In light of the $134 Crude Oil yesterday, here’s a discussion on Bio-Fuel, via the Marketwatch and  . . .

See also, 5 Tips For Saving Money On Gas   

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  1. Greg0658 commented on May 22

    biomass stalks and wood chips are not real waste – I’m going to show my ignorance a bit, imo the food you eat is more than the water that falls out of the sky and a tiny seed – it includes the nutrients of the soil, and this scenario sounds like pushing to far – harvesting grain has worked for thousands of years and we may be setting up a dirt replacement industry

    reprint posted by me on April 29th:
    quick partial transcript of letter in our paper by our county Farm Bureau President
    According to many economimists the recent increase in food costs is more directly related to skyrocketing transportation and petroleum costs rather than the increase in farm products. Corn as a food ingredient, contributes very little to cost of food. For example the amount of corn in a box of corn flakes is around 9 cents: the amount of corn in a pound of pork is 21 cents: and a gallon of milk has 16 cents worth of corn value.

  2. Jack commented on May 22

    Desperate people say and do desperate things. If so necessary, why all the tax credits? The more variables, the easier it is to create a smokescreen to cover the obvious.

  3. Greg0658 commented on May 22

    dissect above “According to many economimists the recent increase in food costs is more directly related to skyrocketing transportation and petroleum costs”

    Petro is used to transport new seed, till, plant, fertilize, harvest, transport to bin, 2nd transport to food factory.

    We aren’t there yet to run the tractor and trucks on biofuel. Come’on Deere and Kenworth.

  4. TDL commented on May 22

    Interesting that one of the individuals that was interviewed said the claims that bio-fuels are contributing to rising food costs wasn’t supported by the data. It would have been nice if he actually discussed the data. Also, as someone already alluded, if this was such a smart and economically viable fuel, why all the subsidies?


  5. mhm commented on May 22

    If you check a modern sugarcane processing plant in Brazil you’ll see:

    – it produces both sugar and ethanol; it is a 6 or 7 stage process and the first 2 or 3 produces high quality sugar, the rest ethanol. Depending on price, they can produce more of one or the other

    – the dusty material left at the end is highly energetic, as much as good coal but cleaner. It feeds gas turbines and generate enough energy to power the whole plant and sell to the grid (extra income)

    – Most equipment used in the field, including airplanes, run on ethanol

    The system is not only self sufficient it is highly productive and profitable.

  6. Agoracom commented on May 22

    Globe and Mail in Canada had a great article on the topic. It went to “pay per view” after a week but I found it here:

    “It’s Time To Kill Corn Subsidies and Go Brazilian”


  7. wnsrfr commented on May 22

    It is my belief that 10 gallons of E-10 moves the average car less than 9 gallons of straight gasoline.

    This is due to the average vehicle today losing efficiency due to the presence of alcohol in the fuel systems along with tuning issues.

    You cannot buy anything but E-10 in New England, and are forced to use it, even for small engines and boats, which both suffer tremendously from the alcohol’s effect on fuel storage and delivery systems, not to mention the lower energy in the alcohol even without the inefficiencies.

    Add-in the oil used in the production of corn-based ethanol, and the effect of corn ethanol on our foreign oil imports is most likely negative. What a poor waste of incentives.

  8. Bud commented on May 22

    Um, so what fuel source powers the plants to make fuel from sugar cane? Hydrogen fuel cells seem to be the best alt fuel source but many hurdles to overcome. Maybe the ufologists need to consult those aliens about their super fuel sources

  9. VJ commented on May 22


    as someone already alluded, if this was such a smart and economically viable fuel, why all the subsidies?

    Oil, coal, and natural gas have VASTLY larger subsidies.

  10. Brendan commented on May 22

    The problem with sugarcane stock like Brazil uses is that it requires the type of environment that is usually considered quite sensitive in it’s natural state, like the rain-forests that Brazil cut down to make room for their production. You could probably grow it in the Everglades, as it would have enough of both sun and rain to do so. That is, if you converted those areas; which I don’t see ever flying in the US, and for good reason. So that’s not a realistic solution for the US, or Europe for that matter.

    Algae and bacteria offer much better promise, since they can be grown in the most isolated desert areas in tubes preventing evaporation and reducing water use and minimizing the impact on the environment. Whatever system is chosen, gasoline and gasoline equivalents don’t make sense for transportation needs. Ethanol is superior for performance applications, whereas diesel has superior efficiency for both freight and everyday transportation needs. The first step should be getting a lot more diesel cars on the road, which alone would allow for the current oil supply to move vehicles more miles, and set us up to use better diesel-type biofuels. Diesel vehicles get about 50% more mileage than their gasoline equivalents, but it requires about 25% more oil to make a gallon of diesel than a gallon of gasoline, so you end up getting about 20% more miles out of a gallon of crude. Which coincidentally, is about all the extra mileage you get out of a gallon of oil if you use it to fertilize and “pesticide” fields, run tractors, move corn, process it and burn it as ethanol. So why all the trouble to do what can be done with just an engine swap?

    The problem with biofuels right now is that subsidies and simple human desire to stick with what is familiar continue to make corn an attractive option, even though it makes little sense from a practical standpoint. People’s patience is wearing thin, because the all mighty buck keeps steering us toward bad ideas over and over again (i.e. subsidized corn based ethanol), rather than good ingenuity being used to explore and implement better options. In our society creative people are considered kooks, so instead we follow the lead of politicians in suits are supposed to have the answers, but who of course just answer to farm lobbies and their constituents who see ADM commercials on the TeeVee. So we’ve got ourselves into a bind where we need answers but no one is willing to really invest in them because there have been so many failures before.

    So, we’re going to have to do something different eventually. Using increasingly scarce good farmland for it, probably isn’t be best answer in the long run, but could help for a few years as oil supplies continue to decline. Electricity, which can come from a large variety of sources (both good and bad) could probably be used to replace a majority (>50%) of the US demand for oil. Our rail system could be expanded and electrified for freight; most commuters could get back and forth in electric cars, which have been proven to work quite well for this purpose; but we’ll still need fuels for long distance trips, and probably most importantly, ships and airplanes. I just don’t see how investing all of our eggs into ethanol basket really makes sense, when there are already better proven alternatives out there. Oh, and don’t get me started on how stupid hydrogen is!

  11. TDL commented on May 22

    I wasn’t talking about who has more subsidies. I am completely unsympathetic to any industry that receives subsidies. When participants in a subsidized industry try to play victim, I will generally be highly skeptical of their claims. It does not matter if the subsidy is $1 or $100 billion.


  12. VJ commented on May 22


    I wasn’t talking about who has more subsidies.

    Obviously. It undercuts your complaint against ethanol.

    When participants in a subsidized industry try to play victim, I will generally be highly skeptical of their claims.

    I take it you missed Big Oil’s ‘We’re the Victims’ performance in front of Congress yesterday ?

  13. sl commented on May 22

    i urge you to read an article in the star telegragh by ed wallace regarding who push through the legislation that has got us to $135 oil . this man is very reputable and does his home work !!!! you won’t be have platform to get this info out there and hopefully we can get prices down and stop hurting good people.
    thanks please take alook.
    look at the other articles leading up to this also.

  14. Diogenes commented on May 23

    Barry.. WTF!!!


    Let’s face some REAL FACTS.. Celluostic Ethanol might be far more acceptable than corn-based, but there still that MAJOR problem of how to transport and store it so that it doesn’t absorb water. Ethanol requires special logistics, and you can’t pump it through the same pipelines that gasoline is shipped through. That means you have to truck, or rail-freight the stuff.

    Bio-Diesel, derived from Algae, has a greater BTU content, has a far greater potential yield per acre, and most importantly, does not compete with consumables. And it can be blended with current diesel stocks (although not as tolerant of cold weather) and shipped through EXISTING pipelines.

    Algae farms can be located ANYWHERE there is sufficient sun.. They could even be ground in “high-rise farms” within an urban environment. They can be grown using the CO2 emissions from a powerplant, making them VERY EFFICIENT at reducing that carbon source.

    Look back at last October’s National Geographic for more detail on this:

    And especially loot at Page 6 of that article:

    Maybe, Barry, using your financial “sex appeal”, you can provide some attention to this woefully under discussed alternative fuel..



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