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30 comments

Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

Posted December 19, 2009 8:02 AM

In January, 2010, California fuel suppliers will be operating under the state's new Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Over the next 10 years, the life cycle carbon usage of vehicular fuels must be reduced by 10%, with the aim of an improving market for low-carbon alternatives. One big complication is how to compute indirect land use changes, like clearing forests to grow corn. In this scenario, gasoline actually beats ethanol's LCFS rating. LCFS is certainly the first regulation to look at the big picture, but does it get us where we need to go?

The preceding article is a "sneak peek" from Oil & Gas Technology, a newsletter from GlobalSpec. To stay up-to-date and informed on industry trends, products, and technologies, subscribe to Oil & Gas Technology today.

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#1

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/19/2009 10:13 AM

Hmm... California huh...

Couldnt Allow Legalized Information For Other Needs In America.

That sounds about right.

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#2

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/19/2009 10:32 AM

Or

Containment Area for Lunatics In Federally Organized Regional Network In America

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/19/2009 11:05 PM

"Containment Area for Lunatics In Federally Organized Regional Network In America"

Hey Tcmtech! Quit picking on our Air Resources Board. They can't help it that they were appointed by politicians for their political correctness rather than any level of engineering or scientific expertise.

RANT: BTW, ethanol belongs in good beer and wine and certain sacred distilled spirits. That's it. Well maybe as a thinner for shellac. Corn is to eat, not to fuel SUV's. Somebody needs to tell the corporate farmers back East to stick to producing food and leave the motor fuel business to someone else.

The cheapest ear of corn in our local markets this year was 69 cents. That's ridiculous, especially when we grow huge amounts of it right here in the San Joaquin Valley. Guess why?

End rant. What was the OP question? Oh yeah, something about reducing carbon emissions from automobiles. Well, they can start by improving mileage and swithching over to compressed natural gas (CNG). T. Boone Pickens had a good idea for CNG even though I didn't think much of his trying to cram it down the throats of California in a past election.

One statement in one of the links caught my attention:

"The California Air Resources Board in Sacramento has determined that charging an electric vehicle will result in 43 percent as much carbon dioxide emissions, mile for mile, as burning gasoline."........... I wonder where the CARB got that 43% number considering that California buys huge amounts of power off the grid already from coal burning powerplants in other western states to supplement that produced by natural gas plants and other carbon neutral CA power sources. Start charging batteries in large numbers of electric vehicles and the incremental power will come from coal plants since we are building almost no new power generating capacity in CA.

Well, possibly they are figuring all the charging will be done at night when less power is bought off the grid and a greater proportion comes from natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear plants. Some how I have trouble believing the CARB. That may not be fair. But after some of the stunts they have pulled (MTBE) and idiotic industrial prohibitions in Southern CA their credibility is a bit week.

Ed Weldon

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/19/2009 11:21 PM

It's not just California. Right now, most of the non-fossil fuel plants run full power overnight. If we use electric vehicles, that's when most of them will be recharged. The result is, the fossil fuel plants will have to provide all the additional power. Most (maybe all) the estimates I see ignore this.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/19/2009 11:37 PM

The ethanol scheme is a good way for cattle farmers to get cheap feed [brewers waste]. one of the unspoken subsidies to corporate farmers.

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#12
In reply to #3

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 11:16 AM

Hi Ed Weldon,

I agree what you say. However, more than 100 years ago someone decided to use gasoline to run cars. Billions of $ was invested to find oil or other sources to produce this liquid at the lowest price and everyone can buy a car and use gasoline. Today, diesel is not accepted as valueable energy supply, cleaner or not. Samething with lead-free and ordinary gasoline. However, hamburger business took at least 50% of the kithen business. What's the problem to make changes. Corporate CEOs understand human. Humanity doesn't like changes, this is our nature. I think, everything is seen as a business and decided to make a reality by big corporations who are influencials. America produced big cars in the 50s and 60s. The Japanese entered into the car market by making small cars. What's happened with VW? they did the reverse! Japanese are succeeded to impose small cars because gasoline was not available at low price to everyone. So, shortage of and lack of money maked that possible. Came the revenge before the realisation that we have not enough for us, the rich countries, and much less or nothing for the poor. Bin Laden and Somalian kidnappers are people at the poor side. When we push to produce corn for gasoline, we take away food from poor countries' people. What will happen?

Why we don't have a decision, uniform decision established by scientifics and politicians from rich and poor countries that "this is the solution" for the next 50 or 100 years. Money will be available and it's realisation will be rapid and satisfactory for everyone.

Do I dream? Yes, but after visiting countries where pollution is so big that you cannot see the asphalt from the 18th floor and you are in a yellowish cloud everywhere and all the time. Your eyes are crying for pur air. After three days, I was forced to leave a town of over 4 million people living in this condition for decades.

I get old and I would like to see someone smart enough to make this decision to help humanity to survive and have a better life. In the past, one single lettre from one person created the Manhattan Project to finish WWII. Linous Pauling alone was able to eliminate atomic explosions in the atmosphere. And, we have more. Why another individual cannot do the decision for energyfor cars and for other purposes, Where she/he is hiding?

Probably, we have to dig deep to find the right person or organization. Let's dig for it, Gil.

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#15
In reply to #3

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 2:35 PM

They can't help it that they were appointed by politicians for their political correctness rather than any level of engineering or scientific expertise.

On the contrary they can refuse to become another brick in the wall!

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 4:08 PM

bwire -- You are expecting a lot of rational human beings who are offered access to a wonderful expense account by their political friends. ......... Ed Weldon

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 9:23 PM

They should know better, many politicians are criminals not yet caught, lay with dogs get fleas

The expense acct is connected to a job description replete with responsibilities, dishonorable conduct of an official duty is crime.

Ethanol is a good product, it's used in many processes but it is a poor substitute for bread. Soon we will have a few additions to the present refugee camps, Africa, some Asia, Argentina and Bolivia to name a few. Once they fall into the trap of allowing others to provide for them they are done, add them to the welfare rolls or exploit them at will. How many millions died as a direct result of the corn for fuel program, ten million in 2008?

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 10:36 AM

Hello Bwire,

I wish you read my comments. During the last day I think about politicians and what was done important by Pauling and other scientifics. They did without any politicians involved in negotiations or writing a complicated letter.

Please, forget politicians and let scientists do the job. Scientists are doers and get the facts, and they are able to express themselves enough clearly to convince authorities and governments to act in the right direction.

What energy supply we have without touching and eliminating. First, we have rays coming from our Sun and space. Second, air is around us at a certain and variable speed. Third, we are surrounded by water, which can be used and returned to nature, and recuperated again for same or another purposes.

For example, I am a coating scientist using water for waterbourne coatings, which are applied and let evaporate water, which return to nature as vapour, condensed into clouds and return to Earth as rain, and we can reuse it for many things. Water recycled doesn't lost its status or chemical composition.

However, corn turned to ethanol never return to be corn again. We will work to grow and at the end, we waste a certain quantity of weight, the number of pounds or kilos of corn after the combustion of the ethanol.

Air is the same, we use in one place moving one turbine creating electricity, and the same air can move the next turbine and the next without alteration of the air. Perfect as ecological energy creator. Infra-red rays can create elecricity for the upcoming million years without any transformation by human. The Sun is still there for longtime to supply for us what we need without wastes and destruction.

Pffoo! Finally, it came out and I am lighter by much. I wish my explanation worth something to someone who can use it to influence others. Bwire and all other readers, accept my best Season's greetings, Gil.

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#6

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/19/2009 11:47 PM

I have yet to see a comparison between the amount of carbon dioxide per unit of energy extracted for gasoline and ethanol. I suspect, however, that one would find it quite similar, since the burning of gasoline and the burning of ethanol both involve the breaking of carbon bonds to produce energy. The same volume of ethanol will yield significantly less carbon dioxide than gasoline, but how much energy is available? Ethanol is still a carbon-based fuel, something conveniently ignored by the promoters...

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#10
In reply to #6

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 1:38 AM

I have yet to see a comparison between the amount of carbon dioxide per unit of energy extracted for gasoline and ethanol.

The GREET spreadsheets contain this information. (The 1.8c version is more up to date than the version I have on my computer, which is a standard Excel spreadsheet. I didn't download the more recent version, because is sounded like a bigger deal than just downloading a spreadsheet.)

The GREET figures provide for slicing this stuff in many ways, but one handy figure is the amount of CO2 generated from well to pump (or plug), and another is the amount generated from pump (or plug) to wheels (for vehicles). This is expressed in grams per million BTU.

For electricity: 227,785g well to plug, 0g plug to wheels

For ethanol: 2095, 74,925

For biodiesel: -33,442, 79,993

For gasoline: 21,435, 76,839

The GREET figures include other fuel possibilities, but from these you can see that electricity is the worst, by far; biodiesel is the best, ethanol is pretty good, and gasoline is worse than ethanol.

If it were not for the need for creating ethanol from a feedstock (i.e., if you could just squeeze the stuff out of leaves) then ethanol would be carbon negative, but of course it is not, because carbon source energy is used in the process, and because CO2 is given off in the process.

For vehicle use, electricity looks better, because these "grams per million BTU" figures do not take into account vehicle engine (or motor + charging) efficiency, which is on the order of 75%-80% for electric cars vs 20% (average in actual driving) for gasoline.

Overall, electric cars create less CO2 at the power plant than gasoline cars do at the tailpipe, but the difference is not anywhere near as great as many electric car boosters (and the Automotive X Prize rules) suggest. The Tesla, for example, can reasonably be considered a 36 MPGe* car (rated well-to-wheels) which is better than the Lotus from which it was developed. The X Prize people, however, consider it a 109 MPGe car, with is pretty silly. They measure only from plug to wheels, so the huge losses at the power plant (which give electricity the big CO2 number) are completely ignored. The fact that the Tesla CEO is on the board of the X Prize foundation might help explain the rules structure.

* The GM EV1, which was far more efficient than the Tesla, was rated 59 MPGe, and consumed 190 watt-hours per mile. The Tesla consumes 310 watt-hours per mile: "greener" than a Hummer, but not a green as a Prius or Jetta diesel.

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#28
In reply to #10

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/23/2009 3:05 PM

If I eat a large bean burrito I expel methane. I'm my own fuel source. I could run a tube from my backside to my intake manifold and drive across town. Forget green, go brown.

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/23/2009 3:40 PM

Please, Szwasta you are funny but change yourself or get out of the subject. You mixed up colours! I hope you are not from Mirtle Beach and particularly on Clark Road. I have smart friend there. No one need your comments as you injected some innovative thought and your colourful idea. Grow up and make your intake of burrito for yourself but watch your belly after too much beans, Gil.

N.B.: For the environment green is better than brown. Just compare a green tree to a brown tree, which is just burned down. The beans are hard!

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#30
In reply to #6

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

01/11/2010 2:43 PM

Happy New Year CWarner,

We can forget all comparisons. We have to concentrate on energy supply do not involve any vegetables or other C containing raw materials to produce it. What we have? We have the Sun to use with solar panels. We have water to use at hydro dams. Also we have wind to produce energy. We have to forget nuclear!

We have to concentrate on those three (3) sources. Yes, everyone need to accept and think how to get out the maximum energy for us from those supplies. THe water is already in operation with some dammges around the dams but we can live with it. Wind is coming under control, so we have to work on it. Solar panels are useful, I agree, not for everyone but can be improved and serve most of the population. Also, the combination of all three together can be the solution?

Let me know, Gil.

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#7

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/20/2009 7:47 AM

Just remember that those foamy heads you get on top of the mash you're fermenting to make the ethanol is comprised largely of CO2.

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#8

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/20/2009 8:13 AM

Ethanol is actually a lousey fuel. Cars running E85 get much worse mileage than on regular gasoline. Ethanol also absorbs water. The fusel oil from a poor fermentation would be a better fuel. If the yeasts could be tuned to produce butanol, or isobutanol, that would be a much better performing fuel. I'm glad another post pointed out the foam on the mash is CO2! Is that considered by the Air Heads?

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#14
In reply to #8

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 2:25 PM

Yes ethanol use is higher than petrol, it is partially oxidised ethane. But what a wonderful fuel it is, completely miscible with water so no water separating in your tank (in fact that is a good way to get it out of your petrol tank - throw in some alcohol), your body can digest it so, in sensible quantities, it won't poison you, it has a fantastic octane rating so bump up your compression to get better power AND economy (how often do you get both).

I could go on ...

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#9

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/20/2009 1:48 PM

If we could get the politicians and the "environmentalists to just quit breathing.That would reduce the amount of CO2 here in California by 75% alone......Well maybe the decimal point was missed placed in my calculations.........But who is going to check????? The media never does........

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#16
In reply to #9

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 3:24 PM

Hi The Wrench,

I am with you for the politicians but no go for the "environmentalists". The last, they want to be scientists and politicians at the same time, which is wrong and they cannot really convince people that they are good, sincere, and realistic. Humanity refuses changes like I said, and they are not believing in many environmentalists because they talk too much and to widely.

Remember, politicians talk and scientics do! In this case only the combination could be the winner!

Scientists cannot talk convincing ways but politicians can do the trick, so, we need these two types of people to work hard to make solid and practical decisions. Again, few people made big decisions, alone or in small groups does the wants and needs. When everyone is involved, catastroph or rejection follows.

Concerning your fast growing plant, I would like to see the blend of bamboo, growing very fast and being rich in fermentables for the first one to three years, with some fast growing herb or grass.

Interesting! Please, follow up! I want to know more about exceptional turnarounds! Thanks to all and all must accept my best "Season's Greetings", Gil.

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#24
In reply to #9

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 3:20 PM

After seeing how the "Politicians" shamelessly held out for and accepted bribes to sell their votes for the health care bill, my blood is boiling! Those greedy, self-serving SOB's won't listen to facts of science in any debate about fuel sources. They will only listen to the facts of campaign donations from vested interest lobbyists like ADM and Cargill. This is business as usual? I thought there was an "equal protection under the law" clause in some irrelevant document called the U.S. Constitution, yet Nebreska and Louisiana got protection a little more equal than the rest of us.I'm ready for the South to seceed again! Yes, I'm off-topic, but I'm pissed! You can't trust the polititians to make rational, logical choices about energy choices or anything else any more!

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#27
In reply to #24

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 4:32 PM

Hello my friend Wcfloyd,

Don't be upset or hungry. Forget all politicians. They have their agendas and we are out of their view. All the best, Gil.

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#11

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 8:38 AM

It boggles the mind sometimes what passes for green. Given the scarcity of water out west, it doesn't make a lot of sense to divert is use for the manufacture of a fuel of inferior energy density. More proof that bureaucrats can't be trusted to make rational decisions.

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#13

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/21/2009 2:18 PM

This is a great subject as this topic has been missing some very salient points, such as the need to use food sources such as corn.

Just supposed if one could come across a plant (weed) that will grow in most any soil conditions, what I like to call "junk soil".

Now just suppose that this plant could then turn some very nasty soils like the Wyoming wild lands into row crop land in 5 to 10 years.

Just suppose that this "weed" could produce about 800 gallons per acre compared to corn at best 400 gallons per acre. Remember that corn requires the use of those nasty pesticides or modified genes to survive in today's world.

Just suppose that this wonder plant will not only grow but thrive in harsh weather like that that Wyoming or New Mexico can produce.

Can be self seeding, without needing to purchase seeds every year. Can be used to extract a very wide variety of inulin ( we now import this from Europe and there is no organic available).

Can also produce a substitute for potatoes that diabetics can eat.

Envision what this can mean for economy in 5 to 10 years after it starts to mature and all of the additional benefits can be extracted.

There is just such a plant and it is called Jerusalem Artichokes. There is much baggage that this lowly plant carries that was due to greedy opportunist, big corporation greed, unskilled attempts to produce the basic harvesting machinery and many other items. A lot happened in the early 1980's with this plant to bring it into the marketplace, it was destined to fail for numerous reasons, even to a book published called "The Great Jerusalem Artichoke Circus". This book was written in an attempt to destroy any future attempts to bring this to the world, but the most interesting thing is the author did not say one word about the plant itself, only the events surrounding it. The book is lacking in a critical analysis of the plant and just an attempt to throw a smokescreen over the plant itself.

As I was the leading contractor for a method of harvesting this plant in 1984 and constructed a harvesting machine. This machine was put into use after a few weeks of in-field debugging and started harvesting in the "junk soil" that was on the site. This was two 40+ acres that were being used in this area for testing in the adobe like clay soil, believe me this only would support jack rabbits, antelope and buffalo.

My only iron in this fire is that I would like to see some effort to use this plant in future trials and studies. All the data and engineering is still on file as I have believed in this plant from the very start and will continue to believe because of the data not anything political.

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#20
In reply to #13

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 11:09 AM

Hi Freflyte,

Read one of my previous comments about clean, green, and environmentally friendly energy is available for all of us. "Rays" from Sun and space, "air", and lots of "water".

We have to plant corn and artichoke, and/or many other plants, supply water and other nutriments, agents or chemicals for protection against variations of temperature and humidity, invasion of insects or other animals, and other destroying attacks. Finally, we have to harvest, transport, and transform to ethanol or other alcohol to obtain the final product, the desired "combustible". It's painful and costly.

Without critics to anyone's idea, my proposal of using those three natural, existing, and permenantly available energy supplies is the most efficient, less effort demanding but can cost something equal or more than corn or other plants.

Example, Quebec's hydro-electricity infrastructure with some transformation about the surrounding environment but not really detrimental. This project, about four decades old, never destroyed nothing, just changed the animals and plants location without waste from nature. Water is coming and going continually!

Samething happening with wind turbines all around the world. Little changes for big contribution without any or very small amount of waste, mainly at the original moments.

At present, solar panels are costly but when they are in place, do the job without any extra effort and any wastes.

Let me know if I am in good or bad direction to save the Earth. Best season's greetings from Gil.

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 1:30 PM

On the rusty paint thread

you were hell bent for leather against using alcohol as a solvent, here you're advocating it's use as a fuel?

when you use water for the carrier in paint, more than just the water is evaporated into the atmosphere. Proclaiming water based coatings as viable alternative to other VOC's is naive at best

& while there may be no detrimental effects to the immediate area from Quebec's hydro project's, there are certainly effects [changes] all the way to the gulf of Mexico

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 2:29 PM

Hi Garthh,

Sorry but I never advocated for ethanol as energy supply! I have some suggestions about create replacement for gasoline with the crossbreeding bamboo with another plant or herb at place of corn, which is useful to nourish humanity.

Also, waterbourne paints are more environmentally friendly than solvent containing. Solvent cost more and most of them are flammable and/or toxic. Certain waterbourne don't releases only a few "ppm" of like you try to tell, toxic or dangerous.

For me, gasoline or ethanol, both are bad! We should have electric cars, electric public transportation, electric trains, and why not electric airplanes!!? Around 150 years ago we don't have gasoline propulsed cars, and we survived but if we continue the way we pollute and being careless as we are, gasoline use will kill more and more people around the world. Ask the Chinese government: How many people die every year due to tabagism and pollution combined sickness? I was there, and see how they live or survive in the air they breathe.

When someone open its eyes to the world, this person starts to understand it and accept that we have to change something. Garthh, find out what change we have to do and promote it. All the best for the end of the year 2009, Gil.

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#23
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Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 3:18 PM

We have to plant corn and artichoke, and/or many other plants, supply water and other nutriments, agents or chemicals for protection against variations of temperature and humidity, invasion of insects or other animals, and other destroying attacks. Finally, we have to harvest, transport, and transform to ethanol or other alcohol to obtain the final product, the desired "combustible". It's painful and costly.

Your words

You keep being a cheerleader for waterbased coating as if

water good everything else bad...

A few parts per million still count

Your logic & explanations are incoherent

I guess it loses something in the translation.....

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#26
In reply to #23

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 4:28 PM

Rehi Garthh,

Yes, it's painful and costly to produce ethanol or its family by planting corn or artichokes. Imagine the land, which will not produce wheat or rice or ... to nourish people around. For example, in Africa, the land is in shortage and fertile land is practically non-existant. And you want to produce ethanol in Africa and somewhere else?

Remember, around 6 to 8,000 years ago, agriculture started by burning forests to get space. We continue to do the same in the Brazil and other part of the Equator for more space. Finally, we don't have leafs to absorb "CO2". Ah, we have corn leafs to do the job. Does it the same efficient way? Please, tell me.

I am not a cheerleader, my age and I don't want to act "directly" on the imagination of men's libido during an NFL or basketball game. But, I suggest waterbourne coatings to everyone, it's healthier. The few "ppm" of impurities did not hurt people using my products, I have pregnant women used during the last 5 years, compared to solvent containing coatings or paints, they use masks with Oxygen supply, including shellac dissolved in alcohol or epoxies with ketones and "n-Butanol". Smell once this last and wish you good appetite.

Also, I promote, this is just between you and me, two-pack solventless, 100% solids epoxies, mainly for anti-corrosive characteristics and flooring applications in heavy traffic areas.

Another things, everything else than water is not necessarily bad but I prefer water, can I?

Everything is coherent when we have everything electric produced by all three sources, "rays", "air", and "water". We know practically all about technologies and we have to promote them. This last, the promotion of a new idea, is the hardest to make, and I don't need any translation about it.

Keep well Garthh and call me again, Gil.

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#25
In reply to #22

Re: Gasoline Good, Ethanol Bad?

12/22/2009 4:25 PM

Hi Gil,

I was a tad rude to you in a previous thread, but I like to try understand where people are coming from;

"replacement for gasoline with the crossbreeding bamboo with another plant or herb at place of corn, which is useful to nourish humanity."

I'll confess to not having read this discussion fully, or having read all you previous, but that is an excellent point to make. The issue of growing crops for fuel versus food is an excellent one to bring up. I don't know the answers to this, but it's a point worthy of discussion. First hit on a google - It doesn't take much to see how complicated the issue is.

My 2 cents is on nuclear, all the eco type schemes will just not make it. We haven't a chance of making good on promises about Carbon emissions without it, but given the time it takes to construct, I'm more than a bit pessimistic. Talk about 'hot air'

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