Drought, Corn and 13% Ethanol

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Fuel Economy' started by willrob, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. willrob

    willrob Junior Member

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    This summer's drought has cut heavily into the corn crop (among others), and the EPA is being petitioned to curtail, at least temporally, the mandated ethanol production.

    Where I live (Wisconsin) there are no local gas stations that sell ethanol free fuel, but what they do sell is safely within the 10% concentration that Toyota says the Prius can use.

    The Ethanol lobby however has convinced the EPA to raise the minimum concentration to 13% starting in two years. I assume this will be an across the board move, with the 10% version no longer being available. No current model Prius, nor any other late model car is made to run on 13%. And I think it's finally time to face the political reality that the ethanol lobby's reason for being—to aid farmers— can't escape the long known fact that it takes more fossil fuel to create ethanol than the process yields.

    And now, thanks to the drought, other farmers—pork, beef, poultry— and the US consumer, who has lately found corn derivatives into almost all processed foods, have to suffer in the pocket book so that what little corn we have is diverted to the production of a fuel that doesn't increase milage, and uses more fossil fuel rather then save it.

    Will current Prius owners be able to adapt their verticals to the new fuel?
     
  2. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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  3. alfon

    alfon Senior Member

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    I believe all the facts indicate that Ethanol is not a
    viable fuel additive to gasoline. Its a negative energy
    additive.

    Even with those facts the U.S. Government is still ramming
    Ethanol down the throats of the U.S. motorist.

    We can only hope that Ethanol is no longer used for a fuel additive
    due to the drought and the expense in higher food prices not only
    for U.S.citizens but the entire world....
     
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  4. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    the problem we have with that is despite all reports to the contrary; in what used to be a normal growing season, we produced more Corn than we could eat or process so it was easy to earmark some extra for ethanol. this allowed backdoor financing to the farmers to help keep them in business and our food prices artificially low.

    problem with sending it off the another country is that is when it gets expensive but that money does not go to where its needed most and that is the farmer which is why nearly all corn is "corporate corn" which allows large corporations to take a small profit at the growing level, distribution level, wholesale level, trucking level, etc... then Corn becomes profitable. Every time the corn changes hand, it increases the payout to "someone" which is usually the same corporation under different companies.

    Corporate Corn
    which has a lot of lobbyist support and we all know whose interests lobbyists benefit
     
  5. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    Ethanol is a far better fuel additive than the other options I know of, namely Lead, and MTBE. But it should be an additive at whatever concentration is required, not a fuel in itself (even as part of a mixture). At least not until we are first feeding everyone, and have found a way to produce it that makes sense.
     
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  6. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    First of all...there is no "across the board" ethanol concentration outside the state level. They sell E0 in many places (including the Redneck Riviera) I prefer to get my gas from the bigs, not because I believe that the fuel is all that much better, but the restrooms quality and the gedunk prices are. Besides....E0 is about 10-15 cents more than E10, and I believe that much of the ethanol temperance movement is Bravo-Sierra. I listened to the same FUD when hybrids came out. $15,000 batteries that only last two years...less environmentally friendly than a Hummer, unsafe EMF radiation resulting in FLK's (funny looking kids.)

    OK.
    So.
    If you have a hate on for corporate America???
    I can respect that, but you'll put a lot more rubber on the road (pun almost unintended) by eschewing beer, distilled spirits, milk, beef and pork, and anything that contains HFCS...(cola, candy, etc.)
    As noted above, ethanol is a lot more environmentally benign than some of the designer chemicals that they put into gas otherwise, and there is some pretty exiting work in using alky-haul injection in very small displacement ICE's that.....especially if mated to hybrids, could lead us to the next big step forward in efficiency.

    Right now?
    The biggest corn problem in this country is that it's used to fatten up livestock to make your hamburgers taste better....or it's used to make sugary drinks to fatten up your kids....or it's used to make adult beverages to help fatten YOU up, in addition to the others.
    Right now obesity is one of the largest (again....pun almost unintended) problems in the country. To quote from a famous book, Americans are fat, lazy, loud, and stupid.
    It's just a thought....but if we turned all corn into ethanol, and throw in some of the other "selected cereal grains" it would probably help at least two of the above afflictions and we would have the additional benefit of usling a little bit less fuel from the Middle East....and you know what????
    They don't grow much corn in the sandbox.... :)

    Ethanol???
    I think that it's one of the better things we do with corn!!!

    YMMV... ;)
     
  7. markabele

    markabele owner of PiP, then Leaf, then Model 3

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    I live in Nebraska so I know a bit about corn and livestock. :)

    Look up pictures of cattle now compared to decades ago. Fatten up isn't the phrase you will use when you see the pics.

    As far as using less corn to be used as food so people don't get as fat...that's about a round-a-bout way of attacking the problem as it gets. I can think of hundreds of better ways to help with this nation's obesity issue. (also used to be a personal trainer and then worked in a cardiac rehab facility, so again, I know what I'm talking about)

    Lastly, if you were TRULY concerned with using less fuel from the Middle East then you would drive an EV or at least a Plug-In.

    fwiw nothing personal, I usually agree with most of your stances ;)
     
  8. macman408

    macman408 Electron Guidance Counselor

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    Two things -
    First, willrob, there are a number of gas stations in and around Madison that sell ethanol-free gas. There are a number of websites that will direct you to them, though you should probably still check that they haven't started using Ethanol. My brother likes Kwik Trip, though only their premium 91 octane is ethanol-free. However, I think his car recommends premium anyway.

    Second, we don't have ethanol because we made too much corn one year, and somebody was looking for a way to use the excess. The type of corn used to make ethanol tastes like crap. The type of corn that we eat only makes up about 2% of production; the rest is called "field corn", and is dumped into processed foods and livestock feed. If price increases mean that we can't use corn for these purposes any more, all the better IMHO. Corn is a poor substitute for pretty much everything it replaces, and we'd be far better off using something else - it's the "pink slime" of everything BESIDES hamburger. Except we feed it to cows, so it's in your hamburgers too.

    That said, I'd be perfectly happy getting rid of corn in both food and fuel. Just don't think that because you have to burn Ethanol, you're paying more for food. Growing corn for ethanol increases food prices no more than growing tobacco, cotton, coffee, or any other non-food crops. Farmers will grow whatever earns them the most money, food or otherwise. Most of them are barely surviving as it is, and can't afford to do anything else.
     
  9. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    If field corn to make ethanol pays the farmer more money, then farmers will move to growing more of that, until all farmers are planting nothing else. In order to cause farmers to grow food, the price of that food will have to rise to the point where it is financially viable for the farmers. Therefore burning ethanol means you are paying more for food. Economics allows no other conclusion.
     
  10. WE0H

    WE0H Senior Member

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    The 3rd Gen runs just fine on a E57 blend ;) No worries if the pump says E13 in a couple years. I wish Toyota offered a E85/E100 option so we could use even less foreign oil.

    Mike :)

    Mobile on my Asus
     
  11. GrumpyCabbie

    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    I'd be interested to know your full experiences of running on this? Do you have cold start issues or high wear and tear? What mileage are you s the car burn oil? I only ask as we're getting E10 only later this year, and E85 is much cheaper than petrol. Obviously can't run the Prius on E85 alone but maybe a mix of 60/40 petrol to E85. I'm also out of warranty now so no issues there.
     
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  12. josh2008

    josh2008 Active Member

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    Guess you dont realize how much the high concentrations lower fuel economy? Lowering fuel economy in a car you bought to get better mpg is just silly. So we are going to use more to 'use less'? Not to mention the long term reliability issues with high ethanol content. Ethanol is not the way we need to go, but as usual we like to do things nice person backwards.
     
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  13. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    No, it's not. The only thing using lower energy density fuels does is lower the range, and wreck uninformed bragging rights. If a lower density fuel is cheaper in $/mile, one will save money by using it. I didn't buy a Prius to be able to brag about how many miles per gallon I got, I bought it to lower the Dollars per mile I spent. What would be silly, would be paying more per BTU (or per mile, if you like) for that fuel.
     
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  14. subjective

    subjective Member

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    Do you think that with the current administrations solutions record for solving problems might go for engineering smaller people that can drive smaller cars that use less fuel and eat less food and NO HAPPY MEALS.
     
  15. dbcassidy

    dbcassidy Toyota Hybrid Nation, 8 Million Strong

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    UM, do you do weekly food shopping? If so, have you noticed how food prices have increased in the past couple of years? Ethanol drives up the cost of food we purchase. Yes, farmers are well subsidized by the government to grow corn for ethanol production. This means less acreage for corn for human consumption. If you think ethanol is a better additive for fuel, that's your own opinion. But, research out how much diesel fuel is used to plant, water, harvest, process, and transport product for distribution.

    I think you will be surprised.

    DBCassidy
     
  16. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    You would rather have Lead or MTBE? Do the research on what those do to the places we are getting our food and water. I am quite familiar with the down sides of Ethanol production, which is why I recommend it as a fuel additive not a fuel substitute. If you have something better, by all means champion it!
     
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  17. subjective

    subjective Member

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    There is no reason that small clean diesels that run well on multiple mixtures of vegetable and petroleum oils can not be built and used very effectively.
     
  18. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Somewhat true....
    However (Comma!) vegetable oil comes from...........
     
  19. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    Vegetable oil as a fuel additive is probably not viable, which is what I was discussing.

    If the premise allows replacing almost every vehicle, and vast amounts of infrastructure, I can think of better options.
     
  20. markabele

    markabele owner of PiP, then Leaf, then Model 3

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    Mike, I'm pretty sure many studies have shown that it can take more foreign fuel to make ethanol than you get in the outcome.
     
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