Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Keep On Saying This …… Ethanol is a Bad JOKE!
Ethanol is a bi-partisan political gimmick.  You’ve been told by many politicians that ethanol is the answer to all our transportation problems.  Further, if your state grows corn, then politicians assure you that ethanol is good, good for everyone.   It is only a good, good way to get a government subsidy.
Let’s take a serious science-based look at what ethanol is really all about.   First, the advocates claim that ethanol is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline.   They also claim it will lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

Let’s Examine Cleaner & Cheaper
The public is likely unaware that refiners must pay for a waiver on every gallon of ethanol, which is not produced below the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  Who do you think ends up paying for the waiver?  Right - the consumer.  Waivers are responsible for billions of dollars in cost each year.
The 2013 RFS demands that 16.55 billion barrels of ethanol be blended with gasoline at the pump.  However, only 12.94 billion gallons are projected to be produced this year.   The shortfall is 3.61 billion gallons.  At a cost of $1 per waiver[1], gasoline prices might well increase by $3.6 billion.
Another great disadvantage of ethanol has to do with mileage.  A gallon of ethanol has 48,262 less BTUs of energy than gasoline.  Last year, ethanol production amounted to 13.3 billion gallons.  Multiply these 13.3 billion gallons times 48,262 BTUs gives 641,885 billion BTUs less than gasoline.  Putting this on the level of one vehicle, we estimate the vehicle requires 6,821 BTUs per mile.  Dividing the 641,885 billion BTUs by 6,821 BTUs per mile give a shocking answer - ethanol causes consumers to lose 94 billion miles of free travel annually due to poor mileage.
Ethanol emits more CO2 per gallon into the atmosphere than gasoline.  Ethanol has only about 60% of the energy of gasoline.  It takes 1.635 gallons of gasoline to do the same work as one gallon of gasoline.  Moreover, 1.635 gallons of ethanol emit 20.55 pounds of CO2.  Gasoline emits 19.56 pound of CO2.

How About Taking Care of Dependence on Foreign Oil

Americans have been sold a bill of goods.  Politicians preach that the sole purpose of ethanol is to replace foreign oil.  Well, if ethanol cannot replace oil imports, then why do we have it?  In 2012, we imported 3.1 billion barrels of oil, or 8.5 million barrels per day.    Ethanol production amounted to 314 million barrels out of a total of 3.1 billion barrels  – 10% of the oil imports.  Are you getting the picture?
Further, ethanol production peaked in 2011 and is now declining.  The table below shows the ethanol production per annum for the past five years in millions of barrels:
I estimate ethanol production for 2013, based on 8 months, to be 309 million barrels.  It is obvious; ethanol cannot ever replace foreign oil.

CREDIT:  I wish to recognize my friend Graham Selman, a longtime petroleum engineer and attorney, for the use of his data in preparation of this article.

[1] The exact cost of the waivers is a closely-held secret of the transparent Obama administration. 

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