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  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Biofuel Board says biodiesel is being "unfairly dragged" down by ethanol criticism

The National Biodiesel Board is looking to distance itself from the ethanol lobby, which includes the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) and other pro-corn ethanol lobbyist organizations.  

I. Corn Ethanol in the Crosshairs

In Washington D.C. cash talks and the ethanol lobby has spent substantially to score itself tax breaks, blending quotas, and subsidies.  However, the oil industry has pushed back with lobbying of its own.  Following the repeal of billion dollar yearly subsidies to corn growers and ethanol plant operators, now even the blending quotas that create artificial demand for the corn ethanol industry's food for fuel scheme are in jeopardy.

leaked draft document from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that the EPA is eyeing large cuts to both the biodiesel and corn ethanol blending quotas.  Blending quotas are a way by which the federal government manipulates the market to produce artificial demand to promote fuel products it feel should be forced on consumers.  By mandating that refineries must blend in a certain amount of biofuels or face fines, the federal government creates artificial demand at the refinery level.

E15
Biodiesel claims it's being damaged by the big corn versus big oil fight. [Image Source: Digital Trends]

A big question is exactly what would happen to demand if the blending quotas are scaled back -- or eliminated altogether.  Lobbyists for the biodiesel and corn ethanol industries suggest that such actions would create a market collapse.  In other words, it appears there's very little natural demand for these fuels and these industries could dry up were the U.S. to operate as a free market.

On the other hand the picture is slightly muddled by the fact that the federal government also manipulates the market to benefit the oil industry, which it gives certain land grants, tax breaks, and other handouts.  Thus it's hard to tell exactly what a free U.S. fuel market would look like, given the scale of market manipulation both with fossil fuels and alternative fuels that the U.S. government has engaged.
 
Congress Buillding wide
The Republican controlled House of Representatives has discussed a potential repeal of the EISA/RFS.
[Image Source: U.S. Congress]

 
The leaked EPA proposal suggests cutting the corn ethanol target to 13.0 billion gallons, down substantially from the 13.8 billion gallons mandated in 2013 and the 14.4 billion gallons that The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) [PDF] originally mandates for 2014.  The 13.0 billion gallon mark is considered an important concessions as it would place ethanol production below the so-called "blending wall" (13.3 billion gallons) -- the level at which refiners would have to start selling some fuel at higher than E10 blends, such as the controversial E15.

The leaked document suggests cutting blending requirements for other forms of biofuel from 3.75 billion gallons to 2.21 billion gallons.  While in some cases the cuts are inarguable -- for example in the case of cellulosic ethanol, which has basically failed to attain any sort of commercial scale production -- the cuts have biodiesel producers fuming mad.  The leaked document suggests cutting biodiesel targets from 1.7 billion gallons to 1.28 billion gallons -- nearly a 25 percent cut.  While that may not sound like much, given the lower volume, it's a much larger cut -- percentage wise -- than the corn ethanol reduction, which saw a cut of less than 6 percent.

II. What is Biodiesel, and What Are They Saying About the Cuts?

Biodiesel is a hodge-podge sort of fuel produced from a mixture of "agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil [,] and animal fats", according to the national biodiesel board.  While a bit outdated, a 2010 edition of BioCycle gives a somewhat more specific breakdown, saying that about 77 percent of U.S. biodiesel comes from so-called "virgin" oil sources (from oilseeds), another 17 percent comes from waste animal fat, and 6 percent comes from yellow grease -- a solidified byproduct of the oil that burger chains and Chinese restaurants U.S. to fry America's much beloved fast foods in.

Canola field
A growing canola crop [Matt Lavin/Image Source: Montana State Univ.]

While seed oils -- most commonly canola (a rapeseed derived crop) and soybeans -- are food crops, they have their own unique advantages and disadvantages versus corn ethanol.  An acre of corn can produce 400-600 gallons of ethanol [source], an acre of soybeans can produce 40-70 gallons of biodiesel, and an acre of canola can produce 70-140 gallons [source].

When it comes to food for fuel, one way that soybean/canola-derived biodiesel is slightly more desirable than corn ethanol is that it can be produced on lower quality land.  A recent Illinois survey suggests that corn requires four times as much fertilizer and also requires expensive drying [source].

Biodiesel
Biodiesel also comes from food crops, roughly three-quarters of the time. [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

The National Biodiesel Board has penned a letter to the EPA griping about the cut in blending quota.  In the letter -- which we were unable to find online but is quoted by Politico Pro, a subscription-only news program -- the board writes that biodiesel is being "unfairly dragged" into the big corn versus big oil fight.  They write that the cuts would result in the loss of 8,000 American jobs and the potential closure of several plants.  Many biodiesel firms went under when tax cuts for production were recently rolled back by Congress.

The Obama administration's new EPA chief administrator Gina McCarthy, who replaces the departing Lisa Jackson, has not commented on the letter or the larger biodiesel cut directly.  As for the leak she said that at this point it's not a finalized document but "only... a draft proposal" and that "no final decision" on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending quotas has been made for 2014.

The EPA drew criticism from corn growers when it extended the deadline that oil producers had to blend in the volume for 2013 by several months, effectively cutting the 2013 target.  However, that concession was not termed a "cut" in RFS targets by the EPA.  By contrast, if the new draft is indeed adopted, it would be the first actual cut to the EISA's RFS targets since President George W. Bush (R) signed the EISA into law in 2007.

Sources: Politico Pro [subscription only], via Green Car Reports, Feedstuffs [leaked draft]



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

OK...
By Motoman on 10/30/2013 5:44:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In other words, it appears there's very little natural demand for these fuels and these industries could dry up were the U.S. to operate as a free market.


So...let them dry up. Wasting our money on propping up an industry for which there is no demand doesn't do us any good.

Especially ethanol - that whole f%cking thing needs to die, and everyone involved in it should have to pay us all back all the money that was wasted on that horrible f%cking idea.

Various types of biodiesel may pan out in the future...but if they can't compete in the open market, then they're not commercially-viable. So...either get it to where it is commercially-viable, or just knock it off.




RE: OK...
By dlapine on 10/30/2013 6:03:24 PM , Rating: 5
You forgot to include his next sentence:

"On the other hand the picture is slightly muddled by the fact that the federal government also manipulates the market to benefit the oil industry, which it gives certain land grants, tax breaks, and other handouts. Thus it's hard to tell exactly what a free U.S. fuel market would look like, given the scale of market manipulation both with fossil fuels and alternative fuels that the U.S. government has engaged."

Tell you what, let's remove the massive subsides to the oil industry (excuse me, the insanely profitable oil industry) first. OK? Then we can gripe about the lack of demand, and inefficiency of trying to build up a US controlled renewable fuel source once we see what an open market actually looks like.


RE: OK...
By Motoman on 10/30/2013 6:23:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Tell you what, let's remove the massive subsides to the oil industry (excuse me, the insanely profitable oil industry) first. OK?


OK.


RE: OK...
By Samus on 10/31/2013 12:27:44 AM , Rating: 2
Well this isn't fair for biodiesel. It isn't even in the same category as ethanol.

I have a friend in Southern Illinois who runs his F250 on deep fryer oil he gets from a local restaurant diluted with some additives. The containers, pump, filters and other crap cost him around half a grand but he never has to buy fuel again since greasy spoons are always happy to give away or charge pennies on the dollar to get rid of their lard.

Now they're talking about EPA certification, permits to handle grease, and all this other nonsense to put an end to biodiesel and clean-diesel projects like this. What the hell is that all about?

All I can say is I'd be willing to demonstrate how clean his truck runs by breathing through the tailpipe. I wish I could eat the exhaust, it smells like French fries and chicken nuggets.


RE: OK...
By Kiffberet on 10/31/2013 8:45:06 AM , Rating: 2
In the UK, it's perfectly legal to use fast food oil to power vehicles, but only if you pay the tax owed.

So you buy your oil from the restaurant and then pay the government over $1 per litre in tax.

Basically the economics of it barely make it worthwhile.


RE: OK...
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/30/2013 7:35:55 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
On the other hand the picture is slightly muddled by the fact that the federal government also manipulates the market to benefit the oil industry, which it gives certain land grants, tax breaks, and other handouts. Thus it's hard to tell exactly what a free U.S. fuel market would look like, given the scale of market manipulation both with fossil fuels and alternative fuels that the U.S. government has engaged."

Tell you what, let's remove the massive subsides to the oil industry (excuse me, the insanely profitable oil industry) first. OK? Then we can gripe about the lack of demand, and inefficiency of trying to build up a US controlled renewable fuel source once we see what an open market actually looks like.
It's pointless to debate the merits of big corn v. big oil or which market manipulation is more "evil" as it's a moot point. You don't get to choose. Like it or not the government really doesn't give a rat's behind about your opinion.

..........................................

Let's step back for a second.

Operate under the assumption that federal government of the U.S. is a wholly corrupt entity in which there's two "brands" (the national Democratic and Republican political machines). Both of these brands are essentially run by the same "corporation" and make decisions on a quasi-collective basis while occasionally engaging in spirited fictitious debate in an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the consumers (aka the U.S. citizenry) whom it hopes are unaware of this monopoly. Now like any company the federal government is run by shareholders (in this cases the lobbyists who donate the most). And these shareholders dictate company policy. The company looks to maximize shareholder happiness by trying to keep as many special interests happy at once as possible -- however shareholder interests are sometimes in opposition.

This is one of those cases.

In cases where the shareholders don't get along on how the company should "produce product" (the product here being manipulating the market), who wins tends to be whoever (one or more shareholders pushing for a particular form of market manipulation) owns the most shares (whoever donates the most).

..........................................

When the RFS was first passed, the shareholders big corn donated heavily to push it through. Congress was more than happy (Democrats and Republicans) alike to pass bills to pour subsidies on corn growers. Big corn wisely pushed for subsidies for refiners, as wells, to placate big oil. As a result big oil largely tolerated this market meddling as the subsidies largely made up for whatever impact it had on their bottom line.

With E10 while big corn and big oil were happy, the consumer lost because blended fuels inherently deliver inferior fuel economy as you can't build a bimodal engine that's equivalent to a single-fuel engine, as you're tuning to two wildly different fuels (ethanol and gasoline). And they also lost because arguably the market manipulation drove up fuel costs.

..........................................

But then something unexpected occurred.

Market manipulation had driven up the demand for corn, but production couldn't keep up, which was good for corn. One buyer -- big oil -- wasn't effected due to the subsidies. But the other buyer -- the livestock industry who bought corn for feed -- had received no such subsidies and hence bore the brunt of the price increase. To exacerbate the situation there was a major drought in 2012. All of this made the livestock industry, who has a fair lobbying presence, screaming mad.

Meanwhile another shareholder also began to complain.

As automakers started testing higher blends, a new problem emerged -- in some vehicles higher blends trigger erosion of polymers via swelling, breaking parts of your car. The ethanol industry tried to counter by funding studies that cherrypicked certain vehicles that were better sealed to prevent this. But it was hard to hide this information.

..........................................

Now the auto lobby was upset. Together with the livestock lobby, the coalition of angry lobbyists descended on DC sending politicians into a fearful frenzy. To try to placate the angry shareholders, Congress cut subsidies, although they still tried to keep the losing shareholder -- big corn -- happy by preserving the blending quotas.

Unfortunately that market manipulation was now at odds with big oil, as there was no longer subsidies to refiners and they were taking a hit to their bottom line. At the same time cutting subsidies didn't do enough to placate the auto and livestock farmer lobbies, who continued to be opposed to higher corn ethanol production/higher blends out of their own financial interests.

..........................................

That's where we are now, pretty much.

Now most of the shareholders oppose one large, but solitary shareholder -- big corn. Big corn is still paying enough that Congress is reluctant to kill the RFS altogether. But there's enough pressure from big oil, the automaker lobby, and the livestock lobby that some action must be taken.

Again, politicians are trying to toe the fence and maximize the shareholder happiness (i.e. special interest dollars) by putting small cuts to placate big oil/et al., while keeping the RFS in weakened form to stroke the big corn lobby.

..........................................

Oh wait, you suggested they stop their manipulation on both oil and ethanol? That's like asking a company to stop wanting to make profit. The shareholders will never approve of that. And as long as the brands are "selling" to the public (i.e. the public is voting for the two parties of the ruling regime), shareholders will dictate the company's direction.

For this to change the company (the federal government) to go from being a publicly owned (owned by special interests) for-profit entity to being a nonprofit, in effect. In other words, there would need to be a radical makeover of the government, which could only happen if somehow the public became much more aware and stopped buying the company's brands (i.e. stopped voting for the two parties in the ruling regime).

That seems unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Thus, expect with relative certainty market manipulation will continue to occur, the only fun surprises are which direction it will go in!

Enjoy the ride!


RE: OK...
By espaghetti on 10/31/2013 9:06:27 AM , Rating: 2
Things looked similar a long time ago when the people thought the whig party offered no difference to the other parties in congress.


RE: OK...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/30/2013 8:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Tell you what, let's remove the massive subsides to the oil industry


In your own post the "subsidies" granted to big oil are the same for ANY business. All businesses get tax breaks. And land grants? What industry doesn't get those these days.

There are no massive exclusive oil subsidies. And it's one of the most taxed things on the planet. We're certainly not being negatively impacted by "big oil" financially.

quote:
Tell you what, let's remove the massive subsides to the oil industry (excuse me, the insanely profitable oil industry) first. OK?


And besides raising the cost of gas at the pump for all Americans, how is that going to benefit biodiesel or anything else?

Your whole post was useless, just more misguided petroleum hate for no reason.


RE: OK...
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2013 7:47:42 AM , Rating: 2
Guess you beat me to it.


RE: OK...
By dlapine on 10/31/2013 11:36:42 AM , Rating: 2
I don't hate the Oil Industry, I just don't believe that they need $25B a year from the government when they make make $20B a quarter in profit. If they make an insane profit already, making just a normal one isn't going to raise the price of anything...

The subsidies they get are not the same as other businesses. Do a little research on your own, but here's a start...

quote:
There are no massive exclusive oil subsidies


Special corporations just for fossil fuel companies:
Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs)


"MLPs were largely ruled out by the IRS for most US industries some 25 years ago, but special rules continue to provide eligibility for fossil fuels, and have allowed a growing range of oil and gas activities to escape corporate income taxes entirely. Cost to Us taxpayer $4B a year"

The End Polluter Welfare Act Looks at over $22B in special fossil fuel tax incentives to remove including:
Eliminate percentage depletion ,26 USC613(A)(Sec 14) $11B
Eliminate Manufacturer deduction taken by Oil companies (they don't manufacture anything) $11B
plus others around another $1B

That's over $25B a year to just the oil/gas/coal companies. and that's the tip of the iceberg.

Perhaps you have an irrational love for the petroleum industry.


RE: OK...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/31/2013 12:28:40 PM , Rating: 2
Do you understand basic math?

Let's go with your 25 billion number. Okay fine, but so what? They return hundreds of billions back to the treasury in taxes! Not to mention the state and federal fuel taxes their product makes possible.

I mean hello, where is your common sense at sir?


RE: OK...
By dlapine on 10/31/2013 1:14:16 PM , Rating: 2
OK, let's look at some more numbers and see if my math is off, or you're just pulling numbers out of "ahem" some dark place.

Here's a list of largest 2012 tax payers with details:
(google for companies paying highest income taxes 2012)

Only 3 oil companies are in the top ten. Exxon, Chevron and ConocoPhillips. Let's look at those. Together, in 2012 they paid just about $60B in tax and recorded earnings after taxes of about $80B dollars. The #10 company (MS) paid less than $5B in tax.

So, doing simple math, $60B is much less than the
quote:
They return hundreds of billions back to the treasury in taxes
you were figuring on. Even if you figure 3 or 4 more Oil companies not in the top ten, they won't add more than another $16B to that amount, and probably less.

That's just one year. Back in 2009, Exxon paid $0 in federal income taxes, so the amounts paid aren't fixed and in no way onerous.

So, what was your point again? Common sense would seem to indicate that throwing $25B a year at an industry already making an $80B+ profit yearly would be a complete waste of taxpayer money. But I already said that.

If you're implying that the US government should give money back to a corporation just because they actually paid federal income tax, I'm confused.


RE: OK...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/31/2013 3:08:15 PM , Rating: 2
Okay that's absurd. Link your source please, because those numbers are insanely off!

The three oil giants mentioned above paid more income tax than any other American corporation. ExxonMobil paid $27.3 billion in income tax, Chevron paid $17 billion, and ConocoPhillips paid $10.6 billion.

These huge sums gave the companies equally huge effective tax rates. ExxonMobil’s tax rate was 42.9%, Chevron’s was 48.3%, and ConocoPhillips’ was 41.5%. These figures are higher than the US federal statutory rate of 35%, which is the highest tax rate in the developed world.

Income tax does not even represent half of the total taxes paid. Last year Exxon also recorded more than $70 billion in sales taxes and other duties. Just one company. The total tax revenue generated by "big oil" at the state and federal level is astounding.

You have utterly failed to make the case that these tax breaks cost the American taxpayer a damn dime. They do not.


RE: OK...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/31/2013 3:15:20 PM , Rating: 2
And good grief, why even discuss this? If you want to complain about something, how about the $85 billion per month the Obama Administration is pumping into Wall Street?

You and I aren't getting rich from that, but others sure are!


RE: OK...
By Mint on 10/31/2013 10:49:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
how about the $85 billion per month the Obama Administration is pumping into Wall Street?
You mean what the Federal Reserve is pumping in? Which lowers the interest that the taxpayer pays on debt? Yeah what a tragedy.

The people being hurt the most from that are uber-wealthy entities idling trillions of dollars in bank accounts. They would love it if the Fed stopped printing money and let inflation go down. Then they'd stop earning -2% real rates, while common folk will see their mortgages get harder to pay as disinflation cuts down on their nominal wages.


RE: OK...
By dlapine on 10/31/2013 4:59:03 PM , Rating: 2
Use hyperbole much?

As for the url, I tried to post it, but the site doesn't allow links. Doesn't really matter though, as you have the same numbers:

quote:
The three oil giants mentioned above paid more income tax than any other American corporation. ExxonMobil paid $27.3 billion in income tax, Chevron paid $17 billion, and ConocoPhillips paid $10.6 billion.


and the total of that would be, oh say about $60B. Which is exactly what I said it was. And you were complaining about my math skills.

Given that you haven't provided any clue as to where you are getting your numbers, I'm going to let you provide some links as to your other claims. As a business owner, let me give a hint about sales taxes- the seller never pays them; it's the buyer who covers those costs. Exxon certainly didn't pay $70B in sales tax; its customers would have. In fact, most states award a small portion of that back to the business for collecting it.

The case is simple. The US government (in 2012) gave the Oil industries $25B or more that it didn't have to. That's money out of your pockets and mine, that could have gone to supporting other government programs or paying off the debt or reducing your taxes.


RE: OK...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/31/2013 6:42:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
and the total of that would be, oh say about $60B.


That's a bigger number than $25B, right? Just checking.

I rest my case...


RE: OK...
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2013 7:46:46 AM , Rating: 2
Except those tax credits are the same ones that other companies get as well. They aren't special credits just for oil companies. And land grants? Oil companies pay for the ability to drill on land. It's not just given to them.

About the only "handout" they get is military protection for tankers. The same protection that all other cargo ships get.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidblackmon/2013/01/...

You want to talk about tax credits for businesses, look at companies like IBM.


RE: OK...
By tng on 10/30/2013 6:12:35 PM , Rating: 2
So here is something that I caught. Corn uses four times more fertilizer, but can produce 400 gallons of ethanol/acre vs biodiesel which uses less and only produces 40 gallons per acre?

I am not sure what the conversion is to equate corn with ethanol on an energy scale, but there is no way that biodiesel packs 10 times the energy density. Both of them sound like scams to me.


RE: OK...
By Motoman on 10/30/2013 6:24:56 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on what the source is for the biodiesel. Some of them don't use conventional agriculture at all, and my guess is that they're the most promising.

I don't see any way in which one can justify using arable land for a fuel crop.


RE: OK...
By yomamafor1 on 10/30/2013 8:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Biodiesel can come from many sources, including waste vegetable oil and animal fat. It is the versatility of biodiesel source that kept it (relatively) alive.


RE: OK...
By Jeffk464 on 10/31/2013 3:31:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, bio-diesel makes perfect sense when you are using waste oil. Maybe they will be able to "grow" bio-diesel practically using algae. Obviously 40 gallons for an acre of farm land is not acceptable though.


RE: OK...
By DocScience on 10/30/2013 8:39:46 PM , Rating: 2
Most biodiesel (like BioWillie) is produced from USED cooking oils, not fresh corn oil.


RE: OK...
By tng on 11/1/2013 4:10:16 PM , Rating: 2
I imagine that corn oil, soy oil and any number of vegetable oils can be used.

The problem with used oil and animal fat is that I can't see that there is enough of that to really make a difference.


RE: OK...
By inperfectdarkness on 10/31/2013 3:33:04 AM , Rating: 2
As long as it's cheaper than Q16, it has a "commercially viable" market.

I'm STILL waiting for a consumer car that's made to run ONLY on e85--something that actually benefits from the stratospherically higher octane.


RE: OK...
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2013 7:55:31 AM , Rating: 2
E85 is like 105-115. Not really "stratospherically" higher.

You can easily modify an engine to only run on E85. Just need to bump up the compression ratio to around 13-14:1(most cars are around 10:1 today). But you wouldn't be able to run 93 octane so you better not stray too far from a station with E85. Around here there's only 1 or 2 stations that sell it.


RE: OK...
By inperfectdarkness on 11/1/2013 6:47:16 AM , Rating: 2
Or you create a turbocharged car that runs two different maps, one for 93 and one for e85. And yes, 110-115 octane is significantly higher. Additionally, ethanol burns differently than (and in many ways superior to) gasoline.

But until and unless a OEM company starts putting out e85 only vehicles, people are going to tenaciously cling to the myth about piss-poor mileage...because they have only tested it on flex-fuel vehicles.


Corn Drying
By RU482 on 10/30/2013 5:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
Wait....they dry the corn, then take it to an ethanol plant and add fresh water and turn it into a slurry. Is this accurate?




RE: Corn Drying
By dlapine on 10/30/2013 5:53:30 PM , Rating: 2
Corn is usually dried in the fields, for free, by letting it sit there and harvesting it only once it's ready. Then it gets harvested and moved to a buyer or grain elevator.

At 53lbs per dry bushel and ~180 bushels per acre, we get quite a few semi's for even a medium field. You would not want to haul or handle wet corn if at all possible. Given that adding the water is the start of the fermentation process, probably best to wait on that until the plant is ready for the next batch.

Or, in other words, one could just as easily say:

"Wait... they dry hops and barley and then take it to a brewery and add fresh water to it and turn it into beer?"

Hmmm, I suspect that the process is somewhat similar in fact. Even Jason doesn't begrudge the use of grain for the production of drinking alcohol- just it's use in his gasoline.


RE: Corn Drying
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/30/2013 6:05:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Corn is usually dried in the fields, for free
You might want to check the "in the fields, for free" part... cost analyses of corn farming I've seen count a discrete cost of drying, per bushel harvested.... see the the link I provided for example.

I'm not a farmer, so I'm not sure exactly how this works, but I assume they pick the sugar-rich corn fresh to avoid fungi/bacteria from attacking the ears, then dry the harvest in a controlled environment, before grinding it.

Drying wouldn't reduce the sugar content AFAIK.
quote:
Even Jason doesn't begrudge the use of grain for the production of drinking alcohol- just it's use in his gasoline.
Nothing wrong with moonshine in moderation.

The main issue I see with ethanol (fuel) is that the government is artificially driving demand... this is just as wrong as market manipulation in the favor of big oil. As the saying goes "two wrongs don't make a right."

As you suggest I'm fine with moonshine... I don't think the government is exactly pushing artificial demand for it... in fact I think the opposite is true, the government often tries to stifle moonshine demand. ;)


RE: Corn Drying
By dlapine on 10/31/2013 11:17:26 AM , Rating: 2
I have the good fortune (?) to live near lots of central Illinois corn fields and have been watching the process for years.

The corn is harvestable is August and they let it sit in the fields for as long as possible. They were still harvesting 2 days ago and it's almost November.

I suspect the "drying cost" in your source document refers to the cost of storing it in a grain elevator. That's usually done so that they the farmers can decide when to sell it as the price drops right at harvest time. At this time of year, if the harvest is good enough, the local grain elevators will have mountains of excess corn piled up and covered with tarps.

As for driving demand, I wouldn't argue about the fact of that, just whether its a useful thing or not. I happen to believe that having alternate sources of fuel that we (the US) control is good thing. Building an ethanol infrastructure is not going to happen initially without Federal involvement.

I'd equate this to our national petroleum reserve in some ways; nobody whines that by buying massing quantities of oil, the US government drives up the price of oil...


RE: Corn Drying
By Bad-Karma on 10/30/2013 6:08:25 PM , Rating: 2
Dry corn can be stored for years which helps balance out supply issues from poor/abundant crop cycles.

The problem with wet corn is the shear weight issue when it comes to transporting it. The number of rail or trucks needed to move it when wet would drive prices through the roof.


RE: Corn Drying
By RU482 on 10/30/2013 6:33:50 PM , Rating: 2
ahh, good point on shipping costs/energy of wet corn.

I know here in Iowa there is currently a "propane crisis" because the harvest is consuming all the supply. Was just thinking it was ridiculous to use propane to dry corn, then send it to a plant, pump water out of the fricken ground and add it back in.


RE: Corn Drying
By Motoman on 10/30/2013 6:56:08 PM , Rating: 2
It's also a function of the machinery used to harvest corn.

They let the corn plants die and the kernels dry up on the cob in the field because that makes it possible to harvest it the way we want to...which is to say, with a combine that pulls the ears off the stalks and then removes all the kernels from the cobs. Thereby just loading nothing but the kernels to the waiting trucks to take it to the elevators.

Where, as noted, the corn does have to go through more drying processing to ensure that it is well and truly dry to prevent decay.

If you didn't let the kernels dry on the cob in the field, you wouldn't be able to harvest them automatically.

Go and watch what happens at a corn field at harvest time...and look at what's spilled sometimes at the side of the road. Nothing but kernels go from the combine to the truck.


RE: Corn Drying
By DocScience on 10/30/2013 8:34:56 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, otherwise non-friendly bacteria and fungi would begin to consume the too-wet corn without producing commercial ethanol.

You need to get down below 13% moisture to stop the action. Same is true for all grains.


Huh?!
By Hammer1024 on 10/31/2013 2:10:00 PM , Rating: 2
"... corn ethanol target to 13.0 billion gallons, down substantially from the 13.8 billion gallons mandated ..."

Substantial???! Substational is from 13 to 4! This is NOT substantial.

As to a true free market for energy, go for it! I'd love to see the SUV crowed REALLY scream...

That would be funny to me. My '58 MGA get's better mileage than those trolls.

My 2001 Z3, while a gas sow, only has to go 3 miles to work, so I could care less.

The SUV lugs typically commute over 30 miles each way!




RE: Huh?!
By Farfignewton on 11/1/2013 12:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds good to me. It's not like oil is used to power farm equipment used to plant and harvest food, or the large trucks that deliver it and damn near everything else in this country. I can't imagine why your SUV vendetta doesn't get more support as it is clear no one else would be negatively impacted. Unless of course they eat or buy anything, but screw those guys.


lubricity
By superstition on 10/30/2013 9:37:49 PM , Rating: 2
Some claim that biodiesel, even blended in a small quantity with petroleum diesel, improves the lubricity factor quite a bit.

There was an independent test of diesel lubricity additives that found that biodiesel (even at a low percentage like 2%) was more effective than any of them.

The EMA (Engine Manufacturers' Association), of which Bosch is a member, has said for quite a few years that the lubricity of US diesel (less than 520 microns) is not acceptable -- that 460 or less is needed to maintain fuel system lifespan.




I support biodiesel
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2013 7:50:29 AM , Rating: 2
But not government mandated biodiesel. I think biodiesel sells itself. We just need more options for diesel cars in America.

I think home based biodiesel could some day be a big future market. We can make fuel with algae, water and sunlight. Sell a setup that goes in your back yard and has a storage tank. Make most of your own fuel with just the cost of water and a little electricity.




biofuel
By Murloc on 11/1/2013 8:39:11 AM , Rating: 2
to do intensive cultivation of corn and other stuff, they put more energy in than comes out. And that's energy coming from fossil sources mostly, in the US most of the energy comes from that I think.
So you're just wasting even more oil to greenwash fuel.




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