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A new pretreatment process, eliminates expensive toxic acid baths in favor of ammonia. The treatment will help produce cheaper ethanol from plant waste, like these corn stalks shown here.  (Source:

Bruce Dale, University Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering and materials science at Michigan State University invented the cheaper and more efficient AFEX cellulosic ethanol pretreatment process, with the help of his doctoral student Ming Lau.  (Source: MSU)
A new process invented by Michigan State University helps to increase the yields of cellulosic ethanol at a reasonable premium

The world of cellulosic ethanol is a hot business.  GM has already backed two cellulosic ethanol companies, Coskata and Mascoma Corp., and many others are taking a serious look at the new type of fuel.  Essentially with the same advantages and disadvantages from a fuel perspective as normal ethanol, which it shares virtually the same chemical character with, the big bonus is that cellulosic ethanol can be made from plant waste of all times, reducing the price pressure produced by food-crop ethanol.

Using technology to produce cellulosic ethanol, the fruits and vegetables of food crops can ship to the market and the leftovers -- leaves, stalks, stems, and husks -- can be ground up and made into ethanol.  One of the first targets is corn stover, the leftovers from the corn harvest, somewhat of an ironic source as sugarcorn (the food) became one of the two main controversial sources of food-crop ethanol

Unfortunately, the processes to make cellulosic ethanol are still very inefficient.  And while there are acid pretreatments that can improve the performance, freeing up more sugars from the cellulose and hemicellulose in plants to be used in fermentation, these treatments are costly.  Typically the acidic product is toxic, so it must undergo intensive washing and detoxifying, leaching nutrients that could have been used in fermentation and raising the costs.

That's where Michigan State University comes in with a new patented process.  Bruce Dale, University Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering and materials science at the university, has invented a cheap pretreatment process using ammonia, called AFEX (ammonia fiber expansion).

Its 75 percent more efficient than with traditional enzyme treatments says Professor Dale, and is easier and more affordable than acid pretreatments.  The process frees up a lot of sugar to be used in the fermentation to produce more ethanol.

Professor Dale states, "Doctoral student Ming Lau and I have shown that it's possible to use AFEX to pretreat corn stover (cobs, stalks and leaves) and then hydrolyze and ferment it to commercially relevant levels of ethanol without adding nutrients to the stover.  It's always been assumed that agricultural residues such as corn stover didn't have enough nutrients to support fermentation. We have shown this isn't so."

He states, "Washing, detoxifying and adding nutrients back into the pretreated cellulose are three separate steps.  Each step is expensive and adds to the cost of the biofuel. Breaking down cellulose into fermentable sugars cost effectively has been a major issue slowing cellulosic ethanol production. Using AFEX as the pretreatment process can dramatically reduce the cost of making biofuels from cellulose."

Ming Lau, a coauthor of the project who shares the patent with Professor Dale adds, "The research also shows that the chemical compounds created when the stover goes through the AFEX process can improve the overall fermentation process.  This is at odds with the general perception that these compounds are detrimental and should be removed."

The pair is looking to set up a pilot plant at MBI International, a subsidiary of the MSU Foundation.  However, they already are also attracting commercial interest.  States Professor Dale, "There are several companies – including the Mascoma Corp., which plans to open one of the nation's first cellulosic ethanol plants here in Michigan – that may be interested in using this technology.  We are working to make the AFEX technology fit these companies' needs."

The new research is published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). 

The work was funded by the GLBRC, the MSU Research Foundation, and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.  

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I hate ethanol
By Spivonious on 1/22/2009 10:46:06 AM , Rating: 5
Ever since PA allowed gas stations to put up to 10% ethanol into gasoline, my mileage has decreased substantially.

100% highway miles used to let me drive over 400 miles to the tank. Now I'm lucky if I can break 300 miles.

I routinely got 32-37mpg. Now I get 24-28mpg.

The small cost savings are not worth it, as I end up buying more gas to make up the energy difference.

RE: I hate ethanol
By MrBungle123 on 1/22/2009 10:56:55 AM , Rating: 5
yet another example of the politicians trying to pick the winners and losers in business and the whole thing blowing up in the peoples face.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Schadenfroh on 1/22/2009 11:05:11 AM , Rating: 3
No kidding, many stations around here have "up to 10% ethanol" and when I fill up there, I find myself having to refill significantly more often.

RE: I hate ethanol
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/22/2009 11:05:48 AM , Rating: 5
Having looked at this industry extensively, including attending conferences, and speaking with top government officials and corporate executives in the field, I can conclude this:

Food crop ethanol sucks. Is garbage. Whatever you want to call it.

It's good news for farmers and refinery owners, but virtually no one else.

It raises food crop prices, and is too expensive itself, to be competitive outside a scenario where gas prices are very high $4/gallon or more. It also contributes to carbon emissions and global warming (if you believe in it).

Ultimately, the situation for food crop ethanol is just plain unworkable. You're dealing with taking a product already in use, one that has limited capacity.

However, cellulosic ethanol and waste biofuel is incredibly promising, in my opinion. Not only is the best and brightest innovation in this field, promising lower prices than food crop ethanol (Coskata is saying $1/gallon production costs, around $2 at-the-pump), but it also is taking something thats normally wasted and putting it to good use.

Cellulosic technology it sort of the Native American of the fuel world -- it uses all the buffalo.

Its still got a long ways to go, but I would by no means say its a waste to spend money developing this technology.

However, I do disagree with legislation in many states that is forcing E10, etc. fuels on consumers. The reason I think such legislation is particularly foolish is that the technology just isn't there to be economically feasible yet. Hopefully cellulosic ethanol will soon change this, but it isn't there yet. So you're forcing an experimental technology into full production at the consumers' expense.

If ethanol was cost per unit of energy competitive with gasoline, than it would be a different story. But legislation for fuel mixing should be scrapped and replaced with grants and tax breaks for the cellulosic industry, imo. Support real innovation and leave food crop ethanol behind.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Danger D on 1/22/09, Rating: -1
RE: I hate ethanol
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/22/2009 12:06:40 PM , Rating: 1
The only real alternative to corn ethanol today is regular gasoline, which pollutes more

Incorrect. Corn-based ethanol increased carbon dioxide and other emissions and uses an equally toxic slew of chemicals to process as gasoline.

To cite just a few studies:

It works in our gas tanks so we don't have to overhaul the vehicle fleet with new fuel systems. It uses a feedstock that we currently know how to grow, harvest and transport.

Again, ridiculous. Cellulosic ethanol is IDENTICAL chemically to corn ethanol, barring a few minor organic contaminants. Cars could run on cellulosic E10 just as easily as corn-based E10. And are you inferring that we don't have the technology to harvest corn stover? Or that our nation grows no plants that produce crop waste byproducts? If you are, you're entirely wrong.

If you want to call yourself an environmentalist, you really can't support corn ethanol.

Its better to wait and work towards a good solution, than to adopt one that only makes the problem worse. Again, I've talked to many experts with industry experience far beyond yours or mine and they say corn ethanol is ultimately a horrible proposition (in so many words). The ONLY people corn ethanol benefits is farmers and refinery owners.

Its bad for the environment, polluting, and bad for the consumers' pocketbooks. The holes are being poked because its a bad technology, plain and simple.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Danger D on 1/22/2009 1:02:18 PM , Rating: 2
Greenhouse gas emmisions study released TODAY by Dr. Ken Cassman and others, published in Yale's Journal of Industrial Ecology:

"Direct-effect GHG emissions were estimated to be equivalent to a 48 percent to 59 percent reduction compared to gasoline, a twofold to threefold greater reduction than reported in previous studies."

Why? Because the studies you cited "rely on estimates of energy efficiencies in older ethanol plants that were built before the recent investment boom in new ethanol biorefineries that initiated production on or after January 2005."

Those new facilities represent 60 percent of the ethanol produced.

If you average in the old plants, sure it looks worse. But that's an unfair basis for saying we shouldn't build new plants. New plants are better, and they keep improving.

There's plenty of other research out there showing GHG reductions.

And I understand cellulosic ethanol is IDENTICAL. Ethanol's ethanol. My point is that it's useless to rave about using techology that isn't commercially viable. We've been doing that for 20 years and it hasn't gotten us anywhere. Corn ethanol will get us to cellulosic ethanol. But don't trash the "good" in pursuit of the "perfect."

RE: I hate ethanol
By Screwballl on 1/22/2009 1:23:26 PM , Rating: 2
Also remember that many of the older studies used vehicles that did not have the same pollution controls that newer 2004-later vehicles have.
These pollution controls force the engine to work harder thus use more gas thus lower mileage and release more pollution.

Why is it a 1990 Geo Metro with a 4 cylinder can get 45 mpg yet a 2008 model car with the same size engine is rated at 30mpg (and they advertise it as if 30mpg was some great prize)? Hell 5 years ago I had a 76 GMC truck with a 350 V8, 4 barrel Edelbrock carburetor, NO pollution controls of any kind (previous owners removed them) and when it was tuned to run slightly lean and I kept my foot off the gas pedal, I could see 30 mpg part city, part highway. Usually city mpg was around 26mpg, and highway was 32-33mpg when I drove it like an old lady.

I only tried E10 in there once... made it run like crap, even driving like an old lady I still only saw 22mpg plus I had to clean the jets because the Ethanol clogged them.

RE: I hate ethanol
By MrBlastman on 1/22/2009 1:57:36 PM , Rating: 5
What planet are you from? Do you live in Antarctica? I generally refrain from spearheaded counterpoints but your post has so much wrong in it I can not help but turn the heat on.

Ethanol uses food currently. Food we eat.

That food we eat grows on land, a non-renewable resource, which can yield either food to eat or food to burn in our tanks.

The net yield of all the land in America is barely enough to yield enough ethanol to fuel America.

This net yield would create a net zero yield of food crops.

A net zero yield of food crops would create a huge increase on reliance of food imports from abroad.

Have you looked at China lately and all of the food problems they have caused over here?

Do you honestly want to bet your own life on food imported from sources that have proven to be harmful to our citizens - from sources that are far less regulated than those in our own country?

The result thus far of paying farmers to grow more fuel crops has been a substantial increase in food prices for consumable crops. The farmers make more if they grow stuff that we burn.

The economy has gone to heck - and you say we should pay more?

Oil prices have dropped considerably, which had risen not because of logic but because of irrational spot price trading. OPEC cut supply and the prices still dropped.

Ethanol costs more now than it would be to use gasoline.

Ethanol produces less power output than gasoline with our current, gasoline-tuned engines.

Ethanol could be useful if we had engines tuned for it, lighter cars that needed less energy to propel, and if it is produced from waste products rather than food sources.

Can I be any clearer?

Ethanol, in its current form, is rediculous. It isn't even worth any praise. Cellulosic ethanol, or waste product ethanol, is a huge step in the right direction for a change. We'll see how it turns out. Personally, I'm bigger on the algae farms pooping out oil as a waste product of its photosynthesis while hanging in plastic bags. It is more logical to me... for the time being.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Danger D on 1/22/2009 6:11:56 PM , Rating: 1
Corn cost $8 a bushel in July, and food prices went up.
Today, corn closed well under $4. Guess what? Food prices are still going up.

General Mills, Nestle, Kellogg’s, and more are posting big profits as recently as last quarter. Oil companies posted record earnings this year too. And ethanol's apparently the villain. Go figure.

Take a look at a Twinkie and tell me how much of the cost of that Twinkie came from the farm and how much is due to packaging, advertising, brand development, transportation, etc. Fact: There's a nickle's worth of corn in a box of corn flakes.

And as for importing food. In 2008 we exported more corn than we ever have in the history of the United States, even with ethanol using a large percentage of the corn crop.
Please check your facts before accusing me of being from another planet.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Spuke on 1/22/2009 6:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
Please check your facts before accusing me of being from another planet.

RE: I hate ethanol
By JediJeb on 1/23/2009 3:39:29 PM , Rating: 2
This is very true. For decades the price of food has increased dramatically and yet a farmer today still gets the same price per pound for a steer as he did in 1970,( actually my father said this week it is less than back then). The increase in food prices because of more crops being used to produce ethanol is only an excuse to raise the price not a real reason to raise it.

Farming is one of the few businesses where you do not set the price of what you produce. If it costs you twice as much this year to produce your crop, the buyers usually just say Touch Luck and offer the same price, yet turn around and raise the price in stores and tell the public it was because it cost the farmers more to produce it.

Corn prices went up this year and farmers actually made a little money, yet in the past few years while their fuel prices tripled the price barely increased any, or sometimes fell. Watch the grain markets, if the weather forcasters say the midwest will have a nice summer with good rainfall and temps the price of corn will bottom out, if they say it will have drought or floods it will shoot through the roof. But let someone forcast a doubling or tripling of fuel prices and the price wont be effected at all. And since very few farmers have the storage capacity to store an entire years crop on site, they have to sell it at whatever price they get. For anyone who thinks farmers made out good this year because of the high price of corn, then ask yourself why there aren't more people trying to become farmers. It's because few people want to work 12-18 hour days 7 days a week 365 days a year for what amounts to lowest middle class wages if you are lucky, one bad storm can turn it into below minimum wage income if you are unlucky. It takes a passion for the work to make it as a farmer.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Penti on 1/24/2009 5:00:21 PM , Rating: 2
Yes US is a major food exporter, practically all of South America is depending upon you, and even here in Sweden/Europe we got american rice and such products.

Most grain is however not produced for human consumption, the quality is to poor and the farmers couldn't sell it as such. As it's produced to have high yield and to be used as feed. Eating beef effects tortilla prices more then the ethanol right now. However it does effect the market now as it's a new demand. We don't have as much grain in storage any more.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Kary on 1/22/2009 12:12:25 PM , Rating: 2
This might be a good thing if it could be used on scrap wood. What's left after a corn harvest is called uncle works for a dairy farm where they grow corn JUST FOR THE SILAGE (winter feed for the cattle).

If it's not used as silage it is tilled into the soil to give the soil back nutrients (which corn is particularly nasty about stripping the soil of in the first place).

I'm not saying this isn't a potential advancement, but there is a cost to everything.

RE: I hate ethanol
By dever on 1/22/2009 12:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
So with cellulosic ethanol we'll need additional chemical fertilizers to offset the nutrients that typically are allowed to decompose and re-enter the soil.

Those greenies love chemical fertilizers.

RE: I hate ethanol
By SnakeBlitzken on 1/27/2009 10:25:23 AM , Rating: 2
What he said. Most farmers work the leftovers back into the soil. No-till land leaves the crop residue to maintain organic soil content. We're losing something by stripping all the crop residue from the fields.

RE: I hate ethanol
By blowfish on 1/22/2009 11:24:55 PM , Rating: 3
It's going to be tough to dismantle the Ethanol "industry" that has been set up to benefit the farmers. Since considerable energy has to be spent converting the cellulose to sugar, you would think that the first ethanol plants would have been set up in sugar-growing states - but I guess the Louisiana and Florida politicians just weren't wise to it. Brazil, that has been a major ethanol user for decades, uses a sugar-based production process.

Some "patriotic" twat might chip in and say that the US is more high-tech than Brazil - maybe that's why the US uses a less efficient process!

I always log my mileage on every tank of gas. I always reset the trip meter, and fill the tank right up. My conclusion - Gas with 10% ethanol is not worth using! If you have a choice, don't buy it. It would be very effective if consumers voted with their feet (or wallets)

In Europe, there's a similar situation with "City Diesel", which is formulated with some vegetable oil content. Whether it's due to lower calorific content or some adverse affect on engine tuning, the nett result is to cause the engine to produce noticeably less power, and to get measurably worse gas mileage.

As to the ridiculous argument that not using ethanol would mean we would have to buy more oil from our "enemies" - the potential reduction in oil usage from a bit of conservation and decent high-mpg design would easily outweigh any benefits from ethanol use.

The future is not ethanol - the future is battery electric, and when battery technology is up to it, even the speed-freaks will be happy. You can do things with electric propulsion that are just not possible with I.C.

Make this one of your New Year Resolutions for 2009 - I will not buy gas containing ethanol if I can possibly avoid it!

RE: I hate ethanol
By Penti on 1/23/2009 8:15:53 PM , Rating: 2
You can't really produce much ethanol any ways, it won't substantially change where the fuels come from. In Sweden we can't even produce enough for the 5% that's mixed in our 95 RON gas and to produce a portion of that, we will this year use bit more then half of how much grain we consume as food. Or grain for 5 million people if it where not feed grain. Meaning of course less feed for our cows, pigs and chickens, meaning we have to import more from the world market. Or export less or both.

In just a few years we have increased the biofuels such as FAME, biogas and ethanol from practically zero to 3.61 TWh (4% of road-vehicle fuels) but at the same time we have continued to increase our oil usage. So it doesn't really bring any reduction in emissions or oil import. And most of the biofuels are imported. If we would use all the ethanol for E85 we maybe would be able to run 5% of our cars on it. But 1% is a more real number. We don't have enough farm land to produce E85 for all of our cars. Having more then 65.000 E85 cars or so out of our 4.300.000+ in Sweden is just stupid. And we already has more, they are simply not running on E85.

We got a lot of cellulose in Sweden (wood) but using it to produce ethanol via hydrolysis would just be retarded, the pilot plant here is a joke that produces 400 liters of ethanol per day. And it's a pretty large plant. Gasification makes more sense, and theres commercial gasification plants producing synthetic diesel already. And diesel is the fuel that continues to grow here. Making synthetic gasoline is not impossible either, but not commercially available yet anyway.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Screwballl on 1/22/2009 12:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
I am against Ethanol and have been since it first showed up in South Dakota at least 15 years ago. At that time, cars were not made to handle it so all sorts of things got fouled up... from TBI/EFI injectors blowing out/burning up to piston ring oxidation in aluminum blocks among other things, you were lucky to get more than 60,000 miles from an engine using nothing but E10 (10% ethanol). Nowadays they have better options with new cars (2003-newer) that can handle it properly for over 200,000 miles.

I am only against it using the current feed stock. Growing up in rural areas, you learned that there was a massive scare (late 80s, early 90s) where corn was produced in such great quantities that some farmers simply threw tarps over thousands of tons of it hoping the market bounced back rather than sell it for a potential loss or break even. This is when the farmer's lobbyists (like Daschle from SD) punched through some sort of mandate that allowed for them to 1) get rid of the excess corn, and 2) make a market that will remain high for a few decades.

Enter Ethanol.

Now another interesting bit is that locally in northwest FL, I have found only a single gas station that has the E10 blend labeled (outside of a few in Pensacola carrying E85, but no E10). Even if more did (or I find out they are selling it without labeling it), I would not put it in my vehicles because I have seen what it does to engines, and as I have a 91 truck with TBI, and a 04 Durango with 4.7L, these were not made for Ethanol in any way.

I find Ethanol (the way it is currently used and marketed) is a massive scam.

Lets look at this from a purely mathematical perspective from the consumer standpoint:

10% Ethanol = 20-30% lower gas mileage
10% Ethanol = 0-5% lower price at the pump per gallon (locally the E10 is same price as non-E10 blends)

Doing the math:

Say the 10% Ethanol is at $2.00 a gallon versus regular non-ethanol is $2.05 per gallon, and you drive a vehicle getting 20mpg with non-ethanol (15 gallon tank, as an example).

15Gal @ 2.05 = $30.75
15Gal @ 2.00 = $30.00

20mpg x 15 Gal = 300 miles

Now using E10, lets say there is a 25% drop in mileage (15mpg), as 25% has been my experience when using Ethanol:

15mpg x 15Gal = 225 miles per tank

30.75 / 300 = $0.1025 per mile to drive NOT using Ethanol
30.00 / 225 = $0.1333 per mile to drive using E10
30.75 / 225 = $0.1366 per mile to drive using E10, and with no discount at the pump for Ethanol

Now per year, average 15,000 miles:

$1,537.50 using regular
$1,999.50 using E10
$2,049 using E10 at same price as non-E10

$462-511.50 per year savings

Now look at this over 100,000 miles:

$13,330 = cost to use E10
$10,250 = cost to NOT use E10
$13,666 = cost to use E10 when price is same as non-E10

That is a difference of $3,080-3,416 over the course of just 100,000 miles.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Darkskypoet on 1/22/2009 1:53:25 PM , Rating: 3
So you are saying that having 10% of the mix as ethanol, is on par with 75% of that amount (by volume) of gasoline?

I mean you say you are seeing a 25% drop in fuel mileage with a 10% ethanol fuel blend... Which is essentially the same as saying 90% 'gasoline' + 10% 'ethanol' = 75% of that same volume in gasoline?

20mpg x 15 Gal = 300 miles Now using E10, lets say there is a 25% drop in mileage (15mpg), as 25% has been my experience when using Ethanol: 15mpg x 15Gal = 225 miles per tank

I am sorry... but I think you are completely out to lunch... You are saying in effect that by adding 10% ethanol to fuel, you are somehow losing the ability to get any energy whatsoever from the ethanol (agreeably lower then gas, but not 0, or less then 0) as well as removing your ability to get any energy from a further 15% of the fuel it is mixed with?

We've run 10% ethanol for years up here, and honestly in our winters it acts as a gas line antifreeze agent, and this 25% reduction in gas mileage is a crock.

Perhaps there are engines that are that 'picky' perhaps that would make it so that you would be better off using 75% the volume of fuel (sans ethanol) but I really have never, ever seen that sort of fuel economy reduction.

Do you have any proof what so ever? I mean anything to back up such a seemingly inane and baseless claim? You want to say it drops fuel economy by 10%... heck due to certain engines inefficiencies at various combustion temperatures, changes in timing, etc.. perhaps 15% maybe... But 25%? That's pretty ridiculous.

Similar to your mileage figures about damage to engines... I think its a load of crap... Mainly cause I've easily surpassed those figures on E-10 in everything from a crappy 85ish chrysler minivan with a small alum block mitsu motor, to a cavalier, to a neon, to damn... Most of the fuel we've run in vehicles has been 10% ethanol for so long now...

Your remarks, and figures just seem astounding... Considering aside from a few corner cases, I don't think they have any basis in reality what so ever...

Or perhaps they just tune the majority of production vehicles differently up here? (I doubt this severely) I know for a fact my fathers Malibu gets great gas mileage, is closing in 200 000 kms and has had a crap ton of e-10 in it... No issues... Except for the handy side effect of not ever having gas line freezing issues in our -40 (and below winters).

Just link something if you can, I am curious.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Spivonious on 1/22/2009 4:32:48 PM , Rating: 2
I know you weren't responding to me, but I'd just like to convey a recent experience of mine.

Last weekend I took a road trip. It was roughly 85% highway, 15% city. About 200 miles round trip. And it used up approximately 9 gallons (My gas light came on soon after returning home, and it comes on with about 3 gallons left in my 12.5 gallon tank).

So that's 200 miles / 9 gallons = 22mpg.

Worse than normal since I had two other people in the car with me, yes, but pre E10 I could routinely get 400 miles a tank, which comes out to about 35mpg. Even with all city driving with the A/C on I'd get 315 miles or so (about 28mpg).

It doesn't make sense mathematically, but it's the truth.

RE: I hate ethanol
By GTVic on 1/22/2009 5:14:50 PM , Rating: 2
Cars are tuned for specific types of fuel (regular vs premium). I wonder whether the mileage would improve if the car was somehow adjusted for the amount of ethanol.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Gzus666 on 1/22/2009 5:31:44 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, increase the timing and boost the compression to around 17-18:1 and you will see lots of power.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Fnoob on 1/22/2009 9:15:41 PM , Rating: 1
Are you nuts? Boost the compression to 17-18:1 and that might well be the last tank of gas that engine ever sees.

Perhaps I am way off base, and it has been a few years since I looked at compression ratios on common engines, but... I recall buying an Acura TL-S back in 03 which supposedly had one of the highest compression ratios of any production Acura at something like 10-11. The kind of heat it would make at 18 would be bad.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Gzus666 on 1/22/2009 9:30:49 PM , Rating: 2
Text Are you nuts? Boost the compression to 17-18:1 and that might well be the last tank of gas that engine ever sees.

Alcohol likes high compression, granted you have to beef other things up to make it handle the higher pressure, but that should be obvious. 13:1 compression ratio is more than common in higher performance vehicles people make, it is actually really common. I have seen people run mid 14:1 compression on 93 octane. Alcohol has a high octane, around race gasoline, so it is not unheard of or even obscure to expect that kind of compression from it.

RE: I hate ethanol
By JediJeb on 1/23/2009 3:56:49 PM , Rating: 2
It is why most people wont run Propane in a gasoline engine like they tried in the mid 70's. In a regular engine with say 8-10:1 compression you get terrible milage and power, with compression of 14-16:1 you get milage and power on par with gasoline.

As to the corrosion and damage problems mentioned above, that is usually from Methanol in the gasoline not Ethanol. Methanol was used from in gasoline up through the late 90's early 00's then was replaced with ethanol. Methanol will ruin injectors and seals quickly in anything over 5% concentration. It also causes pitting on aluminum.

Of course diesel engines run in the 22:1 compression range, so compression alone won't kill the engine if you design it right. For Ethanol to succeed as a fuel, it will take cars with engines optimized for it, and if you wait till the Ethanol is cheap to produce you will have fuel noone will buy, and by the time the engine technology catches up the ethanol plants will be bankrupt, then the engines will be useless, ect ect. You have to start somewhere, so make the fuel, then optimize the engines, make better fuel, make better engines ect and all will work out. ( I guess it's sorta like the switch from analog to digital TV, you try to do it all at once and it causes a panic, but since it has happened over the last few years, the final switch won't be as bad)

RE: I hate ethanol
By Fnoob on 1/26/2009 9:48:13 AM , Rating: 2
I was referring to gasoline engines, not specialized race cars. I think my statement stands that with a standard gasoline engine, if you increase it's compression ratio from 10 to 18 you will significantly decrease the life expectancy of the engine due to substantially increased heat. Now, a specially constructed and reinforced engine designed to run these new fuels is a totally different story.

However, as another poster mentioned, I had no idea that diesel motors ran such high compression. Guess it should have been obvious, since they achieve ignition through compression.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Doormat on 1/22/2009 5:37:26 PM , Rating: 2
I live in a metro area, and in the winter we usually get E10 for pollution control (there is a sticker on the pumps saying that it may contain up to 10% Ethanol from Oct 1 to Mar 1).

I get about 23MPG in the winter and 20-21MPG in the summer (when the AC is on full blast because its 115F outside). I'd have a hard time thinking Ethanol is sucking away that much MPG. Per the sticker on my car, I should be getting 25MPG, but thats a 2MPG difference.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Shig on 1/22/2009 3:11:32 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you understand the economics behind this. Ethanol is an artificial way to put more money into America as opposed to buying more oil from foreign supplies (I.E. That 10% of ethanol killing your gas mileage is putting money back into the US economy.) It's pretty much a hidden tax on people buying gas, but at least that money is staying in the US.

We already know it's not smart, but it's smarter than buying more foreign oil atm.

Unfortuneately no one sees the big picture in this country, ever. They only think about themselves in the short term.

p.s. I live in Iowa.

RE: I hate ethanol
By MrBlastman on 1/22/2009 3:22:59 PM , Rating: 1
So you are being a patriot by paying taxes????


RE: I hate ethanol
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 1/22/2009 3:31:07 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, yes you are... You'd never believe the number of rich people that hide their money in foreign accounts and such just so they do not have to pay their fair share of taxes. Top of the list is a lot of Hollywood types, Big business types, and such.

RE: I hate ethanol
By MrBlastman on 1/22/09, Rating: 0
RE: I hate ethanol
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 1/22/2009 5:13:39 PM , Rating: 3
Wow you guess a lot don't you.

I said paying taxes is patriotism. Never said the only way to show it. So, yes, I pay taxes. I also own a business, employ only American Citizen (since we are based in the US), I contribute to the expansion of my community in doing so, I could not serve in the armed forces (flat foot type of problem), and I work for the post office on weekends - part time, not easy spot to get but depending on your location options can be open for part time people.
I also have volunteered coached community soccer teams in the past, supported community event like: plays, concerts, festivals..., been a member of my local chamber of commerce, open my house to a military friend who needed a home for a few months after he retired – so he could take his time buying his retirement home. I have supported boy scouts, cub scouts activities (no girl scouts in my neighborhood otherwise I’d support them too.), these are things that quickly pop into my head.

What about you, what have you done?

No, I don’t think they government knows how to best spend my money. However, they are going to a better job at Military, police, fire, teaching, libraries, and other services then I could possible try to do.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Fnoob on 1/22/2009 9:26:49 PM , Rating: 2
Rich people not paying their fair share.... damn if clueless folks like you don't just piss me off. First off, do you realise we are currently at a point where nearly 50% of the population pays NO taxes? The top 5% pays 35-40% of all taxes. That's fair? And folks like you and the new administration wants them to pay MORE?

If you look at something simple (lol) such as propery taxes where I live, you have a family of 6 paying an annual prop tax of about $2,000. Two houses down, there is a retired couple living alone but right on the water, who pay $14,000. Same sized house, just better view. Which household has a greater impact on city services, roads, schools, etc? Is that fair?

When it comes to income taxes, GOD HIMSELF only asks for 10% . Think about that.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 1/23/2009 12:25:05 PM , Rating: 2
I find it funny when people like you talk about the rich… mainly because I believe you think you are rich. The truth is, I don’t need to know your name or income… your statement makes it clear. You are not RICH. I’m Not talking about the people who make 10 million a year or less (that is not rich… rich to me and you maybe but not rich in the rich world). Most rich people you will never know their names, they like it that way. However to give you an idea a few names of known people: Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Rush Limbaugh, Caroline Kennedy, Barack Obama, Teresa (John) Heinz Kerry, Larry King, Brad Pitt, Bruce Springsteen, Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, the Hilton family, and 10 of thousand of people of their income level. When their accountant is done, they pay zero dollars in tax or very close to it…. Is that fair no, but it is what happens.

Just because you do not understand this do not classify me as “poor”. I’m just the working middle class that pays for it all… Since the poor do not nor do the rich. And never tie me in with this new administration…. It will be the death of America’s economy – if they raise taxes as planned.

As for your house example, yes it is 100% fair. Property tax is a percentage of the value of the house. Since there is only some much water front property is have a premium price. So, if you do not like the higher tax – move to a cheaper house. It’s that simple. Yes, the view is not as nice, but you get what you pay for….

God’s 10% is not about tax. It’s about donations to the Church. Tax is to be paid as requested by the government you live under (no matter how fair or unfair)… This is why the bible says, “Give on to Caesar what is Caesar’s”

Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?'
He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 'Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?'
'Caesar's,' they replied.
He said to them, 'Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's.' (Luke 20:20-26)

If you want to be pissed off at clueless people... just look into the mirror.

RE: I hate ethanol
By Fnoob on 1/26/2009 9:40:58 AM , Rating: 2
"You are not RICH."

While I may not pull in 8-9 figures, I do have 3 kids, a grandson, a loving wife and a roof over my head. So yes, I do consider myself rich.

Material wealth does not enrich the spirit. "He who knows he has enough is rich". Chap. 33, Laozi

RE: I hate ethanol
By SnakeBlitzken on 1/28/2009 10:34:50 AM , Rating: 2
Do you know for a fact those people don't pay taxes?

RE: I hate ethanol
By Spivonious on 1/22/2009 4:38:53 PM , Rating: 2
Well, living in Iowa, you stand to benefit from the increased corn consumption.

Personally, I'd rather let the best fuel win rather than having the government force crap into my car, but that's my Libertarian side coming through.

As far as supporting our enemies, according to PBS (the least biased of the news agencies, imo), the U.S. gets 41% of its oil from...itself! Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait combined give us 13%.


Here's another one, different numbers but same conclusion:

RE: I hate ethanol
By BruceLeet on 1/26/2009 6:45:27 AM , Rating: 2
The only purpose of this 10% ethanol crap is the big companies not you.

1. Make Reg. Unleaded
2. Save 10% - add Ethanol
3. Less fuel economy/more gas pump activity
4. ??????

By Gzus666 on 1/22/2009 10:22:03 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Ethanol=Gay
By MrBungle123 on 1/22/2009 10:53:48 AM , Rating: 2
which is why it gives all the San Francisco Libs the warm fuzzies.

RE: Ethanol=Gay
By Lord 666 on 1/22/2009 7:14:50 PM , Rating: 2
Right in the cornhole...

RE: Ethanol=Gay
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 1/22/2009 10:59:21 AM , Rating: 1
I did not know Ethanol could be happy.... :P

"leaves, stalks, stems, and husks -- can be ground up and made into ethanol."

If you are going to grind up the leaves, stalks, stems and husks, why not just go to a better, cheaper, and no need to replant source? -- Fescue (grass). Hell they can come by my house once a week and pick up my clips and use them... I will not even charge. Think of all the grass clippings that would not be put into landfills since it can be turned into ethanol. Then we could start growing corn for it's real reason - food.

RE: Ethanol=Gay
By lagomorpha on 1/22/2009 11:21:36 AM , Rating: 2
"Then we could start growing corn for it's real reason - food."

I was going to say alcohol for human consumption but that just takes us back to the article.

RE: Ethanol=Gay
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 1/22/2009 11:32:02 AM , Rating: 2
Well that's human consumption grade corn verse non-human consumption grade. So, I guess you are still correct? Right? Let's grab a bottle or two of grain alcohol and talk this over....

You hate Ethanol? Please Think Carefully
By Lau on 1/23/2009 12:58:49 AM , Rating: 2
I agree on the fact that ethanol has lower energy content compared to gasoline (about 70%). However, it has higher octane ratio which allows engine to run at a higher compression ratio, and thus higher efficiency. Taking this into consideration, the difference in the "apparent energy content" should be about 85%, not perfect but is good enough.

Putting that issue aside, it is important to distinguish cellulosic ethanol from corn ethanol. Even though, ethanol produced from cellulosic materials is identical in chemical composition, they have substantially different environmental footprints mainly due to much higher yield per hectare of land with little chemical fertilizer required for cellulosic biomass (if appropriate agricultural practice applied).

FURTHERMORE, using cellulosic materials as carbon source enable us to replace foreign oil at a meaningful scale due to abundance of these materials. Hydrogen or battery might be a more elegant approach in certain aspects, however, how are they going to alter transportation fuel profile without excessive alteration of our cars and fuel distribution logistics?!

Moreover, don't forget, cellulosic biomass is the ONLY carbon source that can potentially replace petroleum in other chemicals production. For example, we could use carbon from cellulosic biomass to produce succinic acid and it can be transformed to various useful chemicals and biodegradable plastic.

Using cellulosic materials to produce ethanol is the first step to maturate this young cellulose technology. If/when we are able to efficiently and economically convert plant sugars to fermentable sugars... the potential is enormous both for economy and environment. From the PNAS, the current technology is able to achieve about 65 gal of ethanol/ton of corn stover at more than 5% concentration. These process parameters are not perfect, but have achieved the minimum requirements for commercial production.
Again, ethanol is not perfect, but is a very good starting point.

This is my opinion, I would like to hear others' too. However, please do not take what I said too personal.

By Danger D on 1/23/2009 9:41:57 AM , Rating: 2
Cellulosic ethanol is needed in order to replace gasoline; corn alone can't do it. There are 1 billion tons of biomass in the United States, according to the Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture. That's not counting inaccessible areas, parks, etc. 1 billion tons of retrievable material - if we can develop the infrastructure to harvest, store and transport it - would make 85 billion - 100 billion gallons of ethanol. We use about 140 billion gallons of gasoline annually in the US.

I don't doubt that scientists will figure out how to make cellulosic ethanol commercially viable. Pilot plants are popping up everywhere, and the government is investing heavily in it. The challenge will be getting the public on board. It will take a large number of people willing to essentially become farmers of a wide range of non-traditional crops. We're talking a major expansion and overhaul of agriculture.

It's a challenge, but it's very possible with the right incentives to get it off the ground.

By Oxonium on 1/22/2009 10:32:07 AM , Rating: 3
Isn't ammonia production incredibly energy intensive? Sure you might get "commercially viable" levels of ethanol, but what is the net energy loss in making the ammonia?

Alcohol will never make sense
By Beenthere on 1/22/2009 2:06:21 PM , Rating: 1
Alcohol is a poor fuel for most internal combustion applications. It's corrosive properties attack most metals. The low energy content of alcohols require much higher consumption by volume, thus lower mpg and higher costs. Until they can produce engine grade alcohol for about 30 cents a gallon and deliver it to retailers for $1.00/gal. it will never be a practical substitute for crude oil based gas. The costs to produce flex fuel vehicles would require E85 to be sold at less than $1.25/gal to be even remotely close to the cost of gas.

Alcohol is not the future... unfortunately.

RE: Alcohol will never make sense
By Danger D on 1/22/2009 2:36:22 PM , Rating: 2
The cost to produce flex fuel vehicles (vs. non-flex fuel vehicles) for the auto manufacturers is around $100. The cost to convert your current car with a kit is substantially higher.

By rudy on 1/22/2009 11:23:33 AM , Rating: 2
The way this article is worded would lead you to believe AFEX is a new product. It is very deceptive and terrible on the part of the author. AFEX treatment publications go back to at least 1994. I have not looked at the PNAS article but what is being reported is probably an efficiency increase or review or modified application.

I'm glad
By freeagle on 1/22/2009 1:33:34 PM , Rating: 2
... that people are trying to find ways of using waste to produce energy. Because essentially, nothing is a waste. Taking it to the absolute extreme, everything is worth mc^2 of energy.

By BrianJDonovan on 1/23/2009 6:12:33 AM , Rating: 2
Louisiana Enacts the Most Comprehensive Advanced Biofuel Legislation in the Nation

Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the nation enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that includes a variable blending pump pilot program and a hydrous ethanol pilot program.

The legislature found that the proper development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana requires implementation of the following comprehensive “field-to-pump” strategy developed by Renergie, Inc.:

(1) Feedstock other than corn;
(2) Decentralized network of small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities;
(3) Variable blending pumps in lieu of splash blending; and
(4) Hydrous ethanol.

Renergie looks forward to working closely with the Obama-Biden administration to:
(a) reduce U.S. dependency on imported oil;
(b) repeal the ethanol import tariff;
(c) maximize the environmental benefits of ethanol-blended transportation fuels; and
(d) create jobs in rural areas of the United States by growing ethanol demand, specifically hydrous ethanol demand, beyond the 10% blend market.

Please feel free to visit Renergie’s weblog ( for more information.

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