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Biodiesel producers rejoice at new mandate for 2013

The renewable energy industry is applauding President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after the EPA approved a 28% increase in the amount of biodiesel mandated for use in trucks on the nation's highways for 2013. Biodiesel is made in a process that uses soybeans, while the production of ethanol is based on corn.
 
The president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Brad Albin, said, "I want to thank President Obama and his staff for listening to our concerns and recognizing the value and potential of America’s Advanced Biofuel—biodiesel.”
 
The biodiesel industry is celebrating because unlike mandates for the use of ethanol in the nation's fuel set forth in the 2007 Renewable Fuels Act, biodiesel didn't have a mandate until last year. That mandates set a goal of 800 million gallons. The new mandate for 2013 has been expanded to 1 billion gallons, and fell short of the 1.28 billion gallons that biodiesel producers wanted.
 
“This was an incredibly important decision, and the Obama Administration got it right,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, the industry trade association.
 
“It will allow biodiesel plants across the country to invest and expand, creating thousands of jobs. At the same time, it sends a strong signal that the U.S. is standing firm behind its commitment to producing clean, American-made energy to strengthen our energy security and break our dependence on petroleum.”
 
When the mandate was introduced in 2011 at 800 million gallons, it helped prevent the closure of several of the nation's biodiesel plants.

Ethanol production has come under fire for driving up prices on the food crop, however, there is no indication that the same will happen for soybeans. 

Source: Desmoines Register



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RE: Ugh
By Argon18 on 9/19/2012 12:09:59 PM , Rating: 2
You're correct about corn ethanol, it takes more energy to make than what it contains. Its a net energy loss. There are several reasons why. Firstly, corn is one of the highest fertilizer and pesticide intensive crops out there. And secondly, ethanol is grain alcohol, so the only way to make it is to repeatedly boil and cool the liquid a dozen times or more, extracting the alcohol each time. How much energy do you think it takes to bring a trillion gallons of liquid to a boil, then cool it, a dozen times over? A LOT.

Biodiesel on the other hand requires only a single boil/coil of the liquid. This alone means it takes vastly less energy to create than corn ethanol. Secondly, soybeans are not very fertilizer and pesticide intensive. In fact, soybeans are used to return nitrogen into the soil, reducing the fertilizer costs for other crops in that field.

Biodiesel also contains more energy per gallon than corn ethanol. Ethanol has about 96,000 btu's per gallon, while biodiesel has around 136,000 btus per gallon.

Biodiesel is better in every measurable way than corn ethanol.


RE: Ugh
By Solandri on 9/19/2012 2:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And secondly, ethanol is grain alcohol, so the only way to make it is to repeatedly boil and cool the liquid a dozen times or more, extracting the alcohol each time. How much energy do you think it takes to bring a trillion gallons of liquid to a boil, then cool it, a dozen times over? A LOT.

No it doesn't. You don't just throw away all the heat energy after you boil it once. You use a heat exchanger to transfer that heat energy to a second batch which needs to be boiled. You do lose thermal energy at the periphery, but for most processes no more heat is lost compared to doing just one heating cycle. This is chemical engineering 101.

Corn ethanol is a boondoggle because the only reason we have excess corn is because it's subsidized to insure there are no food shortages. That means we always have excess corn, which we're always trying to think of new ways to use. Corn ethanol is a good use for excess corn. Corn that was going to grow moldy in a grain elevator, or be eaten by rodents. But it's a terrible crop to grow for the explicit purpose of making ethanol. Sugar beets are a much better crop to convert into ethanol at North American latitudes.

quote:
Biodiesel also contains more energy per gallon than corn ethanol. Ethanol has about 96,000 btu's per gallon, while biodiesel has around 136,000 btus per gallon.

The amount of energy per gallon is irrelevant except for fuel tank size/weight. All biofuels are solar energy. Plants capture sunlight, store it as sugars and oils. Sugars can be converted into alcohol, or oil with a lot of finagling. Oils can be converted into biodiesel. So the fact that biodiesel has about 40% more energy per gallon just means that 40% more plant matter went into making a gallon of biodiesel than ethanol.

quote:
Biodiesel is better in every measurable way than corn ethanol.

Oils like biodiesel don't burn as cleanly as alcohols. The primary motivation for storing energy as a liquid chemical fuel is for transportation applications. And if you're burning it in a vehicle, that means it's harder to attach scrubbers and filters. Consequently, lower byproduct emissions are a desirable trait in your fuel. Alcohols easily beat oils in this regard.

The problem with alcohols as fuel is that they tend to dissolve most gaskets and sealants.


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