Watering Down The Whiskey

Posted: 02/05/2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
Here in Maine we like our drinks the way they’re supposed to be. Unless you’re one of those people from away who can’t stomach the real stuff. Some of the bars will from time to time try the trick, but people figure it out after a while and move on to another bar. The same thing is happening in the world of energy, and the Ethanol and gasoline fuel debate. By the way, how come we haven’t gotten onto the bandwagon and turned all of those bad or substandard potatoes into alcohol for fuel? Weak whiskey doesn’t pack the punch, and we all know this fact, even if we don’t want to admit it.

I’ve read some articles over the last couple of days, both pro and con to get an idea of the benefit versus cost ratio to using ethanol as a fuel additive. The bottom line is this; adding ethanol to gasoline at a rate of 15% does bring down the cost per gallon, making it a cheaper pump price than 100% regular gasoline. But the real cost of ethanol at in your tank is a different issue. I discovered some items to be considered that haven’t really come to mind. One issue is the impact on the world economy, as well as our own economy here in the US. Another issue is the environmental impact. And still a third issue is the discussion of whether it is a beneficial additive or not.

Over the last few months we’ve seen how much of an impact ethanol production supposedly contributes to the world economy, or what it takes from it. With good reason there are good points made to question the extent of that impact, but there is no doubt that there is an impact. And that impact is one that should give us reason to pause and look a little closer at the issue at hand. Rising food costs around the world have caused riots and shortages on nearly every continent. We’ve seen pictures from Haiti and the food riots the has led to the call for the Prime Minister’s resignation.

But how much does this ethanol production attribute to these costs and the resulting problems. Analysts opinions vary, some sating it is the sole cause of the problem. But I believe the real causes of the problem are more likely caused by other factors. By turning valuable cropland into fuel land, there is no doubt that less land is available for food. But look at it in this perspective. The food problems are caused by reductions in wheat and rice production, not corn. There are some factors resulting in this reduction. One is the devastating multi year drought in Australia. Many farmers there have not been able to grow wheat for three years now because of this drought. Australia was pretty much the world’s largest producer of wheat, supplying much of the needed grain to underdeveloped countries. Another factor is that in Asia, large tracts of land once devoted to rice are being filled in and turned into industrial land where factories are being built.

So we can see where the food problem isn’t just about ethanol production alone. So is it worth the cost to produce and use ethanol or not. Ultimately, it’s your decision, but here’s my take on the issue; “while a potential does exist for ethanol to be used as an additive to regular gasoline, the current trend of converting corn crops to its use does not justify the cost, and further, unless greater gains are made in the efficiency and compatibility of ethanol to other fuels, its true production costs currently outweigh the gains.”

There are several factors that go into developing my decision. One of those factors is the environment itself. One of the problems I have here is the false doctrine of global warming being marketed by the UN. The particular issue is the whole CO2 side of the issue. Their claim that CO2 is bad for mankind, which it is, counterbalances the fact that CO2 is good for mankind, which it is. In what way can CO2be both bad and good? Some say it doesn’t make sense, and it kind of doesn’t. until you look at the picture as a whole.

We need to remember that CO2 is what is considered as a basic building block to life. Without it we wouldn’t be here today. As a part of the cycle, every living thing contains CO2 and emits it into the atmosphere throughout its life cycle, including dirt. Many sources claim that we need to become CO2 neutral, or at least strive to have a net CO2 output as close to zero as possible. This just isn’t possible. No way, no how, and there is no way you can prove that it is possible. We can significantly reduce the pollutants we pump into the air, but we are still going to have the Carbon issue. Instead of caving into this false doctrine promoted by the UN and their followers, let’s get back to the core issue of pollution, shall we?

Another factor affecting my opinion on this issue is that pollution factor itself. And in addressing this factor, we can walk hand and hand with the economic aspect of this fuel additive as well. We keep rehashing the CO2 issue, and this is a big factor here as well. The Carbon output of Ethanol is in reality a lot greater than we have been led to believe. Part of this is the fact that the UN wants to tax big business and redistribute their wealth, so the issue is directed at something called “Fossil Carbon” output or consumption. Now, I’m not a scientist here, but I feel confident that there is no scientist that can differentiate a molecule of carbon from a hunk of coal and a molecule of carbon from a stick of wood. Carbon is Carbon. The source matters very little in the greater scheme of things. If you consume carbon based fuel, you will emit carbon into the atmosphere, along with a whole slew of other nasty chemicals like SO2, more commonly referred to as acid rain.

While hunting around I came across a neat little archive page at http://s.maxthon.com/?q=btu+of+ehanol that gives a whole list of interesting facts about energy and how different fuels relate to BTU’s. For those of you who aren’t that familiar, BTU means British Thermal unit. The BTU is the world standard measurement for energy. Every mechanical and energy consuming equipment is judged by how efficiently those BTU’s it consumes are used.
Here’s a list of items comparing their Carbon output;

Carbon content of fossil fuels and bioenergy feedstocks
• coal (average) = 25.4 metric tonnes carbon per terajoule (TJ)
o 1.0 metric tonne coal = 746 kg carbon
• oil (average) = 19.9 metric tonnes carbon / TJ
• 1.0 US gallon gasoline (0.833 Imperial gallon, 3.79 liter) = 2.42 kg carbon
• 1.0 US gallon diesel/fuel oil (0.833 Imperial gallon, 3.79 liter) = 2.77 kg carbon
• natural gas (methane) = 14.4 metric tonnes carbon / TJ
• 1.0 cubic meter natural gas (methane) = 0.49 kg carbon
carbon content of bioenergy feedstocks: approx. 50% for woody crops or wood waste; approx. 45% for graminaceous (grass) crops or agricultural residues

Interesting to note that 50% of bioenergy feedstock’s content is Carbon. Also interesting that regular gasoline has less carbon than diesel. Wonder why the UN wants everybody to switch to biodiesel if diesel emits more CO2 ? Natural gas is clearly the cleaner alternative, why not push for that as an energy source? Could it be that maybe CO2 is not a important as they want you to think it is?

But here’s where we get to the watering down the whiskey part. These BTU’s are the measurement for energy, and the more BTU’s a fuel has in it, the more work you can get from it. So let’s look at a gallon of regular gas for a moment. One US gallon of gasoline contains 115,000 BTU’s. OK, that’s the standard here. One US gallon of diesel fuel has 130,500 BTU’s. OK, that’s easy enough, diesel is more efficient than gasoline, now I see a reason to switch to a diesel car. But the cost per gallon is pretty scary at the moment so I’ll stick with my old Volvo. It’s an old one but I still get over 30mpg on a long highway trip. So let’s look a the new miracle cure, Dr. Johnsons patented Bio-fuel, the one, the only, the fantastic cure-all, Ethanol.

Ethanol has a BTU of 75,700 per US gallon. If you mix this stuff with regular gas, you get a less efficient product. It takes you more to get where you are going, so you consume more fuel, and pump more pollutants into the atmosphere because of it. What environmentalist in their right mind is going to willingly put more of this dreadful CO2 and other crap into the air? Well, I dn’t see any hands going up.

But for more evidence to back my position, let’s check in on the AAA, and their fuel cost calculator. Seems they don’t like this stuff either. Here’s the triple A scoop on what it really costs to save money by utilizing ethanol in your car;

National Unleaded Average http://www.aaafuelgaugereport.com/

**The BTU-adjusted price of E-85 is the nationwide average price of E-85 adjusted to reflect the lower energy content as expressed in British Thermal Units – and hence miles per gallon – available in a gallon of E-85 as compared to the same volume of conventional gasoline. The BTU-adjusted price calculated by OPIS and AAA is not an actual retail average price paid by consumers. It is calculated and displayed as part of AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report because according to the Energy Information Administration E-85 delivers approximately 25 percent fewer BTUs by volume than conventional gasoline. Because “flexible fuel” vehicles can operate on conventional fuel and E-85,the BTU-adjusted price of E-85 is essential to understanding the cost implications of each fuel choice for consumers.

According to this data from 1 May ’08, if you price out the energy costs, one gallon of E85 fuel, which is regular gas with 15% ethanol mixed in, it costs you at least .31 cents more per gallon, even though the pump price is lower. That pretty much tells me to stay away from the stuff. I’d say the UN is promoting some pretty sleazy bartending, wouldn’t you agree?

Matthew 25:8-9 (King James Version)

8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.


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