25 February 2011

E85

E85 is not a good idea.  These are some points from a "defend your position" 400 level economics course.  The original paper is lost and I will not waste time recreating all the citations.  Do your own research!

1. It's burning food. We're going to need that food someday and having it committed to be burnt is foolish at best.  The recent riots in northern Africa are related to the costs of grain.

2. It's not economical. Without massive subsidies it would not be made or sold. It costs more than regular gas to make, ship and store. You might see a lower price at the pump, but that's only because taxes from other places have paid the portion you are not at the moment.

3. It's not economical. Ethyl alcohol is less energy dense than gasoline. To get the same energy out, you must burn more of it. This means you cannot go as far on a tank of fuel and need to fill up more often. This effect is noticeable with even E15 and E10.

4. There's an illusion of "more pep" because it's got a higher octane rating than normal gas. This allows the timing to be run more advanced. This makes things happen sooner, but unlike most other fuels with higher octane; it has a lower energy content. What you are getting is things happening sooner, but actually slower. Put a clock on it. 0-60 is slower. 1/4 mile is slower.

5. The entire reason it exists is based on an enormous fraud! Global warming; or rather Anthropogenic Global Climate Change. We don't have a large effect on the climate and because of that, burning food will not have a positive effect. See the big glowing ball of fusion in the sky that's there ALL DAMN DAY?? There's your climate change engine.

6. It's not doing what you think it's doing. CO2 emissions are essentially identical to normal gasoline combustion. Remember how it takes more E85 to get the same work done? That means that E85 emits more CO2 for the same work as gas. But wait! It gets better! Gas doesn't have the CO2 emissions from tractors planting, tending and harvesting grain. Gas doesn't have CO2 emissions from the distilling process of turning food into alcohol.

In short, alcohol based fuels are stupid. Crowing the advantages of them makes you look stupid. If this hurts your feelings, I am sorry. Pointing out stuff like this costs me friends. I can't help but think that people wish to be ignorant of how things work deliberately.

The terms "economical" and "sustainable" are used in rebuttal to claims made by boosters of E85. No source of energy is sustainable if you run the time table out far enough. Economical is used where "cheaper" should be, and E85 is not cheaper. If it truly was, then the developers would just put it out there for the market to buy; and a truly cheaper option would sell.

Burning food is really burning the food that food eats since it is made from field corn for the most part. The prices of beef at the supermarket are 50% higher than before the mandate. If that's not true at your local market, check to see if your state has a beef subsidy (Iowa and Texas reportedly do, but I have not confirmed that).

The lack of arable land will eventually matter. The world population is growing and someday we will have to decide between food or fuel on a field that's growing feedstock for alcohol. It's inevitable. It's just as true that we'll eventually have a large enough population that even growing food any place it's possible, there will be famine. Why rush it for nothing?

"True Cost" is exactly that. It's what something costs with all things considered. Cost at the pump is not the true cost, that's the adjusted cost. Price at the pump for E85 is less the per gallon subsidy paid to the retailer, less the subsidy paid to the manufacturer, less the subsidy paid to the corn farmer. True cost would be the price at the pump PLUS all the subsidies. Which is a lot more than the price of an unsubsidized gallon of gasoline, even premium.


If you feel you must post chemical reactions, you should use real world data and not theoretical. Don't post the reactions for standard temperature and pressure in a pure oxygen environment! Those equations are not correct in an engine combustion chamber. Nitrogen is liberated from the air and sulfur from impurities in the gasoline and oil. No fuel is as pure as that theoretical reaction. You need to crack some college level dynamic forces engineering and do some calculus to get the conditions that you then apply to your chemistry equations. It's messy.

3 comments:

  1. World population is growing and someday we will have to decide between food or fuel on a field that's growing feedstock for alcohol.

    Yes, but you don't think that's going to be a hard decision for the Global Warmening cult, do you? I have no doubt most if not all members of said cult would not mind -- indeed, that they would embrace -- a massive population die-off.

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  2. Even just gasoline-plus-ethanol the way they sell it around here causes problems---last time I had my car in the shop, they told me that it causes water to get into the system where it shouldn't. And we're not only finding new huge fields (one was recently discovered off the Falklands, IIRC) but improving our methods of extracting petroleum.

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  3. As near as I can tell the goals of the greenies is pre-lithic tech.

    Starving and freezing in the dark is their plan. When infant mortality cranks the average age back down to 25 or so, they'll be happy.

    Actually they won't. People are already fed up with the greenies being the REAL party of 'no'. If there's to be a massive population die-off, I propose we start with them. Feed 'em to the pigs!

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