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Old 10-01-2009, 06:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
Allch Chcar
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The biggest argument against Ethanol is still ignorance. It was a better quality fuel than petroleum as far back as the early 1900's. It wasn't cheaper, hence why it became unpopular but now we have higher compression engines and ECUs. Alcohol was stopped cold with Prohibition until WWII. After the war it became nonexistent in the US until the 70's. It has always been an alternative to petroleum based fuels. It is more efficient that gasoline and on par with diesel on a purely thermodynamic efficiency scale. Alcohols are inherently less energy dense per gallon due to a high oxygen content, but this makes the fuel safer for higher compression operation. It's not uncommon to hear or read about a rant on using food for fuel when infact ethanol does not compete with human consumption. It's actually a very ignorant argument. Sweet Corn is used for human consumption and takes only 10-20% of the total corn production in the US. The majority of Corn is feed corn either for livestock or use in ethanol or squirrel corn. For livestock it's used to add cheap fat to the animals, not a big deal there.

Make no mistake there are subsidies for ethanol production but the bulk of which are merely to support gasohol mixing. E85 is selling on it's own merits now. And pure ethanol is competitive at $2 a gallon or so in a state-of-the-art plant. If you had pure ethanol vehicles the cost per mile would be almost the same as gasoline.

The truth is that ethanol is only cost-effective(compared to gasoline) in small quantities, as a portion of the current feed corn production. Ethanol could replace or displace gasoline completely but the cost would be much higher. The one good point to petroleum based products is always their cheapness. That's something that is hard to beat. But ethanol is a renewable source and with good practices and techniques better in every way than petroleum.

I disagree with your Pro-Life vs Universal healthcare point on moral grounds either one should not be forced upon. But ethanol is the most realistic bridge towards greatly reducing oil consumption. Add in; hybrid electric powertrains, cellulosic ethanol, market competition and it could displace petroleum. The one major negative I've found is health reports of formalhydride from alcohol emissions. But everything I've read suggests it comes from mixing with gasoline. E100(99%pure ethanol) can be used in the future but you either need to preheat the engine to 100 degrees or pig rich the fuel:air mixture on startup.
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