The Farce of Biofuels

I purchased my previous lawnmower in July 2016 after the carburetor in my previous one had succumbed to the mandated ten percent ethanol in gasoline. But I was back to Sears again in September 2017 for the same villainous ethanol problem. Since Sears could not repair this latest victim of ethanol, they gave me a new model with improved features. I am covered by warranty until July 2019.

I guess I really can’t complain, but be aware that in the U.S., marine and farming equipment fuels are exempt from the mandated ten percent ethanol. I guess the corn farmers knew what this stuff does to your engine.

Of course, the ethanol-from-corn fiasco began under the ruse that we were in danger of oil depletion and we needed “renewable fuels.” Then there was the spurious claim that corn-based ethanol would free us from “dirty” petroleum. Forty percent of corn production in the U.S. is devoted to this vote buying scam in the Corn Belt.

The Renewable Fuels Association is a very powerful lobby. Also, Iowa is the first state in the Presidential primaries. Peruse the website of the Renewable Fuels Association for some very dubious claims. I find myself gritting my teeth that they are pressing legislators to mandate E85, containing 15 percent ethanol.

I wrote my hometown newspaper, the Wilmington News Journal, regarding the biofuels rip-off. The Renewable Fuels Association came back with an unctuous pile of obfuscation.

It takes more in the total energy input and greater CO2 emissions to produce corn-from-ethanol when considering fertilizers, mechanized farming, and transport, as well as the energy-intensive fermentation process.

To ferment alcohol you start with a sugar. That is why old moonshiners would dump raisins or raw sugar into their sour mash. Compared to sugar cane used by the Brazilians, corn is a crappy source of sugar.

If we want a work program for the poorer regions of southern Louisiana and Mississippi, why not grow sugar cane along the Gulf Coast, which is an excellent way to blunt the force of tropical storms and hurricanes?

Moonshiners called it “sugar shine.” Ohh, sh-sh-sh-sugar!! I won’t swear on a ‘G’ website.

My former employer DuPont came up with a whiz-bang multi-million-dollar process to make ethanol out of corn stover —the stalks, leaves, and husks. No corn kernels, just cellulose. It started up in Oct. 2016 and was mothballed in April 2017. The plant had corn stover in excess of what they could store.

Then we have the disposal of the sugar-depleted wastes from the fermentation process. The depleted mass is unsuitable for traditional uses like feed for cattle and pigs. This waste stream is also wet, increasing the weight that must be transported to an impoundment.

It is claimed that ethanol is equal to gasoline in energy content. When we consider that ethanol is miscible in water and the condensation in your gas tank ends up in your engine, that energy parity claim is a blatant lie. Besides ruining your carburetor, the heavier-than-gasoline water/ethanol mix lies along the bottom of the gas tank, corroding your tank unless purging agents are regularly added during auto maintenance.

Wait!! There’s more!!

For refiners to satisfy the mandates for low volatiles content in summer blends (to reduce organic vapors which are precursors to ground-level ozone), yet to satisfy the requirement to blend in ethanol, the refiners flare off the excess like butane, which is not economic to recover.

The United States was declared the world’s largest oil and gas producer in 2015 and 2016 and is a significant net exporter, given the stumbling blocks and harassment of the Obama administration.

I will be interested to see the stance of political candidates for the mid-term elections in 2018 or the next U.S. presidential election in 2020. Honesty and intelligence or the status quo? I am not optimistic.

Forbes and many business publications have outlined the farce of corn-based ethanol and other “renewable” biofuels. Of course, the anti-business Liberal elements dismiss any advice from business publications. But when Rolling Stone calls you out, you must not have many friends at all.

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Comments (2)

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    Spurwing Plover

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    Can anyone still remember permium or eythyl gasoline being sold at all the service stations long before the EPA and before the Greens stared poking their noses into everything

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  • Avatar

    Sonnyhill

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    Do not put ethanol fuels in any machine that doesn’t see regular use. Before storing equipment for the off-season, use up all the fuel in the tank.
    There is a somewhat misleading paragraph in this article. The wet waste from the fermentation of BIO MASS may be useless, but the wet remains from grain fermentation are a protein supplement (when dried) and have considerable value for livestock feed. The by-product is known as distillers dried grains, and China is a big customer. The attempts at extracting fuel from biomass have been funded by taxpayers and don’t look too promising.
    Before the Renewable Fuels push, midwest farmers were heavily dependent on taxpayers for subsidies. Grain exports were subsidized, all in an effort to empty the grain bins before the next harvest. Ethanol created a new domestic market for farmers, and for a few years they prospered. We’re back to grain over supply again, and Farm Aid concerts might make a comeback soon.
    Did ethanol benefit the environment? Not likely.

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