In a recent post on the Pullins Report, Scott wrote something that I actually agree with: that ethanol plants are good news for Ohioans.

Well, some Ohioans. Specifically, those who grow corn.

Unfortunately, Scott doesn’t seem to understand the difference between Ethanol and Biodiesel, at one point labeling them both “hybrid fuels”. He also has almost all of his facts wrong.

He ends his piece like this:

So to sum up, biodiesel is vastly cheaper for consumers, it is produced here, not in the Middle East, and the vehicles that run it get vastly better gas mileage, with more horsepower. What’s not to like about Ethanol?

My intention here is not to pick on Scott Pullins- ok, well, maybe a little. 😉 But more importantly, I thought I’d correct his facts:

  • Biodiesel is a fuel for diesel engines derived from natural oils like soybean oil while ethanol is an alcohol product produced from corn. Check out treehugger.com’s article on the subject for more information.
  • Biodiesel is not cheaper for consumers. According to the Biodiesel Board: Using a 2% blend of biodiesel is estimated to increase the cost of diesel by 2 or 3
    cents per gallon
  • Most consumers don’t have access to public biodiesel fueling stations. Even truckers wishing to use a biodiesel blend are going to have a tough time unless they have a fleet contract with a distributor.
  • Ethanol does not increase gas mileage. According to fueleconomy.gov: Vehicles running ethanol blends will experience a 25% to 30% DROP in mileage.
  •  
    • Not to mention the effects of ethanol on Amazonian deforestation. “Deforestation Diesel” demand has driven the demand for U.S. farmers to replace soybean crops with corn. This, in turn, is causing Brazil to make up for the difference by clearing land for soy production – which is speeding deforestation by displacing smaller farmers who have to burn off rainforest to farm. Soybeans can also be used for biodiesel, which doesn’t help.

      Law of unintended consequences will get ya every time! Somebody call Peter Senge. We need some System Thinking here!

    • Corrected.

    • My main point was that consumers could benefit by using E-85, albeit requiring flex fuel vehicles. Or even better by running biodiesel in the new diesels like the ones used in Europe. I’ve got a friend with an organic farm that makes his own biodiesel at a cost of about 50 cents per gallon. Others are running pure vegetable oil.

      I believe that the alternative fuel movement will result in cleaner emissions, i.e. European diesel standards vs. US and more fuel efficiency. Something that would not happen if it weren’t for high gas prices and market forces.

    • #3: This type of recycled use makes a good deal of sense. It has obvious limits to it’s widespread use, but nothing like making your own fuel from used french fry oil.

    • It takes much more energy to produce each union of ethanol than the energy that each union of ethanol produces.

      Plus, consumers would not be happy with this E85 nonsense if the true cost of it was noted- It is so heavily subsided by the government by politicians who are buying the votes of farmers.

      And Scott is incorrect- Market forces are the only ways that fuel will become more efficient and cleaner. Government just gets in the way.

    • Hmmm. “Market forces”. “Government getting in the way”. “Oil”. “Energy”.

      Some things to ponder. Reaaaal deeply. Put your deep thinking hat on Matt. You can DO IT man!

    • If anyone wants to help Matt along, be my guest…

    • I said that market forces ARE responsible for making engines more efficient.

    • Scott (and most others) also needs to recognize that biodiesel and pure vegetable oil (and/or waste vegetable oil) are two entirely different things. Biodiesel is a refined fuel with necessary chemical processes and waste, but it can be poured into the tank of an existing diesel vehicle or blended with dinosaur diesel with no problems.

      Vegetable oil is far to thick to run through existing fuel systems without being heated. Vehicles that run on pure veggie oil need to have a secondary, heated tank installed for the VO, and the engine must be started and stopped on regular diesel or biodiesel to keep the fuel system from clogging.

      Biodiesel also isn’t produced exclusively from soybeans. A large number of biomass sources can be used, with some of the most promising research and proofs-of-concept these days centering around large-scale algae farms:
      http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html
      http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/94945

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