Investor’s Business Daily Article
[quote] The heavily subsidized ethanol industry is the latest to seek a
federal bailout. If there is any industry that deserves to go bankrupt, it’s
this one. Time has come to stop putting food in our gas tanks. [/quote]
I have repeatedly stated that I am inquiring about the difference between waste-based cellulosic ethanol and corn (food) based ethanol. I would appreciate it if somebody would address the issue that I did raise, rather than one I did not."
[quote=Glaucus] I am inquiring about the difference between waste-based cellulosic ethanol and corn (food) based ethanol. [/quote]
Well, for one, one is made from cellulose, and the other is made from food products containing mono or polysaccharides.
[quote=Damnthematrix] The reason corn is used to make ethanol, BTW, is that it is high in sugars. [/quote] Right. That is precisely what alternative methods of ethanol production seek to get around. Currently, ethanol is produced by allowing yeast (a facultatively anaerobic, eukaryotic, single-celled organism) to ferment the sugars in various things, yielding acetaldehyde as the final electron acceptor, which is reduced to ethanol as the final result of the fermentation product.
In cellulosic ethanol fermentation, various chemical, enzymatic, and more recently microbial fermentation methods have been used to produce ethanol from wood cellulose. Since cullulose is contained in virtually every kind of plant, the advantages are that the input materials are far more plentiful, and do not require fertilization and farming to produce. The process increases the end energy output, and also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air during the production and fermentation products. In addition, much of what we currently throw away could be used as input material.
The downside is the cellulosic ethanol production is still more expensive than corn-based ethanol production, and there are significant technological problems with ramping up production. Design of large-scale bacterial cellulose fermenters, for example, is in the pure research stage. We aren’t even sure if it will work efficiently. The potential advantages? In a world short of cheap petroleum and cheap food, it could provide a significant source of liquid fuels, and give us a means of recovering much of the energy invested in the products which are used as inputs.
Will it replace cheap oil as a source of limitless energy? No.
Thanks for your reply, which I will pass on to my team. And will keep the forum posted on our endeavors.
In various threads, people have mentioned using E85. I’ve ordered a kit to allow my 2002 Honda CRV to use E85. I’m doing it because, 1) I will eliminate my individual contribution to the need to import oil, and 2) if there is a crisis in the Middle East like we had in the’70s, and gas/diesel is hard to get, I can run on E100 if needed. And I can still use regular gasoline if E85 isn’t available in my travels. Resilience, you know!
Critics may be right that alcohol won’t/can’t replace petro-based fuels and solve the peak oil problem. I DON’T CARE!
Critics may be right in that the E85 I’m going to be buying may be using corn-based ethanol that needs as much energy to make as I get out of it by burning it. I DON’T CARE!
Critics may be right that it is only because of subsidies that E85 can be cost-justified. (Oregon has a $0.50 tax credit.) I DON’T CARE!
Critics may be right in that if all facets of production, distribution, and consumption of E85 are taken into consideration, there is as much, maybe more, greenhouse gas produced as if gasoline was burned. I REALLY DON’T CARE! (Peak oil will eventually solve that problem … if there is one.)
Whatever alternative fuels end up capturing significant share of the personal transportation market, the consumer distribution infrastructure must first be put in place. The more people that use an alternative fuel, the faster this will happen. In my case, the nearest E85 station is about 12 miles away. If I’m smart about filling up whenever I’m out in that direction, it shouldn’t be too much of an imposition. Oregon, and the Portland area in particular, has quite a few E85 stations. To find out if there is one near you, go here: http://e85prices.com/e85map.php
One myth, propagated by the oil & gas industry no doubt, is that the use of alcohol can destroy fuel system components. This was true at one time, but since the 1980’s all vehicles are built to withstand the use of alcohol. It is true that even today the ignition system of many if not most vehicles need to be modified to be able to use E85, but it’s an inexpensive kit and a 15-minute dummy-compatible installation. Check out these customer testimonials: http://www.change2e85.com/servlet/Page?template=Testimonials
As for me, I’m planning to brew my own fuel. (Greater resilience yet!) There is a growing movement to include fuel production in with CSA activities. It makes a lot of sense. A still such as seen on this CSA website is what I envision: http://www.betterfoodbetterliving.com/index.html
We planted sugar beets this year for our production of ethanol. We get more E (for energy) out of each “batch” and our costs are somewhere in the $.39 a gallon.(not including the gas & stabilizer). To supply all our meager needs we needed 1/4 acre, enough to bail hay, trips to town and fuel our farm golf cart. IF we go with it powering our electric, then we need to alot more land. You can listen to our podcasts on: MyBackAchers.com
We are in-process of designing a solar/wood powered alocohol production system using the Rocket Mass Heater design. Also see: http://www.richsoil.com/rocket-stove-mass-heater.jsp which will keep our costs minimal (even with for drying the sugar beets for storage). And the solar part is using passive solar for summer fermentation.
We just took the dive and put it in our vehicle with little difference other than milage even though the engine light comes on (because it reads for exhaust differences) and we have more water vapor coming out the tail pipe.
I’m also finding it might be worth the expanding the system since there are so many things the alcohol can be used for (hand sanitizer at $10/gal) and Sterno cooking fuel cans, as well as fireplace fuel (look up vent-less alcohol fireplaces at JC Penny) and the latest thing – alcohol gel candles.
I can’t think of reason to not produce it, since people can make it in small home-made batches from scrap foods or like us, small farms, in which case, the old tractors were meant to run on the stuff – clean – farm based energy.
I’m still in the process of evaluating various feedstock alternatives. I really like the net energy claims associated with producing ethanol from cellulose (Switchgrass, Miscanthus Giganticus, etc.), but the process is much more complex, and it seems one would be dependent on outside sources for enzymes. So it’s likely I will end up with something like sugar beets. One source claims the following producivity from sugar beets:
23 tons of beets per acre
24 gallons of ethanol per ton of beets
552 gallons of ethanol per acre
If this is near accurate, you’re producing about 140 gallons on 1/4 acre. Is that about what it works out?
Can you share some info re: your process? What are the pre-fermentation steps? You are currently using a gas-fired boiler? Where did you get your plans for your still?
I’ll follow your progress on your website with the greatest interest.