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April 23, 2005


Jon S.

Gasoline costs more than ethanol to produce?

Then why does it cost less than ethanol?

A lot of ethanol studies seem to study the best case scenario. Say we have a closed ethanol system, self powered bootstrapped production, and get 33% excess energy out of it for a few years.

Then, a bad growing season comes along, cutting the size of the corn to 60% of normal

What then?.


I didn't say that gasoline costs more to produce than ethanol, I said that it takes more fossil fuel energy to produce gasoline than ethanol. A great deal of the petroleum, that gasoline producers use in producing gasoline, is within the refinery where the costs are much lower than in the retail marketplace.

The best case scenario for producing ethanol may be optimistic in that the most advanced technology that been demonstrated, is used in analyzing costs, resulting in lower costs than are seen in the market place. Analysis is used, among other things, to justify continuing development of the process. A lot of ethanol is not produced by state of the art plants, thus raising the market price.

All energy sources suffer from production irregularities, do to hurricanes, political unrest or, in the case of ethanol, poor growing seasons. That is why we need stocks (inventory) of fuels. We curently have about 80 days worth of total petroleum stocks. I don't know what we have in stocks of ethanol, but I presume that it is very low. Ethanol is primarily used for blending with gasoline and, at the present time, other petroleum products can be substituted as required. Ethanol can not be our primary source of fuel, without tremendous breakthroughs in biomass production (such as algae?) or large quantities of imports. Fuel suppliers use extremely sophisticated methods of predicting sources of supplies and planing to smooth out irregular supplies of fuel components.

That brings up the point of what happens when petroleum plus ethanol supplies are not sufficient to meet demands. The most likely anwser is coal liquefaction. This is well demonstrated technology, but it has never been used, to any significant extent, in the US. The government has to take the lead in seeing that significant demonstration plants are built. I only hope that they have the wisdom to do so.


Sara Wellman

Thanks for your article on ethanol efficiency; it answered a lot of questions I had been wondering about. Now, as to your comments about clean coal, if you've ever been to Southern Appalachia, you know that when it comes to coal we need much more than simple better ways to burn it to make it "clean". Coal mining has been the most devastating concept ever to reach those mountains. It literally removes mountaintops and poisons streams, and the mining corporations seem to think that smoothing it all over and planting grass (think golf course) is an improvement. So until we drastically change the way we extract coal, to protect the natural environment, habitat, and wildlife diversity, coal cannot be considerede a clean or green technology, no matter how efficient the burning of it may be.

Metro Ethernet

and why if Ethanol cost less than gasoline why we still use gasoline?/
I really dont understand, but thanks anyway

Invertir en oro

I think that this post is very good, i would like to read more information about this topic.

LED String Lights

I think it's better to use ethanol because it's much cheaper than gasoline but why there are many people using gasoline?

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