I provided an opinion on this on the AIChE Engage site about six months ago. In response to recent dialogue, including those who think farmers are only charity cases in regard to the ethanol subject, please think again. They provide food you eventually put on the table for loved ones. The idea of farm subsidies to keep them from growing crops is inherently ridiculous and mal-productive. They should be using any creative means possible to increase production, reduce costs, and maintain quality for food and industrial purposes. Use of crops to make ethanol and other products creates markets for farmers. This will keep smaller farms in business and stimulate creativity. This also helps avoid excessive dependence on a few large farms, a result that can be inherently dangerous and undesirable.
The ethanol and farming industries have lobbies, as does every business, including charities. The American Petroleum Institute, and of course all industries use all sorts of means to promote and protect themselves.
The petrochemical industry, the ethanol industry and the automobile industry should work together to conduct R&D on how gasoline and ethanol can be used in cars to improve fuel mpg efficiency and thereby counter differences in native energy content. This can also impact on automobile design and operation. Congress and President Bush enacted legislation to give the ethanol industry a chance to be successful. There is a clear path to success. It is up to the ethanol industry to take steps to prove they can be successfully sustained in the long term through cooperative technical development.
Walter E. Goldstein, Ph.D., PE
Las Vegas, Nevada
William Richards is correct. It DOES take more energy to produce ethanol than can be derived from it. But that is also true for oil-based petroleum fuels. It's the inescapable second law of thermo at work. What we need to do is compare the relative efficiencies. I have not done the calcs, but my guess is that the fossil fuels would win out. It is the proclivity of politicians (the majority of whom are dishonest and corrupt) to manipulate and distort the economy at the behest of special interest lobby groups that is at the root of all our social problems. The mantra that we have a free-market economy is a bald-faced deceptive lie – we DO NOT.
Jimmy D Kumana
Kumana & Associates
Houston, Texas 77459
Tel 281-437-5906, Cel 646-546-2484
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