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View Full Version : So what happened to Ethanol?


Starwatcher162536
12-05-2009, 12:42 AM
So what happened to Ethanol?

I realize there needs to be high gas prices + low corn prices for it to be particularly profitable, but it still strikes me as strange how you never hear about it anymore.

JonIrenicus
12-05-2009, 08:09 AM
So what happened to Ethanol?

I realize there needs to be high gas prices + low corn prices for it to be particularly profitable, but it still strikes me as strange how you never hear about it anymore.

Does nothing for emissions issues, and inflates food prices. Also corn based variants are less energy dense than the cane based ethanol in brazil.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel#Comparison_of_Brazil_and_the_U.S.

SkepticDoc
12-05-2009, 10:21 AM
I was under the impression that you use as much oil to produce ethanol from corn as the gas distilled from petroleum.

Corn ethanol only benefited farmers that received government subsidies/incentives, and the bio-engineers of corn seeds...

Starwatcher162536
12-05-2009, 10:28 AM
I don't know about the food prices thing. I've heard that most corn goes to make feed for livestock, and one of the waste products when making ethanol is DDG, which is suppose to have about the same nutritional value as unprocessed corn.

I suppose it's possible that we needed more corn for ethanol then what was needed to feed livestock, and as such it was displacing other crops, but I have no verification of that.

cragger
12-05-2009, 11:56 AM
You eat a lot more corn than you think. Not only is it a main feed for any sort of meat outside seafood, most processed foods are full of it. If it's sweet, chances are it is full of corn syrup. Corn starch is also widely used.

DDG's remaining from ethanol production represent what is left after much of the energy content of the corn has been extracted and used to produce the alcohol. It's basic energy accounting, if you remove a lot of the energy to burn as alcohol, there is less remaining to put into the food chain, hence an effect on food costs.

The energy-in vs. energy-out debate for ethanol production goes on. As is typical, the figures bandied about tend to vary depending on the economic interests of those doing the bandying. At best, depending on who is counting what as included costs, it appears there is a pretty small gain in energy for the entire process. No panacea, but like any group receiving government (i.e. taxpayer) subsudies, the proponents can get quite vocal.

look
12-05-2009, 12:43 PM
From what I have read, methane is a significant by-product of the process.

Starwatcher162536
12-05-2009, 07:16 PM
Yes, that makes sense.