Ethanol

27 posts / 0 new
Last post
Glaucus's picture
Glaucus
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 25 2008
Posts: 18
Ethanol

Dr. Martenson:

I fully understand your criticism of corn-based ethanol, but as someone who is working on an eco-industrial project that involves the production of waste-based cellulosic ethanol, I would be interested in your assessment of it and/or that of anyone with expertise in this area.

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 2 2008
Posts: 546
Re: Ethanol . . .derivative. . . of gas

I can't speak for anyone else, but it is my understanding that ethanol, wind & solar ("alternative energy") are presently considered devivates of gas.

 It's not a "critism" but a known observation that gas is used to produce the plant, fertilize the plant and take the product to the ethanol production plant, then it might leave by truck (gas) or train (coal). This present process isn't showing a net energy gain.

However, if you've seen Rubin's lecture (search youtube) - he suggestes that switching to it's use at a mix rate of 15% would reduce gas consption by 15% immediately and give "us" time for further development of alternatives. That is a statement that needs more looking into.

EGP

RSLCOUNSEL's picture
RSLCOUNSEL
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 41
Re: Ethanol . . .derivative. . . of gas

There is a problem with moving ethanol through a pipeline which, of course, is one of the most efficient ways to move liquid materials over land.   Without getting into too much detail, generally ethanol pipelines (those moving E95 for example) need to be dedicated to ethanol to offset moisture, impurities and certain corrosive characteristics of ethanol.   If the ethanol is already blended then the problem is less severe.  

 A number of companies were working on solutions (dual use pipelines) earlier in 2008 but I suspect their investment economics have changed for the worse with the drop in oil prices. 

 Brazil moves a lot of ethanol through pipelines which are either dedicated to ethanol or are already moving blended material.  With a national policy concerning "flex fuel", this has made it easier for Brazilian energy companies to be sure their investments will payoff.  

 Americans seem to have an aversion to new pipelines in new localities. 

gtazman's picture
gtazman
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 48
Re: Ethanol

EndGamePlayer

You are not correct in saying that Ethanol is a derivative of gas.  Ethanol is can be produced by burning wood, corncobs, corn stover, etc.  Since alcohol is made from plants, its production takes carbon dioxide
out of the air, sequestering it, with the result that it reverses the
greenhouse effect.  Gasoline is an oil refinery waste product.

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
Re: Ethanol
gtazman wrote:

EndGamePlayer

You are not correct in saying that Ethanol is a derivative of gas. Ethanol is can be produced by burning wood, corncobs, corn stover, etc. Since alcohol is made from plants, its production takes carbon dioxide
out of the air, sequestering it, with the result that it reverses the
greenhouse effect. Gasoline is an oil refinery waste product.

I think you somehow totally missed the point....

CORN is grown using fossil fuels to till the soil, fertlise the plants, irrigate the crop, and then harvest it and transport it to the ethanol plant.  No fossil fuels, NO CORN,  and therefore, NO ETHANOL......

I take it you want to burn the wood for energy to distill the ethanol...?   If so, can you tell us where all that wood is coming from?  Won't the cutting down of forests increase CO2 emissions?

jrf29's picture
jrf29
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 453
Re: Ethanol

 

Currently it is not known exactly what the energy return is on ethanol produced from corn grown using standard agricultural techniques and diesel-powered machinery.  The energy return is undoubtedly very close to zero.  Whether it is slightly positive or negative remains to be determined, however it is certainly not a fountain of energy.

The trick, therefore, is to find ways of producing ethanol by means other than the fermentation of corn.   I am acquainted with a professor at the Univ. of Massachusetts who is working on means of efficiently incubating a strain of ethanol-producing bacteria which degrade cellulose as food.  Other researchers are working on producing ethanol from other abundant natural products. 

There is some enthusiasm for such projects, as the theoretical energy return could be significantly higher.  However, no researcher that I have spoken to believes that ethanol produced by any method will be the answer in itself to our nation's energy needs -- the input energy requirements are simply too high for ethanol to ever assume the place that $30/barrel petroleum holds as an energy supply. 

Additionally,  it would take enormous amounts of ethanol to supply even a significant fraction of the world's energy needs.  If an attempt were made to produce such a supply, it is not clear that the cellulosic waste products---currently very inexpensive--upon which such ethanol-production plans rely would ever be available in sufficient quantities, or at anywhere near current low prices.

RSLCOUNSEL's picture
RSLCOUNSEL
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 41
Re: Ethanol

Good information here on biofuels with some additional embedded links.

 http://www2.dupont.com/Sustainability/en_US/Marketplace/Transportation/biofuels.html

switters's picture
switters
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 19 2008
Posts: 744
Re: Ethanol
jrf29 wrote:

 

Currently it is not known exactly what the energy return is on ethanol produced from corn grown using standard agricultural techniques and diesel-powered machinery.  The energy return is undoubtedly very close to zero.  Whether it is slightly positive or negative remains to be determined, however it is certainly not a fountain of energy.

The trick, therefore, is to find ways of producing ethanol by means other than the fermentation of corn.   I am acquainted with a professor at the Univ. of Massachusetts who is working on means of efficiently incubating a strain of ethanol-producing bacteria which degrade cellulose as food.  Other researchers are working on producing ethanol from other abundant natural products. 

There is some enthusiasm for such projects, as the theoretical energy return could be significantly higher.  However, no researcher that I have spoken to believes that ethanol produced by any method will be the answer in itself to our nation's energy needs -- the input energy requirements are simply too high for ethanol to ever assume the place that $30/barrel petroleum holds as an energy supply. 

Additionally,  it would take enormous amounts of ethanol to supply even a significant fraction of the world's energy needs.  If an attempt were made to produce such a supply, it is not clear that the cellulosic waste products---currently very inexpensive--upon which such ethanol-production plans rely would ever be available in sufficient quantities, or at anywhere near current low prices.

Excellent summary, jrf29.  I would just reiterate what you already alluded to, which is that it is far from proven that cellulosic ethanol will be scalable to meaningful levels of production.

gtazman's picture
gtazman
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 48
Re: Ethanol

Damnthematrix wrote


I think you somehow totally missed the point....

CORN is grown using fossil fuels to till the soil, fertlise the
plants, irrigate the crop, and then harvest it and transport it to the
ethanol plant.  No fossil fuels, NO CORN,  and therefore, NO
ETHANOL......

I take it you want to burn the wood for energy to distill the
ethanol...?   If so, can you tell us where all that wood is coming
from?  Won't the cutting down of forests increase CO2 emissions?

 

Who said anything about corn?  I am making a point that the production of ethanol from plants and organic waste can be made without oil and used locally without transporting it.  Farming Co-ops are set-up all across the US that rely very little on fossil fuel input.  That is the future of renewables:  local production and local consumption. Check out David Blume's ALCOHOL CAN BE A GAS.  link: http://www.alcoholcanbeagas.com/ 

The future according to visionaries like James Howard Kunstler author of THE LONG EMERGENCY, see the end of automobile transportation as we know it now, which fits in with Chris' premise of the next 20 years will not look like the past 20 years.  It will not be easy but the ADM and Cargills of the world will not be dominant corporationin the future of renewables.

Here in Wisconsin farmers have set up methane digesters for the ecological use of cow manure.  The methane gas runs a power plant that produces electricity and process heat to be used in the ethanol plant next door, which takes in plant matter from the farm.  The byproduct of corn ethanol production (if that is the input) is distillers dry grain (DDG) which is feed to the cows.  DDG is much healther for animals than straight corn feed.  So you can see a complete LOCAL operation is running without a significant transportation costs associated with fossil fuels.  Sure fossil fuel (natural gas) is used to produce fertilizer, but biodiesel can run the tractors, tanker trucks for milk delivery, etc.

 

Glaucus's picture
Glaucus
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 25 2008
Posts: 18
Re: Ethanol

Granted, municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated at a rate of only .2 billion tons annually, 60% on average being biomass.  However, MSW represents a paltry 1% of the total trash generated annually, the other 99% (over 12 billiion tons) being industrial and "RCRA Special Waste" that includes vast amounts of pulp & paper, slaughterhouse, and similar wastes that can be converted into ethanol of other fuels.  And because a producer can receive them in lieu of landfill tipping fees -- i.e., paid to take them -- production costs can be reduced accordingly.  Therefore, when Peak Oil rears its ugly head once and for all, it seems to me that cellulosic ethanol stands to make a significant contribution to the liquid fuels supply.

  

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
Re: Ethanol

"Who said anything about corn?"

YOU did......  you mentioned corn cobs and corn stover, and last time I looked, they were all by products of CORN!

The reason corn is used to make ethanol, BTW, is that it is high in sugars.  I doubt there's a lot of material in the cobs and stover, at least when compared to the kernels, that will transform into alcohol.  There is no way known ethanol can remotely keep business as usual going..... 

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
Re: Ethanol
gtazman wrote:

Here in Wisconsin farmers have set up methane digesters for the ecological use of cow manure. The methane gas runs a power plant that produces electricity and process heat to be used in the ethanol plant next door, which takes in plant matter from the farm. The byproduct of corn ethanol production (if that is the input) is distillers dry grain (DDG) which is feed to the cows. DDG is much healther for animals than straight corn feed. So you can see a complete LOCAL operation is running without a significant transportation costs associated with fossil fuels. Sure fossil fuel (natural gas) is used to produce fertilizer, but biodiesel can run the tractors, tanker trucks for milk delivery, etc. 

That sounds like a perpetual motion machine to me.  You left out the FOSSIL FUEL INPUTS, again.....

How is all that animal feed first produced?  With FOSSIL FUELS, of course..... remove thje FFs, and you immediately have fewer cows..  Reduce the number of cows, and you have less manure, less ethanol, ledd dry grain, and because the farm machinery can't do as much work running on Ethanol, the grain farm slowly but surely starts producing ever less grain, feeding ever fewer cows, giving ever less manure.......  I hope you get my IMPORTANT drift here:  ENTROPY rules!

The only reason we can currently produce Ethanol at the rate we are able to now is because we have OIL.

Like producing Hydrogen, this only proves to me that with FFs you can do ANYTHING..... 

Futuo's picture
Futuo
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2008
Posts: 155
Re: Ethanol

I think there's a bit of a paradigm schism that's occurred here. Stepping back, I feel like everyone's right. Damnthematrix is right, ethanol isn't going to keep business as usual going. Gtazman is also right, that the production of ethanol from plants and
organic waste can be made without oil and used locally without
transporting it.

Ethanol will never work, from any source, if the intent is to have huge farms producing any particular biomass (from corn to trees to whatever) to provide for the entire energy needs of the country, of the world. That's one of the most difficult things to escape from in the "modern age". We're so used to different parts of the world specializing in different things, that we don't even consider ethanol, because it would be ineffective with the current "create&distribute" paradigm employed for the drilling and refinement of oil. However, ethanol can be highly effective once we switch paradigms to the local perspective. The real difficulty is accepting that there doesn't have to be a single comprehensive solution. Ethanol may work very well in certain localities, where wind would not be desirable. Likewise, many places where solar is particularly effective won't have any use for wind. 

I guess in conclusion my point is that ethanol can be an effective solution, if only we stay away from the "mass production" paradigm. Aside from some possible algae strains, farms for biofuels, especially derived from human food products,  will never be practical, economical, or desireable. However, we can see with Gtazman's Wisconsin example, that ethanol can be a by-product of making the best cow feed (or the other way around), without too much difficulty. This better feed goes to the cows, and then we use the manure from the cows to fertilize. If we keep the plants close to the cows, and develop our husbandry and agriculture in accordance with the local-community paradigm, we solve for the biggest issue any energy solution faces: transportation that requires oil.

 Just my thoughts. I'm by no means an expert, and would appreciate others' opinions. 

Thanks!

Futuo's picture
Futuo
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2008
Posts: 155
Re: Ethanol
Damnthematrix wrote:

That sounds like a perpetual motion machine to me.  You left out the FOSSIL FUEL INPUTS, again.....

How is all that animal feed first produced?  With FOSSIL FUELS, of course..... remove thje FFs, and you immediately have fewer cows..  Reduce the number of cows, and you have less manure, less ethanol, ledd dry grain, and because the farm machinery can't do as much work running on Ethanol, the grain farm slowly but surely starts producing ever less grain, feeding ever fewer cows, giving ever less manure.......  I hope you get my IMPORTANT drift here:  ENTROPY rules!

The only reason we can currently produce Ethanol at the rate we are able to now is because we have OIL.

Like producing Hydrogen, this only proves to me that with FFs you can do ANYTHING..... 

 

There's a flaw here, though. ALL that animal feed is not produced with fossil fuels. There was a time before fossil fuels when we still had animals, crops, and animal feed. There was a time before fertilizers were used. Local solar, geo-thermal, ethanol, and wind systems can solve for that, easily, by providing the needed energy. You will most likely counter, explaining how oil is necessary to bring in the parts for these systems, how solar panels are made from oil, etc...but to me, that just means we need to act quickly while we still have reasonably priced oil to make these systems. I don't view that oil involvement as a reason to disregard all these possible alternative energy solutions.

gtazman's picture
gtazman
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 48
Re: Ethanol

Damnthematrix wrote

"There is no way known ethanol can remotely keep business as usual
going..... "

Exactly James Howard Kunstler's vsion of our "post peak oil" future, business as usual will not be.  Autos, trucks, airplanes, trains - anything run on oil will most likely not survive the transition. Replacement solar panels will not be available, batteries for electric cars will not be made, new plastic for anything will be in scarce supply.  Scarcity of manufactured products is going to be reality.

The solution does start on the farm (smaller family run farms) where biodiesel (as I mentioned before) can run the tractors, farm machinery and trucks used.  It starts now with cheap oil before it runs out.  I don't mean to imply that we are not using FF now.  It is too damn cheap not to.  The sustainability of a family farm has a higher probablity of success thancommercial farm operation.

 

 

Glaucus's picture
Glaucus
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 25 2008
Posts: 18
Re: Ethanol

Just a reminder: I'm looking for help in understanding the difference between corn (crop) based ethanol and waste-based cellulosic ethanol.

 Anybody? 

gtazman's picture
gtazman
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 48
Re: Ethanol

Glauccu

A great place to start would be to read David Blume's ALCOHOL CAN BE A GAS book.  link: http://www.alcoholcanbeagas.com/   I found it at my library before I bought my own copy.  He is biased towards alcohol in a big way, but he started in the 70s during the first gas crisis before it was fashionable.

gtazman

Glaucus's picture
Glaucus
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 25 2008
Posts: 18
Re: Ethanol

gtazman:

Thanks!  I'm buying the book and have signed up as a member. 

Will still appreciate any feedback regarding the benefits of waste-based cellulosic ethanol over corn-based ethanol. 

switters's picture
switters
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 19 2008
Posts: 744
Re: Ethanol
Glaucus wrote:

Just a reminder: I'm looking for help in understanding the difference between corn (crop) based ethanol and waste-based cellulosic ethanol.

 Anybody? 

Glaucus,

Here's an article about a recent study at Iowa State University indicating that cellulosic ethanol isn't likely to be a viable fuel source.  The gist of the article is this:

Quote:

A quiet consensus seems to be forming among people you'd think would know the facts on the ground: cellulosic ethanol, touted as five years away from viability for decades now, may never be viable.

I'd also recommend checking out this recent article on The Oil Drum about a cellulosic ethanol company.  This one is about ethanol and biofuels in general.

Chris

switters's picture
switters
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 19 2008
Posts: 744
Re: Ethanol
Futuo wrote:

I think there's a bit of a paradigm schism that's occurred here. Stepping back, I feel like everyone's right. Damnthematrix is right, ethanol isn't going to keep business as usual going. Gtazman is also right, that the production of ethanol from plants and
organic waste can be made without oil and used locally without
transporting it.

Ethanol will never work, from any source, if the intent is to have huge farms producing any particular biomass (from corn to trees to whatever) to provide for the entire energy needs of the country, of the world. That's one of the most difficult things to escape from in the "modern age". We're so used to different parts of the world specializing in different things, that we don't even consider ethanol, because it would be ineffective with the current "create&distribute" paradigm employed for the drilling and refinement of oil. However, ethanol can be highly effective once we switch paradigms to the local perspective. The real difficulty is accepting that there doesn't have to be a single comprehensive solution. Ethanol may work very well in certain localities, where wind would not be desirable. Likewise, many places where solar is particularly effective won't have any use for wind. 

I guess in conclusion my point is that ethanol can be an effective solution, if only we stay away from the "mass production" paradigm. Aside from some possible algae strains, farms for biofuels, especially derived from human food products,  will never be practical, economical, or desireable. However, we can see with Gtazman's Wisconsin example, that ethanol can be a by-product of making the best cow feed (or the other way around), without too much difficulty. This better feed goes to the cows, and then we use the manure from the cows to fertilize. If we keep the plants close to the cows, and develop our husbandry and agriculture in accordance with the local-community paradigm, we solve for the biggest issue any energy solution faces: transportation that requires oil.

Just my thoughts. I'm by no means an expert, and would appreciate others' opinions. 

Thanks!

Futuo,

You do have a valid point.  Ethanol may be practical for small-scale use.  But scale is the operative word here.  What Damnthematrix is addressing is the viability of ethanol as a large-scale, commercial fuel source.  As you well know, that's exactly the role oil has served for over a century and exactly what need to replace in a hurry.  Small-scale alternatives are no doubt important for, well, small-scale operations, but they won't do much to mitigate the commercial fuel shortage that will be caused by peak oil.

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
Re: Ethanol

Investor's Business Daily Article

http://www.investors.com/editorial/editorialcontent.asp?secid=1501&status=articl\
e&id=315188051785999

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.

[Ed. note: Copyright violation; remainder of article removed.]
Glaucus's picture
Glaucus
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 25 2008
Posts: 18
Re: Ethanol

Damnthematrix:

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."

jrf29's picture
jrf29
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 453
Re: Ethanol
Glaucus wrote:

I am inquiring about the difference between waste-based cellulosic ethanol and corn (food) based ethanol.

Well, for one, one is made from cellulose, and the other is made from food products containing mono or polysaccharides.

Damnthematrix wrote:

The reason corn is used to make ethanol, BTW, is that it is high in sugars.

  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.

Glaucus's picture
Glaucus
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 25 2008
Posts: 18
Re: Ethanol

jrf29,

Thanks for your reply, which I will pass on to my team.  And will keep the forum posted on our endeavors. 

Quadium's picture
Quadium
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 5 2010
Posts: 42
Re: Ethanol

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

quad

 

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 2 2008
Posts: 546
Re: Ethanol

Quadium-

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.

Quadium's picture
Quadium
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 5 2010
Posts: 42
Re: Ethanol

EndGamePlayer -

Perfect!!

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.

quad

 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments