Ethanol, A Very BAD Choice!! Part 2

July 12, 2012

By

 

 

Leon Puissegur

 

In ending the first article on Ethanol, we ended it with discussion about the “environmental” dangers of Ethanol, but we did not get into the real parts of this “alternate fuel” that not only drive up the costs of gasoline, but also prices on nearly anything associated with the production of Ethanol that makes prices on everything climb due to the use of feed corn to make this fuel, along with the costs of transportation.  Just in the past day, we saw a tank car blow up with 90,000 gallons of Ethanol causing the evacuation of neighborhoods.  The reason this fuel was on a tank car is because it CANNOT be sent down any pipeline because it would have drawn water into it along the way to the destination.

 

Now let us show how this Ethanol hurts the very environment it is supposed to help!

In an article by one Nathaniel Davidson written March 30, 2011, Mr. Davidson reflects back to a man by the name of Walter Williams, a man with a Doctorate Degree. Mr Davidson first states;

 

Environmentalists vs. science

Al Gore himself got a D in one science course, and a C-plus in another, yet it doesn’t stop the Left media fawning over his intellect and treating his environmental claims as gospel.  But it really doesn’t take more than high school science to show that ethanol is a crass fuel compared to gasoline.

The chemical formula for ethanol is C2H5OH, and for gasoline something like C8H18 (octane).  Both of them burn to form CO2 and H2O (carbon dioxide and water vapour).  But there the similarity ends.

  • Energy is released when chemical bonds are formed.  But in ethanol,  there is an oxygen atom in the molecule, bonding to both a carbon and a hydrogen.  This is energy that can’t be released by burning.  So a gallon of ethanol has only about 66% as much energy as a gallon of gasoline.
  • We’ve all heard that oil and water don’t mix.  Gasoline is like oil in this respect.  But ethanol has the -OH group, and this means it mixes very well with water, as any beer or wine drinker would know—any alcoholic drink is basically a flavored water-ethanol mixture.  And even worse for a fuel, ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning that it sucks in moisture from the air. This means it can’t be piped long distances without picking up moisture, so fossil fuels must be used to transport it.  It also can’t be stored in barrels for long periods unless they are totally airtight.
  • Water in fuel is obviously harmful, and even damages most engines, but it can’t be avoided when making ethanol.  So what about distilling it, as moonshiners did to fortify their liquor?  Actually, ordinary distillation will never get rid of the last 4% of water (the fancy science term is azeotrope, from Greek meaning “boiling without changing”).  Chemical labs make purer ethanol by adding benzene, but surely environmentalists won’t like that because it’s highly carcinogenic.  (Then again, they have replaced harmless, cheap and bright Edison bulbs with mercury containing dim, expensive fluorescent ones).

Ethanol also has other reactions.   Think of wine turning into vinegar, which is due to ethanol turning into acetic acid.   And there is a nasty intermediate called acetaldehyde.  So not surprisingly this is a product of ethanol-powered engines. This leads to much more ground-level ozone.

 

It is the part following that Dr. Walter Williams shows in detail why Ethanol is NOT useful nor good based upon facts that are left out when the “news media” and others discuss the fuel Ethanol.

Economist Dr Walter Williams points out:

Ethanol is so costly that it wouldn’t make it in a free market. That’s why Congress has enacted major ethanol subsidies, about $1.05 to $1.38 a gallon, which is no less than a tax on consumers. In fact, there’s a double tax — one in the form of ethanol subsidies and another in the form of handouts to corn farmers to the tune of $9.5 billion in 2005 alone. (We now know that Ethanol uses more subsides then any oil company may obtain!)

Dr Williams points out another problem with government meddling in the economy: special interests will always be able to steal from taxpayers with government help.  This is because of concentrated benefits v diffused costs:

It pays the ethanol lobby to organize and collect money to grease the palms of politicians willing to do their bidding because there’s a large benefit for them — higher wages and profits. The millions of gasoline consumers, who fund the benefits through higher fuel and food prices, as well as taxes, are relatively uninformed and have little clout. After all, who do you think a politician will invite into his congressional or White House office to have a heart-to-heart — you or an Archer Daniels Midlands executive?

Williams points out the dangers:

It takes 450 pounds of corn to produce the ethanol to fill one SUV tank. That’s enough corn to feed one person for a year.

Thus it’s hardly surprising that food prices have skyrocketed, and there have even been worldwide food shortages, even leading to deadly food riots in 2008.  That alone should be enough to expose the lie that government-supported ethanol fuel is good for humanity.

 

We looked around and could not find any group associated with the Ethanol making truthful statements of this potent poison that we use for fuel in our cars and trucks!  In the following sections below, we will show how dangerous Ethanol is to our water supply, our health and on down the line, everything shown here is contrary to what the environmentalists want. As a matter of fact, Ethanol does more harm across the board then all the oil we have used so far! We took a look at what Mr. Green wrote about Ethanol dealing with fresh water consumption to make Ethanol. Mr. Green states;

 

Ethanol and Fresh Water Consumption.

What may surprise many people is how much fresh water it takes to produce ethanol. In December 2006, scientists at Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico issued a report, Energy Demands on Water Resources, explaining that virtually all forms of energy production consume a lot of water. Petroleum refining, for example, consumes 1–2.5 gallons of water per gallon of refined product. Colorado scientists Kreider and Curtiss estimate that refining a gallon of corn ethanol today requires thirty-five gallons of water. But that is only the beginning. Kreider and Curtiss estimate that three times as much water is needed to grow the corn that yields a gallon of ethanol. That brings the tally to 140 gallons of water per gallon of corn ethanol produced.19 If their calculation is correct, the 5.4 million gallons of corn ethanol used in America in 2006 required the use of 760 million gallons of fresh water.20

 

Now just this should raise a red flag since this uses a commodity that our nation needs much more then any Ethanol ever produced, WATER!   Water may seem like a small price to pay for Ethanol, but if we look around we find that fresh water is dwindling in volume, what does this mean?  It means that our nation and the world will be needing more water and water itself may become more expensive then oil in the future.  But this is just a small part of the problem with Ethanol and once again, this fuel has more problems associated with it then any amount of oil. The brief section about water above is just one more of the many reasons that Ethanol should be taken off the market.

Below is a bit more of Mr. Green’s article dealing with just the use of water;

 

And things do not look much better for ethanol made from cellulose crops, such as switch grass. Kreider and Curtiss estimate that switch grass would require between 146 and 149 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced from cellulose depending on the scale of production. Thus, meeting the Bush administration’s target of 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels production in the United States by 2017 with cellulosic ethanol would require about 5 trillion gallons of water per year. That is a bit more than the average annual flow of the Colorado River, which the Southern Nevada Water Authority lists at 15 million acre-feet, or a little under 5 trillion gallons.21

 

Now this is VERY interesting because of the vast amount of fresh water that is needed to produce so little Ethanol.  Can you just think of all the water flowing down the Colorado river not being there for a solid year because it was used to make a small amount of Ethanol?  That would be amazing at best and fearful to even think about since that is a lot of water to use just to produce a fuel that harms the environment as much if not more then what plain gasoline does!  Do we as a people really want to endanger our water supply when we do not have to? We know just what many will say, “But Ethanol will help us achieve independence from foreign oil well, Mr. Green gives a huge statement about this MYTH!

 

Ethanol will not bring us energy security, and it may well make us less secure

because of the significant volatility in crop productivity from year to year.

 

Here he shows that with the possible problems of not enough corn or other type of product to make Ethanol, it becomes a problem with the production of the type of product that we may use to make Ethanol.  With the recent heat wave, we have seen the decrease of corn and other products because the heat has slowed the growth of these products that could be used to make Ethanol!  More problems then the product is worth.  This does NOT include the problems with the pollution of the waters from the making and growing of products to make Ethanol!

 

Ethanol and Water Pollution. In Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) points out that if the United States continues to expand corn-based ethanol production without new environmental protection policies, “the increase in harm to water quality could be considerable.”22 Corn, according to the NAS, requires more fertilizers and pesticides than other food or biofuel crops. Pesticide contamination is highest in the corn belt, and nitrogen fertilizer runoff from corn already has the highest agricultural impact on the Mississippi River. In short, more corn raised for ethanol means more fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides in waterways; more low-oxygen “dead zones” from fertilizer runoff; and more local shortages in water for drinking and irrigation. Fertilizer runoff does not just pollute local waters; it creates other far-reaching environmental problems. Each summer, the loading of nitrogen fertilizers from the Mississippi via the corn belt hits the Gulf of Mexico, creating a large dead zone—a region of oxygen deprived waters unable to support sea life that extends for more than ten thousand square kilometers. The same phenomenon occurs in the Chesapeake Bay, in some summers affecting most of the waters in the mainstern bay.23 A recent study by researchers at the University of British Columbia shows that if the United States were to meet its proposed ethanol production goals—15–36 billion gallons of corn and cellulosic ethanol by 2022—nitrogen flows to the Gulf of Mexico would increase by 10–34 percent.24

 

This shows without a doubt that the production of Ethanol does in fact do more harm then all the oil we as a nation use.  We should point out that this “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico below New Orleans is very real and it keeps growing with the more products used to make Ethanol, the larger this “Dead Zone” grows and the worst part is that this “Dead Zone” kills more species then all of the BP oil spill has done during its brief period. This is because unlike the oil spill, this “Dead Zone” does not evaporate, escape into the air, or decrease in size at all.  This “Dead Zone” has grown more and covered more area then the BP oil spill!  It keeps growing and if we keep producing more and more products to make Ethanol, we will eventually destroy a huge environment in the Gulf of Mexico. We were going to make this just a 2 part article, but we still have some more information to disperse and to do that we will need one more part to this because we do not wish to have a very long and boring article.  So in a good suggestion, this will be the second of a 3 part article on Ethanol and we hope that once you read it, you pass the information on, discuss it, argue about it and bring the truth about Ethanol out for all to see!

 

Part 3 will discuss Land Consumption from Ethanol production and Energy Security.

 

Release from Mr. Green;

 

Dear Leon –

 

Thank you for your kind words. As long as you cite the material accurately, and give proper credit, you’re welcome to quote from the paper you mention extensively.

 

Best,

Ken

 

———————————–

Kenneth P. Green

Resident Scholar

American Enterprise Institute

 

NOTES:

 

19. Jan F. Kreider and Peter S. Curtiss, “Comprehensive

Evaluation of Impacts from Potential, Future Automotive Fuel

Replacements.”

20. Calculation by author. Annual ethanol consumption estimate

for 2006 is from the Renewable Fuels Association, available at

www.ethanolrfa.org/industry/statistics/#D (accessed July 23, 2008).

21. Southern Nevada Water Authority, “Water Resources:

Colorado River,” available at www.snwa.com/html/wr_colrvr.

html (accessed July 23, 2008).

22. National Academy of Sciences, Water Implications of

Biofuels Production in the United States (Washington, DC:

National Academies Press), 27–36.

23. Ibid.

24. Simon D. Donner and Christopher J. Kucharik, “Corn-

Based Ethanol Production Compromises Goal of Reducing

Nitrogen Export by the Mississippi River,” Proceedings of the

National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105,

no. 11 (March 18, 2008): 4513–18, available at www.pnas.org/

content/105/11/4513.abstract (accessed July 23, 2008).


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