In Brazil they are using ethanol from sugarcane since 1980s with great success. But here in US ethanol is made from corn which is a major source for a variety of products. Some claims that engine that uses ethanol is not powerful. In cities you don't need a powerful car!
Once again you are showing that average American does not know where the bulk of oil import is coming from. For the month of May only 29% of imported oil is from Middle East. Most is coming from our neighbors: Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Ethanol from switchgrass or other plants might be viable in some areas but not from corn. With currently existing technology ethanol is very expensive and dirty. It only appears to be clean because people don't think about all that goes into getting it to the pump, and it only appears to be inexpensive at the pump because taxpayer dollars are being poured into it. Once people have other options and government subsidies stop, ethanol will not be able to stand on its own.
The subsidy only makes oil companies want to sell gas that contains 10% ethanol. It does not directly effect the profit of making a gallon of ethanol. Ethanol is made mostly from natural gas, and as such will be cheaper compared to oil as oil prices increase. At 25 cents a gallon profit corn ethanol is more profitable then oil refining.
Appreciate all your responses. Here's the final question for me. Do we know whether ethanol from switch grass or forest waste (cellulosic distillation) or citrus peels (etc) - not grain, could ever be a fuel worth pursuing, given the energy necessary to produce it?
Of course we do. Range Fuels is building a plant in Georgia to gasify forest biomass waste and make million of gallons of ethanol at $1 per gallon. They would not be doing this is they were losing money.
Great Answer! You beat me to the punchline. People should quit balling up ethanol with the price of your stupid corn. I can't believe in 2008 in the United States of America we would have people wining about corn so much when the price of all food has gone up. Yes corn prices have increased, but so has everything else the only thing decreasing is the value of the dollar.
Quit crying about ethanol if you do not realize that ethanol can be made for $1.00 per gallon using no food crops. You winers are going to keep paying for your foreign oil. The smart people are going to make our fuel in the U.S.
You're right on the syngas part, but think chemistry instead of biology. The Pearson Process runs the syngas through a catalyst to produce alcohols directly... No tempermental bugs to deal with... Read more on George Johnson's profile:
Gasification is definitely real. It has been proven over many decades. Companies like Range Fuels and Syntec are gasifying farm and forest waste to methanol and ethanol.
It is very easy to gasify biomass waste to synthesis gas and synthesize methane. Some people associate biomass and methane with digesters. Gasification is much more cost effective and and produces many different kinds of fuels much more quickly for higher volumes at lower costs.