23 April 2010


I like the tortillas de maiz. The flour ones just lack texture and flavor. Yes, they're more bendy, but that makes little difference to me.

The tortillas de maiz are more expensive now. Wanna know why? They're in your gas tank.

That Gaia saving ethanol? That's corn. Here in the US there are a few major Agricorps (yes I'm looking at you, ArcherDanialsMidland) that are making huge amounts of money from the production fuel type ethanol. I don't use the word "profits". That word has a real meaning: differential between the cost of production and the cost of sale.

The perverse incentives thrust upon the market dictate that it is more profitable to set up a distillary and feed my Chevy Subhuman whiskey than it is to turn that same amout of corn into food. Just follow the prices of beef and pork, or the cost o tortilla.

Me, I'm lucky. I live in the greatest state of the greatest country God ever surveyed. But when I talk to family about the cousins in 'SA", and read about things much worse in places I know don't know - like Africa and the Far East, it just breaks my little chrome vanadiun cast steel heart.

Because I know that every gallon of ethanol fuel used in the USA is a lie.

The cost of production for fuel ethanol is higher than the cost of petroleum extraction in even the worst case, oil shale. It has to be sown (with great honking tractors), Fertilized (mostly with petro products), ground (with mills probably not described by RL Stevenson), mashed (that's the process that turns the starches into sugars) inside big structures and big stainless steel vessels and then distilled, which means boiling the whole mash into ethanol. Overall efficiency is a negative number.

It takes more BTUs to produce the ethanol than there is in the ethanol!

And then lets look at the opportunity cost. Every gallon of E10 sold in the US is the equivalent of a dozen tortillas in Tegecuigulpa.

The energy produced from burning ethanol is ~80% of that of burning gasoline.

Go over to Watts up With That, if you want some real science, or to Master Resource. They're guys with the background and information to change your mind, if your mind hasn't already been set in stone.

But let me put it on a bumper sticker:

Turning food into fuel is stupid; and burning whiskey in my car is stupid too

Should we be starving other people to keep a smirk on the face of Al Gore?

Why don't we use other sources?

Let's look at methane. I've seen some stories about cowsheds capturing methane.

There are problems with gas production from old landfills.

Here's my favorite, having lived within the glow of Pasadena Texas and the flare gas stacks: Use It! All the flare stacks going to waste, use for steam turbine heating or at lest preheating.

Use some abandoned NG transmission piping to send it to a few steam turbine gensets.

Fuel cost = zero

Economy of scale is determined by the desire of the (soon to be called leech) who decides to take advantage of the free food.

Now compare and contrast:
One system requires the diversion of saleable products into a nonproductive and nonprofitable market
The other makes use of, essentially, garbage, products burned as unusable (other than sources of heat and light).

So what are we doing carrying ADM?

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