Ethanol's Water Shortage

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Thread: Ethanol's Water Shortage

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    Ethanol's Water Shortage

    WSJ
    October 17, 2007; Page A18

    If the Senate's new "renewable fuels" mandate becomes law, get ready for a giant slurping sound as Midwest water supplies are siphoned off to slake Big Ethanol. House and Senate negotiators are preparing for an energy-bill conference, and if the Senate's language prevails, America's economy will be forced to consume more than five times current ethanol production.

    Heavily subsidized and absurdly inefficient, corn-based ethanol has already driven up food prices. But the Senate's plan to increase production to 36 billion gallons by 2022, from less than seven billion today, will place even greater pressure on farm-belt aquifers.

    Ethanol plants consume roughly four gallons of water to produce each gallon of fuel, but that's only a fraction of ethanol's total water habit. Cornell ecology professor David Pimentel says that when you count the water needed to grow the corn, one gallon of ethanol requires a staggering 1,700 gallons of H2O. Backers of the Senate bill say that less-thirsty technologies are just around the corner, which is what we've been hearing for years.

    Some corn-producing regions are already scrapping over dwindling supply. The Journal's Joe Barrett recently reported that Kansas is threatening to sue neighboring Nebraska for consuming more than its share of the Republican River. The Grand Forks Herald reports local opposition to a proposed ethanol plant in Erskine, Minnesota, with anti-refinery yard signs sprouting up and residents concerned about well water. Backers of a proposed plant in Jamestown, North Dakota, recently withdrew their application when it became clear that the plant's million-gallon-a-day appetite would drain too much from a local aquifer. In Wisconsin, new ethanol plants are encountering opposition in Sparta and Milton.

    Writing in Science magazine, Renton Righelato and Dominick Spracklen estimate that in order to replace just 10% of gasoline and diesel consumption, the U.S. would need to convert a full 43% of its cropland to ethanol production. The alternative approach -- clearing wilderness -- would mean more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than simply sticking with gasoline, because the CO2-munching trees cut down to make way for King Ethanol absorb more emissions than ethanol saves.

    Slowly but surely, these problems are beginning to alert public opinion to the huge costs of force-feeding corn ethanol as an energy savior. The ethanol lobby is still hoping it can keep all of this under wraps long enough to shove one more big mandate through Congress,

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1192...613-email.html

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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Why is everyone still stuck on corn ethanol? There are much better ways to produce being created NOW. Plants are popping up all over the place that do not use CORN.
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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Quote Originally Posted by Bvonscott
    Why is everyone still stuck on corn ethanol? There are much better ways to produce being created NOW. Plants are popping up all over the place that do not use CORN.
    I don't keep up with it, but I live in the corn belt and when ethanol makes the news here, it's related to corn. Where are the non-corn ethanol plants located?

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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Quote Originally Posted by Bvonscott
    Why is everyone still stuck on corn ethanol? There are much better ways to produce being created NOW. Plants are popping up all over the place that do not use CORN.
    Well thats new technology though, it just takes time... even the efficency of corn ethanol plants still isn't up to what it could be. Plus I think everyone should be happy to see corn ethanol because its pretty much the only reason us farmers aren't relying on government subsidies right now. Thats less of your and our tax dollars subsidizing us. Oh and by the way, just because corn is $3.50 a bushel dosen't mean we're making a killing. Inputs are going up 20% a year for the last 2 years. That is absolutely bull. Someone is making an aboslute killing. We'll be back on gov subsidies or we'll all be broke within just a few years.

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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Quote Originally Posted by 4wdaaron
    Well thats new technology though, it just takes time... even the efficency of corn ethanol plants still isn't up to what it could be. Plus I think everyone should be happy to see corn ethanol because its pretty much the only reason us farmers aren't relying on government subsidies right now. Thats less of your and our tax dollars subsidizing us. Oh and by the way, just because corn is $3.50 a bushel dosen't mean we're making a killing. Inputs are going up 20% a year for the last 2 years. That is absolutely bull. Someone is making an aboslute killing. We'll be back on gov subsidies or we'll all be broke within just a few years.
    Who do you sell corn and soybeans to? Somebody has to be making a killing, and my guess it's the likes of ADM. What's your take?

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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    I can't believe so much corn is grown where, apparently, it doesn't rain. Even if it was growing in the Sahara, I can't fathom how it takes 1700 gallons of water (minus the four to actually convert to ethanol) to grow enough corn to make a gallon of ethanol. Does that seem wrong to anybody else? I grew up on and still own part of a corn farm where it actually rains (no irrigation needed) and I'm sure it's not raining 1700 gallons on each little plot that grows enough corn to produce a gallon of ethanol.

    Can we get a sanity check on these figures, please???

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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Better start to desalinate the Atlantic & Pacific oceans
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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Quote Originally Posted by MelvinJ
    I can't believe so much corn is grown where, apparently, it doesn't rain. Even if it was growing in the Sahara, I can't fathom how it takes 1700 gallons of water (minus the four to actually convert to ethanol) to grow enough corn to make a gallon of ethanol. Does that seem wrong to anybody else? I grew up on and still own part of a corn farm where it actually rains (no irrigation needed) and I'm sure it's not raining 1700 gallons on each little plot that grows enough corn to produce a gallon of ethanol.

    Can we get a sanity check on these figures, please???
    The best I can do is a link to an abstract of what the guy wrote.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/...b034823ec&pi=5

    Here it is:

    ***
    Energy outputs from ethanol produced using corn, switchgrass, and wood biomass were each less than the respective fossil energy inputs. The same was true for producing biodiesel using soybeans and sunflower, however, the energy cost for producing soybean biodiesel was only slightly negative compared with ethanol production. Findings in terms of energy outputs compared with the energy inputs were: • Ethanol production using corn grain required 29% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced. • Ethanol production using switchgrass required 50% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced. • Ethanol production using wood biomass required 57% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced. • Biodiesel production using soybean required 27% more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced (Note, the energy yield from soy oil per hectare is far lower than the ethanol yield from corn). • Biodiesel production using sunflower required 118% more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced.
    ***

    It's too late for me to do this right, but here are some calculations:

    1 acre = 43,264 sq. ft.
    1 sq. ft. = 144 sq. in.
    1 acre = 6,230,016 sq. in.
    annual rainfall in central Indiana = 40"
    annual rain per acre = 249,200,640 cu. in.
    1 gallon = 231 cu. in.
    annual rainfall / acre = 1,078,790 gallons
    annual corn / acre = 183 bushels
    annual rainfall / bu. corn = 5,895 gallons
    1 bu. corn = 2.8 gal. ethanol
    5,895 / 2.8 = 2,105 gallons rain / gallon ethanol

    Maybe somebody can check this and fix any errors.

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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    I thought an article was posted here recently that said corn-based ethanol's prices have gone up not because of demand but because of high oil prices?
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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Quote Originally Posted by Havasavana
    The best I can do is a link to an abstract of what the guy wrote.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/...b034823ec&pi=5

    Here it is:

    ***
    Energy outputs from ethanol produced using corn, switchgrass, and wood biomass were each less than the respective fossil energy inputs. The same was true for producing biodiesel using soybeans and sunflower, however, the energy cost for producing soybean biodiesel was only slightly negative compared with ethanol production. Findings in terms of energy outputs compared with the energy inputs were: • Ethanol production using corn grain required 29% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced. • Ethanol production using switchgrass required 50% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced. • Ethanol production using wood biomass required 57% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced. • Biodiesel production using soybean required 27% more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced (Note, the energy yield from soy oil per hectare is far lower than the ethanol yield from corn). • Biodiesel production using sunflower required 118% more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced.
    ***

    It's too late for me to do this right, but here are some calculations:

    1 acre = 43,264 sq. ft.
    1 sq. ft. = 144 sq. in.
    1 acre = 6,230,016 sq. in.
    annual rainfall in central Indiana = 40"
    annual rain per acre = 249,200,640 cu. in.
    1 gallon = 231 cu. in.
    annual rainfall / acre = 1,078,790 gallons
    annual corn / acre = 183 bushels
    annual rainfall / bu. corn = 5,895 gallons
    1 bu. corn = 2.8 gal. ethanol
    5,895 / 2.8 = 2,105 gallons rain / gallon ethanol

    Maybe somebody can check this and fix any errors.
    Hydrogen fuel is starting to look better but not by much.
    At this stage I cant even say that we have a suitable replacement for oil.

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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    I don't think there's one solution that will replace oil. But couple a few together we can significantly put a dent in our usage.
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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Doesn't matter what fuel we ended up using... we need to use less of it! There's no magic bullet... I hope that we find ways to wean ourselves off fuels at the same time as we find new / cleaner alternatives.
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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    I wonder if HEMP is better than corn?

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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    Quote Originally Posted by Havasavana
    1 acre = 43,264 sq. ft.
    1 sq. ft. = 144 sq. in.
    1 acre = 6,230,016 sq. in.
    annual rainfall in central Indiana = 40"
    annual rain per acre = 249,200,640 cu. in.
    1 gallon = 231 cu. in.
    annual rainfall / acre = 1,078,790 gallons
    annual corn / acre = 183 bushels
    annual rainfall / bu. corn = 5,895 gallons
    1 bu. corn = 2.8 gal. ethanol
    5,895 / 2.8 = 2,105 gallons rain / gallon ethanol
    I don't think you can make a direct correlation to rainfall "inches" and area "inches". Have you ever seen a rain gauge? 5" of water in the rain gauge is more like 10" of actual length between the 0 and 5.
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    Re: Ethanol's Water Shortage

    So, how much is Mobil/Exxon paying the guy who wrote this article?

    I'm so sick of the slandering.

    OIL companies are making food prices go up. It has NOTHING to do with corn. Don't believe the lies. The knew lead was a terrible additive and used it anyway, they do not have our interests in mind.

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