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takes 1.5 gallons gasoline to produce 1 gallon ethanol in modern agriculture
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 3:20 pm    Post subject: enthalpy of oil to ethanol the factor of geological pressure to create oil Re: takes 1.5 gallons gasoline to produce 1 gallon ethanol in modern agriculture Reply with quote

boofreak@gmail.com wrote:
Eeyore wrote:
a_plutonium@hotmail.com wrote:

But here in the USA with our petrol
based farming, we spend about 1.5 gallons of petrol just to get 1
gallon of ethanol.

Thta is simply plain wrong.


Unfortunately not. Most studies show the EROEI for ethanol to
hover around 1. Perhaps a little positive, perhaps a little negative.
Ethanol is never going to amount to much, and it certainly will
never come close to replacing oil as it now stands in our
economy. Oil has an EROEI of between 10-100:1.

Cellulistic ethanol is another loser, as the 'waste' is normally
plant remains that would be used or plowed back into the field.
This essentially amounts to strip-mining the soil for a short
term gain. All that biomass taken would have to be replaced in
the form of lots of fertilizers.

Fact is we're having trouble feeding the current population, there's
no way a significant amount of land is ever going to be used
for ethanol production without people starving to death.

It would make more sense to cover all of New Mexico with solar
panels. At 10% efficient at converting sunlight to electricity this
would be more efficient than growing plants to make ethanol.
Photosynthesis is < 4% efficient, and then there are the other
losses to create the ethanol.

Most of us in science often have to resort or revert to the commonsense
question of summarizing the whole picture to know we are on the correct
path. "Does it make more sense?" type of question.

Does it make more sense that it costs 1.5 liters of petrol to produce 1
liter of ethanol in modern day agriculture? Or does it make more sense
as the ethanol lobbyist claim that it costs 0.76 liters of petrol to
produce 1 liter of ethanol or better.

So far I have answered this question by adding up the costs and I find
the answer to be 1.5 liters petrol to produce 1 liter of ethanol.

But here is another novel way of answering the question. It is one that
the lobbyist will have extreme difficulty in combating. It shows how
inadequate is ethanol and their argument in favor of ethanol.

It stems from the energy content of gasoline versus ethanol. Will there
ever be an airplane flown on the energy of ethanol. And unlike the
function of octane booster will there ever be a pure ethanol without a
15% gasoline blend. Gasoline does not need ethanol to run cars but does
ethanol need gasoline explosive energy.

Consider a gasoline molecule.

Consider the ethanol molecule.

What is the difference in energy in a quantitative amount. How much
more energy is packed into the gasoline molecule than is in the ethanol

Consider how the gasoline molecule was made. It started the same as the
corn plant that makes ethanol. Both start from Sunlight energy. But
then they diverge in creation process. The gasoline molecule started
from the corn plant ends up as a concentrated carbon deep under ground
with enormous pressure.

This reminds me of the difference in creating say diamonds as compared
to graphite. Graphite is the same as diamonds without the enormous

So what I am getting at, is that although gasoline and ethanol started
to be created by Sunlight, but that gasoline required millions of years
under enormous pressures, would have alot of difference in the energy
they pack.

To think that the ethanol-lobbyists would ever believe that millions of
years underground under enormous pressure and that their beloved
ethanol could then have a 1.3 EROEI in favor of ethanol.

You see, these lobbyists never did this final question of asking "Does
it make sense, given the overall reality of the world."

If ethanol really had a 1.3 EROEI, then the world never had any energy
crisis because farming would make oil obsolete.

The only reason ethanol ever was allowed to exist as a fuel is as a
MTBE replacement to increase octane. But as oil becomes scarce this
octane booster will be dumped for the pure gasoline. If it was not for
a history of octane booster of MTBE, then ethanol would have never
become news.

Yes we can make diamonds but the cost in energy of pressure is so

Likewise, we can imitate gasoline by ethanol but ethanol lacks the
energy content of gasoline. Why? Because gasoline is a compound that
was created from enormous pressure.

Here is a formula that the ethanol lobbyist have missed:
Gasoline = Ethanol + (the energy content of geological time and

Does anyone doubt that gasoline has more energy in its molecule than
does ethanol? Is this energy of gasoline more than 1.5 times that of

What that formula implies is that ethanol can never come close to
matching gasoline as a fuel to run society because it misses the term
of geological time and pressure. It implies that the figure 1.3 EROEI
in favor of ethanol is a falsehood, because the FERMENTATION process of
ethanol requires too much energy. In Ancient times to create ethanol
required burning of wood to ferment. So the amount of wood burned to
create ethanol, did not make sense for ethanol as a energy source
because why not just use the wood in the first place to heat up
something rather than the ethanol. You lose more wood energy by making

Certainly the energy content of diamond compared to graphite is more
than 1.5 times.

Gasoline is explosive; ethanol is not. Just knowing that fact, makes
anyone with a 1.3 EROEI in favor of ethanol look silly.

So how much energy, the enthalpy calculations, to convert molecules of
gasoline into that of ethanol compared to the reverse of converting
ethanol into gasoline.

You see, the trouble with ethanol lovers, is that they utterly ignore
the fact that it took millions of years underground with enormous
pressure to create oil (gasoline). And all of a sudden they think that
the corn plant above ground with never any geological time or pressure
is going to compete with oil gasoline.

Just to FERMENT ethanol is going to put as much greenhouse gases, or
more, into the air that causes global warming then if you never
bothered with ethanol at all and just used gasoline to run your car. So
this ethanol lobbying is really telling falsehoods to the public. Sure
it burns clean in your car, but it created enormous pollution back at
the Ethanol Fermenting Plant. I call this "huge pollution elsewhere,
even though the consumer sees little pollution when he burns the

So does a 1.3 EROEI make any sense, any commonsense given the
indisputable fact that gasoline molecule packs so much more energy than
ethanol. Does that number of 1.3 make sense with the fact that gasoline
creation spent millions of years underground under enormous pressure to
create those carbon hydrogen bonds.

Does 1.3 EROEI agree with reality? It does not. For it says that we can
bypass the factor of geological time and pressure. That graphite and
diamond are alike in hardness.

Archimedes Plutonium
whole entire Universe is just one big atom
where dots of the electron-dot-cloud are galaxies
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Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:28 pm    Post subject: Re: takes 1.5 gallons gasoline to produce 1 gallon ethanol in modern agriculture Reply with quote

We are engaged in the development of rural housing with associated
farming of grains etc. that will serve the ethanol production industry.
In our research we discovered that there are benefits to the existing
farmers as well as farmers to be by producing the raw materials needed
for ethanol production. While your figures may be true, in and of
themselves, they are meaningless relative to the benefits gained from
rural housing opportunities, enterprise and income generation, and as
at least a partial solution to oil dependence from countries that are a
potential threat to our way of life. It may cost us temporarily to be
relieved of that reliance. It can buy us time to develop better energy
sources including wind generated energy. But, in the process of
expanding ethanol production, more people will have housing
opportunities away from polluted cities, gain additional income
opportunities, and return to a way of life we used to consider was
better. I for one have no real argument with your numbers. But, I think
you may be cutting off your nose to spite your face....sort of. But,
this is a game of strategy we all need to kick loose the constraints
that are strangling us . . the greatest of which is the dependences we
didn't have not that long ago. The net loss you described will be
recovered as there are other costs built into the cost of gasoline. You
might want to take a closer look at the supply chain costs of a gallon
of gas and then the enormous budget just for marketing it. Surely you
don't believe you are NOT paying for those great commercials and ads
for the petroleum industry in magazines. Did you know that there is one
particular grant that hasn't been touched since its inception going
back to the early 60's, intended for the development of rural housing
associated with farming of raw materials for alternative energy
products? $850,000,000.00. The need was known back then. And, the money
was set aside for it. And, that's just one of many grants for that
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Joined: 10 Jun 2006
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:24 am    Post subject: Re: takes 1.5 gallons gasoline to produce 1 gallon ethanol inmodern agriculture Reply with quote

LongmuirG wrote:

Dirk Bruere responded to a comment from William Mook:
WM>> BP has invested the most in renewables, but mostly as an
WM>> gimmick - their renewable investments do not contribute to their
WM>> line. They're cost centers supported out of their PR budgets!
WM>> Their exploration and recovery investments dwarf their renewable
WM>> investments for this reason.

DB> And the nice thing, from their POV, is that as oil becomes scarcer
DB> more expensive the more money they make as long as they can keep
DB> industry locked into it.

It is more complicated than that. Giant BP currently is ranked only
something like #19 among global oil companies in terms of its oil
reserves. BP has about 5.8 Billion Bbl of liquid reserves (per the Oil
& Gas Journal) -- way less than 1% of global reserves. The big boys
are, of course, the national oil companies -- Saudi Aramco alone has
about 25% of conventional global reserves. The big shareholder-owned
oil companies like BP are not replacing their reserves through
exploration; they are liquidating themselves. You can't reap the
benefits of high oil prices unless you have oil to sell.

Just over 30 years ago, the Seven Sisters had the bulk of existing
global oil reserves sewn up, and they were discovering more oil each
year than they were producing. Now the remaining big shareholder-owned
companies are bit players without an obvious way forward -- which
explains why they play games with reserves estimates, and invest so
much of their time & money buying each other up. This is a very
difficult environment for major oil companies -- are they going to end
up like the railroads in the 1950s, quite profitable until they go out
of business?
Perhaps. And also their profits are perhaps mostly paper and dividend

profits like the railroads of the 1950's and Enron of more recent fame.
Gegen dummheit kampfen die Gotter Selbst, vergebens.  
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Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 10:53 pm    Post subject: Re: takes 1.5 gallons gasoline to produce 1 gallon ethanol in modern agriculture Reply with quote

Maybe you should see what Brazil uses to farm. I see Hyundai all over the
place when I'm there.

<a_plutonium@hotmail.com> wrote in message

Dan Bloomquist wrote:

The consensus is an EROEI of 1.3

Too many lobbyists and irrational people in this discussion.

Ethanol can be broken into 2 segments. The cost of energy of farming
the crops for ethanol production and the cost of energy at the Ethanol
Distillery to convert the crop into ethanol itself.

Trouble is I spent too much time considering only the farming costs and
spent little to no time in evaluating the Ethanol distilling or
refining costs.

So what is the cost of Natural Gas, most often used energy source to
refine ethanol in the USA MidWest. We can easily convert Natural Gas
quantity into gallons of gasoline or diesel. So, does anyone of these
Ethanol Plants in Iowa or South Dakota take up what? Take up so much
Natural Gas that every gallon of ethanol requires 1/2 gallon of
gasoline as a Natural Gas equivalent?

Keep in mind I am not dealing with the cost of gasoline or diesel in
the farm fields producing the crop. I am focused solely on the cost of
gasoline or diesel at the Ethanol Plant where the ethanol is made. And
most of these plants use Natural Gas as their energy source.
Natural-Gas is easy to make a equivalency to diesel. A given volume of
natural-gas is equivalent to a gallon of diesel.

So what is the energy cost at the Ethanol Plant. Is it that every
gallon of ethanol costs 1/2 gallon of diesel? If this is true and
accurate then those lobbyists and irrational sods might be happy and
gleeful. But they fail to recognize that the cost of producing the crop
in the farmfields has costs of gasoline and diesel.

So the countries like Brazil maybe happy to expand ethanol production
because they can farm their fields by horses and human labor and never
use any tractors. But when it comes to the Ethanol Plant in Brazil,
they have to use some form of fuel. Maybe they use the trees in Brazil
and burn the trees to convert the crop into ethanol. Maybe they use
Natural Gas and that means a cost of 1/2 gallon diesel equivalent per
every 1 gallon of ethanol produced.

So let us get this conversation and discussion on a correct and orderly
path. Let us divide the costs of ethanol production into the farm costs
and the actual Ethanol plant costs. So that my original statement that
1.5 gallons of gasoline/diesel produces only 1 gallon of ethanol can be
seen more clearly. So that if it takes 1/2 gallon of gasoline just at
the Ethanol Plant alone to produce 1 gallon of ethanol, does not leave
much room for using gasoline or diesel in the farm fields to produce a

Archimedes Plutonium
whole entire Universe is just one big atom
where dots of the electron-dot-cloud are galaxies
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