Duckweed, the Miracle Biofuel Plant Part 4 (final part)
BUSTING THE ETHANOL MYTHS
Myth #1: It Takes More Energy to Produce Ethanol than You Get from It!
Most ethanol research over the past 25 years has been on the topic of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI). Public discussion has been dominated by the American Petroleum Institute’s aggressive distribution of the work of Cornell professor David Pimentel and his numerous, deeply flawed studies. Pimentel stands virtually alone in portraying alcohol as having a negative EROEI—producing less energy than is used in its production.
In fact, it’s oil that has a negative EROEI. Because oil is both the raw material and the energy source for production of gasoline, it comes out to about 20% negative. That’s just common sense; some of the oil is itself used up in the process of refining and delivering it (from the Persian Gulf, a distance of 11,000 miles in tanker travel).
The most exhaustive study on ethanol’s EROEI, by Isaias de Carvalho Macedo, shows an alcohol energy return of more than eight units of output for every unit of input—and this study accounts for everything right down to smelting the ore to make the steel for tractors.
But perhaps more important than EROEI is the energy return on fossil fuel input. Using this criterion, the energy returned from alcohol fuel per fossil energy input is much higher. In a system that supplies almost all of its energy from biomass, the ratio of return could be positive by hundreds to one.
Myth #2: There Isn’t Enough Land to Grow Crops for Both Food and Fuel!
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. has 434,164,946 acres of “cropland”—land that is able to be worked in an industrial fashion (monoculture). This is the prime, level, and generally deep agricultural soil. In addition to cropland, the U.S. has 939,279,056 acres of “farmland.” This land is also good for agriculture, but it’s not as level and the soil not as deep. Additionally, there is a vast amount of acreage—swamps, arid or sloped land, even rivers, oceans, and ponds—that the USDA doesn’t count as cropland or farmland, but which is still suitable for growing specialized energy crops.
Of its nearly half a billion acres of prime cropland, the U.S. uses only 72.1 million acres for corn in an average year. The land used for corn takes up only 16.6% of our prime cropland, and only 7.45% of our total agricultural land.
Even if, for alcohol production, we used only what the USDA considers prime flat cropland, we would still have to produce only 368.5 gallons of alcohol per acre to meet 100% of the demand for transportation fuel at today’s levels. Corn could easily produce this level—and a wide variety of standard crops yield up to triple this. Plus, of course, the potential alcohol production from cellulose could dwarf all other crops.
Myth #3: Ethanol’s an Ecological Nightmare!
You’d be hard-pressed to find another route that so elegantly ties the solutions to the problems as does growing our own energy. Far from destroying the land and ecology, a permaculture ethanol solution will vastly improve soil fertility each year.
The real ecological nightmare is industrial agriculture. Switching to organic-style crop rotation will cut energy use on farms by a third or more: no more petroleum-based herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. Fertilizer needs can be served either by applying the byproducts left over from the alcohol manufacturing process directly to the soil, or by first running the byproducts through animals as feed.
Myth #4: It’s Food Versus Fuel—We Should Be Growing Crops for Starving Masses, Not Cars!
Humankind has barely begun to work on designing farming as a method of harvesting solar energy for multiple uses. Given the massive potential for polyculture yields, monoculture-study dismissals of ethanol production seem silly when viewed from economic, energetic, or ecological perspectives.
Because the U.S. grows a lot of it, corn has become the primary crop used in making ethanol here. This is supposedly controversial, since corn is identified as a staple food in poverty-stricken parts of the world. But 87% of the U.S. corn crop is fed to animals. In most years, the U.S. sends close to 20% of its corn to other countries. While it is assumed that these exports could feed most of the hungry in the world, the corn is actually sold to wealthy nations to fatten their livestock. Plus, virtually no impoverished nation will accept our corn, even when it is offered as charity, due to its being genetically modified and therefore unfit for human consumption.
Also, fermenting the corn to alcohol results in more meat than if you fed the corn directly to the cattle. We can actually increase the meat supply by first processing corn into alcohol, which only takes 28% of the starch, leaving all the protein and fat, creating a higher-quality animal feed than the original corn.
Agelbert NOTE: Did you read that last paragraph closely? It is a very important paragraph because it is proof that you can STILL FEED THE CORN TO ANIMALS after you have taken 28% of the starch out to make ethanol! You can never do that with hydrocarbons. This gives proper corn or other biofeedstock processing for ethanol AND animal feed a huge jump in EROEI (energy return on energy invested).
Myth #5: Big Corporations Get All Those Ethanol Subsidies, and Taxpayers Get Nothing in Return!
Between 1968 and 2000, oil companies received subsidies of $149.6 billion, compared to ethanol’s paltry $116.6 million. The subsidies alcohol did receive have worked extremely well in bringing maturity to the industry. Farmer-owned cooperatives now produce the majority of alcohol fuel in the U.S. Farmer-owners pay themselves premium prices for their corn and then pay themselves a dividend on the alcohol profit.
The increased economic activity derived from alcohol fuel production has turned out to be crucial to the survival of noncorporate farmers, and the amounts of money they spend in their communities on goods and services and taxes for schools have been much higher in areas with an ethanol plant. Plus, between $3 and $6 in tax receipts are generated for every dollar of ethanol subsidy. The rate of return can be much higher in rural communities, where re-spending within the community produces a multiplier factor of up to 22 times for each alcohol fuel subsidy dollar.
Myth #6: Ethanol Doesn’t Improve Global Warming! In Fact, It Pollutes the Air!
Alcohol fuel has been added to gasoline to reduce virtually every class of air pollution. Adding as little as 5–10% alcohol can reduce carbon monoxide from gasoline exhaust dramatically. When using pure alcohol, the reductions in all three of the major pollutants—carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons—are so great that, in many cases, the remaining emissions are unmeasurably small. Reductions of more than 90% over gasoline emissions in all categories have been routinely documented for straight alcohol fuel.
It is true that when certain chemicals are included in gasoline, addition of alcohol at 2–20% of the blend can cause a reaction that makes these chemicals more volatile and evaporative. But it’s not the ethanol that’s the problem; it’s the gasoline.
Alcohol carries none of the heavy metals and sulfuric acid that gasoline and diesel exhausts do. And straight ethanol’s evaporative emissions are dramatically lower than gasoline’s, no more toxic than what you’d find in the air of your local bar.
As for global warming, the production and use of alcohol neither reduces nor increases the atmosphere’s CO2. In a properly designed system, the amount of CO2 and water emitted during fermentation and from exhaust is precisely the amount of both chemicals that the next year’s crop of fuel plants needs to make the same amount of fuel once again.
Alcohol fuel production actually lets us reduce carbon dioxide emissions, since the growing of plants ties up many times more carbon dioxide than is created in the production and use of the alcohol. Converting from a hydrocarbon to a carbohydrate economy could quickly reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Very well then, this ethanol sounds like great stuff (besides its use for 'medicinal' purposes LOL!). You would like to mix up your own batch of this great fuel. Where do we start and how does duckweed fit into the ethanol equation?
To answer these questions we need to work backwards from the prime ethanol fuel called E100.
While we are discussing what ethanol is, how it is made and what the effects on the environment are, never forget that ethanol produced from plants is
COMPETITION for the fossil fuel industry so they are not happy with the growth of ethanol as a biofuel replacement for fossil fuels in our civilization from cars to power plants. At present, the fossil fuel industry actually produces about 5% of the world's ethanol from petroleum products. So they stand to lose that product as well as all the other energy products from bio-fuel ethanol products.
Ethanol is a renewable energy source because the energy is generated by using a resource, sunlight, which cannot be depleted. Creation of ethanol starts with photosynthesis causing a feedstock, such as sugar cane or a grain such as maize (corn), to grow. These feedstocks are processed into ethanol.
About 5% of the ethanol produced in the world in 2003 was actually a petroleum product. Two million tons of petroleum-derived ethanol are produced annually. The principal suppliers are plants in the United States, Europe, and South Africa.Petroleum derived ethanol (synthetic ethanol) is chemically identical to bio-ethanol and can be differentiated only by radiocarbon dating.
Bio-ethanol is usually obtained from the conversion of carbon based feedstock. Agricultural feedstocks are considered renewable because they get energy from the sun using photosynthesis, provided that all minerals required for growth (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) are returned to the land. Ethanol can be produced from a variety of feedstocks such as sugar cane, bagasse, miscanthus, sugar beet, sorghum, grain, switchgrass, barley, hemp, kenaf, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, sunflower, fruit, molasses, corn, stover, grain, wheat, straw, cotton, other biomass, as well as many types of cellulose waste and harvestings, whichever has the best well-to-wheel assessment.
We have, for all practical purposes, an unlimited energy source in the form of solar photons absorbed at various different levels of efficiency to produce nutrients for plant life. What's more, these solar photon processing units of life called plants grow over most of our planet, particularly where humans are most concentrated.
This is a radical departure from fossil fuels which cost enormous amounts of money to safeguard in certain world areas where they are concentrated. This concentration of energy, when it is controlled centrally, as it is done by the global powers, has led to inequality, corrupt police state type governments, wars, and a controlling oligarchy of conscience free predator humans lording it over the great mass of the human population. This in turn has resulted in rampant pollution, global warming and a great deal of human misery.
Plainly, the status quo is unsustainable so we must move to a sustainable civilization or perish.
Returning to the miracle of plant life energy processing, we need to look at what plants make from photosynthesis that we can, in turn, use sustainably (no pollution and no change in the soil, water or air elemental percentage composition) for the benefit of human civilization in harmony with the requirements of a robustly healthy biosphere.
Plants make many millions of biochemical compounds in their life cycles but we are interested in sugar(s) they make. All types of sugars have carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms arranged in an order that is suitable for energy extraction by oxidation.
Yeast will, in a process called fermentation, convert these sugars into alcohols, a more concentrated form of energy. Nothing will do this cheaper than yeast. The process has no negative effects on the environment unlike the process of making ethanol from fossil fuels. That is why the overwhelming percentage of ethanol production in the world is done by fermentation.
Plants store sugar(s) as is (sugars) or as starches (spirally linked sugar molecules). Plants also make lipids that can be harvested for lubricants to replace fossil fuel lubricants but I will concentrate on the sugar(s), which is the main energy product plants produce.
As you know, a duckweed frond and a tree are both forms of plant life but there are important differences. Simply put, the main difference is whether they are "woody" (highly vascularized) or not. The woodier the plant, the more energy it takes to get the sugars out of it. Plants like corn use a lot of their sugars to make cellulose structure to hold the plant up. It's more of the same with trees. Unless you are a termite and can digest cellulose (wood), it's rather energy intensive to take apart a cellulose molecule to get its sugar building blocks.
Sugar cane has a lot of structure (woodiness in the form of cellulose) too but it has the advantage of storing its sugar mostly as sucrose rather than starch. This eliminates a step in processing that is required with corn starch so it's a bit cheaper to get sugars out of sugar cane. It is possible to undo what a plant did to make woody portions from sugars into cellulose but there is a problem doing that.
There is a substance called lignin that provides compressive strength to plant fibers. That's what makes them tough and flexible at the same time. The more structure a plant has, the more lignin is in it. The more lignin, the more energy it takes to extract the starches in the plant as well as taking apart the cellulose vascularization to obtain added sugars.
This is why a plant like duckweed, that is extremely low in lignin and has about 40% starch content, is an ideal plant for ethanol production. The ease of extraction of starch or sugars is key to making a process cost efficient as well as environmentally sustainable. A sugar maple tree produces a lot of sugar but is not economically feasible as an energy source. They tap those trees in the spring and get a very watery sap that they have to boil (using lots of energy) to evaporate a lot of the water content so you can pour it on your pancakes (86 gallons of raw sap to get just one gallon of syrup!).
If you were particularly aggressive (and destructive), you could process the entire cellulose content (the wood) of the maple tree using huge amounts of energy to strip the cellulose from the lignin encasing the fibers and then chemically alter the cellulose to its base sugars. That takes more energy than you will get out of it so it makes no sense economically or environmentally.
Corn is better but it's a poor choice compared with sugar cane.
"Brazil's sugar cane-based industry is more efficient than the U.S. corn-based industry. Sugar cane ethanol has an energy balance seven times greater than ethanol produced from corn. "
Duckweed is several times better than sugar cane as the scientists at Rutgers in combination with Chinese scientists have learned (see Part 1 of this article).
The main thing to remember is that renewable energy plant biofuel sources are not created equal. What we want, beyond it being a renewable energy source, is as many of the following attributes as possible:
1, Grows fast without chemical fertilizers, pesticide application, plowing or energy intensive harvesting.
2. Is carbon neutral.
3. Has enough species diversity to avoid the monoculture danger of death by disease.
4. Has a low lignin content (small or insignificant amount of plant energy devoted to making wood structural vascularization like stalks and roots).
5. Grows in a wide geographic area of the planet with a long, and in some areas year round growing season.
6. Has a high starch (linked sugar molecules in a spiral) content.
If you wanted the crop for other products that would replace the products now made from fossil fuel hydrocarbons like plastics, pharmaceuticals, chemical pesticides, fertilizers, synthetic rubber, insulation, textiles, etc., you would have a different list of requirements that might require more woody fibrous content plants such as hemp.
But after looking the list over, you can see why a plant that grows faster than any other angiosperm in the world, grows from the equator to Siberia, has 40% starch content, is low in lignin because it floats (doesn't need support structure for stalks or extensive root system) is ideal for ethanol production and corn is a very bad choice.
Sugar cane is much better than corn but duckweed has the advantage of much higher output per acre on ponds placed over non-arable land. That means energy production would never interfere with food crop production as long as duckweed is the main ethanol source. What's more, there is much more non-arable land available cheap all over the world now than arable land for all of human and animal food crops.
That's right, we can generate all the ethanol we need to eliminate fossil fuel use, even without considering the other wonderful renewable energy devices like PV and wind turbines, without touching food crop arable lands.
When ethanol is made the old fashioned way to make something you can drink, both yeast fermentation and distillation are used. The concentration of ethanol is the "proof". 100% ethanol equals 200 proof booze. 65% ethanol equals 130 proof hooch( 35% water).
Ethanol produced this way is "hydrous" (it's got some water in it, no matter how much you distill it). Anhydrous ethanol has no water in it and requires further processing. We'll discuss the 'hydrous versus anhydrous" ethanol issue the fossil fuelers like to make a big deal out of (it's half truth disinformation) for car fuel later.
Now enjoy this video on how to make hootch or moonshine. From this hootch we need further processing to get to fuel for you car.
Summary of the above video:
Makin' Moonshine! 65% concentration = 130 proof
1. Temperature 150 F with 4 gallons distilled H2O and grain mix for one hour with stirring.
2. Filter out grain with 5th gallon of H2O and add 5 lbs. sugar.
3. Allow to cool to 90 F. Add yeast, stirring in, and cork with water valve and leave set until bubbling CO2 stops (Yeast done fermenting sugar to alcohol - about a week to ten days).
4. Filter out solids and place in Still with heat to 175 F (approx).
5. Put ice in condenser. Head of first 50 ml is methanol (otherwise known as wood alcohol), acetone and other bad VOCs. Discard where it won't kill humans, other animals or plants!
6. Collect Hearts (body about 4 jars - see video for size) until tailings bitter taste begins. Check proof of hearts as you collect the first jar with a hygrometer.
7. Collect a jar of tailings as temp approaches 200 F. Save tailings to add to next batch to extract some more ethanol from them.
8. Turn heat off. You are done for drinkable hooch.
You have now observed yeast fermentation and distillation in action. Please watch this (very) brief video of how distillation works. It gets more detailed later but this is the basic principle.
All told, by distilling fermented alcohols repeatedly, we were able to get to 130 proof (65% ethanol, 35% water).
During ethanol fermentation, glucose and other sugars in the plant crop are converted into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
C6H12O6 → 2 C2H5OH+ 2 CO2 + heat
Like any fermentation reaction, the fermentation is not 100% selective, and other side products such acetic acid, glycols and many other products are formed to a considerable extent and need to be removed during the purification of the ethanol.
The fermentation takes place in aqueous (it has water in it) solution and the resulting solution after fermentation has an ethanol content of around 15%. That is after the yeast has stopped bubbling out CO2 in the water valve that lets CO2 out but doesn't let air (which contains water vapor) in.
The ethanol is subsequently isolated and purified by a combination of adsorption and distillation techniques. The purification is very energy intensive but would be basically free if concentrated solar power was used to heat the distillation tanks. At present, Brazil keeps their EROEI high by burning a portion of the sugar cane not used for ethanol to fire steam boilers that power electrical generators. They not only have enough heat for the ethanol process, but actually export electrical energy to the Brazilian power grid.
This plant produces the electricity it needs from baggasse residuals from sugar cane left over by the milling process, and it sells the surplus electricity to public utilities.
Ethanol fuel in Brazil
During combustion ethanol reacts with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, water, and heat:
C2H5OH + 3 O2 → 2 CO2 + 3 H2O + heat
In the video of burning ethanol in one bowl and gasoline in an other you saw how cleanly ethanol burns and how much soot and waste heat gasoline produces.
If you doubt the veracity of the video, just take a few ounces of at least 150 proof ethanol and a few ounces of gasoline and do the test in some old bowls in your back yard yourself. Gasoline is nasty stuff.
Yes, that happens in your combustion chamber too. Soot in the form of incomplete combustion carbon combustion abrades the cylinder walls and shorten your engine's life.
This is the exact reverse of what the fossil fuelers preach. What is ACTUALLY bad for you car engine is gasoline, not ethanol, no matter what the water content. Why? Because the ethanol, having a prepackaged amount of oxygen, more easily combusts totally. Secondly, ethanol is a consistent fuel, it doesn't have many different impurities and different length chains of hydrocarbons that burn at different temperatures and rates.
Did you know you can put your hand on the exhaust pipe of a motorcycle burning ethanol or the manifold of a car engine running ethanol without getting burned? The energy that is converted to waste heat and higher engine wear in gasoline (a lot of the heat comes from the soot incomplete combustion particles) is not wasted in ethanol combustion; it is added to the mechanical energy to move your car.
All crude oil, particularly now that the really low purity tars are being refined and even coal is being gasified by Exxon to make gasoline (a horrendously polluting and energy intensive process), is a finite product from the ground with many impurities.
Only algae based fuels have been able to produce drop in fuels that have a high level of purity approaching that of ethanol for jet fuels (green crude kerosene and diesel oils) but they still aren't economical. Algae has the problem of requiring enormous amounts of energy to extract the water from all those tiny cells. That may be overcome in the future but for now what is cost efficent, low tech and requires low amounts of energy to sufficiently dry, is duckweed in preparation for ethanol production.
So let's say you have your 130 proof (65% ethanol) hootch and want to make internal combustion engine (ICE) fuel for your car or motorcycle. Well, for the ethanol to work okay in your ICE you need, according to David Blume, 160 to 190 proof ethanol.
The trick to making ethanol of sufficient proof to run in your ICE is the distillation column and the temperature at which the high proof alcohol is extracted.
This is not that hard because the distillation column design has the level that you place the extraction condensation coil designed into it. You don't have to reinvent the wheel here.
Now these enterprising gentlemen from Alabama built a nice distillation setup producing 190 proof ethanol for about $150 using PVC. I see no problem with this because you are trying to make fuel, not some drinkable hootch that requires a stainless steel or copper still for taste and health purposes.
I like this video because they patiently explain where to get all the parts and what they cost. Notice the info about the feds (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) requiring you to put a 1% GASOLINE (idiots!) in the ethanol to make sure it is "fuel grade". That's just a hat tip to big oil in the USA. I suppose they claim it's really to keep people from drinking it but I don't buy that for a second. I am certain no such requirement exists in other countries like Brazil that make ethanol for ICE fuel. But it is the LAW here in the United States Oil Oligarchy so 'don't ya firget it'!
I'll bet you don't understand what the marbles are doing. I had a bit of diffculty with it at first but the following principle is involved. When the hot gases are rising inside the distillation column, you want as much surface area as possible for the water vapor in the gases to condense on to so the water content is reduced as the gas gets higher and higher in the distillation column. The marbles provide a lot of (cheap) surface area and are a sort of pre-condenser that makes the coil condenser further up condense the proper proof of alcohol. Without the marbles, you might have to do redistilling to get enough water out to get to 160 proof or better.
Notice the first step has a "beer" with about 10% alcohol. This is the product of fermentation.
So there you have it. You read this article, ran out and made your own fuel and are ready to pour it in you gasoline tank.
Hold on there, pardner!
You've been running gasoline carbon depositing, engine gunking crap for as many miles as you have on your car. What do you think is going to happen when you put "dragster fuel "( that's what they run them on, you know) in your ICE? Well, the carbon deposits are going to start to come loose and may clog your exhaust ports or create sudden large abrasive forces in your cylinders and pistons. Ethanol constantly keeps an engine clean but if the engine is dirty it also will loosen the carbon and gunk.
So the recommended procedure to transition to E80 (160 proof) up to E95 (190 proof) is to put one gallon of your homemade ethanol in your tank the next time you fill it with gasoline. Each subsequent tank filling you will add another gallon (2 gallons the second filling, 3 gallons the third, etc.) to the fuel tank until you add the full tank amount in ethanol. This gradual transition will clear your engine of gunk gradually without any deleterious results.
To get maximum mileage from ethanol, you need to change the fuel air mixture in the fuel injection. David Blume sells a kit for any ICE that exists in the USA for about $380. It will just give you better mileage, that's all. You do not have to put the kit on.
Now let's talk about hydrous and anhydrous ethanol. The 190 (E95)proof you get from your home system is hydrous (its got 5% water). The fossil fuel industry has spread disinformation about the water content causing gasoline tank corrosion and engine wear.
It's a pack of lies.
NOTE: There is some pro-fossil fuel disinformation implying you need some gasoline in the ethanol. Remember that video was produced for U.S. audiences and you KNOW that big oil demanded their pound of flesh. But all in all, it shows how Brazil kicked the big oil habit. They are now 100% free of imported oil.
Ethanol in Brazil
In 1973, after the first Arab oil embargo. did what the U.S. should have done; they resolved to replace fossil fuels with biofuels. Brazil passed a law requiring all the fuel stations have 100% ethanol available for cars. In the USA, the fossil fuel corporations control the liquid fuel distribution to this day. That is why you do not have the choice of buying 100% ethanol at a gas station in the USA.
The General Motors 1.8 liter flex fuel control module (Corsa flex sub-compact sold in Brazil) adjusts to the fuel mixture in real time with a maximum horsepower of 109 hp on 100% ethanol and 105 hp on gasoline ( 5:10 point in video).
How about that! The fossil fuelers probably don't want you to know you can get MORE HORSEPOWER from the SAME ENGINE with ETHANOL than from gasoline. This puts the lie to the old "gasoline has higher enthalpy so it gives better mileage" CRAP from Professor Charles Hall's SUNY EROEI study.
It has been known since early in the 20th century that the higher octane of ethanol makes it equal to or more economical than gasoline as long as you run it in a high compression engine. And even if you don't run it in a high compression engine, your engine will require less maintenance running on ethanol than on gasoline.
Not only is ethanol a better fuel than gasoline but, in addition, it is actually contributing to improved air quality in Brazilian cities.
Here's a recent article on how successful Brazil's total transition away from gasoline to ethanol has been:
Big Oil's big smear
Special to The Tampa Tribune
Published: February 24, 2013
Big Oil's best kept secret from the American consumer is Brazil's fuel ethanol mandate, which started during the 1970s as a result of the OPEC oil embargoes. In Brazil, where ethanol is made from sugar cane, all gasoline contains 20 percent to 25 percent ethanol (E20-E25). At retail stations, consumers can choose to fuel up on 100 percent ethanol (E100) or with E20 to E25.
For decades, conventional unmodified automobiles in Brazil ran on E20-E25 with no engine problems whatsoever. By 2003, the Brazilian government incentivized the sale of flex-fuel automobiles which can run on any blend of ethanol up to E100. As of December 2010, Brazil had more than 12 million flex-fuel vehicles and 500,000 motorcycles regularly using E100 fuel. Even small engines for lawn equipment have successfully used E20-E25 in Brazil.
Yet here in the United States, Big Oil and the American Petroleum Institute have launched an all-out war against ethanol via a massive advertising smear campaign in an attempt to quash the U.S. ethanol industry. In fact, the API has publicly announced it is seeking a congressional repeal of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2), which mandates our country use 36 billion gallons per year of biofuel, mainly ethanol, by 2022. Currently, the United States is at 14 billion gallons per year of production capacity from corn ethanol, which saturates the U.S. gasoline market at a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10). However, the RFS-2 caps corn ethanol at 15 billion gallons, and the remaining volumes to meet the RFS-2 will be primarily from non-food feedstocks.
The 36 billion gallons represents about 25 percent of our country's gasoline supply. Big Oil and API claim that E15, which is gasoline that contains 15 percent ethanol, is not safe for motor vehicles, will damage engines and void warranties, and is not adequately tested for car use. Never mind that E15 is by far the most thoroughly tested motor fuel in the history of the EPA, and has been approved by EPA for car models 2001 and newer. Never mind that E20 and E25 have been used in unmodified conventional automobiles in Brazil for decades with no motor problems.
The reality is that Big Oil is fearful of losing market share to ethanol by going to blends higher than E10, which are required to meet the RFS-2 blending requirements. The perpetuation of myths and misinformation on the facts and benefits of ethanol is rampant and escalating.
Full article here:
NREL Team Tests Higher Ethanol Fuel Mix
September 18, 2009
SNIPPET in regard to catalytic converters:
"Study results so far have shown that as ethanol increased, tailpipe emissions stayed largely the same. There was no significant change in nitrogen oxides or non-methane organic gas emissions. Carbon monoxide emissions declined for all of the ethanol blends.
But the disinformation continues. This statement from wikipeda is false:
"The use of pure hydrous or anhydrous ethanol in internal combustion engines (ICEs) is only possible if the engines are designed or modified for that purpose."
That is like saying you have to redesign your engine to get a different fuel/air ratio in your fuel injection! WTF? That's ridiculous! And to let you know how strong big oil's influence is, they have forced every engine manufacturer in the USA to claim you will void your warrantee if you burn ethanol.
It's a scare tactic. Your engine will run BETTER if you burn ethanol. Gasoline increases engine wear, not ethanol.
Here's a video of some very thorough individuals that proved for themselves what a great fuel ethanol is.
Inside of an engine NOT modified for ethanol with 105,000 miles of E85. www.ethanol.org
The following video is from a multi-video series from David Blume on ethanol on u-tube available free on the internet that goes into much detail I have not covered here. I bring this to your attention to show you how threatened big oil feels about ethanol.
If you have time and are serious about making your own ethanol, I recommend you watch the whole series.
One final word about hydrous (with water) and anhydrous (no water) ethanol. To get anhydrous ethanol you need to use a lot of energy. Unless you have some specific chemical purpose for that product, there is no reason to even mention it in regard to ethanol. It has NOTHING to do with water buildup in gasoline tanks that cause corrosion.
I flew light twin aircraft for a number of years. Unfortunately, to this day the gasoline on ICE powered aircraft is the really bad stuff with tetra-ethyl lead (and you thought it was banned from use, didn't you?). Of course they could run these aircraft engines on ethanol but apparently big oil is exerting influence there too. Remember that if you are on an approach path to a busy general aviation airport, you are getting showered with lead poisons. It's legal.
But getting back to my flying experience and water contamination causing corrsion or faulty engine performance, let me explain what big oil doesn't want to explain to you.
As a pilot you are concerned with water in your fuel. All pilots are trained to fill the tanks on their aircraft when they finish flying that day. Why? Because any air in those tanks contains a certain amount of water vapor. When the aircraft tank cools at night, water vapor inside a half filled tank will condense into the gasoline.
Gasoline and water do not mix. Water is heavier and always sinks to the lowest part of the tank which just happens to be where the fuel line to the engine is located. As an air taxi pilot, you don't own the aircraft and cannot tell if the tanks were topped off the day before until you check. If you are making the first flight on an aircraft on a given day and you find partially filled fuel tanks, that's a danger sign.
I would carry a fuel contamination tester (see above) for each preflight. The aircraft fuel tanks have sump drains that are just a hair lower than the fuel line location. You open the sump and take a sample. If you don't see water in the bottom, you are good to go. If you do find water, you keep draining the sump until there is no evidence of water.
As a flight instructor, I would put some spit in the gasoline to show my students how easy it is to tell if you have water contamination. The spit will turn into a shiny bead and sink to the bottom of he sample. In other words, if you run gasoline in your tank and don't fill it up each night (nobody that owns an ICE car does, do they?), you have water in your fuel guaranteed!
The irony of this fossil fuel founded disinformation about ethanol is that ethanol, unlike gasoline, DOES mix quite well with water! It does NOT separate out. How many times have you seen water in your whisky bottle? You aren't drinking anhydrous 200 proof are you? Of course not! Humans can't handle those levels. You probably have between 80 and 130 proof hard liquor ethanol and the rest is WATER (80 proof = 40% ethanol and 60% water).
So boys and girls, if you have ethanol in your fuel tank, you have LESS chance of water corrosion than with gasoline.
Why? Because water condensation from cooled air inside your fuel tank will mix freely with the alcohol molecules in a state of equilibrium and will NOT sink to the bottom.
However, if gasoline is what is in your tank, condensed water will sink right to the bottom of your tank and be positioned for hours to DAYS on that bottom ready to aid corrosion when it encounters a bit of oxygen from the air swishing around your tank. You can put that in the next fossil fueler's pipe and make them smoke it the next time you hear some lies about ethanol caused water corrosion.
All that said, I, like the last fellow in the video from Alabama, agree that duckweed ethanol is not the only biofuel source out there and it will take many of them for different purposes to replace all the fossil fuel poisons involved in our energy infrastructure. PV, wind and a host of other technologies will have their place in the new distributed, rather than centralized, energy paradigm.
The Europeans are beating us to the proper perspective on energy and products. Which is, moving to replace products made from fossil fuels with plant based products.
Check out this video of how Europe is now making a plethora of excellent, sustainable products from hemp instead of from fossil fuels.
Please click on the link. I have not been able to embed the video here.
+Ethanol is also great for motorcycles:
Honda has been marketing the CG 150 Titan 2014 which runs on ethanol in Brazil for 4 years.
Honda to sell world's 1st bike with bio-ethanol mixed fuel
Posted Mar 12th 2009 8:39AM
There are tons of flex-fuel automobiles in the world, both in the United States and abroad. Interestingly, though, before today there weren't any flex-fuel motorcycles in existence. Honda has just rectified that little oversight with its new CG150 Titan Mix, a model that will be available in Brazil for under $3,000 starting this month. As it's name suggests, the ethanol-capable bike features a 150cc single cylinder engine that's equipped with Honda's proprietary Mix Fuel Injection System which is capable of detecting the presence and concentration of ethanol and gasoline and tailoring its operation based on what it's been fed.
It's not surprising that this new model would debut first in Brazil. That country has managed to produce enough ethanol, mostly from sugarcane, to nearly displace fossil fuels from its transportation sector. Honda's Brazilian subsidiary hopes to sell 200,000 CG150 Titan Mix models per year.
In Brazil, penetration of flexible-fuel technology is well advanced, and approximately 90% of new automobiles sold in Brazil are equipped with flexible-fuel technology. However, CG150 TITAN MIX will be the first motorcycle model to be equipped with flexible-fuel technology.
Industry-wide new motorcycle registrations in Brazil reached approximately 1.91 million units in 2008, and Honda sales accounted for 1.326 million units of the total.
May 19 2009
Brazilian cities have enjoyed dramatic improvements in air quality since their country went for ethanol in a big way.
And bikers love the higher octane that alcohol fuel offers, with its better responsiveness and acceleration.
If Brazil has gotten virtually free from big oil with sugar cane, just imagine what the world can do with duckweed refineries like the Chinese are planning to build.
Pass the word. With duckweed ethanol, we do not need gasoline!
If you missed the earlier parts of this article, click below to go to Part 1.
The Big Question: Can Countries Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy?