Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ethanol Q&A

The Energy Bulletin posted this article, which includes a bunch of comments about ethanol as an oil alternative. Those of you hanging your hats on ethanol as our savior need to revisit your thought processes, and your math:

From Ted in Minnesota: "The entire 2004 U.S. corn and soybean crop, converted to biomass fuels, could replace about 10.41 billion gallons of petroleum (7.6 billion as ethanol and 2.81 billion as biodiesel). Petroleum is measured in 42-gallon barrels; the 10.41 billion gallon biofuel total would be equivalent to 248 million barrels of petroleum. The U.S. consumed about 7.49 billion barrels of petroleum in 2004, or about 20.5 million barrels a day. This means that the total biofuel potential of the record 2004 U.S. corn and soybean harvests would offset about 12 days of U.S. petroleum consumption, or about 3.3% of our total yearly petroleum consumption. Given that most of the U.S. corn and soybean crop is already committed to other uses, this analysis indicates that biomass-based fuels will have a negligible role in reducing U.S. petroleum consumption, which in turn underscores that replacing petroleum in the U.S. economy will be a monumental challenge."

There also comments about Brazil's use of ethanol, using sugarcane. A useful reminder that what works in one country may not scale up to meet the needs of another.

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