From the Evils of Ethanol Department


We’ve written about how the current corn-based ethanol industry is unsustainable. And we particularly enjoyed reading this rant from Juliette Anthony, environmental research consultant and activist, on how ethanol will place a burden on California’s water resources, air quality, and the price of food. She says:

If all the vehicles in California operated on E85 [the policy of the Governor and Legislature], the ethanol required would consume 70 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop, but only 13.6 percent of the energy in the fuel would be renewable because of the heavy use of fossil fuel. — Juliette Anthony

She goes on to make a lot of good points, yet, unfortunately Anthony seems to write off liquid biofuels altogether, advocating instead for investing in solar panels for plug-in vehicles that are placed on the top, open-air layer of parking garages. The current biofuel industry might need some serious technology and efficiency upgrades, but solar panels connected to plug-ins isn’t anywhere close to an economical, mainstream technology that could make up for a biofuel shortfall anytime soon.


Greg Souza

Listen, you need one fuel that most of the cars out there can use and it will be ethanol. Biomethane will never be fuel for that is used throughout whole country.

If you knew more than Vinod Khosla you sure would
be in his position now.

Jim Beyer

A gallon of ethanol (75,000 BTUs) requires 25,000 BTUs of natural gas for its production (even if from cellulose), and another 3,500-7,000 BTUs of natural gas used in making fertilizer for the corn. Hint: Drive an NGV.

The same quantity of biomass can be used to make twice as much biomethane (energetically) compared with ethanol (when and if they get cellulosic ethanol to work economically). And no drying step is involved. Hint: Drive an NGV (methane is the primary component of natural gas).

Juliette is right. Liquid Biofuels are a subtle hoax perpetrated by the convenient interests of corn growers, ADM, automakers (because flex-fuel cars are inexpensive to build) and dumbass Silicon Valley types that don’t know what the hell they are doing. On the other hand, E-10 makes good sense, and ethanol is a sensible ADDITIVE to replace MTBE. But it is not a sensible FUEL, and never will be.

Open note to Vinod Khosla: What are you going to tell your investors when biomethane is available to consumers at less than half the price of ethanol? (Other than ‘oops!’)

Comments are closed.