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Old 07-31-2012, 02:16 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by basjoos View Post
SH2 (shrunken) is a gene that prevents sugar from being converted to starch in the corn kernel and is one of the genes used to produce super sweet corn for table use that will hold its sweetness for over a week after harvest (unlike traditional sweet corn cultivars that lose their sweetness within hours of being picked. SH2 corn is a sweet corn used for human consumption. The corn used for ethanol production, livestock feed, and for conversion into various corn derived chemicals is dent corn, a hard corn that converts all of its sugars into starch.
Thank you for this data. It directly conflicts with data from my Nebraska-native girlfriend but I admit that corn variety nomenclature is a topic beyond my education so either of you could be right.

Originally Posted by basjoos View Post
Even if ethanol was made from an inedible plant, it would still be competing for the limited supply of arable land, land that could otherwise be producing a food crop, so it would still be cutting into the food supply.
Any sugar-rich crop is going to have a byproduct, and any byproduct in sufficient supply has value. I don't see how this is an exclusive relationship.

Originally Posted by basjoos View Post
The biggest problem with our ethanol program is that it is in the form of a mandate, so they have to produce that no matter what else happens. They are federally mandated to produce 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol in 2012. So to produce that 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol they require about 5 billion bushels of corn to produce it, which was about 40% of the total corn crop in 2011. But since it is a mandate, ethanol is the first at the "trough" for any available corn and any other uses are filled after ethanol has taken its share, which works ok in a normal growing year. But if there is a severe drought (and this is the first really bad growing year since the ethanol program was implemented) then the corn market gets badly skewed by the effects of the mandate.

Say the drought was bad enough that the corn crop is down 50% compared with last year's. That 5 billion bushels that was 40% of last year's corn crop is now 80% of this year's corn crop. After ethanol takes its mandated share, that leaves only 20% of the crop remaining (equal to 10% of last year's) for all of the other uses of dent corn. Guess what that will do to the price of corn and any food, pharmaceutical, and chemical products derived from corn.
Don't livestock still need to eat? Pig and cattle farms are currently set up to feed DDG to their animals, and by feeding them the byproduct of ethanol production (or is ethanol a byproduct of DDG production?) they greatly reduce the risk of some health problems in their livestock. Distillers' grains are cheap and easy to transport because of their consistency and reduced mass compared to their nutrition content.. if farmers had to transport and feed whole corn to their animals, it would cost more and the animals would be less healthy. What's that do to your food prices?

This continues to not be a matter of food OR fuel. This is politics and it needs to stop being politics.

Originally Posted by NachtRitter
Here I admit to not having hard data to confirm this, but it seems like a plastic grocery bag weighs about 5 grams and if I go to the store and buy $100 worth of groceries I'll have maybe 35 or 40 grams of grocery bags, or less than 1.5 ounces of material. If pyrolysis is enormously efficient it could net a quarter ounce of fuel. Will that get me home from the grocery store?

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