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Subject:  Re: Flawed Ethanol Study Date:  7/22/2005  9:25 PM
Author:  mschmit Number:  9630 of 18731

The Ethanol put down study refured too by many in the above Ethanol replies in the Utilities section is pretty much Biased and flawed. It is biased because if you the authors especially the one from Berkley you will see he is more or less knee deep in oil.

I've seen it elsewhere so I think I know about the study you are talking about.

But let's look at this in a scientific way, without the emotion of oil. Some studies, like this one have shown that ethanol costs more in terms of energy use, than it gains. Something like 110% or 120%...maybe more energy in for each 100% out. The most favorable studies say something like 80% in for 100% out. I don't know who is right or wrong...but it is a valid question. And I'm sure that some farmers and production techniques are better and more energy-efficient than others.

Like one writer said in a previous reply above if Oil production considered the cost to mine and produce the iron ore into steel that went into the oil rigs and the oil trucks then we could make a fine case that maybe oil production cost 2 dollars for every dollars worth of oil.

I think that you'd be wrong. But just to be fair you'd need to consider the same things for the steel used in the tractors and ethanol plant, etc. The reason that I think this is wrong is that the oil industry became profitable bearing all the costs of drilling long ago. Oil competed (in some uses) with coal...and coal was the primary energy source used to make steel. Oil had to be a net gain in energy and dollars to be a profitable business. Oil is a huge business. If it is a net energy loss, where is the energy coming from?

Also, it is not a question of is a question of energy balance. Most studies show that around 85% of oil's energy makes it into the gasoline at the pump. IOW, for every 15 units of energy spent you get 85 units out. Whereas, for ethanol the numbers are something like 15 units of energy in and 12 units out (the pessimistic study) or 18 units out (the most optimistic). (I've applied a 20% gain or 20% loss depending on who might be considered "correct.") When you look at it this way you can see why ethanol is so questionable from a pure energy-balance point of view. Its sort of like the difference between finding some logs to burn to heat your home vs having to plant and harvest your own trees. Its very true that just finding logs is cheating from a renewable point of view, but that doesn't automatically change the energy balance equation.

...Automobile energy pie we will see continued attacks by the big Oil boys who have had the sand box all to themselves now for 100 years.
Its tough to move over and share but it is on its way for those guys.

Like I say...I don't care who is proven correct. But every business tries to protect their market. The ethanol lobby does the same. They get nice government subsidies that tend to shield the reality of whether or not their product is efficient to make. I'd like the ethanol producers themselves to answer the energy balance question. Here's how: create a large enough farm and ethanol plant. Use nothing but ethanol to run the farm and plant and have some left over. Enough left over that it unquestionably makes up for any oil consumables, such as fertilizer.

We require drug companies to do scientific tests (i.e. double blind studies) before allowing new drugs on the market. Why not such a somewhat scientific study on ethanol before we require/encourage its use. may cost more in dollars for the ethanol...and I think that would be OK, to a point. But the energy balance question is real and should be easy to answer with a proper test.


I know that people talk about all the subsides that oil gets. For example, the military costs, etc. But these are political costs...due to world politics. These subsidies have nothing to do with the energy balance of the cost of drilling, refining and delivering of oil, AFAIK. I think it is fair to try and discuss this from a science only viewpoint. Reasonable people mostly agree that oil will run out and/or be more difficult to obtain (physically or politically). The question is, of the alternatives, which is most cost effective for which purpose. We shouldn't be saying ethanol is good because its not oil.

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