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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.


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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.

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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.


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Originally Posted by NachtRitter
pyrolysis
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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Old 07-31-2012, 02:32 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Guess what that will do to the price of corn and any food, pharmaceutical, and chemical products derived from corn.
Yeah, drought year with low corn production = higher corn prices, even if ethanol did not exist.
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Old 07-31-2012, 02:43 PM   #33 (permalink)
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This is some good background for our current farming culture from the USDA. It also has a chart of the historical usage of Corn since 1980, near the bottom of the page.

USDA ERS - Corn: Background
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:09 PM   #34 (permalink)
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CNG looks like a winner to me. Hydrogen enhanced combustion along with gasoline or CNG yields impressive fuel economy gains. Recomend reading Sustainable Energy without the hot air by David MacKay. Conservation which most of the people that chime in on this forum practice will help in the short term and should be encouraged.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:54 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by shovel View Post
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?
You might be able to use DDG for livestock feed in cases where you don't need the starch content of whole corn for their diet (I couldn't use it for my sheep since I only feed corn in the winter as a source of concentrated calories to help them keep warm in cold weather). But I've never heard it being promoted for use as human food and you can't use it to make corn flakes, corn meal, grits, tortillas, or other forms of corn for human consumption. Likewise DDG can't be used as a chemical feedstock for any uses that require the starch content of corn.
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:12 PM   #36 (permalink)
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I just read that 80% of corn is used for animal feed.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:32 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I just read that 80% of corn is used for animal feed.
Have you seen King Corn? Pretty amazing to realize that the average cow we consume is 90% corn that we CAN'T consume (all starch/fiber).
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:11 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shovel View Post
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?
I did not realize that there was an unstated assumption that you must create the alternative fuel only on whatever you yourself can supply... If there is, then you are probably right... you yourself would not be able to produce enough fuel only on the plastic grocery bags you get (if you even get any) to get you to the store.

If not, then I do hope that you (and we) don't limit ourselves to a very tiny fraction of what is produced by hydrocarbons (plastic grocery bags) if we were to go the direction of pyrolysis... landfills & wrecking yards are absolutely packed with hydrocarbon-based products (especially plastics) that aren't being (or can't be) recycled in the traditional sense. Let's do a quick list:
  • Tires
  • Automotive interior panels
  • Automotive engine parts
  • Automotive exterior panels
  • Computer Cases
  • Laptop Cases
  • Display (TV, Monitor) Cases
  • Printer cases and parts
  • Toner, inkjet cases
  • Medicine bottles
  • Shower curtains
  • Plastic corrective lenses
  • Canoes, kayaks, etc (plastic ones, of course)
  • Children's toys
  • Advertising, political banners
  • Motorcycle bodywork
  • Polyester carpets, cloth, clothes, etc
  • etc, etc, etc... I'm sure you can think of another 10, 20, 100 list items
Think we might be able to find enough of those kinds of items to get you (and me and everyone else) to the store?

While you could certainly generate the fuel through pyrolysis yourself at home, I think it only really makes sense at a large scale... a plant that takes all the different types of hydrocarbons, preps them for processing, and then turns them into fuel. Heck, they can charge to pick up the waste products and then charge to sell the resulting fuel... income on both ends!
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:15 AM   #39 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I just read that 80% of corn is used for animal feed.
That figure was valid before the mandated ethanol program started consuming corn starting in 2005. The following is a breakdown on corn usage in 2010:

"The best estimates for consumption offered by Good and Irwin are 4.9 billion bushels for ethanol, 5.1 billion bushels for feed, 2.0 billion for exports, 1.4 billion for other processing, and 5% ending stocks at 674 million bushels. "

Of these uses, livestock feed consumption is the most responsive to changes in corn prices, ethanol and corn exports less so.

A bunch of different livestock and rancher associations are attempting to get the ethanol mandate temporarily suspended until corn production gets back to normal levels. Good luck trying to get that done with the current administration. See articles below:

http://www.argusleader.com/article/2...yssey=nav|head

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2012/J...hanol-Mandate/

Here is a Forbes article on the effect ethanol and drought is having on corn prices:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybel...-consequences/


Dried brewer's grain isn't a direct replacement for whole corn. Compared with whole corn, dried brewer's grain has much lower starch, slightly higher protein and fat levels and has some added vitamins that aren't present in whole corn. Basically the brewing process uses yeast to consume the starch content of the corn in an anaerobic environment, producing ethanol, CO2, and yeast biomass containing various vitamins and proteins, but this process consumes a portion of the total caloric content of the corn in the process, so the brewer's grains end up being a less energy dense product than the whole corn you started with. And you can't just feed brewer's grains to livestock as their main feed as you can with corn. Most of the articles I have read talk about how it is an inexpensive feed additive, but discuss how much dried brewer's grains can be added to poultry or dairy cow feed without having adverse effects on their performance.
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:28 AM   #40 (permalink)
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It's nice to learn something new. Thanks Basjoos.

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Mech

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