Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

I heard some guy on CNN yesterday talking about ethanol in the US

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007) Donate to DU
 
NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:54 PM
Original message
I heard some guy on CNN yesterday talking about ethanol in the US
The one thing I can remember was him saying that if every square inch of land suitable for growing corn was used to make ethanol this would only replace about 15% of our daily consumption of gasoline in the US.

Did I misunderstand this guy? Has anyone else hear of similar numbers?

I would pull up the transcript for this show yesterday afternoon but my browser crashes when I click on CNN and some other news sites. I need a new computer.

Don
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
villager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. it's my understanding that we're better off with algae, hemp
and other sources for ethanol -- but corn, it appears, is a way to get the "heartland" on board, in the early going, it seems...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. I've heard that before.
But I don't know if it's true. Could be disinformation.

Of course, you can make ethanol with algae and use a fraction of the room.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:01 PM
Response to Original message
3. That is with current corn
The idea is that corn is modified to have 25-50% more sugar in it, and then less will be needed.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:02 PM
Response to Original message
4. Sounds About Right - But It Couldn't Be Done
You see, in order to make the 15% you'd have to grow that corn at the same rate we grow it today on much better land than that which is not being currently used.

Then there is the free lunch problems too. You see, the other thing you need to make enough corn - or anything else - to fuel our cars is fertilizer. You need lots and lots of fertilizer, particularly nitrogen. Know where we get it? From Natural Gas.

Virtually every source of supply we use for Natural Gas is decreasing in its ability to serve our needs. In particular, Canada, which is the country from which we get almost all of the gas used in the midwest and west (the east and great lakes are fed from the Gulf of Mexico), is facing a decrease in production of about 8% per year.

Less natural gas means more expensive natural gas, more expensive natural gas, which is the main ingredient in most fertilizers, means much more expensive crops - be they corn for ethanol or for any other purpose.

So, starting to see the problem?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Crankie Avalon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:06 PM
Response to Original message
5. We should be using sugar like in Brazil, since it is much more efficient
...but since corn is a more powerful special interest, corn is the one we are contemplating, even though it will take as much energy to produce whatever energy corn will return, apparently (sugar is supposed to produce eight times more energy than what it takes to produce it, supposedly).
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
electropop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Making fuel from food crops seems wasteful.
Better to make it from waste, such as agricultural and municipal waste.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Phx_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. that is what the guy on CNN said
In fact, he said that using crops to create ethanol would create a world-wide crop shortage. The number I heard was 13%, if every cob of corn was converted to ethanol, it would replace 13% of the gasoline used.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:26 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Nothing Releases More Energy Than It Took To Make It
And you'd be suprised how little sugar you could grow in Maine, even if you were getting it from beets. Oh, that is where most of our sugar comes from you know, its beets, not cane.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #8
15. Northern Maine had a thriving beet sugar industry in the '60's
Cheap sugar imports and those damned liberal wacko environmental laws done kilt it.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Ezlivin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
7. Ethanol and land use
Already, 14.3 percent of corn grown in the United States is converted to ethanol, replacing just 1.72 percent of gasoline usage. Even if all the remaining corn were converted to ethanol, the total ethanol would only offset 12 percent of gasoline. The entire soybean crop would replace a much smaller proportion of transportation fuels--only 6 percent of current diesel usage, which itself amounts to a tiny fraction of gasoline usage. (Source)


David Pimental, a leading Cornell University agricultural expert, has calculated that powering the average U.S. automobile for one year on ethanol (blended with gasoline) derived from corn would require 11 acres of farmland, the same space needed to grow a year's supply of food for seven people. Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion into ethanol, 131,000 BTUs are needed to make one gallon of ethanol. One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTUS. Thus, 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that actually is in it. Every time you make one gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs. (Source)


What do the numbers show?

Last year the U.S. produced just under 4 billion gallons of ethanol, serving just 1 percent of U.S. fuel needs. Academics say production cant go much higher.

If we used all the corn produced in the United States to produce ethanol, it would provide only 7 percent of our total vehicle fuel use, said Cornell agriculture professor David Pimental.

Heres another sober way of looking at it: if every car in America was fully powered by ethanol, it would take 97 percent of U.S. soil to grow enough corn to support it.

And that's not all. It turns out that it takes more energy to make ethanol than it could ever generate.

About 30 percent more fossil energy is required to produce a gallon of ethanol than you actually get out in ethanol, said Pimental.

All in all, its in fact a very inefficient system of converting one kind of fossil energy into another kind of fossil energy, said Patzek.(Source)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Chemical Bill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #7
16. Please don't use Patzek and Pimental as sources.
They have a habit of skewing data to prove their point. See:
http://www.biodiesel.org/members/membersonly/files/pdf/...
http://www.ncga.com/public_policy/issues/2001/ethanol/0...

Of course, Patzek is the head of the UCal Petroleum Consortium, which is supported by oil company money.
http://www.e85fuel.com/news/072105fyi.htm

Before you say that all of my sources have agendas, note that they use USDA data, not their own (presumably biased) numbers.

That said, corn is not the best crop for ethanol production, and biodiesel beats ethanol hands down. We could power every vehicle in the country using biodiesel from algae for less money than the Iraq war has cost so far, using a fraction of the land used for food. Of course, we'd have to all buy diesels.

http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html

Bill
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:32 PM
Response to Original message
9. There will none left for food
and the point will come at which the USA will cease to get the product at Mickey Mouse prices from South American countries under joke trade deals.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Rosie1223 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
10. my calculations are different...
According to the Dept of Energy the US consumes 383.3 mil gal of gas daily or about 140 billion gallons per year.

According to the USDA, it takes 1 bushel of corn to produce 2.5 gal of ethanol.

According to the National Corn Growers, in 2004 the US produced 11.8 billion bushels of corn.

So if all the corn produced in 2004 had been made into ethanol, that would have produced about 30 billion gallons of ethanol. That would cover about 20% of the gasoline usage.

In 2006, 78 million acres were planted to corn. I'm not sure how that person is estimating the "every square inch of land suitable for growing corn", but his numbers seem a little off.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
lectrobyte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:13 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. a gallon of ethanol is what, 60% of the energy of a gallon of gas...
so to replace a gallon of gas, you 1.3 gallons of ethanol, or so I've heard.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe for Clark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:53 PM
Response to Original message
11. I think the posts here are good on this- it is really not possible
to convert to an alcohol dominant fuel base. And I don't think we should if we could. Our food supplies are worth a lot more than that.

We can convert to a syn fuel though. Our military already did or or doing it as we speak. If we go to war and have our oil supplies cut off, it is not going to impact our armed forces.

We'll be waiting in gas lines, but our air force will be flying away.

There was a strong feeling in the country, I believe, when that last embargo happened in the late 70's about the potential for the US to use food as a weapon - "You can't eat oil" - things like that. It was a pretty sobering debate.

Good posts,

Joe
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:04 PM
Response to Original message
13. Yeah, that's the biggest drawback to ethanol
The US simply doesn't have enough cropland to fulfill our fuel needs. That is why biodiesel, made from algae is better. You don't have to use acre one of cropland, and yet we can fulfill all of our fuel needs using biodiesel. All that is needed is for Congress to mandate that all new vehicles are built with a diesel engine instead of a gas one.

Here is a link that goes into the exact calculations:<http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html >
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:39 PM
Response to Original message
17. Ethanol would be a GROSS waste of land---but also OIL! What, after
all, would fuel the farm machinery to get this industry started?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
nealmhughes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. Biodiesel would fuel the engines. That was Diesel's dream: a "closed loop
of a single source (oil from crops) that in turn was used to fuel the engines that produced the seed oil in the first place. He imagined great fields of flax, hemp, sunflowers, etc. that would produce both food/fiber as well as fuel the economy simultaneously.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
nealmhughes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Biodiesel would fuel the engines. That was Diesel's dream: a "closed loop
of a single source (oil from crops) that in turn was used to fuel the engines that produced the seed oil in the first place. He imagined great fields of flax, hemp, sunflowers, etc. that would produce both food/fiber as well as fuel the economy simultaneously.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe for Clark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. It just isn't realistic.
Aside from the fact that everyone would have to replace their cars - there is just not enough raw material to extract fuels in any meaningful way.

Its too bad that is the way it is,

Joe
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Tue Sep 02nd 2014, 02:30 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC