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Author Topic: Ethanol  (Read 5714 times)

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Re: Ethanol
« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2016, 03:02:04 pm »
You have really wasted your time trying to argue:
The really curious thing about Palloy's allegation that "Doomerism is a more realistic approach to responding to our present plight", is that HIS response to our plight it is to discount the value of proposed solutions by claiming they are "pie in the sky" even though many of these technologies, like wind and PV, already have an excellent record of causing demand destruction for fossil fuels poisoning our atmosphere. Any discussion of their effects when they are truly scaled up is simply not acceptable to Palloy because, uh, something about the PAY BACK TIME. 

- because that isn't my point at all.  Once more, for the record:

To calculate ERoEI, (which is a single number, and hence not very expressive) you first have to identify the full life-cycle energy budget - the components of EI and the components of ER.  But to investigate the scale-up of a technology OVER TIME, you also have to include when the components of EI and ER occur in time.

Let's do it first with algebra, and then we can plug in some real numbers.
Let the Lifetime of the panel be L, and the ERoEI be E.
And let's assume that ALL the EI is up front, from T=-1 to T= 0,
and the ER is from T=0 to T=L.
So the Energy Payback Time is L/E,
and the Energy Payback Per Year is Y% = (100 * E/L).

So any growth in the panel industry that is faster than Y% is going to need an energy subsidy - from the existing energy mix, which is mostly FFs.
So if you want to cut back on the use of FFs, you have to grow the PV industry at less than Y%, and you have to divert ALL the ER to the next year's EI.  (Actually that's impractical, but I will allow you declare electricity is fungible with FFs, so panels on roofs will do.)

OK, so when does the PV industry as a whole start to make an energy profit, bearing in mind you will be requiring increasing amounts of EI as time goes on? 
There isn't a simple formula for it, but if you lay it out in a spreadsheet, year by year with Y% growth per year, it is easy to total the EIs and the ERs, and the answer is 2 * L/E.

Plugging in some real numbers:
L = 25 years
E = 3
Y = 12%
Time to a positive total PV energy profit = 16.7 years

And THAT is why you can't have a scalable PV industry.
Yes, you can make a start on the transition, but you can NEVER finish it.
Note: not a single $ sign anywhere - this is nothing to do with money.

In the real world, which runs on money, of course money does have a lot to do with it, but that's not MY argument.  It doesn't matter how much in subsidies the FF industry gets, and it doesn't matter how much in subsidies PV gets in MY argument.  I'm not in league with the FF conspiracy, and I'm not in league with the PV conspiracy.

The fact is none of them are a solution, and the same goes for nuclear and bio-mass.  We're doomed.

You are totally wrong in your claim that "PV cannot be scaled up". Not only can PV be scaled up quite well,  but as we speak, PV is being scaled up THANKS TO INCREASING INVESTMENTS YOU WISH TO IGNORE THAT ARE NOW BEING MADE TO  ACHIEVE THAT.

Of course, PV will NEVER be scaled up in a centralized energy "business model" the predatory bastards on this planet prefer; it will MOSTLY be DECENTRALIZED, making it  DIFFICULT for the leaches that want to control the energy spigot. But, as far as the PERCENTAGE of gobal energy harvested for industrial civilizaton, within ten years it WILL be at over 25% (I'm being conservative - over 50% is probably more realistic.  ;D ). I do believe 25% of the whole energy enchillada is considered SCALED UP, even by you.      That means that even your money argument is losing its validity too! 

As to your PV energy figures, LOL!

WHY? Because fossil fuels NEVER produce MORE energy than it takes to get them! WHAT PART OF THAT DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND? And you have the BALLS to claim a long pay back time energy wise is a valid excuse to "NOT SUPPORT" PV!!!? WTF!!!?

Ah, yes, the "real world", most loved by the MKing's of this world as a defense of their empathy deficit disordered "business model", that doesn't have ANYTHING to do with THERMODYNAMIC efficiency or ACTUAL ENERGY RETURN on ENERGY INVESTED, is brought up BY PALLOY as a fig leaf for a failed ERoEI argument.

Which confirms, despite  Palloy's DENIAL that MONEY is his only argument, that money IS his argument, NOT energy. And he NEEDED to AVOID mentioning or actually doing the math on SUBSIDIES to make his money argument (when you want an positive number in an equation result, Palloy learned at an early age that variables that subtract from the resultant number are to be avoided whenever possible...). Consequently he makes the fascinatingly inaccurate claim that " It doesn't matter how much in subsidies the FF industry gets, and it doesn't matter how much in subsidies PV gets in MY argument."     

Palloy's allusion to me being a "conspiracy theorist" doing a "wild eyed branding" of him as part of a conspiracy against PV  (I.E. "Palloy the prudent mathematician suffering spurious accusations by the unwashed and ignorant Agelbert"  ;)     ) was a nice touch. I'm sure some brainwashed fossil fuelers fell for it. ;D

And the obligatory "balanced" statements that admit the truth about distributed PV on rooftops is another clever touch placed there to convince me and all of you readers that Palloy is being "objective" about PV.

Palloy, you are study in clever sniping, hyperbole and irrelevancy. You are somewhat entertaining but consistently inaccurate. But thank you for helping to jack up the views here.         :

NOW for the rebuttal of the defamatory remarks and deliberately inaccurate ethanol acreage requirements and energy efficiency figures in the "Biofuels are a bad idea     " hit piece by the TOOL of the fossil fuel industry (Bryce - which makes arguments which are almost identical to the ones Palloy makes to claim Renewable Energy based ethanol cannot replace gasoline for transportation):


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.


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.

From Wikipeda:

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.[18] Two million tons of petroleum-derived ethanol are produced annually. The principal suppliers are plants in the United States, Europe, and South Africa.[19]Petroleum derived ethanol (synthetic ethanol) is chemically identical to bio-ethanol and can be differentiated only by radiocarbon dating.[20]

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.

This was a decade ago. The piggery at the top is much worse now.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.. -- Psalm 34:6


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