An Exhaustive Ethanol Post at Futurepundit

Lynne Kiesling

Run, don’t walk, to Randall Parker’s place and read his excellent and thorough post on the science, economics, and politics of ethanol in Brazil and the US. Chock full of outstanding and informative links.

I also had not thought about what he mentions in his parting comment about ethanol from biomass:

But my guess is that coming advances in cellulosic technology will so lower the cost of biomass ethanol that ethanol usage will increase greatly in the next 10 years. I do not treat that as a happy prospect. Large scale biomass energy production will cause humanity to compete (too successfully) with nature and take habitat away from other species. Since I’m fond of other species I’m not happy about that. I’d much prefer we use nuclear, solar, and other energy sources that use much smaller ecological footprints.

Sobering.


5 thoughts on “An Exhaustive Ethanol Post at Futurepundit

  1. But the best feedstock for cellulosic ethanol is switchgrass, which is more of a “brush” than a “grass”. One of the attractive features of switchgrass is that it’ll grow on very marginal agricultural land, most of which is currently fallow.

    If we cultivate millions of acres of switchgrass, replacing millions of acres of wild grasses, that would actually increase habitat for birds and other small animals, as well as larger ones like rabbits.

  2. What makes me crazy is this, “Note that ethanol contains less energy per liter or gallon. So you need a third or a half more ethanol to drive the same distance as you can with pure gasoline.”

    That is only true if you are trying to use a gasoline engine or a ‘flex fuel’ engine. Ethanol has a much higher octane rating, allowing it to prevent auto-igniting up to compression ratios of 19/1 (instead of gasolines 11/1).

    Why does nobody ever mention that? Argh!

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