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« Ethanol Forces Farmland Prices Up | Main | The Need for Both Biofuels and Battery Based Vehicles »

March 01, 2007


Ronald Brak

They plan to spend up to 385 million dollars on cellulistic ethanol? Well then, maybe you'll find the following thought experiment interesting. If a fuel efficent hybrid car costs $2,000 more to make than a normal car, then $385 million could pay for 192,500 hybrids. If these hybrids were used to replace taxis and other cars that drive long distances each day, then it could save the United States far more in energy than 130 million gallons of ethanol contains and no energy or money would have to be spent producing the ethanol.


Good analysis Ronald. 200+ mpg serial plugin hybrids would save even more fuel.

More tax dollars sent out to buy votes and "donations" to political campaigns. That's what the 385 mill is really being spent on. Agribizz boondoggle.

Buddy Ebsen

This is seed capital, not a pure expenditure. Any investment like this will not do too well in a calculation that only counts immediate returns.

First off, the 130 million gallons is for the first year only, and does not account for any expansion in production which may follow rapidly.

What if this 385 million R&D type investment results in three or four viable companies that end up producing billions of gallons of ethanol per year?

You can't easily do a cost/benefit for investment, please don't use it as a basis for comparison.


George Bush delivers while treehuggers WHINE.


The technical argument against cellulosic ethanol can be found here:



It is about dependence on foreign energy Studpid. Gas cost the US consumer in excess of $10.50 per gallon and thousands of lives when you add the cost of energy security.
When you produce energy in america the money turns over in america.
Supports American economy, creates american jobs. Supports our drive to decentralized supply therefore energy security and stops foreign dependence. Many of these projects will also produce renewable electricty and offer new cropping opportunities for producers, utilize our wastestreams and forest resources.
Why don't all you technology bashers and nay sayers first do your homework on understanding the technologies and then go back to your (I hate progress at any price) rock and climb under.
This matching grant program (not a give away) will prove to be an unbelieveable success for all of us, at a small fraction of the cost of a military deployment to protect ur trade routes and supply of energy.
Enery supply is the worlds most contentious issue. Let's all work together to lessen the supply problems and tensions in an expanding global trading and manufacturing environment. And oh by the way reduce greenhouse emissions and sequester carbon back to the earth from which is came.

Ronald Brak

Thanks for pointing me towards that post on cellulosic ethanol, Subbu. With all the hype about it I assumed that technical advances must have been made that I hadn't been aware of. However, it still looks like burning biomass for heating - freeing up oil and natural gas for transportation, would be more efficent than converting it to ethanol.


Subbu and Randall,
I also visited that post, but think it is dated and represents an inflexible view developed by two researchers over "3 decades".

"severe barriers remain to ethanol from lignocellulose. The barriers look as daunting as they did 30 years ago. Ethanol from lignocellulose may indeed come to pass. But the odds against are so dismal"

Might have looked that way last August, but here are posts on a few large scale cellulosic ethanol plants being built:





"Need I point out that there is only one pilot plant operating, Iogen in Canada, at a quarter of initially announced capacity? That is all we really can, and actually need, say about the commercial status of this technology."
...and the above posts are all that I need to counter this.
Actually, at the time this was written the Japanese cellulosic ethanol plant was already in operation. You are wise to be cautious of over-promised capabilities for new technologies, but in science and technology fields you must also be careful of entrenched beliefs in old dogmas.

I'm not a huge fan of ethanol as a fuel. Biobutanol or biodeisel would be better. It may provide some temporary relief from our current dependence on oil from unfriendly nations. It's clear that significant improvements have been made in electricity storage devices (batteries) in the last few years. As these go to market and economies of scale are achieved, we can expect the price and performance to improve. We will all be driving EVs and/or PHEVs in 20 to 30 years, because it will be more economical before then. Companies producing biobutanol and biodeisel can then just switch over to selling them for industrial use. Bio-ethanol is not as useful as an industrial raw material. That's a long time away though.

فيس بوك

i still wonder for along time how this comes right

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Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles