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Thread: AMA Posts Ethanol Alert!

  1. #31
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Corn is more pervasive in our national diet than sweet corn on the cob, canned corn, corn oil and on and on. I am certain there is a corn nerd someplace able to tell you how much is consumed even Americans who avoid the stuff in a 1st degree form.

    Hate to break it to you but there is an ever growing number of non food uses for things with names you would recognize as food. I would argue in many cases it is a high and acceptable use of arable land. At one point I would have made that argument for my state, but as a short term fill int until a long term solution to a problem the state faced until another solution was found.

    I have seen E85 drag racers, street rods, stunt planes at EAA in Oshkosh etc. All had had impressive performance and the wonderful aroma of French fries. What seems to be lost on many is that such performance can be obtained with a properly thought out power plant and do it with a matching life expectancy of a similarly tuned engine using 'pure' gas in the same application. The question for many is not can it be done but should it be as E10-20 for day to day use.

    The AMA has a way of playing chicken little that can be frustrating to many. I don't think the MOA should or ever would take a political stand on ethanol. What I wish is much smaller than that.

    I wish, given the background of many forum members as researchers, engineers and the vast mechanical skills we have around here, is that the forum became a repository of vetted information that is helpful to the daily rider in on the forum.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

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  2. #32
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kent Niederhofer View Post
    Folks,

    As a technically-degreed executive of a nearly 100-year old engineering consulting firm, I am a firm believer in science-based risk analysis and absolutely deplore political rhetoric and grand-standing. Too many organizations have taken positions based on the misguided beliefs of their financiers and not scientific fact or empirical data.

    I want to share a reasonably well written summary on the findings of a proposed plan to move from E10 to E15 gasoline mix. I can tell you that a large population of automobiles was rigorously tested and effect measured on their performance (in the broadest sense) to determine E15's impact. We presented the results of our tests to Margo Oge of the EPA who was extremely pleased with the rigor of the analysis (as I would have expected) as there is so much "hot air" on this subject we needed to be absolutely robust in our approach.

    I am going to follow up with my team to ascertain if any similar analysis was conducted on "small personal transportation vehicles" like ATVs, motorcycles, and so on -- and I'll pass that on. In the meantime, here is the article:

    http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2...15/496452.html

    I hope this helps and for anyone that needs a complete copy of the report I will see if I can find a way to post it for you.

    Kent
    Kent,

    Are you sure you want to wade into this cesspool? Just because your company (a respected multinational automotive industry consulting firm) did research on the subject, I'm doubtful that any opinions will be changed.
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  3. #33
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NI5L View Post

    But the fact that the ethanol is made from a food staple really pisses me off.
    I know a few farmers that really like the price stability it adds to their business. Accordingly, the states of KS, NB, IA, SD, MN, WI, IL, etc...... probably like idea, too. They all have two senators and at least one congressman.

    Even here in PA, no US senator or congressman is ever going to vote for lower corn prices, that wouldn't support our farms. The subsidies might disappear, but the price support via ethanol blends will remain.
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  4. #34
    Registered User jad01's Avatar
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    I don't really have an opinion on whether ethanol is detrimental to vehicle engines, but as a scientist myself, I did find this statement from the autochannel report Kent posted interesting:

    This study... concluded “that the adoption and use of E15 in the motor vehicle fleet from the studied model years should not adversely affect these vehicles or cause them to perform in a sub-optimal manner when compared with their performance using the E10 blend that is currently available.” (emphasis added)

    The report does note that it applies to model year vehicles from 1994 to 2000. That noted, I'm curious how much difference there is between E15 and E0, and whether that was investigated. The statistical error (variance) that occurs within replicate-based analysis means that while the measured differences between any two adjacent groups (E0 and E10, or E10 and E15- the independent variable in this case) may not be statistically significant, the difference between the two extremes along a gradient (E0 and E15) may well be statistically significant. It is not clear from this popular press report whether any comparisons other than E10 to E15 were considered in the study. This could represent potential bias in the study that would need to be considered depending on the application to specific vehicles. I'd be interested in reading the full report.

    That said, I don't have a problem with ethanol or other biofuels as a strategy to replace fossil fuels, but it sure seems like it would make sense to use a plant base that has a more efficient energy conversion rate from sunlight to biomass than corn (~1.5% conversion rate). Maybe sugarcane (~ 8% conversion rate) or perennial switchgrasses if we are going to use biofuels sustainably into the future.

    We live in interesting times...
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  5. #35
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    I know a few farmers that really like the price stability it adds to their business. Accordingly, the states of KS, NB, IA, SD, MN, WI, IL, etc...... probably like idea, too. They all have two senators and at least one congressman.

    Even here in PA, no US senator or congressman is ever going to vote for lower corn prices, that wouldn't support our farms. The subsidies might disappear, but the price support via ethanol blends will remain.
    That is the price support sound bite take. In Fly-Over-Land it is much more divisive than the sound bite would suggest. The price support out here cuts two ways. Yes it stabilizes corn prices. The that comes at a price. The trade is corn stability traded for support of dairy price supports. In turn on the Right and Left cost this balances out in higher dairy prices to offset the additional cost of feed. A potential win - win for dairy and corn farmers on either side. Here in F-O-L it pits WI and F-O-L dairy farmers against corn farmers in many ways.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

  6. #36
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jad01 View Post
    ...snipped...
    That said, I don't have a problem with ethanol or other biofuels as a strategy to replace fossil fuels, but it sure seems like it would make sense to use a plant base that has a more efficient energy conversion rate from sunlight to biomass than corn (~1.5% conversion rate). Maybe sugarcane (~ 8% conversion rate) or perennial switchgrasses if we are going to use biofuels sustainably into the future.

    We live in interesting times...
    I don't have a problem with plant based fuels. My concern is the source. In the case of corn if it was from cellulose from stalks and what is currently waste leaving the corn for other purposes I may be really able to get behind that.

    Sugar cane is an interesting option. The problem takes you back into market protection and price subsidies for sugar beet farmers and others.

    I will stop here because while we live in interesting times I don't want to over interest the moderators into enforcing forum political discussion guidelines.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

  7. #37
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mika View Post
    That is the price support sound bite take. In Fly-Over-Land it is much more divisive than the sound bite would suggest. The price support out here cuts two ways. Yes it stabilizes corn prices. The that comes at a price. The trade is corn stability traded for support of dairy price supports. In turn on the Right and Left cost this balances out in higher dairy prices to offset the additional cost of feed. A potential win - win for dairy and corn farmers on either side. Here in F-O-L it pits WI and F-O-L dairy farmers against corn farmers in many ways.
    Let's not even get into the M & W price game on dairy. It is a very tangled web of logic with much too history and many powerful beneficiaries......well removed from the farm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls1150 View Post
    Federal officials mandate consumers must buy at least four gallons of gasoline from certain ethanol-blend pumps:

    Wow, IMO you misunderstand what the four gallons means. I read it as a suggestion to prevent engine damage. And it's only for gas stations that have blender pumps selling both E10 AND E15 ethanol gas. While I 'm not a fan of ethanol in gas, spreading misinformation like this is just plain wrong.


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  9. #39
    One Man Wolfpack Kent Niederhofer's Avatar
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    Ethanol Cesspool

    Quote Originally Posted by 88bmwJeff View Post

    Wow, IMO you misunderstand what the four gallons means. I read it as a suggestion to prevent engine damage. And it's only for gas stations that have blender pumps selling both E10 AND E15 ethanol gas. While I 'm not a fan of ethanol in gas, spreading misinformation like this is just plain wrong.


    The letter is here.
    http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/...ling.sflb.ashx
    You're right... I don't want to wade into that cesspool as I don't want or expect to change any minds. What I do want to do is share hard data and then allow folks to decide for themselves. I should mention I grew up on a beef farm and sold cash crops like corn, wheat and alfalfa. Someone earlier in this thread quite rightly made the point that the corn used for ethanol is not the same as that used to feed the population. That is correct, the former is referred to as "pig corn" and the latter is "sweet corn". If you've ever bitten into pig corn, you'd swear you're eating bark -- it's awful. There is another argument that pig corn displaces land that can be used to grow sweet corn (or other grains). Well, maybe but I doubt it as our government pays farmers to allow millions of acres of land to remain fallow (yes, it seems crazy but it keeps feedstock prices up by reducing supply).

    What I'm not certain of (we've looked at it but I haven't read the report) is if the energy put into producing ethanol exceeds that which is derived from it. What I do think may make more sense is the use of cellulosic ethanol which is derived from pure waste (e.g., the stalk, husk and so on). Other sources like switchgrass can also produce ethanol so that any argument about food or fuel is nullified.

    It's a real mess littered with much rhetoric (as seen here) and opinion. One thing I am certain of is that ethanol is not going to go away. Higher octane is a desirable trait in fuel and, I suspect, that an increased mix of ethanol in gasoline will be a prime means to drive that -- and over time engines, small and large, will evolve to accommodate and benefit from it. Signing off now.

    Kent

  10. #40
    Registered User arthurdent's Avatar
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    Not ready for prime time?

    Allegedly, commercial production of the cellulase enzyme is not up to speed so producers can't switch to cellulosic production of ethanol just yet. In any case, the part of me that doesen't trust anyone in the process to tell the truth is speaking to me.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurdent View Post
    In any case, the part of me that doesen't trust anyone in the process to tell the truth is speaking to me.
    Same little voice here. Just follow the money....

  12. #42
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kent Niederhofer View Post
    You're right... I don't want to wade into that cesspool as I don't want or expect to change any minds. What I do want to do is share hard data and then allow folks to decide for themselves. I should mention I grew up on a beef farm and sold cash crops like corn, wheat and alfalfa. Someone earlier in this thread quite rightly made the point that the corn used for ethanol is not the same as that used to feed the population. That is correct, the former is referred to as "pig corn" and the latter is "sweet corn". If you've ever bitten into pig corn, you'd swear you're eating bark -- it's awful. There is another argument that pig corn displaces land that can be used to grow sweet corn (or other grains). Well, maybe but I doubt it as our government pays farmers to allow millions of acres of land to remain fallow (yes, it seems crazy but it keeps feedstock prices up by reducing supply).
    Kent,

    In my area Pig Corn is known as field corn and, yes, it isn't what we know as Corn on the Cob, whole kernel or creamed corn. However, I do believe it's the corn used for making corn meal, flour, hominy, packaged cereals and high fructose corn syrup. Field corn accounts for >95% of the US corn production.

    Now, as an aside, have you ever spent much time in Germany and noticed the lack of food with corn? If you ask a German, especially an older West German, they'll factually state "Corn is for feeding Pigs". Any mention of foods like Mush (Polenta) or scrapple (Ponhaus) will prompt them to shudder and recall horror stories that they heard about life in the old DDR (East Germany). It seems the lowest a German could go is............eating corn meal from cattle feed bins.

    On that basis, I now understand that my corn eating German ancestors (i.e., PA Dutch (Deutsch)) were probably asked to leave Germany by their neighbors.
    Last edited by 36654; 08-12-2012 at 02:01 PM.
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    Now were getting the "type" right for corn. It should also be said that the stalks are not waste, at least in the throwaway sense of that word. Animals eat them & they benefit the soil by introduction back in.
    As to the Germans not eating corn,hmm, I happen to have corn as one of my several an allergies (doesn't keep me from 2 ears of Mirai every night since it came in & same for peaches & cream the few weeks before that) & was assured by the doc doing the testing that it is so many food items that it is sort of impossible to escape it getting into your mouth. FWIW, I bought some German museli @ Meijers Super mkt last week and it is made & pkg in Germany! and contains corn flakes. Do they make it for us or them? Not trying to play gottcha, just hard to think corn isn't in their food.
    Now back to discussing ethanol without having politics in the mix?Not easy to do?

  14. #44
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kantuckid View Post
    Now were getting the "type" right for corn. It should also be said that the stalks are not waste, at least in the throwaway sense of that word. Animals eat them & they benefit the soil by introduction back in.
    As to the Germans not eating corn,hmm, I happen to have corn as one of my several an allergies (doesn't keep me from 2 ears of Mirai every night since it came in & same for peaches & cream the few weeks before that) & was assured by the doc doing the testing that it is so many food items that it is sort of impossible to escape it getting into your mouth. FWIW, I bought some German museli @ Meijers Super mkt last week and it is made & pkg in Germany! and contains corn flakes. Do they make it for us or them? Not trying to play gottcha, just hard to think corn isn't in their food.
    Now back to discussing ethanol without having politics in the mix?Not easy to do?
    You can get Kellogg corn flakes in Germany. However, the corn flake is an American invention, just like Crisco, Crystallized Cottonseed Oil...........which is a soap by-product.
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  15. #45
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    You can get Kellogg corn flakes in Germany. However, the corn flake is an American invention, just like Crisco, Crystallized Cottonseed Oil...........which is a soap by-product.
    Pre Columbian food source developed in the Mexico region and spread across the Americas and beyond via native trade. Corn never seemed to catch on in Europe like other vegetable crops brought back by early explorers and traders; perhaps due to the land yield ratio and storage issues that were better met by other products in their systems. The US has a mixture of land, research and history with the stuff that makes it abundant and pervasive; resulting it being a major export agricultural product. Europeans may have a cultural bias against the stuff but increasingly are importers/ consumers of the stuff in various forms.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

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