When it comes to U.S. ethanol fuels, we must not forget that we are burning food and taking millions of farm acres out of food production. When livestock is fed ethanol wastes, human pathogen counts go way up in the meat.
And, ethanol fuels are damaging engines, according to Business Week.
I was most overjoyed to see the May 2009 Business Week article The Great Ethanol Scam. That is because I have been against corn ethanol (for use as auto fuels, that is) for nearly 20 years now and have held my views being ostracized by nearly everyone until lately. In fact, last year I wrote a summary of all that is wrong with ethanol fuel which is given below.
Here is an excerpt from The Business Week article.
First, the primary job of the Environmental Protection Agency is, dare it be said, to protect our environment. Yet using ethanol actually creates more smog than using regular gas, and the EPA’s own attorneys had to admit that fact in front of the justices presiding over the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1995 (API v. EPA).
Second, truly independent studies on ethanol, such as those written by Tad Patzek of Berkeley and David Pimentel of Cornell, show that ethanol is a net energy loser. Other studies suggest there is a small net energy gain from it.
Third, all fuels laced with ethanol reduce the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, and the E85 blend drops gas mileage between 30% and 40%, depending on whether you use the EPA’s fuel mileage standards (fueleconomy.gov) or those of the Dept. of Energy.
Fourth, forget what biofuels have done to the price of foodstuffs worldwide over the past three years; the science seems to suggest that using ethanol increases global warming emissions over the use of straight gasoline. Just these issues should have kept ethanol from being brought back for its fourth run in American history.
Don’t let anybody mislead you: The new push to get a 15% ethanol mandate out of Washington is simply to restore profitability to a failed industry. Only this time around those promoting more ethanol in our gas say there’s no scientific proof that adding more ethanol will damage vehicles or small gas-powered engines. With that statement they’ve gone from shilling the public to outright falsehoods, because ethanol-laced gasoline is already destroying engines across the country in ever larger numbers.
Now, here is my article from last year:
Guzzling Alcohol in Autos Can Be Deadly
As a 30-year career chemical/environmental engineer, I want to
comment on the corn ethanol fuel racket. Ethanol is chemically the same as
Ethanol production wastes energy, wastes water and causes more air pollution. As an auto fuel it is double the cost of gasoline although this cost is hidden from the consumer. Its production wastes is used by the dairy and beef industry causing more e-coli contamination.
Ethanol may only cost $2.85 at the pump when gasoline is $3. But
ethanol fuel (85 parts ethanol/15 parts gasoline) has only 72% of the
energy content of gasoline, so its cost at the pump is actually $4
per gallon of gasoline equivalent; and you get a reduction in driving
range of 28%.
According to a study by the Cato Institute, for every dollar in
profit a producer makes off ethanol, the costs to taxpayers is $30
after summing the government subsidies on corn. At 15% profit margin,
a sixth grader can calculate the actual cost is about $9 per gallon.
Other hidden costs are the almost doubling (and climbing) of corn
prices resulting in higher prices for meat, milk and eggs. More acres
planted in corn reduce supplies of wheat and soybeans causing these
prices to rise.
It requires more energy to make ethanol than you can get out of it.
Otherwise the ethanol plants would be using it to fuel their plants
rather than our natural gas and coal. Converting all the U.S. corn
crop to ethanol would only reduce gasoline consumption by 1%,
according to Robert Panier, a former ethanol-industry chemical
The negative environmental impacts by the use of crop chemicals are
significant. It takes 7 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol. The emission reductions from ethanol-fueled cars are so small that air quality is not improved at all.
Even China is smart enough to know that ethanol fuel is a loser. That
is why they shut down their ethanol plants this year.
But there is more. One-third of the corn feedstock becomes a massive
quantity of waste. This is sold to factory farms to force feed cows,
cattle and pigs along with the chicken manure. We are told that this
is a bonus because they count the calorie content (BTUs) of the slop
toward the energy gain, so it makes it look they are creating more
energy. Milking cows were fed these “grains”, as they call them, pre-
1940s. These cows got sick, the milk became contaminated with harmful
bacteria, people got sick and died, ushering in pasteurization. Last
week, it was announced by two university research departments that
ethanol wastes fed to livestock is related to the surge in recent
meat recalls and e-coli breakouts.
But, there’s more. Since the triangle of government (EPA, USDA, DOE),
industry (ADM) and environmental whackos, in all of their infinite
wisdom, believe so much in ethanol saving us from the planet’s
certain and rapid doom. In fact, they crafted legislation which has
been made into regulations requiring a rapid increase to meet the
crisis head on. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, rules
call for increasing ethanol fuels from the current 5% of
transportation fuels to 36% over the next few years and install tanks
and pumps everywhere– along with a huge fleet of trucks to haul it.
One has to wonder how many will die and suffer because of this money-
making scheme, in part allowed by recycling the profits into election
Corn would be better used as food to help feed the hungry and not the
ethanol producers and their lobbyists. After all, ADM is the
supermarket to the world. Auto and oil companies fought for decades
that ethanol is an inferior fuel, but now are embracing it for
profits as the dumb-downed public is green-washed again by government and corporate sponsored commercials and free public relations strategies disguised as news.
Ethanol fuels is a major energy, environmental and economic loser, damages engines and is another threat to food supplies and safety. The true costs are
immeasurable. Corn ethanol is unsustainable. Corn ethanol is a Loser
David M. Augenstein, M.S., P.E.
Automotive Environmental & Safety Engineering