasoline cars. “We have multiple problems: oil security, global warming, and smog,” Friedman adds. “To think one solution can take care of all of those is naive.”

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/c...htm?view=Print
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