Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: What about the 90% oil mandate? (Score 1) 314

by OwenTheContrarian (#45720833) Attached to: Lawmakers Out To Kill the Corn-Based Ethanol Mandate

Right now the EPA allows the oil companies to enjoy a 90% (actually now 85%) mandate. There really cannot be a contender against a product that enjoys that level of policy protection. Ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, algal biodiesel, biobutanol, you name it. None can contend if the government says they don't get market access based on cost competitiveness. Look how mad people get if they cannot sell their extra electricity into the grid because the sine wave is not 'pure'. We mostly agree that anyone who is making electricity should be able to sell the excess, but that is not the case with biofuels.

Comment: Hypocrisy, maybe? (Score 2) 185

by OwenTheContrarian (#36997196) Attached to: China's 5-Year Cyberwar Met With Western Silence
Really, who would cry foul when we are doing the exact same thing? Sure, our companies may be upset, but there is little chance any Federal agencies will lend real support when we are actively pursuing intelligence and assisting with cyber-attacks. Does anyone really believe that the Israelis managed the sophisticated Stuxnet attack on the Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges all by themselves? The cold war is not dead, it just went cyber, and the list of hostiles grew exponentially.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36485220) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
Very interesting, I had not seen that study, in spite of a lot of looking. The manufacturer's claims for higher mileage are obviously not borne out by the tests. Since the engine does develop more HP with ethanol, I would have expected that for a given highway speed, the economy would have been higher than at the same speed using gas.

The only conclusion I can draw is that the injectors are putting substantially more ethanol in per power stroke, and that would indicate a very wide-band injector, which is entirely likely.

This makes sense, I guess, if the stoichiometric ratios for gas and ethanol are close to each other. If a shorter injector pulse makes the mixture too lean, then engine damage could result. Therefore, it is not possible with that arrangement to take advantage of the higher compression, since lots of fuel is being used to keep the engine from getting lean. Back to the drawing board, I guess. Thanks for the link to that study!

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36480110) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
We covered the corrosion issue already elsewhere in this thread, and it is just not true. Volumetric energy density is less than gasoline, yes, it is true. Again, we've covered that to death as well. Saab has done it already, as has Ricardo and a few others. Ethanol is a better liqiud fuel, not because of its potential energy, but because of a few other characteristics that we already discussed.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36479676) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
I wondered how long it would take someone to get all vitriolic on me.

Seriously, you need to read the rest of the thread. I have been talking until I'm blue in the face (fingers?) about the non-relationship between chemical potential in the two fuels to the reality of engine output and efficiency. If you read the rest and still disagree, then we can certainly be human to each other and discuss it a bit more.

Needy nations do grow some crops on a subsistence-basis, and I think that is what you mean by non-high intensity. Not at all what I'm talking about. Subsistence farming is very far removed from actual agrarian economic sustainability. You have a pessimistic view of the ability of third-world nations to innovate, given the proper conditions. Do you think the lack of political stability and the lack of sustainable agriculture might have a causal relationship?

Now, for your last statement, I have to ask...when in history have prices risen sustainably over the cost of production and local economies failed to adjust? I'm not saying this has never happened, but in every instance I am aware of, there were severe extenuating circumstances, like civil war or invasion, impeding the adjustment. Further, your statement makes it sound like you are OK with the idea that these people will never be able to help themselves, so we should not do the right thing and set the stage for them to make those changes.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36478830) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
Rather than changing the pistons, go to a higher compression-rated head gasket, beef up the heads a little (better bolts) and throw on a clutched supercharger that you use when you are running E85. The limiting factor at that point is your ECM, which will probably need significant custom tuning to make the best power at the higher effective compression. Injectors might be iffy at that point as well, but my gut says not. The advantage is that you need not run the SC when you are running standard pump gas.

The sad fact is that in many markets, E85 is a niche fuel. This gives it a 'boutique' status, and gas stations seem to charge more than fair market value for it.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36478718) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
I think you are getting close to understanding my thoughts on the subject. Gasolone has more potential energy, but you cannot use it all in a streetable engine because it would fail to start in cold weather, run rough, and would certainly require some sort of additives to improve the detonation characteristics. On the other hand, you can produce an engine that runs well, starts easily and gets better mileage using ethanol. Not because ethanol has more potential energy, but because it has combustion characteristics that make it a more efficient fuel.

Your comparison of best-tuned gas to best-tuned ethanol is not really workable, since neither ICE would be able to be driven on a daily basis. So far, the manufacturers have shown us that the best they can do with gas cannot keep up with the best they can do with ethanol. Theoretically, that should not be true, but theory often loses out to practice.

http://www.gizmag.com/go/3531/

The cited article states that in addition to making more HP and torque, the engine will get 15% better highway mileage when burning ethanol than it will when burning gas.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36477330) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
Wow...just...wow. Where does electricity come from? Show me a viable, renewable source of electricity that can account for 10% of our gas supply, the way ethanol does now.

Corn is not the only answer, to be sure, but it is VITAL that we don't hamstring this growing fuel source (ethanol) by giving big oil back it's monopoly. We are learning to make ethanol from other things as we speak, but if the market and infrastructure does not exist, what good is cellulosic ethanol? Who would buy it? With no cars that can burn it and no pumps to dispense it, it is dead in the water, and that would be sad.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36477008) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
I believe I addressed this point in an earlier post. I think it is important to remeber that ICEs don't simply convert BTUs to units of work. A lot of it ends up going out the tailpipe and some is discarded via heat loss.

You mentioned the EPA study that showed E85 cars getting 25% less mileage. That was with an engine designed with low enough compression to be able to run pump gas. Add a supercharger and a turbo, the way that nifty little Saab engine does, and you can effectively boost compression when running a fuel that can handle it, like E85. That engine does get better mileage with high ethanol blends than it does with gas.

It is difficult to detach hard numbers like energy density from what is actually obtainable in a real-world setting. Granted, most cars are not able to take advantage of the higher efficiency ethanol can provide, but if the incentive was there for the car makers, they have already shown us that they can do it.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36476712) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
My apologies, I failed to address one of your points. You asked about my assertion that corn-based ethanol did not impact feedstocks and corn prices, which I did not assert, and would have been silly to do so.

Ethanol has of course caused corn prices to go up. It is topic of endless debate how much of the current high prices are due to ethanol and how much is due to other factors like speculation, yield estimates and simple market manipulation. Regardless of how MUCH effect ethanol has had on the price of corn, it is incontrovertable that ethanol has caused corn prices to go up. The real question, then, is why food prices went up so much, when a box of corn flakes has 4 cents worth of corn in it. If the price of corn doubled, that makes it 8 cents. Does that justify the jump from $1.79 to the current $3.29?

Ethanol is a convenient whipping boy for the predatory practices of grocery producers and big oil, in my opinion.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36476262) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
So you are OK with continued use of petroleum as the answer to our fuel situation? Maybe you believe that someone will GIVE you an electric car. Then you can ignore the fact that it will be powered by electricity produced from coal.

If everyone had your attitude, we'd still be walking, 'cause riding horses has too many negatives.

Comment: Re:Uneducated debate, as usual. (Score 1) 395

by OwenTheContrarian (#36475926) Attached to: US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies
Aflatoxins and mycotoxins are not a result of ethanol. They exist every year in varying quantities, and their effects on livestock are well known. The article you cite is discussing the study that points to the fact that these toxins can make it through the fermentation process, into the DDGs, and still have a negative effect on livestock. This has been known for years, and most ethanol producers have very stringent measures in place to prevent the use of corn that is contaminated with fungal toxins.

DDGs are a very good feed supplement, and if you do some looking, you'll be staggered by the amount that is fed every year without issue. Don't just focus on the negatives, please. They may make a compelling article, but reality is that millions of tons of DDG are fed annually to all kinds of livestock.

I have not yet begun to byte!

Working...