Shooting for E-Zero

This Google link will take you to a non-firewalled WSJ article about the supreme post-modern condition now reached by our ethanol fuel policy:  from now on, we're going to subsidize corn production for ethanol, not because we can better achieve our environmental goals that way, but because subsidies are a goal in their own right.  My husband's view:  we'd probably do less damage if we just started sending the checks with no strings attached.


David Foster said...

I looked into ethanol about 10 years ago, from an investment standpoint. A lot heat is required in the process, and this is normally derived from natural gas. In addition, fuel, normally oil, is of course used by the farmer who grows the corn in the first place.

The monetary and energy economics are complex, because of various byproducts, but with some exaggeration one could say that corn ethanol is basically a Rube Goldberg process for converting natural gas and oil into a gasoline equivalent.

Grim said...

Ethanol is great if you're a manufacturer of small engines. I just lost another chainsaw to piston scoring from that excess heat and the gunk that it generates. This one lasted three years, but it used to be you could pass a well-maintained saw down to your children. I did all the right stuff in terms of keeping gas fresh and using Seafoam, but you just don't know how long the gas has been in the tank before you buy it. Sooner or later you'll get a bad batch, and that's it for an expensive piece of equipment.

raven said...

Look for a source of non ethanol gas. Try "pure gas" as a search-
All my small engines get stored with non ethanol gas- and my gas cans get filled with it- stored in a cool location, it will last a year easy with no additives.
Each fall, my bikes get stored with a full tank, never had a problem in the spring- well, I did once- I used stabil and had to run a bunch of techron through the bike to get the notoriously small idle jets cleaned out. Maybe coincidence but that was the only time.....The bike is 15 years old and has never had the carbs cleaned- runs fine.

Ethanol may have one or two good points, I rarely hear of water in the gas type problems anymore, probably because the the alcohol mixes with it- on the other hand, that water/alchohol wreaks havoc with an aluminum carb body.

I have read that ethanol is also useful at reducing detonation, because it has a higher burn temp-not sure on this, still looking into it.

And of course in older fuel systems it seems to do a good job of dissolving rubber and fiberglass parts.

douglas said...

Apparently, the ethanol hoax has been around at least since the 1930's.

Anonymous said...

Not just cheaper to send a check, but better for the environment in terms of water conservation. Farmers out here (west of the 20" rainfall line) have been shifting heavily to corn for the ethanol $$. It takes an enormous amount of water to make a gallon of corn ethanol. Last time I read numbers, it came in at 20-25 gal H2O for one gal of ethanol. Granted, we are in a wet phase through early spring of next year, but man, I dislike seeing all that groundwater turned into crud that cuts my gas mileage and eats my lawnmower.