AltFuel Biodiesel vs. Ethanol as Fuel

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Anyone dabble in making his own ethanol to run in your rig? While I would love to make biodiesel, I am worried that the supply side will start to dry up in the next few years(or the price go up) with all of the new diesels coming to market(and people jumping on the bio wagon).

Soon I will be at the v8 versus diesel crossroads, and I want to go with one where I can make my own fuel (cheaper the better). To me it seems that fermenting sugar(or other biomass) and distilling it would be easier to do (from a supply standpoint). I would not have to rely restaurants for my fuel, and I could fuel my liquor cabinet. :cool:

FYI...I would convert to a e85 v8(whole fuel system) or a toyota diesel. Please do not consider conversion prices. I just want a rig that I can run for a long time on a cheap fuel price.

All thoughts on ethanol vs. biodiesel are welcome.
 
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I have heard that when the whole picture is looked at, ethanol really isn't the "great green fuel" it is being trumpeted as. It takes significant energy for cultivation and the yeild is much less than say algae for biodiesel. On top of all that with the increase in food costs I personally find it unconscionable to use land that could be used for food production to produce fuels. If you think a few percent increase in basic foodstuffs is bad stateside wait till you are in the developing world where the percentage of income that pays for food is much higher. I cannot justify using land to grow biomass for fuel instead of food if it might mean folks on the other side of the world will not be able to eat because they cannot afford the increase in food costs and that DOES happen.

Biodiesel can apparently be produced in areas unfit for any other use. It you can grow pond scum there you can make biodiesel. There are companies right now working to produce bio-diesel in places like El Paso, TX
 
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There are companies right now working to produce bio-diesel in places like El Paso, TX

I totally agree we should not take away from our food source but...
There are companies right now working to produce ethanol from switchgrass, grass clippings, left over corn stalks, and other biomass. These items are left over from food production.
 
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Don't you need a still to make ethanol? What kind of legalities do you need to go through to get a permit for a still? What about producing hazardous materials in your house?

The hassle to produce BD is much less IMO. I do agree that the supply stock supplies will get harder to find though, however new sources will start to show up soon I think.
 
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Biodiesel can apparently be produced in areas unfit for any other use. It you can grow pond scum there you can make biodiesel. There are companies right now working to produce bio-diesel in places like El Paso, TX

True, but currently alot of the biodiesel is made from Canola Oil, and I know up here in the Peace reagion, only the best soils are good for growing canola, and a lot of local farmers are jumping on the Canola bandwagon (switching from growning wheat and barley), because fuel production has pushed the price of Canola from $8 a bushell last year to $14 a bushell this year.
 
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For every liter of petro energy used to produce biodiesel, 3 liters of biodiesel are produced. For every liter of petro energy used to produce ethanol in N.America they might get a liter of ethanol if everything works at it's best. Grain ethanol is a scam.

The "Biofuels Take Food From Our Mouths" argument is based on fallacy. The two most common biofuel feedstocks, corn and soybeans, are grown for animals to feed the industrial meat business producing pork, poultry and beef. Processing these feedstocks to extract sugars or oils to make biofuels, makes the byproduct 'seed cake' and 'spent mash' more digestible as animal feed. Same with the 'seed cake' from canola. Thus the animals get more nutrition from the byproduct than the original feedstock, and less is crapped out as waste. We can get food and fuel from the same crop.

Granted that the feedstock grains and legumes could be exported to feed the starving millions instead of being used to feed meat animals. But that practice has been going on for decades, is not likely to change, and is totally external to the biofuels issue.

The world's poor are not starving because of biofuels but rather due to a variety of causes including local corruption which 're-directs' food aid, and the fact that 50% of the world's population no longer lives in rural areas where they fed themselves, but now live in sprawling mega slums where food has to be shipped in at ever increasing transportation costs due to rising petroleum prices.
 
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True, but currently alot of the biodiesel is made from Canola Oil, and I know up here in the Peace reagion, only the best soils are good for growing canola, and a lot of local farmers are jumping on the Canola bandwagon (switching from growning wheat and barley), because fuel production has pushed the price of Canola from $8 a bushell last year to $14 a bushell this year.

This is the problem I'm talking about! Biodiesel can be made from food crops but doesn't HAVE to be made from food crops. Here we see farmers switching from wheat and barley to fuel, unconscionable in my opinion though I can't blame them.

For every liter of petro energy used to produce biodiesel, 3 liters of biodiesel are produced. For every liter of petro energy used to produce ethanol in N.America they might get a liter of ethanol if everything works at it's best. Grain ethanol is a scam.

The "Biofuels Take Food From Our Mouths" argument is based on fallacy. The two most common biofuel feedstocks, corn and soybeans, are grown for animals to feed the industrial meat business producing pork, poultry and beef. Processing these feedstocks to extract sugars or oils to make biofuels, makes the byproduct 'seed cake' and 'spent mash' more digestible as animal feed. Same with the 'seed cake' from canola. Thus the animals get more nutrition from the byproduct than the original feedstock, and less is crapped out as waste. We can get food and fuel from the same crop.

Granted that the feedstock grains and legumes could be exported to feed the starving millions instead of being used to feed meat animals. But that practice has been going on for decades, is not likely to change, and is totally external to the biofuels issue.

The world's poor are not starving because of biofuels but rather due to a variety of causes including local corruption which 're-directs' food aid, and the fact that 50% of the world's population no longer lives in rural areas where they fed themselves, but now live in sprawling mega slums where food has to be shipped in at ever increasing transportation costs due to rising petroleum prices.

John, Deny's example is a large part of the problem. I don't know how this is all playing out in Canada but I do know that here in Guatemala basic food supplies like rice and wheat have increased by 50% and more in the last year alone. Why is that?? Because land that was growing wheat is now growing corn for ethanol or canola for bio-diesel, that's at least part of the reason why. These folks did not move en-masse in the past year, the governments, while corrupt, did not increase their "take" by that much in the past year but the whole "Go green!" B.S. HAS increased big time in the past year! The cost of locally grown produce has increased but not near to the amount that things like wheat, rice and corn have.

If, as is the case here, corn and other staples play a large part of your diet and food costs eat a large part of the paycheck those increased costs REALLY start to add up and cause significant problems.

We in the developed world can choose to ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist but it is NOT going to go away.
 
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Good points, and I very much appreciate your 'front line' information.

When growers switch from food crops to fuel crops, AND don't put the seed cake spent mash byproduct back into the food stream, then yes in that case biofuels are making the problem worse.

I still believe that most of the problem is that the 3rd world poor used to feed themselves, and now they rely on industrial agriculture and an ever more expensive infrastructure to put food in the market place.

As harsh and cruel as it might seem, this is an overpopulation problem solving itself.
 
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I see where you are coming from John, cause at a local biodiesel course last year sponsored by the local Agrolosists a biodiesel expert from Manitoba spent the day out here. He did say that after the canola oil is extracted from the seed the waste can then be used to feed livestock. But he also gave us some stupid numbers like if Canada wants to go to 7% bio in all diesel sold at the pump, it would greatly have to increase Canola production, becaused even if all of the Canola currently grown in Canada was used it would only be able to create like 1 or 2% of all diesel sold here. so a lot more Canola would have to be grown, which as cruiser-guy says could impact a lot more agricultural land used for other food right now. bio fuels are definatley not the answer to our dependence on oil, unless they can some how harvest algea over the oceans, and even still seems like a long shot. Man we really strayed from the original question, calphi27 I think either way you go you will have problems getting the ingredients. are you planning on growing your own Canola or Corn?
 
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... even if all of the Canola currently grown in Canada was used it would only be able to create like 1 or 2% of all diesel sold here. ... bio fuels are definatley not the answer to our dependence on oil

... and they never will be. It will always be cheaper to make diesel fuel from coal or heavy oil. Canada has hundreds of years of coal and heavy oil. The whole biofuels thing is more political than real. Ethanol is a waste of time and energy, it's just a scam to subsidize farmers instead of oil companies.
 
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Don't you need a still to make ethanol? What kind of legalities do you need to go through to get a permit for a still? What about producing hazardous materials in your house?.

Stills are easy to make. They can be made cheaper than a biodiesel processor. Permit wise you would need only a permit from the ATF. From people I have talked to, it is easy to get. The dangers in production are about the same when you use methanol for biodiesel. Would you produce biodiesel in your house? I would make it outside.

For every liter of petro energy used to produce biodiesel, 3 liters of biodiesel are produced. For every liter of petro energy used to produce ethanol in N.America they might get a liter of ethanol if everything works at it's best. Grain ethanol is a scam.

I agree that using corn for ethanol is a scam, but what about using other biomass? Also, I wanted to point out again that the leftover mash from distillation can be used as feed for livestock. Once the cellulosic technology gets here, other options that yield more energy will be available (see my 2nd post)


Man we really strayed from the original question, calphi27 I think either way you go you will have problems getting the ingredients. are you planning on growing your own Canola or Corn?

I appreciate you trying to keep this on course. A friend of mine runs a feed supply shop. That is where I could get some corn.

Website for still production Make your own Fuel
 
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It works economically in Brazil because they have a tropical climate where sugar cane grows like a weed. Even sugar beets can't equal that.

We are all trying to be green and environmentally friendly and mow down the tropical rain forest so se can grow sugar cane to make ethanol. Not exactly as green as some might have thought. Also, tropical soils do NOT do well with repeat seeding and harvesting which therefore causes yet more slash and burn! Yes the Brazil experiment in ethanol is wonderful for the environment isn't it???

NOT!!
 
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Chill out dude. I don't use ethanol, nor do it think it's a good idea. I merely posted the information. Why would you assume I was promoting ethanol?

I also won't use virgin oil or BD made from it.
IMHO only recycled cooking oil should be used for fuel.
 
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Chill out dude. I don't use ethanol, nor do it think it's a good idea. I merely posted the information. Why would you assume I was promoting ethanol?

I also won't use virgin oil or BD made from it.
IMHO only recycled cooking oil should be used for fuel.

I'm with you!

I was merely pointing out that while many folks thing ethanol from Brazil is the greatest thing to be "environmentally friendly" that is simply NOT the case. In my mind, the future is with bio-diesel since it can be made in areas which do not support other crops. Ethanol is not going to go anywhere other than give people "warm fuzzies".

Why has the price of rice gone up so much. No bio-fuels come from rice, nor can anything else be grown in paddies that can be used for bio-fuels?

I can only assume that since the costs of other staples like wheat and corn have gone up the demand for rice increases and it too goes up.
 
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Behind the Run on Rice

Despite bumper crops in Vietnam and India, export limits and bans have created a global shortage and driven up prices

by Pallavi Gogoi
At the Costco in San Francisco, rice is all the rage. Not long after the 10 a.m. opening on Apr. 24, the warehouse club was well on its way to selling out the day's supply of Thai jasmine rice. Within an hour, customers cleared three pallets loaded with 50-lb. bags of Super Lucky Elephant brand jasmine rice from Thailand. Real estate broker Mary Jane Galviso snapped up two bags—the limit imposed by this particular store. "This is very frightening," says Galviso, who hails from Orosi, a rural community in California's Central Valley, more than 200 miles southeast of San Francisco. Her local grocery, which specializes in Filipino foods, has run out of Thai jasmine.
In a dramatic development for U.S. consumers this month, shoppers and Asian and Indian restaurant owners started panic-buying two of the highest-premium varieties of rice—Thai jasmine and Indian basmati. That led many grocers to run out of the rice, and warehouse clubs including Costco and Sam's Club imposed limits on how much rice shoppers can buy.
The restrictions placed by Issaquah (Wash.)-based Costco (COST) vary across the country, while Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), limited its customers to four 20-lb. bags of rice. "We've heard of cases where restaurant owners are hoarding three weeks' supply of rice in their basement, which is obviously more than they currently need, which makes the situation even worse," says Richard Galanti, Costco's chief financial officer.
Record High Prices for Rice

In a statement Apr. 24, Sam's Club said its rice limits "are designed to prevent large distributors or wholesalers from depleting our stock. We believe limiting rice purchases to four bags per visit is consistent with the needs of the majority of our members, including many restaurants…. We will continue to work with our suppliers to manage inventories to meet demand."
The rice rationing in the U.S. comes as the torrid pace of commodity price increases has led to violence over food supplies and costs in several nations. Globally, rice prices are starting to hit record highs, following a host of other commodities. However, experts are clear: There's currently no shortage of rice. "Vietnam and Thailand have had record rice crops in the past year, and India too has had bumper crops," says Nathan Childs, a senior economist who follows the global rice market at the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Agriculture Dept.
Instead, what's driving the price of rice so high are widespread worries about food inflation in many rice-growing nations. "In poorer nations, a large share of people's earnings is spent on food, and big price increases in other kinds of food are harming consumers," Childs says. So to protect their supplies of rice—a staple food in much of the world—several countries have imposed export bans or sharp limits. That has led to a sharp reduction of rice available for trade in the global market. In 2007, India and Vietnam, two of the world's biggest rice exporters, reduced their rice shipments. Since then, Cambodia, Egypt, and Brazil have all halted rice exports. And many observers worry that Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter, might jump on the bandwagon.

Behind the Run on Rice
 

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