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It's okay to gamble with vehicle damage, lobbyists suggest, as you're the one who's paying if they lose

The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report (which the Renewable Fuel Association -- a corn ethanol lobbying group dubbed "analysis") that examined 33 studies at various universities looking at the effects of ethanol on engine wear/failure.  

I. Ethanol Lobby Says Ethanol is Safe -- You do say?

The study [PDF] was not even a peer-reviewed literature review, much less a peer-reviewed scientific study, and was bought and paid for by the RFA to help lobby for the introduction of E15.  And lo and behold, the research team comes to the same forgone conclusion that the Obama administration's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) and the RFA's experts decided when authorizes E15 on the masses -- that "…the conclusion that engines will experience mechanical engine failure when operating on E15 is not supported by the data."

The study's conclusions are that:
  • Several of the studies tested relatively large numbers of engines or vehicles, including:
    • The Coordinating Research Council’s (CRC) engine durability study (28 engines)
    • The University of Minnesota’s in-use fleet study (80 vehicles)
    • The USDOE’s catalyst durability study (82 vehicles).
       
  • The data presented in these studies did not show any evidence of deterioration in engine durability or maintenance issues for E15 (or E20) in comparison to E0 and E10 ( when tested).
     
  • Materials compatibility testing provides no evidence that 15 volume percent ethanol blends will cause increased rates of metal corrosion in comparison to 10 percent blends. In most cases increasing ethanol content from 10 to 15 volume percent had no significant effect on elastomer swell.
     
  • For 2001 and newer cars emission studies also show that engine control units are able to adequately compensate for the higher oxygen and lower energy content of E15.
E15
E15 has been authorized by the EPA, but has yet to roll out to many pumps. [Image Source: Digital Trends]

However, as you can see from the highlighting, the ethanol industry sponsored government review uses a lot of noncommittal language.  The paper even directly admits that the methodology of the studies it carefully picked was less than definitive, writing, "Because of the wide variety of control fluids and unique test protocols, especially for fuel system component, engine, and vehicle durability studies, it is difficult to combine the results into a single analysis."

II. Or Actually They Say They're Not Really Sure But are Willing to Gamble

The study admits that E15 will increase carbon emissions, though it insist that increase is nearly "negligible" and that fuel economy will be lower per fuel volume.  It admits that the studies it reviewed -- many of which only lasted 3 days or less of driving on E15 fuel -- were far from conclusive, with at least some showing damage to hosing, pumps, or other fuel-system components.  It writes:

One pump, identified as Pump N, was shown to have a greater failure rate with standard E15 in comparison to standard E10 in one study, yet did not fail on Aggressive TF10 or Aggressive TF20 in a previous study, and thus the results are inconclusive.

The conclusion that engines will experience mechanical engine failure when operating on E15 is not supported by the data presented in these studies. However, these tests did not include all existing makes and models of 2001+ MY vehicles on the road, and there may be certain components or vehicles which are more susceptible to damage from higher ethanol content fuels. Moreover, vehicle tests which include only eighty vehicles are not adequate to ensure that individual component failure rates will be below the 1 in 1000 rate that OEMs typically expect over the warranty life of a vehicle.

There is insufficient data to statistically support a failure rate prediction.
 

Ethanol warning
Some studies have shown E15 and above can damage engines and fuel systems not specially coated to prevent corrosion. [Image Source: Center for Environment and Commerce]

In other words, its authors argue (and are paid to do so), that there's some evidence that ethanol damages engines and/or fuel systems, but other studies suggest it might not, so we might as well ignore the whole mess and make it legal until we find out who's right.

III. Government Market Meddling -- Who's Right When They're All Wrong?

And the authors have a point.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a spotty track record of approving and later retracting questionable medicines, while blocking promising treatments for cancer and other life threatening reasons for seeming arbitrary and/or inexplicable reasons.  The study's general criticism against blocking free market availability of consumer goods makes a valid argument, to an extent.

Check Engine
The RFA's paid researchers aren't arguing E15 will be safe for all older vehicles -- they're arguing they're not sure and they're in the mood to gamble. [Image Source: Hemmings Blog]

A 2001-2008 vehicle (the older vehicles examined in the study) may be damaged by ethanol.  Or it may not be.  It likely depends on the vehicle.  Likewise it will probably be difficult for a vehicle owner to determine with absolute certain whether it was ethanol, or simply other factors like lifetime wear that took out their 2001 or 2002 era vehicle.

But then again, that's not what the current debate is really about.  The current debate is about how consumer protection and environmental laws (e.g. the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard installed by the Clean Air Act of 1963 [PDF]) under the federal government regulates what fuel may be sold to consumers and the automakers are required to go through exhaustive reliability testing to ensure that those fuels do not damage vehicles.

corn profits
We're all paying for corn ethanol's shortcomings, while farming corporations and ethanol refiners profit. [Image Source: Agriculture.com]

In other words automakers are held to a much higher (and more expensive) testing standard than the research studies reviewed in the report, which were admittedly small, short-lived, and inconclusive.  But while it's not entirely clear who is right and to what extent, the law makes it clear who will pay if things go wrong -- the automakers.  So if it turns out that "whoops ethanol DID damage engines", the ethanol industry won't be on the hook for damages (unless it was somehow targeted under a class action lawsuit) -- the automakers would be.  

Or more likely, since most of these older vehicles were out of warranty, the consumer would likely pay.  In other words, the renewable fuels lobby is perfectly willing to gamble on the issue of engine damage which it says may or may not exist, because it's gambling with your money -- not its own.

IV. Big Oil is Only Evil, if it Isn't Pay You

The RFA President and CEO Bob Dineen cheers:

The disputed CRC engine durability study has been at the center of Big Oil’s political crusade against E15, and policymakers have been given the false impression that the CRC project is the one and only study that has been conducted on E15. Nothing could be further from the truth. The NREL report reflects a substantial review of literature on E15 research showing no meaningful concern with using the fuel and exposes the many methodological shortcomings of studies API is citing on engine durability.

It’s time for Big Oil to stop using actors to scare people about E15. It’s time they start paying attention to the overwhelming data and real world experience demonstrating the efficacy of E15.

Again, the ethanol industry ironically gets a lot right in its argument.  "Big oil" did lobby a lot against E15.  But the renewable fuels industry lobbied as hard or harder to legalize it.  It's no coincidence that both of the nation's last two Presidents were firm believers in the controversial alternative fuel from food.

Corn ethanol handouts
Big corn has no problems with handouts, as long as they're for corn. [Image Source: AP]
 
But the reality is that whatever truth there is in the ethanol advocacy's accusations of cronyism and federal government meddling, it's benefited as much as anyone from federal policies.  Under the The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007's [PDF] Renewable Fuel Standard terms, refiners each year must blend more and more gallons of biofuel, or they'll be fined.  Thanks to that artificial demand, most gasoline sold on the market is current at E10 levels -- about enough for refiners to meet current targets.

While the government no longer directly subsidizes ethanol production at the farm and refinery level, it's not exactly pro-oil-anti-ethanol (or hands-off) either.  It's driving an artificial demand 12 billion plus gallons of ethanol that the free market showed no interest in creating.  That demand has come, at least in small part, at the expense of the food industry, which now is forced to compete with refiners for corn for livestock feed.

Again, the consumers lose from government meddling in the private sector with ethanol, just as they do with it meddling in the private sector by giving ultra-profitable oil producers tax breaks -- the same sort of tax breaks that ethanol enjoyed until recently.

President Obama himself was among the lucky winners of handouts from big corn special interests, although his ties to the corn industry at times have been quieter.  After championing the Energy Act as a young senator back in 2005, ADM began flying Sen. Obama around on their private jet, a true VIP treatment.  And top Obama donor George Soros -- who gave nearly $5M USD to Obama and his fellow Democrats -- is a major owner of ConAgra spinoff, top corn grower, and number three corporate farm conglomerate Gavilon.

V. Big Oil v. Big Ethanol: Whoever Wins, You Lose

It's been a disappointing year of sorts for the ethanol industry.

Complaining that "breaking the [E10] blending wall" and pumping E15 out to stations would damage older vehicles, automakers and motorists united to petition the EPA for a waiver.  

And while the ethanol lobby scored an early win by shooting down that waiver, ethanol producers saw the economics start to catch up to them.  With refinery growth grinding to a halt due in large part to the elimination of government grants for ethanol producers, 2013 production levels are expected to miss their target of 16.55 billion gallons.  As a result the EPA has given refiners an additional 6 months to meet that target, effectively a cut to the 2013 target.

Ethanol lobbyists will refute that the EPA is backing off its targets in any way -- and even the EPA is hesitant to call this "extensions" what it really is -- a cut to targets. But the numbers say what these vested interests are too embarrassed to admit.

The big issue with big oil, big ethanol, and any other fuel isn't so much that they want to sell consumers in good faith, drive domestic production, and make money.  That's the name of the game with capitalism.  The problem is that what some would call bribery -- paying federal political candidates to give you grants, tax cuts, laws that hurt your competitors, and other laws that force consumers to buy your products against their will -- is not only legal in the U.S., it's most of what preoccupies the federal government from the President to Congress and on down the ranks.  

Congress bribes
Is big oil any worse than ethanol?  They're all playing the game. [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Whether it's big oil or ethanol, this catfight, while a legitimate battle for big money, is essentially a lose-lose for the consumers.  If it ethanol wins, we get the artificial pumping of profit into corporate ethanol and corn growing pockets, coupled with higher food prices, lower fuel economy, possibly voided warranties, and higher emissions.  The only gains would be potentially somewhat lower prices per gallon at the pump and some degree of increased domestic security.  But if "Big Oil" wins, it's more of the same -- inflation of prices at the pump to drive profits towards big oil, who in turn escape much of their tax burden through a variety of tax loopholes that regular folks don't have.

Whoever wins, we lose
Whoever wins, we lose. [Image Source: 20th Century Fox]

The take home message from this battle of predatory market meddlers is the slogan from 2004 Aliens v. Predator -- "Whoever wins, we lose."

Sources: RFA [1; PDF], [2]



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Let's burn food!!
By Choppedliver on 10/15/2013 10:02:31 AM , Rating: 4
Ethanol, is the dumbest idea ever, for many reasons.

1) Lower energy density. You have to burn more of it to go the same distance, ie worse performance, worse "gas mileage".

2) It's food, stupid. Isn't food expensive enough?

3) It attracts water ( hydrophilic ). Not good for things where gas sits around for a while.... boats, lawnmowers, snow blowers, atv's, etc. Ask a marine mechanic what he thinks of ethanol. The water goes to the bottom where your fuel pickup tube is.... Oh fun! Engines work so well with water in them!

4) It's an excellent "cleaner" and removes all the built up gunk from your gas tank in things that sit around ( as previously described )

This is what happens when profit is driving alternative fuels rather that what is actually a good idea or what is good for consumers.




RE: Let's burn food!!
By Denithor on 10/15/2013 11:09:25 AM , Rating: 3
Replace "profit" with "government subsidies" in your last comment and you're dead on.


RE: Let's burn food!!
By Choppedliver on 10/15/2013 11:17:26 AM , Rating: 2
yep, I was thinking "profit for the subsidy receivers", and it didn't quite make it to my fingers.


RE: Let's burn food!!
By 91TTZ on 10/15/2013 2:16:21 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
3) It attracts water ( hydrophilic ). Not good for things where gas sits around for a while.... boats, lawnmowers, snow blowers, atv's, etc. Ask a marine mechanic what he thinks of ethanol. The water goes to the bottom where your fuel pickup tube is.... Oh fun! Engines work so well with water in them!


This is incorrect.

Water is less of a problem with ethanol than it is with gasoline. This is because ethanol absorbs water which prevents it from pooling up on the bottom of the gas tank. Gasoline, on the other hand, doesn't mix with water which causes water droplets to sink to the bottom of the tank causing the problems you mentioned.

They sell a product that prevents fuel lines from freezing in gasoline engines. You pour it into the gas tank and it helps the gas absorb the water. The ingredient? Alcohol.


RE: Let's burn food!!
By spamreader1 on 10/15/13, Rating: 0
RE: Let's burn food!!
By Solandri on 10/15/2013 6:32:51 PM , Rating: 5
He used the wrong word. The correct term is hygroscopic. Ethanol will pull water right out of the air into itself. The more humid the air, the more water it pulls out. That's why it has a bigger problem with water contamination than gasoline.


RE: Let's burn food!!
By mindless1 on 10/20/2013 11:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
That is false because of the specific conditions present. Vehicles now must have a sealed fuel system. What little water vapor that finds its way into a tank, found its way in regardless of whether the fuel was blended or not. It5's there and will cause damage over time if not dealt with.

If it is all gas, that vapor forms drops, then pools. If it is ethanol blend, the ethanol absorbing it is a GOOD thing, it is dissipated and causes fewer problems like reducing tank rust and engine malfunction.

It would be a different story if a gas tank were an open pail of alcohol with continuously circulating supplies of fresh (humid) air but it isn't.

In FACT, products sold to combat water in fuel are usually approaching 100% alcohol. They're now largely unneeded with ethanol blends.


RE: Let's burn food!!
By ClownPuncher on 10/15/2013 2:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
I am boycotting corn and corn based products.


RE: Let's burn food!!
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 3:54:35 PM , Rating: 2
Awww. I can't piss in your cornflakes anymore... :(


RE: Let's burn food!!
By Samus on 10/15/2013 6:28:54 PM , Rating: 4
Right, because our wheat and grain industry is much better?

Our wheat products have so much added gluten and modifiers that they aren't imported by most countries. In fact, gluten problems including celiacs disease are more prominent in the United States than all other industrialized countries combined. Mexico and most of South America depend on Corn as an alternative to wheat for thousands of food products. US grains are banned outright for import in the EU. US flour is banned in the EU because it's bleached (with processes and agents linked to cancer) so continue not eating corn products, we'll see you on the other side when we get there.


RE: Let's burn food!!
By ClownPuncher on 10/16/2013 11:07:03 AM , Rating: 2
I don't eat wheat. I agree with your diatribe, but I don't know what it has to do with me not eating corn or wheat.


New mandate
By PaFromFL on 10/14/2013 11:41:53 PM , Rating: 5
The people who make the rules need more exposure to the consequences of those rules. How about requiring ethanol lobbyists and proponents to fly around in small aircraft fueled only with E15? It is probably safe.

I'll be convinced E15 is safe over the lifetime of my car when my owner's manual says it is safe.




RE: New mandate
By danielfranklin on 10/15/2013 12:17:50 AM , Rating: 2
Most non-turbo cards in Australia work fine with our E10 and its states so either in the manual or on the fuel cap.
We brought it in years ago, we all save a bit at the pump and use local ethanol.
They work will all our Naturally aspirated USA and Asian engine based cars, just not the high compression European cars.


RE: New mandate
By FITCamaro on 10/15/2013 8:57:17 AM , Rating: 3
Ethanol is actually better for high compression engines because the ethanol has a cooling effect which helps prevent detonation. Especially in turbo motors. I'm not saying they'll get better mileage. Just that ethanol has positive qualities for making horsepower if it's taken advantage of properly. Mainly through higher compression.


RE: New mandate
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 9:44:42 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. The E85 runs richer and does cool the incoming charge somewhat if port-injected. Not sure this will have much effect on direct-injected turbo engines which work more like a diesel (gas injected near the top of the compression stroke just before the spark).

It most certainly will allow higher boost in any case since the octane of E85 is much higher than gasoline.


RE: New mandate
By bill.rookard on 10/15/2013 10:14:09 AM , Rating: 2
That's the problem though. The cars that can best use ethanol blended fuels are the ones that are specifically designed for it - high static compression engines (11.0:1 or higher) or turbocharged to extract as much energy out of the fuel as possible.

Unfortunately, engines that were designed to run on gasoline (or low-ethanol blends at 5-10%) cannot run at those higher compression ratios due to detonation/preignition. These are cases of having to pick one or the other, and design for fuel used, and most engines in cars today were specifically designed for use with straight gasoline or up to E10.

Going higher will mean lower efficiency, lower mileage, and, as was glossed over, potential damage to fuel system parts and/or engines from higher levels of ethanol. Personally, I don't want to have to replace my fuel system in my car, or the engine (2005 Mustang), as engines can be quite expensive (obviously).

Going to E15 or higher as -mandated- sounds exactly like a lose-lose-lose situation. I see no upside for the consumer.

Lower MPG.
Potentially high repair costs.
Increased carbon emissions.


RE: New mandate
By daboom06 on 10/15/2013 1:02:53 PM , Rating: 2
the upside is selling your gas vehicle for a diesel. this whole ethanol debate has yet to affect me. if i did have a gas vehicle, though, i'd definitely be buying only E0


RE: New mandate
By Samus on 10/16/2013 1:24:50 AM , Rating: 4
Plain and simple ethanol burns cooler than petrol, and is less likely to ping, knock and cause detonation.

However, the problem begins and ends with those who try to tune a boosted high compression motor for E85, a fuel that isn't regulated and octane varies greatly from pump to pump, farm to farm, batch to batch.

As far as E10/E15 causing engine damage. This topic has been revisited too often on these forums. Going from E10 to E15 isn't going to harm any engine or fuel system that currently runs on E10. Look at it this way: across 10 gallons of fuel, 1 gallon of it is ethanol. With E15, 1.5 gallons will be ethanol.

Professional engine builders that don't have the lobbying and don't seek to void warranties at a monetary gain will tell you: no, it doesn't matter. If the fuel is of good quality you can easily go up to 25% ethanol before you notice shorter filter life, significant decrease in fuel economy or more fuel pump/injector noise (which really means nothing to their service life.) In fact most cars won't even need calibration at E25.

The vehicle compatibility argument is getting ridiculous. If they want to go from E10 to E15, fine. But I want it to come with a 5% discount, too, because there will be some mostly immeasurable loss in fuel economy, and that is where the argument against E15 should be.

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byfuel/FFV2012.shtm...


Big Surprise
By MechanicalTechie on 10/14/2013 11:52:00 PM , Rating: 5
Lobbyist once again posion the well of clean governance.

When are people going to wake up and do something about this legalised bribery. Politicians will never represent the people when big business are buying their support.

America get your head out of your arse and claim back your government!




RE: Big Surprise
By superstition on 10/15/2013 12:30:03 PM , Rating: 5
That was the entire point of "Obamacare," which people continue to miss.

The entire point of that exercise, which was supported by both brands of our corporate party (even though the Republican brand put on a good show of feigning opposition), was to install the mandate. The entire point was to have the Supreme Court establish a precedent that the government can force tax-payers to pay the bribes it gets from corporations .

Step 1: Corporations pays off elected officials.

Step 2: Elected officials pass laws saying you must buy from those corporations. If you don't buy from them, you get fined.

Step 3: Corporations use the money that is extracted under duress from the tax-payers to pay off elected officials more.

Why?

To get even more of what they want. Now that the "mandate" is legal precedent, get ready for more "buy their product and pay the bribe money or else" legislation.

We are being forced to pay the lobbyists and CEOs who are trying to get policy that works for them not us. Isn't it lovely?


RE: Big Surprise
By superstition on 10/15/2013 12:32:36 PM , Rating: 3
(continued here due to the length restriction)

That is what Obamacare was all about. And, that is why both parties had no intention of doing anything other than getting the "mandate" through. The "death panels" and other hoopla was designed to enable the Democrats to follow through on their secret deals with the industry to kill the public option (and never discuss single-payer). The Republicans played their part, as their fake opposition lubricated the Dems' lies. They let Obamacare come to the floor for a vote right before Christmas Eve at 8 AM when they thought no one was looking and John Roberts voted for the mandate in the Supreme Court. Google "The Democrats’ scam becomes more transparent" by Glenn Greenwald if you want to see the evidence.

Foolish people continue to be deluded by the smoke of mirrors of fake partisanship. In reality, the only thing the Dems and Repubs compete for is more money from the same 1% interests that fund both parties' candidates. Google "Iowa: The Meaningless Sideshow Begins" by Matt Taibbi to see the evidence.


RE: Big Surprise
By Strunf on 10/16/2013 8:06:04 AM , Rating: 1
It makes no sense what you say, in the US you can't escape and essentially have to pay an health insurance, unless you're pretty rich and you can afford paying it out of your pocket or you're healthy enough and think you'll stay like that till the end of times, either with Obamacare or not the health insurance companies always win. For them the Obamacare is more of an hindrance than anything else since up to now they could refuse you or make you pay whatever they want to be insured, since all these companies are pretty much buddies you can't really get a better deal in other companies, with Obamacare you can at least compare prices easily which doesn't favor the way the insurance companies work, and if you have a condition the companies can't deny you access to an health insurance.

The fact is that there's probably not a single country in the world besides the US that has a fully private health system. It's not that everyone is blind it is that most understands that something as basic as the access to proper treatment shouldn't be left completely in the hands of the private sector, more often than not private companies will align their prices with each other to maximize their profits, and if all of them decide they need a 50% profits well you are going to pay it.


muscle cars
By laststop311 on 10/15/2013 10:13:18 AM , Rating: 4
Am I going to need to somehow import pure gas for my 69 chevelle ss. I'm guessing e15 will destroy an old muscle car




RE: muscle cars
By Flunk on 10/15/2013 10:28:52 AM , Rating: 3
E15 is illegal in Canada so you won't have to go too far. There is a 10% maximum for ethanol in gas and no required minimum.


RE: muscle cars
By ClownPuncher on 10/15/2013 2:53:12 PM , Rating: 3
It will indeed destroy your car.


RE: muscle cars
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 4:10:57 PM , Rating: 2
Simple solution. Convert that musclecar to run on ethanol. Ethanol is today's high performance fuel of choice and is very friendly for high compression, turbo & super charging.

Alcohol (methanol) has been in use for racing since I was a really young kid (a really loooooong time ago) and is second only to nitromethane as a racing fuel. It has higher octane than the aviation gas. You just have to rejet your carb(s) to run it rich, use metal fuel lines and an electric fuel pump (the old mechanical diaphragm fuel pumps are NOT ethanol friendly).


RE: muscle cars
By sorry dog on 10/16/2013 9:43:57 PM , Rating: 2
I used to hang around in boat racing circles and I learned this from the alky racers.

The would usually start the motor on gas and then switch to meth once warm. They also had to use castor oil since normal oils wouldn't mix right. But the cardinal rule was before shutdown they switched back to gas for a few minutes before shutdown because any meth left in lines, carbs, injectors, etc. would make short work of them.

These are mad scientist racer types who didn't think they could win unless smoke poured out of the tank when you poured the mix in....so I think they knew the deal....


By troysavary on 10/15/2013 6:23:34 AM , Rating: 3
I make it a point to fuel up at gas stations that have no ethanol in their fuel. Luckily, the one right up the road a bit from me is ethanol free. But if I was away from home and needed fuel, I would drive out of my way to avoid ethanol, just on principle.




By jimbojimbo on 10/15/2013 12:34:13 PM , Rating: 3
http://pure-gas.org/
Unfortunately the closest place on their list is about 100miles away. Hopefully you guys fare better.


By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 4:02:04 PM , Rating: 1
What you gonna do when you can't get that petroleum-based gas anymore?

There's a lot of complaints about ethanol, but I don't anybody sticking their hands up with viable alternatives that can be used now.

Anything you or I could name will come with a dozen folks that will be happy to tell you just how bad it is for the environment (as if extracting oil and refining it is actually good for the planet).

The oil ain't gonna last forever and may well be gone (for public use) within the lifetimes of the younger members here at DT.


By Solandri on 10/15/2013 6:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There's a lot of complaints about ethanol, but I don't anybody sticking their hands up with viable alternatives that can be used now.

Americans just call it "ethanol" but they're really talking about corn ethanol. Corn is a really stupid crop to be using to make ethanol. If you want ethanol, you should be using a crop high in sugar content. Sugar cane in tropical climates, sugar beets in temperate climates. Corn is like #41 on the list of good ethanol crops.

The whole thing started off as an idea to use up extra corn left over at the end of the year because the U.S. uses subsidies to deliberately overproduce corn (to prevent food shortages). It's a fine idea for using up excess corn. It's a really stupid idea to grown corn for the sole purpose of turning it into ethanol. Use sugar beets if you want to do that.


By Monkey's Uncle on 10/16/2013 11:48:08 AM , Rating: 2
Good points.

But even with beets & cane would still be frowned upon by those that object over using land space to grow fuel at all.

Those I still say this:

OK, so using land space to grow fuel is a bad idea. What's the solution available today that removes our dependence on fossil fuels? I am sure every country in the world is really interested to hear your innovative ideas.

It is easy to sit back and cut apart the ideas of those that at least attempt to provide a solution. It is a lot harder and takes far more cajones to be the one that lays his ideas out there.


E85 serves purpose better
By chromal on 10/15/2013 1:03:58 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, some people don't understand that you can't quote science piecemeal (as many do with their favorite religious text) to justify public policy. It just creates bad policy.

Fuel mandates should be for clean air. I'm glad they regulated out lead. It's reasonable to expect catalytic converters, and minimal hydrocarbons out the tailpipe. None of these things require E15.

Car manufacturers are clear that they are not designing for >E10 concentrations of ethanol, my 2012 model year direct-injected turbocharged Mazda says point blank not to do it. As you add ethanol, you lean out the mixture of fuel. Eventually, you exceed the range of the fuel injection system to compensate. Running lean while turbocharged is a quick path to a destroyed engine.

The irony is, if a car is set up for E85, the octane equivalent can be 94-96, which fits well with turbocharged applications-- so there is a very good way to get more ethanol in circulation. I would feed my car E85 if it were turned for E85 (because then I would be making more horsepower. :) )




RE: E85 serves purpose better
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 9:41:14 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the octane of E85 is closer to 108, but that also comes at a price.

E85, at least initially until we can find a better way of producing it, will be more costly than petroleum-based fuel. The ethanol component contains less energy per gallon than equivalent gasoline. This means that you have to burn it at a richer air/fuel ratio than gasoline alone. Because of the relatively low ratio of ethanol in current gasoline (10-15%), you don't notice the drop in mileage. With E85, the drop is quite noticeable.

(A real-life comparison of gasoline vs E85)
http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/e85-vs-gasolin...


RE: E85 serves purpose better
By sorry dog on 10/16/2013 9:36:55 PM , Rating: 2
I seem to remember Ethanol Octane rating being in the low 100's, but if you want to be exact about it then you need to specify which rating method(s) your are referring too. There's Research, Motor, and the average which is what is usually listed on the pump in the U.S.

The thing is that when we are talking about E10 or E15 gas, the octane rating is what is whether ethanol, MTBE, lead, or whatever is the additive octane booster. It seems some folks are confused that if it is E15 then it might have higher octane. It does not. It just replaced other things like MTBE which EPA in its infinite wisdom sorta figured out was bad juju for water pollution AFTER they mandated for a few years.

One other issue I haven't seen discussed is the effect of the ethanol content on the stability and shelf life of the gas. Especially in hot and humid climates such as my own, I bet you lose quite a bit of octane just by leaving it in a jug outside just for a few hours. After all the boiling point of alcohol isn't that much higher than the average deep south high in August.


Totally Stupid
By Flunk on 10/15/2013 10:27:30 AM , Rating: 5
Eliminate ethanol subsidies, kill blending "target"s and let them sell any blend they like as long as they post it. E10, E15, E85 or E0. Let the free market decide which fuel people want.

It's an easy solution and it means they get away without looking like they're favoring anyone (because they're not). As a plus I suspect it will drive down corn prices because corn ethanol as an industry costs much more to produce than they can sell the product for so it makes no sense whatsoever.




Big Oil
By tjacoby on 10/15/2013 12:10:38 PM , Rating: 3
I am not sure I agree with your assessment that "big oil" "winning" will somehow continue to drive up prices at the pump, just because they want to make a profit. That is a rather gross simplification of everything.

First, you need to look at which part of "big oil" you are referencing. If you are looking at upstream (exploration and drilling), profits can be large, but the risk and capital expenditures are equally large. Downstream has fewer risks, but is largely a low-margin endeavor that is at the mercy of oil prices.

The ethanol mandates are bad for consumers, period. If it was efficient to blend ethanol into gasoline, refiners would be doing it. Aside from the damaging affects of ethanol, refiners must first purchase it, which itself is a risk (RINs are a major source of fraud that no one is talking about), and very expensive. We all know there is no expense to a business (any business), because it is simply passed on to the consumer. In addition, the mandate that a certain amount be blended into the fuel supply will only create shortages (and massively higher prices) when the refiners start sending their products overseas to avoid having to conform to the Renewable Fuels Standard.

The ONLY sensible thing to do is to broaden domestic production of oil, because that is the primary driver of price. Domestically produced (or Canadian) crude is cheaper than that found overseas, and could likely be even cheaper should OPEC stop artificially reducing their output to keep prices high. At the same time, let the market figure out what comes next. Stop pushing electric vehicles until they are needed. Let the market find the "next big thing", which I honestly think will likely be natural gas before any sort of electric engine...

But what do I know.




RE: Big Oil
By tjacoby on 10/15/2013 12:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
I meant to also say that otherwise pretty spot on article. Good work!


Studies...
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 9:54:11 AM , Rating: 3
The problem with studies, and the reason no one should point at them as any kind of proof of anything, is that they are always funded by someone. And that someone has points to gain if that study lands in their favor.

I have seen very few studies that were totally impartial. The results of studies are ALWAYS slanted to be used as proof/leverage of the corporations providing the money to fund it.

You want to know which way a study will favor? Look closely at where the money for that study is coming from. 99.9 out of 100 studies published will favor those that paid for it. Those that don't - don not get published.




Gamble
By btc909 on 10/15/2013 11:50:26 AM , Rating: 2
I took a "Gamble" when I bought a Dodge, boy did I pay the price. Let me pump in another 5% per gallon of crap that will leave a varnish inside everything in my engine.




Uhhh...
By Stuka on 10/15/2013 1:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
A 2001-2008 vehicle (the older vehicles examined in the study) may be damaged by ethanol. Or it may not be. It likely depends on the vehicle. Likewise it will probably be difficult for a vehicle owner to determine with absolute certain whether it was ethanol, or simply other factors like lifetime wear that took out their 2001 or 2002 era vehicle.

How about the several million vehicles older than 2000? Too bad they ran out of Cash for Clunkers vouchers or all vehicles might be 2009 or newer. lol

You think that person scraping by with a 1991 Civic is gonna want to face the possibility of fuel system destruction? Even if it's a narrow possibility it is too great.




warranty
By DocScience on 10/30/2013 8:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
My car warranties say specifically that they are VOID if E15 is used.




E85
By Runiteshark on 10/14/13, Rating: -1
RE: E85
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 8:57:47 AM , Rating: 2
The consumption comes from the richer air/fuel mix needed to burn the ethanol component of the fuel. Not much can be done about that. Ethanol has lower energy than petroleum-based fuel.

Too bad we haven't gotten Methanol to commonly work in engines yet. Methanol contains almost as much energy as petroleum gas, but is far more corrosive than Ethanol. Ethanol is hard on fuel system parts, Methanol absolutely eats them. It is also more plentiful with less impact on the environment (you don't have to dedicate thousands of hectares of farm land to grow it). There is lots of research going on around Methanol and I am sure it is coming, but for now Ethanol is a stepping stone until they get Methanol's warts trimmed off.


RE: E85
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 9:47:06 AM , Rating: 2
Already known that Methanol was used before Ethanol, but it was found methanol was too corrosive to use blended in gas (I believe the max was 5% allowable).

There are ongoing studies and methanol seems to be getting a bit of a resurgence in research - so we just may see a resurrection of this 'better' form of alcohol as a common motor fuel.


RE: E85
By Mint on 10/15/2013 9:54:46 AM , Rating: 2
If energy density is your concern, butanol is a pretty good option for blending. It's not as easy to produce for a low cost, though.


RE: E85
By sorry dog on 10/15/2013 2:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
Methanol is too toxic to be considered for a mainstream fuel.


RE: E85
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/15/2013 3:52:52 PM , Rating: 2
Gasoline is pretty dang toxic too.

Just sayin'


RE: E85
By PaFromFL on 10/15/2013 10:14:59 AM , Rating: 2
"... I don't see what all the hooplah is about running in normal cars though..."

After some tuning, cars run great on a mix of approximately 90% nitromethane and 10% methanol. For some reason, that will void manufacturer warranties. EPA tests are run for a limited time. Manufacturers have to worry about warranty exposure over 36,000, 60,000 or even 100,000 miles. After that, the resale value of cars reflects expected problems that may be traceable to the strong solvent nature of ethanol. Perhaps manufacturers are overcautious, but if they limit the ethanol fraction to 10%, I'll follow their recommendation.


RE: E85
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/16/2013 12:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
After some tuning, cars run great on a mix of approximately 90% nitromethane and 10% methanol. For some reason, that will void manufacturer warranties


probably because of the piss poor economy of nitromethane.

Gasoline burns at an air-fuel ratio of 15:1 (15 pounds of air per pound of fuel). I think with direct injection and lean-burn technologies this ratio may have been upped to 17:1 or even 18:1 by now. Nitromethane air/fuel ratio is closer closer to 1.7:1 (1.7 pounds of air per pound of fuel). Top fuel drag racing engines burn this stuff at a rate of about one US gallon per second when blasting down the drag strip.

Nitro also burns slow (very high octane). So slow in fact that it is still burning when the exhaust valve opens and the exhaust is dumped out the exhaust pipe. This is why you see flames shooting out of the zoomies on a top fuel drag engine.

While 90% Nitromethane + 10% methanol would make a kickass fuel for short runs, it would pretty much suck at the economy levels expected by daily commuters on the way to/from work.


RE: E85
By btc909 on 10/15/2013 11:52:52 AM , Rating: 2
Sure it'll look clean but you also have a transparent varnish covering everything inside your engine.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 1:00:30 AM , Rating: 2
So much horribly wrong with this post, it's hard to start.

Hardly surprising that you would say anything you can to support any action taken by the EPA and the Government. No matter how stupid or apathetic the argument.

quote:
And on a fundamental chemistry basis, it makes NO sense for E15 to be so bad for engines but E10 to be fine.


Walter White you are not. Testing has already proven otherwise. On a "fundamental chemistry basis", 5% is hardly an insignificant increase.


By JasonMick (blog) on 10/15/2013 7:51:39 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Learn to read, dip****.
Stay classy, my friend.

quote:
FYI, if nobody governed this, the market would be free to offer any ethanol blend it wanted. Banning E15 goes against your own principles, but you're too blinded by gov't hate to notice.
And where did he advocate that? I think he was advocating removing the current artificial demand. You've already misrepresented my opinion, now it appears this may be a habitual trend for you.
quote:
No it didn't. It was a crap study.
Says the internet expert. Unlike the review (which as I say was mostly valid, and gave some good analysis, albeit analysis which has been since misrepresented), that study involved actual lab experiments.

For you to call it "crap" is not only biased, its quite comical. Educate us oh internet expert.
quote:
5/16 cars failed with E20, and 2/6 failed on E0. But they counted the 2/6 as 2/16, because 10 other tests were assumed to pass.
Okay, so that might have been a poor assumption or flaw in the study. But other studies on specific parts (e.g. fuel pumps) have shown higher failure rates with E15 or E20 v. E10. Read the review... the authors clear state this.
quote:
Then why didn't one single study compare E15 with E10? Why did they have to exaggerate results using E0?
Umm again, studies have, reread the review please.
quote:
One pump, identified as Pump N, was shown to have a greater failure rate with standard E15 in comparison to standard E10 in one study, yet did not fail on Aggressive TF10 or Aggressive TF20 in a previous study, and thus the results are inconclusive.
Sigh.

So clearly you've established you have no credibility as you can't even be bothered to read the piece that you claim to know with great authority.

Maybe that's why you resort to call people dip****s?


By Mint on 10/15/2013 9:31:37 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Stay classy, my friend.

Maybe that's why you resort to call people dip****s?
Did you read what Reclaimer wrote? He dismissed my opinion based on a false accusation that I support anything that the EPA and gov't does. I made it abundantly clear this is what I was addressing with a quotation, so I don't know why you think I name-called for any other reason.

quote:
And where did he advocate that? I think he was advocating removing the current artificial demand
Many other threads, e.g.
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=24966...

The vast majority of the demand isn't artificial because RINs were only pennies per gallon (so tenths of cent for E10) for years, and E10 adoption grew rapidly even then. As I said above, the RFS will adjust those mandated levels on the fly when they becomes too artificial. They did so this year, and you reported it.

quote:
You've already misrepresented my opinion
What did I misrepresent? You literally said "the study was bought". That's language every scientist will be offended by.

quote:
Says the internet expert.
...
Umm again, studies have,
Says NREL, who brought up the same points I did months before because they're obvious. Says Samus, an automotive engineer posting on DT:
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=31829...
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=24706...

Your own article says:
quote:
The data presented in these studies did not show any evidence of deterioration in engine durability or maintenance issues for E15 (or E20) in comparison to E0 and E10

So no, the studies have not. No study has "proven" it as Reclaimer stated.

I made no comment on your "maybe" stance, but even you saying "it depends on the vehicle" is jumping to conclusions that NREL does not support. They admit that it's possible some post-2001 engines could have problems, but they did not find that it does indeed depend on the vehicle.


By 91TTZ on 10/15/2013 2:11:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Stay classy, my friend.


I really wish that someone would address the attitudes displayed by some members of the forum. I see this happening often, and usually by the same people. I don't expect everyone to agree on every topic but when posters instantly resort to childish name calling they really aren't contributing to the discussion and have no place here, in my opinion.


By FITCamaro on 10/15/2013 8:45:50 AM , Rating: 2
How are we opposing the free market by being against a government created market. There is no market for E15 (or E10 for that matter) if the government didn't create it. There's a difference between hating all government (which is really a small minority of conservatives who think we should have stopped at the Declaration) and hating overreaching government that creates markets and then tries to do more to fix their mistakes of overreach with more overreach.

Yes it was a crap study that tried to say E15 doesn't cause any damage but still admits that there was damage but says that doesn't matter because their test sample wasn't big enough so its "inconclusive" and thus fine.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 9:50:43 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
There is no market for E15 (or E10 for that matter) if the government didn't create it.
Who cares who created it? You should be paying attention to why E10 was sustained and grew.

Ethanol RIN prices were less than 5c/gallon most of the time before 2012, so E10 got underpriced by less than a tenth of that. Still, consumers voluntarily chose E10. Yes, the RFS had targets, but the market was meeting them voluntarily, likely because E10 is cheaper to make.

What gives you the authority to assume beforehand that the market doesn't wants E15? Let the fuel be approved and let the market determine it. I also think it will fail, but I don't see the problem in giving people the option.


By jRaskell on 10/15/2013 10:53:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ethanol RIN prices were less than 5c/gallon most of the time before 2012, so E10 got underpriced by less than a tenth of that. Still, consumers voluntarily chose E10. Yes, the RFS had targets, but the market was meeting them voluntarily, likely because E10 is cheaper to make.


I don't think I have the same definition of 'voluntary' that you do. When maybe 1 in 10 gas stations offer up an alternative to the overwhelming offering of E-whatever fuels and I have to go quite out of my way to find that station, that doesn't exactly qualify as voluntary in my book. Voluntary would be every single station offering up E0, E15, E20, whatever. Then we can see exactly how many consumers volunteer to use high ethanol fuels. Anything less than that is just another captive market. Only a slimy politician (yes, I know that's redundant) would call that voluntary.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 11:27:55 AM , Rating: 1
And why do you think your choice is so limited? Does it occur to you that maybe very few people want to pay much extra for E0 versus E10?

The gov't didn't go after each gas station and order them to replace E0 with E15. They installed a mechanism (the RIN system) to make E10 cheaper, but it turned out that it didn't affect prices much at all during E10's rise over E0 from 2000 to 2012.


By Denithor on 10/15/2013 10:55:29 AM , Rating: 3
That's a complete crock. Consumers NEVER voluntarily chose E10. It's sold at the pump as "gas" not E10. There's almost nowhere to buy E0 anymore, to the detriment of small engines everywhere (this is why your weedeater dies after two years instead of ten). There's no way to opt out of E10 because that is simply the default choice everywhere.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 12:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, keyword being "anymore".

There was a choice for E0 at one point, and people didn't take it. RFS made no difference in the direct price of E10. Biodiesel producers get a lot of help from RIN credits, but before this year, ethanol didn't.

Gas stations don't care about small engine demand, which is 0.5% of US gasoline use.


By M'n'M on 10/15/2013 6:32:47 PM , Rating: 2
In MA we never had the choice. When E10 was available it was mandated statewide. Neighboring NH did have E0 and lots of people bought gas over the border because it was cheaper.

Then NH phased in E10. But you never had a real choice, you had to cross counties to get E0. It finally crept northward until all that available at even the gas docks was E10. My boat was newer and FI. Others weren't so "lucky" and boat problems were common.

Consumer choice ... I never saw any.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 7:18:09 PM , Rating: 3
Only 10 states mandated it in 2008, and by 2010 it was only five:
http://www.generalaviationnews.com/2011/08/the-myt...

The rest of the country switched over without state mandates. The RFS impetus was generally 0.5c/gallon or less.


By M'n'M on 10/16/2013 6:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
So tell me how an RFG mandate isn't effectively the same as an E10 mandate ?
http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/gasolinefuels/rfg/ar...

quote:
In reality, 99% of all RFG produced in the nation is E10 and in California all of the gasoline producers are making E10 all the time because it is the most convenient blend to meet RFG requirements, winter oxygenate requirements and their ethanol blending quota.


By maugrimtr on 10/15/2013 8:59:46 AM , Rating: 2
In the world of politics and lobbying, real science is your enemy. It seems fairly clear that both sides (oil and corn) are using flawed studies that would make a scientist giggle.

What's more important really is that the free market is being manipulated for reasons that make no sense. Ethanol increases food prices, its production generates surplus carbon dioxide and (if you examine both studies) probably causes engine damage to some degree. Lump in the fact that using it will void your warranty (assuming you had one) and that you're footing the bill - well, there seem to be a lot of costs (food, taxes, and maintenance) and no actual...what's the word...benefit?

What is Ethanol actually good for? And why is the US driving it? The US and Brazil (which has had Ethanol since forever) made up 87% of world ethanol production. In other words, the rest of the planet knows the US is crazy. This Ethanol insanity is horrific. Imagine what would happen if Europe joined up. The loss in food production would devastate prices once again. There simply isn't enough arable land on the planet to make Ethanol feasible - we need that land already to feed the Human race - not to grow fuel when we already have oil, electric batteries and hydrogen.

Let's reiterate all the costs:
1. It pushes up food prices (you pay for it)
2. It's mandated by government (you pay for it)
3. It probably damages engines (you pay for it)
4. It displaces demand for clean alternatives (you pay for it - ignoring CO2, there's the other gases and particle emissions from ICEs which may cause cancer, asthma, etc. in urban areas which in turn hit healthcare costs and your insurance premiums)

And just to add insult to injury, if you look at the energy balance (i.e. amount of fossil fuel energy units to produce one ethanol energy unit) the result of one fossil fuel unit may be (depending on your source) no more than 1.3 ethanol units. In Brazil, they get 8-9 ethanol units per fossil fuel unit expended. Now you why it has been a no brainer in Brazil since the dawn of time - sugercane growing in a topical climate makes ethanol feasible for their domestic market. Even German biodiesel makes twice as much sense as US corn ethanol.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 10:09:49 AM , Rating: 2
Any time a commodity find a more lucrative use, it's price will go up until production can increase again. Gov't accelerated corn ethanol, but most of the demand was self sustaining. Energy and CO2 don't matter. Only price does.

FYI, corn has fallen in price drastically over the last month now that we've recovered from the drought and yields are good again.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 4:00:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Gov't accelerated corn ethanol, but most of the demand was self sustaining.


And this is a blatant lie! The RFS by it's very nature MANDATES corn be used for fuel. There is NO "self sustaining" demand and there never was.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 5:18:12 PM , Rating: 2
Go read up how the RIN system works before you embarrass yourself any more.

D6 RINs were valued at pennies per gallon before we hit the blending wall in 2013. That means the market hit the mandated levels (and exceeded them) without any interference from the RFS.

Biodiesel (currently $4.50/gal) is an example of a fuel that is only viable through trading of RIN credits. Corn ethanol (currently $1.80/gal) isn't.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 7:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
And it's not just us paying for it. We're responsible for a world-wide spike in food prices, directly as a result of our food-for-fuel policies.

"The United States produces about 40 percent of the global corn supply and is responsible for more than two-thirds of the world's corn exports."


"Last year, the United Nations� Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Food Policy Research Institute, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, The World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund all published studies indicating that Western biofuels policies were largely responsible for the run-up in global food prices."

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/miarticle....


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 3:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
Well Mint I don't think there's much left to say after Jason's epic beatdown on that spaghetti noodle you call a brain. Except that pretty much every subsequent post by you digs the hole you're standing in a bit deeper.

quote:
Banning E15 goes against your own principles, but you're too blinded by gov't hate to notice.


E10/E15 wouldn't exist without the subsidies and the bill signed by Bush. Translation: It exists because of mass market manipulation by the Government.

So I see no need to "ban" ethanol blended fuel, nor did I call for that. Simply put an end to the regulations and subsides, and these fuels would go away on their own.

OR they would persist, on their own.

But they should either go away or remain BECAUSE of purely market forces. Not Government manipulation.

See what your side of the fence never gets is that when the Government interferes with the market by going into areas it shouldn't, there's always an unintended negative consequence.

For more on these unintended consequences, here is what someone who actually worked in the Bush Department of Energy has to say about all this:

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/miarticle....


By Mint on 10/15/2013 7:08:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
OR they would persist, on their own.
Guess what: The subsidies ended at the end of 2011, the mechanism by which the mandate was enforced (RINs) had provably near-zero influence, and ethanol use still persisted.

As I said, but you ignored, I wish we never went down the path of corn ethanol. But we did, and E10 became widespread without refiners getting anything but pocket change for their renewable fuel credits. If they could get even a penny per gallon more profit on E0, they would have sold less ethanol than they did.


By JasonMick (blog) on 10/15/2013 7:43:04 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I'm getting really sick and tired of all these accusations of tainted scientists in every field under the sun.

NREL is right: the CRC studies were complete and utter garbage. They had woefully few samples, and didn't even test E10 as a control (simply assuming it would have no failures).
Unlike you, I did my research and read the source PDF (which is freely available for those interested, as this was a private sector commissioned work, NOT a government funded review, officially... big difference).

From the article.
quote:
The study's general criticism against blocking free market availability of consumer goods makes a valid argument, to an extent.

And the authors have a point...The study's general criticism against blocking free market availability of consumer goods makes a valid argument, to an extent.

In other words automakers are held to a much higher (and more expensive) testing standard than the research studies reviewed in the report, which were admittedly small, short-lived, and inconclusive. But while it's not entirely clear who is right and to what extent, the law makes it clear who will pay if things go wrong -- the automakers.
I'm not attacking the conclusions, or even the NREL researchers decision to leverage their position to get paid to do this review (note: this was a review, NOT research)... after all, they have bills to pay like you or I, and they clearly are experts in their fields.

That said, the Big Ethanol lobby is using this as an argument not only to allow E15 onto the market, but also to continue government market manipulation.

If your premise is that E15 is allowed to be sold, I say "SURE, ABSOLUTELY!"

So you've basically created a strawman:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

To support your point by misrepresenting my position/analysis and then knocking down this faulty misinterpretation to somehow claim that makes your logically deficient argument correct.

But the point of this piece (which you likely missed as clearly you did not read it... at least not carefully) was that the review is being cast in a misleading life, with ethanol lobbyists seemingly arguing it implies that E15 is safe for older vehicles, when the review itself instead suggests that there's significant variability in how it will affect older vehicles, according to the limited research to date... thus it's not a known outcome, it's basically a cr--shoot in layman's terms, for lack of research.

I wonder this -- if it was really safe, why would ethanol not take say $1M USD to prove their point by DOING ACTUAL RESEARCH? That's what automakers have to do, to prove their vehicles are safe in terms of normal fuels and crash safety standards. Why is the ethanol industry exempt from due diligence?

$500K USD, should be enough to buy you at least 2 university professors at a mid-tier college for a year long study, with a small fleet of grad/UG students. Spend the remaining $500K to buy a fleet of 100 different makes and models from 2001 and test them for 50,000+ road miles running pure E15 and carefully documenting their research and publishing it as a journal paper (preferably), or at worst a conference presentation or whitepaper.
If you're selling 14B+ gallons of fuel at $2.50+ USD per gallon, how hard would it be to do this???

But again, you missed my point before because you did not read. I quite explicitly state I agree with much of the review's commentary and conclusions -- I just think there's a clear biasing factor and the summary analysis is being misrepresented in a disingenuous manner.
quote:
And on a fundamental chemistry basis, it makes NO sense for E15 to be so bad for engines but E10 to be fine. It's possible to have a catastrophic difference from 0% to 1%, or 1% to 10%, but not 10% to 15%.
If you had take even a basic undergraduate organic chemistry lab, you should know that a 5 percent difference in purity by no means is trivial chemistry-wise.

You've committed another logical fallacy... appeal to probability...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_probability

i.e. "I think A is probably safe so it is. "

Wrong.

Ironically, there is evidence that your "guess" is not only logically invalid, it is also flat out wrong. You just defended the review which you mistakenly thought I was attacking without bothering to read my commentary in full.

And yet this comment leads me to believe you didn't even read the review.

The review explicitly states that research to date shows that going from E10 to E15 or E20 significantly raises oxygen levels released during the combustion process.

So the study you're defending says you're patently wrong.

Next.
quote:
I too wish we never used corn to make ethanol, but the cat is out of the bag now, and corn can be made into an economically competitive fuel without subsidy.
"I made a bad decision, so now it's too late to make good decisions."

Really?

That's a pretty weak argument.

If the RFS was repealed or amended to eliminate corn ethanol the industry would collapse, as ethanol producers would be forced to actually compete with oil producers and with livestock buyers, rather than essentially be handed a contract by the government that has for the last half decade consistently manipulated the market to promote corn for fuel.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 11:18:48 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Unlike you, I did my research and read the source PDF
I absolutely did read the source, and did so before you posted this article on DT.

quote:
when the review itself instead suggests that there's significant variability in how it will affect older vehicles
No it does NOT suggest that. It suggests there is a possibility of untested engines having problems, but it never states that there is proven variability.

quote:
If you had take even a basic undergraduate organic chemistry lab, you should know that a 5 percent difference in purity by no means is trivial chemistry-wise.
I'm a post-doc that regularly works with chemicals in a cleanroom. I challenge you to name one product that can handle 10% of a chemical but can't handle 15%.

Consider, for example, acetic acid (far more corrosive than ethanol, pKa 4.76). 10%/vol AA with 90% H20 gives you a pH of 2.17 , while 15%/vol AA gives you a pH of 2.26 . Do you expect me to believe that there's a material out there that will last at one pH but not the other? Here's an example of a material's pH dependence on corrosion:
http://nuclearpowertraining.tpub.com/h1015v1/css/h...

I think it's pretty clear who is making handwaving assumptions based on flawed intuition and who understands corrosion by working with real chemicals and doing quantitative analysis.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If engine parts are qualified for E10, there are no known physical processes to suggest that they will have significantly lower durability with E15.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 1:11:33 PM , Rating: 2
Fantastic, DT. I do little more than some objective math in this post, and I get rated down.


By JasonMick (blog) on 10/15/2013 7:43:24 AM , Rating: 4
....(and).....

quote:
We can't undo the technology.
I'm not even sure what your trying to say.

Technology is being "undone" on a daily basis, if it is forced to compete on the free market and found wanting. Just as RIM/BlackBerry.

To argue that our gov't must continue to engage in mass market manipulation because there's technology that supports the recipient, is rather farcical.
quote:
Besides, the effect on prices is overblown.
Oh, thanks for your analysis... you're basing this on what?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_probability

Numerous studies/reviews from researchers who have actually looked at that have said otherwise.

Even from a basic conceptual standpoint are you really insane enough to think that manipulate the market to force several billion dollars in product to be sold that otherwise would have little or no demand will have little effect? The laughs continue.
quote:
In an alternative universe without E10 and the RFS, increased fertilizer costs and an end to subsidies would have raised food prices anyway.
Again this is a guess on your part.

You're basically making a broken window argument, ignoring that you don't know how the market would shift if the government hadn't manipulated it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_window_fallacy

quote:
Just let E15 fail on its own.
Great!

Wait, didn't you just spend a wall of text criticizing me for my critical commentary about the RFS and its role in creating artificial demand for corn ethanol?

So you're basically saying "Just let ethanol fail on its own... by legally regulating that it can not."

Ding ding ding... that's a winning idea... you may yet have a place as a member of Congress. Don't sell yourself short with that kind of radical thinking.
quote:
We already know that the EPA will adjust down the mandated levels of ethanol, as they've done it many times.
Oh my.

So the EPA has extended the deadline for ethanol blending -- once -- which they won't even dignify to term what it really is (a cut), and you automatically assume they'll continue to cut targets? That's wishful thinking to say the least.

The EPA has not cut targets "many times". Your argument is based on inaccurate information. They have cut the target once and ONLY once (and unofficially so) in this reality... Unless you come from that "alternate reality" you previously spoke of, you're quite simply making sh-t up, in layman's terms.

Even if you were right, that'd be a slippery slope (logically weak) argument.

You're whole post seems something like an "If-by-whiskey" argument:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If-by-whiskey

In which you attack corn ethanol to an extent, albeit in a historical context, while beating the drum for it in the present by misrepresenting my statements and blatantly ignoring the government's role in creating artificial demand. In doing so you're trying to play both sides to work up the emotions. Guess what, I'm not buying it, and I doubt your fellow readers will.

You have essentially have shown little to no understanding of the study or my article, both of which it would appear you did not fully read or understand based on your comments.

Government market manipulation for a product that is inferior and historically has been unable to compete is an appalling bad idea. Corn ethanol is a shining example of such a bad decision.

It was likely a waste of effort to debate this with you, but I just didn't want anyone who hadn't read the piece assuming your false statements about it were accurate.


By PaFromFL on 10/15/2013 9:59:31 AM , Rating: 2
Florida got rid of the ethanol mandate, but only a very few stations offer non-ethanol gas. I'm not sure why, but suspect that undoing technology is easier than undoing government corruption.

When you argue with a troll like Mint, he gains some of your credibility and you gain some of his. A better approach might be to just vote him down and ignore him.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 12:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Florida got rid of the ethanol mandate, but only a very few stations offer non-ethanol gas. I'm not sure why, but suspect that undoing technology is easier than undoing government corruption.
Or maybe most people just didn't want to pay more for E0? Do you have a natural aversion to the simplest explanation?


By Mint on 10/15/2013 12:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
To argue that our gov't must continue to engage in mass market manipulation
I never said they must continue. What you quoted is me referring to people upset over the use of a food crop for fuel (and actually includes myself).

The technology is there for $2/gal wholesale corn ethanol without subsidies, and it's never going away.

quote:
Even from a basic conceptual standpoint are you really insane enough to think that manipulate the market to force several billion dollars in product to be sold that otherwise would have little or no demand will have little effect?
Do you even know how the RFS and RIN system works?

Go look at how low pre-2013 D6 RIN prices. That's hard data which disproves your assertion that there is no demand for ethanol fuel without manipulation. The market willingly demanded ethanol in higher volumes than mandated levels . The gov't put in a system to boost demand to minimum levels, but it barely ever had to kick in for ethanol.

Until this year, anyway, because we're hitting the E10 blend wall. But give people the option of E15, and they may well go for it due to lower prices, just like they did with E10.

Or maybe they won't, and the EPA will just reduce its mandated levels (which they're already planning to do).
quote:
Wait, didn't you just spend a wall of text criticizing me for my critical commentary about the RFS and its role in creating artificial demand for corn ethanol?
What? No I didn't. I criticized you for implying NREL was bought, for making unfounded claims about E15 related wear, and for overblowing the gov't role in the adoption of corn ethanol as a fuel.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 3:57:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you even know how the RFS and RIN system works?


Do you?

The Renewable Fuels Standard creates government-guaranteed demand that keeps corn prices high and generates massive farm profits. Removing the tax credit but keeping the RFS is like scraping a little frosting from the ethanol-boondoggle cake.

The RFS mandates that at least 37 percent of the 2011-12 corn crop be converted to ethanol and blended with the gasoline that powers our cars. As a result the current price of corn on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is about triple the pre-mandate level!

And you are actually trying to claim there's no massive market manipulation happening here!?


By Mint on 10/15/2013 6:01:34 PM , Rating: 2
If I mandated 100 millions smartphone to be sold in 2012, would it have made a difference? Of course not, because even more were sold without the mandate anyway.

You clearly don't understand what "mandate" means in this context. Read up on the RIN system to understand how the mandate is enforced.

If there was even an iota of market resistance to E10, then D6 RINs would not be < $0.05/gal for the majority of the 2008-2012 period. The reality is that offering E0 at a higher price (due to costlier fuel) did nothing but give your competitor across the street more business.

Corn - even before RFS - used to be heavily subsidized. That price was not representative of the true growing cost.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 6:04:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If I mandated 100 millions smartphone to be sold in 2012, would it have made a difference? Of course not, because even more were sold without the mandate anyway.


....

Wow, yes, you clearly do NOT get market manipulation at all. At ALL! End of discussion.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 6:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
/facepalm

If the gov't told you that you had to use at least 1 gallon of gasoline next year, would it have any effect on your consumption?

Go read the post below where I explain how the mandate works.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 7:11:30 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, because that 1 gallon would now cost more than it did before. Hypothetically, of course, because using ONE gallon as an example is pretty lame, come on.

Mint in any Government oriented discussion, you suffer from an appalling lack of solid principles that have been time proven.

I seem to recall you making this same kind of argument about Obamacare. How are those health care premiums looking today, have they lowered yet?? hmmm.

Please prove me wrong, and regale me with endless examples of how the consumer has benefited from the Government unilaterally messing with demand and supply and directly manipulating markets. Good luck!


By Mint on 10/16/2013 1:54:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yes, because that 1 gallon would now cost more than it did before.
WTF? No it wouldn't. That doesn't make sense in any way.

If you normally consume >1 gallon, then the gov't doesn't do anything (and you do, which is my point). But even if you didn't, then how would a higher price compel you to buy?

quote:
Mint in any Government oriented discussion, you suffer from an appalling lack of solid principles that have been time proven.
Reclaimer, in any discussion at all, you suffer from an appalling lack of aptitude, and it has been proven time and time again.

You'll applaud the most ridiculous pseudoscientific spiel if it supports your beliefs. Case in point:
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=29884...

quote:
I seem to recall you making this same kind of argument about Obamacare. How are those health care premiums looking today, have they lowered yet?? hmmm.
Doesn't surprise me that you'll make up BS out of thin are. I challenge you to find me saying anything of the sort regarding Obamacare.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/16/2013 5:58:40 PM , Rating: 2
Sigh...

If the Government mandates that we have to consume X amount of product, the price automatically increases. This is simply stuff!

Why? Because supply and demand mechanisms used to control prices are now broken. If you HAVE to buy something, if it's no longer a willing purchase, there is NO incentive for suppliers to be competitive for your business.

It's like you choose to only see one side of the equation! You're smarter than this, come on.

Going back to your silly "one gallon" example, it doesn't matter that I normally consume over one gallon. Suppliers don't care. All they know is that there is now a FORCED demand for something, and they WILL raise their prices.


By Mint on 10/17/2013 12:57:16 AM , Rating: 2
Did the gov't knock on your door and tell you how much E10 to buy? You think RFS can just snap its fingers and change what people buy? Yes, a few states started mandated E10, but the rest didn't.

Nobody said you HAVE to buy E10. The RFS has no mechanism for the mandate on the consumer side. It does it on the producer side.

What they do is tell refiners that if they want to sell X gallons of gasoline, they need to acquire, say, 0.08X RINs. You can get RINs by blending or by buying someone else's.

So tell me: what is the market distortion if RINs are basically free pre-2013? The punishment for selling more E0 instead of E10 was less than 0.5 cents per gallon most of the time before 2013. That's wholly insignificant.

You don't understand jack about supply and demand. Prices go up only if there are supply issues. There's no ethanol cartel like there is with oil. Ethanol producers won't raise their prices for the same reason Samsung doesn't for smartphones, despite growing demand: if they raise prices for no reason, someone else will steal your business.

Suppliers have to compete with EACH OTHER. It doesn't matter whether the demand is forced or voluntary. All that matters is that the demand exists.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 12:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
One more thing
quote:
They have cut the target once and ONLY once
For corn ethanol, yes, because this is the only time that the market didn't hit the desired levels on its own. But they've done it repeatedly for cellulosic ethanol for the same reason. And they'll do it again whenever the situation arises.

The fact that they are doing so flies in the face of conspiracy theories of the EPA being beholden to corn lobbyists or green investors. Cellulosic ethanol producers hate that the EPA lowered targets, and are leaving the business.


By Shadowmaster625 on 10/15/2013 8:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
Corn will NEVER be made into an economically competitive fuel without subsidy. Corn is a hugely wasteful crop. It consumes massive amounts of inputs for very little in return. It is nothing but a sick joke that they chose corn out of all the potential crops. That reeks of eugenics. They want to us consume all the natural gas and water as fast as possible so they can rule the fiefdom again just like in the days of old. If we were even halfway intelligent about biofuels we would be growing hemp for fuel instead of corn. But even then the EROI is abysmal.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 12:56:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Corn will NEVER be made into an economically competitive fuel without subsidy. Corn is a hugely wasteful crop. It consumes massive amounts of inputs for very little in return.
News flash: it already is.

It doesn't matter that corn wastes energy. All that matters is cost. OPEC has restricted their output to the point that oil is ~$100/barrel and spot prices of gas are $2.50-$3.

Corn producers can blow as much energy as they want if they can significantly beat that price, just like oil sands and shale oil producers can have awful EROI compared to regular oil but will still make money if total cost is well below $100/bbl. Transportation fuel and natural gas have an order of magnitude difference in price per BTU.

I don't like corn ethanol, but this is how the world works.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 3:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure you're understanding how the whole world works here either.

Without the subsidies ethanol producers and corn growers would have to SIGNIFICANTLY increase their pricing to remain in business.

The only reason ethanol is perceived as being "cheaper", is because the Government is largely underwriting the true costs at the pump.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 5:39:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Without the subsidies ethanol producers and corn growers would have to SIGNIFICANTLY increase their pricing to remain in business.

The subsidies were terminated at the end of 2011. Let's see if you're right:
http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=979...
Whoops. Try again.

Here are today's prices, if you're curious:
http://www.progressivefuelslimited.com/Web_Data/pf...
~$1.70/gal ethanol, $2.65/gal gasoline


By Reclaimer77 on 10/15/2013 5:48:17 PM , Rating: 2
As I've already explained, the subsidy ended but the RFS mandates are essentially doing the same thing as the subsidy by ensuring artificial demand that keeps corn prices high and generating massive farm profits.

Claiming that the subsidies ended so all is well and good is morally and intellectually bankrupt at best, lying at worst.

Demand for ethanol is driven by the mandates, not by the tax credit. When you take away the tax credit, nothing happens: Demand stays high because the law says so, corn prices go up accordingly, and corn farmers stay rich. The subsidies were a nice little fillip on top of that, but at this point it's basically chump change.

So there you have it. The fairy tale version of the story was nice, but it turns out that ethanol subsidies didn't go away after all. That's true both literally (most of the subsidy money was redirected to other, smaller-bore ethanol initiatives) and in the bigger picture, where mandates provide the same benefit without being quite so obvious about it. Corn farmers have learned what so many other special interests before them have learned: A nice, quiet subsidy is always better and safer than a garish, noisy one. Now that's what they have.


By Mint on 10/15/2013 6:49:56 PM , Rating: 2
Just how do you think the mandate is enforced, exactly? You think the EPA rolls a dice to decide which gas stations have to switch to E10?

No. It's done through a market system. Say you're a refinery that prices E0 at $2.60/gal and E10 at $2.50/gal. If you don't blend enough ethanol, then you're obligated to buy RINs from someone to make up the difference. But if credits cost only 5c/gal, then selling extra E0 instead of E10 only penalizes you 0.5c/gal , so you'd rather just take the 10c/gal extra revenue.

Unless, of course, nobody wants to pay more for E0. Then you just sell E10, because it costs less for you to make.

Got it?

Now let's say that at natural prices, the market didn't want as much E10 as the EPA mandated. Then every refiner would be looking to buy credits. Supply and demand: those credits start fetching a tidy sum of maybe $1/gal. Refiners that sell more ethanol (e.g. by selling at a loss) get to sell credits and profit.

That's why RIN prices are an indicator of market manipulation by the RFS. 2012 and earlier priced RINs almost free.

In 2013, RIN prices shot up. That is indeed a sign of the EPA trying to ram through more sales of ethanol than the blend wall allows. But before 2013, ethanol demand came without influence from RINs. With the reduced targets for 2014, RINs will be cheaper again.


By Motoman on 10/15/2013 10:26:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The study [PDF] was not even a peer-reviewed literature review, much less a peer-reviewed scientific study


This wasn't science. It was propaganda.


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